A Laughing Gull has been present at New Brighton for a couple of weeks. Earlier in the week I had read a couple of reports from Oxfordshire birders who had been to see it I decided that if it was still around on Friday I would go. Having invited Pete and John to come with me and the bird still being around Saturday morning found us on the road at just before six. At around nine and after just shy of two hundred miles of driving we arrived on Marine Parade New Brighton.
Quickly out of the car we walked the few yards across to the Marine Lake to find it completely devoid of birds. A couple of other birders told us that it was on the beach so we headed for the promenade. We soon found the Gull standing on the beach. After a couple of minutes it flew up giving great views of the dark wings and long beak. It headed over to the lake and landed on one of the pontoons. After grabbing some bread it was off and away again. The next few minutes were spent chatting to some birders who had travelled up from Rainham in Essex (links to their blogs at end) and scanning the birds on the beach. Plenty of other Gull, noisy Oystercatchers and Turnstones on the rocks. The gull put in another appearance, this time staying long enough to allow some photos to be taken.
We then went over the road to the Seaside Cafe for breakfast, an old-fashioned place. lino floor, old wooden bench seats, nice atmosphere and an extensive menu. Full English for £4.95 hit the spot and set us up for some more birding.
We headed back to the prom with our scopes and managed to pick up some Purple Sandpipers on the rocks by the lighthouse. At high tide these roost on the pontoons on Marine Lake but today with the tide going out were a little harder to find. Next stop was Morrisons to use the loo’s and then Wallasey Shore to look for a couple of Snow Buntings. We followed a couple of other birders onto the beach and were lucky as they had found them and put us straight onto the birds. They were feeding amongst the debris along the tideline. We watched them briefly before they were flushed by dogs. The last we saw of them was as they flew off along the beach, landing a few hundred metres away. We then set of for Burton Mere RSPB reserve where a Long-eared Owl was at roost. After getting a little lost due to misreading a sign we arrived in the car park and headed for the visitor centre. Along with many others we headed of along the paths and boardwalks to the far end of the reserve which is where the Owl was roosting. This was easy birding as a small crowd was gathered at the viewing spot and an RSPB guide was helping people find the LEO which was roosting deep in a Hawthorn between a small stream and a railway line. With the naked eye I could easily see the Owl but it was harder to pick out with the bins and even more so with the camera. I managed a couple of record shots through the branches before we moved onto the nearby hide.
Looking across the lagoon we picked up a few more species for the day-list. These included Shelduck, Teal, Wigeon, Curlew and Blackwit. After another look at the Owl we strolled back to the visitor centre where we spent a few minutes looking for a Spotted Redshank. After only finding ordinary Redshanks and four Ruff we went back to the car. Here we eat our sandwiches before heading back home. Due to delays on the motorway I took the cross-country route which saw us back at around six o’clock. This concluded an intense twelve-hour day covering 408 miles (which was my longest twitch) with one lifer and six year-ticks the result.