Sunday, 22 March 2009

First Decent Seabird Passage of the Spring

The wind was a lot stronger than I expected this morning and upon arrival at Rossall Point at 6.20 a.m. I had to seek shelter behind the Coastguard's Tower. Consequently visible migration was virtually nil other than 9 Meadow Pipits and a couple of Goldfinch. The wind was a 15-20 mph west-northwesterly and this seemed to have the effect of opening the seabird flood gates.

The first birds on the move were Red-breasted Mergansers. I had 6 on the incoming tide and then a further 4 flew east into Morecambe Bay. In fact all the seabird passage this morning was easterly causing Howard, Ian and I to discuss land crossing by Red-throated Divers.

It is always very difficult to count Eiders on the incoming or high tide as there are always birds moving past and it is difficult to tell whether these are genuine passage birds or birds moving to and from different flocks. Today my Eider count was 44. I counted 55 Cormorants this morning and this included 17 roosting on Wyre Light. The only species that was moving out of the Bay and heading west was Common Scoter and we had 14 west and 5 east.

Three species that stood out this morning were Gannet, Kittiwake and Red-throated Diver. All 19 of the Gannets recorded were heading east and some of them were very close in giving fantastic views. It's impossible to get tired of watching this bird. Kittiwakes numbered 36 and as with the Gannets some of them were close in and both were my first of the Spring.

The real stars of the morning were the Red-throats and we had 28 flying east into 'the bay'. Some of these were flying high, well above the horizon and very close in. Interestingly only about 5 birds came out of the bay. Other birds moving at sea included 2 Goldeneyes, 2 Pink-footed Geese and 6 Auk sp. We were also treated to 5 Whooper Swans that landed on the sea and slowly drifted west. You will see an awful record shot of these birds below.

The usual pair of Stonechats were still around and the only grounded migrant was a lone Wheatear. Waders included 86 Oystercatchers, 12 Turnstones and 14 Knot.

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