I started at Ince this morning where the pools were quiet with just a couple of Little Grebe and Mallard present. A flock of Chaffinch were feeding along the hedgerow and several Chiffchaff one still singing. Onward to the Manchester Ship Canal path where many family parties of Reed Bunting and Whitethroat were bouncing about the reed beds and pathways.
A pair of juvenile Common Buzzard were constantly calling and the pale morph adult bird has reappeared at the dredger berth.
Out on Frodsham Score salt marsh there was well over a 1000 Canada Goose grazing the grass with several Raven patrolling the score edges.
A pair of Stonechat were alarm calling as I walked by and may have young near by the way they were behaving. There were 3 Common Sandpiper on the far canal bank to add to my bird count.
A Whimbrel was seen leaving a small scrape near to the Canal Pools with 3 Green Sandpiper still using the shallow area by the ‘Splashing Pool’. One of the three was the same bird that has been present for the last couple of weeks (missing flight feathers). Butterflies included Gatekeeper and Comma in good numbers making my walk a little more variable. An adult Peregrine was perched on a tower at the Growhow Works and may have been the bird that tore into the wader flock on No.6 tank? When I eventually got back to the start of my walk a Little Egret was preening by one of the new pools.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-6).
An early start and a walk down to the Weaver estuary before my WeBS count on No.6 tank. There were plenty of Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Reed and Sedge Warbler either singing from the reed beds, feeding young and being fed or ganging up to join other juveniles to form roving bands of birds. Reed Bunting adults were also actively carrying food for their young. A small passage of 150 Sand Martin were moving south and groups of Swallow were leaving their reed bed roost. A couple of Kestrel were perched up in the hawthorns watching all goings on about them.
The Weaver estuary was quiet for the period I was there but still there were 150 Redshank, 2 Ruff, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, including one bird in obvious distress. I wondered if it had been attacked by one of the local raptors? It was staggering on its feet and fell over several times often unnerving the Redshank flock to fly from their point before resettling. A few Dunlin were joined by 4 Common Sandpiper but no sign of any Green Sandpiper which was surprising.
Walking back I eventually made my way out to No.6 tank for my appointment with the WeBS count. On arrival I hadn’t set up before a juvenile Peregrine bulldozed its way through a flock of 1200 Black-tailed Godwit and c100 Dunlin. The young falcon didn’t appear to catch anything but the waders were obviously scared and they all vacated the sludge tank and departed to the Mersey estuary.
I wasn’t best pleased to be left with nothing but ducks to count (was I missing the point of all of this). All was not lost because 30 minutes later c1000 Blackwits returned with just a handful of Dunlin in tow. Scanning through the godwits revealed just one colour ringed bird (details to follow). There were 3 Common Sandpiper, 3 Ruff and a few Lapwing to add to the shorebird selection.
A juvenile Marsh Harrier was floating over the reed beds and on one occasion it had a tussle with a passing Common Buzzard.
An added bonus to the watch today was the sight of the Welsh bound North Wales coast express steam train heading west through Helsby marshes.
Observers: Arthur Harrison, Paul Ralston, WSM (images 7-14).