COACH TRIP TO WIRRAL 9 MARCH 2008

Sunday morning dawned bright and cool, as we set off for the Wirral, stopping first at Denhall Lane overlooking Burton Marsh. And what a rewarding stop it proved to be. Two Curlew flew over the coach as we got off, and after only half an hour we had seen five raptors a Buzzard, a female Marsh Harrier, a male Peregrine Falcon, a Kestrel and Hen Harrier. There were several Little Egrets out on the marsh and lots of wildfowl on the pools. We quickly noted Shovelers, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Mute Swan and a couple of Greylag Geese. We walked slowly along Denhall Lane scanning the bushes and shrubs for the smaller passerines and soon saw several finches including Chaffinch and Goldfinch, as well as Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits. Retracing our steps back to the coach, three Stonechats showed well, sitting up on posts and wires on the marsh and we had superb views of another Kestrel hovering in the sunshine, its tail feathers spread out and beautifully marked.

Our next stop was at Old Baths, Parkgate to view the high Spring tide. Space was at a premium even with two hours to go, but we all managed to set up scopes on the front row. Unfortunately the tide didn’t reach the wall, but there were plenty of raptors around to take advantage of the rich pickings. Merlin, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine and three Short-eared Owls were seen, some more distant than others. Down in the gullies there were plenty of Redshank and a couple of Black-tailed Godwits were spotted. We watched, somewhat aghast, as a Grey Heron swallowed a Water Rail whole. Three more Herons and a couple of Carrion Crows waited close by ready to take any morsel regurgitated, but the Heron remained standing and gradually worked the bulge down its throat and neck!! The Water Rail was already dead when the Heron found it, so there was no tick for that on our list. Then another Water Rail was seen being harassed by a Carrion Crow. Somehow it managed to reach the safety of the long grasses and thus avoid a similar fate. On the fields behind the Old Baths we saw a flock of Redwings (25 – 30) feeding, in with a larger flock of Woodpigeons and a smaller charm of Goldfinches. The Redwings were close to the path and showing their plumage off to advantage in the sunshine. Skylarks were seen at both Burton Marsh and Old Baths, flying up and down above the long grasses.

It was now 1 pm, so it was back to the coach and lunch was eaten en route to West Kirby. By now, the wind was blowing, the sun had disappeared and black clouds were threatening. At West Kirby we walked along the promenade and beach, then headed out along a footpath towards Red Rocks, whilst nature flung everything at us. We got soaked, pounded with hailstones and blown about. Our only additional sighting was a rather bedraggled Turnstone huddled with gulls on decking at the Marine Lake.

By the time we reached Leasowe however, the weather had improved and it was blustery but dry. Oystercatchers were present on the foreshore, as well as the usual gulls. Our last stop at New Brighton produced a star bird, an Iceland Gull which unfortunately only a few saw. This brought our grand total of birds seen during the day up to 68.

We arrived back at the Guild at 6.30 pm, wind-blown and red-cheeked, having enjoyed another well organised outing. Thank you again, Brian.
BARBARA

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