Honestly, honestly, honestly, I had planned to check out Marshside this afternoon, honestly.
But as the Baby Black Death nosed onto the Pontins roundabout at Ainsdale, the sea looked just too tempting to pass up - tide was well on the way out, but the light was good (apart from when torrential rain battered the shoreline) and the wind was still blowing steadily from the south.
I know, I need help.
Before I knew it I was seawatching from a low dune behind the Discovery Centre place...I just couldn't stop myself your honour...as it turned out, it was pretty good given the conditions.
I scoped the receding tide from 3.40pm to 4.45pm before going for a wander on the beach proper.
Manx Shearwater 124
Common Scoter 60
Red Throated Diver 1
Arctic Skua 3
Sandwich Tern 150
Common Tern 80
Arctic Tern 12
Not bad for a quick squint after work!
The birds all seemed to be feeding north of the rig generally, rather than passing through, with most of the Manxies in two large rafts, which occasionally rose off the water.
Staring really hard at this pic above (think pelagic-magic eye and you get the idea) you can just make out the blurry shapes of Gannets and Manxies in the middle, either that or there's a few midges stuck in my scope...
One dark phase and two pale phase Arctic Skuas occasionally gave the terns a bashing, and there was another immature skua out there too - small, with a nice chest and no belly with a longish tail and narrow wings...and right here's the big draw back with seawatching from Ainsdale.
The bird was little bigger than a Sandwich Tern, and drifted aimlessly about amongst them, often landing on the sea.
No white on the upper wing was visible, dark tail and lighter barred rump, although it was paler below..but it was just too far off to call with certainty, which is often the case from Ainsdale when it comes to species where subtle details are necessary...
Off Formby Point I'd probably have nailed it, here it was just that bit too distant...
Gannets, Manxies and seaduck pose no such problems, so I made do with them.
Two Guillemots on the water were my first this autumn, and there were plenty of scoter out there too, plus a single Kittiwake going south.
One Harbour Porpoise moved north about 100yds offshore at 4pm (another one for Mr McGrath), and there was a good roost of Common and Sandwich Tern on the beach.
Seawatching aside, there were a few gorgeous summer plumage Grey Plovers on the beach, feeding around the channels - imagine the twitch if these things were rare.
I watched one in between the downpours for about 20 minutes as it stalked along a shallow channel, running and stopping to grab a morsel not unlike a Wheatear or Song Thrush.
Sanderling (with a few Dunlin) were flying across the sand at breathtaking speed without opening their wings, but there's always plenty of them down here, and the usual roost of Lesser and Greater Black Backs, Herring and Black Headed Gulls was scattered about the upper beach north of Shore Road.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...