17.03.18. Birdlog.

Only a brief visit today but had a male Wheatear on pipes was the first of the year with Starling, Raven and Goldfinch in same area plus the Canada’s and a pair of Greylag on No.1 tank. There were a few dozen Meadow Pipits on the model aircraft field and a single Curlew on Lordship Marsh.

The snow was blizzard like for most of my time there.

Observer: Paul Crawley (images).

16.03.18. Birdlog.

A 6 km walk around No.6 tank after work and in glorious evening sunshine. The flooded fields adjacent to Lordship Lane were devoid of birdlife but a couple of adult boys playing with their drones over the fields were probably responsible for this. Further on and the wintering swan herd was numbering in excess of 40 birds but I could only manage 20 Whooper Swan but a lot of birds were hiding behind the hedges.

A little later Whooper’s were seen heading out to the Manchester Ship Canal/Frodsham Score, so maybe the ‘adults’ with their drones may have dislodged the swans?

A Peregrine was over the marsh and disturbed the Curlews out on the fields. The mitigation pools on No.3 tank had a good selection of ducks with 43 Shoveler and 140 Common Teal along with a few Common Shelduck and 23 Coot.

I was surprised to see 6 Whooper Swan trumpting from the water on No.6 tank but they didn’t linger and headed out to the west soon after. A flock of 22 Ruff was a bit of a surprise here aswell. It was interesting to see c400 Common Teal back on the water after the recent lower counts. A flock of 46 Tufted Duck (18 were on the Splashing Pool), 19 Common Pochard and a solitary Great Crested Grebe were also present.

Numerous Raven were heading south for the evening with at least two showing shotgun holes in their primary feathers? The ones that stayed behind were enjoying the glutton of mutton on offer.

A partial leucistic male Blackbird was in a shrub outside the garden centre, opposite the Cenotaph on Greenway Road, Runcorn earlier in the day.

Observers: Paul Ralston (image 3), Sparky & WSM (images 2-4).

11.03.18. Birdlog.

A lovely day to be out and about on the marshes this afternoon. We headed out along Moorditch Lane where a Bullfinch type call from a hawthorn bush produced a Chiffchaff but just a P. collybita and not the expected eastern type (strange call nonetheless).

The flooded fields along Lordship Lane had a herd of 20 Mute Swan and despite my comments from yesterday the Whooper Swan (8 birds) were back again.

Walking through the now bollard entrance to the ramp track (at the south-west corner) of No.4 tank we continued avoiding the fly tipping em route. The fields of No.3 tank had a female Merlin perched on the fence line but if soon flew away towards No.5 tank. Three Mute Swan flew low over the fields and the mitigation pools had 23 Shoveler, 14 Coot and 34 Common Teal.

The open water of No.6 tank also had the remaining Shoveler from yesterday with c130 Common Teal, a pair of Pintail, 12 Common Shelduck, 224 Tufted Duck and 31 Common Pochard. A male Marsh Harrier spooked out the hiding teal from the dried out daisy beds.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images).

10.03.18. Birdlog.

A yomp across the marshes today staring from Moorditch Lane, Lordship Lane, Holpool Gutter, No.4 tank, Frodsham Score, No.6 tank and Marsh Farm.

Walking along Lordship Lane and the flooded fields on Lordship Marsh didn’t conjure up either the winter swan herd or the wintering Water Pipits. A Redshank with a broken wing was a sorry sight but a flock of 120 Curlew feeding in the fields were encouraging. The only swans present were 14 Mute’s occupying the area where the whooper’s have been present (yesterday) and just maybe they have departed for pastures new?

Another herd of 16 Mute Swan were with 4 pairs of Greylag Goose alongside the Holpool Gutter.

A look across the salt marshes of Frodsham Score were worth the walk after spotting c1100 Pink-footed Goose on the salt marsh edge and hiding within their mass was at least one Barnacle Goose and two dark-bellied Brent Goose. A Great White Egret was channel hopping in the tidal gutters, surprisingly I didn’t see any Little’s today? A female Marsh Harrier flew in from Hale and settled into an area of rough grass. Distantly a Peregrine was at the edge of the river.

A pair of Marsh Harrier were calling to each other above and close to the wind machines. A Common Buzzard was perched up on a dead tree inside the reed bed of No.4 tank and the pale morph is still present by the Pumping Station.

A Stonechat and a Cetti’s Warbler were visible and not visible from the edge of the tank.

Walking along the track alongside No.3 tank and another Great White Egret flew over the ‘Splashing Pool’. The mitigation area was flooded but only a few Lapwing, Common Teal and Shoveler were the only birds of note.

