20.03.18. Birdlog.

The first day of Spring and a walk out along the River Weaver at Frodsham Marshes. It was a bright and sunny day but the chilly north-easterly kept the winter woolies unpacked.

A Cetti’s Warbler was along Brook Furlong Lane where a Chiffchaff was bathing in a sheltered sunny corner. Further out by Redwall reed bed and a pair of Stonechat were along the fence line.The flooded shooters’ pools had 30 Common Teal and a couple of Shoveler.

A group of 15 Goldeneye on the river was just the beginning and 132 Tufted Duck were the largest flock we’ve had on the marshes since the big freeze. Also present were 7 Little and 6 Great Crested with a dead Great Crested on the edge of the wash wreak.

The Scaup from yesterday were still present but had increased with 5 drake and a solitary female hanging out with 7 Common Pochard. A small flock of 8 Ringed Plover and a couple of Avocet were at the confluence of the Weaver estuary and the Manchester Ship Canal.

Looking out across Frodsham Score on the rising tide and flocks of c300 Black-tailed were joined by 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover, 40 Redshank, 235 Dunlin, 2 Avocet, 15 Oystercatcher and 230 Curlew.

We eventually made our way over to No.6 tank where the ducks were still present with 341 Common Teal, 43 Shoveler, a pair of Pintail, c100 Common Shelduck, 54 Mallard and 35 Common Gull.

A brief step away and the mitigation pools had a further 163 Common Teal, 12 Shoveler and a pair of Wigeon.

Plastic waste in our watercourses is currently high on the political agenda and the Manchester Ship Canal is no exception. The above image shows the lid of a pink plastic recycle bin that was washed up at the junction of the canal and the Weaver estuary known as the ‘Weaver Turn’. The lid originated from Salford City Council district and travelled roughly 35 miles to end up at Frodsham Marsh. This is just a small item in a river and canal, there is much more.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images).

19.03.18. Birdlog.

28 Avocet were on the Mersey estuary before the tide pushed them over to the Weaver estuary. The Weaver estuary also held 3 drake and a female Scaup which were among the Tufted Duck around the jetty. Also present were 8 Goldeneye.

Two Wheatear on the pipes of No. 1 tank this morning along with 2 Stonechat.

13 Pochard and 2 Pintail on No. 6 tank were joined by a family of 6 Whooper Swan and a Chiffchaff was calling along Moorditch Lane.

Observer: Alyn Chambers.

Image: WSM.

18.03.18. Birdlog.

Waiting for Spring which turns back to Winter and the seasons are all topsy-turvy at the moment. I started my morning walk from the Ince side of the marshes where foraging Fieldfare were eking out food from the frozen fields near to the pig farm. In addition several flocks of Curlew made their way off the salt marsh to feed inland.

The frozen pools had Mallard, Common Teal, Common Shelduck and Gadwall with a dozen or more Little Egret taking shelter in the reeds at the edge of one of the pools.

Onto the Manchester Ship Canal path and c150 Pink-footed Goose were watched dropping on to Ince salt marsh. Along the ship canal were several Tufted Duck, more Mallard, more Common Teal and yes more Gadwall with smaller numbers of Wigeon and 3 Great Crested Grebe also present.

A flock of Golden Plover circled round the fields alongside the Holpool Gutter which for the first time this year did not hold any of the Mute Swan herd. A flock of Redshank made their way along the canal and 2 pair of Oystercatcher were on territory on the opposite bank. Both Raven and Great Black-backed Gull competed for the spoils of sheep carcasses left on the marsh after the tide.

The mixed Mute and Whooper Swan herd could still be seen by the blue slurry tank  and several Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit with 2 Ringed Plover were in the flooded field at the junction of No.4 and 6 tanks from Lordship Lane. More Curlew were in the stubble fields and Lapwing were displaying along Lordship Marsh. Walking back at Ince and another skien of c100 Pink-footed Goose flew in from the south to join the others on the salt marsh.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-2).

I managed just over an hour after my weekend working day had finished and fitted in both the Weaver estuary and No.6 tank for the Sunday WeBS count. A herd of 546 Canada Goose were on No.1 tank with the majority uplifting and settling on the river between the Weaver Bend and the Weaver estuary. There were 7 Goldeneye on the ‘bend’ with 56 Tufted Duck at the jetty on the Weaver estuary. A pair of Oystercatcher were noisy on the river while small numbers of Redshank and a flock of fifty Curlew flew in.

A quick look over the pipes on No.1 tank didn’t reveal any Wheatear but two very obliging Stonechat were entertaining.

No.6 tank felt and looked bleak in the bone chilling mini beast from the east wind whistling through the marshes. Most of the duck were sheltering in the water at lea of the bank and included: 46 Common Shelduck, 3 Pintail, 46 Shoveler, 134 Common Teal, 7 Common Pochard and 23 Tufted Duck.

A Marsh Harrier was being harassed by a group of Raven over No.5 tank.

Observer: WSM (image 3).

17.03.18. Birdlog.

Only a brief visit today but had a male Wheatear on pipes was the first of the year with Starling, Raven and Goldfinch in same area plus the Canada’s and a pair of Greylag on No.1 tank. There were a few dozen Meadow Pipits on the model aircraft field and a single Curlew on Lordship Marsh.

