17 Feb 2015

Turnstones & Purple Sandpipers

It was WeBs count again and luckily it dawned overcast and windless. Ideal conditions for checking what lurked on the sea off Hilbre.

As soon as I'd arrived it was evident there were a lot of birds on show as Great -crested Grebes seemed to be everywhere. In the end  I counted 209 in one sweep from Flint round to West Kirby. A pair of Eiders were a good sighting flying up the west side whilst a flock of 18 Scaup drifted in as the tide flooded. Best find was a Black-throated Diver that drifted distantly down the west side before flying towards Point of Ayr. Once again there were huge numbers of Common Scoter out towards the windfarm but despite scanning intensely I couldn't pick up ant Velvet Scoter. Unfortunately they are just to far out to be able to pick out anything unusual on the water but surely we must get a Surf Scoter out there soon.

Waders were around in good numbers with a winter high of 11 Purple Sandpipers roosting on their preferred ledges along the west side.

As the tide ebbed I stood at the north end and waited for the Turnstones to come back and feed. It appears their favourite food are the small barnacles encrusting the rocks and they probe away until they extract the morsel within.

Below: Turnstone with barnacle

Below: view through the old lifeboat station door looking south.

With little use during the winter period the Obs needs a good airing so I'd lit the wood burner again and opened all the windows. With the radiators hot it helps to dry place out as well as providing somewhere to warm up after 3 hours counting birds.

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