Mediterranean December afternoon

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The air was harsh and cold on the back of my throat and nipped at my fingers, but the Green Beach was as good a place as any to spend a few hours today – Stonechat, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Linnet, Song Thrush etc in the buckthorn and enough gulls around to be worth a grilling.
There were more on the coast, especially at Ainsdale, yesterday, but I didn’t really have the time to work through them – a coloured ringed Herring Gull or two was the best I could muster.
Old favourite “A Gull called Arse” (okay, R4RS) was at Weld Rd during the hooley on Wednesday as was an adult Med.

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Today, with the tide way out, the gulls were scattered all over the channels between Birkdale and Ainsdale, gorging on a razor and rayed trough shell wreck, so I concentrated on those washing and roosting around the freshwater run-off from the River Nile and points south.
One or two “traffic-light” primaried argentatus Herrings and two adult winter Med Gulls were the best bits of a blustery few hours.
One of the Meds looked suspiciously like the bird at the top of this entry, which I photographed when it was loitering around the southern end of the Marine Lake earlier this winter.
It headed inland in the direction of Hillside once it had enjoyed a wash and brush up in the run-off.
The other bird had much more heavily marked ear coverts and nape.
The usual interesting range of mantle tones on the Common Gulls, from dark charcoal to pearly grey, with a few birds with particularly dark winter “hoods”.
Twite (approx 30) and Linnet bounding about above the saltmarsh, but never settling.
Little Egrets inevitable.

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One thought on “Mediterranean December afternoon

  1. Visitors to the RSPB’s Parkgate reserve on the Dee Estuary are being given the chance to see England’s most threatened bird of prey in action.
    The reserve is hosting “Skydancers on the Dee”, a series of monthly events offering nature lovers the opportunity to experience hen harriers at their winter roost site.
    Hen harriers breed in the uplands and are famous for the male’s spectacular aerobatic spring courtship display known as skydancing. The birds spend the winter on lower ground, often on marshes, and the Dee Estuary has long been one of the best places to see these remarkable birds.
    Sadly, hen harriers are on the brink of extinction in England as a breeding bird. This year there were only four breeding pairs in the whole of England. In 2013, there was not a single successful nest in the country, despite scientists concluding there is sufficient habitat for more than 300 pairs.
    Independent research has shown that ongoing illegal killing and disturbance associated with the grouse moor industry is responsible for the plight of the hen harrier.
    There is also a giant hen harrier spending the winter over at Burton Mere Wetlands. Harry is a six-foot male hen harrier, created by local young nature enthusiast Findlay Wilde. The large-scale model bird has been touring the country to raise awareness about hen harrier conservation. This year, it has made appearances at Hen Harrier Day in the Peak District, Bird Fair in Rutland and mostly recently, on BBC Autumnwatch at RSPB Leighton Moss in Lancashire.
    “Skydancers on the Dee” is on Sunday 21 December from noon until dusk, at the “Donkey Stand” on The Parade in Parkgate. There are further events on 25 January 2015, 22 February and 29 March. All events are free and visitors can drop in any time.
    Skydancer is a four-year RSPB project aimed at protecting and conserving nesting hen harriers in the English uplands. The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and United Utilities with additional support from the Forestry Commission. For more information, visit http://www.rspb.org.uk/skydancer.

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