18.03.19. Birdlog.

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We took a hike from Marsh Lane out to the banks of the Mersey estuary…and back.

The rain didn’t relent once during our walk and the birds were hunkered down on the salt marsh or hidden deep in cover to avoid the worst of it. A look over No.6 tank revealed c350 Eurasian Teal feeding deep in the flooded vegetated areas of the shallower waters. Once in a while the whole flock spooked themselves out to the open water. Also present were Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Mallard, Common Shelduck and 4 Ruff. A Sparrowhawk caused a minor panic with the local tits along Moorditch Lane.

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Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor, water and nature

The area where the proposed sand works at the north-west corner of No.6 now has a series of shallow pools and may be productive if they stay moist.

Our walk continued to the Holpool Gutter where 31 Mute Swan were in the grassy fields on Ince marsh fields and with them was a single adult Whooper Swan and 4 Greylag Goose.

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Looking across the Manchester Ship Canal (which had 41 Coot floating along it) out towards Frodsham Score featured 25 Golden Plover with several gaining their ‘northern’ summer plumage. A small flock of Black-tailed Godwit headed inland while 5 Little Egret, 7 Whooper Swan, c200 Pink-footed Goose and several hundred Wigeon were feeding by the edge of the River Mersey. A female Marsh Harrier dropped down into the tall grass for a rest from foraging and both Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaff sang from dense cover nearby.

Walking back along Lordship Lane and another much larger flock of Black-tailed Godwit headed to flooded fields by the M56 motorway.

A big female Peregrine reined supreme on top of the blue chimney.

Observers: JS & WSM (images & video).

16.03.19. Birdlog.

I was out and around No.4 tank this morning with a start at Ince. Curlew were feeding in the fields near to the ‘pig farm’ alongside a Rook flock from the nearby rookery. The pools held a few Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck Northern Shoveler, Gadwall and a single Little Egret. Onwards to the Manchester Ship Canal path where more Mallard Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck and more Gadwall all on the canal.  Common Shelduck and Canada Goose were plentiful on the salt marsh and a small flock of Pink-footed Goose were noted grazing far out near the river edge.

A flock of Golden Plover were circling above the marshes and moved off to the east.  3 Oystercatcher were on the canal bank and a group of 10 Redshank passed by.

A family group of 5 Whooper Swan were in with the Mute Swan herd alongside 7 Greylag Goose and c60 Curlew.

Myxomatosis was showing in a couple of Rabbit on No.4 with one particular Rabbit looking to recover from its infection showing scarring around the eyes, but otherwise healthy!

Looking over Lordship Marsh only 3 Mute Swan were present alongside Curlew and a handful of Lapwing. A group of Redwing were making their way along the hedgerow much to the annoyance of a Mistle Thrush but all scattered when a Sparrowhawk made an appearance. The Rook flock were all gathered around their nests in the rookery and were fighting each other over nesting material and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling as it flew overhead.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

15.03.19. Birdlog.

A quick walk around No.6 tank with a start along Moorditch and Lordship Lanes. The flooded fields past the model aircraft field had a small flock of Linnet. The Whooper Swan herd have shifted location and can’t be found in the fields by the motorway and tonight just 4 Mute Swan were settled there. The hedgerows had flocks of north bound Redwing.

A look over No.4 tank revealed the tatty Marsh Harrier floating as majestically as you can with a bunch of flight feathers missing.

The fields everywhere are flooded with the aftermath of Storm Gareth but Storm Harriot should keep the pools topped up. Many Northern Shoveler and 18 Tufted Duck were utilising the area.

A look over No.6 tank produced c300 Eurasian Teal with 16 Tufted Duck and the usual numbers of both Common Shelduck and Northern Shoveler.

A Peregrine was sat high on her blue topped chimney above the Weaver estuary.

Observers: JS & WSM (images).

11.03.19. Birdlog.

An after work visit and maybe the last before Storm Garth muscles in from the Atlantic.

