Back on dry land


The wreck of the Ionic Star was looking mighty fine early doors this morning, and once I’d concluded the guided walk (don’t try this one on your own unless you know the tides, channels etc), and checked to see if the reeling Gropper I had on Friday at Lifeboat Road, Formby, was still about (it wasn’t), I went round to Cabin Hill to give the site a circuit.
Pleasant enough, but very cold when the sun went in, and not much in the way of movement.
Overhead Siskins and Redpolls called, mainly specks against the blue sky, although the buzz of my first Tree Pipit of the year made the trek worthwhile, even if it was frustratingly invisible in the blue.



Three of the local Common Buzzards were up riding the wind, but smaller jobs were decidedly thin on the ground – two singing Chiffchaff, two singing Blackcap and three singing Willow Warbler.
There were some fairly large scale manoeuvres going on across the way on Altcar Rifle Range, so maybe the noise of that had cleared the area – last time I saw that much camo was the Yellow Rumped Warbler twitch in the north east a few years back.
When I was previously at Cabin Hill on Friday afternoon, the fields behind the old farm site held nine White Wags, now the only thing in them was the eight Carrion Crow carcasses strung up and fluttering in the wind (as if that would keep corvids off crops) – how very progressive.
Small groups of Mipits went through, but only the breeding birds dropped down long enough to have a look at.


Started to get a bit depressed thinking about the possibility of the collapse of spring passage – as all birders do on quiet mornings, then remembered that those who have the good fortune to bird Cabin Hill more regularly than me always say the place is at its best at dawn (when I was out playing with shipwrecks in the low tide gloop) and quietens down quick, so I was probably just too late on site.
One good passer migration sesh will put things right.

SW f5-6. Hail. Sun. Squalls. Seawatch.


A steady southerly movement of Gannets off Ainsdale, and a single Fulmar during the morning, was enough to make me give a seawatch a punt at lunchtime today in surprisingly fierce conditions.
The Gannet passage had eased, but there was still a weak stream out on the horizon with one or two closer in by the time I got onto the dunes.
But nothing ventured, nothing gained, it was good to seawatch again, if only for a short time.

Ainsdale 1230-1330:

Gannet 80+
Common Scoter 18+
Red Throated Diver 6 (all high north)
Fulmar 1 (south)
Kittiwake 2 (north)
Great Crested Grebe 1
Teal 7 (north)
Auk sp 1 (north)

The divers (2 small groups) gave the impression of birds on passage, on a day when hirundine and Mipit movement was light to say the least over the dunes.



Heard the Oystercatchers having an aerial breakdown that sounded more frantic than usual as I pulled up outside the Ainsdale Discovery Centre for work this morning and looked skyward to see this Osprey plugging north over the frontal dunes at 0825.
Surprisingly the gulls ignored the raptor as it sailed north about 100ft up.
Smiley face way to start a day – but it was always going away from me by the time I fumbled the “point and press” out of my rucksack…



Part of the furniture


As the season advances the Siskins at Dempsey Towers seem to become ever tamer, and this year is no exception.
Numbers may be down on the last few weeks, but there’s still up to eight dropping in, and now, especially on warmer, sunnier days (like today), they don’t leave the feeders when I walk past if I’m doing a bit of gardening.
Photo opp!!!



The males seem warier, but even they will sit quietly as I wander past, P900 in hand.
Blat blat blat.
I’ll miss ’em when they go, although I might get a bit more gardening done.


Spring morning.


Early doors-ish start at Hesketh Road this morning, in good conditions – high cloud, cool and a light south easterly.
Plenty of Chiffchaffs singing on Hesketh Golf Course (7-8 in song, including one singing in flight, which I can’t remember coming across before with this species), four Goldcrest, and small parties of Sand Martin, Siskin and Mipits all got the spring juices going.
Two Redwings were a bit of a surprise, but they’ve gotta move sometime.
Two Ravens were tumbling and “upside-down” flying over Marshside One (why do they do that? because they can).
The Water Rail was calling away in the SSSI ditch.
The three members of the Scaup Cartel were all fast asleep off the Hesketh Road platform, and at about 0845 the first of two singing Willow Warblers started tuning up.
Goldcrest and more and more parties of Mipits moved through as Sunday woke up.
Numbers of Sand Martins increased as I was joined by Neill, Alan and David, so that at least 60 birds had come through before Mad Dog Bannon et al rocked up and the platform got quite crowded.


A Peregrine came circling over in the almost warm sun, right above us, while the local Sprawks kept a lower profile, cruising over the golf course trees.
Wheatear Corner was quiet, and although a steady procession of dogs, birders and everyone else had been through it by the time I got to the Sandplant, there were still two Wheatears (both female), a dazzling White Wagtail and a Goldcrest in there.
Four Med Gulls on the Sandplant lagoon, including two first summers.
One of the youngsters was carrying nesting material.
At least 1,000 Pinkies, probably more, out on the outer marsh still… it comes…..