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Purple Heron (juvenile), Leighton Moss [CLICK PHOTO FOR LIGHTBOX]

Another grand day out with Mark Varley was completely focused on getting some acceptable photos of the Purple Heron at Leighton Moss, however, we saw a lot of other good birds during our six and a half hours in the Grisedale Hide today. A Great Egret, a couple of Little Egrets and the now outnumbered(!) Grey Heron also made an appearance. Two Marsh Harriers (a very worn old female and a juvenile) were quartering the reedbed and an Osprey flew over heading southwest. A female Sparrowhawk and a Common Buzzard completed the raptor line up. Mark spotted an otter in the heron's favourite feeding pool but it soon made off, probably owing to the ultra noisy hide (one of the downsides of birding Leighton these days). Unfortunately the forecasted rain arrived earlier than expected and we headed back to the cafe to warm up (it's only 3 September!) and buy lots of pin badges (they've got an outstanding selection here these days). The RSPB staff in the reserve centre were really helpful today, I don't really recall that from previous visits. Great job!

While I was looking into previous records in Lancashire (11 to 2008, with all but two of them at Leighton) it was interesting to see that Leighton had a superb run in the 1970s with eight of its nine records between 1970-77. I think this is also the first juvenile for Lancashire as well as the first autumn record. My first visit to Leighton was 3 May 1975 and amazingly I now see that there was one the day after that stayed for 6 days! So here I am catching up with it more than 42 years later!




Pomarine Skua, Cocker's Dyke, Lancashire

BETWEEN SLEET AND HAIL SHOWERS, A POMARINE SKUA on the Fylde at Pilling was the main focus of a day out with the Morrises. Unfortunately it was in a very sorry state, dropping its left wing and appearing quite sluggish and reluctant to fly. However, it has a store of food, which it returns to every few hours, a macabre pile of dead birds, presumably put out for it, although we heard from someone that it had moved these birds itself? It was nice to get a good look at its plumage anyway, a very typical first winter bird.

My first Pom was on a seawatch from Seaton Sluice in Northumberland more than 30 years ago but I haven't seen that many anywhere since with a scatter of sightings. I could do with seeing some more of them but one look at this bird on the ground and there was never a question of it being anything else with its heavy Glaucous Gull-like bill. A Little Egret and an adult Mediterranean Gull at Cocker's Dyke, few Twite from Knott End Esplanade and a Firecrest with Long-tailed Tits at Marton Mere also brightened up an enjoyable day out. Thanks Pete.

Pete Morris at Cocker's Dyke - there was a cold wind today, I don't think the guy next to us was worried about us nicking his scope and tripod.