26.02.18. Birdlog.

A bitterly cold day turned into a much colder evening watch from Marsh Farm. Looking out towards the river there was plenty of shorebirds to keep the interest level above the red with c200 Curlew, c340 Dunlin and 29 Avocet at the Weaver Sluice gates.

The Starling roost measured into the hundreds and a flock of Fieldfare moving through from across Frodsham Score.

Observers: Frank Duff, WSM (image).

A good selection of uncommon birds noted over the weekend including: 20 Common Pochard, c1000 Pink-footed Goose, 3 Great White Egret, c10 Little Egret, Merlin, Peregrine, 3 Marsh Harrier, Avocet, Green Sandpiper and 2 Water Pipit.

25.02.18. Birdlog.

Walking out with a spring in my step on a Spring like morning with my first port of call being Ince. The pools in the fields there produced the usual Mallard, Common Teal, Gadwall and a couple of Little Grebe. There was also 6 Little Egret on the fringe of one of the pools.

A few Fieldfare were foraging in the fields by the Ince Berth but were finding the ground too frozen and they struggled.

On to the Manchester Ship Canal path where Tufted Duck, Mallard, Common Teal, many Coot and 2 Great Crested Grebe were on the water.

Out on Frodsham Score salt marsh were 610 skein (upper image) of Pink-footed Goose part of c1000 that rose into the air en masse and then resettled again when Fox disturbed them from their grazing. The 25 Mute Swan and 6 Greylag were alongside the Holpool Gutter and a mixed flock of Curlew, Lapwing & Golden Plover were flying overhead.

A Sparrowhawk was flushed alongside the dredger berth and took off with a prize which looked to be a Starling? There were more Lapwing and Golden Plover were by the Canal Pools with a flock of Wigeon were grazing near by.

Onward to No.6 tank which was partly frozen, the ducks present were much the same as yesterday including: Shoveler, Common Teal, Mallard, Common Shelduck with Tufted and Common Pochard. Also on the edge of the water were several Redshank were on the ice even joined the ducks in the water and were swimming with the Common Teal.

Walking back along Lordship Lane there was a dozen Black-tailed Godwit which passed overhead and a female Stonechat was sat in the reeds by the model flying club, one of several seen during the walk.

The Whooper Swan herd had moved closer to Spring Farm as there was a group of Wood Pigeon shooters taking a hit in the area. The Curlew took to the air as the shot rang out in the area.

Finally back at Ince and a Great White Egret was flushed from a ditch near to the incinerator plant and dropped in to the field near to the Mute’s.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

One of the two Water Pipit present on Lordship Marsh performed well this afternoon and were captured by John Gilbody.

Finally a flock of 35 Avocet (the first of the year) were hanging out by the Weaver Sluice gates on the muddy banks of the Mersey estuary.

Image may contain: outdoor, water and nature

Observer and image by Toni Ray Sherlock.

24.02.18. Birdlog.

Stepping out to some glorious blue skies on a weekend birding day is something that hasn’t happened much this year. There was a keen brisk cold south-easterly sweeping across the marshes today.

A look across the open water on No.6 tank saw the c200 cowering Shoveler sheltering from the cold (pussies) wind, the 40 Common Pochard were much braver occupying the middle area with a few Tufties and c100 Common Shelduck. The Common Teal flock were bunched up along the western edge of the water with just the 2 Pintail present. There were more Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Common Teal on both the Canal Pools and the mitigation pools on No.3 tank with 50 Coot.

A look over the flooded fields of Lordship Marsh revealed two Water Pipit with a Stonechat on the fence line, numerous Meadow Pipit, Linnet and Pied Wagtail were also present.

The distant fields had just 15 (5 juvenile) Whooper  and a solitary Bewick’s Swan. The first 3 Ringed Plover of the year have returned to the marshes.

