Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Wednesday 27th May 2015

Weather;  Overcast with rain in the afternoon. Winds light F2 W- NW.

Around 5,000 Dunlin were on the sands today between Dove point and the western groyne along with around 300 Ringed Plover and 50 Sanderling. The Dunlin passing through the Wirral to all points north through the spring comprise of several different races. The taxonomic position of these races is at present in a state of massive flux with recent studies indicating the racial composition is not what it was previously thought to be. It is far too complex an issue to be addressed here but to simplify matters birds from the north-west of the range starting from Greenland are smaller, duller, and with smaller bills than those to the east. The further east the larger, more rufous above, and longer billed they get, and the darker and better defined their belly patch becomes.
A very large billed and bulky Dunlin. Note the very rufous mantle and well defined belly shield. Birds of this build and colour are now thought to originate from north east Siberia. Their racial identity is under debate and such individuals are currently known as 'centralis types'   (photo JET)

Mark and Jane Turner have been studying the Wirral Dunlins extensively and have observed some interesting individuals amongst today's migrants.(photos attached)

A very small, grey and short billed Dunlin with ill defined belly patch probably from the Greenland population. Race currently known as arctica.  (photo MGT)
A large, long billed Dunlin probably from the East Siberian population. (bird furthest to the left) Note the broad Sanderling-type wing bar on this bird compared to the others, another feature of this population.  (photo MGT)
A massive-billed, bulky and rufous Dunlin probably of the east Siberian population. Note also the greater size difference as compared to the upper bird, which is from a population from much further west. The upper bird would once have been thought to be of the northern European schinzii race or possibly a poorly marked alpina.  The nature and extent of these races, however, is currently under debate.  (photo JET) 
Migrants today in the Leasowe area included a single late Tree Pipit flying west. 2 Sand Martins also flew west this morning and a single Wheatear was in the paddocks. There was also a movement of over 300 House Martins and 50 Swifts just ahead of this afternoon's rain front. A single Chiffchaff was seen to fly off  high to the east from coastal bushes this morning, obviously still on passage. It is a mystery where these regularly recorded late moving Chiffchaffs are en route to. (Many thanks to Mark and Jane Turner for their interesting input into today's blog)     
Observers MGT, JET, EW       

Friday, 22 May 2015

Friday 22nd May 2015

Weather; Warm but dull with low cloud. Wind F3 W to NW.

The low cloud, rather dull conditions and rather hazy visibility today may have encouraged a slightly larger and more varied arrival of late spring migrants than of late in the Leasowe area.

Around 10 Wheatears were present today in the paddocks and Meols Common areas. 3 Yellow Wagtails were also in the paddocks and a Whinchat flew in over the sea wall in the early afternoon and settled near the cinder track. On Park Lane a flock of around 50 House Martins hunted over the inland fields together with a few Swifts.

A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling from the fields just inland from the paddocks this afternoon. Hopefully at this rather late date this bird is not passing through and will stay to breed.

A single Spotted Flycatcher was new in on Lingham Lane near to Rose Cottage.

Waders were thin on the ground today, however, with only 8 Ringed Plover roosting over the tide in the paddocks and the western groyne apparently devoid of birds for once. Observers; AMC, CT, EW
Spotted Flycatcher,  Lingham Lane.   EW

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Thursday 21st Mat 2015

Weather;  Mainly sunny with single shower at midday. Wind W F3.

With a brief respite in the constant and strong north-westerleys we have been having for the last few days migration resumed in the Leasowe area. 
3 Wheatears were new in on the horse paddocks. All large Greenland type birds, as is the norm this late in the spring. 
Many hirundines were in evidence this afternoon with a passage of around 50 Swallows following the embankment eastwards in small parties of between two and five birds. 7 Sand Martins also followed this route and around 60 House Martins moved eastwards mainly over the paddocks. A large mixed flock of around 60 Swallows, House and Sand Martins concentrated over the Birkett. 6 Swifts also moved east.
A party of 18 Ringed Plovers and 8 Dunlin roosted together in the flooded horse paddock over the high tide, with another 100 Dunlin and a few Sanderling on the groyne.
A pair of Willow Warblers are feeding young near the pond. Although a very common migrant here they only occasionally breed here.   Observers AMC EW
Wheatear.   EW

