There are major disadvantages with Formby Point if you have to go for a seawatch on a sunny afternoon.
First, good visibility means the coastal dunes shine like a great big sandy beacon, as if to tell seabirds "Whoa! Don't go there, that's land", this means far fewer birds are in the bay, even if the wind is blowing force 4-5 from the west/south west.
Second, no rain means more people on the beach - dog walkers, families, fishermen etc.
Third, when the sun starts moving around to the west, it glitters off the sea like a billion diamonds - very pretty, but effectively it means you can't see much to your left.
However, after a blow like we had yesterday, it can mean any exhausted birds in the bay will be close in and show VERY well....but more of that later.
So there I was, sitting by the Tobacco Dump seawatching from 2.30-4.40pm. For the first ten minutes I saw NO birds. Not even a Black Headed Gull.
At this point, the good seawatcher must resist the temptation to schlepp back over the dunes to the car park and buy a great big 99 with extra flake from the Mr Whippy van in the squirrel reserve car park - because you just might miss a good bird - and have you ever tried to get that raspberry sauce off the lenses of your Leicas?
It's a nightmare.
So I sat for two hours and was rewarded.....
Storm Petrel 2 south
Manx Shearwater 1 north
Gannet 2 south
Arctic Skua 3-5
Fulmar 1 south
Kittiwake 8 south
Great Crested Grebe 1
Arctic Tern 1
Sandwich Tern 36
Common Tern 13
Common Scoter 5
Common Gull 9
The only Manxie of the afternoon sheared north virtually over the beach - I thought at one point it was going to get tangled up in the lines of the seafishermen to my right.
The Stormies were classics - always hard to pick out as they tazz along fluttering like bats, a split second view of black wings in the swell is the first you know of them, then they show intermittently over the waves - lovely birds, they always seen to hug the water, unlike Leach's, hardly surprising as LBBs were prowling about the shallows.
In the bright sunshine though I got superb 'scope views of two Stormies half an hour apart and just beyond the surf - "flying Mars bar wrappers" my arse.
The Arctic Skuas were further out - lurking around the bar waiting to ambush terns going up river.
I saw three together at one point, but there may have been as many as five out there.
Not a bad afternoon at all.
As I left the first waves of teens were struggling through the dunes, carry out plassy bags clinking in the breeze, on the way to what will no doubt will be a great beach party.
What a planet.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...