Highlights - March 2015 to Feb 2016.
Cheshire & Wirral Bird Report 2014 - Review.
North-east Wales Bird Report 2014 - Review.
Colour Ring Report.
February Bird News.
On the 18th anniversary of the first newsletter on this website I again publish the highlights of the past twelve months:
The year ended as it began with huge numbers of Common Scoters off North Wirral. The large numbers arrived in mid-March and stayed for a month with max count estimated at 22,500. February saw their return, the highest reasonably accurate count was 36,000 but there was undoubtedly a lot more uncounted. With the March/April 2015 flocks was Cheshire & Wirral's first Surf Scoter and in the end at least nine were thought to be present, plus at least six Velvet Scoters; in February two Surf and two Velvet Scoters were recorded.
Apart from the Surf and Velvet Scoters already mentioned the Laughing Gull first seen in February 2015 remained at New Brighton until April.
Glaucous, Caspian and Iceland Gulls were all recorded in March as was an Alpine Swift and three Dotterels were off Meols in May.
June brought a Red-necked Phalarope to Burton, a Serin and Ring-billed Gull were also seen.
July saw a Gull-billed Tern at Burton Mere Wetlands, August a Bee-eater over Shotton and September a Red-backed Shrike at Leasowe.A Hoopoe was at New Brighton in September and October saw two interesting flyovers - a Pallid Harrier over Hoylake and an Olive-backed Pipit over West Kirby.
The dates of the first arrivals were fairly typical for recent years. There were particularly good passages of Ring Ouzels, Common Redstarts and Stonechats.
Both Common Terns and Little Terns had a good breeding season. Numbers of Sandwich Terns built up to around 1,000 in late summer with a few Arctic Terns and one or two Black Terns spotted. Max summer count of Arctic Skuas was six in August. Calm weather in October resulted in a large count of 967 Great Crested Grebes off north Wirral. 20,000 Herring Gulls were counted on East Hoyle Bank in October.
We waited, and waited, and at last the
gales came in November bringing Leach's Petrels with a max count of 27,
all four species of skuas were also seen. An unusual record
was a Great Skua in late December with one also in January. Single
Little Auks were at both Hoylake and Connah's Quay in January.
There was a good spring migration of Dunlins with a couple of counts of more than 10,000 in May and good numbers of Sanderling were still coming through in early June. The return migration included 80 Whimbrels at Heswall in July and over 2,500 Black-tailed Godwits in the flooded field at Gilroy Nature Park.
There was a record number of Teal at Burton Mere Wetlands with 8,000 in November. Good numbers of Pink-footed Geese all winter peaked with an estuary record of 8,900 at the end of February.
There was a big influx of Short-eared Owls in September and they seemed to be everywhere, there were several counts of six through the winter and they were reported most days. Several Great White Egrets arrived in the autumn with at least five and reports of two to five were regular through the winter. A Long-eared Owl roosted at Burton Mere Wetlands for several weeks.
Four Marsh Harriers was max count in
August and two to three over-wintered with about the same number of Hen
Harriers. Water Pipits were regular at Neston with a max count of six
We're delighted to say that the annual Bird Report for 2014 is now available (February 2016). This year’s eyecatching colour front cover is a stunning summer plumaged Red-necked Grebe, which graced the Weaver Bend at Frodsham for almost two months.
The 176 pages of text include 77 maps, graphs and tables, and 15 beautiful illustrations from three different artists. As usual, the colour map of the county forms the centre spread of the Bird Report. A total of 18 colour photographs, which best capture some of the highlights of the year, are spread over seven full pages.
The Bird Report is full of interesting
• Local ‘patchers’ turned Red Rocks into a rarity hot-spot, when Citrine Wagtail, Tawny Pipit and Marsh Warbler were discovered in 2014. Sound recordings are an under-rated aspect of bird identification, in that the resultant sonograms can often provide a clear ‘footprint’ as part of the evidence to substantiate a record which were provided in two out of these three rarities.
• Another article recalls the excitement of finding a male Little Bunting on Hilbre; the first record for the island, and also the first ‘boat twitch’ to the island as the tide was in!
