25 Jan 2009

Back in the field.

In true Ray Mears fashion medical matters have been taken into my own hands (or feet) and stitches removed using a penknife and a pair of tweezers. Not quite but I'm a bit more mobile after the removal of layers of dressing and managing to squeeze my feet into a pair of borrowed (large) wellies. Deciding gull watching at Arpely was still a step to far I took Molly up to the N Wirral coast for a walk along the seawall from The Gunsites to The Lighthouse. A leisurely meander just before high tide resulted in a single drake Scaup, Red-throated Diver and Common Scoter amongst more numerous Great-crested grebes. A quick look at the rocks below Wallasey Coast Guards failed to reveal any Purple Sandpipers but the nearby beach held a few Sanderling.

Returning home for breakfast we waited for Groucho Payne to arrive beofre setting off to Thurstaston where we hoped we'd get Mark Twite as a Cheshire lifer. Walking down the beach as far as Banks Rd, Heswall we failed to see the Twite but the estuary was teeming with bird life including this Hilbre colour ringed Turnstone.

A pager message saying the Twite were still present but mobile put a spring in our step and we picked the birds up eventually on call as they roosted on the boulder clay cliffs. We watched them for no more than a minute before they were off and we didn't see them again!

Next stop the salt marsh at Red Rocks where we eventually met up with Mr C. A walk of the marsh didn't produce much except for a very smelly wet dog and a number of bird corpses - a result of the prolonged cold snap? We also found a very sick Redshank that offered no resistance as I picked it up. The birds breast bone was painfully sharp through its feathers and it was obviously starving seemingly suffering from some form of diarrohea. A single Bar-tailed Godwit was unusual on the salt marsh and provided a good photo oppurtunity. Highlight was a cracking Short-eared Owl that hunted over the dunes adjacent to the board walk. All in all a good day.

Sunday morning in Stanney Woods was a red letter day! Virtually the first bird found was the male Lesser-spotted Woodpecker drumming on the dead limb of an oak tree adjacent to one of the main paths! I watched it for about 10 minutes before it flew. Great-spotted Woodpeckers were also drumming and the whole wood seemed a live with singing and displaying birds.

A Redpoll calling caught my attention and I tracked it down to the top of a birch tree. A stunning adult male Mealy Redpoll - almost gleaming white in the sunshine and for a moment my heart skipped a beat. Could it be an Arctic? No such luck but a superb bird all the same. The flanks were almost white with no trace of buff and with only a few large sparce streaks whilst the under-tail coverts were similarly persil white apart from a single dark streak. With a finely streaked pink rump it ticked all the right boxes.

And where was the camera? Drying out in the airing cupboard after I noticed yesterday that the Sigma lens had mositure on the inside of the front element! Boll*cks.

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