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    1st September 1999
    Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens
    Latest Bird Counts
    August Bird News
    Forthcoming Events
    Latest Newsletter
    The UK Birding Web Ring

Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens
It is now twelve years ago that the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens begun patrolling West Kirby Shore to protect the high tide wader roost. The scheme was set up by Wirral Borough Council at the behest of the then Nature Conservancy after many years of increasing disturbance. The area is a favourite place for dog walking, horse riding and beach combing as well as birdwatchers and day trippers walking to Hilbre.

The Voluntary Wardens'  role are three fold - 
1. prevent disturbance to the high tide roost.
2. Monitor the birds including regular counts. 
3. Show the birds to passers by.

In all three aspects they have been a great success. Disturbance has been reduced by 75% and last winter the average daily count of waders was 11,000 - the highest in over ten years. The biggest increase has been in numbers of Dunlin, Knot and Grey Plover. Oystercatchers and Curlew have not returned in any great number, preferring to stay further up the estuary at Thurstaston and Heswall where they fly inland to feed in the local fields.

There are currently over 30 wardens and more volunteers are always welcome, if you can help ring Christine Smyth, Coastal Ranger, on 0151-678 5488.


Bird Counts

Inner Marsh Farm  
25th August - Curlew Sandpiper 9, Little Stint 5, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper 3, Ruff 5, Greenshank 39, Golden Plover, Redshank 2, Bar-headed Goose, Greylag 24, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Common Tern 4, Ruddy Shelduck, Curlew 5, Ringed Plover 2, Water Rail. 
26th August - Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint 5, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff 5, Green Sandpiper 3, Golden Plover, Peregrine Falcon, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit 5.
27th August - Green Sandpiper 4, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Snipe 10, Water Rail, Ruff 5, Little Stint.
On all three days hundreds of Lapwing, Teal and Mallard were also present.

Wetland Bird Survey Count for Heswall Shore - 15th August (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service).
Cormorant 5, Grey Heron 3, Teal 3,Mallard 21, Whimbrel 19, Greenshank 3, Ringed Plover 11, Grey Plover 1, Bar-tailed Godwit 9, Black-tailed Godwit 3, Oystercatcher 1,200, Lapwing 12, Dunlin 1, Curlew 2176, Redshank 2600, Sparrowhawk 1, Common Gull 476.


August Bird News
Six Ruddy Shelduck have been on the estuary this month, four of these seemed to have spent all their time flying between  Inner Marsh Farm and the  Point of Ayr

Other Inner Marsh Farm birds have included 4 Spoonbill, 9 Curlew Sandpiper, 39 Greenshank, 3 Spotted Redshank, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, 5 Little Stint,  Black-necked grebe, Long-eared Owl, Spotted Crake, Marsh Harrier and 9 Green Sandpipers.

Common Shelduck are returning after their moult, most seem to have spent it on nearby Mersey Estuary where 15,000 were counted during August's WeBS counts. This appears to be a fairly new pattern of behaviour with such large numbers only occurring over the past three summers. During this July and August the flock has been intensively studied to establish for sure whether the birds do use the Mersey for moulting or just as a way station for the flight to and from the German Wadenzee. The study, including looking at both the numbers of birds and their plumage, confirms that they do indeed moult on the Mersey estuary. Also confirmed by simply looking at the feathers washed up on the shore! I do not have the complete WeBS data to prove this but judging by the past four year's data it would seem that Shelduck are moving back on to the Dee Estuary much sooner than previously - now it's just a short hop over the Wirral instead of the long haul across the North Sea. 


Forthcoming Events
September Highest Spring Tides
27th September, 1329hrs 9.8m.
28th September, 1400hrs 9.7m. (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):

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.   

25th September. Guided Walk to Hilbre.
Cross the sands to discover the Island's wildlife and history. A 4 mile walk over 4 hours, ideal for first time visitor. Booking essential ring 0151 648 4371/3884.

25th September. Wader Workshop on Heswall shore.
If you dither over your Dunlins, or get in a tangle with your Knots, then this is the workshop for you. Excellent close views of many wader species should be anticipated. Jointly organised by Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society and the Wirral Ranger Service. Booking essential, for information ring Jeff Clarke on 0151 648 4371/3884.

3rd October. Migration Watch '99. 7am
Join the experts to witness the visible migration of birds. Find out how to identify the species involved. You can visit one of several public sites. For more information ring Jeff Clarke on 0151 648 4371/3884.

3rd October. World Birdwatch events at Wirral Country Park. 10am-5pm
A day of activities, for details ring 0151 648 4371/3884.