14.09.17. Birdlog

A message this morning from Elliot confirmed that the Red-necked Phalarope was still in residence with 6 Black-tailed Godwit on a small pool (adjacent to the ‘Splashing Pool’) at the west side of No.3 tank, it attracted a steady stream of admirers throughout the day.

A Marsh Harrier was watched drifting through the wind turbines on No.4 tank while a Peregrine was a brave soul perched on aloft the blue topped chimney at Weston Point with its chest broad into the high wind.

I eventually made it back to the marsh after a visit to New Brighton with Leach’s Petrel and Grey Phalarope noted. The buffeting wind made it difficult at times but generally No.6 tank had 200 Black-tailed with another 263 by the Weaver Sluices. Ducks were gathered closely with the godwits and included 161 Shoveler and 134 Common Teal.

Further to the east of Frodsham Bridge and a couple of Garganey were spotted on a small pool.

Observers: John Rayner, Elliot Monteith, Gary Worthington, Sparky & WSM (and images).

13.09.17. Birdlog.

After walk along the track above No.6 tank we settled at the viewing bank overlooking the open water below. We met up with Whipper Gibson hoping to see yesterday’s phalarope, but alas there was no sign of it. A gathering of shorebirds in the flooded water was a selected group of c350 Black-tailed Godwit, on closer inspection there were two juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit and 13 Knot attached with 5 Ruff close by.

The ducks were forced by the wind to hunch down behind the godwit flock and included: 178 Shoveler, 200 Common Teal, 16 Tufted Duck, 8 Gadwall, 30 Common Shelduck and the first Pintail of the autumn.

We left Whipper to his own devices and walked further along the track of No.3 tank. Approaching the incline at the end of the track and a couple of juvenile Black-tailed Godwit were seen to drop into the isolated pool adjacent to the ‘Splashing Pool’ at the western end of No.3. When we arrived the godwits were picked up immediately but a water pirouetting wader was also with them. The Red-necked Phalarope was refound at its original pool and we watched this delicate (probable) Scandinavian born wanderer strutting its stuff. Apparently Icelandic birds migrate west to the Chilean coast via the Bay of Fundy so presumably its more eastern than northern? I sent out a few messages and phoned Whipper who eventually made it back to see the bird before a steadt stream of birders arrived a couple of hours later.

It was good to hear that several observers had tallied their list of phalarope’s over the last week with a few Grey’s available at New Brighton today and a Wilson’s seen in Lancashire.

We continued our walk and spent time looking across Frodsham Score where there was little of note apart from a few Little Egret flying about.

Later in the evening regular birder Paul Ralston connected with the RNP and also added a Green Sandpiper which flew in and out with another on the ‘secluded pool’.

The pool on the west end of No.3 tank where the Red-necked Phalarope resides.

Observers: Mark (Whipper) Gibson, Paul Ralston, Sparky & WSM (all images).

12.09.17. Birdlog.

We were on the Wirral when I got a call from Frank Duff this afternoon regarding a third hand sighting of a phalarope spp that Mike Giverin had chanced upon two birders (who had visited the Frodder’s earlier) at Burton Mere, confused? The upshot of all of this was that Frank went to the marsh to investigate and eventually relocated the ‘phal’ and it turned out to be of the Red-necked variety (and there are a few rednecks down on the marsh ;O). It took a while for me and Sparky to get to the site and… you know you’re late to the party when Phil Oddy is leaving the bird having twitched it from the badlands of east Cheshire. Red-necked Phalarope video here: https://vimeo.com/233547295

We managed to watch this delicate oceanic wanderer spinning on the edge of the c350 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Ruff, 4 Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin. That wrecking ball juvenile Peregrine smashed through the godwit flock like a ten pin bowling session. There wasn’t a wader left with every one of them scattering in various tight panic flocks. After the melee there was no sign of the phalarope and not a lot of anything else. It had still not returned by 17.00 hrs.

We briefly met Luke and he mentioned that there was an adult Gannet out on the River Weaver. When we had traipsed around the eastern sides of both No.5 and No.1 tanks I eventually met Frank who was watching the bird on the far banks of the Weaver estuary  and for all the world dead! Except, it was just asleep and woke long enough to raise its head and flap its wings before going back to sleep again. Gannet video here: https://vimeo.com/233542599

The estuary also had a mixed flock of 200 hirundines with an additional attachment of 8 Common Swift.

