Feel free to come along and say hello,
we will usually be halfway between the north end of the Marine Lake and
Red Rocks but best to check what time we are on duty by ringing the
Over the 26 years of wardening we have
amassed a large volume of data, this includes recording the amount of
actual disturbance versus potential disturbance - mainly
caused by walkers and their dogs with problems also with horse
riders and windsurfers, among others. We have been successful in
bringing down actual disturbance to around 1% of the potential
despite a large increase in beach usage (see November
2000 Newsletter for more details).
Counting birds is also a
way of measuring our effectiveness as wardens, and it is particularly
pleasing to have seen numbers of Curlew and Oystercatchers steadily
increasing over the past few years so that West Kirby is now one of the
main roost sites in the estuary for these species with up to a third of
the estuary's Curlew and up to half the Oystercatchers
roosting here (see
graphs below). It was particularly noticeable over the past couple of
winters how these birds usually spend the whole of the high tide at
West Kirby rather than moving on to other sites, they wouldn't do that
unless they felt safe here - thanks to the wardens!
There are plenty of
other birds to see at West Kirby including wildfowl
of which there are a good selection, the most obvious being Shelduck
and Brent Geese. 800 or more Shelduck on the sea at high tide
make for a fantastic sight, and we have had as many as 2,500.
The Brent Geese spend most of low tide around Hilbre Island but at high
tide we see them fly to Little Eye where they usually settle on the sea
but also they have started to increasingly come onto the marsh at West
Kirby giving fabulous views. The wardens have counted records numbers
of these geese over the years which are steadily increasing, the
highest count so far being 262 on December 28th 2011 (my count!). Rarer
include Great Northern Diver, Eider, Lapland Bunting, Snow Bunting,
Richard's Pipit and Leach's Petrel.
data shown was obtained by, and belongs to, the Dee Estuary Voluntary
Wardens, none of this data may be used without their permission.
thanks to all the many wardens who have collected this data over the
years and, in particular, Roy Palmer who compiles it all onto
spreadsheets and draws up various bar charts every year, two of which
are shown here.
The RSPB is on the
lookout for volunteers to ensure a brand new hide,
due to open at RSPB Point of Ayr, remains in tip top condition after
the previous hide was destroyed by vandals.
The hide, on the Dee Estuary, replaces the original which sadly had to
be demolished in 2008 due to excessive and mindless vandalism. But
nature lovers will once again be able to enjoy the sights and sounds
the reserve has to offer, and the RSPB is inviting people to help
celebrate its launch with a free open day on Saturday
Austin Morley, a volunteer at RSPB Dee Estuary said: “It was a huge
shame when the old hide was damaged beyond repair. We really hope
people will come forward to help us keep the new hide in prime
condition and preserve it for future generations.”
The new hide at Point of Ayr
© Scott Reid/RSPB.
Also see video
shot in and around the hide - Click
The newly constructed hide means nature lovers will be able to get up
close to one of the best spectacles in the area, when the high tide
pushes birds and wildlife closer to the shore. Austin added:
“The Point of Ayr is a one of the best places on the
estuary to see wildlife. It’s home to a whole range of
wildlife like natterjack toads and masses of oystercatchers, curlew and
wigeon. Visitors coming to the site on Saturday may also be lucky
enough to see merlin or a peregrine. Only recently, a
short-eared owl was spotted.”
During the celebration day there will be a free guided walk (starting
at 10am), followed by an official opening ceremony. Geoffrey
Robinson, RSPB Assistant Warden, said: “It’s always really
satisfying to see people of all ages getting close to nature and seeing
wildlife they may never have come across before. This new facility will
allow exactly that to happen.”
Point of Ayr is accessed off Station Road, in Talacre, and is just 10
minutes from the A548.
For more details or to volunteer to help, email email@example.com
or visit www.rspb.org.uk/pointofayr
New Brighton, must have just visited a 'take-away'! October 27th
© William Boyce.
May be it's just me but I thought it was a bit of a strange month -
plenty of Visible Migration but not much of the species we would
normally expect; good number of rarities but hardly any twitchable
ones; no gales to speak of but still plenty of birds on the
sea; conditions perfect for a huge tide at Parkgate yet it
just made it to the wall; Brent Geese in numbers about double the
previous record for this month.......
to BirdTrack there was a large influx of Jays into the country and we
saw more than usual here at the usual Visible Migration sites, although
these were likely to have been local dispersing birds rather than
foreign immigrants. Four Jays at Leasowe
on on the 7th
doesn't sound like much but one is very unusual here. Larger numbers
were at Red Rocks
with 22 on the 6th and 17 on the 8th. Other corvids
were on the move including 31 Magpies and 120 Jackdaws over Red Rocks
on the 9th whilst 500 Jackdaws following a farmer's tractor at
same day must have included many migrants. Three
Ring Ouzels were at Red
on the 19th with one at Leasowe Lighthouse
25th. The best day for winter thrushes was on the
26th when about 950 Redwings and 450 Fieldfares were the totals flying
and 2,965 Fieldfares were over Red Rocks.. The
climax came on the 29th at Red
estimated 47,250 Starlings, 3,940 Chaffinches and 73 Bramblings over.
