Saturday, 18 April 2015

Up north - day 3

Monday was our day to go to the Wirral. Top target (from my point of view at least) was the long-staying first-summer Laughing Gull at New Brighton, but we were also down to visit RSPB Burton Mere and Parkgate. We opted to try New Brighton first, but a walk around the marine lake where it had resided for weeks on end proved fruitless. We walked along the prom after that and checked the beach, again finding no Laugher, just a number of Herring Gulls and a few Redshanks. The other three decided that a quick trip to Costa was in order before we moved on, and I decided to check the lake again.

I was standing there alone, looking forlornly down at the birdless pontoon where the gull was usually seen, when a gull in flight overhead caught my attention. It seemed a bit small, and very long-winged, with a lovely crisply marked black-and-white tail... A look through the bins confirmed it, and I watched for several minutes as it flew in leisurely circles over the lake before settling on the pontoon. Then I texted the others, who arrived in due course, and Hazel very kindly bought a bag of fish from the nearby Morrisons so we could tempt it a bit closer.

This gull has been around here long enough to know the rustle of a plastic bag when it hears one, and it was in the air before the first generous chunk of 'pouting' fillet hit the nearest bit of the pontoon. It snatched up the fish without landing, and gulped it down midair, providing great photo opportunities as it wheeled around. Three chunks later, it flew off to digest this sizeable meal, and we drove off to Burton Mere.

The reception hide here gives views over a nice bit of water which was furnished with Avocets and a few Black-tailed Godwits, as well as Black-headed Gulls and many Shelducks. We then followed the trail past some woodland-edged ponds.

The others kept going but I noticed this Canada Goose pair doing what looked like some ritualised bathing together, so I hung around to see what happened and witnessed their rather tender (by wildfowl standards) sweet love-making, which was followed by some enthusiastic synchronised shouting.

There is plenty to see here, but poor light and distant views made photography difficult. Here's a Mistle Thrush...

... and, from the path up to a viewpoint across the whole reserve, these lambs. I know, not wildlife, but it'd take a tougher character than me to resist this sleepy pair and their not-so-sleepy friend who came to wake them up by headbutting them. Also heard a Curlew calling from up here.

From there, it was on to Parkgate. This wide expanse of saltmarsh on the Dee estuary becomes completely inundated when there is a big high tide, and that famously flushes out lots of small mammals which in turn attracts raptors. However, today the tide was a) not til the evening and b) not very big, so we didn't see much here at all.

We did see quite a few Little Egrets.

Back at the car park, I was scanning a horse paddock opposite when I found this thing, way at the back and barely within photographable range. But I think this photo is clear enough (just) to show that it's a female Ring Ouzel - a lovely surprise and runner-up to the Laughing Gull for bird of the day.

1 comment:

Bob Telford said...

Nice report and another good read - well done on the Ouzel. Having reouble finding the ones passing through near us(-:).