After several months of hardly anything except
Species Spotlights in these Newsletters I thought I'd start the year
with something a bit lighter with a photo 'competition'. Except it's
not really a competition but a selection of bird photographs which, for
one reason or another, particularly appeal to me. I did set myself some
rules - 1. The photographs must have appeared on this deeestuary.co.uk website, 2. A
photographer could only appear once and 3. A species could only appear
They are in random order and I don't have
a particular favourite from these ten, but let me know if you do have a
favourite and if I get a good number of votes I may well publish the
winner next month: email -
Also if there is a photograph which has appeared in this website which hasn't made this Top Ten but which you think desreves to let me know. Over the years I have been sent many dozens of superb photographs all of which could easily have made this top ten.
Hope you enjoy them.
Marsh Harrier silhouetted against the evening sky whilst dropping into Neston Reed bed. Photographer Richard Steel.
These days Marsh Harriers can be seen every day
flying over the Dee Estuary marshes and have now started to breed here,
in winter they roost in double-figure numbers in the reed beds. But
less than 20 years ago Marsh Harriers were only a scarce passage
migrant and never seen in the winter. Since then their increase this
has been phenomenal - see Marsh
Harriers on the Dee estuary.
Waxwing eating Rowan berries at Parkgate in February 2017. Photographer Michael Davenport.
Waxwings are such exotic looking birds, but more
often than not they choose some very unexotic locations to feed often
seeking out berry trees in places such as Supermarket car parks and
Retail Parks. We've been very lucky this century to have had several
large irruptions including the winter of 2012/13 when they were
seemingly everywhere. See Species
Spotlight - Waxwings.
Immature Herring Gull with Starfish on Leasowe
Shore, Photographer Charles Farnell.
This was one of many thousands of gulls in Leasowe
Bay feeding on a starfish wreck in November 2015. We can get
spectacular numbers of gulls when a wreck occurs. These large numbers
usually occur after storms which result in wrecks of various sea
creatures including starfish and razorshells. The largest gathering of
gulls I recall was in early 2013 when 20,000 Herring Gulls were counted
off Hilbre and 10,000 along north Wirral. High tides at Hoylake were a
spectacular sight that year.
Black-tailed Godwits at Gilroy 'Scrape' in September 2016, Photographer Richard Smith.
I hope you'll indulge me including one of my own
photographs. Before it was drained Gilroy scrape was one of the most
important post-breeding moulting sites in the country for this species,
it's good that they have found an alternative site at nearby Caldy
Wildfowl Collection. The photograph really needs to be seen full screen
to get all the detail - either click on the photo or click here
to view a larger version. This was taken early morning when the sun
was just rising over the houses on Gilroy Road backlighting all the
Leach's Petrel off north Wirral, Photographer Steve Round.
Purple Sandpiper at Hilbre, Photographer Matt Thomas.
The purple on Purple Sandpipers is very subtle, I only have two photographs in my collection which show this colour - both are by Matt. See Species Spotlight - Purple Sandpiper (which has four great photographs taken by Matt).
Top of Page
I have just read Bob Hughes' 65-page FROM THE
NOTEBOOKS OF A YOUNG WIRRAL BIRDWATCHER - A LIGHT-HEARTED LOOK BACK TO
THE 1950s AND 60s. Many of you may remember Bob as a nature
reporter with the Liverpool Daily Post and BBC Radio Merseyside from
2001 - 2005 before retiring to his allotment on Bidston Hill.
It is a really good read and I can certainly recommend it. There is a lot about the early days of Hilbre Island Bird Observatory and school birdwatching trips to Frodsham, Burton, Delamere Forest and further afield. It tells of some of the (humorous) disasters such as camping on the floating bog at Hatchmere, as well as the 'glory days' of spotting a Red-backed Shrike at Frodsham and the first Cheshire Sooty Shearwater from Hilbre.
If you would like to receive a copy, please ring Bob on 0151 652 7707. The booklet is free of charge but any contributions towards costs would be appreciated.
Above review first published in CAWOS Bird News No.
