The weather up until 1.00pm was nothing short of depressing and not conducive to birding, or keeping yourself or your optics dry. It was a sodden Frank I met on his way back from a soggy towpath along the Manchester Ship Canal (overlooking Frodsham Score). I’d held back from visiting the marsh until later, so by the time I met him the rain was easing slowly. I replaced Frank’s spot overlooking the Mersey salt marsh and the weather started to clear, and the sun emerged from behind the rain clouds to fill the river below with bright sunshine and mist.
10 Redshank, 12 Dunlin, 1000 Lapwing and 600 Golden Plover were roosting during the morning tide on No.6 tank. 18 Shoveler and 38 Common Teal were the only ducks in any numbers here.
A Little Egret joins Bewick and juvenile Whooper Swans feeding on the salt marsh at Frodsham Score?
The wintering flock of Arctic swans featured 26 Whooper (including 5 juveniles) and 8 Bewick’s Swan (all adults).
Also present in a consideration flock were 2-3000 Canada Goose with a few Greylag, 5 Barnacle and 8 Pink-footed Goose. Several hundred Wigeon were grazing on the saltmarsh and the odd Pintail flew over.
Further out on the edge of the shoreline a pair of Peregrine kept an eye on the proceedings and a female Merlin was perched up in a hawthorn before spotting an opportunity and flew in low level flight across the score. The immature Marsh Harrier was ranging widely and both Kestrel (including the one illustrated) and Common Buzzard were encountered at several locations today.
There was no sigh of the Great White Egret today but 8 Little Egret and 5 Grey Heron were noted. The flocks of plovers on the score included 2000 Lapwing and smaller numbers of Golden Plover. Small flocks of Redshank and 200 Curlew reflected the state of the ebbing tide with most of the shorebirds enjoying the Mersey bounty on the mudflats.
A small group of Common Snipe flew in and a Green Sandpiper was on the reedy pools below the banks of No.4 tank. A Brambling was with the Chaffinches along the scattered hawthorn and Elder bushes along the north banks of No.4 tank.
The Barn Owl was spotted hunting in the area of the horse paddock and perched up for a while late afternoon. (per Mary Gold).
Walking back along the track bordering No.3 and 6 tanks and some goodwill to all men was provided by a selfish act of offloading their Xmas detritus in a passing place.
Observers: Frank Duff, Paul Ralston (image 1), WSM (images 2-9).
Additional birding information: 9 Greenshank in a field by the approach road to the Ince Berth. Observer: Paul Ralston.