Saturday morning I met up with Sharpy at 6am and we set off for The Wirral in Cheshire. Our main quarry was the Laughing Gull that had been performing for the crowds on the pontoon at New Brighton. On our arrival the gull was obligingly sat on the pontoon and the life tick was straight in the bag for both of us.
It was one of those occasions when we got our timing right as it wasn't long before it got up, had a quick fly around the mariner and then disappeared out of sight.
After a scan through the waders on the beach (Purple Sandpiper the most noteworthy) the Laughing Gull reappeared on the railings at the far end of the mariner.
It didn't linger long and soon departed over the buildings and out of sight again. We'd had a tip off about a wintering pair of Snow Buntings about a mile up the road so a-bunting hunting we did go. Sharp-eye Sharpy was soon on to them scurrying around on the sand. As we were relocating to a better vantage point for the cameras, a do-gooder dog went bounding over to them, presumably warning them that we were about to photograph them without their permission, as they immediately took off down the beach and far away.
Not to worry. We had an appointment with a Long Eared Owl at Burton Mere. 40 mins drive and a fairly lengthy but pleasant walk and we were greeted by a friendly RSPB Warden. Although the owl was only yards away, it's cryptic camouflage made it tricky to pick out amidst the branches but with a point in the right direction from the Warden we soon got our eye in. Weird, wonderful and well worth it.
Whilst I'm on W alliterations, a Wondrous Wintering Waxwing in Wigan was next on the agenda. This one kept us waiting but when it finally put in an appearance it gave us a cracking show.
So all said and done, a superb day's birding in the North West. Left home grinning like a Cheshire Cat and came home Laughing like a Cheshire Gull.