The South Mersey Marshes (Mount Manisty) by Shaun Hickey.

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South Mersey Mersey Marshes – Mount Manisty

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A small group of bird watchers are lucky enough to have access to the South Mersey Marshes once a month to carry out a BTO Wetland Bird Survey. We have three areas to cover which include; Mount Manisty, the Point and Ince/Frodsham Marshes.

When a BTO WeBs counter is issued an area on the Mersey Marshes to count birds then it would be advisable to have a pair of decent wellies, because you will return across a marsh that has just been covered with the tide and is very, very wet. During the summer months the area of the marsh is waist high in vegetation so that can add to difficult walking conditions. Today I have been issued the task of counting the wildfowl and waders at this Mount Manisty.

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The other sites within the vicinity is Stanlow Point. This area is a sandstone outcrop on Stanlow Island and is part of the sandstone ridge that extends south-east to Whitchurch.

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The counters day begins 3-4 hours before high tide and we all meet at the oil refinery to be checked in with site security. From here we head to another part of the site to receive a visitor pass and another security check. We park our vehicles and get ready for the day ahead.

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An oil refinery mini bus takes us to the small ferry where we cross the Manchester Ship Canal and onto the Mersey Marshes. This part of the refinery is very much in use with oil tankers bringing crude oil in and other tankers taking the finished products out and beyond to the outside world. Once across the ship canal we pass through a locked gate and onto Stanlow Island. A small walk takes us passed some disused building and down to the area where the River Gowy enters the Mersey Estuary after syphoning under the Manchester Ship Canal we have just passed over.

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We usually approach the river where the Gowy enters a deep tidal channel and it is from this point we get to see what birds are feeding on the exposed mud. The usual species are Eurasian Teal with Common Redshank, Common Shelduck and Mallard. The Eurasian Teal can be in their 1000’s during the winter months and to see them take to air in one huge flock is truly magical. After an initial briefing we head off in our various directions to cover the estuary. For me it’s a six mile round trip to Mount Manisty and Manisty Bay and to give you some perpesptive for people who are not familiar with this area, then the site is alongside the Manchester Ship Canal at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire and directly opposite from Liverpool Airport across the mile wide river.

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We head around Stanlow Point where we are greeted with a huge expanse of exposed mudflats at low tide. Out on the mudflats the birds are well spread out feeding away, there are Dunlin, Red Knot, Grey Plover, Eurasian Teal, Eurasian Curlew and Common Redshank being the main species. Overhead a few hundred Northern Lapwing are fluttering about looking for a safe area to settle. There’s quite a few Canada Goose along the marsh edges with a few more wallowing in the mud out on the estuary. Good numbers of gulls are present with Great Black-backed Gull standing out from the crowd. I say my farewells to Ian Coote and Ruth who are staying at the ‘Point’ and I head off across the saltmarsh with Mount Manisty far off in the distance.

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A couple of Grey Wagtail are a good start to the day on the high tide mark right behind the ‘Point’. The first area that I pass is a rather large flash of water tucked away in the corner of Manisty Bay against the ship canal bank. I often look at this place and think maybe it was once used as a type of duck decoy pond? There’s a Great Egret patrolling the far bank with a dozen Little Egret keeping guard and always on the lookout. A small group of Common Redshank see me and take flight and circle around before heading over the high banks towards the ship canal. As I walk around the right hand side of the flash I flush 2 Water Rail from the long grass plus a few Common Snipe. There are more egrets scattered over the marsh towards the rivers edge with a total of 22 being noted.

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I hug the canal bank to my left approaching the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum on the opposite side of the canal. There’s a metal gantry perched on steel sheet piles that keep the ship canal separate from the marsh from here I gain access on top of the gantry to see what’s on the canal and have a good look over Manisty Bay. There are reasonable numbers of Black-headed Gull here with a solitary Great Crested Grebe alongside a fishing Great Cormorant and more Mallard boosting their numbers.

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Back down on the marsh the walk continues. Most of the waders and ducks are out on the river, or in the long vegetation out of sight from me. I can hear Eurasian Curlew and Common Redshank with the odd whistle of Wigeon.

