Wheel Lane was under water again, a foot or so deep in places as I made my way towards the coast road. Luckily I was in the 4x4 so kept going until the relative dry of Fluke Hall Lane and Backsands Lane as Whooper Swans and Pink-footed Geese flew from their marsh roost and headed inland.
Distant gunfire told me the shooters were hidden on Cockerham Marsh where they lie in wet, muddy gullies waiting for the geese to fly overhead. It’s a harder sport than bird watching but comes with the chance of a Christmas goose and/or a dose of influenza. Their two parked vehicles stood at Gulf Lane, vacant dog cages sat on the flat backs.
I stopped to look for the Linnet flock and single Stonechat of late. About 160 Linnets were circuiting, waiting for a chance to stop and feed near their favoured weedy spot which almost abuts the busy main road that is the A588. The Linnets had a few seconds or maybe up to a minute of food before the next vehicle sped by to send the flock into the air and start the sequence all over again. I wondered if the Linnets felt as I do when sat down for a meal and someone knocks on the door to sell me something I don’t want or the telephone rings with yet another of those nuisance calls? There was no sign of the Stonechat.
A stop at Braides Farm revealed 2 Little Egrets but no waders on the floods. There seems to be a contradiction at the moment whereby the many flooded fields which cover the local landscape hold very few waders.
There was more to see at Conder Green where the pool-now-lake and the incoming tidal creeks held 195 Teal, 100+ Mallard,18 Wigeon, 22 Redshank, 8 Little Grebe, 5 Tufted Duck, 5 Snipe, 2 Curlew and a Grey Heron.
Something of a surprise came when a Water Rail fluttered low from one side of the slowly filling creek to the other before diving into the safety of the marsh grass. It was a typical sighting of this skulking and secretive species, one that is notoriously difficult to see in its wetland habitat. Water Rails are often very vocal, especially in the breeding season and the wintertime when their unique squeals and grunts betray their presence a yard or two away from a hopeful but unseeing birder.
Although their flight looks weak Water Rails are capable of long sustained flights during their nocturnal migrations. British-ringed birds have been recovered from as far away as Poland, Czechoslovakia and Sweden. Play the video - it's a better view than I had this morning.
Towards the old railway I found a couple of Chaffinch and Greenfinch, a vocal Reed Bunting, and the expected Pied Wagtail.
At Glasson Dock the yacht basin held 21 Tufted Duck, 11 Goldeneye, 1 Great Crested Grebe and a handful of Cormorants. A walk of the basin perimeter and the roadside hawthorns gave up a dozen or more Long-tailed Tits, a single Goldcrest and more than a handful of Blackbirds.
The Plan was to stay out birding a little longer but rain was moving in from the west. It was time to head home and blog what I had.