14 Apr 2013

They're here!

A strange time of year when we are still seeing loads of wintering birds but the summer migrants are now pouring through. Thursday evening after work and I was beating the local patch looking for Wheatear or even better my first local Wheatear. Nothing! But suddenly a lone Sand Martin flew low into the wind as it beat its way north. My first of the year

 Friday afternoon and I'm off to Hilbre overnight to ensure an early start the next morning. Blackbirds,& Redwings had been caught all day and there was also a good passage of Robins and Goldcrests. As well as these birds the first Willow Warblers put in an appearance hirundines were at last moving through. We managed t catch another 4 Blackbirds and a few more Goldcrests late afternoon and were looking forward to a relaxing evening with a nice meal and a beer in front of the wood burning stove. The perfect antidote to a stressful week at work. That didn't happen.

With news from Allan Conlin that there were three Ring Ouzels on the golf course along Lingham Lane and with Steve having to go off to collect our tea we decided to pick up Chris on the way through Hoylake and check out the Ouzels, grab the chilli that had been made for us by Clare and head back to the Island. The best laid plans and all that......

Chris's phone was dead so we couldn't reach him but we arrived at Lingham Lane in good time and soon found the Ouzels.

Suddenly they took flight and all three flew towards us and then disappeared high and out of view. We'd seen them by the skin of our teeth. By now Chris had charged his phone and contacted us to say he'd found another Ring Ouzel down Park Lane so off we set.....only for the alternator light to come on in the Landrover. A quick look at the Ouzel and then it was bonnet up to find the remains of the fan belt wrapped around the fan.

Luckily I had a spare and limped to the Williams pad where Chris helped me over the next two hours to replace the fan belt. What should have been a simple job was made complicated by the fact the new belt seemed about an inch to short. Eventually we got it fixed and headed belatedly to Hilbre in the dark after grabbing our food and washing the worst of the oil & grime off.  Now I was worried a bout a rattle coming from the rear suspension............................

We were up very early and it soon became clear there had been a bit of a fall during the night. The first round of the heligolands produced Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, crests and thrushes.  There was even more good news when Chris rang to say he'd seen a Redstart at the south end of the island and we soon relocated it as it worked its way along the east side before promptly getting caught in a mist net. The first of the year.

What a little beauty  - a 2nd calendar year male. You can see the moulted inner bluish greater coverts from the photo's below.

With a good overhead movement of finches and a Tree Pipit it was turning in to a glorious day. It got even better when Steve spotted a Sparrowhawk seemingly roosting and digesting its latest meal inside the Newton trap.

It turned out to be a control having being ringed elsewhere and was another 2nd calendar year male. The prequel to this is that Chris photographed a Sparrowhawk on the Obs fence the previous day and then notice it was ringed! Surprisingly it stayed around obviously enjoying its diet of waders and migrants as you can see by the gore around its bill and nape.

With the tide on the flood it was time for me to leave. I had a quick look for a couple of Ring Ouzels reported at park Lane again before heading to the Leasowe Lighthouse café to meet up with Mark and enjoy a bacon butty and cup of tea before heading home.

The excitement hadn't finished though as Frank texted me to say Frodshams 2nd ever Firecrest was showing well between No. 6 & 5 tanks so hoping for some photos I headed off. Unfortunately the wind had picked up and it was beginning to rain so I didn't get the photo's I'd hoped for.

What a little gem.

Sunday had me debating whether to go to Hilbre over the tide but a phone call from my father in law  who'd had his garden wall pushed over and car vandalised during the night saw paid to that and instead I removed the rubble to the tip but still managed to find a male Redstart in bushes adjacent to the motorway! A quick call to the Ports finest & Al was on his way to twitch this local 'mega'.

The rattle under the Landrover turned out to be a loose shock absorber mounting where the bush and washer holding it in place had somehow disappeared leaving the nut in place and a very loose shock rattling merrily over every bump. And there's a few of those crossing from West Kirby to Hilbre.

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