29.02.20. Birdlog.

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I began my walk this morning around No.6 tank. There wasn’t a great deal on the water with just a few Mallard, Tufted Duck, Eurasian Coot and Moorhen. The mitigation pools on No.3 tank fared much better with Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Northern Shoveler and Gadwall being noted. A flock of c150 Black-tail Godwit were feeding in the shallow edges and some starting to moult into their summer plumage. A herd of Canada Goose were grazing on the tank alongside c30 Common Shelduck and a single Eurasian Oystercatcher. A Western Marsh Harrier passed high up overhead and it or another was later seen preening in the reed bed on No.6.

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The Mute Swan herd were on Lordship Marsh close to the lane, while the Whooper Swan herd were split in to 2 groups nearby. There were two pairs of European Stonechat were along the lane and several Reed Bunting were alongside the ditch. Also noted were 3 Kestrel and 5 Common Buzzard were active during my walk.

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Back at the north end of No.6 were 13 Moorhen feeding in the stubble field and ran for cover when a Eurasian Sparrowhawk  circled overhead.

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I then made my way to the west end of the marsh at Ince where a Great Egret was feeding with 7 Little Egret in the flooded fields alongside the Growhow Works service road. A look over the stubble field alongside the Holpool Gutter produced c100 Eurasian Curlew, 5 Greylag and a white domestic type goose.

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The Frodsham Score salt marsh held both Canada and Pink-footed Goose flocks grazing on the short grass with many Common Shelduck amongst them. A few thousand European Starling were kept on the move by a hunting Marsh Harrier and a pair of Eurasian Oystercatcher were feeding amongst a group of c40 Eurasian Coot on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal.

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A single Short-eared Owl was again near the berth and  a Barn Owl was again peering out of the entrance of its box. Tufted Duck, Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and Mallard were present on the flood with several Mute Swan present. The Eurasian Coot were fighting in the reed beds and Little Grebe could be heard trilling away. There were 9 More Little Egret on the flood with 1 or 2 Western Cattle Egret.

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A Great Egret passed overhead and dropped in to the reeds while a Western Cattle Egret flew over to the pig field at the entrance to the farm and started to feed with the pigs. This bird was joined by 4 more Little Egret which were feeding on grubs which the pigs were rooting out with their snouts.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-12).

It is 6.97 miles from Ince berth to Frodsham bridge the area of distance in length of Frodsham Marsh.

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The resident Nordic Jackdaw was again on the playing fields with its partner (some white in that birds primaries) and c100 Western Jackdaw.

Observer: WSM (images 13-16).

I found a bag containing camera lenses at Pickerings Pasture, Halebank. If this is yours please send me a DM on Twitter @FrodshamBirder

27.02.20. Birdlog.

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An hour at Ince Marsh fields after work this afternoon. I parked near the incinerator plant as the pathway near the farm is now to deep to attempt to walk along even in wellies. A couple of Short-eared Owl were observed hunting near the berth one of which was buzzed by a Carrion Crow.

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Further out on the salt marsh of Frodsham Score were Common Shelduck, many Canada Goose and Pink-footed Goose were grazing with c60 Eurasian Curlew nearby and several Little Egret were feeding in the tidal channels. The flooded fields held Tufted Duck, Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler and Gadwall.

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Also noted were 9 more Little Egret, 7 Mute Swan were noted, plus 2 swimming along the footpath.

A Barn Owl was once again peering out of its box waiting for the light to fade before it started hunting for the night.

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When I eventually got back near to my car another 2 Mute Swan flew in to join the rest of the herd on the flood and a large flock of Western Jackdaw went to roost in the woods near to the incinerator plant.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images).

26.02.20. Birdlog.

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I made an after work visit to the area beside the River Weaver at Redwall reed bed hoping to see a Short-eared Owl or two at dusk. It was drawing a blank so I switched my attention to the water side instead. A couple of displaying male European Stonechat were vying for the attention of a female while 2-3 Cetti’s Warbler were giving it large over territories. A very vocal Chiffchaff gave the evening a feel of Spring.

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A look further up into the Weaver Estuary saw all the c200 Tufted Duck sheltering from the cold wind racing across the water. A flock of 29 Common Pocahrd, 7 Common Goldeneye, numerous Common Shelduck and the female Long-tailed Duck were paying for the time I made.

A black blob on the water infront of me meant it could only be one of the auk species and immediately it crested a wave to revealed it to be a summer plumaged Common Guillemot. Guillemots have a chequered history on Frodsham Marsh with records coming from either dead birds or usually being found moribund in drainage ditches. This is the first summer plumaged bird to have occured here and although more often seen across the River Mersey at Hale, where access to the shoreline is much easier than it is here, it still remains a very rare bird on this side. I would suggest this is a result of the current storms and the afternoon tide with the River Weaver giving the bird a sheltered havern to regain its strength.

