Walking out from Ince this morning and the lane from the pig farm which on my last visit was crawling with winter thrushes. Today there was only a handful of Blackbird and Song Thrush with the hawthorn hedges now stripped of all their berries! A few nest boxes have been placed in the trees along the lane and a screen has been built along the ditch overlooking one of the new pools which presumably will be shot over? The pools held a few Mallard and Grey Heron with a flying Little Egret overhead.
On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and 3 adult and 1 juvenile Whooper Swan were in a field close to the berth with a further 5 out on the salt marsh. Several Little Egret and there were a couple of Great White Egret also noted.
A Merlin shot over the marsh and put a couple of thousand Lapwing and Starling up into the air. On the ship canal were the usual Mallard, Common Teal, Tufted Duck with 3 Great Crested Grebe amongst them. Common Buzzard and Kestrel were hunting in between the turbines on No.4 tank and a Water Rail could be heard in the reed bed.
A pair of Stonechat and a flock of Meadow Pipit were on the canal bank. Later the pipits were the main target for a female Merlin which pursued them with fury before returning back on its favoured perch.
A small skein of Pink-footed Goose passed high over heading north. Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Redshank joined together to feed with a Little Stint (top right hand side of wader image). The usual flocks of Mallard, Common Teal, Shoveler, Common Shelduck and smaller numbers of Common Pochard and Pintail.
Goldfinch and Linnet were in good numbers again and a large flock of Chaffinch were in the bushes on the west bank of No.6.
Observer and images: Paul Ralston.