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).