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Given a 9.8m tide today and high winds blowing down the River Dee it looked like a good day to go check out the high tide, and seeing as how I'm working tomorrow it was a no brainer really. I also bumped into Wirral Guru, Richard Smith, who runs the Dee Estuary Birds website, who had the same thoughts and reasoning as myself. However we were both surprised when the tide never really came in to the extent that we had expected. Later on I met several folk who ahd been down and the feeling was universal, it just ahdn't delivered
But you have always got to make the best of it, and from a point along the coastal path N.of Parkgate I had a reasonable watch albeit in winds that it was hard enough standing up in, never mind trying to use optics!! First good bird was a Merlin, maybe not surprising as I had noticed many pipits and Skylarks flying up out of the gutters as the water rose slightly. Also seen were 2 Peregrines, one huge female showing exceptionally well, both perched and buzzing the Oystercatcher flocks, although she didn't make ahit whilst I was watching. Three Marsh Harriers made light of the wind conditions, floating about over the marsh and dropping down, seemingly on prey, and at times giving great views when they were down on the ground. The best sighting was a Short-eared Owl, which was only up for about 30 seconds before dropping into a reedbed. Luckily I got the 2 birders who had joined me onto it, and this was the species they especially wanted to see. Reward was a quality street chocolate for me, gratefully received Chatting later to birders who had been either at Parkgate Old Baths or Riverbank Road confirmed what I thought, no-one had seen the owl from those vantage points. It was directly out from us - a case of right place, right time! A Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel were also seen to complete the raptor list. Huge flocks of waders and wildfowl were far out along the waters edge but nothing else of not came in close enough for us to see, and no mammals were seen at all which is one thing I had gone hoping to see again.
I was told of atheory later that the very strong winds blowing directly along the river had actually blown water more 'inland' rather than allow it to spread out onto the saltmarsh and had in fact lessened the effect of the tide by half a metre. I can see how that may be true and the result certainly was what happened. So tomorrow with a 9.8m tide again, but lighter winds may be much better.
Single House Martin over New Brighton seafront yesterday afternoon
just had an email that there is a Wheatear in the horse paddocks at Leasowe Lighthouse, so the season has started, a nice place for a day out over Easter if you can dodge the forecast showers on some days!!
Phil Woollen wrote:Hi Rob.Water Pipit is a major, major rarity on Hilbre and a description species in Cheshire! There are a couple of Rock Pipits overwintering. Could you have mistaken these for Water Pipits?Did you stay over the high tide and see the Purple Sandpipers all together or as individuals? We've had a maximum count of 3 recently although your birds could have been displaced from New Brighton Marine lake.Edit: there have been no previous records of Water Pipit on Hilbre in living memory.-- Edited by Phil Woollen on Wednesday 17th of February 2016 03:26:15 PM
Water Pipit is a major, major rarity on Hilbre and a description species in Cheshire! There are a couple of Rock Pipits overwintering. Could you have mistaken these for Water Pipits?
Did you stay over the high tide and see the Purple Sandpipers all together or as individuals? We've had a maximum count of 3 recently although your birds could have been displaced from New Brighton Marine lake.
Edit: there have been no previous records of Water Pipit on Hilbre in living memory.
Went for a Valentine's Day walk in the sun starting at Neston (luckily my wife is an avid birder too!!)
Met up with a local patcher who lives at Ness & we searched the old quay area where his patch insinct came in handy, spotting a pipit across the field in a tree. Just as I got the scope on it, it flew but not before I could see the pale underparts, clear wing-bars & bold supercilium, it had to be a Water Pipit. My wife followed its flight to the next field where we found it feeding in a damp hollow where it gave great scoped views to us all & comfirmed my first ID, winter plumaged Water Pipit A quick sacn of the marsh from the Old Quay revealed a distant but obviously large egret, which obligingly turned its head revealing its huge yellow beak, a Great White Egret. No raptors but a good start.
