Friday, 6 February 2015

New Brighton - Avenged

Last time I went to New Brighton it was a great day's birding, but it did lack the bird that I actually went for. Today then I decided to try again, given that the evening of when I originally went the bird decided to show itself again, and then on Thursday showed incredibly well all day. With all this in mind I decided to arrive for almost first light, but as the train drove up the Wirral I wondered if the bird would still be alive, given that there had been an extreme ground-frost.
I arrived on the Promenade and could see a crowd of about 10-15 birders looking out over the beach. They informed that the bird was still there, out on the rock breach but that it was feeding among the rocks. I was so pleased that it was still here, and that it now seemed inevitable I would avenge Wednesdays dip. The bird came out after about 5 mins, but was distant. Through the scope I got to watch it move along the rocks for about half an hour on and off. 
The tide was coming in and the bird was soon forced off the rocks. As we hoped it flew round and onto the pontoons on the Marine Lake. Once it had flown round the small mass of birders all raced round watching it among the wader roost. We got a great view of the bird as it settled down in the roost. Sadly it then spent most of its time asleep, with its head tucked under its wing. When it did wake up though, which it did do often in fairness it showed its characteristics well, such as the long bill and legs which were both deep red. The overall profile of the bird was what really impressed me, it being so sleek and narrow, a really classy bird.
-Laughing Gull
The bird was close, but the light was not brilliant and we knew that we could try and get it closer. Sadly the bird did not like my sandwich, as I forfeited around half of it, and the only bird to flinch was a Herring Gull, and all that did was stand up. However, one geezer on the other side of the pond decided to throw some cake or something and that certainly got the birds attention, so much so that it flew over and started running around within feet of that guy.
As a result we all raced round and joined in the fun, with the bird running around with the pigeons right in front of us. It was crazy to see, but more than made up for my losses last time out. The light remained a bit of an issue but I managed to get some decent shots, almost as good as those I managed of the harlequin. A really nice bird, great profile on it, I'm raving about the profile I realise but it just looked so good.
-Laughing Gull
After a good ten mins running around chasing bread the bird took off and we lost it for some time. It returned briefly a couple of times, once to the pontoons and the other just a fly through, but both times flying right over our heads in a crazy way, allowing us to really see the wing structure.
The bird did come back for some time though but curiously decided to land on the water, not something it has done frequently in the past. It was paddling round right at the base of the wall directly below us. If it could get any crazier, it just did. It swum around there chasing fragments of cake for about 5 mins before flying off.
-Laughing Gull
It was at this point that I had to leave for my train, as I had booked it with the intention of getting back for something in Sheffield, which was then cancelled. Alas, but it was a good time as the bird had just left.
Any other birds? The waders remained a delight, with Purple Sandpipers still among the roost, the Sanderling still there and a bumped 5 Dunlin today, compared to the one on Wednesday. An additional species to the site list was a Skein of Pink-Footed Geese that went over just before we first tried baiting the gull with bread, the first I have seen since the end of exams and really nice to see against the clear blue sky.
-Pink-Footed Geese
So overall it was well worth coming back. The gull showed incredibly well, while it was great chatting to the other twitchers, especially those who had also been on Wednesday and also missed it on that occasion. Laughing Gull is my 3rd lifer this year and my 91st species of the year.

Species List:
New Brighton: Herring Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Laughing Gull, Dunlin, Purple Sandpiper, Redshank, Turnstone, Cormorant, Magpie, Mallard, Sanderling, Pink-Footed Goose, Starling,
Train Journey: Lapwing, Common Buzzard, Mallard, Carrion Crow, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Canada Goose, Feral Pigeon, 

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