A walk from Helsby along Lower Rake Lane to the Manchester Ship Canal and the afternoon tide awaited. A band of 7 European Stonechat lined the lane and were very appraochable and the nearby fields held 14 Mute and 21 Whooper Swan.
On arrival the spring sunshine was warm on the neck and the shimmering salt marshes made it difficult to see the geese in the distance. Settling down for the incoming tide I didn’t expect the weather to take a turn for the worse when the cold grey clouds rolled in from the south-west. It was batten down the hatches and sail this one out.
The sounds of yelping Pink-footed Goose calling from the edge of the river only increased with the incoming tide and I estimated c900 birds present. The flocks of distant Dunlin and Common Redshank shifted their forms and moved along the shoreline creating shapes but never came close. Flocks of winter plumaged Grey Plover kept their distance from c500 European Golden Plover which flew over and then amassed in the short swarthy marshland grass.
The marsh was littered with Little Egret and 3 Great Egret were loitering close to the edge of the Manchester Ship Canal. An additional fourth bird was in the fields of Ince inner marsh with an oddly paired Greylag and white domestic bird.
After the tide receeded it was a long walk back to the car in heavy rain but a Marsh Harrier kept the spirits up.
It’s the type of birding that makes this side of the river look “seriously shabby”.
Observers: JS & WSM (images).