19 & 20.04.17. Birdlog

19.04.17 Birdlog

There was 6 Pink-footed Goose with the Black-tailed Godwit flock on No.6 tank. Meanwhile a Whitethroat close to the ramp track was close to where Sedge Warbler was singing from the reed ditch there.

Observer: Gary Worthington.

20.04.17. Birdlog

An after work trip and a watch over No.6 tank saw the continuing build up of the Black-tailed Godwit flocking to the marsh.

A thorough scan of the flock which were gathered close to the north banks revealed 650 birds (4 colour-ringed) and hidden in their number was a single Bar-tailed Godwit (centre middle in above image 3). Also noted were 6 Knot (one beginning its summer moult), 30 Redshank (bird in image 5 with metal ring on raised leg), 2 Curlew, 4 Whimbrel, 16 Ruff (in their fine dandy neckerchiefs), a solitary Greenshank was heard calling before it was spotted feeding along the waters edge on the south edge of the tank. Six Common Snipe, 8 Ringed Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper and 7 Dunlin.

The reported Curlew Sandpiper  reappeared out of nowhere and it was great to watch this wanderer feeding belly deep in and out of the towering godwits. A flock of 20 Golden Plover flew over calling but decided not to settle and moved off elsewhere. With 10 Avocet on No.6 and another 24 birds on the mitigation pools produced a new high count of 34 birds so far this Spring. It was definitely shorebird central on the marsh this evening.

Duck were playing second fiddle to the waders this evening with 105 Tufted Duck, 67 Shoveler, 100 Common Shelduck, Gadwall and Common Teal noted.

Sedge Warbler song rang loud and proud from the reed beds while a few Sand Martin were heading west.

Curlew Sandpiper video here: https://vimeo.com/214081625

Observers: Nigel Troup, WSM (images and video).

I believe the finder of the Curlew Sandpiper was Janet Jones?

18.04.17. Birdlog

An early evening watch over No.6 tank produced a flock of 400 Black-tailed Godwit which were busy preening and bathing in the sunshine. The seven note whistle of a flock of 5 Whimbrel (or should that be 35 whistles?) alerted me to them as they cascaded down from the heavens to settle on the bare mud away from the godwit flock. They flew off calling but return with a Curlew 20 minutes later.

The Little Stint continues to be present but this time it cut a lonesome figure as it feed on the big patches of sludge on the edge of the vegetation.

A Golden Plover had all the look of ‘Goldie no mates’ as it sat belly deep in the water hanging out on the margins of the limosa’s with a few Redshank and 19 Ruff safe guarding the edges.

Ducks on N.6 included 115 Common Shelduck which joined 112 Shoveler, 46 Tufted Duck, 79 Common Teal and several Gadwall. A Fox was prowling along the edge of the reed bed while Lapwing were keeping vigil.

Nearby the Avocet flock reached 27 birds with a solitary Ringed Plover 3 additional Ruff and a variety of ducks.

Passerine migration was slow going this evening but a couple of Sedge Warbler were new in to the reed beds on six.

Observer and images: WSM.

Additional notes 3 Whitethroat (JR).

17.04.17. Birdlog

It felt decidedly cold this morning with the icy wind coming in from the north.  I was serenaded by a couple of Sedge Warbler and watched 100 Sand Martin and a few Swallow brought down by the low cloud on a brief visit.

No.6 tank was quiet with a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit flying in from the flood fields by the M56. Already in situ was 5 Ruff, several Dunlin, 33 Redshank and 3 Avocet. A flock of 115 Golden Plover drew my attention by their evocative calls over head from the direction of the Mersey estuary and they settled out in the middle of No.6 well away from the wet areas. Also with them were 12 Ringed Plover. The drier areas on six also brought in 5 White Wagtail.

Ducks included GADWALL! (Stan) and the usual assortment of 43 Tufted Duck, 120 Shoveler, 60 Common Teal.

A look over No.3 and the mitigation produced more Avocet, Common Teal, Shoveler and a pair of Wigeon.

The Peregrine was sat on the blue topped chimney for the duration of my visit.

Observer and images: WSM.

16.04.17. Birdlog

Out before the rain this morning which included a walk around the sludge tanks.There was a Cetti’s Warbler again at two locations on the marsh and these was joined by Chiffchaff and Blackcap. The wader numbers were low compared to yesterday but the tide was out at the time of my visit. The mitigation pools on No.3 tank had a few Avocet, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit  with Shoveler, Common Teal and a dozen Wigeon around the distant flash. A Wheatear was on the edge of the pool but moved on when a Common Buzzard passed overhead. A Coot has built a nest in the middle of the gutter but I don’t think it will survive when the water level rises again.

