The much loved 'Birdwatchers Diary', last seen in 2006, makes a welcome return this year. It is now an on-line only publication called "Wingspan" and is a diary of birdwatching events for Wirral and the North Wales Coast put together by the Wirral Ranger service and the local RSPB. It is planned to publish it quarterly.
This first edition sees the first Parkgate High Tide Birdwatch events since March 2009, there were no suitable tides during the autumn. There are also the popular Raptor Watches at Parkgate and a series of guided walks at Heswall and Thurstaston, both at high and low tide, and plenty of other events to keep your interest.
To see "Wingspan" click here, it is a PDF file which you can save onto your computer and print out if you so wish.
These events, along with any additions and amendments, will continued to be shown in the Forthcoming Events section of the monthly newsletter on this website (see below).
The annual Bird Report for 2008 will be available from
January 2010. The eye-catching colour front cover this year is of a
juvenile Cuckoo, a particularly charismatic bird. The 184 pages of text
include 12 maps, charts and graphs, and 9 beautiful illustrations from two
different artists. As usual, the colour map of the county forms the centre
spread of the Report. A total of 23 colour photographs, which best capture
some of the highlights of the year, are spread over seven full pages.
As usual, this year’s Bird Report is full of interesting articles. None more so than Gulls at Moore and Richmond Bank - this surely is bird reporting at its best. Other articles include the account of the Black-winged Stilts which attempted to breed in the county for the first time; a White-throated Sparrow at Helsby that nearly ‘got away’; some particularly fascinating behaviour of over-wintering Bitterns at Moore; a review of Cattle Egrets in the county; a look back at Sandbach Flashes where an incredible 40 species of wader have been recorded there; whilst another article recalls the excitement of finding the county’s 15th Rough-legged Buzzard on Wirral. Finally, the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) highlights and lowlights spanning the period 1994-2008 are listed.
Wirral Country Park Recording Group
The Rangers at Wirral Country Park are looking for volunteers to start a comprehensive survey of the Park's flora and fauna.
The results will be used for conservation management plans and research projects.
Joining the Recording Group will bring opportunities for training, taking part in fund raining and is a chance to make a difference to your park.
If you are interested in joining call Ranger Matt Thomas at the Thurstaston Visitor Centre on:
0151 648 4371/3884.
YOUR PARK AND IT'S WILDLIFE NEEDS YOU
Photos by Matt Thomas
The Gannets which featured in November continued on into December with 36 on the 6th, a very good count for winter, but that was the last we saw of them. 215 Great Crested Grebes off Leasowe Lighthouse on the 2nd was the max monthly count, with eight Scaup there the following day.
Brent Geese reached 145 by the 10th then seemed to disperse making counting difficult. There were 450 Pink-footed geese off Parkgate on the 13th, although there was a report of 3,000 there two days later - but these may have been birds passing through. The hundreds of Pintail off Thurstaston at low tide were a great sight all month, particularly when they flighted in as the tide went out. Max count was 1,060 on the 23rd. 60 Shoveler was a good number for Shotwick Boating Lake on the 28th.
Thurstaston was also a great place to see waders at low tide with up to 1,600 Black-tailed Godwit and 20,000 Knot feeding close to the beach. We saw 15 different colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits during the month including three which were ringed as adults in Iceland last summer. A Greenshank was seen in the area a few times and there is also an over wintering one on Meols shore. 22 Purple Sandpipers on the pontoon on New Brighton Marine Lake was a good count. There was an influx of Dunlin during the month with a max count of 12,000 at the high tide roost at West Kirby on the 20th.
There were three Hen Harries on the marshes all month, two females and an immature male, then right at the end of the month an adult 'grey' male was reported. Compared to last winter max counts of 10 Short-eared Owls on Burton Marsh and six off Parkgate might seem poor, but in comparison to most winters these are good numbers.
Brent Geese numbers usually peak this month, and we may well approach 200, or even more. So far this winter we don't appear to have had any dark-bellied birds but we should expect one or two to turn up. Pink-footed Geese numbers on the marshes seem to be increasing every winter, they do tend to be a bit far out but are usually best seen from Neston or Parkgate on a high tide, hopefully we will get at least 500. Much larger numbers are occasionally seen flying through from north Norfolk to their south Lancs stronghold, an amazing sight when hundreds pass over in their V formations.
Wader numbers should be high with large numbers at Hoylake and Point of Ayr at high tide, at low tide Thurstaston can be spectacular with Knot and Black-tailed Godwit feeding close to the beach, and up to a thousand or so Pintail along the gutter nearby. Purple Sandpiper numbers will increase through the month, apart from Hilbre a good spot to see these birds is at high tide on the pontoon on New Brighton Marine Lake.
There are some good tides this month, the first for quite a while (see details below). If there is a strong west wind it could well cover the marsh at Parkgate, otherwise a visit to Riverbank Road, Heswall, should certainly be worthwhile with good views of Short-eared Owls and Hen Harriers expected, as well as the usual wildfowl and waders.
2nd January, 11.57hrs (GMT), 9.7m.
3rd January, 12.45hrs (GMT), 9.8m.
4th January, 13.33hrs (GMT), 9.7m.
31st January, 11.46hrs (GMT), 9.9m.
