After a cold start in the wind and rain down at Otterspool promanade in south Liverpool and highlight being a nice Black Tern mid river battling it’s way up the Mersey, I headed over to Frodsham Marsh for what turned into a lovely sunny afternoon.
There were 3 Hobby hunting low over No.5 tank, a family group I guess. Several thousand Black-tailed Godwit were on No.6 tank. A single Ruff was on the ‘phalarope pool’ and further on and the Hobby family continued to put on a good show over No.3 tank.
On my way back I managed to pick out a Gargeney among the Eurasian Teal on No.6 and a nice wing stretch showing off its light blue wing panel.
Observer: Sean O’Hara (videos).
The 3 Hobby were sat on a fence near to the Canal Pools and a Peregrine flew from the Frodsham Score and over No.4 tank. .A look over Frodsham Score and Ince Marsh revealed several Little Egret but 3 Spoonbill or any Black Tern were well gone. A small flock of c30 Black-tailed Godwit and similar number of Northern Lapwing were on the ‘phalarope pool’
Herds of Canada Goose over on the Hale side of the river.
I spent an hour or so along the River Weaver this evening and saw a juvenile European Stonechat was perched up near to Marsh Farm with a large flock of European Goldfinch feeding close by. A few Barn Swallow were around the farm and Manchester Ship Canal.
I Looked out over the Mersey Estuary which was calm as a mill pond and across the river a combine harvester was creating a dust cloud as it gathered in the crop.
A large mixed flock of gulls were resting on the water with more on the mud banks where Black-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Common Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Common Redshank were all in good numbers with several Great Cormorant stretching their wings. Common Shelduck and Canada Goose were numerous with just a few Mallard, Eurasian Teal and Tufted Duck on the river.
A flock of c60 Northern Lapwing, c150 Common Redshank and 2 Common Sandpiper were noted along the bank of the River Weaver. The European Stonechat family were still in the same stretch of reeds along by the river.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-8).
After work I paid a visit to No.6 tank and watched the large flock of Black-tailed Godwit flock (4 juveniles) and hiding in their midest were 6 Red Knot (2 in summer plumage), 2 Dunlin, c430 Northern Lapwing, 9 Ruff and 11 Common Redshank.
Ducks were in plentiful supply with 24 Tufted Duck, c200 Mallard, 31 Gadwall, 40 Northern Shoveler, c500 Eurasian Teal, a juvenile Common Gull and 21 Little Grebe.
Observer: WSM (images 9-13).
05.30 – 07.50: 11 Common Gull, 12 Great Black-backed Gull, 1170 Black-tailed Godwit, 840 Canada Goose, 19 Great Cormorant, 65 Eurasian Curlew, 470 Northern Lapwing, 3 Red Knot, 35 Common Redshank, juvenile Peregrine, 8 Ruff, 240 Eurasian Teal, 19 Tufted Duck, 30 House Martin and 11 Cetti’s Warbler.
I started at Ince today for the BTO WeBs count. Gadwall were the most numerous with 34 recorded. Also counted were 7 Mallard, 2 Eurasian Teal, 3 Eurasian Coot, 8 Common Moorhen, 1 Little Egret sat in a tree, 3 Little Grebe, a flock of 28 Canada Goose flew overhead and had a the first late summer/early autum Pink-footed Goose was with them.
Looking over Ince Marsh and Frodsham Score salt marshes large numbers of Canada Goose and Common Shelduck were grazing on the short grass with more 8 Little Egret dotted about the marsh.
The highlight was a Western Cattle Egret seen feeding amongst the sheep. On the rising tide several flocks of waders were pushed on to the marsh, mostly Common Ringed Plover and Dunlin which took flight when a Peregrine made an appearance.
A flock of Northern Lapwing and European Starling were resting on the pontoons on the Manchester Ship Canal bank and a juvenile Common Kestrel hunted the European Goldfinch charms feeding on the thistle heads. A Sparrowhawk also targeted the finch flock with more success and left clutching an unlucky trinket.
I made my way to the ‘phalarope pool’ but a group of 10 noisy off road bikes racing along the track scattered all that was on the pool. Several Common Chiffchaff were noted during the walk and a Western Reed Warbler was seen as I made my way back to my car and Barn Swallow and House Martin were hawking close to the pig farm.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-4).
I started this morning with a look over the Weaver Estuary, noting a Great Spotted Woodpecker flying along Brook Furlong Lane along the way. 2 Common Sandpiper were by the river and 8 Great Crested Grebe were on the water.
Moving around to Marsh Farm, a Hobby flew past low out to Frodsham Score and 8 Common Swift and 2 Western Yellow Wagtail moved through. 4 European Stonechat were on No.1 tank.
A watch over No.6 tank during hide tide produced 2 Garganey and a Eurasian Wigeon amongst the Eurasian Teal, 21 Little Grebe and along with the build up of Black-tailed Godwits were 6 Ruff, 3 Knot, 1 Common Sandpiper, 21 Common Ringed Plover, 8 Dunlin and 3 Common nipe. A juvenile Peregrine and a Western Marsh Harrier caused some disturbance early on.
