Mersey Ferry Bird Cruises
Liverbird Wildlife Discovery Cruises.
The RSPB, National Museums of Liverpool and Mersey Ferries have teamed up again to provide birdwatching cruises in to Liverpool Bay. There will be three cruises this year (2007), on August 20th, August 22nd and September 17th, each one lasting about three hours. To book use the Mersey Ferries website - http://www.merseyferries.co.uk/special/index.aspx or contact Mersey Ferries directly by ringing 0151 330 1444.
These trips are always enjoyable with Arctic Skuas usually the stars of the show. Last year we also saw a couple of Storm Petrels, the first ever for these trips. In previous trips rarer birds have included Long-tailed Skua, Great Skua and Osprey with regular birds including Peregrines, Guillemots, Mediterranean Gulls, Kittiwakes, Sandwich and Common Terns, Little Gulls, Bar-tailed Godwits and Knot on the beach at Crosby/Formby, and Black-tailed Godwits at New Ferry. We also usually see a Grey Seal or two.
As with any sea-watching the weather is crucial and ideally we want to go out the day after a westerly gale which should produce plenty of interesting birds including Scoters, Gannets and Manx Shearwaters, and may be even some Storm and Leach's Petrels; but I suppose a Sooty Shearwater would be too much to hope for!
June Bird News
The Great White Egret which was seen briefly in May turned up again on the 1st at Decca Pools, Burton Marsh, it then flew to Gronant where it was seen on the lagoon the next day. Burton was also host to the only other rarities of note this month - a female Red-backed Shrike which showed nicely for a few hours in a field next to Denhall Lane on the 24th, and a pair of Spoonbills which arrived on the 1st and stayed most of the month; they spent most of the time at the Inner Marsh Farm and Burton Marsh RSPB reserves.
Our tern colonies both have record numbers of pairs breeding. At Shotton there are 762 pairs of Common Terns, the previous highest number was 722 last year. Gronant has 125 pairs of Little Terns, the previous highest number being 110 pairs in both 2003 and 2006. Hopefully, this will mean that we will have record numbers of fledglings at end of the breeding season but the bad weather at the end of June will certainly not have helped breeding success, so we will just have to hope for the best. Good numbers of Sandwich Terns were already back in the estuary by the end of the month with 115 roosting at West Kirby.
Having written an article on Manx Shearwaters for the June newsletter I feared that we were not going to see a single one this month, but the same bad weather which caused problems for our tern colonies brought some strong westerly winds resulting in 385 Manxies off Hilbre and 125 off Red Rocks on the 29th. On the same day we had 4 Arctic Skuas, 255 Gannets and 28 Kittiwakes off Hilbre and a Black-throated Diver at Point of Ayr. An immature Great Skua at New Brighton on the 5th was also of note.
What to expect in July
The one species I most associate with July is the Sandwich Tern, the estuary will be filled with their screeching calls as they disperse here in their hundreds as soon as they finish breeding. High tide roosts can be seen at Red Rocks, West Kirby, Point of Ayr and Gronant, and at low tide they gather on the sand banks around Hilbre. Gulls also build up rapidly after breeding with thousands present in the estuary, look out for the distinctive Mediterranean Gulls in among the rest. If flying ants are about we can get hundreds of gulls, particularly Black-headed, overhead. This month can also be good for other seabirds, particularly in a strong westerly wind - look out for Storm Petrels, Manx Shearwaters, Gannets and Arctic Skuas.
The return passage of waders will be noticeable with Common and Green Sandpipers at our fresh water sites, and maybe one or two Wood Sandpipers, but Common Sandpipers can also turn up just about anywhere around the estuary. A few Greenshank, Spotted Redshank and Little Ringed Plover will also be passing through. Of the commoner waders we should get good numbers of Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and Sanderling returning, the latter in their summer plumage often catching people out who are more used to seeing their bright white winter plumage.
Unlike the waders and seabirds the estuary will be virtually empty of wildfowl as they under go their annual moult, the Shelduck moult in their thousands on the mud banks of the nearby Mersey Estuary, although there is some evidence that a couple of thousand or so now moult on the Dee Estuary. Marsh Harriers start heading south this month, and we can also get the occasional wandering Red Kite.
Many thanks go to Paul Vautrinot, Dave Edwards, Karen Leeming, Chris wilding, Neil McLaren, Graeme Lowe, Tanny Robinson, Jayne Peet, Pete Button, Frank Huband, David Small, Mike Jones, David Harrington, Mark Gibson, Allan Conlin, Bob Pilgrem, Dave Wild, John Kirkland, Colin Schofield, Mark Murphy, Steve Round, Dave Barrow, Steve Williams, John Boswell, Chris Butterworth, Derek Gifford, Jane Turner, Charles Farnell, Paul Shenton, Paul Rowlands, Gilbert Bolton, David Ritchie, Mark Evans, Ron Graves, Nigel Young, Rose Schofield, Paul Ritchies, Ian Maw and the Hilbre Bird Observatory for their sightings during June. All sightings are gratefully received.
Spring Tides (Liverpool),
Forthcoming Events (organised by the
Wirral Ranger Service,
Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):
Sunday 1st July. Greenfinch or Goldfinch? 10am -
Wednesday 4th July, Evening Sunset Walk to
Sunday 15th July, Heathlands Hike, 10am - 12.30pm.
Thursday 19th July, Evening Sunset Walk to
Sunday 29th July,
Greenfield Valley Butterfly Walk, 2pm.
Sunday 12th August, Through Dales and Woods, 10am -
NOTE: Many of these forthcoming events are extracted from the 'Birdwatchers Diary 2007', 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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