Snow Buntings At Leasowe (Wirral)

Two of these delightful birds were reported as having taken up residence from 10th November on the embankment by the Wirral Coastal path in front of Leasowe Castle hotel.

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I tried my luck on the 15th. Sure enough one obliged. Here is a close-up photo of a male bird in fresh autumn plumage. As the feather tips wear away, its colour will change to pure white with black wingtips and saddle.

These birds are very confiding and seem to ignore the presence of humans. This one flew briefly on to the embankment wall, then into the wispy grass behind it, searching for seeds, and finally settled for searching on a golf club tee – whilst I watched from a few feet away.

This is probably the world’s land bird that breeds furthest north, seeking treeless barren tracts for its nesting sites in the Arctic Circle and nearby. Although a few nest in the tops of the Cairngorms, it is mainly a rare winter visitor to our coasts, particularly the east coast.

Sightings at Leasowe have not been reported since the 16th. But for members who are prepared to look for the birds, here are some simple directions.

Take the M53 towards Birkenhead. Take exit 1 and pick up the A551 Leasowe Road- direction Moreton. Turn right after a mile or so into the hotel grounds (signposted). Park in the right-hand (with hotel facing you) hotel car park. Walk right from the car park along the hedge (there is a small diagram about public access to the seafront attached to a post) towards the sea. After a short wooded path, go through a stone arch on to the golf course. Go across the golf course, round a green, towards the sea, climbing up the embankment. After reaching the top, turn right between the wire fence and the edge of the embankment to find stone steps on to the concrete coastal path overlooking the sands. Walk left along the path towards Hoylake. With luck you might see a Bunting almost immediately.

Peter M
18 November 2014

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