Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Ferry cross the Mersey!

Another successful cruise! Yesterday saw 350 passengers board the World-famous Mersey Ferry for a trip out into Liverpool Bay to view the fantastic wildlife the area has to offer.

Sadly, the birds weren't playing ball, though all on board were treated to good views of a variety of gulls and Common Terns, attracted in by the rather smelly fish - bravely chucked off the back by Chris!

The next cruises will be on 14th & 26th September - tickets are still available so why not come along for the ride?!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Meet the Owlets

Last year Phil Antrobus gave us a news piece on his work with the RSPB’S Volunteer & Farmer Alliance section , carrying out bird surveys on two local farms in the Merseyside area.
On one of these farms a Barn Owl nestbox is on site and has been for many years. In 2008 four owlets were ringed, thanks to Chris and his ‘ringer’ associate. This year it was Chris’s turn to climb in the cage! Along with Stephen Menzie, and watched over by our fully fledged expert ringing friend John Gramauskas, three owlets were recovered from the box.

All fluff and talons, watch those hands boys - as John was quick to point out if it’s got it’s claws into you, you don’t want to pull your hand away, else lots of ripped flesh.... in time it will release you - honestly John?

One of the birds is fitted with a light-weight metal ring that will allow us to track its movements should it be seen again. Find out more about ringing >HERE<.

These beauties were estimated to be about 5 weeks old - half-grown, 2 females and a male, all roughly the same size although it usual for there to be 2 days between siblings - the age difference between the oldest and youngest nestlings can be as much as three weeks. The average brood size is 3.6.
In another week they should be hopping about in and around the box entrance…as long as mum and dad bring in the grub that is.. who can forget the Springwatch owl consuming his younger brothers and sisters, gulp!....Sadly no sign of the parents during the ringing session, hopefully out hunting a rodent dinner on yet another wet July evening.
By nine weeks old most young have already made their first flights and by ten weeks they are able to fly quite well. By week 14 week almost all owlets have left their parents' home range.

A quick family portrait, before the birds are returned to their nestbox.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Sunny at the Flash

Phew what a scorcher, the sun certainly came out for us on Sunday, as did half of the population of Leigh who joined our birdwatching party of 15 for a Sunday stroll round the Flash.
The bunting hide never fails to please, and we got some great close up sightings of some wonderful finches, namely Bullfinches including some hungry youngsters.
On the lagoons we observed the diminutive Little Ringed Plovers and Lapwings with their dainty chicks and to our surprise something totally different a pike meandering it’s way down the ditch right in front of the hide.
Painted ladies danced round the grasslands (no doubt part of the mass migration recently noted in the newspapers), and they were joined by Whites, Common blues and Speckled wood butterflies. As for the dragons we had 4 spotted chaser, blue tailed & red damselfly’s.

Total bird count for the day was a 'not to be crowed at' 49: Greenfinch, Dunnock, Canada goose, Mallard, Mute swan, Coot, Tufted duck, Magpie, Goldfinch, Widgeon, Bullfinch, Great tit, Robin, Moorhen, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Great spotted woodpecker, Black headed gull, Blue tit, Reed bunting, Little ringed plover, Grey heron, Gadwall, Woodpigeon, Lapwing, Little grebe, Swift, House martin, Whitethroat, Carrion crow, Feral pigeon, Sedge warbler, Pochard, Great crested grebe, Ruddy duck, Shoveler, Kestrel, Blackcap, Buzzard, Common tern, Oystercatcher, Lesser black backed gull, Mistle thrush, Pied wagtail, Long tailed tit, Wren, Chiffchaff, Reed warbler, Collared dove.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009


Sunday 3rd May is

Know your Chiff Chaff from your Willow Warbler? they look very alike but their song gives them away.
Bird lovers from around the world will be joining in on this world-wide event organised by the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham.

So, you are invited to drag the kids out of bed and join us on an early morning wake up stroll; around the Mull woods and park area, listening to the magical sounds of birdsong as the sun rises, followed by a much needed hearty English breakfast and hot drinks in the Old Riding School Cafe.

I could keep this a secret, competition and all that but - Free bird seed pack to the first 30 people who arrive at this year's Dawn Chorus event courtesy of Vine House Farm.

WHERE: Croxteth Country Park, Liverpool, Merseyside, L12 0HB

MEET : Sunday 3rd May, 2009, At Main Entrance of Croxteth Hall

TIME: 6.30 – 8.30 am

FEE: Adults = £7.50 Children = £2.00

(Discount for RSPB Members Fee £ 5.00, RSPB WEX Members £1.00 * Please bring your RSPB and WEX membership cards for discount)
Entrance- From Croxteth Hall Lane to park (Speed 15MPH) through Flint drive to Conference Centre Car Park for safety reasons - as cctv. Gates open from 5 am.
1- Please maintain slow speed inside the park.
2- Beware of moving park security vehicles, tractors, cattle.
3- Mind the bumps.
4- uneven, slippery paths.

