18 Dec 2011

December fayre.

I joined Mark for a couple of hours at Burton Mere Wetlands Saturday afternoon - most civilised. Standing in the warm reception building eating mince pies and drinking tea whilst watching a Short -eared Owl and the comings and goings of the wildfowl. The White-fronts gave a good display as they flew around over the building and we eventually tracked them down feeding on a field of winter wheat about 1/2 mile away. White-fronted Geese are pretty scarce in Cheshire these days but these have stayed awhile so hopefully the new RSPB flagship reserve in Cheshire will attract a regular wintering population. With Whoopers and Bewick Swans both being seen it really was a winter wildfowl extravaganza.

There have been loads of Buzzards locally feeding on invertebrates in fields of winter wheat and using the Landrover as a hide I managed shots of this bird  - one of four in the same field.

Sunday saw me picking up John and heading to Hilbre for first light on a stormy day. Not many birds around on the island but we did catch and ring another new Blackbird to keep the annual total ticking over. The inshore lifeboat crew were on 'exercises' and provided some good action shots.

Brent numbers have built up and today we counted an impressive 112 including 2 Dark-bellied individuals amongst the commoner Pale-bellied. There were good numbers of Turnstone, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwits and Oystercatchers but no Purple Sandpipers today. We also watched some interesting behaviour from a juvenile Herring Gull as it dropped mussels on to the rocks to crack them .This behaviour is seen regularly but poses the question as to whether this juvenile gull has learnt from older birds or watched the Carrion  Crows do the same thing?

With half a dozen mince pies to fortify us along with numerous cups of tea it was a wonderful day to be out on the island.

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