First things first, and this image of my most favourite raptor the male Merlin is by kind permission of Peter Guy and was taken in an area of outstanding natural beauty the Forest of Bowland.
It was 11.00am before I decided the rain would hopefully cease and I called in at Conder Green to find it all a little quiet. The first bird to note was the local Kestrel which can be seen at almost every visit at the moment obviously nesting nearby. I was more than a little worried at what I saw today as it flew by with prey in its talons with two Redshank in hot pursuit, if the prey was what I reckon it was I didn't like it at all. A pair of Shelduck were accompanied by ten 'balls of fluff', they nest unnoticed each year in the banks of the Conder creeks, the lonesome drake Wigeon is determined to spend the summer on Conder Pool, 2 Reed Bunting were noted, 2 Swift were over, and a surprising 12 House Martins at least are nest building at River Winds.
At Cockersands if I'm to be honest I was hoping some late Sanderling would be putting in an appearance here again this year but not so. A Seal was a first here for me, unidentified Common/Grey due to distance and only a snout above water on brief occasions. Also of note on the circuit, along the headland 14 Eider, and a Wheatear. The return via the road, another first for me was a Tree Sparrow feeding what appeared to be a single young bird, 5 Skylark, 2 Linnet, 4 Meadow Pipit, 9 Stock Dove, and bird of the day a - rapidly becoming rare - Greenfinch. I wasn't really counting Brown Hares here today but did see at least twelve.
The Masked Shrike, a smart image of a smart bird taken in Lesvos this April by globetrotting birder Colin Bushell. Take a look HERE to see and read about more of Colins travels both here and abroad.....Thanks for both these images Peter/Colin they are very much appreciated.
The first record of a Masked Shrike in Britain was that of a bird in Kent in 1905 but this record was rejected following the so called Hastings Rarities Affair. Today there stands just two records of this smart looking bird, that of a juvenile found in Fife in Oct-Nov 2004, and another juvenile on St Mary's, Scilly in Nov 2006.