31.07.17. Birdlog

A selection of sightings from the marsh today included: 28 Little Grebe, 36 Common Teal, 40 Mallard, 17 Common Shelduck, 12 Lapwing, 2 Common Sandpiper, 21 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Common Gull and 110 Black-headed Gull.

Observer: Joe from Chester.

Video of Common Sandpipers here: https://vimeo.com/227779617

Image and video by WSM.

30.07.17. Birdlog

I started at Brook Furlong Lane this morning where a Brown Hare made its way along the lane ahead of me and a covey of (captive released for shooting) Red-legged Partridge followed behind. On to the River Weaver and just a few hundred Sand Martin were left from yesterday with many of them perched in the reed bed.

c50 Redshank were on the river bank with 4 Oystercatcher and a single photogenic Dunlin sat for another type of shooting (with a camera). There were 6 Common Sandpiper dotted about the waters edge and the Manchester Ship Canal with 5 Great Crested Grebe on the river with another on the canal. The Canal Pools held a dozen Black-tailed Godwit.

A charm of c100 Goldfinch shadowed a juvenile Kestrel as it made its way over the pools. The male Stonechat tended to 2 juveniles which were perched in a reed bed. The ‘Splashing Pool’ had c50 Tufted Duck and a Kingfisher flew across the pool. A Green Sandpiper was resting at the secluded pool and 2 more Common Sandpiper and a dozen Black-tailed Godwit were back on No.6 tank.

Observer and image: Paul Ralston.

29.07.17. Birdlog

An early morning walk around No.6 tank passing Frodsham Score salt marsh and the Canal Pools. No.6 was very quiet with waders noticeable by their absence with only a single Black-tailed Godwit, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Ringed Plovers and a few Lapwing which were feeding in the shallow water. Duck numbers were also down with many leaving the tank and making their way out to the estuary. A large flock of Black-headed Gull on the water with a roost of c70 Lesser Black-backed were on the dry mud. There were 3 juvenile Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk active around the tank with Common Buzzard and Raven interacting in the summer breeze over No.3 tank.

Sedge and Reed Warbler were feeding their young as seen from the path and a family of Common Whitethroat were in the nettle beds. A pair of Jay could be were heard in the trees on the ramp to six but could not be seen.

A Green Sandpiper was on its usual pool on No.3. The pair of Stonechat were again along the canal path with Swallow, Sand Martin and Common Swift hawking over the Canal Pools. Skylark and Meadow Pipit were fairly common place in the sheep fields closeby. Walking back along Lordship Lane the corn has been cut and bailed with Wood Pigeon and Stock Dove feeding on the leftover grain.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-5 & 10).

I didn’t managed to get down to the marshes until mid morning so dipped on bumping into Paul. My walk out to the Weaver estuary took in the track along Brook Furlong Lane where the hedgerows were bouncing with birds most being juveniles of many species. Reed, Sedge and Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Long-tailed and Blue Tit and a family party of Bullfinch were all noted.

The River Weaver was alive with Sand Martin ahead of a rain front moving north and an estimate of c800 birds with 500 Common Swift and lesser numbers of Swallow. All of these aerial feeders were flying low over covering both the river and the adjacent fields on No.1 tank. A Wheatear was also present along the pipes there.

A couple of Peregrine were hopping on and off the tall blue topped chimney at the entrance to the Weaver sluices.

The Weaver estuary had 400 Black-headed gull and a good proportion of the huge Canada Goose herd that generally winter just over the Weaver sluice gates. A flock of 143 Tufted Duck and 30 Mallard  were also were present. 54 Redshank, 3 Common Sandpiper were with a male Ruff and 40 Black-tailed Godwit did their best to hide a sleeping Fulvous Whistling Duck. This exotic escape wildfowl was joined by a second bird 30 minutes later and is presumably two of the three that were here a couple of months ago?

Walking back I decided to see what No.6 tank might have on the build up to a tea time tide. On arrival a flock of 98 Black-tailed Godwit were busy feeding up while another Ruff joined the Lapwing flock and over the course of my watch Dunlin numbers increased from one bird to 81. A couple of Common Sandpiper were typically squabbling below the bank where I was watching from and were given the cold shoulder by an adult and juvenile Little Ringed Plover.

The Marsh Harrier was getting a hard time from the resident Raven troupe and almost going unseen without being noticed was a juvenile Whinchat on the fence line across No.5 tank.

Observer: WSM (images 1 & 6-9 & 11- 15).

27.07.17. Birdlog

The two juvenile Marsh Harrier were very active along edge of No 6 tank, good to see one Golden Plover and Green Sandpiper.  Low tide so only four Black tailed Godwit, 180 Lapwing but 98 Dunlin and two Ringed Plover on tank. 30 Tufted Duck, 35 Common Teal and just 14 Common Shelduck.

Observer: Joe from Chester.

After work trip down to the marshes and on No.6 tank was a flock of 500 Black-tailed Godwit which much surely be tide related? The juvenile Golden Plover that was seen by Joe earlier was still present and is an early migrant for this time of year. A few Redshank, 1 Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper were also noted.

A Wheatear was on the pipes along No.1 tank.

Leaving the marsh a female Tufted Duck was in the dike along Moorditch Lane with a flotilla of her fluffy ducklings.

Observers: Paul Crawley, WSM (images).

25.07.17. Birdlog

With all the bling birding happening over on Hale Marsh with this evenings Stone Curlew (finder Mike Roberts) it was back to the days of black and white television transmission here on the south side of the river.

An early evening walk along the River Weaver and then on to No.6 tank. A Collared Dove was in the bushes by the M56 bridge on Brook Furlong Lane which nearly made a rare venture onto the marsh but decided to stay by the farm with a flock of House Sparrow instead.

