Wader Quest is a new charitable organisation that is born of our passion for waders and dedicated to providing assistance to Community Wader Conservation projects which are small and locally organised. It is our belief that these small projects are of vital importance in the conservation of waders as their cumulative effect can be a significant positive force in the fight against population decline and even extinction. The Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens organisation which relies on local volunteers working in Wirral to raise awareness to provide some space for the birds to thrive is a very good example of this.
Wader Quest started as a
fund-raising exercise to raise money for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper
captive breeding programme at Slimbridge Wildfowl and
and led to raising funds for another species, namely the Hooded Plover
in Australia. Part of this fund-raising project involved travelling
(self-funded) in search of waders across the world and as we did so we
witnessed first-hand many of the problems waders are facing leaving us
determined to do whatever we can to help them.
We are an entirely voluntary organisation where no wages or expenses are paid to staff or volunteers and income from sponsorship and donations is ring-fenced to be used exclusively for wader conservation; the organisation’s running costs are derived from sales and our mobile charity shop.
We are aware that not everyone will be in a position to have hands-on involvement in wader conservation however much they care about the plight of these birds. With this in mind we have a sponsorship scheme with categories from individual to corporate so that those who wish to can still ‘do their bit’ through our projects.
Raising awareness is equally important and to this end we give talks to groups, clubs and societies about waders and their conservation, we attend bird fairs and write copiously about waders on our own website and blog and in many different places including social media and other web sites such as the fantastic Dee Estuary Birding site.
Across the planet waders are celebrated with varying degrees of enthusiasm but here in the UK we noticed that there were no festivals or events at all so we decided that this needed addressing.
In 2014 we carried out a successful World Watch event where 118 species were seen from all nine of the world’s flyways so this year we decided to enlarge this idea and make November a month of events in celebration of these birds in the UK and christened the idea Wader Conservation November.
The World Watch event has been renamed Wader Conservation World Watch to better reflect the connection with conservation and it will take place on November 7th and 8th 2015. We ask people around the world to go out and look for waders wherever they may be and send us their sightings so that we can compile a collective world list of species seen. If you would like to be involved there is a Wader Conservation World Watch at Burton Mere Wetlands, see details:
We also reached out to the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens to see if they would be interested in helping us set up the first UK wader festival in Wirral. The response was immediate and enthusiastic, and Thurstaston Country Park Rangers, members of the Wirral Council, Cheshire Wildlife Trust and the RSPB were also soon involved and a plan was set in place; the Wirral Wader Festival was born the first of its kind in the UK, this will be held on November 14th and 15th.
The main event will take place at Thurstaston Country Park with satellite events at New Brighton, Hoylake, West Kirby / Red Rocks. Further details will be announced soon but Wader Quest will be at Thurstaston Country Park for the weekend and so we hope many of you will drop by and say hello, buy some of our merchandising, maybe even join us or just have a chat about our favourite subject; waders!
1. Read all about Wader Quest on their website: www.waderquest.org/
2. If you want to know more
about the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens various articles have
been published on www.deeestuary.co.uk
over the years, including:
Voluntary Wardens and the West Kirby High Tide Roost.
3. If you are thinking of joining the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens or want to know more about them: ring Thurstaston Visitor Centre on (0151) 648 4371, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wader numbers were low at Hoylake so we weren't able to spot any ringed Dunlin or Sanderling during September, unlike last year. However, there were plenty of gulls there and elsewhere and since July we've logged four colour-ringed Great Black-backed Gulls, two Herring Gulls, one Common Gull and five Black-headed Gulls; below we detail the life histories of of the three photographed plus four others. As mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter Internationally Important numbers of Black-tailed Godwits continued to visit the small flooded field next to Gilroy Nature Park in West Kirby and we managed to record 18 different colour-ringed birds in September, below are details of the three photographed.
Here's a summary of what to expect:High tide bird watches will be held at Hoylake, New Brighton and West Kirby.
There will be a low tide bird watch
at Thurstaston led by Alan Davies and Ruth Miller of The Biggest Twitch.
Cheshire Wildlife Trust will lead a Wildlife Walk at Red Rocks.
There will be a Dusk Birdwatch at Parkgate where we should see Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls.
At Thurstaston Visitor Centre there will be a talk by Alan Davies and Ruth Miller of The Biggest Twitch plus a second-hand wildlife book sale, optics for sale and a Wader exhibit from the Liverpool Museum and British Natural History Museum (London). Various other talks and stalls are planned for Thurstaston.
For those wanting to see the original Godwits at Gilroy article published in September 2015 - Please click here.
