14.05.17. Birdlog

A late afternoon visit to see what the tide on the Mersey estuary could conjure up resulted in nul points.

A flock of 154 Black-tailed Godwit and a couple of Redshank were really the shorebird highlight. I can always rely on ducks whatever the time of year and the saving grace was the aytha genus. A pair of Common Pochard and a drake Pintail were perhaps the more uncommon species for this time of year. Tufted Duck reached a peak of 147 with most paired up. 64 Gadwall, 224 Common Shelduck, c100 Mallard, 4 Common Teal and 7 Shoveler made up the rest.

A female Marsh Harrier was very active moving around the area while several Common Buzzard were drifting over.

The Cetti’s Warbler was singing from a couple of separate locations on the marsh.A couple of Greenland form Wheatear were notable but generally it felt like there was a lull in the movements of migrants.

Fresh Water Shrimp video here:

Following Paul’s comments yesterday about the shrimps I went to have a look myself. The outflow culvert from No.6 tank produced several thousand Fresh Water Shrimps gathered in one of the channels.

Observer and images: WSM.

A female Whinchat seen this am on path from old birdlog tothe Weaver Bend.

Observer: John Taylor.

13.05.17. Birdlog

I started today along Brook Furlong Lane with the tunes of Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Cetti’s filling the leafy byway. Onward and the river beckoned where good numbers of Common Swift, Swallow and Sand Martin were darting over the water. Several Common Shelduck males were fighting over their suitors while a number of drake Gadwall were chasing a single female.

Waders were scarce on my visit to the estuary with only a Ringed Plover seen.

While I was sat on the river bank a couple of Brown Hare passed by closely followed shortly after by a third one.

Retracing my steps I ended up at No.6 tank and another Cetti’s Warbler was heard and both Reed and Sedge have already claimed their territorial patches. A pair of Common Pochard were with the Tufties.

The Coot nest on the Holpool Gutter now holds a clutch of young but these were being closely watched by a Common Buzzard which was sat on the bank nearby.

Back along Lordship Lane a flock of Stock Dove fed alongside the Rook and Jackdaw flock feeding on the newly seeded crop fields. There were more Reed and Sedge Warbler singing in the ditch and they were joined by a few pairs of Reed Bunting. The drainage ditch alongside No.6 was full of Fresh Water Shrimp which attracted the attention of a Grey Heron.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-5).

I (AC) totalled 76 species from my 9 hours on the marsh today: 21 Mute Swan on No. 6 tank with another 2 on River Weaver, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, 211 Common Shelduck, 54 Gadwall, 12 CommonTeal, 114 Mallard, A drake Pintail was on the River Weaver while on No.6 12 Shoveler, Tufted Duck tallied 67 and a pair of Common Pochard were present.

On No.1 there were 4 released Red-legged Partridge and several Pheasant.

Two Grey Heron on No. 6 tank while a Little Grebe was at the ‘Splashing Pool’, Great Crested Grebe – 3 on River Weaver and 1 on Manchester Ship Canal. There were two Marsh Harrier over No. 6 tank with a Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard noted. The usual low numbers of both Moorhen and Coot were again on No.6 tank.

Just a single Avocet on the Weaver Bend and 9 on the Mersey estuary. A solitary Oystercatcher joined the protective Lapwing parents guarding 8 chicks on the No.6 and two Ringed Plover flew in for a short sortie.

The Curlew which is generally scarce this time of year reached 4 on No. 6 tank this early morning. The Black-tailed Godwit flock reached 254 with a Whimbrel, 3 Redshank and 23 Dunlin a Greenshank circled yhe tank before heading back to the river which were all on No.6, while the Weaver Bend had a Common Sandpiper.

A Dunlin fell victim to a Peregrine on No. 6 tank which put the frighteners on all of the other waders here. A small flock of Black-headed Gull were also on 6 with Greater, Lesser Black and Herring Gull in small numbers.

A passage of Common Swift were hawking over the north bank of six while a couple of Kestrel were hovering nearby.

Other birds of note: Cetti’s Warbler – 3, 5 Song Thrush,  3 Whinchat – 3 by Redwall Reedbed and 2 Wheatear  by Marsh Farm and a Grey Wagtail on Weaver.

Observers: Alyn Chambers (image 9), WSM (images 1 & 6-8).

11.05.17. Birdlog

An hour or so birding before the light drained out of the sky and a watch over No.6 tank.

The Black-tailed Godwit flock were back this evening with 382 birds clustered in two groups. A lone Whimbrel was asleep in the shallow waters. Nearby a Greenshank spent its time feeding along the edge of the shoreline. A flock of 81 Dunlin were present with a few Redshank. When the Whimbrel woke up, had a preen it flew off to the north calling. A short time later 4 more birds dropped in but didn’t linger and followed the first bird and headed in the same direction.

The Mute Swan herd tallied 21 tonight with 41 Gadwall, 47 Tufted Duck, 100 Common Shelduck and just a handful of Common Teal.

