17.07.17. Birdlog

A very warm day continued into the evening and so after work I made my way to No.6 tank to watch over the area. Looking west from the north-east corner saw a distant flock of c100 Dunlin but when I managed later to look for them, they had departed suddenly!

The Tufted Duck flock still remains in the north-east corner where 148 birds were present with 60 Mallard and a lesser number of Common Shelduck as from previous counts here.

A female Tufted Duck mother had her family of ducklings close to heel.

After I relocated to the north banks the reason why the Dunlin had departed so prematurely was immediately evident. A juvenile (colour ringed) Peregrine was sat out on the baked dry cracked mud. After the falcon eventually departed two Black-tailed Godwit and 12 Dunlin emerged from nowhere.

The wader patience was again tested when a second juvenile (unringed) falcon appeared choosing the embankment as cover to avoid detection. It sat out on the mud to preen and didn’t cause any further concern to the birds already on the tank.

Peregrine video here: https://vimeo.com/225899697

A notable arrival of Common Gull is typical for the time of year but it would be nice to see something a tad more exotic with them one day.

A Cetti’s Warbler was scolding from a bramble patch along Moorditch Lane.

Observer, video and images: WSM.

16.07.17. Birdlog (afternoon & evening visit)

A return visit this afternoon to see what the incoming tide brought with it. The Black-tailed Godwit flock had left No.6 tank leaving the Dunlin, Ruff and Redshank behind. The Greenshank was still present in the shallow waters and c30 Common Teal were close into the bank with many Tufted Duck, Mallard and Common Shelduck. Out on the water was a lonesome Mute Swan.

I then made my way to the River Weaver where double figure Common Sandpiper and Ringed Plover were along the waters edge. A Dunlin with a metal ring on its leg was also with them.

On my way off the marsh a Sparrowhawk was sat on a garden fence watching the abundant House Sparrow flocking together.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

c300 Dunlin, 14 Redshank, 1 Ruff, 2 Common Sandpiper and 1 Black-tailed Godwit on tank No.6 this evening.

Observer: Luke Ozsanlav-Harris.

16.07.17. Birdlog (morning visit)

I started this damp morning at Brook Furlong Long with several Chiffchaff seen but not heard as they were keeping out of the rain showers. Goldfinch and Linnet have now  flocked together to feed on the thistle seeds and were joined by several Reed Bunting. A single Great Crested Grebe was fishing on the Manchester Ship Canal and close by the Mute Swan family was safely on the Canal Pools.

A Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper were feeding together on one of the pools while a Green Sandpiper the scrape by the ‘Splashing Pool’ and it’s likely the same bird from last week judging by the same missing flight feathers. The local police were on patrol around the marsh today looking out for off scramblers/off-road bikers and fly-tippers.

The 2 juvenile Marsh Harrier were sitting above the reed bed with one taking to the air  for a practice flight. Along Lordship Lane the Reed and Sedge Warbler were feeding their respective young with Common Swift were flying low over the bank.

The Black-tailed Godwit flock joined up with a flock of Dunlin on No.6 tank but were in reduced numbers. Several Redshank, a single Greenshank and 2 Curlew made a visit but soon moved on. A Weasel was spotted as it crossed the track ahead of me.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

15.07.17. Birdlog

An afternoon watch from the north banks of No.6 tank had quite a few birds already in situ with c100 Tufted Duck occupying the eastern section of the water. My watch period continued up to the high tide but most birds had already arrived by then. The highlight was two summer plumaged Greenshank.

A flock of 300 Black-tailed Godwit drew in two summer male Ruff, 150 Redshank and 320 Dunlin. A couple of Common Sandpiper were busy chasing each other off the best feeding patches below my watch point. A Little Egret dropped in briefly before relocating on the deserted mitigation area.

The  Peregrine was again watching from the lip of the towering blue topped chimney over at Weston Point. Near to home were 3 young Kestrel squabbling or play fighting on and over the drier areas of the sludge tank and a Hobby did its usual dart through. A Common Buzzard temporarily spooked the godwit flock and a juvenile Marsh Harrier was gliding over the far reed beds.

Over on No.1 tank there were 3 juvenile Stonechat being chased about by a male Wheatear and several emerging Gatekeeper Butterfly were very visible today.

Observers: Paul Crawley (image 5), Frank Duff, Paul Ralston and WSM (images 1-4 & 6).

14.07.17. Birdlog

A quick walk around No.6 tank this evening where a Tufted Duck was seen with her 6 ducklings at the north end corner. There were several broods of Common Shelduck of different sizes settled on the water with Common Teal and Mallard nearby. There was c300 Black-tailed Godwit in the shallow pool with c150 Dunlin, 19 Avocet, Redshank, Ringed Plover and a single Common Sandpiper.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

13.07.17. Birdlog

Straight after work I made by way down to the marshes a few hours after a mid afternoon tide out on the River Mersey. I was hoping  there would be enough shorebirds still lingering on No.6 sludge tank to keep me entertained…and there was.

A quick look over the eastern part of the tank where perhaps the water is at its deepest there was a circular flock of 159 Tufted Duck. It was strange behaviour to find them in this formation and I suspected that they had been scared off (perhaps) the Weaver estuary earlier? Whatever the reason they were presumably non-breeding birds? A female Tufted was with 8 ducklings below the bank so some are breeding here. A gathering of 14 Little Grebe were mostly juvenile birds that had been born on this tank and a healthy population at that.

The Black-tailed Godwit flock were back in their rightful place gathered on and in the western section of water. There were again various stages of plumage moult from handsome orange-billed russet red post breeders, to large pale watered down tea coloured non-breeders. Hiding in their throng were the 3 Ruff and 100 Redshank, so even the latter are beginning to pass through here now. A flock of 230 summer plumaged Dunlin were of various sizes and bill lengths but no sign of any Curlew Sandpiper or Little Stint just yet.

