24.03.17. Birdlog

I spent the last hour of the evening walking around No.6 tank. Several Chiffchaff were singing their tip tapping song but the more assertive song of a Cetti’s Warbler the air along the west bank.

There were good numbers of duck on the waters of the tank and included Common Teal, Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler and a few Common Pochard. Avocet tallied 8 birds and were feeding at the waters edge alongside a flock of Lapwing.

A Marsh Harrier flew over the reed bed and a several hundred Golden Plover passed over heading towards the estuary. The mitigation pools held another 10 Avocet and more Common Teal. Shoveler and 6 Black-tailed Godwit.

At the south end of No.6 were 2 Green Sandpiper which left the reed bed and did a circuit of the tank and then were joined by a third bird and all 3 dropped back down in to the reeds.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).

While Paul was doing his thang down on the marsh I was heading through the forest at Delamere. Apart from a few Siskin and Lesser Redpoll feeding in the larch trees it was a quiet. Not so quiet was Blakemere with its raucous Black-headed Gull colony in full courtship rituals. My tally for Mediterranean Gull this evening reached 8 pairs including a ringed pair (one metal and the other white), unfortunately they were too distant to be able to read the white one.

Observers: Sparky, WSM (image 4-6).

A Comma Butterfly from a superb early Spring day.

23.03.17. Birdlog

The last hour of the day was spent from Ince fields to the Holpool Gutter which kicked off with 3 Chiffchaff by the Pig Farm. The pools had 4 Common Shelduck along with the Mallard, Common Teal and Gadwall and a Little Egret flew in to join the fun.

Further out on the Frodsham Score salt marsh were 8 Whooper Swan and a flock of Redshank flew along the canal.

A Marsh Harrier was hunting along the bank on No.4 tank and 38 Mute Swan were grazing alongside the gutter.

There was over 30 Little Egret seen heading to their roost by Ince berth.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-5)

Another Little Egret and a Great Crested Grebe both along the Manchester Ship Canal by the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port on my way to work this morning.

I was stationed at my trusty spot overlooking the open waters of No.6 tank and met Arthur who had already been been on site. The waders present were facing the cold stiff easterly and were in a better position to view in that they were side on. They consisted of 221 Black-tailed and incredibly a pair of Bar-tailed Godwit (one large and one much smaller sized bird).

There were a few Dunlin mixed into the flock and at least 3 Knot all still in their winter plumage. The Redshank flock was still in the hundreds mark and all kept to the south side of the tank close to the thick flooded vegetation. The Avocet flock is increasing daily and of the 20 present several were in the act of amore. Another 4 were on the mitigation area on No.3 tank.

A flock of 50 Tufted Duck were also pairing up and the 8 Common Pochard were also in tow and all were on No.6 tank. Nearby Common Shelduck, 80 Shoveler, 100 Common Teal and 23 Wigeon were gathered on No.3 tank.

Two Marsh Harrier dropped into No.6 at dusk and flew around for a while before edging out of sight. Two pairs of Common Buzzard were in aerial display while 3 Kestrel were busy hunting.

The Raven exodus continued from 4.30pm until the sun set over Liverpool and finally walking back to my car and a Cetti’s Warbler sang out from the thickets close to the ramp on Moorditch Lane.

Observer: WSM (images 1 & 6-7).

22.03.17. Birdlog

An evening ramble took me to the north banks above No.6 tank and below me was a smattering of shorebirds. There were 200 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Avocet, c200 Redshank and a single Dunlin. Nothing unusual there really but one of those well wishing helium filled party balloons flew over from the direction of Helsby. This didn’t go down very well and everything alive on the tank flew up and circled around for ages. Most of the ducks and the Avocet flock soon resettled but the Redshank and godwits headed out to the estuary…not to return!

The Tufted Duck were as always clustered close to the eastern side of the sludge tank but yesterdays absent Common Pochard were back to normal with 8 birds present and accountered for. Common Teal were numbering a couple of hundred with 120 Shoveler and 11 Gadwall. A couple of Great Crested Grebe and 4 pairs of Little Grebe were back for the spring.

