A special coffee companion!

We have now seen Southport in the sun and the rain, not hard to guess which I prefer! We walked down to look for the sea last night but we didn’t see it as it goes out further than I have ever seen anywhere. The fact that people ride cars on the beach shows how much space there is. Mind you I am pretty sure the tide must come in very quickly as it seems dead flat so I do wonder if anyone that plays in their cars ever get stuck! The pier stretched out over the beach but was still way short of the sea

We crossed a bridge which gave us a good view of the other one, The Millennium Bridge. Bird of the town would seem to be the Canada goose; there were loads of them including some young ones.

We got something to eat and sat looking out to where we guessed the sea must be when a couple came along, good evening we all said. Pleasant enough but I laugh when I remember what followed, the lady began a conversation which went on, pretty much one sided, and consisted of her telling us about all the local bus routes. What goes where and how long the journeys are, where to change in Preston and oh so much more. She told us about all the place we must visit, (in spite of me telling her we were only here for another day) the cheapest places to buy clothes and goodness knows what else. She was just so funny and even after we had managed to leave she ran after us to tell us that the busses marked with an X were the fastest ones! Bless her she should get a job in the tourist information centre!!!

Today we have continued on our quest to visit WWT sites by going to Martin Mere and we were so very pleased that we did. We got such a lovely welcome and as has been our experience elsewhere the staff were, both friendly and helpful. We hoped to visit all the ones on the mainland and we thought this was number 7 of 8 (ignoring the Irish one) but it turns out they have opened a new one in Somerset! Oh well we shall have to head down there later in the year.

IMG_5923 sign

As usual we bypassed the captured bird side of the site and headed off for the hides that overlook the wild side’, we did however pass the duckling nursery where young ducklings were housed. My eye was caught by one particular type of duckling and I feel unable not to share it with you, so I am breaking my own rule and posting captive birds!!! The name of the bird won’t shock you when you look at the pictures, they are crested ducks. How funny are they?

Martin mere has some rather different looking hides, some new and some on their last legs! One of the newer ones is the Discovery hide and is the main showpiece.  I particularly thought it good that the windows go down so low and lots of small chairs are provided so that the very youngest naturalist can feel welcome. They also had lots of binoculars including little ones so no one needs to be left out of the viewing.

Another rather different hide was the Kingfisher hide, there is no seating and it appears to be held up by a giant mushroom, well I did say it was different. I have been in several Kingfisher hides this year and so far not one has produced the bird suggested! IMG_5936 kingfisher hide

There were plenty of Black headed gulls, including this fine looking youngster. Also including this one that was taking advantage of someone leaving a few bits on their plat eat lunch time!

There were also an unusually large number of Shell duck although we saw no young ones. We did however come across this Mallard family, totally unperturbed by us passing by.

Another really impressive hide is the Harrier hide, how cool is this?!IMG_5975 Harrier hide

It looks super as you approach it and is a lovely hide to view from, well once I could get up onto the rather high seats! We also saw a good amount of bird life from there including a Reed warbler which was new for the year, bird number 231. There was a good supply of Herons and a pair of nesting Great crested grebe; you could see the eggs as they did a changeover.

Another hide was nameless and not on the map and we understand is to be removed soon. It certainly was in a very sorry state of repair but it obviously had been fantastic in its day. On enquiry we discovered its length, 75 metres long, amazing, if there was a hide on a cruise ship this would be the design! It overlooked water where we understand in the winter is visited by many swans, I think the new Discovery hide probably views similar water.IMG_5967 hide 75 mtrs

Although it has been a fairly warm day there has been little sunshine and that may be the reason for the lack of butterflies and dragonflies etc. never mind we did well for them yesterday. The views around the site were lovely and I must admit Martin mere scored pretty high on my list of WWT sites!

I have saved the best till last and that is to tell/show you about a visitor we had as we sat outside drinking a coffee. I have never seen a Swallow so tolerant of humans. We were sat at a table when this fella landed, he stayed and stayed, flew off and came straight back. What a rare treat and rarer still that I had camera to hand!