The choppy waters of No.6 tank harboured c320 Eurasian Teal with 21 Northern Shoveler, 20 Mallard, 18 Common Shelduck and 16 Tufted Duck. A Black-tailed Godwit shared the edge of the daisy beds with a solitary Ruff.

A steady passage of Raven heading off to their evening roost continued throughout the period of my watch. One bunch of 5 birds mobbing a raptor high in the sky draw my attention to a Short-eared Owl. The owl eventually hunted low over the reed beds but without the close attention of the corvids making life difficult for it.

A Cetti’s Warbler sang out loud and proud and Meadow Pipit  were parachuting in display flights.

Observer: WSM (image 1). Image 2 by Paul Ralston.

10.03.19. Birdlog.

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I started my walk at Moorditch Lane this morning where a Chiffchaff could be heard calling above the din of the M56 traffic. A flock of Chaffinch were feeding in the bushes along the lane also. No.6 tank had Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Common Shelduck were all present in reduced numbers on the flooded water .of this sludge tank.

Both Raven and Great Black-backed Gull were all scavenging on No.3 while Common Buzzard and Kestrel were hunting in the area.

A single Marsh Harrier was sat in its usual place in the reed bed of No.6.

A flock of c300 Golden Plover left the Frodsham Score salt marsh and gained height and headed east along the Manchester Ship Canal, and c80 Black-tailed Godwit dropped on to the marsh and joined a flock of Curlew already feeding there.

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Image may contain: sky, bird, tree, outdoor and nature

There was 40 swans alongside the Holpool Gutter and included 32 Mute and 8 Whooper Swan with 8 Greylag Goose and the long staying and 2 field dwelling Great Egret.

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A flock of c100 Curlew and c40 Black-tailed Godwit were spooked by a Peregrine circling overhead.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-5).

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Above a couple of images and a video by WSM of the proposed sand work development on No.6 tank. It is assumed that work will not commence until after the breeding season?

09.03.19. Birdlog.

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A pre-tide watch over No.6 tank in a biting north-westerly wind revealed most of the birds sheltering in the only available space that reduced the wind speed, and that was within the flooded daisy beds. There was 11 Tufted Duck, 21 Common Shelduck, c50 Northern Shoveler, c200 Eurasian Teal and a smattering of Mallard.

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The big surprise was a flock of c400 Black-tailed Godwit (they’re back!!!) tightly packed on the edge of the flooded vegetation along with a Knot and some Dunlin. A couple of Marsh Harrier were quartering the reed beds and looked settled.

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I continued my walk out to view the incoming tide on the southern Mersey salt marshes. It was very difficult to find an area that afforded some shelter, but I managed to secrete myself deep into the bank and watched the spectacle unfold ahead of me.

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A Great Egret flew out to an area of flooded grassland where hundreds of Eurasian Wigeon were taking advantage of the seeds dispersed by the rising water. There were big numbers of Common Shelduck with Pintail and Eurasian Teal adding to the throng. Waders were on the move and a flighty flock of c300 Golden Plover were struggling against the strong wind.

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A bedraggled Fox quickly made a retreat to the drier ground to wash off its muddy coat.

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The Raven were again enjoying their tumberling food dropping games over the banks of Frodsham Score against the backdrop of Hale lighthouse across the river on the darkside.

No photo description available.

A female Merlin shot over my head after its quarry while deep in the reed beds a Chiifchaff was singing while a Cetti’s Warbler made its pressence known. Part of the flock of Black-tailed Godwit made an early departure from their high tide roost on No.6 tank. The flock flew over and like a tight bunch of flying darts they headed back to the estuary.

A walk back along Lordship Lane failed to produced the Whooper Swan herd and there was little else of note.

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Observer: WSM (images).

05.03.19. Birdlog.

An after work visit before my services were required to taxi the girls night out in Chester.

