Mersey Birders

Birding the North West

Please note; A large selection of this diary records details from Seaforth N.R., It must be pointed out, there is no public access to this site due to security reasons, and any unauthourised access may result in prosecution and or cars removed by the Port Police.
Viewing may be possible through the fence at Crosby Marine Park.
The reserve is maintained by volunteers who have identification permits and are authorised to record and help maintain the site for breeding and passage birds. A small number of permits are available from the Seaforth office contact Steve White for further details on 0151 920 3769.

Birders Diary 2007



Another day at Moore and another cold day, but at least it brought out the Gulls off the tip to bathe on the Birchwood Pool, the first bird I saw as I arrived was a 2ndw Iceland Gull already staked out by John Tubb and his mate, this bird had a small amount of grey appearing on the mantle, and the obvious pale eye, a good start.

2ndw Iceland Gull record shot Moore 23rd Dec 08

A Juv Glaucous Gull appeared not long after, a bird that has already been seen a few times now, a big dark looking bird, we were joined by Frank Duff just as another Juv Iceland Gull appeared and showing well in front of the hide on the water.

Juv Glaucous Gull Moore 23rd Dec 08

At least 3-4 Adw Yellow-legged Gulls were putting in appearances, amongst the many thousand birds that were using the pool at anyone time, and amongst them a good selection of Scandinavian Herring Gulls.

Adw Yellow-legged Gull Moore 23rd Dec 08

As John and his mate went off to look for Tree Sparrows, another white-winged gull appeared on the pool, my initial shout was Iceland Gull, as I tried to get some pics quick, it left both of us puzzled tho as the head looked big and it had that typical pink bill with black tip of a glaucous, so we changed our minds and called it a Glauc, but after taking some more pics in very poor light, I still wasn't happy with it.

I checked the pics that were any good on the camera, and could see the primaries were long and the eye was an amber colour, it was a 2ndw bird and more so it was an Iceland Gull, the plumage was a new one for me personally, as it had moulted 1stw like feathers and not the usual adult grey you would normally expect, so it could be over-looked as a juv bird.

Another Juv Glaucous Gull appeared briefly on the pool before flying back to the tip.

Unusually for me I had to leave while it was still light, as I had come down rapidly with the flu, this lasted over the Christmas period and ended my birding for the year, and for most of the start of the new year, but thats for another year.


A fully recovered PK joined me at Moore NR again today, for another check of the gulls, the pool was busy with a lot of birds already leaving to go back to the tip, but they came and went all day with huge numbers using the pool, and looking over at the tip, we estimated the flock to be at least 45,000-50,000 birds, this may be an increase from early on in the year when we were here, due to the St Helens tip being closed, more birds are using the site.

We soon found the first good bird of the day, a Juv Glaucous Gull, a lovely clean bird, very pale, with bright pink bill with the characteristic black tip, a new bird, much smaller than the last with less dark on head and breast and paler upperparts.

Juv Glaucous Gull Moore NR Dec 08

After a few more flushes and more birds coming in, a Juv Iceland Gull was on the pool amongst them, a very pale winged bird, clean breast, and pale upperparts, a dirty pink based bill with dark tip, this may be a different bird to the other two already seen, this bird being very aggressive amongst the gulls, getting stuck into a few Herrings a couple of times, not the usual behaviour for an Iceland Gull.

The bird showed well and at times came too close to photo from the screen with the digi-scope, it stayed around for a couple of hours.

An Adw Med Gull was in amongst the Black-headed Gulls, a nice male sized bird with a yellow tip to the bill.

An adw Caspian Gull was picked out by PK, and again it looks very similar to a bird we have already seen here, this bird had more black on the upper mandible than the last one, the very small dark eye, and fairly long straight bill, long sloping head, with slight thin head streaks but still very white looking compared to other gulls, pale grey mantle, and small primary tips being the main features for picking this bird out of the crowd.

Adw Caspian Gull Moore NR Dec 08

An Adw Yellow-legged Gull was a brief visitor but a 2ndw bird was photo'd, just before the light went at 15.20 we called it a day not long after, there are still a lot more birds to be seen here and hopefully over the time we come, from now to the end of March, we might just get something special!

2ndw Yellow-legged Gull Moore NR Dec 08


A fem Long-tailed Duck found by Dave Thompson on Crosby Marina showed well to the small scale twitch, always nice to see, but difficult to digi-scope, oh for a Digital SLR.

The Kingfisher was also on the marina, fishing from the small quay before flying towards Seaforth, 2 Adw Med Gulls were seen flying off from Seaforth towards the beach.

Back on the other side of the fence at Seaforth the Scaup have gone up by 3 birds to 36 with a good count of Goldeneye with 38+ and at Least 500+ Teal now, 38 Pochard and over 100+ Tufted Duck, 5 Shoveler and 5 Little Grebe.

The Long-tailed later joined the other duck on the fresh water pool, probably flushed by boats on the marina.


Not a nice day today at Seaforth with heavy rain and very dull conditions, birding was over by 14.00 due to the dark skies, a Little Owl was seen flying from the wall by hide A, towards the office bushes.

The Scaup flock are still rising slowly, with 33 birds including 3 ad Males, 18 Pochard, 6 Shoveler, 400+ Teal, 5 Littel Grebe, 7 Snipe, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Gadwall and a fine looking male Pintail.


Another Gull watch at Moore today, as I arrived Steve Tomo was already scoping away the huge flock of Gulls on the pool, large numbers of Scandinavian Herring Gulls were in evidence of all ages, and as 70% of the pool was frozen, most birds were showing well on the ice.

Gulls on ice Moore NR Dec 08

A Juv Iceland Gull came in at 13.20 and bathed before joining the roosting gulls on the ice, and showing very well, it was the second bird seen from last week with the slightly darker bill.

Juv Iceland Gull Moore NR Dec 08

An adw Med Gull was picked out amongst the c5,000 Black-headed Gulls that were on the pool, also 5 Adw + 1 4thw Yellow-legged Gulls made an appearance.

Adw Med Gull Moore NR Dec 08

4thw Yellow-legged Gull Moore NR Dec 08

Looking across to the tip at Arpley, the gulls looked to have increased to an estimated 45,000+ of mixed gulls, the vast majority are Herring, with smaller numbers of Lesser and Greater Black-backed Gulls, Black-headed and Common.

Adw Scandinavian Herring Gull Moore NR Dec 08

A single Pink-footed Goose was on the pool with the Canada Geese and lots of Redwing and Fieldfare were flying over calling.


A calm sunny but cool day at Seaforth saw plenty of gulls coming in to bathe and roost on the long bank, 4 Adw Med Gulls were amongst them, and the Scaup flock has increased again with 30 birds, (2 Adw Male + 3 1stw Male and 25 Fem/imm), with smaller numbers of Pochard and Tufted.

Adw Med Gull Seaforth NR Dec 08


Back again at Moore NR for another trawl through the vast amount of gulls that are using the Arpley tip, which eventually some of which come onto the pool to bathe.

We had been looking for about 45 mins when I picked out a Juv Iceland Gull flying away with a group of gulls, it banked back and landed on the pool for a quick bathe, before it left for the tip, without any photos taken, a new bird compared to the 28th Nov, this bird had a mostly all dark bill and paler primaries.

Pete then picked up a Juv Glaucous Gull after about an hour later, it bathed before it too took off for the the nearby tip.

Juv Glaucous Gull Moore NR Dec 08

Good numbers of Scandinavian Herring Gulls were present with at least 300+ counted of all ages, also 4 adw + 1 2ndw + 1 1stw Yellow-legged Gulls were logged and 2 adw Med Gulls, one of which was showing well from the hide.

2ndw Yellow-legged Gull Moore NR Dec 08

The gulls were constantly being flushed by a Grey Heron which seemed to be doing it for fun, it would fly from the bank to the small island and back again every 30mins or so, much to the annoyance of the gulls and us watching them.

A few Common Buzzards were around also flushing the gulls with one bird diving onto an unsuspecting Moorhen, which it dragged into the bushes to eat.

An estimated 30,000 mixed gulls present on the tip today slightly down from the other day, but still very impressive, only a small proportion of which actually come down to bathe on the pool.


The second visit to Moore NR today of the second winter period, the roads driving down to the nature reserve where like driving on an ice rink, with the car sliding all over the place, after a severe overnight frost, which must have reached -5 at least.

We were greeted with lots of gulls on the Birchwood pool again, and immediately we got stuck in, after about an hour we come across an Adw Caspian Gull which looked like the bird from friday 28th Nov.

Adw Caspian Gull Moore NR Dec 08

There were lots of Scandinavian Herring Gulls with 1 Adw, 1 1stw and 1 4thw Yellow-legged Gulls amongst them, a probable 2ndw Caspian Gull was seen briefly in the flock before it left for the tip, with no photos taken.

A Kingfisher flew across the pool a few times and the occasional Buzzard overhead, on the pool 4 Ruddy Duck, a fem Goldeneye, 30+ Shoveler and a Great Crested Grebe.

A Juv Glaucous Gull flew in for a brief bathe just as Pete was walking back from looking at the Tawny Owl, but had gone before he had sat down again, I managed just 4 pics before it went.

Juv Glaucous Gull Moore NR Dec 08


A brief visit to Seaforth produced, 22 Scaup (1adw Male + 1 1stw Male +20 Fem/imm),also 29 Pochard, 30+ Tufted, 10 Shoveler and an Adw Scandinavian Herring Gull.



Our first visit to Moore NR today for the second winter period, proved very fruitful, with a Juv Iceland Gull which showed really well in front of the hide for 2hrs or so, and at least 2 possibly 3 adw Caspian Gulls amongst the thousands that were using the pool today, another 40,000 birds were on the adjacent tip, very impressive when they were spooked by something with them all wheeling around in a whir of wings.

Also on the Birchwood pool were an Adw Med Gull, 4+ adw and 1 3rdw +1 1stw Yellow-legged Gulls and several hundred Scandinavian Herring Gulls, all showing well but in bright sunlight, making photography difficult.

Adw Yellow-legged gulls Moore NR Nov 08

Adw Caspian Gulls Moore NR Nov 08

As today was mostly a tester to see what was here, given the numbers of white-winged gulls into the country, we expected to see at least one, but were thinking it may have been a Glaucous rather than Iceland, so it was a nice way to start the winter gull fest 2008-2009 season.

The good thing about today was there were a lot of gulls using the Birchwood pool to bathe, and seems like the one next to the tip may have been filled in or at least drained of all the water it use to hold, making this pool the main and most accessable pool from the tip.

Adw Scandinavian Herring Gull Moore NR Nov 08

4thw Scandinavian Herring Gull Moore Nov 08

The tip is a working area and is not a safe place to be wandering around on with all the machinery digging and removal of soil, so get in touch with the tip manager if you are thinking of going on there for access information, otherwise it is out of bounds to the public (see the Moore NR website for contacts).


A quiet day at Seaforth, with just 2 Adw Med Gulls and an Adw Scandinavian Gull with hardly any birds coming in, mostly due to the low tide.

The Scaup flock still present with 14 birds amongst a few Pochard and Tufted although the Teal and Goldeneye are increasing slowly.


With a Steppe Grey Shrike lingering in Lincs,it was time for myself and PK to make the journey across and see this Mega asian bird, quite casual by our normal standards, as the bird has been around for 5 days or so already.

We arrived at the site just as a beaming Steve Tomo and co were leaving, having already had their fill of the bird, next stop for them the Two-barred Crossbill in North Yorks, we were surprised to see another of our clan who had made the journey on his own, poor communication there i'd say, 3 people and two cars, not very economical.

The bird was distant at first, but gradually came closer, with it flying past the group of birders within in a foot or so and then landing next to us in bushes and on a sign post less than 6ft away, a very showy bird, not good if your digi-scoping tho as I had to walk back so I could get the bird in shot.

Steppe Grey Shrike Lincs Nov 08

The bird was always going to be similar to a Great Grey Shrike in appearance, but was much paler on the upperparts, like a powdery grey as opposed to a silvery grey, the underparts were an off white and not a crisp clean white, the large white base to the primaries being larger than Great Grey, the tail looking slightly shorter, the head tho looked bigger, with a very pale horn coloured bill, the black mask didn't go over the bill leaving a pale area around the lores.

An excellent bird and still a hard bird to catch up with the last twitchable one about 10 years ago in Devon 1989 also in November making this the 18th record.(not counting the Isle of Man bird).

After taking afew shots, we left for Saltfleet which was just down the road a few miles to see the fem Desert Wheatear, we arrived at the place and walked over to the 7 or so birders who were watching the bird, it was hiding under a piece of corragated iron sheet in the sand, no doubt sheltering from the brisk Northerly breeze which had picked up.

It then came out and showed really well coming closer as I tried to get some pics, another excellent bird, they never get boring to watch, no matter how many you've seen.

Fem Desert Wheatear Saltfleet Lincs Nov 08

Nearby a flock of Snow Buntings were feeding on the beach with Skylarks and linnet, about 45+ with a lot of more males compared to females/imms, a few Rock Pipits were about calling as they flew over and the odd Twite.

A quick look down at Donna Nook Seal colony for the 2ndw Glaucous Gull, with no luck but lots of Grey Seals with young at close range, this has to be the best place to view Grey Seals and pups from late October-November at close range anywhere in Britain without the slightest bit of disturbance, the seals come closer to the people if anything.

Grey Seals at Donna Nook Lincs Nov 08

Tornado on its bombing run Donna Nook next to the Seal Colony

A flock of 6 Twite flew over and a Bacon Bap rounded off the day nicely.


The wind has increased to a 6-7 today from the WNW, bringing cooler conditions in the hide and rough water over the fresh water pool, the Scaup which where bobbing up and down are now at 20, but not much else was of note apart from a large adw Yellow-legged Gull which came in and bathed and settled on the causeway were there was also a good count of 150 Great Black-backed gulls.


A showery morning at Seaforth, with a mild wind from the SW force 5-6 brought in good numbers of Gulls in to sit it out on the long bank and salt water pool, amongst the 1,200 Common, 7,500 Black-headed and several hundred Herring were 2 Adw Med Gulls.

The Scaup numbers continue to rise slowly with 18+ (1 male + 17 fem), with just a few Pochard and Tufted, 6 Gadwall and 350+ Teal.

A flock of 96 Golden Plover flew in and circled with just 35 landing on the salt water pool, and a male Stonechat was seen distantly on the reeds of the salt water pool.

With the light fading from 2 o'clock onwards it made searching through the gull flock more difficult, and the bird that I was hoping to see come in, finally arrived at 16.00 in almost dark conditions and light drizzle, the bird in question is a probable Azorean Yellow-legged Gull, which PK had found earlier in the week.

It was picked up bathing on the fresh water pool, a heavily head streaked bird with a darker blue-grey upperparts, large white primary tips, bright orange-yellow bill and bright red gonys spot, in flight the wing had more black in the primaries and the legs were a bright yellow.

A record shot was taken by Gav as the bird took off and was the only shot taken due to the conditions and the bird not keeping still, but the general i.d features are there to see.

The bird flew off towards the beach after 5 mins unlike most other gulls which joined the roost after bathing.


A trip across to the Wirral to see the Rough-legged Buzzard at Red Rocks, ended in a dip, as the bird quite rightly so, decided the clearing skies was a good time to move on (my fault, should have left earlier), but I did find two Waxwings while talking to Mark Turner as they flew over calling, along with a good passage of chaffinch.


If there is one bird I always look for the morning after Bonfire night, it has to be Woodcock, it's amazing how many times I have seen Woodcock on the 6th November, even while walking down a busy street, with one flying past me.

I arrived at Seaforth to begin the search, and had only walked up to the second set of bushes next to the visitor centre when one duly popped out from under the willows, job done!

I was joined by PK who also had a Woodcock on the Crosby Marina NR, we did a complete coverage of the reserve and had a good selection of birds for the time of year.

A single Siskin flew over heading south, while a Male Stonechat was on bushes next to hide C,(4 on Crosby Marina) overnight arrivals of thrushes was evident with 8 Blackbirds and 8 Song Thrush, 20 Robins were busy taking up winter territories.

A walk around the saltmarsh to monitor the number of Snipe and to see if there was any Jack Snipe produced, 15 Common Snipe and 3 Jack Snipe in a small area.

A kingfisher made up the numbers for the day list when one flew past hide A and a Sparrowhawk flushed out 7 Shoveler from hiding around the "Spoonbill bay" on the causeway.


A short walk down Fisherman's path Ainsdale NNR produced 8 Crossbills (6 by railway crossing), 1 Siskin and a G.S.Woodpecker, with small numbers of Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tits but not carrying any jewels amongst them.


