Some would say that September is the best month for migration and others would argue that May brings the sunshine birds. I’ve always been in the September camp and every year I look forward to what it brings to my part of Cheshire. This September has been a little under par to say the least and without any species worthy of bragging about I paid another visit after work to the marsh. I unpacked my expectations and brought along plenty of enthusiasm for three hours worth of birding.
Arriving on No.5 tank I set up overlooking No.6 from the north side. The light was good and ducks were very tolerant of my presence as I stood above them on the bank. I scanned the ducks hoping to see something new from the regular assortment. The Common Teal flock were spread out from the flooded daisy beds to hauling out on the south bank. The 200 Shoveler had obviously increased from the last week and birds were scattered widely. Out on the water were 12 Pintail, 130 Wigeon and smaller counts of Common Shelduck, Mallard and Pochard. A flight of 100 Tufted Duck flew in from the river at dusk and soon settled with others already present.
A flock of 9 Ruff and 7 Avocet were the only shorebirds on the mud. A young Peregrine tested out its hunting techniques scattering the ducks and forcing the Ruff to leave the area for 30 minutes. The young falcon settled on the dried out mud in the centre of the tank close to a strutting Stock Dove which did’t appear too unduly concerned by the raptor sat close by. No sooner had the ducks resettled than a juvenile Marsh Harrier caused them to rise into the air again before they dropped down on the open water.
I moved along the track to view the mitigation area on No.3 tank and was surprised to find that there were some birds feeding on the muddy scrape! On closer inspection a group of 8 Curlew Sandpiper were feeding with 9 Black-tailed Godwit and 12 Common Teal.
A Spotted Crake over at Northwich gave me the incentive to check the secluded pool but despite me hanging on there until dark I could’nt conjure one out of reedbeds. A juvenile Garganey was some compensation along with a late juvenile Reed Warbler which was clambering in the reeds. A Cetti’s Warbler gave out a couple of blasts of song from the willow thickets at the junction of tanks 3-5 and 6.
I ended the evening walking back to my car stopping briefly to watch an adult Peregrine fly up to the blue-topped chimney to roost.
No real rares (as they call them these days) but some nice birding.
Observer and images: WSM.