16.12.17. Birdlog.

A late morning start and a walk along Moorditch Lane where a small flock of Redwing were left from the snow/sleet of last weekend. It was a bit of a surprise to find No.6 tank 80% covered in ice and the Shoveler were doing their best (c200 spinning birds) to keep the remaining 20% clear for the 300 Common Teal and handfuls of Pintail, Common Shelduck, drake Common Pochard and Mallard.

A Cetti’s Warbler and a Chiffchaff were vocal along the edge of the tank with another Cetti’s further out on No.6. Passerines were restricted by a flock of 200 Goldfinch and 3 Stonechat. The leucistic Starling from last weekend had relocated to No.5. Frank joined me for a while before heading off.

I continued my walk to the south-west corner of No.6 where a herd of 7 Mute’s and 26 Whooper Swan were present in the fields blow Spring Farm on Lordship Marsh. The Whooper’s consisted of 19 adults, 6 juvenile and an immature. An attendant Greylag is presumed the same bird as previous years and probably of Icelandic origin?

A look over Frodsham Score didn’t really produce much apart from hundreds of Canada Goose. At dusk c500 Pink-footed Goose in four skeins headed in and waffled their way onto the salt marshes. A few hundred Curlew also headed out to the marshes at dusk while 13 Black-tailed Godwit and c900 Golden Plover (image 4) were dislodged by an unseen predator.

A Marsh Harrier, pale morph Common Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk were the only obvious birds of prey noted today.

The main event almost didn’t happen and the Starling gathering looked all over when tens of thousands headed east without much ado. I was about to give up when a few small groups dropped into the roost reed bed below the bank where I was standing. These birds were giving their typical chirpy calls to encourage others passing over to join them. Eventually flocks started to grow and increase into thousands and big numbers that had headed east began to return. A few minor murmurations occurred but they weren’t really worthy of mention. The birds came…and they came…and they came even more.

There was no stopping tonight’s roost and it was a joy to watch c80,000 smother the reed beds and then roll along like a huge moving mass, each flock leap frogging the roost creating a moving carpet of birds. I walked away with the roost still edging further out into the centre of the reed bed with a continuous white noise buzzing in my ears.

Videoof Starling roost: https://www.facebook.com/117180855126736/videos/874647069380107/

N.B. A couple of female Blackcap were at my neighbours’ bird feeders this morning.

Observer and images: WSM.