Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Leasowe Lighthouse Wednesday 9th September 2015

It was an early start for the 6.20am train to Moreton from Overpool in Ellesmere Port. With Easterly winds prevalent and Wednesday being my free day, I decided to take a look around after missing out on the RB Shrike and yesterdays Hoopoe at New Brighton :(

The first thing that struck me on arrival at Leasowe at 7.15am was the large numbers of Hirundines that were obviously feeding up and getting ready for the off. Here's one on the wires.

Walking through the scrub towards the lighthouse and past the River Birkett, I heard a sharp call and got a fleeting glimpse of a Kingfisher as it flew into a tree by the river. Not a bad start. Goldfinches seemed to be almost everywhere and the sky was filled with large numbers as they moved in large flocks from place to place feeding on weed seeds.

Chiffchaffs were calling in the bushes around Lingham Lane and a string of gulls were having a preen on the telegraph wires. This BH Gull in particular.

A fox was happily strolling across the horse paddocks and had a roll around and then a good scratch!

In the adjacent field was a few Magpies and a solitary White Wagtail.

Quick look by Lingham Lane bridge (no Night Heron today ;) but a few tit birds and Goldcrests. Up past the fisheries a solitary Buzzard was perched in a tree and just a few corvids in the fields. I decided to check what was on the seafront and along the coastal paths.

The tide was in and a solitary Redshank fed in the gutter.

A Sparrowhawk flew fast across the car park and landed in the bushes by the lighthouse.

Back onto the coastal path and in the scrub a 'teck' call alerted me to a couple of male Blackcaps having a set to, maybe new in from a small fall overnight? Too quick for photo opportunity.

Not much else along the path other than a few Blackbirds and a Song Thrush. Up near 'Greenshank' Groyne were three Little Egrets, Redshank, Turnstone & Mr Greenshank :)

The Turnstone was enjoying tossing the seaweed all over the place to root out small flies or insects, fun to watch.

I decided to walk up towards Wirral Beach Caravan Park in the hope of a Whinchat or Wheatear passing through. No such luck, however a Sylvia type warbler caught my attention and it was a Whitethroat.

A bit further up a Chiffchaff was behaving oddly so I had to do a double take. The light was very bad this morning so I apologise for the noise in the pics, but it was not easy and at best they are record shots.

Some lovely wildflowers and poppies graced the overgrown areas around the pony paddocks.

I walked back towards Park Lane and passed a few Mipits feeding alongside the goldfinches. As I got onto Park Lane I had the sense something a bit different may pop up, probably as the RB Shrike was here a few days ago. As I walked along, I came to a junction and the road branches off to the South and has been used for heavy plant machinery access in the past. A bird caught my eye in the Hawthorn bushes. It was a cracking male Redstart about quarter way down. I got the camera and quickly reeled some shots off before it flew further on and out of sight.

I was chuffed as I don't get to see many Redstarts lately, so well happy.

I walked a bit further up the road and came across at least 7 Mistle Thrushes on fence posts just before a flooded field, obviously some young birds here. Here's a shot of one. Cracking calls they make.

A bit further on a young Grey Heron was after breakfast stealthily moving along the pool with anticipation.

I decided to walk back along the horse paddocks towards Lingham Lane. The sun had started to make an appearance after the cloudy start and with it a few butterflies started to appear. This Speckled Wood was one of many today.

The Horses as always are quite inquisitive but are no bother.

Some young Wagtails & Linnets were active in the horse paddocks.

Just then a small jet went racing over the paddocks, I think it is used for training purposes and is out of RAF Valley in Anglesey? I may be wrong.

Around the reed beds I heard a subdued Reed Warbler and saw a female Blackcap as well as hearing a few more chiffys. Further on and a quick look out to shore showed the tide was on the way out and the feeding frenzy had begun with gulls, Oystercatchers and Curlew all tucking in.

On the way home I had another quick look around Lingham Lane and bumped into local birders Allan Conlin & Eddie Williams. They said they had seen a couple of Redstarts as well, so with the Easterlys around until at least Saturday, bodes well for the end of the week :)

A Kestrel was hunting in the fields at the back of the fruit orchard and I was startled by a Stoat that ran right past me under the metal gate by Lingham Lane bridge.

