15 Aug 2010

In the bag!

Friday afternoon saw gale force noorth westerlies on the N Wirral coast the 'Good Shepherd' offered to look after one of his flock and go seawatching off the Gunsites. Not much happened before the tide began to ebb but we did see a couple of Arctic Skua's, a handfull of Kittiwakes and a single Manx Shearwater.

A relatively high tide was crashing over the lower path below the embankment but despite the stormy conditions birds were few and far between.

Contrast Friday with Saturday when the weather was much warmer. Taking Molly to Frodsham and picking up Mark Payne enroute we checked No. 6 tank before driving round to No. 4 tank. A single Marsh Harrier was seen distantly over the score but by far the best bird was a juvenile Cuckoo. Leaving Frosham we checked the gulls out on a field adjacent to the Gowy tip where Groucho picked up the first of two juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls roosting on a recently harvested field adjacent to the road.  From here we met up with one of Wirrals finest at Meols where there were two adult Med Gulls on the beach before the rising tide pushed them off. From here we checked out  the groyne near the Leasowe Castle Hotel where a Greenshank roosted with the more usual wader species. Finally we ended up at Kings Gap to watch the waders coming back to feed as the tide receeded. A fly through 'unidentifed' brick red coloured wader was lost as it touched down but our intial identification as a possible Curlew Sandpiper was confirmed when we heard one had flown past Dove Point about 5 minutes earlier with a flock of Dunlin! Wader numbers are building up and we had a good number of superb summer plumaged Grey Plover and a juvenile Med Gull amongst the highlights.

Dropping Mark off for his train in Chester I decided to walk Molly along the canal towpath at Stoke making the most of the warm weather. Not much to see but at least the dog appreciated my efforts and the scenery is fantastic if you manage to ignore Shell Stanlow in the background.

A fall of migrnats on the east coast raised ourt hopes for Hilbre today. Awake early I walked Molly before leaving and logged a Tree Pipit flying over the house! A good sign. A very full Landrover (no room for Molly today) beat across the sand spilling some of its occupants out to walk Middle Eye as is the norm to check for any grounded migrants.

Hilbre from Middle Eye.

No sooner had we arrived at the Obs when I was greeted with a smiling group of ringers proffering a bird bag. Hmm. It was either something good they wanted me to ring or something really bad that would draw blood.

Luckily for me it was the former! As soon as I saw the bill I realised what it was and checking the hind claw confirmed it. A beautifully fresh young Tree Pipit. Checking the wing formula confirmed the identification and my day was off to a good start. Only about 10 have been ringed on Hilbre so it was a privelege for me to be able to ring this one. Thanks lads for cheering me up immensely after a difficult week.

As the weather became a bit hazy a small fall occured and soon after me asking John if Hilbre caught many autumn Grasshopper Warblers then Mr Jones proved he still has better hand eye coordination than any England goalkeeper in the World Cup and plucked one out of the SK.

Coupled with a few Willow Warblers and two Wheatears its another sign Autumn is definitely on the way.

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