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.

20.03.18. Birdlog.

The first day of Spring and a walk out along the River Weaver at Frodsham Marshes. It was a bright and sunny day but the chilly north-easterly kept the winter woolies unpacked.

A Cetti’s Warbler was along Brook Furlong Lane where a Chiffchaff was bathing in a sheltered sunny corner. Further out by Redwall reed bed and a pair of Stonechat were along the fence line.The flooded shooters’ pools had 30 Common Teal and a couple of Shoveler.

A group of 15 Goldeneye on the river was just the beginning and 132 Tufted Duck were the largest flock we’ve had on the marshes since the big freeze. Also present were 7 Little and 6 Great Crested with a dead Great Crested on the edge of the wash wreak.

The Scaup from yesterday were still present but had increased with 5 drake and a solitary female hanging out with 7 Common Pochard. A small flock of 8 Ringed Plover and a couple of Avocet were at the confluence of the Weaver estuary and the Manchester Ship Canal.

Looking out across Frodsham Score on the rising tide and flocks of c300 Black-tailed were joined by 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover, 40 Redshank, 235 Dunlin, 2 Avocet, 15 Oystercatcher and 230 Curlew.

We eventually made our way over to No.6 tank where the ducks were still present with 341 Common Teal, 43 Shoveler, a pair of Pintail, c100 Common Shelduck, 54 Mallard and 35 Common Gull.

A brief step away and the mitigation pools had a further 163 Common Teal, 12 Shoveler and a pair of Wigeon.

Plastic waste in our watercourses is currently high on the political agenda and the Manchester Ship Canal is no exception. The above image shows the lid of a pink plastic recycle bin that was washed up at the junction of the canal and the Weaver estuary known as the ‘Weaver Turn’. The lid originated from Salford City Council district and travelled roughly 35 miles to end up at Frodsham Marsh. This is just a small item in a river and canal, there is much more.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images).

19.03.18. Birdlog.

28 Avocet were on the Mersey estuary before the tide pushed them over to the Weaver estuary. The Weaver estuary also held 3 drake and a female Scaup which were among the Tufted Duck around the jetty. Also present were 8 Goldeneye.

Two Wheatear on the pipes of No. 1 tank this morning along with 2 Stonechat.

13 Pochard and 2 Pintail on No. 6 tank were joined by a family of 6 Whooper Swan and a Chiffchaff was calling along Moorditch Lane.

Observer: Alyn Chambers.

Image: WSM.

18.03.18. Birdlog.

Waiting for Spring which turns back to Winter and the seasons are all topsy-turvy at the moment. I started my morning walk from the Ince side of the marshes where foraging Fieldfare were eking out food from the frozen fields near to the pig farm. In addition several flocks of Curlew made their way off the salt marsh to feed inland.

The frozen pools had Mallard, Common Teal, Common Shelduck and Gadwall with a dozen or more Little Egret taking shelter in the reeds at the edge of one of the pools.

Onto the Manchester Ship Canal path and c150 Pink-footed Goose were watched dropping on to Ince salt marsh. Along the ship canal were several Tufted Duck, more Mallard, more Common Teal and yes more Gadwall with smaller numbers of Wigeon and 3 Great Crested Grebe also present.

A flock of Golden Plover circled round the fields alongside the Holpool Gutter which for the first time this year did not hold any of the Mute Swan herd. A flock of Redshank made their way along the canal and 2 pair of Oystercatcher were on territory on the opposite bank. Both Raven and Great Black-backed Gull competed for the spoils of sheep carcasses left on the marsh after the tide.

The mixed Mute and Whooper Swan herd could still be seen by the blue slurry tank  and several Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit with 2 Ringed Plover were in the flooded field at the junction of No.4 and 6 tanks from Lordship Lane. More Curlew were in the stubble fields and Lapwing were displaying along Lordship Marsh. Walking back at Ince and another skien of c100 Pink-footed Goose flew in from the south to join the others on the salt marsh.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-2).

I managed just over an hour after my weekend working day had finished and fitted in both the Weaver estuary and No.6 tank for the Sunday WeBS count. A herd of 546 Canada Goose were on No.1 tank with the majority uplifting and settling on the river between the Weaver Bend and the Weaver estuary. There were 7 Goldeneye on the ‘bend’ with 56 Tufted Duck at the jetty on the Weaver estuary. A pair of Oystercatcher were noisy on the river while small numbers of Redshank and a flock of fifty Curlew flew in.

A quick look over the pipes on No.1 tank didn’t reveal any Wheatear but two very obliging Stonechat were entertaining.

No.6 tank felt and looked bleak in the bone chilling mini beast from the east wind whistling through the marshes. Most of the duck were sheltering in the water at lea of the bank and included: 46 Common Shelduck, 3 Pintail, 46 Shoveler, 134 Common Teal, 7 Common Pochard and 23 Tufted Duck.

A Marsh Harrier was being harassed by a group of Raven over No.5 tank.

Observer: WSM (image 3).