Monday, 18 May 2015

18 May 2015

Wind SW-6-8, overcast with squally showers. Sunny later

Blustery conditions today meant attention turned to a spring seawatch from Hoylake. With a late morning high tide and winds gusting to gale force 8 birds were on the move. The main highlights were over 200 Gannets most of which passed straight through but many could be watched plunge diving just yards off Hoylake Promonade. 23 Common Scoter were also recorded as were 12 Sandwich Terns, 3 Commic Tern,  3 Fulmar, 45 Manx Shearwater and a Bonxie. 

The video clip filmed with an iphone and scope gives an indication of just how close the Gannets were today.

Waders today included 4000 Dunlin, 100 Sanderling, 34 Ringed Plover, 200 Knot, 56 Grey Plover and unusually a fly over Black tailed Godwit.

With the winds strengthening  and moving round to the Northwest over night tomorrow may be an even better day for a North Wirral Sea Watch?!


Friday, 15 May 2015

Friday 15th May 2015

Weather;  Clear day with much sunshine. Winds light SE-SW F2

Today's highlight was the discovery of a Turtle Dove this morning in the horse paddock off Lingham Lane to the rear of Greenacre's Cottage. It showed well for most of the day at this location and is still present there at the time of writing. The bird was found independently  by  Lighthouse regulars Allan C and Don M.
Once a regular migrant and breeding bird on the Wirral, as in many areas, it has declined to the point at which it is now a County rarity of less than annual occurrence. The last Turtle Dove at Leasowe was also on Lingham Lane, in October 2013.

Other migrants at Leasowe included two Spotted Flycatchers, a Yellow Wagtail, a Grasshopper Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat in the Lingham Lane area and 4 Wheatears in the Meols Common area.

Offshore were small numbers of Great Crested Grebes, Common and Sandwich Terns and 4 Common Scoter. A group of 5 Whimbrel were offshore at the Leasowe Castle Hotel.

Adult Turtle Dove, Lingham Lane  (Tim Kinch)

Turtle Dove at Lingham Lane.   (Stephen Williams)


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

12th May 2015

Weather: W/SW-7, sunny.

Another extremely windy day across North Wirral with gusts of 7-8 recorded late afternoon. Although suprisingly no Skuas Skuas were recorded there was a reasonable amount of offshore activity. A single Kittiwake battled its way into Liverpool bay were 12 Common Tern were fishing. Also offshore 22 Gannet were also recorded whilst several sub adult Gulls were in the 'dips' at New Brighton.

Passerine activity around the Lighthouse was hampered by the blustery conditions however 20 Wheatear, 2 Whinchat and 4 Spotted Flycatcher werestill found taking shelter along the nature trail and in the horse paddocks.

With unfavourable tides this week for wader watching the gutter below the sea defence is always worth checking at this time of year for waders taking a break from their northward migration.  Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper and an 'Icelandic' Redshank were observed among the rock pools late afternoon.


Common Sandpiper (AMC)

Dunlin (AMC)

Monday, 11 May 2015

Monday 11th May 2015

Weather; Clear and sunny. Wind brisk W-SW F4 

Offshore at Leasowe today were 50 Gannets and 2 Sandwich Terns while 2 Whimbrel, 1,000 Dunlin and 50 Ringed Plover were on the sandflats.

In spite of the clear conditions and brisk westerly wind there was a decent arrival of migrants in the Leasowe lighthouse area. 26 Wheatears were logged, mainly around the paddocks and on the embankment. There was also a good count of 9 Spotted Flycatchers, the highest count by far this year. Most birds were in the duck pond, nature trail and Park Lane areas. The strong wind kept them very low and allowed for great viewing conditions.

Other migrants seen today included a single Whinchat, 6 Willow Warblers and a smart Yellow Wagtail which gave great views off Lingham Lane.
Yellow Wagtail.    AMC

Spotted Flycatcher.    EW
There was some overhead movement which included 2 Swifts, 12 Sand Martins, 15 House Martins and 30 Swallows. The majority of these birds flew westward. 5 Siskins also flew west. They have been in short supply this spring. Observers AMC, DH, MGT, EW.
Wheatear.   AMC

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Sunday 10th May 2015
Weather:  Warm but overcast with light southerly then westerly wind.

