09.02.20. Birdlog.

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Rather wet and windy on the marsh this morning during the webs count at Ince tahnks to Storm Ciara.

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The flooded field on Ince marsh fields held c80 Black-tailed Godwit, 28 Eurasian Curlew, 15 Eurasian Coot, 12 Little Egret, 4 Grey Heron, 15 Mallard, 8 Gadwall and a single Mute Swan.

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The other pools held 31 Mallard, 48 Eurasian Teal, 3 Tufted Duck, 11 Gadwall, 2 Grey Heron and 8 Little Egret in the field next to Ince berth.

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Onto the Manchester Ship Canal and a flock of c60 Tufted Duck, c40 Eurasian Coot and a single Great Crested Grebe were noted.

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The storm that sweeped the region caused havoc amongst the waders and geese and small flocks of European Golden Plover were flying west along the ship canal only inches above the water riding the less disturbed air while others took shelter on No.4 tank. Dunlin and Eurasian Oystercatcher were sheltering on the canal bank and even the Raven flocks found the wind too much and took shelter in the bushes on No.4 as well.

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Meadow Pipit and several Eurasian Skylark were hiding in the grass and were only flushed when I walked close by. The tide covered the whole salt marsh and hundreds of Pink-footed Goose left and flew south to feed/shelter elsewhere.

The Mute Swan and Whooper Swan herd were still in their fields on Lordship Marsh. A large number of Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit were again feeding in a field adjacent to the fertilizer plant and had a pair of Mistle Thrush for company.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

08.02.20. Birdlog.

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I parked on the motorway bridge and made my way along Brook Furlong Lane this morning. There were still occasional Redwing searching for any leftover berries on the hawthorns and were joined by a flock of Fieldfare which chose the ground to feed on.

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A flock of c200 European Golden Plover passed overhead heading west and more were seen later mixed in with a huge flock of Northern Lapwing.

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A male Stonechat sat on the fence along Alder Lane with an wintering Common Chiffchaff close by. The three Western Cattle Egret were still hanging out amongst the cows near to Marsh Farm and a flock of Eurasian Curlew dropped on to No.3 tank.

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Another male Stonechat was on the canal bank. A flock of Common Redshank moved along the river with a single Black-tailed Godwit with them and a Common Sandpiper was noted.

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Moving on to No.6 and the usual suspects were on the water and a Water Rail was heard squealing in the reed bed. A partial leucistic Canada Goose was amongst the flock on No.3 with a flock of Eurasian Wigeon on the scrapes there.

On Lordship Marsh were 9 Mute Swan were in their usual place and the Whooper Swan herd were again by Hill View Farm.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-8).

Despite PR out on the marsh it’s usually rare for us to bump into each other and today was no exception. I walked along Brook Furlong Lane and out along the River Weaver where a herd of c100 Canada Goose had with them a white domestic Greylag Goose.

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The Common Goldeneye were busy head flicking to their aroused female partners and the female Long-tailed Duck was difficult to pin down but when I eventually found her, she was fast asleep and remained so for the period I was watching her (with a short head up and immediately down again). A flock of 284 Tufted Duck, 28 Common Pochard and the long staying 1st winter/female Greater Scaup. The recent arrival of good numbers of Gadwall are increasing with migrants heading in. There were small numbers of Eurasian Teal mostly hiding at the margins.

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There were ten Great Crested Grebe with many sporting their fine summer plumage.

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The shoreline had a small flock of Common Redshank and 6 Common Ringed Plover.

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Walking to Marsh Farm only revealed two of the three Western Cattle Egret and a smart male Peregrine shot over their heads long before they knew what was occurying.

My BTO WeBS count includes the fields on No.3 and No.2 tanks and this was the first time this winter that they were relativley short on Eurasian Wigeon. There were small numbers of Northern Shoveler, 400 Eurasian Teal and 10 Black-tailed Godwit.

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A look over the saltmarshes of Frodsham Score was alive with stuff and included 2.5 thousand Pink-footed Goose and included a partial luecistic individual and several with a white blaze above their bills. Apart from the ubiquitous Canada Goose herds the only addition was the white Greylag as seen from the Weaver Estuary earlier. A large flock of Black-tailed Godwit were further out on the river. Also 2 Great and several Little Egret.

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A Common Chiffchaff and Cetti’s Warbler were calling from No.4 tank.

After a long watch I made my way for the count on No.6 tank and was surprised to see the ringtail Hen Harrier being the first bird on the menu. It was soon joined by 2 Marsh Harrier. The ducks were mill to my grist with 83 Northern Shoveler, 28 Tufted Duck, 19 Common Pochard, 350 Eurasian Teal, 56 Mallard, 2 Common Goldeneye, 25 Gadwall and 58 Eurasian Coot.