No.6 tank looked a shadow of its former self with most of the Shoveler having departed, I countered only 43 birds and despite the low count it was good while it lasted. A pair of Pintail, c200 Common Teal, 23 Tufted Duck and 29 Common Pochard made up the rest.

There was a gathering of Canada Goose on No.1 tank but the Bar-headed Goose must have slipped off the radar today. There were 3 Stonechat on the pipes across the tank there.

The Weaver estuary again had the majority of Gadwall with 24 male posturing to each other and to the females present.

A look across the Manchester Ship Canal and Frodsham Score to the mudflats on the Mersey estuary produced 9 Grey Plover, 300 Dunlin, 7 Oystercatcher, 12 Black & 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. 2 Knot all ahead of the advancing tea time tide.

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My first Small Tortoiseshell of the year.

Observer: WSM (images).

09.03.18. Birdlog.

A selection of observations from the marshes today: 23 Mute’s, 18 Whooper Swan, 2 Bewick’s Swan, 12 Tufted Duck, 32 Common Pochard, 28 Common Shelduck, 19 Shoveler, 2 Pintail, 18 Mallard, 14 Common Snipe, 14 Redshank, 103 Curlew, 260 Lapwing, 84 Golden Plover, 340 Wood Pigeon, Green Woodpecker, 65 Redwing, 30 Rook and 6 Stonechat.

Observer and image: Joe Chester.

07.03.18. Birdlog.

After work and the bright sunshine of a Spring day beckoned ahead. On arrival the sound of calling Golden Plover could be heard from the muddy margins of the flooded sludge tank. Suddenly the whole shorebird flocks present rose into the air when a Peregrine flew overhead. After the confusion everything resettled and 3 Black-tailed Godwit were meager fare for the watch but GW had seen a Sanderling, Dunlin and a Ruff prior to my visit. There were several Common Snipe feeding in the flooded vegetation with 12 Redshank. he Peregrine made a second visit which was enough for the majority of c300 Golden Plover to exist to the Mersey estuary.

Another Peregrine was sat out on the lip of the tall blue topped chimney at Weston Point. A craggy looking female Marsh Harrier headed in over No.5 tank from the east and was seen on both No.6 and No.4 tanks shortly after.

Numerous Raven were heading to Wales for the night and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was by the ‘Splashing Pool’.

Observers: Arthur Harrison, Gary Worthington, WSM (images).

05.03.18. Birdlog.

A very brief visit after work to Marsh Farm and the surrounding area with little of note other than a flock of 8 Avocet out on the Mersey mudflats. Also gathering in good numbers were Curlew and Dunlin settling down for the night.

The Starling flocks filtered through with several thousand noted.

Out on the Weaver estuary there was a sudden increase of the numbers of 43 Gadwall with several drakes in their nuptial display.

Observer: WSM.

04.03.18. Birdlog.

A short walk from Ince to the Manchester Ship Canal path to look over the high tide. It all started with a group of Common Teal with a few Gadwall, Mallard, Common Shelduck and a single Little Egret on the pools at Ince pools. A Grey Wagtail was on the track while a Sparrowhawk was hedge hopping close to the berth.

Out on Ince salt marshes was a Great White Egret several hundred Pink-footed Goose were moving about the marshes.

As the tide was coming there were flocks of waders in some spectacular murmurations (who says it’s only Starlings that can make shapes?). The whole thing had literally a cast of thousands, mostly Dunlin with the support act of Knot, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatcher and Common Snipe all in the air at once. The villain of the act was none other than a Marsh Harrier and (not punching above its weight) a Merlin in adding to the melee.

The lambing season often has its casualties and both Raven and Great Black-backed Gulls were there to mop up the salvage of a high tide on the estuary. Farmer Chris was doing what he needed to gather his flock.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-5).

A Sunday jaunt to Cheshire Oaks and the usual quick glance to the right as we travel west along the M56 opposite Spring Farm on Helsby Marshes secured the required Whooper Swan herd. A couple of smaller birds had the Bewick’s look but at 60 mph we’d be hard push to get them on the day list.

After the ablutions of shopping were assigned and ticked off we made our way down to the marshes. There was a reason for this visit (apart from the usual birding) after I lost the adapter sleeve from my digi-scoping ensemble. The sleeve had slid off my telescope in an area of wash wreak by the side of the Weaver estuary yesterday. I retraced my steps with Sparky and her eagle eye spotted it hidden on the bank, it was duly secured back onto its apparatus.

