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).

04.11.17. Birdlog.

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.

03.11.17. Birdlog

A long walk out and about around No.6 and 4 tanks this afternoon. There were large numbers of ducks on No.6 with Common Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Shelduck, Common Pochard and a few Pintail all noted. A little later the 2 Fulvous Whistling Duck put in an appearance, doing a circuit of the tank before dropping in amongst a flock 7 juvenile Mute Swan. A Water Rail was calling from the reed bed below where I was standing.

Looking out on the salt marshes there were 8 Little Egret were feeding close together  and a Common Buzzard spooked both a Lapwing and Starling flock. 11 Mute Swan were also in the Holpool Gutter and a male Stonechat was sat in the reed bed.

A mixed flock of Curlew with Black-tailed Godwit and Ruff were feeding in the stubble field and were watched over by a Sparrowhawk circling overhead. Another male Stonechat was fly-catching from a blackthorn bush along Lordship Lane. A family party of Mute Swan were still present in the flooded field and were joined by a flock of Black-headed and Common Gull flock. A couple of Kestrel were hunting over the banks on No.6.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

01.11.17. Birdlog.

I managed to squeeze in an hours bird watch this evening before a glorious sunset behind Moel Famau closed the day.

The duck numbers were much reduced but considering the tide was low out on the Mersey estuary that wasn’t a great surprise. There were still plenty of Common Teal but the Green-winged did not make an appearance. Tufted Duck and Common Pochard were on the east side of No.6 tank with Wigeon, Shoveler, Mallard and a few Pintail appearing out of the gathering gloom.

It was really good to see the Starling roost making a sudden and big comeback with c10,000 present against a crimson dusk. These large numbers attracted the attention of a male Marsh Harrier with a Merlin in its low flight over the daisy beds. The small falcon contributed to spooking the ducks from their rest and almost everything shot up into the air.

A Cetti’s Warbler gave a brief blast of song from the willow thickets but that was really the other passerine highlight given the time of day.

Observers: Mark Wotham, WSM (images).