East Hoyle: A Coastal Delight

After another long and hard day in college I decided to balance out a not so pleasant morning with an afternoon spent off Hoylake’s acclaimed sea watching site, East Hoyle Bank. The sand bank extends a mile and a half out into the Irish Sea which is only accessible at low tide for an hour or so before the encroaching tide cuts inexperienced travellers off.

North westerly gales had blown the likes of Red Phalarope, Leach’s Storm Petrel, Sabine’s Gull and Black-throated Diver close-in to the shoreline earlier I the day. By the time I got in on the action at 1700 the winds had died down and sea watching had been reduced to scanning through a flock of 9,000c Common Scoter close in across the north Wirral coastline stretching from East Hoyle round to Dove Point, Meols and beyond.

1st winter sanderling
Sanderling (Calidris alba) – Juveniles at different stages of moulting into their adult winter plumage.

Clear observations of the flock was hard to come by due to high waves, strong winds and the fact that even from land the birds were skittish enough to inadvertently displace. However such an opportunity enabled a series of images to be taken and scanning through the images on my laptop showed that hidden amongst the scoter flock was neither any further Velvet Scoter or indeed the Surf Scoters I’d very much been hoping to chance across.

In addition to the spectacular display of Common Scoter (see video), then there was a fine supporting cast of Red-throated Diver, Common Eider, Great crested Grebe, Razorbill and a female-type Velvet Scoter (recently removed as a county rarity).

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