Parkrun Birding

Hanging out with the locals marshalling at Bressay, Shetland

I am making a rare visit these days to Blackpool parkrun tomorrow. So I decided to post about some of the birds I have seen whilst volunteering at parkrun, not least because the stand out highlight was at Blackpool.

I got involved with Blackpool parkrun soon after it started. When Fleetwood Promenade started I joined their core volunteer team. More recently I was asked to head up the team at the new Anchorsholme junior parkrun, so that’s the main call on my volunteering time these days.

Any activity which involves standing outside gives some opportunity to see birds, and parkrun is no exception. Blackpool’s event is in Stanley Park, and clearly there can be a lot of wildlife interest on and around the large lake and in the wooded areas. Fleetwood Promenade isn’t actually held in a park, and is an out and back course on the sea wall, some of the marshalling points overlook Fleetwood Marine Lakes and all afford views across Morecambe Bay towards Barrow.

Before I became Event Director at Anchorsholme I also did a bit of ‘volunteer tourism’ at events near Sabine’s house in Didsbury, when visiting my parents in Barrow and when on holiday. I was particularly keen to take part in the Shetland event on the island off Bressay, which required most of the runners and volunteers myself included to catch a ferry from the Shetland mainland. I saw Mealy Redpoll and Hooded Crow plus some Black Guillemots on the sea on that one.

So back to the best bird. On 18th March 2017 I was marshalling overlooking Stanley Park Lake. The last runners past and I grabbed the temporary signage for the event and headed to the start / finish. Suddenly I head a distinctive call that was a dead ringer for a Chough. Large numbers of pigeons were in the air at the time and I wondered if I would miss it but I saw it head west over the lake towards the golf course. Fortunately the golf course was closed due to flooding and it was relocated, staying for several days.

The Chough visiting a roof on North Park Drive
The Chough on the deserted golf course

This was just the second Chough recorded on the Fylde. To discover it away from the coast and whilst not ‘actively’ birding was a great thrill. Whether it’s parakeets at Fletcher Moss Park or Brent Geese overhead whilst tail walking at Fleetwood there have been plenty of other birds to be seen whilst putting something back into the community.

Pale-bellied Brents over when tail walking at Fleetwood this winter. Terrible phone shot but you can just about see what they are

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