Hoylake shore with terns in the
foreground, Oystercatchers in the background and a nice selection of
© Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens
The third Wirral Wader Festival will
take place this September to celebrate the tens of thousands of wading
birds that visit Wirral’s unique coastline every year. Wading birds
such as knots, dunlins, curlews and bar-tailed godwits
feast on the rich mudflats of the Dee estuary and North Wirral shores
and can be easily seen from places such as Hoylake
showcase this natural spectacle, Wirral Coast Partnership has
organised a busy programme of events for Wirral Wader Festival on the
8th, 9th and 10th September.
Karen Leeming, Chair of the Wirral
Coast Partnership commented that: “Since the Wirral Wader Festival
Partnership held the first UK Wader Festival in 2015, it has encouraged
a number of other UK coastal areas to follow suit and we think that
this is a fantastic achievement.
“The entire Wirral coastline has
protection as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the
internationally important numbers of wading birds that live here
through autumn and winter. As a result, it is the focus of conservation
efforts from a number of environmental organisations, local authority
departments and private sector organisations who all contribute to the
“The Festival starts with a talk by the
naturalist and environmentalist Iolo Williams, also a renowned
presenter on the BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch, on Friday evening
and then a full weekend of events held at Hoylake and West
“Everyone is welcome from keen bird
watchers to people who have never looked through a telescope but who
would like to learn a bit more about local wildlife – we have lots of
people to help identify what you are looking at, and we have a lot of
activities for children and the young at heart.”
Wirral was approached to hold the first
event of its kind in the UK in 2015 by Rick and Elis Simpson of Wader
Quest. They came on a visit to view the remarkable efforts of the Dee
Estuary Voluntary Wardens (DEVW) who protect the thousands of birds
roosting on West Kirby and Hoylake beaches at high tide.
Wirral Wader Festival was created by
DEVW with Wirral Council’s Coastal Rangers, Cheshire Wildlife Trust,
the RSPB and Wader Quest.
There will be high tide watches to
marvel at the knot and dunlin roosts on Hoylake beach and at Cheshire
Wildlife Trust's Red Rocks nature reserve. At West Kirby
there will be live footage beamed direct from Little Eye, showing off
the oystercatchers and curlews up close.
Cheshire Wildlife Trust will be holding
guided walks around the Red Rocks SSSI nature reserve and hosting the
children’s activities. Wirral Rangers will be guiding a walk
to Hilbre Island.
For full details of the events and
activities during the festival, visit
Most activities on Saturday and Sunday are free but some have a small
charge. Seats for the Iolo Williams talk cost £15 and must be
pre-booked on: www.cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/whats-on.
A full program of events is given below - click here
on the image to download this events leaflet as a PDF file:
Part of a large Knot roost on Hoylake Shore © Matt Thomas.
Colour Ring Report
An interesting month, particularly with
colour-ringed terns of which more below. With so many gulls turning up
after breeding it was no surprise to see a ringed Black-headed Gull,
another one ringed in Essex but where do these breed? Given the large
number of Oystercatchers on the estuary we see surprisingly few ringed
ones, so it was nice to spot one at Hoylake. Large numbers of
Black-tailed Godwits were returning from Iceland through July reaching
over 2,000 at Caldy by the month-end - in total we saw 14 different
colour-ringed birds and I give details of three of these below.
Top left and clockwise: Black-headed
Oystercatcher S59, Black-tailed Godwit GG-YYflag, Black-tailed Godwit
LN-BR - all by Richard Smith.
black on yellow ring.
Ringed at Pitsea Landfill Site, Essex on March 11th 2017.
Recorded at West Kirby Shore on July 8th and 22nd.
This is the third black-headed Gull in the past three years
which has been ringed by the North Thames Gull Group at Pitsea
Landfill, and all in March.
Black on white ring.
Ringed as a chick on the roof of Aberdeen University Library on June
Recorded at Hoylake Shore on July 22nd 2017.
Also recorded at Seaforth Nature Reserve on May 6th and July 6th 2011.
