Stepping out this morning from Ince on the last visit of the year. The pig farm fields held a large flock of Curlew and the new pools had an addition to the usual Mallard and Common Teal with a drake Pintail with them for company.
Out on the salt marsh there were 2 Great White Egret side by side with several Little Egret. The Wildfowlers were out by the River Mersey on the edge of the score marshes and their labrador was seen to retrieve a goose from a tidal gutter and later a Wigeon was seen to drop like a stone in to the river after being shot. Onward with my walk up to No.6 tank and a mass of waders left the tank and made their way out to the estuary (looks like I mis-timed my visit again). A selection of ducks and smaller numbers of waders were present including a couple of Little Stint. Walking back along the Manchester Ship Canal path and a flock of Linnet and Chaffinch were moving through and a Goldcrest was with a mixed tit flock.
At Ince Berth a Chiffchaff was seen looking for insects on the wall. On the lane back to were I had left my car there was a number of Reed Bunting and a species which up to 4 years ago was a regular sight in the hedgerow here but has not been seen by me since…Yellowhammer was a nice finish to my walk and to the year.
Observer: Paul Ralston (image 1).
I took the last opportunity of 2016 to do a spot of birding on the marshes. Starting off from the advantage point above No.6 tank. The flock of waders that had settled below me all took off and disappeared over the horizon. I was beginning to have the same thoughts that Paul had earlier (was it the aftershave?). It wasn’t long before they all return and settled down to have some frenzied feeding. The Lapwings were quite skittish and kept their distance while Dunlin didn’t appear to be too bothered and commenced feeding below the bank from where I was standing. The Little Stints that had been seen earlier increased by one and all three were present until dusk. Other birds of note here included 340 Dunlin, 132 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Ruff, 78 Common Shelduck, 675 Common Teal, 111 Shoveler, 8 Pintail, 1 Common Pochard and 34 Tufted Duck.
I met Alyn Chambers and his brother during the course of this watch and they added 15 Common Pochard on the River Weaver, a Merlin and 3 lots of Stonechat numbering 6 in all.
There was an interesting event that Alyn witnessed today when a Herring Gull was struck by one of the rotor blades on a wind turbines positioned on No.4 tank. The gull was seen to fall to the ground and it was presumed this bird was killed by the blade.
I decided to make a trip to the south-east corner of No.4 tank to look across the fields. It didn’t take me long to find 15 Whooper Swan feeding in the flooded fields alongside the motorway. I saw these swans yesterday whilst driving west along the carriageway and Alyn also mentioned seeing them earlier in the week, so it looks like they are back again.
I walked out to the banks of 4 and looked out across the salt marshes and saw a single Great White and 5 Little Egret but not a lot of anything else.
I spent the rest of the day up until dusk watching the gathering of 1000 Lapwing and 900 Golden Plover to their roosting places on No.6. A male Sparrowhawk made a half-hearted attempt to ambush the roost. The plovers had a clear view from all sides and were up and over before the raptor could make any attempt to catch one. The highlight of the evening was the arrival of an immature female and a sub-adult male Marsh Harrier performing acrobatic manoeuvres over the reed beds.
…and the birds to end the year go to the two adult Peregrines watching the end of the day on top of the blue topped chimney.
Video of No.6 tank here: https://vimeo.com/197942678
Observer: WSM (video & images 1-3 & 5-6).