Part two of my after work birding weekend saw me watching from a secluded bank looking over a flock of 450 Black-tailed Godwit (including a colour ringed bird per SO) on No.6 tank. The surprise was a non-breeding plumage Bar-tailed Godwit watched feeding on the periphery of the main wader groups. The Avocet have again increased slightly on yesterday with 18 birds present. At least two were juvenile birds and probably locally breed (or local to the River Mersey). There were 3 Redshank, 1 Knot (SO), 2 Little Ringed Plover, 4 Ringed Plover including a local juvenile with them (one that hasn’t flown here). The two summer plumaged Dunlin were again present and the post non/breeding Lapwing flocks are gathering in numbers.
A few gulls were loitering and with them was a Herring Gull with a black darvic white lettered ring on its leg. The sound of distant gun shot spooked the gull and it flew off to the estuary before I could read it. My preliminary investigation indicate that it may be a bird banded in Essex in March 2012, but that’s as far as I have managed without any letters or numbers noted.
Ducks were also here with the usual Common Shelduck which included two shelduckling crèches, the one from previous days which still numbered 8 and another crèche which numbered 40 shelducklings. 21 Common Teal, 3 Wigeon, 91 Tufted Duck and 6 Little Grebe were all concentrated in the eastern section of the sludge tank.
A tumbling group of Raven were riding the air currents wafting up from the Manchester Ship Canal banks and several Common Swift were hawking low over the water surface.
Bar-tailed Godwit videos here: https://vimeo.com/223036559 & https://vimeo.com/223053113
Observers: Sean O’Hara, WSM (images and video).
Earlier in the day this adult Lesser Black-backed Gull polished off a young Magpie in Victoria Park, Widnes.
A working weekend so a late start to my birding day. I arrived at No.6 tank to a spread of godwits shrouded in the knee-deep water. I estimated that there was c1000 Blackwits present.
A couple of Ringed Plover and 4 summer Dunlin were picking up the midge larva from the surface of the shallows and waters edge. 14 Avocet were here today with a few juveniles so I’d expect an increase in their counts over the next few weeks.
The female Marsh Harrier was again sat out on a spindly tree in the centre of the reeds and later she shifted position and quartered the muddy and birdless pools of the mitigation area out on No.3. A small (presumably) male Peregrine was perched on the lip of the blue topped chimney.
Observers: Paul Crawley. WSM (images).
A heavy duty female Peregrine was perched up on one of the heraldic shields on Runcorn Bridge early this morning while a Nordic Jackdaw that has been in the vicinity of Runcorn Heath playing fields was again present with its presumbed female Western type partner.
Nordic Jackdaw video here: https://vimeo.com/222969120
Observer and video: WSM.
An after work visit to the marshes and another look across the mud and waters of No.6 tank. The calls of an Avocet drew my attention to four birds on the tank and were the first for a while with a couple of Ringed Plover for company.
The Black-tailed Godwit flock were back again after their previous poor showing. Their numbers reached in excess of 900 birds and a thorough scan through their numbers didn’t reveal a single colour ringed bird.
The Common Shelduck family is now reduced to 8 ducklings. There were 3 Wigeon, 21 Common Teal, 3 Shoveler, 42 Tufted Duck and a single drake Common Pochard.
A female Sparrowhawk flew over and dive bombed the Wood Pigeon flocks feeding in the ‘shrike field’ to the east of No.6.
Earlier a Hobby flew over Runcorn Hill at Weston Road.
Observer and images: WSM.
After the heat of the day had dissipated enough for me to lurk out of the shade I made my way down to the marshes in the evening. I decided to take an anti-clockwise route around No.6 was and started off looking from the north-east corner of the sludge tank. A couple of drake Common Pochard were with 45 Tufted Duck and 67 Common Shelduck. Apart from the usual moulting Gadwall and Mallard it wasn’t until I repositioned my watch point looking from the north bank, that I managed to eke out 14 Common Teal (4 of which were females) and 2 moulting drake Wigeon from the other ducks.
There were 4 Ringed Plover, a few Lapwing and surprisingly a solitary Black-tailed Godwit out on the wetter patches.
Further along the track and looking across the mitigation on No.3 tank had a few muddy pools but nothing was evident and close by the ‘Splashing Pool’ had 8 Tufted Duck but little else.
Along Lordship Lane a Kestrel made good use of the shipping container in the model aircraft field. There was plenty of ‘acro’ activity with both Reed and Sedge merrily singing away. A little bit of patience eventually paid off when a ‘reeling’ Grasshopper Warbler popped out of a small hawthorn bush to provide partial views. As if that wasn’t enough the Cetti’s Warbler did its best to drown out every other bird that attempted to join in the dusk chorus.
The male Marsh Harrier flew up from the ‘shrike field’ and drifted off across No.6.
A fiery sunset was happening from the swing bridge and behind Rocksavage Power Plant.
Observer and images: WSM.
Four Avocet were on the Weaver Bend while on the fence line nearby was another elusive Cuckoo (this summer).
A Marsh Harrier was out and about and there were flocks of Black-tailed Godwit on the Weaver estuary and No. 6 tank. A couple of Cetti’s Warbler were heard during the course of my time on the marshes today.
Observer: Alyn Chambers.
Early doors down on the marsh this morning for the dawn tide. A flock of 200 Black-tailed Godwit flew in and settled on the south side of No.6 sludge tank. Already present were 2 Redshank, 16 Lapwing and a pair of Ringed Plover. A dawn roost of 2 Herring, 45 (mostly 1st summer) Great Black and 12 Lesser Black-backed Gull were out on the drier ground. While a flock of 50 Black-headed Gull on the wetter margins also contained a non-breeding plumaged and an out of season Bar-tailed Godwit. A group of 6 Oystercatcher flew in for a short period and a couple of flying grey geese in the distance had the feel of Pinkies but were too far away for certainty.
