15.12.18. Birdlog.

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I was out and around No.6 and 4 tanks this morning before the change in the weather came along. Several Raven were feeding on a sheep carcass in a ditch on No.3 and a mixed flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover were feeding nearby in the rough grass. The ‘phalarope pool’ on the south-west corner of No.3 tank has extended and was full enough to attract c30 with both Mallard and more Shoveler on the ‘Splashing Pool’.

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A skein of c40 Pink-footed Goose made their way to the Frodsham Score salt marsh where a couple of thousand Canada Goose were resting. A single Great White Egret and a lone Little Egret were feeding in the tidal gullies on the river marsh.

There were 19 Mute Swan feeding on the fields alongside the Holpool Gutter with there Greylags for companions. Further south and c100 Curlew were again in the field adjacent to Rake Lane and the Whooper Swan herd could be seen in the distance. Fieldfare and Redwing were in good numbers along Lordship Lane.

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 10).

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A walk up to No.1 tank in the hope of seeing the Cattle Egret was dashed when I met PC who had drawn a blank but he offered me a lift in his car to Ince Marsh fields via Lordship Lane (where we met PR briefly as he was heading home) to check the fields for the egret there. There were plenty of Fieldfare and Redwing to seen feasting on the hawthorn berries but they were skittish and wouldn’t allow close approach.

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The weather was rapidly deteriorating with a raking south-easterly wind whipping across the marshes followed by cold persistent rain. The Whooper Swan herd was finding some shelter below the hedgerows on Lordship Marsh. There with c20 birds present close to the motorway but, with the wind and rain dripping off my optics it would have been impossible to pick anything other than Whooper’s from that distance. I left PC to his own devices and walked along the track between No.6 & 4 to the ‘Splashing Pool’ where the Shoveler flock were still present.

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A small skein of Pink-footed Goose flew over to Lordship Marsh (presumably the birds from earlier?). A Stonechat briefly popped out of the vegetation but wisely found shelter and stayed put.

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A gathering of 25 Raven were riding the wind above No.6 tank and spooked the entire flocks of ducks from the water there. They soon settled and apart from c23 Wigeon, some Common Shelduck and 73 Shoveler the majority were c1300 Common Teal. Despite my best efforts I couldn’t pick out a Greed-winged Teal but the weather conditions had taken a turn for the worst and regrettably with failing light, cold wet hands and the after effects of my man flu…I called it a day.

Observer: WSM (images 2 & 4-6 & 8).

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After I left Bill all alone I made my way to Marsh Farm and got some ok(ish) Fieldfare images, as you know the light was very poor, that’s my excuse. When I got near to the cattle grid a Merlin (one for you Guy Groves) chased a Blackbird and then landed on one of the brick towers on No.2 tank for a bit and I got a couple of images before it flew off. On the way back from the farm it flew across and back onto the brick tower and I got some more photo’s.

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No.1 had a mixed flock of Golden Plover and Lapwing but the Goldie’s were to far away to photograph, there was also a female Stonechat.

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Observer: Paul Crawley (video & images 1 & 3 & 7 & 9 & 11).

13 & 14.12.18. Birdlog.

13.12.18. Birdlog.

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2 Bewick’s Swan (ads) with the Whooper Swan herd on Lordship Marsh. Also of perhaps of interest a Brambling with c80 Chaffinch & 20 Goldfinch by Weaver Lane.

Observer: Dan Haywood.

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14.12.18. Birdlog.

A day off and a couple of hours along the River Weaver and then the Manchester Ship Canal this morning. Redwing and Fieldfare were busy stripping the berries off the hawthorn hedgerows alongside Brook Furlong Lane. A Sparrowhawk shot across the lane snatching a unsuspeting Redwing without the rest of the gorging flock even noticing.

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Onward to the River Weaver and Common Teal joined up with Tufted Duck and Mallard which were in good numbers with a few Common Shelduck being noted. More water birds included 7 Great Crested and 5 Little Grebe were on the river and ship canal. A wintering Common Sandpiper and 2 Redshank were on the bank and 5 Mute Swan close into the bank. A tug boat made its way down the canal flushing a Red-breasted Merganser on its way. There were a couple of Raven and several Carrion Crow with Magpie waiting their turn inline to feast on yet another dead sheep carcase near to Marsh Farm. A mass of Lapwing and several hundred Golden Plover were feeding on the fields of No.2 tank rose in the air when a Common Buzzard passed overhead.

