Monday, 26 April 2010

Reel to Reel

My blog title is not to be confused with Marillion's first live album 'Real To Reel', but is a reference to all the Groppers I had this morning. More of that later.

I must start with a 'postscript' to yesterday's blog and mention the two Avocets feeding on a temporary pool on Fleetwood landfill site. I received a phone call from my mate Ian, as I sat nodding off in front of the telly after two early mornings in a row, to say that he was watching a pair of Avocets on one of the pools on the tip. Twenty minutes later I had joined Ian and enjoyed these two stonking birds in the late evening sunshine. Before we headed home we also enjoyed watching three Fox cubs playing as it went dark.

It was quite pleasant being out this morning as all the year listing nutters were back at work and I am off work this week for a week of 'local patching', be that ringing, seawatching or 'bush bashing'. This morning the plan was to watch the incoming tide at Rossall Point and I decided to call in at Rossall School on my way to the point. I only had half an hour and from a grounded migrant perspective I just had Grasshopper Warbler and Whitethroat. I didn't expect many grounded migrants this morning as conditions weren't right with a 15 mph westerly wind.


Next stop was Rossall Point and I made my way along the dunes to the Coastguards Tower for a sea watch. I suppose birding at Rossall Point, or indeed any coastal site, can be divided into the headings grounded migrants, vis, sea passage and shore birds. So lets stick with that.

Grounded Migrants

As I headed across the dunes I had another Gropper reeling from a patch of brambles, a Whitethroat along the same stretch and as I stood looking at the sea I had a Sedge Warbler calling and giving some sub-song from a patch of Elders.


The vis was slow this morning and all I had were 8 Meadow Pipits, 4 Linnets, 15 Golden Plovers, 2 Lesser Redpolls, 8 Goldfinch, 2 Tree Pipits, Whimbrel, 2 Alba Wags and 10 Swallows.

Meadow Pipit

Sea Passage

There was some passage on the sea, even though the visibility wasn't quite what it could have been. Also after about an hour a squally shower came in and after that the passage was somewhat slower. Eiders numbered 21 and these were predominantly males with very few females. Common Scoter were quite numerous with 101 moving in and out of Morecambe Bay in small groups of varying numbers, and five Red-breasted Mergansers were also present. The only other wildfowl I had were a male and two female Tufted Ducks that flew west along the shoreline.

A number of Sandwich Terns were present and these are difficult to count accurately as they are often on a large feeding circuit. I had 31 along with 4 of their smaller Arctic cousins. The most numerous seabird this morning was Gannet by far and I had a total of 151. Like the 'Sarnies' it is often difficult to tell exactly what they are doing and I think sometimes there is some inevitable duplicate counting.

I had just four Red-throated Divers and five Auk sp. Of the auks that were close enough to identify were 4 Razorbills and a single Guillemot. I watched a Fulmar being harried by three Herring Gulls. Presumably they were trying to get it to regurgitate its meal 'Skua' style. The Fulmar could turn tighter than the Herring Gulls, but couldn't out accelerate them. Eventually they gave up and the Fulmar headed out of the bay.


The biggest feature was probably the passage Dunlin and Ringed Plovers. Small groups were continually heading west and in total I had 306 Dunlin and 33 Ringed Plovers. In addition to Dunlin and RPs I had 371 Oystercatchers and 36 Curlews.

After just under three hours I left the point and called in at the Mount to see if there were any migrants. It was fairly blowy but there were some sheltered areas and in the sheltered bits I just had 3 Willow Warblers.

More of the migrant habitat in the Mount

I then headed to the Cemetery, scene of yesterdays exciting birding, but as expected it was quieter. I did my usual circuit and had 5 Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and a female Wheatear. The Wheatear was feeding in the grassed area that the Ring Ouzel was on yesterday and like the Ring Ouzel accompanied the Song Thrush. After a short while the Wheatear took off and perched at the very top of some mature Willows. I love it when they do that.

I thought I would call at Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park to see if there were any chats around feeding on the short turf of the aero-modellers airfield. I wasn't disappointed as there were 7 Wheatears and a male Whinchat. Three each of Reed and Sedge Warbler sang and two Groppers reeled away. In addition to this warbler trio was a singing Blackcap in an area of mature Willow scrub. The pools were quiet bird wise with only two Little Grebes and a single Great Crest of any note.

However, the artificial pools were anything other than quiet with the antics of the 'neanderthal' and her pooch below! No Common Sands today!

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