A Blackpool Tick

In the time I’ve been doing this blog I’ve only seen two new birds for me in my home town before today. One of those was bittersweet, as the Pallid Swift last November from my office didn’t linger for clinching photographs needed for acceptance. The Red-footed Falcon at Marton Mere was much more straightforward. Fortunately this morning’s third was in the latter category.

Seawatching from North Shore today was a pleasant endeavour. A few seabirds were passing including Gannets, Red-throated Divers and my first Sandwich Terns of the year. Pink-footed Geese were also on the move. Smaller birds were migrating too, including a small but clear trickle of Linnets as well as the more expected Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails.

I heard the ‘peeping’ of apparent Common Scoter towards South Pier, and was then somewhat perplexed as it appeared to be coming from a flock of Herring Gulls. The reason was quickly clear on lifting my binoculars; a couple of Avocet were the source of the noise as they received the bum’s rush from the local larids. They quickly departed north past me, protesting as they went.

Many people reading this will know that Avocets are now an expected species on the estuaries and surrounds either side of Blackpool. Numbers nest on either side of the Ribble, and on the pools near Glasson Dock at Conder Green. But they generally migrate overnight and records in the Las Vegas of the North are genuinely extremely few and far between.

It’s always a privilege to see a bird as stunning as an Avocet, especially as in times of generally depressing news of bird populations they are an undoubted success story. That said some might argue that seeing them only a few miles from where they breed is no big deal. Today it was an uplifting moment for me though, and definitely a big deal.

(As I don’t have pictures of this morning’s brief encounter, here are some from a similar experience on the Wyre at Little Singleton, another area where they have remained stubbornly scarce).

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