23 Aug 2009

Ashes to ashes.

With a week dominated by the build up to the decisive Ashes test against the Aussies birding was relatively slow but enlivened by a smattering of Yank Waders and some good seawatching off the S W coast. Two members of the Wirral Seawatching Association (touring division) scored with Great Shearweater, Sooty, Balearic and numerous Skua's.
A trip to RSPB Conwy to collect some old Cheshire Bird Reports from local birder Julian Weldrick was timed to perfection as 5 juvenile Red-crested Pochard had materialised the previous evening. Wary and unringed they remained distant.
Locally things were very quiet. Two trips to Hilbre resulted in a Green Sandpiper and the first returning Bar-tailed Godwits! Whilst waiting at West Kirby for Steve and the Landrover Saturday morning a screeching heralded the flypast of a Ring-necked Parakeet that eventually settled in trees opposite Morrison's for a couple of record shots.

Walking the local patch was enlivened by winged insects seemingly more numerous than the avain fauna. A Small Copper was a local rarity but eclipsed by what I think was a female Red-veined Darter. A phone call to Groucho Payne who checked his extensive library for the relevant I.D features had me convinced. The same recently cut field of Rape also hosted a Migant Hawker and an Emperor Dragonfly as well as the Small Copper.

Sunny weather obviously meant these insects were more active but I wonder whether they were recent migrants given the southerly bias to the winds over the previous couple of days. I'd not seen any Dragonflies in the area this year.

The sunshine also gave a young Blackbird the oppurtunity to top up its tan beneath our Laurel hedge and it enjoyed catching some rays long enough for me to sneak up and take a few papparazi style shots.

On the final crucial day of the ashes with England poised to take control Mark Payne phoned early and persuaded me a trip to Martin Mere for a Wilson's Phalarope would be a good idea. Unfortunately the bird had better ideas and eluded lots of birders by its very un-phalarope behavious of hiding in long grass. Views were always distant and this was as good as we got.

With the ashes duly won its now time to start crowing to the Aussie son inlaw. As a nation we may not win much but at least we've won a rugby World cup and got to two finals and we've got the ashes back after the 5 - 0 drubbing in the last series.

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