A dawn start and the idea of a quick glance over No.6 didn’t go according to plan when a mass of ducks covering the entire length of watery the sludge tank had occupied my attention. I spent time counting (948) Wigeon but birds were leaving in their droves and the true number probably well exceeded my count. It was one of the highest on this sludge tank and I guess these birds were forced off the salt marshes by the previous evenings tide and/or possible disturbance?
The c300 Shoveler flock were very weary of my presence and once they took flight everything else that could fly, did fly and they headed out to the estuary. They were followed by c1000 Common Teal, c70 Pintail and 100 Mallard. Four Whooper Swan flew over and headed south without stopping.
I continued my walk and headed out to the corner of No.4 tank with its views over Frodsham Score salt marshes. Big numbers of Canada Goose were feeding out there with 20 Little Egret popping in and out of the tidal gutters with 4 Great White Egret also present. A flock of c70 Pink-footed Goose flew in from the south-west and alighted on the marsh and another 4 Whooper Swan were close to the revetment wall on the Score.
Retracing my steps I now headed to Marsh Farm via Brook Furlong Lane with 3 Bullfinch, Redwing flock and a few Fieldfare busily concealing themselves in the berry-bearing bushes.
No.1 tank had 3 pairs of Stonechat with another two on the banks of the Weaver estuary and a further bird on No.5 tank.
The tide was lashing against the salt marsh banks where a roost of 230 Oystercatcher were tucked up tight avoiding the waves breaking nearby. A few Ruff, 250 Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank and a Bar-tailed Godwit were riding the tide out on the banks close to the Sluice gates.
On the Weaver estuary a flock of 11 Goldeneye flew past with 26 Gadwall, 6 Great Crested Grebe, 3 Black-tailed Godwit 45 Common Teal and 40 Coot.
The Peregrine was perched up on the lip of the blue topped chimney while a female/immature Merlin was ranging widely from No.4 – No.5 tanks.
A flock of c200 Golden Plover at Marsh farm joined the Lapwings already present but they were typically nervous and were up and down frequently.
Later in the day I managed to get a second look over the open water on No.6 tank and 120 Shoveler had returned with c300 Common Teal, 3 Wigeon, 2 Fulvous Whistling Duck, 23 Common Pochard, 43 Tufted Duck, 100 Mallard. and a flock of c100 Dunlin which flew in and out just as rapidly.
The wintering Cetti’s Warbler included two birds on either side of the path between No.5 -6 tanks.
All this sludge comes from somewhere and the MSC dredger sucks it up from the bottom of the ship canal and then connects to pipes at the Pumping Station where it is feed through pipes to the sludge tanks (see image at top of page).
‘Moby’ cock Pheasant strutting its stuff in fields by Moorditch Lane.
Observer and images: WSM.