A big tide at Frodsham Score just before midday had me settled in the warm Spring sunshine (all alone), taking in one of Cheshire and Merseyside’s finest wildlife spectacles unfolding before me. The creeping tide gently ushered in the wading birds up close to the ship canal banks. I was standing opposite the old landing platform across from what was once the old ‘Magazine’ building (long succumbed to past tides).
One small group of passerines flew in and perched up briefly on a post and I was surprised to find they were Twite. A good start to the watch.
Scanning across the salt marsh revealed 4 Little Egret and 5 Grey Heron. I was pretty determined not to spend too much time counting the birds, so all counts are an estimate. Several hundred Canada Goose and Shelduck were riding the tide and an impressive 500 Wigeon were gathered in loose flocks along with 500 Common Teal, surprisingly only a pair of Pintail were noted.
It’s all about the shorebirds on a big tide and today’s tide didn’t disappoint with, 700 Curlew, 500 Black-tailed Godwit, 10,000 Dunlin, 20 Knot, 200 Oystercatcher, 100 Redshank. Additionally, 170 Black-tailed Godwit and 300 Curlew were nearby on the flooded fields on Ince Marsh. Despite all the birds present raptors were notable by their absence. Numerous Raven on the salt marsh were in courtship disputes, one lucky bird found a Rat swimming to avoid the tidal water. The Raven is a curious and opportune hunter so the rat had a fight on its claws, the rodent put up a good defence and the corvid soon got bored and moved its attention back to wooing or to be wooed.
The surprise from the ebbing tide was a Great White Egret that flew in from nowhere crossing the Manchester Ship Canal and ditched into the Holpool Gutter. I flushed a Green Sandpiper from here along with another Little Egret. 26 Mute Swan in the fields held 5 Whooper Swan, a presumed male was whooping to its mate. A full circuit of the marsh saw me walk back along Lordship Lane (but apart from doing a triple salchow over a gate and ending up in the mud) there was no other highlights until I reached No.6 tank. Small numbers of Common Teal, Shoveler and Mallard on the sludge tank was a bit disappointing.
A different summer adult (more white on forehead than yesterdays bird) Mediterranean Gull was with the Black-headed Gulls. Either this bird or another was in fields at the Lum seen by Simon from Manchester.
Fieldfare and Redwing were still lingering in the hedgerows, a Goldcrest was presumably a migrant in the Sycamore trees by the ramp to No.5 tank. Two of the wintering Chiffchaffs were again seen on No.5 and heard on No.4 tank.
The first Coltsfoot flower of the Spring alongside the ship canal and a Weasel scurrying across the path on the ramp to No.5 tank wasn’t hesitant and moved on before a local dog walker passed by.
Observer and images: WSM