30.09.17. Birdlog

A dry start ended up with continuous rain but this time I had multiple dry clothes to keep the old optics dry.

I met up with Alyn and we headed along Brook Furlong Lane to walk along the edge of the River Weaver. There was little passerine activity along the track with just a couple each of Chiffchaff and Goldcrest to keep the interest level flickering. The Weaver estuary had a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying over while a Common Sandpiper, a solitary Black-tailed Godwit and c200 Redshank with a few Tufted Duck, 1 Great Crested and a few Little Grebes for company. A watch over the Weaver Sluices beyond to the Mersey estuary produced 4 Little Egret, a few Curlew, 2000 Canada’s with a single Barnacle Goose and the Bar-headed Goose again after a long absence.

The rain had started by the time we arrived at Marsh Farm which unsurprisingly was quiet with only a flock of 60 Goldfinch moving about but we met up with Paul and then Mike en route to No.6 tank.

Alyn had already had a look over the sludge tank earlier and countered an impressive 110 Ruff! There were 550 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Common Snipe and 1 Golden Plover so not a bad return for a flooded wader unfriendly tank.

Wigeon numbers have risen remarkably with 306 birds present feeding on the flooded daisy bed seed heads. The Pintail was a common bird to see over the Mersey marshes throughout the 1970’s, but today numbers have dropped almost off the chart. It was really good to see this species back in low but healthy looking counts today. The Shoveler continues to push its numbers higher each autumn and the 304 birds present on the water may increase in the next week for my WeBS count here? Common Teal had already reached 500 birds and we expect their numbers to rocket over next month and today a juvenile Garganey was them and is just the sole representative this autumn. There were several cluster groups of nuptial pairs of Gadwall displaying they didn’t leave it long for this summers end. Towards early evening big herds of Canada Goose were whiffling in and when I left there was over 1,000 present. Alyn had 2 Little Egret earlier with an Egyptian Goose here so it was obvious these were birds from Hale Marsh where that bird has been lingering during the summer.

Other birds seen include  Little Egret and juvenile Peregrine over No.3 tank plus 6 Swallow heading south.

A Stoat was running along the sodden lane on No.5 tank.

Observers: Alyn Chambers, Mike Turton, Paul Ralston, WSM (and image).

28.09.17. Birdlog & Nature Notes #60

The water level on No.6 tank prevents any tsuitable drier/damp ground for small waders to settle and thus for the time being we don’t expect any Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper or Little Stint to remain here until the level drops. Birds spotted today both from a morning and an afternoon visit include: 8 Little Grebe, 4 Grey Heron, 7 Moorhen, Black-headed Gull 280. 47 Ruff, 420 Lapwing, 4 Golden Plover, 480 Black-tailed Godwit, 32 Gadwall, 25 Mallard (with another 31 on the Splashing Pool), 9 Pintail, 27 Common Shelduck, 278 Shoveler, 480 Common Teal, 47 Tufted Duck and 32 Wigeon.

A Swallow was noted heading through and a couple of Cetti’s Warbler were vocal in both the am and pm period.

At dusk I took a stroll along Brook Furlong Lane and apart from a couple of Goldcrest it was rather quiet, that was until two birds starting calling from the Hawthorn hedgerow by the horse paddock field. I was keen when a Yellow-browed Warbler swee-oo call was coming from the trees adjacent to the path, but it was difficult to pick up the bird. I eventually managed to get a decent view of it but was presented with a Chiffchaff! Almost immediately another was giving the same call and after locating that bird it too was a Chiffchaff. There have been birds giving similar calls throughout the Mersey Valley over the last month and obviously there is much to discuss over their origin?

The flooded turf field by the motorway bridge had a big flock of Black-headed Gull, 25 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Ruff.

Nature Notes #60

A Stoat was watched running along the track above No.6 tank.

Numerous dragonflies and butterflies were on the wing in the bright sunshine including: Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Large and Small White’s.

A few Fly Agaric were fruiting locally with some splendid examples to be seen.

Orange Bolette fungi.

Brown/Pine Bolette.




Shaggy Inkcap

Observers: Joe from Chester (images 1-4) & WSM (images 5-13).

25 & 26.09.17. Birdlog.

25.09.17. Birdlog

A blog post covering two evenings. The first visit concentrated on the passerines along Brook Furlong Lane with the previous days report of a Yellow-browed Warbler a memory for just a couple of observers. I walked the length of the lane keen to pick up the Long-tailed Tit flock and it didn’t take me long to find them leap frogging each other through the hawthorn hedgerow. The usual contact calling ensued with both Great and Blue Tit dragged along with a couple of Goldcrest for good measure. A Great Spotted Woodpecker and Bullfinch were present with 6 Chiffchaff in the Sycamore and Ash trees by the ramp track to Alder Lane.

