Well I got one answer ... There are easily viewable large numbers of gulls probably in excess of several hundred.
The disappointing thing though is that these gulls seemed easily spooked something I had not anticipated as gulls are normally approachable.
This meant that I could only view from afar and I am a birder who doesn't own a scope. Well that my excuses out of the way for not finding a 2cy caspian gull!
I will be back .......
Elsewhere there seemed a nice mix of habitats so here are some other sightings:
9 lesser redpoll
Great spotted woodpecker
Sent from my iPod
Goldeneye 3 (2males, 1 female)
Pochard 5 (4 males, 1 female)
Tufted Duck 11 (8 males, 3 females)
Little Grebe 1 juv.
Pink-footed Goose 200 flying over Catchdale Moss
The Goosander was my first of the winter on the mere.
1 Kestrel (in fields to the west of the Mere)
1 Buzzard (perched in the wet wood)
3 Little Grebes (all swimming close the island on the SW side)
Great Spotted Woodpecker (calling in the wet wood)
Kingfisher (calling near SW corner)
4 Tufted Duck
2 Grey Heron
The Great Crested Grebe which is in its summer plumage (as Colin noted earlier in the week was still present)
Blackcaps are really interesting birds. Wintering blackcaps have been recorded in small numbers in Britain for well over a century but since the 1940's and 50's, the numbers of birds overwintering has steadily gone up - 22 birds on average per winter in the 40's and 50's, 380 on average in the 70's, 3000 in the 80's, and in the 00's nearly 3000 from Garden Birdwatch gardens alone.
The birds that overwinter here aren't from the same population that visit in the summer but rather are from Central Europe. The UK overwintering population have been found to have more fledglings than those that migrate further south and are therefore producing more offspring that are genetically programmed to come here.
Lesser redpoll 1 feeding on the grasses in the SW corner
Siskin 8+ with the goldfinch flock
Bullfinch 1m, 1f feeding on the ground in the SW corner
Goldcrest 1 heard singing in the SW corner
Teal 4 flying over the dead wood
1 Male Goldeneye
2 Tufted Duck
Great Spotted Woodpecker heard calling in the wet woodland
30+ Canada Geese
1 Grey Heron
The usual mix of Great Crested Grebes, Mallards, Moorhens and Coots.
1 Buzzard at Valencia Farm Eccleston Park.
The male blackcap was joined by a female today and they were both in the garden virtually every time I had chance to look. They don't seem too fussy about what they're eating, mainly fat based stuff but also sunflower hearts, apple, and the berries that are on the wisteria/honeysuckle(I'm not sure what it is!). The grey wagtail is still visiting a few times everyday also.
On Catchdale Moss, in the ploughed field behind the Stanley Arms, about 500 Pink-footed geese.
A male blackcap has been visiting my garden today. We get them every year at this time, I'll try and get some photos while I'm off. The grey wagtail has been visiting daily as have a pair of coal tits. No sign yet of the siskin or brambling that came last year.
2 Grey Heron
3 Goldeneye (2 Drakes and 1 Female)
1 Little Grebe
6 Tufted Duck
25+ Flock of Goldfinches
The normal collections of Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Canada Geese and Great Crested Grebes.
1 Nuthatch in wet woodland
Small group of Goldcrests in the Wet Wood.
Large numbers of Magpies and Jackdaws coming into roost.
Also called in later at Valencia Farm and managed to get close views of a Red Fox and a single large Brown Hare which had been flushed by the Fox. Not as good as last Saturday evening at the Farm as a Red Fox, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and a Barn Owl where all seen within twenty minutes in the same field and all within 200 metres of viewing spot. Great views of the Buzzard, Fox and Barn Owl in particular. Sadly no sign of a Barn Owl this evening.
Today's clear but crisp start to the day seemed to have a few geese up and moving in a similar fashion to when they first arrived in September. That is moving over my house in Billinge.
A quick scout of the fields around Fir Tree Farm and Kings Moss didn't produce any grounded geese but it wasn't long before they're distinctive call could be heard - wink wink!
Several skeins totalling about 400 headed toward Crank and then up over the high ground of Moss Bank/Crank Caverns. And ghats when it got interesting ......
From a distance the geese seemed to settle behind the high ground perhaps on an unknown wet field full of carrots or spuds?
I headed over that way and found to my bemusement that there was a good looking field there but no geese - the plot thickened???
I could however hear some wink-winking which seemed to be coming from the direction of Rainford Hall/Fairfield Hospital but there was a bank of trees in the way ... Typical!
Frantically trying to figure out how to get a better view I decide that the best bet may be to look for access via Moss Bank perhaps Cherry Tree Lane.
At this point I realised that the calls I could hear we're not coming from the ground but the air in the distance, so much for my hearing. It looked as though I was too late and something had spooked the geese and they were off.
Just then there was a a distant call of wink-wink from a different direction so I decide to stay to see where this new skein would land.
But land they did not .....
Every now and then someone tells you something about birds and you won't quite believe it until you actually see it happen.
This new skein which bare in mind came from the direction of Skelmersdale, met up with the others that I thought were previously grounded and then headed of in the direction of the Rainford mosslands.
A bit odd I thought at first but then thought a big deeper. The hill at Crank at 90m is quite a landmark easily seen from all directions.
I stayed a little longer as I could see that the sun was setting and knew this vantage point afforded good views and I could see geese moving to the north and west.
I heard a grey partridge call whilst a couple of mistle thrushes fought over a holly tree and its rich red berry reward.
It soon became apparent that this landmark was just that as small skeins of 30 to 120 geese headed for it like a beacon from all different directions before "meeting up" and changing direction to go to roost on the rainford mosslands.
I wonder how often that happens?
Nature truly is Amazing.
Siskin 80 in wet wood
Goldeneye 3 (2 males, 1 female)
Tufted duck 4
Grey wagtail 1
The Water rail was in the ditch between the outlet and the south west corner. It didn't seem too bothered by my presence, and I just walked alongside it for a couple of minutes. Unfortunately it was too dark in the ditch for a decent photo, and it didn't stay still for long enough. It was very vocal, squealing away most of the time I was watching it.
The siskins were an impressive sight in the woods, one of the largest flocks I've seen at the mere.
The last two times I've been to the Mere, I've seen a black-headed gull with a partly grey head. It looks like it's in transition between winter and summer plumage but I'm not sure if it's early or late!
Lesser Redpoll 2
Goldeneye 1 male
Pochard 1 male