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1st November 2003
Site Guide - Lingham Lane.

Latest Bird Counts.
October Bird News.
Forthcoming Events.
Latest Newsletter.

Newsletter Index.
Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow -browed Warbler sketch by Chris Butterworth

Site Guide to Leasowe Lighthouse and Lingham Lane


Allan Conlin.

Directions: From Junc. 2 off the M53 take the Moreton spur and head into Moreton on the A551. At the major roundabout go straight over remaining on the A551. Go over the railway bridge pass Cadburys on your right. As this road takes a sharp right turn, take a sharp left towards Leasowe lighthouse and the car park is located just beyond it. (Ed. See also map and directions of the Meols/Moreton/Leasowe area).

This is a large geographical area within which there are many fields, hedges and copses all worthwhile looking at.

Firstly, the row of sycamores and silver poplars that runs northwest to southeast down the side of Stone Cottage just prior to the lighthouse is excellent. As well as providing cover for the usual summer migrants, such as Grasshopper Warbler and Pied Flycatcher, I have found singing Serin (spring) and Yellow-browed Warbler (autumn).
The Car park is a favourite for Stonechat and other common migrants during a spring fall.
Lingham lane itself is most definitely a favourite of mine, however birding here can be a little frustrating or maybe challenging due to the numerous high privet hedges into which birds seem to vanish and the amount of private land in the area.
Having said all that the horse paddock at the very beginning and on your left of the lane (usually full of daisies in April) is excellent for wagtails, pipits, buntings, finches and Ring Ouzel is always a prize find.

Further down the lane there is a bridge that crosses the River Birket. Here it is good for Spotted Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail and Kingfisher with effort. Through Lingham farm and you will find the old brick pit now virtually completely filled in. This site has produced Ring billed gull and Black throated diver.
The whole length of the lane is exciting and of the rare species it has produced the following are just a taster: Firecrest, Yellow Browed Warbler, Pallas's warbler, Barred Warbler and Subalpine Warbler.
(photo  taken from Lingham Lane looking back to Leasowe Lighthouse with typical overgrown hedges in the foreground).
Leasowe Lighthouse

Back to the entrance of the lane and there is a public footpath that runs between the inland fields on the left and coastal fields on the right. This path runs east to west and continues all the way through to Meols. Once again these fields are a magnet for Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears in the spring, especially when flooded. Short eared owls may be seen in the winter and again many waders use these fields in which to roost over high tide.
Of the more unusual species in these fields the following have included Short toed lark, Lapland Bunting, Little Bunting, Stone Curlew, Red throated Pipit, Tawny Pipit and Richards Pipit, the later relatively frequently. Great grey Shrike has also been recorded near Sea field Cottage. Further west towards Meols near the Burbo Caravan Park we get to the area where the famous Desert warbler resided for a month in 1979.
Both Arctic Warbler and Red Breasted Flycatcher have also been ringed in the Meols area. Seawatching from this stretch of coast is exposed and unadvisable, however it is worth looking through the Gull flock that roosts on the Beach over the Sea defence from the Car park.
To summarise this area, there are no specific sites here in which to look for birds as any of the hedgerows or fields may produce a wagtail or warbler or maybe something more unusual.

This article is an extract from 'Birding the Wirral Peninsula' by Allan Conlin. For a review of this excellent booklet and details of how to obtain it see the August 2003 newsletter.


Bird Counts


Count from Connah's Quay and Flint - (Kindly provided by Deeside Naturalists' Society), 12th October. 1 Little Grebe, 3 Great Crested Grebe, 74 Cormorant, 1 Little Egret, 6 Heron, 2 Mute Swan, 12 Canada Goose, 2 Shelduck, 1 Gadwall, 190 Teal, 190 Mallard, 24 Coot, 1,000 Oystercatcher, 40 Lapwing, 30 Dunlin, 3,300 Black-tailed Godwit, 24 Curlew, 590 Redshank.

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.
2,300 Oystercatcher (24th), 26 Ringed Plover (24th), 450 Grey Plover (8th), 1,500 Knot (23rd), 32 Sanderling (13th), 4,000 Dunlin (24th), 54 Bar-tailed Godwit (24th), 420 Curlew (24th), 305 Redshank (24th).

October Bird News


Three, 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).
This splendid Great Grey Shrike (photo by Steve Williams) stayed at Red Rocks for just over a day giving us some great views. Red Rocks had an excellent run of birds during the month, apart from the Great Grey Shrike - 1 Richard's Pipit, a Lapland Bunting, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, a possible American Golden Plover seen briefly overhead, 3 Twite, one Hen Harrier and a Firecrest nearby. Great Grey Shrike

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!

The Mediterranean Gull (right) continued to be seen around West Kirby Marine Lake. Up to six Scaup was an unexpected sight on the lake, most years just a single Scaup would be unusual. Three Common Scoter were also recorded along with the more usual Red-breasted Mergansers  and Goldeneye returning for the winter. Med Gull
Steve Round

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 best of the rest includes an Avocet at Connah's Quay, a Grey Phalarope flying past Leasowe, single Pectoral Sandpipers at both Point of Ayr and Inner Marsh Farm and a Spoonbill on Burton Marsh.

