18.02.20. Birdlog.

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We took a long walk from Marsh Lane out to Lower Rake Lane and had some pretty gruesome weather there and back again.

The ducks on No.6 tank were huddled close to the south banks of the tank keeping well away from the cold blustery wind whipping across the marshes. A mass of c450 Eurasian Teal were busy at their display nuptials on both No.6 and No.3 tanks. A collection of 65 Northern Shoveler, 14 Tufted Duck, 12 Northern Pintail and 21 Gadwall.

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There were 4 Western Marsh Harrier circling the reed beds and on our return the ringtail Hen Harrier found its pressence far from welcoming.

Walking along the track between No.3 and No.6 tank and a large flock displaced of Northern Lapwing and smaller numbers of European Golden Plover were high over the area and in obvious distress. The reason for their concern was soon apparent when a big female Peregrine was sat in the field with a poor stricken goldie.

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A European Stonechat was keeping out of the wind along the banks and likewise a Common Chiffchaff followed us for nearly 500 metres.

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At the junction of No.6 and No.4 tank we took a hike along Lordship Lane where the 21 Whooper Swan herd where busy grazing and 6 Mute Swan found the flooded fields ideal.

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Godscroft Lane had a large mixed flock of Fieldfare, European Starling and Chaffinch. Another large flock of Fieldfare were at the horse paddock alongside Moorditch Lane.

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The first Lesser Celandine in flower alongside Godscroft Lane.

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A view of Frodsham Hill from Godscroft Lane.

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Observers: JS & WSM (images).

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There are not many birders who bird watch at Spike Island in Widnes, but I came across a kind chap who pointed out a wintering Kingfisher to me yesterday.Thanks to him for his observation and hopefully we can encourage more people to come down and find more surpises.

16.02.20. Birdlog.

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I started off my walk along Brook Furlong Lane this morning where  flock of Redwing were searching the bushes near the bridge for leftover berries while a mixed flock of tits made their way along the lane. Common Raven were numerous around the lambing fields aiding the clearup and quickly despatching the sheep afterbirth.

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A blustery walk along the river and the usual ducks and geese were noted along with 18 Mute Swan and a flock of Common Redshank which fed at the edge of the water with 2 Black-tailed Godwit and a single Common Ringed Plover.

The dredger Deo Gloria did a turn at the junction of the Weaver Estuary and the Manchester Ship Canal flushing all of the ducks, including Tufted Duck, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, 14 Common Goldeneye, Common Pochard and a Long-tailed Duck, providing a tick for our curtain twitching neighbours on the darkside of the river at Hale.

A Peregrine was sat on top of the blue topped chimney watching over the marsh.

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A mass of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover were in their usual nervous state and taking flight on a regular basis near to Marsh Farm. The flock of Fieldfare and European Starlings were searching for grubs and worms along Alder Lane were flushed by a passing Common Buzzard.

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Onward to No.6 tank which was very quiet with small numbers of ducks seen. The fields on Lordship Marsh still hold the Mute Swan near to the lane and a Whooper Swan was in the same field although at the far end with 3 Pink-footed Goose for company.

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A further flock of c390 Pink-footed Goose were feeding amongst the 23 Whooper Swan herd but took to the air and flew south over Helsby Hill.

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A female Stonechat was on the bank of No.6 with several Reed Bunting nearby.

I stopped at Ince on my way home and the water level was still rising in the lane. It was that deep it nearly came over the top of my wellies!

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The 3 Cattle Egret which are established has the birds from Marsh Farm were still present alongside several Little Egret. Ducks included Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Gadwall were all present alongside 7 Mute Swan and 4 Little Grebe. Eurasian Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit were flying around looking for somewhere to forage. A flock of c60 Stock Dove dropped in to feed near to Ince Berth and a single Short-eared Owl was also seen.

The stubble field alongside the Holpool Gutter held c40 Eurasian Curlew, 3 Greylag Goose and their white domestic companion.

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Finally arriving at my car and a Peregrine passed overhead and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk was hedgehopping along the lane.

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Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

15.02.20. Birdlog.

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A short walk to Ince berth this morning with the intendsion to walk through to No.6 tank but the fine rain made visibility difficult, so I cut the walk short.

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The track I was intending to walk along to the marsh was flooded, so wellies would be advisable, especially for anyone wishing to see the 3 Cattle Egret  and Short-eared Owl in the area. Two of the three Cattle Egret could be seen feeding in the reeds alongside several Little Egret.

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There were 7 Mute Swan on the flood with the two dominant birds on one of the other pools.

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A flock of Black-tailed Godwit dropped in to feed alongside a couple of Eurasian Curlew. Duck numbers were lower than recently but Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and Northen Shoveler were noted.

