The Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens Bird Report  2001

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Systematic list - 
Mediterranean Gull to Great Black-backed Gull
Kittiwake to Rock Pigeon.
Stock Pigeon to Sand Martin.
Swallow to Wren (below).
Hedge Accentor to Blackbird.
Fieldfare to Garden Warbler.
Blackcap to Coal Tit.
Blue Tit to Chaffinch.
Greenfinch to Reed Bunting.

Barn Swallow                                                       Hirundo rustica 
Summer visitor
First recorded :- 3 March 28th
Peak count :- A minimum of 3,000 between 0600 and 0800 hrs. August 23rd 
Last recorded :- 3 October 9th.
[Unlike Sand Martin the spring passage of Swallows was reasonably continuous, with no noticeable fluctuations in numbers. Return migration started rather early this year with 79 birds, mainly juveniles, being seen resting on the sands among feeding Dunlin on July 29th. The peak count is only a minimum figure as birds were streaming off the golf course throughout the full length of the site. All birds turned to go upriver and none were noted heading over the islands. This large passage of hirundines was noted for the whole of the second half of August and was continually heavy throughout the five days around this peak count so the actual number of birds must have been enormous. First and last dates last year were April 1st. and October 20th.]

House Martin                                                       Delichon urbica 
Summer visitor
First recorded :- 4 April 15th.
Peak count :- c.600 between 0700 and 0830 hrs August 23rd.
Last recorded :- 3 October 15th.
[ Although House Martin were only noted on passage the surrounding area held better numbers than usual with a minimum of 18 pairs breeding in Greenbank Road, West Kirby. This is the highest breeding total from here for many years. The peak spring migration coincided with the second peak in Sand Martin numbers. Dates for migration last year were April 2nd and December 12th. This latter bird constitutes the second latest record for Cheshire and Wirral. ]

Tree Pipit                                                                Anthus trivialis 
Passage migrant
First recorded :- 1 April 16th
Peak count :- 9 May 23rd.
Last recorded :- 5 September 29th.
[The continuous disturbance by dog walkers, from first light, on the shore throughout spring migration kept numbers of all species down, particularly those that utilise the saltmarsh and dunes. The probable total of birds passing through this spring was less than 20, taking into consideration some may have stayed for more than one day. There were no birds recorded last spring.]

Meadow Pipit                                                         A. pratensis 
Peak count 1st. winter period :- 7 January 12th.
Spring passage peak count :- c1,100 per hr. March 23rd.
Autumn passage peak count :- c.100 per hr. October 11th.
Peak count 2nd. winter period :- 41 November 14th.
[As with many resident passerines, Hoylake Langfields was the place to be in the first winter period. Numbers of birds displaying during the spring were about the same as normal but fewer were seen in the actual wardening area, most being found on the golfcourse. ]

Rock Pipit                                                                  A. petrosus 
Scarce winter visitor
1 from January 1st. to 9th. was probably one of the birds from the previous year. Singles September 19th. and 21st., October 17th. and 24th.
[ There is plenty of habitat available for this species around the NW corner of Wirral so why it should be such a scarce bird is a mystery. Looking back over the CAWOS and Hilbre reports it appears that Rock Pipit, although regular, are either genuinely scarce or birds are being missed. ] 

Yellow Wagtail                                                   Motacilla flava 
Passage migrant
2 April 15th, 11 May 5th., 1 May 11th, 4 September 11th. 3 September 17th.
No other taxa than M. [ f. ] flavissimma were recorded. 
[ The disturbance factor came into play again with this species. Although no birds were recorded last year, and there is a general contraction of range occurring, Yellow Wagtail still probably breed in the general area. Yellow Wagtail are the 'Herring Gull' of passerines and a concerted effort is being made to try and sort out what is, and what isn't, a 'full' species. Consensus seems to be close regarding Blue-headed M. flava, Yellow M. [ f. ] flavissimma, Egyptian M. [ f ] pygamaea and Black-headed M. [ f. ] feldegg but with 18 - 20 taxa generally accepted within the super-species it could be some time ( a la Capt. Oates ) before a final decision is reached as the decision rests with the B.O.U]

Grey Wagtail                                                         M. cinerea 
Scarce winter visitor
1 recorded on 31 dates up to April 28th. 3 overhead February 27th. Single March 16th, May 12th, September 30th. 2 October 20th., 21st., 25th, 28th. A single female was present from November 5th. to the end of the month but was rather secretive after the first week.
[This was the highest number of records for this species since the wardening began. It's just a pity that the vast majority were of the single female, from last year, that wintered around the Natterjack enclosures.]

White Wagtail                                                      M. alba 
Passage migrant
First recorded :- 3 March 27th.
Peak count :- 6 April 2nd. and 19th. September 9th.
Last recorded : - 2 September 23rd.
[ Another possible / probable 'split' in the making. Much work has been done on the White / Pied Wagtail group, mainly regarding the far eastern taxa, and in view of very limited hybridisation, vocalisations and slight, but consistent, habitat differences between alba and yarrelli the latter may be elevated to 'full' species level. An extremely poor year again, for the nominate taxon, on site but reports from Hoylake seemed to indicate very large numbers passing through the North Wirral this spring.] 

Pied Wagtail                                                       M. [ a ] yarrelli 
Peak number 1st. winter period :- 3 February 25th.
Peak count for year :- 22 October 2nd.
Peak number 2nd. winter period :- 14 November 23rd.
[The overall total of birds recorded during the first winter period was 11, which was phenomenal. We have noted that many in a day in previous years! Yet again, as with many other species, Hoylake Langfields were the place to be.]

Winter Wren                                                        Troglodytes troglodytes 
Present throughout.
[ Like many small, common, resident passerines presence was noted but no actual figures were reported. The editor wonders if the dearth in recording 'common' species can be traced back to the middle 1980's when Millington et. al. started 'BirdAlert' ( later 'Birdline' ) that fuelled the now massive twitching 'industry'? ]

Hedge Accentor to Blackbird.