Mere Sands Wood & Brockholes - 29th January 2017
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Twenty-seven members defied the forecasts of heavy rain and despite the bank of fog we travelled through on route, the weather turned out to be kind to us. There was an icy start at the Mere Sands reserve but the when the sun broke through the light was brilliant and showed off the large flock of Teal and good numbers of Goosanders really well. Shelduck, Tufted and Goldeneye were also showing well, a number of Cormorants, Grey Heron and a solitary Little Egret were also present.

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Half a dozen Reed Buntings were active feeding on grain in front of the hide nearest the visitor centre and it was from here later in the morning that a Water Rail gave us good views. A walk round the woodland paths added countless Robins, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Chaffinch, Bullfinch together with, Blue, Coal, Great and Long Tailed Tits. In a ploughed field adjacent to the path we had good views of two Red Legged Partridges. Those of us who timed their visit to the Rufford hide, at the far side of the reserve correctly, were rewarded with a Kingfisher posing for photographs on a conveniently placed stick in front of the hide. We were less successful with the Bittern, which was seen briefly by a local birder from the same hide.

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We searched in vain for a sighting of one of the red squirrels that inhabit the reserve but numbers are down to about 10 animals. As compensation we were “charmed” by up to twenty Goldfinches feeding in the trees by the disused Tower. A final detour to number 7 hide overlooking the Mere End Water enabled us to add Little Grebe and Gadwall to our list.

The short journey on to the former quarry site at Brockholes was a chance for lunch before setting out on the two-mile circuit around the reserve. Apart from a few Mute Swans on the meadow lake in front of the visitor centre the birds were rather sparse, as was the case in the short section of path running alongside the River Ribble. A good selection of wildfowl was present on the number one pit water, including Goldeneye, Wigeon, Pochard, Teal, Tufted and Gadwall. Great Crested Grebe and good numbers of Lapwing were also seen and after a bit of searching two well camouflaged Snipe. While watching two Pied Wagtails in front of the large glass fronted hide a mink crawled out from under the hide and stood two feet in front of us before running off into the reeds, a real menace, especially at nesting time. Continuing on through Boilton Wood we were disappointed at first by the lack of birds, but towards the final section a mixed flock of Tits, and Chaffinches flitted passed us and a Treecreeper gave us excellent close views.

Our raptor tally for the day consisted of Kestrel, Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, all of which were seen at both locations. It was an enjoyable days birding with an overall tally of 57 species, helped by the fact that the rain held off until we were on route home.

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Photos by Robert D

STEVE McG

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