A good start to what can be a good month locally, with a short trip East of Formby to view 3 Cattle Egrets in a sheep field, despite the pager saying they where SE of Downholland Moss, which was confusing as it would of been better saying they where East of Altcar Village, anyway I found the site eventually, and joined Pete and Steve who were watching across the road from them.

The birds at one point took flight and circled over the field with a flock of Black-headed gulls, but they settled down again and showed really well in the bright sunshine, which is a nightmare when your trying to photo a white bird in.

Cattle Egrets Altcar Nov 08

A few Buzzards were in flight over the next field and in the distance, but didn't concern the Egrets at all.

I eventually left for Seaforth, as I arrived a quick scan over the pool revealed a small flock of Scaup with 1 Male and 6 female/imm amongst 17 pochard, 9 Goldeneye and several Tufted.

During the course of the afternoon, 3 Adw Med Gulls arrived and left, and PK had a 2ndw which I didn't see.

There was a decent count of c250 Common Gulls before they flushed by a Male Peregrine, which also brought out the Teal with about 250 of them also.

PK also had a Snow Bunting go over the beach this morning, which could well be the same that was seen later at Hilbre Island.



With the wind coming from the SW it wasn't as cold as it has been, which is a relief, as any North element to the wind at Seaforth means it'll be freezing in the hide, there was a good roost of gulls on the long bank and birds coming in from inland fields.

It wasn't long before the first Adw Med Gull came in and bathed and an Adw Yellow-legged Gull showed well on the water, then Steve Morris picked out an Adw Caspian Gull on the long bank roost, a distinctive looking bird, flat crown, with thin head streaking, bold blotching on neck, slightly darker grey on mantle than the nearby Herring gulls, long flesh coloured legs, the bird was busy preening so a few record shots were taken.

bird in background with spread wing

The P10 was seen to have a thin black band on and P5 had an obvious broad black band, the long greyish tongues merging into the black primaries, the bill was long greeny-yellow, with dull red gonys and no angle to the lower mandible and the eye was dark.

Another Adw Med Gull flew in before the whole flock flew off towards the beach.


A walk along the beach at crosby produced a pair of Stonechats and 3 Corn Buntings in the dunes and a dead Manx Shearwater which was ringed (ring was removed and info passed on to BTO), also 2 Goldcrests and 3 Long-tailed Tits in the bushes.


An adw Med Gull was located amongst c250 BH Gulls  off the Formby by-pass near Altcar Moss.


First visit to Seaforth today since getting back from Scilly,and as expected the first birds I saw where 6 Goldeneye a sure sign of winter and bang on cue, also present were 6 Shoveler, 4 Pochard in amongst a small gathering of Tufted.

An adw Med Gull was amongst the gulls coming in from inland and 3 Scandinavian Herring Gulls were in the roost.


The last day on the island is always about packing up, and tidying the chalet, before having an amble around in the hope something might be found last minute.

After sorting all the gear away, we headed up to Penninis to see the Lapland Bunting which had turned up y'day, the bird was located amongst the heather and tufts of long grass and showed well but was difficult to digi-scope due to it constantly moving and being very close was hard to focus on.

Lapland Bunting Penninis Head Scilly Oct 08

Penninis Lighthouse and Scillonian III passing

A walk through Lower Moors revealed another Yellow-browed Warbler and Firecrest calling and then a Merlin which caught something up by Porthloo beach sat in a tree.

Then it was off on the chopper and another week on the Scillies was over for another year without a tick, if only that Olivaceous had been pinned down and photographed, oh well till next time, I'll be back!

A view from the chalet at sunset

Some of the Moths and Butterflies seen on trip


Still a cool breeze blowing in from the North-west another trip across to St Agnes today, as a Blyth's Reed Warbler had been showing well there y'day,en-route the imm Spoonbill flew overhead and was heading south past all the islands, before it decided against that and came back, too much sea out there!

After 4hours of looking into the fields with nothing but Chiffchaffs, a Garden Warbler, Siskins flying overhead and a Lapland Bunting heard calling heading for Penninis (which was later relocated there), a Redpoll, 5+ Redwing and a couple of Fieldfare and 1 Brambling with Chaffinch, I finally decided to stretch my legs and walked around to see if I could salvage something out of another poor day.

A Yellow-browed was heard calling by the Parsonage and a brief view of a bird flying across from tree to tree was all I got, then news broke of the Gray-cheeked Thrush which had been found a few days ago was on show near Troy Town.

I arrived at the field were already a large crowd had gathered (were had all these people come from I was thinking, as I hadn't seen that many all day), the bird then started to show really well, as it hopped down into the field full of Kale, it would then hop up onto bracken and feed on some black berries.

Gray-cheeked Thrush St Agnes Oct 08

It sat up at one point for 20mins with its back to us sunning itself, before turning briefly and flying down to the field again the dark grey and white underwing pattern was seen several times in flight.

A smart bird which put on a performance for the crowd, at one point having gone into the field, it reappeared very close until someone who was grabbing his gear close to where the bird was,flushed it, bad timing.

Back at St Mary's, a Black Redstart was showing well until someone who could clearly see I was watching a bird, decided to release their dog off the lead and flushed it, thanks for that!


A much cooler feel to today with a North-west wind blowing across the islands, but bright and sunny, a Wheatear and a few Rock Pipits were on the beach at Porthloo and a flock of 25 Turnstone but not a lot else.

We walked through Lower Moors and caught up with a Yellow-browed Warbler showing well at the entrance, a bit further along a Chiffchaff was calling which sounded like a Siberian, with a mournful "puuee", it showed briefly in the willows and looked pale enough to be one, another 3 Chiffchaff were seen and none matched the call or the colour of this bird.

We eventually ended up by Newford Duck pond again looking for the Green Darner which had been seen again, but had gone again before anybody else had got there, while waiting 2 Yellow-browed Warblers were showing well and calling frequently, as were Chiffchaff and Siskins flying overhead.

On the return back to the chalet, we had another look at the Sociable Plover which seemed to be in exactly the same place as the day before, despite it having been seen flying off from here at dusk.


A trip to St Agnes today to have a look for the Blackpoll and the other Red-eyed Vireo which is on Gugh, there had been a possible sighting of a Bearded Seal which had been phot'd but this turned out to be a Common Seal.

St Agnes Lighthouse

On Gugh there was no sign of the Vireo so I wandered off to look for it,a Snow Bunting flew over calling and a Snipe with very dark underwings which may have been the Wilson's Snipe that had been on Wingletang Down, I returned after seeing the pager reporting the Vireo as showing again, but when I arrived it had vanished again, so I gave up on it and walked back across to St Agnes where John and Tim were watching a Red-throated Diver in the cove.

There was no sign of the Blackpoll either, but a nice female Black Redstart on the beach at Periglis beach with a few Rock Pipits.

As the rain came in it was time to call it quits and return back to the digs.


This morning is a lot more cloudier than has been since arriving here, the wind is from the South-west so there are still possibilities something might arrive, a walk down no-bird lane actually produced a Firecrest and possibly two, picked up on call at first, then one of which showed well,we had one here last year as well, so maybe we should call it Firecrest lane. 

A Peregrine narrowly missed catching a collared Dove over the fields, and a few Swallows and a House Martin flew over.

After breakfast we had a Black Redstart on Porthloo beach, feeding along the tideline amongst the rocks.

After a long walk around the island and only having a brief glimpse of a Yellow-browed Warbler at Newford Duck pond all day, we had yet another look at the Sociable Plover now in fields next to Telegraph rd near Portloo lane junction, it was much closer than has been but not doing a lot.

Ad Sociable Plover Scilly Oct 08

As the skies grew darker and the obvious rain squall that was coming in, news of a large green Dragonfly had been seen by Newford Duck pond, it could only be a Green Darner, a north American species, so we set off to see if we could catch up with it.

As we arrived a lot of people were already there, but no sign since the initial sighting, then the enevitable rain storm came in and it was time to head back to the chalet.

The rabbit hutch we call home for a week

After getting drenched, we were just getting our gear dry, when the radios reported an unusual Wheatear on Porthloo Beach, grabbing dry gear and our bins and scopes we ran the few yards to were people were scoping the small island, I asked a birder what they had saw and was told it was an all black Wheatear with creamy white underparts and a white rump.

My mind was racing to think of the possibilities, with Pied the only one matching the description, as Black and White-crowned Black both had Black bellies and Finch's and Mourning have white crowns.

Then the bird was relocated on the rocks of the island, and to my disbelief, it was just a Northern Wheatear that looked a bit dull on the upperparts and a bit bedraggled with the rain, not black, not oiled, just wet!


Two Ravens flew over the chalet calling followed by a Sparrowhawk, while Goldcrests were calling in the bushes nearby, we walked down no-bird lane before breakfast, the usual Red-legged partridge flock flew off from the end field, Meadow pipits flew over calling as did small groups of chaffinch.

The news is that the Sociable Plover had been located in the 'standing stones'field and was showing better than y'day, so we ambled down for another look.

Sociable Plover Scilly Oct 08

Indeed the bird was showing better if not more distant but in better light, so more pics were taken, the news of the bird had the local news cameras filming it for Look South-West, (after watching it on tv, they could have got a better lens to film it with, as it looked even more distant than real life).

We headed back up to the garrison for another look at the vireo, on the way we had distant views of the imm Spoonbill a sleep on rocks off Morning point and what was reported to be an eastern Shag on the rocks, but having looked at it, it didn't look any different to a normal juv Shag, pale on wing coverts, and slightly more paler on breast, but it wasn't of the eastern race.

We got up to the tennis courts were the Red-eyed vireo was showing well in the conifers for a few minutes before disappearing again into cover.

On the walk back down to town, I came across a woman walking with what I thought was a very fat ferret, in fact it was an albino Skunk called Dennis, in all the 18 yrs of me coming to Scilly, I have never stroked a woman's Skunk on here before!

A quick look off Porthloo beach produced 9 Sandwich Terns a Merlin and Peregrine, with a few Stonechat and one Wheatear but no sign of any Black Redstarts.


After early morning fog, it soon cleared to a bright sunny day, a Merlin was seen from the garden of the chalet we were staying in as we emptied the moth trap.

A walk on the nearby beach at Porthloo produced a juv Curlew Sandpiper with a few Dunlin, Turnstones and Ringed Plovers, a Black-throated Diver was reported on the radio entering the harbour by a passing boat load of birders heading to Bryher, the bird was picked out coming close in to the moored Lifeboat.

A male Blackcap was seen in a hedge and a few Chiffchaff were on show, but it was quite quiet on the walk round to the wind sock of the airfield were 2 Lapland Buntings were, but as soon as we had reached the site, we were told they had flown further over towards the turning circle, before we set off in that direction, news of an Olive-backed Pipit came onto the radio, showing by the dump.

We started the long walk down again in the direction of the dump, but as we got closer, it was reported flying off over the house towards the medical centre.

We scoured the fields nearby without any luck, so I continued down to Penninas head, the Wryneck was showing well on the path before flying into a field and then briefly landing on a post.

Wryneck Penninis Head Scilly Oct 08

I walked down towards a small group of birders were a Snow Bunting was showing well not far from the lighthouse, so I started to take some pics when the radios went off again saying the Olive-backed had been seen again.

Snow Bunting Penninis Head Scilly Oct08

I got to the area it had been seen but it had been lost again, within a couple of minutes a frantic birder was reporting a bird he wasn't sure of, up by the wind sock of the airfield, he described it over the radio, "its got a broad creamy supercil, dark brown cap, brown upperparts and greyish undertail coverts and long black legs", this sounded good, some people suggested a Dotterel and others an American Golden Plover of which there had been one around.

The birder dismissed both of these, "its like no dotterel I've ever seen if it is one" he said, some birders raced up the hill to I.D. the bird, and with panting breath over the radio proclaimed "its a Sociable Plover, I repeat, its a Sociable Plover".

Well that sent us all scurrying back up that B*&~*×d hill for a second time, the light was fading rapidly with a mist rolling in off the sea, we soon got onto the bird the other side of the tarmac runway, running across the grass and pausing upright, typical of plovers.

The one piece of description the birder who had found it had left out was that it had an obvious blackish belly, which would have given the best clue to its identity sooner, it showed well as it fed with a wheatear for company.

Record shot of Sociable Plover Scilly Oct 08

Alex who had gone back to the chalet, appeared and we soon got him his first view of the bird while he caught his breath back, an heroic effort of a man who is 67 and can still walk and talk the legs off a donkey, the chalet is a good walk away at best of times, but under pressure its twice as far.

The Sociable Plover was the first for Scilly, and some of the resident big listers were up here and watching the bird as well, a few record shots in the poor light were taken before leaving.


The Scilly Season

We set off onboard the Scillonian III from Penzance after downing a greasy breakfast at Sullivan's Cafe, it was a calm sunny morning and we were expecting an easy crossing.

Scillonian III

As we passed a lot of the Cornish coves, a Basking Shark was spotted close to the shoreline of the cliffs, its large round Dorsal fin and angled tail protruding out of the water.

A Grey Phalarope was seen feeding on the sea, not far from the shark, 4 Razorbill and lots of the usual Gannets passed the boat, a Merlin was picked up chasing a Grey Wagtail for what semed like ages, before losing the bird amongst the cover of the headland.

A Sooty Shearwater was the only seabird of note, passing quite close to the boat, and then small numbers of Common Dolphins were picked up coming closer to the bow and showing really well, the numbers grew until at least 150 were counted in large groups, not far from the Eastern Isles of Scilly.

St Marys

As soon as we landed, we headed up to the garrison, were a Red-eyed Vireo had been seen, upon arrival at the crowd, the bird hadn't been seen for at least 4 hours, as it was mostly in a garden with no access.

After just a 10 minute wait the bird was relocated and showed well moving through the branches of an Euculyptus tree, not a bad start, only been on the island for 20 mins and the first yank.

A few people had mentioned a possible Hippolais Warbler had been seen around the corner, near the entrance to the campsite, so we walked the short distance and gave it a go.

After 15 mins or so a bird started chacking from the bracken and came into view, a very pale, almost sandy coloured bird, with an obvious steep forehead, long pale bill, creamy white underparts, long wings and darkish grey legs, it kept moving through the vegetation, so it was pieced together like a jigsaw, the bird looked like an Olivaceous Warbler in every way, it even tail pumped with two downward strokes and flicked its wings, other observers were thinking the same thing but were reluctant to be the one that said it was an Olivaceous.

Another bird started chacking in the bushes nearby, and the call was distinct enough to say it was a Radde's Warbler before seeing it, the bird eventually came out into full view and was indeed a Radde's Warbler, the long curving supercil, dark brown upperparts and the lemony yellow undertail coverts all pointing to its i.d..

With watching this, we had soon lost the probable Olivaceous Warbler in the hedge and the bird was never seen again and the i.d. remains unsolved.


Light SE winds, slight cloud but otherwise clear and sunny, and chilly first thing, birds were moving upon arrival, the Vis Mig went as follows:

Vis Mig                                 Grounded

Chaffinch-477                         Chaffinch-12

Greenfinch-4                          Blackbird-4

Goldfinch-80                          Song Thrush-1

Reed Bunting-3                       Reed Bunting-2

Meadow Pipit-105                    Meadow Pipit-45

Mistle Thrush-8                      Mistle Thrush-6

Grey Wagtail-3                      Grey Wagtail-5

Blue Tit-1                            Robin-12

Woodpigeon-21                      Pied Wagtail-12

Pied Wagtail-8                      Stonechat-1 fem



Pink-footed Goose-44 flew SW


Carrion Crow-9

Raven-1 flew SE


Common Buzzard-1


The Kingfisher has reappeared after the stormy weather, landing on the wire post outside hide A briefly, and the male Scaup is still present amongst the Tufted and also a Aythya hybrid with Pochard influence in it.


Heavy overnight rain, had broke this morning to a clear, cool but sunny day, with light Northerly winds, there were quite a few Meadow pipits feeding around the eastern end of the reserve, with 5+ Grey Wagtails and a stunning Greenland Wheatear, which showed well on the grass near hide A.





     Greenland Wheatear Seaforth Oct 08

Two Goldcrests were in the bushes by hide B, and a small group of Blue, Great and 4+ Long-tailed tits were in the marina bushes, and with them a single Chiffchaff.

An Adw Med Gull was on the fresh water pool, before joining the roost on the salt water pool mud, the Male Scaup was amongst the Tufted and Pochard, while over on the Crosby Marina the 5 Great Crested Grebes were being flushed by the sailing boats.

A Juv Curlew Sand was seen in flight and then relocated on the long bank by hide C, showing well but slightly into the sun.



