Photo’s from the Score

Image may contain: cloud, sky, ocean, outdoor, nature and water

The Holpool Gutter as it emerges from beneath the Manchester Ship Canal at Stanlow to re-enter the south Mersey salt marsh. 

Image may contain: sky, mountain, cloud, grass, nature and outdoor

Looking back (west) to Stanlow oil refinery and the hidden delights of the Mersey marshes.

Image may contain: cloud, sky, grass, outdoor and nature

A panorama view across Frodsham Score.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, plant, grass, outdoor, nature and water

Image may contain: cloud, sky, grass, plant, outdoor and nature

The after effects of the tide punching chunks of marsh back onto the salt marsh. It shows the power of these high tides on this fragile ecosystem.

A big thanks to Shaun Hickey for his mobile phone images (he forgot his camera yesterday ;O) .

If you want to get involved with https://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/webs contact these people or drop me a line and I’ll forward your interest to Dermot Smith the Mersey co-ordinator.

09.12.18. Birdlog.

Image may contain: grass, tree, outdoor and nature

I was out this morning starting my walk at Ince where the fields on the marsh side of the village held c200 Curlew. The birds were feeding in a field adjacent to the service road to the GrowHow Works with a much smaller number of Curlew in the field by the front of the Pig Farm.

Image may contain: sky, bird, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: bird, sky, grass, tree, plant, outdoor and nature

On the Ince Marsh field pools were 7 Coot, 2 Little Grebe, 6 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Mute Swan, 1 Little Egret and 1 Common Snipe. The arable fields alongside the Holpool Gutter was pretty much devoid of plovers but, did hold 22 Mute Swan and 19 feral Greylag Goose.

Image may contain: sky, grass, tree, bridge, outdoor, nature and water

Image may contain: sky, cloud, ocean, outdoor, nature and water

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, outdoor and water

On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a look over the Frodsham Score salt marsh where the massive plover flock could be seen. A couple of Great White Egret were noted and a mass of waders were snaking their way along the Mersey estuary as the tide came in.

Image may contain: plant, outdoor and nature

Fieldfare and Redwing were busy feeding in the hawthorn hedgerow along the canal path and a flock of 20 Redshank flew low over the ship canal. The skull of a long dead Badger was lying in the grass along the path leaving nothing to indicate its demise.

Image may contain: bird, sky, outdoor and water

The ‘Splashing Pool’ held a dozen Shoveler and 2 Gadwall. Further out and along Lordship Lane the Whooper Swan herd could be seen in the distance and the Cattle Egret was back after a week off (or more likely unseen) amongst the cows where it was nut megging the feeding cows.

A male Sparrowhawk was hunting the finch flocks and 3 Carrion Crow were ganging up on a Common Buzzard.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-9).

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor and nature

It was WeBS count day today and I walked out to view the ducks on the expanding watery spread on No.6 tank. There were masses of Common Teal with c1100 birds tightly gathered along the vegetated margins of the west side of the water and trying to avoid the brisk wind coming in with the tide. Other ducks were few but they did include a drake and female Pintail, 5 Mallard and 76 Shoveler.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and nature

A walk further along the track to view No.3 tank to see if the Pink-footed Goose which have been utilising this area of late were still here. Unfortunately, the flock had vacated the fields leaving it to a host of 30 Raven chilling out during the period of the high tide. They were waiting for the high tide to drop so they could feast on the associated dead and dying sheep that will be available once it has receded.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and nature

Walking along Moorditch Lane and the hawthorn hedges were full of both Redwing and Fieldfare, suddenly the whole place erupted as a female Merlin burst through, scattering the flocks hither and dither.

Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor

Image may contain: sky, grass, cloud, outdoor and nature

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images 10-17).

Image 18 by Shaun Hickey.

08.12.18. Birdlog.

Image may contain: sky, bird and outdoor

Image may contain: tree, sky, outdoor, water and nature

Out this morning around both No.6 and No.4 tanks. There were c100 Canada Goose which left the water when sun dawned over No.6 tank causing c20 Wigeon and a flock of Great Black-backed Gull with them leaving many Common Teal, Mallard and Shoveler on the water. There were also 6 Common Shelduck feeding in the margins of the water vegetation alongside several Common Snipe.

Image may contain: sky, bird, outdoor and nature

A large flock of Canada Goose were grazing on No.3 with c130 Pink-footed Goose.

Raven were enjoying the windy conditions with several rolling in the wind over the draughty banks. There were numerous flocks of Linnet, Goldfinch and Chaffinch stripping the seeds of the weed heads on No.3 and were targeted by a Sparrowhawk which this time left, hungry.

A Great Crested Grebe and a dozen Tufted Duck were on the Manchester Ship Canal and a Stonechat was perched on the bank nearby.

