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1st February 2001
Greenfield Valley.

Photographs.
Latest Bird Counts.
January Bird News.
Forthcoming Events.
Latest Newsletter.

 


GREENFIELD VALLEY

by Brian Roberts 

    LOCATION 

The Valley which is situated in Flintshire is at O.S. Reference 196775. It can be reached from the A548 Flint to Rhyl road, by turning left into one of the valley car-parks immediately after going under the old railway bridge in Greenfield if you are coming from Flint, or by turning right into the car-park immediately before the bridge if you are coming from Rhyl. The valley can also be accessed by two car parks, which are on the B5121 between Holywell and Greenfield. (Note Editor: Map and directions are also shown in the Welsh shore page of this Web site). 

 HABITAT 

The valley comprises mature mixed woodlands, scrub and five main pools. 

HISTORY 

The history of the valley started in the 12th Century when Basingwerk Abbey was founded (ruins of which are still in place), progressed through the Industrial Revolution, when amongst other items Paper, Cotton and Copper were manufactured (the remains of those buildings are still visible) and now due to a Lottery Heritage Grant some of them are being renovated. The main path leading through the length of the valley is the old railway line that used to run from Holywell Junction (on the main Chester to Holyhead line) to the Holywell Town Station (the platform of which is still able to be seen today). 

BIRDS

Ninety-five species of bird have been recorded in the valley to date. (Note Editor: During 2001 a Bird Survey is taking place, already in January forty nine species have been counted. For a list of species seen click here. The list will be updated every month and shown in this newsletter).

SEASONS 

At anytime of the year a good selection of birds may be seen. During the Winter months Pochard, Tufted Duck sometimes Pintail and `our own` Drake Mandarin Duck can be seen. He flies into the valley from time to time and sometimes stays for up to 3 months at a time. The ducks on the pools are supplemented by early morning visitors such as Common Sandpiper, Cormorant (including sometimes the Sinensis sub-species which seems to frequent the North Wales coast).

Five species of Tit can be seen (including Long-tailed and Willow). In the upper woodland all three species of Woodpecker are resident (although as with other places the Lesser Spotted can be difficult to locate- try the woodland adjacent to the secondary school). 

Dipper, Water Rail, Grey Wagtail and Kingfisher inhabit the streams of the valley. Looking skyward Buzzard (Common and Honey) Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Kestrel, Red Kite have all been recorded and in 2000 two Hobbies, which stayed for some time were seen by staff of the valley and by me on one memorable late summer evening with the pair chasing Swallows, Swifts and Martins (not forgetting Dragonflies). We also this year had an Osprey drift through the valley in May, seen by hundreds of people who had gathered in the valley for the Annual Fun Run. In January 2000 a Richard's Pipit visited the valley briefly, it having been at Greenfield Dock previously.

During the summer the wood rings out with Wood, Willow, Sedge and sometimes Grasshopper Warblers, which together with Blackcap, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff (which over-wintered during 1999/2000) makes for enjoyable birding. 

Add to this Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, and resident Tawny Owl, Goldcrests, Goldfinches, Brambling, Bullfinches Treecreepers and Nuthatches and you will see why Greenfield Valley is such a good place to bird at any time. 

Any further information can be obtained by contacting me at:-
brian@ovenbird.fsnet.co.uk or by ringing 01352-714758

Bird watching trips can also be arranged to any place in North Wales, Merseyside or Lancashire. 

Brian Roberts

 

Photographs of the Estuary and Birds

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The photographs page on this web site has been revamped. It now has double the number of images (40) including lots of good bird photographs. The photos are presented as thumbnails, click on these to see the full size image.

 

Bird Counts

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Inner Marsh Farm  Count for 5th January.
Spotted Redshank 3, Redshank 10, Dunlin 5, Curlew 3, Black-tailed Godwit 53, Bewick's Swan 70, Shelduck 18, Coot 100, Smew 1 drake, Pochard 6, Goldeneye 1, Shoveler 20, Pintail 12, many Teal, Lapwing and Wigeon.
Please note that the count from Inner Marsh Farm is an informal estimate of species and numbers present, either carried out by myself or other birdwatchers visiting the hide. It is not meant to be a complete count and is not in anyway part of the Wetland Bird Survey or other count which might be carried out by the RSPB.

