15th August 1998

The late summer migration is in full swing and the numbers of birds on the Estuary are increasing daily. Large numbers of Terns are seen in late August and a sea watch during a strong westerly wind should reveal Manx Shearwaters, Gannets and Fulmars, and in contrast an easterly wind a good sprinkling of migrating land birds.

This is an excellent time of year to visit Hilbre Island and I intend to do a feature about the islands next month, so if anybody wants to E-mail any sightings of birds or mammals to me I will be most grateful (see bottom of Home page for address).

August is the month when the flora is dominated by purple flowers. The Heather on Caldy and Thurstaston Hills is in full flower, sand dunes are ablaze with Restharrow and Knapweed, and the marshes full of Sea Aster, the marine version of Michaelmas Daisy. The path to the RSPB Inner Marsh Farm hide has large swathes of Great Willowherb and Hemp Agrimony either side of it, attracting both Butterflies and Dragonflies. All this adds an extra dimension to a late summer birdwatching trip to the Estuary.

Good News - Birdwatching Jobs
The bad news is that they are unpaid! Volunteer Wardens are required to monitor the high tide bird roost at West Kirby, to show the birds to passers by and prevent disturbance. If you are interested ring 0151 632 4455 or contact the Wirral Rangers at Wirral Country Park, Thurstaston.

Latest Bird Counts and Sightings:

RSPB - Inner Marsh Farm
Birds seen 5th August:
8 Greenshank, 7 Dunlin, 9 Shovellor, 15 Teal, 2 Gadwall, 200 Blacktailed Godwit (max 350 late July), 4 Common Tern, 3 Redshank, 2 Green Sandpiper and 4 Pochard. Also Lapwing, Common Sand Piper and a flock of approx. 50 Canada Geese. Additional sightings - see rarity news below.

Shotton Steelworks Reserve.
After the disastrous weather of Spring and early Summer, when many Common Tern chicks were lost, the terns have had a hundred relays, making it a surprisingly successful breeding season after all. Sharing the reserve with this largest Ternery in Wales are nine broods of Tufted Duck and three of Ruddy duck.

Rarity News:
Inner Marsh Farm: 3 Spoonbills last seen 23rd July, 1 Wood Sandpiper seen several times in last 4 weeks, 2 Spotted Redshanks 8th August and Little Egret on 1st August.
Spottted Crake - 12th and 13th August.

Hilbre Island: a Glaucous Gull and Storm Petrels with the usual Manx Shearwaters. A Little Egret was seen on the north end of Hilbre Island on 8th August.
Woodchat Shrike - 9th and 10th August.

Manx Shearwaters have also been seen off the Point of Ayr along with a much rarer Sooty Shearwater and Long-tailed Skua.

Next Spring High Tides (Times BST):
8th September, 1311hrs 9.8m.
9th September, 1354hrs 9.7m.

Forthcoming Events:

23rd August. High Tide Birdwatch at Heswall. Meet at Banks Road (near Sheldrakes), lower Heswall. 1030hrs. High water at 1251hrs.
Highly recommended for newcomers to the area or those whose Wader identification skills need improvement. If arriving late, the group usually move a few hundred yards along the beach towards Thurstaston/Caldy.

8th September. High Tide Birdwatch at Parkgate, experts on hand at Old Baths.

Following organised by the Wirral Ranger Service.

18th August. Guided walk to Hilbre. Mid-day.
Cross the sands to discover the Islands' wildlife and history. 4 miles and 4 hours, ideal for first time visitors. Warm clothing and packed lunch recommended! Ring 0151 648 4371/3884 to book place. Should be ideal for seeing migrating Terns.

23rd August. Walking the Wirral Way. 10am to 1pm.
Lower Heswall and Gayton Marsh to Heswall Golf Club. Returning via the Wirral Way. Walk will include visit to High Tide birdwatch at Heswall. Walk approx. 5 kilometres. Booking essential, ring 0151 648 4371/3884.

5th September. Guided walk to Hilbre. Afternoon.
Cross the sands to discover the Islands' wildlife and history. 4 miles and 4 hours, ideal for first time visitors. Warm clothing and packed lunch recommended! Ring 0151 648 4371/3884 to book place.

6th September. Walking the Wirral Way. 11 am - 1pm.
Thurstaston to Lower Heswall, returning via Heswall Fields (National Trust) and Thurstaston Shore. High water at 11:46. Should be excellent for birds, approx. 6 kilometres. Ring 0151 648 4371/3884 to book.

12th September. Bats and Barbecue.
A Ranger led guided walk along the Wirral Way looking for bats, ending with a barbecue at Wirral Country Park, Thurstaston. This event is by ticket only. My advice would be to bring plenty of warm clothing! Ring 0151 648 4371/3884 to book.

Dead Links
If there is one thing that really annoys me about a web site, it is dead links. Especially when you know that the link has been dead for several weeks. Don't those Web masters ever check their links?! Rest assured that I check mine at least once a week. But if you do find any I have missed please let me know, see my E-mail address bottom of the home page.

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