I started my walk at Ince this morning where 2 Water Rail were squealing in a reed bed by the side of the path. A cluster of ducks included 20 Gadwall, 7 Mallard, 4 Coot and 8 Wigeon, with a Grey Heron stalking about the pools. A noisy skein of 50 Pink-footed Goose flew over heading south.
Walking along the Manchester Ship Canal path and a raft of 63 Coot which had been pushed off the salt marshes by a shooting party there. The shooters dumped their haul of dead birds on the canal bank and went back to their persuit. The constant gunfire kept a large flock of c2000 Lapwing in the air and were joined by c1000 Golden Plover which couldn’t settle and left the area.
A Marsh Harrier was hunting over No.4 tank while a male Sparrowhawk was sat in a bush watching the world go by.
On the path between No.4 and No.6 tank was a c300 strong mixed finch flock containing, Linnet, Goldfinch and Chaffinch with Great and Blue Tit following in their wake. A female Sparrowhawk was keeping a keen eye on all of this proceedings.
Several skeins of Pink-footed Goose circled Lordship Marsh, but most carried on south without alighting. A loose flock of c200 Curlew were feeding in the fields.
The 24 Mute Swan herd were again alongside the Holpool Gutter with 40 more Curlew.
A Kestrel sat on a post flew off its perch leaving a Wood Mouse to fall to the ground and on closer inspection it had consumed most of the head and brain.
A Peregrine was perched up on a tower at the GrowHow Works and surveyed the marsh below and beyond.
A few signs of Spring included the first leaf uncurling from its twigs along the lane.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images).
Video of a skein of Pinkies heading over Frodsham by David Stewart.
My time on the marsh this morning was concerned with my monthly WeBS count on No.6, No.3 tanks and Lordship Marsh.
I started with counting the Eurasian Teal (1,300) which were again hiding and feeding on seeds in the thick vegetation of the Michaelmas Daisy beds. During the course of my watch it was interesting to see the behaviour of these ducks to five different raptor species. Typically the Common Kestrel feeds only on rodents and small birds so its presence was tolerated by the ducks. On the other hand a very optimistic female Sparrowhawk made a few attempts at flushing the teal but without any success. A maurading male Peregrine took a couple of stoops but failed.
A female Merlin perched on a dead tree close by the teal flock and they didn’t even raise their heads. One raptor was more stealth like and while the teal were busy feeding in cover a Common Buzzard dropped from a brick drainage tower and walked through the daisy beds and managed to grab a teal, the rest of the feeding birds were totally oblivious.
Other ducks were very much in reduced numbers and included: 26 Northern Shoveler, 16 Northern Pintail, 12 Mallard and 4 Common Shelduck.
A female type Marsh Harrier that was hunting over the expanse of the reed beds on No.6 tank showed signs of shotgun damage to its left wing and where this bird sustained its injury is subjective, a telling sign of the times. A second younger bird with complete undamaged wings appeared later in the afternoon.
A look over No.3 tank was rewarded with a count of 385 Eurasian Wigeon feeding on the short turf, frequently spooking each other and flying back to the relative safety of one of the shallow pools. Thousands of Lapwing and much smaller numbers of Golden Plover were a constant sight when they rose into the air.
Common Buzzard were again competing with several Raven over an old decomposed sheep. A few Northern Shoveler were present in the ‘Splashing Pool’ with Mallard.
My walk continued to the corner of No.4 & No.6 tanks for its elevated position on the ramp track. Looking south over the fields and the herd of 26 Whooper Swan were again by Hillview Farm with 283 Pink-footed Goose grazing alongside the blue slurry tank. A dead swan spp was below one of the turbines which may or may not indicate its demise.
The entire skein of Pinkies were seen to head out to the Mersey marshes at dusk flying over No.6 tank.
Observer: WSM (images and video).
I was out of work early and with little persuasion I took a walk around No.6 and No.4 tanks. It came as a complete surprise when I arrived to look across No.6 to find with exception of 25 Mallard no Eurasian Teal.
A herd of Canada Goose were grazing on No.3 with a flock of c70 Wigeon, a mass of Lapwing and Golden Plover hunkering down in the short turf. The first lamb of the year was spotted on the tank with a further 3 on the Manchester Ship Canal path.
A flock of just 9 Shoveler on the ‘Splashing Pool’ and a Little Egret flew overhead. I contined along the canal and several more Mallard and a raft of 34 Tufted Duck with a single Great Crested Grebe in their company.
The Raven were in good numbers over the Frodsham Score with one pair tormenting a Common Buzzard,for the hell of it.
The herd of 24 Mute Swan were alongside the Holpool Gutter while a carpet of Lapwing and Golden Plover could be seen in a field near to the Ince Berth and every one of them took to the air when they spooked by an unseen threat.