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A Fox is keeping its eyes on me occasionally standing on its hind legs to gain a bit of height over the long grass.

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A female Marsh Harrier is patrolling the edge of the marsh disturbing everything it approaches. I in turn push Chaffinch, Linnet and European Goldfinch flocks all along the canal bank always keeping a good distance away. The numbers of Wren that I’m flushing out is unreal, and really I should have kept a count, but an estimate of 70 is a conservative one.

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Along the lower bank of the ship canal is a row of timber posts that must have been used to carry a pipe line in years gone by. These posts provide great plucking stumps for the local raptors. I always like to have a look for pellets and slowly rip them apart to see what’s been on the menu (I guess Chris Packham would love it here)

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I approach a large gully on my right hand side it’s roughly 3m-4m deep. I’ve attached two images, one at low tide and another at high tide.

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This gulley was once a main channel to Ellesmere Port docks before the ship canal was built and cut it off. Along the route of the gully is an old wooden tripod that was once a lamp post when the waterway was used for shipping. These posts are also another great plucking post for raptors.

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The hollowed out timbers are a raptor catchment base with pellets, lots of seeds and shells from the crops of the dead birds.

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A quick glance over my shoulder and a large Common Buzzard is having a tussle with another raptor that I first take to be a Marsh Harrier, which I spotted a short while earlier. Not entirely convincing myself about its idenity.  I untangle my binocular strap that had wrapped around my camera strap and then both birds disappeared behind the canal bank out of sight, I continue onwards…

… and westbound, the ‘mount’ is very much in touching distance now and I approach the it to my left with a huge reed bed that I have to navigate first. A large mixed flock of finches were feeding on the floor, mostly Chaffinch, Linnet and European Goldfinch with a few Greenfinch, 4 Common Bullfinch with both Blue and Great Tit in good numbers too. Reed Bunting were everywhere and two more Water Rail are flushed with one calling as it flew into the reeds. At that momont I receive a text from Ian Coote who was at the ‘Point’, he stated he had seen a large hawk with the possibility it was a Northern Goshawk which had flown over him and his fellow counter earlier and had put up all of the egrets, but more importantly it was now heading towards me! This got me thinking about the buzzard/harrier tussle I had seen earlier…was it/wasn’t it? The last bird you would expect to see hunting the marsh would be a Goshawk.

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Mount Manisty is man made mound of rubble and spoil from the evcavation of the Manchester Ship Canal 125 years ago this year. Archive photographs show the ‘Mount Manisty’ without a single tree on it. Today, the ‘Mount’ is completely covered in trees and bracken. I have battled my way to the top over many counts and years, but not today. On top of the ‘Mount’ is a trig point that was built by the Ordnance Survey when they mapped the UK in the 1930’s. There’s also another trig point at Stanlow Point.

As I walk along the bottom of the ‘Mount’ this is the first time I can see the water’s edge up close. A flock of Red Knot and Grey Plover are feeding with Common Redshank and good numbers of Eurasian Teal which are dotted about. Right around the corner is a small beach where Rivacre Brook syphons under the canal before discharging into the River Mersey. It’s strange to think that the small brook at the end of the road where I live ends its course at this point. There are some old workings which have been left next to the syphon head and they look like some kind of sluice gate?

A wintering Common Sandpiper is bob-bobbing about with a few more Grey Wagtail along the waterline. More Common Shelduck are out on the river with good numbers of Eurasian Curlew being spotted on the river’s edge towards Eastham Locks.

With high tide an hour or so away I start to head back as I don’t want to be cut off by the tide and then have to wait for it to to recede, or battle my way through trees and bracken instead.

More Eurasian Teal and Common Redshank are noted being pushed up river by the ever approaching tide. This end of the ‘Mount’ is quite square in shape and as I turn the first corner there are two Carrion Crow mobbing a bird at ground level. At first I though it was a Sparrowhawk, but when it takes flight right towards me less than 30m away it gains a bit more height and is most definitely the Goshawk which I and Ian et al had seen earlier. A dark heavily streaked individual bird and presumably a juvenile. It flew right through the trees and disappeared in a flash. I was very happy with that one as I’ve only ever seen them at a distance before and definately a Mersey Marsh tick!

