Three sunny mornings on the trot and weather-wise things are looking up. Knott End was first stop this morning where I sat at the jetty watching 3 Sandwich Terns fishing the incoming tide when a stranger engaged me in conversation. It transpired that my new found acquaintance was familiar with Sandwich Terns as he lives in Dover, Kent. Dover is just along the coast from the town of Sandwich where the Sandwich Tern was first described in 1787 by the ornithologist John Latham.
The gent explained he was up here in Lancashire in support for his wife who was engaged in walking the green coastal paths of England. Here was his good lady at 8 a.m. not only raring to go on the next leg of the journey by walking from Pilling to Glasson Dock a journey of some 12 miles, but absolutely enthused and overwhelmed about the beauty of our UK coastline, and this stretch of Morecambe Bay in particular. I declined the invitation to join in by explaining about a previous bird watching appointment at Pilling later that morning, but the encounter left me reinvigorated.
As my new found friends set off on their journey I found more birds here at Knott End by way of 40+ Oystercatchers on the tideline along with 30+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Sanderling, 3 Dunlin and 1 Ringed Plover.
Just a handful of wildfowl today - 3 Shelduck, 2 drake Eider and 4 Mallard.
There was also my old friend the Pied Wagtail, the same footless bird of 2012 which still belongs about the jetty and the sea wall, his one gammy foot now reduced to a tiny stub, the other leg seemingly not much better. To cap it all the poor creature seems to have lost all tail feathers, perhaps as a result of the lower centre of gravity causing his trailing feathers to wear out more quickly than they otherwise would? Certainly he looked and behaved in remarkably good condition as he flew about the sea wall in pursuit of the next meal.
A walk up river and alonsidse the golf course produced a singing Whitethroat plus overflying Goldfinch, Linnet, 4 Swift and several Swallows.
Reaching Lane Ends I turned my attention to Lapwings and Redshanks again, this time finding another good sized Lapwing chick. If the chick had run instead of crouching it would for sure have outpaced me, the size of the bird almost certainly ensuring it sticks around to adulthood. As in recent years the number of chicks reaching this stage of development in 2013 is low. This gives no spare capacity for the Lapwings to increase their local population but more likely they will struggle to even maintain it at low levels.
Towards Fluke Hall I noted the first post-breeding flock of Lapwings, 35 of them flying in unison across the marsh – how soon is the breeding season over for Lapwings. Otherwise quiet except for a Grey Heron, now 2 Corn Buntings and a single Buzzard leaving the wood pursued by crows.
The lady was exactly right, our coast is wonderful, and although we know that it's fantastic in so many ways, maybe we sometimes take it for granted?