you who have visited the Welsh Shore page will
already know of Gronant on the North Wales
coast between Point of Ayr and Prestatyn, and some of you may actually have
been there. It is a beautiful wild area of sand dunes, marsh and beach. In
the summer it holds the only Little Tern colony in Wales and the RSPB are
appealing for voluntary wardens to help protect it. This will involve
looking out for predators, especially crows, gulls and foxes, stopping
holidaymakers and their dogs from walking through the colony and chatting to
any interested passer by about the birds.
I've just volunteered so you might see me! The wardens will be required from end of May to beginning August.
If you're interested ring the RSPB at 0151 336 7681, mention this web site if you wish - I know they would be interested to know if this appeal is successful.
migration is always an exciting time with hoped for large land falls of
birds and a good sprinkling of rarities. The migrants also bring with them
the promise of warm sunny days after the long Winter. March is the month
when this migration gets into full swing so watch out for those first birds
of the year. Some of the firsts for last year were as follows:
The earliest sightings for the year 2000 will be published in future newsletters. If you see an early sighting of any summer migrant please e-mail me, I'll let you know if it is a first sighting and put in the latest sightings page. It will be fascinating to see how the dates differ from year to year.
The Web site is two years old this
month, as last year I've compiled the birding highlights from the previous
It was a good year for twitchable birds - my definition of a good twitchable bird being a rarity easily seen without disturbance and hanging around for several days! In September a Red-necked Phalarope stayed at Inner Marsh Farm for at least ten days. This was followed by a Red-backed Shrike at nearby Burton which stayed for a total of 47 days during September and October. Unusually this was an adult female, most migrants of this species seen in this part of the country are juvenile. Next a Hoopoe turned up at Hoylake for 15 days, last seen on November 4th. Due to its rather pale washed out plumage this was thought to be an Eastern bird. On the other side of the estuary at Oakenholt and Greenfield Dock a Richard's Pipit was present from the end of November and throughout December.
Many rarities only stayed for a short period, or just seen flying over. These included a pair of Common Cranes flying over Irby (near Heswall) in March, a Nightingale at Heswall and Golden Oriole at Thurstaston (both in May).
Raptors included two Hen Harrier roosting at Gayton at the end of the 1998/99 Winter, unfortunately no Hen Harriers have been seen this past winter. The spring of 1999 saw the usual passing Osprey, two at Inner Marsh Farm and another at Hilbre. Common Buzzards are increasing in this area and this was demonstrated by the sighting of no less than 15 at Inner Marsh Farm in one day in October. It was also good to see plenty of Peregrine Falcons, I was lucky enough to see five in one hour on Heswall shore. Short-eared Owls roost in the long grass and reeds on Parkgate Marsh and ten of these birds were seen on Christmas Eve flushed by the high tide.
There was a good passage of Curlew Sandpiper in the Autumn. The highest count of this lovely little wader was 23 at Heswall. The Autumn also brought a good number of Greenshank (45), Green Sandpiper (9) and Little Stint (5) to Inner Marsh Farm.
Wildfowl included six Ruddy Shelduck seen both at Inner Marsh Farm and Point of Ayr during August. Also at Inner Marsh Farm was an American Wigeon in May and December, and a pair of Smew seen on and off most of the winter. A drake Long-tailed Duck complete with long tail graced West Kirby marine lake in November.
Both Spoonbill and Little Egret have been seen regularly at Burton and Parkgate. Four Spoonbill visited Inner Marsh Farm for a short time in the Autumn but the Mauritanian Spoonbill is the one seen most often. This is the Spoonbill which arrived in this country on a ship before being released at Slimbridge and then making its own way up here.
Inner Marsh Farm
14th February: Smew 2 (pair), Goldeneye 7, Pochard 11, Tufted Duck 6, Shovelor 50+, Pintail 30, Wigeon 500, Little Grebe 1, Pink-footed Goose 80, Coot 70, Dunlin 50, Black-tailed Godwit 100, Redshank 80, Spotted Redshank 4, Curlew 20+, Yellowhammer 2, Reed Bunting 20, Chaffinch 30. Many Teal and Shelduck present but not counted.
Wetland Bird Survey Count for
Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the
Wirral Ranger Service). 20th February.
West Kirby shore high tide roost - counts carried out by Dee
Estuary Voluntary Wardens.
February Bird News
coming of spring has been heralded by an early passage of Little Gull at
Hilbre, 32 on the 22nd and 35 on the 26th.
Also at Hilbre are 27+ Purple Sandpipers and 7 pale-bellied Brent Geese. A
good record for the island was 2 Puffins together with 50 Great-crested
The Mauritanian Spoonbill has spent most of the month at Neston Old Quay where up to three Water Pipits have been seen. Eleven Spotted Redshank were observed at Inner Marsh Farm along with forty or so Black-tailed Godwit. Over a hundred of these are at Heswall, but many more, 1,000 or so, are at Connah's Quay on the Welsh side. Also in Wales, at Gronant, are twenty-two Snow buntings where a Glaucous Gull was seen early in the month.
Highest Spring Tides
20th March, 11.28hrs 9.8m. (all times GMT)
21st March, 1208hrs 9.9m.
22nd March, 1244hrs 9.8m.
Ornithologists Club at Ness Gardens
Wirral Peregrines Phoenix Group
Wirral Bird Club
Forthcoming Events (organised by the Wirral Ranger Service, Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):
18th March. Guided walk to the Hilbre
19th March. High Tide at Riverbank Road,
21st March. High Tide Birdwatch at Parkgate.
24th March. Birds and Migration. 7pm - 8:30pm.
9th April. Marsh Clearance and Wirral Coastline. 10am.
Note: Forthcoming events extracted from 'Birdwatchers Diary 2000'. Please e-mail me if you want an electronic copy, hard copy available from the visitor centre at Thurstaston, Wirral Country Park 0151 648 4371.