All the Wheatears seemed to have moved on and the fields were devoid of migrants save for a single Whinchat,  seen in the field between the kissing gate path and the cable fence close to the western kissing gate. The bird was only present for a few minutes. Overhead 8 Swift flew north, briefly feeding above the fields behind the lighthouse, before moving on.  Again at least 3 Reed Warbler singing along the nature trail and a Sedge on the kissing gate path close to the eastern end.  A Lesser Whitethroat was heard but not seen in the scrub opposite the entrance to the lighthouse car park and a pair of Bullfinch were present here too.   Whitethroat now appear on territory in the shrubs along the various paths with a number of birds singing and doing their display flights.  Plenty of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers singing.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over Lingham Lane (perhaps they are going to breed again this year in the area?) and a Jay (an unusual bird for this location) was also seen flying over.

JB: DH: AD   

Whinchat (JB)

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Saturday 9th May 2015

Weather: Overcast and cool with gusting westerly winds.

The strong wind made birding difficult.  A solitary Wheatear was feeding in "Hoopoe Hollow" but keeping close to the embankment, presumably for protection from the wind.  Another 5 Wheatear were in the horse paddocks along the path between the two (or now one !) kissing gates - presumably the same birds as yesterday that didn't move on due to the heavy rain.  Plenty of  standing water in the fields - hopefully a magnet for wagtails but none were found in the main paddocks.   Along the nature trail 3 different Reed Warblers sang with a single Sedge east of the duck pond.   A few Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Whitethroat along the various hedges but a good number of Blackcap singing along Lingham Lane and in the bushes east of the duck pond.   In the flooded field behind Greenacres stables 3 Pied and 1 Yellow Wagtail showed well although distantly.  Better birding than anticipated !


Friday, 8 May 2015

8th May 2015

Weather: SE-2/3, sunny with cloud and heavy rain later.

The sunny start today allowed observers a couple of rounds of the Lighthouse area. Many Sedge and Reed Warbler continue to hold territory whilst a single Grasshopper Warbler was 'reeling' just west of the paddocks.

Other migrants included 5 Wheatear and a small arrival of 3 Lesser Whitethroats and 6 Willow Warbler in the area. 

A small Hirrundine passage started early morning. 100 Swallows, 50 House Martins and 35 Sand Martins had all moved North by mid morning. The forecast weather system arrived around 11.00 and typically we saw a decent Swift passage ahead of the advancing front. By the time we had the first spots of rain at least 70 Swifts had moved North.

With good numbers of waders on Hoylake shore this week , so attention turned to wader watching. Observers were treated to a spectacular array of summer plumaged species including 57 Grey Plover, 23 Ringed Plover, 18 Sanderling, 12 Knot, 2 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel , 5000 Dunlin and a sum plum Curlew Sandpiper.

9 Sandwhich terns and 5 Little Tern were recorded on the tide edge where a solitary Common Scoter flew east.


Grasshopper Warbler (EW)

Curlew Sandpiper (AMC)

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Thursday 7th May 2015

Weather;  Early cloud replaced by sunshine. Warm, wind W F2

Around 2,000 Dunlin were off King's Gap, Hoylake, prior to the tide this morning. 20 Sanderling and 5 Grey Plover were also here. 50 Dunlin and 2 Whimbrel roosted on the western groyne at Meols over the tide.

There was a heavy movement of Swallows today at Leasowe with around 10 birds passing every 5 minutes from 10 am to 3 pm at least. The vast majority were headed east along the embankment and inland fields or north east across Liverpool bay. The total number involved between these times was therefore around 600 birds. 20 Swifts also passed through but only a handful of Sand and House Martins were logged.

4 Wheatears were present in the paddocks together with a Yellow Wagtail. Another Yellow Wagtail flew east and a single Whinchat was at near the western kissing gate this morning. (Note; The eastern kissing gate has now been removed)

There also appeared to have been an arrival of Reed Warblers with many additional birds being noted away from their regular breeding sites such as in privet hedges along Lingham Lane some distance from reeds. 

