100 bird species have been spotted in or around Port Sunlight River Park.
The report was produced by David, our resident ornithologist.
PORTSUNLIGHT RIVER PARK 2022
1. Mute Swan
There was no breeding this year though a pair were present on the 14.3. A male was regularly
present from the 10.5-20.6. Then 7 birds, all sub-adult were on the lake from the 28.6 – 6.7 until
the rapidly falling water-level saw them go.
2. Pink-footed Goose
Skeins regularly fly over the park between late September and early March as the birds move
between the Lancashire Mosses and the Dee Estuary.
3. Greylag Goose
2 flew low over the park, 11.3.
4. Canada Goose
3 pairs were seen regularly on the nearby mudflats off Shorefields in the early part of the year.
A pair bred on the lake producing 8 goslings but these were rapidly predated and none survived.
A flock of 31 flew over the park, 23.5. During the autumn up to 8 were often to be seen on the
Often to be seen on the nearby mudflats, the Mersey and sometimes on the lake, the highest
count was 60 on the 9.3. By late spring there were usually 8 pairs around, one often on the lake.
The only sign of successful breeding was of 8 tiny ducklings near the tide-line, 22.6; they all
appeared to survive. Small numbers were present until late autumn.
6. Ruddy Shelduck
A male was present either on the lake or the nearby mudflats between 19.5 – 6.6.
7. Mandarin Duck
This species breeds in nearby Dibbinsdale and 2 to 3 birds were regularly on the Dibbin between
late March and early July.
2 males were on the lake between the 4 – 8.7.
A male was on the lake from, 6.6 – 24.6 when it was joined by 2 females.
A common visitor outside the breeding season either on the lake or the tide-line and mussel-beds.
Numbers peaked at around 80 in late January the fell rapidly by late March. The first returning
birds were a pair on the lake, 1.7. The autumn saw birds either on the tide-line or the Dibbin
because the lake had completely dried up in the summer. Heavy rains in the autumn enabled
the lake to slowly fill up and by late November over 90 teal were counted on the lake.
Up to 4 birds were regularly on the lake in the early part of the year. A female with 8 ducklings
were present, 25.3. Birds come to the lake during their moult and by late June there were over 30
present. A female with 8 ducklings was on the lake 29.6.
A winter visitor- the highest count was of 41 on the tide-line, 19.1. Numbers fell and the last spring
sighting was of a pair on the Mersey, 31.3. Early October saw a pair on the tide-line and by late
November there were 32.
There was a maximum of 7 birds to the end of March. 3 birds were present from mid-November as
water returned to the lake.
14. Tufted Duck
A male was on the lake from 30.5 – 6.6.
15. Common Scoter
Seen from Mersey View Walk a bird was seen flying low and then landing on the Mersey, 8.7.
A male was regularly recorded around the northern edge of summit, 5.10 – 16.11.
Small numbers seen on most visits to the park.
18. Little Egret
The first record of the year was of a single bird feeding on the edge of the nearby saltmarsh, 30.5.
During September there were up to 3 birds present sometimes feeding in the Dibbin depending on
19. Grey Heron
Single bird sightings scattered throughout the year; regularly flying over the park, sometimes on
the mudflats and occasionally feeding in the Dibbin.
20. Little Grebe
As in previous years birds started to establish breeding territories by late February and by March
there were 3 pairs; however, there was no evidence of breeding success and the last sighting of a
single bird was 28.6.
21. Great Crested Grebe
A single bird was fishing in the Mersey close to Mersey View Walk, 9.9.
Regularly seen throughout the year -16 sightings . Birds were seen carrying prey away from the
park, suggesting that they bred nearby but not in the park this year.
Occasionally seen flying either over or near the park.
24. Water Rail
Generally heard calling outside the breeding season with at least 3 around the reedbed. I saw an
adult on the mud, 8.7. and a reputable birder told me that he had seen a young bird at that time.
This confirms breeding but suggests that this secretive bird may have bred in past years.
At least 3 pairs were on the lake. 2 chicks were seen 28.6.