Towards dusk there were loose flocks of 8-10 Raven heading south from Frodsham Score and I managed a count of 51 birds.

Observer and images: WSM.

10.05.17. Birdlog

I don’t normally include images of released cage birds but Peter Warburton liked this bird so much I felt obliged to include it. Enjoy Peter.

The continuing warm sunshine is taking its toll on the water level on the tanks with the mitigation now a series of shallow muddy pools. Fortunately the cows have been taken/wandered off the pools.

No.6 tank lacked its gathering flocks of Black-tailed Godwit until I found a group of 50 hiding along the edge of the northern banks. I assume the rest have decamped across the river to Carr Lane pools? A smallish flock of Dunlin were circling the water but never really settled for long and were still at it when I left. Apart from a lonesome Whimbrel and a couple of Ringed Plover that was about it for waders.

The ducks have less room to move about on the sludge tank so it was good to see them all sharing the space. A scattered group of 14 Common Sheduck joined up with parties of Gadwall and Shoveler. The Tufted Duck pairs reached 43 and 3 drake Common Pochard somehow found themselves back here.

The Marsh Harriers were again quartering the marshes. A young Raven was sat out on a willow tree and calling for attention.

On my way off the marsh a Cetti’s Warbler was close by and typically very vocal.

Numerous butterflies on the wing included my first Red Admiral of the year.

Observers: Peter Warburton, WSM (images 1-3).

The last hour around No.6 and a look over Frodsham Score. A drake Common Pochard was still in with the Tufties and 4 Little Grebe were scooting across the waters. The herd of Mute Swan were still on the tank and the godwit numbers were lower tonight as were the Dunlin. Two Whimbrel were at the waters edge alongside a Lapwing and her 2 chicks.

Looking out over Frodsham Score a Marsh Harrier made its way over the Manchester Ship Canal then No.4 then on to No.6. It was seen again a short time after back over the score marsh.

A male Stonchat was on the bank of the ‘Splashing Pool’ and a Barn Owl was along Lordship Lane.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 4-5).

09.05.17. Birdlog (Part 2)

An evening walk along Brook Furlong Lane and along the River Weaver. A Brown Hare was in one of the fields alongside the lane and a Brown Rat was on the path. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap were all vocal and Sedge Warbler were active in the reeds alongside the river.

On the river bank 4 Ringed Plover and 2 Common Sandpiper were noted. Ducks included Tufted Duck, Mallard, Common Shelduck and a small number of Gadwall were making the most of the evening sun. Walking back to my car a Cuckoo was heard calling alongside the river and was seen making its way along the fence pursued by several small birds.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

I had a few hours looking over No.6 from 1700 to 1900 hs in glorious evening sunshine. A male Cuckoo treated to me to a display flight over what I call the No.6 copse and was very vocal. Nearby an ear-piercing Cetti’s Warbler stuttered out a blast of song within the shadows of the gorgeous windmills ;^)

On the walk back I came across a Weasel running towards me so, I managed a few seconds of video before it spat out a few obscenities in my general direction as it run into the verge before darting back onto the road behind me.

Observer: Gary Worthington.

09.05.17. Birdlog (Part 1)

I had a couple of spare hours so nipped to No.6 tank, lovely sun, but heat haze was terrible.

Birds seen today included: 3 Avocet, 90 Black-headed Gull, 320 Black-tailed Godwit, 850 Dunlin, 18 Gadwall, 160 Common Shelduck and a Sparrowhawk.

Observer: Joe (Chester).

My visit was so brief this evening I met myself walking back. The Black-tailed Godwits were huddled close to the south bank with a much reduced count of Dunlin that Joe had seen earlier but 3 Ruff were additions to his count.

The male Marsh Harrier was drifting over the reed beds while several Raven were tumbling over Frodsham Score.

A couple of Avocet were on the shrinking waters of the mitigation area of No.3 tank. The sight of a Lapwing attempting to mob the cows that are scattered across its nesting site was (I’m afraid) typical of the management of this area.

Several Common Swift were over Marsh Lane on my way home.

Observer and images: WSM.

08.05.17. Birdlog

I don’t really know what I was expecting from my watch over No.6 tank this evening but I was totally enthusiastic when I peered over the north bank to look out across the declining water line. The prolonged period of dry weather is making the sludge tank very, very interesting. It has been a few years since the water level has been this low and the continuing presence of summering Black-tailed Godwit is a fine example of what can happen when the water level is low during the migration season.

A flock of c500 Black-tailed Godwit were split into two groups. The first was below the south bank whereas the second group occupied the centre of the water. Birds came and went during the course of my watch but numbers started to increase before I departed. I wasn’t expecting to see any other shorebirds with the high tide being earlier in the day but 340 Dunlin managed to include a partial summer Sanderling and 2 Ruff. From the sky 4 Whimbrel dropped in for a bathe and brush up before they flew north calling on their way. Whimbrel have been quite common this spring, I even had one fly over my house yesterday.

