This year the UK will have
its first dedicated wader festival
Join us for the Wirral Wader Festival Sat 14th - Sun 15th November
Wirral Country Park - Thurstaston Visitor Centre and
(Liverpool) Saturday 1221hrs, Sunday 1256hrs.
The main event will take place in and
around the Visitor Centre at Thurstaston
will be hosted by the Wirral Rangers. The Visitor Centre is at the end of
Station Road, Thurstaston (CH61 0HN, telephone 0151 648 4371) and
will be open
from 10am to 4pm.
Free Parking at the
Visitor Centre. There will be plenty to
see and do for all the family:
- Meet Alan
Davies and Ruth Miller of The
Biggest Twitch - they will be giving a Talk on Saturday, also
join them for a wader watch on Thurstaston beach.
art demonstration by Robert Parkin
- Kids' Art
competition for both under 11s and 11 to 16 - winning
entries on both days (prizes to be announced) will be
displayed at the North-west Birdwatching Festival at Martin Mere.
- Shore Cottage
art event (Shore Cottage is a short walk from the Visitor
Centre, ask for directions when you arrive)
- Sunday: Drop in and Create a Laser Cut Wading Bird Greetings Card
wildlife book sale
- Ken Mullins Books
- Garrick Books
- RSPB Optics for sale
- Cheshire Wildlife Trust merchandising for
- Wader exhibit
- from the Liverpool Museum and the British Natural History Museum,
- Wader Quest (Rick and Elis Simpson) - Community Wader
Conservation. 2 - 2.30pm.
- Matt Thomas - Shooting Waders. 2.45 - 3.15pm.
- Alan and Ruth Davies - The Biggest Twitch. 3.30pm -
- Allan Conlin - Wader Workshop. 2 - 2.30pm.
- David Clare - Wader Food in the Mud. 2.45 - 3.15pm.
- Scott Reid - Digiscoping. 3.30 - 4pm.
- Low Tide
Birdwatch (Saturday 2pm to 3pm, Sunday 2.30pm to 3.30pm)
- with the Biggest Twitch
(Saturday) Cancelled due to bad weather.
- Creatures in
the mud (both days 1.00-3.00pm)
- examining the creatures that live within the mud of the Dee
estuary. The food that the mud provides is one of the reasons
the waders are here.
- a great variety of prizes to be won; all proceeds will go to wader
- Films showing
all day in the theatre (when talks are not taking place).
with the Soroptomist beach cleaners on Thurstaston Shore
(Sunday only - 1.30pm to 3pm).
- There are other stalls and stands to look at including Birdwatching Magazine stand
and the Wader Quest
stand where you will be able to buy Wader Quest
Wader Quest or simply pass the time of day chatting about waders and
their conservation with people who really care passionately about the
West Kirby Shore and Red Rocks
- High Tide
(West Kirby) Saturday 1209hrs, Sunday 1244hrs.
West Kirby at Dee Lane and along the Promenade (South Parade).
- See Map of
Webcam location and meeting place for Wardens and Red Rocks Walks
- Live webcam
wader roost in the West Kirby Marine Lake car park at the
end of Dee Lane (CH48 0QG).
- there will be a chance to watch a live webcam with remarkable
close-up images of the high tide roost on Little
Eye (Start 11.00 am Sat - 12.00 mid-day Sun).
There will also be opportunities to brush up
on your SLR/bridge camera
- High tide
- You can join the Dee
Estuary Voluntary Wardens as they protect the
waders on West Kirby Shore, see the birds through telescopes and learn
more about Red Rocks
Nature Reserve from Cheshire
Wildlife Trust. Meet at West
Kirby Marine Lake car park at the end of Dee Lane (CH48 0QG) where you
directed to where the wardens are on the beach, 1100hrs to
1400 hrs on Saturday and 1130hrs to 1430hrs on Sunday.
- Wildlife walk
at Red Rocks with Cheshire Wildlife Trust (Start
1.00 pm Sat and 1.30 pm Sun) - meet at West
Kirby Marine Lake car park at the end of Dee Lane (CH48 0QG), see map.
Redshank and Dunlin at West Kirby © Richard Smith
- High Tide
(Hoylake) Saturday 1209hrs, Sunday 1244hrs.
- High tide
bird watch at Hoylake with the RSPB and Dee Estuary
Voluntary Wardens on the promenade between Kings Gap and the Lifeboat
Station (Start Saturday at 11.00hrs and Sunday at 11.30hrs).
Nine species of wader are regularly seen here and it's a chance for you
to brush up on your identification skills. If you don't have a
telescope there will be some provided.
Free car parking
on Hoylake Promenade (North Parade).
