Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Purple Patch

Today we had our first visit to RSPB Saltholme. We arrived at midday to be informed that a Purple Heron had been seen at the Bottom Tank.

My status as the worlds least successful (and therefore very infrequent)  twitcher persuaded me that we should lunch first. The quiche, chips and salad, washed down by a Cappuccino was  excellent.

We visited the Phil Stead hide, where the PH had been seen within the previous twenty minutes. Evidently several birders had seen it fly towards the Wildlife Watchpoint and had departed hot foot in that direction. Excellent in flight views of a Blackwit, plenty of ducks, but no Heron, so we followed the crowd.

At the Wildlife Watchpoint, a few had had brief views of the PH through the reeds. Some had departed for the other side of the reed bed, hopeful of a sighting. A Little Egret paraded in front of the hide, but still no Heron, so we wandered towards the crowd at the other side of the reeds. No luck there either, so a trip to Paddy's Pond beckoned.

From the hide at Paddy's Pond, large numbers of Golden Plovers could be seen swirling over the far ponds. Two Pochards dived energetically whilst Canada and Grey Lag Geese fed and squabbled on the far bank. Lots of Wigeons and Teals in view from every hide

We decided to retrace our tracks and give the Watchpoint another try. Two Perigrines, flying high to the east, spooked the Lapwings, whilst another (or the same?) Little Egret showed off its yellow feet. A number of Shovellers flew around, one or two landing for a quick dabble.

After about half an hour the Purple Heron flew briefly across the reeds and dropped out of sight. My beloved commented that it looked just like the picture in the book. The wing markings are very attractive. The difference in size from a Grey Heron was not obvious without direct comparison, but the plumage difference is very distinctive.

We parked a little way from the reserve at closing time in the hope of seeing Starlings going to roost. Plenty of Starlings flying in to fields near the reserve, but no spectacular flocking.

A very pleasant afternoon and lifer number - erm! I haven't updated my list yet so I don't know. I'll tell you later.

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