This is what Alistair Duncan of the Grampian Ringing Group said:
"We have been monitoring Aberdeen's roof-nesting/urban nesting
Oystercatchers since 1986 and putting on Darvics since 1997. In winter
the majority of our birds go south and west to north west England,
Ireland and Wales. Smaller numbers winter in other estuaries and some
S59 is now seven years old and will winter every year in your area, as
they are very site faithful. If only we knew where it is breeding!"
- ringed as a chick in northern Iceland on July 15th 2013.
Recorded on Thurstaston Shore on July 5th 2017, then subsequently at
Caldy on several dates in the same month.
First record after ringing was at Marshside (RSPB) in October 2013
since when it has been seen many times at Gilroy (West Kirby) during
late summer and autumn in both 2015 and 2016, and on Thurstaston Shore
in the winters of 2014/15 and 2016/17. It was at Slimbridge Wetlands
and Wildfowl centre in July and August 2016 before moving north to
ringed as a chick in southern Iceland on June 23rd 2013.
Recorded at Caldy on many dates through July 2017.
This bird has been mainly recorded at Gilroy (West Kirby) in late
summer and autumn, with occasional sightings on Thurstaston Shore.
The only winter records came in 2016/17 when it was seen on
many dates on Thurstaston Shore.
As you may be able to tell from the photograph this bird has a badly
damaged leg and somehow the Yellow Flag has been pulled down from the
tibia to the tarsus.
- ringed as a chick in northern Iceland on July 14th 2004.
Recorded on Heswall Shore on July 4th 2017 and subsequently at
Marshside RSPB (Southport) on July 13th.
This bird spent it's first autumn and winter in SW Ireland before
turning up in the Netherlands in April 2006. April 2007 saw it on
Frodsham Marsh and the following winter it was seen just once, at
Marshside in January 2008. There was another record in the Netherlands
in March 2008. In 2010 it must have taken a year off from breeding as
it was in north Norfolk throughout that summer but it must have been
breeding again in 2013 as it was spotted in Iceland. Very few records
then until it turned up at Marshside again from July to November 2016,
the next sighting being at Heswall in 2017.
In the Irish
colonies colour-ringing of terns only started over the past
three to four
years, they will undoubtedly transform our knowledge of these
birds. With their short legs the rings are very difficult to read,
on the estuary, but we were lucky enough to be able to use a Land Rover
as a hide to get close to two juvenile Sandwich Terns in
July. It is slightly easier to get close to the birds in their breeding
colonies as they are used to the wardens being there, and you will see
that there have been a good number of colour-ringed Little Terns seen
Gronant this summer.
The Dee Estuary is one of the most
important post-breeding sites in the country for this species. The
colony at Cemlyn Bay (Anglesey) is the nearest breeding colony but
strangely there is no evidence that any come from there, however there
is evidence from ringing returns that birds come from Ireland
including the two colour-ringed juveniles below together with one from
the same colony last year.
- black on yellow ring.
Ringed as a chick on Ladys Island Lake, County Wexford, Ireland, on
June 21st 2017.
Recorded close to Little Eye on July 20th 2017.
- black on yellow ring.
Ringed as a chick on Ladys Island Lake, County Wexford, Ireland, on
July 3rd 2017.
Recorded close to Little Eye on July 20th 2017.
Tern AAB photographed
at Gronant in 2017, ringed on the Isle of Man
© Jack Slattery
and the Gronant Wardens
There were record numbers of colour-ringed Little Terns observed at
Gronant in 2017 with a total of 31 birds recorded a total of 65 times.
11 were ringed at Gronant, eight from the Isle of Man, 11 from Kilcoole
in Ireland and one ringed in both Kilcoole and Isle of Man, more of
which below. Kilcoole is just north of Wexford, so not far from where
the Sandwich Tern colony is (see above); the colony
there is a bit bigger than at Gronant whilst the Isle of Man colony at
Point of Ayre typically has 30 to 60 pairs. I'm told that the Irish Sea
colonies all had a good breeding season, which is certainly good news.
Here are details of two Colour-ringed Little Terns of particular
AAD - black on yellow
Recorded at Gronant on June 9th 2017.
