29.10.17. Birdlog

Arriving early this morning there were 2 Fieldfare, 2 Mistle Thrush and a few Redwing along Moorditch lane.

The drake Green-winged Teal was still on No.6 tank along with 17 Common Pochard, 37 Tufted Duck, 69 Pintail, 4 Ruff, 65 Great Black-backed Gull and the usual ducks.

A Merlin flew over No.4 tank and 140 Pink-footed Goose flew down to the Mersey estuary where a Common Sandpiper resided.

There were 9 Stonechat and 3 Cetti’s Warbler singing across the Marsh and an immature Marsh Harrier was seen occasionally.

Observer: Alyn Chambers (image 1).

Stepping out this afternoon and repeating the same route as yesterday. The duck numbers were down but there were still plenty to see with Common Teal, Wigeon, Mallard. Common Pochard, Common Shelduck and Gadwall were all duly noted.

A Marsh Harrier was seen hunting over the reed bed while a flock of several thousand Starling were forced to stream overhead and make their way out to the salt marsh to feed. There were 3 Stonechat on No.3 tank with another 3 along Lordship Lane.

On the Manchester Ship Canal were 5 Great Crested Grebe and 2 Great White Egret stately patrolling the salt marshes with 5 Little Egret.

There were 8 Mute Swan on the stubble field alongside the Holpool Gutter with a small mixed flock of Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and 38 Ruff.

Goldfinch and Linnet were numerous along the way with smaller numbers of Chaffinch feeding with them.

Other raptors include 3 Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk kept an eye on the finch flock movements. Several Common Buzzard were likewise roaming the area.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-3).

28.10.17. Birdlog

I was out early this morning with a start at No.6 tank which held several hundred Canada Goose as well as good numbers of ducks but Bill will note them later. The mitigation pool on No.3 tank held Wigeon and Shoveler with small parties of Curlew passing overhead.

The walk alongside the flooded fields on Lordship Lane had a flock of c100 Curlew with a few Ruff in the mix.  There was also family group of Mute Swan near the blue slurry tank with 5 cygnet and 2 adult. A small flock of Redwing were feeding in the hawthorn hedgerow.

A Peregrine was sat on its watch lookout from the Growhow Works and a Merlin was spotted over No.4.

Further numbers of Curlew and Ruff were in the stubble field alongside the Holpool Gutter. There were more swans at the far end of the gutter as I made my way along the path by the water course. I was surprised by a party of 7 Whooper Swan which passed silently by but overhead a faint call was uttered. 

Out on the salt marsh there was a Marsh Harrier being harassed by one of several Raven and there Little Egret and a Great White Egret noted.

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 2).

I made my way along Brook Furlong Lane where I met Dave (Sorry, I forgot your surname again) who mentioned that he had seen a couple of Whooper Swan leave No.6 tank with some juvenile Mute’s. I guess these are the birds Paul had seen earlier?

A Cetti’s Warbler was calling from the hedgerow ditch but typically remained elusive. A band of roving Long-tailed Tit had a few Blue & Great in tow with a Goldcrest adding the its shrill tunes. A pair of Bullfinch and a few Chaffinch were also noted.

A trio of Pink-footed Goose were seen to drop onto the Weaver Bend and apart from a small number of Wigeon and Shoveler on the Weaver estuary sheltering from the strong winds blowing up river that was about the lot.

I eventually made my way to No.6 tank and managed to find some shelter from the blustery westerly causing the ducks present on the water below to keep safe on the open water. There were huge numbers of ducks today with 370 Wigeon, c900 Common Teal, 143 Mallard, 72 Pintail, 23 Gadwall, 156 Shoveler, 46 Tufted Duck, 17 Common Pochard, 1 Common Shelduck and 2 (unringed) Fulvous Whistling Duck.

It was a careful observation of the ducks in the difficult observation conditions but after 3 hours of watching most of the duck were scrutinised and countered. Small numbers of birds were coming and going so when a juvenile Marsh Harrier flew over followed by a Merlin and then a juvenile Peregrine which all combined to flush other ducks from their hiding. It was after such a disturbance a drake Green-winged Teal was picked out from the teal throng and stayed long enough to be seen by Roger Wilkinson twitching it from Chester.