In the late afternoon another Yellow Wagtail was present in fields off Lingham Lane together with a single White Wagtail. A Cuckoo was also singing in the Lingham Lane area. 

Observers; AMC, JJ, CS, MGT, EW.

Singing Reed Warbler on East Bank (AMC)

Yellow Wagtail (AMC)

Monday, 4 May 2015

Monday 4th May 2015

Weather; Sunny, cloud later, wind SW F 3

A summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper remains on the beach at Hoylake together with good numbers of migrant Dunlin, Ringed and Grey Plovers.

A Great White Egret flew west from the lighthouse along the embankment this morning. This is a rare bird here.

Migrants in the Leasowe area included 3 Whinchats, 6 Wheatears and a Yellow Wagtail present in the paddocks this morning and a Redstart near Lingham Lane. Single Grasshopper Warblers were present on Meols Common and on Lingham Lane. Willow Warblers are now past their peak passage numbers with only 6 present today. 

The first Cuckoo of the spring here was discovered in fields off Park Lane this afternoon.

Whinchat in the paddocks.      Les Hall
Overhead 30 House Martins and 4 Sand Martins flew east and a single Swift west.   Observers; AMC, JB, KAD, DH, CS, EW.
Cuckoo, Park Lane.     JB

Sunday, 3 May 2015

3rd May 2015

Weather: SW-3-5, overcast with sunny spells later.

A quietish day started with the first round of the Lighthouse producing a Whinchat, 1 new Reed Warbler and several Sedge Warblers.

With a brisk Westerly vis mig was limited, however a Flava Wag moved through late morning whilst 2 Greenland Wheatears had arrived in the paddocks. Two Grasshopper Warblers were reeling near the pond. 

With a mid morning tide wader watching took precedence particularly with a strengthening wind. At Hoylake a good sized mixed flock of summer plumaged waders included 2000 Dunlin, 50 Ringed Plover, 11 Knot, 5 Grey Plover, 1 Bar tailed Godwit and 5 Whimbrel.

As the tide ebbed so the waders dispersed east towards Roman Road where at about 15.00 three Dotterel were located among the Dunlin opposite Roman Road, Meols. A great find of a local rare by MGT.  A local mega the  last North Shore Dotterel was an autumn bird found on the sea wall opposite the Lighthouse in September 2005. A fine summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper was also picked up by AEH late afternoon.

So a quite day took quite a turn late afternoon with the arrival of some exciting waders and full credit to MGT for persisting in pretty blustery conditions.

Some video by Srw can be viewed at


Dotterel (AMC)

Friday, 1 May 2015

Friday 1st May 2015

Weather; High cloud with some sunny intervals. Wind F2-3 SE-NE.

The change in the wind direction overnight to an easterly direction resulted in a decent arrival of summer migrants in the Leasowe area today. In particular there were good arrivals of Whitethroats and Whinchats. Over 30 Whitethroats were in the area, many being seen well away from usual territories indicating passage migrants. A minimum of 13 Whinchats were also present mid morning, including 7 together in the paddocks area, 4 in the Meols Common area and 2 in Kerr's field. This is by far the highest count so far this spring. Other individuals were reported from Wallasey golf course and the Leasowe castle hotel area so the true figure must be far higher.

A male Redstart, a male Yellow Wagtail, 16 Wheatears and a flyover Tree Pipit were also in the paddocks area mid-morning. A Grasshopper Warbler was at the duck pond and the first Spotted Flycatcher of the spring showed up in trees along the Birkett just west of Kerr's field.

Other migrants logged included 9 Blackcaps, 11 Willow Warblers and 8 Chiffchaffs. 

Most migrants had moved on by mid-afternoon leaving a Redstart in the inland fields, 4 Whinchats still in Meols Common and a small scattering of Wheatears.

Male Whinchat with his dinner      EW
Hirundine passage was rather sparse, however, with just 15 Swallows, 8 Sand Martins and 6 House Martins moving east. Observers;  KAD, LH, MGT, EW.
Spotted Flycatcher at the Birkett        EW