I arrived with the sun sliding behind the clouds and a chilly westerly breeze wafting through the area of No.6 tank. There was much activity with Common Shelduck posturing before each other, while Eurasian Teal drakes were head banging to their potential suitors. Northern Shoveler drakes were keeping close dibs on their female partners and Mallard pairs were engaged in acts of amore. A small flock of Common Snipe dropped in. A Cetti’s Warbler rang out from the banks.

The poplar trees alongside the westbound M56 had several hundred Rook spiralling in the air their ballet display flocks. The raven flocks were moving through and within the short time I was there I estimated c1500 birds.

The shot blast plumaged Marsh Harrier sailed in from No.4 tank before it was joined by three other birds. Over on the distant blue topped chimney at Weston Point the female Peregrine sat for her evening roost.

Observer and images: WSM.

CHESHIRE AND WIRRAL BIRD REPORT 2016

We’re delighted to say that the annual Bird Report for 2016 is now available – with many people working together to develop the content and get it printed.

The front cover features 8 of the 12 Spoonbills which graced BMW in August and September and delighted many observers.

The Report has 144 pages of text, 7 pages of photos and the colour map of the main birding sites of the county as the centre spread. The photos capture some of the highlights of the year, including stunning shots of Nightjar and Marsh Harrier (taken under licence) and the full Spoonbill cast.

The Report is the one document that brings together individual observer sightings (including Birdtrack), records from major sites and annual counts from the key BTO surveys of WeBS, WBBS and BBS. This all goes to demonstrate that Cheshire and Wirral has a rich avifauna – 232 species were recorded in 2016 of which no less than 28 were BBRC or County Rarities.

As well as the Systematic List, the Report contains articles on:

  • A White-crowned Sparrow ringed at Woolston Eyes – the first for Cheshire and Wirral. This was accepted as the first record of the sub-species gambelii recorded in Britain.
  • Finder’s accounts of two rare tern species and an inland Sabine’s Gull.
  • An account of the influx of Yellow-browed Warblers during the autumn.
  • The regular ‘Early and late dates for migrants’ including an October Cuckoo (the latest ever) and a December Swallow.
  • Cheshire and Wirral in the BTO Online Ringing Report, which now selectively focusses on recoveries chosen to illustrate movements and longetivity – or both in the case of the Reed Warbler which crossed the Sahara at least 24 times!

For 2016, the Index might be particularly helpful. The Systematic List now follows the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) order – so you if you are looking for Falcons, they sneak in between Woodpeckers and Parakeets.

The Bird Report is free to Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society members (ordinary membership costs £12), otherwise it costs £8 + £2 p&p and copies are available from:

David Cogger, 71 Parkgate, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 8HF

 Tel: 01565 228503 Email: davidcogger@cawos.org

03.03.19. Birdlog.

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A flock of Fieldfare were on the lane at Ince this morning and a Sparrowhawk was hedgehopping in its attempt to outwit the finch flocks there.

The ponds were quiet with just a few Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and a single Common Shelduck, and a Mute Swan which left to join the herd by the Holpool Gutter.

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A good-sized flock of 20 Little Egret were in the field alongside the berth was a surprise, but they may have roosted in the nearby trees?

There were again more ducks on the Manchester Ship Canal with a raft of 38 Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, 3 Great Crested and 2 Little Grebe were present.

The Mute Swan herd numbered 28 with 6 Greylag Goose and c40 Curlew.

There was 6 Northern Shoveler on the ‘Splashing Pool’ and a large flock of Canada Goose with a Greylag and its white mate grazing on No.3 tank.

A single Marsh Harrier was sat in her tree on a sludge tank.

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My walk continued to view the 26 Whooper Swan herd on Lordship Marsh with c80 Pink-footed Goose grazing nearby before heading out to the Mersey estuary. I was pleasantly surprised to find a Merlin perched up on a hedgerow adjacent to the blue slurry tank.

