With the wind dropping right away I headed down to Marshside this morning and up onto Mount Baker.
Sandplant compound was pretty quiet, but a few rays of sun lifted the spirits and I ascended Mount Baker, where all was peace and tranquility, until about 11am, when the cars started roaring into Southport down the Coast Road in numbers.
Conditions were great for raptors - a fine ringtail Hen Harrier (the small, pale one) was hunting over the marsh, pushing up clouds of chirrupping Skylarks.
It frequently pitched down in the vegetation, as if to regain the element of surprise over the passerines, before continuing it's laid back flight.
Watched it for half an hour, during which time it caught nowt.
So good to see 'em back on the marsh in winter again.
Two Merlins, two Peregrines (adult and juv) and three Kestrels out there too.
Not too shabby.
Three Little Egrets on the outer marsh/estuary and overhead six Whooper Swans came in high from the north west, heading no doubt for Martin Mere.
About 200 Pinkies were a good way off on the outer marsh, their dark heads poking above the stems, but plenty of Redshank and Curlew were feeding out there too.
Marshside Two was relatively quiet - 700+ Lapwings and about 500 Golden Plover stretched out in a loose flock behind Polly's Creek, a single Barnacle Goose in with the Greylags (very dodgy) and about 100 Pink Feet which dropped in as I watched from Sandgrounders.
Two Little Egrets behind Pollys.
36 Pochard on the Sandplant lagoon and 6 Little Grebes.
Tropical arrived at about midday and we headed down to Nels Hide, swapping Xmas war stories and hacking up cold germs as we went.
Approximately 1,300 Black Tailed Godwits at the top of Marshside One, with plenty of wildfowl - mainly Wigeon and Teal as usual, but Pintail numbers still seem quite high.
A small gull roost at the Hesketh Road end of Marshside One held just BHGs and a few Common Gulls, but several GBBs habitually spooked everything on a number of occasions during the morning.
A quick look at the Sands Lake on the way home produced a single Grey Wagtail and an encounter with Clarko, who'd had two Water Rails on the marsh earlier in the day.
Otherwise the lake held the usual stuff.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...