A grey dull and rainy day and only a brave soul would venture out and do some birding in it. Step forward Paul and his trusty saunter from Ince Marsh along the Manchester Ship Canal. There were two Little Egret out on Frodsham Score and a flock of 1000 Lapwing with Golden Plover mixed in with them. A Common Buzzard in the fields adjacent to the Gowhow works and was the same bird from last week and the same bird from Leasowe on the Wirral (see pic). A female Peregrine was watching from the pipes and stacks of the factory there.
Observer: Paul Ralston.
Image by Allan Conlin
The rain cometh and continued for most of the day which was annoying after waiting all week to do some birding. During the course of the evening the clouds eventually rolled away to the east, behind them it cleared bathing the marsh in glorious sunshine.
The area on No.6 tank had a good selection of Common Teal with 340 birds, 32 Shoveler, 7 Common Shelduck, 6 Pintail and Gadwall and Mallard but most of the duck were weary of the raptors on show and mostly kept close to cover.
Shorebirds included 780 Lapwing with 300 Golden Plover but a marauding Sparrowhawk sent back them out to the estuary. Two Green Sandpiper exchanged the plovers departure and came in calling. A big flock of 1000 Lapwing were disturbed by a Peregrine over on Frodsham Score where 400 Black-tailed Godwit resettled on the Weaver Estuary. A Great White Egret was also out on the salt marsh of the score.
A Spotted Redshank was less evident and kept a low profile only showing itself to a group from Comberbach. The 20 Black-tailed Godwit on No.6 tank included a colour-ringed bird (details of is origin as and when they come back). 100 Common Snipe were flushed from the Michaelmas Daisy beds by a showy immature Marsh Harrier and a Merlin sat the rain out perched on top of a Willow tree before spotting a small flock of Snipe which it half-heartedly chased.
A Short-eared Owl was hunting in the full sunshine along the banks of No.5 tank and was perched up several times.
Other birds of note here were a Stonechat and a Brambling in the Chaffinch flock. The Long-tailed Tit flock contained a Goldcrest in their midst and a Grey Wagtail flew over. Ravens continued to show in good numbers over the Pumping Station.
At dusk a flock of 25 Cormorant roosted up on the dead tree at the east end of No.6 tank.
Observers: Frank Duff, Paul Ralston, WSM (and images).
It will be the last after work visit to the marsh until the winter solstice is well and truly over. A couple of Short-eared Owl hunting together across the rough pasture land and construction work site this evening and were unconcern by the site traffic moving back and to.
A Sparrowhawk was perched up and then hunting the wader flock on No.6 tank in the twilight. The plover roosting up didn’t realise what was going on within their midst as the Sparrowhawk craftily selected an unsuspected wader. Other birds within the flock had to be identified via silhouette because of the light so 250 Dunlin, 12 Black-tailed Godwit and a mixed group of 500 Golden Plover and Lapwing. Duck present and barely identifiable in the dark included: Pintail, Teal, Mallard and Shoveler.
A dead Badger was on the bridge above the M56 on Marsh Lane.
Observer and images: WSM
Heading down to the Weaver Bend this morning, the gloomy weather on arrival didn’t bode well for great viewing conditions. Thankfully the worst of the overnight fog had lifted and it was possible to scan the river up to the confluence with the Manchester Ship Canal. I soon had counts of 168 Tufted Duck, 9 Pochard, 4 Gadwall, 15 Little Grebe and 7 Great Crested Grebe plus 2 Black-tailed Godwit. Walking along the embankment I picked up 13 Pintail feeding at the bend and then spirits were lifted further by a Short-eared Owl which began quartering the adjacent fields and briefly landed near the now overgrown Shooter’s Pools.
It’s a long time since I’ve walked around the I.C.I tank so thought I’d give it a go today and was rewarded with a Brambling amongst a small flock of Chaffinches in the hawthorns.
Along the road to Marsh Farm there was still at least one male Stonechat distantly on the fence line by the pipes across No.1 tank. From the farm, a scan across Frodsham Score showed where most of the Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank were today, with flocks of at least 200 of each. Not much else though, so I headed over to No.6 tank. Here were over 400 Teal, 4 more Pintail, 8 more Gadwall and 12 Shoveler with wader counts of 710 Lapwing, 6 Ruff and 6 Black-tailed Godwit. No sign of the Spotted Redshank however and no raptors on show other than the usual Kestrels, Sparrowhawks and Buzzards.
Observer: Greg Baker.
In the mist this morning 2 Short-eared Owl were by the track along No.3 tank and 2 Brambling were in the bushes around the Splashing Pool.
As the visibility started to improve the Spotted Redshank and 3 Ruff were seen on No.6 tank.
A Great White Egret was out on the Mersey Estuary from Marsh Farm at midday and flew west as the tide came in.
Observer: Alyn Chambers
Our man on the western frontiers of the marsh patrolled the border with a fine detail producing a couple of late Wheatear by the Ince Berth. Other species worthy of note were 250 Curlew, 1000 Lapwing, 60 Golden Plover, an incredible 26 Common Buzzard, male Marsh Harrier and a Kestrel. There was a good selection of passerines which apart from the Wheatears included: 4 Stonechat, 2 Jay and plenty of winter thrushes along the hedgerows.
Observer: Shaun Hickey (images 2-3).
A misty day throughout.
After a walk around Blakemere at Delamere Forest with wildlife being in short supply, we continued an extension to our ramble by adding in Frodsham Marsh. Walking the track alongside No.5 tank we immediately flushed a Short-eared Owl from the rough area that runs adjacent to the rough track. After some brief views we walked up to the junction of No’s 5. 6 and 3 tanks where we met Colin and Carol Wilson from Glossop (who were stopping off from a visit to BMW reserve). Soon after a couple of Short-eared Owl were watched quartering the rough pasture land at the west end of No.5 tank. A little later the same or another two were seen from a distance over the east end of that tank. It is difficult to guess if these were the same birds which were moving widely? I fired off a few shots on my camera and then continued looking out for last nights harrier. I asked Colin if I could use his scope and he kindly allowed me to look through his top of the range Swarovski telescope when I spotted an owl perched up on a post. The bird eventually turned its head and revealed a long pair of ear tufts and fiery red eyes…A rarely seen sat out in the open Long-eared Owl which was still there when we left in the dark.
Looking back at my pictures on the way home I noticed one of the owls quartering the area was the LEO.
Observers: Colin & Carol Wilson, Sparky, WSM (and images 1 & 4-7)