News archive

January 2009

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Oystercatcher wading in shallow water

Winter pleasure

Arriving at Kings Gap, Hoylake we were faced with a wind swept beach which appeared devoid of birds. On closer inspection we could see large flocks of waders flying around along the tide line, which was quite some distance out. Whilst we waited for the tide to bring the birds in closer we amused ourselves with counting the 200+ Cormorant that had taken up residence on the tide line or just beyond. Before we knew it the tide was much closer and we could see and hear the many waders that were now being pushed in closer towards us. A huge flock of Knot, Grey Plover and Dunlin wheeled around the sky in a superb display of synchronised aerobatics that even the judges on 'Dancing on Ice' would have given maximum scores! The black armpits of the Grey Plover clearly seen. The birds came to rest close to us giving an excellent opportunity for all to get clear in their minds how to tell them apart. This mixed flock was soon joined by Curlew, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher and Ringed Plover. Suddenly a group of whitish small waders arrived and immediately started feeding in their frenzied 'sewing machine' like way - Sanderling. The flock was now tightly packed and seeing individual birds started to become difficult. A lovely Grey Plover in summer plumage - the black face, throat and belly sticking out like a sore thumb amongst all the greys and light browns - was found but just as quickly lost in the melee of birds. As the tide inexorably came in, the birds moved but it always seemed to be the Knot who left last, just as if they were trying to hold back the tide - hence their latin name of Calidris Canutus ! Well time ran out for us and we left our waders to see out the rest of the tide but we all felt that we now had a greater understanding of and ability to identify the differing waders that frequent our shores.