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.
Merlin to Grey Plover.
Lapwing to Bar-tailed Godwit (below).
Whimbrel to Great Skua.
Mediterranean Gull to Reed Bunting will be published in the July 2002 Newsletter.

Northern Lapwing                                    Vanellus vanellus 
Scarce hard weather migrant
6 February 3rd, 19 February 12th, 3 February 13th, 29 February 26th. 5 July 21st. 41 November 1st., 19 on 11th. 50 on 20th. 1 November 15th. 11 December 20th
[Nationally Important numbers of Lapwing winter higher up the estuary and on the Mersey and good numbers spend the winter on Hoylake Langfields but, apart from the occasional small flock overhead, this is an extremely scarce wader on site. A mid-summer record is almost unprecedented.]

Red Knot                                                                    Calidris canutus 
Winter visitor
Peak monthly counts :-
No systematic counts were made outside the Wardening period

Jan

Feb

Mar

Sept

Oct

Nov 

Dec

10000 10000 (5000) (1200) 70 1000 10000

A flock of c.5,000 was in flight over West Kirby shore August 9th. with 6 Ďredí adults on 19th. and 14th. at Red Rocks.
[ As with Grey Plover the figures present a rather better impression of Knot utilising the roost than the actuality. For 76.4% of the days which wardens were present in the first winter period the count didnít reach 1000, and on 38.2% of these there were no Knot at all. Records suggest that numbers roosting throughout the estuary continue to decline but the number of feeding birds recorded at low water is rising. The Dee is still one of the top estuaries in Britain to see Knot and Internationally Important numbers still occur ]

Sanderling                                                                    C. alba 
Passage + winter visitor
Peak monthly counts :-
No systematic counts were made outside the Wardening period

Jan

Feb

Mar

Sept

Oct

Nov 

Dec

13 50 (83) (593) 55 12 30

First returning birds were 1 July 7th. and 2 July 9th. All three were adults in breeding plumage.
[Sanderling used to be a major passage migrant on site but this is another species in which there has been a dramatic fall in numbers. The peak count of 593 on September 11th. was mirrored at Hoylake but these numbers are far higher, and earlier, than are normally recorded. This being said there are still Nationally Important numbers of birds wintering on the Dee. During the latter part of the 1st. winter period numbers were found at the extreme north of the site, around Stanley Road slipway. There is a possibility that they may have been missed off previous counts due to the limited amount of cover possible with the number of voluntary wardens available.]

Little Stint                                                            C. minuta 
Rare passage
2 March 5th. 1 September 7th. and 29th. 3 Red Rocks September 30th and 2 different birds at West Kirby the same day.
[There were birds recorded in March last year as well. These were probably birds that had overwintered on the estuary, a phenomenon that is becoming more and more common for a bird that is usually considered as a mainly autumnal passage bird.]

Curlew Sandpiper                                          C. ferruginea 
Rare passage
Singles September 2nd, 4th, 14th, 16th. 2 Red Rocks September 30th.
[ Curlew Sandpiper are a very scarce bird on site although they are annual just around the corner at Hoylake and at Heswall. This was one of the best years for records at West Kirby. ]

Purple Sandpiper                                            C. maritima 
Rare winter visitor
2 on the seaward side of the Marine Lake throughout January and on February 26th. 2 December 21st. were probably the same birds returning.
[ Two birds have been recorded in the same part of the site in January for the last 4 years. They are probably from the Hilbre flock. ]

Dunlin                                                                     C. alpina 
Resident. More common in winter
Peak monthly counts :-
No systematic counts were made outside the Wardening period

Jan

Feb

Mar

Sept

Oct

Nov 

Dec

12000 8000 (9000) (5000) 500 6000 10000

Up to 2,500 birds were present during August.

[Numbers of Dunlin wintering throughout the estuary have been increasing over the last two decades but those at the roost site seems to be either static or even decreasing. The beginning of August saw the arrival of long-billed, adult C. a. alpina from Arctic Scandinavia and Western Siberia, most of which around the weekend of 15th. and 16th. were severely under weight and exhausted. Subsequent analysis showed the birds to be heavily bruised and it has been suggested, via previous experience, that they may have been caught in a hail storm. At least 15 birds were caught and eaten by a dog on the tideline at West Kirby on the 15th. and 2 full carrier bags of corpses were collected the same day from Hoylake. This, Britainís commonest wintering wader, occurs in Internationally Important numbers on the estuary.]


Common Snipe                                                   Gallinago gallinago 
Rare winter visitor
Singles off the saltmarsh February 16th., September 22nd. and 30th., October 1st., 17th. and 23rd., November 18th., December 1st., 6th. and 15th. 2 over the Marine Lake March 9th.
[ Although Red Rocks marsh was a regular wintering site in the 1960ís changes in habitat and disturbance have seen an end to this. An annual average of 1 or 2 birds flushed of the saltmarsh has been constant for most of the wardening period. ]

Black-tailed Godwit                                        Limosa limosa 
Rare winter visitor
3 in flight over West Kirby shore February 9th. 2 August 3rd. on Red Rocks. 12 in flight December 20th.
[ Although the Dee had the highest winter count in Britain of Black-tailed Godwit during 1999 - 2000, and the largest summering flock in the UK is at IMF, they remain very scarce to rare over the site. Numbers did rise from 1997 to early 2000 due to a small flock on Hoylake Langfields, but their favoured field was usurped by dog walkers in spring 2000 and they deserted the site only to return in December this year.]

Bar-tailed Godwit                                             L. lapponica 
Winter visitor

Peak monthly counts :-
No systematic counts were made outside the Wardening period

Jan

Feb

Mar

Sept

Oct

Nov 

Dec

155 1000 4 (217) 19 50 160

First returning birds were 14 over Red Rocks July 9th.
[Bar-tailed Godwit numbers, like Grey Plover, have collapsed at the roost site. The flock in February was on the same day as the Grey Plover peak, and they too came in after the high tide. Numbers feeding on the North Wirral remain constantly high with a peak of 7,500 this year and it is thought that they now roost on the Alt. There are still Internationally Important numbers recorded from the estuary.]

Whimbrel to Great Skua.