Wirral Bird Club - Archived Field Meetings 2006

alongside Burton woods
dehall at dusk
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Willaston & Burton Woods - Sunday 17th December 2006

The sun was shining and there was plenty of bird activity as we strolled along the Wirral Way from Hadlow Road. Great tit, blue tit, coal tit, chaffinch, redwing, starling, etc etc., we were doing so well. Then Muriel put on her sunglasses and it was all change. The heavens clouded over, there was a great flurry as we reached for waterproofs, and down came lashings of rain. We're a hardy lot though, undeterred we trudged on until the weather settled, and back came the birds!

After lunch we changed venue, and a walk through Burton Woods revealed interesting fungi but not many birds - nice view of a kestrel and a couple of very colourful pheasants away in the fields - so the decision was made to head for Denhall.

There were lots of waders and wildfowl out on the Decca pools, flocks of lapwing, plenty of teal and wigeon. There were several little egrets, apparently there are something like 169 around the estuary, and as the light faded they flew in in little groups of 3 or 4. We'd had the best of the day but we stuck it out hoping for a view of a barn owl, short eared owl or maybe even a harrier, it was not to be but it didn't spoil our enjoyment of the last meeting of the year..


Greenfield Park and Dock - 25th November 2006

The forecast was for gale force winds, lashing rain and icy temperatures - but the weather didn't live up to expectations!  It was a very still dry day, brightened by the occasional glimpses of sun.

Greenfield dock has seen better and more prosperous days but there was a good selection of birds out on the water and in the surrounding greenery. Great crested grebe, red breasted merganser, redshank, knot, oystercatcher, grey wagtail, greater spotted woodpecker and buzzard were just part of the list.

Stopping only for a 'swift' cup of coffee, the walk in Greenfield Country Park led us past the ruins of Basingwerk Abbey and meandered alongside a fast running stream which fed a number of pools.A dipper busied itself in the water, while further along tufted duck and little grebe took life at a more leisurely pace. Bullfinch, goldcrest, sparrowhawk and jay enhanced the lovely late autumn colours of the trees.

The final tally was in excess of 40 species, so we were well satisfied.

Follow this link for more information about Greenfield Park


Hawarden - 29th October 2006

Our trip to Hawarden was remarkable in many respects: the number of members who attended, the amount of fungi seen and the beautiful weather. Unfortunately the bird list was somewhat sparse!

The woodlands were very picturesque in the dappled sunlight with some wonderful old oak and beech trees, the ground was carpeted with acorns, sweet chestnuts and conkers.

We had lovely close up views of a magnificent buzzard and at the other end of the scale, a friendly dragonfly who came to land on several of us.

Permission to walk around the normally private areas of the estate was granted by Sir William Gladstone, who wished us 'a nice day'. It was more than that - it was a great day.



Blacktoft Sands RSPB Reserve - 30th September 2006

Situated on the Humber Estuary, Blacktoft Sands is England's largest tidal reedbed. It is ideally located on the east coast flyway to host a wonderful mix of birds as they move through the country at this time of year - some arriving at their winter quarters, other leaving for the warmer climes of southern Europe and the African continent.

10% of the British population of bearded tits breed here annually, and club members had superb views of a most obliging male posing in the reedbed at close quarters. Marsh harriers were showing well, numerous snipe, several water rail and hundreds of golden plover were among the total of 47 species recorded.

It was disappointing that the coach had many empty seats! Blacktoft Sands is quite a way away and it is a treat to be taken there in comfort with a professional driver at the wheel. The committee arranges several coach outings during the year, particularly to cater for those who are unable or don't wish to drive long distances. Without your support we will be unable to offer this service. Please help the Club to remain dynamic by participating in these events.

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Whixall Moss NNR - 29th July 2006

Whixall Moss is a rare bog that is now being restored by English Nature after years of industrial peat extraction had almost destroyed it totally. With the rare habitat comes a range of rare and interesting plant species. Amongst these, all kinds of insects live, scooped up into the collecting net for close inspection. Various butterflies and dragonflies were much in evidence, especially in the more sheltered areas.
The birding highlight were the Hobbies that were hunting for dragonflies over the Mosses. These are small dashing falcons with slim wings, showing a Swift-like shape. We saw waders and duck such as Snipe, Curlew, Lapwing and Teal which have started to return to the wetter areas.

The day brought home to me the delicate balance between habitat and species, and the need to maintain a healthy food chain. Without these, the birds will suffer and our hobby will be much the poorer.

A special thanks is due to Dr Joan Daniels for her fascinating and knowledgeable guidance.

Click here for link to English Nature Whixall Moss information


Exciting local news for Wirral Bird Club has been the successful breeding by a pair of Avocets. This species is the emblem of the RSPB and has recently been expanding its range in the UK into the North West. It is also a beautiful bird to look at, with its smart black and white plumage and characteristic up-curved bill that it sweeps back and forward in the water when feeding. So the fledging of three chicks near Burton brought a steady stream of visitors to the site to see the new family. The parents were very vocal and aggressive in moving on any birds that strayed a little too close to the youngsters. Hopefully, this will be just the start of a new colony, to complement the increasing Little Egret population on the Dee.


Llanymynech Rocks - 25th June 2006

This nature reserve is based on impressive 100 foot limestone cliffs that were once a limestone quarry and which tower above the village of Pant. Before scaling the cliffs however, we made a more leisurely walk along the Montgomery Canal, where we picked up some of the more common species including Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush. Finding the birds at this time of the season proved difficult, as most species have stopped their displaying and singing, and tend to be busy feeding their young in the lush leaf growth. Perseverance added Bullfinch, Treecreeper and Nuthatch. An adult fox with two cubs watched us nonchalantly from across a field, before slowly disappearing into the hedge.

