Monday, 28 March 2011

Avocets at RSPB Marshside. Make a Date.

Nature lovers and their families are invited to visit RSPB Marshside to see one of the UK’s most charismatic waterbirds in action. From 1 April, staff and volunteers will be hosting the Marshside Avocet Date with Nature, showcasing the iconic black and white birds with the upturned bill, which have made the Southport reserve their home during the breeding season. Avocets, the emblematic species of the RSPB, have been breeding at RSPB Marshside for the past 10 years with the number of pairs rising from 1 in 2001 to 37 in 2010. This year, 32 avocets have already returned to the reserve. The birds are attracted to the specially created islands, which have been covered in cockle shells to mimic their preferred nesting habitat. Alex Pigott, warden at RSPB Marshside, says: “Avocets are fascinating birds to watch during breeding season as they get really protective and will chase away anything that they think might pose a threat to their young. It is not unusual for them to scare off other birds twice their size. “As many of the avocets nest near our main hide, visitors should be able to get great views of these birds. We hope to get as many people visiting as possible and would particularly love to see children enjoying these wonderful birds.” Besides avocets, RSPB Marshside also boasts the greatest concentration of breeding waders of any other nature reserve in the UK with large numbers of lapwings, redshanks and oystercatchers The Marshside Avocet Date with Nature runs from 1 April to 4 July every Friday to Monday 10am to 5pm at the main hide.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Disneyland Paris birdwatching

A family holiday to Eurodisney with a load of none birders and not allowed to bring the bins isnt the best thing for a birder.

I have been here a few times in October with kids and had a number of common species but not a great deal apart from crested tit while queueing for Thunder Mountain in 2004. I thought it was a passing bird.

So, Valentines day flying to Paris sounded romantic. Tuesday morning up and early and off to the park. Common species like mallard, crow, house sparrow, chaffinch, black headed gull were easy to see.

I soon added cormorant, blackbird, wood pigeon, canada goose and kept queueing for rides. Moorhen, greenfinch, sparrowhawk, magpie, collared dove and redpoll finished off day1.
We stayed in the Cheyenne which is a cowboy themed hotel but as my eyes kept scanning the skies no birds of prey or anything different than listed. I walked through to Newport Bay Hotel on our last day and added blue, coal, great and long tailed tit, rook, dunnock, goldcrest, pied wagtail. A large flock of serin were feeding by the main lake at the hotel. I walked through the hotel out on to the circular road adding jay and out on to the open fields hearing pheasant, wren, skylark and watching a reed bunting and kestrel.
Last rides were the order of the day and back to Thunder Mountain and I heard, then saw the crested tit again in the pine trees by the fastpass entrance. What a way to finish the trip.

Speke Garston Coastal Park part1

I spent some time last year visiting this site as part of 'Birdwatching by Bike' for Liverpool City Council's Cycling Speke. I thought it would be a good place in Liverpool for the group to have a regular visit to, and see what birds and wildlife visit the site through the year.

A good turn out for the first walk on Sat 12th Feb allowed us to see a number of birds species such as woodland, waders and grassland types.

We saw 32 different birds with the highlights being, 2 stonechats, grey partridge ( very rare in a built city ) and lapwings getting ready to hold breeding territory, if they can survive the crows!

Watching stonechat's fly catching.

Next walk here according to the membership card is Sat 30th April but due to double booking we will be visiting again on Sat 16th April at 9.30

Enjoy the birds Chris.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Drama at the Dee

A dramatic natural event can be witnessed this month as Spring tides are due to inundate RSPB Dee Estuary Nature Reserve, at Parkgate.

Spring tides only happen on a handful of occasions each year. If the weather conditions are right, they are so high that they actually flood the whole saltmarsh.

This natural occurrence becomes a real wildlife spectacle as the more secretive birds and creatures that normally live there, like water rails, snipe, harvest mice, and water voles, flee the rising tide and are brought closer inland. This in turn can attract the most amazing birds of prey, like ghostly grey hen harriers, gliding short-eared owls, and high speed merlins as well as the majestic grey herons and little egrets who take advantage of the situation.

Paul Brady, RSPB Visitor Development Officer, said: “Watching the tide surge towards you with the Welsh hills as a stunning backdrop is thrilling. Add to that the sights and sounds of huge flocks of birds, along with the excitement of expert predators doing what they do best, makes it an experience to remember.”

He added: “The wildlife can come so close on these tides that one year someone actually had a bird that’s normally very hard to see, a water rail, hiding in his rucksack!”

In the winter, the marshland of the Dee Estuary is an internationally important habitat for a vast numbers of ducks and wading birds.

These free RSPB High Tide Bird Watch events are running on Saturday 19 February at 10 am, Sunday 20 February at 11 am and Monday 21 February at 11.30 am.

Everyone is welcome to come along to the Old Baths Car Park, Parkgate, where expert staff and volunteers will be on hand to showcase the action.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Garden birds in Merseyside need you

The world’s biggest ever wildlife survey - the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch - takes place on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 January 2011 and we need you.

Last year, over half a million participants recorded 8.5 million birds across 280,000 gardens, helping us monitor the birds visiting our gardens over the winter period.

In Merseyside more than 5,000 people took part in last year’s survey, recording the blackbird as the most common garden bird in the county (1).

