We had a visit to a very hazy marsh tonight. No. 6 tank was full of Tufted Duck, Common Teal and Shelduck.
8 Grey Heron, 20 Cormorant, Lapwing, 4 Ruff and the other usual suspects. The Starlings were really starting to gather with big flocks circling round the Elderberry bushes.
Observers: Heather, Nigel, Findlay and Harley Wilde (images 2 & 3).
Image 1 by WSM
A quick dash after work to spend sometime watching over No.6 tank. In retrospect a little hasty with the high tides not being high enough to bring in the Dunlin flocks.
I listed 400 Black-headed Gulls leaving the ploughed fields for a siesta and a brush up before resuming their outlook for titbits tossed aside by the tractors nearby.
157 Lapwing, 2 calling Golden Plover and 4 Ruff (including a ringed individual) were really it for waders. Despite the lack of waders it was up to the ducks to stand forward and make my visit worthwhile. However, 178 Common Teal, 8 Tufted Duck and a few Shelduck which were not really much of a compensation. The oddity Athya certainly did make up for all the lack of action and was at the back of the teal flock looking everything a Common Teal shouldn’t.
A mixed group of wagtails included 4 Yellow, 6 Pied and 2 White Wagtail which were feeding along the edge of the Lapwing flock. A Kingfisher that was calling unseen from the bank below my observation point until it broke cover and flew out across the tank, pausing briefly to dive bomb the water. Two Sparrowhawk included one with a Starling take away which it did literally as I disturbed it from the track by the ramp.
There were still Chiffchaffs about with a few calling from No.5 tank.
Another Willow Warbler sub-singing at Runcorn Hill this morning.
Image: Tony Broome.
A Green Sandpiper was close by the Holpool gutter near to No.4 tank. The Manchester Ship Canal and Frodsham Score held a Kestrel and at least five Common Buzzard were encountered, a few Raven were on the Score.
Several Chiffchaff calling at various locations and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was present at Spring Farm. Unusually a Badger stumbled across my path in broad daylight which at least provided a marsh tick.
Image: Stuart Maddocks.
A couple of Hobby (possibly adult and juvenile?) were seen over Marsh Farm catching and eating hirundines on the wing and later over the Weaver Bend. Also a Little Egret on the river with a red-headed Goosander, 1000 Black-tailed Godwit and a solitary Golden Plover (singing!). Also Kingfisher on the reedy pool at Marsh Farm.
Observers: Tony Broome, Frank Duff
On and around the Weaver Bend and Estuary early afternoon: 30 Little Grebe, 3 Pintail, a Peregrine, 100 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Greenshank, 1 Snipe, 1 Oystercatcher, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Red-legged Partridge and a Grey Wagtail.
Observer: Alyn Chambers
No.6 tank still attracted ducks including this bird (pictured). We know what it is but do you have any thoughts? 230 Common Teal, 12 Tufted Duck, 3 Pintail and 3 Shoveler A Goldcrest, Lesser Whitethroat,
10 Blackcap and 10 Chiffchaff were also reported from the banks overlooking the tank.
Observers: Tony Broome (and images), WSM.
The main highlight of the day was a juvenile Red Kite which flew in from the north-east circled over Frodsham Score before heading inland over No.3 tank.
No.6 tank at low water was a bit lack with an audible Greenshank and a small group of Ringed Plover. 150 Common Teal, 12 Tufted Duck, 2 Pintail and 4 Shoveler made up the lustre.
The tide crept slowly making its way through the tidal channels and began to swell the river but three hovercraft clowns flushed almost everything off the estuary and sent birds off in all directions. 30 Great Crested Grebe was a combination of adult and juvenile birds.4 Little Egret, 1300 Common Shelduck scattered far and wide, 6 Wigeon, 700 Lapwing, 12 Ringed Plover, 1 Greenshank, 200 Redshank, 1,000 Black-tailed Godwit and smaller numbers of Curlew.
Above a young Kestrel takes a break with a rest on a MSC sign.
On Frodsham Score were 17 Raven and 4 Jay were moving through on No.1 tank. A Kingfisher was heard on the ship canal while a trickle of migrants crossed the river with 9 Yellow, 3 Pied and a single White Wagtail present. Sand Martin and Swallow were lingering by the farm and these alerted us to an overhead Hobby, which then sparred with a Sprawk before proceeding to catch dragonflies over No.1 tank.
A mixed bag of passerines included a light passage of Meadow Pipit, a locally rare Collared Dove and 4 Stock Dove.
The warm rising terminals made raptor watching a little easier and apart from the Red Kite and Hobby there were 2 Peregrine, 4 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and 8 Common Buzzard over the marsh.
Observers: Tony Broome (images 4, 5 & 6), Frank Duff, WSM (and 1,2 & 3 images).
No.6 tank this morning had 2 Little Stint, 28 Dunlin and a dozen Ringed Plover. A Yellow Wagtail on the edge of the mud, 2 Sand Martin amongst the Swallows after a brief visit.
Observer: Mark (Whipper) Gibson.
A couple of Little Egrets were on the incoming tide at Pickerings Pasture and Wigg Island.
Observer and image: WSM
Work on repairing the canal bund which was breached from last December’s tidal surge. Additionally work recently commenced on the creation of a wetland area on No.3 tank, more on this as and when the development progresses. Eds.