After lunch we explored the Rocks themselves. The site has an interesting range of both flora and fauna. At the base of the cliffs we found 3 species of Orchid - Bee, Pyramidal and Spotted - as well as other interesting plants. Also of note was a small herd of Hebridian Sheep that were being used specially to graze a protected area to encourage re-generation of the ground. Jackdaws were breeding on ledges around the quarry. A young Green Woodpecker was a nice find. At the end of the day, a few stragglers from the Club found three young peregrines seemingly playing as they practised their arial skills in preparation for adult independence.


Coach Trip to Leighton Moss - 21st May 2006

Leighton Moss must surely be one of the brightest jewels in the RSPB crown. Even on a day of unrelenting downpour the total bird species seen on Sunday was an amazing 64, and this included marsh harrier, bearded tit and avocet.

There was a good turnout by club members, the coach was nearly full, and despite the appalling weather, a good day was had by all.

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Denhall at Dusk, Looking Across to Wales

Alongside Burton Woods

mute swan
there is a great spotted woodpecker in this oak tree

mute swan looking serene

looking for tufted duck
birding at its best
basingwerk abbey

Basingwerk Abbey

checking out the mill pond

Which way did it go - and what was it?

meeting at hawarden, photo © I.C.Evans
remains of hawarden castle
bracket fungus
small fungus

Bracket fungus

Small fungus
fungi at hawarden
fly agaric, photo ICEvans
walking through hawarden woods, photo I.C.Evans
looking for birds, photo I.C.Evans
more fungi in the wood
shaggy ink cap, photo ICEvans
stinkhorn,  photo ICEvans
Fly Agaric
common darter

Looking for elusive birds

Common Darter

Shaggy Ink Cap
searching the reedbed for bearded tits photo by mike hart
waders at blacktoft sands picture by mike hart
in the hide at blacktoft sands picture by hugh stewart

Waders at Blacktoft Sands

In the hide - Blacktoft Sands

examing a dragonfly photo Mike Hart
learning about the Moss  photo Hugh Stewart

Examing a Dragonfly at Whixall Moss

little egret photo hugh stewart

Learning about Whixall Moss

Little Egret

Llanymynech Rocks photo Hugh Stewart Llanymynech Rocks photo Hugh Stewart
pyramidal orchid photo Hugh Stewart

Llanymynech Rocks

Pyramidal Orchid

Llanymynech Rocks

avocet photo Hugh Stewart


Leasowe Lighthouse & Common photo J. Evans
view across Leasowe Shore photo J. Evans

Evening Meeting to Leasowe Common - Thursday 11th May 2006

A pleasant spring evening brought out plenty of birds and bird club members alike. The common was alive with sedge warblers and we saw, and heard, a wonderful display from a grasshopper warbler. Overhead swifts and swallows chased while on the shore grey plover and dunlin in breeding plumage fed along the tide line.



Canal Boat Trip - 4th May 2006

Kingfisher, Sandpiper, Puffin and a Superb Owl!   Birds?   No 'fraid not - canal boats! Our day out on the Shropshire Union Canal was birdwatching at its easiest. Good birding (44 species seen), with tea and coffee provided. The only strenuous activity was ordering a glass of beer at Beeston's Shady Oak. The sun beamed down on us all day and the birds were equally kind. Wonderful!



Bontuchel - 29th April 2006

The hedgerows of the lane leading to the Afon Clywedog were filled with primroses, violets and lesser celandines, and the woods along the river were a sea of bluebells and wood anemones. Wild flowers were in abundance, but not so the birds! Only 29 species were recorded on our field trip to Bontuchel, but a friendly group of people and wonderful scenery almost made up for the scarcity.




Shropshire Meres - Saturday March 25th

The sun was shining, birds were singing, and signs of Spring all around us as our coach arrived at Ellesmere. The heronry was in full swing, and we spent quite a time watching these huge birds flying to and fro, and perching (most precariously it seemed) on topmost branches. The usual suspects were on the mere itself, tufted duck, goldeneye, wigeon, little and great crested grebe, cormorant etc but Stan found a scaup in with the tufted duck, which was a very good spot indeed.

The walk round the mere turned up a nice mixture of woodland birds including the tit family, nut hatch, treecreeper, goldcrest, mistle thrush, and a buzzard wheeling above the trees which made the small birds look very small.

After lunch everyone set out to walk along the canal towpath to Colemere, and although we didn't see the mink we were perhaps hoping for, kingfishers were top of the bill (excuse the pun). On Blakemere (the far bank as always) at least four of these brightly coloured jobs were whizzing about, doing what kingfishers do in the Spring, and giving us glorious views.

Among the snowdrops were just a few lesser celandine, and Mike correctly identified (wow!) and photographed a small cluster of coltsfoot. Stopping only to watch a marsh (or willow) tit, we made our way through the woods surrounding Colemere. Sorry to say, there were no lesser spotted woodpeckers about, but 3 greater spotted - attracted by Hugh's tapping on a tree trunk with pound coins - made up for it.

Excellent birding - 49 species - good company, comfortable travel, and the rain held off until we were on our way home. What more could you ask?
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View across Leasowe Shore

Leasowe Lighthouse and common

our canal boat moored at Beeston photo Mike Hart
canal boat making its way through one of the tunnels photographed by  Mike Hart

Our canal boat moored at the Shady Oak Beeston

bluebells under the trees photo Mike Hart
River Clwydeg at Bontuchel photo Mike Hart
lunch stop at Bontuchel

Bluebells under the trees along the Afon Clwydeg

River Clwydeg at Bontuchel

Lunch stop at Bontuchel

view across the mere photographed by Mike Hart
coltsfoot - photo mike hart



along the towpath to Colemere photographed by Mike Hart

Walking along the canal towpath to Colemere