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).

13.03.17. Birdlog

A last hour after work this afternoon from Ince to the Holpool Gutter. The usual suspects were on the pools with the addition of a pair of Greylag Goose and a Green Sandpiper. A Chiffchaff was calling from the hedgerow and a pair of Reed Bunting were claiming their territory nearby.  Out on the salt marshes a pair of Oystercatcher were also making a territorial claim. The 20 Whooper Swan flock have joined forces with the Mute Swan herd and were feeding alongside the gutter. A Marsh Harrier was seen over No.4 tank and a Peregrine was watching over the marsh from its tower at the Growhow Works. Back by Ince Berth the Little Egret group was dropping in to roost but were hidden by the foliage making a count difficult. A small bat spp was hawking over the pools.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-2).
A very brief visit after work and a walk along Moorditch Lane to the mitigation area on No.3 tank featured a few Chiffchaff singing along the way. There were plenty of Common Teal feeding close to the reedy daisy stalks where 20 Common Snipe were hiding out. Tufted Duck and Common Pochard were settled further out in the open water and a Great Crested Grebe was fishing. A gathering of 150 Golden Plover and 4 Ruff were the only waders of note.

A Cetti’s Warbler throw out a snatch of song from deep in the thickets.

The pools on No.3 tank had Common Teal, Shoveler, Pintail and a flock of 22 Golden Plover. Raven were drifting south at dusk with a minimum of 35 birds countered.

Observer: WSM (images 3-4).

11.03.17. Birdlog

The fresh breeze wafting across the marsh from the south-west brought out the songsters today and for the first time this year many birds were in full voice. Walking along the track between No.s 3 & 6 tanks the air was filled with the melodic tunes of Skylark. A Cetti’s Warbler gave a burst of song above No.6 and a Chiffchaff added to the mix.

I made my way to watch the incoming tide on the river but it wasn’t high enough to move much from its shoreline and most of the birds were distant. However several hundred Curlew were along the edge of the salt marsh where Wigeon were riding out the channels.

The Allan Wilson gun turret positioned on the banks of Frodsham Score which survived the might of the German Luftwaffe succumbed to the full force of Storm Doris and was lifted off its base.

The skein of 300 Pink-footed Goose with far away across Ince salt marsh. A small number of Little Egret occasionally popped up out of the gutters and an even briefer view of a Great White Egret was the reward for all my efforts.

I retraced my steps to the main track and headed out to Lordship Lane. A Chiffchaff was singing from the reed bed while a male Stonechat flew up from No.6 and another was on No.3 tank. There was a small passage of Pied Wagtail which had dropped in to feed. Overhead the calls of Siskin could be heard.

A huge pile of fly tipped leylandii cuttings and an old dilapidated shed dumped at the top of the ramp makes you question the sanity of these idiots.

I continued my walk and took the Cheshire countryside restricted byway to look at the Whooper Swan herd present in the fields by the M56 motorway. There were 20 birds including a juvenile. A couple of Mute’s were in the flooded field where 8 Ringed Plover were busy chasing each other and two Ruff were more sedate.

Whooper Swan video here: https://vimeo.com/208026369

Walking back the way I came I bumped into Alyn and we continued our walk back to the mitigation pools. The place was almost full (for a change) with Shoveler, Common Teal and Pintail.

Although the water level is frustratingly high there were still plenty of birds to watch including a party of 10 Avocet. Ruff numbers reached 15 and a flock of 200 Golden Plover were wheeling above attempting to find a suitable spot to pitch down on. A flock of 30 Black-tailed Godwit and some Redshank were the other contenders.

Most of the 230 Common Teal were feeding in the daisy stalk and reeds where the water had flooded further into the tank. Shoveler numbered 90 while Pintail were scattered everywhere today but in small numbers. The Tufted Duck flock reached 50 birds while Common Pochard mustered 10. We were walking back when all of the teal rose from the water and through the swirling melee emerged a fine adult Peregrine. The falcon’s target was not any ducks but the large numbers of Wood Pigeon feeding in the shrike stubble fields by Hares Lane. We couldn’t see if the raptor was successful but it caused quite a commotion.

A small flock of Redwing were along the hedgerow by Brook Furlong Lane and the Marsh Harrier put in an appearance.

Observers: Alyn Chambers, Frank Duff, Matt Gillet (images 8 & 10 & 12), WSM (images 1-7 & 9 & 11).