I started my walk out at Ince this morning and the drake Pintail was again on the new pools there with both Mallard and Common Teal. A small flock of Fieldfare were searching the bushes for the remaining berries.
Along the canal path a large flock of mixed finches included Linnet, Goldfinch and Chaffinch with several Reed Bunting were active in the area. They all got spooked when a Sparrowhawk cruised by. On the Manchester Ship Canal were a few ducks including Common Teal. Tufted Duck, Mallard with Coot, Little and Great Crested Grebe gathered. A herd of 18 Mute Swan with 5 Greylag Goose were on the field alongside the Holpool Gutter. A ship was making its way out of the ship canal and flushed 2 Common Sandpiper from the far bank with 3 Redshank . I saw a Peregrine which was in hot pursuit of a wader that managed to seek the safety of the bank of No.4 while the falcon throw on its anchors and aborted the mission. I finished 2016 with a Chiffchaff and started 2017 with a Chiffchaff that popped up of top of some bushes on the banks of No.6.
A couple of Little Stint were with a small flock of 50 Dunlin and a larger flock of Black-tailed Godwit which were close in to the bank. A Great Crested Grebe was seen to catch a small silver fish while a Grey Heron was searching for eels in the shallow water. There were several Stonechat during the course of my walk and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was in bushes on the south end of 6.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-4 & 8 & 10).
On arrival at Moorditch Lane close to the bridge the crosses the M56 motorway the Fieldfare and Redwing were still feeding in the horse paddock field. Along the track that separates No.5 and No.6 tanks, it opens out on your left hand side revealing the open vista of the working sludge tank of six. Today the majority of the mud and open water was frozen and there were no calidris waders present from Paul’s earlier visit. A gathering of 3-400 Common Teal, 77 Shoveler, 45 Common Shelduck, 3 drake Wigeon, 15 Common Pochard, 23 Tufted Duck and 7 Pintail were a decent mixture of ducks.
I didn’t linger long and continued to No.4 where I met PR and we carried on to the eastern edge of the tank to watch the incoming tide. Overlooking Frodsham Score salt marshes the only birds viewable were the usual Canada Goose with a couple of white domestic birds in tow. The Great White Egret soon appeared from Ince marshes and was joined by half a dozen Little’s. The GWE flew out and settled on the score giving some good views on a beautiful sunny day with a slight breeze only increasing with the arrival of the tide. Shorebirds were moving in the distance with Dunlin, Grey Plover and Curlew staying on the rivers edge.
A Green Sandpiper flew out of the Holpool Gutter below the bank where we stood and 4 Stonechat were giving good views from the same area. Paul had seen another 6 birds at various points of his walk and I managed an additional pair later in the day on No.5. So, given the 6 birds seen at the eastern end of the marsh we have 18 birds this winter!
An adult Peregrine flew into the salt marsh and landed on a washed up tree and soon after took flight and headed purposely to the Growhow Works where it connected with another adult and they both engaged in a ritual aerial display. This was a great spectacle to watch and was made even better when a third bird came into view and all three were in the air together. Shortly after Paul said his farewell I continued watching the big gulls roosting the tide out while a Merlin shot overhead.
I returned to No.6 but there wasn’t much in the way of shorebirds, even the godwits uprooted and headed out to the river. There was plenty of squealing Water Rails in the reed bed below the bank and a couple of Common Snipe flew over head.
Video from the viewing area of No.6 tank: https://vimeo.com/197938629