Shelducks in Southport

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Pink-footed geese with Blackpool Tower in the background

Despite yesterday’s snow and last night’s freezing temperatures, today was pleasant enough to tempt me to Southport. My destination was the small RSPB reserve at Marshside, north of the town.

On the train from Wigan to Southport I noticed large flocks of swans in some of the fields – probably whoopers, but I couldn’t tell for sure. (No chance to check on the way back; I had found a nice restaurant, so I wasn’t in any hurry to get home before dark.)

I ignored Southport’s attractions and headed straight for the sea. As I walked along the busy coastal road I could see plenty of shelducks on the foreshore. Nothing but shelducks for some way. Further along however I began to see scores of pink-footed geese . . . and wondered how I had ever confused them with greylag geese.

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Greylag geese last summer

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Pink-footed geese this morning

At the reserve itself there were enormous flocks of “the usual suspects”: teal, pintails, tufted ducks, godwits and wigeon foraging on land, shovelers, lapwings. You could hear the light tinkling of the ice breaking as they moved.

All this was within spitting distance of the busy coastal road and housing estates. On my walk back to Southport on an inland embankment I passed a school playing field with curlews on the pitch

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while Canada geese strolled across the golf course:

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