13.11.17. Birdlog.

A very early start with the sun lighting up the sky from the east and all of the pot holes along Moorditch Lane frozen.

I had to be careful with popping my head above the banks overlooking No.6 tank even in the dark. The sound of honking Canada Goose filled the air accompanied by whistles from the Wigeon mingling close by. Eventually the dawn chorus erupted and the best part of the geese splashed and flapped their way off the open water and headed out across the reed beds to the salt marshes on the edge of the Mersey estuary. With the dawn light came another flight of c500 departing Wigeon in loose flocks following the Canada’s.

After a period of calm the rest of the ducks settled and I managed to get a thorough scan of those present. It wasn’t really a surprise to count 978 Wigeon remaining, there were more on the eastern side of the tank but to shift by position would have meant disturbing the birds below where I was watching from. Other ducks included: 2 Goldeneye, 64 Pintail, 23 Common Pochard, 2 1st winter (female?) Scaup, 43 Tufted Duck, a few Gadwall, 120 Mallard and 587 Common Teal including the Green-winged Teal that’s been knocking around for a week or so.

The young male and young female Marsh Harrier were quartering the reed beds but soon lifted into the sky and headed into a south-westerly direction (Dee marshes?). The Peregrine was sat on the lip of the blue-topped chimney overlooking Weston Point.

The flooded fields off Lordship Lane were frozen so there wasn’t much in the way of passerines. A flock of c300 Redwing and Fieldfare were notable. One small flock were perched uncomfortably close to a perched Common Buzzard.

There were 3 Whooper Swan in fields close to the M56 motorway.

Three Cetti’s Warbler were widely scattered ranging from No.4 to No.5 tank.

Observer and images: WSM.

12.11.17. Birdlog.

The numbers of ducks were typically good with some of the usual suspects present, Common Teal, Wigeon,Mallard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Pintail and Common Shelduck all available. Along the hedges were Fieldfare and Redwing.

I called in to watch the Starling roost this afternoon at No.6 sludge tank. There were more Starling arriving than yesterday with no murmurations to boast about as the birds came in low over the reed bed and went straight in to roost site. A Sparrowhawk shot in and out of the roost without any obvious commotion from the hoards within. I didn’t notice if it made a kill but it couldn’t have failed.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

11.11.17. Birdlog.

A walk along the River Weaver towards Marsh Farm this afternoon. A group of Goldeneye were on the river with Common Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Great Crested and Little Grebe also noted.

A Common Sandpiper was also spotted.

A couple of Grey Wagtail whiled away their time on the river bank.

A pair of Stonechat were in the reed bed and a large charm of Goldfinch fed on the burdock seeds.

I made my way to No.6 tank to view the Starling roost there. Although numbers were down on the previous few days I still managed an impressive c8000 as they collapsed the reed bed.

The Green-winged Teal was reported with Common Teal on No,6 tank.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

There were 3 Water Pipit reported on the flooded field adjacent to the ramp track (to No.4) at the south-west corner of No.6 tank off Lordship Lane. Also 20 Meadow Pipit and 300 Pied Wagtail heading to their roost.

There were well over 20,000 Starling and when the entire mass of suddenly arrived in the reed bed they collapsed the reeds and there was an audible thud!

Also present 1 Fieldfare with the wagtails; also sub-ad male Marsh Harrier on south side of No.6 – I was hoping to see the spectacle of it spooking the Starlings, but it didn’t quite come close enough; also Cetti’s Warbler calling continuously at top of 2nd ramp.

Observer: John Watson.

10.11.17. Birdlog.

A very brief visit this evening with a walk along the track between sludge tanks 5,6 and 3 and walking back in the dark.

A Cetti’s Warbler was calling from the reed bed while the Starling roost was down to a few thousand this probably down to strong wind and heavy cloud forcing birds into their roost before our arrival at 15.40 hrs.

It was really good to watch the Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Shoveler whizzing overhead as we walk in the gloom, followed by low flying Canada Goose.

A Marsh Harrier was still hunting in the dark and a Merlin raced across No.3 tank flushing out Common Teal from the concealed pools there.

Observers: Sparky & WSM.

Image by Paul Ralston.

09.11.17. Birdlog.

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

06.11.17. Birdlog.

A walk along Brook Furlong Lane to Marsh Farm and along the Weaver estuary during today’s high tide.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was on a telegraph pole while a pair of Stonechat were on the fence nearby. A Grey Wagtail was feeding near to the farm and several Raven were about the out buildings. The salt marsh held a small number of Redshank with a flock of Dunlin which settle on an exposed area of turf.

On the River Weaver a few Tufted Duck were joined by 4 Great Crested Grebe and 3 Little Grebe, Gadwall, Mallard, Common Teal and Common Shelduck. Another pair of Stonechat were on the bank at the edge of the water.

Observers: Paul Ralston (image 2), Joe Chester (image 1).

05.11.17. Birdlog.

A surprisingly sunny afternoon led into a beautiful evening.

We took a walk along Moorditch Lane to the forgotten mitigation area on No.3 tank (it could have been so good). I didn’t have my telescope this evening so relied on my bins.

There were plenty of Common Teal on No.6 tank with much reduced numbers of ducks from yesterday but still Shoveler, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck and Gadwall.

A Cetti’s Warbler sang from the reed bed below the banks but that was the highlight.

Walking along Brook Furlong Lane and the usual Bullfinch family were skipping ahead of us on our walk with some Redwing, Fieldfare, Long-tailed Tit and Goldcrest skulking in the dense hedgerow.

The Starling flock was gathering up from various directions with a few hundred bathing in the flooded fields alongside Moorditch Lane. Against the light they were whipping up a flurry of water droplets creating an aqua haze.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (and image).