07.01.18. Birdlog.

An early morning visit by Keith Gallie produced this stunning image of a Redwing warming its toes on freshly layed dung. He also noted 3 Great White Egret,  a flock of 40 Golden Plover and 2 pairs of Stonechat.

We managed the last hour of light to have a watch over No.6 tank and the overnight frost freezing a good section of the water.

It was good to see a herd of Whooper Swan bathing in a stretch of unfrozen water with the setting sun giving an amber glow to the swans. The big flock of Shoveler that were here yesterday had depleted overnight but there were c300 present with Common Teal and Common Shelduck. The two Fulvous Whistling Duck were tucked into the south-east corner of the sludge tank.

A big flock of both Lapwing and Golden Plover were flying around Marsh Farm while the usual dispersal of Curlew could be seen heading out to the river for the evening.

A big skein of Pink-footed Goose were watched heading into the marshes from the salt marshes but after several circuits they decided to head north. A smaller group of six flew overhead and likewise headed north.

A Sparrowhawk was preparing for the Starling arrival at dusk while a Peregrine was sat on top of the blue chimney over at Weston Point.

Observer: Gary Worthington, Sparky & WSM (all images except #1).

06.01.18. Birdlog.

Stepping out this morning to a new start to the year and naturally a start from Ince village. The first set of pools I encounter on my walk held some Mallard with Gadwall and Common Teal for company. A pair of Mute Swan were checking out a potential nest site close by.

There were 14 Little Egret feeding in a field next to the Ince berth with another three nearby. A 200 strong flock of Stock Dove flew over the Manchester Ship Canal and out to the salt marshes where even more Little Egret were seen. A couple of Song Thrush were in full song in the trees near to the berth and a party of Long-tailed Tit with a few Great’s along the hedgerow.

A skein of Pink-footed Goose were high up heading south then turned around and dropped on to Ince salt marsh, a further two skeins were also seen during my walk. A couple of Great Crested Grebe and a single Little were on the ship canal alongside more Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard and 19 Tufted Duck. 18 Mute Swan were alongside  the Holpool Gutter with another five on the canal.

A charm of Goldfinch were feeding on the weedy seed heads on No.3 tank  and a flock  of Lapwing were on the mitigation pools with several Raven observed.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-3 & 5 & 7).

I didn’t get down to the marshes until mid morning but it was a clear crisp cold day that greeted me ahead of a visit until dusk.

The variety of ducks on No.6 tank looked a little sparse but a count of the Shoveler on the open water revealed a surprisingly large flock of 398 birds (a few more were on the ‘Splashing Pool’) This total exceeded the BTO internationally important threshold for the species and it’s the second time this winter that Shoveler have reached the 400+ target. A flock of c230 Common Teal with a few Gadwall, 2 Fulvous Whistling Duck, 70 Mallard and the odd Common Shelduck were seen. The Common Pochard have vacated the area with just 15 seen today but with an overnight frost predicted I’ll wager they will be back to the high winter counts.

I walked out to watch the 23 Whooper Swan herd grazing close to Spring Farm on Helsby/Lordship Marsh. The swans were again present and were soon joined by 3 skeins of Pink-footed Goose forced off the salt marshes by shooters. Some of the flock settled to feed close to their Icelandic friends but the majority rose and returned to the north.

On retracing my steps I continued to my original watch point overlooking Frodsham Score. Scanning the distant gulls flocks revealed mostly Great Black-backed and Herring Gull. A couple of Great White Egret were forced out of the tidal gutters by the rising tide and were more viewable on the green swathe of the marshes. The usual herds of Canada Goose included a c200 more Pinkies with them.

The incoming tide out on the river have been high throughout the week and it was good to witness some of the salt marshes getting a good soaking. The advancing water forced a myriad of pulsating Dunlin flocks making shapes over the River Mersey. Other wader flocks included Grey and Golden Plover with Lapwing and Curlew for good measure.

A male Marsh Harrier was hunting the outer marshes but raptor activity was surprisingly limited today. The pale morph Common Buzzard was again by the Pumping Station while the luecistic Starling was also again with the Starling flocks that feed with the cows and sheep on No.3 tank.

A Chiffchaff was watched on the banks of the tank but soon disappeared into the vast reed beds.

At dusk there were flights of several hundred Curlew leaving their inland feeding fields to roost on the estuary with 6 Common Snipe flushed from No.6 tank. The nightly exodus of Raven included 27 heading inland at dusk.

No.6 sludge tank saw 3 female type Marsh Harrier coming into roost while the gathering Starling roost was reduced to c10,000 in two separate roosts sites on No.5 & 6 tanks. A Sparrowhawk was seen stealthily hunting the late roost arrivals.

Observer: WSM (images 1 & 4 & 6 & 8-11).

N.B. The Nordic Jackdaw is still present on playing fields off Park Road, Runcorn this week. Also Ring-necked Parakeets present at Runcorn Town Hall, Windmill Hill and Malpas Road, Runcorn.

01.01.18. Birdlog.

A fresh start to the new year and still some old friends hanging out to join us today. We decided a walk around No.6 tank was called for with the forecast predicted for 15.00 hrs to be wet and windy.

The first part along Moorditch Lane was uneventful except for a Great Tit feeding low at the base of an elder tree. The bird appeared healthy from its left hand side but once it turned its head it revealed an outbreak of avian pox over its orbital area. Although rendering it blind on that side of its head, it was nevertheless energetic and flew along the hedgerow unimpeded.

Further on along to Lordship Lane was rather quiet with a small tree harbouring a flock of Redwing and Fieldfare, with a Reed Bunting and a Stonechat being the only birds of note.

A little further still and nearing the slope track to No.4 the flooded fields had a few Curlew and Lapwing with both Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail choosing the area by the lane to feed.

Over at Spring Farm the c23 Whooper Swan herd was tucked in close to the hedgerows and were difficult to see clearly but they looked like the same number as yesterday (2017).

A couple of Common Buzzard were riding the wind above the sludge tank banks while two Marsh Harrier drifted from the east. These two were joined by a male a little later over the reed beds on six. Over above the Weaver estuary a pair of Peregrine were spiraling in a pair bonding session before alighting on the lip of the blue topped chimney. The above image taken a few days ago shows the female eating a Common Gull.

Another Stonechat was on No.3 tank while the leucistic Starling reappeared with the Starling flock feeding within the grazing cattle in the fields there.

Ducks on the waters of No.6 tank included the expected c318 Shoveler with c350-400 Common Teal. There were reasonable numbers of Pintail, Gadwall, Mallard, Common Shelduck, Common Pochard present, and not forgetting the two Festive Whistling Duck.

A nice walk before the rain set in for the day.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (and images), Jacqui & Idris Roberts.