16.12.17. Birdlog.

A late morning start and a walk along Moorditch Lane where a small flock of Redwing were left from the snow/sleet of last weekend. It was a bit of a surprise to find No.6 tank 80% covered in ice and the Shoveler were doing their best (c200 spinning birds) to keep the remaining 20% clear for the 300 Common Teal and handfuls of Pintail, Common Shelduck, drake Common Pochard and Mallard.

A Cetti’s Warbler and a Chiffchaff were vocal along the edge of the tank with another Cetti’s further out on No.6. Passerines were restricted by a flock of 200 Goldfinch and 3 Stonechat. The leucistic Starling from last weekend had relocated to No.5. Frank joined me for a while before heading off.

I continued my walk to the south-west corner of No.6 where a herd of 7 Mute’s and 26 Whooper Swan were present in the fields blow Spring Farm on Lordship Marsh. The Whooper’s consisted of 19 adults, 6 juvenile and an immature. An attendant Greylag is presumed the same bird as previous years and probably of Icelandic origin?

A look over Frodsham Score didn’t really produce much apart from hundreds of Canada Goose. At dusk c500 Pink-footed Goose in four skeins headed in and waffled their way onto the salt marshes. A few hundred Curlew also headed out to the marshes at dusk while 13 Black-tailed Godwit and c900 Golden Plover (image 4) were dislodged by an unseen predator.

A Marsh Harrier, pale morph Common Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk were the only obvious birds of prey noted today.

The main event almost didn’t happen and the Starling gathering looked all over when tens of thousands headed east without much ado. I was about to give up when a few small groups dropped into the roost reed bed below the bank where I was standing. These birds were giving their typical chirpy calls to encourage others passing over to join them. Eventually flocks started to grow and increase into thousands and big numbers that had headed east began to return. A few minor murmurations occurred but they weren’t really worthy of mention. The birds came…and they came…and they came even more.

There was no stopping tonight’s roost and it was a joy to watch c80,000 smother the reed beds and then roll along like a huge moving mass, each flock leap frogging the roost creating a moving carpet of birds. I walked away with the roost still edging further out into the centre of the reed bed with a continuous white noise buzzing in my ears.

Videoof Starling roost: https://www.facebook.com/117180855126736/videos/874647069380107/

N.B. A couple of female Blackcap were at my neighbours’ bird feeders this morning.

Observer and images: WSM.

12.09.17. Birdlog.

We were on the Wirral when I got a call from Frank Duff this afternoon regarding a third hand sighting of a phalarope spp that Mike Giverin had chanced upon two birders (who had visited the Frodder’s earlier) at Burton Mere, confused? The upshot of all of this was that Frank went to the marsh to investigate and eventually relocated the ‘phal’ and it turned out to be of the Red-necked variety (and there are a few rednecks down on the marsh ;O). It took a while for me and Sparky to get to the site and… you know you’re late to the party when Phil Oddy is leaving the bird having twitched it from the badlands of east Cheshire. Red-necked Phalarope video here: https://vimeo.com/233547295

We managed to watch this delicate oceanic wanderer spinning on the edge of the c350 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Ruff, 4 Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin. That wrecking ball juvenile Peregrine smashed through the godwit flock like a ten pin bowling session. There wasn’t a wader left with every one of them scattering in various tight panic flocks. After the melee there was no sign of the phalarope and not a lot of anything else. It had still not returned by 17.00 hrs.

We briefly met Luke and he mentioned that there was an adult Gannet out on the River Weaver. When we had traipsed around the eastern sides of both No.5 and No.1 tanks I eventually met Frank who was watching the bird on the far banks of the Weaver estuary  and for all the world dead! Except, it was just asleep and woke long enough to raise its head and flap its wings before going back to sleep again. Gannet video here: https://vimeo.com/233542599

The estuary also had a mixed flock of 200 hirundines with an additional attachment of 8 Common Swift.

Observers: Luke Oszanlov-Harris, Frank Duff, WSM (and video) & Sparky.

24.04.17. Birdlog

After some chores were attended to at home I eventually made my way down to the marsh this evening in glorious sunshine. When I arrived I met Arthur who stoically stood on the banks using the Elder trees as cover from the chilling northerly wind.

The cold northerly was really responsible for the holdup with the godwits heading north. All over the country northbound shorebirds have been gathering and waiting for this weather to change into a favourable direction. And so it was that the Black-tailed Godwit flocks gathered tightly below the northern banks of No.6 tank. Each one attempting to gain some kind of shelter from the piercing wind. Generally it was a real struggle for them to keep their footing and many birds were blown sideways. The leggy godwits were adopting a John Wayne stance to combat the buffering breeze. Legs spread wide and wings bunched and tucked away almost like a gun slinger. Hidden amid the c1500 Black-tail gems were 6 colour ringed birds and 7 Bar-tailed Godwit including two ultra rare summer plumaged birds…a big grin spread across my chops.

Other highlights were 6 winter Knot, 125 Redshank, 30 Avocet, 12 Ruff, with a selection of dandy plumed males and 3 Dunlin. A Curlew Sandpiper was reported earlier by one of the bird information services?

A Marsh Harrier hung in the wind like a kite over the southern banks while hirundines cut through the blow with all the ease that only they can master.

Ducks again included c120 Tufted Duck with 150 Common Shelduck and numerous Common Teal.

A fine birding experience and all I have to do now is thaw out my extremities for Wednesday evenings Free ‘Frodsham Festival of Walks’ Birdwatch which begins starts 6.30 pm on Brook Furlong Lane/Marsh Lane, Frodsham. All are welcome.

Earlier the Peregrine was perched up on the heraldic shields on Ethelfleda railway bridge across the Narrows at Runcorn Bridge.

Observers: Arthur Harrison, WSM (images 1-9).

A Peregrine and a Sparrowhawk was seen and two colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit were spotted by Joe Chester (image 10).

Several Whinchat were with a dozen Wheatear along the fields on Lordship Marsh.

Observer: Graham Manson (image 11).

Gowy Meadows revisited.

Had a walk over to the Gowy Meadows after work this evening and bumped into Paul Lee. Weboth shared multiple Wheatear and at one point there were 5 Whinchat in a line on a fence (you wait all Winter for a chat and five come at once).

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 12).

Swallow video by WSM here: https://vimeo.com/216622652