      Juv Curlew Sand Seaforth NR Oct 08

The Pinkfeet were again visible in the distance, with at least 5,000+ again, but no white birds amongst them!


The wind had died down on the 3rd so no watching of the river was needed, and the wind today was gusty but from the South-west, 1 2ndw Yellow-legged Gull was joined on the fresh water pool by a 1stw, also a new 1stw Med Gull, a smart looking bird, and big, so possibly a male.


         2ndw Yellow-legged Gull   


   1stw Med Gull Seaforth NR Oct 08

The Teal have increased to 165 and 13 Shoveler, the Male Scaup was in and 12 Little Grebe.

Two Grey Plover were on the sw pool mud and 7 Bar-tailed Godwits, 70+ Black-tailed Godwits and 90+ Knot but no sign of any Curlew Sands.

A Goldcrest was calling in the bushes and 30 Mipits and a Wheatear were in the mounds and 5+ Grey Wagtails a round the pool edge.

A massive flock of Pinkfeet were seen flying over Little Crosby with about 5,000+ being flushed from the local fields, with a Ross's Goose at Martin Mere, it is always worth checking them out.


The wind was still strong overnight and showery and the Leach's Petrels were still in the Mersey, although not in the same numbers, with only 24 seen in 4hrs watching, 2 Manx Shearwaters, 1 Juv Gannet, 2 Adw Little Gulls, 1 Red-throated Diver and 2 Juv Arctic Terns were the days totals, and again someone on the otherside of the Mersey claimed all 4 species of skua again!

A quick look on the fresh water pool to see if anything had been blown in revealed nothing, just 12 Shovelers, 12 Little Grebe, the male Scaup, 120 Tufted, 8 Pochard, 120 teal and 5 great Crested grebes on Crosby marina.


With the wind blowing for two days westerly and force 5-6, it had moved round to the North-West overnight and with it strong gusts of 45-50mph and heavy showers, a great recipe for a Leach's Petrel fest on the Mersey, I arrived at Seaforth about 09.00 and watched from near the Radar Tower, the Leach's Petrels were moving past as soon as I looked out.

They were close in and just off the seawall rocks, and showing well, with a grand total for the day of 94 in 5hrs of watching, not bad considering the date, mid September being the prime time for them.

Other birds noted included an Ad Sabine's Gull which was mid-river and gave occasional good views in between the wave troughs, flanked by a juv Lesser Black-backed Gull.

It was good to see the autumn's first Juv Little Gulls, with 4 birds seen, one with dark saddle still,and 10 Adults also noted, also 2 Fulmar one over Crosby marine lake and another sat on the sea exhausted.

1 Manx Shearwater went out, as did 3 Red-throated Divers, 1 Juv Arctic Tern and 1 Common Tern.

No Skuas seen all day despite a claim of all 4 species from the Wirral, were others were watching (as well as some Seaforth regulars).



The winds changed from a SE to a South, but was still good for vis mig,

Vis Mig                                    Grounded

Chaffinch-15                             Chiffchaff-1

Greenfinch-6                             Redstart-1 Fem

Skylark-3                                Goldcrest-1

Magpie-1                                 Stonechat-1 Fem

Grey Wagtail-10                         Blue Tit-6

Sparrowhawk-1                          Great Tit-4

Meadow Pipit-35

Little Egret- 2 flew NE over Marina

Buzzard-6 in one group and 2 south.

Goshawk-1 SW came from the Buzzard group and flew overhead.   


The Kingfisher was still around today, as was  a Juv Curlew Sand and an Adw Med Gull was in the roost, the two Whinchats were still around, the fem was noted to have a ring on, but to distant to read.


                     Fem Stonechat                         


                       Fem Whinchat


                  Fem Whinchat                     


While away on the east coast y'day, Steve Morris found a Yellow-browed Warbler at Seaforth, but with clear skies overnight, it was obvious it wouldn't be there, but it was a good day for stuff moving,

Vis Mig                                      Grounded

Chaffinch-4                                 Chaffinch-10

Great Spotted Woodpecker-1 South      Song Thrush-3

Redpoll-1                                   Stonechat-1 male

Grey Wagtail-6                            Whinchat-1 male + 1 Fem

Jackdaw-3                                 Garden Warbler-1

Skylark-3                                  Goldcrest-1

Pied Wagtail-4                            Blue Tit-4

Meadow Pipit-130                         Meadow Pipit-30

Mistle Thrush-3                           Dunnock-8

Siskin-7                                    Blackbird-2

Lapland Bunting- 1 south calling          Robin-12+

Starling-300+                             Chiffchaff-2


An early morning start saw myself Chris Galvin, Steve Young and Tim Vaughan heading eastbound for Flambourgh Head, where the best bird of the year so far has managed to get itself on the mainland at last!

We soon arrived and was watching the Brown Shrike in the Old Fall Hedge, a little distant at first, as it sat low down in the scrub, occasionally dropping into the field to catch something and return to the hedge.



 Two record shots of the Brown (blob) Shrike Flambourgh Head Sept 08

The bird was an adult male, full black mask bordered with a white trim, solid brown, head and body and continued to the very long tail, throat to undertail coverts white, with no obvious barring, aged and sexed the bird as an ad male.

The birders were blocking the road to see the bird, so access into the field was arranged, and most people left, looping a way from the hedge and coming out at a safe distance, I waited at top hedge, as I was sure it would probably flush back towards me, and this it did, giving better views than first seen.



  Crowds at the Brown Shrike with Police directing traffic

The bird was then flushed from the hedge by people not looping out from the hedge into the other field, it flew past quite close and then over the road towards the golf course side.

It was relocated about half a mile away in a hedge, and there it stayed all day, showing well but mega distant, it even at one point shared the hedge with 2 Red-backed Shrikes, one of which stayed for comparison.

A walk down the hedge to the Old Fall Plantation, was worthwile as up to 4 Yellow-browed Warblers were on show, with some calling, also a juv/fem Red-breasted Flycatcher which was harder to see in the dark cover.

A possible Richard's Pipit flew out of the field next to the plantation and over the trees without calling, it certainly looked big enough and one had been claimed earlier.

Other commoner birds of note were, a few Siskin, 1 Brambling, 1 Redwing, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Lesser Whitethroat in South Landing, 1 Redstart, lots of Tree Sparrows and a few Goldcrests, very poor numbers of anything really.

A quick look offshore produced several Eider, Guillemot, lots of Gannets flying South, 9 Red-throated Divers and 1 Bonxie.


A cold ENE wind was blowing this morning, with a few birds moving south, the best of them a Mealy Redpoll, picked up on call as a probable (has a more metallic sound to it), it then landed on the Shepherd's Mound.

A Siskin flew over low enough to be seen, as well as 3 Chaffinch, 5 Grey Wagtail, 4 Dunnock, 6 Great Tit and 2 House Martin.

A Peregrine flew north and 45 Pinkfeet on the same course.

A Juv Curlew Sand was still on sw pool with 33 Golden Plover and one of the Kingfishers flew past calling.


Again ideal conditions for induced movement, but just a trickle of birds noted, clear skies to the North with the cloud cover just starting overhead, a few hours produced, 12 Skylark, 5 Grey Wagtail, 2 House Martin, 14 Woodpigeon East, 1 Siskin, 40 Meadow Pipit and 4 Greenfinch.

Grounded birds included, 4 Song Thrush, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Chiffchaff, 20 Robin, 6 Great Tit, 3 Blue Tit and 4 Dunnock.

A few Long-tailed Tits were heard calling on the other side of the fence at Crosby Marina, while the Great Crested Grebes have increased to 4 and the Kingfisher still resides, commuting between the marina and the reserve.


The conditions for vis mig looked ideal, but nothing moving, a Male Redstart was a surprise, with a Goldcrest in a small Elder bush near Hide C.

At least one Chiffchaff was around and 1 Kingfisher, other birds that semmed to have been grounded were, 2 fem Reed Bunting, 50 Meadow Pipit, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Blackbird, 18 Robin, 4 Chaffinch, 6 Dunnock, 4 Grey Wagtail, 1 Mistle Thrush an 1 Whitethroat.

A small flock of 26 Pink-footed Geese flew north, and 4 House Martin and 1 Sand Martin went South, while a Wheatear was on the mound near the office and an increase in Goldfich to 240+ in several large flocks.

The Male Scaup has returned after a long absence amongst the Tufted and the Pochard have increased to 6, while 3 Great Crested Grebes on Crosby marina was a good count.


A better morning for a Diurnal, with birds moving overhead upon arrival.

Vis Mig                                          Grounded

Chaffinch-5                                     Wheatear-1

Greenfinch-4                                    Greenfinch-3

Siskin-18                                        Blackbird-1

Skylark-19                                      Great Tit-2

Meadow Pipit-340                              Chiffchaff-1


Grey Wagtail-7 including a colour ringed bird from Heysham, please report any colour ringed birds to Pete Marsh at

Yellow Wagtail-2

Great Spotted Woodpecker-2


Carrion Crow-2


The 2 Kingfisher showed well wizzing around calling, almost everywhere you were, 1 Juv Curlew Sand and 1 fem Sparrowhawk were also noted.


A cloudy start to the day, but warming up later, a few birds moving south were noted as follows,

Vis Mig                                         Grounded

Chaffinch-1                                    Blackbird-1

Siskin-1                                        Great Tit-4

Meadow Pipit-100                             Blue Tit-4

Pied Wagtail-30                               2 Dunnock

Yellow Wagtail-1                              Chiffchaff-1

Grey Wagtail-6

Mistle Thrush-1


Common Buzzard-6 also a Buzzard SP which may have been a Honey Buzzard at 12.45, but distant.

Herring Gull-2,500+ they moving in either long loose groups or tight flocks of 50+.

There are now two Kingfishers as was suspected, both being seen together near the reed bed.

2 adw Med Gulls were in the roost, and the 3+ Curlew Sands still around on the salt water pool, the Juv Little Stint was also still here, a Juv and an Adult Peregrine put in an appearance and 2 Sparrowhawks harrassed the waders.


Despite good conditions, nothing moving overhead today, just 5 Grey Wagtail, the Kingfisher was still around and a Juv Little Ringed Plover joined the Juv Little Stint on the causeway.


                                  Kingfisher Seaforth NR Sep08

A noteable increase in duck numbers revealed 125 Teal, 3 Pochard, 10 Shoveler, 120+ Tufted Duck and 10 Little Grebes.

Highlight of the day was a Short-eared Owl noticed flying over the marina, eventually landing in the dunes, before being flushed by earth moving equipment, the bird then flew over the fence and along the the long bank, before vanishing behind one of the scrapes,it has been a good few years since there was a shorty over the reserve.


After a clear night, there was no surprise the Wryneck could not be relocated, despite an extensive search, instead a few birds had started to move south, these were recorded for visible migration.

Vis Mig                                             Grounded

Swallow-29                                        Song Thrush-1

Chaffinch-12                                      Garden Warbler-1

Grey Wagtail-9                                   Yellow Wagtail-1

Meadow Pipit-190                                Dunnock-3

Collared Dove-2                                  Whitethroat-1

House Martin-30                                 Blue Tit-1

Sand Martin-1                                   Great Tit-4

Skylark-1                                        Willow Warbler-1

Siskin-1                                          White Wagtail-4

Black-tailed Godwit-40 Flew East              Robin-20

Common Buzzard-3

Crossbill-1 Juv which was picked up calling, flying past the large warehouse, it landed 20yds away from me at a small pool and took a drink before flying off calling again.

Other birds on the reserve included, 3 Juv Curlew Sands, 2 Juv Little Stints, 1 Kingfisher and 4 Migrant Hawkers were on the wing.


                   Comma                              Migrant Hawker


An early morning phone call from Steve Thomlinson, reminded me I should have got up when the alarm clock went off, as he reported seeing a Wryneck, flushed from the path to hide C, a great find and only the 3rd record for the reserve.

I dashed down there within half an hour to find Steve still looking into the bushes he had last seen the bird fly into.

While looking for the bird, 2 Garden Warblers put in appearances, as did 4 Chiffchaff with a few Blue Tits and Great Tits, 2 Song Thrush and up to 15 Robin, but no sign of the Wryneck.

After nearly 5 hours, the bird was relocated by hide B by Steve Morris, the bird then began to show well, but wouldn't allow you to get too close, before it was off to another area.





                           Wryneck Seaforth NR September 08

After about an hour of watching the bird and trying to get some photos, the Wryneck vanished, it was seen to fly and land by some concrete pipes with Teasel around them, but it didn't show again despite a concerted effort by more visitors and regulars who still hadn't seen it.

While looking for the bird Steve Morris was watching a Juv dark phase Honey Buzzard flying south-east over our heads from hide A, but a mix up in communication led the bird going un-noticed by the rest of us.

Other birds on the reserve included, 2 Juv Little Stints,3 Juv Curlew Sands, 1 Adw Med Gull, 1 Sand Martin, 50 House Martin, 10 Swallow, 6 Wheatear, 4 White Wagtails, 1 Yellow Wagtail and the Juv LRP.

The Wryneck was seen again late evening by one lucky observer, who is now nicknamed Mr Jammy, after everbody else had gone home.


A much better day with birds heading south upon arrival, the visible migration recorded 16 Skylark, 12 Grey Wagtail, 370 Meadow Pipit, 193 Swallow, 55 House Martin and 1 Collared Dove.

2 Juv Little Stints were showing well on the causeway and a Juv Little Ringed Plover.

30 Golden Plover were on the salt water pool with the Lapwings, and just one Chiffchaff in the bushes and an adw Med Gull came in to bathe.


With wind back in the Southerly direction, a few birds were noted heading South, amongst them, 10 Meadow Pipit, 3 Yellow Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 8 Swallow and 76 Woodpigeon east.

10 Common Buzzards were on show at one time circling in the distance with one or two drifting south.

On the reserve, 33 Golden Plover with the Lapwings, 3 Snipe, 1 Greylag Goose, 1 Greenshank, 110 Black-tailed godwit, 1 Turnstone, 1 Common Sand and an increase in the Tufted Duck to 127, 81 Teal, 4 Shoveler, 1 Ruddy Duck and 7 Little Grebe.

On the mounds were 4 Wheatear and 3 Great Tit and 2 Blue Tit were in the bushes, and 4 Adw Med Gulls were in the roost on the long bank.


September is the time when you get on your knees and pray to the Spirit of the East wind, and last night they heard my prayers, as I arrived this morning it was East-North-East, this is what you wait all summer for, to top it off it was misty with light rain, excellent fall conditions.

Gav Thomas arrived and we scanned the waders on the salt water pool, 3 Greenshank were amongst the Redshank, 95 Black-tailed Godwit with 1 Bar-tailed amongst them, 120 Knot and smaller numbers of Dunlin.

I picked up an Osprey out in the mist circling out in the Mersey mouth, and flying past the radar tower and over towards the centre of the Wirral, and not long after that a Juv Goosander flying East from the Mersey over the fence line of the beach and Crosby marina and then inland.

A Juv Artic Tern was joined by a Juv Black Tern at the pump on the salt water pool, and 2 Common Sands flew past calling.

The sun started to show its self, so we checked out the bushes, to see if the rain had dropped anything, we weren't disappointed, 3 Whitethroats, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Willow Warbler, 4 Wheatear, 2 Yellow Wagtails and a Spotted Flycatcher, a real September bird here.


                 Spotted Flycatcher September 08 Seaforth NR

Over 100+ House Martin went south with 30 Swallow and 1 Swift.

The sun also brought out a Painted Lady Butterfly, a Brown Hawker and a Migrant Hawker.


The Juv White-winged Black Tern is still here and showing well but again mostly on the marina side of the fence, but no sign of any Black Terns today, 1 Juv Arctic Tern still amongst the massive roosting flock of common Terns with about 1,100+.

A new Juv Med Gull was on the causeway and a Great Crested Grebe was on the fresh water pool, a scarce bird here these days.


            Great Crested Grebe  and Juv Med Gull September 08 Seaforth NR

A small passage of birds going south included a Tree Pipit heard calling, 4 Grey Wagtails, 50 Swallows, 50 House Martins and 2 Swifts.

An increase in Teal today with 52, and 2 fem/imm Pintail flew over high to the south, but more frustrating was when a group of 5 Mallards and an obvious smaller bird with them came in from the north, the birds circled the reserve a few times, I pointed this out to Steve Young who was in the hide with me, we tried to get more on it, as it had an obvious spatulate like bill, not as much as Shoveler, which was elimininated on size anyway, as this bird was clearly teal sized, a lot smaller than the mallards.

