A flock of Long-tail Tit held a couple of Goldcrest and a Chiffchaff within their throng along the Manchester Ship Canal path this morning. There were at least 8 Little Egret on the Frodsham Score salt marsh and another 2 were seen flying west along the canal. A Merlin was keeping a close eye on the finch flocks along the banks of No.4 tank, as was a couple of Kestrel. A female Sparrowhawk with a full crop presumably containing one of the aforementioned flew by. The ‘secluded pool’ held a dozen Gadwall while the mitigation pools on No.3 tank had a few Wigeon and 2 Black-tailed Godwit. Walking back along the canal path and I flushed out 2 Green Sandpiper from the waters bank.
A pair of Stonechat were again in brambles close to the pumping station.
The new pools at Ince Marsh fields which on my way in held Mallard, Common Teal and several Grey Heron and on my way out held a couple of Wigeon and a single Black-tailed Godwit. The hedgerows along the lane had Redwing, Blackbird and a party of Mistle Thrush.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2 & 6).
After a few days up in the Cairngorms my visit to the marsh today lacked a certain je ne sais quoi with low grey clouds and poor light that was barely conducive to birding or photographing birds.
It was nice to bump into Paul on the banks above No.6 and have a gas about birding stuff. While we were chatting a flock of Dunlin had already gathered on the muddy margins to the open water. They were joined by several waves of incoming Dunlin which massed together (probably numbering a couple of thousand birds). A flock of 120 Black-tailed Godwit flew in and like the Dunlin flocks before were spooked by the flying model aircraft over the opposite banks and all headed back to the Mersey estuary.
A flock of 15 Ruff were a little more tolerant and contained a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper. Another 5 Curlew Sands flew in with a solitary Dunlin in tow for several circuits of the water before thinking better of it. A Golden Plover was watched high overhead but was more interested in where the other plovers had got to?
The ducks numbers have dropped off again while Common Teal and Shoveler were well below the counts from my previous visit. Both Gadwall and Common Pochard had made a slight increase with 10 of the latter along with the 45 Tufted Duck present. A skein of 74 Pink-footed Goose flew over barking as they headed south.
At Marsh Farm there were 3 Stonechat along the fence bordering No.1 tank and the ubiquitous Raven were loitering and waiting for one (or more) sheep to ‘pop their clogs’.
Looking out from the farm to the Weaver Sluices there were numerous Redshank feeding including one with its right foot missing!
Observers: Paul Ralston, WSM (images 1 & 3-5).