Out on my jaunt this morning at first light making Ince once again my first port of call. Firstly, a Common Buzzard was sat on top of a lamp-post at junction 9 of the M53 on my way to the marshes. A couple of Little Egret passed overhead at the roundabout on the service road to the GrowHow Works furtiliser plant which boded well. The morning chorus produced a Mistle Thrush singing in the drizzle with some Great Tit calling in the trees by the pig farm. The farm pool had many ducks including Gadwall, Mallard and a few Common Teal along with several Coot and Little Grebe.
A good count of 21 Little Egret were at the Ince Berth fields which have previously produced a sizeable count in recent years.
On the Manchester Ship Canal with a few more Gadwall joining the Tuffted Duck, Coot, Little and a single Great Crested Grebe there.
The south Mersey salt marshes had a flock of c1000 Golden Plover which were restless with the birds flying west and a similar number of Lapwing settled back down on the marsh after the disturbance subsided.
The usual herd of 22 Mute Swan were back in their usual field alongside the Holpool Gutter and a Oystercatcher was a first for the year and back on its territory along the ship canal bank. A flock of Redshank made themselves known as they made their way along the canal banks.
I didn’t have time to walk around No.6 tank but instead chose to make my way back around No.4 taking in Lordship Lane on the way. There were 28 swans on Lordship Marsh of which two were Bewick’s and Whooper’s tallied 25, plus 8 Mute Swan and the (presumed) ‘Icelandic’ Greylag Goose keeping everyone in order. A flock of c40 Curlew were feeding in the stubble fields and a pair of Stonechat were on the fence near Rake Lane.
Walking back to the pig farm and a Kingfisher flashed across the lane from the ditch and made its way on to one of the pools.
Observer: Paul Ralston (image 1-3).
After Paul had put in some hard leg work it was obvious the drizzle rain wasn’t going to ease off, so I delayed my arrival until late morning. It was my WeBs count today due to commitments tomorrow. I set up my scope and looked over No.6 tank where the ducks from yesterday were still present. The birds were again sheltering close to the flooded sea aster beds and included 345 Shoveler with a further 75 birds present on No.3 tank, Common Teal were reduced from yesterday with c300 birds. Mallard reached 67, while 12 Pintail were present with a couple of drakes competing for the attention of a female. There were 29 (drakes) Common Pochard with 6 Tufted Duck and several Common Shelduck.
A good sized flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit, 1000 Lapwing, 20 Redshank and a solitary Ruff were resting up.
The Canal Pools had 12 Tufted Duck along with 34 Coot, a couple of Little Grebe, a Oystercatcher and a female Sparrowhawk eyeing up the vast Golden Plover flock in the fields nearby.
Frodsham Score was rather quiet but despite this a Great White Egret was with 9 flighty Little Egret. The Lapwing flocks were constantly harassed by a male Peregrine perched on a piece of drift wood out on the edge of the salt marsh.
Shorebirds on the outer edges of the score marsh were distant but produced 10,000 Dunlin, 28 Grey Plover and Lapwing which I estimated at 3000+ birds joining 1000+ Golden Plover which were similarly disturbed by a Sparrowhawk off No.2 tank.
A lone Stonechat was flicking away on the banks of the Score.
The south-west corner of No.6 tank is the best spot to view the swan herd out on Lordship Marsh and when I arrived there were just 22 Whooper’s left over from Paul’s earlier count, fortunately the two Bewick’s Swan were still present and looking good. A few hundred Curlew were also in the fields by Rake Lane.
A Cetti’s Warbler gave out a snatch of song while numerous Water Rail were quarreling in the reed beds of No.4. A distant flight of 150 Fieldfare could be seen heading off to their roost.
There were 3 female Marsh Harrier sitting out in the willows on No.6 prior to their evening roost and a few thousand Starling pasted over but headed north without stopping. Another Peregrine (a big female) was sat out on the blue topped chimney surveying the Mersey estuary.
Observer: WSM (images 4-10).