A Little Stint was again on No.6 tank.

A Marsh Harrier was drifting over No.4 as where several Common Buzzard. Only 4 Mute Swan were on the field alongside the Holpool Gutter. Back along Lordship Lane and Reed Bunting were back on their territory and a pair of Oystercatcher dropped in to the stubble field which upset the local Lapwing. At the junction of 4 and 6 tanks there were 2 Ringed Plover and several Redshank on what is left of the flood field and a flock of Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in fields by the M56.

Observer: Paul Ralston (sunrise images 3-4).

Additional images 1-2 by WSM.

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).

14.04.17. Birdlog

Not a good Friday to be out as the weather forecast predicted but we don’t listen to their authority that much (do we?). Anyway walking along the track of No.5 tank I bumped into Paul and Mike and we chatted for a while before splitting up and wandered on our way. I continued my walk and settled above the north bank of No.6 tank overlooking the bare sludge mud below.

A small selection of godwits and Redshank were gathered but generally it was underwhelming until I discovered a new colour ringed Black-tail within the flock (details as and when). Within the hour the bird activity increased with small flocks of godwits flying in from presumably the incoming tide on the river.

The total number of birds reached 400 but I’m pretty sure more would have arrived after I departed at midday. A group of 50 Ringed Plover flew in and settled with 200 Dunlin on the drier areas of the tank and another group of Dunlin chose the godwits as company. One or two Ruff joined the 120 Redshank present and 10 Avocet were coming and going throughout my watch.

The duck situation was slightly better than of late with 124 Shoveler, 46 Tufted Duck, c100 Common Shelduck, 230 Common Teal and smaller numbers of Gadwall and Mallard.

A couple of Marsh Harrier were present and a Sparrowhawk caused a bit of consternation with the godwits but flew low over the daisy beds and avoided the waders.

The mitigation was relatively quiet with the exception of a Ringed Plover and Avocet being the highlight. A minor embarrassment was my prediction that the Golden Plover may have left the marshes, 60 birds were on No.5 tank and many were jostling for partners.

The Raven flocks could be seen flying in from over the hills from the south and c200 Sand Martin and a dozen or so Swallow were either feeding over the sludge tank or moving north. The Cetti’s was again vocal, likewise a Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler and a Whitethroat. There were 6 Wheatear at the model aircraft field.

They got the forecast wrong the rain didn’t really arrive until tea time but I’m not complaining with a nice bevy of birds UTB.

The afternoon shift saw 6 Ruff, one Knot, a Bar-tailed Godwit with the Black-tailes, 18 Avocet with the bird still on No.3 (FD).

Observers: Paul Ralston (image 7), Mike Turton (images 1 & 6), WSM (images 2-5 & 8).

Dedicated to Martin Gilbert.

11.04.17. Birdlog (X2)

Another day off and another afternoon birding. I managed a watch from mid morning tide until 4.00pm. We walked out along Moorditch Lane to watch the shorebirds from the south side of No.6 tank. There was an obvious and substantial build up of Black-tailed Godwit today with c2000 birds bunched up close to the bank. A couple of marauding Marsh Harrier high overhead made part of the flock skittish and some left for the estuary while the majority resettled on the north side.

After a while we continued our circumnavigational walk of No.6 tank. There was little in the way of spring migrants in the stiff north-westerly breeze. The mitigation area had tens of Sand Martin riding the wind over the open water. There was the accustomed cluster of Common Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall with a pair of Wigeon adding a minor surprise.

Eventually we started a watch from the north banks where the birds were a lot closer. The main edge of the body of Black-tailed Godwit alos contained 33 Knot, 89 Dunlin, a solitary Little Stint, 16 Avocet, 15 Ruff and plenty of Redshank. It appears most of the Golden Plover may have departed the area?

On the way back to the car a Cetti’s Warbler was making its self known while competing in the spring hit parade were numerous Chiffchaff.

In the sheltered areas and out of the wind butterflies were very prominent with Orangetip being the most numerous.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (and images).

