With the hooley falling away and the rain stopping, the young Black Redstart was much more amenable today, spending most of its time perched up on the fences of the Coast and Countryside skipyard, just down from the Ainsdale Discovery Centre.
Still disappeared for periods, but then that's the nature of the beast....Ralph Jones and I watched it just before work and he got these shots as it quivered on the fence tops.
Nice one Ralph.
An interesting bird, still looking like a young male, with a blotchy breast and pale wing panel showing much more clearly in the improved conditions.
Although male Black Reds can take up to three years to attain adult plumage, this one is clearly much, much younger than that.
You can even see the gape at the base of the bill on this blow-up, marking it as a bird of the year, which begs the interesting question: "Where was the nest?"
Juvenile dispersal is well documented, but it is tempting to hope it may have been part of a clutch nearby, perhaps in the bowels of the Pontins gulag.
The only problem with this, is that given the "high visibility" habits of this perchy little chat, I'm sure we'd have noticed the comings and goings of a breeding pair much earlier in the year - and heard the male singing, but the first time it popped up was when I bumped into a bird on Sunday.
Incidentally, if anyone still wants to see the bird, it is worth remembering that the skipyard is a busy workplace (entrance verboten), with vehicles moving in and out all day, but it doesn't open till 8.30am, so a visit before that may be good.
The bird can be easily viewed from the pavement across the road from the yard - if it ain't quivering around on the Pontins fence or in the picnic area by Shore Rd beach entrance.
After a day working down in Crosby Marine Park (Small Skipper, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Common Darters and a huge cloud of Common Terns rising up from the Seaforth reserve behind the fence), I returned to Ainsdale late afternoon and the Black Red was still doing its stuff.
This gave me an opportunity to try out Leica's ground-breaking "Pig-face" bins, to see if this new model is all it's cracked (or should that be "crackling-ed") up to be.
Far lighter than my usual Ultravids, this new model is designed to be used in farmland or particularly muddy conditions, but I found they performed adequately on the coast.
A new "zoom" facility is controlled by tweaking the left ear, while the right ear handles focussing.
Simple - and machine washable apparently.
How long these earpieces will last in the field remains to be seen though...
The bins worked well at the Black Red mini-twitch, although I did get a few funny looks.
If the model takes off, I understand Leica are planning to produce a whole new range of binoculars, including "Giraffe-face", developed for looking over 12 foot stone walls in Hartlepool while searching for a mega - saves paying a local builder to use his ladder; "Cod-face", for the seawatching hardcore, with stay-on case, and the fully-armoured "Rhino-face" for coping with the most demanding weather conditions the great outdoors has to offer.
Ah well, it had been a long day...
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...