Coach trip to The Wirral - Sunday 17th January 2016

It was a cold, cloudy miserable Sunday morning when we set off for the Wirral. During the journey it started to rain, just as predicted by the weather forecast, but stopped before we arrived at our first destination – the North Wirral Country Park in the area around the Leasowe Lighthouse (built in 1763 and thought to be the oldest brick built lighthouse in Europe).

As we walked through scrubland towards the embankment overlooking the seashore there was a biting southeasterly wind, which unfortunately meant many of the smaller birds were sheltering for safety. However curlew, lapwing, magpie, carrion crow and starling were seen in the sandy scrubland as well as an isolated stonechat on the flowering gorse and a reed bunting in the reeds. On the shore itself, oystercatcher, dunlin, redshank, and turnstone could be seen feeding as the tide receded, as well as herring, lesser and greater black-backed gulls. On the sea were common scoter, red-breasted merganser (a first for some members!), mallard and shelduck.

The next destination was West Kirby and its boating lake. The great northern diver was soon spotted, along with mallard, coot and mute swan. The beach had the usual gulls and oystercatcher but the tide had receded so far that any feeding waders were out of my sight. The park on the way back to the coach yielded blackbird and house sparrow.

Our next stop was the Dee estuary side of Heswall. We walked along a quiet tree-lined lane and spotted goldfinch and chaffinch flitting about at the tops of the trees, and a buzzard overhead. Views through a hedge to the field beyond gave sightings of redwing, mistle thrush and song thrush feeding on the muddy grass meadowland. Walking further along the lane we reached a water treatment plant where we saw grey wagtail and many, many pied wagtail.

A little further on we reached the edge of the estuary and had views over the salt marsh and muddy flats. From this viewpoint, pink-footed geese, little egret and heron were easily seen, as well as flocks of linnets. A marsh harrier soared back and forth over the marsh. By this time the tide had turned and in the distance could be seen flocks of waders and ducks disturbed by the incoming tide. Huge flocks of knot and other waders swirled and danced in the air. We walked slowly back to the coach adding robin and greenfinch to our list.

Our final stop was The Parade in Parkgate, by which time the light was reducing on this winter day. We walked across the Parade for a view over the marsh hoping to see owls, but none appeared in the gloom, although mallard and egrets were still visible.

The Wirral trip was a good day’s birding and in total we saw 58 species.

JUDITH R

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