A video of the FWD’s here: https://vimeo.com/240390194

A small flock of 5 Ruff and 16 Black-tailed Godwit flew in and out because the water level was to high for them.

Other birds of noted included a Great Spotted Woodpecker and another Cetti’s Warbler on No.5 with a third Cetti’s calling from No.6 tank.

Video of the teal from today: https://vimeo.com/240318990

Observer: WSM (images 1 & 3-10).

22.10.17. Birdlog

An early morning walk around No.6 tank in wet and windy weather part of Storm Brian’s march through the Irish Sea. The 2 Whooper Swan were back on the sludge tank with a couple of Fulvous Whistling Duck, c400 Canada Goose which departed as soon as they saw me looking over the bank leaving the Whooper’s behind. There were 8 juvenile and 5 adult Mute Swan feeding in the shallows with Common Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck and a few Little Grebe.

A small number of Redshank and Ruff were noted. A mixed flock of Herring and black-back gulls were sheltering from the stormy wind on No.3. Several Raven, Kestrel and Common Buzzard were enjoying the updrafts that the score bank produces.

Alongside the flooded fields by Lordship Lane there was small flocks of c80 Black-tailed Godwit with several Curlew, more Ruff and Common Snipe.

The day was marred by the pitiful sight of a Barn Owl dead on the hard shoulder of the M56 close to Gowy Meadows which could be one of a pair seen hunting there recently?

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

The strong winds changed direction to a NW sector overnight and a watch on the incoming tide from Marsh Farm produced a Little Egret and 20 Grey Plover. A Shag flew west and a Leach’s Petrel which fell victim to one of the local Peregrine before the height of the afternoon tide.

Observer: Frank Duff.

21.10.17. Birdlog.

The weather forecast for Storm Brian didn’t really kick in until later in the afternoon by which time I had done the best part of my watch. I secured a sheltered spot looking north across No.6 tank where the conditions didn’t cause me too much concern. The afternoon tide tried its best to push shorebirds onto the flooded sludge tank, but with the recent rains and pumping of water/silt into the deposit tank the water table was far to high. These forces have acted against and have helped to reduce the areas of dry ground for the birds to find shelter.

Small flock after flocks of Dunlin tried their best to settle with the godwits but it was very difficult for the smaller shorebirds to purchase a firm footing. As mentioned a flock of (130) Black-tailed Godwit found it easier to ride out the tide in the flood water and included a Bar-tailed Godwit and 67 Ruff. Small groups of Curlew were watched flying in and settling within the sea aster beds in the centre of the tank.

Further out on Ince Marsh fields a raptor had dislodged several thousand Lapwing and Dunlin from their flooded fields and they were observed in wafts of avian smoke high above the area.

Back on No.6 tank and duck numbers were looking good with some big counts: 157 Shoveler (reduced from recent weeks), 36 Wigeon, 26 Pintail, 72 Tufted Duck, 18 Common Pochard and 554 Common Teal.

The Whooper Swan pair I saw last evening reappeared with a family group of Mute’s on No.6 and were later seen to fly off to the Canal Pools. Whooper Swan video here: https://vimeo.com/239274919

A Merlin darted through and was probably the cause of several bouts of panic flights by the waders and ducks during the course of my observations today.

A roving band of Long-tailed Tit dragged through the scrubby areas both Blue and Great Tit with them.

Observer and images: WSM.

20.10.17. Birdlog

The afternoon tide out on the river concentrated 2 Great White Egret, c39 Little Egret on Frodsham Score/Ince Marshes and observed from the north side of the Mersey Estuary at Hale per Dave Craven

The tide brought in a Spotted Redshank, 310 Black-tailed Godwit, single Dunlin, 15 Ruff, 12 Redshank and 15 Common Gull.

Observer: Mark (Whipper) Gibson.

A circular walk around No.6 tank produced a couple of adult Whooper Swan with 2 adult and four juvenile Mute’s out on Lordship Marsh close to the M56 motorway.

