30.05.17. Birdlog

I was down the marsh today, nothing new but I finally managed to photograph one of the Cetti’s Warbler. It seemed to stay deep down in the brambles but this one came up long enough for me to get a couple of shots.

A scarce record was a pair of Bullfinch along Brook Furlong Lane and also a count of 28 Raven around Marsh Farm, other than that nothing exceptional.

Observer and image: Paul Miller.

I dropped into the marsh towards dusk as I was passing. The water level is still reducing in size on No.6 tank with plenty of ducks concentrated and included: c200 Common Shelduck, 43 Gadwall, 7 drake Common Pochard and 150 Mallard.

The Black-tailed Godwit flock was down to c100 birds and ten Dunlin joined them before they headed out with a loose godwit flock to the estuary.

Observer: WSM.

29.05.17. Birdlog

An alphabetical list of species seen this morning are: 8 Avocet, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 23 Black-headed Gull, 34 Coot, 1 Cetti’s Warbler, 46 Gadwall, 38 Lapwing, 37 Mallard, 42 Common Shelduck and 2 Shoveler.

Observer and image 1: Joe (Chester).

A walk along Brook Furlong Lane and along the River Weaver this morning started with Goldfinch and a House Sparrow flock feeding their hungry broods. A pair of Bullfinch were again in the hedgerow and a Kestrel was watching from a post close by. Out on the river Canada Goose, Mallard, Common Shelduck and Gadwall were all feeding and a flock of 20 Coot were noted.

On to No.6 tank and Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap were seen and heard and a vocal Cetti’s Warbler was seen moving from bush to bush. c400 Black-tailed Godwit were at the waters edge while more Common Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall and Shoveler were about and some of the Mallard are going into their moult and no longer look pristine. There were 13 Avocet were on the mitigation pool with a couple of Lapwing.

Along Lordship Lane the Reed Warbler continue to sing and one had a bill full of insects, A few bushes have been attacked by the Ermine Moth caterpillars and are striped bare of leaves with their frost like cobwebs. A fine display of  Marsh Orchids can be seen at the north end of the tank.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-4).

Later in the evening I took my turn to look over No.6 and a good part of Paul’s godwit flock were either coming or going. An impressive show of birds filing out like a volley of artillery fire raining across the turbines towards the estuary. A flock of 17 Ringed Plover and 60 Dunlin were busily feeding on the damp margins of the waters edges. One particular beefy individual, a long-billed (female?) alpina was still in its non-breeding plumage.

Ducks were very much a feature of the pools and 67 Tufted Duck, a lone drake Common Pochard and 43 Gadwall were all present and accounted for.

A look over the pools on No.3 tank revealed 20 Avocet but little else of note.

The threatening rain brought down several hundred Common Swift but despite my thorough scanning of their forms in the vain hope of something different drew a blank. Perhaps a last grasp of unreality before this month dwindles away. A Cetti’s Warbler singing from the bramble bushes certainly brought me back to reality.

Observer: WSM (images 2-4).

28.05.17. Birdlog

A little medley from the dark side and a small transmission from the lighter side.

A Spoonbill wandered through the marsh over the turbines of No.4 and a Red Kite was seen to drift over from Hale lighthouse but with nobody to greet either birds it was obviously better to have been watching from Hale shore today. Thanks to Dave Craven and Sean O’Hara for their sightings.

A build up of Avocet reached 22 birds on No.3 tank and a Marsh Harrier nearby (FD).

27.05.17. Birdlog

There was a big tide out on the Mersey estuary at 13.40 hrs so I was in plenty of time sat waiting on the south bank of No.6 tank. A steady trickle of Black-tailed Godwit were joining in with a flock of c550 already present. Those that were sporting their summer colours were some of the most impressive plumaged birds I’ve seen here all Spring. The majority were non-breeders and subsequently here for the Summer.

