To begin with a nice image of a juvenile Cedar Waxwing which has to be credited to Paul Bakers son David over there in British Columbia in Canada....thanks David.
Well the weather tricked and made a complete fool of me today but if it had turned nasty 10 minutes sooner than it did it really wouldn't have happened at all. By the time I got to Conder Green - well where else - there was an unpleasant shower of sleet which over the next 15 minutes or so turned decidedly worse. So here I am sat once more in the car looking like some idiot with nothing better to do until 30 minutes later I decided nothing was going to change and in fact it was worsening with the sky turning blacker by the minute and I did have enough intelligence to work out that the best thing was to return from whence I came and I was back home again an hour after leaving.
So, considering how bleak the weather had been, what were the 'highlight' gains from my birding in January....
Well, I proved that the wisest Stonechat in the country was still at Cockersands at the end of the month feeding on plenty in the tide wrack. The four 'suspect' Snow Geese were still on Aldcliffe Marsh having relocated from Carnforth Marsh and in due course returned there, at one point in the month they were accompanied by a Dark-bellied Brent Goose and other dates 3 Barnacle Geese, I found 2 Green Sandpiper on Freeman's Pools one day. Conder Green continued to host at least one each of wintering Spotted Redshank and Greenshank, and a male Stonechat seen one day here but not since, 24 Twite were north of the picnic area are something of a rarity this winter in the area though I found another four behind the toilet block at Glasson Dock one day and the view of the River Lune from here produced an excellent count of at least 3,000 Bar-tailed Godwits towards the end of the month. The Whooper Swans had by now turned up on Jeremy Lane with the maximum count being six one day and a good count of 105 were on Pilling Marsh with 3 Bewick's Swans which I think were my first of the winter. Talking of maximum counts an amazing at least 300 Mute Swans were seen in field's from Jeremy Lane one day in the month.
By the end of the month I had found clear evidence that the upland Stonechats were no more at the location's I had visited and further news from a reliable source was that non have been found at other upland sites since the big freeze. I don't think anyone will be too surprised about this since we've had the coldest winter for many years with snow and frost being the cause of very serious problems for the bird's and we will have to see what the spring brings with it. I feel bound to go up Clougha/Birk Bank in this month of February but feel in reality something of a futile exercise having already discovered a complete absence from here, Harrisend and Hawthornthwaite's west and east access point's.
I'm very much looking forward to finding my first Wheatear probably at Cockersands/Fluke Hall from the past experience's of a 'year or two' and the first exciting bird of 2010 in the late winter/early spring and possibly only four weeks away.