During our walk a female Marsh Harrier, 4 Common Buzzard (including the pale morph present at the Pumping Station) and 4 Kestrel were seen. The harrier disturbed a sky full of 45 Raven, while other Raven were moving inland for their roost.

No.6 tank was still alive this evening with c500 Common Teal, c250 Shoveler, 3 Wigeon, 26 Pintail, 62 Tufted Duck, 16 Common Pochard, 12 Gadwall, 43 Mallard, 14 Common Shelduck and 4 Mute Swan.

The Ruff flock had increased from earlier today with 64 birds present at dusk.

A Cetti’s Warbler sounded off from the reeds below the banks. The Starling roost is beginning to gather for the autumn/winter season over No.3 tank.

Finally, a couple of oddities from the evening walk involved a white Pheasant one of several released on the marshes. The bullocks feeding on nettles on the redundant mitigation area are cloaked and matted with burdock burs giving them a comical, like. One pictured above with its crown of thorns.

Observers: Paul Ralston (images 1 & 4), WSM (images 2-3 & 5-6) & Sparky.

18.10.17. Birdlog.

The evening light was dull and overcast making the dusk appear earlier than normal. I walked up from Brook Furlong Lane where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was moving about in the thick cover bordering the bridge that crosses over the M56.

Arriving on No.6 tank’s north bank and a quick scan looking from the eastern corner revealed the usual bunched up group of c45 Tufted Duck but it was good to see 15 Common Pochard (5 females) with them. The Shoveler were nervous by my presence and flew up and around for a while before pitching down on the water. The flock appeared more numerous in flight than was actually present when they finally settled. A count of 256 birds was made with a drake Wigeon, 31 Pintail, c500 Common Teal, c20 Gadwall, 34 Mallard, 21 Common Shelduck and the returning two Fulvous Whistling Duck were dappling in the shallow daisy beds with the teal. The first two Whooper Swan of the autumn joined a small herd of 13 Mute’s.

The wader flock consisted of 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Redshank, 40 Lapwing and 78 Ruff. The tides are expected to get bigger later in the week and I’m fairly sure the godwit and hopefully Ruff numbers will rise accordingly?

N.B. The Nordic Jackdaw was again at Park Road (model boating lake), Runcorn this evening.

Observer and image: WSM

15.10.17. Birdlog.

Out and about this morning with a walk around No.6 tank taking in the Frodsham Score (from the distance of the canal) and along the path edging the Manchester Ship Canal and the Canal Pools.

Duck numbers were down on yesterday but still held a selection with Common Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck and Gadwall. I had a look over the water from the east bank where a number of Ruff, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit were busy feeding amongst a flock of Back-headed Gull.

The juvenile Peregrine that had made an unsuccessful attack yesterday made a repeated attempt again today. Its tactic of surprise through blatant flushing, causing panic and then repeat attack strikes at the flock again ended in a fruitless quest.

A Cetti’s Warbler was seen to break cover and sit in a bush for a few seconds before going in to deep cover.

Back along the canal path and a group of Ruff left the salt marsh and flew over No.4.

5 Great Crested Grebe and 6 Mute Swan were on the canal and a Great White Egret was seen way out on the score edge. A number of other species was encountered during my ramble and included: Raven, Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk.

Observers and images: Paul Ralston.

14.10.17. Birdlog.

An early morning walk around No.6 and No.4 tanks started with 400 Canada Goose on 6 alongside good numbers of ducks.

High up c300 Golden Plover circled over 6 but decided the water level didn’t suit them.

Continuing my walk along the Manchester Ship Canal path a pair of Stonechat were still on their territory while out the water a Great Crested Grebe was present. Frodsham Score had a Great White Egret with several Little Egret for company. Another 5 Little Egret made their way west along the canal  and were followed by a single bird which was mobbed by gulls and nearly ditched in to the water.

A large flock of Black-head and Common Gull fed in the stubble fields along the edge of the Holpool Gutter with several Curlew. The flooded fields along Lordship Lane had a further flock of c100 Curlew. A couple of pairs of Stonechat were sat on the fence  as I made my way back to my start point.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-4).

