Saturday, 28 March 2015

28 March 2015

Weather: SW-5-6, cold, cloudy and rain.

The inclement weather prevented much migration and observers took the opportunity to rest after a few days of long walks across the sands  scoter hunting.

Those who did venture out were rewarded with a third summer Caspian Gull on the beach opposite Roman Road, Meols, whilst Wirrals  first Sandwich Tern of the year was seen from the Mersey Ferry around lunch time today.


Friday, 27 March 2015

Surf Scoter Seconds

 Weather: SW-1-2 decreasing. warm and overcast with sunny spells.

The drake Surf Scoter was again off Hoylake prom today among a smallish group of around 700 Common Scoter. The Surf Scoter stuck out like a beacon with its oversized bill and gleaming nape patch.  The bird was much closer today and clearly showed an all black forehead aging it as a 1st summer male. 

A poor but passable? record shot was managed using the i phone and scope combination. I think it is clear even from this poor photo just how obvious the white nape patch is, even at distance.

Also present were 5 Velvet Scoters, 1 Red breasted Merganser and 2 Long tailed Duck. 

Some observers counted over 20,000 Common Scoter flushed by a passing boat mid afternoon. Also present mid afternoon were 20 Red throated Divers

With the weather looking poor it is unlikely the Surf Scoter will be seen over the weekend. Although we are on neap tides anyone considering venturing out onto the East Hoyle Bank should do with extreme caution and be aware of any incoming tidal channels that may be behind them.

Few passerines moved through today at the lighthouse bar a steady movement of Meadow Pipit and a single Rock pipit.


!st summer male Surf Scoter (AMC)


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Surf Scoter; 1st record for Cheshire and Wirral.

Weather; Fine, sunny day with almost no wind.

Cheshire and Wirral's long awaited first Surf Scoter, an adult drake, was discovered early this morning among the many thousands of Common Scoter off Hoylake by lighthouse regulars Allan Conlin and Kenny Dummigan, a well deserved reward for many weeks of searching for this species here.

This is one of the very few occasions when a county first has been found more by design than by luck. Local birders had long believed that 'Surfies' were present among the vast flocks of Common Scoters barely visible far out off Hoylake but the main problem was that these flocks were just too far out to see clearly enough. Allan, however, had recently figured out how to get close enough to these flocks to enable them to be sifted through. This involved a long hike across the sand at the lowest time of the tide to the distant tide line. It is essential for there to be no or extremely little wind to enable the birds to be visible on the still sea. Early visits are best to avoid the heat haze which builds up later in the day. A sunny day also helps as it reflects the all important white bits of both drake Surf Scoters and flying Velvet Scoters.

Over recent weeks Allan's pioneering tactics have paid off with record breaking counts of Common Scoters, far in excess of previous counts, and regular sightings of rarer sea duck such as Long-tailed Duck, Eider and Velvet Scoter. 

Perfect wind, tide, light and sun conditions were in place early this morning which greatly assisted the discovery of the Surf Scoter. Other species seen here at the time included at least 5 Velvet Scoters, 2 Long-tailed Ducks, 11 Red-breasted Mergansers, 3 Great-crested Grebes and over 10,000 Common Scoters.

A fantastic find and many congratulations to Allan and Ken.   

Sunday, 22 March 2015

22nd March 2015

Weather: SE-0-1, sunny , some haze.

Another  long slog out to the East Hoyle Bank for low water, was again productive. In addition to the 17,000 Common Scoter there were Red breasted Merganser (9), Great crested Grebe (5), Velvet Scoter (1) and 2 Long tailed Duck .

As the sun set on this evenings late low tide it was a wonderful sight to see so many sea duck displaying, feeding and generally flying around with all the vigour of spring. 

The photo below does not do justice to the sheer numbers of Common Scoter present. The flock stretched from the Life boat shed in Hoylake to  the west all the way to Dove Point, Meols in the East. It has to be one of the Ornithological spectacles to witness on the Wirral if not the UK at moment.



Saturday, 21 March 2015

21 March 2015

Weather: NE-4 decreasing, sunny.

A glorious morning produced  few grounded migrants. 4 Wheatear were in 'Hoopoe Hollow' whilst another 2 birds were near Wallasey coastguards.

Two Snipe passed over high whilst several Teal were to be found on the River Birkett.

Our spring passage of 'White winged Gulls' continued today. A 1st year Iceland Gull which was picked inland of the Lighthouse. The bird flew west in a mixed flock and disappeared to view.  

Offshore 2 Velvet Scoter were seen from dove point during high water. A female Long tailed Duck was a surprise find amongst the 15,000 Common Scoter which continue to frequent the waters off the East Hoyle Bank.

A fantastic day was rounded off by an Osprey seen by one lucky observer over West Kirby, being mobbed by Gulls as it headed North.


Friday, 20 March 2015

Friday 20th March 2015

Weather;  Cloudy with some mist and drizzle. Wind west F3

Early spring migration continues through the Leasowe area with around 100 Meadow Pipits moving mainly east and south through the paddocks mid-morning. This movement appeared to peter out after midday. A significant arrival of Wheatears also occured at the same time with 9 birds appearing in the Meols Common area during a period of mist and drizzle. This is a large arrival considering the  early date. All birds involved were males and most had dispersed inland by mid afternoon. 

