Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Unsheduled Afternoon!

Manx Shearwater
Being the dutiful son I usually pay a fortnightly visit to my dear mother in Liverpool, my home town and a place where I spent many hours birding and egg collecting as a kid. Before I get any emails in relation to egg collecting, please remember that I was very young and naive, education is a wonderful thing!

Today though as luck would have it, (mum had visitors), I was able to escape to some of my old birding haunts, and so given this golden opportunity I scarpered to the coast near West Kirby, and what a stunning afternoon I had too.

West Kirby for those who are not familiar with this part of the country is a town on the north-west corner of the coast on the Wirral Peninsula, situated at the mouth of the River Dee and across from the Point of Ayr in North Wales. It's a place where I've spent many happy hours as a youth, particularly walking out to Hilbre Island at low tide, but strangely enough I've not visited for several years.

Arctic Skua with Arctic Tern
When I arrived at the particular area I used as a sea-watch point nothing much seems to have changed after all this time, and after a wander around checking out the tidal area, unfortunately only armed with my binoculars, I managed to pick out at least 75 Black-tailed Godwit, along with 3 Greenshank several Oystercatcher and 11 Redshank. My day got even better a short time later when I met and hooked up with Dave and Steve, a couple of local birders who were armed with scopes, and more importantly up to date information and local knowledge.

I spent an absolutely fantastic three hours with these amazing guys and would like to thank them for letting me tag along, and for the use of their scopes. We began with a sea-watch recording in flight 3 Manx Shearwater, 1 Arctic Skua, 3 Arctic Tern, good numbers of Gannet, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, plus more Black-tailed Godwit. In addition 2 Ruff and 1 Spotted Redshank were seen and within the many Gulls, I estimate in the region of 3000 during my stay, we also managed a Mediterranean in almost full summer plumage, my first in the UK for some time!

Finally a visit to Gilroy Nature Park yielded a lingering Wood Sandpiper, 2 Whimbrel, 4 Snipe, 4 Wigeon, good numbers of Ringed Plover and Knot, plus 1 Lesser Whitethroat. Also recorded in various other areas were 3 Tree Pipit, 7 Grey Plover, 15 Little Egret, 2 Wheatear and 2 Common Sandpiper, an absolutely stunning and unscheduled afternoon out and one to cherish.

Pictures courtesy of Dave Simkins and Steve Piper.