News archive

January 2008

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Dark-bellied brent goose on water at Hayling Island

Wader extravaganza on the Dee estuary

The group's 2008 outdoor season started off with the traditional visit to our 'local patch'. The Dee estuary, with its wintering waders and wildfowl, is internationally important and so it seems only right that we should celebrate our good fortune of having this on our doorstep by a visit early in the year. The weather was glorious (if a little too good, as the sun shone in our eyes whilst we scanned the marine lake, finding goldeneye, red-breasted merganser, great-crested grebe and turnstone feeding on the lake edge) and the 20 or so birdwatchers were great company. As the tide came in the brent geese were driven off the rocks around Hilbre Island, taking to the water to see out the high tide, and we were amazed to find a record breaking count of 172 ! Large flocks of knot, dunlin and redshank flew past but, unfortunately, never landed on the patch of mud closest to us. The ever present, and easily recognised, Oystercatchers did land on the beach and we were surprised to find a partially albino bird amongst them. This flock of birds gradually attracted others with curlew, bar tailed godwit, redshank and knot all coming to land in or near the flock. We also had the opportunity of looking at the difference between the various gulls roosting on the waters edge, with black headed and common gull being the most in number. A huge gathering of cormorant was also evident on Little Eye, as was a particularly 'showy' individual who sat sunning himself on the edge of one of the pontoons in the lake - much to the amusement of many people passing by ! Except for a lovely female stonechat, passerines were not evident in any great numbers but this was probably due to the huge numbers of people taking in the sun and walking along the beach path. All agreed, it had been a great few hours birding.