So here is a funny one. I spent the whole tide today looking at waders. Before the tide there were about 1500-2000 Calidrids. I'd pinned down two sleeping juv Curlew Sandpipers, but could hear more, and eventually a flock of 4 flew through, calling manically (the sleeping ones were still sleeping.) Then that old favourite combo of a dog and a Peregrine performed a pimncer movement on the flock and most of them flew inland. With just a few hundred birds and not a lot of beach, I messed about finding the two remaining Curlew Sands and pointing my webcam at them. Some of the Dunlin were obvious arcticas... little grey things that I found myself wanting to be WR Sand when I saw them at the wrong angle, then thinking that I'd seen WRS in these birds previously. I expect I went through the flock 40 times.
Then I decided it would be good form to count them. I started at the right hand end.... after precisely 127 (its still on the clicker) I found 3 Sanderling and ....(with apologies to anyone who last listening to the live broadcast) I picked up a sleeping bird (a big stint), exactly chest on to me, that had cloudy grey breast sides and a contrasting slightly warm cap. I counted to 3.... and made a phone call to the nearest birder (Al), planning to say that I had a good looking stint and he should come quickly... mid phone call it did a little side twist and showed a mixture of dark centers and a few grey feathers and no warmth at all.... I expect I yelped its an effing semiP mget here NOW down the phone, since its had ceased to have any chance of being a Little Stint. I had it in my head that it was a juv... so was more than a tadge concerned that all the scap centres that were not winter plumage... so I called again to say hold on with putting it out. I waited till the rapidly assembling birders on the beach were onto it, before coming out of my office.
It immediately went sleep.... then got flushed...and wasn't able to see palmations on it.... but since i'd got the age wrong and the scap pattern exactly what they should be on a adult Semi P, I was less worried. Subsequently 6 of Cheshire's finest have seen palmations on it anyway. PHEW
Just back from Hoylake. Dull day. walked from Red Rocks to West Kirby. Think I saw a couple of Rock Pipits but may be completely wrong. Flight was sort of flapping wings then falling then flapping etc. Moved on to Meols promenade and saw some Shelducks, a curlew (I think!) and a Redshank (again, I think!). Of course there were gulls too but I couldn't begin to guess what they were. I'll be happier when I am more confident identifying birds but feel I'm a long way off that yet. Unfortunately the tide was out so probably not the best time. I enjoyed it anyway and will be returning in the not too distant future. (I am happy to be corrected if any of my bird Ids are obviously wrong).
In the end I got to 68 species from home. 69 if I count the bird below as a Peregrine. When I first noticed it I was literally looking right up its back side and it was a long way off. I could see a big cinnamon brown tail waving about and a bird which appeared unmarked underneath and about the size and leg length of a harrier. I was reaching for the Saker/Lanner hybrid option when I saw its head properly - a big Peregrine-style tache. Much longer winged than the local Peregrines and notably long-winged and tailed. The only bird I've ever seen like it was 10 years ago - almost to the day, handily with a more normal Peregrine to compare it to. The working hypothesis is Tundra Peregrine
After a lot of searching, I managed to see the drake Surf Scoter this pm.. that would be a house tick.
I'd actually given up - the combination of 15000+ Scoter (and a 2nd flock of 5000+ out west), distance and heat haze was quite disheartening. Most of the birds were so far out they looked more like an oil slick than birds. About 200 were closer in - but they were all asleep. Then a Seal swam through which unsettled them and I saw a flash of bright orange on the bill a bird facing me... I had time to think bums - its too far to be able to do anything useful with a putative Black Scoter - even though it looks stocky and a bit "stiff tailed" but upped the mags on my observation binoculars anyway. I was more than a bit relieved to that the bird had swung round see a massive white nape patch!