Ringed as a chick at Kilcoole, Ireland, on June 25th 2004 when it was
given a metal ring. It was then caught at Rue Point, Isle of
Man, 10 years later (May 2014) and given a colour ring. This
bird is now 13 years old.
XCJ - black on yellow ring
Recorded at East Chevington, Northumberland, on July 3rd 2017.
Ringed as a chick at Gronant on July 10th 2016.
Notable for two reasons, that it came back to the UK in it's first
summer, perhaps more common than previously thought, and the first
Gronant colour-ringed bird to be seen away from the Irish Sea.
Colour-rings were also reported by Matt Thomas, Steve
Hinde, Alan Hitchmough, Jack Slatterly, Henry Cook and the Gronant
This eagerly awaited book is soon to be published and there will be a
full review in this newsletter within the next month or two. The cost
will be £19.99 + PP. For further details and to order please email email@example.com
August Bird News
Mediterranean Gull at Burton Mere Wetlands, July 16th
© Mark Woodhead
The month started with the news of two Mediterranean Gull chicks
hatched at Burton Mere Wetlands, the first for that site and the first
successful breeding of this species in Cheshire outside of Delamere
Forest. Elsewhere, Mediterranean Gulls were seen right across North
Wirral shore, West Kirby, Heswall and Gronant with highest count of
four at West Kirby on the 8th.
There were the usual Sandwich Terns using the estuary as a staging post
including 700 at Hilbre on the 18th and 559 at Hoylake on the 23rd,
plenty of juveniles were observed. It has been a bit of a strange
season at the Gronant Little Tern colony with breeding starting very
early in May, these produced over 100 fledglings by early June but
because a lot of nests were lost many re-layed - as a result the season
was now unusually late as the chicks from these late nests were
becoming fledglings through the second half of July. The total number
of fledglings will probably end up around 200, more than last year's
171 and the second highest ever produced at Gronant.
Common Tern with Sandwich Terns, Hoylake Shore,
July 27th © Jeff Cohen
Waders returned in good numbers and there was a good passage of
Whimbrels around the third week of the month with 36 at Gronant on the
19th, and 42 at Heswall and 21 at Hilbre both on the 21st. Black-tailed
Godwits had reached over 2,000 at Caldy by the month end, a very good
count for July, they roosted at high tide in a private Wildfowl
collection and fed on the estuary between Thurstaston and West Kirby at
low tide. The first juveniles were arriving by the month-end, the
earliest we've ever seen them. Other notable counts of waders included
six Common Sandpipers at Heswall on the 4th and 212 Sanderling at
Gronant on the 19th.
Two or three Great White Egrets were
recorded all month at Burton and across to Shotton and Connah's Quay,
peaking at the Connah's Quay Reserve with four on the 31st. Another
notable record at Connah's Quay was of three Red Kites flying behind
the reserve on the 25th.
There was a report of a 'probable'
Lesser Yellowlegs below the Dee Bridge by Connah's Quay on the 14th
(but news was only released three days later), with a claimed
'confirmed' sighting on the 21st on Outer Burton Marsh. I don't know
the full circumstances of the first record but was contacted directly
by somebody on the 21st who said a 'Verifier' who wished to remain
anonymous had confirmed the ID, but no details of the exact location or
circumstances were forthcoming. I regard the record on the 21st
suspicious, indeed highly improbable, which in turn must put the
record in doubt.
I've had computer problems this month
and may have mislaid some emails, apologies if I've left your name out
of this list.
thanks go to David Haigh, Mal Sergeant, Ellliot Montieth, Steve
Hinde, Jeremy Bradshaw, Mark Turner, Mark Gibson, Matt Thomas, Mark
Butterworth, Roy Lowry, Paul Shenton, David Leeming, Jeff Cohen, Alan
Hitchmough, Richard Whitby, Les Hall, Chris smith, Steve
Williams, Richard Speechley, Dave Edwards, Paul Mason, Richard
Beckett, Peter Haslem, Karen
Leeming, Geoff Robinson, Linda
Platt, Ian Douglas, Colin Schofield, Gavin Butler, Allan Conlin, George
Knight, Ian Fleming, Hugh Stewart, Frank
Burns, Alec Thomasson, Jack Slatterly, Henry Cook, Steve Dewsnap,
Charles Farnell, Pete and Marjo Lewis, Brian Tollitt, David Thompson,
Neil Mcmorran, the Lighthouse
and Wirral Birding Blog
and the Hilbre Bird
for their sightings during July. All
are gratefully received.
