Another chance to look over No.6 tank after work and another chance to coincide my visit with the height of the tide (almost).
When I arrived there was a flock of 350 Black-tailed Godwit settled in the tibia deep water close to the edge of the Sea Aster beds. Also trying to conceal themselves within their Blackwits were 3 Bar-tailed Godwit. The Ruff flock was again present and slowly counting through their number I managed a count of 101 birds and two very out of place Dunlin.
The duck numbers are beginning to increase again and the 248 Shoveler were mostly spinning together in scattered groups out on the water. Gadwall are doing well and rising with 30 birds this evening. The Common Teal flock reached 450 and were everywhere while 46 Tufted Duck remain in the eastern edge of the sludge tank.
The usual Peregrine was sat on the lip of the tall blue topped chimney overlooking the Weaver Sluices while a Kestrel and Common Buzzard were watched in the area. A Sparrowhawk was actively patrolling the hedgerow and juvenile male and female Marsh Harrier were quartering the reed beds while a Hen Harrier was watched until dusk dropping into the reeds to roost for the night.
There were hundreds of gulls dropping in to bathe and preen before heading out to the Mersey estuary including this dark-headed Common Gull.
A Cetti’s Warbler sang out its winter song and concluded a good evenings birding on the marshes.
Observers: Rob Little, WSM (images).
Any opportunity that arises and gives me even the briefest of time on my favourite birding location on earth, namely Frodsham Marsh (a curse at times and a pleasure…mostly) is something I don’t usually pass on. After work I got down to No.6 before the ebbing tide sucked back all those waders from the tank.
There were a few Black-tailed Godwit lingering but the trailing calls of a flock of Grey Plover heading back out to the river didn’t instill any confidence on what would be left to see. A quick scan over the drier mud revealed 5 more Grey Plover, c100 Dunlin, 20 Redshank, a small flock of Lapwing and 24 Ruff.
The continued absence of Wigeon and Pintail does get me wondering what displaced them from the water last week? The ducks that were left included: 243 Shoveler, 46 Tufted Duck, 2 Common Pochard, 17 Common Shelduck, 23 Gadwall, 20 Mallard and 250 Common Teal.
A YbW wannabe Chiffchaff was swee-ooing from the willow trees on No.5 tank but apart from that there was little else to keep the light and my interest level.
Observer and image: WSM.
Earlier in the day Simon called into the marsh and got 134 Ruff (Cheshire record count?), c100 Dunlin and c500 Black-tailed Godwit.
Observer: Simon Pinder.
A selection of images from the Mersey Marshes today.
An injured or exhausted Guillemot came in with the tide today, a species normally expected to be found off the Wirral coast but rarely encountered off Frodsham Score/the upper reaches of the Mersey estuary.
There’s usually a larger gull, gull roost at the weekends on the south Mersey salt marshes and monthly WeBS counters get to count them.
Big numbers of Canada Goose are a common feature in the Autumn and Winter months.
Mute Swans fly in from Frodsham Marshes.
Raven need little introduction with numbers high throughout the year. These birds are riding the tide out on the banks of Frodsham Score. The Allan Wilson WW2 gun defence turret is situated at the top left hand corner (with an elder tree growing out of its base).
Images by Shaun Hickey.
A whopping 9.7 m tide out on the Mersey estuary was eagerly anticipated over the last week.I was joined by Alyn on the north banks of No. 6 tank watching and waiting for the birds to come in…that was the plan but somebody should have told the birds.
It was a surprise to find that all of the Wigeon and Pintail and a good proportion of the Common Teal had vacated the sludge tank? Those that decided to stay included: 268 Shoveler, 26 Gadwall, 12 Common Shelduck, 4 Common Pochard, 67 Tufted Duck, 200 Common Teal and 12 Mallard. A juvenile Great Crested Grebe joined a few Dabchick.
There were quite a few Black-headed and Common Gull resting up with 7 Herring, 3 Great Black & 30 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull (a local rarity).
Big tides usually mean big numbers of shorebirds but I mentioned earlier these things don’t always go to plan. There was already a flock of c230 Black-tailed Godwit in situ and it wasn’t long before 3 Bar-tailed Godwit dropped in to join them. A flock of 100 Lapwing and 45 Ruff were enough for 40 Grey Plover, 16 Curlew, 2 Knot, c70 Dunlin and 7 Snipe to join in the fun.
A further c100 Black-tailed Godwit were in a field by the River Weaver and a single Pink-footed Goose flew over towards the Mersey estuary.
Raptors were in short supply no doubt sampling the bountiful selection out on the salt marshes. A juvenile Marsh Harrier was quartering the reed beds on the tank dislodging a feeding flock of 250 Goldfinch. A Kestrel flew over the unconcerned waders.
A Wheatear was on the pipes of No. 1 tank.
Observers: Alyn Chambers (image 1), WSM (images 2-5).
An early afternoon walk from my start at Ince marshes and then along the Manchester Ship Canal and around No.4 tank. The pools near the pig farm at Ince had a single Little Egret along with several Gadwall, Common Teal and Little Grebe. Out alongside the ship canal path there was a flock of Long-tailed Tit which also held a few Great and Blue tit with a couple of Goldcrest along for good measure.
Looking across to Frodsham Score and Ince salt marshes and a large flock of mixed gulls sat out the incoming tide and were made up of Great Black-backed, Herring and Common Gull. Both the Lapwing and Starling flocks rose into the air with the Starling flocking to form a tight bait ball but I didn’t notice any raptors? There were more Little Egret feeding out on the marsh with 1 or 2 Great White Egret noted. A dozen Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew fed in the field next to the Holpool Gutter.
While walking along Lordship Lane a flock of 30 Ruff were feeding in a flooded corn field until flushed out by a Common Buzzard.
The Mersey ferry the ‘Royal Iris’ sailed west along the ship canal making its way back to the Pierhead, Liverpool and flushed a Green Sandpiper from the banks.
Video of the Royal Iris sails through Wigg Island, Runcorn: Royal Iris
Observer: Paul Ralston (and images).
A large flock of 522 Black-tailed Godwit were on the flooded No.6 tank sludge with 650 Lapwing and 67 Ruff.
Ducks included: 5 Pintail, 28 Gadwall, 16 Common Shelduck, 197 Shoveler, 340 Common Teal, 64 Tufted Duck, 4 Common Pochard and 19 Wigeon.
Other notable birds were Peregrine and 2 Water Rail.
Observer: Joe from Chester.
The evening light was rather poor with a brisk wind backed by a threatening rain belt heading in from the sea. I made my visit to No.6 tank very brief but Whipper had got there a little earlier. Despite the conditions there were plenty of ducks to keep our interest level hovering above…wanting to leave early.
The Wigeon flock were mostly hidden in the flooded sea daisy/aster beds. If you wait long enough they will eventually flushed themselves from cover and settle on the open water before they waddle back into the vegetation to feed. I estimated that there was 320 birds with 30 Pintail, 101 Gadwall, 40 Mallard, 240 Common Teal and 20 Common Shelduck. An incredible flock of 310 Shoveler were spinning in tight groups across the water and they were joined by c500 Canada Goose flighting in for their evening roost.
When we get large numbers of ducks and geese on No.6 it is usually when the water is table is much higher, but this vastly reduces the variety and numbers of shorebirds. There was 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Golden Plover, 11 Redshank, 83 Ruff and the leucistic Lapwing (first spotted on 30.09.17).
A Marsh Harrier was watched flying over the reed beds.
Observers: Mark (Whipper) Gibson, WSM (and images).