Tuesday, 18 July 2017

18/07/17

A post college river watch from Seacombe Ferry Terminal was much more productive than what was anticipated. Kicking off the show was a flock of 14 Dunlin heading north up the river whilst overhead gulls were 'anting', which in amongst the 30c Black-headed Gulls up to 3 Meditterian Gulls (highest this autumn), joined in one of which was that observed on the 15th.

Lesser Black-backed Gull (ssp.graellsii) - 1st cycle birds such as this can to the untrained
eye be mistake for the very similer Yellow-legged Gull. (Image - Elliot Montieth)

Meditterian Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus) - 1 of 3 moulting adults
hawking over the ferry terminal this PM
(Image - Elliot Montieth)

Besides the Dunlin and gulls other species noted at the terminal included Northern House Martin (15c), Common Swift (9), European Sand Martin (6), Common Tern (40c), and a single Common Sandpiper whizzing around the banks of the Egerton Dock.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) - The ferry terminal at Seacombe provides
excellent photographic opportunities from the
Common Terns as they pass heading up river (Image - Elliot Montieth)

Observer: Elliot Montieth

Saturday, 15 July 2017

15/07/17

After over a month away from the Docks it was all hands on deck today for a complete census of the site with even the unexpected visit to Bidston Moss NR with Luke Anderson. Starting the day off at the Morpeth & Egerton Docks all that was to be offered were the resident pair of Mute Swans, 1 Common Sandpiper, 2 Great Cormorant & a flock of 8 Black-headed Gull, 1 Great Black-backed Gull, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull & 5 European Herring Gull.  

The East Float was on fire today with the Common Tern colony producing a record count of 110c Common Terns (19 Juv) & 1 Roseate type-Tern in flight when the colony was disturbed. After discovering the colony only 3 years it's been fascinating to watch the colony (Cheshire's only tern colony!), unfold with year upon year more and more birds flocking to the docks to breed; In 2015 30c adults were counted, 2016 that number rocketed to 60c and today that record was utterly smashed with 110c birds tallied.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) - Despite being a count of 110c birds in flight
today the question of how many were adults and how many were infact juveniles is
unclear; however a total of 19 juveniles were counted (Image - Elliot Montieth)
A supporting cast for the East Float consisted of 1 Great crested Grebe, 20 Greater Canada Geese, 17 Great Cormorant, 2 Great Black-backed Gull, 7 Black-headed Gull, 5 Northern Lapwing, 5 Common Ringed Plover with an rather unexpected discovery being that of a singing male Common Whitethroat on the grounds of the clock tower.

Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) - The fate of this locally rare breeding species
is an uncertain one with developments posing a serious risk to the species next year (Image - Eliot Montieth)

Next up at the Gull Roost only a handful of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were around with 2 1st summer Great Black-backed Gull; The vast majority of todays roost was located along Wallasey Bridge Road that held host to Black-headed Gull (55), European Herring Gull (112), Lesser Black-backed Gull (78) and with first adult Common Gull (2) were further located amongst the roost.

Common Gull (Larus canus) - Two adults located in the frame. 1st summers are
often seen on the Mersey throughout the summer however adults are a strict passage
& winter visitor (Image - Elliot Montieth)
After dropping into Bidston Moss NR (See here), the pair of us headed over to Seacombe Ferry for a sea watch of the Mersey to see weather or not the Roseate Tern's that had been showing on and off at Seaforth NR had ventured down river to associate with the dock terns. Over the half an hour that was spent observing the Mersey that totals came tot eh following: Great Black-backed Gull (2), Lesser Black-backed Gull (17), European Herring Gull (32), Black-headed Gull (49) and the highlight was a Mediterranean Gull that came to bread for a matter of seconds before turning into a ghost.

Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus) - Annual but scarce passage bird
to the dock complex (Image - Elliot Montieth0

Observers: Elliot Montieth & Luke Anderson

Monday, 15 May 2017

14/05/17

It was once again another trip down to Docks of Birkenhead to carry out the monthly WeBS and I think it's safe to say it's been the most productive time I've ever carried one out; kicking off at the Morpeth & Egerton Dock all seemed pretty normal and low in action (as it at the docks whenever WeBS comes around), with just a pair of Greater Canada Geese on the banks of Morpeth and the over summering (non-breeding), pair of Mute Swans on the waters of Morpeth.


Advancing upwards and onwards to the East Float things started to heat up with up to 30 Common Terns being present with the majority of them being on the raft. Meanwhile on the waters 2 Great Black-backed Gull, 5 Great crested Grebe, 1 Great Cormorant, 7 Greater Canada Geese & 11 Common Shelduck were present, with the highlights of the East Float not being the pair of Raven which can now be confirmed breeding for the second year, but was infact the presence of waders: 5 Eurasian Oystercatcher, 3 Northern Lapwing, 3 Common Ringed Plover & 1 Common Sandpiper were scattered around the western end of the float and going through my records it's only the second time a Common Sandpiper has occurred on the East Float!





