Out early this morning and a mass of Wood Pigeon crossed the M53 motorway as I made my way to the marshes. Started at Ince and the new pools there. The pools held 30 Mallard a couple of Common Teal, 3 Grey Heron and a fly over Little Egret. On to the canal path were more Mallard with a few Gadwall which were wary now that the shooting season is in full swing.
At least 10 Little Egret and a single Great White Egret were out on the Frodsham Score salt marsh, while a large flock of Wigeon were out on the edge of the river. There was a couple of Whooper Swan which looked fresh in and still stained by tundra silt. The usual Lapwing and Curlew were in the field alongside the Holpool Gutter. Two Stonechat were again by the dredging berth at the Pumping Station and several Meadow Pipit were noted. Along Lordship Lane a flock of 50 Curlew were near the model aircraft flying field and a Kingfisher left the ditch and flew over the bank. Another Kingfisher was seen at the junction of tanks 4 and 6. Another pair of Stonechat were feeding alongside the flying field and yet another pair on No.4.
Back along the Manchester Ship Canal a pair of Green Sandpiper were in company with a Redshank and several Reed Bunting were in the hedgerow. Quiet on the raptor front with only Common Buzzard and Kestrel noted and no winter thrushes seen on the walk.
No.6 tank held good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing and Redshank with Common Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Mallard and Common Shelduck on the water.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-4).
The searing cold northerly wind would have cut through me standing on the banks above No.6 tank if it wasn’t for a spot of creative thinking. A pile of bricks and tussocks of grass saw my seating plan put in place. It became almost barmy! It was certainly warm enough to provide sheltered feeding for a late Migrant Hawker but the biggest surprise was a Painted Lady that made a couple of circuits along the bank (see image 11).
The ducks present were variously disturbed by people peering over the banks or shouting at their dogs but despite this I estimated that there were: 214 Shoveler, 24 Pintail, 23 Mallard, 40 Gadwall, 400 Common Teal, 40 Common Shelduck, 47 Tufted Duck and 5 Common Pochard.
Shorebirds are always my main interest and a scattered flock of 200 Dunlin (many long-billed birds to cause confusion), 4 Curlew Sandpiper and a Little Stint moulting into their winter plumages. Also noted were 5 Ruff, 120 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Golden Plover and 120 Lapwing. A Little Egret appeared from nowhere amidst the shorebird flocks but didn’t stay.
Video of the Little Stint here: https://vimeo.com/190475779
Observer: WSM (images 1 & 5-11).