31.03.18. Birdlog.

I undertook a long hike around the marshes today starting off with a couple of drake Scaup still present on the Weaver estuary along with 17 Goldeneye, 3 Great Crested and 4 Little Grebe, 41 Tufted Duck and 4 Gadwall. A few Oystercatcher and Redshank were on the estuary and 11 Avocet flew over to settle on Weston Marsh.

A couple of Stonechat flitted along the fence to Redwall reed bed.

Marsh Farm was rather poor with little of note except for 57 Raven hanging out along the banks of Frodsham Score. Walking back along Brook Furlong Lane and two Chiffchaff, a single Goldcrest and a pair of Bullfinch were sheltering from the wind.

Moorditch Lane ditch still harboured the wintering juvenile Mute Swan rapidly moulting into its first signs of white plumage.

There was a lot of activity on No.6 tank where the afternoon tide brought in a rapid increase of Black-tailed Godwit to c550 birds and 3 winter Bar-tailed Godwit attempting to hide among the brick-red summer dress of the blackwits. There were 150 Redshank and a few Lapwing. The ducks were gathered with Common Teal being the most numerous with Common Shelduck taking up second position. There were 6 Gadwall, 46 Tufted Duck and 43 Shoveler too.

A female Merlin was sat on a dead tree stump watching over the waders gathered some distance away and 3 Marsh Harrier, 6 Common Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk made up the other predator presence.

The mitigation pools had much smaller numbers of Common Teal and Shoveler with another flock of 200 Black-tailed Godwit probing for worms in the rain saturated ground. A single Ruff cut a lone figure feeding along the pool edges.

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

I was out this afternoon with a walk around No.6 and No.4. The usual duck saw Mallard, Common Teal, Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck and Shoveler were all on the water with reduced numbers c300 Black-tailed Godwit were in the shallows and a group of 15 Ruff noted.

The cold weather seems to have suppressed the migrants with just 2 Chiffchaff sulking in the bushes, one on No.6 and the other on No.4.

The mitigation pool held c60 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Redshank and more Common Teal and Shoveler.

Several Common Buzzard were seen during my walk including the pale phase bird which had left the Frodsham Score and dropped down to settle on No.4.There were two pair of Oystercatcher on the Manchester Ship Canal bank and the Raven and Great Black-backed Gull were still feasting on the dead sheep left on the salt marshes.

Only the Mute Swan herd could be seen on Lordship Marsh where Lapwing and Curlew were feeding alongside a flock of c300 Wood Pigeon.

A male Kestrel caught a Bank Vole on the bank of No.4 and two Buff-tailed Bumble bees were out and about.

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 7).

30.03.18. Birdlog.

Another circumnavigation of the marshes and with the wind in the east-south east it wasn’t conducive to seeing many migrants passing through. I would go as far as to say it was below par.

We ended up on Ince marsh fields looking across the salt marshes but apart from some distance Pink-footed Goose, large gull roost and 5 Little Egret it was just a case of taking in the afternoon sun sheltered from the cold wind. A Chiffchaff was giving a swee-o call before breaking out with its more traditional tip-tap tune.

A kettle of 6 Common Buzzard were spiralling up into the sky above the turbines on No.4 tank.

Sometime later we made our way over to No.3 tank where the mitigation pools had attracted small numbers of Shoveler, Common Teal, Black-tailed Godwit and 5 Ruff with a couple of the males breaking into summer plumage.

The area also had 3 Marsh Harrier. Ducks on No.6 included: 47 Tufted Duck, 41 Shoveler, c100 Common Shelduck, 21 Mallard, 120 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Ruff and 110 Redshank.

A few Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies out in the sunshine and this Goat Willow looking all splendid.

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

29.03.18. Birdlog.

We took a big walk around the marsh today just birding en route. There was little activity until we reached the drying out fields along Lordship Lane where the usual flock of 20 Linnet were still present with a few Pied Wagtail. A Little Egret was hiding in a ditch below one of the non-grubbed out hedgerows and flew a short distance away to resume its feeding. The fields beyond had a herd of 10 Whooper Swan which later flew over to the Mersey salt marshes.

Frodsham Score was surprisingly quiet with a skein of c300 Pink-footed Goose flying in to settle by the Manchester Ship Canal, there were even more on the edge of the River Mersey. Another 4 Little Egret were busy chasing each other in and out of the tidal gutters.

The mitigation area on No.3 tank had a few each of Shoveler and Common Teal with 10 Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Ruff.

No.6 tank had the lion’s share of c350 Common Teal, 46 Shoveler, 107 Common Shelduck and 42 Tufted Duck. It looks like all of the Common Pochard have left the area.

A drake Scaup was still on the Weaver estuary with the lingering Goldeneye flock.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images).

28.03.18. Birdlog.

An afternoon’s birding on the banks of No.6 tank and a nice selection of birds present. The Black-tailed Godwit flock remain in the 250 mark with several sporting their fine summer plumage. It was interesting to see Redshank build up to 172 with 13 Ruff in tow. A small number of roosting Lapwing had 20 Golden Plover with them.

