Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Grey Phalarope at Lytham Moss, Lancashire

November 16, 2010:
This storm-driven Grey Phalarope appeared quite settled in an isolated flooded field on the moss. It was feeding in typical phalarope fashion, spinning clockwise in shallow water in order to bring insects and other food to the surface. Occasionally it was harassed by a Black-headed Gull and once even by a Pied Wagtail. It was difficult to appreciate why this should be as it was obviously not in competition with either bird for food. Perhaps it was just a spiteful reaction to an intruder? In the rare intervals between long bouts of spinning, it would preen and even fly a short distance. It was very confiding and appeared quite unconcerned by human presence nearby.

[The flooded field habitat on Lytham Moss]

In summer plumage the Grey (Red) Phalarope is a striking bird. In its arctic nesting grounds the parental roles are reversed with the rather more showy bird being the female which leaves the rearing of the young to the male. Most Grey Phalaropes winter off the coast of South America and south and western Africa.

Below are photographs which I took in July 2008 of a male bird and the small chick it was caring for in an isolated fjord in Spitsbergen. Summer plumage birds are rarely seen other than in their arctic nesting area.


  1. Michael. Very nice shots and very informative post.

  2. Thanks Brian. They are really interesting birds with their novel lifestyle. A pity it's moved on but it wasn't going to stay long only being on a flooded field.