Out for a walk this afternoon from Ince and around No.4 tank. The Chiffchaff was the commonest migrant throughout my walk from start to finish. The pools near the Pig Farm had the usual Mallard, Common Teal, Tufted Duck and Gadwall with a Green Sandpiper feeding at the edge of one.
On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a few hundred Canada Goose were on the canal with a single Barnacle Goose amongst them. The Lesser and Great Black-backed Gull flocks were bathing in the canal and several Raven were out on patrol over the salt marshes. A Marsh Harrier was hunting along the bank on No.4 as were 5 Common Buzzard and a Kestrel. The Mute Swan herd is still present alongside the Holpool Gutter and a dozen Curlew were in the same fields. Lapwing were on corvid patrol along Lordship Lane protecting their nests in the stubble fields and the Skylark song was on high. No sign of the Little Egret today which is a first for quite a while.
Observer and images: Paul Ralston.
The threat of rain was in the air this evening but nonetheless it didn’t deter me from my goal. I walked through the periods of showers until I reached the banks overlooking No.6 tank. I could hear the sounds of Golden Plover but it took a while before they appeared in flight from the rushy area on the south end of the tank. After a while they settled down with a similar number of 20 Ruff. Small numbers of Lapwing and Curlew were also present but the godwit flock had vacated the area (for now). A small number of 6 Avocet were feeding in the shallows.
Tufted Duck featured a relatively big flock with 64 birds but again no Common Pochard. A pair of Pintail and 230 Common Teal were flushed from the flooded vegetation.
Over on the mitigation area were 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Redshank, 30 Common Teal and 23 Shoveler.
Four Common Buzzard were hanging in the air riding the uplifts from the steep banks of the tank and presumably in attendance to a female which the other three were curiously attentive to. An adult Peregrine flew over to No.4 tank but didn’t linger.
Walking back to my car and a Cetti’s Warbler aimed a few blasts of song from a bramble patch and shown itself very briefly. A lone Sand Martin flew overhead into the wind but generally summer migrants are not showing in force just yet.
Observer: WSM (images).
We had a great afternoon around the marsh today, No.6 tank held a large flock of Golden Plover, with a few possible Grey Plover with them? There were lots of Wigeon and Gadwall, few Avocet and lapwing too! The new scrape had more Avocet,few pairs of Black-tailed Godwit, the males were bright copper. Ducks included Mallard, Wigeon, Shoveler. Frodsham Score was full of Common Shelduck, Canada Goose, Raven and a lovely pair of Stonechat by the pipes walking round No.5 tank. There was a flock of about 35 juvenile Mute Swan feeding on the wheat fields. A possible Marsh Harrier in the middle of the tank and lots of Common Buzzard floating about! Another great day at the marsh!
Observers: Guy Groves and Peter Malpas.
Image by Paul Ralston.
It’s been a great few days of Spring sunshine and this afternoon’s walk via No.6 up to No.4 tanks and then back along Lordship Lane was definitely required.
Walking up the ramp to No.5 tank at the start of our walk and immediately a short but emphatic blast from a Cetti’s Warbler could be heard from the south banks of the tank.
On No.6 tank the Black-tailed Godwit flock have increased with c400 birds crammed into the reedy bay at the south side of the sludge. As always whenever there’s a large group of one wader species they act as a protective surrogate mother figure, and the first alarm system whenever danger threatens. The Golden Plover were absent today but were replaced by 20 Ruff which were feeding on the fringe of the roosting godwits. The Redshank group were tucked in tightly within the main body of birds. In the distance 10 Avocet were more independent and feed freely with the Common Teal in the shallows.
As I mentioned the warm sunshine edged by a slight bite to the south-easterly wind brought out plenty of butterflies with Small Tortoiseshell and a Green-veined White being the most obvious. While Spring flowers like Butterbur, Coltsfoot and Lesser Celandine added a much-needed splash of colour to the wayside and ditches.
Apart from the usual Raven gatherings and pairs of Common Buzzard Frodsham Score was rather quiet despite the river on the ebb. The only saving grace was a east bound Sand Martin heading over the Canal Pools and a Siskin moving north.
Walking back along Lordship Lane the continued Whooper Swan void would suggest they have headed north to the land of fire and ice?
An adult Peregrine shot over Moorditch Lane flushing out a pair of Mallard from the ditch. I’m sure its intended targets (pigeons) were feeding on grain in the fields close to Twiggery Wood. A few Kestrel were out and about with 4 birds present.
If the fastest animal on earth wasn’t enough a Tornado shot over Liverpool and could be seen banking before heading back out to the coast. On the under carriage it was carrying jamming pods and counter measures for self defence.? So watch out Vladimir! A big thanks to all those that corresponed with the details via the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/The-Birds-of-Frodsham-Marsh-117180855126736/
Observers: Sparky & WSM (images).
