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.
Hedge Accentor to Blackbird.
Fieldfare to Garden Warbler.
Blackcap to Coal Tit (below).
Blue Tit to Chaffinch.
Greenfinch to Reed Bunting.

Blackcap                                                                    S. atricapilla 
Summer visitor and rare resident
2 February 12th was the only record from the first winter period. 'Migrants' noted were 1 March 12th. 3 August 23rd. 2 September 6th. 2 October 4th., 1 October 14th. and 19th. Wintering birds were noted on November 20th ( 2 ), December 2nd. and 19th. (singles). 
[ With the number of central European birds wintering in Britain still increasing, and overlapping with incoming and outgoing migrants, it is difficult to distinguish between wintering and summering populations during migration. The March record was with other migrants so has been taken as the 'first' incoming bird and the end of October has been used as the cut-off for the second migration period.]

Yellow-browed Warbler                                  P. inornata 
County Rarity
1 in poplars at Red Rocks September 30th. ( CB )
[ Although this former national rarity is best regarded as a scarce annual migrant on the east coast it still remains an exceptionally rare vagrant on this side of the country. The sight of this little Siberian gem anywhere in Britain is good enough, but as another first for the wardens it's discovery was doubly so. Other birds were recorded from the general area this year, with one in Hoylake a few days before this record and one on Hilbre October 16th. Awaiting confirmation by CAWOS Rarities Committee.]

Common Chiffchaff                          Phylloscopus collybita 
Passage migrant , rare resident
Singles were noted on January 16th. and 29th. and the first probable migrants were 3 March 24th. 2 on July 27th. were an unusual mid-summer record. Autumn migrants recorded in September, 7 on 6th., which was the peak count for the year, 3 on 12th, 2 on 14th, 1 on 23rd. Single birds were present on December 4th. + 6th.
[ Although many Chiffchaff pass through the site during migration, most birds in the area head straight for Caldy Hill and the Wirral Way as these places have tall trees, an integral part of this species habitat requirements. A bird was noted on April 9th with bright custard yellow undertail coverts and lower belly. Apart from being slightly greener on the upperparts, and this may have been due to reflection from the newly opening Willow buds, all other features accorded with Common Chiffchaff. It has been suggested, by competent local birders, that this was possibly an Iberian Chiffchaff Ph. brehmi but as this taxon is not yet on the British list, and the bird in question was silent, it is best to regard it as an aberration. ] 

Willow Warbler                                     Ph. trochilus 
Passage migrant
First recorded :- March 8th.
Peak count :- c.40 April 10th.
Last recorded :- 4 September 30th.
One was in song intermittently throughout May to July in the poplars at the north end of the site.
[ The first bird of the year was the earliest migrant, by 2 days, for Cheshire and Wirral and may have been one of the overwintering birds from North Wales. Initially it was passed over as an overwintering Chiffchaff, until it sang! The 'fall' on April 10th. was reflected throughout the general area with c. 30 in Ashton Park c.45 in Gilroy NP and 5 in the editors garden. The total must have been much higher as these counts were made in the afternoon. On May 4th a Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus , moving through the grass at the north end of the marsh, was being closely followed by a Willow Warbler. The warblers reaction to the rat was not one of alarm and it was seen to be feeding on insects disturbed by the rats passage. The most well known example of this type of behaviour is by Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis among livestock. Other cases include Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata utilising both Wheatear Oenanthe spp. and Spotted Sandgrouse Pterocles senegallus and Dartford Warbler S. undata with Common Stonechat S. torquata. No case of the above two species acting in this way could be found in a brief search of available literature. Last year the first bird was on April 2nd. and the last were 9 on October 11th.] 

Goldcrest                                                                    Regulus regulus 
Scarce passage migrant and rare winter visitor
3 February 21st, 8 March 9th and 11 on 27th, 15 April 1st, 14 July 27th and 9 on 28th. 7 August 23rd. 2 September 3rd, 7th, 14th, 11 on 21st. an 6 on 29th. 8 October 11th. and 17 on 21st.
[ It was an excellent year in the whole area for Goldcrest. Numbers found around the southern part of West Kirby / Newton, during the first winter period, were well up on previous years and the editor was constantly being asked to identify 'tiny little birds' in gardens by local people. ]

Spotted Flycatcher                                               Muscicapa striata 
Scarce passage migrant
Singles May 4th., 25th. and August 22nd. at Red Rocks were the only records of the year.
[ The general decline of this species continues nationwide. Range contraction, lack of breeding sites and a decline in invertebrates caused by excessive tidiness in both gardens and farmland are probable causes. ]

Pied Flycatcher                                                Ficedula hypoleucos 
Rare passage migrant
1 ( m. ) April 17th. at Red Rocks was the only record for the year. 
[ Another of the western oakwoods specialist's that is inexplicably scarce in the area during passage. Even in the days when it bred in Stapledon Woods annual numbers recorded from the site and Hilbre rarely, if ever, topped 10 birds. The editor used to get almost as many per year in his garden when he lived in Norfolk. There was exceptionally early bird in West Kirby on April 2nd, which constitutes the earliest record for Cheshire and Wirral ]

Long-tailed Tit                                              Aegithalos caudatus 
Scarce visitor
4 July 6th, 9 July 20th, 17 July 27th, 12 August 3rd, 9 September 6th, 5 September 12th. Most records came from Red Rocks.
[ An exceptional year for this species. The birds in July were part of a local movement of warblers and tits that was also noted along the Wirral Way. ] 

Willow Tit                                                           Parus montanus 
1 July 27th. at Red Rocks was the only record for the year.
[ Willow Tit have been recorded from the site in other years, usually in autumn. This bird was probably caught up in the general movement of small birds during the period. ]

Coal Tit                                                                   P. ater 
Scarce visitor
2 July 26th, 7 July 27th, 4 July 29th., 30th., September 19th. and 29th. 18 October 28th. As with most passerines records came mainly from Red Rocks.
[ The mid-summer movement of warblers and tits within the general area contained an unusually high proportion of juvenile Coal Tit. This species seems to be in a period of expansion as, over the past 2 - 3 years they have moved into gardens around the borders of West Kirby and Newton, an area they were never regularly recorded from before. There were at least 15 present along Stanley Road, Hoylake on the morning of September 29th.]

Blue Tit to Chaffinch.