No, not a list of somewhat unsavoury medical conditions but various names we give to the presence of an unusually large numbers of normally rare or scarce birds. I've picked out five species and described the year when we had the largest recorded 'irruption, influx, invasion or large passage' for each one. For research I've used almost exclusively Cheshire and Wirral Bird Reports for which I have an extensive, but not quite complete, collection. Unfortunately my collection of Clwyd Bird Reports is far from complete which means that the article is inevitably heavily biased in favour of Cheshire and Wirral for which I apologise. Anyway - I'm sure many of you will remember these years of plenty with pleasure and we can all look forward to when we again have an irruption or large passage!
Next I quote from the 1978 Cheshire Bird Report - "Early on 30th (Sept) quite phenomenal numbers were present, with some hundreds off Seacombe Ferry. On the ebbing tide an incredible number moved out of the river past large numbers of observers stationed at New Brighton. No accurate counts have been submitted, but a conservative estimate is of 800 petrels". Although these are the highest recorded numbers more may have been present in 1952 when 'hundreds' were washed up dead along the north Wirral shore during a severe gale in mid-September. Unfortunately there is no record of an accurate count. See also Leach's Petrel - Species Spotlight.
"The beginning of
May saw an unprecedented influx of Black Terns across Cheshire and Wirral.
This was part of a huge nation-wide movement that affected most counties.
Towards the end of April weather conditions were ideally set for the
arrival of drift migrants, with clear skies, high pressure and a steady
south-easterly wind, the result of an anticyclone which had developed to
the southwest of Britain.
Mark goes on to say that on May 2nd alone there could have been as many as 6,000 Black Terns across the country, 20% of the Western European breeding total.
Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus
Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service), 19th
110 Cormorant, 4 Little Egret, 4 Grey Heron, 8,960 Shelduck, 15 Teal, 12 Mallard, 2,900 Oystercatcher, 30 Lapwing, 2,300 Knot, 2 Common Sandpiper, 15 Dunlin, 3,870 Curlew, 5,950 Redshank, 3 Greenshank and 3 Turnstone, also 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Peregrine, 1 Merlin, 1 Sparrowhawk and 1 Kestrel.
Connah's Quay and
Flint - (Kindly provided by
Deeside Naturalists' Society)
September Bird News
the strong North-westerly winds we wanted and it certainly brought in
plenty of birds. The star bird, because this is a speciality of North
Wirral and Point of Ayr, must be the Leach's Petrel. Here are the max.
Leach's Petrel counts for each site as reported to me - New Brighton - 92
on 25th, Leasowe Gunsite - 36 on 20th,
Dove Point (Meols) - 26 on 22nd,
Hoylake - 215 on 23rd,
Hilbre Island - 57 on 22nd and
Point of Ayr - 56 on 15th. Count at New
Brighton (25th) could possibly be exaggerated due to the same birds being
blown in to the River Mersey more than once. The high count at
Hoylake on the 23rd was a true count of
Leach's Petrel moving west on a neap ebb tide early in the morning. Other
highlights were Sabine's Gull, at least four and possibly as many as nine
on 21st off Hoylake and on the same date
38 Great Skuas. All four species of Skuas were seen plus loads of Manx
Shearwaters and the usual Gannets, Kittiwakes etc. The digiscoping
revolution really came in to it's own for these two weeks and some
remarkable photographs have been published on various websites - including
this one (see illustrations for the above article).
Below is my favourite by Steve Round - a stunning picture of a Leach's
Petrel, see his website
http://stevenround-birdphotography.com/index.htm for more photos.
Other than that it was fairly quiet! There were very high counts of Shelduck and Curlew at Heswall and the record for Black-tailed Godwits on the estuary was blown away with a remarkable count of 5,220 at Connah's Quay/Flint, previous record being 4,493 last November (see counts, above). Another record number was 58 Little Egrets coming in to roost at Burton, they continue their dramatic increase. A remarkable sighting was of 8 (possibly as many as 12) Great Northern Divers off Hoylake at high tide on the 28th. This might well be a record for Cheshire/Wirral - I understand a description is being sent in to the county recorder.
An obliging juvenile Dotterel stayed a few days on the embankment near Leasowe Lighthouse, see the photo on the Birding North West web site. A Slavonian Grebe was blown in to Shotwick Lake by the strong winds and a juvenile Shag spent several days on West Kirby Marine Lake.
The Environment Agency has asked
me to put the following on the website:
What to expect in October.
Expect much movement of birds this month with always the possibility of a rarity or two turning up. Fieldfares and Redwings will be pouring in to the country and we often get good movements over here. Guillemots and Razorbills are on their way south in their thousands and we sometimes catch a glimpse of this off shore passage from Red Rocks, Hilbre and Point of Ayr. Pink-footed Geese will be returning to Lancashire and we usually see several flocks over here in October, perhaps over-shooting after their trip from Iceland. The wintering waders will be building up in numbers - in particular Knot and Dunlin - with significantly more along the North Wirral coast by the end of the month. Both Shelduck and Pintail often peak in October with at least 10,000 of the former and 5,000 of the latter.
Rarities might include Richard's Pipit, Lapland Bunting and Yellow-browed Warbler - the latter seems to becoming a more 'regular' rarity. Water Pipits should return to Neston Old Quay but it would need someone more competent than me to explain the differences in plumage between Water Pipits and the various races of Rock Pipits!
Many thanks go to Steve Round, Laura Bemson, Robert Bithell, Ray Roberts, Kevin Smith, Jane Turner, Nigel Troup, John Campbell, 'Welsh Weasels', Bernard Machin, David Harrington, Stephen Williams, Chris Butterworth, Martyn Jaimeson, John Roberts, Mark O'Sullivan, David Haigh, Phil Woollen, David Wilde, Tanny Robinson, Allan Conlin, Colin Schofield, Steve Ainsworth, Phil Oddy, Frank Jones, Brian Roberts, Sabena Blackbird, Kevin Harvey, Vi James, David Lee, Duncan Crockett, Keith Lester, Michael Cocking, Steve Roberts, Clive Ashton, Raymond Meredith, David Banbury, David Delves, the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens and the Hilbre Bird Observatory for their sightings during September. All sightings are gratefully received.
October Highest Spring Tides,
15th October, 12:48hrs 9.7m.
Forthcoming Events (organised by the
Wirral Ranger Service,
Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):
Saturday 2nd October, 12:30pm, Banks
Road, Heswall, High tide Birdwatch.
Friday 15th October, 11:00am, Parkgate
High Tide Birdwatch.
Saturday 16th October, 9:30am - 3:00pm. Open Day at the
Connah's Quay Reserve.
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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