Going grey

Lifting their toes as the cold waves washed over them, the Dunlin were like children bracing themselves for a paddle in brisk Blighty shallows as I surveyed the high tide north of Burbo Bank yesterday.

Plenty of Lapwing (575+) roosting on the sandbanks with 84 Curlew and smaller numbers of Grey Plover, Sanderling and even a stray Snipe, but as the tide seeped in they left and headed up towards the Alt, leaving only small numbers of Turnstone, Dunlin and Grey Plover roosting nearer Hall Road – situation normal in November.

Totally greyer today though, with a dense mist hanging over Liverpool Bay that hid the Lennox rig on the horizon as I braved a quick seawatch on the rising tide at Ainsdale between 1230 and 1315.

I wasn’t expecting much, and I wasn’t disappointed.

8 Red Throated Diver, 5 Great Crested Grebe, 1 drake Red Breasted Merg heading north and approximately 2,000 Common Scoter visible in the murk.

A few parties of Common Scoter were quite close to shore, but most were blobs on the grey swell.

Clearer visibility would doubtless have revealed more, but it was better than a poke in the eye with a blunt banana.


Bad shopping

Carefully compile shopping list, taking into account what will be needed later in the week, and pack the re-usable shopping bags in the boot. Off we go, nice and early.

Drive straight past supermarket and arrive at Marshside to spend 90 minutes over the tide scanning the misty estuary from the Sandplant.

Despite the November murk it was comfortably mild enough hunkered down out of the breeze – certainly no need for my big coat yet.

About 20 Common Scoter in total were offshore and just on the edge of the vegetation, a female Red Breasted Merganser was noodling about amongst the Wigeon and Shelduck.

Up to four Marsh Harriers, Buzzard, Kestrel and a Merlin, and as the tide crept in, a few calling Rock Pipits were in the air amongst the Skylarks, Stonechats, Reed Buntings, Starlings and Mipits.

Two Ravens to the north, but shopping waits for no man.

So I headed up to Crossens, where a fine spread of Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin and Ruff were off the pull-in, and Pied and Grey Wags bounded over the road and back again, just about audible over the traffic drone.

Not so many geese about though.

A single Water Pipit was feeding on Crossens Inner, in the muddy area just to the east of the metal trough, before it took off and flew off north west – may have dropped across the road onto a brimful Crossens Channel, may not.

As dusk started to creep in I finally got to the supermarket only to be astonished by empty shelves and missing items.

People buy stuff. Who knew?

Time to step outside and shake my fist at the dusk like a grumpy old man. Curse you organised consumers.

Bad shopping.

Lost awhile

Hopefully back for the winter this drake Pochard was on Sands Lake at Ainsdale today, alongside the usual Tufties, Gadwall, Shoveler and Mallard.

Small numbers still though, with a bog-standard collybita Chiffchaff calling and feeding along the west side and nearby a Bullfinch.

The latter are still regular in small numbers on the landward side of the Local Nature Reserve of course, but unusual on the seaward side of Marine Drive.

Goldcrest and a feeding flock of titmice too.

Last night’s calling Greenshank in night skies above Alt Road in Formby was good – out of place but unmistakable.

Thanks to Jack Taylor for sending me his images of a Rock Pipit he had at Southport Marine Lake on Sunday – a good record for that site, although they occur on the Ribble from Marshside up and a few winter around the Alt Navigation Wall north of Burbo Bank.

Further round the coast from the marine lake I had at least two Water Pipits up at Crossens on Sunday, but they were being tricksy and flighty, feeding tight under the bank and out of sight near the concrete trough, or flying up and diving down the banks of Crossens Channel.

Enigmatic is as enigmatic does.

The car knows the way

Keyingham, Ottringham, Patrington, Welwick, Skeffling, Easington, there.

Squeezed a couple of hours in at Spurn yesterday in ridiculously mild conditions – Red Admiral, Common Darter and Small Tortoiseshell on the wing in balmy sun as I pulled up mid-morning at Sammy’s Point.

Sprawks cruised the scrub after migrants as small numbers of Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Redwing, Blackbird and Goldcrest moved through the berry-heavy bushes.

The local Kestrels seemed happier hunting lesser prey.

Chaffinch, Siskin and a single Brambling overhead and there was a smattering of dark bellied Brents on the Humber mud.

Always exciting walking Spurn’s footpaths, and while it was undoubtedly atmospheric, it was comparatively quiet, with small groups of Fieldfare and Redwings dropping in, and Starlings and Blackbirds struggling in off the North Sea.

Once I’d checked around the Crown and Anchor, Kilnsea, Numpties and the Canal Zone I decided to call back in at Sammy’s Point on the way out, and bumped into a fine Snow Bunting stuffing its face with seeds on the track heading south from the car park.

Bathed in the sinking autumn sun it was a stonker – beautifully lit and approachable.

Still on the east coast this morning, circumstances couldn’t have been more different as I watched the young female Blue-Winged Teal at Halton Marsh, just 16 minutes from the mother-in-law’s.

The teal was showing fine, but generally roosting and hideously backlit by the morning sun as Cetti’s Warblers spluttered away in reeds that got more rustly as the wind picked up.

Nice eye-ring and loral spot though and its dinky yellow webs were even visible when it stretched amongst Black Headed Gulls and dozing Mallards.

In a triumph of incompetence over exposure I managed to get a blurry picture as the Yankee took off from the Winter’s Farm pit with a party of Shoveler that shows its powder blue forewing emerging from the sun-blasted water.

God loves a trier.