18 Jan 2016

A nice day for a WeBs count.

It wasn't a spectacular WeBs count but it produced some nice birds! With an early tide I knew I had to leave the foreshore in the dark by 07.30 am at the latest. As it happened I couldn't sleep so made my way across to the island at around 05.30 and sat listening to the waders moving around me in the dark.

As dawn broke Cormorants started flighting out to the open sea from their roost further up the estuary. In 1 hour between 08.00 and 09.00 I counted over 1,800 birds. As the tide flooded wader numbers started building up on Middle Eye with Oystercatchers and Curlew being the dominant birds. The leucistic Oystercatcher photographed on the 14th December by Pete Antrobus was again present. Niffy Bay held a good number of Turnstones with a minimum of 114 roosting on Lion Rock - including the old faithful colour ringed bird from 2008/9 season.

Its hard to imagine how many miles this little bird might have flown in its life backwards and forwards from its Arctic breeding ground to faithfully return to Hilbre for the last 6 or 7 years.

A seawatch was productive with a male Long-tailed Duck picked up sat on the sea with a small flock of Common Scoter but there were very few divers or grebes.

Three duck picked up flying directly towards me from the wind farm ditched in to the sea and were identified as Scaup. They quickly took off again and flew down the west side of Hilbre allowing some photos to be taken.

Once relatively common off the Wirral they've now become increasingly scarce. I remember vising the area, whilst at Manchester University, to see flocks of several hundred Scaup.

A small group of Brent Geese roosted over the high tide at the south and for some reason the Brents were well scattered so a proper count wasn't possible.

As the tide ebbed waders started leaving their roosts and three Purple Sandpipers were counted at the north end along with a handful of Redshanks.

With the weather forecast turning colder in the next week or so perhaps we'll get a few scarcer sea ducks moving down from the north?

As I was leaving there was just time to catch up with the long staying Great-northern Diver on West Kirby marine lake. This bird is showing really well on occasions as it sticks mainly to the north end of the lake fishing for crabs.

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