Observer, video and images: WSM.

23.02.20. Birdlog.

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I was in work this weekend but managed a couple of hours after my shift finisched this afternoon. I parked by the entrance to the pig farm at Ince where 2 Little Egret were foraging amongst the pigs with several Eurasian Curlew.

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The path to the marsh is under water but just about passable if wearing your wearing wellies through the flood.

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A decent selection of ducks were present with Mallard. Tufted Duck, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and Northern Shoveler being noted.

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Several more Little Egret and Grey Heron and at least 2 Western Cattle Egret were moving between the pools. A fine male Marsh Harrier flushed all the ducks which soon settled again as the harrier flew towards Ince village. A flock of 7 Mute Swan seem settled on the pools and Little Grebe were active in the reed bed with Eurasian Coot and Moorhen being numerous. A Eurasian Woodcock was seen to drop in to a ditch then take flight again as I walked by.

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A single Short-eared Owl was again near the berth and its pellets were on a rock for me to investigate.

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The Environment Agency were pumping flood water out of the drainage ditches and in to the Manchester Ship Canal where Tufted Duck were on the cut. Further out on the saltmarsh were Common Shelduck in good numbers alongside Canada Goose,  Greylag and Pink-footed Goose.

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Another Marsh Harrier flushed the plover flocks and a mass of Eurasian Starling were feeding near the river and a Dunlin flock shimmered in the sunlight as they made their way up the River Mersey. A look over No.4 tank was yet another Marsh Harrier sharing the reed bed with a couple of Common Buzzard. Back towards my car and a owl box in a tree standing in the flood water had a Barn Owl peering out from it.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

20 Whooper Swan in flooded field adjacent to M56 (eastbound) and a dead Barn Owl on the hard shoulder at junction of M56 and M53 Chester bound per JS & WSM.

22.02.20. Birdlog.

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Another weekend and another storm to greet my birding on the marshes. I started along Brook Furlong Lane where a small mixed flock of Fieldfare, Redwing and Eurasian Starling were about. A band of Long-tailed Tit were briefly serenaded by a Cetti’s Warbler.

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When I reached the River Weaver the wind was whipping up a houlie and made it difficult to view through the telescope with my eyes streaming tears (it can be emotioal this birding game;O). I huddled down and found a safe sheltered spot to view the birdlife out on the choppy waters. A herd of 15 Mute Swan gathered together with a flock of 67 Tufted Duck.

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A further flock of 134 Tufted Duck was again joined by the 1st winter female Greater Scaup and 39 Common Pochard, female Long-tailed Duck, 14 Common Goldeneye, 31 Mallard and a single Pink-footed Goose tucked up close to the Weaver Sluice Gates (presumably an injured bird). There were 4 Great Crested Grebe and 240 Common Redshank

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A wintering Common Sandpiper, 6 Eurasian Oystercatcher, 1 Dunlin and 4 Common Ringed Plover were forced in by the tide out on the Mersey Estuary, while the big female Peregrine was sat on her windy tower above the old I.C.I power plant.

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There were three European Stonechat which were very curious and gave me ample opportunity to phone scope them at close quarters.

I made my way over to No.3 tank where I just managed to catch sight of the 3 Western Cattle Egret that had reappeared after their excursion over to Ince and were flying from Marsh Farm out to Lordship Marsh.

A further look over Frodsham Score on the rising tide produced several Little Egret and 3 Great Egret popping out of the tidal channels. Several hundred Pink-footed Goose were out with the Canada’s and ducks were few in species, but there were hundreds each of Common Shelduck and Eurasian Wigeon. A spiraling flock of Dunlin in the distance, small flocks of Grey Plover and 3-400 Black-tailed Godwit were added to the days tally.

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A Western Marsh Harrier flew over the saltmarshes and spooked several flocks of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover, including a bird in partial summer plumage.

Walking between No.6 & No.4 tanks and the ringtail Hen Harrier flew over but continued its flight out to Lordship Marsh. A further 4 more Western Marsh Harrier including a fine male were over the area. A small group of Black-tailed Godwit dropped in and a flock of c60 Common Snipe were flushed by the numerous predators in the area.

The fields of Lordship Marsh had 11 Mute Swan and 23 Whooper Swan, but no sign of the 3 Western Cattle Egret though.

My final destination was to look across the flooded No.6 tank where a drake Common Goldeneye was head tossing to 2 females. Also noted were 5 Northern Pintail, 64 Northern Shoveler, 350 Eurasian Teal, 21 Mallard and 43 Tufted Duck.

