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

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Systematic list -               
Red-throated Diver to Gannet.
Cormorant to Brent Goose.
Shelduck to Long-tailed Duck.
Common Scoter to Merlin.
Barbary Falcon to Knot (below).
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.

Barbary Falcon                   Falco peregrinus pelegrinoides


On May 21st 2001, we spent almost two hours watching what appeared to be adult female Barbary Falcon on the beach in front of the house. In the air it was indistinguishable from Peregrine jizz-wise, though there were several plumage features that just did not fit. It is also possible that was some grotesque falconers hybrid Lanner x Peregrine or perhaps a bit of Merlin.


Peregrine                              Falco peregrinus

Scarce migrant and winter visitor
One of the real joys of our new house has been the opportunity to watch this species more or less every day and three and even four different individuals have been seen in one day. An adult female, presumably a failed breeder spent much of the late spring and summer 2000 sat on the driest parts of the beach, often on kills. She was joined by an adult male on many dates. Sadly on May 22nd we found a second adult male on the beach, freshly dead from what appeared to be a head injury. Whether this came from a misjudged stoop or an attack from the resident birds will remain open to question. On Jul 27th, the usual female was perched on a large log, which had become stranded by the previous tide. It sat there unperturbed as the water surrounded it and drifted afloat for a few hundred meters before taking off. On Sept 4th2000, two immature males and an adult male spent about ten minutes harassing the female as she sat on stranded car tyre.

Feral pigeons seem to be the favoured prey species, with several taken from the largish flock, which has built up in our attempts to attract Finches with seed. Late in the year, a male developed an interesting strategy for catching Knot. This involved a ground level surprise attack though our garden and over the promenade, straight into the roosting waders. The approach worked three days running! On Mar 24th 2001 we watched a female drag a large corpse ahead of the incoming tide. Eventually it lost out to the water and reluctantly left it behind. Later the same day a headless Woodcock corpse was dropped onto the promenade! In September 2001 one bird developed a taste for Leach's Petrels and was seen to take six in a 20 minute period, leaving one corpse to catch another as they went past across the beach. It was possibly this bird that was seen landing on the wreck, 2.4 nautical miles offshore on Sept 17th.

There were no records between Jan 12th 2001 and Mar 14th 2001, presumably while the birds returned to their breeding sites to display. Similarly this species became scarce at the end of 2001, with just two records after Oct 28th.


Red-legged Partridge                       Alectoris rufa

Scarce local resident
One appeared on the garden wall the morning of Feb 15th 2001, causing MGT to splutter several expletives through his cereal. It remained for a few hours, even singing at one point. One of the more surprising records in the garden so far, bearing in mind the date and the distance from the nearest known population or release site.


Pheasant                                       Phasianus colchicus

Common widespread feral resident
One was heard calling from the Hoylake fields on the morning of May 7th 2001. There is only one previous record of this species at Red Rocks, though there is a tiny breeding population in the Hoylake market gardens.


Oystercatcher                         Haemamtopus ostralegus

Abundant winter visitor, fairly common in summer.
Present in every month. 3500 on Oct 11th and 2000 on Dec 12th 2000 were the largest counts while 275 on Jul 30th were the first evidence of return passage. 

On Sept 30th 2000 three exhausted birds were cut off by the incoming tide and were forced to swim ashore. We rescued one of these and after a few hours drying out and warming up it was able to fly back out onto the beach. It was ringed on the Faroe Islands 12 years earlier.


Ringed Plover                      Charadrius hiaticula

Uncommon winter visitor and common autumn migrant.


Present in every month, though absent between Jun 11th and Jul 29th 2000 and May 29th to Jul 30th 2001. Passage birds were evident in spring with 150 on several dates in late May 2000. A marked increase was noted in August 2000, with 75 on Aug 6th, increasing to 341 on Aug 11th, 775 by Aug 13th and the record count so far, 1200 on Aug 31st. Very small numbers were present throughout the winter, with 51 on Jan 31st 2001 the highest count. 

Records in 2001 were similar, with 1000 on Sept 3rd the autumn passage peak.


Golden Plover                           Pluvialis apricaria

Common winter visitor and migrant. Scarce migrant at Red Rocks
One flew west on Oct 2nd2000.


Grey Plover                               Pluvialis squatarola

Common winter visitor and migrant


In 2000 absent between May 23rd, when there were 45 summer-plumaged birds on the beach and Jul 7th. In 2001 last recorded on May 3rd with return noted from Jul 8th.

Monthly maxima


Jan Feb Mar  Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
- - - - 45 0 3 71 40 490 5 800


Jan Feb Mar  Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
500 120 - 250 3 0 20 69 275 1000 1500 300

The record of 1500 on Nov 4th 2001 was an exceptionally high count for the area.


Lapwing                                Vanellus vanellus

Very common winter visitor and migrant.
First recorded on Sept 7th when a single was noted. 45 flew west on Oct 22nd and 11 were seen on Nov 25th. This species frequently roosts on the east end of the East Hoyle bank off Meols and presumably these birds were disturbed from there. Freezing conditions at the year-end brought immediate weather movements, with 27 west on Dec 28th and 85 the following day.


Knot                                         Calidris canutus

Very common winter visitor and migrant
Recorded in every month, though absent between June 2nd and Jul 28th 2000 except from a straggler on Jun 30th. In 2001 absent from May 7th to Oct 28th, though we were away for most of August.

Monthly maxima:


Jan Feb Mar  Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
- - - - 150 35 3 25 1.7M 12M 4M 10M


Jan Feb Mar  Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
7M 1.8M 3M 1.7M 75 0 0 nc nc 75 12M 10M

Sanderling to Black-tailed Godwit.