Dog days and Sarnies

The Swifts and House Martins seemed to have enjoyed the sultry heat of the last week, and fledged Goldcrests were a diversion in the garden as increasing numbers of waders on the coast begin to ease the summer dog days into memory.
Young Willow Warblers have been calling away as they moved through the dunes for the last fortnight, but in smaller numbers it seems to me than when the “Irish Sea Willow Warbler Movement” was a big thing.
That could just be my powers of recollection playing tricks though.
Plenty of time for more of the sherbet lemons to ripple through I suppose.
At Hightown a Common Seal has been hauling out on the Alt Estuary.
With just a handful of records it is still a rare beastie on our coastline.
Further up the sands, Sandwich Tern numbers are starting to build between Ainsdale and Birkdale.
I’ll be co-ordinating a survey count again this year for Green Sefton – if anyone is interested in taking part, please email me at
Now in their fourth year the purpose of the counts in August and September is not only to record numbers in this relatively new autumn roost (seven years ago, anything over 200 birds was unusual, now counts frequently top 1,000), but also document the types of disturbance the birds suffer from.
This ranges from dog walkers and horse riders to photographers, drones, joggers and even birders (don’t get me going about fieldcraft again).
It is important to collate this info.
Volunteers also record colour-ringed birds, including the famous leucistic individual ringed as nestling at the Sands of Forvie in 2017.
Birds from Norfolk, Ireland, Holland and even the Po Delta in Italy have all popped up over the years, as have Black and Little Terns (plus Arctics and Commons).
Occasionally Arctic Skuas rip through too, like the pack of four I saw in the pic above on 24/8/17 (I know there’s only two amongst the terns in the picture, but I couldn’t fit ’em all in) and it doesn’t get much more exciting than that!
I’ll be hosting an introductory chat about the survey at Ainsdale Discovery Centre (PR8 2QB) at 6.30pm on Thursday August 1st, for those who want to find out more.
If you’d like to come, please let me know via the email address mentioned earlier.
Counts typically take an hour.
Even if you don’t want to help out, please send me any Sandwich Tern counts you make between now and the end of September between Ainsdale and Birkdale to the email address above, as the more data we get, the more evidence we have to improve protections for the roosts on this stretch of the coastline.
In that vein, many thanks to Phil Smith for already blogging counts of the terns this year – 70 birds and rising.
Now, has it stopped raining yet? It may finally be time for a bit of birding…

5 thoughts on “Dog days and Sarnies

  1. I’d like to help with the tern count.
    I saw a Common Seal at Hightown in April, swimming out of the Alt.
    Speaking to a local lady, she told me he (or she!) often basks in the sun on the sailing club slipway, and has been named………Slippy!


  2. Off topic I know, but given the publicity surrounding the influx of painted lady butterflies this summer I thought some might be interested: In the north east corner of the “Kew Woods” area near Southport hospital there’s an unusually large planting of buddleia bushes. I passed there today and was treated to the sight of more butterflies in one place than I’ve ever seen before. Too many to count, but at least 60 – 70, and more than half were painted ladies. Of the remainder most were peacocks, but there were whites, gatekeepers, speckled woods commas and small tortoise-shells too.


    Liked by 1 person

    • You must have posted this just as I was writing today’s entry Tony, great to see so may of ’em. Probably not as big an influx as the one ten years or so back (so far), but still very impressive!


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