A group of 11 Fieldfares and 4 Redwings arrived from the south, landing in poplars near Lingham Lane before continuing north-west. 3 Fieldfares lingered in the paddocks here.

A probable Water Pipit, perhaps yesterday's bird, flew east over the car park, calling as it went. Rock Pipit, however, could not be ruled out completely.

The Little Owl remains near Lingham bridge where it continues to sing regularly and is occasionally visible along the treeline along the north bank of the Birkett west of the bridge. A telescope greatly assists in finding this bird here.
4 Goldcrests, 3 Stonechats and a single Chiffchaff were also in the lighthouse area.  Observers; KD, MGT, EW.
The solar eclipse from Hoylake. AMC

Thursday, 19 March 2015

19th March 2015

Weather: West 1-2, sunny with some heavy fog

Not quite the excitement today following  yesterday's Red  Kite, however there was a report of a Water Pipit in the paddocks mid morning. This is an exceptionally rare bird at the Lighthouse and coincides with the continued northward movement of Meadow Pipit.

Other birds moving North today included Jackdaw(4) and Woodpigeon (17). At Lingham bridge the Little Owl continues to call and a Kingfisher was observed perched up just to the west of the bridge.

A single Wheatear was at the West Groyne whilst a further 5 birds dropped in mid afternoon on Meols Common.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Wednesday 18th March 2015

Weather; Sunny with some sea mist. Wind f1-3 North-east.

The sea mist which temporarily enveloped the Leasowe area mid-morning may have encouraged a small early spring arrival. 9 Goldcrests and 5 Chiffchaffs were in the area of the duck pond and Lingham Lane while unknown numbers of Fieldfares were heard passing overhead unseen in the fog. A further 40 Fieldfares and 11 Redwings were grounded in the paddocks alongside Lingham Lane. A Wheatear was in the area of the western groyne, where the Greenshank was still in residence.

Around 200 Meadow Pipits passed through the area, mainly in the paddocks, together with around 15 Skylarks. The Pipits were heading mainly east while the Skylarks appeared to be headed west.

The Little Owl continues to sing near Lingham bridge and is occasionally visible. 

The first rare raptor of the spring, a Red Kite, headed eastwards at 2.30 p.m. 

Observers; KAD, KD, LH, EW.

Redwing and Fieldfare  KD

Red Kite, record shot.   EW

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

17th March 2015

Weather: E-0-1, overcast with sunny spells.

A single Wheatear was west of the Western Groyne whilst the Meadow Pipit migration continued with over 50 being recorded in the paddocks.

Our first Redpoll of the spring flew over late afternoon as Meadow Pipits continued to arrive.

Offshore an incredible 15,000 Common Scoter were counted from the East Hoyle bank. Also here were a Red breasted Merganser, 5 Great crested Grebe, 2 Goldeneye whilst a drake Velvet Scoter flew in from the west landing amongst the Common Scoter.


Monday, 16 March 2015

16th March 2015

Weather: Cloudy with occasional showers. Wind variable 1-2. Temperature 7 C.

The flat grey light and the lack of wind were conducive to good birding  today at the lighthouse. The rain,however, was not.

Nonetheless some smashing birds presented themselves for inspection. A stunning male Wheatear, inland of the western groyne, stole the show, but the accompanying 4 Stonechats (2 of each sex) enhanced the scene here.

On the return journey, some 3 hours later, all these birds had moved on. 

An impressive total of 150 plus Meadow Pipits and 4 Skylarks shared the Paddocks with a pair of displaying Lapwings. As recently as 2011 eleven or twelve pairs of Lapwings bred, or attempted to breed here, but due to disturbance from several civil engineering projects over recent years, the numbers of pairs have sadly declined markedly. 

A Little Owl called and was seen in trees just west of Lingham Bridge. This species was formerly seen frequently in this area but has become far more elusive in recent times. It is nice to know that they are still here.

A flock of 46 Fieldfares and 2 Redwings graced the Lingham Bridge area, no doubt congregating prior to their departure for Scandinavia.

A single Goldcrest betrayed its presence by calling within a flock of Long tailed Tits on the Nature Trail.

The northerly movement of Black headed Gulls continued with 375 birds being recorded during the evenings high tide roost at Dove Point.


Wheatear (KD)

Sunday, 15 March 2015

15th March 2015

Weather: SE-3, cool and overcast

The first North shore Wheatear was found at Meols by (JB) early morning. Other migrants in the paddocks included 42 Meadow Pipit and 5 Stonechat. 

The northerly migration of Black headed Gulls continues with a group of 120 birds on the shore by  the Western Groyne at high water.

Further offshore an adult Iceland Gull found by (MGT)was found on the shore directly out from Roman Road. Also here a drake Velvet Scoter was found amongst 2000 Common Scoter as observers continue to search for Wirral's first Surf Scoter.

