A pleasure to be birding on the coast today in lovely crisp light - nothing rare, but spiffing winter watchin' all the same.
8 Great Crested Grebe, 2 Red Throated Diver, plus single Goldeneye and Common Scoter off Ainsdale on the flat tide, although Weld Rd was a bit quiet - hardly surprising given the number of folk enjoying a Sunday walk.
Snipe, Mipits, Skylark, Pied Wag around the car park, but no sign of the finch flock.
Didn't stop at Marshside, rather I pushed on to Hesketh Out Marsh for the afternoon. Once business at the nearby shoot stopped it was great out there - plenty of raptors - Peregrine, Merlin, several Kestrel, 3 Common Buzzard and a nice ringtail Hen Harrier on the bank.
A family party of Whoopers flapped inland and there were at least 1,000 Pinkies on the outer estuary.
Little Egrets looked chilly, but my attention was largely taken up with a cracking mixed flock in the hawthorn hedge by the car park - nowt to get the pagers bleeping, but good stuff nonetheless.
10 Brambling, numerous Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Gringoes, 30+ Linnet, a small group of Tree Sparrow, 15 Corn Bunting and 20 Fieldfare - very nice.
Always liked Brambling - those orange shoulders, the call, the big white bum....a quality bird. Mind you, in the sharp light the other hedgerow residents looked fine too.
Group of flying lollipops aka Long Tailed Tits came through, and Song Thrushes and Blackbirds occasionally broke cover to snatch berries.
As the sun began to sink and the hedgerow dipped into shadow, the Fieldfares began to come a bit closer, just a shame the light wasn't on 'em at the time.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable hour or two. Still a few Lapwings on the frozen fields, with Redshank, Shelduck, Grey Heron etc. A great site.
Heading back out of Hesketh Bank (where else do you have to stop on an icy road to let a domestic goose waddle across?) I paused to have a quick gander at a Little Owl, perched up on the roof of a wrecked barn, just outside Banks village.
It was too aloof to turn to look at me, but that's okay.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...