I stopped off at Helsby on my way to the marsh this morning and firstly looking over Lordship Marsh where a large flock of Canada Goose were feeding in the flood water with hundreds of Black-headed Gull and Northern Lapwing.
A flock of Redwing and c300 Fieldfare flew south as I walked along Moorditch Lane giving a feel of colder months ahead. There was also c20 Common Moorhen and a single Eurasian Coot in the recently dredged ditch. Shooting was taking place on Lordship Marsh and the hundreds of Canada Goose that were feedingin the fields there took to the sky and moved out to the Mersey Estuary where they were then targeted by the wildfowlers.
Flocks of European Goldfinch, Linnet and Western Reed Bunting were feeding in the stubble watched over by a Common Kestrel which unsuccessfully tried to snatch one.
The first of several European Stonechat was seen on No.4 tank with another 2 pairs along the Manchester Ship Canal path, a single male was on the Weaver Estuary bank.
A Water Rail was heard squealing in the reed bed along the path on the Holpool Gutter. Also spotted were 6 Gadwall and several Mallard. Skeins of Pink-footed Goose were leaving Frodsham Score salt marsh and heading south with some returning a short while later.
A single Whooper Swan sat out on the marsh until it was flushed by the wildfowlers. There were 5 more swans seen flying along the edge of the river, but too far out to id.
Little Egret were numerous and a flock of c40 European Golden Plover were spooked by a Common Buzzard.
I made my way down to the Weaver junction where Meadow Pipit were in good numbers along the canal path and a group of c30 Common Raven were gathered on the far bank.
As the tide came in a flock of c100 Eurasian Curlew moved along the river and settled at the river edge alongside c20 Great Cormorant, numerous Northern Lapwing and 12 Pied Avocet.
On the Weaver bank were c300 Common Redshank, 2 Common Sandpiper and more lapwing noted, while on the river 3 adults and 3 juvenile Mute Swan and a mixed flock of Tufted Duck, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Eurasian Coot and Common Shelduck were present on the river.
Three Cetti’s Warbler were heard during my walk with one by the canal path, alongside No.4, and then 2 along Brook Furlong Lane.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-7).
While Paul was doin’ is thang, I was positioned at the edge of the advancing tide looking across Frodsham Score. The brighter early sunshine soon gave way to dull grey and drizzle which felt cold and affected the vision and views across the salt marshes. The incoming tide slowly shifted the position of the distant Pink-footed Goose who were weary of the shooters out on the edge of the river. Typically for birds that have newly arrived from their breeding grounds further north, they were unsettled and moved position several times during the tide.
Again there were a couple of thousand of Canada Goose filling the open water. Ducks were rather absent with a handful of Common Shelduck, 200 Eurasian Wigeon and Eurasian Teal.
A scattered group of 27 Little and 4 Great Egret made short work of several small silver fish flushed out of the tidal gutters. Shorebirds were the main feature of my interest with a ‘close in’ group of 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 100’s of Eurasian Curlew, 300 European Golden Plover, tens of thousand Dunlin (in their mesmerising ‘Mersey Snake’ flights) over the estuary, several Eurasian Oystercatcher, two groups of 20 & 18 Pied Avocet, Grey Plover and hundreds of Common Redshank.
A constant stream of Eurasian Skylark passing over head with the odd Redpoll spp noted. A Western Marsh Harrier carrying prey caused a small ripple of panic with the hundreds of Northern Lapwing but it soon moved on.
A look over the ‘phalarope pool’ was devoid of birdlife apart from a curious Little Grebe, while nearby the ‘splashing pool’ had 12 Gadwall. A group of 320 Eurasian Teal were hiding on the scrapes in the middle of No.3 tank. A couple of chattering Fieldfare stopped briefly before moving on.
I evetually made it back to No.6 tank where a flock of c670 Eurasian Teal, 178 Northern Shoveler, 39 Northern Pintail 142 Tufted Duck, 7 Common Pochard, 31 Mallard, 12 Gadwall and 21 Little Grebe were on the water. A big surpise today was not a single Black-tailed Godwit?
A Brimstone moth caterpillar.
Observer: WSM (images 8-14).