I was out at first light this morning starting my walk at Ince. There were 2 Little Egret on the pools and another was being hounded by a flock of corvids which was forced to take cover. The pools harboured a few Mallard, Gadwall and Common Teal were also present.
Onward to the Manchester Ship Canal path and the bushes were full of winter Redwing and Fieldfare with a flock of Long-tailed Tit passing beneath them in the hedgerow.
A shoal of small fish were rising on the ship canal and several Little Grebe and a couple of Great Crested were attracted by their presence.
A single Great White Egret and several Little Egret were out on the salt marshes and c200 Pink-footed Goose dropped on to the marsh but didn’t linger and soon moved on. A short time later three Whooper Swan passed heading towards Lordship Marsh.
Several thousand Starling flew through from their roost making their way west along the canal. Those that settled to feed out on the salt marsh attracted the attention of a Merlin which targeted the smaller looser flocks.
The mitigation pool had a mixed flock of Wigeon and Common Teal with a lone Mute Swan for company. A little further away on No.6 tank a further two adult and two juvenile Whooper’s were on the water with 150 Common Teal, 60 Mallard, 270 Shoveler, 40 Pintail, 44 Common Pochard, 42 Tufted Duck, 20 Gadwall and 2 imm Scaup.
I walked along the footpath near the blue slurry tank to have a look at the Whooper Swan flock which contained 7 adults and 5 juvenile birds.
A Barn Owl was inadvertently flushed from the hedgerow then flew off with a posse of tits and buntings in hot pursuit. The fields bordering this hedge had 12 Whooper Swan (7 adults & 5 juveniles) which were grazing close to the M56 motorway.
Walking back along Lordship Lane I noted a mixed flock of Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet and Reed Bunting feeding in the stubble with Pied Wagtail which likewise were in good numbers. In the trees by the Growhow Works were more winter thrushes, a couple of Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Sparrowhawk.
Observers: Paul Ralston (& Mike Turton).
In the period from 3.00 pm a few other birds were worth writing in the note-book including: 12 Goldeneye flushed from the water beneath the east side of No.6 tank. The immature male Marsh Harrier drifted onto the tank quartering the reed bed. The Marsh was joined by a ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier which drew the attention of a passing female Peregrine (she almost dwarfed the ringtail in her bulk). A Sparrowhawk and 2 Kestrel added to the BoP’s for the evening.
A flock of 80 Curlew flew from the south heading for the Mersey estuary for the night and small parties of Common Snip were dropping in to roost on No.6 tank.
Skeins of Pink-footed Goose were flying high in the distance above the Stanlow Oil Refinery and probably numbered 4-500 hundred birds in total. An adult White-fronted Goose was a nice addition for the WeBS counters out on the Ince and Score marshes.
A couple of Cetti’s Warbler were calling/singing from No.5-6 tanks and the Chiffchaff was again nearby.
After an invite to ‘The Birds of Frodsham Marsh’ facebook followers the evening saw 18 people ready for the Starling bonanza.
As the sun dropped below the horizon the Starling flocks began to emerge from the distance with flocks joining up and circling the area. Like previous evenings they lacked the murmurations that people who had come wanted to see. The birds don’t always perform on cue and instead of producing spectacular shows they instead shoot straight into their reed bed roost (which in itself is just as showy) before leap frogging each offer to move out to the centre of the tank. Perhaps the lack of raptor attacks would have contributed to the avian firework show?
The same or another Barn Owl was in the horse paddock off Moorditch Lane.
Observers: Paul Ralston (images 1-5), Mike Turton, Arthur Harrison, WeBS counters, Shaun & Courtney Hickey, Heather, Harley & Findlay (it’s been a long time since I added your names to a post) Wilde, Sparky & WSM (image 6) and facebook followers.