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).

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).