Home DestinationsEnchanting England A Memorable Day Out in the Spring with Amazing Sightings

A Memorable Day Out in the Spring with Amazing Sightings

by wanderscapes

Another month, another bird walk! If you’ve read our earlier blogs, you’d know that we eagerly look forward for the RSPB Liverpool monthly bird walks. It has become the highlight of our monthly activities and each month’s sightings brings us new experiences and joy. We have talked about the group and how amazing it is here and here. This time, allow us to dive straight into the birding experience.

The Perfect Setting for Sightings – Leasowe Lighthouse at Wirral

This month’s walk was at Wirral, an enticing landscape with its beautiful coastal walkway and a mix of habitats – all ideal combination for birdwatching. This was our second visit to the location, the first being another bird walk with the group last year. However, it was earlier during the year and we remember it being colder and wetter then.

This time too, the day started off a bit on the moody side with a slightly overcast sky. But as we drove up to the car park, our spirits brightened. We could see the group was already there ready to get into action. After exchanging pleasantries, we headed towards the coastal path to look for sea birds. A bout of excitement was already spreading among the group in anticipation of what the day holds. Moreover, someone mentioned there were Gannets to be seen. It was indeed a promising start for the day.

Birds Galore – the Sea Never Disappoints

As soon as we reached the coastal path we saw numerous birds in the water. Several people got busy setting up scopes and other equipment while others wasted no time scanning the water with their binos. Soon, we were joined by our team leader Chris, who had gone to the station to pick some group members. The group became alive instantaneously as he pointed out birds after birds to us.

We saw Gannets, Cormorants, Common Scoter, Great Crested Grebes, gulls of all kinds and sizes, Oyster Catchers, and more. Then he pointed us to the Sandwich Terns, which were flying around most majestically. It was an amazing experience to watch them fly around and suddenly drop down into the water to fish sand eels. They were a noisy bunch too. We could hear them before we spotted them. Chris showed us a common tern and told us how to differentiate them from the Sandwich terns. It was a treat to watch those beauties up close – we’ve never seen them so close before.

Sandwich Terns on a rock

Sea Bird Watching – A Challenge made Easy

Watching birds in the sea is quite a challenge in itself as the birds sometime just sit on the water. It is difficult to spot them amongst the waves. However, we have an expert in the form of Chris and along with a few other experienced birders who are good at spotting birds even when they hide in plain sight, the group is in good hands. It is always a humbling experience when you realise the shape you thought was a flash of wave was actually a bird!

The advantage of birding as a group is that more sets of eyes are better than two pairs. Moreover, the experienced birdwatchers are always ready to help others in group not only in spotting the birds but also in identifying them. We love listening to them explain about flight patterns, behaviours, songs, and habitat. And quite often the field trips give us a chance to see and understand the size differences of birds. Sometimes, it is easier to learn and remember when you see it.

Unexpected, Exciting Sightings

As we walked along the coastal path towards a buoy at the far end, some of the group members got excited as they recognised the call of a Grasshopper Warbler. For untrained ears like ours, it sounded like nothing other than the shrilling sound of an insect. However, the experts and veterans almost always know what they hear and see, and we feel lucky to be in the midst of those experts.

Grasshopper Warbler in Brambles

Anyway, Chris said it was undoubtedly the call of a Grasshopper Warbler and it is difficult bird to spot as it creeps through the foliage, without showing. But almost immediately after Chris said that, he spotted the bird nonchalantly singing away sat on the edge of a bush. This led to a flurry of excited movement within the group as everyone scampered to get a glimpse of the rare beauty. And there it was, showing fairly well, continuously calling, without a care in the world.

It was a lifer for us and the thrill we felt of seeing that tiny birdy singing yards away from us is something words can never explain fully. We’ve often wondered what is it about the birds that make us feel happy – this is one of the reasons – sighting a beauty when you least expect it. What make sightings like this extraordinary was not only the bird was showing fairly well but that it stayed there for quite sometime for all of us in the group to see. That little bird made 45 of us very happy that day.

