The Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens Bird Report  2001

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Systematic list - 
Red-throated Diver to Shag.
Bittern to Brent Goose (below)
Shelduck to Common Scoter.
Velvet Scoter to Osprey.
Merlin to Grey Plover.
Lapwing to Bar-tailed Godwit.
Whimbrel to Great Skua.
Mediterranean Gull to Reed Bunting will be published in the July 2002 Newsletter.

Great Bittern                                        Botaurus stellaris 
1 in flight between West Kirby and the islands August 21st.
[The first for the wardens and a welcome one. Although what with one of the largest breeding populations in Britain is just to the north of us, and regular wintering probably taking place on the estuary, it is most uncommon to see a Bittern moving between sites. Another bird was seen in flight over Hoylake Langfields on August 8th.]

Little Egret                                             Egretta garzetta 
Formerly a vagrant
Singles April 7th, August 4th., 15th., 18th., 20th., 1 August 21st. off Little Eye, 2 May 23rd. and September 2nd, 2 briefly in wader roost September 3rd. 1 on Little Eye September 9th. All birds in flight unless stated.

[After much waiting the wardens finally recorded their first Little Egret, and then the flood gates opened! Although they can be considered almost resident higher up the estuary, the only previous records from the mouth are of one in 1989 at the Point of Air and the first for Red Rocks + Hilbre in 1990. This summer saw the first breeding record for Cheshire and in November there were up to 21 birds reported coming into roost at Burton, three times the previous peak.]

Grey Heron                                   Ardea cinerea 
Scarce resident
The highest multiple counts were 7 on Little Eye July 20th., 7 on West Kirby shore September 18th. and 6 November 3rd.
[ Although regular on the shore Grey Heron were fairly scarce during the first part of the year when the fields in North Wirral were flooded and numbers of Heron recorded on these were far higher than normal. This is another species that occurs in Nationally Important numbers on the Dee.]

Mute Swan                                            Cygnus olor 
Rare visitor
6 in flight over West Kirby shore February 7th. 2 Marine Lake October 11th. 1 off Red Rocks October 28th.
[There is a small herd of Mute Swan on the marshes on the upper reaches of the estuary but they are very scarce at the mouth. The reason for this is probably because most movement between the Dee and Mersey takes place overland. A good year for records.]

Swan sp.                                                  Cygnus sp.

4 in flight high over West Kirby shore November 19th.
[Although these birds were probably Mute Swans the possibility of them being one of the ‘wild’ swan spp. cannot be discounted.]

Pink-footed Goose                           Anser brachyrhynchus 
Scarce visitor
85 January 27th, 120 February 23rd, 5 September 25th, 40 November 1st. All in flight over West Kirby shore.
[ With very large numbers just up the coast in SW Lancashire and a regular, small but growing, wintering flock at Burton it is surprising that we do not record this species more often. In the 1960’s flocks of up to 500 were regularly reported in flight off the mouth of the estuary. These were the highest number of birds recorded, in a year, since the start of the Wardening scheme.]

Greylag Goose                                   A. anser
Re-established visitor

2 with Canada Geese August 5th was the only record of the year.
[ With quite a few feral birds in the area it could be expected that Greylags would be recorded more often than they are but, like most waterfowl, they remain very scarce in the wardening area.]

Canada Goose                                    Branta canadensis 
Introduced visitor
August records were 11 on 5th, 3 on 6th. and 23rd, 33 on 24th, September records were 18 on 12th, 43 on 23rd, 2 on 30th. All in flight over West Kirby shore.
[The Dee had the fourth highest count of Canada Goose in Britain in October 1999 and, with numbers still rising, this is reflected in records from the wardening site. This is the greatest number of records, and birds, that have been noted from the site and with up to 100 birds utilising Hoylake Langfields as a night time roost it looks as though there may be many more in future.]

Dark-bellied Brent Goose            B. bernicla 
Scarce winter visitor
The peak count in the first winter period was of 5 February 11th. The first returning bird was 1 October 17th. with a peak of 2 November 12th. Up to 2 birds were reported present until the end of the year but identification was not confirmed.
[ An article describing the status of this and the following taxon on the Dee will feature in a future newsletter within the next two or three months.  The 2 birds in November showed characteristics consistent with hybrid bernicla / nigricans. ]

Pale-breasted Brent Goose       B. [ bernicla ] hrota 
Winter visitor
Peak count 1st. winter period :- 39 throughout January.
Peak count 2nd. winter period :- 27 December 10th.
The first returning birds was 1 October 28th.
[ See above. ]

Shelduck to Common Scoter.