from Connah's Quay and
Flint - (Kindly provided by
24th January. 2 Little Grebe,
2 Great Crested Grebe, 194 Cormorant, 1 Little Egret, 7 Grey Heron, 25 Mute
Swan, 60 Shelduck, 575 Wigeon, 9 Gadwall, 990 Teal, 92 Mallard, 6 Pintail, 1
Shoveler, 2 Tufted duck, 31 Coot, 800 Oystercatcher, 22 Ringed Plover, 700
Lapwing, 2,500 Dunlin, 2,760 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Curlew, 1 Spotted
Redshank, 600 Redshank and 8 Greenshank.
Count from Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service), 24th January. 1 Cormorant, 3 Dark-bellied Brent Goose, 47 Light-bellied Brent Goose, 697 Shelduck, 10 Wigeon, 1,993 Teal, 114 Mallard, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, 7,700 Oystercatcher, 60 Lapwing, 1,030 Dunlin, 142 Black-tailed Godwit, 1,767 Curlew, 1,700 Redshank, 382 Black-headed Gull, 62 Common Gull, 13 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 106 Herring Gull and 5 Black-backed Gull, also 2 Peregrine, 1 Kestrel and 1 Hen Harrier (ring-tail).
January Bird News
Geese reached a peak of 50 on the 17th, 47 pale-bellied and 3 dark-bellied -
the highest number ever recorded on the estuary. The pale-bellied Brent
Geese (Branta bernicla hrota)
are part of a 20,000 strong population which mainly winter in Ireland and
breed in arctic east Canada. There was a good movement of Pink-footed Geese
on the 26th with over 2,000 moving north. Although that number is small fry
to those living in their main Lancashire haunts, here it is quite unusual
and they made a glorious sight as skein after skein passed through over a
two hour period. Although this may have been a local movement more likely it
was a long-distance migration out of Norfolk, on their way north. Other
wildfowl included drake Smew and Green-winged Teal, both at
Inner Marsh Farm.
From high numbers of waders present at the end of December and early January, numbers were noticeable much lower by the end of the month, perhaps the mild weather encouraged them to fly to the mud rich estuaries of the North Sea. However, there were still good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits at Flint (2,760) and Oystercatchers were numerous off Thurstaston. Quite a few colour ringed Black-tailed Godwits were seen during the month, see last month's newsletter. Eight Greenshank was an excellent number for this time of year at Connah's Quay.
The Hen Harriers are still on the estuary, with five coming to roost in the reed beds at Parkgate. At least a couple of Short-eared Owls were regularly seen at the same location and occasionally a Barn Owl.
The Wirral RSPB Group have recently published their 2004 programme, full of some very interesting outdoor and indoor activities, including a Woodpecker Walk at Stapledon Wood in March and a Seabird Special on Hilbre in August, and a talk by Colin Wells in November - 'A year on the Dee Estuary' . To join this group ring their leader, Martyn Jaimeson, on 0151 342 7813.
What to expect in February.
The first of this year's high tide birdwatches at Parkgate takes place on the 21st. It has to be said that 2003 was a bit of a disappointment at Parkgate. Some people were even saying that the tide never comes in anymore - but this is far from the truth. Looking back at 2002 we had eight tides which either came all the way in or very close. This included a day in February when we saw 12 Short-eared Owls and 17 Water Rails. Who can forget the Spotted Crake crouching just under the wall on the 6th November that year, and the huge numbers of duck the day before? Fabulous! It is all a matter of luck with the weather - a good strong westerly and low pressure is ideal.
Our local woodland and garden birds will be in full song on mild days, a welcome sign of the spring to come. But we have to wait until March before the first of the summer migrants start trickling in.
Highest Spring Tides, also see Tides page.
21st February, 12:02hrs 9.8m. (all times GMT)
22nd February, 12:40hrs 9.8m.
Forthcoming Events (organised by the
Wirral Ranger Service,
Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):
Sunday 1st February, 10:00am - 12:00noon, Birding for beginners .
Tuesday 10th February, Divers and Grebes of
Sunday 15th February, 10:00am - 5:00pm, National Nestbox Week Event.
Saturday 21st February, 10:30am -
Saturday 6th March, 8:30am, Banks Road Birdwatch at
Note: Many of these forthcoming events are extracted from the 'Birdwatchers Diary 2004', which covers both the Dee and Mersey regions. Hard copies available from the visitor centre at Thurstaston, Wirral Country Park 0151 648 4371.
All material in this newsletter, and indeed the whole web site, has been written by myself, Richard Smith, unless specified.