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    2nd August 1999
    Boating on the Estuary
    Latest Bird Counts
    July Bird News
    Forthcoming Events
    Latest Newsletter
    The UK Birding Web Ring

Boating on the Estuary
A Great Wildlife Experience 
August is my favourite month on the estuary. The Little Terns which breed at Gronant can be heard screaming around Hilbre Island where they pause for a few weeks prior to migrating south. Sandwich and Comic Terns pass through by the thousands followed by the inevitable Skuas, and  the waders are starting to return in large numbers. On top  of all that  you can do all this during the (hopefully) good summer weather of August (it is over 80F/27C as I write this). 

All this can be seen best from Hilbre, best that is unless you can get into a boat. If you have a friend, or a friend of a friend, who has a boat on the estuary persuade them to take you out. The birds are that much closer seen from a boat, and as for the Grey seals - there are 400+ at the moment using West Hoyle Bank off Hilbre to haul out at low tide. They are used to the fishing boats chugging up and down the Hilbre Swash just 100 yards away so you can get really close. At low tide  land on one of the sand banks at the mouth of the estuary (away from the seals) where there is lovely clean sand - go beachcombing and almost anything can turn up. Just a word of warning - it is essential that you take all the correct precautions when boating on the estuary (wear life belts, read the latest weather forecast, take flares etc), and only go with an experienced sailor who is familiar with the tides and channels. There are very strong tides with large rises and falls - so be warned. Contact the local Coastguards for advice.

Regular wildlife cruises used to be available 5 years ago. Unfortunately these had to be stopped, not for lack of interest but due to lack of a suitably qualified skipper. So if you are a qualified skipper with a good knowledge of the Dee Estuary, or know of one, give the Wirral Wildlife Rangers a ring on 0151 648 4371/3884.


Bird Counts

Inner Marsh Farm sightings during July.
Again no complete count during July, instead some interesting sightings at various times during the month.
18th July - Red Kite, Common Sandpiper, Hobby.
19th July - Greenshank, Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Snipe 6, Black-tailed Godwit 4, Common Tern 2, Common Sandpiper 2, Yellow Wagtail 2, Yellow-legged Gull.
21st July - Little Egret, Greenshank 20, Redshank 30, Black-tailed Godwit 3, Yellow-legged gull.
22nd July - Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper.

Wetland Bird Survey Count for Heswall Shore - 18th July (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service).
Cormorant 29, Grey Heron 10, Mallard 27, Oystercatcher 270, Lapwing 28, Dunlin 90, Curlew 1,200, Redshank 900, Common Sandpiper 4.


July Bird News
The tern colonies at Shotton and Gronant have both had successful breeding seasons with over 500 Common Tern chicks at Shotton and an expected 100 Little Tern fledglings at Gronant.

Shelduck have disappeared from the estuary as they are now on their moult migration. They all used to go to German Heligoland but increasing numbers appear to be just hopping over to the Mersey estuary where 11,600 were counted on 18th July's WeBS count and a massive 17,000 August 1998.

Some strong westerly winds during the middle of the month brought good views of Storm Petrels and Manx Shearwater. The Tern migration is now well underway with 100 Sandwich Tern at the  Point of Ayr and others at Hilbre

The waders are increasing rapidly after the breeding season with good numbers of Redshank and Curlew  seen off Heswall at high tide. Also observed were various waders on passage at Inner Marsh Farm including  Greenshank, Ruff, Spotted Redshank and Little Ringed Plover. The first Little Egret of the Autumn has been spotted at Inner Marsh Farm along with a Red Kite and Hobby - both unusual for this area.

With the increase in Waders comes the need to afford them  protection from disturbance. This is needed specially at the high tide roost at West Kirby. Voluntary Wardens provide this valuable service, any help greatly welcomed!


Forthcoming Events
Next Spring High Tides
12th August, 1248hrs 9.5m.
13th August, 1330hrs, 9.5m. (times BST)

Young Ornithologists Club at Ness Gardens
A complete listing of events for 1999 can be seen for this group who have a series of monthly outdoor and indoor meetings.

Forthcoming Events (organised by the Wirral Ranger Service, Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):

7th August. Walk across the Dee Estuary. 1pm to 5pm.
A chance to discover our local wilderness, with a walk to Wales (almost!). Please note that this is a strenuous walk through mud of about 7 miles. Tall tight fitting wellies essential. Please also bring warm waterproof clothing and snack. Booking essential, ring 0151 648 4371/3884.

14th August. Royden Park and Thurstaston Common. 1pm to 4pm.
A guided walk following some of the footpaths that cross over the park and heathland. Meet at the Rangers Office in Royden Park. Ring 0151 678 4200 for information.

19th August. Seashore Search. 10.30am to 12 noon.
See how many different creatures you can catch in the pools along Wirral's  North Coast. Meet at Leasowe Lighthouse. Booking essential, ring 0151 648 4371/3884.

21st August. Guided Walk to Hilbre.
Cross the sands to discover the Island's wildlife and history. A walk of 4 miles in 4 hours. Bring warm clothing and a snack. Ring 0151 648 4371/3884 to book.

22nd August. Coast and Woodland Walk. 10am to 2 pm.
A day's ramble along the Dee Estuary coastal path - from the sand dunes of Talacre to the Woodlands of Greenfield. Transport back to Talacre available (50p). Please book, ring 01352 714172.

11th September. High tide birdwatch at Point of Ayr. 10:30am
Meet at end of Station road, Talacre. (HW 1240, 9.6m). For more info. ring RSPB on 01352 780 527.

11th September. Beginners Birdwatch at Hoylake. 11am to 12.45pm.
Hoylake is one of the best places on Wirral to see a wide variety of shorebirds/waders. Meet the Rangers on the promenade by the Life Boat station  to find out more about them and hopefully tell them apart. For info. ring 0151 678 5488.