A thoroughly entertaining mornings birding and as always I love the Wirral coast & Leasowe Lighthouse.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Spain Birding Trip - Cap De Creus & Emporda Marshes 22nd May 2015

I arrived at Barcelona airport on Wednesday 20th May 2015, it was a 2 hour coach trip to my base in Lloret De Mar and I was looking forward to going birding with Dani Valverde a local guide from Girona who was to take me to see some great birds on Friday.

My apartment was very nice and each morning I could here Serins

and also a very vocal Cetti's Warbler. Overhead were a few cracking Alpine Swifts in amongst the Swallows, House Martins, & Pallid Swifts. If I walked out near to the beach the scrub and gorse was full of Sardinian Warblers :)

Dani turned up at my apartments on the Friday morning nice and early at 6am and we set off towards Cap De Creus which would be over an hours drive. As usual when birding by car you try to spot stuff along the way and it was not long before Dani spotted a bird of prey sitting in a field. Upon looking it was a Red Footed Falcon, scanning the fields there were several maybe grounded by the high winds we had today.

The drive up to Cap De Creus is very steep as you go up into the mountains. Dani wanted to show me a pair of Eagle Owls nesting at a nearby quarry, we could not see the adults, however two chicks were near the nest.

Wow, what a start!! Further on up the quarry we spotted a deer and I also spotted a Blue Rock Thrush.

At the top of the mountain, the wind was blowing very strongly, before exiting the car Dani spotted a Tawny Pipit. Our objective here was Ortolan Bunting and Spectacled Warbler.

Despite the wind we picked up the call of the Ortolan Bunting and sure enough a singing male gave us great views. Short video as well of Dani's earlier visits.  Ortolan Bunting Video

Further on in the scrub was a stunning male Black-Eared Wheatear and also a Spectacled Warbler!! I was on cloud 9 at this stage with stunning birds and new species seemingly everytime I looked through my bins :-)

We had a good hour or so exploring this area and a short drive further on I saw a stunning Rufous tailed Rock Thrush, we also had a Red Backed Shrike, but this disappeared from view quite quickly.

We drove back down the mountain and further on to see if we could see some Bonelli's Eagles. We passed a large military base with Radar which stands out when you visit Cap De Creus.

We stopped to look for Bonelli's but sadly none were to be seen, however I spotted several Honey Buzzards overhead on migration. As we went further back up the mountain towards the Monastery, the several turned into hundreds of birds that had been forced low by the high winds.

The monastery is truly beautiful and our walk up the road towards it produced Corn Buntings, Greenfinch, Western Orphean Warbler and a very vocal Melodious Warbler.....Wow!!

Glad I brushed up on my birdsounds ID before I came out here as the Orphean was being quite elusive. Sadly a target bird of Rock Bunting was not found here today, but I was not complaining ;)

It was getting quite hot now so we drove towards Emporda Marshes and on the way saw Roller on telegraph wires and in some old dead trees. Also a Woodchat Shrike flew out of some olive groves and right in front of the car.

We stopped off for lunch and had a cracking three course meal of pasta and meat balls (starter - like a main meal in itself) Chicken & Chips and Ice Cream, along with a bottle of the local white wine which was like nectar.

After a relaxing but copious lunch, Dani took me to an area where we may see breeding Montys. We looked for a while but could not see them, however we did see Crested Lark, Short Toed Lark and a stunning Short Toed Eagle which was circling overhead!!

Some locals were spraying crops and also a farmer was cutting a field nearby which had another Red Footed Falcon sitting in it!! Back in the car an half an hour or so we got to some flooded rice fields that held Lapwing, Black Headed Gulls, Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint & Some Black Winged Stilts.

The reserve at Emporda Marshes had a Hoopoe in the car park and a singing Nightingale right at the gate entrance!

Inside one of the hides it was fairly quiet with just a Moorhen and Mallard on a small lagoon and a Marsh Harrier flying around the reed beds. Blackcap could be heard and also Zitting Cisticola. On the way out we stopped to look at a colony of Bee Eaters. Stunner.

We drove out and further around the marshes to a good viewpoint and saw Yellow Wagtails, Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Wood Sandpiper, White Stork and other small waders.

Observation Towers (I think and a view over the Marshes with Pyrenees in the background)

All in all a stunning days birding with Dani and I arrived back at the apartment at about 6pm so a full and tiring day. Dani is on twitter @acrocephalus and can be contacted if anyone is interested in having a birding trip in Catalonia. I can recommend this and hope to go again soon. See link :-

Images by Dani Valverde
Also some library pics