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This North Wirral Shore site guide includes the following areas:

Hoylake and Red Rocks.
Meols, Moreton and Leasowe.
Wallasey and New Brighton.

The north Wirral shore - vast sand banks, promenades, embankments and sand dunes. The area is heavily used as a recreational area but despite this still holds huge numbers of birds. The sand banks are renowned for their large flocks of waders, especially Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit whereas inland a good variety of habitat includes sand-dunes, ponds, streams, reed-beds and unspoiled meadows.

Hoylake and Red Rocks

Map and directions.

Red Rocks

Red Rocks consist of two main habitats, south, towards West Kirby, are Red Rocks Marsh and sand dunes and to the north Hilbre Point overlooking Bird Rock, East Hoyle sand bank and Liverpool Bay. Hilbre Point (locally known as just "Red Rocks") can be good for sea watching, particularly in summer and autumn. Red Rocks Marsh is a nature reserve part of which maintained by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. It is a 28 acre site of brackish marsh and sand dunes open to the public. The marsh attracts a considerable variety of migrants on passage in spring and autumn. The reed beds contain breeding Sedge and Reed Warblers in spring and summer whereas the sand dunes are full of sky larks and occasional Stonechat. The reserve is also home to over 50 species of flowering plants and the rare Natterjack Toad.


Red Rocks Marsh - Fenced off area is where the Natterjack toads breed,
the reed bed can be made out to the right and Liverpool Bay out to the left.

Hoylake

The shore at Hoylake by the Life Boat Station is a high tide roost for waders during medium to neap high tides. Hundreds, if not thousands of Oystercatchers, Knot, Dunlin, Bar Tailed Godwit and Redshank should be seen, peak numbers occur in mid-winter but good numbers of waders can also be seen in late summer when large flocks of gulls are also present. Flocks of Knot as big as 30,000 are sometimes seen in winter, a magnificent sight. This spot is also good for sea watching at high tide. Further down towards the old baths and slipway beyond the flats become quite muddy and consequently are feeding areas for a good selection of waders, gulls and Shelduck.
On the inland side of Hoylake are a group of marshy fields called the Langfields. This area, often flooded in winter, is always worth checking out for a good selection of wildfowl. Any marshland bird can turn up here.

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Meols, Moreton and Leasowe

Map and directions.

The photo shows the area of sand known as Mockbeggar Wharf,
stretching from Meols to New Brighton. The concrete blocks
in the foreground are part of the embankment.
 

Meols promenade, an extension of the promenade at Hoylake, is an excellent spot to observe waders at low tide. A channel runs close to the shore here and this attracts the usual Oystercatchers and Redshank along with a good variety of other species including Bar-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover. A particularly good spot for viewing these birds is at the end of Roman Road, there is even a shelter provided! Stand here as the tide comes in during winter and the birds feeding on Mockbeggar wharf to the east move off in huge flocks, flying past on their way to high tide roosts at Hoylake and Point of Ayr.

From the east end of Meols to New Brighton promenade stretches a large concrete embankment protecting the low lying land behind. The embankment affords good view points both at low tide to see the waders and high tide for sea-watching. In September during the Autumn passage this is the best place in Britain to see Leach's Petrel, be there two hours either side of high water during a strong to gale force North West wind. 300 were seen in one day in 1997. Prime spots for sea watching are Dove Point (meols) and Leasowe Gunsite car park. These and other birds such as Shearwaters get blown into Liverpool bay and the mouth of the River Mersey whence they make their way along the Wirral coast and back out into the Irish Sea past Hilbre Island.

The sand banks here are called Mockbeggar Wharf, named after Mockbeggar Hall - otherwise known as Leasowe Castle - the name Mockbeggar apparently being an old sailors' term for a lone house. Low tide Wetland Bird Survey counts show that some species feed almost exclusively here (rather than the Dee Estuary itself), namely Ringed Plovers, Grey Plovers, Sanderlings and Bar-tailed Godwits. In addition it is a major feeding area for Knot, counts of over 20,000 not being uncommon. See the May 1999 Newsletter for more details of the low tide counts.

Places worth looking at on land include the Moreton conservation area just next to Leasowe lighthouse (see the friends of Leasowe Lighthouse Web site), an area of standing water, wildflower meadow and reed bed,  although it does suffer from some disturbance. The whole area behind the embankment is worth exploring for resting migrants and nesting birds in the sand dunes and scrub. Lingham Lane, with it's tall hedges, is a good place to look for migrants. To the west of Leasowe Lighthouse are some small fields - horse paddocks - which seem particularly attractive to Wheatears during the spring migration. A more detailed description of the Leasowe Lighthouse and Lingham Lane area is given in the November 2003 newsletter.

Note that a further description of the North Wirral shore can be seen in the October 1999 Newsletter.

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Wallasey and New Brighton

Map and directions.
 
Wallasey Lifeguard Station, the breakwater and Wallasey shore are in the background
Richard Smith.
 

At the west end of King's Parade (near Harrison Drive) is the well known landmark of Wallasey Lifeguard station. This is an excellent spot both for sea-watching and looking at roosting waders on the breakwater below at high tide. Turnstones and Purple Sandpipers are found in winter and over neap high tides the nearby beach is used as a roost for Knot, Sanderling and Bar-tailed Godwit. This beach sometimes has a few Snow Buntings in winter. At low tide there are always plenty of waders feeding on the mud-flats. Nearby you will see the Derby Pool Restaurant, between the access road to this establishment and Wallasey Golf Course is a thicket of gorse well worth checking out for Stonechats and passage land migrants.

The stretch of sea front all the way to Fort Perch Rock is excellent for sea-watching, particularly during gales in September and October. It can be difficult to predict the best sea-watching spot as sometimes birds can come very close to the North Wirral coast all the way between the Lifeguard Station at Wallasey to Red Rocks, other times the mouth of the River Mersey is best when birds are trapped there by the strong wind. The prime spot for observing the River Mersey is New Brighton close to Fort Perch Rock, a Victorian shelter close to the sea's edge affords some protection from the elements but can get very crowded when the birds are good.

Perch Rock Lighthouse and Fort Perch Rock,
New Brighton Marine Lake is in the foreground, Richard Smith
 

Next to the Fort Perch Rock car park is New Brighton Marine Lake, a good place to check out for unusual gulls, Mediterranean gulls are recorded here quite frequently. To the west of the Marine Lake is the Old Baths site and car park which can be good spot to see spring migrants such as Wheatears and White Wagtails, Ringed Plovers sometimes nest in this area although they are much disturbed.

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