The Cattle Egret has now relocated to No.1 tank and landed on the road leading to one of the wind turbines while a pair of Stonechat which sat on the fence nearby.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

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A quick drive down to the marsh today to try and find the 2 Bewick’s Swan that were reported on 13th, I decided to stay on Lordship Lane and work my way along the track where good numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare were seen. There were good numbers of Goldfinch, Curlew and Lapwing. I soon found the Whooper Swan flock, 5 in total with a pair of Mute Swan but no alas Bewick’s!! Much closer to the M56 motorway there was a large flock of Pink-footed Goose but couldn’t get a proper view. Further along I also saw the Mute Swan and Greylag Goose flock and then even further found that Lordship Lane is now blocked off by Peel!! Despite this I had a fantastic hour or so just being in the outdoors.

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Observer: Guy Groves.

Photo’s from the Score

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The Holpool Gutter as it emerges from beneath the Manchester Ship Canal at Stanlow to re-enter the south Mersey salt marsh. 

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Looking back (west) to Stanlow oil refinery and the hidden delights of the Mersey marshes.

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A panorama view across Frodsham Score.

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The after effects of the tide punching chunks of marsh back onto the salt marsh. It shows the power of these high tides on this fragile ecosystem.

A big thanks to Shaun Hickey for his mobile phone images (he forgot his camera yesterday ;O) .

If you want to get involved with https://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/webs contact these people or drop me a line and I’ll forward your interest to Dermot Smith the Mersey co-ordinator.

09.12.18. Birdlog.

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I was out this morning starting my walk at Ince where the fields on the marsh side of the village held c200 Curlew. The birds were feeding in a field adjacent to the service road to the GrowHow Works with a much smaller number of Curlew in the field by the front of the Pig Farm.

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On the Ince Marsh field pools were 7 Coot, 2 Little Grebe, 6 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Mute Swan, 1 Little Egret and 1 Common Snipe. The arable fields alongside the Holpool Gutter was pretty much devoid of plovers but, did hold 22 Mute Swan and 19 feral Greylag Goose.

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On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a look over the Frodsham Score salt marsh where the massive plover flock could be seen. A couple of Great White Egret were noted and a mass of waders were snaking their way along the Mersey estuary as the tide came in.

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Fieldfare and Redwing were busy feeding in the hawthorn hedgerow along the canal path and a flock of 20 Redshank flew low over the ship canal. The skull of a long dead Badger was lying in the grass along the path leaving nothing to indicate its demise.

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The ‘Splashing Pool’ held a dozen Shoveler and 2 Gadwall. Further out and along Lordship Lane the Whooper Swan herd could be seen in the distance and the Cattle Egret was back after a week off (or more likely unseen) amongst the cows where it was nut megging the feeding cows.

A male Sparrowhawk was hunting the finch flocks and 3 Carrion Crow were ganging up on a Common Buzzard.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-9).

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It was WeBS count day today and I walked out to view the ducks on the expanding watery spread on No.6 tank. There were masses of Common Teal with c1100 birds tightly gathered along the vegetated margins of the west side of the water and trying to avoid the brisk wind coming in with the tide. Other ducks were few but they did include a drake and female Pintail, 5 Mallard and 76 Shoveler.

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A walk further along the track to view No.3 tank to see if the Pink-footed Goose which have been utilising this area of late were still here. Unfortunately, the flock had vacated the fields leaving it to a host of 30 Raven chilling out during the period of the high tide. They were waiting for the high tide to drop so they could feast on the associated dead and dying sheep that will be available once it has receded.

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Walking along Moorditch Lane and the hawthorn hedges were full of both Redwing and Fieldfare, suddenly the whole place erupted as a female Merlin burst through, scattering the flocks hither and dither.

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Observers: Sparky & WSM (images 10-17).

Image 18 by Shaun Hickey.

08.12.18. Birdlog.

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Out this morning around both No.6 and No.4 tanks. There were c100 Canada Goose which left the water when sun dawned over No.6 tank causing c20 Wigeon and a flock of Great Black-backed Gull with them leaving many Common Teal, Mallard and Shoveler on the water. There were also 6 Common Shelduck feeding in the margins of the water vegetation alongside several Common Snipe.

