In these new monthly post I’ll featuring the birding highlights from my patch Birkenhead Docks, which this year I’ve decided to enter into Patch Work Challenge. My patch has been placed into the estuarine mini-league as well as the Under 25’s AFON (A Focus On Nature) and NGB (Next Generation Birders). As I’m a slightly competitive person I wanted a bit of competition so I’ve pitched myself against fellow young birders: Findlay Wilde (Winsford Flash), Joel Tragen (Charlton Water Park) and William Scott (Hunmanby), Toby Carter (Grimston), Ben Moyes (Mid-North Gipping Valley) and Sam Simpler (Priory Water).
As it stood in the PWC February round up the results where:
Findlay Wilde: 86 Points & 81 species
Sam Pitt Millar 75 Points & 71 Species
Elliot Montieth: 72 Points & 66 Species
William Scott: 71 Points & 63 Species
Ben Moyes: 66 Points & 64 Species
Toby Cater: 64 Pints & 59 Species
Joel didn’t enter till Mid-March
March was filled with revision and school trips so I was only able to fit in 12 visits, far less than my usual monthly visits.
The 1st of March was a sign for better to come with 2 Common Scoters bobbing along the Mersey whilst on an evening’s walk. This was the first new bird for the PWC list and in fact the 2nd record for Common Scoter within the Dock perimeters in recent times.
The next visit was on the 4th which didn’t bring anything new for PWC but there was still some long staying county rarities with Scaup and Shag still lingering on from February. There was also a large flock of 100c Linnet which were present round the Gull Roost which is an exceptionally high count.
March 5th brought some excitement with the 1st Mute Swan of the year with a Juv bird on the Egerton Dock. The wintering female Kingfisher was still about on the Egerton Dock as well, with a total count of 41 Cormorants round the Docks where 17 of them were sinensis raced. There was a single Grey Wagtail at the Gull Roost (scarce winter visitor) and a female Reed Bunting was present at Bidston Moss (2nd record of the year).
The 12th was a quiet day with only breeding bird’s and long staying birds such as Ringed Plover, Lapwing and the Scaup being present.
On the 13th there was a brief view of a 1st winter ICELAND GULL at the Gull Roost, my 2nd lifer from the Docks and the first record for one at the Docks for over 15 years.
There was stunning drake Goldeneye noted on the East Float with the Scaup on the 15th by visiting birder Tony McDonough.
My next visit was on the 19th as I was away on a Geology Trip the previous 2 nights where on 17th mum had paid a visit and found a 3rd pair of Ringed Plover at the Gull Roost. The 19th brought the arrival of a 5 Mallard (Rare visitor to the Roost) with 4 pairs of Shelduck present.
The next visit was on the 20th were very exciting news came in as there was the discovery of a male Kingfisher on the Egerton Dock knocking about with wintering female. Bidston Moss which I include within my PWC boundaries was still keeping hold of its wintering female Goldeneye which had been at the site since January and Cheshire Bird News (Twitter) assisted me in getting a Cetti’s Warbler calling at Bidston, which is only the 2nd record for the site. I also heard the first Chiffchaff of the year on patch.
Highlights on the 23rd were a pair of Great Black-backed Gull round the West Float which are the only annual breeding pair in Wirral & Cheshire!
An after school visit on the 24th produced both the male and female Kingfisher darting around the Egerton Dock with the East Float having a nice variety of waterfowl with Shelduck, Canada, Great crested Grebe and Mallard. Over the past few days there has been an influx of Mallard at the Docks and Bidston.
On the 25th a Red Kite flew over St Catharine’s Hospital whilst I was walking to the Docks, it would have made a nice 2 pointer for PWC but was a couple of hundred meters out of patch boundaries. At the Docks themselves a pair of Ravens were circling above the East Float (Rare winter visitor) and at Bidston the female Goldeneye was still present with a Water Rail, possibly 2, were calling from the reed bed.
The 28th of March was the most productive day of the month with the Gull Roost containing over 300 birds, included 3 Great Black-Backed Gulls. When I was counting the Snipe which number 9 I managed to flush a Jack Snipe, a bird which I’ve been hoping to get for some time now. Bidston Moss had a total 9 different Chiffchaff calling away, by far my favourite warbler It was also great to see that Mute Swan, Great crested Grebe, Coot and Kestrel had all made their nests in preparation for the next generation. The Goldeneye was still around on what I’m calling the “Golden Pools” with the surprising find of 4 Little Grebe which is the first I’ve seen on the Pools and the first on patch since a pair were present in early January on the main lake at Bidston but were displaced due to the locals. To round the 28th all off a single Dunlin and a cracking summer plumaged Meditterian Gull were at Seacombe Ferry. Dunlin being new for PWC and Meditterian Gull being the 2nd record of the year.
My last trip was on the 30th were I managed to get a new bird for PWC with a singing Blackcap at Bidston Moss whilst on the hunt for Owls which produced none.
So the PWC results for March then:
Findlay Wilde: 89 points & 84 species
Ben Moyes: 87 points & 83 species
Elliot Montieth: 84 points & 75 species
Sam Pitt-Millar: 80 points & 77 species
Scott William: 78 points & 67 species
Joel Tragen: 75 points & 74 species
Toby Cater: 74 points & 72 species