Friday, 29 March 2013

Everton Brow

We went to Everton Brow Fri 29th March – 1st time ever, about 3.30 –5pm, what a lovely place! 30 plus redwings, 4 mistle thrushes, about 20 goldfinches singing in the sunshine and various long tail tits, green finch etc in the trees to the left of the drive that comes down from St Domingo Rd just before the Lock Up.
And to top it all, the views across the Mersey to Moel Famau and Snowdonia in the distance with snow on top. We`ll be going back soon!

Cherry & Nick

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Early results show Merseyside's birds are in trouble

Merseyside gardens vital for some of our most threatened birds
RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch results 2013

Some of the UK s most threatened and best-loved bird species are
continuing to decline in Merseyside, according to results from the
RSPB s annual Big Garden Birdwatch survey 2013, released today
[Thursday 28 March, 2013].

Starlings, a UK  red-listed  species meaning it is of the highest
conservation concern, hit an all-time low in the Birdwatch last year
and their numbers dropped a further 19% in Merseyside gardens this

Numbers of house sparrows, also on the red-list, dropped by 20% in
Merseyside gardens compared to 2012, whilst bullfinches and dunnocks,
both amber-listed, fell by 43% per cent and 17% respectively.

Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said;  We know from the many
people who take part in Big Garden Birdwatch every year that garden
birds are incredibly precious to us  and connect us to nature every
day.  I had the joy of doing the Birdwatch with my children again this
year and, fidgeting aside, it was one of those memorable mornings when
the family is captivated by nature.  But, several of our familiar and
best-loved species have been declining at alarming rates over the 34
years that the RSPB has been running the Birdwatch and this year s
results show a continuing decline. 

 We go to great lengths to ensure that special UK habitats are given
the right levels of designation and legal protection because of their
role in supporting threatened wildlife, but what s very clear is that
every one of our gardens, the places literally on our doorsteps, are
important too.

Almost 590,000 people across the UK, including 75,000 pupils and
teachers at schools, took part in the Birdwatch in January. In
Merseyside nearly 6,000 people participated in the survey.  

Whilst the decline of some species continued, others fared better with
garden sightings of siskins and fieldfares up in Merseyside gardens. 
The cold, harsh conditions in the wider countryside back in January is
likely to have driven more of these birds into gardens on their search
for food.

Martin continued;  Gardens make up around 4 per cent of land area in
the UK and their role as habitats for our wildlife is clear.  They are
the places that birds come to for food and shelter when conditions in
the countryside are especially tough and together, we can all play a
part in making them more welcoming and supportive for wildlife, whether
we have a garden full of greenery, a yard or a window box.

Do something now to help the wildlife in your garden, find out how at

find out more about Big Garden Birdwatch.

The RSPB s Big Garden Birdwatch is the world s biggest wildlife survey
with half a million people taking part each year.  Running for 34 years
the survey has made a major contribution to tracking garden bird
numbers over the winter

This table shows the top 10 birds seen in Merseyside gardens in 2013.


Average number per garden

1. Blackbird


2. House Sparrow


3. Starling


4. Blue Tit


5. Woodpigeon


6. Goldfinch


7. Collared Dove


8. Magpie




10. Feral pigeon


The RSPB speaks out for birds and wildlife, tackling the problems that
threaten our environment. Nature is amazing - help us keep it that way

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is a registered
charity: England and Wales no. 207076, Scotland no. SC037654

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Everton Brow- High point of Liverpool

Song Thrush

Keith's sightings made on Sunday, at Everton Park just above the round
lock-up Toffee jail, 3 Field fare and  4 various Thrushes, not sure what type they are quite a few other birds local varieties working the grass.

Thanks for sharing

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Ruddy shelduck

Just a quick report from a very lovely walk this afternoon, heading towards Pickerings Pasture from Hale lighthouse:

for those who want a few more ticks... a pair of ruddy shelduck were feeding on the grassland at the end of the path, (where it turns inland back towards Hale village) alongside normal shelduck and some canada geese.  I have seen one of these before in this bay.  Apart from that, there were only a few scattered curlew and redshank braving the biting east wind, though on the return half of the walk I spotted a large flock of meadow pipits feeding on the flat ground right beside the lighthouse, together with a few goldfinch (or possibly skylarks ~ but they were a similar size to the goldfinches).  It was low tide, and the light was wonderful on the pale golden reedbeds and the wet sandbanks out in the bay.

50 waxwings....Aigburth Rd  12.50pm.                 Sean.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Waxwings still on Aigburth Rd this morning.........48 birds counted at 11am.


Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Maximum count of 119 waxwings coming down to berry trees on Aigburth Rd.......3pm

Also just heard on birdline.......1st winter ring billed gull on Otterspool, near cafe but mobile. Very tricky id.......think I need a little help! Not sure if this is the bird but much bigger than other common gulls and a really heavy thick bill. Got a few other shots, some in flight, but still not sure.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Report your skydancers

Hen Harrier over Parkgate

Have you seen one of these?
Lest we forget Bowland Betty


The RSPB is asking people who spend time in the uplands to let them know if they spot a hen harrier, Englands rarest breeding bird of prey.

Now in its sixth consecutive year in operation, the conservation charity has relaunched its Hen Harrier Hotline in the hope of finding out where these birds are potentially breeding in Northern England.  It is estimated that the upland heath and blanket bogs of England should have at least 320 pairs of nesting hen harriers but last year there was only one confirmed breeding attempt in the whole of England.
2011 was not much better, with only four successful nests, all of which were on a single estate in Bowland, Lancashire.

This lack of breeding success is not through lack of trying. In spring, the male commits himself into a spectacular courtship ritual called skydancing in which he soars repeatedly to a great height and dives towards the moor below pulling up just before impact. Then, if he is actually lucky enough to find a female, he shows off his prowess as a hunter by passing her food while they are both in flight.

Sadly, the species is affected by continuing illegal persecution, normally associated with the grouse shooting industry. This is reinforced by the government-commissioned review   the hen harrier framework - which concluded that illegal killing and disturbance is the biggest single factor limiting the population of this species in Northern England.

Last year, this issue was brought to national media attention when a hen harrier known affectionately as  Bowland Betty  was found shot dead in the Yorkshire Dales. Betty had fledged in Bowland in 2011 and her satellite tags had helped conservationists to begin uncovering the secret lives of hen harriers beyond the nest.

Amanda Miller, the RSPB s Conservation Manager for Northern England
said:  It s just not possible to give every hen harrier a satellite tag, but thats where the public can help us. By calling or emailing the hotline, they can help us keep track of these precious birds and help prevent the tragedy of Bowland Betty from being repeated.

The English hen harrier population is on the brink of extinction so we need to find out where, if any, birds are attempting to nest. This way we can focus our efforts on giving them the best chance to breed successfully.     The Harrier Hotline number is 0845 4600121 (calls charged at local rate).  Reports can also be e-mailed to  Reports of sightings should include the date and location of sighting, with a six-figure grid reference where possible.

The Hen Harrier Hotline is part of Skydancer, a four-year RSPB project aimed at protecting and conserving nesting hen harriers in the English uplands. The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and United Utilities, with additional support from the Forestry Commission.

For more information about Skydancer visit


Monday, 11 March 2013

The Feral Pigeon Project

Feral pigeons

Got a pesky pigeon flock hanging out at your place?
Why not count 'em for Adam....

Adam Rogers is doing a study of feral pigeon colour varieties and this link
gives the Youtube recording of the winterwatch slot that has put his work into the public domain.  Worth watching.

You can link directly into his web site at and enter your findings.

 A hyper link to another fascinating study is  Pigeons can identify individual human faces.

Thanks to David Holland for info


Vilnius trip

I arrived early morning at Liverpool John Lennon airport to be greeted by an apprentice airport announcer who perhaps needs to work on his pronunciation a bit. I guess it wouldn’t be too much of a problem with Vilnius. The flight was about half an hour late and we were spared the fanfare that usually sounds when a Ryanair plane lands boasting of their 90%+ flights that do arrive on time. I checked in at my hotel and the girl at the desk looked a bit worried when I told her who I was after an earlier error with the booking, but no problems.
I managed a 3 hour bird watching stint before dusk. The temperature was about -6 and the main paths were mainly clear but some of the minor ones were like toboggan runs.   I went to Vingis park, alongside the River Neris that runs through Vilnius. Here I saw great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, marsh, great, blue and long tailed tits. Also goldcrest, siskin and greenfinch. The corvids were plentiful with hooded crows, rooks and jackdaws about. The park covers over 400 acres and inside is a huge amphitheatre, and masses of tall trees. There was lots of floating chunks of ice flowing with the river current, and managed to see goosanders, goldeneyes and mallards. One drake goldeneye was displaying in that cold water, but the white eyed female wasn’t interested.

