Masses of Redwing moving west along the Manchester Ship Canal at first light this morning and 4 Little Egret out on Frodsham Score.
A Merlin sat on a post took a brief interest in a flock of Golden Plover passing by but soon settled back on its post.
No.6 tank had good numbers of Gadwell, Common Teal, Shoverler, Mallard and a few Wigeon plus 7 Mute Swan . The track along Lordship Lane again held large numbers of finches which were made up of Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and perhaps a few Brambling mixed in with them?
Back on the ship canal were 5 small geese which flew over the score could just be made out in the poor as Pink-footed Goose and a good flock of Golden Plover sat with the Lapwings near the Holpool Gutter.
Observer: Paul Ralston (image 2-3) and image 1 by WSM.
A late start, arriving at just before 9 am to an overcast, gloomy sky with bouts of drizzly type rain for the first hour. I sat in the car at the old log and let the heaviest shower pass by. The fields were wet and Frodsham Hill had mist hanging half way down it. I ventured out and walked to the Weaver past Redwall reedbed. The river was definitely lacking in birds. A few Teal dozed on the bank half way down and a mixed flock of Tufted and Pochard dived a bit further along. 12 Coot fed on the short grass. The best of the birds were 13 Goldeneye including two males. I walked back along the bank and around the field that surrounds Redwall, flushing 8 Common Snipe from one particularly wet marshy area. Redwin and Blackbirds left the Hawthorns in dibs and drabs.
I got back to my car and was just sipping a coffee when a familiar zingy call reached my ears, followed by a stuttering Tzic….Tzurk…….Tzic, tzic… and a male Yellowhammer dropped into my favourite old apple tree, at the back of the tree of course. It sat there for about thirty seconds before flying off high eastwards… A good record as they are hard to connect with on the marsh these days.
Next, I had a look at Marsh Farm. Around 500 Lapwing fed on No1 whilst 9 Raven pulled apart a dead sheep on No.2 tank. The tide was at low point but the weather brightened up and the sun came out, lighting up Hale Lighthouse like a beacon from the skies. But apart from the usual waders and hordes of distant gulls, there wasn’t anything of note.
Then to the best part of the marsh for me, the NE corner of No.4 tank overlooking the Score. Unlike yesterday, it was calm. Cold yes, but not penetratingly so. The sun came out and bathed the landscape in a warm glow. I scoped the Score for anything interesting… At least 11 Little Egret but no sign of the Great White’s that could be seen from Hale Lighthouse. Lots of distant gulls and geese but they were all too far away to see any detail.
Then a great bit of aerial combat took place in front of me. A Common Buzzard got up off the ground and flew across the Score which alerted the local adult Peregrine and it came straight in to harass the Buzzard. The Buzzard jinked to avoid the onslaught, but was saved by the unluckiest Feral Pigeon ever, which flew straight between the combatants. The Peregrine left the Buzzard to chase the pigeon and soon hit it in mid-air in a cloud of feathers. The pigeon dropped to the ground and as the Peregrine turned around to come back for another strike, the Buzzard pounced and landed on top of the pigeon. One really annoyed Peregrine! That is karma in my book. If the Peregrine hadn’t hassled the Buzzard, it could have concentrated on the pigeon and eaten well. There must be a moral to that story…
Then big black clouds rolled in from the NE and I retired to the car, had another cup of coffee and drove towards the bridge and home. A Stonechat called form No.6 and odd Reed Bunting flew along the Elders. A Grey Wagtail fed on a steaming pile of manure near the motorway bridge, a mixed flock of about 30 Linnet, a few Goldfinche and Chaffinch fed by the ditch, balancing on the dried stems of Oilseed Rape. I tried to drive slow and get some photos but they were much too wary. Even so, it had been a good few hours, enjoyable as always.
Observer: Tony Broome (images 4-9).