A little later I took over from Paul and set up overlooking the flooded sludge tank. The unusual warm 20C weather and bright sunshine encouraged the fluttering and zipping by of Red Admiral, Small White’s and Comma with a couple of darter dragonfly in the act of amore

The 246 Shoveler on the water of the tank must have been good decoys with a return of Pintail in double figures (31). A flotilla of 46 Tufted Duck included 4 eclipse drake Common Pochard with 23 Gadwall and 320 Common Teal. 7 Mute Swan and a small number of Little Grebe were close to the reedy fringes to the sludge tank.

Waders present included 247 Black-tailed Godwit with 24 Redshank, 56 Lapwing and the continuing gatherings of currently 117 Ruff although a few were feeding in the sea aster beds and against the sunshine to be sure of their numbers?

Birds of prey included: 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel, male Marsh Harrier and 6 Common Buzzard.

A juvenile Peregrine hurtled through the mass of waders and ducks on the sludge tank sending everything high into the sky. One particular Black-tailed Godwit was the first to raise from the water and then became the target for the falcon. After a spot of aerial dog fighting the godwit was caught in the crosshairs and was duly scooped up by the falcon. While the raptor was readjusting its grip on the wader it momentarily lost its hold and this gave the godwit the opportunity to escape! The partially stricken bird fell spiralling into the water, and after several stoops by the persuer to recapture its quarry, the godwit dived beneath the surface and the falcon soon gave up. Another Peregrine this time an adult was sat out on the tall blue topped chimney at Weston Point.

There was no obvious passerine migration on offer but a couple of Stonechat were attached as they usually are on No.5 tank. The same location had a blurting Cetti’s Warbler with another one blurting away on the banks below where I sat.

Over on the (committee designed folly of a conservation project by Peel Energy and “some wildlife groups”) mitigation a small number of Black-tailed Godwit, Common Teal and Shoveler were present but this area is reserved for the farmers cattle to wallow in when the sun shines.

Observer: WSM (and images 1 & 5-7).

12.10.17. Birdlog

On the wader front things have quietened down due to the reduction of the height of the tides on the River Mersey. A smaller flock of just 32 Black-tailed Godwit was on No.6 tank with 27 Golden Plover, 140 Lapwing, 2 Redshank and 102 Ruff.

Ducks included: 2 Wigeon, 48 Tufted Duck, 368 Common Teal, 110 Shoveler, 18 Common Shelduck, 4 Pintail, 40 Mallard, 17 Gadwall, 18 Pink-footed Goose flying over.

Gulls present included a massive 97 Great Black-backed Gull.

There were 2 Cetti’s Warbler singing from cover on the sludge tank and a Redwing dropped in.

Observer: Joe Chester.

Image: WSM.

11.10.17. Birdlog.

I’m taking advantage of the light after work but it did help when he sun dropped below the thickening westerly rain cloud.

There were 14 Ruff on No.6 tank and these were soon joined by another 35 which flew in from No.3 tank. Also present was a flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit with a smaller flock of Lapwing. Over on the mitigation pools were 67 Curlew, a species which have declined remarkably here over the last couple of years. There were 6 Grey Heron and a Little Egret keeping the waders on their toes.

Ducks as expected considering the high water level on the sludge tank were in big numbers. A return of 3 Pintail was interesting and Shoveler reached an impressive c300 birds. Common Teal numbers are steadily climbing with c500 present this evening with 46 Tufted Duck, 23 Mallard, 24 Gadwall, 12 Common Shelduck and 11 Mute Swan.

Gulls flooded onto the tank this evening with 700 Black-headed, 120 Common (including the dark-headed bird from yesterday), 34 Lesser Black-backed & 4 Great Black-backed and 3 Herring Gull.

Birds of prey featured 4 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk and a couple of Marsh Harrier.

Other species worthy of note were a couple of Stonechat another pair of Stonechat were at Marsh Farm.

Observer: WSM.

Image by Paul Ralston.