1st January 2008
North-East Wales Bird Report 2004 - 2006
Review by Richard Smith.
Articles include Action for Farmland Birds in Conwy by Becky Groves (Conwy Biodiversity Project Officer), Y Craig Nature Reserve by Adrian Lloyd Jones of the North Wales Wildlife Trust, Wildlife Crime in North-East Wales by Sergeant Pete Charleston, Wildlife Liasion Officer, and lastly an article by Anne Brinchley of the BTO about an exciting new project - North Wales Breeding Bird Atlas 2008-2011.
The Clwyd Bird Recording Group are now collecting data for the 2007 North-East Wales Bird report, PLEASE send your records in, see http://www.cbrg.org.uk/5Submitrecords.html for details.
Cheshire and Wirral Bird Report 2006
All the ‘regulars’ are there: ‘Weather and Bird Review of
the Year’; the full ‘Systematic List of Birds Recorded in Cheshire and Wirral
during 2006’, including ‘Category E Species’; ‘Early and Late Dates for
Migrants’; ‘BBRC and County Rarities Decisions’; ‘Ringing Report’;
‘Chairman’s Review’; ‘Database Statistics for 2006’ and finally advice on the
‘Submission of Records’.
We are now collecting data for the 2007 Cheshire and Wirral Bird Report. PLEASE send your records in, see http://www.cawos.org/ for details (click on Records on the left navigation table).
Send a cheque for £4 made out to 'Hilbre Bird Observatory' to:
Radde's Warbler in Wirral
by Colin Jones
Editor: no doubt many of you will remember what a great month October 2007 was - the star bird being the Radde's Warbler described here. This article was first published in the Birding North West magazine and is reproduced here with kind permission of the editors and author. I can highly recommend Birding North West - it is always full of fascinating articles, informed comment and superb photographs, if you subscribe in January you will get 12 issues through the year costing only £24. See the Birding North West website for further details.
After being 'on duty' at the Hilbre Bird Observatory most mornings during
the previous two weeks, I was grateful for the change to migration
unfriendly weather (westerly winds and some rain) to give me a lie in on
16th October, and agreed to give my friend Valerie a lift at 09.30 hrs to
Leasowe Lighthouse where she was helping with the archaeological dig that
has been taking place during the last few weeks.
After giving further views the bird eventually returned to its favoured
grass bank (where it stayed for the rest of the day) and occasionally
climbed through the undergrowth whilst feeding and at times came out and
showed well, especially when at one stage it wrestled with a massive
caterpillar in the open. Distinguishing features were noted from Dusky
Warbler such as a diffuse area in the front part of the supercilium, more
rounded head, prominent eye, very pale legs, stouter stubby bill and
obvious buff under tail coverts. With hindsight the more olive tone to the
wings and mantle rather than any obvious dark brown should have been a
good clue to its identity. In the hours that followed better views and
many photographs were obtained confirming the identification features, and
probably over 100 birders enjoyed good but mainly infrequent sightings up
until 18.30 hrs as the light faded. I had experienced the sort of exciting
day one dreams of while tramping around a local area, although it never
seems to happen. I headed home with a satisfied feeling that others had
also had a good day, but I
never did get that breakfast! Unfortunately the bird disappeared with the
clear overnight sky denying others the chance to see what I am told is the
first Cheshire and Wirral record and also the first mainland
record for the North West region.
Radde's Warbler, Phylloscopus schwarzi, remains an exceptionally rare bird in our region with only four previous records all on Bardsey (see BNW Vol 3: 12 pp320-322) as follows:
Our comment in BNW Vol 3: 12 was rather prophetic "Surely the North West
is long overdue a mainland
A cold spell in the middle of the month brought in a good number of birds, these included this Red-breasted Merganser (left) on West Kirby Marine Lake on 13th (Richard Steel), these peaked at 17 on the 17th together with 22 Goldeneye and a Shag. Up to 1,011 Black-tailed Godwits were seen feeding very close to the beach at Thurstaston during this period - I counted 12 with colour rings on the 22nd. Thurstaston is a great place to see a good selection of estuary birds feeding and roosting at low tide. Pintail are increasingly spending low tide in the gutter here during the winter and I believe 490 counted on 29th is a record high for the site. When the tide first comes up the gutter and they all start floating on the water it is a beautiful sight. Then there are two to three hundred Teal plus the usual Shelduck, Oystercatchers, Redshank, Knot and Curlew - all these often within just a few feet of people walking on the beach. Despite the cold spell mentioned above most of the winter has been mild which probably explains the presence of over-wintering Greenshank with singles observed at Heswall, Connah's Quay, Point of Ayr and West Kirby, there has also been a Common Sandpiper at Connah's Quay. Another indication of the mild winter was the presence of a very late Swallow at Meols on the 11th, this must surely be the latest ever bird recorded for Wirral although one was seen last year on the 20th in Cheshire.
Hen Harriers have been a bit thin on the ground this winter but there was one ringtail seen regularly this month over Parkgate and Burton marshes, one over Hilbre on 18th was probably an additional one. Marsh Harriers are increasingly spending the winter in this country although mostly in the south, two have taken up residence on the marshes here this winter - the first December birds since one which spent a week here in 2002. The usual Peregrines and Merlins have been around often giving the usual spectacular views as they chase the wader flocks. One of the Rangers was attending a bonfire at Wirral Country Park (Thurstaston) when he heard an Oystercatcher screaming it's head off. Looking up he saw it hanging by one leg in the clutches of a Peregrine. Next minute a Common Buzzard has a go at the Peregrine which dropped the Oystercatcher which then fell down and into a bush. 30 minutes later the Oystercatcher was seen to fly out and arrow back to the estuary as fast as it could fly! A lucky escape.