Pondering my next move I spotted a raptor heading over from the east. The young male Marsh Harrier I saw yesterday circled and attracted the attention of a couple of Raven but their attention was soon distracted by the appearance of two more harriers. A female and the sub-adult male spiraled high joining up with the first bird. The male dropped down to quarter the reed beds while the other two drifted off towards No.4 tank.

The mitigation pools had 66 Common Teal competing with a similar number of Shoveler and 12 Gadwall. Another 4 Avocet were engaged in squabbling with each other and some territorial bullying towards the godwits feeding nearby.

The Ravens were heading out earlier this evening to the south but the advancing rain clouds probably contributed to their premature departure.

Observer and images: WSM.

21.03.17. Birdlog

My walk took a slight diversion this evening where I took the opportunity of watching from the south bank of No.6 tank. The thick cloud and low sun didn’t give the right angle of light and most of the birds present were more or less in silhouettes. However the big numbers of Redshank that were present yesterday appeared to have been much reduced and down to 170 birds. On first inspection it didn’t appear that there was much out on the tank but with time a flock of 46 Black-tailed Godwit and 20 Ruff flew in from the west. The Ruff were a mixture of males and reeves with one particular bird beginning to attain a few ornate white plumes on its neck. The Avocet number were down to six birds and a flock of 67 Curlew were keeping very much to their traditional drier areas to the west side of the tank.

Ducks were difficult to count and of the Common Teal viewable I guess there were 123. Common Shelduck are starting to form nuptial groups with much jostling for the prettiest birds. Tufted Duck only managed 43 with a complete absence of Common Pochard.

There was a steady trickle of Raven moving south to their roost. A 1st summer Marsh Harrier flew in from the east while the Peregrine was back on the blue topped chimney and a solitary Kestrel was wind hovering over the banks.

The Whooper Swan herd continue to be frequenting the fields by the M56 and it won’t be long before they start to head north for the summer.

Observer: WSM (images).

20.03.17. Birdlog

The morning rain eventually gave way to bright sunshine and it was in these conditions that I did a spot of birding after work. A Chiffchaff was singing from the hawthorn trees alongside Moorditch Lane. Looking over the open water on No.6 tank the Tufted Duck flock had presumably relocated here from the River Weaver and with them were 4 Common Pochard. The Common Teal flocks were again feeding in the cover of the gone over daisy beds and 210 were flushed out by an unseen predator.

The waders were settled in the shallow water close to the sticky edges of the sludge tank and included 230 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin, 10 Avocet, 15 Ruff, a few lingering Golden Plover and an increase in the number of Redshank which are presumably north bound passage birds with 533 in two flocks.

The flocks of shorebirds were a little edgy after a Merlin shot through but appeared transfixed as a Peregrine circled high overhead. A marauding Marsh Harrier was sent packing by a few of the 50 Raven present in the area.

The mitigation area on No.3 tank had 54 Shoveler, 100 Common Teal, 12 Gadwall, 20 Mallard and 34 Black-tailed Godwit.

Finally the Whooper Swan herd was butted close against the crash barriers in fields by the M56.

Walking back to Frodsham the looming blackness and rain was heading in from the west but not before the sun finally provided a fine example of itself.

Observers: Arthur Harrison, WSM (and images).

NB. Earlier in the day my first Willow Warbler was heard singing from Spike Island, Widnes.

19.03.17. Birdlog

A walk around No.6 tank this morning starting off from Godscroft Lane where a Chiffchaff was calling by the M56 bridge and a flock of Curlew passed overhead. A mixed flock of waders were on  the mud on No.6 and featured Black-tailed Godwit, Golden Plover, Redshank, Curlew and a small amount of Dunlin with 3 Avocet. The ducks were in good numbers with Common Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Common Shelduck, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and a few Pintail were all noted .

The mitigation area pools held more Black-tailed Godwit and a single Ruff with more Shoveler and Common Teal on the water there. A flock of Raven were tucking in to the Sunday Spring lamb dinner and holding their own against the Great Black-backed Gulls. A walk along the footpath to view the Whooper Swan herd of which there were 20 grazing with a flock of Black-tailed Godwit feeding alongside them.

On the flooded field were c300 Golden Plover sat with the Lapwing flock and were then joined by more godwits and Curlew.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-4).

