I was out this evening along the River and Manchester Ship Canal. Pied Avocet were busy defending their young chicks along the river, whilethe many Black-headed Gull on the water and 2 Great Black-backed Gull gulls waiting on a concrete plinth on the far bank watching and waiting. Common Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Gadwall were all present in reasonable numbers and a group of 10 Mute Swan were gathered together.
A single Dunlin foraged at the edge of the shore with a Common Ringed Plover closeby.
A Northern (Greenland) Wheatear was on the canal bank and another along the pipeline on No.1 tank.
c200 Canada Goose were grazing amongst the sheep and the European Stonechat pair were attending to fledged young.
An after work visit and a walk out to the ‘phalarope pool’ where the only wader was was 3 Northern Lapwing with their respective chicks. Four western Yellow Wagtail were on the water edge with a single Pied Wagtail.
The mitigation pools had a couple of Pied Avocet with c300 Black-tailed Godwit which relocated to No.6 tank sometime later.
No.6 tank was active with 234 Dunlin, c300 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Eurasian Oystercatcher and 6 Common Ringed Plover.
Common Swift were flying low over the embankment zipping to and fro.
A Hobby took an interest in the Common Swift numbers and flew over per Simon Costin.
Earlier in the day Keith took his first trip out for 56 days since the lockdown was put in place and he managed to capture a photo of Eurasian Cuckoo.
He said, It was an eerie sight to see all the spindle trees covered in Spindle ermine caterpillars all leaves stripped from the trees, makes you wonder how the trees survive.
The BTO WeBs count this morning on the tide. Very quiet at Ince Marsh fields and not a great deal showing.
On the pools were 4 Gadwall, 9 Mallard, 3 Little Grebe, 7 European Moorhen, 8 Eurasian Coot, 3 Grey Heron and 1 Little Egret.
The Barn Owl could be seen at its box entrance.
The field alongside the Holpool Gutter held 8 Northern Lapwing and 2 Eurasian Oystercatcher and many Rook, Western Jackdaw and Carrion Crow.
The Manchester Ship Canal fared slightly better with good numbers of Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Mallard, 2 Mute Swan and several Canada Goose.
A tired looking Red Fox made its way along the edge of the Frodsham Score salt marsh and dropped down to drink from the ship canal but struggled to climb back up the bank, it then curled up and went to sleep
The ‘phalarope pool’ was also quiet with a single Common Shelduck, a pair of Gadwall, 4 Eurasian Coot and the Northern Lapwing families.
I was out this morning around No.4 and No.6 tanks starting at Lower Rake Lane. There were Chaffinch and Reed Bunting were active in the hedgerows along the lane and a Grey Heron stood out in the middle of a field. A pair of Grey Wagtail were feeding along the Holpool Gutter with several Pied Wagtail close by.
Along the Manchester Ship Canal path and Eurasian Coot and its chicks were in a pool alongside No.4 and a Western Marsh Harrier drifted over and made its way out to Frodsham Score.
There were anglers on the ‘Canal Pools’ which resulted in fewer sightings, but a pair of Mute Swan and a pair of Great Crested Grebe were noted. A Northern Wheatear (Greenland form) and several Eurasian Skylark were also present.
Another Northern Wheatear was seen close to the ‘phalarope pool’ as was a Common Redshank which was still getting harassed by the resident Northern Lapwing. Also a feature was again Western Reed and Sedge Warbler being vocal with the Sedge’s happy to show themselves, while the Reed’s kept out of sight.
On No.6 were several hundred Black-tailed Godwit sharing the pool with 8 Pied Avocet, 8 Red Knot, c60 Dunlin 2 Eurasian Oystercatcher and a Common Ringed Plover could be heard but not located.
Several Cetti’s Warbler were heard on my walk with more Western Reed and Sedge Warbler with Common Whitethroat noted along Lordship Lane.
A pair of joggers making their way along Lower Rake Lane let their large dogs run wild over the fields disturbing the ground nesting birds.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-5).
