We parked up again at Lower Rake Lane in Helsby and walked onto the marsh from there. The sight of a dead Badger on the bridge that crosses the M56 and close to Spring Farm wasn’t a good start to the day. On a more positive note were the herd of 25 Whooper Swan (including 5 juveniles) in fields east of Hill View Farm.
Continuing our walk to the Holpool Gutter was uneventful until we reached the mouth of the gutter. We sat out in the bleak wind hunched up in a hollow surrounded by sheep shit savouring a Roy Keane style prawn sandwich and a flask of coffee…only at Frodders!
The tide was only 9.3 metre so was not expected to flood the salt marsh but it would be high enough to provide some interest. Small flocks of several hundred strong Dunlin were wheeling around and soon settled within a 1000 flock of Golden Plover stretched across the area in front of the ‘Old Magazine’ and close up to the Manchester Ship Canal wall. Three Black-tailed Godwit, 120 Grey Plover, 6 Oystercatcher and small numbers of Redshank were really the highlight for shorebirds. The lack of any egrets was interesting but perhaps solved sometime later.
15 Pink-footed Goose were with the Canada’s on the score and made all the hardship of putting up with the weather conditions worth while.
A Green Sandpiper was in the Holpool Gutter as we walked back and 4 Little Egret were popping out of the field ditches by Rake Lane. I assume all the egrets had enough of their routine on Frodsham Score disrupted by the really high tides and recent strong cold winds and sought shelter at these inland ditches?
There was little of interest along the tracks walking back to the car but a brief glimpse of a Rhea at the back of a small holding required a double take! 30 Redwing and small numbers of Fieldfare were in loose flocks and a healthy chirping group of House Sparrows was good value.
A pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker were chasing each other at the back of Spring Farm.
Observers: Sparky, WSM (and images)