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1st July 2002
DEVW Report 2001 (part 2).

Latest Bird Counts.
June Bird News.
Forthcoming Events.
Latest Newsletter.


             G wagtail
              Chris Butterworth

The Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens Bird Report  2001 (Part 2)


Dunlins roosting at high tide on the marsh at West Kirby (Valerie McFarland)

Chris Butterworth.

Welcome to the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens second annual report on the birds and other wildlife recorded between West Kirby and Red Rocks, at the north west corner of the Wirral peninsula.
The format for the report is basically the same as last year and covers all species reported from the wardening area throughout the year. One change from last year is that the status comments, to the right of the scientific name, in the bird section now reflect the species occurrence off West Kirby shore, and not Wirral as a whole.

Systematic list              
Mediterranean Gull to Great Black-backed Gull.
Kittiwake to Rock Pigeon.
Stock Pigeon to Sand Martin.
Swallow to Wren.
Hedge Accentor to Blackbird.
Fieldfare to Garden Warbler.
Blackcap to Coal Tit.
Blue Tit to Chaffinch.
Greenfinch to Reed Bunting.
Part 1, Red-throated Diver to Great Skua, was published in the June 2002 Newsletter.

If you would like  the complete printed report including detailed sections on butterflies, flora and other wildlife (which covers everything from Natterjacks to seaweeds!), quotes of the year, the Wardening Year and an article on  Brent Geese on the Dee,  please send cheque made out to the ‘Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens’ for £2.50 (includes p&p) to Chris Butterworth, 247 Greenbank Road, West Kirby, Merseyside, CH48.

 If you think you might like to join the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens, or just want more information then phone the coastal ranger on 0151 678 5488. There are several articles on this website about the wardens, click here to see them.

All sketches in the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens Report 2001 were  drawn by Chris Butterworth. 



Bird Counts


Wetland Bird Survey Count for Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service). 10th June. 
13 Cormorant, 5 Grey Heron, 1,555 Shelduck, 6 Mallard, 1,090  Oystercatcher, 8 Grey Plover, 4 Whimbrel, 142 Curlew, 189 Black-headed Gull, 46 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 130 Herring Gull and 4 Great Black-backed Gull.
June Bird News


The most unusual, and unexpected birds of the month must be the Stone Curlew at Gronant and two Short-eared Owls flying over West Kirby. The Stone Curlew was a good record, normally only one or two are seen a year in the whole of the North Wales/ North-west England region. Although never usually seen on the estuary between May and September we can get several thousand pairs of Short-eared Owls breeding in this country in good vole years, so may be we shouldn't be too surprised when the odd one or two turn up here, even in June.  

Both our tern colonies are doing well. A count of 555 Common Tern nests at Shotton was yet another record. Although quite high mortality of chicks occurred in late May/ early June due to bad weather the Merseyside ringing group told me they are confident that the terns will relay and expect at least 700 chicks to fledge. The Little Tern colony at Gronant, the only one in Wales, is also doing well with over 50 nests. We have had better luck this year controlling fox predation and seen little of the Kestrel - so we are hoping for a good number of fledglings. 


Like May, June was an excellent month for sea birds - particularly Gannets, but also Manx Shearwaters, Fulmars, Common Scoters and Guillemots. 4 Little Egrets at Burton was a high number for June, yet another indication of their increase. The pick of the birds at Inner Marsh Farm included a Spoonbill, Wood Sandpiper and Mediterranean Gull.

What to expect in July: It might only be mid summer (around here we are still waiting for our summer to start!) but for many species of birds the summer breeding season is over. This means a rapid build up of birds on the estuary during the month. Thousands of gulls and terns use the sand banks as a post breeding resting place making it an ideal time to brush up on gull ageing and racial identification, something I know you all love to do! But even if you are not into the intricacies of gull plumage get down to Gronant, Point of Ayr, West Kirby or Hoylake about two hours before high tide to enjoy the spectacle. Among those thousands may be the odd rarity such as Black Tern, Roseate Tern or Mediterranean Gull - all seen in July in previous years. 

Waders also increase spectacularly in July with returning Redshank, Oystercatcher and Curlew in their thousands. Less common waders too - such as Green and Common Sandpipers, Spotted Redshank, Sanderling and Whimbrel on passage. Greenshank numbers at Parkgate Boathouse Flash start to build up prior to their maximum in late August/ early September - last July we had 29. The 'Flash' must now be one of the best places in the country to see Greenshank.

All in all July tends to be an underrated month birdwise, I hope the above will prompt you to get out and not miss out on some truly excellent birdwatching.

Many thanks go to John Billington, Colin Wells, Mark Griffith, Keith Lester, Gareth Stamp, Hefin Jones, Mike Hart, Nigel Troup, Stephen Williams,  Dorothy Jebb,  Mike Hart, Steve Williams, Chris Butterworth,  David Esther, Martyn Jaimeson  and Jane Turner for their sightings during May. All sightings are gratefully received.

Forthcoming Events


July Highest Spring Tides
12th July, 13.33hrs 9.1m. (all times BST)
13th July, 14.18hrs 9.1m. 

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.

Tuesday 16th July. Sunset Walk to Hilbre.
An evening stroll across the sands to Hilbre. A 4 mile walk of 4 hours, ideal for first time visitors. Sorry, no dogs. There is a charge of £1 per person for this event. Booking essential, ring 0151 648 4371.

Wednesday 17th July 9:00pm, Night Owl Watch.
Come along and watch those birds of the night. Barn, Tawny and Little Owl can be seen in this locality. A joint walk with the Wirral Barn Owl Group around Thurstaston Common and Royden Park. The event will start with a short talk about the conservation of these beautiful birds, followed by a walk and hopefully sightings. Please wear suitable clothing. Sorry no dogs. Booking is essential tel. 0151 648 4371/3884.

Saturday 20th July 8:00pm, Birds, Bats, Moths and BBQ. 
Join the RSPB staff at Burton Point Farm for an exciting evening of birds, bats and moths. Local bat and moth experts will be on hand. Booking essential. Tickets £6.50 members and £7.50 non-members. For tickets and further information contact RSPB on 0151 336 7681.

Saturday 20th July. Guided Walk to Hilbre.
Cross the sands to discover the Islands' wildlife and history. A 4 mile walk of 4 hours, ideal for first time visitors. Sorry, no dogs. There is a charge of £1 per person for this event. Booking essential, ring 0151 648 4371.

Friday 9th August 8:00am, In Search of Terns.
A specialist trip to the wonderful island of Hilbre to study the terns which use the Liverpool Bay as a staging post on their amazing migratory journeys. We will also search out early season migrants such as Willow Warblers and Northern Wheatears. Places strictly limited and there is a £1 charge per person. To book tel. 0151 648 4371/3884.

Saturday 10th August 10:30am, High Tide at Point of Ayr
Join the local RSPB warden to experience an impressive spectacle of terns and waders. Expect to see Little, Common and Sandwich Terns. Waders are already on the move south.
Target species include Curlew Sandpiper and Whimbrel. (HW 13:00, 9.5m) No need to book. Meet at the end of Station Rd. Talacre. Further information contact RSPB tel. 0151 336 7681. 

Note: Many of these forthcoming events are extracted from 'Birdwatchers Diary 2002', 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.