115 (October 2020). I've also read this booklet and can thoroughly
recommend it. Richard Smith.
We don't get many colour ringed Curlews on the Dee Estuary but in November we had two. Both were ringed in Finland but unfortunately we don't have details of the one in the photo, here is the history of the other one.
FAC on white ring:
Ringed in July 2017 in western Finland as a juvenile.
It spent it's first summer on the Dee Estuary being recorded on Heswall Shore in June and July 2018.
It was again at Heswall in April 2019 and November 2020.
2TSC on yellow ring.
Ringed at Pitsea Landfill Site in Essex in March 2017.
First seen on West Kirby shore in July 2017 since when it has been recorded at least 25 times in West Kirby including four times in December 2020. It's favourite spot is the pontoon on West Kirby Marine Lake. Since it was ringed it has never been recorded away from West Kirby.
Ringed in Poland at Skoki Duze on the River Vistula NW of Warsaw in June 2019.
Recorded at both Moreton and Kerr's field, Leasowe, in December 2020.
Ringed at Sandgeroi beach, SW Iceland, in May 2016.
Formby in August and September 2017.
Sandgeroi beach, SW Iceland in May 2018.
Formby in July and October 2019, and at Crosby February 2020.
Ainsdale in August 2020.
Hoylake on 18/12/2020.
Note the red rings have faded so they now look
Yellow over Blue
ring inscribed with T3.
Ringed at Dawlish Warren, Exe Estuary (Devon) in November 2018.
It was recorded several times at the ringing site in the winter of 2018/19, last seen there 5/5/2019.
This bird must breed in Dundalk Bay, Irleland, where it was seen in June 2019 and September 2020.
Recorded at Thurstaston on 26/11/2020.
Colour-rings were recorded by Richard Smith, Steve
Hinde, Matt Thomas, Ken McNiffe, Rob Bithell, Tim Kinch, Colin
Schofield, Allan Hitchmough, Carole Killikelly, Sean O'Hara and Les
Plenty of waders on the estuary and the Hoylake spring tides mid-month were spectacular with a settled and largely undisturbed wader roost. When we did our low tide WeBS count early in the month there were 30,000 Knot on Dawpool Bank off Thurstaston with similar numbers of Oystercatchers. Numbers of Dunlin are probably around 15,000 for the estuary/north Wirral.
There were two grey male Hen Harriers giving great
views through the month, and plenty of photos taken! Also at least two
ringtails, max count of Marsh Harriers was six which is a bit lower
than the previous two winters - perhaps they are a bit more dispersed
Four Snow Bunting were seen on Little Eye on the 26th when four were spotted by Leasowe Lighthouse two days later we assumed they were the same ones, until somebody reported four were still at Little Eye. The following day the two flocks joined up and we saw the eight at both Leasowe and Hoylake, it's been a good few years when we last had a flock of that size and I'll be writing an article about them next month with all the details.
Other good birds was an out of season Osprey on the
2nd over Parkgate, and a Glaucous Gull and Little Stint at Burton Mere
Wetlands. A Bittern was recorded regularly flying into Neston Reed Bed
at dusk and Goosanders which reached a max count of 15 on West Kirby
Marine Lake. The month ended with a Velvet Scoter and Eider off Hilbre.
With large numbers of Knot and Dunlin on the estuary, and a good number of Sanderlings, the high tides at Hoylake should produce a spectacular display during the high tides mid-month.
West Kirby Marine Lake is certainly worth a visit with Brent Geese, Goosanders, Red-breated Mergansers and Goldeneye on show, particularly during a cold windless spell. Look out for also for rock Pipits on the sea-wall below the promenade. On the higher tides, particularly during a storm, the pontoon at New Brighton Marine Lake is one of the most reliable sites in north-west England to see Purple Sandpipers.
A cold icy spell may well bring in large numbers of
birds onto the marshes including Short-eared Owls, thousands of
Pink-footed Geese as well as big flocks of smaller birds such as
Skylarks and various finches.
Also see Tides page.
14th January, 11.48hrs (GMT), 9.6m.
15th January, 12.30hrs (GMT), 9.6m.