A damp walk around the River Weaver and Manchester Ship Canal this morning starting at Brook Furlong Lane. There was still the odd Common Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat and Blackcap in song along the lane and a young dark morph Common Buzzard sat on a post watching out for an easy meal (which there arn’t).
Onto the river path and the first of 10 Common Sandpiper was noted with another seen at the shooters’ pools. Over on the far bank were c15 Common Redshank and c20 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Eurasian Oystercatcher and several Northern Lapwing foraging.
On the actual river were small numbers of Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and Common Shelduck being noted. One Tufted Duck had a single tufling with her. Eurasian Coot numbers are building up with c70 seen on the river and ship canal, and more Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Common Sandpiper feeding from the river bank with an additional 5 Common Sandpiper and a Common Ringed Plover feeding together at the junction of the ship canal and Weaver Estuary.
Looking over to the Mersey Estuary and several hundred more Black-tailed Godwit were resting at the edge of the water alongside Great Cormorant, common Shelduck and a single Little Egret. Hundreds of Canada Goose were on Frodsham Score salt marsh with many making their way on to the River Mersey.
A mixed group of c100 Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Sand and and House Martin were hawking over the river and a mass of Common Starling passed overhead to feed on the nearby fields. The European Stonechat pair were on the fence line and had a juvenile with them.
Nearby a juvenile Common Cuckoo fresh from its host nest and host Meadow Pipit in attendance was sat on the pipeline fence. The cuckoo was gaping wide its mouth hoping to be fed by the pipit, but it didn’t respond and soon after the cuckoo caught its own meal of caterpillars.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-5).
A view over the Weaver Sluices onto Frodsham Score reveal a Great Egret strutting its stuff on the salt marsh.
Looking at the weather forecast we were not expecting to take our walk around the marshes in complete dryness, and as it turned out it didn’t stop raining throughout our time here. It was not a complete washout with a ‘reeling’ Western Grasshopper Warbler sounding out its tune in the drizzle. A few Common Chiffchaff were doing their best to brighten up preceedings while a couple of deafening Cetti’s Warbler disrupted the peace with their own rendition of a blast of gun artillery.
We walked up Alder Lane hoping to catch up with Paul’s earliersighting of a juvenile Common Cuckoo, and accordingly it duly obliged and flew from a tree it was sheltering in to the pipeline across No.1 tank. From there it relocated in the newly cut field grass and onto the fence bordering the lane. I got some reasonable views but when the farmer drove by it decided to leave No.1 tank and move to the fields east of No.5. A large flock of Common Starling lacked a rosy hue which would have been quite good.
Our walk took us next to No.6 tank and a belt of blackish clouds rolling in over Helsby Hill gave us a period of hunkering down under the umbrella. A flock of 51 Tufted Duck, 4 drake Common Pochard, 12 Mallard and 15 Little Grebe was okay, but a flock of 350 Northern Lapwing and a female Western Marsh Harrier was a little better.
With the prospect of getting wetter we carried on home but not before watching over a medium sized flock of Black-headed Gull feeding in a cut wheatfield. I could immediately see an adult Mediterranean Gull without the aid of of my binoculars. I soon had my scope up and ready for action. I picked out a juvenile bird feeding in the field as well and juvenile Med’s are very rare on the marsh, and is presumably one from the Delamere colony en route to spend its time on the Mersey Estuary.
The above two images are from two days ago but show the track (leading to the west) between No.5 (right hand side) and No.6 tank (left hand side) in drier times.
Observers: JS & WSM (images 6-12).