A pleasant reminder that where there’s muck there’s birds when a small flock of Curlew were feeding amongst the pigs at the start of my trek on the marsh this morning. Flocks of Redwing and Blackbird were commonplace in the hedgerows through Ince Marsh with plenty of Chaffinch and Reed Bunting to whet my appetite. The new pools held many Mallard and a few Common Teal with 8 Grey Heron on the pools themselves. On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a drake Goldeneye was in company with the Coot, 8 Little and 5 Great Crested Grebe.
The fields alongside the Holpool Gutter had a flock of c1000 Lapwing and the Whooper Swan have now risen to six birds with 8 host Mute Swan for company.
Further along the path 3 Stonechat were in the reed bed and a female Merlin tore in to a charm of Goldfinch but missed out on hanging a gold trinket to her collection. A Marsh Harrier passed overhead and made its way out to the Frodsham Score. A roving band of Long-tailed Tit held a golden nugget with a Goldcrest in their throng. After leaving WSM on the bank of No.6 tank I made my way back to the canal path cutting across the corner where I flushed a Woodcock from the pipeline. The Lapwing alongside the Holpool Gutter had now been joined by a flock of c300 Golden Plover and these were eyed up by the female Merlin who was sat on a bush in the middle of the field. A Little Egret was in a field near the pig farm and the Curlew numbers had increased to over a 100.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-4).
I made an early start for the incoming tide on my WeBS count today. The steady drizzle and low cloud didn’t do nothing for a lens cloth that ended up spreading water over the object lens of both telescope and binoculars. Eventually the clear weather punched its way through and the rest of the day up to sunset was ideal for a spot of birding.
A flock of 123 Shoveler was below the precious counts but the tide out on the estuary wasn’t particularly high so I guess a lot of ducks were staying out on the river. Common Teal are well and truly back for the winter with a scattered flock of 378 birds. Pintail were again lingering here with 26, Tufted Duck totaled 43 with a big increase of Common Pochard to 26. Common Shelduck, Mallard and Gadwall were in reduced number but a couple of young Goldeneye were not expected.
Shorebirds lacked the big numbers but variety is they say the spice of life: 25 Common Snipe, 230 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Golden Plover, 1000 Lapwing, 210 Dunlin (including a summer plumaged bird pictured below), 2 Green Sandpiper and a Little Stint.
A Little Egret spent the whole day here on No.6 until dusk when it up lifted and flew out to the salt marshes. The Little Stint spent the entire day feeding with a couple of Dunlin on the muddy margins of the sludge tank and even had a good preen before roosting with the Lapwing for the night.
A Common Buzzard got corned by a group of crows on one of the brick drainage towers. This was followed by the sighting of a Peregrine high over No.5 tank, the same bird or another was perched up on the blue topped chimney sometime later.