Who can resist a walk on the beach in snow/hail/rain, especially when a half decent hooley is blowing in from the south west?
I was undecided as to whether to look for the Grey Phal that Andy reported yesterday (thanks Andy), or say hello to the Snow Buntings, but as I crested the path onto the sands by Ainsdale Discovery Centre just after 3pm, five Snow Bunts flew past me heading south to their usual area and that kinda made my mind up.
As I was trudging south I saw the flock taking off and as they headed toward me, I was surprised to see not six birds, but ten!
Sadly the flock split up, with five birds carrying on to the north towards the Green Beach with the wind up their kilts, while the other five settled at the base of the dunes, making occasional forays onto the tideline, but mainly sheltering in the lowest frontal dunes, scurrying around the dips and gullies.
No chance of getting any decent pix as the light faded and the wind and hail battered my scope about, but it was still great to watch them. The group of five birds that I stuck with had three fine frosty male birds, with a female and what looked like a juv, but it was hard keeping up with them as they sprinted over the sands, calling and flying short distances.
Once or twice they moved out onto the wetter sands to bathe in the little pools of water around the base of the various signs along the beach, and seemed to be coping with the fierce weather a whole lot better than me.
Then, wonder of wonders, the sun came out briefly through a break in the purple evening cloud and the birds positively shone against the sand.
Still too blowy to get decent shots mind, but it was great watching them all the same.
Good gull roost further up the beach, north of Shore Road, which if it doesn't break up, is doubtless worth a check after this wind.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...