The beginning of autumn passage in birding is always an exciting time and often it’s the arrival of rarer waders that gets the heart racing. Over the last few weeks I have had the chance to catch up with a few passage waders not too far from home, here in NW England.
The first trip was to Lunt Meadows NR near Maghull, not too far from Liverpool. Having only been here a handful of times I was glad to easily navigate to the car park, which hadn’t even opened on my last visit several years ago. A circuit around the Main Pool complex brought me to the screen, overlooking Pump Pool, already accommodating a fair few birders. On arrival the news was good, my main quarry was still present and soon I was looking through my scope at an adult American Golden Plover. This was the first time I’d seen this species in adult, near-summer plumage, so a great bird to see with its spangled back, black underparts, broad white ear covert stripe and long legs. A few digiscoped shots were taken before it took flight but landed on the Main Pool complex behind us. Here I managed a few closer pictures before heading off, happy that my journey had not been fruitless.
A few weeks later the chance arose to twitch another rare plover species, this time from Europe rather than the USA. So I set off for Southport, again coincidentally in Merseyside like my previous trip. Again on arrival after an easy journey over I found a gathering of birders and photographers already present. Joining them and following a few directions I soon had my scope on the immature Kentish Plover out on the beach with Ringed Plovers and Grey Plovers. The bird was hunkered up facing into the strong wind, as were all the other birds. Southport always seems to be like this and the birds have to be hardy around here! I did manage to find a modicum of shelter and that allowed me to again grab a few digiscoped shots. After observing for a good time, during which the bird hopped about occasionally and did one wing stretch, I realised that it wasn’t coming any closer and said my farewells to birding pals and headed home.
So two cracking scarcities under my belt, neither more than 50 miles from home and some passable record digiscoped shots to remember the days by, that’ll do me.
The Montage above shows 3 American Golden Plover shots on the left, 2 Kentish Plover shots on the right.