25.06.17. Birdlog

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.

24.06.17. Birdlog

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.

22.06.17. Birdlog

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.

19.06.17. Birdlog

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.

18.06.17. Birdlog

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.

17.06.17. Birdlog

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.

16.06.17. Birdlog

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.