One of the Starling flocks was 5km long!
included a Long-billed Dowitcher at Burton
, three Common
Cranes and a Temmink's Stint on
, a Red-throated Pipit
overhead at Leasowe
and a Spotted Crake at Parkgate
. A 'probable'
Pallid Hen Harrier probably wasn't although it caused some excitement
for a few days.
Short-eared Owl on Burton Marsh, October
29th © Charles Farnell.
Brent Geese on the sea by Little
on the 1st had increased to 200 by
the 19th, breaking the previous October record of 105 last year. In Oct
2010 we only had 37! There
were many reports of Pink-footed Geese with around 200 on the marsh
and several similar size flocks flying over. 48 Whooper Swans
on Burton Marsh
was a good number for the end of October.
to two Marsh Harriers and three Hen Harriers have been on the marshes.
The high tides mid-month saw five Short-eared Owls and a Water Rail
plus two Great White Egrets with a reliable report of three
on the 16th. Still weather on the 21st brought out 10 Short-eared Owls
over Burton Marsh
with three very close to Denhall Quay giving
wonderful views. A juvenile Hobby was at Burton Mere Wetlands
throughout the month, very late for this species and the record for
October 31st equals the latest ever for Cheshire and Wirral.
flat calm during clear weather resulted in a count of 847 Great Crested
Grebes, 750 Common Scoters and 25 Red-throated Divers off Hoylake
on the 20th.
There were good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits on the estuary with
3,000 on Oakenholt Marsh
on the 14th the highest count.
Many thanks go to William Boyce,
Nicholas Glazebook, Jeremy
Bradshaw, David Galatas, Malcolm Sergeant, David Esther, Paul Brady,
Alan Hitchmough, Kenny Dummigan, John
Harker, Steve Williams, Les Hall, Charles
Farnell, Andy Thomas, Ray
Butterworth, Jane Turner, Peter Haslem, Dave
Hand, Mark Evans, David Wilson, Jeff Cohen, Roy
Small, Dave Harrington, Dave
Edwards, Charles Canning,
Schofield, Bernard Machin,Alan Hitchmough, Paul Mason, Mark Gibson,
Richard Beckett, Kevin Roberts, Ian Emmitt, Paul Vautrinot, Deborah
Marwaha, Ashley Cohen, Kate Clarke, Rosemary Cavanagh, Sean O'Hara,
Daniel Trotman, Alan Patterson, Dave Fowler, Graham Connolly, Scott
Reid, Elizabeth Shand, John Boswell, Beverley Wilson, the
and the Hilbre Bird
for their sightings during October. All
are gratefully received.
What to expect in November
November marks the
autumn and winter and suitable weather at the beginning of the month
can still bring large numbers of birds moving south on 'Visible
Migration' normally associated with October, such as the 'winter
thrushes' and finches, we can also see impressive numbers of Starlings
and Wood Pigeons on the move. For
more details of Visible Migration Click
the last three Novembers there have been prolonged periods of southerly
as a result we saw good numbers of Gannets and skuas - unusual for so
late in the year. There should also
be good numbers of divers and grebes, particularly Great Crested Grebes
which can reach over 1,000 off north Wirral but you need a flat calm to
see them. The Dee Estuary now has the second highest number of
Cormorants in the UK (a statistic not welcomed by everyone!) and they
peak around this month making for a spectacular sight either flying or
sat on sand banks drying their wings, expect over 1,000.
Wader numbers, particularly Dunlin and
Knot, will build up rapidly and we can get some spectacular high tide
roosts at Point of Ayr
be back in good numbers, during the mid-month high tides take a look at
the wader roost on New
Brighton Marine Lake
where there could be as
We may get a small flock of Snow Buntings, look
on the beaches at Gronant
, Point of Ayr
, and there
often one or two somewhere around the Red
, Little Eye
area. If we get really lucky we may get a
Shorelark or two.