At one point as the birds banked, I'm sure I got some blue in the fore-wing, but I couldn't clinch it, the birds split up with 3 mallard eventually landing in front of us on the fresh water pool, but annoyingly, the other two Mallards and the Teal sp pulled up from landing, and turned to fly towards the Wirral.

The possibilities are Blue-winged Teal or Cinnamon Teal, both of which have a slight spatulate bill and blue fore-wing, Garganey was ruled out due to the length and shape of the bill.

We'll never know how close we were to getting a new species for the reserve, interestingly, a probable Cinnamon Teal was seen in Warwickshire 4-5 days later!


Yesterdays Juv White-winged Black Tern was still present again this morning, feeding mostly on Crosby marina, and then coming briefly to roost, bathe and preen.

Two Juv Black Terns were located feeding over the pump on the salt water pool, with one confusingly being replaced now and again by the White-winged black Tern, it wasn't easy keeping track on which was which in the direct sunlight.

The calls of two Greenshank rang out over the salt water pool, and I picked them up flying towards and then landing on the causeway.

Also on the reserve were, 2 Juv Arctic Terns, 3 Sandwich, 1,000+ Common Tern, 1 Adw + 1 Juv Med Gulls, 8 Shoveler, 2 Common Sand, the female ruddy Duck, and Male Scaup amongst the Tufted Duck, 34 Golden Plover and 8 Little Grebe.


                                  Juv Med Gull Seaforth NR Sept 08



I arrived Late this morning at Seaforth and had been woken by a phone call about a Black-necked Grebe that was present, imagine my surprise as I approached the pool near to hide B, and the first bird I looked at was a Juv White-winged Black Tern.


                     Juv White-winged Black Tern Seaforth NR Aug 08

I thought lightning had struck twice, and that I had found another, but as I phoned JD at the hide, he had been trying to phone me about it as it had only just arrived in.

An excellent bird, really fresh juvenile plumage, with no hint of any moult on the mantle yet, it fed over the pool before flying over to the Marina.

Other birds on the reserve today included, Greenshank, 1 juv Med Gull, 1 Juv Arctic Tern, 5 Yellow Wagtail and the adw Black-necked Grebe (the second record of the year).


Today started with some passage of Swallows and House Martins, with 100+ and 50+ respectivley, a Juv LRP was on the causeway with 3 Common Sands, a Greenshank, 1,000 Common Terns, 3 Sandwich, a Juv Yellow-legged Gull amongst the large gulls and 4 Adw Med Gulls.

On the saltwater pool, 300 Knot, 1,200 Lapwing, 120 Black-tailed Godwit and 30 Golden Plover, a Peregrine flew overhead and 3 Grey Wagtail went south.

A Willow Warbler was in the bushes and 2 Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail on the long bank grass amongst the Pied's, the male Scaup still present and a Fem Ruddy Duck.


                                 Fem Ruddy Duck Seaforth NR Aug 08


A Greenshank calling over the pools on the long bank, and then views as it settled on the causeway, a male Peregrine flew over sending everything up, but bird of the day was a Kingfisher which kept coming back to catch a fish in the scrape next to hide A, and the fly off to the willows on the far side to eat it, showing well on a small branch placed close enough for it to be photographed.


           Greenshank Seaforth NR Aug 08  Kingfisher Seaforth NR Aug 08


                                 Kingfisher Seaforth NR Aug 08


With a stiff southerly blowing and a decent tide, the numbers of waders have been building up with 800+ Dunlin and a large flock of Knot feeding on the salt water pool, the causeway has been crammed with 1300 Common Terns, with the odd Sandwich Tern amongst them.

2 Adw med Gulls were in the roost and 50+ Swift flew South.


A quiet day, as has been the case for a couple of days now, just 20 Golden Plover amongst the lapwing and 90 Black-tailed Godwit, a juv Turnstone and the male Scaup being the highlights.


Heavy overnight rain may have brought possible new birds in I was thinking as I arrived today, "nothing much in, quite quiet really" I was told, but there was still an ad Med Gull, 4 Curlew Sands, a Juv Arctic Tern with 1 Ads and 1 1sts 100+ Black-tailed Godwits and 4 Common Sands.

Steve Young was just leaving and Pete had walked down with him towards the office for a look around the bushes, leaving me in the hide alone, I went outside to photograph a Red Admiral on the nettles and ended up chasing it all the way up to the reedbed, by the time I'd got back to the hide about 20mins had passed, and as I approached the side screen to view the causeway, I got a glimpse of a Black Tern on a rock, within 2 seconds of me seeing it, it took off and looked as though it had a white rump and tail!

I ploughed thru the hide door to look out of the windows in front, but nothing, no sign of the Tern anywhere, so I came back outside to get a better viewing space (with no screen in place to the right of the hide) I was able to view the whole pool, and there was the tern flying away from me by now and heading towards the marina, and it looked like a White-winged Black Tern!

I quickly phoned Pete who was now by the reedbed and told him I have just had a probable (me being cautious) White-winged Black Tern, which has just flown off towards the marina, we called Steve Young who still hadn't fully left the site, he said he would go round and check it out.

While Steve did this we stood up on a small mound near to the big shed, which gives you distant views over the marina, as we scanned the lake Steve got back to us and said the Tern was still there but distant, we then picked it up thru the fence flying in the middle of the lake, and showing a gleaming white rump and tail even from this distance,it was a White-winged Black Tern, a moulting ads with black underwing coverts, pale grey upperwings and a small amount of white on the carpal, the head was mostly winter type, a black cap, white face and a speckled black and white breast. On closer examination of the photos taken, it clearly shows contrast between the outer primaries being darker, and the small amount of whit on the leading edge of the wing, might mean it was in fact a second summer bird.


    White-winged Black Tern Seaforth and Crosby Marina Aug 08

          John Donnelly©                         Pete Kinsella©


             White-winged Black Tern Aug 08 Pete Kinsella©

We went around to the marina and got some excellent views as it flew passed,dipping to the surface for insects, the news was phoned and texted out to the regulars and put on Birdline North West, so people could get down here and enjoy what is still a good bird even if they have taken it off the rarities list.


The Scaup still loafing with the Tufties which have gone up to 90 and 5 Pochard, while the 6 Curlew Sands still feed around the edge of the pool, only 800+ Dunlin today and 6 Common Sands.

The Terns are still building up with a lot of post breeders, not many juvs noted amongst them, but 1 ads, 2 1sts and 1 2nds Arctic Terns, 27 Sandwich, 2 Black and 1200 Common.

1 Ads Yellow-legged Gull and the 1st Juv Common Gull of the year, as well as 4 ad Med Gulls and a fresh Juv.


              Juv Med Gull Seaforth NR Aug 08


With windy conditions today, there has been an increase in the Tern numbers, and with them 3 ad Black Terns, 1 Little Tern, 4 Arctic and 2 Sandwich.

The Curlew Sands have increased to 6 in various stages of moulting out of summer plumage, also 70+ Black-tailed Godwits, 8 Common Sands, and an amazing 1200 Dunlin and 20 Knot.

A Juv and an Ads Yellow-legged Gull was in the roost amongst the gulls and the Shoveler have increased to 5 with 8 Teal.



The waders are certainly on the move with 4 Adult Curlew Sands feding on the fresh water pool edge with 750+ Dunlin mostly on the mud of the salt water pool.

The Arctic Terns are still going through a nest building scenario, with a 1sts also joining in the pairs display.

A 2ndw Med Gull was amongst the gulls and a Kingfisher flashed past the hide.


My first visit for a while to Seaforth, the weather is warm with a light southerly breeze, and the place is packed out with birds, in the reedbed there are now 4 Reed Warblers singing, with an Emperor Dragonfly on patrol, and my first Painted Lady Butterfly of the year on thistles, a fresh Comma was outside the hide on nettles.

There seemed to be a small passage of Hirundines today with 10 Sand Martin, 70+ House Martin and 60+ Swallows heading South, the waders are starting to build up with 42 Black-tailed Godwit, 55 Dunlin, 6 Common Sands and 30 Turnstone.

Most unexpected sighting of the day was of a Black Swan on the fresh water pool amongst the Mute Swans, the first I have seen on here.




Back at Seaforth today and the Spoonbill is still present, but a new arrival is the now regular drk Scaup which is earlier again than last year, arriving with some Tufted Ducks, where does it go from April onwards?

Up to 9 1sts Little gulls were around, and the 1st 2 Juv Black-headed gulls of the year, also 5 Sandwich Terns, 4 Teal, 4 Greylag Geese and 3 Little Grebe.


With news late yesterday of an adult Rose-coloured Starling in Lancs, the early morning news on the pager stated the bird was still present, so after picking up PK, we arrived at Inskip just north-west of Preston, within the hour, and were soon watching the bird on the roof and aerials of the house and garden it was first found in.

The bird was mostly on its own at first, occasionally accompanied by a few Starlings, and stood out amongst the others with its dull pink and glossy black plumage, pink tipped bill and short crest indicating it was probably an adult female.

It soon dropped down into the garden, and the lady who had first noticed it in her garden, allowed half a dozen of us into her back room to view the bird through the patio windows, giving excellent views, as it hopped around the base of the bird table with a few Goldfinch.



            Ads Rose-coloured Starling Inskip Lancs June 08

A few photos were taken and our thanks was paid to the lady before leaving, if only most people were as obliging, like the Siberian Rubythroat, Ovenbird and Black-headed Bunting to name a few.

A cracking bird for the north-west and the Lancs list, I seem to recall seeing one years ago near Blackpool, but don't have any notes on it, so this will go down as my first for Lancashire.


The Spoonbill was still present on the causeway and showing well, feeding along the edge of the pool, not much else on show, 1 Arctic Tern, 8 1sts  Little Gulls a few Sandwich Terns and that was about it, still cold North-westerlies forcing an early leave.


                        Imm Spoonbill Seaforth NR June 08


A typical Saturday in June at Seaforth today, cold NW winds blowing into the hide, making viewing conditions unbearable, while outside the sun was quite warm, it was while outside chatting away, that I noticed an imm Spoonbill flying in from the South, and landing at the far end of the fresh water pool, in the usual spot.


                       Imm Spoonbill Seaforth NR June 08

The 4th bird we've had here this year, it soon settled down and began feeding, occasionally being chased by the female Mute Swan as it ventured too close to the young cygnets.

Other birds here today included, the male Ruddy Duck still present, 1 Arctic Tern, 1 Ads Yellow-legged Gull, 7 1sts Little Gulls, 10 Sandwich Terns, LRP, 2 Greylag Geese amongst the vast army of Canada Geese with over 100+ and a few kittiwakes, Dunlin and Ringed Plovers.


With clear skies overnight, I was surprised to get a text message from Steve Young, saying the Phal was still here at 06.30, I soon joined him in the hide and with much better early morning light, I managed to get some more photos and slightly better quality than yesterday into the sun.



                      Wilson's Phalarope Seaforth NR June 08

The orange wash on the side of the neck was more notable in this light, as was a grey strip running down from the rear of the crown down the back of the neck.

A Sanderling flew in briefly with a Ringed Plover and a Dunlin, and another flock of 9 Dunlin were feeding along the edge of the causeway.

A flock of geese were seen flying past the radar tower, 2 Canada Geese and 3 Pinkfeet, which came onto the reserve later and showed well on the freshwater pool.


  Pink-footed Goose Seaforth NR June 08    Sandwich Tern flock Seaforth June 08

The whole reserve was crammed full of birds today, with 150+ Swifts flying around, smaller groups of 30+ House Martins and 10+ Swallows, 400+ Common Terns and a growing flock of 20 Sandwich Terns.


  Wilson's Phalarope Seaforth John Donnelly    Wilson's Phalarope Seaforth June 08


Amazing what turns up in June, just when you think spring is all over for another year, that phone call can change everything, the phone call in question was from Steve White at Seaforth, in a breathless voice, "Wilson's Phalarope on the wader scrape", "oh my god, (as well as a few swear words), I'll be down in a minute,cheers", was my reply.

I tried to stay calm and walk in, but thoughts to it flying off any second forced me to try to run, as I walked in expecting the worst, I was told it was still here, phew!

What seemed like ages before the bird showed itself from behind the small ridge of the wader scrape, it walked into view, much to my relief, it showed really well feeding around and on the edge of the scrape, despite the sun being in the wrong place I got some pics quick, still thinking it probably wont stay long.


                     Wilson's Phalarope Seaforth NR June 08

It has been a long time coming for this species to turn up and long predicted, in the days when we ran a sweep, it was in the top 10 of probable birds to turn up.

More people arrived who had passes, its amazing how many new faces have suddenly sprang up holding their new pass, where have they been all year ?, where have they been period, they can't say they used to come here before the passes came into line, because I don't recognise any of them, and I should know, I have practically lived in the hide for years.

The bird showed well all day, and allowed very distant views from the fence at Crosby Marina for the non-permit holders.

It was first thought the bird was a 1sts male, but it could well be just a very dull adult male, as it has the breeding coloured legs, not yellow as in Juv or adult winter, black centred lower scaps on brown upperparts, clean white supercil before the eye, a dark line along the side of neck with a hint of orange wash, clean white breast, belly and undertail coverts, dark greyish tail band and neat white rump.

Other birds on reserve included, 4 Sandwich Terns, 2 Greylag Geese, 2 Arctic Terns, the male Wigeon still present and the 2 Reed Warblers.



The cold North-westerlies continued today, and bringing with it very little bird movement, a male Ruddy Duck the only new bird seen, asleep down the far end, the male Wigeon still present and 2 Reed Warblers still singing in the reed bed and the 4 Arctic Terns were seen displaying.


                     1sts Little Gulls Seaforth NR May 08


Despite the cold NW breeze blowing across the reserve today, another new arrival, and yet another Garganey, this time a 1sts male, which showed well at times although slightly more flighty than the last one.


      1sts male Garganey Seaforth May 08        Arctic Tern Seaforth May 08

A group of 10 Black-tailed Godwits dropped in for a short spell, and 4 Arctic Terns were seen together on the causeway, and a distant Common Buzzard was seen flying South.


A male Teal was a new bird in today on the wader scrape, and a few Dunlin moved thru with 30 birds and 2 Tundra race Ringed Plovers in tow, but best of all were 2 Avocets which were heard to call and picked up high over the hide, before flying off West towards the Wirral.

A few Kittiwakes have been coming onto the fresh water pool in small numbers, and today there were 3+ ads and 1 1sts, these will be from the local breeding colony near by.


       1sts Kittiwake + 1sts Little Gulls          Ads Kittiwake Seaforth May 08

A Little Tern which had been seen y'day, put in an appearance again today, on the causeway with the Commons, 3 Sandwich and 2 Arctic Terns and 14 1sts Little Gulls.


        Little Tern Seaforth May 08                2 Arctic Terns Seaforth May 08


Strong Easterly winds were blowing today, at least force 4-5 in strength, about 20mph at times, so everything was keeping its head down, except the Arctic Terns which were feeding in front of the hide, at least 3 birds possibly 4.


     Arctic Tern Seaforth May 08               Fem Yellow Wagtail Seaforth May 08

Frustrating views of a distant Egret Sp, were had as it flew East at over 2+ mile range in hazy conditions, the bird was certainly big enough to be a Great White Egret, with slow deliberate wing beats, it was soon lost to sight behind the distant houses amd may well have gone down, but where is anyones guess.


Good numbers of Spotted Flycatchers have been arriving in several areas in the North West for the past 2-3  weeks now, so it was great to finally get one, or should I say two, as there were 2 birds in the bushes near to the visitor centre and showing well on occasion, unlike the Phyllosc-like bird which was very elusive and couldn't be identified as genus never mind species.


              Spotted Flycatcher Seaforth May 08 Pete Kinsella

More Tundrae race Ringed Plovers were flying though the reserve with 4 birds amongst 10 Dunlin, the 2 Common Sands still present, 1 Arctic Tern, 2 Sandwich and over 250 Common Terns.

The long staying male Wigeon was still grazing the causeway, and doing fine job of keeping the grass short, also the female Ruddy Duck was floating around and 2 more Wheatears were in the mounds.


A 2nds Yellow-legged Gull was bathing on the fresh water pool, a new bird than has been seen before, and has arrived with an increase in Lesser Black-backed Gulls.


                        2nds Yellow-legged Gull Seaforth May 08

A male and female Peregrine were on the hunt over the reserve, making suggestions they might have young nearby, as they have been absent for several months and now seem to be making regular appearances.

A couple of Common Sands have also arrived in the overnight rain, but no hoped for Temminck's Stints like else where.


