Wednesday, 29 August 2018

A few late August highlights from Pennington Flash

An eclipse drake garganey and at least two juvenile Mediterranean gulls were the highlights at the end of August and both are very predictable birds for this time of year. No less predictable is the continuing and alarming decline in waders. At the time of the Sabine's gull which was as recently as August 2015, there were two or three green sandpipers present throughout the month while in August 2013 it was possible to see six or seven green sandpipers at the Flash. In August 2018 there was a single bird on the 1st and another for a couple of days in the middle of the month, and that's it for green sandpipers this August.

In fact all waders have declined at the flash in recent years. It's now a red letter day if you find a dunlin or a redshank at the flash, and double figure counts of either are almost unheard of these days. Even common sandpipers are not that common. The peak month for common sandpiper is July, but this year we had just one or two birds where in previous years there have been close to double figures or more. On the 8th July 2006 I saw a flock (yes a flock) of 28 common sandpipers at Prescot Reservoirs in St Helens, and on the same day there were a further 12 at Eccleston Mere, imagine that at the Flash these days! It's cause for celebration if you see one now. Wood sandpipers are the stuff of legend these days.

From these photos it's not particularly easy to age or sex this garganey, but if it flapped its wings, the pale grey / blue upper forewing would reveal that it is in fact an eclipse male.

Juvenile Mediterranean gulls are always smart birds and have a particularly impressive bill. Note the little hook on the end of the bill. There have been at least two juveniles and an adult at the Flash during the past few weeks.

All the way from the banks of the Nile, an Egyptian goose. Actually the best we can hope for is that it's travelled here from East Anglia, but it's perhaps it's more likely from some local wildfowl collection.  It seems pretty tame, often hanging around with the Canada geese on the car park where if it gets much tamer, it will be selling ice cream to the locals.

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