Sunday, 3 November 2013

Unseasonal Manxie

With 25 mph westerly winds and a morning tide the only thing to do was to go seawatching and I joined Ian at the Point at first light. It was a little slow to start with but then it picked up mainly in the form of Kittiwake numbers. We had been counting groups of 8, 4, 2, 5 etc when a cargo ship headed into Morecambe Bay stirring up the water in its wake and this drew the Kittiwakes to it and we could see that there were at least 150 of them.

The supporting cast on the sea included 22 Cormorants, two Pintails, three Eiders, six Little Gulls, a Wigeon, five Common Scoters, ten Auk sp., ten Great Crested Grebes and a Red-throated Diver. At 0840 Ian picked up a falcon heading south across the Bay but gaining height at the same time and as it came closer we could see that it was a Peregrine. It then stooped at another bird and we could see that this was a small falcon, in fact it was a Merlin. The 'Peg' stooped at the Merlin a couple of times, but the Merlin was having none of it and had a go back at the Peg and in the end the Peregrine gave up and both birds slowly headed south across the bay towards us, one to the west and the other to the east.

The best bird of the morning came at 0930 when Ian shouted "Shearwater" and there close in was a Manx Shearwater shearing to the west giving as good a view of a Manxie as you ever get off the Point. We thought this would be the latest ever record for Lancashire and a quick look in the 'Birds of Lancashire' shows one record later by a day of 80 off Formby on 4th November 1979. Manxies are distinctly uncommon even in October and I therefore question the validity of this record, particularly the numbers involved!

A nice flock of 150 - 200 Sanderlings was on the shore and Ian managed to photograph two leg flagged birds. It will be interesting to find out where these birds were from as we have recorded a number of leg flagged birds here now and have sighted birds ringed in Greenland, Iceland, Portugal and Mauritania.

A Meadow Pipit west at sea was the only 'vis' and a female Stonechat in the dunes was a bird that has been around for a while.

It's a trip to the feeding station tomorrow for me and the weather is looking good enough for a wander round.


Unknown said...


You might be interested to read my account of Manx Shearwaters appearing off the north Wirral coast in November and December 2006 during the Cheshire and Wirral county atlas (

David Norman.

The Hairy Birder said...

Most interesting David and many thanks for this. Perhaps the 1979 birds off Formby were genuine, but it was the number involved that set alarm bells ringing. Perhaps I need to be less judgemental!