26.09.17. Birdlog

It always seems the highest tides are during the afternoons so work commitments govern the cream of the crop recently. This evenings tide wasn’t particularly high and I wasn’t expecting to see much on No.6 tank. The water level here is increasing so the wide areas of mud and dry ground have disappeared for the time being. I settled on the north banks looking slightly into the evening light at a group of 243 Shoveler, 167 Common Teal, 16 Pintail, 30 Wigeon, 109 Tufted Duck, a drake Common Pochard, 12 Common Shelduck (juveniles). 10 Gadwall and 24 Mallard. It was interesting to see the Wigeon back and the flooded daisy beds always attract them to settle here feeding of the seed heads along with the Teal.

A roost of 235 Black-tailed Godwit were mostly hunched together at the south side but a raptor flew over their heads and everything on the sludge tank rose into the air. This was a great opportunity to count both the ducks and the waders. I would have struggled to see what was hiding in the daisy beds until this happened but a flock of 43 Ruff emerged and after the commotion had settled they started to feed out in the open. Along with a single juvenile Golden Plover, 400 Lapwing, 6 Redshank and a variety of gulls.

A quiet evening but nice to get some good numbers of both duck and Ruff tonight.

Observer: WSM (and image)

24.09.17. Birdlog.

The pale morph Common Buzzard was in its usual perch above by the dredger berth at the Pumping Station.

A visit to No.6 tank and the Canal Pools. There were 3 Little Stint present on No.6 tank with (6 birds seen by SH & PK earlier), 110 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Golden Plover and 28 Ruff. A Mediterranean Gull was in with the gull roost on the sludge tank.

A little further away and a Kingfisher was sat on one of the jetty struts alongside the Manchester Ship Canal.

A large Mirror Carp was cruising on the surface of the Canal Pools.

A few sightings via AC starting at Marsh Farm this morning and a few birds were on the move, including 30 Meadow Pipit and 2 each of Grey and Yellow Wagtail. A group of 4 Collared Dove which flew East. A gathering out on the Mersey estuary included 2 Great White Egret and 12 Little Egret. A Wheatear and 2 Stonechat were also in the area.

A Green Sandpiper was on the Weaver Bend.

Also seen during the day were 18 Chiffchaff, 1 Blackcap, 1 Redpoll and a Jay.

The lane that continues north over the motorway bridge is Brook Furlong Lane and is usually the best place to seek out roving tit flocks. Earlier this morning one such flock had with it a Yellow-browed Warbler (SH & PK) but despite a thorough search in the day it could not be relocated. There was a migrant Great Spotted Woodpecker flying through and also noted were 5 contact calling Chiffchaff with a few Goldcrest.

Observers: Alyn Chambers, Shaun Hickey & Paul Kurs, Paul Ralston (images 1-3), Heather and Findlay Wilde (image 4), WSM.

23.09.17. Birdlog.

An afternoon tide out on the Mersey estuary didn’t bring in an expected arrival of Dunlin with just two birds noted on the marsh today. That wasn’t a good start but the arrival of 3 juvenile Little Stint certainly raised the spirits higher. A total of 31 Ruff was quite an impressive count and they freely roamed around No.6 tank. Taking up a more sedate position were 5 Common Snipe, 400 Black and a single juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit which favoured the edge of the flock. A fidgety 200 Lapwing were up and down like a yoyo.

A Great White Egret joined the ducks and waders for a short period but it didn’t settle and flew off to the south-east over Frodsham Hill. The same or another GWE was seen from Marsh Farm out on the Mersey estuary earlier.

The female Marsh Harrier was active in the western side of the tank while both Peregrine and Hobby were nearby.

Ducks were also present with 98 Tufted Duck, 14 Pintail, 10 Wigeon, 248 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, a few each of Mallard and Common Shelduck with Common Teal reaching c230 birds.

Emerging from the reed bed below our position was a Water Rail.

There was a small passage of passerines moving south with Swallow, Skylark and Meadow Pipit being the most obvious. A big flock of 30 Raven were moving around the Canal Pools. No.1 tank had 3 Stonechat, Yellow Wagtail, elsewhere 3 Jay, 1 Goldcrest and a Common Whitethroat were seen.

Paul Ralston carried on his walk taking in the pools where there were c20 Black-tailed Godwit on one of the scrapes on No.3. The Canal Pools didn’t offer much really with a few Tufted Duck and a pair of Mute Swan. There were 3 Kestrel hanging in the air together and a large number of Raven over the Manchester Ship Canal and Frodsham Score salt marsh. The ship canal also had more Tufted Duck, Mallard, Common Teal and 4 Great Crested Grebe.

