18th October 1998

October and November are exciting times on the estuary. Wader numbers are rapidly increasing towards their mid-winter peak, whereas both Shelduck and Pintail often have their maximum numbers in October. The Dee has the second highest counts of Shelduck in the country, second only to the Wash. Last year there were 9,400 Shelduck in October at Heswall/Parkgate alone, with a record count of 10,400 on the whole of the Estuary. A truly remarkable sight.

Although the Dee is second for counts of Shelduck it is very much the number one site for Pintail, having had the highest numbers in the country for several years. Typically there are between 4,000 and 6,000 although in 1991 as many as 10,000 were present. Unlike Shelduck, which come close inshore and are sometimes even seen on the beach, Pintail tend to stay out on the outer fringes of the marsh making them difficult to see. Best sightings can be had at Flint, Parkgate and Neston during a high spring tide when the water covers the marsh allowing the duck to feed nearer the shore.

Duck numbers can be very unpredictable, especially for Pintail. Local weather conditions, the weather on continental Europe and the amount of floodwater inland can all result in large fluctuations. Another factor locally is the nearby presence of the Mersey Estuary just eight miles across the Wirral peninsula, the duck almost certainly use both estuaries as a single habitat. Thus any disturbance in one estuary can lead to a mass exodus to the safe haven of the other. Having said that both estuaries now have a good series of reserves thus hopefully leading to minimum disturbance.

Latest Bird Counts and Sightings:

Inner Burton Marsh - birds seen 10th October
608 Teal, 108 Shoveler, 1 Tufted Duck, 9 Greylag (feral), 2 Greenshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Dunlin, 1 Ruff, 7 Snipe, 4 Curlew, 2 Water Rail, 11 Black-tailed Godwit.
22 Greenshank on 21st September, 80 Pintail on 9th October and a reserve record of 142 Shovelor on 11th October. A record count of about 85 Greenshank was seen earlier in September. Additional sightings - see rarity news below.

Heswall - WeBs count for 6th September.
55 Cormorant, 7 Grey Heron, 12 Canada Geese, 2950 Shelduck, 10 Teal, 1Little Egret, 3 Peregrine, 1 Sparrow Hawk, 60 Mallard, 600 Oystercatcher, 40 Lapwing, 600 Knot, 7 Curlew Sandpiper, 1150 Dunlin, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 2070 Curlew, 6600Redshank, 2 Green Sandpiper.

Hilbre bird report compiled by Steve Williams of the Hilbre Bird Observatory .
Saturday 12th September was a superb day for seawatching with the following birds recorded:
72 Leach's Petrel, 35 Manx Shearwater, 12 Arctic Skua, 3 Pomarine Skua, 2 Great Skua, 2 Long-tailed Skua (juveniles), also seen 2 Curlew Sandpipers and 1 Yellow-legged Gull.
For a detailed description of Hilbre Island and it's birds see the September 1998 newsletter (link at bottom of this page),

Rarity News:
The Dee has been enjoying the influx of Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints (as elsewhere in the country). One or two Curlew Sandpiper have been seen at Hilbre and Red Rocks with a further seven at Heswall and 25 at inner Burton marsh. Eight little Stint were at inner Burton marsh on 12th September with a further four on 11th October. I'm sure many more of both species have been observed without me hearing about it!

Four Little Egrets were at Boathouse Flash, Parkgate on 28th September with the odd one or two seen since.

A Spotted Crake has been seen occasionally at inner Burton marsh during the past month.

If anybody wants to E-mail any sightings of birds or sea-mammals to me I will be most grateful (see bottom of Home page for address).

Next Spring High Tides (Times BST):
4th November, 1045hrs 9.9m.
5th November, 1128hrs 10.0m.

Forthcoming Events:

4th November (9:00am) and 5th November (9:30am). High Tide Birdwatch at Parkgate, experts on hand at Old Baths.

Following jointly organised by the RSPB and Flintshire Ranger Service.

7th November. High Tide Birdwatch at Point of Ayr. 1030hrs (HW 12:58, 9.6m)
Meet at the end of Station Road, Talacre. Ring RSPB on 01352 780 527 for information.

Following organised by the Wirral Ranger Service.

8th November. Walking the Wirral Way. 10am - 12 noon.
Caldy to West Kirby via Cubbin's Green and West Kirby Marine Lake, returning along the Wirral Way, approx. 6 kilometres. Ring 0151 648 4371/3884 to book place.

8th November. Beginners Birdwatch at Leasowe Bay. 12 noon to 2pm.
Come and see the birds as they roost on the islands of Leasowe Bay. Can be superb for sea-watching during a north-west gale. Meet at Leasowe Lighthouse. No need to book. Ring 0151 678 5488 for information.

15th November. Winter Walk. 10am to 3pm.
A 10 mile walk around Thustaston and Royden park. Packed lunch required. Booking essential ring 0151 678 4200.

18th November. Walk to Thurstaston. 11am - 3pm approx.
A leisurely ramble through the countryside of west Wirral. Bring packed lunch. Booking essential ring 0151 678 4200.

21st November. Waders on the Shore - West Kirby. 10am (HW 1208hrs).
A chance to see dashing waders such as Sanderling and Knot. Meet at Dee Lane slipway. For information ring 0151 632 4455.

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