A pair was present in January, later to be joined by two more. Each successfully raised at least one
brood (there were 5 older juvenile birds by 12.7.) The species was absent from late summer to
the late autumn when the lake dried up.
A fairly common sight on the mudflats and mussel-beds outside the breeding season. Up to the end
of February 40+ were usually present at low tide then numbers rapidly decline. By September
birds return. A flock of 73 were on the edge of the tide-line, 29.11.
28. Grey Plover
Three records of single bird out on the mudflats: 24.3, 22 & 23.6.
A single bird was on the muddy area of the lake from 18 – 21.3 & then 2 birds from 24.6 – 2.7.
30. Ringed Plover
Small numbers were recorded on the nearby mudflats in the spring: 8 late March, up to 8 mid-
March & 7 mid-May. There was a more marked autumn passage from September to mid-October
which peaked at a flock of 70+ , 13.9.
The first two months of the year regularly saw up to 32 on the mudflats. On high tides the birds
fly off to nearby cleared land by the Dibbin where they were easier to count from the summit.
Birds move off in the spring though additional birds use the Mersey mudflats as they migrate
to their breeding grounds. Returning birds start arriving back in late June. There were up to
27 birds from mid-September onwards.
32. Black-tailed Godwit
Numbers rise in late-winter and early spring with birds roosting/feeding on the mudflats & the lake
Spring records Late summer records
No. Date No. Date
1 17.1 1 28.6
17 21.1 160 10.7
115 26.1 90 12.7
250 28.1 40 12.9
There were scattered records in the late autumn of less than 10 birds.
A fairly common visitor mainly feeding on the mussel-beds and the tideline with up to 16 seen
regularly in January and early February. The autumn saw birds appearing from early October
with 28 being the maximum count.
5 were seen flying low over the Mersey close to Mersey View Walk, 19.10.
Fairly modest numbers (maximum 17) were recorded from mid-January to early February. Two were
seen 13.5. and from mid-November up to 5 were usually feeding on the tideline with the redshanks.
36. Common Sandpiper
A regular passage migrant usually to be found on the muddy sides of the Dibbin: 1 (23.3), 2 (9.5),
2 (4-12.7) then 1 (9.9-21.11).
37. Green Sandpiper
A single bird frequented the muddy area of the lake, (3-12.7).
The most numerous of the visiting waders, usually to be found on the mudflats or the mussel-beds,
outside the breeding season. The highest count was 300+ (19.1) then numbers rapidly decline in
the latter half of March until only one was recorded by the end of that month. Birds started to
return in June- 3 (21.6) and by mid-July over 80 were present. By the late autumn there were
Small numbers can be seen around the edge of the lake in the reeds from early September to late
March. Usually up to eight are present though an indeterminate number are in the salt-marsh.
40. Sandwich Tern
2 were seen off Mersey View Walk ( 30.6 ), then a single bird was over the river ( 8.7 ).
41. Common Tern
2 were seen flying over the Mersey close to the park ( 21.5 ).
42. Black-headed Gull
The most numerous gull with typically 250+ on the mud-flats and mussel-beds outside the breeding
season. Birds move off to their breeding grounds from mid-March before starting to return from late
June. The highest winter count was of 400+ (21.11).
43. Mediterranean Gull
Single birds were regularly seen usually with roosting Black-headed and Common Gulls out on the
nearby mudflats close to Shorefields, from early July to late October.
44. Common Gull
Up to 20 are present in the winter months but rise to 60+ in February indicating some passage
movement before disappearing to their breeding grounds. Birds start to trickle back in June & July.
Poor weather conditions with high winds saw up to 35 birds present.
45. Lesser Black-backed Gull
35-40 are usually present outside the breeding season but unlike other gull species numbers rise in
late March to 65+ and over 100 in late June. Up to 4 birds present in the winter were of the
intermedius race ( i.e. of eastern European origin ).
46. Herring Gull
Seen throughout the year though during the breeding season most of the 60-90 birds present are
non-adults. Adult numbers vary from 50-100 according to the tides in the winter months.
47. Great Black-backed Gull
Small numbers, typically 1 – 5, are present outside the breeding season.