A look across Frodsham Score and the Mersey salt marshes where a big flock of c1000 Pink-footed Goose seeking sanctuary after the shooting season  ceased last week. There were still small skeins of pinkies waffling in as I was leaving.

A Great White Egret popped out of a tidal gutter long enough for me to grab a photo. There were a few Little Egret but they kept further out by the river’s edge. A large murmuration of several thousand Dunlin could be seen over the mudflats.

The Raven parties are really enjoying the lambing season with many birds clearing up the still borns and dead ewes. The perfect recycling machine and much better than throwing carcasses into a landfill. A female Marsh Harrier drifted over from Hale and was joined by another high over No.6 tank.

The Weaver estuary had 20 Goldeneye.

A second look over No.6 produced an increase in Shoveler and adjacent to the sludge tank on No.5 was the first Golden Plover showing their summer plumage.

A selection of images from the marsh today.

Observers: Alyn Chambers, WSM (images 1-13).

I walked around No.6 this evening as the sun went down. Shoveler, Common Teal. Tufted Duck, Mallard and Common Shelduck were all accountered for. A roost of Lapwing, 30 Redshank and a few Ruff were noted.

A couple of Marsh Harrier over the reed beds with one tatty looking individual which looked very much like a bird from Woolston Eyes NR seen earlier today per D Bowman.  Numeorus Raven were passing overhead on there way to their welsh roost.

A small number of Fieldfare went to roost in the silver birches on 6.  The Whooper Swan herd increased from earlier with c21 seen by the blue slurry tank as I made my way off the marsh through Helsby.

The juvenile Mute Swan that has been in the gutter alongside Moorditch Lane had shifted position to a ditch along Lordship lane.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 14-18).

23.02.18. Birdlog.

I was round the marsh this morning and the swans inc 2 Bewick’s were still there when I left at 11.oo am. There was a 1 Green Sandpiper which was flushed along Lordship Lane ditch. there were good numbers of Golden Plover behind mitigation ponds and loads of Raven in fields. On the way to the swans there were approx 100 Pied Wagtail and good numbers of Meadow Pipit and a flock 20+ Linnet.

Observer: John Gilbody.

After an earlier dart from work Sparky and myself took a 6 k hike around No.6 tank this evening in glorious sunshine.

Walking along Moorditch Lane and had a chat with Arthur Harrison the only birds worthy of note was a flock of 70 Redwing presumably displaced by the increasing cold weather edging its way from the east.

The walk was uneventful and slightly disappointing to see that the winter swans have left the fields by Spring Farm, let us hope it’s only for a short period.

A pair of Marsh Harrier were circling high over No.6 tank and small clouds of Raven were jousting for fun and riding the uplift from the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal. The mitigation area on No.3 tank had a few Common Teal and Shoveler with the fields holding onto loose flocks of Lapwing.

The chill wind again brought the Shoveler, 40 Common Pochard and 17 Tufted Duck flock into the south banks while the much hardier 230 Common Teal were close to the north banks. The only shorebirds were 27 Redshank and a flock of c400 Lapwing.

Generally a much quieter evening compared to previous visits but it is good to stretch the legs in the evenings now.

Observers: Arthur Harrison, Sparky & WSM (images).

22.02.18. Birdlog.

A selection of counts and species seen today on the marshes.10 Mute Swan, c60 Pink-footed Goose, 2 Marsh Harrier, 27 Redshank, 46 Coot, 190 Goldfinch, 62 Common Shelduck, 41 Common Pochard, 270 Shoveler, 2 Pintail, 22 Tufted Duck, 45 Mallard, 340 Common Teal, 18 Whooper Swan and just a single Bewick’s.

Observer: Joe Chester.

I made a visit after work and the mild weather conditions of the last few days have now given way to much cooler air with the chilly winds coming from a south-easterly sector.

A quick look over No.6 tank revealed more or less the same species that Joe had seen earlier, so I didn’t linger for too long and made my way out to look across Frodsham Score salt marshes. There were a few Little Egret popping up from the tidal channels but the sight of c500 Pink-footed Goose on the edge of the river was quite evocative in the dusky evening light.

