The Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens Bird Report  2001

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

Velvet Scoter                                    Melanitta nigra 
County Rarity
1 reported off Red Rocks / Hoylake October 28th. ( JE. Turner )
[ An extremely scarce bird off the coast but owing to difficulties in identifying birds on the sea perhaps it is somewhat commoner than the records show. Awaiting confirmation from CAWOS Rarities Committee. ]

Common Goldeneye                        Bucephala clangula 
Winter visitor
Peak count 1st. winter period :- 19 February 16th.
Peak count 2nd. winter period :- 23 December 26th.
The first returning birds from the shore were 4 October 20th. while the first birds on the Marine Lake were 3 November 3rd.
[ A common wintering duck on the Marine Lake and one we are all familiar with. Although numbers were down on previous years it appears that the greater part, or all, of the birds that winter on the Dee are present on the Marine Lake, a site that has been removed from the SSSI because it was considered to be of no importance! ]

Red-breasted Merganser                   Mergus serrator
Winter visitor
Peak count 1st. winter period :- 16 January 29th.
Peak count 2nd. winter period :- 20 November 28th.
Up to 6 birds were present off Red Rocks throughout the summer. The first returning birds were 5 October 5th.
[ This species has become a widespread breeder in the hillier districts surrounding Wirral and Cheshire over the past couple of decades, but the numbers using the Marine Lake do not seem to reflect this trend. Also see Goldeneye. ]

Goosander                                                   M. merganser 
Vagrant
1 ( m. ) October 24th. on Marine Lake.
[Like the previous species Goosander have spread into the surrounding area over the last 20 years and are found fairly frequently as a breeding species. Unlike Red-breasted Merganser they still remain an extremely scarce bird at the mouth of the river and this is the first record for the wardens, and possibly one of the first for the Marine Lake.]

Red Kite                                                        Milvus milvus 
County Rarity
1 ( ad. ) over West Kirby shore May 24th. ( CB )
[Although Red Kite have been recorded from Red Rocks before ( probably 2 - 3 records ) and very distant birds have been seen by the wardens over the ridge on the Welsh side of the river, this was the first Wirral record for the editor. With the astounding breeding success of the introduced populations how long will it be before we can class them as resident on Wirral ? Awaiting confirmation from CAWOS Rarities Committee. ]

Western Marsh Harrier                      Circus aeruginosus 
Scarce passage
1 ( ad. f. ) over the Marine Lake May 17th., 1 ( ad. m. ) August 15th. over West Kirby shore.
[ Not that long ago Marsh Harrier was classed as the rarest of the breeding Harriers in Britain, even more so than Montyís. With a breeding range now stretching from Kent to Somerset and at least as far north as Fife the steady rise in records of Marsh Harrier from the site should continue. ]

Hen Harrier                                                  C. cyaneus
Vagrant
1 juvenile / first winter over West Kirby September 30th.
[Considering there is a winter roost at Neston Reedbed, and a number of sightings from Parkgate, this species is one of the rarest raptors recorded from the site.]

Eurasian Sparrowhawk                       Accipter nisus 
Resident
Recorded on 182 occasions throughout the year. A female roosted on the side of the golfcourse during May and was often seen hunting along the dunes. 6 birds were noted on migration October 21st.
[There cannot be many gardens and bird tables that donít get at least one visit from a Sparrowhawk. It is probably for this reason that they are not recorded more frequently in the wardening area.]

Common Buzzard                                  Buteo buteo 
Vagrant
1 flying between West Kirby shore and Hilbre April 16th. 2 August 14th. and 16th., singles on 18th. and 20th. and September 6th., 23rd, 26th, November 8th. All over West Kirby shore.
[ Although this is the commonest large raptor in Britain records from the wardening area have been very scarce until this year. The April bird was only the 3rd. bird noted by the wardens but, as with the first Little Egret, it was the precursor to far greater numbers. ]

Osprey                                                         Pandion haliaetus 
Very scarce passage
1 April 15th. off Red Rocks 1 April 21st. over the Marine Lake, 1 April 25th. on the Tanskeys, 1 May 15th. off Red Rocks, 1 September 3rd. over West Kirby shore.
[ This was the best year ever, for records of raptors from the wardening area, and Osprey were no exception. With birds breeding in England this summer the future seems to bode well for this once nationally extinct species.]

Merlin to Grey Plover.