11.04.17 X2

I managed a second bite of the Frodders cherry when I was being taxi driver to Sparky and her friend Jo for a girls night out in Chester. Driving west along the M56 en route I spotted a dead Polecat on the hard shoulder just before the junction 15. On my return journey I saw another Polecat (a kit) dead on the hard shoulder at junction 11 on M53. Pondering these and the two or three dead Badgers seen I missed my turn off for the M56 Junction 14! I ended up taking junction 12 instead so it wasn’t to much of a disaster. Driving over Frodsham Swing bridge and the Avocet were back on the flooded field (but were absent on my return at dusk).

When I eventually got to the marsh most of the Blackwit flock that had been present earlier in the day had departed with just a few stragglers left. The advantage of a smaller scattered flock is the opportunity to spot any colour ringed birds and tonight was no exception.

I managed to find a new colour ringed Blackwit which was first banded in Ireland (more details below) standing alongside a Whimbrel.

The Whimbrel was a pleasant surprise and was still present when I left. Another chose to settle in the tall rank grass some distance away. A few Ruff were still feeding on the margins of the mud with a small group of Redshank and 13 Common Snipe flew noisily out of cover and headed east.

The open water had 230 Common Shelduck, 46 Tufted Duck and 24 Shoveler.

A passage of Sand Martin were heading west in force with perhaps several hundred being noted.

The pools on No.3 tank had what is becoming standard fare with Shoveler, Common Teal, Gadwall and a few Common Shelduck. The Wigeon numbers increased from this afternoon with 4 drakes and 3 females.

A big female Peregrine was tearing away at its supper on the lofty heights of the Blue topped chimney.

The history of the Irish ringed Black-tailed Godwit here:

GN W= N 29 September 2014 Lough Beg, Ringaskiddy, Cork Harbour, County Cork. bom
GN W= S 16 May 2015 The Slob, Youghal, Co.Cork Bob Rock
GN W= S 28 April 2016 Melasveit, Borgarfjarðarsýsla, W Iceland JAG/GFA
GN W= S 05 July 2016 Carr Lane, Hale, Liverpool Rob Cockbain
GN W= S 03 August 2016 Carr Lane Pools (Mersey Estuary), Cheshire David Craven
GN W= S 14 November 2016 Thurstaston Shore, Merseyside, England Steve Hinde, Richard Smith
GN W= S 23 November 2016 Thurstaston Shore, Merseyside, England Richard Smith
GN W= S 24 November 2016 Thurstaston Shore, Merseyside, England Richard Smith
GN W= S 28 November 2016 Thurstaston Shore, Merseyside, England Richard Smith
GN W= S 06 January 2017 Thurstaston Shore, Merseyside, England Richard Smith
GN W= S 17 January 2017 Thurstaston Shore, Merseyside, England Richard Smith
GN W= S 30 January 2017 Thurstaston Shore, Merseyside, England Richard Smith
GN W= S 14 February 2017 Thurstaston Shore, Merseyside, England Richard Smith
GN W= S 11 April 2017 Frodsham Marsh, Chehire, England Bill Morton

Observer and images: WSM.

10.04.17 Birdlog & NN#57

A short walk from Ince to the Holpool Gutter early evening with Chiffchaff and a few Swallow which were near the Pig Farm. There were 13 Mute Swan were with the Canada Goose on the Manchester Ship Canal. A male Marsh Harrier was over No.4 tank and was mobbed by a Raven. Walking back to Ince and a group of Little Egret were feeding at one of the pools before going to Their roost.

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 1).

A day off today and I’m on gardening duty. One of our tasks was to shift and haul the erratic granite mini boulder. I found this last year in a field in Daresbury and intended to use it as a feature in the yardinere. Anyway after rearranging some logs and the bug condominium I found a couple of spiders species that are worth mentioning. The first were several Woodlouse Spider hidden behind a plaque on the garden wall. The spiders had constructed a funnel-web which had been decorated with wood chipping and a macabre collection of desiccated Wood lice attached. The second species was a Black Lace-weaver Spider – Amaurobius ferox which was also attached to the plaque and found in a wood pile. Both species are common but difficult to find. Video of Woodlouse Spider here: https://vimeo.com/212645883

After all that work we decided to head out to Delamere Forest for a walk but not before having a brew and a slice of cake from the highly rated Station Cafe off Station Road. We bumped into a birder (Graham Connolly and his family) and he mentioned he had just seen a flock of Waxwing situated in trees in the car park at Linmere Visitor Centre. After a light lunch we headed over to where Graham said the waxies were. When we finally arrived at the spot there was nothing to see, so cursing our luckl or the lack of it we continued to Eddisbury Fruit Farm. Walking past Linmere Farm the distinctive sound of a flock of 21 Waxwing could be heard and seen as they flew over head in the direction of the visitor centre. We decided to do a 180 and head back to the centre. On arrival the flock was perched up in the newly leafing trees in the car park and were there for 30 minutes before restlessly flying off.

