16 Sep 2012

More of the same - seawatch part two.

Although the wind was forecast to ease of to a moderate force 4 gusting to 5 a decision was made to try another seawatch off Hilbre Saturday in the hope that some of Fridays birds might still be lingering. In particular Mark Payne wanted to see both Long-tailed Skua and Pomarine Skua as both were Cheshire ticks for him.

We drove across picking up a couple from Manchester on the way and met up with Colin Davis just as we arrived at the Obs to find Degsy just departing but with the news he'd seen a juvenile Long--tailed Skua off the north end. At least one of the target birds was still lingering.

After a quick brew we set off to open up the hide to find a handful of birders already gathered on the slipway including Simon Slade & his wife Helen. I've met Simon on several twitches before so it was nice t ocatch up and he joined us in the hide.

No sooner had we opened the viewing flaps then Colin picked out a skua sat on the sea about 200 m away. It looked good for the Long-tailed Skua and both Simon & I sat with shutter fingers poised to try and get a record shot. I gave up but Simon stuck with it and eventually got some impressive shots (considering the distance!) which can be seen on the Hilbre blog. Mine weren't so impressive but its nice to have photographic proof of a L T Skua on Hilbre for once.

Note the elongated rear end, the fine two-toned bill and the long 'hand'. Good stuff and a Cheshire tick for Mark & Colin.

Birds were much scarcer than yesterday with fewer Arctic Skua's (10 logged) and Gannets. A summer plumaged Red-throated Diver was one of 4 seen and we recorded 2 Bonxies. The one photographed below is an adult in heavy moult and the abnormal looking white patches on the wings are the feather shafts revealed as the bird has moulted (and not yet regrown) some of its wing coverts.

By midday the wind had backed right off and the waves dropped considerably. Not surprisingly most of the birds cleared out to sea and our final notable sighting of pelagic birds was of two juvenile Kittiwakes heading out towards the Irish Sea.

Just as we were about to pack it in and call it a day Mark picked up an Osprey coming in from the north high over the wind farm. It started gliding lower and we promptly lost it but one was later seen over the Wirral.

By now the sun was beating down and we walked back to the Obs in shirt sleeves, locked up and set off for home.

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