16.08.15. Birdlog (WeBS Count)
The monthly WeBS count is carried out along the reaches of the River Mersey and at Frodsham there are three areas which are covered: the River Weaver from the Weaver Estuary to the Weaver Bend; Frodsham Score and my patch on No.6 tank.
I’ve been away for the last week and missed the watch over the tide yesterday which produced some cracking sightings. It was with some anticipation that I was settled with Sparky (who would have liked to be still on her break rather than being eating alive by the local clegs) on the north banks overlooking the tank below (FD was watching from the southern bank).
The Dunlin flock were already on site but more flew in to swell their numbers. Over the period of observation we estimated that 3500 birds were present, with these sorts of numbers it was no surprise to find the summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper. Other sightings included: 120 Ringed Plover, 14 Ruff and 1200 Black-tailed Godwit including 3 colour-ringed birds.
The surprise of the day was finding a Wood Sandpiper in with the Dunlins. A Green Sandpiper kept close to the banks and a Whimbrel was concealed in the vegetation.
A walk out to the Weaver Bend to try and find my lost overcoat from last week drew a blank and that also included the birds. Apart from an adult Great Black-backed Gull and a Common Sandpiper it was a payne birding there.
Three Common Buzzards were circling high over No.6 tank despite the interception by a model aircraft.
No.6 tank looking good in the early afternoon cloudy sunshine.
Observers: Frank Duff, Sparky, WSM (images 1-6).
Out on Frodsham Score a Great White Egret and a Little Egret was observed. A mucky faced Black-tailed Godwit was both a surprise and was surprised to be startled from its muddy meal.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 7-8).
A species much in the headlines for all the wrong reasons had a welcome greeting (and not a Scottish gamekeeper in sight) on Frodsham Marsh today when a (‘ringtail’) Hen Harrier was present on No.5 tank from midday.
The high tide on the river forced an incredible 2000 Black-tailed Godwit to No.6 tank along with 4 Knot, 50 Ringed Plover and 500 Lapwing. The summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper was again present and Ruff numbers have rocketed to 29 birds. 3000 Dunlin have shown a dramatic increase over the last week and today’s total will no doubt encourage those seeking much rarer fayre to come join the fun on Sundays river tide., a summer plumaged Turnstone and a lone Bar-tailed Godwit.
Also noted was small numbers of Yellow Wagtail and an additional bit of news concerns a Skua (pale phase Arctic?) out on the river at Hale which was seen to drop in on the Frodsham side, However, despite some searching it couldn’t be relocated.
Observer: Frank Duff.
An evening walk from the Holpool Gutter across the new road through No.4 tank and along No.6 tank produced the following: juvenile Marsh Harrier over 4 with a Sparrowhawk nearby. The Splashing Pool was quiet with a few Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot and Moorhen present. There were several Chiffchaff contact calling along the track and a small flock of Dunlin flew over towards the river. On No.6 tank were more Dunlin, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and 3 Ruff which dropped on to the water. Again Common Shelduck were in good numbers with smaller amounts of Teal, Mallard, Tufted and Gadwall.
A ‘ring tail’ Hen Harrier was hunting over No.5 tank and dropped in to the grass to catch a small rodent while a Kestrel was watching from a post nearby. Back along the canal and Raven numbers are increasing out on Frodsham Score and were interacting with a couple of young Common Buzzard.
Observers: Sean O’Hara, Paul Ralston (all images).