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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

North-West Twitch

Visiting my dear old mum in Liverpool today gave me the perfect opportunity to add to my growing year list and catch up with a long staying rarity.

Very obliging Laughing Gull at New Brighton
I left the marina around 5.30 am just as the almost full moon was setting to the west on a crisp clear morning. The local Tawny Owls, a little quieter of late were calling as I made my way along the pontoons. A dash down the M6 and across the M53 had me at my first destination of New Brighton in just over two hours. I'd arrived in one of my old childhood birding grounds in search of the long staying Laughing Gull. To be honest the bird was exactly where I was told it would be sitting on a pontoon on the marina lake. A real opportunity to take a closer look at this unusual UK visitor, normally found on the north and south American coast.

Laughing Gull
Also on the pontoons sheltering from the strong breeze around a hundred or so Redshank, along with the odd Dunlin and an excellent count of eleven Purple Sandpipers, unfortunately all fast asleep!

One of eleven Purple Sandpipers - Sadly asleep during my stay!
After thawing out and breakfast in the nearby Starbucks I was on the road once more to RSPB Burton Mere, around a half hour drive. After catching up with the wardens at the centre I made my way around the relatively new pontoons towards the site of a roosting Long-eared Owl. After a phone call to Jim Rushforth for better instructions, Jim had visited last week, it wasn't long before I'd located this stunner. My third year tick of the day and all before lunch!

Roosting Long-eared Owl - Burton Mere
With time pressing I watched the Owl for a short while in the hope of a little movement but he was well asleep so I made my way back to the centre. Amazingly my forth and final tick of the day came in the form of a Merlin, which was perched nicely on the fence opposite the centre and smack in the middle of the wardens scope!

Laughing Gull - A final image!
Arriving back at the marina around dusk and to end a very productive day a Barn Owl was quartering the adjacent field as I made my way back to the boat, priceless!