09.12.19. Birdlog.

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A day off work and at last some time to devote to my patch on Frodsham Marsh. A walk out from Marsh Lane to the distant realms of the marshes produced some good birds and some frisky bullocks.

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The hedgerows bordering both Moorditch and Lordship Lanes where heaving under the weight of the mass of Fieldfare still taking advantage of the bumper crop of hawthorn berries. Also in attendance but in very much reduced numbers were Redwing, Song Thrush and Eurasian Blackbird.

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The flooded maize fields alongside Lordship Lane had flocks of Black-headed and Common Gull with c100 Western Jackdaw and Carrion Crow. It wasn’t until I got to the elevated position overlooking Lordship Marsh and the fields by Hillview Farm. I managed to pick up one of the long-staying Cattle Egret from this position. Taking the public right of way that edges alongside the field I made my way out and obtain some closer views of the egret(s). A frisky herd of bullocks were typically curious by my pressence and uninvitedly they approached as I walked along the edge of their shitty field.

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After negotiating a couple of stiles which were attached to electric wires, I got in a reasonablby good position to view the egret. Almost immediately it was joined by two others and all three settled in an adjacent field…

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…I set up my telescope and looking through my angle eye piece I locked onto one of the birds, suddenly a large pink rasping bovine tongue blurred out my view and proceeded to lick the objective lens of my scope. The slimey ouze dripped off the scope and down the legs of the tripod. I was surrounded by a herd of overly attentive cattle and blocking my view of the egrets. After a little of persuasion from me the herd stood back but were never too far away to lick or snort snot over me and my optics once again. I gave up after a while and wandered back to Lordship Lane where a couple of Little Egret were feeding with the now flushed (by the cows) 3 Cattle Egret. A herd of 18 Whooper Swan were by the M56 motorway in the flood affected fields.

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I walked out to look over Frodsham Score and without any cows to bother me this time. I had unrestricted views of several hundred Pink-footed Goose, tens of hundreds of Canada Goose and 6 Whooper Swan which were additional to the birds seen earlier. A huge flock of Northern Lapwing including several hundred European Golden Plover were settled deep into the swarthy grass. There were 4 Great Egret and singletons of scattered Little Egret numbering 20 birds.

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I also heard and saw loads of bubbling cries of Eurasian Curlew and a distant Western Marsh Harrier was quartering the saltmarsh further out. A Common Sandpiper was again on the muddy banks of the Manchester Ship Canal and a single Great Crested and 2 Little Grebe were on the water. The Raven were gain enjoying the updraught of the canal banks whilst annoying the Common Buzzard present.

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The mitigation had several hundred Eurasian Wigeon with most of the Eurasian Teal from No.6 tank here and a big herd of Pink-footed Goose munching the grass with c400 Northern Lapwing.

A walk over to No.6 tank revealed two more Western Marsh Harrier veying with Common Buzzard and Raven for dominence. A flock of c40 Common Snipe were flushed from cover and a Stonechat was being coy for a change in the reeds. Ducks were keeping a low profile with c21 Tufted Duck, 12 Northern Pintail, 11 Northern Shoveler and 18 Common Pochard.

Observer and images: WSM.

08.12.19. Birdlog.

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I started at Rake Lane this morning where the Whooper Swan herd of 14 birds could still be seen near Hillview Farm and from the motorwayfootbridge, also in the same field were 2 Little Egret.

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Along the lane and closer to the farm were Fieldfare feeding in the stubble alongside Reed Buntings and Chaffinch, while on Lordship Marsh a Green Sandpiper was flushed from a ditch.

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The 3 Western Cattle Egret and two additional Little Egret were with them.

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The stubble fields along the Holpool Gutter held a large flock of Eurasian Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit which were flushed by a Peregrine which moved onto Ince Marsh to hunt the plover flocks there.

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Further out on the saltmarsh were a further 4 more Whooper Swan were present with 15 Little Egret, 7 Egyptian Goose and a single Ruddy Shelduck.

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Both Common Buzzard and Raven were competing with each other for the dead spoils left on the saltmarsh and a Common Sandpiper still winters on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal and 2 Llittle and a single Great Crested Grebe.

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Over on No.3 tank were Eurasian Teal, Mallard and Northern Shoveler were on the ‘Splashing Pool’ and c200 Pink-footed Goose were grazing with the Canada Goose flocks.

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Walking back along Lordship Lane and a Kingfisher sped along the ditch while a Eurasian Sparowhawk hunted the finch flocks ending a cracking day on the marshes.

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Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

07.12.19. Birdlog.

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I was out this morning with a start at Moorditch Lane where a large flock of Fieldfare and Redwing which were feasting on the hawthorn berries along the lane. Onward to No.6 tank reduced numbers of Northern Shoveler were on the water with 19 Common Pochard similar number of Northern Pintail plus Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck and Mallard. Common Buzzard and Kestrel were active during my walk and a large female Peregrine hunted over the reed beds. A mass of mostly Northern Lapwing with a few hundred European Golden Plover were in the air over No.3 tank and c300 Pink-footed Goose were grazing with the Canada Goose near to the Canal Pools.

A group of Raven were feeding on the long dead Badger on the track between No. 3 & No.6 with more cleaning up the deadstock elsewhere.

Shooting was taking place on the saltmarshes with just a few Little Egret dotted about and the geese flocks kept on the move.

