I was out this morning starting my birding walk at Ince where several Little Egret were dotted about the ponds and fields. There were two birds feeding amongst the cattle which got my hopes up, but were only Little Egret. A Great Egret passed overhead and was later seen preening near to the pool by the screen hide. A selection of Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and Northern Shoveler were all,present in decent numbers; a pair of Mute Swan were also noted. A Common Kingfisher was heard and then seen speeding along the ditch.
On next to the Manchester Ship Canal path from which small flocks of Northern Pintail were seen flying over Frodsham Score salt marsh and a couple were on the canal with a mixed flock of Mallard and Gadwall. Three more Great Egret were seen with several Little Egret feeding in the tidal channels.
There were 4-5 Brent Goose with the Canada Goose.
A mass of geese were seen feeding in the stubble fields alongside the Holpool Gutter where c700 Pink-footed Goose were with Mallard and Northern Pintail feeding with them, a separate flock of several hundred Canada Goose were at the other end of the field and contained 3 Barnacle Goose and some Greylag Goose. A flock of c50 Eurasian Curlew and a handful of Black-tailed Godwit were foraging alongside them.
A Peregrine flew over scattering a flock of Rook, Carrion Crow and Western Jackdaw.The ‘splashing pool’ held a few more Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall and 5 Little Grebe, while the ‘phalarope pool’ held just a few Northern Lapwing and a single Black-tailed Godwit, 4 European Stonechat were on a fence on No.3 tank with a large charm of European Goldfinch and Meadow Pipit nearby. Several Eurasian Skylark were moving about the area. The Mute Swan pair with their 2 remaining cygnets had the canal pools to themselves. Back at my start and a flock of c40 Barn Swallow and several House Martin were busy feeding up in the warm sunshine.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-8).
A quick look across No.6 tank revealed all of the ducks and godwits sheltering in the south-west corner of the (now) flooded pool. An impressive tightly packed flock of c2000 Black-tailed Godwit. The Northern Shoveler flock reached c150 birds with 125 Tufted Duck and 11 Common Pochard. A Merlin zipped through No.3 tank per Jacqui & Idris Roberts.
We took a long stog out to the western end of the marshes with a look over the rising and falling tide out on the mighty Mersey Estuary. The big flocks of Pink-footed Goose that Paul had seen earlier were hiding from my view point but smaller skeins flew in and landed on Frodsham Score where a couple of Barnacle Goose were busy munching the swathy grass. Several smallish flocks of Eurasian Wigeon were on the edge of the tide and salt marsh. Shorebirds were displaced from the refuelling activity and Dunlin were making impressive swirling flocks. A flock of c30 Eurasian Oystercatcher with 42 Grey Plover, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit and 100’s of Eurasian Curlew. Watching from the sidelines was an immature Peregrine with a Western Marsh Harrier flushing things from the rogh grass and a Common Buzzard bothered by the young Peregrine.
Observers: JS & WSM (images 1 & 9-12).