The high tide didn’t produce anything worthy of its 9.7 metres despite the salt marshes getting a good soaking. The 20 Ringed Plover and 12 Dunlin were late lingerers and included 3 frosty birds which I guess MSG would describe as ‘arctica’ candidates.

A Little Egret was attempting to concealed itself amongst the godwits but a lumbering Grey Heron was given a wide berth.

As I have already mentioned it was a rather slow and lethargic wader roost but it did give me the opportunity to admire the splendid plumage’s on show. The threatened rain didn’t materialised but a fresh south-easterly breeze kept the temperature down.

The ducks were all busy paired up and feeding and included: 60 Gadwall, c100 Mallard, c50 Common Shelduck, 70 Tufted Duck and 5 drake Common Pochard with a single female.

The mitigation pools on No.3 tank held 15 Avocet and the odd Gadwall.

The female Marsh Harrier glided through taking a tour of the reed beds before heading off to the south.

A female Reed Bunting had a bill full of bugs and Whitethroat were scolding from the nettle beds while a Cetti’s Warbler rang out loud.

Observer: WSM (images 1-11 & 16).

I started this morning along Brook Furlong where a pair of Bullfinch flew across the lane and disappeared in the brambles. The song of a Cetti’s Warbler burst from the hedgerow, while a Brown Hare skipped its way through a field of Buttercups.

A flock of Starling were busy feeding their hungry young in the cattle fields by the River Weaver and Reed Warbler were singing along the ditch. Out on the river the Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Mallard and Gadwall were all in good numbers. A pair of Great Crested Grebe are still present here.

A Great Black-backed Gull made an attempt at reducing the Canada Goose surplus by snatching a gosling off the water in front of its angry parents. There were even more gulls waiting for their chance. Two pairs of Oystercatcher and a pair of Ringed Plover were alarm calling as I walked along the river bank.

A light phase Common Buzzard sat on a post staring idly at the ground below, while above a Skylark belted out a tune.

A couple of hundred Black-tailed Godwit were feeding out on the estuary mud and they were later seen dropping on to No.6.

Along Moorditch Lane there were singing Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap and in the ditch alongside a Mallard had a large brood of ducklings.

Painted Lady butterfly have begun to arrive and several were feeding on thistle heads at the south end of the sludge tank and a Common Blue Damselfly sat for a photo. A couple of young Carrion Crow which were not long out of their nest were seen crash landing in the trees along Lordship lane.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 12-15).

25.05.17. Birdlog

A walk around No.6 tank after the heat of the day had and air-cooled on the marshes. I started with watching a chirping family of House Sparrow feeding by the ditch on Moorditch Lane. A Reed Warbler was busily carrying food in to the vegetation and a Reed Bunting was equally busy alarm calling from the same area.

Onto No.6 and the Common Shelduck were again notable with Tufted Duck, Mallard and Gadwall were also present. A smaller flock of 50 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding along the edge of the north end of the tank. Another 300 birds were gathered close to the tanks northern section. Two pair of Little Grebe were out on the water as were the non-breeding Mute Swan herd. A Lapwing was keeping a parental eye on two well-grown chicks and was kept busy by the corvids that constantly strayed too close. A pair of Avocet joined with the godwit flock and another 10 were with 150 Blackwits on the mitigation pools.

A pair of Canada Goose had a single chick on the secluded pool and another pair of Little Grebe and a pair of Gadwall may have bred locally as well? The male Marsh Harrier drifted over the reed bed and several Common Buzzard lazily drifted over in the sultry evening sky.

I watched as the sun dropped below the horizon over the salt marshes and the Liverpool skyline across the Mersey estuary from Manley Road near Frodsham was a beautiful sight.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-2 & 4-5).

My first Painted Lady Butterfly of the Spring was in a garden at Weston village near Runcorn this evening (WSM images 3 & 6-10).

Images from Hale Shore.