Other birds included a single Common Swift & Northern House Martin before heading down to Seacombe for a wader count were rather strangely not a single wader could be found at the usual hunts so instead I replaced the usual watch for a 10min scan of the Mersey were 3 Whimbrel *First of Spring* & 20c Dunlin head south with a pair of Sandwich Tern *First of Spring* heading north towards New Brighton.

Ending up at the West Float I was joined up by Bidston Moss NR counter Luke Anderson were soon as we dived into the count 2 Little Ringed Plover were picked up near the shore on the eastern end of the gull roost with taking into account the sheer rarity of "LRP" at the docks then I'd put my money on this pair being the same birds which were first noted on the 2nd. Besides the plovers other birds at the float consisted of 3 Greater Canada Geese, 5 Common Shelduck, 1 Northern Lapwing & 1 Western Yellow Wagtail was picked up on call heading over the float in an easterly direction; a barley annual species to the docks.


Observers: Elliot Montieth & Luke Anderson

    Tuesday, 2 May 2017

    02/05/17

    Couple of shocking digi-scoped records shots and sightings from an afternoon visit to the docks today:

    West Float:
    Common Tern - 1 *1st of Spring*
    Northern Lapwing - 1
    Common Sandpiper *1st of Spring* - 1
    Lesser Black-backed Gull - 60c
    European Herring Gull - 25c
    Little Ringed Plover (3rd record!) - 2
    Peregrine Falcon - 1
    Common Kestrel - 1
    Barn Swallow - 10c
    Great Cormorant - 2
    Mallard - 2
    Common Shelduck - 8
    Stock Dove - 2 (pair)

    Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) - After hours of going
    through the records for the docks this most recent documented
    is from I could find is just the 3rd record for the Docks with all records
    funnily enough from the West Float Gull Roost (Image - Elliot Montieth)

    Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) - Occurs more often than that of
    Northern  Wheatear, however records consist of singles rather than flocks or pairs
    (Image - Elliot Montieth).


    East Float:
    Common Tern - 8 *1st of Spring*
    Northern Lapwing - 6
    Common Ringed Plover - 3
    Northern Raven- 2
    Eurasian Oystercatcher - 2
    Common Shelduck - 14
    Northern Wheatear - 1 *1st of Spring*
    "Greenland" Wheatear - 5 *1st of Spring*

    "Greenland" Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) - A barely annual species
    which often occurs as flocks during a fall period (Image - Elliot Montieth)

    Seacombe Ferry:
    Ruddy Turnstone 19
    House Sparrow - 1
    Osprey - 1
    Black Tern - 2
    Common Tern - 2 *1st of Spring*



    Observers: Luke Anderson, Elliot Montieth & Michael Grant


    Sunday, 23 April 2017

    23/04/17

    So today I think it can safely said to be the best day of birding for the docks; the morning was kicked off to a flying start with 2 Little Gull (adult summer plumage), off the Ferry Terminal at Woodside which was quickly followed by a possible Glaucous Gull heading east over the Gull Roost (brief viewing in extreme lighting didn't allow time for a positive ID), an absolutely subline male WHINCHAT (Site 1st!!!) was distant on the vegetation at the base of the crane at the Gull Roost with the area also looking promising for a passage European Stonechat (perhaps we've been underestimating their occurrence ?), along with the Gull Roost having a supporting cast of Barn Swallow (4), European Sand Martin (1) & a singing Eurasian Blackcap which I think is a first for the Gull Roost ? 

    Rounding off the day at Bidston Moss NR before heading over to East Hoyle it reminded us why we love the Moss just because it's density and sheer variety of Warblers: Common Grasshopper Warbler (1st Spring) was reeling close toe the Main Lake, 3 Common Whitethroat (1 pair), 2 Eurasian Reed Warbler, 1 Sedge Warbler, 8 Willow Warbler, 11 Common Chiffchaff, 14 Eurasian Blackcap with a possible Garden Warbler singing round at the Back Pools.

    Observer: Elliot Montieth & Luke Anderson



    Sunday, 16 April 2017

    15/04/17

    For those who aren't on Facebook or Twitter then arrangements were made for a last minute Guided Walk by myself around Bidston Moss; due to the success of the walk more (and well planned & ), walks will be avaible to attend in the future. Before meeting up with those attending at the B&Q car park I took myself round the site to see what was about and were to have a rough idea what was to be expected, as summer migrants have started to flood the country.

     Around the Main Lake warblers were back and dominating with 2 Eurasian Blackcap (both males), 8 Common Chiffchaff (including a dodgy singing bird, Siberian, Scandinavian & Iberian have been ruled out), 10 Willow Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler (?), 1 Sedge Warbler (1st of Spring) & 1 Common Whitethroat (1st of Spring), were out with the majority picked on vocal work. Meanwhile over the lake 2 Barn Swallow, 9 European Sand Martin & 2 Northern House Martin (1st of spring) were hawking over; a good day spent watching the flock would be interesting to see what other hirundine are passing through. With luck a Red-rumped Swallow, Alpine Swift could be picked either over or coming into the roost which occurs in the main lakes reed bed.

    Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) - Image by Elliot Montieth

    Northern House Martin (Delichon urbicum) - Image by Elliot Montieth

    Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) - Image by Elliot Montieth

    After my stroll around the lake I met up with the others we headed off for our walk in the glistening spring sun. Walking through the woods multiple Willow Warblers & Common Chiffchaffs were on call with several Eurasian Blackcaps shooting across the path. Returning to the Main Lake the 2 Great crested Grebe (pair), were still present however no breeding attempt has been made despite courtship being observed. A single Little Grebe was also present which we do suspect a nest might be hidden within the reeds; the Mute Swans were still on the nest with eggs but no accurate count has been made yet. Mallards (7) and Tufted Ducks (6), were also on the lakes waters but again no sign of breeding despite all being paired up.

    Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) - Image by Elliot Montieth

    Common Buzzard (Buteo Buteo) - Image by Elliot Montieth
    Walking over to the B&Q Reed Bed via Star Gazer up to 4 Common Buzzards were curling over including a displaying pair with 2 Great Cormorants & 2 Mallard passing over, with at the Reed Bed its self a single Eurasian Reed Warbler (1st of spring) singing and 1 very obliging Common Chiffchaff.

    Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) - Image by Elliot Montieth

    Finishing off the walk at the Back Pools it's sad to report that there was no sign of any Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck or the Northern Shoveler pair with just 4 Mallard (wild), 1 Grey Heron, 1 Common Moorhen, 4 Eurasian Coot & 7 Greater Canada Geese on the two ponds whilst on the River Birket a Mallard with 2 chicks were discovered.

    Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) - Image by Elliot Montieth

    Observers: Paul Beattie, Alan & Jane Howgate, Chris, Jim, & Elliot Montieth

    Sunday, 9 April 2017

    09/04/17

    Another glorious day down at the Docks to carry out the monthly WeBS today whilst Bidston was being covered by Mr Anderson. As per usual it was first off to Morpeth & Egerton Dock with a combined total of 2 Mute Swan (still) with the arrival of 2 Common Shelduck (pair) resting on the banks of the east side of Morpeth. A pair bred last year rising 5 young however all were soon predated by the local European Herring & Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

    Moving onwards to the East Float all was spookily quiet with 3 Common Shelduck (1 pair), 2 Greater Canada Geese (pair) and just 2 Great crested Grebes (pair) with a  handful of alba Wagtail passing over heading east with several Meadow Pipit, (could of been White Wagtail present in the loose flocks flying over however was unable to get clear views). Also with construction work taking place on the bridges close to the Clock Tower viewing in general is restricted.

    "Western" Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus.f. graellsii) - Not the greatest variation
    but you should be able to see that front bird has a darker tone than that of the rear bird
    which have formed one of the many pairs within the Dock complex - Image Elliot Montieth
    Moving onwards to the West Float the action started to heat up with several flocks of Linnet observed which appeared to be coming to drink before dispersing, 20c European Herring Gull of argenteus race were present along 100+ Lesser Black-backed Gull (race graellsii) with some showing some nice variation in mantle shade. Managing to move away from the Gulls a little move investigating revealed that 1 Northern Lapwing was present (distant male) along with 2 Mute Swan (Passage birds), 8 Common Shelduck and the star of the day 1 STOCK DOVE to the west of the main roost. Most defiantly going to be one of highlights of the year being one of the unexpected birds you'd see at the Docks which as you can guess is the 1st record for the Dock Complex (excluding recent record from Bidston Moss NR which is no longer counted as part of Docks due to adjustments in the WeBS Boundaries).
    Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - The "natural" habitat for the Stock Dove is of woodland
    like that found on Bidston Hill, Eastham CP & RSPB Burton Mere Wetlands. However
    this individual whilst migration has taken the decision to stop off at the Docks just 100m
    or so from the woods of Bidston Moss - Image Elliot Montieth

    Stock Dove (Columba oenas) with Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus.f.graellsii) -
    This image shows the black spots located on the rear of the bird along with head
    having the same tone of grey to that of the body which rule out both Feral Pigeon &
    Common Woodpigeon - Image Elliot Montieth

    Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - This shot showing the compact body size unlike
    that of Common Woodpigeon along with the black band on the outer wing continuing
    inwards onto the secondary's and the pale grey underwing. - Image Elliot Montieth

    Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - This image showing the pale grey panel on the
    inner wing with the absence of white band excluding Common Woodpigeon
    - Image Elliot Montieth

    For the docks that was it however over at Bidston 15 Mallards, 5 Common Moorhen, 2 Mute Swans, 2 Great crested Grebe, 11 Eurasian Coot, 7 Tufted Duck & 7 Greater Canada Goose.

    Observers: Elliot Montieth & Luke Anderson