15.10.17. Birdlog.

Out and about this morning with a walk around No.6 tank taking in the Frodsham Score (from the distance of the canal) and along the path edging the Manchester Ship Canal and the Canal Pools.

Duck numbers were down on yesterday but still held a selection with Common Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck and Gadwall. I had a look over the water from the east bank where a number of Ruff, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit were busy feeding amongst a flock of Back-headed Gull.

The juvenile Peregrine that had made an unsuccessful attack yesterday made a repeated attempt again today. Its tactic of surprise through blatant flushing, causing panic and then repeat attack strikes at the flock again ended in a fruitless quest.

A Cetti’s Warbler was seen to break cover and sit in a bush for a few seconds before going in to deep cover.

Back along the canal path and a group of Ruff left the salt marsh and flew over No.4.

5 Great Crested Grebe and 6 Mute Swan were on the canal and a Great White Egret was seen way out on the score edge. A number of other species was encountered during my ramble and included: Raven, Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk.

Observers and images: Paul Ralston.

14.10.17. Birdlog.

An early morning walk around No.6 and No.4 tanks started with 400 Canada Goose on 6 alongside good numbers of ducks.

High up c300 Golden Plover circled over 6 but decided the water level didn’t suit them.

Continuing my walk along the Manchester Ship Canal path a pair of Stonechat were still on their territory while out the water a Great Crested Grebe was present. Frodsham Score had a Great White Egret with several Little Egret for company. Another 5 Little Egret made their way west along the canal  and were followed by a single bird which was mobbed by gulls and nearly ditched in to the water.

A large flock of Black-head and Common Gull fed in the stubble fields along the edge of the Holpool Gutter with several Curlew. The flooded fields along Lordship Lane had a further flock of c100 Curlew. A couple of pairs of Stonechat were sat on the fence  as I made my way back to my start point.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-4).

A little later I took over from Paul and set up overlooking the flooded sludge tank. The unusual warm 20C weather and bright sunshine encouraged the fluttering and zipping by of Red Admiral, Small White’s and Comma with a couple of darter dragonfly in the act of amore

The 246 Shoveler on the water of the tank must have been good decoys with a return of Pintail in double figures (31). A flotilla of 46 Tufted Duck included 4 eclipse drake Common Pochard with 23 Gadwall and 320 Common Teal. 7 Mute Swan and a small number of Little Grebe were close to the reedy fringes to the sludge tank.

Waders present included 247 Black-tailed Godwit with 24 Redshank, 56 Lapwing and the continuing gatherings of currently 117 Ruff although a few were feeding in the sea aster beds and against the sunshine to be sure of their numbers?

Birds of prey included: 2 Sparrowhawk, 3 Kestrel, male Marsh Harrier and 6 Common Buzzard.

A juvenile Peregrine hurtled through the mass of waders and ducks on the sludge tank sending everything high into the sky. One particular Black-tailed Godwit was the first to raise from the water and then became the target for the falcon. After a spot of aerial dog fighting the godwit was caught in the crosshairs and was duly scooped up by the falcon. While the raptor was readjusting its grip on the wader it momentarily lost its hold and this gave the godwit the opportunity to escape! The partially stricken bird fell spiralling into the water, and after several stoops by the persuer to recapture its quarry, the godwit dived beneath the surface and the falcon soon gave up. Another Peregrine this time an adult was sat out on the tall blue topped chimney at Weston Point.

There was no obvious passerine migration on offer but a couple of Stonechat were attached as they usually are on No.5 tank. The same location had a blurting Cetti’s Warbler with another one blurting away on the banks below where I sat.

Over on the (committee designed folly of a conservation project by Peel Energy and “some wildlife groups”) mitigation a small number of Black-tailed Godwit, Common Teal and Shoveler were present but this area is reserved for the farmers cattle to wallow in when the sun shines.

Observer: WSM (and images 1 & 5-7).

12.10.17. Birdlog

On the wader front things have quietened down due to the reduction of the height of the tides on the River Mersey. A smaller flock of just 32 Black-tailed Godwit was on No.6 tank with 27 Golden Plover, 140 Lapwing, 2 Redshank and 102 Ruff.

Ducks included: 2 Wigeon, 48 Tufted Duck, 368 Common Teal, 110 Shoveler, 18 Common Shelduck, 4 Pintail, 40 Mallard, 17 Gadwall, 18 Pink-footed Goose flying over.

Gulls present included a massive 97 Great Black-backed Gull.

There were 2 Cetti’s Warbler singing from cover on the sludge tank and a Redwing dropped in.

Observer: Joe Chester.

Image: WSM.

11.10.17. Birdlog.

I’m taking advantage of the light after work but it did help when he sun dropped below the thickening westerly rain cloud.

There were 14 Ruff on No.6 tank and these were soon joined by another 35 which flew in from No.3 tank. Also present was a flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit with a smaller flock of Lapwing. Over on the mitigation pools were 67 Curlew, a species which have declined remarkably here over the last couple of years. There were 6 Grey Heron and a Little Egret keeping the waders on their toes.

