The Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens Bird Report  2001

Back to Newsletter

Systematic list - 
Red-throated Diver to Shag.
Bittern to Brent Goose.
Shelduck to Common Scoter (below).
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.

Northern Shelduck                         Tadorna tadorna 
Peak count 1st. winter period :- 290 off Little Eye February 16th.
Peak count moult period :- c. 800 flying south off Little Eye August 5th.
Peak count 2nd. winter period :- c.1,100 off Little Eye October 27th.
[The birds off Little Eye in August were probably moving to the newly recorded moult site on the Mersey. Previous to the discovery of this site the only known moulting areas in Western Europe for Shelduck were Heligoland, between Holland and Germany, and Bridgewater Bay in south-west England. The Dee holds Internationally Important numbers of Shelduck and is third, after The Wash and the Mersey, in importance.]

Eurasian Wigeon                            Anas penelope
 Scarce winter visitor
10 January 1st, 17 on 6th. and 5 on 11th. all off Little Eye. 1 adult male Marine Lake January 17th. 10 off Red Rocks October 29th. 2 off West Kirby November 15th. 1 November 18th. 16 on Tanskeys December 21st.
[ Although Wigeon winter in Nationally Important numbers higher up the estuary they are reported by the wardens only in small numbers and are barely annual. The bird on the Marine Lake was unusual as this species is particularly sensitive to disturbance. ]

Common Teal                             A. crecca
Scarce winter visitor
Birds in flight were 1 January 6th, 2 January 11th, 2 September 27th. 2 in the saltmarsh January 26th., 2 on the tide February 21st. The first returning bird was a single on the tide November 5th.
[This is the second most frequent ‘dabbling’ duck recorded by the wardens and is found in Internationally Important numbers on the estuary. Even with the amount of disturbance that occurs through the winter there is usually at least one record a year from within the saltmarsh. Green-winged Teal, previously regarded as one of the North American sub-species of Common Teal, has now been split as Anas carolinensis leaving crecca and nimia in Common Teal. An ‘armchair tick’ for many birdwatchers.]

Mallard                                        A. platyrhynchos
Scarce resident
Up to 3 birds were present throughout the 1st winter period. A peak of 10 males were on Red Rocks marsh on March 27th and a female was seen in the dune slack on May 19th. + 20th. with 9 pulli. The peak count in the second winter period was 7 on November 12th..
[ Although Mallard are notorious for nesting anywhere there was no definite record of them doing so on site in the Cheshire Atlas. It is not known if any of this years young were raised to fledging. Red Rocks marsh was remarkable for breeding birds this year ( or was it just because the area was so intensively covered through the year ?) ]

Northern Pintail                              A. acuta 
Scarce winter visitor
7 January 1st. and 11 on 6th. off Little Eye., 3 on the tide January 16th., 4 in flight September 24th., 2 October 11th., 14 December 11th. 7 December 21st.
[This species should be recorded with a higher frequency, and in greater numbers, than it is, considering the size of the wintering population on the estuary. Although the Dee is still the most important site in Britain the numbers have declined over the last 10 years. If this trend continues the wardens may record even fewer than at present.]

Northern Shoveler                       A. clypeata
Scarce winter visitor
11 over West Kirby shore September 19th., 3 October 8th.
[Like many waterfowl Shoveler are infrequently recorded from the site and the flock in September is probably a record for the site. Numbers have been rising in the general area for the last five years or so and they are now regular on Gilroy pond and are even being recorded from Ashton Park lake.]

Tufted Duck                                        Aythya fuligula 
1 ( m. ) January 14th. on the Marine Lake. 3 ( 2 x m, 1 x f. ) over West Kirby shore August 17th. 1 ( m. ) Marine Lake December 20th.
[Tufted Duck have always been extremely scarce in the wardening area. The winter of 2000 / 2001 saw a massive rise in the numbers around NW Wirral with a flock of up to 30+ moving between Ashton Park lake and Gilroy pond, West Kirby. The last 40 years has seen a nationwide increase in both breeding and wintering birds.]

Greater Scaup                           A. marila 
Scarce winter visitor
2 off Red Rocks October 28th. 18 on tide December 12th.
[Gone are the days when flocks of up to 200 birds used Caldy Blacks through the winter but larger numbers than usual were in the area during the second half of the year. The highest number of birds for over ten years for the wardens.]

Common Eider                                  Somateria mollissima 
Annual in very small numbers
1 ( m. ) Red Rocks September 24th.
[Eider are present each winter in the wardening area but only in low single figures. The main site in the Dee is usually around Hilbre, probably because feeding prospects are better.]

Common Scoter                                  Melanitta nigra 
Rare winter visitor
Singles ( f. ) on January 11th, February 13th, 2 ( m. ) August 17th. off West Kirby shore. A day count of 463 October 28th past Red Rocks was the highest figure reported.
[ A good year for sightings inside the estuary but when compared to the results of the Common Scoter survey carried out during the winter of 2000 / 2001 off the coast of Wales and in Liverpool Bay the numbers recorded from the site barely warrant a mention. ]

Velvet Scoter to Osprey.