A report has been written on the Dee Estuary WeBS Counts for 1999-2000. This is available from Colin Wells, Burton Point Farm, Station Road, Burton, Cheshire for £4.00 including P&P. For all those interested in the waterfowl of the estuary this is a fascinating read.
By way of a summary of the report I can do no better than quote the Introduction (written by the report compiler, Neil Friswell, and editor, Colin Wells) and Acknowledgements (written by Colin Wells). Colin is the WeBS co-ordinator for the Dee Estuary as well as being RSPB warden and Neil is his hard working volunteer helper. Many thanks to Neil and Colin for letting me quote this extract.
The introduction: Monthly recording of wildfowl and waders has taken place on the Dee Estuary for a considerable period of time, originally as part of national survey called the Birds of Estuaries Enquiry (BOEE) and latterly The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS). Historically data have been analysed by the national coordinating body and a national report produced. Although the seed was sown many years ago to produce a Dee report it has taken many years and the improvement of technology to finally bring it into reality. It was felt that a locally focused report analysis would be useful in order to highlight trends in key species so that appropriate conservation action could be taken and as feedback and thank you to all the WEBS counters who gather the data. It is hoped that Countryside Council for Wales and English Nature will find the data helpful in monitoring the Dee Estuary SSSI/Ramsar/SPA site and in considering any extensions to the designated areas. The analysis will also assist in any deliberations of planning and recreational issues. The data will form an integral part of the recently proposed Sustainability Indicators which are being developed under the aegis of the Dee Estuary Strategy. It is planned to produce a report annually.
This first report presents data for a waterfowl species counted during WeBS for the period April 1999 to March 2000 inclusive. This has been done
in order that data for a complete winter period can be analysed. The peak
count data for key species have then been compared to those since 1981/82
and population trends are graphically presented. Additional count data are
then considered. The data show that the Dee continues to meet the criteria
for International Importance for Shelduck, Teal, Pintail, Oystercatcher,
Grey Plover, Knot, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit (based on
low tide counts), Curlew, Redshank and Turnstone and National Importance
for Great Crested Grebe (based on RSPB data), Cormorant, Bewick's Swan,
Shoveler (RSPB data), Ringed Plover (passage) and Sanderling.
Acknowledgements: This report would have not been possible without the large team of dedicated WeBS counters who have given up their spare time to contribute to this important national survey, in particular the area coordinators Carl Clee, Brian Grey, Andrew Gouldstone and Gareth Stamp. A special thank you to Neil Friswell who has spent a lot of time glued to the computer inputting data and carrying out the data analysis. Once again I would like to thank everybody involved with WEBS counting as it is crucially important that we gather this data which makes such a major contribution to the conservation of the Dee Estuary.
Keep on counting!
The Deeside Naturalists' Society now have their own page on this web site. They run and maintain the Connah's Quay Power Station reserve. The Reserve is well known for its wintering waders and wildfowl together with its passage migrants and is a splendid example of what can be achieved when industry and conservation groups work together in partnership.The reserve will be featured in a newsletter early in the new year. Note that the reserve is open to members of the Deeside Naturalists' Society only. The Deeside Naturalists' Society have kindly provided the WeBS counts for the Flint and Connah's Quay area, see Bird Counts below.
Inner Marsh Farm Count for 27th
Wetland Bird Survey Count for Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service). 12th November.
Great-crested Grebe 3, Cormorant 4, Grey Heron 5, Shelduck 6920, Wigeon 69, Teal 403, Mallard 68, Oystercatcher 800, Golden Plover 97, Lapwing 146, Knot 57, Dunlin 20, Snipe 4, Black-tailed Godwit 50, Curlew 603, Redshank 1750, black-headed Gull 216, Common Gull 10, Herring Gull 4, Great Black-backed Gull 2, Merlin.
West Kirby high
tide roost, highest count for November carried out by Dee
Estuary Volunteer Wardens - 26th November.
Wetland Bird Survey count for Flint
and Connah's Quay - (Kindly provided by the Deeside
Naturalists' Society). 12th November.
November Bird News
Stonechats were a welcome sight on the Wirral coast, pairs seen at both Burton and West Kirby. Many years ago they bred here but are now just a scarce winter visitor. Other notable small birds were a pair of Lapland Bunting at Burton and five Water Pipit in their usual spot at Neston Old Quay.
Burton Marsh has been the place to spot Little Egrets with 3 to 5 present all month, two were also at Oakenholt on the 12th. Bewick's Swans built up to 46 by the end of month with 6 Whooper Swans, they commute between Burton Marsh, Inner Marsh Farm and Shotwick Fields. Shelduck numbers were estimated to still be near last month's record count of 9620 at Heswall at the beginning of the month but had dropped below 7000 by the mid month. As usual Inner Marsh Farm had the pick of rare wildfowl with single Red-crested Pochard, American Wigeon and Green-winged Teal.
Good counts of both species of Godwit were made with 3500 Bar-tailed at Hoylake and 2000 Black-tailed at Oakenholt. A huge flock of 30000 Dunlin aerial roosted at West Kirby on the 12th, the largest flock of Knot counted was 12000 at Hoylake on the 11th. The end of the month brought a good selection of waders to Inner Marsh Farm including 5 Ruff, 4 Spotted Redshank and 3 Greenshank along with numerous Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit.
What to expect in December: The Christmas period is one of my favourite times on the estuary, especially if the weather is crisp and clear. If you get down to Heswall at day break you may be lucky enough to see the Curlew morning flight as hundreds of birds fly inland to feed, wave after wave calling all the way. Small parties of Knot seem to be scattered all along the shore with huge masses of Dunlin further out.
According to the last two year's WeBS counts numbers of birds tend to take a bit of a dip in December between peak months of November and January, but in previous years Pintail, Wigeon and Teal have all peaked in December. The flock of Bewick's Swan at the head of the estuary should also reach a maximum in December when over 50 may be present.
Many thanks go to Jane Turner, Steve Williams, John Baker, Brian Grey, Wendy Allen, Mark Feltham, Jeff Clarke, John Kirkland, Bill Owens and Martyn Jaimeson for their sightings during November. I rely on the goodwill of people like this, unlike some commercial sites I cannot offer financial inducements!
|| December Highest Spring Tides (Liverpool) |
12th December, 11.38hrs 9.7m. (all times GMT)
13th December, 12.23hrs 9.7m.
See Tides page for tide table.
Note that the marsh at Parkgate is covered when tide height is 9.8m or over, dependent on weather conditions. Low pressure with strong north-west wind will create higher than expected tide, high pressure with southerly wind means lower than expected tide.
Young Ornithologists Club at Ness Gardens
Peregrines Phoenix Group
Wirral Bird Club
Forthcoming Events (organised by the
Wirral Ranger Service, Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the
3rd December. A Winter Woodland Birdwatch. 1pm - 3:30pm.
10th December. High Tide at Flint
Banks road Birdwatch at Heswall Shore. 9:30am.
17th December. Parkgate
Walk. 11am - 4pm.
27th December. Christmas
Ramble. 10am - 3pm.
Note: Many of these forthcoming events extracted from 'Birdwatchers Diary 2000', which covers both the Dee and Mersey regions. Copies available from the visitor centre at Thurstaston, Wirral Country Park 0151 648 4371.
Shearwater and Gull sketch by Tony Broome.