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Looking over the stubble fields along the Holpool Gutter where more Northern Lapwing were feeding alongside c200 Eurasian Curlew, c30 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Ruff.

Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, European Goldfinch and Linnet were all noted along Lordship Lane and a male Stonechat was fly-catching from bushes on the No.4 bank.

Looking over Lordship Marsh from the junction of No.4 and No.6 revealed 3 Cattle Egret feeding around the cows laying down and chewing their cud. The Whooper Swan herd were out near the M56 motorway.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-2). Image 3 by WSM.

01.12.19. Birdlog.

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I started this morning’s walk at Brook Furlong Lane where a smart male s>urasian Sparrowhawk sped past me at knee height and tried in vain to catch one of the many Fieldfare and Redwing that were feeding in the bushes.

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On the Weaver River a small flock of Tufted Duck joined the usual duck species and a group of 9 European Goldeneye which were all females.A herd of 12 Mute Swan and c300 Canada Goose which were sheltering on the river away from the shooting parties out on the salt marsh.

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A large mixed flock of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover were moving about on the Mersey estuary with several Common Buzzard keeping them on the move.

A wintering Common Sandpiper flew east along the Manchester Ship Canal and a single Great Crested Grebe was fishing and managed to catch a small fish.

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The Canal Pools held many more Canada Goose with c50 Eurasian Coot, Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mallard and Tufted Duck.

A pair of Stonechat were along the path and a flock of c60 Eurasian Curlew passed overhead towards Lordship Marsh.

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The sound of gunfire put a mass of Canada Goose into the air which soon was followed by several hundred Pink-footed Goose and the Eygptian Goose flock were with the Ruddy Shelduck in with them.

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The stubble fields alongside the Holpool Gutter were empty apart from a few Eurasian Curlew and Northern Lapwing.

Walking along Lordship Lane and Reed Bunting, Chaffinch and European Goldfinch were commonplace and were being shadowed by another Eurasian Sparrowhawk.

Looking over Lordship Marsh from the junction of No.4 and No.6 tanks and the Whooper Swan herd could be seen in the far distance and back in their winter fields after being disturbed yesterday.

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A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over No.6 and another bird was seen on No.4 tank.

A Marsh Harrier was hunting the reed bed on No.6 and another pair of Stonechat were on the path edge. A family group of 5 Mute Swan joined the usual ducks on the tank with c80 Eurasian Curlew and European Golden Plover were feeding on No.3 tank.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

29-30.11.19. Birdlog.

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A long weekend off from work and a early morning walk around the Ince and Frodsham Marshes where I started at Moorditch Lane with 2 Common Kestrel were hunting in the pony paddocks and several Raven were struting about in the stubble fields.

On to No.6 tank where the duck numbers were reduced but still held Northern Shoveler, Cmmon Pochard, Eurasian Teal. Tufted Duck and Mallard alongside a few Canada Goose. A Sparrowhawk was flushed from the path I walked along and took off carrying a European Blackbird.

Three Common Buzzard included one sat in a tree drying out in the early morning sun, the other two were hunting the reed beds and were joined by a Marsh Harrier which flew over No.3 tank flushing a flock of Eurasian Teal and Northern Shoveler off one of the scrapes.

Reed Bunting, Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit were numerous during my walk as were European Goldfinch and Linnet flocks.

A look over Lordship Marsh from the junction of No.4 and 6 tanks in an attemp to locate the Cattle Egret flock from last week proved negative, but c50 Eurasian Curlew were feeding in the fields there.

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Walking along the Holpool Gutter and more Eurasian Curlew (c80) were feeding in the stubble with 6 Black-tailed Godwit and c60 Northern Lapwing. The calls of many Pink-footed Goose could be heard over the saltmarshes and a large flock were dropping down to feed amongst the Canada Goose herd which were already settled on the marsh.

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A gathering of c15 Little Egret and 3 Great Egret were dotted about the marsh and another Marsh Harrier was out by the river.

On the Canal Pools were c50 Eurasian Coot and a few Eurasian Teal and Mallard being noted. On the Manchester Ship Canal there was 3 Little Grebe and 5 Great Crested Grebe and a Common Sandpiper crossing to the far bank. Another Eurasian Sparrowhawk flew over the canal to ambush a European Starling flock feeding in the long grass and managed to nail an unfortunate victim.

A mass of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover were their usual nervous selves and took to the air time, time and time again as anything they took be a threat. Fieldfare and Redwing were feeding along Brook Furlong Lane and a flock of c40 Black-tailed Godwit flew east.

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Driving back home I stopped off to look over Lordship Marsh from Helsby and could see the Whooper Swan herd and 3 Cattle Egret were in the distance but would have been invisible to see from Lordship Lane on the marshes itself.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

30.11.19. Birdlog.

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I had an hour to kill this morning so a walk along Rake Lane from Helsby was rewarding with a flock of c30 Reed Bunting feeding along the lane with House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail.

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A flock of c100 Eurasian Skylark dropped in to the stubble to feed alongside c40 Eurasian Curlew and a Stonechat was sat on the fence.

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Shooting was taking place on Lordship Marsh which forced the Whooper Swan from the frosty fields herd and the 3 Cattle Egret equally got a frosty reception and they too look for somewhere quieter to feed.

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The Whooper Swan flock made their way towards theĀ  Mersey estuary while the egrets circled around and landed by the Holpool Gutter before moving again towards Ince.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.