A short walk along the Manchester Ship Canal from Ince to the Canal Pools on Frodsham Marsh this afternoon. A large flock of mixed gulls which included Black-headed, Common and Lesser Black-back were feeding on a cut wheat field following a muck spreader as it made its way up and down the field.
On the Frodsham Score were two more gull flocks one of which was made up of Lesser and Greater Black-backed Gulls. The Great White Egret was visible in the distance and was quite mobile.
The ship canal waters were sparse with a few Coot, Mallard and a Common Sandpiper disturbed when the Snowdrop Mersey Ferry boat made its way back to Liverpool.
Chiffchaff were in double numbers feeding in the Elderberry bushes along No.4 tank. Several Buzzard, a Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were noted along the path. The Holpool Gutter held a few Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen and a single Common Teal and a Kingfisher sped past.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).
In the early evening we walked out to No.6 tank to attempt to see the Black-necked Grebe on No.6 tank from yesterday (and the previous two weeks), it was not available for comment and didn’t put in a show. 218 Tufted Duck, small numbers of Common Teal, Shoveler, Pintail and Shelduck could be found scattered across the open water.
The highlight was the grounding of c 500 hirundines during a period of continues rain. The flocks consisted of mostly Swallow, with lesser numbers of House and Sand Martin. A flock of a hundred Swallow perched on the brick drainage tower on the south side of No.6 tank suddenly rose and with them was an obvious leucistic bird. Despite the flock wheeling around in the rain this abnormal Swallow was clearly apparent in the gloom. It was relocated several minutes later perched on the wire fence before hawking for insects with several other birds low over No.5 tank. Apart from its obviously pale plumage the head parts were like those of a normal Swallow. The under wing coverts and a patch on the rump were a darker biscuit brown. A truly odd individual and well worth seeing on the marsh tonight.
Observers: Roger Wilkinson, Sparky, WSM (field sketch and images 4-5).
A link to a similar bird seen in Gloucester: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-34223915