Birders at Hoylake on a High Tide Birdwatch -
Wader Quest (Elis Simpson)
- High Tide
(Liverpool) Saturday 1221hrs, Sunday 1256hrs.
- High tide
bird watch - led by the RSPB, Wirral Rangers and Cheshire
Wildlife Trust that
includes the pontoons on the Marine Lake (Start 11.00 am Sat and
11.30am). Meet at New
Brighton Marine Lake, car parking at both King's Parade
and Marine Promenade.
- Afterwards warm up in the Caffe Cream (CH45
2PB, adjacent to the Marine Lake) with a 'Wader Warmer' - A large hot
drink and cake for £4.00.
- Learn how to
digiscope birds (Sunday only), meet by New Brighton Marine
- RSPB Dusk
birdwatch (Saturday and Sunday) - Old Baths Car Park (from
3pm until it's too
dark to see the birds!).
- there should be Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls to be seen as well
as various waders and wildfowl.
Colour Ring Report
Top left and clock-wise. Black-headed
Gull TMEN, Black-tailed Godwit R8-GO, Black-tailed Godwit
LN-YO (only right leg showing), Black-tailed Godwit WW-OYflag. Photos
There was a good gull roost at Hoylake for several days and a we
managed to spot a few with rings although we are still waiting for
feedback for several of them. The pontoon at the north end of West
Kirby Marine Lake seems to be very attractive to Black-headed gulls, I
think they use it to rest on between feeding on bread provided by the
general public! We've had at least one long-staying colour-ringed bird
there over the past three winters and one has turned up again this
autumn. There have been quite a
few Sanderling around but much searching failed to reveal a
colour-ring and the only colour-ringed Dunlin to be seen was on the
groyne at Leasowe but too far away to read. So we are back to
the good old Black-tailed Godwits and we saw 16 different colour-ringed
birds in October, all in the flooded field next to Gilroy Nature Park -
I give the life histories of the three in the photographs above.
on yellow ring.
Ringed at Walney Island, Cumbria, on May 19th 2014.
Recorded on Hoylake shore on October 28th 2015 (first record away from
Recorded at Walney Island in April and May 2015.
on white ring.
Ringed at Lodz, Poland, on April 12th 2013.
Recorded at West Kirby on October 9th 2015 and several times since.
First record away from the ringing site was at West Kirby on September
11th 2013, it was present until January 18th 2014.
It returned to West Kirby on July 9th 2014 and remained until February
18th 2015. The only other record away from West Kirby was at Hoylake on
February 5th 2015.
At the end of September and early October our colour ring records
showed that there was a distinct movement of 'Blackwits' from the east
coast of England to the Dee estuary, this included two of the birds
below. The folks from Operation Godwit tell us that such east-west
movements are quite unusual, much more usual is a north-west to south
east flight in late winter and early spring when birds feed up on the
Ouse Washes and Thames Estuary prior to the long migration back to
ringed as an adult male in northern Iceland on July
Recorded at Gilroy Nature Park during the second half of October 2015.
The first record after ringing was at Gilroy on August 13th 2011. It
remained on the Dee Estuary (Thurstaston) until February 2012. It was
on the Humber estuary in September and October 2012 but there were no
records for the following winter. It returned to Thurstaston in
September 2013 and remained until December with the same pattern in
2014. It was at Gibraltar Point, Lincs, at the end of August 2015.
as an adult male in northern Iceland on June 12th 2005.
Recorded at Gilroy Nature Park on October 10th 2015.
Not many records for this bird being seen only in Icleand in May 2008
and the Blackwater Estuary, Essex in March 2009 before turning up at
Waterford, Ireland in January 2012. Late summer 2014 saw it on the Wash
and it was also there on September 27th 2015.
as a chick in Iceland on July 13th 2012.
at Gilroy Nature Park many times between July 19th and October 26th
First record after ringing was at Thurstaston Shore on October 11th
2013 where it remained a few weeks with a visit to the Mersey estuary
in January 2014. It returned to Thurstaston Shore in November
and December 2014.
Richard Smith and
Colour-ringed birds were also recorded by John Jakeman and
Hoylake Golf Resort
Wirral Borough Council is to host
drop-in public consultations about the proposed Hoylake Golf Resort:
Hall, Hoylake 11-13 November 2015 between 1pm and 7pm
Hall, West Kirby 18-20 November 2015 between 1pm and 7pm.
Also see the Hoylake Golf Resort
Looks like we will at last get some
details about this project which threatens to destroy the biologically
rich area called the Hoylake Langfields, it is also a very important
area for roosting waders from the nearby North Wirral and Dee Estuary
Special Protection Areas and Ramsar sites, in particular
they are regularly used by Internationally Important Numbers of
Black-tailed Godwits - see the Godwits
of Gilroy Article.
