I’ve lived next to this mighty river on Merseybank Estate for six years so I’ve seen it at its highest, its lowest and the same can be said for the way the river has found me. It’s been an absolute lifeline during lockdown and watching people enjoying wildlife like never before has brought me great joy.
What waterbirds can you see on the River Mersey?
One of my most joyous sightings was 21 goosanders, known as a ‘dopping’ and these delightful sawbills travelled up and down the river for a few weeks of summer.
Cormorants are not as frequent here as there are in the Manchester Ship Canal but there is a community of them that fish up and down the Mersey.
This springtime seemed to be a boom for ducklings and I lost count of the amount of broods I saw on the River Mersey in 2020.
The great thing was that lockdown was so long that I got to see the mallards grow up from fluffy ducklings all the way through to juveniles.
Not only do the grey herons live by the river but they hunt onland too. After it rains and fewer people are around they patrol the grassy pathways looking for mice to eat, herons will gobble basically anything they can get their beaks on.
Another star of the show is the kingfisher, which I often see flashing past but never manage to photograph on the River Mersey.
They’re not the only birds to patrol the waterline as pied wagtails travel up and down feeding on insects too.
There are grey wagtails that feed along the river too. They also breed so you can see young ones in the summertime.
What other birds can you see on the River Mersey?
Corvids reign over the river and carrion crows and jackdaws are often at the water’s edge taking a drink. Sometimes ravens drop by but I haven’t seen one myself.
Blackbirds sit in the top of the trees and on the bridges, which means their delightful song can always be heard especially at dawn and dusk.
Song thrushes accompany them in the song, often building nests and calling to their mates.
The summer brings the swallows and I managed to get a rare shot of them keeping still during a classic Manchester downpour.
There are also swifts and house martins that migrate for our damp summers but I’m not fast enough to snap them.
I often see birds of prey like buzzards and kestrels passing over but they’re also too quick for me.
The fields around the river offer good spots for small birds, there seemed to be a reed bunting boom in 2020 as I’ve never seen so many. In the summer there are also whitethroats that breed in the fields.
Of course, it’s not just birds that you’ll find here, there are mammals as well. I’ve seen rabbits and the occasional controversial mink too. Several avid spotters have seen weasels here too but I’ve sadly not one of them!
Not only is the River Mersey a brilliant place to wander while spotting birds and other wildlife, its a vital piece of green space has kept me and many others I know sane during lockdown.
Full list of birds I’ve seen:
- Black-headed gull
- Blue tit
- Canada goose
- Carrion crow
- Common whitethroat
- Feral pigeon
- Great tit
- Grey heron
- Grey wagtail
- House martin
- House sparrow
- Mallard duck
- Pied wagtail
- Reed bunting
- Ring-necked parakeet
- Song thrush
- Wood pigeon
If you’re wildlife watching in your local area with little ones then download my Birdy Bingo card game to see how many points you can score!
What birds have you spotted on the River Mersey? Share your sightings in the comments below!
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