Taking a walk this morning from Ince along the canal produced 15 Collard Dove which were around the Duke of Wellington in Ince village, they don’t seem to venture on to the marsh very often. A hundred or more Swallow on the telephone wires with more around the Pig Farm. Also noted were large numbers of Starling which were also close by. On to the Manchester Ship Canal and a Common Sandpiper on one bank with a Green Sandpiper on the opposite side. A Willow Warbler seen and heard in the bank side hawthorns with Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Greenfinch present.
Patrolling Frodsham Score was a Peregrine which put up a large flock of mixed gulls into the air. Six Little Egret ( 3 shown above) were about the salt marsh. Added to this Buzzard, Kestrel and many Raven making a mixed assortment of species.
A Stoat out looking for a meal ignored the young pheasants close by while it followed the trail of the rabbit it was hunting and came within a few feet of where I was standing and posed long enough for this study shot.
Observer and images: Paul Ralston.
A late afternoon visit a couple of hours after the high tide. A kettle of 10 Common Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk circling high over the marsh were enjoying the thermal rise. 370 Black-headed Gulls were also circling over No.6 tank and were presumably feasting off the flying ants, as were the hirundines which had join the food bonanza.
The deposit tank looked a little bare but considering the heat haze it would have been a problem getting anything like decent views with the haze and sun direction. However, a few waders were still present with a solitary Ruff, 47 Ringed Plover and 10 Dunlin noted. A mixed flock of both Pied and White Wagtail were mobile flitting across the baked cracked mud of the sludge bed. Frank Duff had 12 Yellow Wagtails later in the day.
Duck species were much reduced and the sound of distant gun shots suggested this may have contributed to their absence. 130 Common Teal, 7 Tufted Duck and 4 Shoveler just about warranted an entry into today’s log.
A Speckled Bush Cricket on the track above No.6 tank this afternoon didn’t appreciate the attention we gave it.
There were several Ruddy, Common and Black Darters about and some Southern Hawkers enjoying the warm weather hunting the track above No.6 tank.
Observers: Sparky, WSM (and images).
A remarkable record of a colour-ringed Little Stint which had been ringed in Norway this Autumn was seen on No.6 tank this morning. The finder Greg Baker did some detective work and narrowed down its previous location at one of three sites in that country. He asks if anyone sees this bird to attempt to read the three letters on the yellow ring and hopefully we can narrow it down further – Giske OS located in northwestern Norway, Revtangen OS located in southwestern Norway and Jomfruland located in southeastern Norway.
No 6 Tank: 5 Curlew Sandpiper (1 adult and 4 juveniles) arrived with the main Dunlin and Ringed Plover flock just after 10 am. 4 juvenile Little Stint were already present (including a colour-ringed individual whose origins it will be interesting to investigate) as were 12 Ruff and a single Black-tailed Godwit.
9 Greenshank were roosting at the secluded pool also on No.6 Tank and 5 Chiffchaff were counted along the top track.
A large flock of wagtails and pipits on the dry mud included 3 Yellow, c30 White and 50 Pied Wagtail along with plenty of Meadow Pipit and a few Skylark.
Earlier at the Weaver Bend: 4 Pintail, 26 Black-tailed Godwit, 51 Redshank, 4 Little Grebe and 4 Chiffchaff.
Observer and images: Greg Baker.
Nature Notes #45
As autumn progresses and the mornings hover above freezing, the onset of winter isn’t too far away in real terms. Migrant birds pour through Britain on their way south with all the warblers and hirundines becoming less common by the day. Pink-footed Geese have already begun arriving, the first of tens of thousands of birds that will spent the winter in the UK.
Insects are mainly in pupal stage ready for emergence next year, yet there is one family that are still obvious on sunny, calm, warm autumnal days, the hoverflies. Mainly migrants with a few residents, they feed on the last flowering Perennial Sow-thistles and Marsh Woundworts, Creeping Thistles and Bindweeds.
I found a patch of Bindweed Convolvulus arvensis on the track alongside No.6 tank. It had many of these insects feeding on it. A really nice, delicate flower, unobtrusive amongst the nettles and thistles. I really like this species of bindweed with its blue stamens.
The hoverfly is probably a Syrphus or Eupeodes species butthe photo isn’t good enough for an identification.
Image 3: Episyrphus balteatus. Much easier is the commonest hoverfly in Britain, Episyrphus balteatus, which is a common resident and migrant and can even be seen in winter on mild days as it hibernates.
Another attractive species is Eupeodes corollae which I found feeding on the Perrenial Sow-thistles on No4 tank. It too is a migrant and can be common even in gardens.
Image 4: Eupeodes corollae
A species pair were also found on the Sow-thistles. Helophilus hybridus and Helophilus trivittatus which look very similar but H.trivittatus is a brighter, more lemony yellow, rather than the deeper yellow of
Image 5: Helophilus hybridus. H.hybridus is a resident species that is found in wetlands across Britain whereas H.trivittatus is a migrant that frequents coastal areas and river courses.
Image 6: Helophilus trivittatus
Lastly and a species that I’d been looking out for, is a specialist hoverfly that occurs around woodland and field edges but in most other habitats as well. Rhingia campestris has an exceptionally long rostrum (like a long nose) that encloses a proboscis that allows the insect to feed in deep tubular flowers like Red Campion and Marsh Woundwort. I found several lethargically feeding on the latter along the path along the Weaver by the Lum. The larvae feed in fresh cattle dung or silage. A very nice find indeed, especially when the birds fail to perform.
Image 7 and 8: Rhingia campestris.
Written and illustrated by Tony Broome.