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Walking to Ince berth I inadvertently flushed one of the Short-eared Owl which rose from the ground at my feet and the second owl was seen sitting on top of a hawthorn nearby.

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Looking across and over to Frodsham Score salt marsh and I could see a couple of wildfowlers were out by the river. Nearby was a Great Egret and several more Little Egret being on the salt marsh with plenty of Common Shelduck seen.

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On the Manchester Ship Canal was a Great Crested Grebe in summer plumage and in the company of several Tufted Duck.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-7).

While PR was again wading through the rain and flood out to the west, I was wading through the mud and rain at the eastern section of Frodsham Marsh.

 

Initally there didn’t seem much to fire the engines at the start of the incoming Storm Dennis which was expected to sweep the area today.

A few Tufted Duck were in loose flocks of the River Weaver with simialr flocks of Common Shelduck. A walk further along the banks and the ducks appeared out of the gloom and increased in number with some Common Redshank, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit and a half dozen Common Ringed Plover. A flock of c76 Eurasian Curlew flew over head making their way to the Mersey Estuary.

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A small group of 29 Common Pochard were with the remainder of the Tufted Duck and the occasional Gadwall. Further sightings included 14 Common Goldeneye and the effervescent female Long-tailed Duck.

A couple of Stonechat were joined by a Common Chiffchaff sheltering below the banks of No1 tank from the wind and rain.

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The Cattle at Marsh Farm were huddled tightly together against the storm but the herd were tightly packed and partially obscured by the raised Canal Pools bank and thus there wasn’t any Cattle Egret that were apparent. I can only assume the birds Paul had seen were these birds?

A flock of 75 Fieldfare continue to look for worms in the dump area by the farm.

A Marsh Harrier drifted high along the Weaver Valley and dropped low from the wind on to No.1 tank.

A large huddled mass of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover with a flock of Black-tailed Godwit were hunkered down low into the grass untill a Common Buzzard got too close and flushed the lot.

Observer: WSM (1 & 8-10 & video).

13.02.20. Birdlog.

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Another short visit after work to the marsh at Ince this evening. The flooded pools in the fields held 6 Little and 3 Western Cattle Egret, 2 Grey Heron, 9 Mute Swan with one pair attempting to usurp and dominate the rest of the swans.

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There were Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Eurasian Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebe all present with a single Black-tailed Godwit feeding in the shallower water.

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A Common Chiffchaff was feeding alongside a group of Blue and Great Tit in the hedge alongside the reed bed.

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For the second evening running a couple of Short-eared Owl were hunting near to the berth and the egret flock was seen going to roost at 17 20hrs in the trees near by.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

12.02.20. Birdlog.

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I Finished work and spent the last hour around Ince.

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I parked near the pig farm and a Goldcrest was feeding in a bush next to my car and a short walk along the lane to the recently flooded field and 3 Western Cattle Egret were noted feeding in the margins with 5 Little Egret and 2 Grey Heron. The juvenile Mute Swan that took up residence on the flood has been joined by 6 more adults one of which was showing aggression to the youngster. Mallard, Gadwall and Eurasian Teal were present alongside several Eurasian Coot and Moorhen, Little Grebe could be heard trilling.

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A Short-eared Owl rose from the ground as I made my way to the berth and was soon joined by another bird, both gained height and were mobbed by several Carrion Crow.

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Looking over the Frodsham Score salt marsh and a skein of Pink-footed Goose dropped down by the river. Common Shelduck were in good numbers on the marsh and several more Little Egret were seen. Back at my car and ready for home the 3 Western Cattle and Little Egret were still feeding as the light faded, then two of the little made their way to roost in the trees near to the Ince berth.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-4).

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While PR was watching the western side of the marshes I took up my position below the banks of the east side of No.1 tank at Redwall reed bed. It wasn’t long before one of possibly 3 Short-eared Owl made their presence known. Two flew out towards No.5 tank and the last stayed in the area hunting back and to across the River Weaver. It perched up a couple of times with the background sound of Cetti’s Warbler ringing out loud. A glance across to the M56 motorway hedgerows produced a fine male Merlin sitting still with the thundering commuter traffic hurtling past.

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The river was rather quiet with Common Pochard, Tufted Duck and Common Goldeneye and a small flock of Common Redshank and 4 Common Ringed Plover settling down for the evening.

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Wigg Island on the ebbing tide is completely covered as viewed from the Mersey Gateway bridge (south bound).

Observer: WSM (images 5-8).

09.02.20. Birdlog.

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Rather wet and windy on the marsh this morning during the webs count at Ince tahnks to Storm Ciara.