Organised by the
Wirral Ranger Service ,
Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB:
All these events and walks have bird interest, even those not advertised specifically for birdwatching. No need to book for these events unless specified - please check below.
Also see 'Wingspan', a Diary of Birdwatching Events for Wirral and the North Wales Coast.
Friday 1st January, 9am start, 2010 Bird
Join the Rangers on a birdwatch on Thurstaston Shore, through farmland and along the hedgerows of the Wirral Way to start Wirral Country Park’s 2010 year list. No need to book, meet at the Visitor Centre, Thurstaston.
0151 648 4371.
Sunday 3rd January, 11am start, Marsh
Matters – High tide at Riverbank Road,
Join the Rangers and RSPB Wardens at Riverbank Road car park to watch thousands of birds gathering to roost in the marsh as the tide covers the mudflats of the Dee Estuary. This activity may bring out some hunting raptors. (High tide: 9.8m) Meet at Riverbank Road car park, Lower Heswall.
0151 648 4371
Sunday 10th January, 2.30pm start, Raptor
Watch at the
Old Baths Car Park, Parkgate.
Last year was a record year for numbers of Short-eared Owls and Hen Harriers, other raptors included Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Barn Owl! Join RSPB staff and volunteers to find out about these brilliant birds of prey. Meet at Old Baths Car Park, Parkgate.
0151 336 7681
Friday 15th January, 9am start, Glorious Mud.
There are thousands of waders feeding on the rich mudflats off Thurstaston Shore and numbers of Pintail are starting to build up. Join the Rangers on a birdwatch along this fabulous stretch of beach to get close up views of these special birds. No need to book, meet at the Visitor Centre, Thurstaston. Ring 0151 648 4371 for further info.
Tuesday 26th January, 9.30am start Low tide
A break from the norm!
At low tide thousands of waders and ducks feed on the Dee mudflats. Join the Rangers on a walk along Thurstaston Shore to see them and watch their behaviour and interactions as they feed undisturbed by the tide. No need to book, meet at the Visitor Centre, Thurstaston. Ring 0151 648 4371 for further info.
Saturday 30th January and Sunday 31st January.
Big Garden Birdwatch.
This is a family event held at Ness Botanic Gardens 10am - 4pm (with a guided walk of the gardens 11am and 2pm). There will be a chance for the kids to make a bird feeder, enter a prize draw competition, and watch the birds visiting the feeders - last years birds included crossbills, siskin, nuthatch, goldcrest and great spotted woodpecker. Please ring 0151 353 0123 for details.
Sunday 31st January, 10am start Marsh Matters – High tide at
Riverbank Road, Heswall.
Another chance to witness the high tide action over Heswall Marsh with the Rangers and RSPB Wardens. (High water: 9.9m) No need to book, meet at Riverbank Road car park, Lower Heswall. Ring 0151 648 4371 for further info.
Monday 1st February, 11am start High Tide
(10.1 metres) Join RSPB wardens to watch the tide rise and possibly cover the entire saltmarsh at Parkgate. Keep an eye out for the reserve's usual suspects, such as Short-eared Owls, Hen Harriers and Merlins, as well as hopefully seeing some of the more secretive species of birds and mammals as they are forced out by the rising tide. Meet at Old Baths Car Park, Parkgate. Ring 0151 336 7681 for further info.
Tuesday 2nd February, 11.30am start High Tide at
Parkgate (10.0 metres).
Another chance to join the RSPB Wardens at Parkgate for a birdwatch on a big spring tide that might cover the whole of the saltmarsh. Meet at Old Baths Car Park, Parkgate Ring 0151 336 7681 for further info.
Friday 12th February, 8.30am start Lakeside Special.
Start the day in the company of the Rangers and RSPB for a wildlife walk around the West Kirby Marine Lake. We’ll be looking for wintering Red- breasted Mergansers and Goldeneye fishing on the lake and waders & wildfowl feeding on the shore. Meet at the Morrisons end of South Parade. Ring 0151 678 5488 for further info.
Sunday 14th February, 1.30pm – 3.30pm National Nestbox Week Kick-off.
It’s the first day of National Nestbox Week and to celebrate there will be a chance to make a nestbox with the Rangers or take advantage of sale prices in the Green Shop. There’ll be heaps of free advice on where to site your box for best results and feeding etc. Meet at the Visitor Centre, Thurstaston. Ring 0151 648 4371 for further info.
Tuesday 16th February, 9.30am start Mud’n’Marsh.
Join the Rangers and RSPB Wardens on Heswall Shore for a high tide birdwatch. An army of waders including battalions of Knot, Redshank & Dunlin are pushed towards the marsh by the tide upon which flotillas of Shelduck and Pintail meet. No need to book, meet at Banks Rd car park, Lower Heswall. Ring 0151 648 4371 for further info.
Wednesday 17th February, High Tide
Birdwatch at Flint.
10am start, high tide at 13.00hrs, 9.1m.
The Oakenholt saltmarsh is one of the most important areas on the Dee Estuary – come along and discover thousands of birds in this fantastic habitat. Wellies are a must. Binoculars and warm clothing recommended! Meet at the Flint Lifeboat car park (next to Castle), no need to book. Ring 0151 336 7681 for further info.
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