And so it began on this fine Sunday morning, with today thankfully being yesterdays tomorrow.

Gone was the fog, and whilst not crystal clear, visibility for todays seawatch was at least 4000m and the sea was calm, mill-pond calm; for the first 90 minutes it was like a sheet of glass. These conditions give us a great opportunity to carry out a full count of the Common Scoter, Melanitta nigra, that were present in the wide arc of sea between North Shore and St Annes. First thing to note is that there are usually a lot and that is why we use a handheld ‘tally counter’ and count the Scoter in 10’s – 1 Click for every 10 birds. I started with my scope pointed North and between 06:45 and 07:45 proceeded to slowly rotate my scope back South, finishing with St Annes beach and the Ribble estuary in view; overall in that 1 hour, I clicked an amazing 1622 times, giving a count of 16220 birds – who knew there were that many Common Scoters in the world, yet alone a stones-throw from the Golden Mile.

We had Starr Gate regulars Stewart, David, Steve and myself in attendance with Len off at a music festival (I Say music, it was Jazz 😉 ) and during the course of the watch we were joined by Bob (Fylde Bird Club member and great rarity finder) who had been scanning local bushes / gardens for Wrynecks and other ‘likely’ rarities – no such luck this morning but a Chiffchaff on Blackpool Promenade is never to be scoffed at. Around midway through the watch we were also joined by a chap who comes to Blackpool on family visits every six weeks and is a regular birder back in his West Yorkshire home in Leeds. However, he is Lancastrian and it proved a very popular move with the regulars to start conversation by saying that his football team were top of the league – He wasn’t a Citeh fan and it transpired, much the the delight of several Starr Gate ‘irregulars’ that he was Preston North End fan…joy of joys! We think he was called Andrew but no-one can quite remember – we’ll therefore refer to him as ‘Peony’ until we know any different.

Six people on deck certainly has the stewards scratching their heads and a second row was formed, giving us a ‘tight five’ and a blind side flanker…no guessing who the flanker was 😉
Common Scoter apart, the birds were still relatively thin on the ground but we had 16 species ‘moving’ and 9 species logged as present. The full Trektellen list for today can be viewed by clicking here.

You can also see in the pictures the ‘physical’ notebook record of Stewart and this shows how birds are recorded once they have been ‘called’ and agreed. It is these records that we then transfer onto Trektellen, making the data available to anyone and everyone that wants to view or use the data (including us).

Football banter apart, the birding highlights were probably the Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis that was present feeding / diving from around 07:00-07:30 (David’s first for Starr Gate) and also the 90+ Shelduck Tadorna tadorna that passed North and South during the watch.

Just to prove it isn’t all about the birds, the very last entry on Stewarts notebook for today was H/P; this isn’t a reminder for him to get some sauce on the way home, but is in fact his note for Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena of which we had two this morning.

Shop was shut slightly earlier than normal today at 9am, as several of us were off to Warton Bank to help the Lytham District Wildfowlers Association with a litter pick along the tide edge of the salt marsh – Keep your eyes out for another post specifically relating to the litter picking session.

Hope you had a good weekend and thanks for getting this far…

Standing Room Only – 10/09/23

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