2nd June 2004
Rare Birds in Cheshire and Wirral.

Mersey Ferry Bird Cruise.
Clwyd Bird Report 2002.
Latest Bird Counts.
May Bird News.
Forthcoming Events.
Latest Newsletter.

Rare Birds in Cheshire & Wirral (extract).


Allan Conlin and Steve Williams, the authors of the new booklet 'Rare Birds in Cheshire & Wirral' (reviewed last month), have kindly agreed to let me print an extract in this newsletter. I have picked three species more or less at random but all have been seen at least once in the Dee Estuary region. Hope this gives you a feel of this most useful and interesting publication.

Great Snipe                       Gallinago gallinago
At least five records; but none since 1957.

One was killed in Brereton Park on 7th September 1901; there are several reports of birds prior to this all relating to birds having been shot mostly in the winter. Singles were reported from Hoylake in December 1940, at Frodsham Marsh on 10th August 1952, New Ferry in March 1956 and Hoylake Langfields on 5th October 1957.

Gull-billed Tern                  Gelochelidon nilotica
Six records with Hoylake, Inner Marsh Farm RSPB Reserve and Frodsham claiming two apiece and all falling between 18th May and 2nd August.

An adult was off Hoylake beach and Hilbre on 2nd and again at Hoylake on 4th August
1976 and was seen by several observers; this was the first Cheshire and Wirral record.

The second record concerned another off Hoylake on 8th July 1982.

There was then an adult seen at Frodsham on 31st May 1987 followed by another adult briefly at Inner Marsh Farm RSPB Reserve on 16th June 1989; the latter being relocated at Blithfield Reservoir in Staffordshire on 19th June.

An adult was seen at Frodsham Marsh on 31st July 1995 having been seen earlier at Seaforth Nature Reserve, Lancashire.

Finally, another adult was found very early morning of 18th May 2002 at Inner Marsh Farm RSPB Reserve but it soon departed and headed northwards.

Bee-eater                               Merops apiaster
Five Cheshire and Wirral records all falling between 25th April and 20th June with three from Wirral.

One at Hoylake on 20th and 21st June 1983 was the first record for Cheshire and Wirral.
One was seen, albeit briefly and very high, at Red Rocks but was heard calling on 25th
April 1990.

This was incredibly followed by another in 1990, with one at Hilbre on 6th June. This bird was seen during an exceptional down pour as it attempted to take shelter in Fisherman's Cave Middle Eye. Thus showing the value of continued birding during the traditionally quiet summer months.

One was seen over Hough Green, Widnes on 13th June 1992.

A series of records in 1995 possibly relate to the same individual. A bird was heard over Woolston on 29th April and one was found exhausted at Latchford on 3rd May and subsequently released. Finally, one was heard calling again over Woolston on 1st June.

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Mersey Ferries Bird Cruise  

Mersey Ferries

Liverbird Wildlife Discovery Cruises.

Like last year the RSPB and Mersey Ferries have joined up to organise a couple of birdwatching trips out in to Liverpool Bay. This is a rare opportunity to get closer to the seabirds feeding and migrating in and beyond the mouth of the Mersey and off the north Wirral shore. Given a bit of luck with the weather, a fresh west wind would be nice, we could see Gannets, Manx Shearwaters, Arctic Skuas, Common Scoter and at least three species of terns.
The cruises take place on 18th August and 1st September, a bit later than last year which should mean more birds around. For details of times and how to book see the Mersey Ferry website:-

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Clwyd Bird Report 2002
The Clwyd Bird Recording Group have produced another excellent report. Along with the usual comprehensive systematic list there are several fascinating articles including 'All Wales Common Scoter Survey' by Dr Sian Whitehead and 'Our bit of the River Clwyd' by Elvet and Loise Jones, all about the BTO Waterways Bird Survey.

Copies of the report can be purchased for 5.00 + 1.00 P&P from the Clwyd Bird Recording Group either from:

Hon. Secretary, Dr Anne Brenchley,
Ty'r Fawnog,
43 Blackbrook, Sychdyn,
Mold, Flintshire CH7 6LT


Norman Hallas,
63 Park Avenue,
Wrexham LL12 7AW.

Please send your 2003 records for Clwyd as soon as possible to Norman Hallas at the above address, many thanks.

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Bird Counts
  Count from Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service), 23rd May.
41 Cormorant, 8 Grey Heron, 41 Shelduck, 2 Mallard, 10 Oystercatcher, 6 Grey Plover, 105 Dunlin, 10 Whimbrel, 153 Curlew, also 71 Carrion Crows feeding on mudflats.

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May Bird News
  The end of May came and my first thought was that it had been a very quiet month, then I looked back at the sightings and realised we hadn't done too badly! An adult Bonaparte's Gull looked superb in full summer plumage at Inner Marsh Farm on the 20th. Cheshire and Wirral's sixth record. Up to four immature Mediterranean Gulls were also present among the many Black-headed breeding on the islands on the reserve. Like last month the presence of two Arctic Terns at 'IMF' was greeted with  scepticism in some quarters, but as they were recorded in their hundreds passing through the midlands over April it isn't that surprising for a couple to have turned up here. Less surprising, of course, was the presence of a few off Hilbre Island during the month. A couple of Pectoral Sandpipers and a Temminck's Stint rounded off a good month for Inner Marsh Farm.

 Elsewhere there was an excellent passage of Whinchat over Spring Bank Holiday weekend with 10 at Red Rocks, four on the Hoylake Langfields and a reported 15 at Burton. Most years we just see 'ones and twos' coming through. Other birds on migration included a Redstart on Hilbre, a Ring Ouzel at Red Rocks and the first Cuckoo of the spring on May 3rd at Gronant. It was not a bad month for Cuckoos with a total of seven records. The Whimbrel passage continued with a maximum of 27 at Oakenholt, but 450 Black-tailed Godwits at Inner Marsh Farm were probably non-breeders spending the summer here.

