…and another thing

This hot weather finally saw reasonable numbers of Wheatears starting to move along the Sefton coast over the last two days.
It’s a strange year when “normal” passage numbers don’t start appearing until the middle of April.
But a close encounter with these things is always a treat – worth the wait.
I came across this lot yesterday at Ainsdale LNR – an approachable group of five scurrying around the fixed dunes and actively feeding, when they weren’t perching up on the vegetation (all very Greenland behaviour).

Hoopoe jam

Kate Martin, Formby area ranger with the National Trust sounded a tad bemused when she rang at lunchtime….
“I think I’ve just seen a Hoopoe in the asparagus fields”, she explained. “We were driving through and it flew up and into the woods”.
Given that a Hoopoe showed briefly at Hightown this morning (thanks to Pete Gardiner for the gen – see previous posting) before melting away as spring migrants often do, I thought Kate was right.
It was lunchtime so I whizzed down to Freshfield, narrowly avoiding the lengthening car park queues which are a feature of the coast on hot sunny days.
A scan of the asparagus fields south of the Victoria Road beach car park revealed the Hoopoe feeding along a track in the hot sun.
Very Mediterranean.

I didn’t get too close to the bird as it kept flying into the pine belt east and west of the asparagus fields, but always flapped back in to feed.
Apparently some muck has been spread on the fields in the last day or two – vital for healthy asparagus growth later in the season – so I guess it’s just about Hoopoe heaven.
Thanks to Kate and the National Trust team – top find…
See below for a Hoopoe-happy Kate!

If you go looking for the Hoopoe, please stay out of the fields – there is no public access to them.
The best place to look from is the footpath that runs south from the Victoria Road beach car park and skirts the asparagus fields.
The bird was favouring the southern fields at lunchtime.
Two Sandwich Terns past Ainsdale earlier, Wheatears and hirundine numbers finally starting to pick up.