SO, day 2 with the bike. Lessons learned from yesterday meant that things went smoothly today. Leaving the bike rack on its current settings saved time fitting it to the car. Taking the centre bit out of my Manfroto and stashing it alongside the legs reduced the height of my tripod in the rucky so no Quasimodo today. And, simply slinging the rack onto the back seat when I got to the patch saved even more time that end. Upshot of all this was I hit the river in double-quick time.
Halfway House 10:30
First impressions were that things were much as yesterday, but then I began to look a little closer and, as often seems to be the case, things were actually a little different. For a start Lapwing numbers were well down - just 580 today, about half of yesterday's record tally for the year. There were half as many Curlew too, scattered across the mud, 2 upstream, 3 downstream and both Lesser Black-backed Gull and Black-headed Gull numbers were down (38 and 128, respectively). Grey Heron, Mallard, Little Egret and Herring Gull numbers however were as yesterday. Wood Pigeons were up - I count 40+ with 13 Feral Pigeons and a Stock Dove among them, which weren't there yesterday. So too the Raven calling now.
Time for another scan of the river. 20 Canada Geese are marching across the mud downriver and another Little Egret has just dropped in by the first. Male Kestrel low over the water - it's breezy today. Wader far off by one of the herons. Looks godwit-y through the bins. Scope. Where has it gone? It's moved... oh. Curlew. Could have sworn it was straight billed too. Ho hum... Nothing is singing. Late in the season I guess, plus the wind doesn't help. Single Swallow whisks by and 2 Buzzards are flying low on the far side of the river, keeping in the shelter of the tree line. Wader up - flying left. Bins up - and... BLACK-TAILED GODWIT. Well thank god for that. Thought my eyesight was going. I watch it fly close by through my bins. Quite a bit of summer on it but no colour rings. It climbs and heads off towards the Runcorn Bridge and I lose it over the scrap heap with the England flag on. Bloody marvellous!
Give the river an hour or more all told then get the urge to check Norton Marsh Pool. Not been there for a while and it should really have something on it soon. Cycle back to the car. Drop off everything except my bins, mount Esmerelda, my trusty steed, and I'm off to Norton Marsh hide along the foot (bike) paths. Minutes later I hear chainsaws and arrive to find Duncan and Co cutting down some willows that threaten to blow over and wreck the hide. No point checking the pool then... BUT, the cool thing about having Ezzie is that it only took minutes to get here so I'm not in the least bit peeved that the trip's a wasted one. Back I go, stick Ez on the rack and high-tail it to Pumphouse Pool in case owt has dropped in...
Pumphouse Pool 12:13
So what do we have today? Moorhen (4 juvs), 24 Coot (less than yesterday, they must be tucked away somewhere), 48 Mallard (similar to yesterday), more Gadwall... 18 today. 9 Tufty and 1 Pochard, just like yesterday but today I spot the Teal - hoorah! More Little Grebe today (pair AND the juv this time) and gull numbers are up; Lesser Black-backed Gull 317, Black-headed Gull 94, Herring Gull 3 - all briefly put up by the resident Buzzard. No Lapwing today but there's a single Oystercatcher on the spit with 5 Crows. 2 Sand Martins over, 4 Grey Herons loitering (1ad, 3juv) and 4 Magpies on the shoreline complete the votes from the Pumphouse jury.
Eastern Reedbed 12:31
30 Gadwall including a pair head bobbing already, 1 Tufty, 2 Moorhen, pair of Little Grebe, 1 Coot, juvenile and still stripey Great Crested Grebe, pair of Mute Swan with their swarm of cygnets, and a solitary Reed Warbler singing.
Millbrook Pool 12.36
3 Coot, 2 Canada geese, 1 Mallard, 1 Grey Heron (juv) - that's it! No sign of the Green Woodpecker today
And the bird of the day?
Proper patch bird that - cracker!!!