The snow was blizzard like for most of my time there.

Observer: Paul Crawley (images).

16.03.18. Birdlog.

A 6 km walk around No.6 tank after work and in glorious evening sunshine. The flooded fields adjacent to Lordship Lane were devoid of birdlife but a couple of adult boys playing with their drones over the fields were probably responsible for this. Further on and the wintering swan herd was numbering in excess of 40 birds but I could only manage 20 Whooper Swan but a lot of birds were hiding behind the hedges.

A little later Whooper’s were seen heading out to the Manchester Ship Canal/Frodsham Score, so maybe the ‘adults’ with their drones may have dislodged the swans?

A Peregrine was over the marsh and disturbed the Curlews out on the fields. The mitigation pools on No.3 tank had a good selection of ducks with 43 Shoveler and 140 Common Teal along with a few Common Shelduck and 23 Coot.

I was surprised to see 6 Whooper Swan trumpting from the water on No.6 tank but they didn’t linger and headed out to the west soon after. A flock of 22 Ruff was a bit of a surprise here aswell. It was interesting to see c400 Common Teal back on the water after the recent lower counts. A flock of 46 Tufted Duck (18 were on the Splashing Pool), 19 Common Pochard and a solitary Great Crested Grebe were also present.

Numerous Raven were heading south for the evening with at least two showing shotgun holes in their primary feathers? The ones that stayed behind were enjoying the glutton of mutton on offer.

A partial leucistic male Blackbird was in a shrub outside the garden centre, opposite the Cenotaph on Greenway Road, Runcorn earlier in the day.

Observers: Paul Ralston (image 3), Sparky & WSM (images 2-4).

11.03.18. Birdlog.

A lovely day to be out and about on the marshes this afternoon. We headed out along Moorditch Lane where a Bullfinch type call from a hawthorn bush produced a Chiffchaff but just a P. collybita and not the expected eastern type (strange call nonetheless).

The flooded fields along Lordship Lane had a herd of 20 Mute Swan and despite my comments from yesterday the Whooper Swan (8 birds) were back again.

Walking through the now bollard entrance to the ramp track (at the south-west corner) of No.4 tank we continued avoiding the fly tipping em route. The fields of No.3 tank had a female Merlin perched on the fence line but if soon flew away towards No.5 tank. Three Mute Swan flew low over the fields and the mitigation pools had 23 Shoveler, 14 Coot and 34 Common Teal.

The open water of No.6 tank also had the remaining Shoveler from yesterday with c130 Common Teal, a pair of Pintail, 12 Common Shelduck, 224 Tufted Duck and 31 Common Pochard. A male Marsh Harrier spooked out the hiding teal from the dried out daisy beds.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images).

10.03.18. Birdlog.

A yomp across the marshes today staring from Moorditch Lane, Lordship Lane, Holpool Gutter, No.4 tank, Frodsham Score, No.6 tank and Marsh Farm.

Walking along Lordship Lane and the flooded fields on Lordship Marsh didn’t conjure up either the winter swan herd or the wintering Water Pipits. A Redshank with a broken wing was a sorry sight but a flock of 120 Curlew feeding in the fields were encouraging. The only swans present were 14 Mute’s occupying the area where the whooper’s have been present (yesterday) and just maybe they have departed for pastures new?

Another herd of 16 Mute Swan were with 4 pairs of Greylag Goose alongside the Holpool Gutter.

A look across the salt marshes of Frodsham Score were worth the walk after spotting c1100 Pink-footed Goose on the salt marsh edge and hiding within their mass was at least one Barnacle Goose and two dark-bellied Brent Goose. A Great White Egret was channel hopping in the tidal gutters, surprisingly I didn’t see any Little’s today? A female Marsh Harrier flew in from Hale and settled into an area of rough grass. Distantly a Peregrine was at the edge of the river.

A pair of Marsh Harrier were calling to each other above and close to the wind machines. A Common Buzzard was perched up on a dead tree inside the reed bed of No.4 tank and the pale morph is still present by the Pumping Station.

A Stonechat and a Cetti’s Warbler were visible and not visible from the edge of the tank.

Walking along the track alongside No.3 tank and another Great White Egret flew over the ‘Splashing Pool’. The mitigation area was flooded but only a few Lapwing, Common Teal and Shoveler were the only birds of note.

No.6 tank looked a shadow of its former self with most of the Shoveler having departed, I countered only 43 birds and despite the low count it was good while it lasted. A pair of Pintail, c200 Common Teal, 23 Tufted Duck and 29 Common Pochard made up the rest.

There was a gathering of Canada Goose on No.1 tank but the Bar-headed Goose must have slipped off the radar today. There were 3 Stonechat on the pipes across the tank there.

The Weaver estuary again had the majority of Gadwall with 24 male posturing to each other and to the females present.

A look across the Manchester Ship Canal and Frodsham Score to the mudflats on the Mersey estuary produced 9 Grey Plover, 300 Dunlin, 7 Oystercatcher, 12 Black & 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. 2 Knot all ahead of the advancing tea time tide.

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My first Small Tortoiseshell of the year.

Observer: WSM (images).