It was an early start today as I was carrying out my first visit for the BTO Breeding Bird Survey. Before starting the survey I had a quick look over the mitigation pools on No.3 tank which held the normal residents, but I didn’t have time to stay and count them, and a nice male Whinchat that was sitting on the wires of the fence at the back of the pools.
At 6:30 am and a quick retreat back to start the survey and as I stood looking over No.6 tank a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling behind me in the reeds at the edge of No.5 tank, along with several Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting singing. Whitethroat appeared to be singing everywhere. No.6 tank was full of birds, probably due to it nearly being high tide.
Peak wader counts included: 1440 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot, 2 Oystercatcher, 7 Whimbrel and 16 Redshank. The duck counts were: 26 Gadwall, 130 Shelduck, 35 Tufted Duck and 23 Shoveler. A Marsh Harrier also drifted over No.5 tank. The Grasshopper Warbler was still reeling as I finished the counts on No.6 and moved along to Moorditch Lane.
Further out on the marshes there were 2 Jay, 5 Sedge Warbler, 12 Whitethroat, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 6 Chiffchaff, 3 Blackcap and 4 Cetti’s Warbler. At one point I was stood a few yards away from a singing bird when another flew into a nearby bush with a bill full of nesting material.
On reaching No.2 tank, an inspection of the pipes revealed 7 Wheatear and a single (released) Red-legged Partridge. A full house of hirundines were hawking over the tanks with 6 Swift, 9 Swallow, 3 House Martin and 16 Sand Martin.
In total in this small recording area in less than 3 hours I recorded 66 different species, not bad for a few hours work and this does not include the hundreds of birds spread over the rest of the marsh.
Observer: Paul Miller (image 1).
I managed to shoe horn in a visit after work to No.6 tank and there were only c1100 Black-tailed Godwit still present from Paul’s earlier visit today. A single Bar-tailed Godwit still in winter plumage but just beginning to show a few summer scapular feathers emerging.
There were also numerous Swallow and Sand Martin hawking over the open water with 10 Common Swift heading into the advancing weather front.
A walk over to No.3 tank contained 25 Raven and 320 additional Black-tailed Godwit.
Earlier a walk through Daresbury Firs LNR and a chance encounter with a recently fledged Tawny Owl chick (another lay dead nearby). Local walkers mentioned the birds have been present since 20th so I would assume the adult is still feeding this chick. Locals have said they are monitoring the condition of this chick and its appearances.
Tawny Owl chick.
Daresbury Firs and Tawny Owl chick.
A small selection of Snake’s-head Fritillary flowers are a few locations in Runcorn this week.
Observer: WSM (images 2-9).