Numbers of Black-tailed Godwits
remained high at the Godwit Gilroy field all September and since the
end of July they have been above the Internationally Important Number
threshold (610) nearly every day up to the end of September (when this
article was written). It was interesting just how much interest the
birds generated with a constant trickle of visiting birders
to have a look at the spectacular sight and I had a constant stream of
questions from the general public who use the path, wanting to know
about the birds and why they were there.
The graph above is a good comparison between the record breaking year of 2014 and this year. Numbers this year were much lower in spring, and after a late breeding season, due to bad weather in May, the birds were slower to return but during most of August and September the counts were nearly identical to 2014.
There are as yet no further details of the planned Hoylake Golf Resort so we don't know how much of a threat it will be to the Gilroy field. I have yet to meet or speak to anybody who is actually in favour of this development!
1st October, 14.02hrs (BST), 9.9m.
27th October, 10.00hrs (GMT), 9.9m.
28th October, 11.15hrs (GMT), 10.0m.
29th October, 11.58hrs (GMT), 10.0m.
Organised by the Wirral
Ranger Service , Flintshire
Countryside Service and the
RSPB (Dee Estuary):
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.
Also see 2015 Events Diary.
October 17th, Weekend Walkabout at
RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands.
1 pm-3 pm (approx. finish)
Price: Free (normal reserve entry charges apply to non-members)
Join one of our friendly, knowledgeable volunteers for a
gentle walk from the Reception Hide to the end of the Hillfort Trail on
Burton Point, to learn more about the wildlife that thrives here, the
work we do to give nature a home and the remarkable history of the
Great for first time visitors or those who'd like a guide to help them get the most enjoyment from a visit. With constant changes as we move through the seasons, it's impossible to predict what might be seen but large numbers of herons and egrets, ducks and geese returning for the winter are guaranteed at this time of year. With a variety of birds of prey and some late butterflies and dragonflies if the sun is shining, there's always something to marvel.
No booking required, just turn up on the day. A reasonable level of fitness and sturdy footwear are required.
Wedenesday 28th October and Thursday 29th October, Parkgate High Tide Bird Watch.
The marsh at Parkgate is one of the best wetland habitats in the northwest, and when it is flooded by an incoming Spring high tide, the wildlife which lives here is pushed closer, potentially delivering an awe-inspiring spectacle. Join us at Parkgate's Old Baths car park and the Donkey Stand near Nicholl's ice cream shop, where we'll be set up with marquees and telescopes hoping for the right weather conditions to really push the tide in.
You can expect great views of the large numbers of wintering wildfowl and wading birds shifting around to avoid the rising water, whilst the small mammals living on the marsh are flushed from cover, offering a feeding frenzy for the resident kestrels and hopefully harriers and short-eared owls returning for the winter.
Car parking is limited on Parkgate promenade, but there is free public parking at the Old Baths car park (CH64 6RN) at the north end of The Parade, and the Wirral Country Park car park on Station Road (CH64 6QJ). There are public toilets at Mostyn Square in the middle of The Parade, and a number of pubs and cafes for refreshments.
Additional parking has also kindly been offered at Marsh Nurseries, Boathouse Lane (postcode CH64 6RD).
Please note: the height of the tide can be hugely affected by the weather conditions on the day. In the event of high pressure and calm conditions, the tide will cover much less of the marsh and not reach the sea wall, whilst low pressure and strong Westerly winds will help push the tide in and offer the greatest spectacle. We recommend you check the weather forecast on the day to know exactly what to expect.
High tide times:
Wednesday 28 October: 11.15 am (10.0m)
Thursday 29 October: 11.58 am (10.0m)
Saturday 7th November and Sunday 8th November
Wader Conservation World Watch at Burton Mere Wetlands.
9.30 am-4.30 pm.
Price: Free (normal entry fees apply to non-members)
Ever taken part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch? Well, our friends at Wader Quest have created an annual, global event that is effectively the same, but for wading birds rather than garden birds; the Wader Conservation World Watch.
An opportunity for birdwatchers across the world to show their solidarity with, and appreciation of, wader conservationists be they professionals or volunteers, and just two simple steps to taking part:
1. Go out and see wading birds wherever you are in the world.
2. Report what you have seen and where to Wader Quest.
It is that easy; no registering required, just good old-fashioned bird-watching!
Burton Mere Wetlands is playing "host" to this event on the Wirral Peninsula; drop in any time during opening hours over the weekend to report your sightings from any local location, and we'll submit them to Wader Quest, credited to you of course!
We'll also be reporting all waders present at the reserve over the weekend, so feel free to come down and help us seek out that elusive greenshank or little stint, or who knows what other late migrant?!
Further details on the event, and Wader Quest's work, can be found on the Wader Quest website, here: http://www.waderquest.org/p/wader-quest-world-watch.html