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    1st July 1999
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Gronant River

Gronant, just a mile or so along the North Wales coast from the Point of Ayr, is a beautiful area of open fresh water, marshland, sand dunes and beach. This mix of habitat attracts a wide variety of birds including Shore Larks and Snow Bunting in winter and nesting terns in summer. When I first wrote the Welsh shore page eighteen months ago I knew little of Gronant and consequently relegated it to a sentence or two along with the Pont of Ayr. Now that I've got to know how good it is I've given Gronant its own section, well worth a visit.


Bird Counts
Inner Marsh Farm sightings during June.
This time of year IMF tends to get very overgrown and some of the lagoons are almost completely hidden from the hide. Therefore, because there was no complete count instead are listed some interesting sightings from various dates through the month.
4th June - Mediterranean Gull
10th June - Black-tailed Godwit 250, Dunlin 4, Tufted Duck - several, Shelduck 12, Curlew 20, Red Legged Partridge 2
17th June - Black-tailed Godwit 100, Knot 2, Dunlin 1, Teal 15
25th June Spoonbill, Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover 5 .

Wetland Bird Survey Count for Heswall Shore - 12th June (Kindly provided by the Wirral Ranger Service).
Cormorant 8, Shelduck 21, Mallard 102 (unusual high count for June), Oystercatcher 537, Whimbrel 3 (probably immature birds over-summering), Curlew 209 (failed breeders returning - 500 on 25th June), Redshank 2 (50 on 25th June), Lesser Blackbacked Gull 30, Black-headed Gull 30, Herring Gull 185, Heron 8.

Hilbre Island breeding report, kindly provided by the Hilbre Bird Observatory.
Early counts indicate that it has been a good breeding season on Hilbre with approximately 12 pairs of Meadow Pipits, 8 pairs of Shelduck, 3 pairs of Skylark and 12 pairs of Linnet.


June Bird News
Most of June was very quiet on the estuary although a significant increase in activity was seen towards the end. Many of the birds out on the sands are either immature non-breeders or failed breeders - these include 500 Curlew at Heswall and 250 Black-tailed Godwit at Inner Marsh Farm. All three spoonbills present at Inner Marsh Farm during May had gone by early June although one came back at the end of the month along with Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank and Little Ringed Plover.
Strong on-shore winds in the middle of the month brought some good sea watching at the Point of Ayr and Gronant including a passage of 1,400 Manx Shearwaters. The Little Tern colony at Gronant has 75 pair breeding and things seem to be going well after a poor season last year. The warden was telling me how they had to rescue the eggs in the middle of the night during the recent spring tides. They also maintain a 24 hour watch to stop marauding foxes eating the eggs.
Two unusual birds at Burton Marsh were a Honey Buzzard at the beginning of the month and a Quail at the end.

Forthcoming Events
Next Spring High Tides
13th July, 1210hrs 9.6m.
14th July, 1301hrs, 9.6m. (times BST)

Young Ornithologists Club at Ness Gardens
A complete listing of events for 1999 can be seen for this group who have a series of monthly outdoor and indoor meetings.

Forthcoming Events (organised by the Wirral Ranger Service, Flintshire Countryside Service and/or the RSPB):

1st July. Sunset Walk to Hilbre. Evening.
An evening stroll across the sands to Hilbre. A walk of 4 miles in 4 hours. Bring warm clothing and a snack. Ring 0151 648 4371/3884 to book.

11th July. Birdwatch at Gronant Tern Colony. 9.30am.
Visit a bustling colony of Little Tern at Gronant, a beautiful area of marsh, sand dunes and shingle full of wildflowers with Skylarks singing overhead. Meet at Presthaven caravan site, Gronant, near Prestatyn. Ring the RSPB on 01352 780 527 for details.

14th july. Walk to Parkgate 11am to 4pm.
A leisurely walk to, and picnic at, the lost port of Parkgate. Returning to the starting point. Please bring packed lunch. Booking essential, ring 0151 678 4200.

15th July. Sunset Walk to Hilbre. Evening.
An evening stroll across the sands to Hilbre. A walk of 4 miles in 4 hours. Bring warm clothing and a snack. Ring 0151 648 4371/3884 to book.

24th July. Guided Walk to Hilbre.
Cross the sands to discover the Island's wildlife and history. A walk of 4 miles in 4 hours. Bring warm clothing and a snack. Ring 0151 648 4371/3884 to book.

7th August. Walk across the Dee Estuary. 1pm to 5pm.
A chance to discover our local wilderness, with a walk to Wales (almost!). Please note that this is a strenuous walk through mud of about 7 miles. Tall tight fitting wellies essential. Please also bring warm waterproof clothing and snack. Booking essential, ring 0151 648 4371/3884.