The Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens Bird Report  2001

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Systematic list - 
Red-throated Diver to Shag (below).
Bittern to Brent Goose.
Shelduck to Common Scoter.
Velvet Scoter to Osprey.
Merlin to Grey Plover.
Lapwing to Bar-tailed Godwit.
Whimbrel to Great Skua.
Mediterranean Gull to Reed Bunting will be published in the July 2002 Newsletter.

Red-throated Diver                                    Gavia stellata            
Rare visitor

Singles in flight past West Kirby shore January 12th and February 1st., 2 off Red Rocks February 20th. and 2 April 23rd were the only records from the 1st. part of the year. The peak autumn count was of 11 October 15th. 1 - 7 birds were present off Red Rocks to the years end.
[Red-throated Diver is the most frequent species of diver to have been recorded from the main wardening area. The two sightings in the first part of the year from within the estuary mouth are excellent records.]

Black-throated Diver                                Gavia arctica 
County Rarity
1 reported off Red Rocks May 6th. ( JE and MG. Turner )
[ Not only is this the rarest diver to be seen off the Wirral coast but it is also the scarcest of the common three around Britain. This is the first record for the wardens, although they have been noted previously off Red Rocks. Awaiting confirmation from CAWOS Rarities Committee.]

Great Northern Diver                              G. immer 
County Rarity
1 reported off Hoylake / Red Rocks October 28th. ( JE. Turner )
[This species is only just slightly commoner than Black-throated Diver in Cheshire and Wirral. Great Northern Diver winter much further out from the shore than the other diver species and are very much under recorded throughout most of Britain and Ireland. Awaiting confirmation from CAWOS Rarities Committee. ]

Great Crested Grebe                             Podiceps cristatus 
Winter visitor
9 January 9th. was the peak number on the Marine Lake for the year. There were up to 7 birds present off Red Rocks throughout the summer with a peak count, in the second wardening period, of 37 September 17th.
[The 9 birds recorded in January may be a Marine Lake record. There were large numbers of Great Crested Grebe in the area during January with 32 being recorded on 12th on the East Float Dock, Birkenhead. There has been a decline in numbers on the Dee over the years and the estuary no longer meets the requirements for a Site of National Importance.]

Northern Fulmar                                     Fulmarius glacialis
Rare visitor

The first bird of the year was a single on April 15th. Peak count was 9 off Red Rocks September 15th. Single birds were off West Kirby on September 13th and 29th.
[Like most seabirds, Fulmar are rarely recorded inside the estuary mouth.]

Manx Shearwater                                 Puffinus puffinus 
4 April 16th, were the first birds of the year. There were small flocks of up to 7 throughout July but the peak numbers recorded were 27 August 8th. and 29 September 6th. 2 on October 16th were the last records for the year. None were recorded inside the estuary mouth.

[There were good numbers of spring Manxies recorded from the North Wirral this year. Autumnal numbers were about average.]

Leach’s Storm-Petrel                      Oceanodroma leucorhoa
3 off Red Rocks September 16th. 1 picked up exhausted on West Kirby shore same date and released off Hilbre.
[After three autumns of low numbers of Leach’s passing through the area we had a brilliant September. The three recorded off Red Rocks on 16th. were all in a 20 minute period but up to 500 birds may have passed through north Wirral during that weekend, Hilbre had ‘hundreds’ on both 15th. and 16th. and birds were recorded as far inside the river as Flint and Heswall.]

Northern Gannet                                  Morus bassanus 
Rare visitor
The first record was of 3 on April 7th. Birds were seen in small numbers from the middle of May until the end of October with a peak of 57 July 18th. Unusual sightings were of an adult flying upriver October 18th. and another between Hilbre + Middle Eye December 1st.
[Many more birds were observed from Red Rocks than are recorded above but most were off the north end of Hilbre or well out to sea and outside the perceived recording area.]

Great Cormorant                           Phalacrocorax carbo 
Peak count 1st. winter period :- 9 February 27th.
Peak count for year :- 207 September 3rd on Little Eye.
Peak count 2nd winter period :- as above.
The highest number noted on the Marine Lake was 17 August 23rd.
[Numbers of Cormorant using the roost on Little Eye in the first part of the year were exceptionally low and remained so until the late summer peak at the end of August and through September. The overall number of birds using the estuary still continues to rise. The Dee holds Nationally Important numbers of this species.]

Northern Shag                                     P. aristotelis 
1 adult was in flight with 2 Great Cormorant over West Kirby shore July 4th. 1 juvenile on the Marine Lake from September 21st. to 28th. inclusive.
[Multiple records of Shag from the wardening site, in a year, are almost unprecedented but long stays by very tame immatures on the Marine Lake have been recorded on previous occasions. What was probably the same adult was seen eight days later in flight over Hoylake Langfields, yet again accompanying two Cormorants.]

 Bittern to Brent Goose.