Monday, 22 April 2013

The Leasowe light brigade go Wirral birding

Looking towards Leasowe lighthouse from path to Meols 

The Leasowe light brigade (8 of us in total - not even a squad really) joined Chris bright and early on Saturday.  A wonderful cheery sunny morning with clear views across the river to the wind farm and Formby dunes.

Arriving at the car park it was obvious others had the same idea, besides the early dog walkers, a multitude of birders, telescopes at the ready where either in situ on the sea wall searching through the gulls, or beating a path to the Lingham lane area, where we were to follow. Not a sign of the Iceland gull, but really nice views of a gang to terns, commons and jazzy sandwiches!

Wheatear -Paddocks  Leasowe - L Bimson
On our way, hardly a charge but more of a spring saunter inland, were it was noticeably warmer than on the raised embankment path. The area around Leasowe lighthouse includes scrubland, areas of standing water, wildflower meadows and reedbeds.  We headed down the footpath leading to the paddocks; this whole area behind the coastal embankment is a haven for resting migrants and nesting birds. Chiffchaff and blackcaps were amongst the more common finches in the shrubs and hedges. Early swallows sweeped the fields.  Our pal Sean had visited during the week and had reported wheatear, whinchat and redstart,  so we were pleased to see the first of our targets, a striking wheatear popping  about the fields with others such as linnets, meadow pipits, skylarks and white wagtails, in fact wheatears turned out to be plentiful, over half a dozen in one paddock.  Or second quarry a whinchat was seen distantly through John’s scope further a field, but had flown by the time we got to a closer vantage point.

Moving on to Park Lane by the farm, a party of birders put us on  to the spot the redstart had been seen, sure enough a little further down the lane a couple of telescopes were trained on it! What a beauty, a striking male redstart perched in a field edge shrub, flitting down to the grass and back...marvellous.
Stonechat -N prendergast
No sign of the whinchat so we headed back towards the coastal path which gave us good views of the shore line and of the enclosed common/sandy area. This was to prove fortuitous. Whilst observing some splendid feisty stonechats, sparrows, linnets and goldfinches in a patch of flowering gorse, a whinchat was seen being mobbed by a male stonechat, not happy the other chat was on his patch!

Looking out to sea we focused our attention on a mixture of feeding waders, as well as a little egret and a curlew, no whimbrel today.

Returning through the reed bed area we discussed and observed the differences between chiffchaff and willow warbler, the legs have it apparently; chiffchaffs always dark, willow warbler more pinkish. More blackcaps recorded and a reed bunting, sedge warbler heard but not seen. As well as the migrants, the warmer weather had brought some others out to play. Peacock and Tortoiseshell butterflies flitted about, huge bumble and red-tailed bees explored the grassland, and a yellow flourish of daffodils, primroses and celandines lifted their heads to the blue skies.

Male Blackcap  at leasowe- N prendergast 
Time to leave, however a detour was in the air, a desperate twitch ensued, apparently a blue winged teal was sunning itself at the old RSPB Inner Marsh farm pools.  Well it was only 25 minutes away as the crow flies. 
Kestrel  at IMF -N prendergast

Arriving at the reserve, we were told it was showing well and had been snoozing in front of the hide for 3hrs, however our grand day out was about to end on a slightly sour note, as we approached said hide, the birding community were telling us the bird had moved, as it happened it had moved to the furthest pool from the hide, beyond binos!  An enclave of birders with telescopes packed the far end of the hide, promising if it came into view they would give is a gander, but they weren’t giving up their seats!  After 30mins or so we resignedly gave up the twitch, jobs to do, people to see…we left the enclave to their vigil.  Still the avocets and godwits were resplendent in the sunshine, and the newly arrived whitethroats were ticks for the day.

Oystercatcher and avocets IMF - L Bimson

Our Wirral Day list : 64 species

Little egret, grey heron, mute swan, canada goose, shelduck, gadwall, teal,  mallard, shoveler,  tufted duck, common  scoter, buzzard, kestrel, pheasant, moorhen, coot, oystercatcher, avocet, ringed plover, lapwing, dunlin, black tailed godwit, curlew, redshank, turnstone, black headed gull, lesser black backed gull , herring gull, sandwich tern, common tern, wood pigeon, skylark, sand martin, swallow, meadow pipit, white wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, redstart, whinchat, stone chat, wheatear, blackbird, house sparrow, mistle thrush, whitethroat, blackcap, chiff chaff, willow  warbler, blue tit, great tit, long tailed  tit, magpie, jackdaw, rook, carrion crow, starling, chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, linnet, reed bunting.

River Birket, Leasowe


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