Leaving the car behind with the sunniest day of the year ahead I walked along Moorditch Lane and bumped into Alyn on the way. We both embarked on a long stride through the marshes to the distant boundary before heading back via the pumping station.
A look over the north banks of No.6 tank only produced 50 Tufted Duck and 5 Common Pochard but the sunlight at that particular time wasn’t at its best. We continued our walk and repositioned ourselves overlooking the tank from the south banks. The light was much better and with a little creative positioning we managed to see all the waders that were there. The majority were tucked into a bay of the water, mud and reeds and were either roosting or preening. The Black-tailed Godwit flock were tightly packed but I estimated there were c250 with 4 Dunlin, 140 Redshank, 5 Ruff and 200 Golden Plover. There were 9 Avocet feeding in the shallow water further out with much reduced counts of Common Teal, Shoveler, Pintail and Common Shelduck.
Continuing our walk we looked over the flooded fields on Lordship Marsh but apart from the in situ Mute Swan pair the rest of the swans including the Whooper’s had vacated the area.
Eventually we found ourselves perched on the banks overlooking Frodsham Score where numerous Raven were heavy bellied, well fed and generally just loafing about. The Common Buzzard were out in force with several birds mewing to attract the attention of others, or generally in the act of display. The act of amore was definitely in the air today. The distant flocks of geese on the edge of the score salt marsh could have been pinkie’s and the white shimmering blobs could have been Whooper’s but that was left to the mirage.
Walking back along the tow path the only birds of note were 12 Ruff heading out to the river. A Stonechat and a tally of 24 Meadow Pipit were counted and the best we could produce.
The pipes across No.1 had a fine male Wheatear which Alyn had found earlier in the day. The Wheatear and a smattering of Chiffchaff singing from several locations were the obvious migrants.
A few additional birds worthy of inclusion were 14 Goldeneye and 16 Pintail on the Weaver estuary (AC).
A great day for a walk but perhaps not a great day for passage migrants although there were great views of the commoner species.
The butterflies included both Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock’s.
Observers: Alyn Chambers, WSM (images).
I spent the last hour of the evening walking around No.6 tank. Several Chiffchaff were singing their tip tapping song but the more assertive song of a Cetti’s Warbler the air along the west bank.
There were good numbers of duck on the waters of the tank and included Common Teal, Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler and a few Common Pochard. Avocet tallied 8 birds and were feeding at the waters edge alongside a flock of Lapwing.
A Marsh Harrier flew over the reed bed and a several hundred Golden Plover passed over heading towards the estuary. The mitigation pools held another 10 Avocet and more Common Teal. Shoveler and 6 Black-tailed Godwit.
At the south end of No.6 were 2 Green Sandpiper which left the reed bed and did a circuit of the tank and then were joined by a third bird and all 3 dropped back down in to the reeds.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).
While Paul was doing his thang down on the marsh I was heading through the forest at Delamere. Apart from a few Siskin and Lesser Redpoll feeding in the larch trees it was a quiet. Not so quiet was Blakemere with its raucous Black-headed Gull colony in full courtship rituals.
My tally for Mediterranean Gull this evening reached 8 pairs including a ringed pair (one metal and the other white), unfortunately they were too distant to be able to read the white one.
Observers: Sparky, WSM (image 4-8).
A Comma Butterfly from a superb early Spring day.
The last hour of the day was spent from Ince fields to the Holpool Gutter which kicked off with 3 Chiffchaff by the Pig Farm. The pools had 4 Common Shelduck along with the Mallard, Common Teal and Gadwall and a Little Egret flew in to join the fun.
Further out on the Frodsham Score salt marsh were 8 Whooper Swan and a flock of Redshank flew along the canal.
A Marsh Harrier was hunting along the bank on No.4 tank and 38 Mute Swan were grazing alongside the gutter.
There was over 30 Little Egret seen heading to their roost by Ince berth.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-5)
Another Little Egret and a Great Crested Grebe both along the Manchester Ship Canal by the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port on my way to work this morning.
I was stationed at my trusty spot overlooking the open waters of No.6 tank and met Arthur who had already been been on site. The waders present were facing the cold stiff easterly and were in a better position to view in that they were side on. They consisted of 221 Black-tailed and incredibly a pair of Bar-tailed Godwit (one large and one much smaller sized bird).
There were a few Dunlin mixed into the flock and at least 3 Knot all still in their winter plumage. The Redshank flock was still in the hundreds mark and all kept to the south side of the tank close to the thick flooded vegetation. The Avocet flock is increasing daily and of the 20 present several were in the act of amore. Another 4 were on the mitigation area on No.3 tank.