Over on the Frodsham Score salt marsh and the plover flocks were their usual nervous selves with hundreds taking to the air and settling down before going back up in the air again. Many more Canada Goose were grazing on the marshes and a skein of c200 Pink-footed Goose dropped in to join them. A couple of Great White Egret were seen in the far distance on Ince salt marsh .

There were also 20 Mute Swan and 8 Greylag Goose in the fields along the Holpool Gutter with a small flock of Lapwing and Curlew were most of the plovers were now on the salt marsh.

Image may contain: tree, grass, outdoor and nature

A look over Lordship Marsh revealed the Whooper Swan herd which could be seen in the distance but, no sign of the recent Cattle Egret. A flock of Stock Dove flew over No.4 and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen making its undulating flight across No.6.

Image may contain: plant, outdoor and nature

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-4).

Image may contain: plant, bird, sky, tree, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: bird, sky, outdoor and nature

There were Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbird along Brook Furlong and a couple of Brown Hare in fields nearby, a pair of Stonechat on the fence by No.1 plus a small flock of Linnet added to my watch.

Image may contain: bird and sky

There was a Lapwing in the reed bed field near to Marsh Farm and 3 Curlew next to the farm. Lordship lane had more Redwing and Fieldfare and the Hoverforce field had a hunting Barn owl, there were a few Kestrel about too.

Image may contain: sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: bird, grass and outdoor

Image may contain: grass, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: bird, outdoor and nature

Observer: Paul Crawley (images 5-11).

Just an additional note regarding a moulting Black-headed Gull aquiring its summer ‘hood’ with a bird on the bating lake at Park Road, Runcorn and the Nordic Jackdaw still present for its forth year at this location.

Plus a Hoverfly spp suuning itself for the brief perio it was sunny this morning on Runcorn Hill per WSM (and images).

03.12.18. Birdlog.

A day off and I spent a few hours of it on the marsh with a start at No.6 tank where the usual ducks were out on the water. Common Teal, Shoveler and Mallard were again present. The teal were a bit jumpy and took off and flew around the tank putting a flock of c30 Common Snipe into the air with them.

On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a pair of Stonechat were occupying their winter territory on the banks of No.4 with several Meadow Pipits flighty nearby. A look over the Frodsham Score and there were 2 Great White Egret and several Little Egret were spread widely about the salt marsh. A flock of waders were putting on a grand show alongside the River Mersey and a skein of Pink-footed Goose dropped on to the marsh.

No automatic alt text available.

A mass of Lapwing and Golden Plover sprung into the air disturbed by an unseen predator but soon settled back to normality.

The fields alongside the Holpool Gutter had 23 Mute Swan and 14 Greylag Goose, while further out a flock of c150 Curlew were in the fields adjacent Rake Lane.

A quick check to see if the Cattle Egret was still in the area and I was rewarded with what at first appeared to be two Cattle Egret but on closer inspection one of them revealed itself to be a Little Egret at one end of the field, and the Cattle Egret was teasing the cows in the herd.

The stubble field near the ramp track to No.4 and 6 tanks held a few hundred Linnet, Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting which all panicked when a Merlin on a mission attempted to snatch one of them, but it witched its attention to a flock of Redwing and Fieldfare before disappearing in hot pursuit beyond the blue slurry tank.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

02.12.18. Birdlog.

Paul Ralston made a determined effort to secure the Cattle Egret that was found in distant fields of Lordship Marsh yesterday.

Image may contain: plant, tree, sky, bird, outdoor and nature

The herd of Whooper Swan were still present in the fields so, a nice tidy clean up if you was in the area today.

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 1-2).

Much later in the morning we took a hike along Lordship Lane and managed to see the Cattle Egret but on this occasion it was feeding with cows instead of its surrogate host the swans from yesterday.

A pair of Peregrine were sat on top of the very tall blue topped chimney towering over the Mersey estuary at Weston Point.

Image may contain: sky, bird, outdoor, water and nature

Image may contain: outdoor

There were plenty of ducks on No.6 tank where c450 Common Teal, 43 Shoveler and 12 Mallard were bathing in the evening light. A single Redshank and a few scattered Common Snipe were hiding in clumps of grass were the sum total of waders.

Image may contain: cloud, sky, grass, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images 4 – 6 and video).

Image 3 by David Bedford.

01.12.18. Birdlog.

Image may contain: grass, tree and outdoor

There was a shooting party taking place along Brook Furlong Lane, I gave that area a miss and made my way to No.6 where Common Teal, Mallard and Shoveler were in decent numbers along with 8 drake Pintail and a hybrid Mallard with a white bib amongst the flock.

Image may contain: bird, outdoor, nature and water

The ‘Splashing Pool’ held a few more Shoveler and Common Teal with a Common Buzzard perched up watching over them all.

