West Kirby High Tide Roost 2001-2002

Data collected by the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens.

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Although there was plenty of interest (see Chris Butterworth's article - the Wardening Year), it has to be said the 2001/2002 season at West Kirby wasn't the best as far as wader numbers go. The bar chart below shows the average count for every year since 1986/1987. It demonstrates a remarkable cyclic pattern and in fact, going on previous cycles, a low count is what would have been expected - and these should start to increase again the winter after next. The only problem is that the 1999/2000 winter just didn't follow this nice pattern so we don't really know whether we are still in a cycle or it has now become random (and low!). 

              West Kirby High Tide Wader Roost - Average counts 1986/87 to 2001/2002 

It should be noted that the bar chart above reflects above all else the number of Dunlin and Knot at the roost, by far the most numerous species. Other species increased last year - Oystercatchers, Sanderling and Redshank, so it's certainly not all bad news. 

Four of the species which have shown the biggest declines - Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit - are those that predominate along the North Wirral Shore rather than the Dee Estuary itself. We actually had some large numbers of these species this winter along the North Wirral with some record, or near record counts. Their main roost is at Hoylake, literally just around the corner from West Kirby - so why didn't they come to West Kirby as they have in the past? One possible explanation is that because the level of the sand bank at Hoylake is slowly rising there is a larger area to roost here, even at high tide, than previously. Hoylake is nearer their feeding grounds off Meols and Leasowe so they go to the nearest available roost. Is this just too simplistic? Time will tell! 

  Oyster- catcher Ringed  Plover Grey Plover Knot Sanderling Dunlin Bar-tailed Godwit Curlew Redshank Total
Average Count  2001-2002 565 15 50 436 12 1324 8 48 126 2584
Average Count  2000-2001 325 57 129 942 3 2873 35 81 96 4541
Maximum Count 2001-2002 8000 101 650 9000 200 10000 160 500 1011 12873
Maximum Count 2000-2001 3500 260 1100 10000 50 19000 1000 1465 700 24990

Data provided and owned by the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens, many thanks to Roy Palmer for compiling the data.

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