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    4th May 2000
    West Kirby High Tide Roost 1999-2000

    Voluntary Wardens needed at Gronant
    Latest Bird Counts
    April Bird News
    Forthcoming Events
    Latest Newsletter
    The UK Birding Web Ring

West Kirby High Tide Roost 1999-2000 


The data collected by the Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens from the West Kirby high tide wader roost is now complete for the winter of 1999/2000. Counts are performed on the nine most common waders which use the roost during every daylight high tide over 8.7 metres between the beginning of September to the end of March, a total of 104 days this last winter. The average and maximum counts for 1998/1999 and 1999/2000 for the most numerous wader species show a large drop in numbers for many species for last winter compared with the previous.

The bar chart below shows the average number of birds at the roost on a year by year basis. The graph demonstrates a remarkable cyclic nature with peaks during 1990/91 and 1998/99. However, as can be seen, the low counts this last winter has rather spoilt this rather nice curve! 1998/99 was a record count for the Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens, in contrast the 1999/2000 count was less than 1,000 above the lowest average count.

West Kirby - Average Daily Wader Counts 1986/87 to 1999/2000

                             All data gathered by Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens

The next graph below shows how the count varied over the 1999/2000 season compared with the previous year. Numbers up to the middle of December were comparable but then instead of the expected mid-winter peak the counts just tailed away. A possible explanation was the mild winter both here and on continental Europe enabling a large proportion of the birds to stay further east.  

West Kirby - daily total counts of all nine species, 98/99 and 99/2000

                             All data gathered by Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens

By far the most numerous of the birds at West Kirby are Knot and Dunlin. Therefore the graphs reflect changes in their numbers more than any other species, this is demonstrated in the graph below for Dunlin, which is very similar to the total above.

West Kirby - daily counts for Dunlin, 98/99 and 99/2000

                             All data gathered by Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens

Not all species gave low counts last winter, as shown in the graph below for Curlew which shows a welcome increase. These birds are distributed throughout the estuary and numbers at West Kirby don't necessarily reflect the total numbers on the estuary. They are more likely to reflect the amount of disturbance on other roosts, such as on nearby Little Eye island, with the birds using West Kirby as an alternative.   

West Kirby - daily counts for Curlew, 98/99 and 99/2000

                             All data gathered by Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens

 Although the counts yield a great deal of useful information they are not the main reason for the existence of the Dee Estuary Wardens. Their main job is to protect the roost from disturbance which they do with a great deal of success. Of the 7,454 walkers on the beach last winter only 32 actually caused any disturbance - not a bad record and in fact disturbances during 1999/2000 were about half of the previous winter. If you want to help with Dee Estuary Volunteer Wardens just click on the link for details.

Thanks to Roy Palmer for transposing the mass of data onto Excel spreadsheets.


Voluntary Wardens needed at Gronant

Those of 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. 


Bird Counts


Inner Marsh Farm  
17th April: Shoveler 32, Pintail 8, Teal 100, wigeon 3, Tufted Duck 80, Dunlin 3, Little Ringed Plover 1, Common Sandpiper 1, Spotted Redshank 6, Black-tailed Godwit 4, Redshank 20, Curlew 33, Oystercatcher 2, ringed Plover 2, Yellow Wagtail 2, White Wagtail 14, Wheatear 1, Swallow 20, Lesser Black-backed Gull 2, Little Grebe 2 and Great-crested Grebe 1.

Wetland Bird Survey Count for Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service). 18th April
Cormorant 15, Grey Heron 1, Shelduck 530, Mallard 3, R. B. Merganser 2, Grey Plover 4, Knot 5, Dunlin 1490, Curlew 950, Redshank 1750.

April Bird News

Spring migration continued with many birds observed and ringed at the Hilbre Bird Observatory including Tree Pipits, Yellow Wagtails, Siskins and Wheatears. First sightings on the estuary returned to more normal dates after some remarkably early ones in March. The table below gives a complete list. 

