Drove down to Southport mid-morning today, calling in at the Marine Lake prior to a Firecrest search at Hesketh Park. Plenty of waterfowl on the lake including this Black Swan but diving duck were my main interest with 383 Tufted Duck, 93 Pochard, 14 Goldeneye and the 1st winter drake Scaup still present. Dabblers were represented by 84 Pintail on the ice and 17 Gadwall, 24 Wigeon, a single Teal and loads of Mallard.
It took me about an hour to find a Firecrest but a female performed nicely for myself and three other birders in the park at lunchtime. I also managed to add Sparrowhawk and Merlin to my "Park List" today and doubtless there'll be other opportunities to increase this in the future.
Andy Bate joined me at RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh where 3 Bramblings and 11 Corn Buntings were on show in the hedge by the car park with a small flock of Tree Sparrows. Plenty of birders at HOM again today (good to see) and Nick Godden joined us on the seawall where we watched 4 Bewick's Swans heading north over HOM and across the Ribble onto the Fylde. We spent a fair bit of time 'scoping a raptor over on Warton Marsh, perched on a log. Looked like a big Accipiter (long legs and tail) but was just too far off to clinch. At least 5 Buzzards around the reserve this afternoon, 2 Merlin, Sparrowhawk and a Marsh Harrier and with the ringtail Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl reported this morning the area is providing good predator chances at present for visiting birders. Two perched Peregrines side-by-side (female dwarfing the male) at Hundred End where the Pink-feet were just too far off for scrutiny but we did find a female Gadwall while searching for Green-winged Teal (must be one here, surely?). Little Owl on the barn and Barn Owl patrolling the ditches as I drove away rounded off a fine day on the estuary once again.