20 Sep 2009

Red-necked Phalarope on the Wirral.

A great couple of days birding on the Wirral started early Saturday morning with a dawn trip to Hilbre. Unfortunately we could only stay a couple of hours but the Obs reported a steady passage of birds through out the day.

Sunday saw Molly and me meeting up with Al Conlin to search the bushes paddocks around Leasowe Lighthouse for migrants. Not many passerines to be found but as the tide came in plenty of waders could be found on the waters edge or flying past after being pushed off the sandbanks - including this stonking Bar-tailed Godwit.

I'd wandered away to photograph the waders leaving Al a couple of hundred meters away watching the birds fly past.

Next minute he's ringing asking if I'd seen the possible phalarope go by! Boll*cks! Scrambling back over the sea wall I hurried to catch him up and listen to the tale of the 'one that got away'. Luckily Al thought it had landed about a mile away on the groyne immediately behind the Leasowe Castle Hotel. Convinced that it was a Red-necked and not a Grey Phalarope Al directed me to park amongst the wedding cars - not a wedding but a wedding fair. Feeling a bit out of place we scuttled round the back of the hotel, across the golf course and stood up on the sea wall directly opposite the groyne. A quick scan with the scope didn't reveal anything immediately but suddenly Albatross Al gave a slightly strangled cry of 'I've got it on the rocks'. Sure enough there it was but what species? Not wanting to put the news out until we were absolutely certain we studied the bird as best we could, at distance, before confirming it was indeed a Red-necked Phalarope. With the news broadcast other local birders soon appeared.

The combination of needle like bill with lack of yellow base and the extensive black fore crown clinched the identification as a 1st winter Red-necked Phalarope. What a find by one of Wirral's premier rarity finders.

The mini -twitch including Kendo Nagasaki no longer watching the bird but writing his shopping list, Steve 'I'm just going for petrol dear' Williams, Colin Jones (peering thorugh my scope!), John ' where is it? I must be looking the wrong way' Jones & Stan the man. Late arrivals included Mark Turner and our old mate Frank striding the fairway like a collosus stomping golf balls into the turf as he made his way via the direct route.

Elsewhere things were really quite quiet with the occasional Chiffchaff, Whitethroat & Blackcap to maintain interest. A quick trip to Inner Marsh Farm to join the campers and picnic-ers in the hide (come on guys - shove up, shut up and stop waving your arms out of the hide and the birds might come nearer) gave better views of the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper a couple of Green Sandpipers and a handfull of Ruff.

Grey Wagtails seem to be moving through in some numbers with several over Hilbre and this bird found close to the house. The garden seems strangely devoid of birds at the moment but piles of feathers dotted around suggest either a marauding Sparrowhawk or next doors cat! The lack of rain has meant the nearby pond is pretty dry and unappealing so this Wood Pigeon has virtually taken up residence on the bird bath.

Finally, an obliging Kestrel hovered long enough to get immoralised and digitised.

Great stuff!

1 comment :

Martyn Yapp said...

Thats Sven at the back looking the wrong, wasn't Notts County playing.

Errr a Red-necked err Plal..errr