A new arrival today was another duck this time a female Ruddy Duck, which was asleep near to hide B, lots of Swallows moving with 120 per hour and smaller numbers of House Martins.


                        Female Ruddy Duck Seaforth May 08

A sign that spring was held up at some stage was evident today with 2 Wheatears still heading north, both typical Greenland birds on the long bank.

A Peregrine flew over missing two attempts of catching a pigeon, and two small groups of Dunlin moved through with 4 + 5 birds heading South over the docks.


Back to normal today at Seaforth, with nothing in particular of note, apart from an Adult Yellow-legged Gull, 2 Sandwich Terns, 7 1st Little Gulls and a small movement of Swallows and Swifts.


A nice surprise this morning was seeing a male Garganey in flight over the fresh water pool with a couple of Gadwall, no I'm not back at Marshside, this is Seaforth, and we've got one at last, they have been turning up all around us on various reserves, and the thoughts were that we were going to miss out on one this year again, after a blank year in 2007.

The bird showed really well on both wader scrapes allowing some photos to be taken.



                               Male Garganey Seaforth May 08

It must be one of those red letter days at Seaforth, as the day got better, with a Hobby circling over Crosby Marina, before heading off inland in an Easterly direction.

Then 45 mins later, a big dread went up with gulls and terns totally freaking out, but where was the raptor?, it was at least 5mins later when the Osprey was picked up over the East end of the reserve, it too started to gain height, and went NE.

To add to the raptor scene, a fem peregrine flew low over the reserve checking out for the unwary.

There are now 2 Reed Warblers calling in the reedbed, but still no sign of any female activity, keep singing lads.


The Black Tern was still flying around this morning, as well as 1 Arctic Tern, a Male Shoveler was newly arrived and 2 Tundrae race Ringed Plovers were amongst 7 Dunlin.

A pair of Peregrines were in flight over the warehouse at the back of the hide and a Common Buzzard flew South.

A drive around Altcar Moss produced 8+ Common Buzzards in flight, but no Quail calling from several areas checked, despite 3 turning up nearby on Sefton Meadows.

We carried on to Southport Marshside, were the Glossy Ibis was showing well, in much improved plumaged and looking more adult like now, a lovely purple colour with hints of glossy green, and a narrow white border around the base of the bill.


                       Glossy Ibis Southport Marshside RSPB May 08

Loads of Avocets with young around and a nice looking male Garganey was also on show, but no sign of any Little Stints amongst the 40+ Dunlin.


      Avocet Marshside RSPB May 08          Male Garganey Marshside RSPB May 08


A lazy start to a Sunday morning was interrupted with news of a Red-rumped Swallow on the Wirral at Leasowe, flying around the horse paddocks, but before I could get myself organised, news came on of a Male Red-backed Shrike on Formby Moss, so I picked PK up and we headed off to the Red-backed Shrike as it was the closer of the two.

When we arrived, we met Neill, John and Barry from Southport and a few other birders watching the bird, it was a superb looking bird, bright rusty upperparts, silver grey head, pinkish wash on breast and black tail and primaries, as well as the black highwaymans mask.

It was being mobbed by a very brave or very stupid Whitethroat as it sat on the barbed wire fence, but the shrike was more interested in catching and eating several bumble bees.

As we were watching the shrike Kenny Dummigan phoned to say he was still watching the Swallow, as news was a bit slow on the updates as to whether or not it was still there.

We arrived at the Red-rumped Swallow, and soon were getting excellent flight views as it passed either by us or over us, SY and CG were there busy snapping away.

 We watched it for half an hour or so and then went to look for a Spotted Flycatcher Graham Jones had seen by the cottages, with no luck we returned for another look at the Red-rumped, and were in time to see it do a few more passes before it flew to our right and away.

We started to leave as Steve Morris and Tim Vaughan arrived seperatley, and were told that the bird was still here and showing well, we were to learn on the way back to Seaforth that the bird had gone however.

At Seaforth, we were hoping the Swallow was headed our way with the countless number of Swallows that were moving through, but no such luck, we did get another Black Tern flying around the Fresh Water pool and distant views of a Stork Sp flying east, but couldn't make out the species due to distance and a bad heat haze.(A White Stork was later found near Chorley the same direction the bird had headed).

(The shrike must of got fed up with the constant harrassment from the Whitethroat, as it was seen later pinning one up on the barbed wire fence!)


A cloudy day with rain, but still South-easterly winds, but where are the birds?, the only new birds in today were a Common Sandpiper and a 1sts Yellow-legged Gull, a pair of Sandwich Terns were brief visitors and a Collared Dove flew in from the Wirral.


     Common Sandpiper Seaforth May 08      Sandwich Terns Seaforth May 08 Pete Kinsella


A couple of Arctic Terns on the causeway soon grew to 9 birds, some roosting and some feeding with the 15 Little Gulls over the fresh water pool, then 7 birds took off and spiralled up high and were lost to view.


      2 1sts Little Gulls Seaforth May 08       2 Little Ringed Plovers Seaforth May 08

The constant calling of the Little Grebe for a mate has been finally answered, with another bird in attendance today, well done son.


The Reed Warbler still singing away in the reedbed but no sign of any others yet, a small passage of hirundines and Swifts was noted and a 2nds Yellow-legged Gull amongst the Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and a group of 12 Dunlin moved through, another quiet day.


The 2 1sts Spoonbills were still present this morning on the causeway asleep again, and still 13 Little Gulls around, but not much else and looked pretty quiet.


    2 1sts Spoonbills asleep Seaforth May 08       Red-legged Partridge May 08

A short drive around the mosslands only produced a Cuckoo heard calling at Formby Moss and some Red-legged Partidge and a few Hares in a short grassy field.


A fairly quite morning at Seaforth with just a Sedge Warbler singing from the sea buckthorn by the salt water pool new in, and a Yellow Wagtail flying North, 2 Arctic Terns still feeding over the fw pool, and several Swallows and House Martins on the move.

We decided to go across to Inner Marsh Farm to see the Whiskered Tern, which has been around for a few days and seemed settled.

We arrived at the viewing area over-looking the main marsh, and soon picked up the bird flying over the nearest pool, dipping down to the water to snatch an insect from the surface in true marsh tern style and elegance, whilst watching the Whiskered, a Grasshopper Warbler started singing from near by bushes, and 2 male Garganey were located roosting on the edge of the pool.

We moved to the hide and were in time to see the bird flying over and then landing about 150yds away on a small island, giving reasonable scope views.


        Record shots of Whiskered Tern at Inner Marsh Farm RSPB May 08

Also on the reserve were lots of nesting Avocets with young feeding close to the hide, and over 500+ Black-tailed Godwits and 9 Little Egrets coming and going to Burton Marsh.


    Avocet Inner Marsh Farm RSPB May 08   Avocet chick Inner Marsh farm RSPB May 08


Another mass movement of Swallows continued today with more than 150 per hour counted, with smaller numbers of House and Sand Martins.

A long winged Falcon was seen flying past the radar tower heading North, the light grey-brown colour of the mantle suggested a possible Red-footed Falcon, it clearly wasn't a Merlin, Kestrel or even Hobby, and with the amount of Red-footed Falcons arriving into Britain at the moment, it was possible, but it will go down as another that got away.

With the news of a fem Red-footed Falcon still present at Pugney's CP in Wakefield, Pete, Steve Morris and myself set off to see it, as it was a potential new bird for Steve.

On the drive across to Yorkshire, there had been very little news of the bird for hours since first thing on the pager, so it was an anxious wait for the pager to announce it was still present, in which it did almost half way across, much to the relief of one of the crew.

Not long after this message, another "Bleep" and it was saying the bird had drifted off high and was no longer on show, the groans and swear words wont be repeated here, but we were not happy,to say the least, but we carried on heading towards the site as we were not far now anyway.

Just as we were arriving it came on again as showing over the hide, we pulled into the very busy car park, as it was a scorcher of a day it seemed like the whole of Yorkshire were out for a BBQ with some sunbathing and paddling in the lake, people everywhere.

We saw the bird flying around distantly and arrived near the hide to be greeted with excellent views of the bird some 40ft above us, a superb bird, not an adult fem, but a paler 1sts fem, with only a hint of an orange wash on breast, a greyish cap, light grey-brown mantle and wings, and a pale white face.


           1sts Fem Red-footed Falcon Pugney's C.P. Yorks May 08 ©Steve Morris

We watched it catching insects and transfering the catch from claws to bill on straight wings for over an hour and a half, before we called it a day.


A Reed Warbler has arrived in the reedbed and was singing away, a long with a Whitethroat on the mound holding territory, other new birds in included 2 Greylag Geese, a male Wigeon, a 1sts Med Gull and Ad + 2nds Yellow-legged Gulls.


     1sts Med Gull Seaforth NR May 08      Ads Arctic Tern Seaforth NR May 08

Another major movement of Swallows was noted and an Arctic Tern was feeding amongst the 17 1sts + 1 2nds + 1ads Little Gulls.

The 2 1sts Spoonbills flew in from the North, and have been discovered feeding on the Alt estuary and then roosting here at high tide.


The 5 Black Terns were still present today, some rossting on the causeway and 2 Arctic Terns were feeding amongst the rest over the freshwater pool, lots of Swallows, Swifts and a few Sand and House Martins were on the move, the Swallows were counted as moving at 120 per hour.

The 2 1sts Spoonbills look quite settled here now roosting on the causeway, and small groups of Dunlin were heading South, as well as 3 lapwing and 1 Whimbrel.

Best bird of the day occurred when a dark phase fem Honey Buzzard flew low over the reserve sending everything into panic, including me and Pete as we struggled to get outside to enjoy better views, it drifted over to the East and slowly circled over Waterloo and then drifted off NE at 15.00, a smart bird, Pete even managed to digi-scope it and got a couple of record shots of it.


           Record shots of Honey Buzzard Seaforth May 08 Pete kinsella


No Grasshopper Warblers singing this morning at Hightown, but more Sedge and Whitethroats in, and singing from all the bushes available, also a Peregrine flew over and 4 redpoll flew east.


    Male Stonechat Hightown May 08          Whitethroat Hightown May 08

At Seaforth, the 2 1sts Spoonbills were still here and awake for a change and showing well on the causeway, 5 Black Terns arrived and started to feed over the pool and 1 Arctic Tern.

A lone Bar-tailed Godwit was on the edge of the wader scrape and an Ad Little Grebe was new in, and calling as if looking for a mate, also 2 Buzzards flew SE.


After a morning at Hightown again, we arrived at Seaforth to be told that 2 Spoonbills had just flown in, found by Steve Young, which is unusual as he never finds anything unless it pops in front of his camera lens.


                           2 1sts Spoonbills Seaforth May 08

There they were on the causeway fast asleep as Spoonbills do, both new birds to the last one, with notably more black in the wing tips, they have been linked to the two birds in Warwickshire which were photographed and had been seen two days previously.

Also on the reserve, 14 1sts Little Gulls, 3 Arctic Terns and the pair of Little Ringed Plovers.


At Hightown again this morning, but nothing new found, a flock of 7 Whimbrel flew East and the usual Grasshopper, Willow, Sedge Warblers singing and Blackcap and Whitethroats.

It was while having a scan out to sea, and watching the ACL container ship coming in from North America heading for Seaforth Docks, I jokingly remarked that it probably had a couple of American Sparrows on board  to Pete, and adding it would be nice to have a White-throated or a fox Sparrow to add to our Song and White-crowned Sparrows we have all ready seen there, to which we discussed the problem if it were a Fox Sparrow, how would we be able to get people to see it with the restrictions.

With that the pager did a double "bleep" meaning it was a local message, to which pete said "that will be it now, the big one", I looked at the pager and said "Holy S***, it is the big one, a White-throated Sparrow at Heysham NR, trapped and ringed and will be released soon".

We stood there in total amazement, until we got ourselves together and arranged to pick Tim up and head up to Heysham.

At Heysham we were surprised to find only one person looking for the bird, and nobody knew where it had really gone, yes it was a weekday and most people would be in work, but surely a bird as big as this in the North West should have had a much bigger crowd to start looking for it.

We tried our best to relocate the bird, but we knew deep down we were onto a loser, the area it was released in, whether or not it was caught there or not, was much to big an area of cover, and gave nobody the opportunity to see such a good bird, and yet the right planning would surely have been to put it in an area where people could keep tabs on it, and someone there with a collection bucket for donations towards the bird Observatory funds (or Beer money) would have been better.

As a consolation we saw the Black Guillemot for Pete and Tim for their Lancs lists, as well as, 3 Eider and 200+ Turnstone.


                       Black Guillemot Heysham Harbour May 08


An early morning start up at Hightown Dunes today to see if any migrants have come in, the first bird I had was a Mealy Redpoll which flew in calling and landed in a bush behind the Coast Guard Station.

Lots of Swallows again moving in good numbers, heading in all directions making counting difficult, a flock of 8 Whimbrel flew inland, and 300+ Dunlin and 15 Turnstone were on the rocky outfall.

At least 3 Grasshopper Warblers were still singing and showing well, as well as 5+ Stonechat, 4 Sedge Warbler, and 10+ Whitethroat.


      Stonechat Hightown Dunes May 08     Grasshopper Warbler Hightown Dunes May 08

A small flock of 5 Sandwich Tern flew past calling, and a Grey Seal was seen offshore, with a Weasel running through the rocks at our feet and later a Hare on the main track by the railway.

Down at Seaforth NR, 8 Sandwich Tern flew in and settled on the causeaway and amongst the gulls where 2nds + ads Yellow-legged Gulls and lots more 1sts Black-headed and Common Gulls than have been around of late.


The wind still blows from the SE and the forecast for showers today bring that little extra hope that something will drop in, a good movement of Swallows and Swifts was evident upon arriving at Seaforth, and at 08.15 a Hobby was picked out heading east.

13 Whimbrel called as they flew over South and 24 Dunlin flew SW,and 18 Ringed Plovers east, on the long bank amongst the 25 White Wagtails, 2 Yellow wags were busy feeding on the abundant insects amongst the short grass.

Also on the reserve, 10 Wheatear, 1 Whitethroat, the pair of Little Ringed Plover, 3 1sts + 12nds Little Gulls, 40+ Common Tern and a 2nds Yellow-legged Gull.

It wasn't long for the rain to start pouring down, which became heavier and thundery for a time, excellent weather for Black Terns, there were a lot scattered around the North West but we hadn't had any yet, and just as the weather had improved a small flock of 5 birds flew in over the fence from the sea, and flew around feeding and showing well, superb birds.


     3 Black Terns Seaforth May 08            2nds Little Gull Seaforth May 08



A good passge of Swallows were noted with over 100+ per hour heading North as well as 5 Sand Martin, 60 Swifts, a Common Buzzard flew South and a Whimbrel flew North.


                                Whimbrel April 08

20 Common Tern had built up on the causeway and the Little Gulls were at 23 1sts, 10 ads and 1 2nds, still low numbers for the time of year.


The wind has backed to a South-East again, and with it more migrants arriving and passing thru, with 40+ Swifts, 4 Sand Martins, 15+ Swallows, a Whitethroat singing on territory and the White Wags are down to 20+ birds.

At Hightown Dunes. 4 Grasshopper Warblers, 3 Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Wheatear and 9 Whimbrels flew East.


The Swifts have arrived in force with over 50+ today and 150 Swallow and 10+ Sand Martin flying low over the pool due to the light rain, a Sedge Warbler was singing in the bushes by hide c, and 20+ Wheatear was an increase.

A small group of Dunlin flew thru with a total of 17 and 4 Common Sands were noted around the reserve.


Cloudy conditions again today but birds were still moving, lots of Swallows and Sand Martins with some perching up in the bushes, 2 House Martins and 30 Swifts flying around were new birds in, a Whimbrel flew over and 4 Sandwich Tern landed on the causeway.


     Swallows April 08                            2nds Yellow-legged Gull April 08

A 2nds Yellow-legged Gull was bathing on the fresh water pool and 20 Little Gulls were still present, as wer the 50 + White Wagtails and 10 Wheatear feeding on the short grass in front of hide c.


A much cooler day today than yesterday, and a lot more cloud, the wind has turned South-West, still not bad for spring, 1 Chiffchaff singing in bushes at Seaforth, with a Willow Warbler near by, the two Little Ringed Plovers were still in evidence and a passing bird flew North, 12 Wheatear were on the long bank and 50+ White Wagtails.

10 Black-tailed Godwits were still feeding on the small pools by hide c and showing well, Swallows and Sand martins were heading North as was a Merlin which flew past the Radar Tower, and in the distance 3,600 Knot in several long flocks headed for Hightown/Formby area to feed.