• Back in 1930s, Spotted Crake used to breed at Burton Mere Wetlands (known then as Burton bog), but in 2014 breeding was again witnessed by the sighting of an adult pair and two fluffy black chicks. Hopefully they will become regular breeders on the reserve.
• Even the smallest of suburban gardens with an established feeding station can bring hours of fascinating birding with the odd surprise. This was true in 2014 when a redpoll bonanza occurred which included Common Redpolls, and more unusually, a Coues’ Arctic Redpoll.
• Last, but not least, there’s a striking account of 27,000 Common Scoters seen from Hilbre on March 3rd 2014 - one of those great wildlife spectacles that will always remain in the memory of those who saw it.
All the ‘regulars’ are there: ‘Weather and Bird Review of the Year’; the full ‘Systematic List of Birds Recorded in Cheshire and Wirral during 2014’, including ‘Category E Species’; ‘Early and Late Dates for Migrants’; ‘Ringing Report’; ‘BBRC and County Rarities Decisions’; ‘Chairman’s Review’; and finally, advice on the Cheshire and Wirral Gazetteer, and the ‘Submission of Records’, including rarities.
Last, but not least, we have again included a ‘Species Index’ at the back to help you quickly look up your favourite species.
The Bird Report is free to Cheshire and
Wirral Ornithological Society members (ordinary membership costs £12),
otherwise it costs £8 + £2 p&p and copies are available from:
David Cogger, 71 Parkgate, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 8HF Tel: 01565 228503 Email: email@example.com.
The North-East Wales Bird Report 2014 has been published and is available at the RSPB Reserves at Burton Mere Wetlands and Conwy. It covers the area we used to call Clwyd which is now the vice-counties of Denbighshire and Flintshire. As far as the Dee Estuary Website is concerned it includes Gronant to Point of Ayr, down the Welsh coast of the estuary past Connah's Quay, Shotton and the Shotwick Lake/Fields area. A large part of the estuary itself is in Wales, of course, including such sites as West Hoyle Bank (off Hilbre) and White Sands which is a the large area of marsh on the far side of the River Dee channel from Connah's Quay and Flint.
There is the usual comprehensive Systematic List and what I like particularly about this report is that, apart from a handful of the rarer birds, every species has a distribution map so you can see at a glance where the species can be found.
There are no less than 32 superb colour photographs including the Cattle Egret on the front cover. Peter Coffey's article "The status of a local Pied Flycatcher population in Denbighshire" is a fascinating account of his long term study of this species. There are also the regular articles including "First and last dates of selected migrants 2014" and the comprehensive "Ringing Report" which covers 11 pages.
For those that can't make it to Conwy or Burton Mere Wetlands you can obtain a copy by post (£5.00 plus £1.70p&p) - contact the Clwyd Bird Recording Group Bird Recorder/Report Editor for details.Top of Page
A better month for colour-ringed birds. As soon as the weather went a bit colder the numbers of waders increased although much searching through the Knot flocks didn't produce a single ringed one.
(black letters on white ring). Ringed on July
29th 2015 at Gdansk, Poland.
Recorded on February 9th 2016 at West Kirby Marine Lake.
One of a total of nine Polish ringed Dunlins we have seen on the Dee estuary since February 2012.
Ringed near Reykjavik, Iceland, on May 14th 2009.
Recorded at Hoylake Shore on February 13th 2016.
Recorded every year in May on a beach near Rekjavik from 2009 to 2015 whilst migrating north to breed in Greenland.
Away from Iceland the only other sites it has been recorded at is Hoylake, Leasowe, Formby and Ainsdale: it was at Leasowe on January 2010 then 15 times at Hoylake during Autumn and winter from October 2012 through to February 2016. It was at Ainsdale Beach on February 9th 2016.
This is our most regular, and most photographed, Sanderling, demonstrating just how site faithful they can be.
Smith and Matt Thomas.
Colour-ringed birds were also recorded by Steve Hinde, Steve Williams, Alan Hitchmough, Karen Leeming, Elliot Monteith, Kenny McKniffe, Tim Kinch and Colin Schofield.