Species Date Location First Sight 1999
Wheatear 12th March Burton 12th March
Whinchat 13th March Leasowe Late April
ChiffChaff 13th March Thurstaston 17th March
Sand Martin 16th March IMF 27th March
White Wagtail 17th March Hilbre mid March
House Martin 23rd March Hilbre Late April
Willow Warbler 27th March Neston 2nd April
Blackcap 31st March Heswall Late March
Swallow 2nd April IMF 8th April
Cuckoo 25th April IMF mid April
Swift 27th April IMF late  April

Rarer birds in April included a Tawny Pipit at Leasowe, a Red-crested Pochard at Inner Marsh Farm and a Red-necked Grebe on Shotwick boating lake. Ospreys were seen flying over Hilbre Island and Caldy, also at Hilbre a Great Northern Diver paid a visit together with a Marsh Harrier. Another Marsh Harrier was at Inner Marsh Farm later on in the month and a female Long-tailed Duck was at the Point of Ayr during a high tide birdwatch

The spring weather brought a good passage of terns to Hilbre, Ring Ouzels at several locations on the Wirral and Grasshopper Warblers at both Neston and Burton. Summer plumage Black-tailed Godwits and Spotted Redshanks were a magnificent sight at Inner Marsh Farm.


Forthcoming Events
May Highest Spring Tides (Liverpool)
4th May, 12.16hrs 9.8m. (all times BST)
5th May, 12.58hrs 9.9m.

Young Ornithologists Club at Ness Gardens
See the listing of events for 2000. This group have a most interesting series of monthly outdoor and indoor meetings for the younger birdwatchers.

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 the year 2000 events

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 2000

Forthcoming Events (organised by the Wirral Ranger Service, Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):

5th May. Rocky Shore Walk. 5.30pm - 9pm
A specialised walk to look at the life normally hidden beneath the waves.  A 4-mile walk of nearly 4 hours. Warm waterproof clothing and wellies are essential. Booking essential, ring 0151 648 4371.

7th May. International Dawn Chorus Day. 4:30am - 6-30am.

Dawn over the Dee. Join the Rangers on an early morning walk along the Wirral Way, through the Heswall fields and back along the beach to Thurstaston where we might locate exciting migrants including Grasshopper Warblers and Lesser Whitethroat. A refreshing vup of tea or coffee in the visitors centre afterwards. Booking essential, ring 0151 648 4371.

Dawn over Thurstaston. Discover the wealth of birds that live within Royden Park and Thurstaston Common. Tea, coffee and biscuits available afterwards. Booking essential, ring 0151 678 4200

Dawn Chorus Birdwalk, Greenfield Valley. 5:30am.
It's up with the larks to join the local RSPB Warden and other keen birdwatchers on an early morning walk through the Greenfield Valley to catch the early morning chorus. You can order breakfast by ringing 01352 714172. Meet at visitor centre. 

13th May. Guided Walk to the Hilbre Islands.
Cross the sands to discover the Islands' wildlife and history. A 4 mile walk of 4 hours. Please bring warm waterproof clothing and a snack. Booking essential, ring 0151 648 4371.

20th May. Early Morning, Inner Marsh Farm. 06:30am
Join the RSPB Warden for an early morning birdwatch in search of summer migrants. Costs, inclusive of continental breakfast, are 5.00 for members and 6.00 for non-members. Booking essential, ring 0151 336 7681.

3rd June. Dusk 'till Dawn. 8pm - 6 am.
Join the Rangers on this marathon nature watch! This nocturnal navigation will introduce you to a host of wildlife not usually seen during the day. Places are strictly limited on this tour of West Cheshire and Wirral. Booking essential, ring 0151 648 4371.

10th June. Dee Day. 10am - 4:30pm
Speakers, discussions and guided walk. Local history, natural environment and looking to the future. Includes talk by Colin Wells the Dee Estuary RSPB warden. Organised jointly by the Wirral Green Alliance and the Wirral Ranger Service. Held at Wirral Country Park, Thurstaston. For further information ring 0151 666 2221or email: jim@cesul.org.uk

Note: Many of these forthcoming events extracted from 'Birdwatchers Diary 2000', which covers both the Dee and Mersey regions. 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.