Observer: Alyn Chambers (images 5-6).
A walk out for the BTO WeBs Count on No.6 tank and surrounding area produced another good selection of birds.
A quick scan of the water revealed a Garganey in with the Eurasian Teal at the far end of the water, but during the course of our watch it came much closer. Alyn saw another much buffier bird earlier. The Black-tailed Godwit were in much lower numbers than yesterday and I estimated c1000 birds which included 11 juveniles.
A small flock of 4 Red Knot and 6 Ruff and for a change very few Common Redshank.
A Cetti’s Warbler was sub-singing from the scrub beow the bank.
Observer: JS & WSM (images 1 & 7-13).
A Common Scoter was on the Manchester Ship Canal by the Weaver Estuary, with a female/imature Common Goldeneye the first of late summer/autumn.
A walk around the Weaver Estuary and Manchester Ship Canal and then over to No.6 tank this morning. There were c200 Common Redshank, c80 Northern Lapwing, 6 Black-tailed Godwit and a single Common Sandpiper were at the edge of the river, apart from the usual Canada Goose, a few Eurasian Teal, Mallard and Tufted Duck one with a late brood there was little else seen. A flock of 12 Great Crested Grebe were dotted about the river and canal with a single Mute Swan.
The family of European Stonechat were again in the reeds alongside the riverside.
Out on the Frodsham Score salt marsh were Common Shelduck were numerous; a couple of hundred Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank and Eurasian Curlew were feeding in the tidal channel with several Grey Heron and Great Cormorant.
Onto No.6 and a couple of Ruff were feeding close to the bank showing ther respective size differences between the male and female to good effect.
On the ‘phalarope pool’ were c30 Canada Goose, c40 Northern Lapwing, several Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and Mallard were feeding or resting.
Walking back along Lordship Lane and a few Common Swift and Barn Swallows were hawking over the bank and a Common Moorhen was sitting on a newly built nest.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-4).
I made a later visit to No.6 tank than PR had with the hope the rising tide out on the Mersey Estuary would bring in some new additions. After setting up in a prime position to watch it all unfold the spectacle commenced.
Eventually the flocks of Black-tailed Godwit settled after both a juvenile Western Marsh Harrier and Peregrine made themselves available for a meal and flew over.
The mass of birds contained c2200 adults which used their hierarchy to keep the 16 juveniles to the periphery (such is life) of the flock.
A small flock of 5 Ruff were skittish on the margins of the vegetation and on a secluded drier area of mud were 46 Common Ringed Plover and c30 Dunlin, a small number compared to 1000’s birds in years gone by. A bleached Ringed Plover was noticable and many juvenile birds were noted.
Ducks were back in force with c450 Eurasian Teal, 11 Gadwall, 51 Northern Shoveler and 30 Mallard.
Over on the blue topped chimney was the adult Peregrine watching the estuary below.
walk around the perimiter of No.6 tank resulted in a coffee break at the ‘phalarope pool’ where a small group of 12 Black-tailed Godwit which 50% were juvenile birds. The Gadwall ducklings from earlier in the summer are now almost indistinguishable from their parent mother. Further ducks included both Eurasian Teal and Mallard.
After setting up at a good sheltered position on the banks of No.6 tank from the whipping wind lashing the marsh from the south-west.
A huge flock of 2234 Black-tailed Godwit busy keeping together but hampered by a over-flying juvenile Western Marsh Harrier on several occasions. A overspill flock from the Mersey Estuary of c70 Common Ringed Plover, 2 Common Snipe, 12 Dunlin, a summer Red Knot, 7 Ruff and small numbers of Common Redshank. Ducks featured 41 Tufted Duck, 311 Eurasian Teal, 1 Eurasian Wigeon, 40 Northern Shoveler and several Gadwall.
A look across the Mersey Estuary had several Little Egret, 100’s of Common Shelduck but very little eslse but the tide was ebbing quickly.
There were still hundreds of Spindle Ermine moths about.
The south-westerly breeze was picking up during the course of my watch over No.6 tank and the c1000 Black-tailed Godwit were very skittish. A group of 4 off road scramblers and a quad bike made such a din that most of the godwits took to the wing and departed to the estuary.
There were 3 Ruff, 144 Eurasian Teal, 41 Northern Shoveler and the first drake Eurasian Wigeon back for the late summer.
A juvenile Eurasian Hobby was sat out on the fence that stretches across No.5 tank. A Sparrowhawk drifted over while 15 Common Raven were riding the wind over at Marsh Farm. A small number of Common Swift were lingering over the area and a Cetti’s Warbler was practising its song.
Out on Frodsham Score were 5 Little and a Great Egret.
Observers: JS & WSM (images 1-5).