Back around the reed bed I just beat the tide and I head to one of my vantage points on the elevated canal bank. From this spot I can see where the large gully enters the Mersey Estuary. The tide has now filled the gully and covered the edge of the marsh. Wigeon, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Teal , Eurasian Curlew, Common Shelduck and lots of Common Redshank are counted. A large group of Great Cormorant are watching the tide come and go as they stretch their wings out. I had forgotten about the looming clouds that are approaching from the south and the rain begins to fall. I wrap up and head back towards the ‘Point’ with my hood up and head down. A few Stonechat and Common Snipe are added to today’s list and a few more Common Buzzard as well.

A Sparrowhawk was keeping the finch flocks on edge alongside the canal bank and another raptor is patrolling the marsh, this time a fine Peregrine. I take cover against the canal bank to watch the hunt between predator and prey unfold like I’ve done many times before. I’m always amazed at the speed of birds of prey and the area they cover in such a short time. It veers to my right over the canal bank out of sight. It then turns up on my left 100m away heading towards the river. Eurasian Teal, Common Redshank and Eurasian Curlew all fill the air, but it completely ignores them heading straight towards a flock of Wood Pigeon. They typically panic, but the falcon hurtles straight through them heading out over the estuary towards the Dunlin flocks that are flying over the river. The Peregrine makes a stab right into them but with the poor visibility I loose sight of the bird and don’t see it again. More Common Snipe are flushed on my way back across the recently flooded marsh with me almost standing on one.

By the time I arrive at the ‘Point’ the rain has settled in for the duration, the sight of 35,000 Dunlin landing on the recently exposed sand banks spread out as far as you can see, they are joined by Grey Plover, Red Knot, Common Redshank, Oystercatcher, gulls and geese. A superb spectacle to witness and such a privileged to have all this wonderful wildlife on our doorstep. I eventually meet up with Ian and we trudge back towards the ferry chatting and enthusing about the Goshawk and how well Liverpool FC are doing in the Priemership and how poor Chelsea (Ina’s team) are.

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WeBs is co-ordinated by the British Trust for Ornithology and they are always looking for extra counters to join us at this amazing place. If you would like to experience just some of the Mersey magic come and join us. There’s a Comments box at bottom of page. Please let us know if you are interested or simply spare a comment on how you liked this article.

A huge thank you to my friend Ady McCabe for his amazing aerial photos of the Mount Manisty area from on high.

Written and illustrated by Shaun Hickey.

The South Mersey Marshes (Part 1) by Shaun Hickey

https://frodshammarshbirdblog.wordpress.com/2019/11/28/the-south-mersey-marshes-by-shaun-hickey/

Additional articles covering this area are here:

Round the Back pt 1 by WSM

https://frodshammarshbirdblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/round-the-back/

Round the Back pt 2 by WSM

https://frodshammarshbirdblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/round-the-back-part-2/

15.12.19. Birdlog.

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I started at Ince today for our monthly BTO WeBS count on the adjacent land that borders the Mersey Estuary. A flock of c40 Eurasian Curlew were near to the pig farm, and the pools nearby held 6 Mallard, 89 Eurasian Teal, 14 Gadwall, 7 Eurasian Coot, 1 Moorhen, 2 Little Grebe, 1 Little Egret.

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The flocks of nomadic winter thrushes like Redwing and Fieldfare were stripping what’s left of the berries on the hawthorns and a couple of Common Kestrel were hunting over the rough grass near to Ince berth.

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A flock of 24 Gadwall were resting on the Manchester Ship Canal with 53 Eurasian Coot and the cargo container ‘Stolt Pelican’ heading west to Salford.

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A look over Frodsham Score saltmarsh produced a single Great and 13 Little Egret. Most of the geese were keeping to the edge of the river along with Eurasian Wigeon and Eurasian Teal.

