Harrier: Ghost of the Dee

As the vast majority of my birding takes place on the Wirral peninsular then finding a new place to bird is hard to come by, so L. Anderson and I decided to take a walk along the Wirral Way to see how far we could get.

Over the twelve miles we walked from West Kirby down to Parkgate we soon found out that this trek carried with it a bountiful number of opportunities to not just encounter, but also great views of winter thrush’s: Common Blackbird (43), Song Thrush (23), Redwing (122) and Fieldfare (86). The hope was to find an Icelandic Redwing ssp. coburni but that didn’t happen; despite this the fields along the Dee estuary held host to a wide range of species, changing with the habitat the closer we reached Parkgate.

WW Blackbird_edited-1
Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)

The most surprising find was a female Merlin flushed from the track whilst walking through woodland of all places! Meanwhile the flooded fields were a heaven for Eurasian Curlew, Black-headed Gull and Common Starling which numbered in hundreds, but nothing out of the ordinary could be found.

WW Redwing_edited-1
‘Scandinavian’ Redwing (Turdus iliacus)
WW Fieldfare_edited-1
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)

Coming to the end of our trek we arrived at the Old Baths car park, Parkgate – the holy grail of UK raptor watching which this evening proved its self of this title with in excess of 15 Western Marsh Harrier along side with 5 Common Kestrel. But star of the day, for me anyway, was this utterly fantastic adult grey male Hen Harrier.

PG Hen Harrier_edited-1
Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

 

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