October Bird News
Great White Egret and Little Egret in the roost at
Burton Mere Wetlands,October 12th
© Jeff Cohen.
Just how many Great White Egrets we had in October is difficult to say
but we did have three records of four birds together, and many more of
two and three birds. My guess is that it won't be too long before there
is a count of 10 birds for the whole estuary.
I did predict gales but none materialised and it was the quietest
September and October I remember, so not even a hint of a Leach's
Petrel. Calm weather often means poor visibility but we did have one or
two days when the sea was flat and it was also clear with the result
that we had a huge count of 961 Great Crested Grebes on the 2nd,
confirming North Wirral as the second most important site for this
species in the UK behind Dungeness and Rye Bay. There were very few
Common Scoters that day but by the 19th there were 1,200 and probably
more by the end of the month. The highest count of Brent Geese was 84
at West Kirby on the 27th whilst there have been very impressive counts
of Teal with 6,000 at Both BMW and Connah's Quay.
October is usually good for rarities and this one was no exception
with: a Slavonian Grebe at Hilbre; a fly over probable Olive-backed
Pipit at West Kirby; two records of Richard's Pipit; a Spotted Crake, a
Pectoral Sandpiper, several records of Cetti's Warbler and
Yellow-browed Warbler at BMW (Burton Mere Wetlands); four
further sightings of Yellow-browed Warbler; a Pallid Harrier over
Brent Geese on the marsh at West Kirby, October 27th © Tanny
It continues to be a good 'winter' for Short-eared Owls and we had many
sightings of them between Burton and Parkgate, unfortunately the tides
at the end of the month weren't quite high enough to flush them all
from the roost off Gayton. There was also many records of both Hen and
Marsh Harriers, with at least three of each.
Sparrowhawk at Burton Mere Wetlands, October 24th
© Roy Lowry.
Black-tailed Godwits continued to roost in the flooded field by Gilroy
Nature Park with Internationally Important Numbers nearly every day,
max 2,300 on the 23rd. There was also a juvenile Garganey there for
several days. 4,000 Black-tailed Godwits were at Point of Ayr by the
31st. Up to four Little Stints and a Curlew Sandpiper were at BMW for
most of the month whilst there was a very impressive 21 Spotted
Redshanks at Connah's Quay.
thanks go to Mal Sergeant, David Parker, Graham Conolly, Jane Turner,
Mark Gibson, Rich Whitby, Paul Mason, Roy Lowry, Mal Seargant, Richard
Beckett, Derek Bates, Jeff Cohen, Dave Edwards, Keith Scovell, Mark
Butterworth, Allan Conlin, David
Bradshaw, Alan Hitchmough, Steve
Williams, Charles Farnell, Elliot
Montieth, Richard Steel, Dan
Trotman, Ray Eades, Ian Fleming, Denzil
Nicklin, Carole Killilikelly, Gail Gannon, Alan
Robinson, Steven Edwards, Paul Shenton, Julie Rogers, David
Leeming, Paul Vautrinot, Henry Cook, Glenn Morris, Bruce Atherton,
Stephen Lane, Stan Davidson, Mike Turton, Mark Palin, Andy Newall, Ian
Dyer, Colin Wells, Geoff Robinson, Gail Wilson, Mike Hart, Andy Thomas,
David Small,Richard Would, Alan Bisell, Alistair Foggo, Mathilde
Baker-Schommer, John Coupe, David Jones, Dave Chandler, Martin
Sherwood, Hugh Stewart, Bernard Machin, Damian Waters, the Lighthouse
and Wirral Birding Blog
and the Hilbre Bird
for their sightings during October. All
are gratefully received.
What to expect in November
Plenty of waders, we
hope! A blast of
cold air over the North Sea coasts of Europe would certainly do very
nicely and push large numbers of Dunlin, Sanderling and Knot towards
us, to join the thousands of Oytercatchers, Redshank and
Black-tailed Godwits already here.
It's good that large
numbers of Pink-footed Geese on our marshes are now a regular feature
and we can expect 4,000 or more this month, although they can be hard
to see in the long grasses and reeds. Sometimes they feed within a
couple of hundred yards of Parkgate prom making for a specacular sight
when they take off.
We would expect to see our first Snow
Buntings of the winter, often on the beach at Point of Ayr or Gronant,
or around Hilbre and along north Wirral. Connah's Quay has become one
of the most important sites in the country for over-wintering Twites
over the past two or three years and they could reach at least 100 this
month. By the end of the month we will know if we are in for a good
Waxwing year or not, if so they will be pouring into Scotland and the
first ones may have reached here.
