The plan was to load up on pancakes at breakfast, get a coronation chicken baguette from Palm's deli and walk from home (West Kirby) to the Boathouse pub in Parkgate birdwatching the whole way.
As plans go it was one of my better ones! Provisions packed we started out at (as usual) the Marine Lake. Few diving ducks again, just 1 Goldeneye and 3 RBMergs but they came in close making me curse my decision to travel light and leave the camera at home. Tide was still up so we got close views of the Dunlin on the armour stone. Bumped into Charles who had remembered his camera and was getting good stuff. All very pleasant so far.
Got to the sailing club and hit a snag. High tide was 2 hours ago but the beach from the lake to Cubbins Green was still covered, our path blocked. No matter we'd skip around via Macdonna Drive. I could check a few berry trees for Waxwings - you never know!
No Waxies but a lovely Fox darted across the road from one garden to another making the enforced detour worthwhile. Crossed Cubbins and on to the Wirral Way. Bit more activity today, mixed flocks of passerines working the hedgerows and as we passed Caldy Golf Course I got my elusive Mistle Thrush! (see yesterdays post if confused by my desire to connect with this species!) No sign of any Goldcrest today, but the trip would get a golden (plover) touch later on....
Down the steps at Station Road and on to Thurstaston Shore (with detours about 3 miles so far). The tide had dropped enough that plenty of mud was exposed and birds were coming of the marsh in big numbers, particularly Black-tailed Godwits. Excellent, all was going according to plan!
Scope deployed and the legs of said Blackwits were scanned for coloured rings. So far this winter its been great here for ringed birds (if you want to find out more about this project then check out this months newsletter on the Dee Estuary website or visit Icelandic Godwits). Today was no exception, we got 7 in all, six of the usual suspects and one that is causing some confusion!
We can't decide if the lower right ring is yellow or a discoloured white one. I guess we'll have to keep looking until we are sure. This picture was taken using a mobile phone jammed up against the eyepiece of the scope hence the vignetting and the overall lack of quality. I'm going to have to spend some time on the shore with the full kit to get better stuff! Once past the Godwit flocks we stopped to admire the Pintail gathered by the channel. Just as amazing as the sight of these gorgeous ducks was the sound of them coo-ing and burbling to each other. Right on the fringe of the marsh we spied the Golden Plover. About 50 of these beauties were just visible in the sprouting Spartina grass. Cracking birds even in the dull afternoon light.
Up and over Heswall Fields (no Partridge today) to pick up the Wirral Way again. Raptors haven't featured on the patch list for 2011 yet, but a Kestrel over the cliffs and a circling Buzzard over Lower Heswall sorted that out. A quick stop by Cottage Lane for the baguettes (5 miles down at this point) then across the golf course to pick up the path along the front in the direction of the Old Baths car park.
The plan was to arrive here as the light was fading to try for harriers coming in to roost, hunting Short-eared Owls and to rendez-vous with my dad who would be trying to get pics of these birds.
As we arrived in the car park a good flock of Redwing were combing the adjacent paddocks. Our greetings to the old man were interrupted by a call of "harrier" from another birder and we picked it up coming in high from the right. Easy, this birding lark! We hung around for a while but no Owls of any variety before we tumbled into the Boathouse to warm up. A seat by the window was selected and Shoveller, Wigeon and Little Egret were added to the yearlist from the comfort of the pub! We were also treated to a stunning neon salmon pink sunset and a couple of hundred Pink-footed Geese going over head. Great day!
I love it when a plan comes together!