Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This week, I have been mostly eating... roasted chicken...

...AND thinking about autumn passage. Not AN autumn passage you understand... None of Keats' Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun' malarkey - fuck no! I mean SERIOUS autumn passage... WADER passage! You may, dear reader, have come across by Charadriiforme fixation in previous blogs BUT come on... when it comes to patching, waders are summit raaaather special innit! This is especially so when that patch is 'inland' and so frequented by these delightful critturs generally only during a brief Spring period and a brief Autumn period. Well, I say brief, but in truth these periods of to and fro, of ebb and flo, of wax and wane can be pleasantly protracted - at least for some potential patch ticks.

Notwithstanding vagrants (more of which maybe later), my own patch can count as alphabetic 'potential'; Avocet, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Common Snipe, Curlew, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Grey Plover, Jack Snipe, Knot, Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Ruff, Sanderling, Spotted Redshank, Temmimck's Stint, Turnstone, Whimbrel, Wood Sandpiper and Woodcock - 27 species. Now, I'm missing TEN of those little beauties and so it's only understandable that with July fast approaching that I should start wondering about how I might get these chaps and chapesses on the year list. Here's how I see it...

Temminck's Stint 

The reet bastard of the bunch. Thin on the ground at the best of times and to make things worse, I've never got one in  the autumn (mine have all been spring birds) and never on the patch , so I don't hold up much hope on that front alone. Add to that the simple fact that I don't recall one even turning up along the Mersey highway between Frodsham and Woolston  in the last decade (Moore is pretty much in the middle as the stint flies) and things are not looking too good. Verdict: I reckon I can pretty much kiss Coenraad the pigeon fancier's namesake goodbye for this year - ah, well...

Bar-tailed Godwit

At Moore, this fella's Black-tailed compadre is tricky enough to get - lucky break at Halfway House this April nailed 11 flying over, but Barty? Well again, bit of a problem. They too are thin on the ground, but have at least been recorded within patching distance in more recent years than Temminck's - often from Fiddler's Ferry and mostly in the latter part of the year. August and September are probably most likely then, from Halfway House, but I reckon it's dependent on a westerly air flow pushing birds up the Mersey in the first place. If they can get around that dogleg by the Weaver Bend  I might just be in with a shout. Localish birds are sometimes recorded into November too, which doesn't hurt my chances either. Verdict: long shot, but you never know....


Now weird as this may seem, I cannot see getting Turnstone on the patch. And it's not because they don't turn up - they sometimes do... AND from places on the patch where I spend proportionately large amounts of time (!)... BUT I can't seem to MENTALLY get past the 'coast thing'. To me, Turnstone are birds of rocky coasts and not legitimate passage waders at inland sites at all - I mean, I just can't PICTURE one... here at Moore. Closest I come to accepting the possibility is when I'm scoping the wire-meshed boulder reinforcements that line the Manchester Ship Canal, then maybe... just maybe. Good news is, recent form says they're most likely in August, so at least I've not missed the biggest window of opportunity having missed any that snuck by in the Spring! Having said that, if they do come this far inland in the next few months, chances are my mental filter will block them out. Verdict: almost certain miss.

Grey Plover

Aha! Now I feel FAR more confident about these... at least I can picture one plodding along the strandline at HWH or standing out on the mud during those long hours when the crazy tide refuses to come in.  Add to that the fact that they're not exactly easy to overlook, even at distance on a murky winter's morning and GreyPs (grapes?) look the most likely additional wader tick so far. September / October time seems to be most likely, once numbers have picked up further out on the estuary, and it'll need a high tide I reckon to move them off the river and maybe a bit of a blow to get them this far up. Still, it's a fair bet that just those kind of conditions are likely once or twice when I can get out between now and years end. Verdict: promising.

Spotted Redshank

I want this bird! AND I know exactly how I'm going to get it. I'll hear it from Halfway House. Of course I won't SEE the bloody thing, oh no, because it'll be over on the no-mans land that is the Fiddler's Ferry lagoons, but I'll know it's there! September... early morning... bit of a grey, murky one no doubt and... 'chewit'... nailed. Verdict: optimistict

Wood Sandpiper

Now these really SHOULD be annuals. The fringes of the pools at the east end of the reserve are ideal for them... well, good-ISH anyway. Good enough for Green Sands... good enough for Woods in my book! AND they are THE most gorgeous little waders and second only to Phalaropes in their deliciousness, which fact alone means that I deserve one - love em! In my favour is their leaning towards Autumn appearances over Spring ones and the fact that the east end of the patch turned one up back end of last year. If I had to put my money on where and when I'd say Millbrook Pool, wet flush, August... or maybe Pumphouse, same month. Verdict: voodoo

Curlew Sandpiper

Ah, well now... this is one of those you'd reckon would be worth a flutter - all things being equal. Trouble is in these ere patch parts, things just don't seem to BE equal as far as spreading the Curlew Sand love is concerned. They just don't seem to drop in... Why they apparently take the scenic route to OTHER nearby sites, avoiding Moore in the process is one of those patch mysteries - I just don't know why they do it... Best chance, my gut whispers, is a lone Juv at Pumphouse. BUT in the absence of a balloon, I don't intend holding my breath. Verdict: very unlikely unfortunately

 Golden Plover

OK, no jibber-jabber on this one. Only 'missed' it coz didn't get out early part of the year. Looking forward to watching the numbers build, sorting out the 'apricaria' from the 'altifrons' or whatever and squinting at the dark, cappy one tucked away at the back asleep. Wake up you bastard! Verdict: 100% Cert


Was a time when this must surely have been a patch annual judging by the numbers that used to be around locally... Can't quite figure this one out either. As far as I can tell, birds ARE still about locally, pretty much in every month dotted about, but I don't know anybody who's got a patch one! Pumphouse or Halfway House come August maybe? Verdict: unsure

Little Stint

Target species over the winter this one. I'm thinking 'skittering amid a small Dunlin flock' as the most likely type encounter on an ebbing tide, early doors. Only snag is, small flocks of Dunlin haven't exactly been playing their little dark scaley hands of late. I've had just 3 birds this year... and neither the HWH duo nor the PHP single can justifiably claim to be a small flock. Looking through past records there used to be hundreds turn up along the stretch between HWH and Gatewarth in the days when Moore was Moss Side. Ideal Stint camouflage you'd have thought maybe. Then of course in THOSE days, there were shit loads of Little Stints knocking about the Weaver Bend every winter, from which the occassional bird may have wandered. How things change. I'll just have to stake out the river over the coming months and see what happens I guess... Verdict: firm possibility of a definite maybe.

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