Sunday, 28 September 2008

Pink-foot Arrival, 28th September 2008

Overnight the wind had swung to a northerly direction and a weak front was supposed to drop south, although by the time it got to Lancashire it was forecast to have petered out and it did. No drizzle and no carpet of grounded migrants. It was very clear at first light at Rossall Point and as the wind was northerly I knew there would be some Pink-footed Geese arrivals. Unfortunately in terms of seawatching a northerly usually 'kills' it at Rossall Point.

Sure enough the first birds I saw this morning were 40 Pinkies taking off from their overnight roost on the flats. Later in the morning there would be further arrivals of 210 birds all heading high to the south.

Wildfowl would be a feature of the morning with an increase in the number of Eiders on the sea to 17. Very few Common Scoters were around and I only had a distant group of 5. Sea-watchers on the Isle Of Man probably had stonking views!

I had my first Red-breasted Merganser on the sea for the autumn and a male Scaup that flew west was nice. Perhaps the best wildfowl of the morning was the single pale-bellied Brent Goose that came in from the west and landed on the sea straight in front of me giving excellent views. It rode the breaking surf for a few minutes before taking off and heading west.

Large numbers of Cormorant were around again this morning with a total of 87 birds. There doesn't seem to be the same southerly movement at the moment but nevertheless they do seem to be building up. Not as many Shags this morning, only 2, and after yesterdays pathetic attempts at photographing them I didn't even try this morning.

Walking along the dunes I got very close to a male Kestrel perched on a post. I thought I might have a go at photographing it, but as soon as I started to lower my tripod legs it flew off! The same happened later on when I tried to photograph a Wheatear. These birds seem to know when you want to photograph them as I am sure that both birds would have been happy to let me continue to watch them!

Whilst counting the waders feeding on the muscle beds I caught sight of a Peregrine 'steaming' in. This bird made several attempts to catch a Knot. It would climb and then dive down towards a Knot feeding on the muscle beds. What amazed me was how 'un-bothered' the Knots seemed to be and there was no panic amongst them at all. Consequently it didn't take long for the Peregrine to catch one and then fly off to the flats to devour its' breakfast.

Talking about the muscle beds; out of the corner of my eye I saw an all white bird approaching from the west and as soon as I got my bins on it I could see that it was a Little Egret. It landed on one of the pools besides the rocks before flying off after a couple of minutes. I did manage to get a record shot of it before it flew off, but the picture is so awful it is for my records only!

The only grounded migrants of the morning were 5 Wheatears and the vis would be equally as meagre. Even though it was northerly I must admit that because it was very clear I would have expected a number of Pipits at least, but instead all I had was a handful of Mipits, Linnets and Alba Wags.

I mentioned counting waders on the muscle beds and totals included 334 Oystercatchers, 10 Curlews, 61 Knots and later I had a small flock of 10 Sanderling on the beach.

As I touched upon earlier the sea was very quiet and the only movement I had were 7 Guillemots and a summer plumaged Red-throated Diver.

I had to go to Rawcliffe Moss afterwards to feed 'my' farmland birds and I asked Gail if she wanted to join me. Numbers of Tree Sparrows were still the same with about 20 feeding on the seed along with a few Chaffinch.

Pinkies were still arriving and we had 364 go over very high heading south. Vis was similar here as to Rossall in that there was very little. The most notable movement was probably that of 24 Skylarks plus smaller numbers of Mipits, Chaffinch, Linnets, Goldfinch and single Siskin.

A male Stonechat was a nice surprise in the '97 hedge. We call it the '97 hedge because a couple of years ago in early autumn we ringed 97 birds out of two very short nets intersecting the hedgerow.

A couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and flying Green Sandpiper later we headed home.

Chaffinch - female

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