It has been a better winter than last for Short-eared Owls with two to three observed regularly on Burton Marsh. Two have also been at Inner Marsh Farm with singles over Hilbre and Red Rocks Marsh. The one on the right was photographed by Richard Steel at Burton on 17th.
A pair of Long-tailed Ducks were off Hilbre on calm seas on 18th and 19th, a male was still present at the end of the month. At least 100 Brent Geese flew on to West Kirby Shore from Hilbre on 29th, but most counts were between 70 and 90. The drake Green-winged Teal at Inner Marsh Farm was seen regularly through the month. 59 Moorhen at or near Gilroy Nature Park, West Kirby, was a good count and must mean they had a good breeding season. A Kingfisher was seen a couple of times along the nearby River Birket. Five Snow buntings were at Point of Ayr on 12th and I only heard recently that three were present on the beach at Thurstaston for a couple of days in November. The horse paddocks just inland of Heswall Shore (next to Target Road) have been full of Blackbirds (at least 30) and Song Thrushes (at least 26). Eight Stonechat next to the path between Denhall Lane and Neston Old Quay was a good total on Christmas Day. A Firecrest was a nice find in West Kirby on the 15th.
What to expect in January
Brent Geese numbers usually peak in January and we would expect over 100 again, as in the previous two winters. Some Januarys we can get spectacular movements overhead of Pink-footed Geese as birds move between north Norfolk and Lancashire. Last Jan we had several thousand going through over a period of three days, a spectacular sight for those lucky enough to see it. We have long had a flock of over wintering Bewick's Swans on Burton Marsh and nearby fields, some years over 100, but in the past couple of winters we have also had a growing flock of Whooper Swans with up to 40 usually spending the day on Shotwick Fields. Rarer wildfowl may include a Smew at Inner Marsh Farm or an Eider or two off Hilbre, and hopefully the Long-tailed ducks will stay around.
A cold spell should bring in large numbers of waders with flocks of Knot in particular making for a spectacular sight at their high tide roosts at Hoylake, West Kirby or Point of Ayr, or feeding at low tide at Leasowe or off Thurstaston on Dawpool Bank. A good spot to see Knots feeding is next to Meols Promenade, just at the end of Roman Road. Large numbers can sometimes be just a few feet away from people standing on the prom, particularly at half tide. Of the less common waders Purple Sandpipers should be easily seen on Hilbre Island with up to 30 or so and a few are often on the rocks below the lifeguard station at Wallasey Shore at high tide. A few Spotted Redshanks should be about with the Connah's Quay Reserve and Inner Marsh Farm the best sites for these, we may also get one or two over wintering Green Sandpipers.
Towards the end of the month (23rd to 25th) there are some 9.6m high tides forecast so I would recommend the Riverbank Road car park at Heswall to see the birds pushed in over the marsh, hopefully including some Short-eared Owls and a Harrier or two.
Of the smaller birds there is usually a sizable flock of 60 or so Twite around Flint Castle with smaller flocks sometimes on the English side. Look out also for Snow Buntings, these usually favour the beach at Point of Ayr or along the North Wirral coast.
Many thanks go to Richard Steel, Steve Oakes, David Thompson, Mark Evans, Neil McLaren, Alan Price, Paul Vautrinot, Barry Cooke, Peter Button, Rob O'Keefe, David Esther, Geoff Harrop, Tanny Robinson, John Kirkland, David Haigh, John Jakeman, Iain Douglas, Graham Thompson, Allan Conlin, Colin Wells, Dave Wild, Graham Jones, Steve Round, Paul Mason, Steve Williams, Dave Edwards, Chris Butterworth, Jeff Stephens, Jane Turner, Gordon Baker, Charles Farnell, Alan Wraithmell, Paul Shenton, Alan Price, Gilbert Bolton, Dave Kenyon, Damian Waters, Bob Pilgrem, Mark Gibson, Leon Castell, Colin Schofield, Yvonne Taylor, John Tubb, Paul Roberts, Mark O'Sullivan, Gill Moore, Phil Woollen, Stuart Taylor, Geoff Robinson, Martin Kelly, Jean Morgan, Colin Davies, Bernard Machin, Nigel Young, Steven Edwards, the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens and the Hilbre Bird Observatory for their sightings during December. All sightings are gratefully received.
Spring Tides (Liverpool),
Forthcoming Events (organised by the
Wirral Ranger Service,
Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):
Sunday 20th January 2.30pm start, Parkgate Raptor Watch RSPB
Dee Estuary Reserve.
26th & 27th January: RSPB / Ness Gardens Event - 10am - 4.00pm
Sunday 27th January, 10am 12noon, Birds in the Bush.
Saturday 9th February, 10.30am start,
Sunday 10th February - 11:30am start. Meet the Wardens
Event at West Kirby Beach.
Thursday 14th February, 10am 12noon, What Birds Fly
NOTE: Many of these forthcoming events are extracted from the 'Birdwatchers Diary 2008', 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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