Monday, 16 September 2013

Leach's Petrels on the Mersey - 16th September 2013

With decent Westerlies touching Northerly forecast, I decided I'd make my first homage to the Wirral to see if I could jam in on a Leach's wreck. I have only ever seawatched off Blackpool in the Autumn, so that's where I've had my Leach's in the past. It had been 2 years since my last and I knew Andrew Kinghorn still needed them for his life list, so I joined him in Liverpool and we started the day off at New Brighton. Upon arrival, we were really excited after 5 had already been seen, plus a European Stormie and a Black Tern. Weirdly, during the duration that we were present, we hardly saw a single bird. Frustrated me moved up and down the coast asking people if they'd had anything and this was always followed by a 'No, It's incredibly quiet!'.

Upon hearing news that Hilbre was scoring quite regularly, plus having 2 Long-tailed Skuas, we were starting to panic that we may have been in the wrong place. Eventually we settled at Leasowe lighthouse, but again we weren't hopeful as the guy who had been present for 2 hours at this point hadn't seen anything yet.
After five minutes on site, I picked up a Leach's about 1/3 of the way out at 'two-o'clock' from us. I quickly got Kinghorn and the other guy onto it, and Kinghorn spotted a second bird about 20m behind it. Result!
We were treated to some fantastic views of 2 birds, with the closest getting to about 30-40ft away from us giving crippling views. These were the best views I've ever had and I was even quite surprised to see an ever so faint pale bar on the underwing median coverts. A feature I certainly have never noticed before. Educational to say the least.
I often wonder how Storm-petrels manage to make it through the Autumn as they struggle enough as it is with the weather, but I don't think a single bird made it across in front of us without getting chased by a Herring Gull. Remarkably hard as nails. They're 'Northern Birds'!

Totals for the seawatch
8 Leach's Storm-petrel >W
3 Curlew >W
Swallow >S
15 Turnstone >W
Juv Peregrine (New Brighton) >W
Great-crested Grebe
adult winter Mediterranean Gull (New Brighton) >W
1 skua sp (probably Great Skua, New Brighton) >W

An enjoyable seawatch after a frustrating start, but good to be out seawatching again. Thanks to Andrew for driving up and down the N.Wirral coast and picking me up and dropping me off from local stations.

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