I started my morning walk out at Ince where the usual Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Common Teal, 2 (drake) Tufted Duck, a Little Grebe and 2 Mute Swan on the pools. A large dog Fox crossed the lane in the morning half-light and its white-tipped brush gave it away as it dropped into a ditch before disappearing into the day.
On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a good look over Frodsham Score salt marsh where a mass of Lapwing and Golden Plover were being their usual nervous selves.
The Mute Swan herd had Greylag Goose for company and with them were 4 Eurasian White-fronted Goose (Anser (albifrons) albifronsa) nice little earner for walking this route. The whole herd of geese and swans were spooked by shooting taking place nearby and took to the wing. The swans soon settled back down but the geese left the area in haste.
On to Lordship Lane which was rather quiet with more shooting taking place. A flock of Curlew were in the stubble fields and with them were c40 Black-tailed Godwit which dropped in to the fields by the blue slurry tank. A Marsh Harrier was sat in the reeds on No.6 tank.
I walked back along the canal path with the tide rolling in which dislodged 2 Great White Egret and several Grey Heron which were feeding in the flood water with just a single Little Egret noted. There were flocks of smaller waders (mostly Dunlin) could be seen at the edge of the River Mersey and a young Peregrine put the whole plover flocks up again.
At Ince Berth there were 6 Whooper Swan making their way over to Lordship Marsh and a Little Egret was in front of the Pig Farm.
Along Kinsey Lane there was c200 Redwing feeding in the field and the bird feeders at the old farm-house. The same feeders attracted House Sparrow, Goldfinch and several Greenfinch and they all went into a charm offensive when a female Sparrowhawk put in an appearance.
A skein of Pink-footed Goose were noted heading south.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-8).
I made my way onto the marsh to cover the rising tide out on the Mersey estuary with a stop off at No.6 tank to look through the big flock of Common Teal that settled here on the tide. There were 3 Pintail and 17 Shoveler but the constant gun fire ringing out across the marshes made them very jiggery. The flock was constantly flighty, circling the tank before the best part of 700 birds headed back out to the estuary (for more of the same). A female Marsh Harrier perched up in a tree and later a 1st winter female was hunting the reed beds added some additional distraction. A Chiffchaff was contact calling from deep within the reed bed but couldn’t be seen.
The tall blue chimney at Weston Point hosted a pair of adult Peregrine surveying the festival treats below.
A large group of Raven don’t normally let a dead sheep rot away and a dozen were making short work of one on No.3 tank (scavenging recyclers per excellence).
When I eventually arrived at my tide rendezvous I looked across the ship canal to the wide vista of Frodsham Score beyond and I could see that the wildfowlers were already in situ. Most of the Lapwing and Golden Plover were further out than would normally be the case and periodically rose in great swarms performing spectacular murmuration displays. The vast army of Canada Goose were riding the edge of the river with c500 Wigeon keeping them company and often rising in the air. A young Peregrine was doing its best to dislodge its dinner from a tidal gutter but the local corvids didn’t give it much peace.
The incoming tide always attracts Grey Heron with a dozen in the reedy areas and with them were 3 Great White Egret.
After chin wagging with PR we made our separate ways and I made my way back after some pretty impressive flocks of waders on and over the south Mersey marshes to Lordship Lane. The Whooper Swan herd had been displaced by some shooting activity nearer to their usual grazing spot and I managed to get some clear and open views of the herd much closer to the lane. I assume five of the 25 birds present were those PR had seen at Ince Berth? It was good to see 7 juvenile birds with the adults and fore-runners for future winters here?
Walking back a very obliging juvenile Reed Bunting stayed long enough for me to fire off a few pics off my camera.
Observer: WSM (videos & images 9-17).