I started todays exercise at Ince where a pair of Mute Swan were on the flooded field and when it eventually thaws it will attract more waders and egrets once again. A mixed flock of c60 Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Shoveler and Gadwall, plus a single Little Grebe on the ice free parts of the various pools.
A skein of Pink-footed Goose could be heard but not seen as they made their way to Frodsham Score to join a more visible Great Egret foraging on the marsh close to the Manchester Ship Canal, and joined by a Little Egret.
A herd of 11 Mute and 22 Whooper Swan were on the field alongside the Holpool Gutter, but were not mixing together and sensibly social distancing. A Western Marsh Harrier drifted over flushing a flock of c40 Northern Lapwing. Another flock of c150 Linnet with European Goldfinch were feeding on the banks of No.4 tank.
I made my way towards Kinsey Lane, Ince where the pig fields are situated, a Sparrowhawk flew low over the fields flushing several Wood Pigeon and Eurasian Curlew on its way.
There were 2 Little Egret, one of which had a bloodied head injury and competed against 3 Grey Heron for the grubs unearthed by the pigs feeding. A flock of c50 Common Snipe were again in the stubble and 2 Common Chiffchaff were in the same area as previously.
Out on Inch salt marsh the tide came in and a mass of Dunlin were moving up and down the River Mersey and were kept mobile by a Western Marsh Harrier in hunting mode, another harrier was noted crossing the ship canal.
Hundreds of Common Shelduck, Mallard and Canada Goose were spread about the marsh and a dog Red Fox marking its territory as it went along, and trying to ambush unwary prey. A further 3 Great Egret and several Little Egret were feeding in the tidal channels as the tide pushed small fish along with it.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-5).
Like Paul we took our one daily form of exercise by walking the lanes of Frodsham Marsh. Walking up to the junctions of Moorditch-Lordship-Hares and Godscroft Lanes would normally be uneventful, but if there was a convenient phonebox to change into my super hero(n) costume I would have. The reason for my marvel capers was because I found an injured Grey Heron with a broken leg, after which I contacted the RSPCA from my phone (which took a while to make my way down from caller 15 to caller 1), but eventually I got through and after giving directions I was assured that an officer would be present as soon as one was available…fair enough. We gave them our contact number and continued our trek.
A look across the fields at Ince marsh and the 22 (2 juvenile) Whooper and 11 Mute Swan were still present.
Further on and the salt marshes produced 5 Barnacle Goose with the 100’s of Canada Goose herds.
Several egrets were about and two Peregrine included one sat on a post and a female was perched on the edge of the River Mersey. Also present were 43 Grey Plover and c70 Eurasian Oystercatcher.
No.3 tank had several hundred European Golden Plover and c30 Black-tailed Godwit with numerous Northern Lapwing.
No.6 tank was mostly unfrozen with ducks keeping close to banks and out of the freezing breeze. Back on Moorditch Lane and a return call from the RSPCA officer to say she was on the marsh, but couldn’t find the spot where the heron was orginally located. After giving her directions we all converged on the spot (keeping our distance) and the heron was located and safely secured, placed into a box for transportation to Stapely Grange wildlife hospital near Winsford for an unknown fate?
Observers: JS & WSM (images1 & 6-13).
Like a giant dandelion clock the turbines blowing off plovers. She plovers me, she plovers me not.
Image by Phil Barker.