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.
Last winter saw maximum numbers of both Wigeon and Pintail on the estuary in November, with 7,000 of the former and over 5,000 of the latter. These are best seen either on a spring high tide off Parkgate and Neston or loafing off Flint Point at low tide. Red-breasted Mergansers also peaked in November last year with 45, a good place to see these is West Kirby Marine Lake along with Goldeneye - expect to see up to 20 of each species.
Dunlin, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover should all increase significantly in November - these are all best seen off Leasowe at low tide or
Hoylake and Point of Ayr at high tide. Hoylake is best when the high tide doesn't completely cover the roosting area, i.e. tides between 8.8 metres and 9.6 metres. Expect to see flocks of between ten and twenty thousand Dunlin and Knot.
We always get some Short-eared Owls at Parkgate when the tide covers the marsh, but some years when they are abundant they can be seen almost anywhere around the estuary - usually over marsh or sand dunes. Hen Harriers are already present on the marsh and hopefully these should stay, they can be seen anytime during the day hunting between
Burton and Heswall, but the best time is probably at dusk when they come in to roost in the reed bed off Parkgate Old Baths.
Water Pipits should return to Neston Old Quay. But those of you who are confident that they are seeing Water Pipits and not Rock Pipits (Scandinavian race or otherwise) should follow the Rock Pipit thread on the
CAWOS Website Forum. You might change your mind! The opinion from local experienced birders is that at least 90% of Water Pipits reported from Neston Old Quay are being misidentified.

Many thanks go to Matt Thomas, Peter Button, Frank Huband, Dave Wilde, Keith Lester, Jane Turner, James Walsh, Jane Turner, David Esther,  John Campbell, Brian Grey, John Harrison, Allan Conlin, Clyde Barrow, Mike Hart, Allan Patterson, David Harrington, Phil Woolen, Steve Round, Stephen Menzie, Rob Smallwood, Tanny Robinson, Wanda Holt, Katie Barrett, Colin Schofield, Margaret and Steve Arnold, Clyde Barrow, Stephen Williams,  Chris Butterworth,  Martyn Jaimeson, Paul Rowlands, Jean Morgan, David Small, John Ferguson, the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens and the Hilbre Bird Observatory for their sightings during October. All sightings are gratefully received.

Forthcoming Events


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):
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.

Tuesday 4th November, 7:30pm, It's a Warden's Life- Evening Talk.
Come and discover the work of the local RSPB warden on the estuary. Find out why this work is so important if we are to preserve the estuary's premier status for birds and wildlife. Meet at BHP Billiton Visitors Centre, Point of Ayr. For details phone 0151 336 7681.

Saturday 8th November, 8:30am, High Tide at Point of Ayr. 
Birdwatching at its best at the Point of Air. Bird numbers reach their peak for many species as thousand of birds flock to the safety of the Point at high tide. Watch from the comfort of the RSPB hide as ducks and waders are pushed in closer by the tide. Expect to see Grey Plovers, Red-breasted Mergansers and Bar- and Black-tailed Godwits. (HW 10:26, 9.1m) No need to book, meet at the end of Station Rd. Talacre, Point of Air. For further information contact RSPB, 
tel. 0151 336 7681.

Saturday 8th November, 10am - 12 noon, Winter Walk Around Red Rocks.
Join the Ranger for a leisurely walk around Red Rocks and West Kirby beach to see the variety of birdlife that can be found here. No need to book. Meet at end of Stanley Road, off Kings Gap, Hoylake. For further information tel. 0151 678 5488.

Sunday 9th November, 8:45am, Banks Road Birdwatch at Heswall
Wader watching doesn't get much better than this as thousands of birds are herded up the Heswall Gutter in front of us by the incoming tide. Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlins, Redshanks, and Curlews will all be present in spectacular numbers. (HW 11:17, 9.2m) Meet at Banks Road car park, near Sheldrake's Restaurant, Lower Heswall. For further information tel. 0151 648 4371/3884.

Sunday 16th November, 08:30am to 10:30am. West Kirby Waders and Wildfowl.
During the winter months the Marine Lake is a good place to spot seaducks including the Goldeneye and Scaup. The nearby mudflats at cubbins Green are full of feeding waders at low tide, and there's always the possibility of seeing raptors that are attracted by the lare flocks. Meet at Dee Lane slipway, West Kirby. For further information tel. 0151 648 4371/3884.

Sunday 23rd November, 8:30am, High Tide Birdwatch at Flint.
Join the RSPB warden for great views across the RSPB reserve at Oakenholt. Marvel at the spectacular aerial display of the masses of waders that are disturbed from their roosting site on the saltmarsh by the rising tide. Black-tailed Godwits, Knots and Dunlins will be present in large numbers. Wellingtons are essential. (HW 10:19, 9.7m) No need to book. Meet at Flint Lifeboat Station car park. For further information, contact RSPB on 0151 336 7681. 

Monday 24th November, 9:30am, High Tide Birdwatch at Parkgate.
A genuine wildlife spectacular! Ducks and waders stream passed in their thousands as the tide rushes in to flood the marsh. Small birds and animals flee to the safety of dry ground, running the gauntlet of keen-eyed hunters such as Merlins and Herons. (HW 11:04, 9.9m) Meet at the Old Baths car park, Parkgate, close to the Boathouse Inn. For further details call 0151 336 7681.

Tuesday 25th November, 10:00am, High Tide Birdwatch at Parkgate.
A genuine wildlife spectacular! Ducks and waders stream passed in their thousands as the tide rushes in to flood the marsh. Join the local experts who will make sense of the apparent bird chaos. (HW 11:51, 9.9m) Meet at the Old Baths car park, Parkgate, close to the Boathouse Inn. For further details call 0151 336 7681.

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.