A drake Garganey was with the Common Teal but did not seem settled and was ranging widely across the water. It eventually settled to preen below the bank long enough for me to get some photos. Other ducks that were on the tank included: 230 Common Shelduck, 67 Tufted Duck, 24 Shoveler, 56 Common Teal, 20 Gadwall and numerous Mallard.

A small group of Sand Martin and Swallow moved through with Sedge and Reed Warbler busy defending their territories while in the distance a Cetti’s Warbler song rang out loud. Nearby the mitigation pools on No.3 tank had 4 Avocet and a small number of Black-tailed Godwit.

Garganey video here: https://vimeo.com/216570214

Whimbrel video here: https://vimeo.com/216573084

Sanderling with Dunlins video here: https://vimeo.com/216575096

Observers: Colin Butler, WSM (images & videos).

07.05.17. Birdlog.

I started my walk from Ince with the mist shrouding the fields and a sunrise immediately igniting the lane full of bird song, each songster trying to outdo their rival. Three Little Egret were on the first of the new pools with a number of Canada Goose, Greylag, Mallard, Common Shelduck and Gadwall on the other adjacent pools.

Looking out over Frodsham Score salt marsh there was a flock of Raven which were making short work of the stricken live(dead)stock still laying about out there. The Great Black-backed Gull stood about while the Raven had their fill.

At the dredger berth a pair of Stonechat were either lingering winter birds, migrants or even breeders? A few Whitethroat and several Chiffchaff were occupying the brambles and hedgerows nearby.

The Canal Pools were quiet with only a few Tufted Duck and Mallard being present. I continued to No.6 tank where c230 Dunlin, 653 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Whimbrel, a single Greenshank, 4 Ringed Plover, 1 Common Snipe and 12 Ruff. A few Yellow Wagtail were also noted.

I was walking back when a Cetti’s and Lesser Whitethroat were heard and a pair of Bullfinch was spotted.

Along the Holpool Gutter a Common Sandpiper was foraging on the steep banksides.

Observers: Paul Ralston (images), Joe (Chester).

06.05.17. Birdlog

An early start for the morning tide out on the estuary. I set up occupying the north bank of No.6 tank where I could see over the bank to watch for the cast off birds from the estuary. This was a cold cloudy morning which strayed into the afternoon backed with a stiff northerly making the light poor and the viewing uncomfortable.

An estimated flock of c1000 Black-tailed Godwit were mostly gathered beneath the south banks and to distant to gauge a true reflection of their numbers. A couple of winter plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit were typically isolated on the edge of the flock but a group of 7 (summer) + 1 (winter) Knot were most welcome.

A Peregrine shot over my head and made a bee-line to the godwit flock sending everything that was stood on the sludge tank in an explosive reaction. The falcon punched a hole right through the body of the swirling mass of godwits, an experience only Vladimir Klitschko would have felt last weekend. After all of that the Peregrine went away empty clawed! It took a few minutes before order was resumed but fortunately for me all of the waders relocated below where I was sitting. I’ll whistle that falcon again as and when required next time the birds are too distant.

When Joe (Chester) had photographed a summer plumaged Knot recently I have been eager to see one on site, now eight birds with seven in fine summer dress were feeding below me (mission accomplished). There was no sign of the Barwit’s and presumably they left for a wider vista on the estuary. The Dunlin flock reached c1200 birds but surprisingly nothing of any note was dragged with them from the river. Ringed Plover totalled 30 birds and a single Little Ringed Plover was seen.

Red Knot video here: https://vimeo.com/216307314

The Ruff action was focused on the males which were again actively attempting to attract the attention of the reeves. The females main priority was engaged in feeding so the males admiration was engaged in a lot of posturing with mock displays. A couple of new contenders joined the dance off with ‘Mr Brown’ challenging the newbie’s ‘Ginge’, ‘Junior’ and ‘Mottie’ in a bout of ‘Strictly Come Lekking’. ‘Agent Orange’ hung out again with the godwits looking the business without even trying. Endless hours of fun watching these dudes strutting their stuff on the marsh (obviously for me).

The Mute Swan herd tallied 24 birds while the usual duck suspects were present except for the Pintail pair which were on the Weaver Bend. Other birds noted there was a Common Sandpiper and a Little Ringed Plover.

The male Marsh Harrier flew in for a short while.

A steady northward movement of Swallow and 8 Common Swift hawking low over the reed beds was interesting. 3 Yellow Wagtail on over No.8 tank.

A Lesser Whitethroat and a Cetti’s Warbler dueled with each other for the noisiest singer.

Observers: Elliot Monteith (images 8-14), Paul Ralston, WSM (images 1-6).

Image 7 by Paul Miller.

Thanks to Elliot for his “record” shots. They are much appreciated.