Gronant 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.
Clwyd Bird Recording Group have published the 1999 Clwyd Bird Report. This
can be purchased by sending a cheque for £4.50 (includes p&p) made out to
Clwyd Bird Recording Group to Anne Brenchley, Ty'r Fawnog, 43 Blackbrook,
Sychdyn, Mold, Flintshire CH7 6LT..
The report has the usual systematic list which has descriptions of the status of 227 species. The list includes rarities such as Cory's Shearwater, Velvet Scoter, Goshawk, Kentish Plover, Red-necked Stint, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Ring-billed Gull, Alpine Swift, Richard's Pipit and Firecrest. The only criticism I have is that they have included the table for Oystercatcher numbers in with the description of Little ringed Plover, it had me fooled for a few minutes! A clear heading would have helped.
The tables at the back of the report demonstrate how the data has been collected from a rich variety of sources - including, among many others, WeBS, the Llyn Brenig log-book, BTO Common Birds Census, Welsh Raptor Study Group and various private records such as Roger Bagguley's comprehensive sea watching counts off Rhyl.
The Black Grouse is a specialty of Clwyd and counts suggest that they might be slowly increasing thanks to a great deal of conservation work. There is a very interesting article on the Black Grouse by Ron Plummer. Other articles are 'Birds and Biodiversity' by Anne Brenchley and a summary of a good season for the Little Terns at Gronant by Gareth Stamp.
Please send your records for inclusion in future Clwyd Bird reports to the Clwyd County Recorder: Norman Hallas, 63 Park Avenue, Wrexham, LL12 7AW.
counts or count from Inner Marsh Farm this month due to Foot and Mouth
restrictions. Thanks to John Gittins of the Hilbre Bird Observatory I have
been receiving regular counts from Hilbre
Island which I highlight in my latest sightings
page. I thought I would take the opportunity to give a couple examples of
the more detailed lists John gives me. With passage of both sea and land
birds Hilbre is a great place to visit this time of year.
Note that gulls and some of the more commoner birds haven't been included.
April Bird News
neither the weather or wind direction being particularly favourable there
was an awful lot to see during April with both land migration and sea
passage well underway.
There was plenty activity on the sea with a large passage of Little Gulls, with several hundred seen at nearby Crosby across the Mersey. Our maximum counts were 23 over West Kirby Marine Lake and 20 at Hilbre. Terns are passing through in good numbers with max. counts of 20 Little and 250 Sandwich at Gronant and 22 Arctic and 20 Common Tern passing Hoylake Shore. Good numbers of Gannets, Kittiwakes and Common Scoter were passing by Hilbre all month along with one or two Great and Arctic Skua. Twenty Brent Geese at Hilbre at the beginning of the month had dwindled to just two by mid-month.
It has been an excellent month for Grasshopper Warblers. We started on the 1st with what might well be the earliest ever record for Wirral at Red Rocks. There has been a steady passage through Hilbre with two or three nearly every day, many of which were ringed. But the place to go to hear 'Groppers' is undoubtedly Gronant were 10 were trilling away at the end of the month. Also at Gronant were the pick of the month's rarities - a Blue-headed Wagtail and a Corncrake.
Most of the early arrivals are here now as shown in the table below. One very early migrant not shown in the table was a Pied-flycatcher seen on the 2nd of April in West Kirby - a full two weeks earlier than normal and another probable earliest ever record for Wirral.
Dates of earliest sightings. Locations for 2001.
* As small numbers of both Chiffchaff and Blackcap over winter in the area this is the date they were first heard singing.
Wader numbers were well down on those in winter but sizable flocks of both Dunlin and Knot were seen on their way north to breed in the Arctic. We normally only see Whimbrel on passage and plenty were about this month with a maximum of 13 at the Point of Ayr.
The Greenfield Valley bird survey continues, the total is now 67 birds. Click here for a complete list.
You might be interested in a new Webcam looking onto Hoylake Shore run by a local birder, Jane Turner. The picture isn't brilliant but at least you can tell if the tide is in or out, or whether it's cloudy or sunny. The thing of most interest is that next to the Webcam picture Jane gives regular updates of the birds she is seeing on the shore and in her garden.
What to expect in May: Passage waders are still coming through, I saw 10,000 Knot flying past Hilbre directly out to sea on the 1st May, an awe inspiring sight knowing they were on their way to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Sanderling will be passing through right up to early June - look out for them at Gronant and the North Wirral shore.
Little and Common Terns will be returning to their nesting colonies at Gronant and Shotton respectively. After the excitement of seeing the first Spring migrant of each species arrive during March and April the remaining bulk of these populations will be arriving in May. Hilbre is an excellent spot for seeing the migration, if you can get there early in the day you will have more chance of seeing the birds.
Many thanks go to John Gittins, Cathy McGrath, Mike Hart, John Kirkland, Bill Owens, Chris Butterworth, Jane Turner, Wendy Allen, Phil Lovell, Mark Smith, Colin Jones, David Small, Mark Feltham, Peter Williams and Gareth Stamp for their sightings during April. 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.
May Highest Spring Tides
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.
Wirral Peregrines Phoenix Group
Wirral Bird Club
Forthcoming Events (organised by the
Wirral Ranger Service,
Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):
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 5th May. Guided Walk to the Hilbre
Sunday 6th May. International Dawn Chorus Day.
Dawn Chorus over Thurstaston Common.
4.30am - 6.30am.
Songs in Stapledon Woods. 5am - 7am.
Sunday 6th May. Spring Migrants at Point of Ayr.
Friday 11th May. Warblers in the Evening. 6:30pm - 10:00pm.
Sunday 13th May. Woodland, Heath and Foreshore. 11.30am - 3:30pm.
Saturday 19th May. Guided Walk to the Hilbre
Saturday 19th May. Early Birds, Inner Marsh Farm.
Sunday 20th May. Heswall Walk. 10:30am
Saturday 2nd June. Guided Walk to the Hilbre
Saturday 7th June. Sunset Walk to Hilbre.
Sunday 10th June. All About Trees. 2pm - 4pm.
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.