6 Nov 2008

Forget Lapland. Santa lives on Hilbre.

Bloody hell - the Wirral was like Lapland today with all the scarce northern birds around! Looks like my prediction of the weekend came true! Someone was listening.................

Was I dreaming? Did a Rough-legged Buzzard really get found yesterday on Middle Eye and refound today first on Hilbre and then over Red Rocks and the adjacent golf course? I must have had a bump on the head. Either that or something perverse in my nature made me decide to risk getting cut off by the tide and yomp across to Hilbre this afternoon. With Santa's little helpers finding the biggest present of the year so far this morning and with news the Great-northern Diver was still showing I had to go.

Santa's grotto doubles up as the Bird Obs and I found a number of the elves busy at work - Colin, Deggsy, Tony and Kenny Mac were all working away as only elves can do this time of year. Even with Santa Pete away the elves were all work and no play. With no confirmed news of the Rough-legged Buzzard since it flew from Hilbre mid morning it wasn't looking good but I was happy with Great-northern Diver, Shag & female Eider along with good numbers of Purple Sandpiper.

As the light faded Mark Turner rang to say he'd got the Rough-legged Buzzard hovering 100 ft over the golf course and being mobbed by a kestrel. Agghhhhh! Could we pick it up from where we were? Just about. With the others having vacated the grotto and Hi-ho-ing back to the mainland (oops wrong fairy tale. Elves don't hi ho. Thats the Seven Dwarves and Sleeping Beauty was definitely not on the island - even Deggsy having 40 winks couldn't pass for sleeping beauty in the gathering gloom) it was left to Kenny ' I don't twitch' McNieffe to ring the last Redwing of the day and shut up shop. We were chilled. However Marks next call really had us in a panic and we decided to get across to the mainland - fast!

A slight delay on Middle Eye whist I tried to photograph a Snow Bunting (with ISO 1600 and shutter speed of 1/30th second the picture is never going to win any awards) and we were on our way towards Pinfold steps taking the most direct route - route 1 straight across.

Halfway across we were alerted by Colin Jones to the Rough-legged Buzzard hunting over the salt marsh and we picked it up hovering before losing it again 5 minutes later as it dropped down. By now Kenny was saying he could get used to this twitching lark but complaining he was feeling the strain and worried he might pitch over headfirst crossing the salt marsh. I reassured him I'd leave him face up so he wouldn't drown.

Evenually we arrived to join the throng of 6 birders present. The Rough-legged Buzzard continued to perform and the Scandinavian feel to the day was enhanced by the appearance of a Long-eared Owl that perched up allowing everyone to get full 'scope views of this exhausted looking migrant. As the darkness deepened the Rough-legged Buzzard appeared to go to roost in a large pine off the back of the houses along Stanley Road. What a day - Rough-legged Buzzard, Eider, Snow Bunting and Long-eared Owl. A truly Scandinvian experience. Lapland twinned with the Wirral.

Rough-legged Buzzard flying straight towards me at almost 16.30! The light was so bad I couldn't get a focus lock.

As the song says ' things can only get better'...........I predict Red-flanked Bluetail or Pallas's Warbler on the Wirral this weekend!!!!!!!

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