Observers: Luke Oszanlov-Harris, Frank Duff, WSM (and video) & Sparky.

10.09.17. Birdlog

No.6 tank this afternoon for the high tide with c300 Black-tailed hosting a single Bar-tailed Godwit. The buffeting blustery south-westerly was ripping through the marshes and most of the shorebirds were struggling to stand up were their shoulders down and legs flexed. The 15 Ruff and a Grey Plover, 3 Avocet were mixed in with 40+ Dunlin and at least one Curlew Sandpiper. A big raft of 168 Shoveler were on the water with Mallard, 183 Common Teal, 10 Common Shelduck, 7 Gadwall and 28 Tufted Duck. There were several Common Gull joined the Black-headed Gull flock on the tank. Both Common Buzzard and Kestrel were active around the banks.

The flooded field on Lordship Marsh held 4 Ringed Plover.

Observers: Paul Ralston, Ron Brumby, Frank Duff, WSM (and image) & Sparky.

09.09.17. Birdlog (WeBS Count).

It was wet and wild throughout the few hours to the build up of high tide out on the Mersey estuary. Wirral RSPB group had already made an impasse along the track of No.5 tank to the distant ‘Splashing pool’ where they encountered a Green Sandpiper and 4 Common Swift doing their best to avoid the inevitable drenching.

The group had watched a few waders including a likely candidate Curlew Sandpiper or two. They were heading back to dry off and get some sustenance, while I stood watching in the rain watching a soddened c450 Black-tailed Godwit huddled together out on the margins of the shallow water of No.6. It gradually got worse and worse with most of my lens cloths succumbing to the rain from my drippy optics.  Eventually the deluge eased and slowly the sun emerged and things started to improve considerably. It didn’t take long before the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper reemerged and it was joined by two others. A smallish flock of 60 Dunlin was a very low count considering the time of year?

A Hobby made a light-hearted attempt at dislodging the Dunlin flock but its attention was drawn away to several hundred Swallow, House and Sand Martin flying low over the tank. The rain had dumped a lot of passerines onto the drier mud with c50 Pied and 4 Yellow Wagtail the latter species being a scarce bird this summer. A Common Buzzard even got a piece of the action by temporary spooking the godwit flock but they soon settled back to roosting. The juvenile Peregrine made a better effort compared to the buzzard and sent everything into panic mode before slinking off. Another Peregrine was perched up on the tall blue topped chimney over at Weston Point. A couple of Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and a distant Marsh Harrier added to the raptor list for the day.

Back to the shore bird action and within the godwit flock emerged a couple of juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit, a juvenile Knot, 11 Ruff, 233 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 1 Oystercatcher, a small group of 7 Ringed and 24 Grey Plover (including 2 partial summer plumaged birds).

Ducks were settled with the godwit roost and included 167 Shoveler, 7 Gadwall, 21 Mallard, 46 Tufted Duck, 28 Common Shelduck and 76 Common Teal.

Walking back in glorious sunshine it was good for the marshes to at least get in on the wader action this autumn.

Observers: Wirral RSPB, Frank Duff, Paul Ralston, WSM (and image).

08.09.17. Birdlog

A morning visit produced 10 Redshank, a single Bar-tailed Godwit and an increasing flock of 500 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 ad 1 juv Ruff covered the waders. Passerines included 70 House Martin, 12 Swallow and several Chiffchaff.

Observer: Mark (Whipper) Gibson.

Image by Paul Crawley.

07.09.17. Birdlog

Out this morning starting along Brook Furlong Lane. The recent released partridge and pheasant were all over the lane looking lost and forlorn. Not so nervous was a Brown Hare leveret which made its way between the fields. The River Weaver was quiet as a boatman was setting nets down mid river so I didn’t stay for too long.

On No.6 tank were Tufted Duck, Common Teal, Shoveler, Mallard and Common Shelduck which were all present in good numbers and they were joined by 5 Mute Swan. A flock of c350 Black-tailed Godwit were in the shallows which also had 5 Ruff, several Redshank, a handful of Dunlin and the first 3 Curlew Sandpiper of the autumn.

