It was finally a weekend worthy of the beautiful sunshine backed up by a harsh icy breeze wafting in from the arctic.
A look over the frozen waters of No.6 tank revealed a mass of Eurasian Teal sheltering below the banks in the south-east corner, but a couple of happy snapper’s popped over the bank and everything rose and flew around until the couple moved off the bank. After the ducks settled it was obvious a small circle of water was unfrozen and the majority of the teal were standing on the ice around it.
A distant broken line of skeins of Pink-footed Goose were heading out to the south Mersey salt marshes (WSM, FD).
I continued along the track sandwiched between No.6 and No.3 tanks where a couple of hundred Eurasian Wigeon had joined 6 Shoveler, c30 Coot on the mostly unfrozen Canal Pools. Several hundred Lapwing and Golden Plover were forced off the Mersey marshes and settled on No.2 & 3 tanks. There were numerous small flocks of Raven enjoying a plethora of ewe placenta in the fields and one flock contained 28 birds.
The high tide had passed, so a look across Frodsham Score revealed the Pink-footed Goose herds which were settled by the river’s edge, while tens of hundreds of Canada Goose were occupying the foreground. A huge flock of c1000 Wigeon could be seen on the river and salt marsh with hundreds of Common Shelduck, and smaller numbers of Eurasian Teal and Northern Pintail. A couple of wildfowlers were striding across the salt marsh to hunt along the edge of the River Mersey and dislodged the Pinkies and Canada Goose which moved away to ‘safer ground’.
The usual displays of Dunlin were very much further out towards Mount Manisty and flocks of Curlew and some Oystercatcher could also be seen. I only managed to see a single Little Egret, but no Great’s today. A couple of Stonechat and calling Skylark were really the only passerines of note. A feature of this winter are the big numbers of Stock Dove feeding out there, a single flock of c300 birds was impressive.
The north-west corner of No.6 tank showed signs of heavy construction work with a large expanse of Phragmites having been scrapped off the ground, and right on the edge of where the harriers roost. A further note to this construction process is (I believe) MSC will be sending a bore hole to test if there is enough sand below the silt to be extracted for commercial use. This is early days and it remains to be seen if planning permission will be granted, considering the area is of ornithological interest.
I eventually reached the south-west corner of No.6 tank and watched from here across to Hillview Farm, immediately the Whooper Swan herd could be seen flying from their grazing fields, a man walking his dog was responsible for their departure. They soon resettled in a field much nearer and I managed a count of 29 birds.
Walking back along Lordship Lane and I bumped into Jacqui and Idris Roberts and we were in the right place to watch skein after skein of Pink-footed Goose heading to the fields adjacent to the M56.
A Little Egret and a couple of Stonechat by the junction of Godscroft/Moorditch and Lordship Lanes were present.
Observer: WSM (images and videos to follow).