Last week I wrote about unsuccessfully looking for migrating Whoopers early morning off Blackpool. The last couple of mornings have been more successful.
Yesterday Jane and I were due to volunteer at the junior parkrun, but with lighter mornings this still gave an hour or so beforehand to work with. We parked at Rossall Beach and Jane looked for seaglass whilst I looked for seabirds. Wildfowl were the order of the day, with two separate flocks of Whooper Swans heading north and a skein of Pinkfeet.
Today I had a stint at Blackpool North Shore from just after sunrise. Again geese were on the move, a flock of 100 or so Pinkfeet and more surprisingly given the date 9 Canada Geese also heading north. Eventually I got what I was really hoping for, as a magnificent white ribbon of 44 Whoopers streamed north. They were a long way out so the photo through the scope leaves a lot to be desired.
The birds that are seen off Blackpool are generally departing from Martin Mere and other sites on the Ribble estuary. Today though was a day where Whoopers at all their strongholds decided it was time to strike out for Iceland. Birds were seen moving over inland areas including Derbyshire, having presumably set off from areas like Welney on the Ouse Washes.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort for me to see these birds at close range during the winter, they form flocks around Pilling and in south west Lancashire. But there’s always something special about seeing migration in action. With the Pinkfeet you can’t always be sure if they are just temporarily shifting feeding grounds a lot of the time, when the Whoopers move you know they mean business.