I quite like overnight rain. You never know what it's going to bring in come morning time, so with this in mind I grabbed a quick breakfast, filled my coffee flask and headed for the patch! Heavy showers forecast so the plan was to do a river sandwich - hit the shelter of Pumphouse Pool first whilst the rain fell, wait for a break in the clouds, leg it to Halfway House (no bike today), then head back to Pumphouse when the rain hit again. That way I'd hopefully pick up any waders that had hit the deck during last night's downpour.
Pumphouse Pool 09:30
The track to the east hide is deeply puddled with water today. Thankfully the old Volvo is a hardy beast and this doesn't slow me down. The rain is falling. Grab my gear out of the car and I'm sorted. What's about? Quick scan with the bins doesn't pick up anything unexpected, but then again I never trust much to my first bin scan as I know from experience that unless stuff's out in the open, I'll need the scope to get a true picture of what's snuck in. First thing that catches my eye is a flit of something or two to my left. Quite a flit! Kingfisher off it's perch as 2 Swallows zip past and a couple of Grey Wagtails disturb the resident Pied Wagtails by the little stream that feeds the pool. 2 Sand Martin and 3 House Martin are zapping about too as the Kingfisher stuns a fish on its favourite twig perch before flying off with it. Cool. More Lapwing today - 5 in all and 7 Moorhen juvs pottering along the the margins.
(If you look carefully you can just see the Kingfisher's perch where the stream enters the pool)
2 Stock Dove drop in on the spit where 3 Grey Herons (ad + 2 juvs) are slowly plodding about. On the water we have 7 Tufty, 1 Pochard, 32 Coots, 3 Gadwall, 9 Mallard and 4 Little Grebe - nothing, apart from half a dozen of the Coots, and about half of the gulls are on the shore today: Lesser Black-backed Gull 69, Black-headed Gull 6, Herring Gull 1. Rain is easing. One of the Lapwing is foot-trembling on the water's edge when a wader drops in by it. I hear it at the same time as I swing the scope onto it - Green Sandpiper. Looks like an adult and looks too like the next little flutter of passage-ness may have begun. Time for the filling in my wet sandwich methinks. To the river!!!
Halfway House 10:15
Birding with my ears on the walk from Bob's Bridge along the Manchester Ship Canal today. Quicker that way. No time to stop and look if I want to spend time on the river. Nothing much calling though, except for a Raven on the roof of one of the warehouses. It takes off and flies toward the river. I get there about 5 minutes later. Green fezzie chair today. Lighter to carry. Unpack, pour a coffee and have a quick bin scan of the mud. Nothing unusual in close. Lapwing numbers look down again though and I can only see 3 Curlew. Time for a proper scan. Eastern shore first. The tide has dumped loads of crap high up on the mudbank. Nothing scavenging among the flotsam though. Not even Magpies at the mo. Lapwing numbers ARE down - just 282 today, and I add no more Curlew to the tally. There's a bunch of Canada Geese way off, 45, with 7 Greylags and a couple of white Ferals among them - presumably the party from the Ship Canal. Gull numbers are middling; 629 Lesser Black-backed, 240 Black-headed, 8 Herring, 1 Great Black-backed and the solitary Common Gull is back. Just scanning the west shore when... 'hee-dee-dee'... Common Sandpiper flips over from the ship canal, goes low right along the near shore in front of me and lands on the mud in the SE corner out of sight. Excellent. More signs of passage.
A rainy Halfway House
Wind is starting to whip up. Usually means a shower is about to hit... and I can see it coming. Minutes later I'm under the willow sheltering from a short, sharp. Redshank calling left. Can't see it. Wipe my bins with a bit of tissue and scan the near mud. It drops in by 14 Gadwall and starts to feed. There's a Little Egret out there too, wading out a little, snapping at small stuff just below the surface. the tide is on the ebb. Shower stops and I set up shop again. Nothing towards Wigg Island today except 6 Mallard and a Grey Heron. Pronking to my right. Raven. TWO Ravens enjoying the brief respite in the weather. They fly over me calling and I lose them behind the willow. The Redshank has gone. So too many of the Lapwing - never saw them go. Rain probably pushed them off for a bit. They'll be back. Harsh 'kee-ar, kee-ar' from a Peregrine left. The Ravens have tried to land on it's pylon and he ain't havin none of it! Wind up again. More rain. Heavier. The willow isn't providing much shelter now. The Curlew have had enough and head downriver. The Little Egret is happy though to keep hunting and a group of 5 Magpies have dropped in and are picking their way along the strandline. I decide it's time to head off. Wait for the rain to subside, pack my kit and as the sun breaks through a Kestrel appears and I start the soggy yomp back and find myself whistling Singin' in the Rain. I also bump into the only other person out and about it the rain... a bloke with 3 dogs.
Pumphouse Pool 11:51
Well, the river filling in my sandwich now thoroughly digested, it's time for the second slice of PHP. Wonder if anything new has dropped in. Short answer - nope! More gulls though; 144 adult and 89 juvenile LBBGs, 51 BHG and 7 HGs. 10 Magpies and 8 Crows seem to have found something of interest on the spit, else the picture is similar to earlier in the day except that the only wagtails are Pied and the only Lapwing, a single.
Eastern Reedbed 12:15
1 Buzzard, 2 Mute Swan (+9 young), 5 Coot, 1 Wigeon, 2 Tufty, 3 Moorhen, 1 Little Grebe, adult + juv Great Crested Grebe, 9 Sand Martin, 6 House Martin and unexpected... a pair of Kingfisher chase past.
Millbrook Pool 12:20
3 Coot plus chick, 2 Gadwall. That's the lot!
Well, I thoroughly enjoyed that. Not gotten a good soaking on the patch for a while. You gotta love it :-)