Later in the day I made a visit to No.6 tank via Godscroft Lane. The godwit flock was still present and 20 Common Snipe flew from the tank and out towards the estuary.
A Brown Hare was like a coiled like a spring ready to burst into action but held its nerve and stayed put as I passed by.
I recieved a text off Ian Igglesden from across the #darkside of the boundary river telling me an Osprey was flying across and was over the turbines on No.4 tank, alas I was elsewhere and not on the marsh at that time.
A walk out in the rain to my favourite position on the banks of No.6 tank for the shorebirds (that may or may not turn up) forced during the high tide on the River Mersey to seek shelter. A flock of c1500 Black-tailed Godwit were battened down with rain lashing their faces.
There were only four juvenile birds within the flock and 5 Ruff flitting about. A Western Marsh Harrier flew over my position and when it saw me at the last minute it did a handbrake turn and fled the way it had flew.
After a hours watch it became evident that nothing was flying in so we made our way back in the rain but not before I popped over the bank to check the south-eastern corner of the tank and there below me was a Little Gull picking emerging midges from the water surface.
A female Scorpion Fly (Panorpa communis), Moorditch Lane
Observers: JS & WSM (images).
Western Osprey crossing the River Mersey to Frodsham Marsh. Video by Ian Igglesden from Sean O’Hara’s twitter account.
I started my watch overlooking the tank on No.6 where the rising tide on the River Mersey a mile away would hopefully bring in a few shorebirds. The water level was high but after over night rain it was even higher than yesterday. I wasn’t really expecting a great turn out of birds from the norm, but a surprise was in store. A flock of Black-tailed Godwit were already in situ in the shallow waters and during the course of the tide they were added to by other birds.
I estimated the flock after scrutinising their numbers to be 2841 (give or take a few tens). I made a maximum count of 8 juvenile birds, so quite a low percentage of young birds to that of the flock.
It wasn’t until much later into my watch and when the godwits had scattered slightly that I found a summer plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit (which I wasn’t expecting). On the tide a meager flock of 20 Common Ringed Plover, and just a handful of Dunlin were obviously restricted by the water level.
If there is an enterprising ‘conservation’ minded director at Peel/MSC who could help out thousands of wading birds during their perilous migration south, then please reduce the water table on No.6 tank (asap), less is more.
A further look along the margins of the vegetated areas brought out 2 Common Snipe, 3 Ruff and a single Common Greenshank.
The gull flock were mostly Black-headed with 4 adult and a juvenile Common Gull being oted.
Earlier the dull low cloud brought down 8 Common Swift (another 6 were over Weston later in the day), the occasional Cetti’s Warbler could be heard and a charm of c350 European Goldfinch were nearly robbed of their wing bling by a marauding juvenile Sparrowhawk. A few Western Reed Warbler could still be found in gaps between the reed beds throughout the day.
A walk out from Marsh Lane and onto Moorditch Lane and even before we got in to first (step) gear a Spotted Flycatcher was perched in a hawthorn bush adjacent to the horse paddock. A big flock of c400 European Goldfinch were active on the thistle plants.
After settling in our favourite spot I had no sooner got my scope set up then a big flock of Black-headed Godwit rose up from the tank and split into two flocks, one flock departed to the Mersey Estuary while the others resettled in the shallow waters and stayed put. I estimated the combine flock count was c2000 birds.
Looking through the edge of the flock produced c650 Northern Lapwing, 2 Ruff and 3 Common Snipe.
While the shorebirds were the main feature, ducks were not to be out done and featured, 243 Eurasian Teal, 84 Northern Shoveler and 34 Mallard. A couple of sub-singing Cetti’s Warbler called out from scrubs nearby.
We carried on our walk and reached the ‘phalarope pool’ and aaprt from a few teal there wasn’t much to keep the interested level up.
Walking back and we met Jacqui and Idris Roberts and they had seen a Western Marsh Harrier and 2 Little Egret flew over and headed to the river.
Observers: JS & WSM (images 1-7).
A couple of hours along the River Weaver and Manchester Ship Canal early evening. A Blackcap was contact calling as it made its way along the bushes on Brook Furlong Lane and several Common Chiffchaff were noted.
A female European Stonechat was fly-catching in the rain on Alder Lane and a family group were feeding in the reeds alongside the river.
On No.1 tank were c20 Eurasian Curlew foraging in the field next to Marsh Farm and a flock of c40 Black-tailed Godwit left the Weaver Estuary and flew towards No.6. A Common Sandpiper made its way across the ship canal and 3 more were on the Weaver Estuary with c200 Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank and more Eurasian Curlew resting at the edge of the channel with 18 Great Cormorant and 3 Grey Heron.
Further down river and c40 Common Redshank and a dozen godwit were flushed from the river bank by a low flying Common Buzzard. A Great Crested Grebe and its youngster were fishing close to the bank.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 8-10).
This image of a double rainbow taken from the #darkside of the Mersey Estuary at Hale by Ian Igglesden.