The winds of change had moved to a more northerly direction and it felt cold even with gloved hands and scarf to ward off the icy chill. I arrived at my watch position mid morning to the embankment overlooking the rapidly expanding muddy margins to the No.6 sludge tank. The Dunlin flocks were again gathered a few metres out on the mud but in much reduced numbers from dusk last year. The waders numbered c900 birds and included 210 Black-tailed Godwit but I couldn’t find the hoped for Little Stints.
There was also lesser numbers of ducks to watch through but at least Pochard were back with 16 birds. The Tufted Ducks flocks are fluctuating each day and today’s count revealed 45 birds. Common Teal were well scattered with c560 present with a few Shoveler and Pintail for good measure.
I shifted my position and relocated to watch from the top of the ramp on the south-east corner of No.4. From this point I could scan across Lordship Marsh and the flooded fields either side and in front of the blue silage tank. The whole area looks great for waders and a Green Sandpiper was seen dozing on the edge of the field. Nine Ruff were actively feeding and one male was doing an early courtship dance for a (not interested) female. There were also 140 Redshank, 670 Lapwing and 70 Dunlin alongside Lordship Lane and a passing noisy rattling vehicle didn’t seem to disrupt their feeding too much. The 15 Whooper Swan had moved a little way to Hillview Farm but still close enough to the M56 (if you’re passing west along the carriageway).
I took a trek out to the corner of No.4 to view the incoming tide and small numbers of smoke like wafts of Dunlin were moving along the edge of the salt marsh. Other shorebirds included 100 Redshank and c200 Grey Plover. A very distant Great White Egret with its serpent like neck and head was swaying along the borderline with Ince marshes. There were also c5 Little Egret flopping about on various sections of Frodsham Score. A couple of wildfowlers were walking across the marshes while an attentive flock of Canada Geese were keeping an eye on them. Likewise, an adult Peregrine perched up on a washed up tree was equally keen on eyeing up the hundreds of Wigeon swimming into the tidal gutter. A sub-adult male Marsh Harrier flew along the banks and eventually made its way onto No.4 where it dodged the turbines before moving out to the reed beds on six.
The cold wind was beginning to seep through my thick down coat and the lack of sensation to my fingers promoted a tactical retreat. I retraced my steps and headed back to my original point overlooking No.6. When I arrived back the Dunlin flock had grown a little from earlier and it didn’t take long for me to pick out a single Little Stint.
Not a bad choice from the Frodsham’s selection box on the first day of a brand new year.
Observer and images: WSM.