Friday, 9 March 2012

High Tide at Parkgate on the Wirral

After looking forward to it for a couple of months, today was the day I went to see a high tide at Parkgate on the Wirral.  I'd heard that it can be quite spectacular if the conditions are right, with lots of raptors chasing the many voles, mice, ground-nesting birds and other small mammals and rodents being flushed by the incoming tide.  Unfortunately, to the dismay of the large crowd of birders who had gathered here with the same intention as me, today wasn't to be one of those events.

It was positively grey and drizzly as I set off for the Wirral, but the forecast predicted decent weather and it became progessively better as the day wore on.  When I arrived at the car park on the site of the 'old baths' it was quite sunny, although there was a strong cold onshore breeze blowing into our faces.  I was told that high pressure weather systems (as currently in place over this part of the world) tend to suppress the tide and so we'd have to wait and see how far the 9.9m tide actually came in.  Not very far proved to be the answer.

The best sighting for the day for me came not long after I had got into a good position for observing the marshes - a Spoonbill (which has been here for most of the winter) flew very close by and I got a good view through my binoculars. At first I thought it was the Great White Egret which has also frequented this area recently, but when I looked through my bins its bill was unmistakable. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera out to get even a record shot.

I then went on a short walk down the shore led by two people from the RSPB and as the tide slowly came in flocks of birds could be seen taking off in the far distance, including Shelduck, Redshank and various Gulls through my spotting scope. I went on to to see a couple of ringtail Hen Harriers, a Peregrine Falcon, a Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk and a very distant Short-eared Owl being mobbed by a crow.  And that was about it for the raptors today, although there were also couple of Little Egrets on the marshes as well as plenty of Skylarks singing their hearts out.

Before I'd realised it people were starting to move off and it was over for this hide tide.  I have to admit to being more than a little disappointed that the water did not come further inland and with the number of birds I saw, but there'll always be another time.  And with this consoling thought I headed off up the west coast of the Wirral towards Thurstaston and West Kirby and then along the top through Hoylake and Leasowe towards my final destination of New Brighton in search of a Purple Sandpiper - see the next post for what happened here.

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