10.02.18. Birdlog.

A late afternoon trip down to No.6 tank to see what was happening with the ducks on the sludge tank.

The Shoveler flock have again been reduced with an estimate of 164 present today. Other species worthy of note were 46 Common Pochard, 12 Tufted Duck, 71 Mallard, 63 Common Shelduck and c500 Common Teal, so generally not a bad tally.

There was a nice selection of shorebirds out on the receding water edges on the tank at dusk including 174 Black-tailed Godwit, 65 Redshank, 5 Ruff and a c250 Lapwing which included a leucistic bird.

A couple of Marsh Harrier were over the reed beds with the male perched up in a Willow tree for the short period the sun shone.

A Stonechat on No.5 tank was very obliging giving some characteristic postures, while another was less so on No.4 tank. A Cetti’s Warbler could be heard in the distance from the reed bed.

A skein of c200 Pink-footed Goose flew up from the fields by the motorway and headed out to the estuary.

…and Idris and Jacqui Roberts enjoying their walk around No.6 tank with the same skein of pinkies high above.

The same fields had the herd of 16 – 24 Whooper Swan including 8 juveniles so an increase in their number. It was difficult to say how many there were here with swans barely visible behind the hedgerows and away from the main flock.

Observer: WSM (images).

05.02.18. Birdlog.

I had a spare couple of hours this afternoon so I walked around tanks 6 & 4.  Counting crows feasting off a dead sheep carcass included Raven, Carrion Crow and Magpie were ganging up to share the spoils on No.5 tank. A couple of Common Buzzard sat by on the fence waiting their turn.

There were more Raven competing with Great Black-backed Gull, both again feasting on the bounty left by the high tide on the salt marshes.

Ducks were again present on No.6 with Mallard, Shoveler, Common Teal, Common Pochard and Common Shelduck with a pair of Mute Swan adding to the scene.

A fine male Kestrel was sat in a tree along the track while another one hunted nearby. There was a  pair of Stonechat  on the Manchester Ship Canal and a Common Snipe rose from a small reedy pool as I walked close by.

A herd of 35 Mute Swan and 7 Greylag Goose were alongside the Holpool Gutter and nearby a male Merlin was perched on a flat-topped hedge watching a feeding flock of Starling.

Out on the salt marsh were Lapwing and Golden Plover being their usual nervous selves and several Little Egret and a single Great White Egret were feeding amid the Canada Goose herd busy mowing the short salt marsh grass.

A feature of this winter is the skeins of Pink-footed Goose that continue to flight in during the day and several flew over to Lordship Marsh then turned back to the estuary.

Another pair of Stonechat were on No.4 and a flock of Curlew passed overhead on the way to their to the Score.

The Whooper Swan herd of 13 could be seen on Lordship Marsh near to the M56.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

I managed to see the Whooper Swan herd close to the blue slurry tank from our west bound moving car along the M56 this morning. Driving east bound at dusk a Great White Egret was feeding in a flooded field just west of junction 14 also on the same motorway (presumably the bird PC had yesterday as it flew over No.6 tank?)

Observer: WSM.

04.02.18. Birdlog.

I was out early with a 7.00am start and a flock of 100 Golden Plover were flying over No.6 tank, 17 Black-tailed Godwit and small numbers of Curlew were coming in dribs and drabs totaling 12 birds.

A couple of Marsh Harrier also over the tank were good, but a Great White Egret, despite its relatively regular status on the marshes these days was a special moment. A couple of Kestrel were on No.5 and 3 tanks.

Passerines included Stonechat, c30 Redwing and Goldcrest at the horse paddock hedgerows and a female Stonechat frequented No.1 tank.

Observer and images: Paul Crawley.

After my weekend working day was over I managed to squeezed in an hour’s birding before the light died. A count of the ducks on No.6 tank saw 50 Common Pochard, 243 Common Teal, 23 Common Shelduck, 12 Tufted Duck, 56 Mallard and 214 Shoveler.

