Despite my railing against swlys yesterday (okay, okay, I take it back), the hooley was still raging when I got into work this morning, the sea was still boiling, but clearly far more birds were moving offshore at Ainsdale on the rising tide.
Most obvious were Gannets - a steady stream of them were moving south all day, some over the sand at first, almost as if large numbers had sheltered from the storm up the Ribble estuary last night.
At least 200 went past Ainsdale in the course of the day, but a quick look early doors also revealed a few Manxies battling through and at 09.40am, a fine juv Sabine's Gull heading south amongst the Sarnie Terns and scattering of Kittiwakes.
Great bird to start the day with.
As I had been asked to show the High Sheriff of Merseyside the birds on the coast with Chris Tynan, it boded well for a good session.
The sheriff duly arrived, and while I was disappointed to note a bewildering absence of six guns or even a stetson, Prof Helen Carty was obviously interested in her birds, and the work of Coast and Countryside in general.
Gulls were building up on the beach by 11am, and the roost at the top end of Ainsdale held an adult winter plumage Little Gull, a passing Black Tern, adult Yellow Legged Gull and a few Common and Sarnie Terns.
As the tide peaked, a young Razorbill steamed thro' the shallows, smugly avoiding my attempts at centring the bird in camera.
Didn't look quite so clever a short while later as it beached, completely exhausted.
It was taken in for the day, fed a nice bit of fish and successfully released this evening.
A run up to Marshside revealed at least 11 Little Egrets in the marsh off Fairways, and a small group of Pink Feet on Crossens Outer.
Blackwits, Dunlin, Ruff and Redshank sheltering in front of Nels Hide.
Back on Ainsdale beach the hooley was still rampaging across the wet sand, and even on a falling tide, John Gramauskas had picked up 9 Leach's Petrels moving through the surf in half an hour from 2pm.
We saw two or three more, and another juv Sabines Gull amongst the Gannets heading south in good light at 2.45pm - a fine bird.
But it was later in the day when things got really interesting, and the Leach's, knackered after a day trying to force through the gale, started to move over the beach, pattering along just metres away from me.
I had four Leach's Petrels in ten minutes after 4pm, and I know other observers saw more later.
Marvellous things these storm bats (phrase copyright Rich Steel), I love 'em.
One or two of the petrels looked particularly tired, while others were powering along strongly, but all the ones I saw managed to evade the attentions of the gulls, despite several LBBs and BHGs taking sweeping exploratory runs at the prospective snackettes.
Strange to see so many ashore in a south westerly - I suppose it shows just how tiring a blow like this one can be to seabirds, whatever direction it comes from.
Sorry about the slightly blurry nature of the Leach's shots by the way - my scope blew over into a channel, and is still drying out at Dempsey Towers as we speak....shouldn't do it much harm.
Wonder if there'll be more birds offshore tomorrow.
With the wind forecast to drop away, it could be a whole lot easier to watch 'em if they're out there.
Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...