Sunday, 24 January 2016

24 January 2016

Weather: W-3, mild and overcast.

A quiet Sunday was livened up by news of yet another close encounter Great Northern Diver. Once again in Birkenhead East float and once again found by EM   This time the bird was a juvenile which was heard to call on occasion. The small flotilla of water birds also included approxmately 20 Great crested Grebes and the 1st winter drake Greater Scaup. 


Juv Great Northern Diver


Friday, 22 January 2016

21st January 2016

Weather:  SE-2, cold. 

The Lighthouse has been very quiet of late with the only highlight being a flock of 14 Litle Egret feeding in one of the coastal fields. 

The recent local (North Wirral) highlight was found late on the  Tuesday afternoon when in the failing light a Scaup spp was located on the East float , Birkenhead, With no optics the observer managed a record shot allowing the bird to be identified as a Greater Scaup. However and as often the case with Aythyas the suspicion of a hybrid  influence crept into the equation.

A return trip in the daytime today allowed for much better views and of course the bird was clearly a 1st winter drake Greater Scaup. This is a bird rarely seen  away from the sea on Wirral where they are seen at distance either bobbing up and down on the sea or in flight.It was nice to see this Greater Scaup at such close quarters and in a plumage (1st winter) that again we rarely encounter on Wirral. It's interesting to note that the pale ventral area is retained through the first winter plumage as the pale flanks and the vermiculated scapulars begin to attain a more adult like appearance.

The bird has remained on Birkenhead East Float for the last couple of days loosely associating with a small flock of Great crested Grebes. Those of us  old enough to remember these docks will recall they were a magnet for White winged Gulls that came to bathe after feeding on the now closed Bidston open landfill. The docks have been given a new lease of 'birding life' this year by the outstanding young birder, Elliot Montieth and his blog. 



Monday, 4 January 2016

4th January 2016

SE-2/3, overcast , some sunny periods.

At Target Road Heswall the stunning Pallas's Warbler continued to please the crowds. With improved weather conditions and patience much better photographs were obtained of this fantastic little bird.

Once again many congratulations to Steve Hinde - the finder.

Mike Malpass

Mike Malpass


Saturday, 2 January 2016

02 January 2016

SE-02, drizzle and overcast.

At Target road, Heswall a stunning Pallas's Warbler was found by Steve Hinde late afternoon and was still present at dusk. The bird fed amongst the Ivy and Hawthorns actively catching flies in the company of 3 Chiffchaffs and a small Tit flock. 

For those visiting the site tomorrow it is advised to park carefully on the single track road and do not park in the passing places on boundary road. It is likely this bird has over wintered so observers will still see the bird if they park near Shelldrakes Restaurant and walk back to Target Road.

2015 Review of the Year

The first good bird of the year arrived on Jan 4th when a Grey Phalarope was found at Seacombe ferry terminal by Adele and Elliot Montieth. Still present the following day it allowed many to catch up with this usually pelagic species during the winter.
On February 3rd, news broke via the 'BIS' of a Laughing Gull at New Brighton Marine Lake. As the first locals arrived , sure enough a 1st winter Laughing Gull was perched up on the pontoon. Found by visiting birders  Mike Brown, Heath Green and Mike Rutter, This represents the 3rd Wirral Laughing Gull record -  A great find.
Hot on the heels of the Laughing Gull came Wirral's second 'Yank' of the week. A fine drake American Wigeon found at BMW by Colin Wells-his seventh, no less, that he's found on the Dee.
The first late winter / spring Glauc was found on Feb 21st followed by 2nd and 1st winter birds  found at New Brighton both on March 2nd by John Jones and Kenny Dummigan respectively.
On March 25th and after several attempts, the Wirral's third American Bird of the year, was located off the East Hoyle Bank, Hoylake. A fine drake Surf Scoter was located by Allan Conlin (AMC)  & Kenny Dummigan. This represents the first county record. Over the following weeks an incredible nine individuals were recorded by the many visiting  birders. The 20,000+ Common Scoter was an incredible sight in itself.

The 5th April saw a Lighthouse mega recorded. Only the 3rd Lighthouse record of Green Woodpecker was found by Jeremy Bradshaw. The bird was present for a couple of weeks although remained elusive for most of its stay.

Spring progressed and we saw big numbers of migrants at the Lighthouse including over 30 Redstarts , 9 Ring Ouzel and unusually two Pied Flycatchers. One was recorded on the 22nd April along with a brief Alpine Swift seen by David Haigh, John Jones & Colin Twist et al. This represents our second Alpine Swift for the Lighthouse area. 
On May 3rd, there was the incredible discovery by Mark Turner of a trip of three Dotterel at Meols. What made the discovery most unusual is they were not discovered in any of the hundreds of fields in the area but on the beach just off the promenade flying around with a flock of 1000 Dunlin.
One of the Three Dotterel (AMC)

Curlew Sandpiper 8th May 2015 - Hoyllake Shore (AMC)

Migrants continued to move through during the spring including 4 Ospreys and a Red Kite. On the 15th May, a Turtle Dove was found independently by AMC & Don Maxwell. This is an increasingly rare Wirral bird following the national trend, however 3 of the last 4 North Wirral records have been at or near Lingham Lane paddocks.
Tim Kinch

As expected things began to quiten down during the summer at the Lighthouse however persistence paid off and on June 26th a male Serin was located at 'Hoopoe Hollow' . Discovered by AMC & Eddie Williams the bird associated loosely with other finches and was highly mobile. It was only seen by one other observer after its initial discovery.

Summer is a great time for rare terns on Wirral and this year was no exception with BMW/IMF  hosting it's third Gull billed Tern in the reserves history. On the 3rd July a bird was found by visiting birders and unlike the previous two records which only stayed briefly, this bird hung around all afternoon and was seen briefly the following morning . A long awaited "pullback" for many a Wirral lister.


Autumn migration is never quite as exciting as Spring at the Lighthouse however with the east coast seemingly festooned with drift migrants during late August it was surely only a matter of time that one found its way to the Lighthouse. On September 4th one did. A juvenile Red backed Shrike was discovered by AMC along Park Lane, Meols. Surprisingly this was our first record of this species at the Lighthouse despite having a number of Great grey Shrike records.

Like buses the second North Wirral scarcity of the autumn arrived only a couple of days later when on September 8th a stunning Hoopoe was discovered by Joe Bellis in the dunes at New Brighton. The bird was well watched and appreciated by all who took the time to come and see it.
On October 23rd our second Firecrest of the year was recorded by the Kenny Dummigan and Eddie Williams and the same observers hearing our only Yellow browed Warbler of the year on the 31st October along the nature trail.

Storm Abigail brought late Leach's Petrels with first being recorded from the Gunsite on 13th November. Six birds battled the storm force winds to head back out into the Irish Sea. 

Tim Kinch

Hoylake Sunset (AMC)

So an eventful year drew to a close with thoughts turning to the prospect of another exciting Wirral year during 2016.  "What next for the Wirral?"  is the question on everyone's lips. Well we are already off to a flyer, with a stunning Pallas's Warbler found at Heswall and its only January 2nd! 

As ever it remains for us to thank all those who contribute to this site with their observations and information and we wish our readers a successful bird filled 2016.