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The fields of Lordship Marsh had 22 Whooper Swan and the Mute’s PR had seen earlier.

Observer: WSM (images 1 & 9-20).

07.02.20. Birdlog.

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I started my walk at Ince after a early finish from work. There were c200 Rook, Carrion Crow and Western Jackdaw fed amongst the pigs near to the farm and then were joined by a large flock of Eurasian Starling.The ditches are overflowing their banks causing a mini wetland in one of the fields thus attracting a single Mute Swan, c40 Eurasian Cand urlew several Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Heron and 2 Little Egret. The pools were quiet with a handful of Gadwall, Mallard, Eurasian Teal and a single Little Grebe.

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Onwards to the Manchester Ship Canal path overlooking the south mersey saltmarshes. A large herd of 1,000 Pink-footed Goose which took to the air and then settled down near the river. There were good numbers of Canada Goose and Common Shelduck were present also. A flock of c60 Eurasian Coot were on the canal bank then took to the water on my approach mixing in with a group of Great Black-backed Gull bathing in the canal water. Another group of Great Black-backed Gull were resting on the marsh while one gull fed on a sheep carcase keeping the Raven birds at bay. Several Little Egret were noted on the saltmarsh and a pair of Common Buzzard were displaying high up. Hundreds of Northern Lapwing took flight as a Sparrowhawk circled above them. 

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A Marsh Harrier was hunting between No.4 and No.6 tanks and then over Lordship Marsh. 5 Mute swan were in there usual field alongside a dead close to one of the turbines. The Whooper Swan herd could be seen near to Hill View Farm.

A distant Peregrine could be seen sat on the ground in the stubble field adjacent to the Holpool Gutter and a flock of c100 Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit were feeding close to the track. Back close to my starting point produced several Little Egret were seen going to their roost for the night. 

Observer: Paul Ralston (images).

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While Paul was out to the west of the marshes I dropped trundled along Brook Furlong Lane where a couple of Short-eared Owl were present. The 3 Cattle Egret were still mithering the cattle by Marsh Farm and a Marsh Harrier floated over the area.

Observers: JS & WSM.

06.02.20. Birdlog.

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With glorious sunshine beaming down on us all day it was with some eagerness that I made my way to the marsh after work. On my arrival I got a text off Arthur Harrison who had seen 2 Short-eared Owl over Redwall reed bed.

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I walked out to the edge of the River Weaver and it was immediately obvious that one of the ‘shorties’ was still present. It was joined later by its companion and both gave some pretty incredible views (cue toggers to pay a visit). Walking back later a Barn Owl flew over my car and the Pipistrelle bat was again hawking over the bridge that crosses the M56.

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The sound of Cetti’s Warbler proclaiming their presence from the reed beds and a Common Chiffchaff contact calling from the some bushes by the old birdlog. A Little Egret flew west across the shooters fields and gulls poured through heading to the Mersey Estuary.

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The River Weaver was alive with ducks and 14 Common Goldeneye were joined by c150 Tufted Duck, 15 Common Pochard, 200 Common Shelduck, Mallard, female Greater Scaup and several hundred Eurasian Teal. No sign of the Long-tailed Duck but the light was fading quickly when I gave the estuary a grilling.

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Another stunning sunset as seen from my location setting behind Moel Famau in NE Wales.

Observer and images: WSM.

05.02.20. Birdlog.

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I started my walk with a stunning sunrise over the Manchester Ship Canal on the way to work this morning, and it finished with a stunning sunset over Frodsham Marsh after work.

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I spent the last hour looking over the Weaver Bend watching a Short eared Owl hunting the fields and river bank. Nearby were Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck and Common Goldeneye were all close to the Weaver Bend with many more near the junction with the estuary and canal where 18 Mute Swan were noted. The Short-eared Owl inadvertently flushing a wintering Common Sandpiper from the bank and a Little Egret flew over the river heading to its roost.There were masses of Eurasian Starling also heading to their roost and flying east along the ship canal.  A flock of Fieldfare dropped into the trees near to Marsh Farm.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).

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03.02.20.  I found this parasitic Mistletoe growing in a Hawthorn tree in Widnes, Cheshire and was surprised it’s gone unnoticed for so long.

Observer: WSM (images 4-6).

03.02.20. Birdlog.

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I started this morning at Brook Furlong Lane where a Song Thrush was in full song and a party of Long-tailed Tit, Great and Blue Tit made their way along the hawthorn hedgerow. Common Buzzard and a European Kestrel were hunting in the area.

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On to the River Weaver where several male Common Goldeneye were displaying to the females and the female Long-tailed Duck was a sleep amongst the Tufted Duck flock and the female Greater Scaup was seen briefly before it disappeared under water and was lost within the flock. A survey boat powered up the Manchester Ship Canal flushing a flock of Common Redshank and a single Black-tailed Godwit. Several Great Cormorant were noted with some in breeding condition showing their white thigh patches.

