There was a shooting party taking place along Brook Furlong Lane, I gave that area a miss and made my way to No.6 where Common Teal, Mallard and Shoveler were in decent numbers along with 8 drake Pintail and a hybrid Mallard with a white bib amongst the flock.
The ‘Splashing Pool’ held a few more Shoveler and Common Teal with a Common Buzzard perched up watching over them all.
On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a look over Frodsham Score where there were c400 Pink-footed Goose out by the river’s edge. A mass flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover took to the air as a Marsh Harrier flew over and spooked them all. It later drifted over to the Ince Marsh fields alongside the Holpool Gutter and then presided to spook the rest of the plover flock, which then joined up with the salt marsh birds. There was a good size herd of 23 Mute Swan, 7 Greylag Goose and 4 Pink-footed Goose which were grazing alongside the gutter with c 40 Curlew.
I stopped off at Plover Lane in Helsby on my way home and could see some of the Whooper’s in the distance hidden behind the hedgerows.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-3).
Full up with man flu (you know what I mean lads) I wandered along the track on No.5 tank that stands above No.6 tank on its south side, where the ducks Paul had earlier seen were still present with the exception of 17 Black-tailed Godwit, 25 Common Snipe and a couple of Marsh Harrier over the reed beds.
I didn’t want to linger too long in the cold wind so, I walked out to the south-east corner of No.4 tank where it was possible to get a clearer view of the 22 Whooper Swan herd that Paul also had partially seen earlier in the day. After a few minutes a Cattle Egret flew into the field within the herd of swans and commenced to feed, weaving its way through the grazing swans. A bizarre sight of a couple of species either side of a geographical zone. The last Cattle Egret I found in Cheshire was on 05.01.09 at Linmere Farm, Delamere Forest and was presumably the same bird that turned up along the River Weaver the following Spring. This sighting is nearly 10 years apart but all the more sweet because this one is the third record for these marshes.
The ‘Splashing Pool’ continued to hold the ducks but a male Sparrowhawk took a link off the charm that was a Goldfinch flock and took its trinket to a dead elder tree to finish off the snack.
There was a lot of movement of Pink-footed Goose from Frodsham Score to No.3 tank and the big numbers of last weekend were halved, probably due to disturbance in the week? Out on the distant salt marsh was a Common Buzzard sharing a lookout with a female Merlin and a couple of Marsh Harrier (probably the earlier birds from No.6 tank) were disturbing birds further out. The egret trio was completed when 4 Great White and 12 Little Egret popped up from the tidal gutters. A lot closer were the usual post Saturday afternoon closure of the Gowy tip where gulls roost on the salt marsh with Herring, Great Black-backed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls could be found.
A roost of 3,000 Lapwing and c1000 Golden Plover were taking in the relatively safe haven of Frodsham Score after the earlier harrier capers.
Other birds of note during my time here included: Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Water Rail (2), a flock of 300 Goldfinch, 150 Linnet and a singing Cetti’s Warbler.
Observer: WSM (images 1 & 4-8).