Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's all in the eye...

Next year (2007) there is to be a national survey of Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover; the first since 1984. There are three objectives – to obtain updated population estimates; to census all SSSI’s and SPA’s that have been designated due to their importance for breeding Ringed Plover; and to investigate the species’ current spatial distribution and habitat dependencies, as well as patterns of co-occurrence.
According to the 1997-2000 Local Breeding Atlas there were nine breeding sites for Little Ringed in the region (38 breeding pairs) and thirteen sites for Ringed Plover (33 breeding pairs). It will be interesting to find out whether there have been any changes over the intervening time period.

Apart from the Heronries Census, BBS, WBBS, and the usual WeBS counts, this is likely to be the only other survey work undertaken next year prior to the BTO Atlas starting proper in the winter of 2007. The anticipated survey of grebes is currently un-funded and a decision on whether this will go ahead will be made early October.

The picture is the copyright of Stephane Moniotte and is used with permission. See his site at:

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mersey Estuary Conservation Group

The Mersey Estuary Conservation Group is an umbrella organisation representing 22 interested parties who care about the Mersey Estuary. Such interested parties include Government offices, local Councils, Wildlife and Conservation groups, Birding Organisations and Marine and Shooting interests.
Much is happening on the estuary, driven primarily by the redevelopment of the old Liverpool airport and the potential expansion of John Lennon Airport. The old airport is being developed by Peel Holdings (the land owner) as Liverpool International Business Park, and already houses a sports facility and a hotel complex. Further building incorporates a warehouse development, and a printing unit (home of one thousand jobs). Between the Business Park and the river, land (approx 70 acres), has been turned over to a management company – on a 25 year lease – in order to create the Speke and Garston Coastal Reserve; and it is this that the MECG has input into. Using its experts, from all walks of life, the MECG is working with the management company so as to maintain and improve the biodiversity of the Coastal Reserve for all wildlife, but in particular waders, who are probably the species most affected by the changes.
As an aside, the expansion of John Lennon Airport is by no-means certain – speculative - is a word that springs to mind. However, the MECG is monitoring the situation simply because of the affect it is likely to have on high tide wader roosts in surrounding fields. For more information see their website at:
The image is copyright of Peel Holdings and is used here for illustrative purposes. The 'green' piece of land at the bottom right, with a visible boundary running up the coast to the airport, is the area of the Coastal Reserve.

Friday, September 22, 2006


The GBFS - Garden Bird Feeding Survey, a sort of food subsidized winter Garden Bird-Watch for a selected 250 participants – has just reported its findings for the winter 2005/06. Apparently this winter of was the coldest for a decade (really?) with, nationally, 83 different species of bird turning up to dine at our bird tables.

The top three species – seen in 99% of gardens – were, no surprises, Robin, Blackbird and Blue Tit. A dozen species however reached their all time high levels since the survey began 36 years ago; they were Goldfinch, Wren, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll, Magpie, Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Pheasant, Herring Gull and Sparrowhawk.

An interesting record was of 350 Siskin feeding in one garden; and other gardens visited by Red Kite and Barn Owl. Makes my five species look a bit sick - but I'd rather have my dozen sparrows than one Red Kite anyday.