9 Jan 2011

Return of the cold weather.

Snow returned to the area midweek but luckily didn't last two long. The cold weather meant the local pond froze over briefly and the Moorhens returned to the garden.

Another good garden bird so early in the year (but not totally unexpected considering the movement between the Dee marshes and elsewhere) was a flyover Canada Goose.
As usual the feeders are proving a magnet for the local birds and they're queueing up as I'm refilling them. These Long-tailed Tits couldn't wait and piled onto the fat feeders whilst I was still refilling.

With the high tide on Hilbre falling just after midday Mark Payne & I decided to go and stay over for a seawatch. A good move! As seems to be the norm these days there were few birds on the flooding tide and most of the movement occurred on the ebb.Strong winds meant the sea was pretty choppy compared to recent week. There were plenty of Red-throated Divers, Great-crested Grebes and Common Scoter moving along with small numbers of both Guillemot & Razorbill. Mark proved his worth by first finding a Great Northern Diver and then yelled he'd got a Slav Grebe off the north end. Eventually finding the bird we both virtually simultaneously realised we were looking at an adult winter Red-necked Grebe! We watched the grebe for around 20 minutes before it swam north out of sight.

Despite searching around Little Eye and Middle Eye each side of the tide we didn't see the Shorelarks that had reportedly been seen off West Kirby and flown towards Little Eye. Two Obs members working the salt marsh looking for the previous nights Avocet also failed to see any Shore Larks. A bit like the Bermuda triangle - first last years Buff-breasted Sandpiper & now two Shore Larks. Gone in a puff of air!

A search of the wader roost at high tide produced 5 separate colour ringed Turnstones the oldest being this bird ringed in the winter of 2004 /2005 and roosting on Lion Rock.

With lots to do around the house Sunday I  didn't manage to make Hilbre but just after midday wandered across to Inner Marsh Farm in search of the elusive Green-winged Teal we'd missed just before Christmas. Success - but distant. A pretty grotty looking bird that looks to have a number of juvenile feathers still.

As well as the Teal a female Marsh Harrier put in a brief appearance before dropping down into vegetation on the new part of the reserve.

All good stuff for a winters afternoon. Before reaching the hide I heard Golden Plover calling and a scan soon picked them up as they wheeled around over a field full of winter thrushes and Lapwings. Luckily they flew straight over the camera before heading out towards the marshes.

A fantastic end to the first week of January!

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