The tide was still too high for the big gulls to settle so they were loafing about on the river edge. There wasn’t anything that drew my attention but there’s still plenty of time to pick out the white wingers in the next few weeks.

A Merlin was flexing its wing muscles out on the Score and forced the entire Lapwing and Golden Plover flocks high over head. The Lapwing flock were exceeding 1000 while the Goldies amassed c500 birds.

The Whooper Swan herd was again where Joe had left them but I did manage to see two Bewick’s.

The Starling flocks were heading east along the ship canal in big numbers, while Raven were heading south for the night.

A couple of Marsh Harrier flew in at dusk.

Observer and image: WSM.

21.02.18. Birdlog.

I again took advantage of the increasing evening daylight hours with a visit to the marshes after work.

A quick look over No.6 tank and the open water before heading out to the south-west corner to look out over Lordship marsh. There was a slight increase in the numbers of Tufted Duck from just a few at the weekend to 17 this evening. The Common Pochard flock reached 29 birds with lesser numbers of Shoveler reduced to below a hundred birds. Common Teal were feeding close to the banks and numbered c340 and 46 Common Shelduck are beginning to rise. Several Shoveler and Common Teal were moving out to the flooded fields of No.3 tank.

A small roost of 6 Cormorant included the first sinensis of the year. The only waders present included 173 Lapwing, 16 Redshank and 12 Ruff.

After a while I headed out to Lordship Marsh where the wintering swans produced the 2 Bewick’s Swan with 6 Mute and 22 Whooper Swan and 2 Greylag Goose. The flooded fields close to the M56 motorway had several hundred Curlew which gathered together to head out as the sun dropped below the cloud belt to the estuary.

A huge flock of several thousand Starling headed out to the north and east at dusk.

Observer and images: WSM.

18.02.18. Birdlog.

The marsh was quite good despite the dull weather. No.1 tank had 3 Stonechat (1 male and 2 female) and a pair of Greylag Goose.

Brook Furlong had a pair of Bullfinch and a few Goldcrest with the Long Tailed Tits and Blue Tit.

The dead white bird on No.3 is a Mute Swan, I had a closer look and disturbed a Common Snipe.

There were dozens of Pied Wagtail on the flooded field on Lordship Marsh with a dozen or so Linnet but no pipits when I was there.

The only Raptors were Kestrel dotted all over and a single Common Buzzard on No.6. No.6 had Golden Plover with Lapwing, a Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Redshank.

Observer and images: Paul Crawley.

I saw the Whooper Swan herd on two occasions from my moving vehicle along the M56, heading west this morning and heading east this evening. The birds were in fields between the blue slurry tank and the motorway Also two dead Badger (victims of traffic strikes).

Observer: WSM.

17.02.18. Birdlog.

I started my bird watch from Ince this morning but only got as far as the pools which had the usual Mallard, Common Teal, Gadwall and Coot as the construction traffic was heavy at 7 30 am.

I then made my way to Brook Furlong Lane and walked along to Marsh Farm and then back along the River Weaver. A flock of Redwing were feeding in the horse paddock and a covey of released Red-legged Partridge which crossed the track ahead.

There were two pairs of Stonechat were on the fence along the edge of No.1 tank and a flock of Curlew were near the farm.

On the Manchester Ship Canal were Tufted Duck, Common Teal and Mallard taking shelter from the shooting out on the salt marsh for the last weekend of their season. Just along by the sluice gates on the Weaver estuary were much the same duck species with the addition of Common Shelduck, more Gadwall and a few Common Pochard with 4 Great Crested Grebe and a pair of Oystercatcher.

Frodsham Score was fairly quiet during the period of the receding tide with several hundred Dunlin flying about while 42 Grey Plover were still on the edge of the salt marsh. Also 3 Little Egret in and out of the tidal channels.

