|After my husband
Duncan and I spent a day recovering from our plane flight from Canada and
resetting our internal clocks, we met up with Brian Roberts, a top-notch
local birder, who we got in touch with thanks to the help of Richard
Smith (of the Dee Estuary
Brian met us for breakfast at our hotel,
enthused about the treats in store for us, and presented each of us with
a copy of the British list, and a personalized checklist for the day, showing
what we were likely to see. Brian is a delightful (and very organized)
man, with a wealth of information about birding the Dee that he was more
than willing to share. We started bird spotting as soon as we turned out
of the hotel car park, and Brian even had an "en route" column on the checklist,
which, by the end of the day, included 13 species!
for a rough map of our route around the Wirral Peninsula, bracketed by
the Dee estuary on one side and the Mersey estuary on the other, beginning
and ending at Chester, Cheshire.
|We started the day at Inner Marsh Farm, a "secret" RSPB reserve that is not marked on any map and is not signposted in any way. But it did have a visitor's centre where we renewed our RSPB membership and were given a free field guide, the Collins Bird Guide to the Birds of England and Europe, a fantastic book worth almost as much as the membership renewal itself. (HINT: if you are coming to Britain, don't buy/renew your RSBP membership on the||
|web ahead of time as we did
last year - if you do it in person they give you presents!!!)
At the farm, the birds were everywhere! (All lifers are listed in bold type). The marshes contained Garganey, Mute Swans, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Teal, Mallards, Greylag, Canada and Pink-footed Geese, and Common, Black-headed, Herring, and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. The surrounding fields were alive with House Martins, Barn Swallows, European Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch (darting through the sunflowers), Wood Pigeon, Jackdaws, Rooks, and Carrion Crows. A Eurasian Kestrel posed prettily at the top of a tree, allowing long looks through a scope, while a tiny Winter Wren darted across the path, almost at our feet, into a bush.
Too soon, it was time to leave for a drive by the Burton Marshes, a salt marsh at the head of the Dee estuary, where we added Common Buzzard, Blackbird, Common Coot, Merlin, Grey Heron, Skylark, House Sparrow (now getting scarce in Great Britain), Black-billed Magpie, Meadow Pipit, Northern Lapwing, European Robin, and European Collared Dove to our list, topped off by, of all things, a Great Egret that Brian assured us had strayed a little too far north, much to all the local birders' delight!!
||Our next stop was at Thurstaston Country Park, where we added several more birds to our list, as well as a few that we had seen earlier in the day. New at the park were Common Starlings, Eurasian Oystercatchers, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Pied Wagtail, and Great Black-backed Gulls. The hide in the Visitor's Centre provided us with up close and personal looks at Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Bullfinch, Chaffinch and Common Moorhen.|
Heading for the cliffs
Looking toward the mouth of the Dee, over the Moorhen pond
|We had a brief lunch at the Cottage Loaf Pub (right by the turnoff to Thurstaston Country Park), which was mostly dedicated to getting to know each other and, more importantly, getting our bird list in order! Then, we were off to Red Rocks.... After drooling at some of the million-pound homes on the way (one complete with its own lighthouse with sea-viewing gallery), we started scanning the mud flats. Although several of our "old friends" were there, the only new bird to be added at this stop was Great Cormorant. The Leach's Petrels which had been haunting the area were a no-show. We blamed the tides (or was it the winds???)!|
|Then, we headed for shorebird (wader) heaven - Meols Shores. There, in addition to the usual suspects, we added Ringed Plover, Red Knot, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, and Black-tailed Godwit. And, for our final stop of the day, we went to New Brighton, where the hoped-for Sabine's Gulls were definately hiding, but we spotted our first Common Tern of the day.|
|A wonderful day, thanks to Brian Roberts!
On our own we might have seen most of these birds, but we never would have
identified many of them. Day total - 61 species (if you include the feral
pigeons (Rock Doves) in New Brighton) and 11 lifers! All in all - a great
day! Thank you, Brian! Come to Alberta some day, and we will return the
The next day, I was off to have a look at the birds at the Chester Zoo! After that - we went to a stamp conference. Then.... the chaos of getting home after the attacks on the World Trade Centre! As it turned out, this was to be our only day of birding in the entire two week trip, but it was a fantastic one!