can be an idyllic spot in the summer. I remember my first stint as voluntary
warden last June, arriving early on a lovely sunny morning - two Grasshopper Warblers
were singing in the marsh whilst a male Stonechat saw me off it's territory,
as I approached the warden's hut I suddenly became aware of the Little Tern
colony, a hundred or so were in the air screeching away before they left to go
fishing in the nearby sea - an amazing sight.
The RSPB are appealing for voluntary wardens to help protect this colony. The wardening involves keeping predators (mainly crows and foxes) away from the nests, stopping holiday makers from walking through the colony and talking to anybody interested about the terns. As little as half a day a month would be a great help. The wardens are required from late May to early August, if you're interested ring the RSPB on 0151 336 7681.
For the first time the Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens have produced an annual report, written by Chris Butterworth. The report covers the year 2000 and not only details the nine species of waders regularly counted by the wardens but also a total of 105 other species observed along West Kirby shoreline from the Marine Lake to Red Rocks, plus the island of Little Eye. The report is available from Chris Butterworth, 247 Greenbank Road, West Kirby, Wirral, Merseyside - please include cheque (made out to Chris Butterworth) for £1 to cover P&P. This wardening scheme has been recognised as the longest running such project in the world and is the only source of long term data on the correlation between bird numbers, beach usage and disturbance.
The Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society have once again produced an excellent report. There is the usual comprehensive yearly review and systematic list. The list alone is 85 pages long and includes a lot of detail on each species. WeBS counts for the whole of the Dee and Mersey Estuaries (not just those bits falling within Cheshire) are shown for wetland birds. The species list is greatly enhanced by eight very good colour photographs.
In addition there is Tony Broome's entertaining article on the discovery of a Terek Sandpiper at Frodsham, a new county record. The report on bird ringing is fascinating with the longest recovery being a Turnstone ringed at New Brighton found 3770km away at Baffin Island, Canada. The Raptor Study Group demonstrates the remarkable increase of the Common Buzzard in Cheshire and Wirral, from 7 pairs in 1992 to 184 pairs in 1999/2000 (not all pairs have been confirmed to breed). An article on the Breeding Bird survey in Cheshire (1995 to 1999) shows the varying fortune of different species but demonstrates a most welcome increase in Lapwings and Sky Larks.
A must for anyone with an interest in Cheshire and Wirral Birds.
The report can be obtained from: P.Brewster, 23 Verdin Close, Moulton, Northwich, Cheshire CW9 8RL. Price is £5.70 including P&P, make cheques out to CAWOS.
At the suggestion of the Dee Estuary WeBS coordinator I have re-arranged the WeBS data so that they show a complete winter's figures, rather than a calendar year - in line with normal Wetland Bird Survey reporting. The following years' data are now available - 1997/98, 1998/99 and 1999/2000. These can be accessed from the Bird Counts page. For a much more detailed insight into the 1999/2000 counts read the Dee Estuary WeBS Annual Report which is available from Colin Wells, Burton Point Farm, Station Road, Burton, Cheshire for £4.00 including P&P. This has a description of the status of all the wetland birds, including graphs showing trends back to 1980. A review/ summary of this report was shown in the December 2000 Newsletter.
Wetland Bird Survey Count for Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service). 11th
West Kirby high
tide roost, highest count for February carried out by Dee
Estuary Volunteer Wardens - 10th February.
Wetland Bird Survey count for Flint
and Connah's Quay - (Kindly provided by the Deeside
Naturalists' Society). 11th February.
Wetland Birds Survey count for
Hoylake Langfields - fields inland of Hoylake (with thanks to C. Butterworth). 11th February.
No count from Inner Marsh Farm this month.
February Bird News
A count of 121 Bewick's Swans on Burton Marsh was the highest of the winter, a pleasing return to the numbers seen three years ago. Other wildfowl include a pair of Smew and a single Ruddy Shelduck both at Inner Marsh Farm. Pink-footed Geese are still around including two flocks totaling 320 birds seen during one the Parkgate High Tide Birdwatches. The record number of 39 Brent Geese were still at Hilbre at the beginning of the month but had dwindled to 10 by the end.
We had two glorious birdwatches at Parkgate, one on the 9th in lovely sunny weather and the other on the 10th a bit damper, but the tide came in further to make up for it. It was estimated that a remarkable 11 Short-eared Owls were seen on the 10th plus plenty of Water Rails and the usual masses of wader and duck.
The cold sunny weather mid-month brought in 30,000 Knot to Dawpool bank off Caldy and Thurstaston together with several hundred Black-tailed Godwit. Oystercatchers are noticeably more plentiful this winter and this area is as good as any to see many thousands.
The Greenfield Valley bird survey continues, the total is now 54 birds. Click here for a complete list.
What to expect in March: The foot and moth epidemic has rather put a dampener on birdwatching at the moment but there are still plenty of areas around the Dee Estuary away from farmland where it is safe to go. Click here for more info.
The Spring migrants should start to pour in from the middle of March onward. As last year I want to tabulate the first sighting of each species so if you see an early migrant please me. Here is the table from 2000 compared to 1999.
Many thanks go to Gareth Stamp, Brian Grey, Wendy Allen, Carl Clee, John Gittins, Jeff Clarke, Cathy McGrath, Mike Hart, Iain Douglas, John Kirkland, Bill Owens, Martyn Jaimeson, Chris Butterworth, Frank Gleeson, Mark Feltham, Paul Hurley, Robert Lister, Alec Cheney, Magali Pascal, Jon Williams, Maurice Berry, Nick Moss, Colin Jones, Jonathan Clarke and the Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens for their sightings during February. I rely on the goodwill of people like this, unlike some commercial sites I cannot offer financial inducements!
that some events may be cancelled because of the Foot and Mouth outbreak. See
latest news - click here.
March Highest Spring Tides (Liverpool)
Note that the marsh at Parkgate may be 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.
Peregrines Phoenix Group
Wirral Bird Club
Forthcoming Events (organised by the
Wirral Ranger Service, Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the
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.
Saturday March 10th March 10:00am (HW 11:45,10.2m) Parkgate
High Tide Birdwatch. - CANCELLED
Sunday March 11th March 10:30am (HW 12:27,10.3m) Parkgate
High Tide Birdwatch. - CANCELLED
Saturday 24th March 8:30am (HW 11.09, 9.3m) Banks Road Birdwatch, Heswall.
Saturday 24th March. Guided Walk to the Hilbre
Sunday 25th March 9:00 (HW 11.41, 9.4m) Banks Road Birdwatch, Heswall.
Sunday 25th March 9:30 (HW 11.41, 9.4m) High Tide at Point
Saturday 7th April 9.00am (HW 11:39, 9.8m) Banks Road Birdwatch, Heswall.
Saturday 7th April. Guided Walk to the Hilbre
Sunday 8th April 2pm - 4pm. A Look at Trees in Spring.
Sunday 8th April 4:30pm - 8:30pm. Marine Biology Walk.
Saturday 14th April 6:00am. Early Risers on Hilbre.
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.