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    1st October 1999
    North Wirral Shore
    Latest Bird Counts
    September Bird News
    Forthcoming Events
    Latest Neswletter
    The UK Birding Web Ring


North Wirral Shore

  Leasowe lighthouse dominates the skyline along the north Wirral shore. Recently renovated you can get a wonderful view of the sand banks  from the top. The north Wirral Rangers have their office here, if you want to know about the birds and other wildlife of the area they are the ones to ask.

This month sees the addition of the North Wirral Shore to the Dee Estuary web site. Although the shore is not actually in the estuary  there is no natural barrier between the two, either for bird watchers or the birds themselves. It is also regarded as part of the Dee Estuary by the Wetland Bird Survey. So what is good enough for them is good enough for me!

To give you a feel of the attraction of this area I will describe an 'ideal' visit (see North Wirral Shore page for maps and directions). 
Get to the north Wirral shore at low tide. First visit both Meols promenade and Leasowe lighthouse to observe waders feeding in Hoylake gutter which drains East Hoyle Bank, a good selection is usually present. Look also at the gulls both here and all along this shore, rarities can turn up at any time.  At Leasowe lighthouse train your telescope towards the east  and the whole vast sand bank, known as Mockbeggar Wharf, should be a sea of Knots. To get a closer look go down to the embankment at either Green Lane or Derby Pool car park. As well as Knot large numbers of Oystercatchers, Curlew,  Bar-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover should be present. 

As the tide comes in the birds tend to move off Mockbeggar Wharf in two directions, north across the Mersey to the Alt Estuary, and west towards Hoylake. We want to retrace our steps to watch the flocks heading west. Stand at Meols promenade to see the spectacular sight of flocks of Knot, each several thousand strong, passing in front of you as they head for East Hoyle Bank off Hoylake. And Hoylake will be our next port of call, stop at King's Gap by the Lifeboat station. During a medium high tide this is a major high tide roost with the birds only a few yards from the promenade. If it is a spring tide East Hoyle Bank will be completely covered, in this case head to Red Rocks as the birds move yet further west over Hilbre Island and on to the Point of Ayr

To see the really massive flocks visit in winter, but an autumn visit  has its own rewards. As well as some interesting passage waders such as Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers, autumn is the time for Leach's Petrel. The north Wirral coast is one of the best places in the country to see them, especially at high tide during a period of several days north-westerly gales. The recommended spot is the embankment at Green Lane, 300 were seen here in one day in 1997. 

I hope you agree that the North Wirral Shore is a worthy addition to the Web site.


Bird Counts

Inner Marsh Farm  
9th September: Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Canada geese (inc 1 small race), Shelduck, Teal, Mallard, Pintail 120+, Shoveler 20+, Tufted Duck 4, Buzzard 3, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit 1, Greenshank 10, Red-backed Shrike 1. Sightings thanks to Chris Waring.
15th September: Pintail 18, Shovelor 6, Teal 350, Ruddy Shelduck 1, Black-tailed Godwit 3, Greenshank 1, Little Grebe 1, Water Rail 1, Raven 2, Buzzard 16.

Wetland Bird Survey Count for Heswall Shore - 12th September (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service).
Cormorant 18, Grey Heron 7, Shelduck 3600,  Teal 5, Mallard 65,  Greenshank 3, Ringed Plover 11, Grey Plover 1, Bar-tailed Godwit 9, Black-tailed Godwit 3, Oystercatcher 860, Lapwing 73, Dunlin 4, Curlew 2380, Redshank 3500, Spotted Redshank 1, Knot 21, Curlew Sandpiper 23.

Wetland Bird Survey Count for Parkgate Marsh - 12th September (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service).
Little Egret 1, Grey Heron 10, Shelduck 230, Wigeon 4, Teal 42, Mallard 3, Lapwing 185, Curlew 6, Redshank 154, Greenshank 42.

West Kirby shore and Little Eye (Island) - counts carried out by Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens.
13th September: Bar-tailed Godwit 50, Knot 100, Oystercatcher 2000, Cormorant 45, Curlew 200, 6 Ringed Plover, Sandwich Tern 20, Common Tern 2, Peregrine Falcon 1. (The last scared most of the others away despite not catching anything!).


September Bird News
Like most of the country the Dee Estuary has had an influx of Curlew Sandpipers, the highest count being at Heswall (twenty-three). These are immature birds blown off course by east winds. Among other waders seen where Greenshanks throughout the estuary with a maximum of 45 at  Inner Marsh Farm. Both Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits have been in evidence, with the Bar-tails keeping to the mouth of the estuary and Black-tails to the inner estuary. Four hundred Black-tailed Godwits flying round Inner Marsh Farm in a single tight flock were a magnificent sight. Also a magnificent sight have been Grey Plovers in their summer plumage both along the North Wirral shore and Thurstaston. Pick of the bunch, though, was a Red-necked Phalarope which stayed at Inner Marsh Farm for at least ten days.

A Marsh Harrier paid a brief visit to Inner Marsh Farm, other raptors included a remarkable count of 15 Common Buzzards at IMF and five Peregrine Falcons at  Heswall. Little Egret and Spoonbills have been about but only reported on four days this month. 

A Black-necked Grebe spent the first week of the month on West Kirby marine lake and at the same time a Red-backed Shrike brought the twitchers to Burton


Forthcoming Events
September Highest Spring Tides
25th October, 1217hrs 9.9m. (all times BST)
26th October, 1258hrs 10.0m. 

27th October, 1340hrs 9.9m. 

Young Ornithologists Club at Ness Gardens
A complete listing of events for 1999 can be seen for this group who have a series of monthly outdoor and indoor meetings.

Forthcoming Events (organised by the Wirral Ranger Service, Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):

October 2nd. Guided Walk to Hilbre.
Cross the sands to discover the Island's wildlife and history. A 4 mile walk over 4 hours, ideal for first time visitor. Booking essential ring 0151 648 4371/3884.

3rd October. Migration Watch '99. 7am - 11am.
Join the experts to witness the visible migration of birds. Find out how to identify the species involved. The Rangers will be at Denhall Lane at Burton and Wirral Country Park (Thurstaston). For more information ring Jeff Clarke on 0151 648 4371/3884.

3rd October. World Birdwatch events at Wirral Country Park (Thurstaston). 10am-5pm
A day of activities including birdwatching with the RSPB and bird ringing displays by the BTO, for details ring 0151 648 4371/3884.

17th October. Migration Watch. 7.30am - 11.30am.
Join the experts to witness the visible migration of birds. Find out how to identify the species involved. The Rangers will be at Denhall Lane at Burton and Wirral Country Park (Thurstaston). For more information ring Jeff Clarke on 0151 648 4371/3884.

23rd October. High Tide Birdwatch at Heswall. 8:30am.
Waders and wildfowl galore at the edge of the tide. Meet at Banks Road car park (near Sheldrake Restaurant), lower Heswall. For further details ring 0151 336 7681 or 0151 648 4371.

26th October. High Tide Birdwatch at Parkgate. 10am - 12noon.
Waders, Wildfowl and Raptors abound and with migration in full swing who knows what may fly by. Meet at Old Baths Car Park, Parkgate. For further information ring 0151 648 4371/3884.

30th October. High Tide Birdwatch on Hilbre Island
Come and see the sea and shore birds of Hilbre. A 4 mile walk of 5 hours. Please bring warm waterproof clothes, wellies, food and a hot drink. Booking essential, ring 0151 648 4371/3884.