A ramble down to the Weaver Bend was fairly productive with No.6 tank’s open water frozen most of the duck from there relocated out on the river. 120 Common Teal, 67 Tufted Duck, 4 Pochard and 24 Goldeneye stuck close to the jetty because shooters were along the banks of No.1 tank.
A female Stonechat was frequenting the marshy area by the estuary entrance and small numbers of Reed Buntings were in Redwall reedbed including a very grey individual. Several hundred Redwing and Fieldfare were feasting on the hawthorn berries along Brook furlong Lane.
Two Little Egret flew over the Shooters’ pools before disappearing over the pylons at the CEGB pools.
I received a belated text message from TB who had found a Cattle Egret an hour earlier on No.3 tank so without too much undue concern I slightly quicken my pace and headed up to that direction.
Stopping off to find a Barn Owl roosting up in a hawthorn tree close to the horse paddock along Moorditch Lane (just on the marsh from the motorway bridge). Arthur and Frank managed to connect with it as they were leaving the marsh.
A Chiffchaff was calling along the reedy track to No.3 tank.
When I eventually got to the corner of No.4 tank and meeting up with Tony it wasn’t long before the Cattle Egret reappeared from the eastern end of the pools. The egret was plaguing the cows and attempting to shift them from their standing position, so they would disturb prey beneath their feet. The ploy worked really effectively when it caught a vole from the grassy bank.
Taking a 180 degree turn and we managed to secure a Great White Egret out on Frodsham Score and several Little Egret, making it a three egrets in less than a minute. Other birds of note out on the marshes included 34 Pink-footed Goose, 34 Swans mostly Mutes but probably c20 Whoopers a bit more distantly. Another highlight was watching a Buzzard poncing onto a grazing Rabbit from an Elder tree then carrying it away below the bank on the river side.
Shorebirds are always worthy of attention here and a flock of c8000 Lapwing attracted another flock of c1000 Golden Plover (part of the flock pictured above) and these in turn attracted a Peregrine. The Peregrine didn’t take to the Merlin present and proceeded to attack the smaller falcon in flight. A little embarrassing we thought for the Peregrine being out maneuvered by it’s more agile cousin.
The young Marsh Harrier over No.4 tank at dusk.
A sunset to equal any we have experienced over the years from the marsh was a fitting backdrop for the mass arrival of Starlings over No.4 and gathering over No.3 tank.
The Starlings appeared to drop into the reedbeds on No.6 tank with other flocks choosing to use No.4 tank and the Canal Pools. We estimated that there were in excess of 10,000 birds but hard to get a true count by part of the flocks gathering over No.6 tank and out of sight for us. The young Marsh Harrier was present during the roost but didn’t appear to show much interest in the goings on.
Observers: Tony Broome, Frank Duff, Arthur Harrison, Paul Ralston, Alyn Chambers, WSM (and images).