Walking back to No.6 tank and far in the distance a flock of 2000 Starling were heading in the direction of the Holpool Gutter.
Observer and images: Paul Ralston.
The Whooper Swan herd was again in fields alongside the eastbound carriageway of the M56 on Lordship Marsh with numerous grazing Pink-footed Goose.
Observer: Shaun Hickey.
I managed to squeeze in 35 minutes of birding after work before the darkness closed in.
A Marsh Harrier was perched while two more were drawn in by the dwindling light to settle in the reed bed for the night.
The Eurasian Teal flocks of last week have disappeared with just a couple of hundred left. There were small numbers of both Common Shelduck and Shoveler and flocks of Lapwing looking for somewhere to settle for the night.
A few thousand Starling were observed over the Pumping Station before dropping into their roost.
Observer and images: WSM.
I started my walk at Ince this morning with the pools holding a good amount of wildfowl including Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall, Eurasian Teal being present with 2 Little Grebe and 3 Little Egret.
I continued on to the Manchester Ship Canal path with more Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck and Gadwall were on the black waters of the ship canal. There were again masses of Lapwing and Golden Plover which were spooked by a female Peregrine on the prowl and was later joined up by a male over the GrowHow Works.
A Great Egret (header image hiding amidst the Lapwing flock) and several Little Egret were out on the Mersey salt marshes. The fields alongside Holpool Gutter had the wintering herd of 21 Mute swan but no sign of the recent 4 White-fronted Goose.
A flock of c50 Curlew passed overhead with a single Black-tailed Godwit.
My walk continued along Rake Lane where I was hoping to view the Whooper Swan herd but I unsuccessful and they may have been hidden from view behind the hedges?
Eventually I was back at Ince and was greeted by the sighting of a Hen Harrier flying over one of the pools judging by its small size it may have been an immature male?
Observer and images: Paul Ralston.
A skein of Pink-footed Goose were heading south over the A56 through Helsby on my way to the marsh this morning. Arriving at No.1 tank a pair of Stonechat were sat on the fence line that crosses this tank. Raven were riding the breeze above the steep banks and indicated the stiff wind that blew through the marshes today.
Onward to the path by the Manchester Ship Canal and 2 Mute Swan, 5 Great Crested Grebe and 4 Little Grebe were noted. A Common Sandpiper was flushed from the bank and settled after a short flight.
A walk along the river revealed a flock of 300 Canada Goose heading to the Weaver estuary leaving Eurasian Teal, Gadwall, Mallard and Common Shelduck behind. Curlew were flying inland to their feeding grounds and a dozen Black-tailed Godwit went out to the Mersey estuary in the other direction.
No.6 tank and its stretch of open water held the usual ducks with c 40 Pintail and Eurasian Teal being notable as were a flock of Black-tailed Godwit.
No 3 tank held onto a flock of flighty Wigeon on and off one of the scrapes with more Eurasian Teal, Mallard and several Common Shelduck also present.
Looking over Lordship Marsh from the junction of No.4 and No.6 tanks produced the Whooper Swan herd which were near Hillview Farm hidden behind the hedges. A small flock of Black-tailed Godwit dropped into the same field to feed.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-2 & 4).
During my period of observation I checked on the Eurasian Teal flocks that were quite impressive last weekend. The heavy leaden grey clouds and stiff wind provided some challenging light to view and photograph in those conditions and was reflected in the dull grainy images attached. I estimated a flock of c800 Teal hiding mostly in the daisy beds with 24 Shoveler and some Pintail (PR had seen earlier). A young/2cy Marsh Harrier was quartering the reed beds with another two over No.4 tank.
A walk over to the Weaver estuary on the chance of seeing a couple of Scaup that Dave Craven had spotted flying over from Hale drew a blank. On my arrival a good selection of ducks included: 19 Common Pochard (18 adult male and immature male), 20 Goldeneye (imm/females), 21 Tufted Duck, 23 Gadwall and a flock of 70 Curlew flying low over the water. A couple of Stonechat sat up on dried grass stems by the rivers edge.
Walking back in the dark and only illuminated by the neon lights flickering off the water from Ineos Chlor works across the river was made even brighter by an imm/female Red-breasted Merganser which flew up settled by the Sluice Gates. This bird is the one PR had last year.
Observer: WSM (image 3).
A Great Egret joined up with the Whooper Swan herd on fields adjacent to the east bound carriageway of the M56 on Lordship Marsh today. That makes three (Cattle, Little & Great White) egret species that have mistaken the whoopers for something a little less swanish.
Observer: Shaun Hickey.
The wandering ringtail Hen Harrier was over No.2 tank this afternoon.
Observer and images: Dan Haywood.