Wetland Bird Survey Count for Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service). 14th January - low count due to fog.
Cormorant 1, Grey Heron 1, Shelduck 402, Teal 190, Mallard 114, Pintail 5, Red-breasted Merganser 18, Golden Plover 28, Lapwing 60, Knot 3, Dunlin 55, Snipe 1, Black-tailed Godwit 394, Curlew 510, Redshank 250, Black-headed Gull 319, Common Gull 60, Lesser Black-backed Gull 27, Herring Gull 123 and Sparrowhawk 1.

West Kirby high tide roost, highest count for January carried out by Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens - 15th January.
Oystercatcher 26, Ringed Plover 110, Grey Plover 937, Knot 1,150, Dunlin 12,000, Sanderling 8, Curlew 16 and Redshank 57. 

Wetland Bird Survey count for Flint and Connah's Quay was not possible in January due to thick fog.

 
January Bird News

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The country was invaded by Waxwings during January and we got our fair share with 10 at Neston, 40 at Seacombe, 30 in Pensby and 32 in Upton.

The record count of Brent Geese in December was bettered in January with 34 pale-bellied and 5 dark-bellied. They could be seen throughout the mouth of the estuary from Point of Ayr to Hoylake. There was also a good movement of Pink-footed geese with several flocks of 100+ seen, the biggest one was of over 300 birds on Burton Marsh

A pair of Smew were about for most of the month either at Inner Marsh Farm or Shotwick boating lake. The lovely white male being seen far more often than the female.

Also on Shotwick boating lake was a Great Northern Diver, unusual for an inland site, another one was seen off Hilbre. In the nearby Shotwick fields 104 Bewick's Swan were counted. Five Little Egrets remained on Burton Marsh.

674 Black-tailed Godwit were busy feeding on Caldy mud-flats, perhaps driven off their inland haunts at Inner Marsh Farm and Frodsham by the icy weather. There was a good count of 2,150 Bar-tailed Godwit off Leasowe at low tide, not unusual but we get much lower counts at high tide as these birds fly over to the Alt Estuary to roost.

The Water Pipits increased to 6 at Neston Old Quay. Eighty Twite made an excellent sight at Flint Castle, a Bittern in the Neston reed beds  and a single Firecrest attracted a few twitchers to the Point of Ayr

What to expect in February: Three big high tides of over 10 metres on the 9th, 10th and 11th should give us some excellent birdwatching, especially over flooded marshland such as at Parkgate where we should get Short-eared Owls as well as a mass of waders and duck, and a good selection of other raptors. But also try Neston Old Quay, Denhall Quay and Flint Castle

Other than the big tides February is a bit of an in between month, between the mid-winter peak of December and January and the first of the spring migrants in March. But the estuary is still full of birds and some species, such as Redshank, start the spring passage early and increase during February before dispersing to their breeding grounds in April. There is also plenty of time for more cold weather which can bring large movements of birds from further north and east.  

Many thanks go to Jane Turner, Steve Williams,  Brian Grey, David Ester, Carl Clee, John Gittins, Jeff Clarke, Brian Roberts, Cathy McGrath, John Baker, Mike Hart, Iain Douglas, John Kirkland, Bill Owens, Martyn Jaimeson, Chris Butterworth, Frank Gleeson and the Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens for their sightings during January. I rely on the goodwill of people like this, unlike some commercial sites I cannot offer financial inducements!

   

Forthcoming Events

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February Highest Spring Tides (Liverpool) 
9th February, 12.02hrs 10.1m. (all times GMT)
10th February, 12.47hrs 10.2m.
11th February, 13.32hrs 10.1m.
See Tides page for full tide table.

Note that the marsh at Parkgate is covered when tide height is 9.8m or over, dependent on weather conditions. Low pressure with strong north-west wind will create higher than expected tide, high pressure with southerly wind means lower than expected tide. 

