Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima
At least three of
the Purple Sandpipers present at Wallasey/New
Brighton, where there have been up to 13 birds reported during
November 2004, have Hilbre colour-rings. These birds were ringed at
Hilbre in the winter of 2000/01. It has
long been thought that Hilbre birds move between the island and North
Wirral during the winter and ringed birds have been seen there in the
past, but recent winter sightings of colour-ringed birds have proved this
beyond doubt. It will be interesting to monitor the numbers of birds
moving between the two sites and the timing of these movements to
determine how important the North Wirral site is for feeding and roosting
of the Purple Sandpipers.
This article first appeared in Volume 1 No. 11 of Birding North West and reproduced here with kind permission of Chris Williams and CAW Birding.
Editor: Note also the Black-tailed Godwit ringing scheme, several ringed birds have been seen on the Dee Estuary over the past couple of years. Two percent of the population have been ringed so we should have 50-100 on the estuary.
Birdwatcher's Diary 2005
Welcome to the 2005 Birdwatcher’s Diary for the Dee and Mersey Estuary region. The diary is a partnership between the RSPB, Countryside Ranger Services and other local wildlife groups. We hope you enjoy the packed programme of events we have lined up for you.
Last year’s highlights were the monthly Raptor Watches at Parkgate, with a stunning male hen harrier putting in a welcome appearance last November. In June, on the second Orchid Spectacular at Inner Marsh Farm the group were lucky enough to discover bee and pyramidal orchids, the first records for the reserve! So you never know what you might see.
In this year’s 2005 diary we have introduced several new events including ‘Egrets and wine’ where you can help count the little egrets with the staff as they come in to roost at Inner Marsh Farm, and then afterwards relax with some cheese and wine. There is also the welcome return of ‘Shore Birds at Shorefields’ to help promote this lesser known site on the Mersey Estuary.
Thank you for supporting our events, and I look forward to meeting you all soon.
Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service), 12th
4 Great Crested Grebe, 6 Cormorant, 9 Canada Goose, 1,690 Shelduck, 7 Wigeon, 857 Teal, 78 Mallard, 882 Pintail, 19 Scaup, 17 Red-breasted Merganser, 1 Water Rail, 8,740 Oystercatcher, 361 Golden Plover, 600 Lapwing, 462 Dunlin, 15 Snipe, 342 Black-tailed Godwit, 953 Curlew and 930 Redshank. Note that 8,000 Shelduck, 2,000 Lapwing, 30,000 Knot, 2,000 Dunlin and 2,000 Curlew had been seen during the previous week - either at high or low tide. Also 70 Black-headed Gull, 17 Common Gull, 8 Lesser black-backed Gull, 31 Herring Gull, 6 Great Black-backed Gull, 1 Merlin, 2 Peregrine and 4 Hen Harriers (Harriers all in view together - 3 ring-tail and 1 grey male).
Connah's Quay and
Flint - (Kindly provided by
Deeside Naturalists' Society)
Count from West Kirby Shore
provided by the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens,
date of max December count in brackets).
December Bird News
Geese increased steadily through the month ending up with a record 60,
they are all of the pale-bellied race (Branta bernicla hrota). If
you want to see these birds then
Island at low tide is best, try and get over early morning if possible. At
high tide they are usually on Little Eye,
although infuriatingly they prefer the side hidden from view from the
shore! Sometimes they fly down to Heswall
and can be seen floating on the sea just off the marsh, or over to the
Point of Ayr where they join the wader
roost. Other notable wildfowl were 85 Bewick's and 10 Whooper Swan on
Flint Marshes, and both a drake and female Smew at different times at
Inner Marsh Farm where there was also a
drake Green-winged Teal. There was a report of 70 Little Egrets coming to
roost at Burton, another high for the
This is a good year for Waxwings across the country and we have had our share here, although so far each flock has only stayed a short time in our area. Over 100 at Ewloe (near Queensferry) was the largest number.
I visited Leasowe shore a couple of times during the month and numbers of waders seem to be a bit down from the last few years. I also noticed that the shore here seemed noticeable sandier this winter, probably as a result of the September gales, and this could explain the low numbers of waders which prefer mud to feed on. In contrast there have been good numbers of birds in the estuary proper with large flocks of Knot and Oystercatchers off Thurstaston at low tide, and counts of waders at the high tide roost on West Kirby Shore are showing a definite improvement after three poor years. Two Spotted Redshanks at West Kirby and Hoylake were somewhat unexpected as this species usually prefer more fresh water or marshy habitats.
Five Hen Harriers, including a stunning adult male, coming in to roost just off Parkgate were the star birds for most people this month. Eight Short-eared Owls seen flying over Burton Marsh was also a fine sight. As usual there have been plenty of Peregrines around and I saw one hunting through a flock of over 25,000 waders at Hoylake making for a spectacular sight in a near gale.
What to expect in January
January is a bit of an unpredictable month regarding waders - some years we get massive numbers, whilst other years are very poor. But if there is a cold spell, specially around the North Sea coasts, expect large flocks of Knot - may be as many as 50,000 roosting on Hoylake shore. Cold weather should also bring in plenty of Lapwings with 8,000 or so making a spectacular sight on Burton Marsh. The much rarer Spotted Redshank often have a mid-winter peak of about 10 birds, best seen at Inner Marsh Farm or the Connah's Quay reserve. Purple Sandpipers should also increase during the month with about 20 to 30 on Hilbre and 10 to 20 along the North Wirral coast.
We've already had record numbers of Brent Geese on Hilbre Island this winter but if they follow the normal pattern they will continue to increase during the month - so may be as many as 70?? And to think seven was the norm only a few years ago! Strong westerly winds might bring in good numbers of Great Crested Grebes and Red-throated Divers, best seen around Hilbre or off Point of Ayr.
Flocks of Pink-footed Geese often pass through in January. A hundred or so are usually on Burton Marshes but large flocks heading north-west will most likely be on their way from Norfolk to South Lancashire. Bewick's Swans build up to over a hundred birds, sometimes difficult to see way out in the middle of the marshes.
Many thanks go to Ray Roberts, Bernard Machin, Steve Williams, Chris Butterworth, Martyn Jaimeson, Mark O'Sullivan, Phil Woollen, David Wilde, Allan Conlin, Steve Ainsworth, David Banbury, Mike Hart, David Esther, Steve Renshaw, 'Eric', John Kirkland, Allan Hewitt, Pete Rogers, David Banbury, Nigel Troup, Bryan joy, Frank Huband, Andy Coxen, John Campbell, Richard Hurst, Clive James, Colin Schofield, Roger Morgan, Jean Morgan, the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens and the Hilbre Bird Observatory for their sightings during December. All sightings are gratefully received.
January Highest Spring Tides,
12th January, 12:30hrs 9.8m. Times GMT.
13th January, 13:18hrs 9.8m.
Forthcoming Events (organised by the
Wirral Ranger Service,
Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):
Sunday 9th January, 8:30am, Seaducks and Shorebirds.
Sunday 23rd January, 3:00pm Parkgate
Thursday 10th February 11:00am Parkgate
Note: Many of these forthcoming events are extracted from the 'Birdwatchers Diary 2005', which covers both the Dee and Mersey regions. Hard copies available from the visitor centre at Thurstaston, Wirral Country Park 0151 648 4371.
All material in this newsletter, and indeed the whole web site, has been written by myself, Richard Smith, unless specified.
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