On the River Weaver there were 6 Great Crested Grebe spotted alongside many Coot, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Common Shelduck. Waderwise there were 5 Common Sandpiper, 4 Oystercatcher and a single Dunlin feeding along the river bank. A small flock of Black-tailed Godwit flew over the river to join more of the same on the Mersey estuary.

Back along Brook Furlong Lane a Kestrel made a pass at a flock of Goldfinch but left without a catch and a juvenile Bullfinch crossed my path. On to No.6 there were again more Tufted Duck with many Mallard, loads of Common Shelduck  and an addition of a handful of Common Teal noted. A scan of the duck flock didn’t reveal last night’s scoter. Both godwit and Redshank were present in small numbers.

Observer: Paul Ralston.

24.07.17. Birdlog

A lazy hazy kind of summer evening with warm sunlight providing a pleasant amber glow to the landscape…waxing lyrical and I’ve not even started with the birds yet.

I was sat on the north bank looking out over the area where the water meets the rapidly drying mud. A smallish group of 30 Redshank, 2 Avocet, 3 Dunlin, 12 Lapwing and a male Ruff still sporting some of its summer wear were settled below my watch point.

A much smaller gathering of c200 Black-tailed Godwit were mostly feeding on the south side of the sludge tank, but even from that distance I managed to pick out a new colour ringed bird. I couldn’t see one of the four colour combo so we’ll see what Jenny Gill can extract from that information and I’ll let you know accordingly. A splinter group of the godwits settled unaware of my presence below the bank and spent a long time in the shallows were gulping up huge volumes of greyish brown mud whilst sifting through it for their food. The bickering calls of 3 Common Sandpiper rung out across the relatively still air.

I was putting off counting the ducks for a change but I was drawn like like a junkie’s addiction to their numbers. Swinging my telescope over in the general direction  of the ducks where the usual c100 Tufted Duck were present with the usual c100 Mallard. A few Gadwall included a few ducklings, the ubiquitous Common Shelduck, 12 Common Teal, 3 Shoveler and a drake Common Scoter! Quite the handsome beast he was as well, quietly assuming an air of blending in but without the obvious requisites. He was still there when I left and looked settle at least for the evening.

Video of the drake Common Scoter here: https://vimeo.com/227642148

The gulls came in for a bathe and a nap before heading out to the estuary for their main roost. The majority were Black-headed with a dozen Common, single adult Lesser Black-backed and an adult Mediterranean Gull.

Apart from a Kestrel the raptors were totally absent and for once the juvenile Peregrine didn’t upset the apple cart with regard to disturbing the waders tonight.

Observer and images: WSM.

23.07.17. Birdlog

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).

21.07.17. Birdlog

A collection of sightings from the marsh this afternoon with c200 Swift, c890 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Whimbrel, 35 Dunlin & a rare summer sighting of a Woodcock. A flock of c750 Sand Martin were low over the River Weaver and Weaver Bend.

Observer: Elliot Monteith.

An early Friday dart from work with the intention of walking around No.6 tank, unfortunately a “Main Black over Wilf’s Mother” (as they say in Wiltshire) ominous cloud caught us out with no escape plan! The rain laden belt rolled in, dumped its load and sped off to the north…thoroughly soaked (except for Sparky who had all the waterproof gear on) I squelched my way back to the car.

Anyway, I did manage some birding before the rain and looking out from the eastern corner the usual 140 plus Tufted Duck were drifting out to form an allegiance with the 60 Mallard and single drake Common Pochard present. A few Little Grebe were scattered within the ducks as were 4 Mute Swan.

The Black-tailed Godwit flock was much reduced from Elliot’s earlier count but I am assuming his birds were tide related?

Before the rain a Peregrine was sat out on the lip of the blue topped chimney and after the rain two juvenile Marsh Harrier appeared on top of two willow whips to rinse off the deluge.

It was notable to see a new female Tufted Duck with 6 ducklings in Moorditch Lane ditch along with a couple of separate adult Moorhen with their little powder puff chicks.

Observers: Sparky and WSM (images).

20.07.17. Birdlog

A few sightings from the River Weaver this afternoon. There were 2 Brown Rat feeding under a water trough along Brook Furlong Lane while nearby a family of Wren were in the hedgerow. A couple of Chiffchaff and Whitethroat were feeding in a bramble patch and a Reed Bunting with a metal ring on its leg was noted. 

Common Buzzard have been scarce recently so a juvenile sat in a tree by the river was pleasing to see.

Out on the river were 8 Common Sandpiper feeding on a patch of exposed mud  while several more were seen along the river bank. Four Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Dunlin, several Ringed Plover and a single Turnstone were also seen. A large flock of Black-headed Gull were on the water with

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-4).

A brief period of birding after work and a look over the north banks of No.6 tank. There were plenty of adult Common Shelduck with c100 young birds from various ages ‘shelducklings’ to juveniles. A few Gadwall were with the 50 Mallard, 160 Tufted Duck and the female was again with her 7 ‘tuftlings’. A drake Common Pochard was the first here for a while. There were 2 Mute Swan, 10 Common Teal and 12 Little Grebe adding to the avian picture this evening.

A solitary Black-tailed Godwit struck a lonely figure while 10 Dunlin and a single Lapwing was a pretty poor display.

One of the juvenile Marsh Harrier was floating over the distant reed beds and a Peregrine was sat on the blue topped chimney over at Weston Point.

There were numerous Comma, Red Admiral and Gatekeeper Butterflies along the track on No.5 tank mostly feeding on the Teasel and Burdock flowers.

Earlier in the day another Peregrine was perched up on one of the heraldic shields on Runcorn bridge.

Observer: WSM (images 5-9).