Further west 3 Eider were on the sea between Hilbres North End and the East Hoyle bank found by Elliot Montieth (EM)

JB, EM and MGT

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Wednesday 11th March 2015

Weather; Cloudy, wind SE f4.

The Laughing Gull remains at New Brighton. An adult Mediterranean Gull was also here today in the area of the small model boating lake.

The heavy early spring passage of Stonechats continues along the north Wirral shore. 9 birds were near Leasowe lighthouse, mainly in the Meols common area and near the western kissing gate. A further 4 birds were in the Leasowe castle area with 2 more on Wallasey golf course. Stonechat passage is regular here in March but seldom in such high numbers.

Stonechat. A pale individual with a strong supercilium and white mid-wing panel. With these features a bad view of this bird could suggest Siberian Stonechat. From this angle though the sooty throat and hint of a rich brown streaky rump confirm it's identity as Common Stonechat.  EW.
Other migrants on the move included around 70 Meadow Pipits, 60 Redwings and a group of 22 Pink-footed Geese which headed west. Singles of both Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were at Lingham bridge and 15 Skylarks, 3 Reed Buntings, 7 Pied and a single Grey Wagtail were in the paddocks.  Observers KAD, EW.
Meadow Pipit in the paddocks.   EW

Saturday, 7 March 2015

7th March 2015

Weather: S-3, mild and sunny.

The mild weather made for a pleasant day at the Lighthouse today with a number of Bumble Bees and Butterflies being noted.

A few notable species were recorded including 4 Snipe, 5 Pied Wagtail and 25 Meadow Pipits. Most notable however was the arrival of more Stonechats following yesterdays single bird. Ten birds were recorded (8m, 2f) including 8 birds together along the fence line bordering the paddocks.

A belated report of our first Sand Martin was recorded over the Lighthouse pond.


One of ten Stonchat at the Lighthouse. (Alistair Orton)

Friday, 6 March 2015

6th March 2015

Weather: W-3, sunny and warm

No sign of either of the two Glaucous Gulls in recent days and the Hoylake Gull roost has dramatically reduced to no more than 500 birds today.

With glorious spring weather observers were on the lookout for the traditional spring migrants such as Sand Martin or Wheatear. No sign yet, however there were plenty of other migrants in the paddocks including 38 Meadow Pipit and 7 Pied Wagtails. 4 Stock Dove flew north over Hoylake prom and one or two Woodpigeon were also on the move. A  female Stonechat west of the Lighthouse pond is another good indicator that the Northward spring migration has started.

Offshore there were 2000 Common Scoter and a single Red t Diver.

With southerly wind forecast the first Sand Marin or Wheatear can only be days away.



Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Two Glaucs !

Weather: W/SW-5, cold with sunny spells.

No sign recently of the overwintering Snow Buntings at Wallasey although I suspect they are seldom searched for in the recent inclement weather. 

The 1st winter Laughing Gull continues its residence at New Brighton promenade.

At Hoylake, several hundred Common Scoter were offshore whilst the Hoylake High tide Gull roost held a Med Gull, Yellow legged Gull and another or the same 1st winter Glaucous Gull just east of the Hoylake promenade tennis courts.

AMC, KD, MG,DH , DK and  EW

Glaucous Gull is of course a scarce bird on Wirral, so when yesterdays New Brighton 'dips' bird flew off having only been seen by the finder and one other, it was perhaps reasonable to assume that the bird located on the beach just ten minutes later and just yards away, was the self same bird. Not so in our opinion. I started to look more closely at the photographs from yesterdays blog and began to compare them with a photograph taken by John Jones of the original bird. To my eye the differences are clear. Bird 1) shows a whiter head with a distinct dark eye 'smudge' , a grey mantle contrasting with barred coverts and tertials, a black tip being almost level on both upper and lower mandibles and lastly a pale yellow eye consistent with a second winter bird. Bird 2) does not show the same eye smudge, has a concolourous mantle, a misaligned black tip extending towards the head on the lower mandible and crucially an all dark eye consistent with a first year bird. (AMC)

Some have suggested that these differences can be accounted for by the different light conditions at the time each of the photographs were taken and that the chances of having two Glaucs at the same site at the same time would be too much of a coincidence !

Take a look at our photographs and let us know if you think differently.

Bird 1,) 2nd winter Glaucous Gull (John Jones)

Bird 2 ) 1st winter Glaucous Gull

Monday, 2 March 2015

2nd March 2015

Weather: W/SW-6-7, cold and overcast

With the inclement weather keeping most observers at home today it was impressive that the 1st winter Glaucous Gull was located by Wirral stalwart John Jones at New Brighton 'dips' this morning. The 'Glauc' was located sitting amongst the larger gulls in dips. Not surprisingly at this site, the bird was disturbed by dog walkers and relocated to the less disturbed but windy  beach. This is presumably the same bird found at Hoylake last week and possibly the same bird that was reported on the Marine Lake pontoon for just 10 minutes during mid February. This time the bird afforded views good enough for a couple of shots to be rattled off.  

With the Laughing Gull remaining on the Pontoon all day too , its quite the Purple Patch for gulls on North Wirral.