15.04.14. Birdlog

The tide on the River Mersey wasn’t a particularly high one but it would be enough to dislodge a few shorebirds from their busy refueling stop out there. The cold north-westerly chilled the bones especially when I had forgotten to pack my coat this morning. I walked along the track bordering No.5 tank to my favourite spot overlooking No.6. After chatting to a couple of birders I made a seat from an old log I had brought along. Affording some shelter behind the spindle bushes I settled down to watch the godwits gathered in the shallow waters below.

There wasn’t a large number of birds at first but during the course of the morning things started to pick up. Black-tailed Godwit numbers steadily rose to c1000 birds with just the one Icelandic colour ringed bird from earlier this month. Hidden within the flock were 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 6 Knot. Despite the presence of two or three Marsh Harrier hunting in the distance there was little in the way of disturbance, generally waders were settled throughout the day. On the odd occasion when they did fly up they soon resettled and resumed their feeding, roosting or preening.

At the height of the tide the Dunlin flocks started to arrive and I estimated that there was c1000 birds in a variety of summer plumages and with bill lengths suggesting that some of these birds have a long migration ahead of them. One of these birds had a serious injury to its lower breast region with a large part of bloodied flesh and feathers hanging loose (see above image). I got a brief view of a Little Stint but it got lost within the tightly packed Dunlin flock. An hour later it reappeared and gave some cracking views feeding on the flattened matted reed stems below where I was sitting.

The recent emergence of Avocet included 16 birds again today including birds flying to and fro. The Ruff are pluming out with the elegant males attaining ornate feather ruffs but it’s still early for the pre-lek bouts that usually happen in April-May.

A flock of 105 Golden Plover were quite anti-social preferring their own company to that of the other waders and they settled out on the drier ground some distance away to the south end of the tank. The occasional Ringed Plover and Curlew were other species noted today.

I’m never one to miss out on adding ducks to the day count so 124 Shoveler, 115 Common Shelduck, 45 Tufted Duck and 230 Common Teal were duly written down.

Passerines included a steady passage of several hundred Sand Martin with Swallow moving along in lesser numbers.

We have some beautiful countryside in north-west Cheshire but obviously some people think it’s there for their waste disposal.

Observers: Paul Ralston (12-13), WSM (images 1-11 & 13-16).