The summer moulting Mallard and Gadwall were very much present but Common Shelduck numbers are well down (presumably out on the score banks nesting?). Three drake Wigeon and 9 drake Common Teal were not expected but Tufted Duck and 3 drake Common Pochard lingering in the eastern corner were.
A female Marsh Harrier was sat on a tree warming up in the morning air. Further on a couple of territorial Cetti’s Warbler song ricocheted across the marshes.
Observer and images: WSM.
I was out this morning walking along Brook Furlong Lane and down to the River Weaver. The hedgerow was again alive with Willow, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Cetti’s Warbler all being vocal with a Reed Warbler doing its stuff down by the water. On the river there were good numbers of Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Gadwall and Mallard were all noted. A pair of Common Shelduck were trying to drive away both a Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull away from their brood.
On my return back along the lanes I noticed a Brown Hare which made its way along the track. I stood against the hedgerow until it was within a few yards of me and managed a few camera shots.
On my way to No.6 tank there were more of the same wildfowl with the addition of several Common Pochard. A flock of 300-400 Black-tailed Godwit were engaged feeding in the shallows while a pair of Ringed Plover and several Lapwing were close by.
Onward to Lordship Lane and a pair of Oystercatcher were on a bare patch in the crop field and were alarm calling when I passed by. The usual Reed and Sedge Warbler plus Reed Bunting were singing in the ditch. I bumped into Steve O’Connell who is a regular birder on the marsh and he had been watching a ‘reeling’ Grasshopper Warbler on the bank.
Butterflies were out in force with Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell and a Large Skipper.
Observer and images: Paul Ralston.
600 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Dunlin, 5 Common Teal and a female Marsh Harrier perched up in the reeds.
Observer: Mark (Whipper) Gibson.
I coincided my evening visit with the high tide on the Mersey estuary. On arrival the Black-tailed Godwit flock were back in force and are probably birds displaced from the land greed draining of the ‘Ibis Pool’ across the river at Carr Lane. I made a count of c1200 birds spread out across the entire flooded waters on No.6 tank. 31 Lapwing including a well-grown chick and two Ringed Plover were the other shorebirds on view.
A moulting drake Wigeon is summering here and 45 Tufted Duck were with it. The Common Shelduck were numbering 123 and both Gadwall and Mallard numbers were down in their counts.
A male Marsh Harrier was floating over the deserted mitigation area on No.3 tank.
Raven were drifting south in small groups with a flock of 12 birds being the biggest. Several were in wing and tail moult and had a rag tag effect look about them.
Common Swift were again hawking over the raised banks with several zipping overhead.
Observer and images: WSM.
After I gave an illustrated talk on ‘The Birds of Frodsham Marsh’ to 1st Ashton & Manley Scouts this evening I managed a half hours birding with an impressive backdrop of a blood-red sunset over the Mersey estuary.
No.6 had a smallish flock of 46 Black-tailed Godwit feeding knee-deep in the centre of the dwindling water on the sludge tank. A few non/post breeding Lapwing are beginning to gather and that is always a sign or sigh of a turn in their fortunes for mid summer. A not so common Oystercatcer was fast asleep. Over 200 non-breeding plumaged Black-headed Gull had gathered to roost for the evening but were unsettled and kept rising up en masse before resettling.
The ducks were obviously still present (whenever are they not) with Common Shelduck still paired up, without any further signs of getting down to producing young. A couple of Common Pochard were joining up with the few Tufted Duck and both Mallard and Gadwell were well represented. The Coot flock were bunched in a tight group and numbered 43 birds.
A few Common Swift were riding the evening sky and a Reed Warbler was gurgling away in the reeds below the bank.
Observer and image: WSM
Overnight and early morning rain kept a visit to No.6 tank at bay until 9.30 am. The lay by at the north-eastern edge of the sludge tank was more than sufficient for the purpose of conducting my WeBS count. The added attraction of loads of low flying Common Swift does help when you’re watching from the banks.
The first brood of 10 ‘shelducklings’ with their parents was a first for the summer. Tufted Duck were back to something like their regular counts with 63 birds present. A raft of 10 drake and a single female Common Pochard joined the tufties. The Common Shelduck count was much reduced with only 111 birds. A drake Shoveler and 4 drake Common Teal were leftovers from last evening. The usual 43 Mallard and 64 Gadwall joined in the action as did 2 Little Grebe, 43 Coot, 2 Moorhen, 4 Mute Swan, 14 Canada Goose and 8 Grey Heron.
Shorebirds included a couple of Common Ringed Plover, 14 Lapwing and 121 Black-tailed Godwit spent the period feeding on the wet muddy margins to the shallow waters.
A female Marsh Harrier was seen over the reed beds. Nearby a Cetti’s Warbler serenaded during the course of the watch, while c100 Common Swift regularly whizzed past. and 60 Sand Martin were feeding low over the water.
A juvenile Little Grebe was on the ‘secluded pool’ and a pair of Marsh Harrier were both in the air together. There was also Common Buzzard and Kestrel along Lordship Lane, where the usual Reed Warbler and Bunting both were tuning up in the ditch alongside it. Butterflies produced Painted Lady and a single Brimstone were noted.
Observers: Paul Ralston (images 6-8), WSM (images 1-5).