pm last Tuesday a love-struck couple strayed within 150 yards of becoming an
official entry in the records of the Dee Estuary
Voluntary Wardens. They drifted, hand-in-tender-hand, across the
sun-dazzled West Kirby sands, pausing to
entwine and no doubt murmur, a-la Mills and Boone: "Alone together at last."
Well, not quite, chucks. I have news. Three telescopes were trained on you.
Three skilled ornithologists tracked your every step. "Would you believe it," quoth our boss warden, "Behaving like that, at this time of day and he's bald as well! If they carry on, they'll scare the birds." True. A flock of 1,325 oystercatchers, two dunlin and four curlew lay in the path of Romeo and Juliet. We wardens are not Peeping Toms.
Our mission requires us to count the birds, protect them from intrusion and log details of all incidents. As sensitive souls, we baulked at intruding on a very private affair but if we let events take their course, the records would have to show: "Roost disturbed by courting couple". Our leader decided to intercept R and J but as a decent Brit made haste slowly.
And suddenly the dilemma dissolved. The tryst ended the lovers clung in a last, mad embrace and at 12.58 pm turned sadly back to the mainland and whatever fate had in store.
Ed. I can confirm that this
incident on West Kirby beach did actually take place, I was one of the
wardens on that day! The article was first published in the Liverpool Daily
Post and reproduced here with kind permission of the author, John Pugh. If
you would like more information about the wardens see
the wardens web page.
Bird Survey Count for Connah's Quay and
Flint - (Kindly provided by Brian Grey),
5 Little Grebe, 80 Cormorant, 4 Heron, 8 Mute Swan, 88 Shelduck, 3 Wigeon, 80 Teal, 120 Mallard, 6 Moorhen, 41 Coot, 35 Oystercatcher, 860 Lapwing, 230 Dunlin, 600 Godwit, 72 Curlew, 2 Spotted Redshank, 64 Redshank.
Wetland Bird Survey Count for
Heswall Shore - (Kindly provided by the
Wirral Ranger Service), 17th November.
Waders on the West Kirby Shore high
tide wader roost, counted by the Dee Estuary Voluntary
Wardens. Maximum counts for November, dates in brackets.
November Bird News
The Hoylake Langfields (between West Kirby and Hoylake) have been flooded with all the recent rain, attracting a good selection of birds. Unfortunately as the local Golf Course has also been flooded drainage work to clear the River Birket of its reeds will probable take place fairly soon and the water, with its birds, will disappear. The highlight was undoubtedly five White-fronted Geese (European race), small parties do visit the north-west region occasionally but more usually the Mersey marshes rather than Wirral. Other birds seen on the floods included 2 Whooper Swan, 20 Snipe, 1,200 Lapwing, 7 Water Rail, 28 Yellowhammer, 23 Tree Sparrow and a good selection of duck.
We had two excellent Parkgate high tide birdwatches at the beginning of the month with some superb bird watching. 3,000 Teal, 6,000 Wigeon, 4+ Short-eared Owls on the first day, then the big surprise on the second day - a Spotted Crake which swam right up to the car park wall and parked itself on a clump of grass for the duration of the high tide, under the gaze of the assembled throng of birders.
We had a late passage of Curlew Sandpipers with one or two present at Inner Marsh Farm right up to the 17th. Good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits spent most of their time at Oakenholt and Flint, I don't have a total estuary count for November but it probably didn't quite reach October's all time record of 4,231. We had the usual large flocks of Dunlin and Knot along the north Wirral coast with up to 15,000 of each. The rarest wader was a Long-billed Dowitcher briefly seen at Inner Marsh Farm, a vagrant which breeds in North America and eastern Siberia.
Two Scaup were rare visitors to West Kirby Marine Lake, a drake Green-winged Teal was seen several times at Inner Marsh Farm and eleven Brent Geese put in an appearance at Hilbre right at the end of the month. There were two sightings of Marsh Harriers and three of Hen Harriers. Other birds of particular note included a Firecrest on Hilbre and two Black Redstarts at Point of Ayr, with another one at Wallasey.
What to expect in December
Smew have been turning up regularly for the past few winters, usually seen either at Inner Marsh Farm or Shotwick boating lake. Expect at least one drake, but often a pair or two of these lovely duck are present. If we go by the pattern of the past two years about 20 Brent Geese, mostly pale-breasted birds, should be seen off Hilbre Island. They often spend high tide around Little Eye or across the estuary at the Point of Ayr
The daylight hunting Short-eared Owl can sometimes be seen over the marsh at Burton, or the sand dunes at Point of Ayr and Leasowe. If the beginning of the month brings a strong west wind and low atm. pressure get down to Parkgate to see the birds driven off the marsh at high tide, the 4th and 5th should be best.
TheWirral Bird Club attempts to cater for all who are interested in birds - the mildly interested to the keenly interested - the beginner to the experienced. For more details see their new website: http://www.wirralbirdclub.com/.
December Highest Spring Tides
4th December, 10:52hrs 9.8m. (all times GMT)
5th December, 11.38hrs 9.8m.
Forthcoming Events (organised by the
Wirral Ranger Service,
Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):
Also see the Birdwatchers Diary 2003, now published in full on this web site.
Saturday 7th December 10:30am, High Tide at
Point of Ayr.
Saturday 21st December 9:00am, Heswall
High Tide Birdwatch.
Wednesday 1st January, 9:00am - 12:00noon,
Sunday 12th January 2:30pm - 4pm. North Wirral
Note: Many of these forthcoming events are extracted from the 'Birdwatchers Diary 2003', 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.