31.08.18. Birdlog.

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It takes a special birder(s) to continue to bird watch an area even when it’s not at its best and I would say that this August has been a testing time for loyalty to our birding patch.

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An early finish from work and a walk along the River Weaver for a look over Frodsham Score. Not much on the river apart from a handful of Mallard, Common Teal and Coot. There was a single Common Sandpiper sat with a group of Lapwing at the junction of the Manchester Ship Canal where a single Great Crested Grebe with 4 much smaller Little’s for company.

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Out on Frodsham Score were c400 Black-tailed Godwit and c150 Curlew sat out the tide at the edge of the river with c80 Cormorant.

Butterflies were once again common in the warm sunshine with Small Tortoiseshell, Small Copper, Comma and Large White on the wing.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

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After work we took a circular walk along and around the track of No.6 tank. The lack of rain (nothing short of a tsunami would fill) on the sludge tank still has an enormous effect on the ducks and waders that would otherwise be here at this important time for year for the refueling and resting stops. The only birds present were a small flock of Wood Pigeon.

A Sparrowhawk attracted the attention of a flock of House Martin while a few Common Buzzard emerged into the thermals.

Butterflies included both Red Admiral and Painted Lady.

Observers: Sparky & WSM.

27.08.18. Birdlog.

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A walk around No.6 tank tank this afternoon felt a bit like a sail aboard the Mary Celeste with just a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit flying over. We walked out to look across Frodsham Score where the wind and waves were doing their best to gauge out chunks of the edge of the river. A couple of Little Egret and roosting gulls were the only birds that stood out on the rising tide.

The ‘Splashing pool’ had a number of Tufted Duck with a couple of Shoveler in their midst. The Raven group hanging out by the pumping Station were gain taking full advantage from the draught up the steep canal banks.

Like Paul said it pays to persevere and he scored much better over at Marsh Farm.

Observers: Sparky & WSM.

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I went to Marsh Farm first then over to No.6 then back to the farm and saw 30 Black-tailed Godwit on No.1 evading a couple of juvenile Peregrine. I am not sure if one was successful but one of them landed on a post looking over the small reed bed near the farm and did the funky chicken (see video) the second bird then flew over my head from the reed bed towards No.5. The first bird then had a go at the godwits on the Frodsham Score and you can just about see it at the top of the flock.

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A couple of Brown Hare where somewhere on the marsh.

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Video here: https://vimeo.com/286916286

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Observer: Paul Crawley (images & video).

25 & 26.08.18. Birdlog.

25.08.18. Birdlog.

After a promising start things petered out. No.1 tank had c80 Curlew and 20 Black-tailed Godwit with the odd Kestrel and a steady flow of Swallow. No.6 had 2 Dunlin, 30 Teal and 20 Pied Wagtail whilst the bank separating 3 & 5 had Raven and Buzzard sparring.

Butterflies including Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown and White’s started to come out with the sun at about 13:00 all over the marsh. A Wheatear was near the pool by the farm.

Observer: Paul Crawley (images 1-2).

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Recent rains have left a shallow pool on No.6 tank which attracted c40 Common Teal, a few Mallard, 3 Dunlin and 3 Black-tailed Godwit. A Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were having a dogfight over No.6 and several Common Buzzard were overhead.

The ‘Splashing Pool’ held only a single Mallard with the Tufted Duck flock settled on the Manchester Ship Canal. Raven were numerous in the area with many enjoying the updraft from the ship canal bank. Further along and 2 Common Snipe were at the Canal Pools with both Swallow and House Martin stocking up before the trek south. A dozen or so Yellow Wagtail were feeding on No.3 with a flock of Meadow Pipit and Skylark.

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A flock of c200 Black-tail Godwit dropped on to a scrape on No.3 and soon moved out to the estuary. A single Blackwit was feeding at the ‘Secluded Pool’ with another Common Snipe for company.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 3-4).

26.08.18. Birdlog.

A brief visit to the marsh this dull wet morning starting at Marsh Farm where a Kestrel dropped from a great height and caught a decent sized black rodent. A flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit with several Curlew and a mass of Starling fed in the hay field.

On to No.6 tank which was devoid of birdlife but this may have been due to a Marsh Harrier hunting over the area. The ‘Secluded Pool’ had a Green Sandpiper and a Water Rail. A few more godwits were seen dropping down on to the scrape on No.3 and a Weasel crossed the path in front of me.

Observer: Paul Ralston.

19.08.18. Birdlog.

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There was nothing at all on the dried mud of No.6 but the ‘secluded pool’ still held a Green Sandpiper, 3 Common Snipe and a Sedge Warbler. Chiffchaff were moving through the elderberry bushes with a mixed flock of  tit species.

The Splashing Pool’ held c200 Tufted Duck and Mallard which were on edge and flew off as soon as they caught sight of me. Above the path a few Swallow and House Martin were hawking overhead.

