Strong North/North westerly winds had been the norm over the last few days, and I anticipated that these conditions would bring birds in close to the shore, I noticed that a few sightings had already been posted onto the local websites,soI headed to a favourite spot that I knew, knowing that the tide would still be out, I decided to recce other areas for any future trips!
Some interesting places were found, particularly Hilbre island, which involved getting the tides right and a 50 minute walk across the sand..One or two other birders had made their way back from the island and he had had good views of the petrels coming through!
Heading back to my initial spot and with the high tide due in,I set up my camera hoping for a few images.The first couple of hours produced a few birds, but always out of range.I made a few record shots, but knew that I could do a lot better.
The following day I was back by the Mersey mouth, ready for a few birds to venture out.They are known to take shelter up the river when conditions prevail and this is what I had hoped for.I tucked myself in behind a break water and sat it out.Almost within 20 mins, a bird was spotted moving out, but again distant.The wind was beginning to build in strength,and some heavy showers were endured,conditions were spot on for some close encounters!
More birds began to show albeit distantly, then from nowhere one appeared 20 metres away, the wind was pushing them right in as they came out of the bay.I felt that I had a better opportunity with the Petrels about 400 yds higher up to my left,as the earlier bird had followed the tide line.I knew that I would be really exposed to the elements but decided to brave it out!
Other photographers and birders were also in position too.The wind and swirling sand was quite taxing and I was worried about my gear getting damaged.I saw one or two tripods blown over, which foolishly had been left unattended!Plenty of Leaches were now showing well, some even flying low behind me onto the sand.A grey phalarope flew in and flopped down amongst the waves, just metres away!Sometimes the birds were just too close to focus on,so I repositioned some 30 yds back from the tideline.Trying to hand hold a heavy lens in these conditions was becoming hard work, but I persevered!
I braved a few hrs of the elements and counted over 50 birds coming through.It was a memorable encounter and well worth the 100 mile round trips!Some of my better images are below,I hope you enjoy them and please keep well!
|Well wrapped up and a close encounter!|
What hardy little birds they are, about the size of a starling!