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A large flock of Canada Goose were grazing on No.3 with c130 Pink-footed Goose.

Raven were enjoying the windy conditions with several rolling in the wind over the draughty banks. There were numerous flocks of Linnet, Goldfinch and Chaffinch stripping the seeds of the weed heads on No.3 and were targeted by a Sparrowhawk which this time left, hungry.

A Great Crested Grebe and a dozen Tufted Duck were on the Manchester Ship Canal and a Stonechat was perched on the bank nearby.

Over on the Frodsham Score salt marsh and the plover flocks were their usual nervous selves with hundreds taking to the air and settling down before going back up in the air again. Many more Canada Goose were grazing on the marshes and a skein of c200 Pink-footed Goose dropped in to join them. A couple of Great White Egret were seen in the far distance on Ince salt marsh .

There were also 20 Mute Swan and 8 Greylag Goose in the fields along the Holpool Gutter with a small flock of Lapwing and Curlew were most of the plovers were now on the salt marsh.

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A look over Lordship Marsh revealed the Whooper Swan herd which could be seen in the distance but, no sign of the recent Cattle Egret. A flock of Stock Dove flew over No.4 and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen making its undulating flight across No.6.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-4).

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There were Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbird along Brook Furlong and a couple of Brown Hare in fields nearby, a pair of Stonechat on the fence by No.1 plus a small flock of Linnet added to my watch.

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There was a Lapwing in the reed bed field near to Marsh Farm and 3 Curlew next to the farm. Lordship lane had more Redwing and Fieldfare and the Hoverforce field had a hunting Barn owl, there were a few Kestrel about too.

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Observer: Paul Crawley (images 5-11).

Just an additional note regarding a moulting Black-headed Gull aquiring its summer ‘hood’ with a bird on the bating lake at Park Road, Runcorn and the Nordic Jackdaw still present for its forth year at this location.

Plus a Hoverfly spp suuning itself for the brief perio it was sunny this morning on Runcorn Hill per WSM (and images).

03.12.18. Birdlog.

A day off and I spent a few hours of it on the marsh with a start at No.6 tank where the usual ducks were out on the water. Common Teal, Shoveler and Mallard were again present. The teal were a bit jumpy and took off and flew around the tank putting a flock of c30 Common Snipe into the air with them.

On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a pair of Stonechat were occupying their winter territory on the banks of No.4 with several Meadow Pipits flighty nearby. A look over the Frodsham Score and there were 2 Great White Egret and several Little Egret were spread widely about the salt marsh. A flock of waders were putting on a grand show alongside the River Mersey and a skein of Pink-footed Goose dropped on to the marsh.

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A mass of Lapwing and Golden Plover sprung into the air disturbed by an unseen predator but soon settled back to normality.

The fields alongside the Holpool Gutter had 23 Mute Swan and 14 Greylag Goose, while further out a flock of c150 Curlew were in the fields adjacent Rake Lane.

A quick check to see if the Cattle Egret was still in the area and I was rewarded with what at first appeared to be two Cattle Egret but on closer inspection one of them revealed itself to be a Little Egret at one end of the field, and the Cattle Egret was teasing the cows in the herd.

The stubble field near the ramp track to No.4 and 6 tanks held a few hundred Linnet, Goldfinch, Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting which all panicked when a Merlin on a mission attempted to snatch one of them, but it witched its attention to a flock of Redwing and Fieldfare before disappearing in hot pursuit beyond the blue slurry tank.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

02.12.18. Birdlog.

Paul Ralston made a determined effort to secure the Cattle Egret that was found in distant fields of Lordship Marsh yesterday.

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The herd of Whooper Swan were still present in the fields so, a nice tidy clean up if you was in the area today.

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 1-2).

Much later in the morning we took a hike along Lordship Lane and managed to see the Cattle Egret but on this occasion it was feeding with cows instead of its surrogate host the swans from yesterday.

A pair of Peregrine were sat on top of the very tall blue topped chimney towering over the Mersey estuary at Weston Point.

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There were plenty of ducks on No.6 tank where c450 Common Teal, 43 Shoveler and 12 Mallard were bathing in the evening light. A single Redshank and a few scattered Common Snipe were hiding in clumps of grass were the sum total of waders.

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Observers: Sparky & WSM (images 4 – 6 and video).

Image 3 by David Bedford.