At breakfast next day I was greeted by a bored looking and unsmiling breakfast waitress. Breakfast was, well, not an English one. Later I went to Kaunas, about 90 kilometres west of Vilnius, and was thrilled to see two black redstarts from the train window, without binoculars, just as we were pulling out of a station. These trains were NOT HS2 or equivalent. I only did a couple of hours birding, but did see 6 species of corvid, siskin, hawfinch, greenfinch and lots of bullfinch. Also great and blue tits in masses, great spotted woodpeckers drumming away and the lighter coloured nuthatches. I spent the afternoon at Kaunas market and the whole town and surrounding areas must have turned up because there were thousands there. There were rows of markets, four a breast stretching for over a mile down the main street. There was dancing, singing and plenty of ale flowing. I enjoyed a Lithuanian version of the birdie song. I spotted a painting of a tern and fell in love with it, and at 65 litas, about sixteen pounds, I thought was a bargain. I was faced with a dilemma of how to get past Ryanair’s weight restriction on the flight home.

At breakfast next day a guest at the hotel decided to fill up his flask from the coffee dispenser, which judging from the face of miserable Miriam I don’t think was allowed. I didn’t know the Lithuanian translation to tell him the coffee was cold anyway. I went into Vilnius for a morning's birding and the overnight temperature had plummeted to about -10 and with a wind chill factor of -20, it was cold, cold and cold. I had trouble staying on my feet and felt a bit like Emile Heskey in a derby match. I saw much of the woodland birds of the first day, and again saw lots of bullfinches and right in the centre of Vilnius. The highlight was a lesser spotted woodpecker.
On the last day my flight was at midday and had a couple of hours in Vingis Park. In heavy snow I wondered whether I would see anything at all, but it did lighten a little. I was surprised by how quiet it was and the roads were deserted. I saw in the park, marsh, willow, blue, great and, the best of all, crested tits on the feeders. I seem to get the best at the end. I was informed by nervous Nerys as I checked out that it was a day of celebration, when 23 years earlier Lithuania became free from their big brother.

I went back to the airport having solved my weight problem by carrying my binoculars in my multi pocketed coat, with deep pockets. (Some say I have short arms).  I needn’t have worried about the weight because the case wasn’t weighed. I arrived back in Liverpool with the fanfare.


Monday, 4 March 2013


                     LESSER  SCAUP.                Burton Mere wetlands.

Sun 3rd March.

Sunday saw me trudging up forest tracks in Clocaenog Forest in search of great grey shrike. Got to
 summit near radio mast, very cold and windy, spent an hour at the top but no sign of the shrike at all. A couple of ravens displaying overhead and a nice group of 4 bullfinches, but very little else. I will have to go back on a nicer day, as fantastic 360 views from the summit.

Feeling a bit fed up decide to stop in at Burton Mere wetlands on the way back.

Could not believe my luck, as I showed my membership card I was asked if I had come to see the Lesser Scaup! She explained that it was on the fishing pools with half a dozen tufties. Great views and managed a few pictures. If you want to see some better photos have a look at " A Wirral birders blog", fantastic pictures by Phil Woolen showing all the tricky identification, ie wing bars etc. A great blog.

Also had good views of water rail right next to visitor centre windows feeding with coots and moorhen.


Saturday, 2 March 2013

From shy to spry; March males are all-singing, all-dancing

From shy to spry; March males are all-singing, all-dancing

Brits aren’t known for making a song and dance about things, but that’s not so for our wildlife, which is emerging from the chilly winter this month to be at its loudest and most flamboyant.

Male birds are at their most colourful right now, the way they moult and the brighter spring days mean their plumage appears more vivid and their patterns and markings are more obvious. Many male songbirds – robins, blackbirds and song thrushes among them - are competing to sing the loudest and longest, all in an effort to attract a mate for the start of the breeding season.  Common frogs and toads are joining the cacophony too, croaking to attract a partner. 

Ian Hayward, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said: “It’s a fever of activity in our gardens and parks at the moment.  Birds are displaying brighter plumage, we’ve already received reports of frogspawn in some garden ponds and a few warm days will bring more colourful flashes of bees and butterflies zipping through the air.  This chorus of singing, buzzing and croaking is almost a sensory overload, but of course there’s real purpose behind it; it’s all geared towards pairing up and mating.”

Away from gardens, hares are active and indulging in their classic spring ‘boxing’ behaviour.  Once thought to be males boxing each other to win a female, it’s now known that boxing is actually the female hare fighting off the male’s attentions.  Meanwhile, paired-up great crested grebes are performing their elegant spring mating ‘dance’ mirroring each other’s movements on the water to help them bond ahead of breeding.

Ian continues; “The males of the wildlife World will be pulling out all the stops this month to bag a partner to breed with.  It’s a fascinating time to be outdoors experiencing these often shy creatures dancing and singing for all they’re worth, showing off their best moves. Other species like hedgehogs, grass snakes, and even some bat species are popping out of hibernation right now too.

To help make a home for nature in your garden this spring, visit or get close to spring wildlife at one of the RSPB’s Date with Nature events

Friday, 1 March 2013

Berlin trip

I tried a birding few days in Berlin but unfortunately forgot my camera so just had my mobile. After studying  the labyrinth of tunnels of the U-bahn, S-bahn, railways and trams. I worked out a plan from my base near Wittenbergplatz U-bahn.