This year we’re looking for even more people in Merseyside to take part. We really could do with your help as the more results we receive, the clearer the picture we can paint of the situation. We are particularly interested in finding out what effect the freezing conditions have had on species of garden birds.

Taking part in Big Garden Birdwatch is simple and it’s suitable for all the family. The survey provides a fun and educational activity in the depths of winter.

Carolyn Jarvis, the RSPB’s People Engagement Manager for Northern England, said: “Big Garden Birdwatch is great for the whole family to do together.

“It only takes an hour, but taking part can make a real difference to our knowledge of garden birds, helping us to work out which ones are doing well and which ones need help.”

If you haven’t got children, use the Birdwatch as a great excuse to sit back and watch the wildlife outside your window for 60 minutes of your day.

Carolyn continues: “You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to take part – in fact, it is better if you stay indoors so as not to disturb the birds in your garden.”

Results from 2010 survey provided a good understanding of how birds were coping with the prolonged cold spell we experienced at the start of last year. Unusually high numbers of countryside birds like fieldfares and bullfinches were spotted in Merseyside gardens. More usually found in fields and farmland trees and hedgerows, these birds visited our gardens for food when they couldn’t find enough in their usual haunts.

To do your bit for garden birds, simply spend one hour over the weekend 29/30 January 2011 counting the birds in your garden or local park and record the highest number of every bird species seen at any one time.

The RSPB and partners are also running lots of Big Garden Birdwatch events and activities across the UK leading up to and over the weekend of 29 and 30 January.

Over at Sefton Park Palm House on 23 January, the RSPB’s Liverpool Local Group are setting up a variety of bird feeders and will be on hand to give advice on bird identification and looking after wildlife in your garden (noon to 4pm).

For further information and online resources to help you with your birdwatch, visit the RSPB website, An online results form will be available from Saturday 29 January until 18 February 2011.

Alternatively, call 0300 456 8330 to request a Big Garden Birdwatch form to be sent to you (calls charged at standard rate). The hotline number will be in operation until 28 January.

Last years most numerous Merseyside bird was the blackbird.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Woodland birds

The groups next walk will be Childwall Woods in South Liverpool. This walk is for beginneers looking for woodland species. Meet at 9.30am at the corner of Woolton Rd and Aldbourne Ave for a 2hr walk.
Not sure if we will have snow but wrap up.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Waxwings still visiting Barclays Bank!

5 Waxwings are still visiting the berry trees on Allerton Road by the Barclays Bank. They are getting hammered by a mistle thrush which has decided this is its food for the winter.
Thanks to Lynda Husband for the picture. This bird visited her garden off Mather Ave.



46 L.Bimson £ 20.00
6 S.Menzies £ 5.00


26 J.Mason £ 20.00
89 C.Arnold £ 5.00


14 A.Thompson £ 20.00
48 Sean O'Hara £ 5.00


30 H.Jones £ 50.00
89 C.Arnold £ 50.00
85 H.Mills £ 10.00
86 A.Daniels £ 10.00
Many thanks to all of you who supported the 85 club to raise money for the group.
Next year (or should that be this year?) we shall start collecting the 85 club membership fees from February onwards. Good luck to all who enter.

A Happy New Year to All

Bren Antrobus

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Mersey barrage scheme could cause irreparable damage

The Mersey Estuary is potentially one step closer to being irreparably damaged as developers announce they are still considering an impoundment barrage to generate tidal power on the iconic river.

In their Feasibility Study: Stage 2, published last month, Peel Energy Ltd have included a full impoundment barrage as one of two shortlisted technologies for harnessing the power of the estuary. The RSPB believes the construction of such a barrage would cause irreversible damage to the estuary and have a devastating effect on the internationally important populations of birds, and other wildlife such as salmon which have made a return to the river in recent years.

The other option, a lower head barrage, which is being considered in two locations on the Mersey, is also potentially harmful to the environment.

Peter Robertson, the RSPB’s Regional Director for Northern England, said: “Peel Energy have reached the shortlist without a thorough consideration of the environmental impacts of these technologies. It is ridiculous that some technologies were dropped for technical or financial reasons, yet none were dropped for environmental reasons, even though the Mersey Estuary is one of the most important and protected sites for wildlife in Europe.

“A full impoundment barrage would result in the loss of mudflats and saltmarsh where birds feed, and increase the risk of flooding.

“We support the need for renewable energy but believe the solution to harnessing tidal energy lies in emerging technologies that would not cause so much damage to the estuary and its wildlife.

“By pursuing a range of barrage options, it is clear that Peel have not learnt anything from the ill-fated 1980s barrage project that was shelved owing to local opposition, environmental concerns and spiralling costs. Nor have they considered sufficiently the recent shelving of the Severn barrage scheme which was dogged by environmental and flood risk problems.”

In the Stage 2 feasibility study, Peel Energy Ltd have identified a 3.5 mile stretch between New Ferry and Eastham (Wirral) and Dingle and Garston (Liverpool) as the most favourable location for both a full impoundment barrage and a lower head barrage. They are also considering the lower head barrage at a location upstream of the Ship Canal.

The public now have a chance to view the plans at a number of public exhibitions around the Mersey until 24 January 2011. These locations are available via the project website at: .

For more information about the RSPB’s concerns around the scheme visit:

Take a good look at this and please make your views known.


Happy New Year 2011

Happy New Year and enjoy 2011 birding.