Wirral’s Wonderful Waders!

Did you know that in autumn and winter, Wirral’s coastline is one of the best places in the country to see huge numbers of wading birds such as knots, dunlins, curlews, sanderlings, oystercatchers, grey plovers and bar-tailed godwits? They come in their tens of thousands to feast on the rich mudflats of the Dee Estuary and North Wirral shores and can be easily seen from places such as Hoylake promenade.

To celebrate this wonderful natural phenomenon the fourth Wirral Wader Festival will take place this year on the 27th and 28th October at West Kirby and Hoylake.  The programme of events includes high tide birdwatches at both sites to marvel at the dunlin and knot roosts, a guided afternoon walk to Hilbre Island, and a guided walk around Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Red Rocks Nature Reserve. 

Back by popular demand is the RSPB supported wader cam that beams live footage directly from Little Eye that allows us to get up close and personal with the waders in the roost.  This year there will also be children’s activities based at Hoylake Sailing Club which will be open to non-members over the two days from noon.  There is ample parking at West Kirby and Hoylake and both are easily reached by train.

Wirral Wader Festival

The Festival was started in 2015 at the suggestion of Rick and Elis Simpson of the international environmental charity Wader Quest.  They came on a visit to Wirral to view the remarkable efforts of the Dee Estuary Voluntary Wardens (DEVW) who protect the thousands of birds roosting on West Kirby and Hoylake beaches at high tide.  They were so impressed by the conservation efforts and by the wonderful views of birds that they suggested it should be celebrated in some way.  This led to the birth of the Wirral Wader Festival, created by DEVW with Wirral Council’s Coastal Rangers, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and Wader Quest.  It was the first of its type in the UK and has encouraged other areas into holding their own Wader Festivals.

Karen Leeming, Chair of the Wirral Coast Partnership commented that: “The Wirral Wader Festival Partnership held the first UK Wader Festival in 2015; it proved to be the stimulus that encouraged other UK coastal areas to follow suit and not only do we think that this is a fantastic achievement, but it is wonderful that more people are being encouraged to celebrate the UK’s wildlife. 

 “Everyone is welcome to Wirral Wader Festival from keen bird watchers to people who have never looked through a telescope but who would like to learn a bit more about local wildlife.  We have lots of people to help identify what you are looking at, and we have a telescope just for the children.”

For full details of the events and activities during the festival, visit wirralwaderfestival.blogspot.co.uk or www.facebook.com/wirralwaderfest.  Most activities on Saturday and Sunday are free but the guided walks have a small charge and must be pre-booked as numbers are limited.