A few waders were present with c200 Lapwing and 4 Ruff.

A female Marsh Harrier was perched up in a Willow tree before it circled the tank and dropped down to roost. The Raven flock were heading south in loose groups and in excess of c50 birds were involved. Although I wasn’t paying them the attention they deserved the total was probably much higher than my initial count. A Chiffchaff was contact calling from behind my position and a Peregrine circled high over the marshes.

A skein of several hundred Pink-footed Goose were struggling to create a ‘V’ formation as they headed south over Frodsham Hill.

As I headed back off the marsh in the dark a couple of Little Egret were feeding in the flooded horse paddock field close to Brook Furlong/Marsh Lane. These being the closest to Frodsham village I’ve seen to date.

Observer: WSM.

03.02.18. Birdlog.

A mid morning walk from Ince along the lanes of the marshes and around No.4 tank. My observations started with a few Common Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, with a pair each of Greylag Goose and Mute Swan on the pools.

A couple of Kingfisher were much appreciated as they moved from one pool to another.

There were 6 Little Egret and a flock of Curlew feeding in fields near the berth. A further 36 Mute Swan and more 5 Greylag alongside the Holpool Gutter. A Marsh Harrier was about hunting over the reed bed between the turbines on No.4.

There were still a few of the Whooper Swan herd seen in the distance on Lordship Marsh. There were several Common Buzzard noted with the usual pale morph bird sat on its post by the dredger berth.

The Raven flock have increased recently and were numerous on the banks of Frodsham Score with Great Black-backed Gull enjoying a surplus of dead sheep. These birds are the most proficient recyclers poliching off the drowned sheep.

As the tide came in over the salt marsh the herons and egrets gathered and joined forces together. A Great White Egret looked majestic against the dreary grey coloured setting with Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral peeking above the skyline.

A flock of murmurating Dunlin were at the edge of the river and both Lapwing and Golden Plover were typically skittish, flitting into the air at the sign of any threat. A flock of c200 Pink-footed Goose flew in from the south and settled on the salt marsh.

I stopped off at Ince to look across the salt marshes during the height of the tide, which it had covered and a Merlin zipped passed as I stood watching.

The first lamb of the season was seen along the Manchester Ship Canal path and Chris the Farmer complete with life vest was gathering his flock from the marshes at the height of the tide, but it was a day for the rain and grey skies.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 3-9).

There were 4 Stonechat on No.6 tank with more at Marsh Farm and on No.1 tank. A flock of Fieldfare were moving about the area as well.

Observers: Arthur Harrison and Paul Crawley (images 1-2 & 10-11).

Above is an image (11) taken yesterday from the north shore at Hale looking east towards Frodsham. Image by WSM.

02.02.18. Birdlog.

A clear and sunny end to the day and I had enough time after work to pay a visit to the marshes. A quick count of the ducks on No.6 tank revealed 28 Common Pochard, a small number of both Tufted Duck and Pintail. A further flock of 8 tufties were on the ‘Splashing Pool’. The Common Teal and Shoveler flocks were again reduced in number with 300 & 246 respectively.

A big female Sparrowhawk was laying in wait for the Starling flocks heading to the old Runcorn bridge for the night and 3 Marsh Harrier were at their nightly roost.

The Whooper Swan herd was again present by Spring Farm but the hedgerows prevented a good view of them and their number. A skein of c100 Pink-footed Goose headed in from the east and attempted to settle in the flooded fields alongside the M56 motorway, but a traffic helicopter disturbed them and they eventually headed out to the north.

Observers: Gary Worthington, WSM (image).

28.01.18. Birdlog.

A quick route march around No.6 tank resulted in seeing the herd of Whooper Swan behind the blue slurry tank but it was too distant to see if the Bewick’s were still present.

The pair of Marsh Harrier were high above the marsh in the nice Spring like weather. The usual Peregrine was sat out on the blue topped chimney at Weston Point while Common Buzzard activity has increased with many sparring for their suitors.