A flock of Twites is usually to be seen around the Flint Castle
area, and more rarely elsewhere.
marshes Short-eared Owls will be viewable, best seen during still
afternoons at Burton Marsh
or during the high spring tides at
. We should
also get four or more Hen Harriers which can be
seen coming in to the roost at Parkgate
(see the RSPB Skydancers events
Wader Roost at Hoylake, October 16th
© David Esther.
Spring Tides (Liverpool)
14th November, 10.48hrs (GMT), 9.9m.
15th November, 11.34hrs (GMT), 10.0m.
16th November, 12.21hrs (GMT), 9.9m.
Organised by the Wirral
Ranger Service , Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the
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 2012 Events Diary.
Saturday 3rd November, 10am start
for guided walk, Point of Ayr
Join us for the official opening of the new hide at Point of Ayr,
Talacre and take part in a free guided walk.
The Point of Ayr affords great views over the Dee Estuary and
beyond. Whilst the addition of the new hide gives up-close
views of thousands of birds as they are pushed in by the rising tide.
Refreshments will be available.
Also see video
shot in and around the hide - Click
November and Sunday 2nd December:
Skydancers at Parkgate
- 12 noon until dusk.
is an exciting new four-year project aimed at raising awareness and
promoting the conservation of hen harriers in the north of England.
Dee Estuary is a vital wintering ground for these amazing birds and is
the best place to see them from October through to March.
people have never seen a hen harrier, but once seen it is rarely
forgotten. This bird is a beautiful, agile hunter, and its aerobatic
sky dances are among the most awesome spectacles in nature.
with only a handful of pairs still breeding successfully in England,
the hen harrier is currently a species on the brink.
Come along to
Parkgate to find out more about the hen harrier story and what you can
do to help save hen harriers before it's too late!
Look for the
RSPB Love Nature marquee along the main promenade at Parkgate where
friendly staff and volunteers will be with telescopes and binoculars
plus family activities, free information and more: http://www.rspb.org.uk/skydancer/
Directions: The "Donkey Stand" opposite Nicholls Ice-cream shop on The
Parade (B5135), Parkgate, Cheshire.
Thursday November 15th 9.30am start, Riverbank Road Raptor Roadshow, Lower Heswall
the Rangers, the Friends of Wirral Country Park and other local groups
at Riverbank Road car park in Lower Heswall. The highest tide of the
month will flood the marshes flushing wading birds and small mammals
from cover. This will alert raptors such as Hen Harriers and
Short-eared Owls wintering on the marsh to the possibility of an easy
meal. Warm waterproofs and binoculars are recommended.
No need to book, meet at Riverbank Road car park, Lower Heswall.
For more information: (0151) 648 4371.
NOTE: The two events below on Nov 17th could be easily combined.
Saturday November 17th 9.30am start, Pintails of the River Dee, Thurstaston Shore
Dee estuary is most important wintering site in the U.K. for these
elegant ducks. Join the Rangers on a guided walk along beach from the
Visitor Centre as the tide rises. We will see them feeding in the
channels that criss-cross the mudflats then they will join with the
other ducks and waders to roost in marsh at high tide.
waterproofs and strong footwear are recommended. Bring binoculars if
you have them. No need to book, meet at the Visitor Centre, Station
Road, Thurstaston. CH61 0HN For more information: (0151) 648 4371.
Saturday 17th November, start at 11am, High tide Birdwatch at King’s Gap, Hoylake
will discover why Wirral’s foreshore is an internationally protected
site when you join the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens, Coastal Rangers
and the RSPB on this winter birdwatch at Hoylake. Dress warmly and
bring binoculars if you have them.
No need to book. Organised as part of
Wirral’s Year of Coast and Countryside. High tide at 1.09pm, 9.7m.
No need to book. Ring 0151 648 4371 for
Saturday December 15th, 9am start.
Estuary Watch: High tide from Heswall Fields.
the Rangers at the Thurstaston
for a walk down to the cliff top
at Heswall Fields. Here we have a “birds-eye” view over the mudflats
and into the creeks that make up the Dee estuary. As the tide rises
many thousands of wading birds and ducks will be forced into the open
where we can get great views of these special birds.
Warm waterproofs and strong footwear are recommended.
binoculars if you have them. No need to book, meet at the Visitor
Centre, Station Road, Thurstaston. CH61 0HN. For more information:
(0151) 648 4371.
Saturday December 15th 2 - 3pm
2012 Year of Coast & Countryside in Review - Thurstaston Visitor Centre
is a slideshow and talk in the lecture theatre at Wirral Country Park
to chart the wildlife seen during the events run by the Rangers as part
of Wirral’s Year of Coast & Countryside. It will also give you
idea of where and when to see some great wildlife in 2013.
Places are limited so book early! Call (0151) 648 4371 to reserve a