48. Feral Pigeon
A fairly common bird breeding on land adjacent to the park. Flocks of 15-20 birds regularly feed
across the summit. There were fewer birds present from late September.
49. Stock Dove
Seen in small numbers (up to 5) regularly around the park throughout the year.
A common resident with some 25 breeding pairs.
51. Collared Dove
There were two breeding sites: by the centre and the Shorefield Steps/Water Plant area. Birds
were recorded throughout the year.
Up to 5 could be seen flying over the park from early May to July.
5 sightings of single birds on the Dibbin from mid-June to early October.
54. Great Spotted Woodpecker
From late May to early July birds were regularly seen and heard due to post-breeding dispersal.
Regular sightings in September/October were probably indications of passage movement.
A pair successfully bred, raising two birds in a nest-box close to the park.
Only one record - a male was seen making two unsuccessful swoops over a wader flock (18.11).
A common and visible resident with some 5 breeding territories. A party of up to 14 is usually
around the north end of the summit.
Regularly heard and occasionally seen in the park. Birds are more visible in September/October
when they collect acorns. A pair bred in the wood.
A regular visitor to the park from nearby Port Sunlight especially in May when adults hunt
for insect food on the summit. There is also some visible migration as birds fly over the park
especially in the autumn – 104 flying west late October.
60. Carrion Crow
A resident with 3 breeding pairs. Large numbers can be seen feeding on the mudflats at low-tide
e.g. 52(7.3) & 58 (3.10).
Single bird sightings were regularly made in February and March.
A visitor mostly outside the breeding season. At least two were present from January – March. The
Autumn saw four pairs scattered around the park though 12 were present (18.10) indicating a fall
63. Blue Tit
A common resident with at least 5 pairs. The first juvenile birds were seen 30.6. The largest winter
flock was of 12 birds (17.1).
64. Great Tit
A resident species with some 4 pairs.
65. Coal Tit
A bird was in bushes and trees near the lake from 9-11.11.
Two birds were singing territorially from 3.2. then 3 from 22.2. This was the maximum number
of pairs heard though there were probably multiple broods since birds were still singing by
mid-July. There is visible migration in the autumn as calling birds fly over regularly from
late September to mid-November.
67. Sand Martin
Two were flying over the lake,13.5 and a single bird 21.6.
Several birds were seen over the Dibbin and around the Dock Road North entrance to the
Park from early May onwards suggesting two territories; however, no young birds were
ever recorded suggesting breeding failure. There was a single bird over the lake,12.7 and
passage migration in the autumn ( 2- 11.9 & 2- 13.9 ).
69. House Martin
There was no breeding on two sites close to the park ( Dock Road North & Bolton Road East ).
The first record was of a single bird over the land, 13.5. The next record was of 10 feeding
over the summit, 20.5. From late May up to 7 were seen regularly collecting mud from
mudflats. Some 20 birds were over the summit, 12.9 and the last record was 11 over the lake, 15.9.
70. Cetti’s Warbler
Present throughout the year though secretive when outside the breeding season. First heard
singing from 3.2 there were 4 pairs around the park. A juvenile bird was seen 1.6.
71. Long-tailed Tit
At least 5 breeding pairs though not all were successful. The party of young was seen close to the
Lake, 5.6. There were subsequently at least 2 mobile flocks around the park for the rest of the year.
A common summer breeding species with at least 7 pairs. 2 were singing from, 14.3 and 7 by 23.3.
Birds continued to sing through the summer, evidence of either multiple broods or breeding attempts
and there were birds calling around the lake until 12,10. A single bird was in the bushes adjacent
to the lake from the 18-23,11.
73. Willow Warbler
First heard singing 31.3 and by early May there were 4 well-established territories. 2 were still
singing -23,6 when a juvenile bird was also seen. A single bird probably on passage was seen 28.9.
First heard singing 24.3 and soon there were at least 8 territories with birds singing until the end
of June. Birds were noticeably feeding up on elderberries during September. A late record was of
a single female, 18.10.
