Thursday, 16 September 2010

New Brighton - Leach's Petrels

The Wirral coast is capable of producing some of the best possible birding action and one spectacle I've been dying to witness is the aftermath of a big blow during the Autumn passage period. Leach's Storm Petrels are heading South right now and strong South Westerly winds push them near to land. As the wind veers to the West / North West they get funnelled into the Wirral area and many find shelter in the Mersey estuary. Provided the winds stay strong, the morning session should see the birds leaving (or trying to leave) the river mouth, with a few lingering in the area.....

A day off work beckoned and I got to New Brighton first thing, joining a crowd of 'Petrel watchers' sheltering in the lee of Fort Perch Rock. The previous two days had seen the best of the action but there were at least six Petrels on show not far out.






I wandered down to the water on the ebbing tide....






It was a bit of a wait for one to come close enough for photography but eventually I struck lucky...






Amazing action with birds within 50m of the shore!










Using the wind is simply a 'breeze' for Petrels, they simply glide into the troughs, dancing on the water in search of morsels of food?






Perhaps the most amazing sight of the day was one Petrel who decided to fly over the sand!








Wonder what this golden sprinkly stuff is like to dance on?








Ouch - that hurts - sticking to water next time....










An Arctic Skua, Manx Shearwater, Guillemot, Common, Sandwich and Arctic Terns were also seen. Even a Curlew trying his luck in the surf!






The incoming tide and easing wind strength meant little of note after 5.30 but what a day!






By the end of the day I had 'sussed' tactics for this sort of situation out. A 300mm lens is not much use back in the car boot! I'll be ready next time! Who know's how long I'll have to wait though....

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