What to expect in September
Wirral, Hilbre and Point of Ayr are the best places in the country to
see Leach's Petrels. The month they are normally seen is September but
they aren't guaranteed, we need a north-westerly gale to blow them
towards the coast. We have not had a really good passage of these birds
since 2010, the ideal conditions to get one is for a prolonged and
strong north-westerly gale to blow for at least two days and the nearer
the middle of the month the better. In these conditions they get blown
through the north channel of the Irish Sea straight towards the mouth
of the River Mersey, they then fly westwards close to the shore past
Leasowe, Red Rocks, Hilbre and Point of Ayr. Prime viewing points are
New Brighton, Leasowe Gunsite and Hilbre. Such conditions are also
right for a whole lot of other species such as Grey Phalaropes,
Sabine's Gulls and Long-tailed Skuas whilst Arctic Skuas will be in
Curlew Sandpiper is another species associated with September. For more info about Curlew Sandpipers see The Curlew Sandpiper Influx (2011)
and Curlew Sandpiper Influx 2016.
We will also get plenty of other waders passing through including Little Stints, Greenshanks and Ruffs.
is always good for rarities and in the past few years we've had
Dottrel, Hoopoe, Little Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Red-backed
Shrike, Semi-palmated Sandpiper......
Spring Tides (Liverpool)
22nd August, 12.21hrs (BST), 9.5m.
23rd August, 13.03hrs (BST), 9.6m.
24th August, 13.42hrs (BST), 9.5m.
Organised by the Wirral
Ranger Service , Flintshire
Countryside Service and the
RSPB (Dee Estuary):
Tuesday 1st August and Tuesday 22nd August
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.
Wildlife Wander at RSPB
Burton Mere Wetlands.
1 pm start.
Price: Free (normal reserve entry charges apply to non-members).
one of our friendly, knowledgeable volunteers for a leisurely amble
around much of Burton Mere Wetlands, including the unmissable viewpoint
at the end of the Hillfort Trail on Burton Point. Take in the sights
and sounds, learn more about the wildlife that thrives here, the work
we do to give nature a home and the remarkable history of the estuary.
for first time visitors or those looking to brush up on their
identification skills; with constant changes as we move through the
seasons, it's impossible to predict what might be seen. Summer may be a
quieter time for birds since they finish defending territories as
breeding season ends, but the growing avocet chicks and fledged little
egrets and herons loafing close to the hides are great to watch. Warm
sunny days will bring out the various dragon and damselflies that make
their home on the reserve, along with butterflies and basking common
lizards! Some birds begin their return migration just as we are getting
settled into summer so sometimes unexpected birds may be found.
booking required, just turn up on the day. A reasonable level of
fitness and sturdy footwear are required. Walks typically last up to 3
hours, weather permitting.
Ring 0151 353 8478 for further details.
WADER FESTIVAL September 8th to 10th 2017 -
Further details will be published in September Newsletter on this
website but here are a few highlights:
8th: Iolo Williams Friday Evening Talk - Wildlife of the
Where: Heswall Hall, Heswall
Time: Doors open 7.00pm for 7.30pm start. Cost £15. Booking
Parking: CH60 0AF (for sat nav use CH60 4RH). Nearby municipal car
parks free after 6.30pm
September 9th: Sunset walk to Hilbre Island.
Saturday 5.30pm-8pm. Booking
essential. £3 fee
Jo in Wirral Rangers and Cheshire Wildlife Trust o n a magical w alk to
Island. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book and for
meet ing details.
(Composting toilet available on the Island, no other facilities).