We spent the morning walking the trails around and through Delamere Forest with the prospect of dropping in at Yeld Lane by the former Eddisbury Fruit Farm. The Waxwing flock that have been present for some time were close to the road flying in from the poplars trees to the west of the farm. I estimated that there were 45 birds although there have been nearer to 170 birds in the week. Watching the flock through the hedgerow for 30 minutes was good value until a big female Sparrowhawk dropped by and scattered the punkettes.

Understandably most of the birds left the area with a few left to guzzle up the fermenting fruit laying on the orchard floor. Just before we left the “kyow” calls of a Mediterranean Gull drew my attention to a pair overhead and giving me the unique view of flying Waxwing and Med Gull in the same binocular view.

We continued our walk via Linmere Farm where there were 3 Crossbill flying overhead and these or another group could be heard flying over Black Lake an hour later.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images 5-7).

18.03.17. Birdlog

Despite the weather forecast predicting a series of periodical rain bouts until 3.00 pm. I decided I should try a long yomp along Brook Furlong Lane to Marsh Farm and then circumnavigate my way around to No.4 tank. I would then trek down to Lordship Lane before retracing my steps and then along to No.3. I would finally stop off at No.6 and then walk back to my car along Moorditch Lane. That was my plan but soon after setting off the rain started to fall, so casting a fist skyward to Zeus I carried on (it continued raining until the following day). It’s not always wise to ignore the weather and by the time I had finish my walk and wrung what birds and my cuffs from the day’s watch I was persistently unsatisfied!

Now that I have purged myself from the rain I can sit here and write about my day. The walk along Brook Furlong Lane produced 3 Redwing in the horse paddock which were on their way out and freshly arrived in was a singing Chiffchaff.

The River Weaver had a few Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebe and some Tufted Duck while the pipes across No.1 didn’t have the expected Wheatear. In fact Marsh Farm and its flooded pool only managed a solitary Little Grebe.

The Peregrine was perched up on the blue topped chimney and the mudflats out on the estuary appeared to have numerous Curlew and Dunlin scattered about. The Raven hoard were still picking the spoils of Spring from the heavily laden bounty in the fields. A Common Buzzard looked miserable as it perched up on a post with all its feathers dripping off rain droplets.

A look over to Frodsham Score included a few Pink-footed Goose, Little and a Great White Egret were spotted in between the rain prisms pitted on my object (or should that read abject misery) lens. It was difficult to keep my optics free of rain today I had forgotten to bring a lens cloth. The hem of my polo shirt was initially the only dry cloth I could use and by the end of the day even that wasn’t dry enough.

Walking between No.6 & 4 I reached the ramp track and looked out over the blue slurry tank in the fields of Lordship Marsh and the 20 Whooper Swan were emerging from behind the hedgerows. The fly tipping I mentioned last week at the top of the ramp track has increased with a fresh load of hedge/tree vegetation dumped. I really hope these idiots get what’s coming to them.

The walk back via No.3 was rewarding in that a selection of ducks have taken up temporary residence on the mitigation pools. Common Teal are pairing up and several pairs of Gadwall, Shoveler and 7 Pintail were being very attentive to each other.

As I have mentioned earlier the constant rain was making the use of my telescope and binoculars redundant. I had one last attempt at shielding my glasses, bins and scope from the rain and I set up behind the bank on No.6 which acquired some protection with the rain now at my back.

A flock 121 Black-tailed Godwit included some stunning rustic coloured plumaged birds. A roost of 200 Redshank flew up when they got spooked and with them was 78 Golden Plover. There was 9 Avocet feeding between the 230 Common Teal present. The Tufted Duck flock had just a single Common Pochard for company.

A day that had potential but the weather gods were not on my side. I did manage to see some pretty decent birds for my troubles but frustrating when you’ve been looking forward to a days birding at the weekend.

Observer: WSM (images 1-5).

A Common and Green Sandpiper were on the pools at Ince and 40 Mute Swan were along the Holpool Gutter. There was 2 possibly 3 Marsh Harrier over No.4 tank. A pair of Stonechat were also along the Manchester Ship Canal  and on the way back to my car there were 20 Little Egret feeding near Ince Berth before going to roost.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 5-7).