     Ads Black-tailed Gull April 08                  Ad Little Gulls April 08


After overnight rain, hopes were high of a decent fall of common migrants, 2 Whitethroat were new in, as was 50 Meadow Pipits grounded, 2 Willow Warblers, 15 Wheatears, 2 Yellow Wagtails and 25 White Wagtails, not a lot considering the ideal conditions, where are the birds?

Over the pool 50+ Little Gulls were catching chironimids ( i think thats how you spell it), midges to you and me, further up by Crosby baths, a fine looking male Whinchat was showing well, hanging out with a few Wheatear.

Up at Hightown Dunes, the Grasshopper Warblers were still giving good views as they reeled from the top of brambles and small bushes, also 2 Whitethroat, 4 Blackcap and 3 Whimbrel in the area.


The light South-easterlies continues, and with it a large fall of common migrants at Hightown Dunes, with 40+ Willow Warbler, 15+ Wheatear, 2 Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, 1 lesser Whitethroat singing in Sea Buckthorn, a Fem Redstart, 4+ Grasshopper Warblers, 2 Redpoll, 5+ Blackcap a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew North and a Short-eared Owl was flushed from the dunes by SY, a Whimbrel flew off the shore and headed inland, lots of Swallows were heading North and South.


                             Grasshopper Warbler Hightown Dunes April 08

Back at Seaforth for the afternoon, the Spoonbill was still present on the causeway, but after a quick feed it flew off strongly to the North-East at 14.20.

On the Causeway, 3 Common Sands were feeding and the pair of Little Ringed Plovers in display, 4 Common Terns announced their arrival flying around calling and 2 Arctic Terns were picking at the surface over the fresh water pool, with 65 Little Gulls.


       Little Ringed Plovers April 08                 Ad Little Gulls April 08

The Swallow passage was still going strong all afternoon, as well as 4 Sand Martin, and on the long bank, 3 Yellow Wagtails amongst the White wags, it has been a good spring so far for these sometimes scarce migrants, still a long way off the totals that occurred in the 80's and early 90's.

On the whole of the reserve a total of 10+ Willow Warblers were counted, but no other summer migrants, were noted.


An early morning start at Seaforth didn't produce as much as was expected,with just 1 Whimbrel flying north, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Common Terns newly arrived and 40+ Little Gulls, plus the still sleeping Spoonbill still present.

With not much doing here, and news that the Cattle Egret was still at Langfields near Hoylake on the Wirral, we set off there and had soon relocated the Cattle Egret after 2 birders said there was no sign of it, the bird was feeding next to a ditch away from the cattle near a row of trees but fairly distant.

On a nearby muddy pool, a Greenshank, Little Ringed Plover and 4 Shoveler while a Sedge Warbler sang from some brambles.

A quick walk around Leasowe near the lighthouse produced 5 Wheatear, 1 White Wagtail a few Whimbrel and Swallows with 1 House Martin amongst them.


News of the Ross's Gull back at Fairhaven on the beach was no surprise today, and another journey was called for, this time TV had replaced SM and soon the 3 of us were soon watching the Ross's Gull at 50yds or so and showing well, the pink flush was faint as was a grey neck collar, so not quite in full summer yet, but still a superb bird, after 15mins of watching it, it took off and flew out to the distant shoreline where only glimpses of the bird behind the mudbank for the newly arrived birders.


                      Ross's Gull Fairhaven April 08

As we were in the area, we payed a visit to Mythop flash which was not very far away, there the Wood Sandpiper was on show fairly distantly feeding on the muddier section of the pool, also Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Sands and 3+ White Wagtails and several Swallow and Sand Martins flying over the pool.


This is usually the best time for big numbers of Little Gulls to start building up en-route to Finland, but the numbers are still very low, with just 15 birds flying over the fresh water pool.

The Spoonbill was still here and showing well and a big count of Goldeneye of 42 birds is the highest its been all year.

With news on the pager of the Adult Ross's Gull back in Blackpool, feeding in fields behind a tractor, myself PK and Steve Morris set off straight away.

By the time we arrived the bird had been seen flying off south, heading back to the Fairhaven area, we set off there and arrived before most birders had managed to get there, but no sign here either.

A look further up the estuary near to the coastguard station, produced 3 little Egrets, 1 Ads Med Gull, 2 Whimbrel and 2 Eider, but most interesting was a possible sighting of the Ross's Gull feeding mid channel very distantly amongst several hundred Black-headed Gulls but dissapeared when we got our scopes out.


The imm Spoonbill was still present on the causeway, fast a sleep as usual, also a Greenshank flew thru calling, and a Common Sand was feeding on the causeway.


                            Spoonbill Seaforth April 08

The familiar sounds of Whimbrel were heard calling and then 2 were located flying in and landing briefly on the long bank before flying off North.

A Willow Warbler was singing in on e bush and a Chiffchaff in another, but otherwise a quiet day at Seaforth.


Seaforth continues its purple patch with another good bird today, a Male Blue-headed Wagtail found by Steve Morris, and showing well near hide c on the long bank and then by hide a, with White Wagtails, other birds on the reserve were 4 Common Sands, a Willow Warbler, 10+ Little Gulls, 6+ Wheatear, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 63 Black-tailed Godwits and 3 Buzzards flew over with 2 going North and one drifted off SW.


                 record shot of Blue-headed Wagtail Seaforth NR April 08


Back at Seaforth today in much cooler conditions, with WNW2-3 bringing a chill into the hide off the pool, so most time was spent outside the hide in the sunshine.

A Willow Warbler was in the bushes and 4 Wheatear on the long bank with 20+ White Wagtails, the 2 Little Ringed Plovers were still around and 16 Little Gulls were feeding over fresh water pool.

There wasn't much amongst the gulls and looked like a quiet day until Gav Thomas noticed a Spoonbill flying in over my shoulder (it wasn't that low), and landing on the causeway close to hide A, and began feeding straight away, an excellent bird and a 1sts bird with traces of black shaft streaking and one or two primaries with a black tip to them.



                      Spoonbill Seaforth NR April 08

We watched it try to roost amongst the gulls who weren't sure what to make of this strange bird, and began to give it some stick, so much so it took off high North over Crosby Marina until lost to sight.


                    Spoonbill Seaforth NR April 08 John Donnelly

Luckily for some it came back again and landed on the long bank amongst the Black-tailed Godwits, a Seaforth tick for some and only the 4th record for the reserve.


A visit to Seaforth today to catch up with Wheatear and see if there were any Little Gulls.

The first bird I looked at was a fine looking male Wheatear on the long bank with 3 more near by, also a pair of Little Ringed Plovers back on territory, a Swallow flew thru and 2 Sand Martins, over the fresh water pool, 30+ Little Gulls were feeding in between the heavy showers.

There were still 6 Scaup present in Pochard Bay, and Male Shoveler, 8 Goldeneye and smaller numbers of Pochard and Tufted.

On the reclaimed area were 15+ White Wagtails and 2 Grey Wagtails, the latter bred last year here.

Two distant Buzzards were seen circling over Crosby and PK picked out a fem Marsh Harrier heading North then drifting South, and a fem Ruff flew in and landed on the causeway amongst the now fine looking Black-tailed Godwits in summer plumage.


First day out for weeks due to a spell of pneumonia, no doubt as a result of the intensive gull watching in very cold conditions at Moore, where sometimes we have come away from there shivering and totally frozen and aching with the cold.

But spring has arrived, and it was time to catch up with some migrants, so myself and PK headed off to Aldcliffe Marsh near Lancaster to see the White-spotted Bluethroat which had been found the day before.

It was on show upon arrival and showed really well, but hard to phograph with the digi-scope set up, Steve Young however, was already there blasting it and has got some excellent shots of it (go to his website ).

While we were there watching it feeding amongst the tideline debris, a Willow Warbler started singing in the bushes near by, and a Raven flew over calling and a Swallow wizzed past.

As we set off from the car park, SY phoned us back as he had just picked up an Osprey flying over the car park, we managed to turn around and was soon watching it distantly heading towards Lancaster.

On the way home we called in at Brockholes Quarry to see if there were any Ospreys still around, as there had been birds passing thru and one or two roosting in near by woods.

We met a couple of familiar faces from Blackpool who have been watching Moore NR on times we have been there, they too were looking for the Ospreys, and it wasn't long before we managed to get on one flying low over on of the main pools, where it hovered briefly before going out of sight.

On the near by River Ribble, up to 6 Goosanders were fishing and over 100+ Sand Martins flying around, and 1 House Martin amongst them and a Swallow.



Another day spent at Moore NR in Cheshire paid off with a brief Ads Ring-billed Gull which flew in over the Birchwood pool before flying off without landing towards the tip, also here today, a 1stw Med Gull which was a new arrival and the regular 2ndw-s bird still around with more black on hood now.

A Juv Glaucous Gull was the new small dark bird on the pool with 7 Yellow-legged Gulls (3 Ads, 1 4ths, 1 3rds, 2 2nds).

There were still plenty of Scandinavian Herring Gulls around of all ages, and due to the calm weather 4 Buzzards took to the skies to display over the pools, much to the anoyance of the gulls.


The strong South-Westerly winds continued from overnight, with heavy cloud and squally heavy showers at Moore NR, the screen hide was absolutely freezing, the wind swirling all around and no protection to your back, but we still put in 7hrs of watching today.

A Juv Iceland Gull was seen over the tip, it looked like the large bird that has been around, on the pool, a 4ths and 3 ads Yellow-legged Gulls were amongst the now growing numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, a 2nds Med Gull (the usual bird) was more advanced on the hood from last sighting of it.

An Adult or 4thw Iceland Gull was picked out in flight and seen distantly on the ground at the tip, but it was too distant to tell whether it was the Kumlien's Gull or not, the primaries looked all white from a distance, and if it was a very subtle shaded bird it would have needed much closer views.


A rare Sunday visit to Moore NR to see if any gulls were lingering, after yesterday's 3rdw Kumlien's Gull was found, not much doing at first look, but then we had a Juv Glaucous Gull fly over the pool and over towards the non-working tip.

A Green Sand was feeding on the pool and a Ringed Plover flew in and landed on the island.

A lot of drumming was heard in the woods, but only Great Spotted Woodpeckers seen, several Siskin, Bullfinch, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Redwing and 2 Willow Tits.


Another very windy day, so back at Seaforth today to see if the high 9.9m tides can bring in a Purple Sand or something better onto the reserve.

The Scaup flock was still present with just 29 roosting in the sheltered Pochard Bay, with Tufted and Pochard, but during the most stormy part of the day the Scaup flew out to sea.

Up to 40 Black-tailed Godwits were feeding on the long bank, with a single Turnstone amongst 35 Dunlin, but no Purple Sands.

A few Little Gulls started to drift in totalling 8 birds, and settled  down to roost on the causeway, and an Ad Yellow-legged Gull, with several Scandinavian Herring Gulls also present.

Highlight of the day was a Water Pipit, which flew past the hide calling without landing, still a scarce bird here with only a handfull of records.


Back at Moore today with PK, good cloud cover makes good gulling, and today was 8/8 cloud cover, but very chilly still with a stiff breeze, we managed another 6hrs of watching and produced, 1 Juv Glaucous Gull on the tip (the small bird first seen on Richmond Bank 8th Feb), the 2ndw-s Med Gull that has moulted since a week ago with quite a lot of black on rear of head, 1 4thw Caspian Gull which has been seen before and this too has moulted some tertials and greater coverts.


       2ndw-s Med Gull Moore NR Mar 08       4ths Yellow-legged Gull Moore NR Mar 08


                        4thw Caspian Gull Moore NR Mar 08

There was certainly an increase in Lesser Black-backed Gulls again today compared with a week ago and amongst them were 2 1stw, 2 2ndw, 1 3rds and 4 adult s Yellow-legged Gulls.


  1stw Yellow-legged Gull Moore NR Mar 08        Little Grebe Moore NR John Donnelly

Still good numbers of Scandinavian Herring Gulls of various ages and plumages ranging from normal big dark birds to pale almost white-winged gull like.

An adult female Peregrine flew over causing a mass panic as well as the usual 4+ Buzzards casualy flying over the pool.

A Chiffchaff was heard singing near the hide as well a lot more birds in general.


The first day of March, how fast the month's fly by, Spring is nearly upon us, but still winter weather continues to blow in, with strong West-North-Westerlies reaching 30-40mph, I tried Seaforth out for a change today to see if any Little Gulls had blown in.

In days gone by such strong winds would have brought over 100+ roosting on the causeway, a big count off the Fyle coast produced 771, a massive winter amount, probably the highest winter count ever, but here at Seaforth I could only manage 2 birds in 6hrs of watching.

An adult Kittiwake was also on the causeway with a 1stw on Crosby marina, but again very poor numbers, there where however good numbers of Black-headed, Common and several Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls with 1 Adult Yellow-legged Gull amongst them.

Several Scandinavian Herring Gulls were also evident of all ages, and a 2ndw Med Gull flew in, the same as last Sunday's bird with another 2ndw-s bird on Marina which sounds like a new bird.


       2ndw Med Gull Seaforth NR March 08    Adw Kittiwake Seaforth NR March 08

Most gulls were roosting on the salt water pool facing into the wind, which was annoying, as a bird which could have been a 3rd or 4thw Caspian Gull was giving poor views and only a poor record shot was obtained.


                        Possible 3rd/4thw Caspian Gull Seaforth NR March 08

There were still 24 Scaup roosting in Pochard Bay with Tufted and Pochard, while numbers of Goldeneye went up to 34, mostly Male birds, and 2+ Shoveler.

Feeding on the causeway were 28 Black-tailed Godwit, while a pair of Ringed Plovers continued with display flights, as were some Lapwing.



A frustrating day was had for myself and J.D. at Moore NR, it was another lovely sunny day, with hundreds of gulls on the Birchwood Pool, but the amount of dreads (flushes) spoilt what could have been a great day, the birds were very unsettled as they sometimes are here, because of the good weather, several Buzzards were on the wing, putting the gulls to flight.

We still managed 2 Juv Glaucous Gulls (the small dark bird, and a new even darker breasted bird), as well as a 2ndw Yellow-legged Gull and the same 2ndw Med Gull that has been seen here before.


   Juv Glaucous Gull bird No1 Feb 08            Juv Glaucous Gull bird No2 (new bird) Feb 08 Moore NR


     Juv Glaucous Gull No2 bird Feb 08 J.Donnelly        Juv Glaucous Gull bird No2 Feb 08 Moore NR

A brief view of a Juv Iceland gull in flight over the tip from the hide, but that didn't come down to the pool to bathe.

The most noticable difference today was the lack of Yellow-legged Gulls, there were still good numbers of Lesser Black-backed gulls, huge numbers of Argentatus Herring Gulls, and if anything more gulls in general, the amount of birds in the sky together was very impressive with a conservative count of 30-40,000 mixed gulls.


                                             Juv Glaucous Gull Moore NR Cheshire Feb 08 John Donnelly


A rare visit to Seaforth to see if anything was on the move here yet, produced 2 Med Gulls a 2ndw and a 2nds which showed well on causeway.


     2ndw Med Gull Seaforth NR Feb 08      2nds Med Gull Seaforth NR Feb 08


                                                   2 2nd Yr Med Gulls Seaforh NR Feb 08

34 Scaup were in Pochard Bay with 12 Pochard, 20 Tufted and 4 Little Grebes, while 23 Goldeneye were scattered all over the pool.

A 1stw Yellow-legged Gull was amongst the small group of gulls that were roosting on the causeway, small groups of Common Gulls arrived totalling 300+.


                                                        1stw Yellow-legged Gull Seaforth NR Feb 08

A male Red-breasted Merganser was on the fresh water pool, a couple of which often turns up for a couple of days at this time of year.


The mild weather has returned and so have we to Moore NR, we got stuck into the gulls that were on the pool and soon had our first adult Yellow-legged Gull of the day.

The gulls came and went as they usually do, not staying for long on the pool as they do during mid-week, but we still managed to find a 1stw Caspian Gull on the pool behind the island, this is the same bird that was seen on 20th Feb here, told by its distinctive bill pattern.

A Juv Iceland Gull was seen to almost land on the pool just as the whole flock flushed again, it ended up back on the tip.

More Yellow-legged Gulls were seen including a 1stw, 2ndw and 4 more Adults and several Argentatus Herring Gulls with about 50+ birds of all ages.

Another Juv Iceland Gull was seen over the tip, the large bird that has been around.

An adult in partail summer plumage Med Gull landed for a quick bathe before it too flew off.

Another 1stw Caspian Gull was located on the tip from a distance, this was a big bird and more bulky than the other bird and probably another new bird, some record shots were taken before it was lost to view.