For further information /booking your place:
Miss Samina (Sam) Farooqi (RSPB WEX Group’s Leader)
Mobile: 07942 441305

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

North Wales coast trip------of contrast

Sunday 29th was the group annual trip down the North Wales Coast. There was snow on the mountains but sun on the coast! What contrast from the weather we have had all week.

Sea watching was poorer than normally, red throated diver werent that plenty, common scoter were splash diving, great crested grebe were in summer plumage. 1 razorbill was a bit better. Waders on the point included oystercatchers, turnstones, ringed plover, 2 dunlin and 1 knot.

We travelled on to the Spinnies which held its usual little egrets and overwintering greenshanks but no kingfisher. The feeders close to the hide gave good views of chaffinch and greenfinch. We travelled back to RSPB Conwy and tried to get a coffee but it now close at 4.30 for drinks with the reserve staying open till 5.15 when they lock the gates.
A good trip as usual with 54 species seen.
Keep birding.

First cetti's for Wigan

This is a bit of a late post. This is the first cetti's warbler ringed in the Wigan area on 15th March. It turned up when me and John were after snipe!!


Wednesday, 25 March 2009


In January events were held around the UK to get more people to take part in the 30th Big Garden Birdwatch.
The figures: More than 552,000 people took part in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch, counting over 8.5 million birds, recording 73 species in 279,000 gardens across the UK.
The facts: Blue tits made a massive comeback in the North West after we saw a worrying fall in numbers during last year’s event. In fact, in some parts of the region, more than double the number of this delightful little garden-dweller were spotted during Big Garden Birdwatch weekend.
In Merseyside – 1.99 per garden compared to 0.71 in 2008; and in Lancashire, where garden-watchers logged an average 2.25 per garden (1.45).
And the trend continued in Cheshire with a more modest increase – 2.28 compared to 1.68 last year – and Cumbria, with 3.25 this year compared to 2.64 in 2008.

Last year’s poor showing by blue tits might have been down to wet weather making the 2007 breeding season the worst ever for the garden favourite.
Heavy rain washing away caterpillars and the later emergence of these creatures are likely to have caused a food shortage for blue tits.
Matthew Capper, who helps get people involved in Big Garden Birdwatch, said: “Thank goodness we’ve seen more blue tits in our gardens this year. Big Garden Birdwatch is a great barometer of the fortunes of our garden birds and it’s always worrying when we see sharp declines in a particular kind of bird.
“But we know from years of experience – and from the information we have gathered over 30 years of Big Garden Birdwatch – that it takes a number of years’ results to see real trends emerging. It looks as though 2008 might just have been a blue tit blip.”
Matthew added: “We’re thrilled to have well over half a million people taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this year. This is a great way for people to get closer to nature and enjoy the benefits of feeding their garden birds.“
Nationally, the house sparrow retained its top spot for the sixth year running with an average of 3.70 seen per garden. The starling, which is a former number one, came in at number two with an average of 3.21 per garden. The blackbird completed the top three with 2.84 per garden.
Keep checking for the Merseyside top ten.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Package Holiday Birding

In my role of Group Leader I have always received lots of bird holiday travel brochures. I have always looked through them wishing that one day my family would be become birders but there is no hope! So I have always had to do my foriegn birding around a large popular tourist area.

So the groups next speaker Chris Galvin will be able to show me what I and you have been missing. Monday 16th March will see Chris Galvin come to the group to do his talk on Package Holiday Birding. Doors open at Mossley Hill Parish Church at 19.00 for the talk to start at 19.30. Come along to see one of the UK's best wildlife photographers.


Friday, 27 February 2009

Beginners Woodland Walk

I will be leading a walk on Saturday 28th Feb at the Black Woods. This is a guided walk to look at woodland birds and help people appreciate birds of this habitat. The walks starts at 9.30am, if you want join us be at the corner of Woolton Rd and Aldbourne Ave then.
Last year we even got buzzard on this 2hr trip.

Meeting and Birds or Birds and meetings!

Phil Antrobus and myself had a meeting with Mersey Ferries about this year's seabird cruises. We had a really good meeting and left the offices to go to New Brighton Marine Lake.

A quick look at the jetty and you could see a number of waders roosting over the high tide.