75. Lesser – Whitethroat
A bird singing near the lake ( 27.5 ) was the only record.
There were at least 13 territories by mid-May and up the 6 were still in song by mid-July.
77. Reed Warbler
From mid-May there appeared to be at least 9 territories around the reed-bed of the lake
and an isolated one in a small area of reed close the Mersey View Walk.
The most numerous breeding species of bird with an estimated total of some 40 pairs.
A fairly common breeding bird in the urban area adjacent to the park but tending to be only
present from early-May to early-June when birds collect food for their young on the summit
A common resident with passage movement in the autumn. Probably 20 breeding pairs. The first
juvenile bird was recorded on 25.5.
81. Song Thrush
12 territories had been established by early February. 5 birds were still singing by the start of July.
There was some passage movement in September though birds were generally much more
skulking by the late autumn.
Only three records: 6 birds were in hawthorns near the lake, 17.1 and birds were heard calling 19.1
83. Mistle Thrush
Single birds were seen flying over the park on 3.6 & 4.7.
A common resident and also winter visitor. There were at least 12 breeding pairs by the late spring
and 2 very young juveniles were near the lake 21.5. By mid-October 21 singing birds were
establishing their winter territories.
An occasional but annual passage migrant. A female was on the summit 10.5 & 19.5.
A male was present around the northern end of the summit from late January to early February
and a male was seen 17.3.
A large female ( Greenland Race ) was on the summit 13.5.
A common but rather secretive resident. There were an estimated 15 territories by mid-March.
89. House Sparrow
Although a fairly common breeding bird in the urban areas adjacent to the park the bird is not
present in the park for much of the year. One was singing within the park close to the Shorefield
Steps from mid-March and 4 were seen together 31.5.
90. Grey Wagtail
Present throughout the year with 2 breeding territories either within or very close to the park.
Birds are around the Dibbin and the Water Plant/lake areas usually. A juvenile was feeding on the
Dibbin 3.6. There is some visible migration from mid-September & October.
91. Pied Wagtail
An irregular visitor to the park but the appearance of a pair with 2 advanced juveniles on the grassy
area by the Centre from 17.6 onwards suggest that breeding took place either in or close to the
park. October saw 3 records of birds flying over the park as they moved south.
The continental race can sometimes be seen flying over in October as they move south. There
were 3 records: 4 – 9.10, 1 – 12.10 & 1 – 13.10.
92. Meadow Pipit
A visitor outside the breeding season with small mobile flocks of 10/15 birds scattered over the
summit. Birds are present from mid-September to late March. There is also visible migration
taking place in September.
Small scattered flocks of 20+ are usually present from October to late March. They tend to
frequent the bushes around the lake, Mersey View Walk and the Dibbin. Over 45 were present
1.10. There were two records, both of females near the lake in the summer ( 3 & 24.6 ).
A breeding resident with at least 4 pairs. A juvenile bird was seen 30.5.
Present throughout the year though numbers rise during the breeding season. The first song was
heard 22.1. Some 20 birds were singing by 10.5. and 2 were still singing in early July.
An irregular visitor outside the breeding season. By May there were 4 established territories.
4 juveniles were seen 10.7. Small numbers were around the edge of the summit during September
97. Lesser Redpoll
1 was in the willows by the lake, 25.3.
Present throughout the year though numbers can vary considerably. By mid-May there were an
estimated 24 breeding pairs. The first juveniles appeared 30.5. A good food supply of various
plant seeds saw a mobile flock of 70+ roaming the park in September. Smaller flocks were present
until at least the end of November.
Attracted to the alder seeds, this species is essentially a passage migrant and winter visitor.
A flock of up to 7 were usually near the Centre, from 7 – 21.3. A single bird flew over 28.6 &
3 birds were present from early October onwards.
100. Reed Bunting
A resident species with up to 5 breeding territories. Singing was heard from 29.2 and the first
juvenile was seen 26.5.
The above data was made from 96 visits made between 17.1 – 31.3, 9.5 – 12.7 & 9.9 – 29.11.
Estimation of the number of breeding pairs of species in the park:(* failure)