Onward to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a look over the Frodsham Score where c1000 Canada Goose were on the water with more Tufted Duck and Mallard. There were many more ducks on the salt marsh but these took flight which may have had something to do with a clay shoot taking place at Ince. Raven were out in force with 20 feeding on a sheep carcass on the score with many more riding in the breeze. Also noted were a single Little Egret and several Curlew on the marsh.

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The Canal Pools were quiet with just Coot, Moorhen and 2 Common Snipe seen.  A group of 7 Yellow Wagtail dropped down to feed on No.3 and a flock of c50 Black-tailed Godwit were on a scrape which still holds some water.

Raptors were scarce with just Common Buzzard and Kestrel being seen.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

12.08.18. Birdlog.

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A walk around No.6 tank this morning just before the tide with c70 Dunlin (containing many juveniles), 5 Ringed Plover and a single Black-headed Gull to boost their numbers. A little underwhelming but at least they are not grouse getting their annual blasting to avian oblivion. #Inglorious12th

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A couple of Common Swift were with a small group of House Martin and Swallow hawking insects above the trees by the eastern ramp track.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images 1-2).

I started my walk from Ince this morning but with the amount of construction work going on the wat through it was barely worth the effort starting from there. The fields have been stripped of its main asset that is top soil and piled into mounds leaving nothing to encourage the wildlife to prosper. The pools held a few Mallard, a pair of Gadwall, Coot and Moorhen with many Swallow and House Martin flying overhead.

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Onward and forward I suppose to the Manchester Ship Canal where Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and a single Common Shelduck out on the water.A pair of feral Barnacle Goose was amongst several hundred Canada Goose also on the canal with many more additional Canada’s out on the salt marsh.

Frodsham Score had Little Egret a small flocks of Dunlin and Ringed Plover being noted.

A Marsh Harrier was hunting along the river edge and another left No.4 tank and made its way out to the estuary.

A flock of 20 Black-tailed Godwit flew out to the marsh as the tide was rising and several large roosts of mixed gulls rested on the score marsh.

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Butterflies made an effort today with Common Blue, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Large White’s were all on the wing during my walk.

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The Canal Pools had a couple of Common Snipe feeding at the edge of one of the pools and a Whinchat on its return migration sat on a rock as I passed by.

A juvenile Common Buzzard was constantly calling to its parents which were sat nearby trying desperately to ignore it. A Sparrowhawk harassed a mixed Linnet and Goldfinch flock on No.3.

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No.6 tank during the high tide featured a Sanderling with 147 Ringed Plover and 119 Dunlin (per Alyn Chambers)..

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 3-6).

11.08.18. Birdlog.

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A big tide out on the Mersey estuary slowly edged over the salt marsh stopping well short of the banks of Frodsham Score. There were plenty of gulls taking advantage of the salt marsh to roost while hundreds of Black-headed Gull tried their luck flushing out rodents that may have been forced from their hiding places ahead of the advancing tide.

Curlew by far the commonest shorebird flushed by the tide with a few Black-tailed Godwit and really surprisingly no Ringed Plover or Dunlin!

Out on the River Mersey there were hundreds of Common Shelduck but specialising in all things Canada Goose the Mersey estuary is by far the best (or worst) place in the NE Atlantic for this species.

A few Yellow Wagtail were moving back and to across the Manchester Ship Canal and a couple of juvenile Marsh Harrier quartered the distant salt marsh dislodging even more Curlew from their hiding places.

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A walk back along the track to No.6 tank was pretty uneventful and a quick scan over what is essentially an Atacama Desert wannabe on No.6 sludge tank revealed, 71 Ringed Plover, 20 Dunlin and 9 Black-headed Gull.

A Green Sandpiper dislodged itself from cover while a mixture of hirundines were busy fueling up and a lone Common Swift drifted over.

Observer and images: WSM.

10.08.18. Birdlog.

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After work we took a hike around No.6 tank with low expectations on the birdy front and guess what…? We were not to be disappointed.

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A couple of Yellow Wagtail were flushed from a pathside tree and went off thrilling to their next destination. The stubble fields adjacent to Lordship Lane was buzzing with a flock of c220 Linnet.

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The track between No.4 & 6 tank had a freshening breeze to cool the sunshine and the nearby ‘Splashing Pool’ had only a couple of Tufted Duck and a single Gadwall. The highlight bird spot from the path we where watching from was a group of 12 Raven riding the updraft from the steep banks of the Manchester Ship Canal by the side of the Pumping Station. The flock was joined by a juvenile Peregrine which engaged in a bout of playful fly tumbling with the corvids. I have seen film footage of a juvenile Sparrowhawk play fighting with Jays before on TV but this was equally entertaining and there didn’t appear to be any antagonism between the species.

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A look over No.6 tank and despite the deluge we had a lunch time the sludge tank remained very much…dry!

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Observers: Sparky & WSM (images 2-4).

Paul Crawley (images 1 & 5-7).