 

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Observer and images: WSM.

18.02.20. Birdlog.

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We took a long walk from Marsh Lane out to Lower Rake Lane and had some pretty gruesome weather there and back again.

The ducks on No.6 tank were huddled close to the south banks of the tank keeping well away from the cold blustery wind whipping across the marshes. A mass of c450 Eurasian Teal were busy at their display nuptials on both No.6 and No.3 tanks. A collection of 65 Northern Shoveler, 14 Tufted Duck, 12 Northern Pintail and 21 Gadwall.

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There were 4 Western Marsh Harrier circling the reed beds and on our return the ringtail Hen Harrier found its pressence far from welcoming.

Walking along the track between No.3 and No.6 tank and a large flock displaced of Northern Lapwing and smaller numbers of European Golden Plover were high over the area and in obvious distress. The reason for their concern was soon apparent when a big female Peregrine was sat in the field with a poor stricken goldie.

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A European Stonechat was keeping out of the wind along the banks and likewise a Common Chiffchaff followed us for nearly 500 metres.

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At the junction of No.6 and No.4 tank we took a hike along Lordship Lane where the 21 Whooper Swan herd where busy grazing and 6 Mute Swan found the flooded fields ideal.

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Godscroft Lane had a large mixed flock of Fieldfare, European Starling and Chaffinch. Another large flock of Fieldfare were at the horse paddock alongside Moorditch Lane.

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The first Lesser Celandine in flower alongside Godscroft Lane.

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A view of Frodsham Hill from Godscroft Lane.

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Observers: JS & WSM (images).

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There are not many birders who bird watch at Spike Island in Widnes, but I came across a kind chap who pointed out a wintering Kingfisher to me yesterday.Thanks to him for his observation and hopefully we can encourage more people to come down and find more surpises.

16.02.20. Birdlog.

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I started off my walk along Brook Furlong Lane this morning where  flock of Redwing were searching the bushes near the bridge for leftover berries while a mixed flock of tits made their way along the lane. Common Raven were numerous around the lambing fields aiding the clearup and quickly despatching the sheep afterbirth.

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A blustery walk along the river and the usual ducks and geese were noted along with 18 Mute Swan and a flock of Common Redshank which fed at the edge of the water with 2 Black-tailed Godwit and a single Common Ringed Plover.

The dredger Deo Gloria did a turn at the junction of the Weaver Estuary and the Manchester Ship Canal flushing all of the ducks, including Tufted Duck, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, 14 Common Goldeneye, Common Pochard and a Long-tailed Duck, providing a tick for our curtain twitching neighbours on the darkside of the river at Hale.

A Peregrine was sat on top of the blue topped chimney watching over the marsh.

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A mass of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover were in their usual nervous state and taking flight on a regular basis near to Marsh Farm. The flock of Fieldfare and European Starlings were searching for grubs and worms along Alder Lane were flushed by a passing Common Buzzard.

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Onward to No.6 tank which was very quiet with small numbers of ducks seen. The fields on Lordship Marsh still hold the Mute Swan near to the lane and a Whooper Swan was in the same field although at the far end with 3 Pink-footed Goose for company.

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A further flock of c390 Pink-footed Goose were feeding amongst the 23 Whooper Swan herd but took to the air and flew south over Helsby Hill.

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A female Stonechat was on the bank of No.6 with several Reed Bunting nearby.

I stopped at Ince on my way home and the water level was still rising in the lane. It was that deep it nearly came over the top of my wellies!

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The 3 Cattle Egret which are established has the birds from Marsh Farm were still present alongside several Little Egret. Ducks included Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Gadwall were all present alongside 7 Mute Swan and 4 Little Grebe. Eurasian Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit were flying around looking for somewhere to forage. A flock of c60 Stock Dove dropped in to feed near to Ince Berth and a single Short-eared Owl was also seen.

The stubble field alongside the Holpool Gutter held c40 Eurasian Curlew, 3 Greylag Goose and their white domestic companion.

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Finally arriving at my car and a Peregrine passed overhead and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk was hedgehopping along the lane.

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Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

15.02.20. Birdlog.

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A short walk to Ince berth this morning with the intendsion to walk through to No.6 tank but the fine rain made visibility difficult, so I cut the walk short.

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The track I was intending to walk along to the marsh was flooded, so wellies would be advisable, especially for anyone wishing to see the 3 Cattle Egret  and Short-eared Owl in the area. Two of the three Cattle Egret could be seen feeding in the reeds alongside several Little Egret.

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There were 7 Mute Swan on the flood with the two dominant birds on one of the other pools.