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At Marsh Farm only 2 of the 3 Cattle Egret were near the farm and c2000 Northern Lapwing which took to the air but soon settled down again. A flock of c80 Eurasian Coot were around the Canal Pools with some grazing around the edge of the water while Mallard, Gadwall and Eurasian Teal were also present. Flocks of Eurasian Wigeon. Northern Shoveler and more Eurasian Teal were noted on the scrapes on No.3 tank.

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Looking over No.6 tank and Tufted Duck were in decent numbers with Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler and Gadwall in attendance. A ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier was quartering the reed bed and a Marsh Harrier drifted overhead.

A walk along the Manchester Ship Canal path overlooking the Frodsham Score saltmarsh where several Little Egret fed amongst the Canada Goose and Common Shelduck, Raven were abundant playing in the wind over the score embankment.

A look over No.4 tank produced a Sparrowhawk was perched up. Marsh Harrier, European Kestrel and Common Buzzard were also hunting the area.  A couple of disgorged pellets were on the path and were made up of fur and rodent bones. Rabbits seem to be very scarce in the area not sure if they have been decimated by a virus that’s affected them in other parts of the country?

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-7).

I made a half-hearted effort to connect with yesterday’s Eurasian Bittern but that didn’t go according to plan. Nevertheless, there were plenty of distractions from the old birdlog spot at the south-east corner of No.1 tank.

A couple of Little Egret were spotted with a Short-eared Owl working the Weaver Causeway from ‘The Lum’ and out to the Weaver Estuary. Another shortie was seen high above No.6 tank. Back on the fields east of the birdlog and a Common Chiffchaff was making noises from a conifer tree. A flock of 150 Common Shelduck were on the Weaver Bend and several Common Goldeneye could be seen from my spot.

Observer: WSM.

02.02.20. Birdlog.

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I know the Bittern are always tricky to spot but they are a big rarity on Frodsham Marsh and I was really fortunate to see on over the Weaver Bend.

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I had the good fortune to see one was flying abve the height of a pylon heading towards the refinery works by the Weaver Bend, it flew from the direction of Helsby Hill. I didn’t see if it had flushed been from the marsh. I was standing on the lane just down where there is a sharp left (in the direction of the Marsh Farm) where the hawthorn end with the Weaver Bend in front.

I am on a bit of a Cheshire twitch this year (usually get around 160 to 170 species and was looking to see if it was possible to push closer to 200) and to be honest, I was looking for Ringed Plover. I always seem to draw a blank on those in Cheshire. Iit was lovely sitting watching the ducks on the Weaver for an hour.

Observer and images: Andrew Emmerson.

01.02.20. Birdlog.

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A big walk around the marsh produced the goods. I made my way along Brook Furlong Lane just as the shooters were commencing their activities. The sound of gun fire sent all the ducks sheltering from the keen westerly wind back to the Weaver Estuary.

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A flock of c200 Tufted Duck, 32 common Pochard, 12 Gadwall, 21 Mallard, 16 Common Goldeneye and 2 female Greater Scaup were doing their best to shelter from the wind and choppy waters.

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After a long wait on the banks of the River Weaver a very inquisitive female Long-tailed Duck couldn’t resist my presence and boldy swam within 20 metres. Unfortunately the sunlight was directly above my phone/scope compbo and it was difficult to focus (as per images). I had better luck with the Common Ringed Plovers though.

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A small flock of agitated Common Redshank were keeping their distance while the pair of Common Ringed Plover were very photogenic.

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Watching all this from her lofty sentinal on top of the blue chimney at Weston Point (the highest structure around these here parts) was the Peregrine.

A pair each of Common Stonechat and Eurasian Greenfinch, an excitable Cetti’s Warbler and a sub-singing Eurasian Skylark were extra distractions.

A walking to Marsh Farm again saw the 3 Western Cattle Egret with a herd of straw munching cattle. A fairly large gathering of Eurasian Wigeon were hiding in the shallow scrapes on No.3 tank.

My walk continued out to the Manchester Ship Canal where I set up and scanned across to Frodsham Score. The usual c1000 Canada Goose were scattered across the area with just a small flock of Pink-footed Goose. A flock of 66 European Golden Plover were very much reduced. Several Little Egret were popping up from the filling tidal gutters but no sign of any Great Egret. The incoming tide out on the River Mersey was forcing thousands of Dunlin from their slumber out at Manisty, but they were too far away for a decent view. A male Western Marsh Harrier drifted across the score embankments and moved off to No.6 tank to join another there and a pair of Common Buzzard were displaying overhead.

The light was ebbing away from the day so I made a quick dash over to view the fields of Lordship Marsh and was rewarded with 12 Whooper Swan and 4 Mute Swan.

Observer and images: WSM.