During this period of restricted lockdown there hasn’t been a BTO WeBS count for the last couple of months, so today I made an attempt to add to our citizen science inputs for the BTO. All of what was mentioned earlier by PR added to the count for No.6 tank, and different times produced different counts. I estimated that the flock of scattered feeding Black-tailed Godwit numbered 834 with a single Pied Avocet, 8 Red Knot including a mostly full plumaged bird and one with some red patches on its flanks),19 Common Ringed Plover and 150 Dunlinwere also seen. Also noted 3 Western Yellow Wagtail shimmering white hot on the tank.
A Western Marsh Harrier drifted over and a Common Redshank was obviously concerned by the cattle drinking from the ‘phalarope pool’. I heard a Little Ringed Plover but failed to see it. A couple of Western Yellow Wagatil put in a performance.
I am making the most of my week off work and today I put in another walking trip around the marsh starting off at Brook Furlong Lane where the usual warblers were noted.
I came across 3 Song Thrush eggs lay broken on the ground before me and were presumably the work of a an opportumist corvid as there were plenty of Western Jackdaws and Magpie in the area, but we don’t want to jump to conclusions without clear evidence.
The first juvenile European Starling were noisily begging for food off itsr parents in the fields by Redwall reed bed and were soon targeted by a Eurasian Sparrowhawk. A group (mostly drakes) Common Shelduck were in a circle on the I.C.I tank in a fighting like rut for the right to sire this years young.
A solitary gosling was lonesome on the river bank and when it eventually made its way out to the nearest pair of Canada Goose on the river they rejected it. A small number of Pied Avocet made their way along the river on the way to the Weaver Estuary where a single Common Sandpiper and Common Ringed Plover were joined by a pair of Eurasian Oystercatcher
The lonely Pink-footed Goose was again on the far bank of the Manchester Ship Canal and a Northern Wheatear flew across to join it. A floating crane was berthed at the Weaver Sluices with maintenance work in progress. Sand Martin and Barn Swallow were busy hawking over the ship canal and fields and a couple of European Stonechat on the marsh were active feeding their brood.
On 6 a flock of c57 Dunlin, 8 Red Knot, 4 Pied Avocet and c300 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding up before moving on.
A Brown Hare sat tight keeping its form like a coiled spring but kept its nerve and stayed put as I walked by.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-7).
I didn’t get the opportunity to go to the marsh until much later in the day, but it was rewarding with an additional Red Knot to add to Paul’s earlier count of 8 birds.
A flock of 85 summer Dunlin are increasing daily and today’s count of Black-tailed Godwit reached a recent high of 884 birds. A couple of Eurasian Oystercatcher dropped in briefly.
Common Swift numbers again reached into their hundreds with birds sything close over the banks and several in multiple mating ritual mid-air chases. Cetti’s, Reed and Sedge Warbler all added to a fine sound backdrop before I eventually headed home. There were upwards of 4 Western Yellow and a single Pied Wagtail on the marshy parts of the tank.
The Western Marsh Harrier was again sat in its position before gracing us with an elegant aerial flight.
I was out early with the lark around No.6 and No.4 tanks. The partial summer Red Knot was busy feeding up with its less glamorous six companions, 13 dainty Dunlin and c400 Black-tailed Godwit.
Common Swift and Barn Swallow were both in good numbers over the shallow waters while two Western Marsh Harrier gracefully floated over the reed beds. The now familiar tunes of Cetti’s Warbler. Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler joined in the serenading and even a Grasshopper Warbler joined in but I couldn’t locate it.
Over on the ‘phalarope pool’ were 3 Western Yellow Wagtail which then flew over to No.6 tank.
Walking out to the River Weaver there were 16 Mute Swan which had flown over No.3 on their way to the river. The Great Crested Grebe pair are still incubating on the Canal Pools and a Canada Goose is still sitting on its nest near the dredger berth. A Little Egret was loitering on Ince Marsh fields.
A pair of Grey and several Pied Wagtail were along the Holpool Gutter near to the GrowHow Works and a Peregrine was sat on top of a tower overlooking the marsh. Several Stock Dove and a pair of Eurasian Oystercatcher were feeding in the fields along Lordship Lane.