A good selection of turnstones, dunlin, redshank but best of all 5 purple sandpipers. I managed to get 4 in the picture. The size of these birds can be quite difficult to judge so in the picture I have included a black headed gull.
The best place to see purple sands is Hilbre Island so it was great to find these birds.
If you get a chance try and go and see them over the high tides this week. Chris

Friday, 23 January 2009

2009 marks the

anniversary of

The RSPB's

The 2009 Big Garden Birdwatch takes place at the end of January and all you need to do to take part is watch the local birds in your garden or park for an hour.
Last January, more than six and a half million birds were counted in 236,000 gardens!, were you one of the watchful diligently counting in your garden or local park.This years Big Garden Birdwatch runs on 24-25 January 2009 and we'd love you to take part!

What happened last year?

In last year' s January weekend count the Goldfinch claimed 'Top spot' in Merseyside with an average of 1.64 seen per garden. Nationally with an average of 3.60 seen per garden, the House Sparrow retained its top spot with Starlings coming in second and Blackbirds completing the top three.

Why not Join us at our events at Sefton Park Palm House Sunday 25 January 2009
Our event starts at noon and finish at 4pm.
Closely observe the birds at our feeding stations through telescopes. People will be on hand for identification and general information on Garden Birdwatching and the RSPB. Kids colouring activities. Make your own pine code birdfeeder to take home.

Our friends at Sefton Park have asked wonderful story teller Taffy Thomas back to the Palm House, he'll be telling stories about our feathered friends to all our visiting children.

Meet our new Wildlife explorer team (RSPB WEX) and find out about their great Ticklish Allsorts Roadshow for kids, to be held on the evening of :27th January.

The British Trust for Ornithology BTO will be with us this year, promoting their all year round Garden Birdwatch recording scheme.

Friday, 9 January 2009

If you build it they will come

Who remembers the film 'Field of dreams'? My garden is my field of dreams and this winter I'm going for broke to bring in some winter thrushes. Lots of cheap apples and homemade cheap fruitcake litter the lawn. Today I was 'made up' as we say in scouseland, my plan had worked, after wandering the fields of Billinge to look for one, it came to me ... a beautiful Fieldfare, a belligerent fellow chasing away any Blackbird who came close to 'his' apple. l was late for work ,I wanted to stay.. it was toooo dark for the camera, I was willing the sun to hurry up, alas I had to go...but will he/she be back tomorrow? I'm baking more cake.


Thursday, 8 January 2009

Cold Weather its not great for birds!

For the first time in over a decade, nature conservation bodies are today [Tuesday 6 January 2009] calling on birdwatchers, walkers, anglers and water sports enthusiasts across Britain to minimise disturbance to groups of ducks, geese, swans and wading birds. On lakes, rivers, wetlands, and coastal areas the birds will be struggling to survive after enduring seven consecutive days of freezing temperatures.

The group making today’s call include the RSPB, the British Trust for Ornithology, the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and Natural England.
Following a run of mild winters, this is the first time in a decade that this call has been made in England. Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB’s conservation director, said: “During freezing conditions disturbance forces the birds to squander their precious energy reserves by taking flight when they need to spend as much time as possible feeding.
“Although we haven’t made this appeal since 1997, we hope everyone who uses the countryside will heed our advice, allowing the millions of birds which visit the UK’s coasts and wetlands during the winter to stand a better chance of survival.”
If the severe weather continues for 14 days in succession, the shooting of some species of duck, geese, and wading bird can be suspended for a fortnight to help the birds recover. The last time such a ban was imposed was in 1997.
The birds affected include ducks – including wigeon and pintail – and wading birds, such as godwits, dunlin and knot. These birds either nest in the Arctic, or further north or east in Europe. During the winter the birds visit the UK to escape harsher conditions further north.
Andrew Gouldstone, the RSPB’s Area Conservation Manager for the North West, said: “Even at a time when our climate is warming, we can still expect freezing conditions, but less frequently. Wildfowl and wading birds respond to these icy blasts by moving further south and west. Mild winters have allowed some of these international travellers to cut short their journeys, with more remaining within the eastern half of Britain.

“As the natural world responds to the freeze, we can expect the UK's vital coastal wetlands to play a role in helping these hardy birds survive the winter. If the freeze continues, we can expect the warmer estuaries on our west coast – such as the Dee, Mersey, Ribble, Morecambe Bay and the Solway - to be especially important as birds escape the weather. These are amongst our most important wildlife sites. The winter of 2009 is likely to show just how vital they are to the survival of thousands of water birds.”
As someone out doing a bird survey today, I can tell you that the Ribble coast has very low numbers of waders at the moment and RSPB Marshside very few waterfowl.