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A flock of waders were moving backwards and forwards along the river edge with Red Knot, Grey Plover, Dunlin and Common Redshank being noted  A flock of c80 Eurasian Curlew and c100 Northern Lapwing were in the stubble field by the Holpool Gutter with hundreds more of Northern Lapwing which rose into the air and high over the saltmarshes.

Looking over Lordship Marsh were 10 Common Redshank, c100 Eurasian Curlew and several Common Snipe. The flooded fields kept a pair of Mute Swan and a single Little Egret could be seen in the distance. There was still the family groups of 15 Whooper Swan again in the flood field by the M56 motorway, but the Cattle Egrets had taken time out with the cattle being moved to a less flooded field.

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I didn’t see the Common Kingfisher but did noticed it had left a couple of fish bone pellets in the drainage ditch by the junction path. A pair of Mistle Thrush were feeding in a ploughed field alongside the GrowHow fertiliser plant and a Peregrine was high up over the same factory.

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No.6 tank had again amuch reduced number of ducks with 48 Northern Shoveler, 14 Northern Pintail, 125 Eurasian Teal, 7 Eurasian Coot, 11 Moorhen, 12 Little Grebe, a female Common Goldeneye and 21 Mallard. Three Marsh Harrier were over the reed beds adding to an under par day out in the field.

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A Goshawk was over the Mersey marshes at Mount Manisty per Shaun Hickey.

Observers: Paul Ralston (images) & WSM.

A couple of interesting birds of note include a Barred Warbler from last autumn (2018), and more recently a Great Grey Shrike caught at an undisclosed site on the marsh two weeks ago.

14.12.19. Birdlog.

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A short walk along Brook Furlong Lane and down to the River Weaver this morning. A Eurasian Jay was seen flying cross the lane and was followed by a flock of winter thrushes. Both Common Buzzard and Common Kestrel were active during my walk.

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Along the river were c200 Canada Goose, 19 Mute Swan in decent numbers, likewise, were Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck, Mallard and c40 Common Redshank were noted. The Mute’s were flushed by a passing container ship the Matlese ‘Black Star’ being guided along the Manchester Ship Canal by 2 tugs. One particular swan refused to be bullied by the water vessels and stayed on the water.

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A female Stonechat was by the shooters’ berth and the plover flock was again in the air every so oftern, living on their nerves and nervous enough to be flushed at any sign of danger.

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A couple of Brown Hare were seen leaving a field at an undisclosed site to hide in the rough vegetation.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston. 

13.12.19. Birdlog.

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A long weekend off work and a long walk around the marsh this morning. I started off at Moorditch Lane where smaller numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare were feeding in the bushes and down in the stubble fields.

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I Looked across No.6 tank where Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Northern Shoveler, Little Grebe and Eurasian Coot were in reasonable numbers, the hybrid Mallard was still in amongst them.

Raven and a single Great Black-backed Gull were feasting on a deceased sheep carcase on No.3 while 3 Common Buzzard watched from the fence line.

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A mass of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover were in panic mode when a Marsh Harrier passed close by and even the Pink-footed Goose herd took to the air and moved out to the Frodsham Score saltmarsh.

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The ‘Splashing Pool’ held more Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Northern Shoveler with the addition of a few Gadwall. Onwards to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a look over the score marshes where hundreds of Canada Goose were grazing on the short grass, with plenty of Common Shelduck dotted about the marsh, and another Marsh Harrier was hunting out by the river. The stubble fields alongside the Holpool Gutter held a few Northern Lapwing and c100 Eurasian Curlew.

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Walking back along Lordship Lane and a look over Lordship Marsh where the 3 Cattle Egret were joined by 7 Little Egret and a few Common Snipe. The Whooper Swan group of 14 moved closer to Lordship Lane and can now be seen from the junction of No.3 and No.6 tanks.

A Kingfisher was again noted in the ditch alongside number No.6.

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Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

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 the  Mersey estuary while the egrets circled around and landed by the Holpool Gutter before moving again towards Ince.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.