Blowing away the cobwebs

The fury of Storm Bronagh turned Liverpool Bay into a boiling cauldron this morning – in many ways the startling seascape was the real draw today, as birds moving offshore were few and far between.
Looking north west across the Ribble towards Blackpool, the inshore waters were fierce.
I still gave it three and a half hours at Ainsdale from 0830 to noon though.
Stuart Darbyshire had got down there half an hour or so before me and scored a juv Sab’s Gull – the early bird catches the worm.
The wind was a touch too south west and the tide a bit low for Ainsdale, but you can’t say no to a force 7 on the doorstep.
Just before 9am I picked up a Leach’s Petrel moving south through the surf, those sharp black wings standing out against the raging swell – more may come through this afternoon if the wind swings into the north west as forecast.

Ainsdale, 21.9.18, 0830-1200,
SWly gusting f6-7, squalls:

Leach’s Petrel 1
Manx Shearwater 3
Gannet 1
Med Gull 1
Kittiwake 1
Guillemot 2
Sandwich Tern 57
Common Scoter 50-100 (many more hidden by the swell)
Pintail 7

Roosting gulls held a Med and one or two unsavoury looking Herring Gull x LBB hybrids, while plenty of waders were hunkering down trying to keep out of the wind and racing sands.
A beached Common Scoter was given a right battering by GBBs – nature red in tooth and claw.
There’ll be a lot of exhausted and tired birds on the coast in the next few days – please give them a wide berth and don’t walk through roosts.

One thought on “Blowing away the cobwebs

  1. The Dee Estuary enters arguably its most exciting time of year due to the arrival of vast flocks of birds returning from their Arctic breeding grounds in autumn.
    The RSPB is inviting visitors to take part in a series of events across their Dee Estuary nature reserve to share some of the most impressive natural spectacles in this region.
    To experience the growing flocks on the estuary, drop-in to the ‘Tidewatch’ event on Tuesday 9 October at the Donkey Stand on Parkgate promenade. RSPB staff and volunteers will be on hand with telescopes and binoculars to enhance the impressive views. Suitable for people of all ages and abilities, the event is free of charge, but donations are welcome. Timings vary depending on the tides, so visit for more details.
    Meanwhile, with earlier sunsets – another special autumn attraction on the Wirral – it becomes easier to witness the daily spectacle of the endangered hen harriers flying to roost on the marsh off Parkgate. Head to a ‘Raptorwatch’ event at the Old Baths car park, off Boathouse Lane, for the chance of seeing up to seven different types of birds of prey that make their home on the estuary in winter, plus northern England’s largest little egret colony flying in from the marsh to their night-time roost. The events take place on the second Sunday of each month until March, starting Sunday 14 October, and run from 1pm until sunset.
    Elsewhere, the heart of the RSPB Dee Estuary reserve, Burton Mere Wetlands, is renowned for its growing flocks and wide variety of wading birds at this time of year as they move through on their long migrations. Families visiting the site can enjoy the ‘Wonderful Waders’ Wild Challenge quiz trail to learn about these birds. The trail is available between 9.30am and 3.30pm every day through October free of charge, normal admission charges apply for non members.
    October also sees the return of Wirral Wader Festival, a partnership event between Wader Quest, the RSPB, Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens, and Cheshire Wildlife Trust, now in its fourth year. Over the weekend of Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October, the event aims to showcase the spectacle of wading birds on the protected Wirral coast with various events and activities at Hoylake and West Kirby. For full details of the events and activities during the festival, visit or
    For further information on events and wildlife at RSPB Dee Estuary, visit


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