It looks like we are going
to have a Leach's Petrel free year, although a prolonged south-west
gale may still produce one or two. You have to go all the way back to
1993 since the last time when we had no Leach's Petrels in the autumn,
but we did have one in January that year! If the calm weather continues
it is well worth looking out to sea where
Divers can be seen, sometimes a hundred or more, as well as several
hundred Great Crested Grebes and thousands of Common Scoters, and we
may well expect a few Velvet Scoters and perhaps a Surf Scoter or two
Spring Tides (Liverpool)
26th November, 10.57hrs (GMT), 9.8m.
27th November, 11.41hrs (GMT), 9.8m.
Organised by the Wirral
Ranger Service , Flintshire
Countryside Service and the
RSPB (Dee Estuary):
Sunday 1st November and
Sunday 6th December
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 2015 Events Diary.
on the Dee
at the Donkey Stand at Parkgate
(opposite Nicholl's Ice Cream Shop).
1 pm - dusk
people have never seen a hen harrier, but once seen it is rarely
forgotten. In support of the RSPB's Skydancer project, we are pleased
to bring you a series of events to showcase these enigmatic birds of
prey which use the marshes of the Dee Estuary as their home for the
The name "Skydancer" comes from the aerobatic
displays that the male birds perform in their courtship ritual on the
moors in the spring. Sadly, this has become an increasingly rare sight
and they are close to becoming extinct as a breeding bird in England.
could be the last chance to see Skydancers on the Dee, so come along to
Parkgate to find out more about the hen harrier story and what you can
do to help save them before it's too late. Look for the RSPB marquee
along the main promenade at Parkgate, where friendly staff and
volunteers will be on hand with telescopes and binoculars to show you
these beautiful, agile birds hunting over the marsh, and coming in to
roost there at dusk. Plenty of family activities and other RSPB
information will be available.
Car parking is limited on Parkgate
promenade, but there is free public parking at the Old Baths car park
(CH64 6RN) at the north end of The Parade, and the Wirral Country Park
car park on Station Road (CH64 6QJ). There are public toilets at Mostyn
Square in the middle of The Parade, and a number of pubs and cafes for
refreshments. Wrap up warm, and prepare to be patient as the harriers
have a large area of marsh to roam!
For more information on the RSPB's Skydancer project, visit
November and Sunday 8th November
Watch at Burton
9.30 am-4.30 pm.
Price: Free (normal entry fees apply to non-members)
Ever taken part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch? Well, our friends
at Wader Quest have created an annual, global event that is effectively
the same, but for wading birds rather than garden birds; the Wader
Conservation World Watch.
An opportunity for birdwatchers across the world to show their
solidarity with, and appreciation of, wader conservationists be they
professionals or volunteers, and just two simple steps to taking part:
1. Go out
and see wading birds wherever you are in the world.
what you have seen and where to Wader Quest.
It is that easy; no registering required, just good old-fashioned
Burton Mere Wetlands is playing "host" to this event on the Wirral
Peninsula; drop in any time during opening hours over the weekend to
report your sightings from any local location, and we'll submit them to
Wader Quest, credited to you of course!
We'll also be reporting all waders present at the reserve over the
weekend, so feel free to come down and help us seek out that elusive
greenshank or little stint, or who knows what other late migrant?!
Further details on the event, and Wader Quest's work, can be found on
the Wader Quest website, here: http://www.waderquest.org/p/wader-quest-world-watch.html
November and Sunday 15th November
Wirral Wader Festival
with Events at Thurstaston, West Kirby, Red Rocks, Hoylake, New
Brighton and Parkgate.
See Article Above for Details.
Sunday 29th November,
Weekend Walkabout at Burton
12.30 pm-2.30 pm (approx. finish)
Price: Free (normal reserve entry charges apply to non-members)
Join one of our friendly, knowledgeable volunteers for a gentle walk
from the Reception Hide to the end of the Hillfort Trail on Burton
Point, to learn more about the wildlife that thrives here, the work we
do to give nature a home and the remarkable history of the estuary.
Great for first time visitors or those who'd like a guide to help them
get the most enjoyment from a visit. With constant changes as we move
through the seasons, it's impossible to predict what might be seen but
as we move into winter, the number of ducks, geese and and wading birds
rises into the thousands, whilst a variety of birds of prey can be
seen. One of the greatest spectacles comes at dusk as hundreds of
little egrets and jackdaws fly into roost, plus a growing number of
starlings attempt a murmuration over the wetlands.
No booking required, just turn up on the day. A reasonable level of
fitness and sturdy footwear are required. Ring 0151 353 8478 for