A Red breasted Goose had turned up in Norfolk with a large quantity of Pink footed Geese in December. It didn’t stay long in Norfolk and was relocated in North Lancashire in the Cockerham area. Myself and Steve B decided to have a go at seeing it and left Rochdale at 7am on a cool morning. We called at Fishmoor Reservoir, Blackburn to try to catch up with a couple of white winged gulls that had been seen there recently, but as it was still fairly dark we headed up to the Cockerham area. Lots of geese flying around was a truly great spectacle as the sun began rise, we checked a few of the large flocks out but could not see anything except Pink footed Geese. We headed down into the Thurham area and found a flock of around 300 Whooper Swans with 4 Bewick Swans also seen. A field also contained about 6 dodgy looking Canada Geese, after watching them we realised that they were not moving, then a man appeared and picked them up, they were decoys! A message said, “Red breasted Goose just flown over Sand Villa near Cockerham”. Off we went to try to connect, but on arrival, true to form, the bird had flown out onto the salt marsh! Now for some real birding as we spent a couple of hours sifting through the main flocks and finding: – 11 White fronted Geese (Russian) 2 Bean Geese (Tundra & Taiga) Barnacle Goose, lots of Curlew, 2 Buzzards. Great fun watching the geese push each other around whilst most of them just wanted to feed. We met up with Sarfraz & Paul, fellow Rossendale birders, who both needed Bean Goose. They managed to be put onto the Bean Geese by Rob Creek (GM Birder) well done Rob.

Up to 50 birders were scattered around the area waiting for the Red breasted Goose to reappear, so we decided to have a look at the Lane Ends, Fluke Hall, Eagland Hill & Bradshaw feeding areas. We soon found lots of Tree Sparrows, Lapwing, Curlew and Redshank. As we arrived at the eastern end of Eagland Hill we located a flock of Chaffinch and a few Yellowhammers, Corn Bunting and then Steve B said, “There is a Great Grey Shrike in that bush” and sure enough, there was! Grab the cameras and take some pictures, some other birders arrived and also saw the shrike. Well done to Steve for finding the bird, we picked up Red legged Partridge as we headed back towards Cockerham. We gave the flocks another good grilling, then at 3pm we decided to leave the area and return to Fishmoor Reservoir to try for the gulls once more. As we were reaching Fishmoor the Red breasted Goose reappeared at the same place we had been watching at around 4pm, isn’t that typical.

At Fishmoor it was very cold but about 6 hardy souls were busy looking through the big flocks of gulls as we arrived, one said, “The Kumliens gull has just taken off” and we just could not get on it as it headed for the Walker Steel roof and out of sight. After about 10 minutes, I began to watch a gull bathing in a peculiar fashion and it had no black on its wings, it was an adult Iceland Gull, I suddenly had lots of people asking for directions and wanting to use my scope. I have not seen many adult Iceland Gulls before and really enjoyed watching it. Another 5 minutes went by and I saw a large white bird land on the reservoir and again began to wash in a peculiar fashion, dipping its head in the water and rolling its wings in the water as if to dive, like a Guillemot does when it dives(hope that helps) It was a juvenile Glaucous Gull. Again I had found a good bird and gave directions to people who wanted to see it, fame at last! Steve B was by now frozen and really wanted to go home so that he could go out and drink some freezing cold lager. I bade farewell to the hardy souls at Fishmoor, who said that I must return soon! Got home by 6-15pm after a really enjoyable days birding in Lancashire.

Dave O.

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