The plan had gathered momentum over the past week. I had decided to squeeze the lemon of time hard! Work hard. Play hard. Bird hard. Time was pulped until the juice ran down its legs and I'd managed to gather an hours cup of the stuff after work and hit the patch to watch the sun go down. The wind had eased... the light was relatively good... and all I needed now was for the birds to show. In particular, Bittern (see previous posts), for this evening, I was again staking out the Eastern Reedbed.
The first change from the last time I was here a few days back was that all the ice had melted... and so there were actually birds visible; 2 Mute Swan, 4 Coot, 2 pairs of Tufted Duck, 1 Moorhen, I juvenile Cormorant and the first Great Crested Grebe of the year all shared the open water. There was about an hour of daylight left and the hope was that I'd catch a Bittern flying in low over Mill Brook Pool as the light faded, as I'd done many times before. All was quiet, save the bleat of the Teal behind me, the occasional 'curruck' of a Moorhen or 'pink' of a Coot and once in a while a gentle snort from one the Mute Swans happily canoodling the north-west corner. On Mill Brook Pool there was more activity and more birds...
35 Teal, 4 Mute Swan (3ad, 1 juv), 3 Gadwall (a pair and a single male), 4 Mallard, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Moorhen, 1 Grey Heron, 4 Coot and another Cormorant (juv). The north-east corner of MBP comprises a wet flush that in the past has been a regular place to find overwintering Green Sandpiper and good numbers of Common Snipe. Not today though. No tell-tale silhouettes. No 'kloy klee klee'. I turned to scan the reedbed again and jumped. The dark knight had risen - Batman (see below and previous blogs) had returned and he'd suddenly appeared no more than a foot away! Caught me quite by surprise. I snapped a pic on my phone and felt guilty for not having brought food.
Nothing stirred on the reedbed except for the reeds themselves. 55 Jackdaw drifted noisily over - heading for their roost... approaching, as they always seem to do recently, from the south-east. The Grey Heron on MBP had taken up sentinel atop a tall dead tree and watched lazily as a nearby Common Buzzard perched on a post nearby was mobbed by a Jay. 20 more Jackdaws headed roost-ward over the reedbed as the light began to fade. 11 Magpies followed suit, but preferred to skirt along the northern fringe of the reedbed in leaps and small bounds until they too arrived at the wood where the Jackdaws roost. Another group of Jackdaws...32... then another 85... all following the same SE to NW track over the reeds. And with that...my hour was up. Time to go. I headed off like a rally driver through the ever-deepening and widening pools of water on the track to the main road... hung a left at the crossroads by the car park and was faced with this...
Almost before I could ask the question... it was answered. The swing bridge was just about to OPEN and not, as I'd hoped, CLOSE. Two and a half minutes later it was wide open, two minutes after that, a huge boat swept by on the Manchester Ship Canal.... heading toward Runcorn. It took just 30 seconds for it to clear the bridge at which point the bridge immediately began to slowly swing closed. It took a further 2 mins 12 secs for it to close...another 10 secs to adjust the overshoot and line up with the road and a further 1 min before the barriers were raised and we were on our way. SO, didn't see a whole lot, but tbh, it really was kinda nice just watching the east end of the reserve tuck itself in for the night.
Note to self: BUY MORE LEMONS !!!