We then headed to Denhall Lane where we walked along the path towards Decca Pools. A pair of Stonechats were the first notable species right next to the path. More distant was a single Golden Plover amongst the Lapwings. Other waders included Black-tailed Godwits, Dunlin & Redshank. Finally the scanning paid off with a ringtail Hen Harrier that even landed on a hummock & gave fab scoped views on the deck, something I rarely see Both male and female Merlins were seen on posts, showing really well and staying long enough for us to show lots of other birders these diminutive falcons through my scope. A second (probably since we hadn't seen the other fly back this way) Great White Egret was also seen out on Burton Marsh.
Over 50 species were seen in a relaxing stroll in warm sunshine which ended with a Valentine's Hot Chocolate & homemade slab of cake sat outside Nets Cafe looking out at Burton Marsh at the days end
Trip to Parkgate yesterday produced stunning veiw of a Ringtail Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier showed briefly, plus two Great White Egrets showing well on the marsh, with one later seen flying off to roost. Plenty of wildfowl and Little Egrets around but sadly no Short eared Owls for me. All in all an enjoyable days birding, with no rain.
Popped down & followed the tide in along the path down towards Parkgate Old Baths from the end of Cottage Lane.
The tide looked like it wasn't going to get very far in but in the last 15mins it raced in & was up the wall alongside the path. Highlights included 4 Short-eared Owls, a male & female Peregrine, a flushed (by the tide) Jack Snipe, a Brambling amongst lots of Chaffinches and a Great White Egret. The latter hadn't been reported out when I looked at my pager so dutifully (relating to another thread!!) I reported it to mates at the info services.
I know others who were there earlier saw harriers too but not for me this time.
For information there are High Tide events on the Wirral today and tomorrow with 10m tides expected. The following is taken from Richard Smiths Dee Estuary Birding Website at http://www.deeestuary.co.uk/:
"Wednesday 10th February and Thursday 11th February -RSPB High Tide Birdwatch, Parkgate.Start 10.45hrs on 10th and 11.30hrs on 11th - It is recommended to arrive at least an hour before high tide which is: 12.15hrs on Feb 10th, 10.0m; 12.57hrs on Feb 11th, 10.0m.The marsh at Parkgate is one of the best wetland habitats in the northwest, and when it is flooded by an incoming Spring high tide, the wildlife which lives here is pushed closer, potentially delivering an awe-inspiring spectacle. Join us at Parkgate's Old Baths car park and the Donkey Stand near Nicholl's ice cream shop, where we'll be set up with marquees and telescopes hoping for the right weather conditions to really push the tide in.You can expect great views of the large numbers of wintering wildfowl and wading birds shifting around to avoid the rising water, whilst the small mammals living on the marsh are flushed from cover, offering a feeding frenzy for the resident kestrels and hopefully harriers and short-eared owls returning for the winter.Car parking is limited on Parkgate promenade, but there is free public parking at the Old Baths car park (CH64 6RN) at the north end of The Parade, and the Wirral Country Park car park on Station Road (CH64 6QJ). There are public toilets at Mostyn Square in the middle of The Parade, and a number of pubs and cafes for refreshments.Additional parking has also kindly been offered at Marsh Nurseries, Boathouse Lane (postcode CH64 6RD).Please note: the height of the tide can be hugely affected by the weather conditions on the day. In the event of high pressure and calm conditions, the tide will cover much less of the marsh and not reach the sea wall, whilst low pressure and strong Westerly winds will help push the tide in and offer the greatest spectacle. We recommend you check the weather forecast on the day to know exactly what to expect."
Especially note the overspill parking available at Marsh Nurseries which will be very useful as these events get very busy and parking can be difficult to find
Paul Richardson wrote:Greenfinch looking spectacular in the Morning light - a much underestimated beauty!
Had a cracking day up and down the Wirral with my friend Paul Morris yesterday, starting at the crack of dawn at West Kirby and ending it at Burton before dusk. I wasn't on a bird race, we were simply pottering about ad-hoc and looking out for birds on the way as I visited some old haunts - but we ended the day with 80 species, several of which were notable, so a good day in the field. Pretty cold though and when I kitted up for the stroll over to Hilbre and realised my hat, snood and gloves were on the table at home it was chilly start, with some frozen fingers whilst sea watching for an hour on Hilbre!?
