Unbelievable day of raptor sightings - & visit to Pickerings Pasture


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Unbelievable day of raptor sightings - & visit to Pickerings Pasture

  • We set off later than planned this morning due to a very misty/foggy start to the day and which didn't clear until almost 10am . 

    Following a recce across the new Mersey Gateway Bridge to find Pickerings Pastures,  Hale/Widnes area  (which was very quiet bird-wise),   we travelled on to Neston Marshes (Denhall Quay area) on the Wirral;  on the whole it was a beautiful sunny day although thick cloud often obscured the sun and the wind picked up mid afternoon before settling down again around 4pm.      Out on the vast Neston Marshes we were treated to distant although enjoyable views through binoculars of 6 Short-eared Owls, two Marsh Harriers, three Kestrels, one Merlin, one Common Buzzard, Stonechat, Reed Bunting and last but by no means at least one male and one female Hen Harrier although I thought I saw two ringtails at one stage as did two other birdwatchers near me -    WooHooo !!!    

       Fortunately, we had an expert watching the marshes with us later on, hence we didn't miss a thing  :)  so thanks to Geoff (ex-RSPB warden ! ) for his excellent  scope finds and also for his amazing knowledge and very nice company.       

    It was a pity the birds were too distant to get close enough for photos and the Owls were even further away when they came out once the wind had dropped to feed on the many voles out on the Marshes.     It was one of those days you regret not having any photos to write home about but still totally thrilled at the sight of so many beautiful raptors.    

    I'll stick a few record shots up of the female Hen Harrier as she was so super special to see but the photo is cropped to maximum really   !   The male Hen Harrier appeared late in the day but I couldn't get the camera on him quick enough.

      I think you can still make out this beautiful  Harrier.

    and a headless Harrier - maybe same bird or the 2nd ringtail we thought we saw together at some stage    

    are these the Marsh Harriers, not sure I can make them out although I detect a blonde head at the left !!   I can't really remember as there were so many raptors in the air throughout the afternoon    =    Goes to show there is a very good Vole food supply for these birds :)

    I can put my distant speck of a Shortie on the bad pics thread   LOL  !!        and the Merlin I won't even bother with as it harassed the H.Harrier half a mile away -  according to my expert with the scope  ! 

  • Sounds like my kind of birding Hazel when you get a shed full of raptors. If you can get raptor counts like that on a regular basis I doubt if you have many organised shoots in the area. We used to get these sort of days in the local dale but it went downhill a number of years ago when some grouse shoots demanded a higher number of grouse to draw in clients.

  • Very nice sightings Hazel, shame they were quite a ways out :(


  • Hi Pete,  it's funny but we were chatting with someone who was telling us how quiet this area used to be for raptors years ago but we were mainly talking about the milder climate these days where birds like Marsh Harriers have stayed in this country rather than headed to Africa (or so I believe).    This year also seems a good year for voles thank goodness so hopefully enough food to go round for all these magnificent raptors.  

    It's sad when these shoots can have such an impact on an area, its sickening to hear of the change in your area and the impact it has made.     The only shooting in the area we were today is by the Army and Police who use the marshes as their target range on occasion !!

    Here's the proof   !

  • Sounds like you had a great day out Hazy, sometimes it's nice just to see the birds & not worry about the piccies.

    The colourings of the upper side markings on the 1st shot look a bit like a Marsh Harrier but the second shot definately looks like a HH so it must be a trick of the light with the first photo. Is it an immature?  Whatever, they are great shots at long distance!

  • Glad you had a good Raptor day Hazel M and I also had a good one yesterday as well at Rainham Marshes. We saw Sparrowhawk, Red Kite, Kestrel, Buzzard and Marsh Harriers, I would have loved to see our SEO's and Hen Harrier though.

  • Sounds like a pretty good day to see all those different birds of prey. Sometimes it's good to just watch the birds especially when you had an expert on hand with a powerful scope.

  • Thanks everyone,  it was such an interesting day at Denhall Quay, Little Neston area.

    I mentioned Pickerings Pasture that we visited for the first time before we ventured on to the Wirral and although there were not many birds apart from the regular garden type birds and a few distant lapwings, G.Heron out on the Mersey sandbanks (tide out ! )  I thought I would post up a few photos to show you the area which was accessed across the brand new Mersey Gateway toll bridge.

    A few of these pics taken on my iPhone so a mixed bunch;  

    As we were leaving home  !    no, I wasn't driving at the time I took this, Mike was in that seat   lol 

    less than ten minutes later and on to the M56 the mist cleared away ......

    and we took our first look at the new Mersey bridge ....

    It took two and half minutes to cross this new bridge (opened less than a month ago)  so gives you some idea of its expanse across River Mersey !!

    British engineering at its best :)

    then parked up at Pickerings Pasture and took a stroll around the banks of the Mersey 

    You can see the old Runcorn Bridge in the background  (the new bridge is a bit obscured by it and further back) 

    and looking the other way towards Chester

    There has been money spent on making this area wildlife friendly so I will include a few pics of the information boards which I took on the mobile ....

    Ellesmere port area in background, quite an industrial area - Frodsham Marsh is in that location too 

    maybe a pic for Reflections thread   lol 

    A black headed Gull was patrolling the grassed areas !   

    and I found a robin for Paul   ...........PPR  (Pickerings Pasture Robin)   !!

    That's all folks,  sorry I didn't see any other birds but the tide was at its lowest.

  • That's a pretty impressive looking bridge, Hazel. Cable stayed bridges are all the rage just lately. The new bridge over the Firth of Forth is another one. Who says there's no investment in the north. By contrast we are only just getting electrification on the Great Western mainline out of Paddington.

    The wildflower meadow could be a good place for butterflies in the summer. Always nice to have some new habitat to explore.  

    Did you notice this on the first info board?

    I assume this is the local Liverpudlian dialect. LOL

  • lol Tony,  I think the typo referred to three of the birds beneath -   Hugh, Pugh and Barney McGrew    !!!

    Not sure how many visitors they will get on that side of the Mersey if they have to pay £4 return trip each time they go  !  

  • TeeJay
    Cable stayed brides are all the rage just lately

    Did you notice my Freudian slip, Hazel. I think that harks back to the days of corsets from Victorian times. The mind boggles. ROFL

    I'm going to edit it but I thought I'd give you a laugh.

  • lol Tony,  sorry, I didn't notice !   it's been a long day  lol  

    The mind certainly does boggle !

  • Very nice Hazel, sadly £8 return is a little to much for me, love you Robin pictures.


  • £4 return Jim and the old free bridge is now closed for a complete renovation and told when it reopens it will also have a toll charge !

  • That's what I was told too Hazel, I have a mate who lives nearby we went fishing there last year and you could see the old bridge.