The big freeze continues as does the gull watching at Moore NR in Cheshire, with cloudier conditions today it was once again ideal viewing conditions, we were greeted with hundreds of gulls already on the mostly frozen pool, and it didn't take long to find several Yellow-legged Gulls of different ages, mostly adult but other ages as well.

In total there were 12 Yellow-legged Gulls (3 4thw, 1 2ndw,1 1stw, 7 adw) and amongst them were up to 60 Scandinavian Herring Gulls, including some very pale 1stw birds.


  Gulls on Birchwood Pool 20th Feb 08             2ndw Yellow-legged Gull Moore NR Cheshire Feb 08

Another 1stw Caspian Gull was found on the water bathing, this bird has a distinctive looking bill and will be easy to pick out this bird again for a summary of the total 1stw Caspian Gulls found here this year, which stands at 7 1stw, 1 2ndw, 2 4thw and 2 adw.


                                            1stw Caspian Gull Moore NR Cheshire Feb 08

Other birds around included 2 Wigeon on the pool, 2 Bullfinch and a fem Lesser Spotted Woodpecker seen in flight and a male calling in the wood near by.


A very sharp frost overnight has frozen most of the Birchwood pool at Moore NR, leaving a small area for bathing gulls, good numbers of which were constantly flying from the near by tip, but most were brief visits, amongst them 6+ Ad Yellow-legged Gulls and good numbers of Scandinavian Herring Gulls.


Gulls on ice at Moore NR Cheshire Feb 08  1stw Scandinavian Herring Gull Feb 08

The best bird came in mid-afternoon, another new 1stw Caspian Gull, which landed briefly on the ice before having a quick bathe and then leaving with the dread that occurred, I managed a couple of record shots but couldn't locate it on the water through the camera.


                                                  1stw Caspian Gull Moore NR Cheshire Feb 08

The big suprise was the lack of White-winged gulls today, considering there are at least 5 Iceland and 5 Glaucous Gulls around, none came onto the pool, no doubt there were some on the tip.

Good views (after a long patient wait), were had of a Bittern at the Eastern reedbed, as it came out for a short spell on the edge of the reeds and sat out in the evening sunshine, another was glimpsed in flight and 2 Water Rails were seen on the ice.


                                                      Bittern Moore NR Cheshire Feb 08


A change of scenery today myself and John Donnelly took a trip up to Southport Marshside RSPB, to take in the Green-winged Teal and the Great White Egret.

We arrived to find most of the water frozen in front of the hide, the Green-winged Teal was located on the edge of a creek a sleep as usual, while a few Teal were active feeding near by.


   Green-winged Teal (in bright sunlight) Southport Marshside RSPB Merseyside Feb 08


An adw Med Gull was picked out in a group of Black-headed gulls not far from the Teal, several Little Egrets were out on the marsh and good numbers of Wigeon, Pintail, Tufted, Pochard and Little Grebes were feeding close to the hide on what open water there was.


                Male Wigeon                                                         Shovelers on frosty grass

                                Southport Marshside RSPB Merseyside Feb 08

We parked up down by Crossens to view the marsh, where we had 6+ Little Egrets flying by one by one, but no sign so far of the Great White, a fem Hen Harrier appeared and showed well before dropping out of sight.

A fem Merlin was noticed on a dead branch and further out a fem Peregrine on a yellow post, and an escaped Harris Hawk circled over the marsh with its white uppertail gleaming and the coppery red wing coverts catching the sun.

Then I got onto the Great White Egret as it slowly flew over the marsh before dropping down out of sight in a creek, we waited another hour and half before calling it a day with no further sign.


The gulls today were not coming onto the pool at Birchwood Moore NR, but distant views where still had of 2 juv Glaucous Gulls, 2+ Juv Iceland Gulls as they flew over the tip at Arpley ( NO ACCESS), frustratingly was views of a possible American Herring Gull feeding on the tip, but the distance and bright sunlight didn't help comfirm it.

Another new 1stw Caspian Gull was found in the area by one of the seaforth grip squad, making the total of Caspian Gulls found this year here as 5 1stw, 1 2ndw, 2 4thw and 2 adw, not bad so far and we still have a few months before birds stop arriving on passage as well as what birds are already there to be found.


An early morning visit to Mere Sands Wood LWT was called for to see the ad Night Heron which has been seen here for a couple of days now, the bird was on view even before we had reached the Cyril Gibbon's hide, perched up mid-way up in some trees and showing well at a distance.


                                           Ad Night Heron Mere Sands Wood LWT Lancs Feb 08

It was seen to be in good condition and no rings, and after a few quick photo's it was off to Moore NR in Cheshire for more gulling.

The day was much brighter than had been forecast, but the main problem today was the birds were very flighty and not using the pool much, instead feeding actively over the tip at Arpley ( NO ACCESS, VIEW ONLY FROM HIDE), they would come down in small groups but then after just a few seconds later they would fly up and back over to the tip.

We still managed to see 2 1stw Iceland Gulls, 2 1stw Glaucous Gulls feeding on tip seen mostly in flight, and 3 1stw + 2 adw Yellow-legged Gulls on Birchwood Pool and a brief adw Caspian Gull seen on Birchwood pool bathing before flying off.


A nice cloudy day, how often do you hear people say that?, but it's just what we need to watch gulls in perfect light, back at Moore NR again, the gulls that were on the pool looked great for picking out the true colour tones and also the more distant birds over the tip were a lot easier to see due to a bit of background colour.

The first bird we noticed was amaizingly the 1stw American Herring Gull in flight showing the all dark tail, heavily barred rump and undertail coverts, the dark belly and breast, pale head, large droopy bill, the underwing a chocolate colour, with pale window in primaries, it landed briefly on the Birchwood pool before they all flew, as so often happens here regularly.

Brief views of the Ad Kumlien's Gull was also had as it flew amongst the gulls over the tip, there seems to be even more than the other day, with at least 25,000+ as the whole flock was seen in a mass dread.

Several Yellow-legged Gulls were seen throughout the day with the total at 10 birds (1 1stw, 1 2ndw, 1 3rdw, 3 4thw, 4 Ad) but the best of the day was a new Caspian Gull and a new age group, a 2ndw bird which showed well for 10 mins on the pool, a large bird probably a male, much bigger than some nearby Herring Gulls a nice bird and one that was deliberatly looked for today in more careful scrutinising than normal.


                                         2ndw Caspian Gull Moore NR Feb 08


                                           2ndw Caspian Gull Moore NR Feb 08


     2ndw Caspian Gull Moore NR standing out of water  + In flight showing tail

A Juv Iceland Gull was glimpsed over the tip a couple of times, as was a Juv Glaucous Gull before one came down to the pool for a quick bathe and a drink.


                                                Juv Glaucous Gull Moore NR Feb 08

A 2ndw Med Gull joined the Black-headed Gulls on the pool for  a few minutes before that too flew back towards the tip.


  2ndw Scandinavian Herring Gull +  1stw Scandinavian Herring Gull Moore NR Feb 08

More Lesser Black-backed Gulls have moved into the area and more Scandinavian Herring Gulls of all ages, including a cople of 1stw and 2ndw birds as well as some really "white-winged" birds, with very little black in the primaries.


Ad Yellow-legged Gull Moore NR Feb 08   4thw Yellow-legged Gull Moore NR Feb 08


                                                   2ndw Med Gull Moore NR Feb 08


Back at Moore Nr today, myself and PK, an overnight frost and clear sky, and very sunny again today, too bright for our viewing of the gulls, but we still managed to see the ad Kumlien's Gull in flight again over the tip at a distance, several times as it flew amongst several thousand mixed gulls.

On Birchwood pool only a few gulls had gathered but still amongst them were 5 Yellow-legged Gulls (4 Ad + 1 4thw) , and several Scandinavian Gulls.


          4thw Yellow-legged Gull Feb 08 Moore NR    Adw/s Yellow-legged Gull Feb 08 Moore NR

The small dark looking juv Glaucous Gull was seen briefly roosting amongst the main group before it was flushed off towards the tip.

After what seemed like quite some time we finally managed to see the Adw Kumlien's Gull on the pool, but due to the strong sunlight only one record shot was taken before again the gulls were flushed off and the bird was lost to sight.


                                 Adw/s Kumlien's Gull Moore NR Feb 08 (record shot in bright sunlight)

 A couple of the Cheshire birders managed to see a Juv Iceland Gull on the pool which looks from the photo's as another new bird from the 3 birds already seen, and some flight shots were obtained by one of the possible American Herring Gull over the pool, showing the dark underwing, heavily barred undertail coverts, dark looking tail, pale head and dark belly.

Just as we wer leaving a 2ndw Med Gull landed on the pool to bathe before it and the rest of the gulls left for the estuary.


With the main concentration being focused this winter on finding Caspian Gulls and "white-winged Gulls, the only obvious site at this moment in time is at Moore NR, which is situated next to Arpley tip, the only decent sized landfill for miles, so it was back again today to see what we could find.

It was a glorious sunny day, no good for watching gulls, but it was nice and very spring like, the first bird we found was another new 1stw Caspian Gull (the 4th 1stw this year) loafing amongst the gulls on the Birchwood Pool, the bright sunshine hampered photographing, but a few shots were obtained, before it flew off with the rest of the gulls during one of the many dreads of the day.


                 1stw Caspian Gull Moore NR Feb 08 (4th 1stw this year)


1stw Caspian Gull showing underwing Feb 08  1stw Caspian Gull showing tail Feb 08

Distant views of a juv Iceland Gull over the still working tip and the occasinal view of an adult white-winged gull, which may have been the adult Kumlien's I'd seen during the week, but it was always too brief a view and too distant to get any detail.

After what was a long time, a Juv Glaucous Gull was seen over the tip and followed closely by a different bird, but none were coming down to the pool today.

A 3rdw-s Yellow-legged Gull appered on the pool to bathe before it too took flight back to the tip.

Away from the pool a Kingfisher was seen on another part of the reserve, as well as Lesser Redpoll amongst a flock of Siskins, and Several flocks of Long-tailed tits and 3 Bullfinch, but no sign of any Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers.


A quick check of 1,500+ Pinkfeet by the A565 this morning, produced a few neck collared birds and a Eurasian White-fronted Goose before we set off for a return trip to Richmond Bank and Moore NR with Tim today for more gulling, the light was much better upon arrival at the viewing area, compared to yesterday, and as we had arrived earlier than I had yesterday there were thousands of gulls roosting on the exposed sandbank. 

The first bird was seen in flight over the tip, an Iceland Gull of probably Juv-1stw age, but very distant, much better views of a Juv Glaucous Gull on the mud, quite hard to pick out at times as this was a small bird and dusky looking on upper-parts and also on primaries, making this a new bird seen.

As the tide started to push birds together a Juv Iceland was picked out amongst Black-headed Gulls and showing well.

Also in the group were at least 3 Adult Yellow-legged Gulls and over 100+ Scandinavian Herring Gulls and 1 Raven feeding amongst them.

Another Juv Glaucous Gull was seen on the River and then another influx of gulls from the tip brought in another, so at one point there was a Juv Iceland and 3 Juv Glaucous Gulls on the River at one time.

We headed back to the hide at Moore NR and soon got stuck into the gulls that were constantly coming and going between the tip and the pool, the first bird was a Juv Glaucous Gull the large pink-billed bird from yesterday, followed closely by a Juv Iceland Gull both showing superbly in good light.


                                       Juv Glaucous Gull Moore NR Feb 08

Another dread and then more gulls came in, the Iceland disappeared but another new small Glaucous Gull came in (the 5th juv here this winter), as well as 1 1stw ,1 2ndw & 4 adw Yellow-legged Gulls and still good numbers of Scandinavian Herring Gulls, but no sign of any Caspian Gulls today.


    Juv Glaucous Gull Moore NR Feb 08                        Juv Iceland Gull Moore NR Feb 08


   Juv Iceland Gull Moore NR Feb 08                     Juv Glaucous Gull (new bird) Moore NR Feb 08

A leucistic Herring Gull was easily picked out amongst the gulls on the pool, a very white bird with brown smudges in primaries, before that returned to the tip and then a 2ndw Med Gull was picked up briefly before it too decided to leave.

a Summary of birds seen today,

4 Juv Glaucous Gull, 2 Juv Iceland Gull, 10 Yellow-legged Gulls (8 adw + 1stw + 2ndw), 1 2ndw Med Gull, 150+ Scandinavian Herring Gulls.

Another excellent days birding, we'll be back tomorrow for more of the same.


Back to Richmond Bank today, but not in time for the tide to have covered the sandbank where thousands of gulls were roosting, as the tide rushed in, amazingly quick, it flushed the birds onto the water or back towards the tip.

I was lucky enough to pick out an Adult winter Kumlien's Gull flying towards me, probably the bird I'd had on a few occasions briefly in flight at a distance, but this time I was able to pick out dark charcoal grey in the primaries, as it near enough flew over me heading towards the tip.

With most of the gulls dispersed back towards the tip direction, I set off for the hide at Birchwood pool to view the gulls there.

As I arrived there were several hundred on the pool and island, I crept towards the hide with only a few close birds flushing, something that will always happen due to the poor screening and position of the hide.

The first decent bird I came across was a juv Glaucous Gull quite near the hide busy bathing and proving very hard to get any decent pics as it twisted about in the water, it eventually flew onto the island and I managed a couple of shots on there, this is the really pink-billed bird out of the 3 birds that have been seen here.


        Juv Glaucous Gull Moore NR Feb 08           1stw Yellow-legged Gull a sleep Moore NR Feb 08

The noticeable difference today was the large numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls which have obviously arrived with the South-Westerlies, and amongst them 5 Adw + 1 4thw + 1stw Yellow-legged Gulls bathing and loafing on the pool.


    Adult Yellow-legged Gull Moore NR Feb 08     1stw Scandinavian Herring Gull Moore NR Feb 08

Still large numbers of Scandinavian Herring Gulls around of all ages, some of the adults have got clean summer heads, and looked quite smart.

I was joined by Steve Tomlinson and Mark Garner, and not long after Mark picked out a 4thw Caspian Gull floating around to the right of the island, this is another new bird, and very distinctive, as on the right side of its face, a few feathers are missing at the base of the bill showing more bill to where the gape-line should be, the other side was in perfect condition, but on the left side of the birds forehead, a pink smudge mark just in front of the eye, obviously picked up from feeding at the tip.


           4thw Caspian Gull Moore NR Feb 08             4thw Caspian Gull Moore NR Feb 08


          4thw caspian Gull Moore NR Feb 08              4thw Caspian Gull Moore NR Feb 08

After several small dreads (flushes), were birds spook for no reason at all more birds came off the nearby tip, and with them a cracking Juv Iceland Gull, a new bird, the 3rd Juv I've seen here this year, it too was bathing like mad before settling down to loaf with the flock.


          Juv Iceland Gull Moore NR Feb 08               Juv Iceland Gull Moore NR Feb 08


         Juv Iceland Gull (all four pictures are the same bird in different light) Moore NR Feb 08

We decided to call it a day after the last dread pushed birds off the pool towards the tip as the light started to go, not a bad day to say the least, what a cracking place and probably the best place in the North-West at the moment for gulls.


With news of a Ross's Goose at Stalmine North Lancs for its 3rd day, we drove up early morning despite the windy conditions, and were rewarded with great views amongst the 2,000+ pinkfeet it was with.

In pristine white plumage, black primaries, tiny pink bill and legs, short neck and lack of 'grinning patch' and obvious smaller size compared to Pink-footed Goose make identification very easy.


Also amongst the geese where one Greylag Goose which may have been a genuine wild bird, but who knows?

After been blown about for an hour or so we set off back to our own goose backyard, the mosses around Martin Mere to Formby to see what new flocks from Norfolk may have brought with them.

We located a flock of about 500+ birds near Martin Mere with nothing seen amongst them, and then onto Altcar Moss where we located a splendid flock of 5,000+ birds feeding close to a track, driving slowly down as close as we could, we managed to pick out a Russian White-fronted Goose feeding with the flock, but again the wind made viewing conditions very difficult, that and the fact we had to stay in the car to view nothing else was noted.



With the continued hard work put into finding the scarce gulls at Moore/Richmond Bank area, and the lack of decent gulls at Seaforth, we were back at Richmond Bank to see what the day would bring.

News of the gull fest that is here seems to be spreading, as we were joined by a few hard core Cheshire birders keen to add Caspian Gull to their lists.

The strong sunlight when we arrived didn't bode well, and the small portion of gulls that greeted us on the sandbank was disappointing, but news there had already been a juv Iceland Gull and a Yellow-legged Gull made us plough through the gulls.