 

IMG_3036 Swallow

We are back at our hotel now and the rain looks to have set in, I am just grateful that it stayed dry for our Martin mere visit. I think we are probably in for the night so I may get this post earlier than usual, there is the off chance we may venture out to the cinema but I feel that our enthusiasm is waning a little.

So today has been the first full day of my life that I have spent in Lancashire and I can honestly say it has been very good. As for tomorrow what county we may be in we have no idea at the moment, no bed booked we are just going to wait and see which birds tempts us off in pursuit!

 

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England here we come

Farewell to Ardwhin Cottage, Lochdon, Mull and of course to Ruth, Stu and Sprocket! Few final shots of a hooded crow before we return down south to our jet black version.IMG_5792 Ardwhin an all

Not far to Craignure to wait for the ferry, it fascinated me watching it come in and open up ready for the cars to unload and fresh ones board.

Just a few scenes from our trip across to Oban, not so sunny for the return journey but dry and warm enough. We saw a group of Guillemot on the water and later the odd black one. We said our goodbyes as we got back into the cars ready to go our different ways; we have loved sharing this past week with family.

We began the journey down to visit some dear friends in Moffatt, a last minute arrangement. It is safe to say the weather had changed! Gone was the beautiful sunshine to be replaced with grey skies with intermittent very heavy downpours!

We were delighted to be able to have a chance to meet, albeit briefly, with our friends who we hadn’t seen for about two years. The older I get the more I value friendship. Whatever life may throw it is good to find the people unchanged even though outward circumstances may have changed dramatically.

So off on the last short leg of the day’s journey to Dumfries. We were checked into a nice little hotel, Rivendell, with a very nice room and an exceedingly comfortable four poster bed! I slept better last night than I have for some time. We found a nice little Italian place around the corner to go and get a very welcome meal.IMG_5795 Rivendell

Up and out this morning in search of Caerlaverock WWT the sixth of their sites we have visited this year (another tomorrow). The weather looked decidedly iffy but we were fortunate and it stayed dry. We knew they would be emptying moth traps today and were keen to see if they had any new owns for us. They were a friendly group and made us feel included. We saw several that were new for the year and a few that are new altogether.

The peach-blossom moth was one I have been waiting to see so was very pleased when they came out of the trap. Also this Map-winged swift, I hadn’t even heard of that one! The next new one was, I think, a ghost moth and the last one pictured here wasn’t new but only the second garden tiger we have seen and we are still waiting to see one at home!

 

When mothing was finished we walked all around the site visiting firstly the Sir Peter Scott hide, not quite as posh as the one at Welney but not too shabby! I also include several views from around the site; can you see what they have in common?

 

A lack of birds! Oh well yet again right place, wrong time but it was still good to see the place and who know we may return one day. I did see this poor little Jackdaw chick, out of its nest a tad early. The parents were around but not paying it too much attention, hopefully they will do their duty and take care of it.

I was rather taken with these Longhorn cattle but I can tell you I wouldn’t be walking through any field they were lose in!

. Apart from moths we also saw a few damselflies and thankfully someone was alongside to tell me what they were! Firstly Azure Damselfly the male and female in one shot! Then the Blue-tailed damselfly male and the female too. A painted lady butterfly flew past as we were watching the damselflies.

I must say all the people working there were delightful, especially Heather on the shop/reception desk. What a lovely chat I had with her while Ian grabbed a short nap in the car. This rather emperor dragonfly made from Lego caught my eye as we were chatting and I have a feeling a few members of my family might have rather liked it!

After our visit to Caerlaverock we headed for Southport where we are staying for two nights. Hotel looks good, although it lacks the charm of last night’s one! After checking in we decided to go for a walk and see a bit of what Southport has to offer but I think I will leave that for tomorrow’s blog when we have seen a bit more.