Count from Heswall Shore on the 24th
June provided with thanks by the Wirral Ranger Service:
June Bird News
thought I would say this about the Knot but they were the most unusual birds on the estuary during June. These birds are normally completely absent in June, not returning
to the estuary in significant numbers until October. But this year has been
So what were these birds doing here in June? Most of the birds were in non-breeding plumage which means they are likely to be one year old birds, probably in moult. According to the Birds of the Western Palearctic Handbook these young birds can over-summer anywhere within their winter or breeding ranges. Why this year so many chose to spend June in the Dee Estuary remains a mystery for the moment, maybe bad weather in their normal staging posts, or maybe just chance! The last time we had over summering Knot was 1993, when about 900 spent a couple of weeks at Heswall.
We had a few days of strong north or north-west winds during the month and these meant good sightings of Gannets, Manx Shearwater, Guillemots, Fulmar with a handful of Arctic Skua. A couple of flocks of about 40 Common Scoter were seen flying west towards their gathering point further along the North Wales coast.
Three or four calling Quail were heard off Neston and Parkgate early on in the month. Other birds of note were a Spoonbill and Greenshank at Parkgate and a Little Egret and Yellow-legged Gull at the Point of Ayr.
The sand dunes at Gronant are looking lovely at the moment with the orchids in full flower. The Little Tern colony got off to a good start at the beginning of the month with over fifty nests. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the wardening team, a lot of nests were taken by foxes. The terns have shown their resilience by relaying and by the end of the month were back up to over fifty nests again. A kestrel has been a problem of late but we hope to keep losses to a minimum by the use of wooden chick shelters. The Common Tern colony at Shotton is doing very well with about 550 pairs having an excellent breeding season.
What to expect in July: It may be still the middle of summer but the autumn migration/passage gets well underway during July. Numbers of Curlew and Redshank build up rapidly, their major roost being at Heswall. Whimbrel should start passing through towards the end of the month, again Heswall is a main roosting area for this species, often missed among the Curlew.
Greenshank and Spotted Redshank are likely to be at Parkgate and Inner Marsh Farm, and both Green and Wood Sandpipers may be seen. Good numbers of Common Sandpipers pass through but are very much under recorded, look for them wherever a stream enters the estuary.
The last ten days or so of July is an excellent time to see Terns on the estuary. Large roosts of Little, Sandwich and Common Tern build up at both Gronant and Hoylake, and a lot of these birds will be passing Hilbre Island during high tide. If we get some strong north to west winds some excellent sea-watching can be had with several species of Skuas on show, look out also for Storm Petrels.
Many thanks go to John Gittins, Ken Mullins, John Baker, Mike Hart, Gareth Stamp, Mark Feltham, David Small, Martyn Jameison, Cathy McGrath, Bill Owens, Jane Turner, Paul Vautrinot and Brian Roberts for their sightings during June. I rely on the goodwill of people like this, unlike some commercial sites I cannot offer financial inducements!
July 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 1st July. Gander at Gronant Tern
Thursday 5th July. Sunset Walk to Hilbre.
Sunday 8th July. Talacre - Back in time. 1pm - 3pm.
Saturday 14th July. Guided Walk to the Hilbre
Saturday 21st July. Birds, Bats, Moths and BBQ. 8pm.
Saturday 28th July. Guided Walk to the Hilbre
Saturday 4th August. A Gathering of Terns. 8.30am.
Saturday 18th August 9:00 (HW 11.25, 9.2m) Banks Road Birdwatch, Heswall.
Sunday 19th August 9:15AM (HW 12.16,9.6m) Banks Road Birdwatch, Heswall.
Tuesday 21st August 12:00am (HW 13:49, 9.9m) Parkgate
High Tide Birdwatch.
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.