Image may contain: grass, sky, outdoor and nature

On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a look over Frodsham Score where there were c400 Pink-footed Goose out by the river’s edge. A mass flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover took to the air as a Marsh Harrier flew over and spooked them all. It later drifted over to the Ince Marsh fields alongside the Holpool Gutter and then presided to spook the rest of the plover flock, which then joined up with the salt marsh birds. There was a good size herd of 23 Mute Swan, 7 Greylag Goose and 4 Pink-footed Goose which were grazing alongside the gutter with c 40 Curlew.

Image may contain: bird, tree, grass, outdoor and nature

I stopped off at Plover Lane in Helsby on my way home and could see some of the Whooper’s in the distance hidden behind the hedgerows.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-3).

Full up with man flu (you know what I mean lads) I wandered along the track on No.5 tank that stands above No.6 tank on its south side, where the ducks Paul had earlier seen were still present with the exception of 17 Black-tailed Godwit, 25 Common Snipe and a couple of Marsh Harrier over the reed beds.

I didn’t want to linger too long in the cold wind so, I walked out to the south-east corner of No.4 tank where it was possible to get a clearer view of the 22 Whooper Swan herd that Paul also had partially seen earlier in the day. After a few minutes a Cattle Egret flew into the field within the herd of swans and commenced to feed, weaving its way through the grazing swans. A bizarre sight of a couple of species either side of a geographical zone. The last Cattle Egret I found in Cheshire was on 05.01.09 at Linmere Farm, Delamere Forest and was presumably the same bird that turned up along the River Weaver the following Spring. This sighting is nearly 10 years apart but all the more sweet because this one is the third record for these marshes.

The ‘Splashing Pool’ continued to hold the ducks but a male Sparrowhawk took a link off the charm that was a Goldfinch flock and took its trinket to a dead elder tree to finish off the snack.

There was a lot of movement of Pink-footed Goose from Frodsham Score to No.3 tank and the big numbers of last weekend were halved, probably due to disturbance in the week? Out on the distant salt marsh was a Common Buzzard sharing a lookout with a female Merlin and a couple of Marsh Harrier (probably the earlier birds from No.6 tank) were disturbing birds further out. The egret trio was completed when 4 Great White and 12 Little Egret popped up from the tidal gutters. A lot closer were the usual post Saturday afternoon closure of the Gowy tip where gulls roost on the salt marsh with Herring, Great Black-backed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls could be found.

A roost of 3,000 Lapwing and c1000 Golden Plover were taking in the relatively safe haven of Frodsham Score after the earlier harrier capers.

Other birds of note during my time here included: Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Water Rail (2), a flock of 300 Goldfinch, 150 Linnet and a singing Cetti’s Warbler.

Observer: WSM (images 1 & 4-8).

26.11.18. Birdlog.

Image may contain: bird, sky and outdoor

We took a long walk out to Frodsham Score salt marsh via Moorditch Lane, No. 5 & 6, 3& 2 tanks before walking around No.4 to reach the Manchester Ship Canal.

A few Jackdaw were out and about in the fields and several Fieldfare were chacking away from the berry-bearing Hawthorn hedgerows.

A pair of Stonechat were lingering by the ramp track to No.5 tank where a usually marked Common Buzzard stood out like a sore thumb with a white nape and two-toned black and brown patterned plumage, unless…

Image may contain: grass, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

No.6 tank had a couple of Pintail, 12 Shoveler and much reduced numbers of Common Teal. Several hundred Lapwing masked out a few of the much missed Black-tailed Godwit in their throng. A small group of Common Snipe attempted to conceal themselves close by the vegetated margins of the shallow pool. A female and 1 cy Marsh Harrier were harrying Meadow Pipits from the tall lank grass on the tank.

A short walk away and the yelping of Pink-footed Goose soon revealed a huge numbers in excess of 800 birds (possibly 1,000?) across both No.2 & No.3 tanks.

Image may contain: bird, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: sky, bird, outdoor, nature and water

We were slightly late for the start of the incoming tide but a mega ‘Mersey Snake’ flock of c20,000 Dunlin twisted and stretched out across the sky above the Mersey marshes. When we eventually arrived they had found their roosting sites and it wasn’t until the tide began to ebb did they perform again. It was immediately evident that there was food to be had with a gathering of c20 Grey Heron in the rough grass has the tide filled in the tidal gutters and forced their quarry to emerged from the murky depths.

There were c12 Little Egret and one of three Great White Egret was in a violent struggle with a heron and stole its prey of a very large fish.

Image may contain: sky, cloud and bird

There were several hundred Wigeon and a similar amount of Common Shelduck but generally the variety of shorebirds were in limited supply (apart from Dunlin). A small skein of Pink-footed Goose flew over.

Image may contain: plant, grass, outdoor and nature

The fields alongside the Holpool Gutter had c500 Golden Plover but apart from a few Mute’s the Whooper’s must have relocated back by the M56 fields?

Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: bird, sky, tree, plant, outdoor and nature

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images and twitter videos).