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The flooded field on Ince marsh fields held c80 Black-tailed Godwit, 28 Eurasian Curlew, 15 Eurasian Coot, 12 Little Egret, 4 Grey Heron, 15 Mallard, 8 Gadwall and a single Mute Swan.

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The other pools held 31 Mallard, 48 Eurasian Teal, 3 Tufted Duck, 11 Gadwall, 2 Grey Heron and 8 Little Egret in the field next to Ince berth.

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Onto the Manchester Ship Canal and a flock of c60 Tufted Duck, c40 Eurasian Coot and a single Great Crested Grebe were noted.

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The storm that sweeped the region caused havoc amongst the waders and geese and small flocks of European Golden Plover were flying west along the ship canal only inches above the water riding the less disturbed air while others took shelter on No.4 tank. Dunlin and Eurasian Oystercatcher were sheltering on the canal bank and even the Raven flocks found the wind too much and took shelter in the bushes on No.4 as well.

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Meadow Pipit and several Eurasian Skylark were hiding in the grass and were only flushed when I walked close by. The tide covered the whole salt marsh and hundreds of Pink-footed Goose left and flew south to feed/shelter elsewhere.

The Mute Swan and Whooper Swan herd were still in their fields on Lordship Marsh. A large number of Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit were again feeding in a field adjacent to the fertilizer plant and had a pair of Mistle Thrush for company.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

08.02.20. Birdlog.

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I parked on the motorway bridge and made my way along Brook Furlong Lane this morning. There were still occasional Redwing searching for any leftover berries on the hawthorns and were joined by a flock of Fieldfare which chose the ground to feed on.

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A flock of c200 European Golden Plover passed overhead heading west and more were seen later mixed in with a huge flock of Northern Lapwing.

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A male Stonechat sat on the fence along Alder Lane with an wintering Common Chiffchaff close by. The three Western Cattle Egret were still hanging out amongst the cows near to Marsh Farm and a flock of Eurasian Curlew dropped on to No.3 tank.

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Another male Stonechat was on the canal bank. A flock of Common Redshank moved along the river with a single Black-tailed Godwit with them and a Common Sandpiper was noted.

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Moving on to No.6 and the usual suspects were on the water and a Water Rail was heard squealing in the reed bed. A partial leucistic Canada Goose was amongst the flock on No.3 with a flock of Eurasian Wigeon on the scrapes there.

On Lordship Marsh were 9 Mute Swan were in their usual place and the Whooper Swan herd were again by Hill View Farm.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-8).

Despite PR out on the marsh it’s usually rare for us to bump into each other and today was no exception. I walked along Brook Furlong Lane and out along the River Weaver where a herd of c100 Canada Goose had with them a white domestic Greylag Goose.

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The Common Goldeneye were busy head flicking to their aroused female partners and the female Long-tailed Duck was difficult to pin down but when I eventually found her, she was fast asleep and remained so for the period I was watching her (with a short head up and immediately down again). A flock of 284 Tufted Duck, 28 Common Pochard and the long staying 1st winter/female Greater Scaup. The recent arrival of good numbers of Gadwall are increasing with migrants heading in. There were small numbers of Eurasian Teal mostly hiding at the margins.

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There were ten Great Crested Grebe with many sporting their fine summer plumage.

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The shoreline had a small flock of Common Redshank and 6 Common Ringed Plover.

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Walking to Marsh Farm only revealed two of the three Western Cattle Egret and a smart male Peregrine shot over their heads long before they knew what was occurying.

My BTO WeBS count includes the fields on No.3 and No.2 tanks and this was the first time this winter that they were relativley short on Eurasian Wigeon. There were small numbers of Northern Shoveler, 400 Eurasian Teal and 10 Black-tailed Godwit.

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A look over the saltmarshes of Frodsham Score was alive with stuff and included 2.5 thousand Pink-footed Goose and included a partial luecistic individual and several with a white blaze above their bills. Apart from the ubiquitous Canada Goose herds the only addition was the white Greylag as seen from the Weaver Estuary earlier. A large flock of Black-tailed Godwit were further out on the river. Also 2 Great and several Little Egret.

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A Common Chiffchaff and Cetti’s Warbler were calling from No.4 tank.

After a long watch I made my way for the count on No.6 tank and was surprised to see the ringtail Hen Harrier being the first bird on the menu. It was soon joined by 2 Marsh Harrier. The ducks were mill to my grist with 83 Northern Shoveler, 28 Tufted Duck, 19 Common Pochard, 350 Eurasian Teal, 56 Mallard, 2 Common Goldeneye, 25 Gadwall and 58 Eurasian Coot.

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The fields of Lordship Marsh had 22 Whooper Swan and the Mute’s PR had seen earlier.

Observer: WSM (images 1 & 9-20).