I booked half a day off work to do a bit of early winter birding on the marsh. It is almost impossible to sneak in any during the week at this time of year. I started at the Weaver estuary working my way down to the Weaver Bend.
A flock of 179 Redshank with a couple of Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Great Crested Grebe, 7 Little Grebe, 61 Tufted Duck, 120 Common Teal, 43 Coot and 6 Goldeneye were there on arrival.
A few Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush and Blackbird were frequenting the hawthorn hedgerows with the usual family party of Bullfinch skipping ahead of me along the track.
It was getting late in the day so I concentrated on the ducks that were on the open water of No.6 tank. The majority were keeping to the eastern corner from the stiff breeze but generally it was a pleasant temperature to be birding in, my wet boots and socks were testing at times.
A couple of Cetti’s Warbler were vocal from the reed bed while a Chiffchaff was calling on the edge of the track on No.5 tank.
The Wigeon were very much reduced from the large count of last week with c350 birds gathered on the water. A scattered flock of c500 Common Teal had several drakes in courtship mode. The return of the drake Green-winged Teal was most welcome, I presume it was out on the Mersey estuary for the duration it wasn’t here? There were two juvenile/female Goldeneye ( a duck not often seen here) with c120 Shoveler, 21 Common Pochard, 27 Pintail, 30 Gadwall and c100 Mallard.
A Marsh Harrier was quartering the reed beds and as the sun was dipping behind the factories and the Welsh hills, the Starlings started to gather for their evening roost. I’ve seen many Starling roosts on the marshes but this evenings was remarkable. The main roost was in a reed bed just below the bank I was watching from. The usual groups of hundreds were joining groups of thousands which in turn created a mass of blackness. The usual mesmerizing sight of flocks spiralling and twisting to avoid the attack from a harrier is always a stirring event. There were times when it was difficult to see the turbines through the density of the flocks and the reed bed below my position was flattened by a flock of 2-3000 birds coming en masse. It was interesting to watch their antics before dispersing deeper into the reeds in small huddled groups
If you want to experience this event while it lasts, may I suggest you arrive an hour before sunset and watch from the ‘S’ bend in the track at the junction of No’s 3-5-6 on a clear evening preferably with a little breeze.
Murmuration video here: https://vimeo.com/242132064
Observer, video and images: WSM