Of Birds, Friends and Building Relationships

We often feel birdwatching is not just about birds. It is also about making friends and nurturing a beautiful relationship between the people coming together to watch birds. Bird walks teach us a lot – patience, hope, kindness, sharing, being happy for others and more. We’ve observed people in the group selflessly helping others to see the birds and guiding them in every possible way. Whether it is tips on spotting a bird or offering to show a clear view of a bird on the scope, sharing information about the spots where there are higher chances of spotting a rarity (or a common bird).

Chris leads by example. We feel comfortable and happy in the knowledge that he will leave nothing to chance and do everything possible to make sure we enjoy a good birding trip. There is no wonder that the RSPB Liverpool local group is always a welcoming space where people feel happy watching birds. Nothing unites us than the desire to see birds and help others see them. The fact that we have some veterans and experts in the group is the cherry on top of the icing!

Bird Watching is Beneficial for Mental Health and Wellbeing Too

Recently there has been a lot of reports on the benefits of birdwatching for mental health and wellbeing. The studies show that spending even half an hour a week birdwatching is more beneficial than spending the same time just walking in the nature. It is something we can swear by. Perhaps that’s the reason why most of us are keen to go on birdwatching even when the weather conditions are not ideal. Quite often the rewards of our efforts in the form of sightings are far more than the troubles we encounter.

During our conversations with members of the group, we’ve heard stories of how birdwatching helped them overcome hard times due to loss of a dear one and how birdwatching as a part of the group gives them the intent and energy to carry on. People battling severe health conditions have used birdwatching as the pole that propped them up in difficult times.

It is amazing when you hear the stories how the ‘seemingly’ unproductive activity enriches our life. For us, it is the vital link with nature and society itself. There is much more to birding than looking at them every now and then and updating the life list. It is oddly satisfying to see research backing up what we’ve always known. Birdwatching isn’t just a hobby. It is much more than that…

More birds – Some Surprise Sightings…

The beauty of birding is that you cannot predict what will happen on a particular day. Sightings are unpredictable. It can show you a rare visitor or you see a regular bird up close (as we did in the case of the Sandwich Tern) and sometimes it can disappoint you as well. That day, as we carried on along the coast and then later through the field, we had several sightings. Oyster Catcher, Knot, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Dunnock, Linnet, Magpie, Robin, Stonechat, Wheatear, Tits, Wren and more.

We saw a group of Redshanks by a mudflat and there were a couple of Dunlins hiding at the back. There were some Pied Wagtails and Greenfinches too as we walked further along the path. Raptors were conspicuous by absence even on a sunny day, except for a Sparrowhawk, which perhaps only Chris and a few others saw.

As we stood watching the Redshanks, there was a flash of red in the hedges beyond. We waited for Chris to ask him what could it be. Soon he reached us and as we were trying to explain what we saw, he also saw the movement at the far end and immediately shouted in excitement – Redstart! It was an amazing experience to spot the bird and to realise it was something different and then have it confirmed by Chris as a rare visitor.

The female bird showed quite well and even though it was perched far ahead, we could get a good view through our binos and scopes. Soon it flew away into the foliage and happy with the sightings, we decided to push ahead. After a small snack break we headed towards an area where the Whitethroat was likely to be seen.

And a Disappointment…

We soon reached the field where it was often spotted and waited with baited breath. But other than some noisy robins and restless blackbirds we didn’t see much. Of course, a Garden Warbler made a brief entry and disappeared in a flash. We waited for some time before deciding to turn back. It was then that the Buzzard decided to show up and we got decent views of the bird before the crows chased it away.

A Grey Heron was hiding in the bush by the edge of the water in the field behind us, no doubt waiting for the right moment to fish and we also saw a few Stock Doves. However, the wait for the Whitethroat was futile and so we walked back to the carpark. On the way back we tried to see the Reed Warbler, which despite being vocal refused to show up.

A Day Well Spent

A few members of the group decided to do a bit more birding further afield, while some others, including us, decided to call it a day. We bid our byes and promised to meet next time, which is going to be an exciting adventure as it is an ‘away day’ at Norfolk. As we headed back home happy to have seen the special birds, we were overcome by a feeling of content and peace. Birding does that to you – especially when you are in the right company as we were.

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