I started my days birding along Lower Rake Lane early this morning where skeins of Pink-footed Goose passed overhead on their way to the Dee Estuary for the day. A herd of 5 Whooper Swan flew in at first light to graze on Lordship Marsh. A female Peregrine was sat on its tower watching over the marsh and left its perch to drive a tercel away from her airspace. A herd of 11 Mute Swan were grazing in the fields alongside the Holpool Gutter and a Merlin was hunting pipits nearby.
Shooting was taking place out on Frodsham Score salt marsh so the Canada Goose moved towards the Manchester Ship Canal while the wildfowlers concentrated on the birds near to the river. A Great Egret was feeding in a creek alongside 3 Little Egret with more egrets dotted about the salt marsh.
The Western Marsh Harrier (the one shot gun damaged leg) was seen hunting over No.4 tank with Common Kestrel and Common Buzzard trying their luck in the same area.
Hundreds of Canada Goose were grazing near to the canal pools but flushed when the farmer arrived to feedhis cattle and a small flock of European Golden Plover passed overhead to join the bigger flock near to Marsh Farm.
Looking over Lordship Marsh from the junction of No.4 and No.6 tanks the Whooper Swan herd could be seen in the field along Lordship Lane and c30 Pink-footed Goose circled around looking for a safe place to land. Again the Linnet, European Goldfinch and Chaffinch were numerous in the area with several Common Reed Bunting noted. A Common Kingfisher was heard then seen as it flashed by making its way along the ditch. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was searching for grubs in the stand of dead trees along the lane another was seen at Ince later.
At Ince flocks of Pink-footed Goose were heard calling as they left Ince salt marsh and flew in all directions after being targeted by the wildfowlers. A single Western Cattle Egret, 2 Little Egret and 2 Grey Heron were amongst the pigs with Northern Lapwing and Eurasian Curlew in good numbers in the nearby fields. One of the pools had an ice free area which had Eurasian Teal, Mallard and Northern Shoveler took advantage of the open water and one of the teal was sporting a ring.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-5 & ).
We took a hike around No.6 tank being careful not to slip on the icy paths. A look over No.6 tank was vertually ice covered and the small area whic wasn’t was kept clear by the 200 Eurasian Teal, several Northern Pintail and Northern Shoveler. The leg damaged Western Marsh Harrier flew across to its roost.
A Common Raven flew over No.3 tank from Frodsham Score with areas of its wings missing big chunks and obvious gunshot pellet holes.
Walking out to the junction of No.4 & No.6 tank looking across Lordship Marsh where the 22 Whooper Swan were still frequenting the flooded fields with manys Eurasian Curlew and 8 Ruff. A small skein of Pink-footed Goose flew over from the south and moved out to the Mersey Estuary.
Looking across to a ship sailing along the ‘big ditch’ aka the Manchester Ship Canal flushed a flock of c600 Eurasian Teal which twisted and turned inflight like a flock of Starling. A couple of Common Chiffchaff were in the vegetation on No.3 tank while overhead Common Raven flew south to their roost in NE Wales.
Finally walking back down Moorditch Lane in the cold and dark a Peregrine flew over and landed on top of a pylon by the horse paddock.
Observers: JS & WSM (image 6).