A juv Glaucous Gull arrived from the tip and settled amongst the main flock, often bullying a few Herring Gulls out of the way, just for the sake of it, 2 1stw Yellow-legged Gulls were picked out next and an Adult a bit later, as well as 50+ Scandinavian Herring Gulls of all ages.


More gulls arrived from the tip, and a dark 1stw Herring Gull was found from the other side by another member of the Seaforth team, Gav phoned over that he had an interesting looking bird, we eventually got onto the bird in time to see it fly a short distance, to reveal an all black tail, heavily barred upper-tail and equally so under-tail coverts, it was quite dark mottled all over from belly to head and looked thick billed with slight pale base to what was mostly an all dark bill.

It may well have been an American Herring Gull but the views were not so good from this side of the river, but it was photographed from the other side, so maybe there might be enough to clinch it.

Most of the gulls had dispersed after 13.00 ( the tip stops working after 12.00 on Sat), and there was not much else to look through late on.

No Caspian Gulls today, but with probably only 10% of what is on the tip we didn't do too badly, hopefully the strong gales that have been blowing for a few days previous may have brought a few more white-winged gulls into the area.

Other birds seen included the two regular Ravens, 4+ Buzzards, 30+ Siskin, Redpoll, and the usual Tawny Owl at Moore NR.



Another trip to Arpley Tip to view the thousands of gulls, was rewarded with a new Juv Iceland Gull (more darker on bill also slightly damaged, more brown flecking in wing coverts), a Juv Glaucous Gull, 2 1stw + Adw Yellow-legged Gulls and a new 1stw Caspian Gull (the 3rd 1stw this month), this bird was similar to the bird on 5th Jan, but less chocolate streaking on nape and sides of neck, a lot more 1stw Mantle and Scapular feathers, and less Brown in wing coverts.


       Juv Glaucous Gull Arpley Tip Jan 08                Juv Iceland Gull Arpley Tip Jan 08


Juv-1stw Argentatus Herring Gull Arpley Tip Jan 08     Juv Iceland Gull Arppley Tip Jan 08 (same as above)

The main problem watching the gulls today was strong sunlight, strong blustery winds and constant dreads (flushes) making it very difficult to keep track of anything or photo anything for long.

There were still good numbers on the tip, with a high number of Scandinavian Herring Gulls amongst them, but a quick look on the River Mersey at Richmond Bank produced very little and somewhat smaller numbers, despite a lot of birds leaving for that general direction from the tip.

Several Buzzards were part of the flushing today as well as a few low flying easyjets, as well as a few mystery flushes?

A Raven was also seen feeding amongst the gulls on the sandbank, but very little else noted.


After seeing the Lesser White-fronted Goose amongst the flock of White-fronts fly over Moore NR on Saturday, myself and PK decided to go check out the mosses and the local Goose flocks just incase they may have joined them.

We had a nice flock of 700+ Fieldfare and just 3 Redwing amongst them in a field near Hightown, but no sign of any Geese in the area, nor at Altcar, Plex and any other moss near by.

So off to Southport Marshside to see if our luck could change, as we arrived a small flock flew over the car park heading for the outer marsh.

A quick scan from the hide revealed just 2 Little Egrets, stacks of Wigeon, 40+ Pochard on the small pool and a flyover Merlin.

We then got back in the car to view the outer marsh where the geese had landed earlier, from the layby, we were able to get good views of 2 juv/fem Hen Harriers hunting the marsh, having a go at each other at one stage, as well as 4 Merlin, 2 more Little Egrets, a Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and an escaped Harris Hawk.

The geese were hard to see in the long marsh grass, but we still managed to pick out 4 Greenland White-fronted, 4 Barnacle and 1 Pale-bellied Brent Goose amongst 800+ Pinkfeet.

A few Ruff flew over with the Lapwing, and about 2,000 Black-tailed Godwits, and even more Golden Plovers, were seen in flight after a raptor flush.

The best sighting was of a Huey Helicopter which flew over heading East, made me think I was back in Nam, and the sweet smell of Napalm in the morning!


The Gull fest continues, but more on that later, a cracking start to the day as we arrived at Moore NR, myself Tim and Pete had only just got our gear out of the car when a flock of 30+ geese flew over, amongst them was clearly a smaller bird, through the scope it was obviously a grey goose, and could only be a Lesser White-fronted Goose, to add credability to the record, the rest of the geese were looked at and they showed black belly barring, they were White-fronted Geese!

We were joined by Graham Jones and Steve Tomlinson who had only just missed the flock flying over, a quick check of Birchwood pool showed few gulls, so we headed down to the Richmond Bank area to view the gulls.

At first glance there didn't seem to be a lot of large gulls on the mudbanks, with the vast majority of them being Black-headed Gulls, about 3-4,000 and smaller numbers of Common, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black-backed Gulls and about 2,000+ Herring Gulls.

As we settled down to watch them, I noticed a white-winged Gull flying distantly amongst the flock, I thought it might be an Iceland Gull, and this was comfirmed when it landed amongst the flock on the mudbank, a bright almost white bird, with an obvious pink bill with a black tip, similar to juv Glaucous Gull, but with a dark eye, no hint of any grey on mantle, and still signs of brown scalloping and vermiculations on most of the coverts.


                                       Juv-1stw Iceland Gull Richmond Bank

This is probably the same bird that has been aged as a second winter, but some juv-1stw birds do have pale based bills ad appear whiter than others.


                                                          Juv-1stw Iceland Gull Richmond Bank

A nice view of an adult male Peregrine was had when it flew past quite close, not even spooking the gulls, further checking through the gulls a 2ndw Yellow-legged Gull was found,and good numbers of Scandinavian Herring Gulls including a lot more Juv-1stw birds.

Just as we were about to go back to Birchwood pool, Pete picked out a roosting Juv Glaucous Gull in the distant group of birds, better views were had as the flock were flushed by a passing Buzzard.

Then Tim picked out a 1stw Caspian Gull in the middle of the flock, it stood out like a sore thumb, clean white head, dark streaks on hind neck, chocolate brown wing coverts, long straight black bill, long thin legs, long black primaries, a classic example of a Caspian Gull.    


             Juv-1stw Caspian Gull Richmond Bank

The interesting thing was while watching it, it became clear that it was a different bird than we had  seen on here 2 weeks ago, this bird wasn't as dark on the neck and the wing coverts were darker.


     Juv-1stw Caspian Gull Richmond Bank      Showing underwing

The bird was watched for some time and gave good views, until it flew back towards the tip, with Gavin Thomas just managing to see it in flight before it was lost to view.

Another Juv Glaucous Gull was seen in flight, which eventually landed on the water fairly close to where we were viewing from.


                                                         Juv Glaucous Gull Richmond Bank

With the tide now rising a lot of birds moved up river towards Fiddler's Ferry so we left to check out the Birchwood pool, on the walk back we stopped to view the resident Tawny Owl still in the same tree it usually prefers by the wooden bridge.

With not much on the pool after an hour or so we left for home having again being rewarded with a good selection of gulls, how many more Icelands, Glaucous and Caspians there are on the tip is anyones guess, but I'm sure there are more to be found amongst the 30,000+ gulls that are currently using the site, until next time!


A visit to Moore NR for more Gull watching today (on my todd) but later joined by Graham Jones, produced another Caspian Gull, with an Adw bird on the Birchwood pool showing well for a c10 minutes or so until the whole flock took off for about the 10th time that morning, a helicopter had earlier flushed them just as they were gathering to a sizable flock and birds seemed skitish all day.


                                                                   (poor record shot taken in poor light)

Also on the pool were an Adw Yellow-legged Gull and a 1stw bird briefly, but no Iceland or Glaucous seen, only a Hybrid Glaucous X Herring being the closest thing, with tantalising views distantly of a possible adw Iceland, and 1stw Glaucous Gulls on the near by tip.


               1stw Yellow-legged Gull                    Glaucous X Herring Gull Hybrid

Large numbers of Scandinavian Herring Gulls of all ages were noted coming in to bathe or roost on the small island in front of the hide, with c100+ seen.


                                                               4thw Argentatus Herring Gull (taken in poor light)

A few Buzzards were seen flying over the pool on occasion adding to the mass panic of the gulls, and unsettling them further.


Another Trip down the Mersey to view gulls, due to the lack of any big gulls at Seaforth, this time myself, Tim and Pete went to Moore/Arpley tip next to Moore NR, the tip still runs on Saturdays up to 12.00 or so and the gulls usually disperse from here an hour or so later.

We arrived early to the full activity of thousands of gulls c20,000+ mostly Herring Gulls, with smaller numbers of Great Black-backed, even fewer Lesser Black-backed, Common and Black-headed Gulls.

After and hour and a half Tim picked out a 4thw Caspian Gull feeding on the ground amongst the rubbish and slightly away from the melee, it showed all the features we needed to identify it, long white p10 on under-primaries, long slender bill, washed out yellow with sub-terminal band, tiny red gonys spot, dark eye, slightly darker grey upperparts than the near by Herring Gulls, long thin legs, dirty yellow in colour not crisp as the adult Yellow-legged Gull we had later, the bird did the typical long call jizz behaviour with out-stretched neck held up.


                                      4thw Caspian Gull Arpley/Moore Tip Jan 08

We watched it for 35 mins or more before it was lost in flight over the feeding frenzy, amongst the vast majority of the Herring Gulls about 200+ Scandinavian Herring Gulls of mostly adults, but several 1stw birds also.

A text from a fellow birder alerted us to say he had just had a Juv Glaucous Gull on Moore NR pool, behind were we were sat, it had flown from there back towards the tip, and with some careful searching we managed to pick it out flying and then landing on the tip itself, a huge bird, very pale and clean looking, typical pink bill with black tip.


Brief views were had of a 1stw Caspian Gull by two of us independently in flight before it was lost to sight also.

After most of the main tipping had ceased, most of the gulls were spooked by something, and nearly all left the area, some heading towards near by Richmond Bank, and beyond and others moved in-land in a huge 'kettle'.

We moved position to view the pool next to the tip and found two more Glaucous Gulls, both different to the bird we had on the tip, they both showed really well (all at a distance), one bird was distinctive in having a more dusky wash on the face and breast, the other had a really pink bill.



Two of three Juv Glaucous Gulls at Arpley/Moore Tip Jan 08

Amongst these gulls Pete picked out a striking bird that could well be a Juv/1stw American Herring Gull, it had juvenile chocolate coloured brown scapulars, with a hint of grey on the mantle poking through, all dark tertials with pale towards the tips only, the wing coverts were mostly dark brown or slightly spangled, the tail was noticably all black to the upper-tail coverts, with the outer most one chequered white, heavy barring on undertail coverts, the head was dirty looking heavily streaked, with chocolate wash on nape to mantle, down to the sides of the breast and belly, the throat and upper breast area was paler than rest of body, the bill mostly all black with a slight pale base, thick looking with a slight droop, but not the stereo typical American Herring Gull look about it.



              Poss Juv/stw American Herring Gull Arpley/Moore Tip Jan 08

Overall a very good days birding, its great seeing a Glacous Gull again after not seeing one last year anywhere, on the way out a Tawny Owl was seen roosting in an Ivy covered tree, with just its head showing.



After overnight gales, it wasn't surprising there might have been something brought into the Mersey, TV found a Juv Pom Skua heading into the Mersey just before 09.00, while I was still in bed, but I did go out later up to the Coastguard station at Crosby where I had a adw Med Gull on the beach, my first of the year, amongst 250+ Sanderling, 300+ Knot, 2-3 Turnstones, 20+ Grey Plover, 150+ Bar-tailed Godwits and amongst some 150+ Dunlin, I located an adw Little Stint feeding on the shoreline, before it flew further down the beach out of sight.


A quick look around the playing fields of Little Crosby for the Goose flock, revealed none in the area


An hour and a half spent at Seaforth NR this afternoon produced very little, 2-3 Adw Scandinavian Herring Gulls, 9 Scaup still present amongst the 30 pochard and similar number of tufted Duck, while the Goldeneye have gone up to 22.


                   Scandinavian Herring Gulls (Argentatus) Seaforth Jan 08

The wintering Water Rail was heard squealing from the reedbed but remained hidden, a couple of Snipe where on the saltwater pool.


                                                              Little Grebe Seaforth Jan 08


A trip to Richmond Bank on the River Mersey with Tim Vaughan in search of white-winged gulls, produced a much better 1stw Caspian Gull amongst the thousands of mixed Herring, Lesser Black-backed and Great Black Backed Gulls, Black-headed and Common Gulls.

The first bird we picked up was a 1stw Yellow-legged Gull on the exposed mud, followed by an adult winter and another two 1stw Yellow-legged Gulls.

Sitting comfortably we searched through the flock still looking for a Glaucous or an Iceland Gull, a 1stw had been seen near by at Fiddlers Ferry on the river, so hopes were high.

Several Scandinavian Herring Gulls were also amongst the masses of gulls, but one bird didn't match up to either Yellow-legged or Scandinavian Herring, it was a dark mantled gull, with slight head and neck streaking, pale yellow bill, pale red gonys spot, small white tips to primaries, dirty yellow-green legs.


Further scrutiny revealed it to be a probable Lesser Black-backed Gull X Herring Gull hybrid.

A pair of Ravens flew over the gulls calling and a Buzzard spooked the whole flock, and after they settled we located the 1stw Caspian Gull on the far side of the river on the edge of the mud bank, the main eye-catching features were the clean white head, small dark looking eye, with a neat spotted shawl around the neck and sides, cleanish white breast with a few streaks leading down to the belly, the mantle had traces of pale grey feathering coming through, and the upper scapulars starting to go pale as well, the lower scaps were solid dark brown, and the tertials also a dark brown with a pale edge to tips only, no noticeable notches to the edge. The primaries all dark black with no pale tips or mirrors visible, the tail had the classic solid dark tail base with a second broken band above it and a relatively unstreaked uppertail coverts making it look clean white with maybe a few spots showing.


                                                                  1stw Caspian Gull Richmond bank Jan 08

The underwing was seen several times in flight and when it lifted off the ground occasionally, to show a pale centre to the mid wing, pale underwing coverts with light brown wash to the sides.

The legs were long and gangly and pale flesh coloured, the bill was long slender and all black with a slight droop towards the tip, the neck was seen stretched at one time in the typical "long call", with head up and slightly tilted back making the whole bird look elongated.


1stw Caspian Gull showing head and bill profile and underwing Richmond Bank Jan 08

We watched the bird for about 40-45 mins in variable light, until all the gulls took flight and headed up river towards Runcorn were most birds roost on the estuary.

A good start to the new year, with news on the pager later of a 2ndw Glaucous Gull the other side of the river at Moore NR, I'm sure i'll be back in the area quite soon.


After a quiet New Years Eve, I was up early and out at Southport Marshside before most people were even thinking about getting out of bed, here it was cloudy with a slight mist and light drizzle, not a good start to the new year.

A Merlin wizzed past me as I was getting my bins out of my car in the car park, another two were on posts on the outer marsh, and flocks of pinkfeet were starting to come off the shore and head inland.

A Little Egret flew over the road to feed on the marsh, but depite the scanning in poor conditions, no sign of any Short-eared Owls or Hen Harriers.

About 1,000 Black-tailed Godwits were in flight over the marsh in front of Nel's hide, with 150 Golden Plover, 2,000 Lapwing and large numbers of Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Pintail, several Greylags were feeding with some of the Pinkfeet, and 30 pochard were on the sandwashing pool.

I moved on towards the mosses at Plex to check out the Goose flocks, with a good flock of 2,000+ by Gettern's farm, one bird with a white neck collar, but nothing noted feeding with them, 2 Buzzards flew over, Sparrowhawk and a party of 13 Red-legged Partridge flew from near the road.

A Great Crested Grebe was on the fishing pond at Haskayne and 30+ Fieldfare and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were near by.

Still making my way back south towards Seaforth, I stopped at Little Crosby to view the close flock of Pinkfeet on the rugby pitch, with 300+, and amongst them 3 Barnacle Geese and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose.

A check at Crosby marina found only 1 Little Grebe and 4 Goldeneye, no sign of the Red-throated Diver that had spent about a week there.

Over the fence at Seaforth NR, the Scaup flock has slowly gone up to 9 (4 male, 4 female and 1 stw fem), 30 Pochard, 35 Tufted, 2 Gadwall and 300+ Teal.

An Adw Med gull had been seen earlier by Kenny Dummigan, but despite the number of gulls still arriving I didn't manage to pick any up.

A quick search for Jack Snipe only produced 1 Common Snipe in the usual spot.

Roll on the big freeze!