Ducks are much reduced compared to earlier in the month with just 43 with c230 Common Teal, The Tufted Duck flock are again increasing with 43 and 47 Common Shelduck.

Raptors were out and soaring in the midday sunshine with 11 Common Buzzard and 3 Marsh Harrier.

Observer and images: WSM.

Earlier in the day we spent the morning watching the Hawfinch flock at Marbury CP with a single flock of 13 seen and a couple of males singing in the rain.

Observers: Emily Traynor, WSM.

26.03.18. Birdlog.

A walk out to the River Weaver and the Tufted Duck flock of 98 included just a single drake Scaup from the 7 of the previous week. A couple of drake Goldeneye were busy attracting the attention of 13 female/juveniles who were present on the estuary. Apart from a few Common Teal/Shelduck and Gadwall it was rather quiet.

After retracing my steps I met Sparky along Brook Furlong Lane and we continued along Moorditch Lane where a small flock of lingering Redwing were feeding in the flooded meadow. The hedgerows were full of singing Chiffchaff and a piping Bullfinch.

Along Lordship Lane and the flooded fields are beginning to dry out but there were still a few Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and 20 Linnet left. The pale morph Common Buzzard was high over No.6 tank along with Kestrel and Sparrowhawk riding a warm thermal. A tractor spiking the fields brought in c230 Common Gull and with them were a pair of summer Mediterranean Gull.

The mitigation area on No.3 tank had 43 Shoveler, c100 Common Teal and a few Mallard.

A view of No.6 tank from the southern banks.

The area of open water, dead daisy beds and muddy margins attracted a Green Sandpiper, 43 Redshank, 329 Black-tailed Godwit, 31 Common Snipe and 15 Ruff. The dwindling duck numbers included c200 Common Teal, 37 Shoveler, 23 Common Shelduck, 43 Mallard and Gadwall.

A Merlin shot across No.5 tank on the way back to the motorway bridge.

A Giant Puffball or at least what’s left of one. This fungi was along the path leading to the Weaver Bend.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images).

25.03.18. Birdlog.

I was out at dawn this morning with a beautiful sunrise over the Manchester Ship Canal at Ellesmere Port and then continuing on to Ince where I began my walk. The pools held the usual suspects Common Teal, Mallard, Common Shelduck, Gadwall, Coot and 2 pair of Mute Swan and a pair of Greylag Goose.

Sunrise over the marshes as seen from Ellesmere Port.

A Chiffchaff was seen and heard calling along the track and 2 Little Egret were on the bank of one of the pools. There were c60 Curlew were in the fields near to Ince Berth.

Onwards to the ship canal path and there were 7 Whooper Swan out on the salt marsh with several more Little Egret.

A group of Chaffinch were alarm calling which then alerted me to a Merlin sitting on a post on the canal bank. There were c300 Pink-footed Goose out by the river, Raven and Great Black-backed Gull still enjoying Spring’s fallen sheep bounty on the salt marshes.

The Canal Pools held more of the same ducks as the Ince pools with just a pair of Mute Swan still with two juveniles from last year. The first Sand Martin of the Spring sprung through the area.

The sky was full of the song of Skylark and Meadow Pipits which were performing their parachuting display. Not to be out done the Oystercatcher got in on the act with noisy displaying along the ship canal bank and a flock of Redshank flew along the canal. A couple of pairs of Great Crested Grebe and a flock of Tufted Duck, Gadwall and a single Wigeon.

On to the River Weaver and there were 4 Ringed Plover one which was wearing a ring. There were at least 20 Avocet seen. The Scaup flock (5 drakes 2 females) that have been seen over the last week started to draw in a steady trickle of admirers.

A Marsh Harrier was being harassed by both Carrion Crow and lapwing near the shooters’ pool and a single Black-tailed Godwit fed in the field alongside a Common Snipe.

Another Chiffchaff was calling along Brook Furlong Lane and a pair of Bullfinch were noted.

Walking back to Ince along Lordship Lane several Common Buzzard were seen in display flight and a Long-tailed Tit were busy carrying nesting material.

Many Lapwing were defending their territories and the swan heard could be seen in the distance by the M56.

Rooks were sitting on their nests near to the Growhow Works and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was spotted. Back at the car and a Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were both seen near to the Pig Farm.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

23.03.18. Birdlog.

A walk along the River Weaver late afternoon with a decent selection of wildfowl on the river which included Numerous Tufted Duck all looking splendid in their breeding plumage.

There was also Common Teal, Mallard and a flock of Goldeneye with Common Shelduck, Gadwall  and still 4 (of the 5) drake and a new female making it to two female Scaup.

Waders included 8 Ringed Plover, 4 Oystercatcher along the river bank and 7 Avocet passing overhead on their way to the Mersey estuary.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.