I was out early morning with a start at Brook Furlong Lane.
A Cetti’s Warbler, Common Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat were all present throughout my walk with Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Reed Bunting and European Stonechat noted on the river path. The usual ducks were on the River Weaver with some large Canada Goose creche seeking safety in numbers. Pied Avocet were making their way out to the Mersey Estuary and several Eurasian Oystercatcher were alarm calling on the far side of the river. A single Common Sandpiper was feeding at the edge of the river with a Common Ringed Plover and a single Common Redshank, a flock of c20 Black-tailed Godwit flew from the estuary and dropped down out of sight on the far bank.
The injured Pink-footed Goose was again on the far bank and distancing itself from the many Canada Goose nearby. The Sand Martin were busy around their nest site on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal.
Eurasian Skylark and Meadow Pipit were displaying over No.1 and No.3 tanks and a single Northern Wheatear was on the pipeline.
Further out to No.6 tank c400 Black-tailed Godwit were in the shallow water with c200 close in to the bank but were disturbed by an unseen raptor and joined the rest of the flock in the middle of the tank. A visiting birder reported a Curlew Sandpiper amongst a few Dunlin mixed in with the godwit flock. On the ‘phalarope pool’ a pair of Greylag Goose dropped in and were buzzed by the resident Northern Lapwing.
A single Little Ringed Plover was foraging in the mud and a male Western Yellow Wagtail was fly-catching at the pool edge.
A couple of young Brown Hare were seen as were several young rabbits building up the a depleted population.
The Spindle Ermine Moths have stripped several spindle bushes bare with the caterpillars hanging from silk threads but don’t seem to be of interest the birds.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-10).
After work I took the opportunity in the brisk north-easterly breeze and settled on the north bank of No.6 tank to count all of the 812 Black-tailed Godwit feverishly feeding up for their long trek north.
Going further were 7 Red Knot with just the one boldly living up to its name. Who knows where the summer Dunlin are heading but 21 of them were with the shorebirds this evening. Four Common Ringed Plover and 7 Eurasian Whimbrel were on the edge of the flooded stubble at the edge of the water. A species normally associated with drier conditions were 6 Western Yellow Wagtail on the waters edge.
There were big numbers of Common Swift with perhaps 4-500 birds over the tank. All this activity attracted a Eurasian Hobby that circled high over the tank before clicking into attack mode and singled out a small party of swifts. A Eurasian Cuckoo put in a brief tune and Cetti’s Warbler must surely be here for the long run now.
The Western Marsh Harrier was again on its perch and a singing Eurasian Cuckoo gave a brief rendition of its name.
Earlier in the day I watched A 1st summer Eurasian Spoonbill flying south east over the Upper Mersey Estuary by the new Mersey Gateway bridge at 11.50am.
I started my walk along moorditch Lane and up along the track above No. 6 tank early this morning. I continued along to the ‘phalarope pool’ on No.3 tank. This morning was no different than yesterday along Moorditch Lane where a Grasshopper Warbler was ‘reeling’ its song from bramble patch in rough ground on the right-hand side with Backcap, Common Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler, Common and Lesser Whitethroat all heard along the bank towards No 6 tank.
A look over the tank showed up c200 Black-tailed Godwit which where still with a few Common Redshank mixed in with them. Ducks featured Common Shellduck, c20 Tufted Duck, c30 Gadwall and Mallard, also a couple of Little Grebe. A male Western Marsh Harrier was perched on its branch.
When I reached the ‘phalarope pool’ there were 2 Northern Lapwingstill there with thelr broods. I could only find 5 chicks today, I also saw a female Western Yellow Wagtailand 2 Little Ringed Plover. On my return walk I saw a couple of Eurasian Cuckoo again and heard but not seen another near to the ‘secluded pool’.
Observer: Mike Turton (images 1-2).
When Simon Costin was waiting for the Eurasian Cuckoo to imerge from its hiding place he was taking a picture of a Tufted Duck and the cuckoo photobombed his image!
I had an early morning walk from 05.50 am along the track to No.6 tank and then across to the ‘phalarope pool’ on No.3 tank.
