If you ever thought birding on your local patch was somewhat mundane and not very interesting, then our recent trip to the Wirral proved just how wrong you can be!

The day was overcast but dry as we set off from our first stop, the Wirral Country Park at Thurstaston just after 9.30 am. The small pool by the visitor centre produced Moorhen and a pair of Mallards. Walking across the fields to the cliffs, we had great views across the estuary with the tide still well out; high water here was about 1.00 pm. Shelduck, Curlew, and Oystercatchers were plentiful, with a couple of Dunlin and our first Little Egret. There were flocks of waders well out on the distant sandbanks. We climbed down the steps to the beach making way for the organised runners puffing on their way up; there we discovered a delightful hidden cottage on the edge of the beach with a Jay in the trees behind it. We walked slowly along the sands towards Heswall for about 1.5 miles watching the waders being moved up the estuary by the tide. Suddenly we heard the sound of the sea and a miniature bore came ‘roaring’ along a channel quite quickly by the side of us, causing a large flock of slumbering Redshank to take flight. Behind us over the fields a Skylark was singing and displaying, full of the joys of spring, whilst a Kestrel was hovering, searching for an early lunch. We turned off the beach at Banks Road where our coach was waiting for us.

On the way to our next venue we passed a field with about 50 Redwings all feeding in the soft pasture. The stop for toilets at Parkgate proved to be a superb stratagem, with a Spoonbill just across the road on Donkey Stand Flash. It was most obliging and stood preening for a good 10 minutes. More Little Egrets were spotted on the marsh. Closer to the Boat House Inn, Bevyl Road Flash produced 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, Teal, an abundance of Black-headed Gulls, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, Mute Swan and Wigeon. A flock of some 300 Starlings swirled over the marsh and a Merlin was seen. Our first Hen Harrier was seen by some flying very low near the Boat House.

It was then on to Marine Lake, West Kirby for another loo stop. There were plenty of gulls on and around the lake all Herring or Black-headed. From here it was just a short drive in the coach to Red Rocks where we searched for and eventually found a Black Redstart, located in a private garden on some rocks.

Our final venue at 4pm and perhaps the best of the day, was at Denhall Lane. Immediately on alighting from the coach our first Short-eared Owl was seen, being mobbed by 3 Carrion Crows. Over the next 80 minutes we saw a total of 5 Short-eared Owls, quite often having two in the frame at once, giving excellent views. There were at least 5 Little Egrets here, a Grey Heron and finally a great sighting of a Hen Harrier with its distinctive white rump. 2 Pink-footed Geese flew overhead honking noisily. Some of the group walked farther on along Denhall Lane and were rewarded with even better close up views of the Hen Harrier. We climbed aboard the coach at 5.20 pm, everybody really delighted with the days birding. Our total count for the trip was 53.


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