3 Dec 2012

Purps and divers

The weekend got off to a good start Friday afternoon when a couple of hours ringing in the garden prodcued a control Great Tit. (i.e a bird ringed somewhere else by another ringer). A bit of investigation  by Mr Elliot determined it had been ringed at Shotton Steelworks - a distance of around 10 km I reckon and a good indication of where some of my garden birds are coming from / getting to. Its amazing to me that I'm retrapping birds that I haven't seen for over a year in the garden despite regular ringing sessions.

A late night Friday saw me texting Mr Payne at 4.00 am Saturday morning confriming I WOULD be up and around to go to Hilbre over the tide Saturday morning.  As promised  I was up after 3 hours sleep and ready to go when he arrived just after nine. A beautiful cold Decembers day saw us in the seawatching hide in a NNW Force 5 for a productive few hours.

Amongst good numbers of Red-throated Divers Mark picked up a relatively close Black-throated Diver which proved to be difficult to get on to amid the swell. After a few moments panic I got good views as it alternatively appeared and then disappeared. Through the 'scope and with such good light, it was possible to see the nape was actually dark grey and not black. The bird eventually disappeared beyond out view as the tide flooded but we picked it up again, more distantly, as the tide ebbed and it was last seen flying towards the windfarm.

A small wader jinking in from the west had me yelling to Mark to get on it quickly just before it pitched down on the water amongst a group of gulls - a Grey Phalarope! Sadly we think the loafing Herrings and Greater Black-backs might have polished it off as an hor-deuvre.

Unusual numbers of Teal were seen in small groups but with one big group of 30 and it later transpired that Leighton Moss was frozen so we assume this is where they'd disperesed from.

As the ebbing tide exposed the rocks off the end of the slipway the Purple Sandpipers started returning and we spent a bit of time checking them and the Tunrstones for colour ringed birds.
A quick bacon and fried egg sandwich for lunch and it was time to leave.

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