The first of 5 Stonechat encountered on our peramble was on No.4 tank where a Common Snipe bolted from the track ahead. The Goldfinch charm were busy dancing back and to from the sludge tank banks to the thistle covered edges to No.3.

A flock of Black-tailed Godwit headed out to the Mersey estuary while most of the duck that were on No.6 were disturbed by an ignorant drone flyer. Those that returned included 42 Common Pochard and lesser numbers of Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Common Teal and 32 Pink-footed Goose flew over from the north-east..

Observers: Sparky & WSM (and images).

Additional observations from Hale shore looking across to Frodsham Score/Ince marshes included: 4 dark-bellied Brent Goose and a Great White Egret.

Observer: Dave Craven.

27.01.18. Birdlog.

Walking out this dull wet morning and my normal start from Ince village. The usual suspects were on the pools at the pig farm with Mallard, Common Teal, Gadwall, Coot and Moorhen along with a of pair of Mute Swan for good measure.

There were 19 Little Egret in the fields near Ince berth while a flock of 30 Curlew were busy refueling. On the Manchester Ship Canal were more Mallard, Gadwall and Tufted Duck with 4 Great Crested Grebe.  The salt marshes was being shot over by the wildfowlers, so flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover were kept in the air as was a Great White Egret and several Little Egret.

The ‘Splashing Pool’ had 30 Tufted Duck with a pair of Little Grebe and a large charm of Goldfinch added a bit of glamour feeding nearby on the thistle seeds.

A sign of Spring was the bobbing catkins on the bank of No.6 tank as I walked along Lordship Lane. A pair of Kestrel were hunting  together  but moved on when a Common Buzzard  decided to hover in on their area. Further west along the lane was the Whooper Swan herd seen in the distance and close to the M56 . The Curlew and Stock Dove flock were feeding in stubble fields near to the GrowHow Works and a Grey Wagtail was in the ditch by the bridge there. A herd of 30 Mute Swan were resting in the fields alongside the Holpool Gutter.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).

I delayed my visit until after the morning rain eased to a trickle. Looking across the open water of No.6 saw a much reduced flock of c250 Shoveler with Common Teal reaching c300 and a poor showing by Tufted Duck and Pintail. Common Pochard were back to their best with 49 present. It was good to see the shorebirds back resting up on the sludge tank with a mixture of 16 Ruff, c540 Lapwing, 100 Golden Plover, 220 Black-tailed Godwit and 23 Redshank. A Peregrine kept the waders busy with the usually timid Goldie’s heading straight out to the estuary while Lapwing were circling around and around with the godwits, both undecided to settle for any length of time. Another Peregrine was sat out on the blue topped chimney overlooking the Weaver estuary.

I took a stroll over to the ramp at the south-west corner of the tank to look out across Lordship Marsh but the Whooper Swan herd was hiding behind the blue slurry tank, I could only see 5 youngsters in the open while the rest were partially obscured.

A local rarity are two Brent Goose on Frodsham Score.

A further walk to look over the Mersey Marshes produced a couple of dark-bellied Brent Goose feeding by the Holpool Gutter that crosses the saltings. A small skein of 18 Pink-footed Goose headed inland but towards dusk c250 headed north over No.4 tank.

The only passerines of note during the day were 4 Stonechat at Marsh Farm and a Cetti’s Warbler on No.5 tank.

A male Marsh Harrier was joined by a female where they were exchanged in some talon grappling over the marsh. The pale morph Common Buzzard was again hanging out by the Pumping Station while a female Merlin was perched up on the fence line before causing havoc with the thousands of Lapwing murmurating over the score. At dusk 4 Marsh Harrier were present and it appeared that two of them headed west while the other two drop into the reed bed for the night.

Observers: Paul Crawley (images 4 & 7), WSM (images 5 – 6 & 8 – 10).