Although sea-watching was generally quiet we did have some good birds including 2 Black-necked Grebes off Hilbre and a Pomarine Skua at Leasowe. An excellent find on the Royal Liverpool Golf course at Hoylake was a Nightjar, first Cheshire and Wirral record for four years.

What to expect in June.

Traditionally the quietest month of the year but can throw up some surprise rarities. Last year we had Golden Oriole, Tawny Pipit and Red-backed Shrike. And, of course, many local twitchers saw Britain's first ever Black Lark at South Stack on nearby Anglesey.

Waders are conspicuous by their absence in June but some years thousands of non-breeders (immature birds) stay on the estuary, and by the end of the month we will see the first returning birds - either failed or early breeders. A bird which breeds relatively early in the year is the Sandwich Tern and we will see the first post-breeding birds at the mouth of the estuary, always a welcome sight. Most of these will be coming from their colony at Cemlyn Bay, Anglesey.

A fresh south-west wind should make for some good sea-watching. Gannets in particular but also Manx Shearwaters and Common Scoters. Most of these Gannets hanging around in Liverpool Bay will be immature birds, but it is quite feasible that some will be adults foraging all the way from their huge breeding colony at Grassholm, off Pembrokeshire. 

Many thanks go to Phil Woolen, Cath McGrath, Tony Twemlow, Phil Oddy, Mark Feltham, Mike Hart, Steve Roberts, Carl Traill,  Dave and Emma Kenyon, Bernard Machin, Matt Thomas, Clive Ashton, Steve Round, Tanny Robinson, Brian Grey, John Harrison, Allan Conlin, Mike Hart, David Harrington, Colin Wells, Stephen Williams,  Chris Butterworth,  Martyn Jaimeson, Mal Smerden,  Jean Morgan, Jane Turner, John Roberts, Gary Keating, Mark O'Sullivan, 'Bill'. Peter Button, David Haigh and the Hilbre Bird Observatory for their sightings during May. All sightings are gratefully received.

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Forthcoming Events
  June Highest Spring Tides, also see Tides page.
3rd June, 12:02hrs 9.6m. (all times BST)
4th June, 12:51hrs 9.6m. 

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

Sunday 6th June, 8:00am - 10:00am. Warblers of the Common.
Look, listen and search for warblers and other migrant species that come to these lowland heathlands during our summer months.
Booking essential. Tel: 0151 648 4371.

Friday 11th June, 9:00pm to Midnight! A Night on the Tiles.
Owls, mice, bats and moths are on the menu for this evening excursion around Wirral Country Park. Tawny, little and barn owls are all possible. The bat detectors and moth traps will be out so join the Rangers to see what turns up! Warm clothing and a torch are a must. Places are limited, so book early on 0151 648 4371.

Saturday 12th June, 1:30pm, Orchid Spectacular at Inner Marsh Farm RSPB Nature Reserve.
The reserve's wetland fields become carpeted with marsh orchids in the spring. Join the Warden on a walk around this special part of the reserve not normally open to visitors. Learn about how we manage the reserve, over afternoon tea. Booking essential. Tickets: 3.00 members and 4.00 non-members. For details and to book, tel RSPB, 0151 336 7681. Please book early due to popular demand.

Sunday 13th June, 1:30pm, Orchid Spectacular at Inner Marsh Farm RSPB Nature Reserve.
A second opportunity to join the Warden on a walk around a special part of the reserve not normally open to visitors. Event followed by afternoon tea. Booking essential. Tickets: 3.00 members and 4.00 non-members. To book and further details call RSPB on 0151 336 7681. Please book early.

Thursday 17th June, 8:30pm - 11:00pm, Night Owl Watch.
A joint evening walk with the Wirral Barn Owl Trust and the Rangers to see and hear these birds of the night. There will be a short introduction by the Trust about their work in helping to save this beautiful bird. Booking essential. Tel: 0151 648 4371.

Wednesday 23rd June 6:30pm, Gronant Little Tern Colony.
Join the North Wales RSPB group for a visit to the little tern colony at Gronant. Meet in the car park opposite the newsagents on Shore Road, Lower Gronant. For more details, contact Maureen on 01492 547 768.

Saturday 26th June, 10:00am, Gander at Gronant Little Tern Colony .
Visit the last remaining little tern colony in Wales as it reaches a peak of activity with adults busily feeding their hungry youngsters. The RSPB Little Tern Wardens will be on hand for you to get the most from your visit. No need to book. Meet at Presthaven Sands Caravan Park at the end of Shore Rd, Gronant (near Prestatyn). Further information tel. RSPB on 0151 336 7681.

Thursday 1st July, 8:00pm - 10:30pm, Night Owl Watch.
A joint evening walk with the Wirral Barn Owl Trust and the Rangers to see and hear these birds of the night. There will be a short introduction by the Trust about their work in helping to save this beautiful bird. Booking essential. Tel: 0151 648 4371.

16th July to 1st August, National Exhibition of Wildlife Art, Gordale Garden Centre, Burton.
This year this superb exhibition of wildlife paintings and sculptures is to be held at Burton close to the shores of the Dee Estuary. I would highly recommend a visit, I've been in previous years and it always includes some stunning bird paintings, well worth a look even if you can't afford to buy any! Gordale Garden Centre is on the Chester High Road (A540).

Note: Many of these forthcoming events are extracted from the 'Birdwatchers Diary 2004', which covers both the Dee and Mersey regions. Hard copies available from the visitor centre at Thurstaston, Wirral Country Park 0151 648 4371.

All material in this newsletter, and indeed the whole web site, has been written by myself, Richard Smith, unless specified.

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