The following were notable sightings throughout the day:
West Kirby - Marina (08:30)
Great Northern Diver - 1
Red-breasted Merganser - 6
GC Grebe 8
Hilbre Island (09:30)
Scaup - 1 fem
Common Scoter - 30-40 distant
Purple Sandpiper - only 3
Sanderling - 1
Lots of Oystercatcher (1,000 +), some Dunlin (10+), Turnstone (50+), Redshank (100+) Grey Plover (5+), Bar-tailed godwit (50+), Curlew (200+), GC Grebe (20+), Little Egret (2), Pintail 1, Wigeon 8. What was notable was a complete lack of Brent Geese anywhere on three islands or Tansky rocks, perhaps taking a day trip to North Wales!? Either way it was a first for me not to encounter any Pale Bellies here!?
Pintail - 100+
Also plenty of Shelduck (50+), Redshank (200+), Curlew (200+), Lapwing (1,000+), Little Egret (2) and other waders/wildfowl.
Chiffchaff - 2
No sign of any Pallas's Leaf Warbler or even a Goldcrest, but was extremely cold down there!?!?
Gayton Sands (12:30)
Merlin - 1 (distant female/1st winter male)
Buzzard - 2
Little Egret - 8
Marsh Harrier - 2 (both female types)
Pink-footed Goose 500+
Marsh Harrier - 1 (both female types)
Hen Harrier - 2 (both ringtails)
Little Egret - 4
Raven - 1
Denhall Lane (or more towards the cyclists cafe - that is closed until the end of the month unfortunately) 13:30
Short-eared Owl - 2 (very close flying and perched)
Great White Egret - 1 (brief and poor view)
Marsh Harrier - 1 (female type)
Burton Mere Wetlands 14:00
Peregrine - 2 (1 male & 1 female)
Marsh Harrier - 1 (female type - perhaps we witnessed one individual multiple times flying from Gayton Sands to Burton, where it went in to roost??)
Long-eared Owl - 1
Kingfisher - 1
Water Rail - 1
Golden Plover 100+ (with Lapwing flocks)
Lapwing (distant flocks of several thousand)
Pink-footed Goose - 40+
Some distant swans - mostly a mixture of Whooper & Mute.
parkgate... 3 possibly 4 marsh harrier, 2 ringtail hen harrier, 1 great white egret, 2 kestrel,
west Kirby marine lake... 1 great northern diver, 2 red breasted merganser, 1 great crested grebe, 30+ redshank, 1 oystercatcher.
new brighton... got here as the high tide was in hoping for lots of waders on the pontoons & nothing it was probably due to the boat that was water testing. best I could do was 60+ sanderling, 2 turnstone, 6 oystercatcher around perch rock & 2 teal on the sea.
With High Peak RSPB group from Thurstaston to Heswall 9.15-12.15.
One member a briefest glimpse of Pallas's Warbler at 11.30 from Target Road in Heswall. With Chiffchaff and Goldcrests.
Walk along Wirral Way and Dee shoreline produced 10 Little Egret, 100's of Pink Footed Geese, Lapwing and Oystercatcher, 2 Red Breasted Merganser, many Shellduck and Pintail, single Common Snipe, 7 Skylark, 80 Curlew, Treecreeper, Lesser Redpoll, Bullfinch and Peregrine Falcon
New Brighton at high tide this morning. c200 Redshank, 20 Ruddy Turnstone, 9 Purple Sandpipers and a handful of Dunlin on the pontoons. Harassed by a juvenile Peregrine, then witnessed behaviour I've never seen before. A large proportion of the waders, particularly Redshank, jumped into the water and swam under the pontoons to avoid the Peregrine. Strangely the Peregrine didn't have a try at any of the remaining waders on the pontoon but shot off chasing Feral Pigeons (good sense that Peregrine). New behaviour for me this and also my fellow birder Martyn Stanyer. Wish I'd had a video camera. Showery and dark here. Would be interested if anyone else has seen this.
Then onto West Kirby where the Great Northern Diver was at the Morrison's end of the lake. Very dark and gloomy at this stage.
Next was Burton Mere Wetlands and the walk for the Long-eared Owl, which showed well.
Superb day yet again.