One of the juvenile Marsh Harrier was sat low down in the trees with only its head visible.

Observers: Arthur Harrison, WSM (images).

11.07.17. Birdlog

After dropping Sparky and her friend off in Chester for a girlie night out I made my way to the marshes after negotiating the heavy rain along the motorway this evening.

On my arrival at the marsh it was a tad disappointing that last night’s godwit flock were no longer here so I had to make do with a couple of Blackwits to fill the void. The Greenshank was still busy feeding up on the far side of No.6 sludge tank with a small group of Redshank, 11 Dunlin and the 3 Ruff.

A pleasant distraction was the two juvenile Marsh Harrier perched up in two willow whips watching and waiting for their evening meal.

I didn’t bother counting the ducks (my heart wasn’t in it) but nearby a female Tufted Duck had problems keeping her ducklings together. 

I moved over to the mitigation area where a juvenile Little Ringed Plover, Common and Green Sandpiper were watched preening.

The rain clouds lifted long enough for the Liverpool skyline to be illuminated by the setting sun.

Observer and images: WSM.

10.07.17. Birdlog

With the tide a little earlier in the day I wasn’t expecting too much in the way of shorebirds to be present on No.6 tank. The receding water level on this sludge tank at this time of year shouldn’t be underestimated. I arrived to watch over it with an open mind and an vacant expression on my face.

The eastern edge of the tank had the usual bunched up groups of 60 Mallard and 53 Tufted Duck but what wasn’t usual was 53 Common Teal. Three Shoveler and a healthy stock of ‘Shelducklings’ kept a couple of pairs of  attentive surrogate parents busy gathering them all upt. 

The main party action centred on the c750 Black-tailed Godwit flock occupying the centre of the open water. There has been an increase in the number of breeding plumaged birds here today, so I guess these are failed breeders moving south earlier than expected? A Greenshank was new in but after seeing flocks of 9 and 5 in Ireland last week it was not a great surprise to see them arriving here. Three Ruff two of which were in full summer plumage were with the godwits.

The Dunlin numbers have made a marked increase with 163 present and with them were a couple in non breeding plumage and both were long-billed birds possibly of the race alpina.

An adult Ringed Plover was a very fussy parent shooing away an equally attentive adult Little Ringed Plover parent and youngster from its own young bird. All four were on the emerging midge infested mud and below where I was standing on the bank above. Fortunately they were too busy squabbling to notice me but there was more than enough food for both species to feed together without getting involved in any territorial disputes.

All the shorebirds were relatively content with their lot, that was until a Hobby darted through to chase the numerous Sand Martin feeding low over the water. The godwits were jittery as ever and most upped sticks and headed for the estuary. After the remaining birds had resettled and resumed feeding a lumbering juvenile Peregrine took the opportunity to bluster its way through frightening the rest of the birds into flight. A Sparrowhawk added to the carnage and hand selected its supper.

One of the many Marsh Harrier here included one with prey on No.3 tank where the mitigation pools were only hosting a herd of cows and a flock of sheep! 

A good little selection of species to pick through and with the coming weeks it may pay to make a visit here, you never know? Finding a rarity is a lottery but you have to be here to pick it out from all the waders expected to move through.

Observer and images: WSM.

09.07.17. Birdlog

Out again this morning with a start and a spring in my step. A Brown Hare with a covey of released Red-legged Partridge in a field at the off. Along the Brook Furlong Lane the usual Chiffchaff and Reed Warbler were very vocal but a hedge hopping Sparrowhawk silenced the summer temporary.

Onto the River Weaver a large crèche of ‘shelducklings’ were doing their best to avoid the attention of a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gull. A pair of Oystercatcher were driven to distraction by a Common Buzzard lingering too long in their presence and forced it away with a lot of verbal persuasion.

A Gadwall with 5 ducklings were noted and 2 adult and a juvenile Ringed Plover were at the waters edge alongside a pair of Common Sandpiper. There were four more Common Sandpiper along the river and Manchester Ship Canal.

The Canal Pools were home to a pair of Mute Swan and their brood watched as Carp were cruising close to the water surface. Several Pied and a single Grey Wagtail were catching fly’s over the water. Dragonflies were active in the Sunday sunshine with Ruddy Darter and Emperor noted. The nearby scrape held single Common and Green Sandpiper and a Common Snipe was at the scrape by the ‘Splashing Pool’.

Walking back along Lordship Lane there were again Reed Warbler and Common Whitethroat busily feeding fledged young. After yesterdays Grey Heron attack the local moorhen were sitting tight on their nests.

A flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in the shallows while both Redshank and Lapwing were put on high alert as a Peregrine zoned high overhead.

A couple more Brown Hare with a leveret were seen at another location during my morning amble.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston

08.07.17. Birdlog

An afternoon walk around No.6 tank in the warm sunshine started with a couple of female Shoveler with the Tufted Duck flock. There were 4 Avocet, Redshank, Dunlin and a single Common Sandpiper close to 200 feeding Black-tailed Godwit which were spread about the tank.  

A flock of juveniles Starling were seen to bunch up making shapes over Marsh Farm and doing their best to evade an unseen (by me) threat. A Green Sandpiper was seen to leave the shallow pool near to the ‘Splashing Pool’.

The female Marsh Harrier flew low over the area and 2-3 young birds were notable. I was walking back along Lordship Lane when a Grey Heron left the ditch carrying a young Moorhen and settled in the ‘shrike field’ alongside Hares Lane to finish it off.

Butterflies were numerous with Comma, Gatekeeper, Large White and Peacock Butterflies all enjoying the warm weather to feed.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.