Count from Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service), 12th October. 2 Great Crested Grebe, 73 Cormorant, 1 Little Egret, 10 Grey Heron, 7,550 Shelduck, 100 Wigeon, 64 Teal, 32 Mallard, 150 Pintail, 13 Red-breasted Merganser, 4,200 Oystercatcher, 6 Golden Plover, 2 Grey Plover, 199 Lapwing, 1,000 Knot, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 750 Dunlin, 150 Black-tailed Godwit, 2,960 Curlew, 4,100 Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 123 Black-headed Gull, 1,200 Common Gull, 23 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 5 Herring Gull and 8 Black-backed Gull.
Peak counts of waders at the West Kirby
high tide roost, October 2003 (date in brackets), counted by the
Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens.
October Bird News
possibly four, Hen Harriers were seen during the month. Hopefully these will
overwinter. After several years of only, at most, a single bird
present (2 last winter), it is very pleasing to see their return. Several
have been seen flying in off the Irish Sea which tends to suggest that they
are coming from the Isle of Man where 120+ pairs were counted this summer.
There have also been good views of Short-eared Owls with up to four hunting
over Burton Marsh at dusk. Birder James
Walsh saw an unusual behaviour by Short-eared Owls at Burton:
"Whilst birding at Burton
Marsh on the evening of Sunday 12th October 03 I spotted a Short-eared Owl.
Minutes later it was joined by another and they began flying round and round
in tight circles about 20 yards above the ground for about 2 minutes or
maybe more. They were gaining very little height in the process, only about
10 yards, and it certainly worked up some of the local Carrion Crows. I
couldn't think of any real explanation for this behaviour - has anyone ever
seen behaviour like this? Or any idea what they might have been doing..."
(posted on the CAWOS Website Forum).
A westerly gale which lasted just over two days made for some splendid sea watching - highlights were 27 Leach's Petrel and 2 Pomarine Skuas at Hilbre, 1 Balearic Shearwater and 4 Great Skua off Hoylake, and 25 Leach's Petrel, 2 Sabine's Gull and 2 Sooty Shearwater off Point of Ayr. Of course the same condition in mid September probably would have brought in ten times as many Leach's Petrels!
There was quite a lot of movement of swans and geese during the month. This included several parties of Whooper Swans with nine at Hilbre being the largest. A flock of 13 White-fronted Geese visited the Point of Ayr and 40 Brent Geese flew over during the gales. During a lovely still and sunny autumn day I saw two flocks of Pink-footed Geese flying along the north Wirral coast on their way to their south Lancashire haunts.
The Mersey Estuary Conservation Group have brought out a very informative booklet called 'The Mersey Estuary - Naturally Ours'. As well as a series of interesting articles there is a detailed species by species account of the birds of the estuary. Those wishing to purchase the booklet should ring 0151 478 4685.
What to expect in November.
November Highest Spring Tides, also see Tides page.
24th November, 11:04hrs 9.9m. (all times GMT)
25th November, 11:51hrs 9.9m.
Forthcoming Events (organised by the
Wirral Ranger Service,
Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):
Tuesday 4th November, 7:30pm, It's a Warden's Life- Evening Talk.
Saturday 8th November, 10am - 12 noon, Winter Walk Around
Sunday 16th November, 08:30am to 10:30am.
West Kirby Waders and Wildfowl.
Sunday 23rd November, 8:30am, High Tide Birdwatch at
Note: Many of these forthcoming events are extracted from the 'Birdwatchers Diary 2003', 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.