6 Dec 2009

I can't believe its not butter......

Thats what I thought to myself as I surveyed the shaken but not stirred pint of milk I'd carried over to Hilbre in my rucksack Saturday morning. A late start meant I didn't leave the house until after 09.00 but yomping in double quick top not only brought a sweat on but made sure I got to Hilbre before 10.00!  With the tide being a high 9.5 metres we were then stuck on the Island until well after lunch.

All in all a relativley good day for the time of year. Few birds were grounded but a retrapped Rock Pipit and some relatively old Robins were interesting to see in the hand. A handful of Blackbirds, a couple of Song Thrushes and three Goldfinches made up the rest of the passerine interest. A short seawatch produced upto 5 Red-throated Divers, a few Scoter and a few Red-breasted Mergansers.

Star of the day though was undoubtedly the young Grey Seal pup found hauled out sleeping on the sheltered side of the Island. Intitially we thought it was dead until it showed a lively turn of flipper when we went to investigate.                                                                  

Leaving Hilbre just as dusk was falling there was no time to check out the redhead Smew at Rostherne Mere but plans we hatched for Sunday morning.

With no news I decided to go and find the bird myself! Several local birders had spent a few hours looking for it and were quite suprised to find I'd been watching it distantly as it swam in and out of the reeds. Pod Antrobus joined me just as the Smew disappeared back into deep cover but a 40 minute wait proved the patient birder gets the bird!

Meanwhile at my end of the M56 a brighter afternoon meant I was able to get out and about with Molly and we spent a productive hour in Stanney Woods followed by a walk along the edge of the stubble fields. Woodland management at Stanney means the hazel understory is being coppiced. Although the wood looks bare at the moment the renewed growth over the next couple of years should provide more cover for breeding Blackcaps &  Bullfinches etc.  A pair of Grey Wagtails have once again taken residence in the woods and can be found around the edges of the various ditches and ponds.

Large numbers of Redwings and Filedfares have moved into the hedges surrounding the farmland and are systematically scoffing the hawthorn berries! These birds are extremely shy and trying to get close enough for a photo is virtually impossible. Amazing when you think most of them have probably never seen people.


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