Must try google translate

First stop was Karow pools and Buch in the north east of the city. Karower Teiche nature reserve is well maintained and there are four reed fringed  ponds with good viewing platforms but not much good when I was there because the ponds were mostly iced over. I did see two great white egrets with mute swan, greylag, coots and mallards. There is good surrounding habitat with scattered bushes and small patches of woodland. The first bird I saw was a “tick” a short toed treecreeper, and checked the guide to make sure it wasn’t the common treecreeper, and there were plenty of them. Saw lots of greenfinch, chaffinch, siskin, yellowhammer, great tits, blue tits, marsh tits and the white headed long tailed tits. Also great spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches, jays and hooded crows. Having read Sean’s blog I checked the goldcrest, but no firecrest. I spent the afternoon at Bucher Forst, with a good number of mature trees and small ponds (iced over). This place will definitely be worth exploring later in the year. Saw much the same here birdwise and lots of drumming in the tall trees. Did see a middle spotted ‘pecker.

Next day was Krummer lanke in the south west of Berlin, here there are lakes, forests and woodland swamps and this place was just made for woodpeckers. The lakes were iced over again and the paths were very slippery, luckily no mishaps. Here I saw the Black woodpecker, middle spotted, lesser spotted and the great spotted, and the usual woodland birds I had seen the day before. There were about 40 mandarins in a stream that was flowing, always a nice sight. The afternoon I walked to Gunewaldsee further up, where I encountered many dog walkers. There were bird feeders here and middle spotted woodpeckers made an appearance in between the barking dogs.

Mandarins on the log

I tried the Tegel region in the North west the following day, next to the business airport. I first went to Flughafensee, there were large forest areas and a large lake, not all iced over. I made my way to the raised platform and hoped to see masses of wildfowl. Not in luck. I spoke with a German birder who told me they had mostly moved north closer to the sea. I was pleased he spoke English! I did see a bittern and cormorants in breeding plumage. My new German friend told me I was better going to Tegelersee. A couple of stops further on. I then had a long walk through the forest, and hoped it was worth it as the paths were getting muddy as the ice was melting slowly. I managed to see some wildfowl at last. Tufties, goldeneye, mallard and goosanders were about it. Oh, and hundreds of coots. I was amused to see a “sounder” of wild boar. I made my way back with sore legs and neck after looking up to see what ‘peckers were drumming. I counted at least 50, all great spotted, when I could spot them. I was hoping to see crested tits in the tall pine trees but not today.

My last morning I spent in the Tiergarten near Brandenburg, and arrived later than planned as I misread the map and travelled on the U-bahn rather than the S-bahn. When I did get there I was pleased because I recognised the wide roads and the Siegessäule victory statue from 20 years earlier when I ran the Berlin marathon. In the park there were plenty of finches, blackbirds and members of the tit family, great spotted (of course) and nuthatches. Also saw a red squirrel. The best, the last I saw and  a “tick” was a goshawk, that breed in the Tiergarten,  a wonderful bird, perched high up in the trees and calling. It must be the breeding season.

Not taken on my mobile!

I made my way back to the airport early, not wanting to take the wrong train again.


RSPB celebrates funding boost for saltmarsh restoration

Viewing platform - Hesketh Out Marsh

Great News for RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh nature reserve

Rare lagoon habitats could soon be created at RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh thanks to a funding boost of  £48,786 from The Veolia Environmental Trust.

The reserve, near Southport, will use the funding to carry out saltmarsh restoration work, which will involve enhancing the lagoons to hold water at low tide. Such coastal lagoons are one of the UK s rarest
habitats and the work will increase the diversity of the wildlife populations in the area. In addition, habitat  refuges  will be created, in the form of ridges and bunds, to provide elevated areas at high tide.

The project will also deliver a comprehensive monitoring programme, which will document the plants and animals that are found on site and monitor the changes as they take place.

Tony Baker, RSPB Ribble Sites Manager, said:  We are extremely grateful for the generous donation from The Veolia Environmental Trust and the work it will enable us to do at RSPB Hesketh Out Marsh.

As part of the project, RSPB reserve staff and volunteers will also be involved in monitoring wintering and breeding bird populations on site.

The Executive Director of The Veolia Environmental Trust, McNabb Laurie, said:  Saline lagoons such as this are critically important for a number of specialised species and habitats, as well as having a
significant role in flood control. I m so glad The Veolia Environmental Trust is able to support the RSPB's work to enhance the Hesketh Out  Marsh reserve for wildlife and the visiting public. 

:-) Laura