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One big hooley, one little Leach's.

Posted by on October 16, 2012 5:16 PM | 


Yarr, at last a decent wind to put a shine on a man's cutlass!
Coupled with a high tide, the coast was wet and wild today battered by gale force winds in the morning, with mountainous waves and a massive surge that inundated the parking area on Ainsdale beach, pushing Sanderlings almost onto Shore Road.


Raggedy groups of Common Scoter offshore, with two Gannet, a Kittiwake, the inevitability of the wintering Cormorant flock, and a female Merlin, which tazzed south through the troughs to God knows where.
Watery oblivion probably.
The tide pushed right over Weld Road too - Jack Snipe would have been a dead cert there this morning, but they'll be sneaking about in the dunes for a day or two now after such high water levels.


I was there just after the peak of the tide, when a medium-sized gull roost was building up (nowt out of the ordinary), and 15 Twite flew in to feed on the last exposed grassy verges around the car park, with Linnets, Skylark and Pied Wags.
With the tide falling back in the afternoon I headed down the Green Beach to an area I'm working on and had a classic Ainsdale Leach's Petrel at 1400 - skipping and tottering along over the sand and channels, spooking the waders as it went.
I lost sight of it near a group of large gulls.
Oh dear.
Really is best to look for these critters at Ainsdale after the tide, especially if the wind holds and tired individuals re-orientate over the beach.
You'd be very lucky to pick 'em out in the deep troughs of high tide, given the low elevation - the Tobacco Dump at Formby is always a better option.
I wonder how many were out there today...
Before I forget, thanks to Phil Smith for his pix of Fox Moth caterpillar at Ravenmeols (see comment, previous entry) - you can't beat a good woolly bear.


Eyes to the skies everyone, eyes to the skies...


Couple of Short Eared Owls on outer marsh, Marshside, over the tide.

Very thin passerine migration with Mad Dog at Marshside 0730-1100, a handful of Goldcrests, Song Thrushes, Robins, Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits. 10 Ruffs with assorted waders and wildfowl on Crossens saltmarsh; distant views of Great White Egret on Banks.

Hi John, This afternoon. Three Barnacle Geese among the Pinkfeet on Marshside Two. Mike.

One of the longest standing mysteries of migration has finally been solved after scientists discovered where the UK’s Painted Lady butterfly population goes each autumn.
The butterfly, a common immigrant, migrates from the continent each summer to UK shores in varying numbers.
But up until now scientists did not know if the Painted Lady made the return journey at the end of the summer, like the closely related Red Admiral, or simply died in the UK.
In one of the largest citizen science projects ever conducted, scientists from Butterfly Conservation, the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Rothamsted Research amongst others, have discovered exactly what happens to Painted Ladies each autumn.
More than 60,000 public sightings of the butterfly during 2009 were collected across Europe including radar images tracking butterfly movements across southern England with 10,000 British observers taking part.
Scientists discovered that the Painted Lady did indeed migrate south each autumn but made this return journey at high altitude out of view of butterfly observers on the ground.
Radar records revealed that Painted Ladies fly at an average altitude of over 500 metres on their southbound trip and can clock up speeds of 30 mph by selecting favourable conditions.
The findings also revealed that the species undertakes a phenomenal 9,000 mile round trip from tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle – almost double the length of the famous migrations undertaken by Monarch butterflies in North America.
The whole journey is not undertaken by individual butterflies but is a series of steps by up to six successive generations so Painted Ladies returning to Africa in the autumn are several generations removed from their ancestors who left Africa earlier in the year.
Richard Fox, Surveys Manager at Butterfly Conservation, was one of the report authors. He said: “The extent of the annual journey undertaken by the Painted Lady butterfly is astonishing. This tiny creature weighing less than a gram with a brain the size of a pin head and no opportunity to learn from older, experienced individuals, undertakes an epic intercontinental migration in order to find plants for its caterpillars to eat".
Radar in Hampshire operated by Rothamsted Research revealed that around 11 million high-flying Painted Ladies entered the UK in spring 2009 with 26 million departing in autumn.

Nice to meet you the other day John. Seen a few Coal tits, Meadow Pipits, Carrion Crows, Common Gulls and Woodpigeons while working at Formby yesterday, was very quiet.

Hi John.
This afternoon (Fri 19th) I saw 1 Raven and at least 2 if not 3, Short-eared Owls in the dunes at the NNR.
2 Buzzards and 70 odd Goldfinch and lots of M. Pipits were also in the dunes here.

This afternoon, about 4000 Pinkfeet on Downholland Moss, including single Barnacle and Greylag.

Yellow Browed Warbler in Birkdale Local Nature Reserve mid-afternoon today with large and highly mobile feeding flock of Long Tailed Tit, other titmice and Goldcrest. Several brief views and it called occasionally.

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