Very quiet on the river first thing, just 20 Lapwing, a few dozen gulls and a solitary Curlew. Hopes of picking up a Curlew Sandpiper passing through were, therefore, quickly dampened. But the short spell by the River Mersey was not, it turned out, an uneventful one - in fact it was a little surprising. Things began gently enough... a slow build up of gulls... 375 Black-headed Gulls, 85 Lesser Black-backeds, 8 Great Black-backeds, 10 Herring, 1 Yellow-legged... Curlew numbers doubled... to two(!) and several hundred Lapwing, strung out in lines began to wind their way downriver towards where I was sitting. Only 170 finally ended up on the mud to my right though - the others just sailed by. Shortly after, the first wildfowl of the morning put in an appearance... 2 Gadwall and 46 Canada Geese followed by a solitary Cormorant. No herons today. Now, none of this is unsual for Halfway House. In fact, quiet days are the norm and so I decided nothing much was going to happen and made a move to go... and then...
Peregrine. Big female lowish left. She landed on the top of one of the pylons and began calling. Kept this up for a good minute then stooped down the middle of the pylon from which emerged a second Peregrine. It also began calling, so there was this 'duet' going on as the birds flew around, amiably enough it seemed, before flying off south over the Manchester Ship Canal. Now I don't know if I'd been on visual autopilot and all their racket had tuned my ears in or what, but suddenly I began hearing things. Ringed Plover calling. Blackcap 'teck-ing', Whitethroat churring and... Coal Tit singing. Coal Tit? Here?? Never had THAT before...bit odd. Then there was another calling. Two Coal Tits. Then a *Great Spotted Woodpecker flew past - never had one of those from here either, nor theTreecreeper that was now trilling from the scrubby trees behind me from where the Coal Tit was singing. Then Goldcrest... hang on, that's new for here too (!) and another Coal Tit... another Treecreeper... 2 more Goldcrests... 2 more Coal Tits. another Great Spotted Woodpecker. Woodland stuff dispersing? I decide to have a good mooch at the trees and bushes from the canal path. There's LOADS of stuff in there... 4 Robins, 2 Wrens, 1 Dunnock, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 6 Whitethroat, 1 Chiffchaff, 5 Bullfinches, 2 Greenfinches, 2 Blue Tits, 1 Great Tit and something else... well I never. I certainly did NOT expect that here today... *COMMON REDSTART! Another woodland bird on the move. An immature from the look of it, busily feeding away. A patch first for me and year tick 128. Happy days :)
Got 2 Dunlin on the mud as I packed up, thoroughly pleased with my short jaunt and headed off. Also bagged a few other things round and about, best of which were 2 Kingfishers, 1 Green Wooodpecker, 1 Green Sandpiper, 10 House Martin, 2 Sand Martin, 24 Swallows, 60 Goldfinch, 4 Common Buzzards, 3 Grey Partridge and a flock of 23 Long-tailed Tits.
* Moving east. Everything else was moving west