The huge flocks of Common Scoters off
north Wirral seen over the past two springs arrived early this year,
total numbers were probably over 50,000 but so distant accurate counts
were near impossible; however, Jane Turner did manage a good count on
the 11th with 36,000 in the air - just amazing! The max in 2014 (March)
was 27,000 and in 2015 (March/April) was estimated at 22,500 - see the "HOW
Many Scoters??!!" article. This year's flocks have so far
produced a single Surf Scoter on the 10th with two present on the 27th,
plus a few Velvet Scoters with most records off Wallasey where they
have come reasonably close. Also off north Wirral were 749 Great
Crested Grebes on the 25th and there were three reports of Slavonian
Grebes including two off Wallasey also on the 25th. Gull numbers have
been low but we did have a Glaucous Gull at Hoylake on the 15th.
Regular readers of this newsletter will know how Pink-footed Geese numbers have been increasing over the past few years giving great pleasure in particular to those that remember their almost total absence not so many years ago - on the 28th an incredible 8,900 were present with 400 at Parkgate and the rest on Burton Marsh, an estuary record.
Purple Sandpipers are normally regarded as rather dumpy grey birds of interest only because of their comparative scarcity - aren't they? And I'm sure many have wondered exactly why they are called Purple, certainly the Collin's Bird Guide makes no mention of any purple in the plumage. But take a lot at Matt Thomas's remarkable photograph above, with the sun striking the bird at just the right angle you quite clearly see the purple sheen of the feathers, quite subtle but quite wonderful! Max count this month was 12 at New Brighton.
The first Avocet of the spring arrived
at Burton Mere Wetlands on the 12th. We had feared that the high tide
birdwatch at Hoylake, due on the 13th, was going to be a bit of a
non-event due to lack of waders but numbers picked up just in time with
a decent sized flock of several species. The most unexpected sight was
of 15 Whooper Swans just sat on the calm sea at high tide, something
none of us remember happening before - they were a long way out so
identification was difficult but the general consensus was that they
were Whoopers and the two that came closer confirmed this.
There were good numbers of Twite at Connah's Quay with at least 90 this month (see Species Spotlight - Twite), confirming the area as one of the most important over-wintering sites in the country for this species.
Quite a few Siskins passed through
during the month with many on garden feeders.
The spring tides gave some good sightings of Short-eared Owls off Heswall with a maximum of six on the 8th. We never see these birds at Heswall during the day time (other than when flushed by high tides) so must assume they fly inland to hunt at night. As usual one or two were regularly seen hunting over Neston and Burton Marshes with one off the Harp Inn giving particularly good views. Between there and Parkgate a total of six Water Pipits were counted on the 27th feeding in the fresh water margins of the marsh, of which there were plenty after all the rain.
The juvenile Great Northern Diver on
West Kirby Marine Lake was last reported on the 10th and last, but not
least, the Pallas's Warbler at Target Road, Heswall, was spotted again
right at the end of the month. No doubt it had been in the area all
along but access in the direction of Sheldrake's is impossible there
and it wouldn't have had to move very far along the thick hedgerow to
|Sand Martin||7th March||Flint||20th March||28th March|
|White Wagtail||10th March||Red Rocks||8th March||14th March|
|Wheatear||11th March||Hilbre||10th March||17th March|
|Swallow||20th March||Burton||19th March||10th April|
|Willow Warbler||22nd March||Flint||12th March||6th April|
|House Martin||31st March||Burton||29th March||12th April|
|Whitethroat||12th April||Heswall||4th April||15th April|
|Swift||18th April||Burton||3rd May||17th April|
|Cuckoo||20th April||Burton||2nd May||13th April|
9th March, 11.11hrs (GMT), 9.9m.
10th March, 11.54hrs (GMT), 10.2m.
11th March, 12.38hrs (GMT), 10.2m.
12th March, 13.21hrs (GMT), 10.0m.
Organised by the Wirral
Ranger Service , Flintshire
Countryside Service and the
RSPB (Dee Estuary):
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 2015 Events Diary.