A cargo ship heading east along the canal flushed out a Green Sandpiper from the bank and nearby a family of 4 Stonechat were in a reed bed and on the bankside. Two more Kestrel were over No.4 and a Sparrowhawk shot through. Several Little Egret were out on Frodsham Score and a Collared Dove made its way across the marshes.

I eventually found my way to a the flooded field alongside Lordship Lane where there were 8 more Black-tailed Godwit and a Common Snipe. My walk ended watching a party of Raven making their way over Helsby Hill to roost in Wales. 

Observers: Alyn Chambers, Paul Crawley (image 3), Paul Ralston (images 5-8), Mike Turton, WSM (images 1-2 & 4).

21.09.17. Birdlog.

A flock of 320 Black-tailed Godwit on No.6 tank always attract other waders to drop in or joined them. The group of 480 Lapwing had found the relative safety of the godwits pressence suitable for their need of roosting and preening but there was low numbers of Dunlin (7) and Redshank () but two juvenile Curlew Sandpiper were more than welcome.

Ducks can be relied upon to make up the numbers with Mallard reaching 23 while Pintail have increased markedly to 29 birds. Also 9 Common Shelduck, 135 Shoveler, 70 Common Teal and 68 Tufted Duck were present.

Observer and image: Joe from Chester.

19.09.17. Birdlog.

A quick after work bird watch from the north banks of No.6 tank. A flock of 450 fidgety and nervous Lapwing were scattered when they saw the juvenile Peregrine fly through, but it didn’t stay and I watched it loafing around over Fox Hill before drifting off over Frodsham. Soon after the birds had settled most of the Lapwing flock left the area while a reduced flock did a few circuits before resettling on the edge of the expanding water level of the tank. Some of the flock of 25 Ruff departed with the Lapwing but 15 stayed and were joined by the first juvenile Little Stint of the autumn.There was a small group of 21 Black-tailed Godwit and some Redshank shuffling around.

A Water Rail peeped its body out of the reeds long enough for me to capture it in the digital format.

Ducks were well represented with 15 Pintail, 3 Wigeon, 6 Gadwall, 12 Mallard, c200 Common Teal, 21 Common Shelduck, 134 Shoveler and 24 Tufted Duck.

Apart from the Peregrine watched earlier the ducks got a little startled when a Hobby tore the air above them. A Raven drew my attention when it was bothering a Marsh Harrier at the west end of the tank and they were lost from sight as they flew over the mitigation area of No.3 tank.

Observer and images: WSM.

17.09.17. Birdlog.

An early start for the morning tide which turned out not to be too significant.

A quick look at the phalarope pool as it’s now known at the west end of No.3 tank produced a few Common Teal. Further east and the dwindling scrape pools had a single Green Sandpiper which typically did one when it caught sight of me. The main hightlight was the calls of Pink-footed Goose sounding out overhead as scattered flocks were moving around the estuary and a combined count was in excess of 200 birds.

No.6 tank had more water on it than previous visits due to the deluge of rain we’ve been experiencing over the last week or so. A flock of c250 Black-tailed Godwit had numerous juvenile birds and a lone summer plumaged adult was flapping its wings vigorously for about 5 minutes. There were 10 Ruff, 300 Lapwing and a single Common Snipe to add to the shorebird numbers.

The Lapwing were a bit skittish and a scan across the reed beds revealed a juvenile Hobby perched up on a tree stump preening away. Hobby video here: https://vimeo.com/234228235

The ducks have made a bit of a come back with 158 Shoveler, 3 Pintail, 6 Wigeon, c200 Common Teal. 14 Mallard, 2 Gadwall and just a handful of Common Shelduck.

Observer and images: WSM.

16.09.17. Birdlog.

A visit during the high tide period and a flock of 200 Black-tailed Godwit were on No.6 tank and I bumped in to Mike from Runcorn who picked out a single Golden Plover and Curlew Sandpiper with his telescope along with several Ruff in attendance alongside a flock of Redshank.

Two skeins of Pink-footed Goose passed overhead  with one flock heading north and the other heading east. Good numbers of Raven were noted with several feeding on fallen (dead)stock on No.3 tank.
A flock of c100 Golden Plover were watched leaving No.5 tank towards the Mersey estuary.
There were a flock of 50 Linnet in dead trees to the east of the marshes.

Observers Paul Ralston (images), Ron Brumby.


15.09.17. Birdlog.

A quick visit after work saw me watching 7 Curlew, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and a Sparrowhawk on and over the flooded field alongside Lordship Lane. The Red-necked Phalarope was not on its pool but was located on another scrape a short distance away but not visible from the lane itself. A flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit with several Ruff, Redshank and a few Dunlin which were in the shallow waters of No.6 tank. Ducks included Shoveler, Common Shelduck, Mallard, Common Teal and Gadwall and were all present in good numbers.

Observer: Paul Ralston.