Saturday 27 February 2016

London Buses

The broken clouds and sunshine had given way to rather cold murky conditions by the time I got out today. The wind had dropped slightly, but seemed to have a bit more easterly in it, which meant it felt even colder than yesterday.

The flooded fields on Carr Lane produced almost the identical species as yesterdays visit. A couple of Buzzards soared in the distance over Ramsbrook Lane, but there was something else that was spooking the local Pigeon and Dove population. A flash of wings between the hedgerows hinted at a small falcon, but it was a few minutes before it revealed itself as a female Merlin. It was rather confiding as it sat up in one of the bushes along Ramsbrook, and for once I obtained half decent photos (for me!).

I had another good scan of Carr Lane Pools, but again failed to find the Green Winged Teal amongst it's European cousins. The Pools were otherwise quiet with only a handful of Lapwing, Redshank and Canada Geese. Relocating to the Town Lane gate failed to produce anything further of note, but I did pick up the Merlin cutting through the back of the Pools.

I was a little torn as to where to go Gulling this afternoon given the light and tide height; so I decided to stop at the bridge on Town Lane whilst I had a think. Closing (well slamming) the car door shut I flushed a Jack Snipe and 3 Common Snipe from about 10m away. On closer examination and a bit of pishing I flushed 29 Common Snipe and a further 3 Jack Snipe. I can't remember seeing Snipe in any great numbers at this location, so I'm not sure where they have come from, or even whether they are regular.....not that I'm complaining!

After a bit of thought I decided to drive round to the Lighthouse instead of trying Within Way again, thinking that if all else failed I could walk along the river wall to lasts nights viewpoint. A few Grey Partridge called from the weedy field, whilst a few Linnets and a Yellowhammer called from their hiding spots. Settling into my position under the walls of the Lighthouse I had a scan of Frodsham Score, which produced a Great White Egret, 14+ Whooper Swan, 12 Raven and a small party of Pink Footed Geese among the Canada's, but the murk didn't help.

Hale Shore held a nice selection of waders including Curlew, Black tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, and a single Knot. There was a distinct lack of Gulls on the move, but scanning a little further east of the Lighthouse I noticed that a few Common Gulls, Black Heads and Lesser Black Backed were starting to settle. On the second scan I noticed a Daz-white Gull sat at the front of the group, a 3rd winter Iceland Gull (which I assumed was the same bird as last night at the time).

More and more gulls started to congregate along the shore, not on the scale as last night, but impressive enough. I could see that numbers were continuing to build, so I decided to move to the east of the Lighthouse to get a better angle. I quickly picked up a further Iceland Gull (adult), and a few Yellow Legged Gulls before I was joined by Ian Igglesden and another birder who had come over from Stockport in the hope of seeing some white wingers. He wasn't to be disappointed as I picked up 3 Iceland Gulls (2 adults and a 3w) sat almost together in front of us, although trying to get a picture with all of them in view was difficult.

Ian picked up one of the Great White Egrets flying east over our heads, presumably on it's way to Hale Decoy to roost. I managed to pick up a few more Yellow Legged Gulls, but sadly nothing else rarer decided to show. The light was deteriorating rather quickly so I decided to leave Ian and head home; but not before picking up a 1w Glaucous Gull (missing p3 & 4 on it's right wing) in a kettle of gulls above my head. I would imagine it's fairly safe to assume that this is the same bird as last night.

So having spent pretty much the whole of the winter moaning that I hadn't seen any white wingers on patch, I have ended up seeing a minimum of 4 Iceland Gulls and 2 Glaucous Gulls in two days. Not bad going, and maybe I'm being a little greedy hoping that I may eventually pick up something even rarer. Roll on the next Gulling session!

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