Thursday, 23 March 2017

The pattering of little gulls

It was a privilege to watch four little gulls at Pennington Flash this morning, hawking for insects and pattering across the water like storm petrels. They were the 10th species of gull I have recorded at the flash this year. 

It was a real birders day at the Flash this morning, cold, dull, muddy and very wet, with persistant drizzle and best of all a south easterly breeze. The "bad" weather was enough to discourage all but the most hardy, and there were few dogs, no kids, no yachts, no fishermen in Ramsdales, no fun run, no photographers, no golfers and just a handful of birders. Bliss!

I started off in the south east corner at 7:30am and made my way towards the yacht club. Almost the first bird I saw on the water was the long staying long-tailed duck, but it was also immediately obvious that there were nowhere near the number of sand martins that were present yesterday. In fact I only saw one bird initially and eight birds in total all morning. Chiffchaffs were singing in the woods, I counted about seven in total, and a Cetti's warbler singing at Sorrrowcow pond was the first of three I heard today.

I was in Byrom road when I received a text from another St Helens birder, my old Prescot Reservoirs buddy Bill Harrison, who was in Horrock's hide, informing me that four little gulls had just dropped onto the water. Descision time, what to do.... should I go back or carry on? I decided to carry on in the hope that I would be able to see them from the Point.

It seemed to take forever to get to the Point, I was slipping and sliding in mud and water was running down my back, and throughout it all Bill was sending me updates. The birds were flying, they were back on the water, now they were flying again. Would I get to the Point before they disappeared? The drizzle gave me hope, and when I did finally arrive at the Point the birds were still present, flying between Horrock's hide and the Gap on the  south shore. I could now relax and I watched them for a bit and then spent some time on the Ruck and around Ramsdales looking for grounded migrants, before heading over to Horrock's hide.

The little gulls were still present and showing well when I arried at the hide, albeit in dull light and drizzle, but that didn't matter, because it was the poor weather which was keeping them there. Great to see these lovely birds so well, they pattered like petrels and hawked like tiny barn owls, but at sometime after 12:30 it stopped raining and the birds left, and were not seen in the afternoon. Yet another great and deserved find by Bill who puts in more hours than anybody at the Flash.

Year: 176 (Little gull)

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