It's been a busy couple of weeks, despite setbacks. I went back to Marton Mere as it's close and one of the species I have missed numerous times (little owl) was seen there again. Of course it was nowhere to be seen, but I did photograph the Iceland gull that winters here - although I had my backup camera and it was set to small jpeg, so the photos aren't worth posting here. A male stonechat was nice to see, too.
I injured my knee last Wednesday/Thursday, and that has been a problem for someone who walks everywhere. It was sunny on Saturday, and I felt well enough to try a long walk, taking in several local spots I've not visited recently. I took the train a short distance to catch the high tide flushing waders - especially jack snipe. But I was at the wrong end of the patch, due to confusion on my part, and only saw regular snipe. But they were nice enough - seeing one on the ground is a rare thing round here (see photo above - unfortunately the one that was in focus wasn't well posed).
At the nearby manmade lake, I scouted for the male scaup that has been there on and off for a few weeks (I saw it in December), but it was absent - one was seen a little further round the coast that day though. I did find a little egret huddled out of the strong, cold wind, which is not a species I've seen there before (though they are found on the salt marshes regularly).
My first greenfinch of the year in a garden, before I found a church that hosts peregrines. Was the pair of dark wings I could see high up one of them? Sadly I got no definitive shots, but despite scepticism from David M and David C, I can't see what else it could be - not a gull, not a pigeon, surely not an oystercatcher. I will go back when the light is better (I was shooting a shady wall into the sun).
Is this a peregrine? Anyone??
I finished by heading to the edge of St Anne's, where a great grey shrike has been attracting visitors for three months now. I had to add it to my year list, but the one birdwatcher/photographer I found there hadn't seen it despite an hour of waiting. We enjoyed a perched female(?) kestrel, which I later saw hunting in the next field. Then a wagtail came over - but the other fellow correctly identified it as the shrike (in my defence, they're both black and grey/white, long-tailed, and bobbing in flight). Fortunately, it landed in front of us, and though it moved around a bit, posed well - if a little distantly. I got several reasonable shots at least.
I had overdone it though - 7.5 miles' walk on a dodgy knee (and my other leg wasn't too good either). The following day was overcast and chilly, and rain was forecast, so I had no plans. But then David M offered me a lift to a patch that's hard to reach without a car, to look for another local celebrity, a juvenile pomarine skua that has been seen daily for a couple of weeks or more. Too good to miss.
Above: the Med gull is the one without black on its wing tips. Argh! Below: twite, on the ground and in the air.
We visited a great many places by my standards, one twice (Cocker's Dyke, the suggestively-named outlet for one of the local drainage ditches). It was a superlative day for birds - I saw at least 15 new year species, and two lifers. However, the light was poor, the wind strong and cold. It seemed, however, that all the birders on the Fylde were there - including David C, who I met for the first time. No skua - it was more mobile than people had feared, as it's been injured. However, my first ever Mediterranean gull (thanks to David M for the ID - I wouldn't have stood a chance!) and merlin, which was way too fast for a photo. My highlight of the day has to be the twite, however - a big flock of these lovely finches fed very close to us, and flew around giving good views for some time.
Not native, but lovely and hard to get close to - a red-legged partridge. Note the tree sparrows in the foreground. This was taken from the cover of a car.