After the first heavy overnight frost of the year it was with some expectation that some birds would be dispersed from their frozen roosting or feeding grounds to seek unfrozen areas on the marsh. On arrival to No.6 tank it was a bit of a surprise to see 90% of the water frozen. The first birds seen were 4 Green Sandpiper fly in and settle in the flooded daisy beds. A few Common Snipe flew over but generally it looked and sounded quiet. There was a few unfrozen spots on the water where 74 Shoveler, 44 Common Teal and 4 Little Grebe could be found but a flock of 26 Pochard, 4 Tufted Duck and 28 Black-tailed Godwit were less fortunate and circled a few times before heading back out to the river.
The 1st winter Marsh Harrier was watched quartering the reed beds but soon settled on the carcass of a dead Teal, that was until a couple of crows discovered the free food and forced the harrier off its breakfast.
The cold weather did force big numbers of plovers onto the marsh and several thousand Lapwing were on and off No.3 tank on several occasions. It was a nice surprise to see the Golden Plover flocks back to No.5 tank with 1200 birds wheeling around before settling down to feed with 50 Curlew joining them. All this shorebird activity attracted the attention of both Merlin and Peregrine to the area.
A couple of Kestrel on No.5 tank were quite tolerant of each offer which is more than they were with 2-3 Short-eared Owl which emerged from cover at midday. A male Stonechat was in the reedy ditch by the track on No.5 tank.
A large flock of 80 Stock Dove were feeding on the drier parts of No.6.
Frodsham Score had 6 Grey Plover and the Whooper Swan herd of 16 birds while a couple flew over No.5 tank.
The Weaver estuary had 45 Coot, 16 Common Snipe, 30 Redshank, 25 Common Pochard, 5 male, 7 female Goldeneye and Tufted Duck. While on No.1 tank a couple of pairs of Stonechat could be found.
A Kingfisher was noted along the ditch that runs by Moorditch Lane. Along Lordship Lane a tidy flock of 60 Chaffinch and 100 Linnet added to the days tally.
Observers: Tony Broome (images 9-11), Ron Brumby, Paul Crawley, Arthur Harrison, WSM (and images 1-8 & 12-13).
Goldeneye and Golden Plovers.
A view of the Manchester Ship Canal at the confluance of the River Weaver.