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A flock of Black-tailed Godwit dropped in to feed alongside a couple of Eurasian Curlew. Duck numbers were lower than recently but Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and Northen Shoveler were noted.

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Walking to Ince berth I inadvertently flushed one of the Short-eared Owl which rose from the ground at my feet and the second owl was seen sitting on top of a hawthorn nearby.

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Looking across and over to Frodsham Score salt marsh and I could see a couple of wildfowlers were out by the river. Nearby was a Great Egret and several more Little Egret being on the salt marsh with plenty of Common Shelduck seen.

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On the Manchester Ship Canal was a Great Crested Grebe in summer plumage and in the company of several Tufted Duck.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-7).

While PR was again wading through the rain and flood out to the west, I was wading through the mud and rain at the eastern section of Frodsham Marsh.

 

Initally there didn’t seem much to fire the engines at the start of the incoming Storm Dennis which was expected to sweep the area today.

A few Tufted Duck were in loose flocks of the River Weaver with simialr flocks of Common Shelduck. A walk further along the banks and the ducks appeared out of the gloom and increased in number with some Common Redshank, Oystercatcher, Black-tailed Godwit and a half dozen Common Ringed Plover. A flock of c76 Eurasian Curlew flew over head making their way to the Mersey Estuary.

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A small group of 29 Common Pochard were with the remainder of the Tufted Duck and the occasional Gadwall. Further sightings included 14 Common Goldeneye and the effervescent female Long-tailed Duck.

A couple of Stonechat were joined by a Common Chiffchaff sheltering below the banks of No1 tank from the wind and rain.

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The Cattle at Marsh Farm were huddled tightly together against the storm but the herd were tightly packed and partially obscured by the raised Canal Pools bank and thus there wasn’t any Cattle Egret that were apparent. I can only assume the birds Paul had seen were these birds?

A flock of 75 Fieldfare continue to look for worms in the dump area by the farm.

A Marsh Harrier drifted high along the Weaver Valley and dropped low from the wind on to No.1 tank.

A large huddled mass of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover with a flock of Black-tailed Godwit were hunkered down low into the grass untill a Common Buzzard got too close and flushed the lot.

Observer: WSM (1 & 8-10 & video).

13.02.20. Birdlog.

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Another short visit after work to the marsh at Ince this evening. The flooded pools in the fields held 6 Little and 3 Western Cattle Egret, 2 Grey Heron, 9 Mute Swan with one pair attempting to usurp and dominate the rest of the swans.

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There were Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Eurasian Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebe all present with a single Black-tailed Godwit feeding in the shallower water.

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A Common Chiffchaff was feeding alongside a group of Blue and Great Tit in the hedge alongside the reed bed.

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For the second evening running a couple of Short-eared Owl were hunting near to the berth and the egret flock was seen going to roost at 17 20hrs in the trees near by.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

12.02.20. Birdlog.

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I Finished work and spent the last hour around Ince.

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I parked near the pig farm and a Goldcrest was feeding in a bush next to my car and a short walk along the lane to the recently flooded field and 3 Western Cattle Egret were noted feeding in the margins with 5 Little Egret and 2 Grey Heron. The juvenile Mute Swan that took up residence on the flood has been joined by 6 more adults one of which was showing aggression to the youngster. Mallard, Gadwall and Eurasian Teal were present alongside several Eurasian Coot and Moorhen, Little Grebe could be heard trilling.

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A Short-eared Owl rose from the ground as I made my way to the berth and was soon joined by another bird, both gained height and were mobbed by several Carrion Crow.

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Looking over the Frodsham Score salt marsh and a skein of Pink-footed Goose dropped down by the river. Common Shelduck were in good numbers on the marsh and several more Little Egret were seen. Back at my car and ready for home the 3 Western Cattle and Little Egret were still feeding as the light faded, then two of the little made their way to roost in the trees near to the Ince berth.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-4).

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While PR was watching the western side of the marshes I took up my position below the banks of the east side of No.1 tank at Redwall reed bed. It wasn’t long before one of possibly 3 Short-eared Owl made their presence known. Two flew out towards No.5 tank and the last stayed in the area hunting back and to across the River Weaver. It perched up a couple of times with the background sound of Cetti’s Warbler ringing out loud. A glance across to the M56 motorway hedgerows produced a fine male Merlin sitting still with the thundering commuter traffic hurtling past.

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The river was rather quiet with Common Pochard, Tufted Duck and Common Goldeneye and a small flock of Common Redshank and 4 Common Ringed Plover settling down for the evening.

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Wigg Island on the ebbing tide is completely covered as viewed from the Mersey Gateway bridge (south bound).

Observer: WSM (images 5-8).