Gone fishin’

I was lucky enough to see the Pagham Harbour Elegant Tern in 2017, and too lazy (and albatross fixated) to go to Cemlyn for the summering bird last month, so a Lancs tick on Formby Beach was not to be sniffed at this afternoon when the beast relocated here.

Once Tim Vaughan had refound the Elegant Tern just before 4pm today I scooted down, however the bird had flown out into the bay by the time I strolled in from Lifeboat Road – gone fishin’.

No matter, as it was glorious ‘scoping the Albert Road roost for a few hours as birds came and went and the air was filled with harsh tern calls while the meagre high tide crept up the channels.

There’s always been a great variety of species in this roost over the years and this afternoon there were probably 2,000 terns initially with numbers dwindling as the evening went on and the sun sank.

Hard to say how many Sandwich Terns as they were so dynamic, rising and falling, fishing and bathing…

Huge numbers of Common Terns, a scattering of Arctics and up to 8 Little Gulls, with at least four gorgeous scallopy juvenile Med Gulls (several of which appeared to throw up with disconcerting regularity – what are you eating???).

Repeatedly sweeping left to right, then back again through the roost in the hope of pulling out the Elegant Tern (birds were coming and going all the time), my ‘scope rested on a superb Roseate Tern.

A ringed bird (right leg), I did wonder if it had been banded by Niall Keogh and co over the horizon – you can’t beat a good bit of Rockabilly.

The Rosy spent most of its time in the roost hidden by other birds but later came out on the north side, distant but pearly white and marvellously pallid compared to other terns to preen (it’s the left hand bird below).

A classy, black-billed beauty, but equally cool was a teeny weeny Little Tern which I picked out at the very north end of the flock an hour or so later.

My first locally this year.

No Elegant this evening, but it was still a quality few hours, with good company and a Mersey mouth boiling with terns.

Numbers are really building now with Graham Clarkson logging 4,000 Sandwich Terns off the Alt at Hightown a short distance to the south and hundreds of birds feeding offshore while we watched the Albert Road roost.

Birds seem to have deserted Ainsdale this year – a few were feeding offshore early this morning, but clearly most are between the Alt and Ravenmeols.

That can change of course, as numbers tend to peak at Ainsdale in a fortnight or so, but hopefully I’ll get another crack at the Elegant in the next few days…

Sand Eel anyone?