It was a chilly wind the swept the morning tide onto the south Mersey Marshes and a change of scenery this morning, plus an unplanned meeting with Paul at Kinsey Lane pig farm, Ince on the western outskirts of the marshes. On arrival 3 Western Cattle Egret were with 7 Little Egret, a Grey Heron and a small cluster of Black-headed Gull.
A walk to the marshes produced 2 Great Egret, 1 Little Egret and several Grey Heron. There were masses of Dunlin chasing the ebbing tide out with a few Eurasian Oystercatcher wintering out there.
The salt marshes had a big herd of several hundred Canada Goose with a separate scattering on c700 Pink-footed Goose. The most notable additional to the pinks was a similarly sized Canada Goose that showed features of one of the races of that species (Lesser Canada Goose?) and further research is required. Thanks to Grahem Clarkson for his comments: In this photo reminiscent of a ‘Todd’s type’ Canada I saw here in Burscough, perhaps the same as I’ve also seen on Banks Marsh – always with Pink-footed Geese. I think too pale breasted, too thick-necked for a classic B. c. parvipes.
One of the WW2 pill boxes was situated close to the Manchester Ship Canal.
A female Western Marsh Harrier was perched on a post out on the marsh and later a second bird flew over. After that Paul decided to take a walk to Ince Berth and back past the pools again, where he saw a small number of Tufted Duck and Gadwall on the Manchester Ship Canal while a flock of c 20 Stock Dove were foraging at the edge of the marsh.
Walking back to his car the pools at Ince Nature Reserve held c 70 Eurasian Teal and smaller numbers of Northern Shoveler, Mallard and Gadwall with a single Little Egret on the bank with 2 pairs of Mute Swan present. Back at my car and a 4th Western Cattle Egret with a possible a 5th bird?
While Paul made his short diversion I return to Frodsham and walked along Brook Furlong Lane with few if any winter thrushes about. The fact there was shooting earlier may have some weight to their departure. I walked along the River Weaver where 10 Mute Swan included a sickly juvenile below one of the turbines, on my return later it was no longer there. The ducks were in good numbers with 10 Common Goldeneye, 52 Common Pochard, 251 Tufted Duck, c500 Eurasian Teal, 26 Gadwall, 17 Mallard, 40 Common Shelduck, 3 Great Crested Grebe and 31 Eurasian Coot. Four European Stonechat were present and the adult Peregrine was sat on it lofty tower above the Weaver Estuary.
Walking back along Brook Furlong Lane and a showy Cetti’s Warbler was calling from a patch of reeds and hawthorn.
I decided to walk out to No.6 tank with the sun slowly setting in the west and on my arrival the rain which had been kind to me now started to fall. A look over the distant reed bed and the first of three Western Marsh Harrier came into roost for the night. On the water of the tank were the usual array of Northern Shover & Pintail, with several hundred Eurasian Teal, 8 Mute Swan and 3 Whooper Swan. I walked back to my car with a pretty good haul of birds for the day.
The 30 strong herd of Whooper Swan continue to be seen off Lower Rake Lane.
Observers: Paul Ralston (images 1-3 & 11 & 17-18 ) & WSM (images 4-10 & 14-16 ).