The Hoylake “Bird Observatory” Bird Report for 2000-1

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Systematic list - 
Red-throated Diver to Gannet (below).
Cormorant to Brent Goose.
Shelduck to Long-tailed Duck.
Common Scoter to Merlin.
Barbary Falcon to Knot.
Sanderling to Black-tailed Godwit.
Bar-tailed Godwit to Grey Phalarope.
Pomarine Skua to Corn Bunting will be published in the April 2002 Newsletter.

The status line included for each species is adapted from the Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society's bird report. PLEASE NOTE: The original report had histograms showing the pattern of occurrence by half month over a five-year period at nearby Red Rocks (less than a mile away), they showed numbers which where the accumulated total for those five years. These where included in order to give a context to the records. Unfortunately in order to save space I have had to delete these graphs, if you would like to have the original report sent to you please contact me (click on e-mail on home page).

*[The data are distorted by observer activity, greatest in April, May, September and October and patchy November to February and by frequency of recording observations; i.e all Whimbrel are logged but only occasional counts of Curlew were made historically]

County-wide maxima

Rare 1-5
Very scarce 6-10
Scarce 11-100
Uncommon 101-500
Fairly Uncommon 501-1000
Common 1001-5000
Very common 5001-25000
Abundant >25000

Red-throated Diver                    Gavia stellata

Scarce winter visitor
One to five recorded regularly between Sept 9th 2000 and May 7th 2001 on most days when we looked at the sea for any length of time then again from Sept 2nd 2001 until the year end. Ten on Oct 22nd 2000 and fifteen on Oct 24th 2000 were by far the largest counts.


Black-throated Diver                Gavia arctica

Very scarce winter visitor
Presumably the same adult in winter plumage was present on Oct 12th and Nov 11th. On the former date it flew back and forth several times before splashing down in front of the black and yellow buoy HE2. A summer plumaged bird was off Bird Rock on May 6th 2001 and there were further singles on Sept 15th 2001 and Oct 28th 2001


Great Northern Diver                      Gavia immer

Very scarce winter visitor


One sat on the sea in calm conditions on Oct 1st. Presumably also present the day before when we had a large diver spp. drifting looming in and out of the fog on the incoming tide.


Great-crested Grebe                   Podiceps cristatus

Fairly common resident and migrant
First recorded on Jul 2nd, though there were no further records until 28th September. Then recorded more or less whenever we looked at the sea, with odd birds right though May 2001 and a single on Jun 23rd. The highest counts tend to coincide with calm conditions, when birds were easier to pick up on the sea. 35-40 recorded from October through to January 2001. 79 on Feb 13th 2001 was a definite increase and beats the previous highest count for the Red Rocks recording area, 58 on 15th Nov 1993.

One was stranded on the beach on Oct 29th 2000.


Small Grebe spp.

A small grebe, most likely a Slavonian Grebe flew west on Dec 22nd 2001. Unfortunately it was just a bit too far out to be 100% certain of the identity.


Fulmar                                Fulmarus glacialis

Uncommon but regular offshore, rare in winter
Recorded regularly from when we moved in until Sept 9th 2000 then again from Apr 7th 2001 until Sept 15th 2001. 52 west on May 29th and 40 on Jun 23rd were the largest movements of the first spring, with 5 to 20 more typical. Strong NW winds in autumn brought upwards of 30 on a number of occasions, this species being one of the most consistent marker species for "good" seabird passage days as opposed to feeding movements within Liverpool Bay. The record counts so far came in strong NW winds on Apr 7th 2001 when around 65 moved west on the evening tide, and in mid September 2001, when a series of strong NW winds brought excellent sea-watching conditions; 240 on Sept 8th and 138 on Sept 15th. This just beat the Red Rocks record of 237 on Sept 3rd 1979. 

We were "prospected" on May 26th and again on June 8th!


Sooty Shearwater                        Puffinus griseus

Rare, irregular autumn migrant
One flew East at 17:00hrs ahead of a huge squall then West at about 17:15hrs on Sept 7th 2000.

Manx Shearwater                     Puffinus puffinus

Uncommon Coastal migrant


Recorded very regularly from May 17th until Sept 12th 2000. We made several large counts in early summer; 489 west on June 6th in a two hour evening seawatch, included 100 in view at once. This beats our previous record count from Red Rocks, however this was smashed again on June 23rd when we recorded 720, again moving west at a maximum rate equivalent to more than 1000 per hour. Birds were visible on most evenings through the summer where absence of heat haze allowed, though no counts bigger than 15 were made.

In 2001 we recorded our first birds on April 7th 15th, when 14 moved west and there were ten on Apr 15th 2001. April records are very unusual in Cheshire. Birds were recorded throughout the summer, though less frequently in 2000. 100 on May 29th and 150 the following day were the largest counts of the spring/summer. Gales in September brought some large counts including 235 on Sept 7th. At least 30 of these flew across the wet beach, presumably having followed the gutter inside the East Hoyle Bank on the dropping tide.

Our last record of the year came on Sept 15th when 17 moved west.


Leach's Petrel                           Oceanodroma leucorhoa

Scarce autumn coastal migrant
In 2000 first recorded on Sept 7th, when fourteen birds moved west in the evening at low tide in almost calm conditions. Small numbers were recorded occasionally afterwards, associated with strong NW winds, until Oct 26th. 

A series of gales in September 2001 brought excellent numbers of this species. In all we logged 483 between Sept 3rd and Sept 16th, with 147 on Sept 15th and 165 on Sept 16th the highest day counts. As with Manx Shearwater we saw a large number of Leach's Petrels cross the beach at low tide and even had one over the garden. 

One of the local Peregrines developed a habit of killing petrels that came ashore, taking six in 20 minutes on the evening of Sept 14th.


Gannet                                  Morus bassanus

Uncommon but regular coastal visitor
Recorded very regularly from when we moved in until Nov 1st and again from Mar 23rd 2001 until Nov 4th. In 2000 spring passage peaked on May 29th, when 158 moved west. 

In 2001 the largest early year count was of 95 on Apr 22nd. In autumn 2000, 350 moved west in an hour on Sept 9th with a count of 420 in total. In 2001 numbers were generally lower, with counts mostly in the 40s to 60s.

Cormorant to Brent Goose.