We eventually headed out to Blakemere where the colony of Black-headed Gull were busily engaged in their courtship or nesting. A pair of 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull were on the periphery of the main gull group and spent some time posturing to each other.

Continuing we encountered Siskin and Lesser Redpoll, Willow Warbler and Blackcap which were fairly active alongside our walk. A Crossbill could be heard distantly over Station Road on our way back to the car.

Observers: Sparky and WSM (images 3-4 & 5-6).

Additional image (4) by Graham Connolly.

08.04.17. Birdlog

A mid afternoon hike along Moorditch Lane was typically sidelined when the Black-tailed Godwit flock was encamped close to the northern banks of No.6 tank. Most of the birds were bathed in beautiful spring sunshine with numerous birds glowing in their pristine summer plumage. Only one individual had an orange leg ring but the depth of the water it was standing in didn’t give the opportunity to observe the other colour combination. The Ruff flocks were numbering 16 birds and two (black and white) were acquiring their breeding plumage.

A small group of Dunlin included the Little Stint (pictured above and below the Redshank in image 4) which chose to feed using the matted vegetation as a platform to pick off the mud beneath.The Avocet group increased by one to 17 birds. The first Whimbrel of the year settled briefly before heading off to the estuary calling on its way.  It was a bit of a surprise to see a flock of 110 Golden Plover (all in summer dress) nervously circling overhead, then landing on the drier areas of the tank when their nerves finally settled. A scattered group of 23 Common Snipe joined the 131 Redshank huddled in a group for most of my watch.

Over on the mitigation pools, No.3 tank were the usual Common Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall and Common Shelduck. Shorebirds featured a few Black-tailed Godwit, A couple of Ringed Plover and the first Little Ringed Plover of the year.

Ducks were fairly numerous with 46 Tufted Duck, 123 Common Shelduck, 43 Gadwall, 2 female Pintail, a pair of Wigeon and 24 Shoveler. Two pairs of Little Grebe were being a bundled of fury to each other in their territories.

A pair of Marsh Harrier were roaming about the area and Common Buzzard were drifting through.

A group of gulls flying over from Frodsham Hill in the direction of the Mersey estuary had a pair of summer Mediterranean Gull in with them and they were followed an hour later by another bird.

The Raven were rabble-rousing with Carrion Crow flocks on Frodsham Score today.

A small movement of spring passerines were noted and included Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Swallow. A couple of Cetti’s Warbler were sounding out the local competition at two different locations.

Observers: Frank Duff, John Gilbody (image 2 & 7), WSM (images 1 & 3-6 & 8-10).

07.04.17. Birdlog

I was out on a walk this afternoon which I began at Ince. A Green Sandpiper was at the new pools along with Common Teal, Mallard, Gadwall and Common Shelduck. There were  several Swallow hawking overhead and a Sparrowhawk cruised by. On the Manchester Ship Canal path were more Common Shelduck, Common Teal and Tufted Duck were on the water with many Canada Goose.

Butterflies were out in the force in the sunshine later in the day with Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood noted.  A Fox was seen on the salt marshes keeping a keen eye on the geese with interest. Several Common Buzzard were rising on the thermals and a female Marsh Harrier was sat on a fallen tree on No.4 tank. The mitigation pools on No.3 held Shoveler, Common Teal, Gadwall, Common Shelduck, Mallard and a flock of c120 Redshank. Onto No.6 and a mixed flock of waders grouped together at the edge of the water were made up of Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Dunlin and Avocet.

A Cetti’s Warbler was heard and seen moving from a bush to a reed bed and back again. A pair of Kestrel were catching insects on the newly cut grass on the model air field  and were giving the hovering a rest by running to catch their meal. Chiffchaff were seen all along the walk and a Willow Warbler was singing on the bank of No.4. Back at Ince there were 10 Little Egret were feeding on one of the pools before going to roost in the nearby trees. I thought i heard a Green Woodpecker call but it only called once so can’t be sure?

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.