Sunday, 31 January 2010

Parkgate - Raptor show!

A reasonably high tide was predicted for Parkgate and with hopes of Short-eared Owls plus other raptors putting in an appearance, it was farewell to Shropshire with Yvonne up for the action, provided we could complete a rather dodgy journey through snow covered Cheshire!

We made it and joined a small crowd gathering at Parkgate baths. Wind was blowing up the estuary, a good omen and raptors were soon showing reasonably well but distant!

First up was a female Marsh Harrier plus a couple of Kestrel and distant Merlin in hot pursuit of lunch! The Marsh Harrier had a very distant spat with one of the local foxes, the fox leaping up and trying to take the Harrier down (missed that moment!)

Flocks of Pink footed Geese flying high in the distance. A ringtail Hen Harrier was the first raptor to come reasonably close, the tide was now rising fast.....

The next pass revealed a vole snatched from the marsh!

Waders were now being displaced rapidly and flocks of Knot, Black-tailed Godwit were on the move in the distance. This small group of Common Snipe came in nearby!

are masters of opportunity and this unlucky Water Rail ended up (afer a few minutes of swallowing) down the hatch!

The main target bird eventually put in an appearance, we saw at least four Short-eared Owls and this one.....

....eventually came quite close!

Before pouncing on yet another unlucky Vole - we saw it eat at least two!

The ancient art of grass canoeing is still practiced on the Wirral!!

A final dash for safety for one of the foxes!

Eventually, with rain setting in, we opted to check out Inner Marsh Farm. A pretty poor show there however - a single Blackwit was the only wader!. A Hen Harrier flying through was just about the only highlight!

And would you believe it - my first Stonechat of the year!! Plus a few more......

We had missed out on the Spoonbill earlier and checked out the Marsh at the opposite end of Parkgate from the baths - with an instant result!!

The final bonus birds were a large mixed flock of Bewick's and Whooper Swans at Shotwick fields on the way home. It was virtually dark but I still managed a record shot or two!

A nice comparison shot.....

What a day - must get back for one of the 10 metre plus spectaculars - watch this space in March!!