The sorry sight of a Brown Hare laying dead on Lordship Lane and was quickly recycled by the crows and Magpie which are doing what corvids do best and that is cleaning up after us.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

02.03.19. Birdlog.

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I took time out to check the flooded field to the south-east of Frodsham Swing bridge and saw 32 Black-tailed Godwit and 22 Eurasian Teal. The pools (images 2-3) look an interesting sideshow, so somewhere to keep an eye on this summer.

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A walk along Brook Furlong Lane and then a quick look over the pipes that cross No.1 tank. On this occasion there wasn’t much to occupy my time so I continue along the track to the River Weaver. On arrival the river was alive with birds and I managed a count of 4 Little Grebe, 1 Great Crested Grebe, 12 Coot, 23 Eurasian Teal, 106 Tufted Duck with 4 Goldeneye, 9 Common Pochard, 10 Mallard and a large gaggle of Canada Goose.

There were plenty of Lapwing settled on the banks of the Weaver estuary with c40 Black-tailed Godwit, 11 Redshank, 3 Oystercatcher, the wintering Common Sandpiper finally seeing in the Spring and a lonely Ringed Plover.

After seeing what I wanted I headed back along Brook Furlong where 3 Chiffchaff were belting out their tunes with Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit along the hedgerow.

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Looking across No.6 tank and the ducks were hiding mostly in the flooded daisy beds but I did wheedle out 96 Shoveler, 23 Gadwall, 12 Mallard, 14 Common Shelduck, 120 Eurasian Teal, 6 Tufted Duck. A flurry of Lapwing and Golden Plover had to contend with an over flying yellow four winged model aircraft buzzing their tide roost.

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The wintering ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier which has shared hunting either side of the river since it first appeared here last autumn was again hunting the reed beds before settling in the open boggy area of the tank. Also seen was one of the four Marsh Harrier quartering the area yet again.

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Raven were again benefiting from the surplus amount of dead mutton and fresh still-born Spring lambs scattered widely across the area.

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With Storm Freya heading our way it was interesting to see her brewing on the distant westerly horizon with formations of lenticular clouds adding to the menace.

Observer: WSM (images 2 – 9).

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Paul Crawley (images 1 & 10-12) pics from Marsh Farm.

01.03.19. Birdlog.

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After I finished work I made the most of the longer daylight with a walk around No.6 and No.4 tanks. Four Marsh Harrier were over No.6 and were joined by 2 Common Buzzard.

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Raven and Great Black-backed Gull were feasting on the dead sheep stock that lay around the marshes.

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Further out on the Frodsham Score where hundreds more Canada Goose and Common Shelduck were joined by c200 Pink-footed Goose and a couple of Little Egret. c40 Golden Plover took to the air as a Sparrowhawk cruised past and targeted a flock of Starling further out on the marsh.

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The Mute Swan herd numbered 35 with 10 Greylag Goose, while a Great Egret lingering in the area.

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A female Merlin sat on one of the flat topped hedges in the same field.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2 – 5).

An early dart from work and a walk around No.6 tank before tea.

There was plenty of fresh in ducks to No.6 and its flooded areas with 120 Eurasian Teal, 57 Gadwall, 11 Tufted Duck, 73 Shoveler and 14 Common Shelduck.

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Upwards of 4 Marsh Harrier including the shot winged bird. Kestrel and Common Buzzard made up the rest.

Raven numbers were again in high numbers with an assembled flock of 50 birds tumbling over the banks opposite the ‘Pumping Station’. The pools on No.3 tank were typically below their best but c60 Eurasian Teal, 14 Shoveler and 21 Coot.

Frodsham Score salt marsh had hundreds of Pink-footed Goose with stacks of Canada Goose. It was nice to hear the Golden Plover flocks calling with their evoctive sound. There were just 3 Little Egret sharing the great expanse.

The Raven flocks were again impressive with large numbers moving south to their evening roost sites.

Observers: JS & WSM (images 1 & 6).