A walk around No.6 and 4 tanks from mid morning which started with 5 Ruff on the rapidly diminishing water on No.6. A few Common Teal and Mallard were paddling about in whats left of the shallow pool. A Green Sandpiper was on the secluded pool with a couple of Lapwing for company.
Onward to the Manchester Ship Canal path where a juvenile male Sparrowhawk was perched on a weed stem watching a flock of Goldfinch and Linnet in that area.
A flock of c60 post breeding Lapwing were on the pontoons and 5 Common Sandpiper were seen along the exposed canal bank as the water is low here as well. Another pair of Green Sandpiper dropped in on the opposite bank and several broods of Tufted Duck were on the water. There were c400 Canada Goose resting on the canal with a couple of thousand more out on the Frodsham Score salt marsh.
Common Swift, House Martin and Swallow were feeding overhead while Reed and Sedge Warbler were seen and heard through out my walk.
Observer: Paul Ralston (image 1-3).
An evening visit to coincide with the High (but low) tide out on the Mersey estuary. I stood on the banks of No.6 tank looking across the shallow pool where 19 Ringed Plover flew in and flew out just as quickly. The 5 Ruff were still present from earlier in the day and just 4 Black-tailed Godwit lingered.
A small flock of Black-headed Gull included an interesting leucistic bird with overall paler plumage and having pale washed out primaries and ghosted head markings. The bright red bare parts were quite obvious and stood out compared to the ‘normal’ BhG’s present.
A juvenile Marsh Harrier was watched circling high over Lordship Marsh..
Image 4 by WSM.
An early dart from work and a walk out and around the Weaver Bend with my start along Brook Furlong Lane where Blackbird and Goldfinch were in song. There were Chiffchaff and Whitethroat seen along with a pair of Mistle Thrush which isn’t a regular thrush on the marshes.
I continued along the rank reedy lane to the River Weaver where a pair of Common Sandpiper made their way up river. A flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit fed on the sand bank along with 6 Ruff, 2 Oystercatcher and several Redshank. Small parties of godwit passed over and headed towards the M56. Common Swift and House Martin were in good numbers over the water.
The walk back along the river bank and after a sharp shower was uncomfortably wet and I emerged out at Brook Furlong Lane like a drowned rat. There were several Sedge and Reed Warbler singing half heartedly in the reed bed and a family of Reed Bunting were noted. A male Stonechat sat on a bramble bush by the river bank while another Common Sandpiper made its way down river this time.
Observer: Paul Ralston (image 1).
I took the opportunity between the end of work and another duty with a walk along the track between No.6 & 5 tanks. There were still Sedge Warbler sub-singing while Reed Warbler were popping up and undertaking short flights between gaps in the reedy ditches.
The air was filled by c100 Common Swift brought down by the persistent rain that started as soon as I emerged from work and didn’t stop until my next duty of the evening commenced. In between was good birding with a welcome return of the south bound march of the early autumn shorebirds. There were 54 Black-tailed Godwit with the first colour ringed individual of this mid summer return passage. A flock of 114 summer Dunlin also included the first juvenile of the year here. Along with the Dunlin came 14 Ringed Plover with a local juvenile Little Ringed Plover wondering where all these birds had come from. A single Redshank in immaculate summer plumage was the only one of its kind present and 7 Ruff must surely have been some of the birds Paul had seen on his visit? A female Marsh Harrier loomed large from No.4 tank but as I mentioned earlier other duties called me away from evening a very agreeable evenings watch.
Observer: WSM (images 2-3).
After dutifully dropping Sparky and her pal off for a night in Chester I took the opportunity to drop in on No.6 tank and see how the water level is coping with the drought. It is interesting to see that the pool on the sludge tank is even less than it was on my last visit (despite the downpour we had last evening).
A group of species were forced to dabble, roost, feed and float side by side on the water. Common Teal have increased to 39 birds with 9 Common Shelduck, 139 Black-headed and Common Gull which didn’t linger and past straight through. There were 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Lapwing and an adult with two juvenile Little Ringed Plover finding the wetter muddy areas suitable to their needs.
A trickle of Sedge Warbler song emitted from the reed bed while ‘reeling’ from a lone elder bush was a Grasshopper Warbler. A few Raven past over heading to Wales and a flock of Starling were flying around the area.
A Marsh Harrier was loafing in the distance and a dog Fox was doing its stuff in the rank vegation.
Observer and images: WSM.
A day early for my WeBS count on No.6 tank during the high tide period this afternoon. The pool on the sludge tank is still receding and restricting to the centre of the eastern side. It was interesting to see tops of posts with barbed wire attached and petrified hedgerow stumps exposed for the first time in decades.
A small group of 8 Common Teal was nearly topped by the 14 young Mallard present. A small flock of 7 Common Shelduck headed out to the estuary. there was also 5 Moorhen, 137 Black-headed, a 2nd summer Common and 2 adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.
