Sunday 3 July 2016

Frustratingly Quiet Friday

After another long wait between patch visits due to work I couldn't wait to get out and do some birding again. The weather had been fairly similar to the rest of the week with torrential downpours, a blustery north-westerly wind which were interspersed with brighter spells.

Starting at the gate on Town Lane I was not surprised to see that the water levels were high, and not that far of expected winter levels (crazy to think that little over a month ago I was concerned that the Pools would dry out!). There are still areas of exposed mud, so there is still the hope that some waders will be tempted to move through. The Egyptian Goose was again in the back corner, supported by a number of eclipse ducks - 14 Eurasian Teal, 2 Shoveler, 19 Mallard and 4 Gadwall. There were next to no waders other than the usual 12 Lapwing and 2 Redshank. A Hobby was again hunting over the back of Great Boar Wood (it's been great to see them so regularly this year), whilst a Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and a couple of Common Buzzard were also on the wing.

The roadside pools along Town Lane held 9 Black Tailed Godwit and a single Little Ringed Plover, but were otherwise quiet (even the ducks giving them a wide berth!). Hale Marsh was full of Canada Geese, and a single Common Buzzard was sat in one of the hedges, but again the whole area seemed quiet. Even the numbers of Meadow Pipit and Skylark seem to be dropping, whilst finch numbers seem surprisingly lower this year.

Deciding to try and beat the gathering rain clouds I headed to Within Way. A family of Nuthatch were on the feeders in the garden opposite the farm were nice and the first I had seen on patch for a while. The area around the farm held a number of finches (but nowhere near the same numbers as last year), with about 30 Greenfinch, 40 Goldfinch and 15 Linnet.

A number of Yellow Wagtail buzzed around overhead, whilst smaller numbers of finches were mooching around, but there was a real "mid-summer" (despite the weather) feel to the birding. The pair of Peregrine were sat on the blue-topped chimney across the water, whilst a male Marsh Harrier was feeding over the top of Frodsham Score. The river itself was very quiet with a few Curlew and Oystercatcher being the only waders present.

With the clouds looking more and more threatening I thought I best make my way back up Within Way to the car (to avoid another drenching!). There were again plenty of finches present with some confiding Goldfinch and Greenfinch, whilst the Linnets felt that they were too good for me (or allow a quick photo!). A small family of Goldcrest by the car were nice, but were too quick to allow my poor iPhone scoping skills to get any shots.

With the rain holding off I drove up to the end of Lighthouse Lane to have a scan over the Mersey and Frodsham Score. The Score looked deserted other than the large family parties of Raven and Canada Geese. The Mersey was just as bad with nothing of major note. I was rather glad that the heavens opened and put me out of my misery of such a quiet patch visit.

Surely things can only get better........!!

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