A flock of 50 Tufted Duck were also pairing up and the 8 Common Pochard were also in tow and all were on No.6 tank. Nearby Common Shelduck, 80 Shoveler, 100 Common Teal and 23 Wigeon were gathered on No.3 tank.
Two Marsh Harrier dropped into No.6 at dusk and flew around for a while before edging out of sight. Two pairs of Common Buzzard were in aerial display while 3 Kestrel were busy hunting.
The Raven exodus continued from 4.30pm until the sun set over Liverpool and finally walking back to my car and a Cetti’s Warbler sang out from the thickets close to the ramp on Moorditch Lane.
Observer: WSM (images 1 & 6-7).
An evening ramble took me to the north banks above No.6 tank and below me was a smattering of shorebirds. There were 200 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Avocet, c200 Redshank and a single Dunlin. Nothing unusual there really but one of those well wishing helium filled party balloons flew over from the direction of Helsby. This didn’t go down very well and everything alive on the tank flew up and circled around for ages. Most of the ducks and the Avocet flock soon resettled but the Redshank and godwits headed out to the estuary…not to return!
The Tufted Duck were as always clustered close to the eastern side of the sludge tank but yesterdays absent Common Pochard were back to normal with 8 birds present and accountered for. Common Teal were numbering a couple of hundred with 120 Shoveler and 11 Gadwall. A couple of Great Crested Grebe and 4 pairs of Little Grebe were back for the spring.
Pondering my next move I spotted a raptor heading over from the east. The young male Marsh Harrier I saw yesterday circled and attracted the attention of a couple of Raven but their attention was soon distracted by the appearance of two more harriers. A female and the sub-adult male spiraled high joining up with the first bird. The male dropped down to quarter the reed beds while the other two drifted off towards No.4 tank.
The mitigation pools had 66 Common Teal competing with a similar number of Shoveler and 12 Gadwall. Another 4 Avocet were engaged in squabbling with each other and some territorial bullying towards the godwits feeding nearby.
The Ravens were heading out earlier this evening to the south but the advancing rain clouds probably contributed to their premature departure.
Observer and images: WSM.
My walk took a slight diversion this evening where I took the opportunity of watching from the south bank of No.6 tank. The thick cloud and low sun didn’t give the right angle of light and most of the birds present were more or less in silhouettes. However the big numbers of Redshank that were present yesterday appeared to have been much reduced and down to 170 birds. On first inspection it didn’t appear that there was much out on the tank but with time a flock of 46 Black-tailed Godwit and 20 Ruff flew in from the west. The Ruff were a mixture of males and reeves with one particular bird beginning to attain a few ornate white plumes on its neck. The Avocet number were down to six birds and a flock of 67 Curlew were keeping very much to their traditional drier areas to the west side of the tank.
Ducks were difficult to count and of the Common Teal viewable I guess there were 123. Common Shelduck are starting to form nuptial groups with much jostling for the prettiest birds. Tufted Duck only managed 43 with a complete absence of Common Pochard.
There was a steady trickle of Raven moving south to their roost. A 1st summer Marsh Harrier flew in from the east while the Peregrine was back on the blue topped chimney and a solitary Kestrel was wind hovering over the banks.
The Whooper Swan herd continue to be frequenting the fields by the M56 and it won’t be long before they start to head north for the summer.
Observer: WSM (images).
The morning rain eventually gave way to bright sunshine and it was in these conditions that I did a spot of birding after work. A Chiffchaff was singing from the hawthorn trees alongside Moorditch Lane. Looking over the open water on No.6 tank the Tufted Duck flock had presumably relocated here from the River Weaver and with them were 4 Common Pochard. The Common Teal flocks were again feeding in the cover of the gone over daisy beds and 210 were flushed out by an unseen predator.
The waders were settled in the shallow water close to the sticky edges of the sludge tank and included 230 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin, 10 Avocet, 15 Ruff, a few lingering Golden Plover and an increase in the number of Redshank which are presumably north bound passage birds with 533 in two flocks.
The flocks of shorebirds were a little edgy after a Merlin shot through but appeared transfixed as a Peregrine circled high overhead. A marauding Marsh Harrier was sent packing by a few of the 50 Raven present in the area.
The mitigation area on No.3 tank had 54 Shoveler, 100 Common Teal, 12 Gadwall, 20 Mallard and 34 Black-tailed Godwit.
Finally the Whooper Swan herd was butted close against the crash barriers in fields by the M56.
Walking back to Frodsham the looming blackness and rain was heading in from the west but not before the sun finally provided a fine example of itself.
Observers: Arthur Harrison, WSM (and images).
NB. Earlier in the day my first Willow Warbler was heard singing from Spike Island, Widnes.