23.05.17. Birdlog

It was too nice of an evening to be stuck indoors so I had a saunter down to the marsh for a look over No.6 tank. The summering flock of Black-tailed Godwit were coming and going with c450 birds busily feeding up. A small cluster of 8 Ringed Plover were testing the patience of a parent Lapwing, and in a losing battle trying to keep one eye on its chick and the other on the smaller plovers which were scurrying around. Presumably the dozen Dunlin that were here the other evening were still here but they were feeding in the shallows with the godwits. A few Redshank were still lingering about. A surprise group of 5 Curlew flew in at dusk and settled down for the night.

Over on No.3 the small band of Avocet were still here and a territorial dispute between a Lapwing and Ringed Plover and Sheep was a complete standoff.

The Marsh Harrier was noted and a loose flock of 34 Raven were making their way inland.

Observer and image: WSM.

22.05.17. Birdlog

An evening watch over No.6 and No.3 tanks. Most of the c550 Black-tailed Godwit were positioned on the southern fringes of No.6 and a smaller section flew in to settle close to the north banks. A small flock of 12 Dunlin included 5 Ringed Plover. Over on No.3 a couple of Ringed Plover were joining the 12 Avocet, 2 Redshank and 3 Black-tailed Godwit which were away from the main action on six. 

The duck squadron included: 120 Common Shelduck. 62 Gadwall, c100 Mallard, single drakes of Common Teal, Wigeon and Common Pochard were widely scattered on the extremely shallow waters of the sludge tank. A flock of 47 Tufted Duck were sticking to what is left of the deeper waters.


Far in the distance a male Marsh Harrier was watched drifting over No.4.

The Cetti’s Warbler blurted out its tunes along Lordship Lane and a Kingfisher flew across the road at Frodsham Swing bridge..

A Cockchafer was sat out in the setting sunshine and gave me the opportunity to get up close to capture its best side on my camera. A couple old names for this species include May Bug and Doodlebug. More information here: http://uksafari.com/cockchafer.htm

Observer and images: WSM.

21.05.17. Birdlog

Walking along Moorditch Lane it was surprising to see a car upturned in the ditch. A quick call to Cheshire Police and the switch board confirmed that it had already been reported and all were safe and accounted for from the vehicle.

With the main wader migration nearing its end I wasn’t expecting too much from a watch over No.6 tank but “ne’er cast a clout till May be out” it is said.

A flock of c640 Black-tailed Godwit were either onward to pastures new or here for the summer (the latter I would say). The recent unsympathetic draining of the ‘Ibis Pool’ over at Carr Lane, Hale may have contributed to the increase in numbers of godwit here? Apart from a few Lapwing with various sized chicks there was little else in the way of shorebirds but we’re ever hopeful.

The mitigation pools on No.3 tank had 9 Avocet, 34 Black-tailed Godwit and a solitary Ringed Plover.

Duck numbers are variable at the moment with c100 Tufted Duck, 43 Gadwall, a drake Wigeon, 67 Common Shelduck and the ever-present Mallard pairs were all good value. The highlight of the day was 3 adult Fulvous Whistling Duck (PR) on the Weaver estuary but a passing canoeist caused their premature departure and were last seen heading off to waters elsewhere.

The Marsh Harrier was drifting about the reed beds while a few Common Buzzard were noted.

Another Avocet, 2 Ringed Plover and a Wheatear were also near the river.

Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow and Cetti’s Warbler were all vocal along the lanes of the marsh and a Stoat was busy seeking out a meal long the track as we walked back.

Observers: Paul Ralston (images 3-5), Simon Pinder, Jacqui and Idris Roberts, Sparky & WSM (images 1-2).

19.05.17. Birdlog

A drake Garganey was on the mitigation pools of No.3 tank with 7 Gadwall. While on No.6 were 660 Black-tailed Godwit. There was 55 Gadwall including a pair with four ducklings, 2 Shoveler, a drake Common Pochard and a pair of winnowing Little Grebe. There were also 2 broods of Lapwing chicks (two medium and 3 tiny sized) noted.

Observer: Mark (Whipper) Gibson.

Image by WSM.