The only shorebirds in the hot bed of the tank included solitary Ruff & Black-tailed Godwit and just 14 Lapwing. A worn adult Marsh Harrier was drifted in the distant heat haze and a very brief snatch of Cetti’s Warbler song was just about it fr here.
I took a walk down to the Weaver Bend where the high tide on the River Mersey had lifted the water level on the River Weaver slightly and the small sand bank on the ‘Bend’ was covered by water restricting the number of waders present. There were roughly 10 Common Sandpiper, an adult and 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plover, 43 Avocet (including 4 fluffy young) between the ‘Bend’ and the Weaver estuary, 4 Oystercatcher, a single summer Dunlin, c100 Coot, 2 Great Crested Grebe, c1000 Black-headed, 1 Great Black-backed and a single adult Common Gull.
There were plenty of butterflies out on the wing including: Gatekeeper, Red Admiral, Large Skipper, Small White, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Peacock, Meadow Brown and a new for me range expansion of Ringlet, which was close to the banks of the Weaver estuary.
Observer and images: WSM.
It was frighteningly quiet on the marsh this afternoon when I walked along the River Weaver and around to No.6 tank.
A Lapwing and 8 Avocet were on the opposite bank with two equally monochrome Oystercatcher. The young of Reed Bunting were moving about in front of me as I walked along the river path and a couple of Reed Warbler are still prolonging summer with their singing. The Weaver Bend sandbank be stricken by industrial noise from the old I.C.I plant across the water and was empty for a change apart from the ever-present Black-headed Gull flock.
No.6 tank lacked a touch of variety apart from a few Common Shelduck and a couple of Common Teal. A single Black-tailed Godwit dropped in amongst the few Lapwing on the cracked mud surface despite a late bout of short-lived rain.
There was a swarm of fearsome tiny toadlets crossing the path as I walked along the track, but not as scary as a pair of released Red-legged Partridge which scurried away.
Lordship Lane was equally less productive except for a Kestrel which was hunting the bank and caught a small rodent. Again Reed Warbler were feeding young still and a returning Curlew passed overhead followed by a family party of cronking Raven.
Observer: Paul Ralston aka Jason Voorhees.
Also a Hobby close by to the Weaver Bend as seen and then a Cetti’s Warbler as heard by Guy Groves.
I took the morning off work and took timeout in the early morning walk to walk around the marsh starting at Brook Furlong Lane. Chiffchaff and Blackcap were busy feeding along in the hedgerow and a family party of long-tailed Tit joined in.
Onward ever onward and the River Weaver Causeway bank produced 2 Common Sandpiper which were feeding with a Redshank and 6 Avocet. Sedge and Reed Warbler are still in song and a Reed bunting pair were busy feeding their youngsters.
The water level is still low with little if no rain washing back into the water courses. The sand bank island situated in the middle of the ‘Bend’ was exposed with many Black-headed Gull adults and juveniles feeding there. Another group of 30 Redshank, 80 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover, 3 Common Sandpiper, Lapwing and yet more Avocet.
On towards the Manchester Ship Canal and an additional 21 Avocet were in the shallows with 2 more Common Sandpiper, 2 Ringed and a single Little Ringed Plover, 6 summer Dunlin 4 Oystercatcher and several more Lapwing. Common Shelduck and Tufted Duck were on the water with their broods and keeping a close eye on the Black-backed gulls which were overhead. More Common Sandpiper were noted on the Manchester Ship Canal making a total of 15 during my walk. 4 Raven were sharing a Mallard carcase (it makes a change from the dead mutton they’ve been sampling this year) on the canal bank.
The Canal Pools were quiet with just Mallard and Coot present.
On further to No.6 tank beckoned where the water level there has dropped to a fraction of the winter level. there were 8 Grey Heron waiting to pick off the eels that dared to slither from their muddy hiding places. The only waders noted on No.6 were Lapwing, a handful of Mallard and Coot on the remaining water.
Observer and images: Paul Ralston.
An early evening jaunt along the river and past the Manchester Ship Canal where butterflies were aplenty along the river bank with Meadow Browns, Gatekeeper, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Ringlet, Large Skipper and several White’s. The water level on the river was low and exposed the sandy banks with many of Black-headed Gull but not much else as a trials bike was on the footpath causing a lot of disturbance. A pair of Avocet were on the far bank still with 3 small young alongside a Lapwing its chick. There were 3 Common Sandpiper also along this part of the river.
Walking towards the ship canal another flock of Avocet included 40 birds with a small number of Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Oystercatcher and another Common Sandpiper were at the waters edge with a single Dunlin. At the junction of the ship canal and the Weaver estuary there was a flock of Lapwing and at least 10 more Common Sandpiper were in the same area.
A pair of Raven ever the optimists were keeping watchful eye on a brood of Common Shelducklings.
Observer and images: Paul Ralston.