The Whooper Swan flock were in the fields near the slurry tank and a few visiting birders were out to see the 2 Bewick’s that have been with them recently.

On the flooded field c50 Pied Wagtail, 45 Linnet a least one Water Pipit and 10 Meadow Pipit fed and were joined by a Green Sandpiper. Both Common Buzzard and Kestrel were hunting along the bank of No.6 and a pair of Stock Dove have claimed one of the owl boxes.

A couple of Chiffchaff were on No.5 tank, 200 Goldfinch and a small flock of 10 Chaffinch were also noted.

At least 34 Raven were busy cleansing up after a flurry of lambing activity.

The mitigation pools on No.3 tank held 34 Common Teal, 12 Shoveler and at least 50 Coot

The sludge tank of No.6 was again crowded with ducks and 342 Common Teal were down on earlier in the week while Shoveler have also been seen their numbers falling gradually with 142. The 20 Common Pochard  (4 females) have split up with the rest joining the Tufted’s on the Weaver estuary. There were 43 Common Shelduck, a pair of Pintail and 101 Mallard.

There were plenty of shorebirds with 540 Lapwing, 54 Redshank, 200 Dunlin and 14 Common Snipe.

A male Marsh Harrier was perched up in its usual watch point and waiting for the females to join him at dusk.

Observers: Paul Ralston (images 1-3 & 5), WSM (image 4).

16.02.18. Birdlog.

You’ve got to fit in your birding when you can, so I made another trip down to the marshes after work. We walked clockwise around No.6 tank but didn’t encounter much until the flooded fields off Lordship Lane loomed large ahead. A small flock of 6 Redshank and the wintering family party of Mute Swan didn’t install much confidence but a mass of white swans beyond the hedge by Spring Farm included a couple of Bewick’s and the ever-present Whooper herd.

On our approach to the ramp on No.4 a female Marsh Harrier was shortly after joined by another. Towards dusk it was good to see the male interacting with the females over the reed beds.

A massive c10,000 Starling were flying along the Manchester Ship Canal to the east and presumably en route to their roost in the Northwich area?

I made a conscious effort this evening to count the Raven leaving Frodsham Score to their roost site near Ruthin, N Wales. The flocks never exceeded 6 birds and no birds circling round or heading back to the salt marshes the chances of double counting were reduced I countered 133 birds!

Other birds heading in the opposite direction to roost on the score marsh included 80 Curlew and 200 Black-tailed Godwit.

There wasn’t much time or light left to count the ducks and waders on No.6 tank but everything had the same impression as yesterday.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (all images).

15.02.18. Birdlog.

An after work jaunt down to No.6 tank & Lordship Marsh where 2 Bewick’s Swan finally joined the 22 Whooper Swan which had emerged from the old hedgerows on Lordship Marsh (so they were there all of the time). A couple of skeins of Pink-footed Goose were flying west over Helsby Hill and a flock of 112 Curlew lifted from the flooded fields by the motorway to head out to the Mersey estuary for the night.

A Peregrine was perched up on the blue topped chimney at Weston Point and a pair of Marsh Harrier settled down for the evening. A rough count of c50 Raven were heading south to their roost sites in loose flocks.

The wader flocks had already settled in for their roost when I arrived but the setting sun flooded the marsh with a pleasant amber glow and it was nice to stand and count them from the banks of No.6 tank. The birds were gathered closely with 500 Lapwing (including the luecistic bird from last week) 12 Ruff and c300 Black-tailed Godwit.

Ducks were sheltering from the brisk cold westerly and included 123 Shoveler, 39 Common Pochard, 2 Tufted Duck, 34 Common Shelduck, c400 Common Teal and 56 Mallard.

A Great Tit in the hedgerow along No.5 tank was giving a very good impression of a contact calling Chiffchaff (like they sometimes do).

Observer and images: WSM.