A cold start to the day (and because I’m doing other stuff tomorrow), I thought I’d start my birding day doing the WeBS count on No.6 tank during the high tide. A combination of model aircrafts zipping overhead (big boys with their small boys toys) and partially frozen water on the tank didn’t bode well for the watch. The lowlights being 12 Shoveler, 14 Mallard and 104 Common Teal.
A pair of Stonechat was perched on the rough verges to the track on No.5 tank and posed long enough for a portrait or two.
After the disappointment of the count on No.6 tank I thought I’d salvage something from the day and spend my time watching the receding tide on Frodsham Score. After an initial poor start the appearance of a Great White Egret started to warm my enthusiasm. Ten Little Egret, one particular bird within touching distance of a female Merlin perched on posts made for an odd combination. An adult male Peregrine was sat in the short marsh grass, while an immature bird shot over No.4 tank. Further afield the big female was watching aloft the blue-topped chimney overlooking the Mersey estuary.
Hundreds of waders were moving about with surprisingly small flocks of Black-tailed Godwit. 120 Grey Plover, 5 Knot, 40 Oystercatcher and several hundred Dunlin were along the tide line. 4,000 Lapwing were joined by c 340 Golden Plover which found security close to the roosting Great Black-backed Gulls.
The usual gathering of hundreds of Canada Geese were out on the salt marsh. Detached and some distance away was a herd of 28 Whooper Swan with 14 Pink-footed Goose in close attendance. A flock of 34 Stock Dove joined the feeding Curlews out on the salt marsh.
At the Holpool Gutter where it joins the sluice gates into the Manchester Ship Canal is an area which doesn’t get the coverage that perhaps it deserves. I disturbed a couple of Green Sandpiper from the gates and they flew around calling before ditching into the gutter and out of sight.
The Raven numbers were much reduced and small numbers were seen on the score. A calling Rock/Water Pipit hurtling up the ship canal was probably the bird which had been seen/heard over the last few weeks. Out on the ‘Splashing Pool’ a Kingfisher broke the silence and flew across losing it’s self in the reeds there. The cold weather forced a few flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare onto the marsh and typically Song Thrushes were feeding in the rough areas adjacent to the track along No.3 tank.
A few people joined me on the banks of No.6 tank to watch the evening Starling spectacle and not to disappoint an estimated 10,000 birds twisted and turned their way through the crimson sky. Unlike the previous evening they chose to ditch down onto No.4 tank denying us the opportunity to watch them disembark for the night…still there’s always another night.
A couple of Water Rail called away from No.6 tank as I was walking back in the dark.
Observer and images: WSM