A couple of Cetti’s Warbler were singing alongside Common Whitethroat and Sedge and Reed Warbler, a look over to No.6 and there was c200 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Tufted Duck, Gadwall and a few Common Shellduck, a male Western Marsh Harrier did a brief show. A couple of pairs of Northern Lapwing with their broods showed a total of 7 young between them spread across the pool, A single Common Redshank and domestic type Greylag Goose were the only additions.
Whilst walking back I heard a single Eurasian Cuckoo singing close by but could not locate it. I heard a second Eurasian Cuckoo singing further towards Moorditch Lane with both of them doing a sort of duet for a few minutes as I walked back along track. I did catch sight of a cuckoo briefly on the fence between the spindle bushes only had a brief dlimpse to see that it was a female before it was flushed by a dog walker.
Observer: Mike Turton (images 2-4).
I started at Brook Furlong Lane this morning and the first bird to be heard was a Eurasian Cuckoo calling from the bank along Moorditch Lane. Cetti’s Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat and Blackcap were all present and vocal along the way. Onwards to the River Weaver where Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Mute Swan, Canada Goose and Great Crested Grebe were all on the water while Sand Martin, Barn Swallow and Common Swift were hawking overhead.
A male European Stonechat was calling as I walked the river path and both Reed and Sedge Warbler were numerous in the area. Eurasian Skylark were displaying over Redwall reed bed and Meadow Pipit were on the fence along Alder Lane where another male European Stonechat was as I passed by.
On to No.6 tank and c200 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding close to the bank but were disturbed by a Common Buzzard but soon settled again. Another Eurasian Cuckoo could be heard calling in the distance, but didn’t show itself.
On to the ‘phalarope pool’ and the Northern Lapwing chicks are growing at a fast rate and were joined by 2 Little Ringed Plover a couple of birders had seen 4 LRP’s on the pool before I arrived.
A Cetti’s Warbler blasted a tune out from the close to the ramp with another bird singing from the blackthorn bushes nearby, there were more Reed and Sedge Warbler were calling along the length of Lordship Lane.
An early start but not before PR had been on site prior to me. I walked along Moorditch Lane and immediately a EurasianHobby zipped through and headed out towards the M56 crusing the fast lane no doubt.
The track along the top of No.6 tank was again buzzing with Sedge and Reed Warbler, Blackcap and Common Whitethroat, so I had a sit on the bank between the ever diminishing (munching catterpillars) spindle bushes to scan the c400 Black-tailed Godwit that were wading through the far side of the shallow waters. No further was I half way through my count and a male Eurasian Cuckoo was singing from a bush above and to my right. I edge out of my concealment but the bird was hiding at the back of the bush. I didn’t want to disturb him so I got a recording which is included below.
A further scan showed up 45 Eurasian Coot, 82 Tufted Duck, 31 Gadwall and 38 Mallard. A Western Marsh Harrier was on its favourite perch before heading off.
I met up with Paul and we managed to hear the same or another Eurasian Cuckoo on the banks at the junction on No.6 & No.3 tank, peering over the top the Cuckoo caught sight of us both and flew further along the bank and remained out of sight but still audible.
The ‘phalarope pool’ was cattleless and birdless for a change, so we said our goodbyes and I retraced my steps back along the track. Despite the wind and grey clouds the air temperature wasn’t cold abd c200 Common Swift were joined by hundreds of Swallow feeding and chasing respective partners in a whirling mass.
A portly Weasal hestitated on the path infront of me before skulking away in the grass.
A further walk along a secluded track at the north end of the marsh revealed an area where 31 Pied Avocet, 43 Dunlin and 21 Common Ringed Plover were on an old sludge tank.
Observer: WSM (images 2-3 and sound recording).
In addition to the above sightings there were 3 pairs of European Stonechat at three sites on the marsh.
A pair of Common Ringed Plover and a single Little Ringed Plover were at the edge of the river and Pied Avocet were flying back and forth along the River Weaver to access the mudflats on the estuary. A pair of Great Crested Grebe were also the river.
There were plenty of Sand Martin, Barn Swallow and Common Swift hawking overhead.