There were 4 Kestrel, several Common Buzzard and a single Sparrowhawk hunting in the area. A flock of c200 House Martin and Swallow were feeding over the tank and mobbed the Sparrowhawk as it flew close by. A Green Sandpiper was on the scrape by the ‘Splashing Pool’ and a dozen Curlew were busy feeding there aswell.

Observer and image: Paul Ralston.

04 & 05.09.17. Birdlog.

It’s been a bit quiet of late so I’m putting that down to a series of low early afternoon tides. Also observer coverage has been below the level for the time of year so roll on the weekend. This post is a combined two brief watches made by myself and Paul.

A flight of 23 Black-tailed Godwit darted in and alighted on the south side of No.6 sludge tank. That would have been that but another distant flock of 27 birds was watched until they circled overhead but they didn’t like what they saw and headed out to the Weaver Bend.

Duck numbers and species were in very low counts and 16 Tufted Duck, 4 Gadwall, 54 Mallard and handfuls of each of Common Shelduck and Teal.

A loose group of 10 Little Grebe were noted and edging in the raptor stakes were 2 Kestrel.

A very obliging Water Rail and a Green Sandpiper were out on the secluded pool and that’s about that.

Observers: Paul Ralston, WSM (and image).

02.09.17. Birdlog.

A change of tack and a walk along Brook Furlong Lane produced a few passerines moving through. On reaching the River Weaver a couple of anglers and two Redshank flushing canoeists put paid to any shorebirds lingering on the banks. I headed west to the estuary where things were a little more sedate.

The first thing I came across was a Brown Hare skulking in the long grass and hide low as I walked past. A few Common Swift are still fingering with 7 birds high over the river.

There were a few Black-tailed Godwit and many Redshank congregated on the muddy margins to the water with 3 Ruff, some Lapwing and both Common and Green Sandpiper. On the river were 19 Little and 5 Great Crested Grebe with a dozen or so Tufted Duck. I repositioned my view-point and settled looking across the Weaver Sluice gates. The morning tide was on the ebb but wasn’t particularly high but 750 Black-tailed Godwit were moving around looking for suitable spots to feed with small flocks heading towards the Weaver Bend. A lone juvenile Avocet was with c350 Redshank by the sluices and further out 580 Curlew were feeding on the mudflats. Three Little Egret joined the gulls feeding in the receding water channels but the heat haze was difficult to make out distant white blobs.

The warm weather encouraged the areal swarms of flying ants and hundreds of gulls were riding high in the sky and circling the thermals was a kettle of 25 Common Buzzard and nearby a Sparrowhawk and a juvenile Peregrine.

Walking back along the edge of the river a Little Egret flew out to the estuary. We came across a juvenile Black-tailed Godwit with a broken ulna bone protruding from its feathers. We carefully wrapped the bird in my jumper and placed it in Paul’s large camera bag before Andy Harris from the RSPCA collect the bird at 18.30 and it would be taken to RSPCA Stapeley Grange. If you are interested in the outcome of the birds welfare text Stapeley tomorrow and find out its fate or follow them here @RSPCAStapeley.

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

Observers: Paul Ralston, WSM (and image).

I was bright and early this morning with lots of stuff about including a Red legged Partridge (released birds) with 7 young. A female (massive bird) Peregrine being chased by a Kestrel on No.6 (some distance away) and loads of hirundines on Alder Lane and path to Weaver Bend.

Observer: Ron Brumby.

01.09.17 Birdlog.

A walk around tanks 6 and 4 late afternoon which started with a set down (released) Red-legged Partridge and her late brood of 8 (cannon fodder) chicks being led along the lane only to dive for cover as a Raven passed overhead. On No.6 and the usual mixed flock of Ducks included Mallard, Common Teal, Common Shelduck, Tufted Duck and Shoveler were present with a flock of c100 Black-tailed Godwit and a single Ruff. There were 5 Common Snipe were on the small pool near the ‘Splashing Pool’ with another two more on the Canal Pool. A skyful of Common Buzzard, Raven and Marsh Harrier were together and sizing each other up high over the Manchester Ship Canal and several more Raven were noted playing in the breeze. A pair of Stonechat were along the path and Common Teal, Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebe were on the Holpool Gutter. My watch concluded with n adult Peregrine which was sat on its tower overlooking the marsh from the Growhow Works and 2 Kestrel were hunting the opposite bank on No.4 tank.

Observer and image: Paul Ralston.