is a fascinating subject. We all know about the amazing journeys of birds
such as the Sanderling and Arctic Tern, but far fewer people are aware of the
huge numbers of land birds migrating here from the rest of Europe, in
particular Scandinavia. Many of the species are already resident in this
country so the foreign migrants simply get missed among the locals.
Many of these migrants travel southwards along our coasts, including those of the Dee Estuary. To monitor these coastal travelers the 1999 Migration Watch took place on the 17th October, see tabulated results. The watch took place at two locations, Denhall Lane (Burton) and Thurstaston with thirteen species being recorded in double or more figures. Of these thirteen species a total of 2988 birds were counted at Denhall Lane and 3404 at Thurstaston.
Credit must go to the watchers, great skill is required to identify and count all those finches passing over - often just dots in the sky, and they had to get up at some unearthly hour to do it. Thanks to CAWOS and the Wirral Rangers for organising the event.
Many questions are still to be answered regarding migration on the Dee, such as how many birds fly directly across the mouth of the estuary and how many south along the Wirral coast. Preliminary data suggests that the majority of birds fly along the Wirral but certain species choose to fly directly across to Wales. Another question is, what do the birds do when they reach the head of the estuary? Do they turn round and head north-west along the Welsh coast towards the Point of Ayr, or disperse south across the countryside - perhaps to rejoin the Welsh coast the far side of Snowdonia. Next year, if we have ten times the number of expert counters, perhaps we will be able to answer some of these questions!
Inner Marsh Farm
Wetland Bird Survey Count for Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service).
West Kirby shore high tide roost
- counts carried out by Dee Estuary Voluntary
Nearby Little Eye
Island is also a high tide roost being particularly attractive to
Oystercatcher, Curlew and Cormorant. It is renowned as a place for bird
photography, many of Eric Hosking's pictures of waders were taken here. The
birds both on Little Eye and West Kirby are often disturbed by Peregrines but on 29th
October two photographers, Andy Harmer and John Power, saw an unusual incident on
the island which I thought worth repeating:
October Bird News
I'm sure most people would agree that the birds of the month were the Red-backed Shrike at Burton and a Hoopoe at Hoylake, both staying over two weeks and giving excellent views to a succession of twitchers. The Shrike even made the local press although they called it a Red-backed Striker!
The Point of Ayr has had a good selection of birds. Strong north-west winds in the first half of the month brought 5 Leach's Petrel and a Long-tailed Skua. Other birds reported have been 2 Lapland Bunting, Siberian Stonechat, 2 Marsh Sandpiper and a Spotted Redshank.
A few Curlew Sandpiper lingered after the influx last month and we are starting to see this winter's first Snow Buntings and Purple Sandpipers. A Siberian Chiffchaff was seen at Leasowe Lighthouse, Hobby at Red Rocks and Black-necked Grebes at Hilbre Island and West Kirby marine lake. With winter almost here numbers of waders are really building up, flocks of Knot and Dunlin each 12,000 strong where reported from West Kirby shore and East Hoyle Bank (Hoylake) respectively.
November Highest Spring Tides|
23rd November, 1053hrs 9.9m. (all times GMT)
24th November, 1138hrs 10.0m.
25th November, 1223hrs 10.0m.
Young Ornithologists Club at Ness Gardens
Peregrines Phoenix Group
Forthcoming Events (organised by the Wirral Ranger Service, Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):
7th November. Autumn at Wepre Park.
20th/21st November. North West Bird Fair at Martin Mere.
24th November. High Tide
Birdwatch at Parkgate. 9.45am - 11.45am.
25th November. High Tide
Birdwatch at Parkgate. 1030am - 1230pm.
25th November. Birds by Character at Wirral Country
Park, Thurstaston. 7.30pm-9.30pm.
27th November. High Tide Birdwatch at Flint
Castle. 12 noon.
28th November. Beginners
Birdwatch at Leasowe Bay. 1pm-2.30pm
11th December. High Tide
Birdwatch at Heswall. 10:30am-12.30pm