Ducks as expected considering the high water level on the sludge tank were in big numbers. A return of 3 Pintail was interesting and Shoveler reached an impressive c300 birds. Common Teal numbers are steadily climbing with c500 present this evening with 46 Tufted Duck, 23 Mallard, 24 Gadwall, 12 Common Shelduck and 11 Mute Swan.

Gulls flooded onto the tank this evening with 700 Black-headed, 120 Common (including the dark-headed bird from yesterday), 34 Lesser Black-backed & 4 Great Black-backed and 3 Herring Gull.

Birds of prey featured 4 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk and a couple of Marsh Harrier.

Other species worthy of note were a couple of Stonechat another pair of Stonechat were at Marsh Farm.

Observer: WSM.

Image by Paul Ralston.

10.10.17. Birdlog.

Another chance to look over No.6 tank after work and another chance to coincide my visit with the height of the tide (almost).

When I arrived there was a flock of 350 Black-tailed Godwit settled in the tibia deep water close to the edge of the Sea Aster beds. Also trying to conceal themselves within their Blackwits were 3 Bar-tailed Godwit. The Ruff flock was again present and slowly counting through their number I managed a count of 101 birds and two very out of place Dunlin.

The duck numbers are beginning to increase again and the 248 Shoveler were mostly spinning together in scattered groups out on the water. Gadwall are doing well and rising with 30 birds this evening. The Common Teal flock reached 450 and were everywhere while 46 Tufted Duck remain in the eastern edge of the sludge tank.

The usual Peregrine was sat on the lip of the tall blue topped chimney overlooking the Weaver Sluices while a Kestrel and Common Buzzard were watched in the area. A Sparrowhawk was actively patrolling the hedgerow and juvenile male and female Marsh Harrier were quartering the reed beds while a Hen Harrier was watched until dusk dropping into the reeds to roost for the night.

There were hundreds of gulls dropping in to bathe and preen before heading out to the Mersey estuary including this dark-headed Common Gull.

A Cetti’s Warbler sang out its winter song and concluded a good evenings birding on the marshes.

Observers: Rob Little, WSM (images).

09.10.17. Birdlog

Any opportunity that arises and gives me even the briefest of time on my favourite birding location on earth, namely Frodsham Marsh (a curse at times and a pleasure…mostly) is something I don’t usually pass on. After work I got down to No.6 before the ebbing tide sucked back all those waders from the tank.

There were a few Black-tailed Godwit lingering but the trailing calls of a flock of Grey Plover heading back out to the river didn’t instill any confidence on what would be left to see. A quick scan over the drier mud revealed 5 more Grey Plover, c100 Dunlin, 20 Redshank, a small flock of Lapwing and 24 Ruff.

The continued absence of Wigeon and Pintail does get me wondering what displaced them from the water last week? The ducks that were left included: 243 Shoveler, 46 Tufted Duck, 2 Common Pochard, 17 Common Shelduck, 23 Gadwall, 20 Mallard and 250 Common Teal.

A  YbW wannabe Chiffchaff was swee-ooing from the willow trees on No.5 tank but apart from that there was little else to keep the light and my interest level.

Observer and image: WSM. 

Earlier in the day Simon called into the marsh and got 134 Ruff (Cheshire record count?), c100 Dunlin and c500 Black-tailed Godwit.

Observer: Simon Pinder.

07.10.17. Birdlog.

A whopping 9.7 m tide out on the Mersey estuary was eagerly anticipated over the last week.I was joined by Alyn on the north banks of No. 6 tank watching and waiting for the birds to come in…that was the plan but somebody should have told the birds.

It was a surprise to find that all of the Wigeon and Pintail and a good proportion of the Common Teal had vacated the sludge tank? Those that decided to stay included: 268 Shoveler, 26 Gadwall, 12 Common Shelduck, 4 Common Pochard, 67 Tufted Duck, 200 Common Teal and 12 Mallard. A juvenile Great Crested Grebe joined a few Dabchick.

There were quite a few Black-headed and Common Gull resting up with 7 Herring, 3 Great Black & 30 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 2 adult Yellow-legged Gull (a local rarity).

Big tides usually mean big numbers of shorebirds but I mentioned earlier these things don’t always go to plan. There was already a flock of c230 Black-tailed Godwit in situ and it wasn’t long before 3 Bar-tailed Godwit dropped in to join them. A flock of 100 Lapwing and 45 Ruff were enough for 40 Grey Plover, 16 Curlew, 2 Knot, c70 Dunlin and 7 Snipe to join in the fun.

A further c100 Black-tailed Godwit were in a field by the River Weaver and a single Pink-footed Goose flew over towards the Mersey estuary.

Raptors were in short supply no doubt sampling the bountiful selection out on the salt marshes. A juvenile Marsh Harrier was quartering the reed beds on the tank dislodging a feeding flock of 250 Goldfinch. A Kestrel flew over the unconcerned waders.

A Wheatear was on the pipes of No. 1 tank.

Observers: Alyn Chambers (image 1), WSM (images 2-5).