Wirral Peregrines Phoenix Group
A group for teenagers jointly run by the RSPB and Wirral Ranger Service.   For all young people (you don't have to be RSPB members) who want to do something to improve our environment and enjoy wildlife. See events for  2001.

Wirral Bird Club
The Wirral Bird Club welcomes all who are interested in birds, from the beginner to the experienced.  See the complete listing of events for 2001

Forthcoming Events (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.

High tide bird watches at Parkgate and Heswall for the whole of 2001 are shown on the high tide birdwatch page. Always check latest newsletter for any additions or changes.

Friday 9th February 10:30am (HW 12:02, 10.1m) Parkgate High Tide
Birdwatch. 
Vast movements of waders and waterfowl attract the attention of many
predatory birds, while the flooding tide may reveal the presence of Short
eared Owls, Water Rails and various small mammals. Meet: Old Baths car park, north end of Parkgate prom. Further information Tel: Wirral Country Park on 0151 648 4371/3884 or RSPB 0151 336 7681.

Saturday 10th February 11:00am (HW 12:47,10.2m) High Tide Birdwatch and PARKGATE SPECIAL.
Make it an extra special visit and combine your High Tide Birdwatch with a light lunch followed by entertaining talks from local bird experts at the
Boathouse Inn. Tickets (about) 6-50, for further information Tel: Wirral
Country Park on 0151 648 4371. Tickets are only required if attending the lunch and talk otherwise just come along. 

Sunday 18th February. 11am - 4pm. Parkgate Walk.
A leisurely circular walk through fields and marshes to the lost port of Parkgate, looking at the local and natural history of the area. Booking essential - ring 0151 678 4200.

Saturday 24th February 9:00am (HW 12:02, 9.3m) Banks Road Birdwatch, Heswall
Exceptional close views of thousand of waders and wildfowl. Meet Banks Road Car Park. Tel: Wirral Country Park on 0151 648 4371/3884 Or RSPB 0151 336 7681. 

Saturday 24th February 10am - 3pm (HW 12:02, 9.3m) Open Day at Connah's Quay Power Station Reserve
This reserve is normally only open to members of the Deeside Naturalists Society. Expect to see a good variety of wader and duck on this excellent little reserve. The main hide overlooks the RSPB Oakenholt reserve used by waders as a high tide roost, this reserve is not open to the public. For more information ring Brian Grey on 0151 608 4167 - no need to book. 

Sunday 25th February 10.45 (HW 12:39, 9.4m) Banks Road Birdwatch, Heswall.
Exceptional close views of thousand of waders and wildfowl. Meet Banks Road Car Park. Tel: Wirral Country Park on 0151 648 4371/3884 Or RSPB 0151 336 7681. 

Sunday 25th February 10.30am - 12noon. Beginners Birdwatch at Leasowe Bay.
Come and see the birds as they roost on the islands of Leasowe Bay. No need to book, meet at Leasowe Lighthouse. For info ring 0151 678 5488.

Saturday March 10th March 10:00am (HW 11:45,10.2m) Parkgate High Tide Birdwatch.
Vast movements of waders and waterfowl attract the attention of many predatory birds, while the flooding tide may reveal the presence of Short eared Owls, Water Rails and various small mammals. Meet: Old Baths car park, north end of Parkgate prom. Further information Tel: Wirral Country Park on 0151 648 4371/3884 Or RSPB 0151 336 7681. 

Sunday March 11th March 10:30am (HW 12:27,10.3m) Parkgate High Tide Birdwatch.
 Vast movements of waders and waterfowl attract the attention of many predatory birds, while the flooding tide may reveal the presence of Short eared Owls, Water Rails and various small mammals. Meet: Old Baths car park, north end of Parkgate prom. Further information Tel: Wirral Country Park on 0151 648 4371/3884 Or RSPB 0151 336 7681. 

Note: Many of these forthcoming events are extracted from 'Birdwatchers Diary 2001', which covers both the Dee and Mersey regions. Copies available from the visitor centre at Thurstaston, Wirral Country Park 0151 648 4371 or by from myself as a 1.8mb zipped file.