I started my walk this morning at the River Weaver where hundreds of Pink-footed Goose could be seen leaving the Mersey estuary heading to their inland grazing sites, and a small number of Golden Plover dropped down near to Marsh Farm soon after.
24 Mute Swan were on the river and Manchester Ship Canal and then made their way to the fields alongside the Holpool Gutter. Several Common Snipe were looking for areas of unfrozen ground at the river’s edge to feed, and more were encountered throughout my walk.
Most of the ducks that would have been utilising No.6 tank were also on the river with Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck and Common Pochard. A pair of Stonechat were on the bank.
Onward and forward to No.6 which was completely frozen over, there was just a pair of Mallard and a mixed flock of Black-headed and Common Gulls doing their best ‘dancing on ice’ routine. A female Marsh Harrier was sat in its usual place in the reed bed and the Raven hordes were feasting on still-born lambing casualties with a couple of Great Black-backed Gull and Common Buzzard doing the job of cleaning up somebody else’s work.
The Wildfowlers were again out on the salt marshes so not much to be seen there. 29 Mute Swan 6 Greylag Goose and a white domestic goose were alongside the Holpool Gutter with a Great Egret for companionship. A wintering Chiffchaff was seen flitting through the vegetation and disappeared in to a bramble patch on the bank.
There were c200 Curlew feeding in a field adjacent Rake Lane, and were spooked by a Common Buzzard patrolling the area, but soon settled down.
Further flocks of Pink-footed Goose could be seen dropping down onto Lordship Marsh and a walk along the public footpath gave better views along with another Great Egret. I inadvertently flushed a Barn Owl from its daytime roost which flew a couple of hundred yards and then took cover in a hawthorn bush.
A Brown Rat was on the track close by and would have set the owl up for a decent meal. I estimated that there was c1000 Pink-footed Goose grazing with more joining them while I watched. Two Mute Swan were nearby but no sign of the Whooper Swan herd.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-6).
No.2 tank had 100 Golden Plover and similar numbers of Lapwing, the reedbed field near to Marsh Farm and No.2 had Fieldfare and Starling feeding.
Nearby, No.1 had about a dozen Linnet with a few Chaffinch and Alder Lane/Brook Furlong Lane had Reed Bunting (male ringed, see image below) and Stonechat. No.5 had about 100 Curlew feeding which I watched with Arthur and we both commented on it being our first sightings since the turbines went up of them feeding here.
Observers: Paul Crawley (images) & Arthur Harrison.
A walk from Marsh Lane to the Holpool Gutter and back was more for stretching the legs, and despite 100’s of Pink-footed Goose, 208 Pintail, a solitary Little Egret and 3 pairs of Stonechat, the day belong to Mr Ralston’s top sightings. We did manage to see the Great Egret with a Grey Heron where he said it would be (our paths crossed earlier), but we did see the 29 Whooper Swan herd hiding by Hillview Farm. All of the pinkies PR had seen earlier had vacated the fields on Lordship Marsh.
Observers: JS & WSM (images 7-0).