primary reason for the existence of the Dee Estuary
Volunteer Wardens is to protect the high tide wader roost at West
Kirby from disturbance. A very important secondary roll is to count the
birds, in particular the nine main species. A remarkable amount of data has been collected since 1986 when the
scheme started. At every daylight high tide over 8.7 meters between September and March
the number of birds of each species have been counted, making West Kirby shore
one of the most well documented in the country.
Making sense of this mass of data is a mammoth task and thanks must go in particular to Roy Palmer who has produced a series of fascinating graphs. I think one of the most interesting is the bar graph below showing the average daily count for each winter period. This shows a remarkable cyclic pattern with numbers peaking in the winters of 1990/1991 and 1998/1999. It should be noted that the cycle reflects the variation in the numbers of Knot and Dunlin in particular, they are by the far the most numerous species. The reason for this cyclic pattern is not known but goes on against a background of changing numbers both on the estuary as a whole (see above article) and nationally, as well as changes in the amount of disturbance at the roost. The wardens met with some resistance from the general public when they first started but are now much more effective in stopping disturbance, despite a large increase in the numbers of beach users.
West Kirby -
Average Daily Wader Counts 1986/87 to 1998/99
you can see, the average count for the winter of 1998/99 was the highest since
the scheme started at 11666. Of course the maximum count was much higher and
the table below shows the maximum count (and date) of each of the main nine species:
Inner Marsh Farm
Wetland Bird Survey Count for Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service). 28th
West Kirby shore high tide roost
- counts carried out by Dee Estuary Voluntary
November Bird News
The Hoopoe which caused much excitement in Hoylake at the end of last month stuck around for the first week of November before disappearing.
An adult drake Long-tailed Duck spent several days on West Kirby marine lake before it left when the lake was drained for emergency repairs to the walls. The last week of the month saw a Richard's Pipit at Oakenholt Marsh (near Flint) where good numbers of Twite and a couple of Water Pipit were also seen.
A flock of 750 Black-tailed Godwit have taken up residence between Heswall and Thurstaston shore. They make a great sight foraging a few yards from the beach. When feeding on the mud this large flock make a surprising amount of noise, consistently twittering away (for want of a better word). They make a spectacular sight when flying, their white rumps and black tails flashing in the sun, each bird appearing to be stuck on to a skewer as they hold themselves so straight when flying.
30 or so Bewick's Swan are now back at Burton, spending most of the time on a potato field just beyond Inner Marsh Farm. For several days they were joined by a lone Ruddy shelduck.
December Highest Spring Tides|
23rd December, 1123hrs 9.9m. (all times GMT)
24th December, 1212hrs 10.0m.
25th December, 1300hrs 9.9m.
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 RSPB):
11th December. High Tide
Birdwatch at Heswall. 10:30am-12.30pm
15th December. Walk to Parkgate. 10:30am-12.30pm
24th December. High Tide
Birdwatch at Parkgate. 1015am - 1230pm.
26th December. Christmas Ramble. 10am - 3pm.
8th January. Beginners Birdwatch at West Kirby shore.
11am - 1pm.