23 January 2020

· Wirral ·

A truly glorious day. More like May than January. Very warm and still. Blue sky. Took another walk along the edge of the marsh to Burton Point. Stonechats, a robin singing his heart out from a hawthorn, rooks tucking into turnips left out for the sheep in the field. Plenty of midges at the Point. A horsefly sunned itself on the toe of my boot. Two more robins as I headed back past the alder carr, one singing, one tutting. A small murmuration of starlings. A female little egret resisting the advances of a male. All very spring-like.

Robin
Robin serenading midges

I then moved on to Gayton Marshes, hoping to see the hen harrier that passed by last week. The weather was so glorious, I sat on a bench for an hour—but no hen harrier. Took a little stroll down toward the Phragmites. A small group of redwings and some linnets perched in some willows. A song thrush eyed me suspiciously from the hedgerow. Hundred of woodpigeons out on the marsh. Later, as they headed off to roost, their distant whistling wing-beats made an eerie sound on the edge of my hearing. Hundred and hundreds of birds twisting and turning in ever-changing formation a couple of miles off near the water’s edge: knots most likely. I watched a kestrel make an unsuccessful strike, then chill out for a while atop the red water-channel marker. A solitary long-tailed tit: I’ve never seen one alone before. Pink-footed geese flying by in small formations. One of the most pleasant January afternoons I have known.

Knots (probably)
Knots (probably)

Postscript: I’ve since decided my ‘knots’ were probably not knots after all, but dunlin.

By Richard Carter

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Website · Facebook · Twitter · Newsletter · Book

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