I came through Stanlow on my way to the marsh today and I watched a pair of Peregrine displaying over the oil plant works which wasn’t not the best of backdrops for such a fine species. I parked by the pig farm at Ince where a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew fed in the fields near to the new pools. The pools had Common Teal, Mallard and Gadwall with a pair of Mute Swan which appear to have taken up residence ere. Onwards to the Manchester Ship Canal path and again several hundred Canada Goose with a few Greylag Goose present on the cut. Sharing the waters here were more Common Teal, Gadwall and Mallard. The drake Mallard are looking in their best plumage at the moment and the females are appreciative of their finery.
The numerous black-backed gull species and Raven were all tucking in to the trendy salt marsh lamb on the score, while several Little Egret added a note of sophistication. A skein of c300 Pink-footed Goose dropped in from the south and landed on Frodsham Score adjacent to the Mersey side of the Holpool Gutter. The mitigation pool on No.3 tank had a number of Common Teal, some Shoveler, Common Shelduck and Mallard with a few Redshank and Black-tail Godwit. A huge flock of Dunlin were on No.6 tank with a smaller flock of godwit and redshank. The flooded fields at the junction of No.4 and 6 held more Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank and 2 Ruff with 4 Mute Swan in the fields at Lordship Marsh. The Whooper Swan group could be seen in the distance near the M56. The Mute Swan herd minus their Greylag companions were alongside the Holpool Gutter. A pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker were in the wood near the incinerator plant and the Rook were gathered alongside their nests in the rookery.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-4).
It was my turn to work this weekend so come the end of day it was with relief to spend the rest of it (until sunset) watching some really great birds. It was good to bump into Paul on the banks of No.6 tank and watch the build up of 5000 Dunlin crammed together like passangers in a Japanese bullet train. There were very few of them (Dunlin that is) venturing out from the main body to feed but the Little Stint were not with them, although they were reported earlier. A look through the c200 flock of Black-tailed Godwit included two colour ringed birds (details to follow) and a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit. A light in flight movement of Lapwing and Golden Plover featured birds in the low hundreds for a change and 15 Ruff and 134 Redshank were nice fillers.
I started a count of the Tufted Duck flock which were slightly out of my vision to the eastern end of the sludge tank and became difficult to see. The Shoveler flocks eased out from the banks and the tufie’s were encouraged to follow in tow. The Common Pochard were again numbering 26 birds but it was surprising to find 5 Scaup within their midst. A species that hasn’t been a regular visitor to the marsh over the last few years.
Video of Scaup here: https://vimeo.com/204800645
The wader flocks were getting agitated and every so often they would wheel up and produce some fine aerial displays but the cause of their distress eluded me.
A male Merlin was perched on the fence line across No.5 tank but I’m sure its intentions were mainly for the Sturnus types.
All in all not a bad tally for the after work slot and another fine sunset to round off the day went down nicely.
Observers: Mick Turton, WSM (images and video 1 & 4-7).
The Peregrine was again sat by the heraldic shield on Ethelfleda railway bridge across the River Mersey and the Nordic Jackdaw was still coming in for scraps at the boating lake at Park Road, Runcorn today (WSM).