There were plenty of waterfowl about after their cowadly sheltering from the beast that lurked from the east. The Common Pochard flock tallied 41 birds with 32 Tufted Duck, 14 Goldeneye, 6 Gadwall, c800 Canada Goose and 40 Coot. There were plenty of Common Snipe on the river today.

A look across to the Gantry Wall at Weston Point didn’t reveal the Glaucous Gull from yesterday but Mr Craven managed to see it over on ‘the darkside’ sometime later. The receeding tide revealed a good sized gathering of Dunlin busy feeding close to the ship canal banks with 12 Avocet and loads of Curlew with a few Oystercatcher and Black-tailed Godwit.

Walking through Marsh Farm there was a small group of partially summer plumaged Golden Plover in the fields but they soon rose into the air calling…the sound of Iceland.

Walking back and the Bar-headed Goose was still lingering with the Canada’s on No.1 tank.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images 6-8).

03.03.18. Birdlog.

We both took the opportunity to take a walk during the period of a Spring tide today out on the river.

There was a partial unfrozen patch of water on No.6 and a reduced area for the wildfowl to shelter from the cold wind. The 53 Shoveler have almost all left due to the ‘beast from the east’ freezing up their favourite water, but undaunted those that remained share the spin feeding behaviour with a flock of 83 Common Shelduck. A flock of 37 Common teal were hiding very close up to the bank to shelter from both the wind and the icy cold.

A couple of Common Buzzard and a Marsh Harrier wAS over the reed bed and a Water Rail was seen to drop in to the reeds by the secluded pool.

On to the Manchester Ship Canal path overlooking Frodsham Score salt marsh as the tide made its way in. A large flock of Dunlin, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Curlew and some Knot were put in to panic mode as a Marsh Harrier hunted through their numbers. The best bit was when a Fox caused panic among several hundred Pink-footed Goose  and as many more Canada’s.

There were 4 Great Crested Grebe and several Tufted Duck on the ship canal and nearby 28 Mute Swan and 5 Greylag Goose were in their winter field alongside the Holpool Gutter.

Green Sandpiper was flushed from the gutter near to the Growhow Works and a pair of Bewick’s Swan were in the same field as the Mute family opposite the junction of No’s 6 and 4.

A few Meadow Pipit and a female Stonechat were foraging in the fields along Lordship Lane as were a party of 30 Curlew. The 2 Bewick’s Swan even managed to make their way on to No.6 and found a stretch of open water to relax on.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1 & 4-7).

While Paul was forging his way out to the west I checked out the frozen area on No.6 tank and the recent cold snap had done its worst with just a patch of water available for the ducks to ultilise (counts added above).

The ramp track to No.6 tank has had a set of gates and bollards put in place and a drastic tactic to arrest the continuing fly-tipping that this area is blighted with. The other ramp track to No.4 tank has a similar gate and bollards put in place. We’ll have to see what the local authority have to say on this matter.

Looking over the fields across to Lordship Marsh and the herd of 24 Whooper Swan were still present with a couple of Bewick’s for company (these two were highly mobile and ended up on No.6 later in the day).

There was a massive herd of Canada Goose on No.1 tank and a Bar-headed Goose tried its best to be elusive within their numbers. It later relocated to the Weaver estuary and back again on No.1 at dusk.

The wash wreak on the Weaver estuary is probably (mostly) result of waste in the Manchester Ship Canal finding its way into the estuary. I found a freshly dead Common Shelduck floating in the river.

Taking a hike down to the Weaver Bend there was a two pairs of Goldeneye and Pintail with with a few Common Teal. The highlight was a displaced Woodcock flying over the Shooters’ pools before dropping down into a bramble patch.

I continued along the river to the Weaver estuary where c30 Common Snipe were in the ice-free damp patches. The reward for a flooded boot was a Jack Snipe that popped out of a muddy channel and dropped back down a few feet ahead. The easterly icy wind produced some great little reedy popsicles.

There were plenty of ducks on the river with 12 Goldeneye, 10 Common Pochard, 21 Tufted Duck and c800 Canada Goose (including the Bar-headed mentioned above).

A female Marsh Harrier drifted over from the Mersey estuary and headed east towards the CEGB pools.

A male Stonechat was moving between the plastic tidal wreak on the estuary.

When I eventually got back to my car I received a call from Frank Duff who had just found a (what is presumably the Widnes 1st winter) Glaucous Gull from Marsh Farm. The gull was fast asleep on the gantry wall that separates the ship canal from the River Mersey. While watching the gull a female Merlin shot through and only just avoided hitting a Goldfinch on its route through.

Observer: WSM (images 2-3 & 8-21).