11.03.20. Birdlog.


With the increasing evening light I took advantage of it after work to get in some midweek birding on the marsh. The wintering female Long-tailed Duck finally re-emerged after hiding for 3 days. Likewise, the 1st winter female Greater Scaup (like the LTD) was a little out of place with every other species of duck in display. A pair of ‘weed’ displaying Great Crested Grebe were good value and many of the drake Common Goldeneye in a flock of 19 birds were ‘head tossing’ like a heavy metal convention. Eurasian Teal numbered 230 birds while Tufted Duck regain their former count of c150 with 7 Common Pochard.

Perhaps the highlight was the return of Pied Avocet to the River Weaver and with the setting sun birds streamed out of the river to roost on the Mersey Estuary for the night. The combined count was 88 birds and constitues a new site record.

A single European Stonechat and a couple of Cetti’s Warbler were mobile along the river edge.

The small flock of Fieldfare continue to linger at the old birdlog and a large herd of Canada Goose were grazing on No.1 tank.

 Observer and image: WSM.

10.03.20. Birdlog.

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An after work visit to Ince this afternoon. Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and Eurasian Teal were all present in reduced numbers. There were 3 Mute Swan were noted on the pools. Eurasian Coot and Moorhen were collecting nest material and 6 Little Egret were feeding together. Eurasian Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in the shallow waters with 2 Grey Heron in attendance.

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I haven’t seen the Short-eared Owl duo on the last couple of visits, so was surprised to see them back near the berth.

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A look over the Frodsham Score salt marsh and c200 Pink-footed Goose were amongst the Canada Goose and Common Shelduck gathering on the marsh. Eurasian Curlew were numerous on the marsh and a flock of c50 were flushed by a Common Buzzard on the stubble field. There were 5 Greylag and the white goose still present have taken a liking to the stubble field and have been there on my last few visits.

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A Merlin left the top of an oak tree near the berth and sat on a hedge watching a European Starling flock feeding in the stubble.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

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A flock of 8 Avocet arrived on Sunday 08.03.20 seen by Dermot Smith and during my visit this evening after work produced 31 birds. A Marsh Harrier was by the River Weaver and both Chiffchaff & Cetti’s Warbler were vocal along the track.

Whooper Swan herd were in the the far distance on Lordship Marsh and a fine male Peregrine flew over.

Observer: WSM.

08.03.20. Birdlog.

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I began my walk at Ince this morning for my Mersey Estuary WeBs count.  A Little Egret was sat in a field in front of the ‘pig farm’ waiting for the trotters to be let out of their pigstys and when they were released the egret immediately flew straight to them and was watched snatching grubs unearthed by their piggy little feet.

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Another 7 Little Egret could be found around the pools. The recent collection of ducks gathering at the pools was much receded with, 16 Mallard, 32 Tufted Duck, 26 Eurasian Teal, 2 Northern Shoveler, 6 Eurasian Coot, 4 Moorhen and only one Mute Swan.

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Waders were made up of c60 Eurasian Curlew in a field alongside the Growhow Works road and 10 were in the flooded field with 25 Black-tailed Godwit.

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The Barn Owl was again roosting in its box while a Water Vole was watched feeding on the bank and then swam across the ditch to within 10 foot from where I was standing. Raptors included European Kestrel, Common Buzzard and Eurasian Sparrowhawk were all active in the area.

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A look over Frodsham Score saltmarsh saw hundreds of Pink-footed Goose were grazing, but not as many as recently, but still impressive numbers.

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A long line of European Golden Plover were resting on the marsh with several in their summer plumage. 6 Greylag Goose including the domestic type bird were on the stubble field with a Great Egret still hunting the ditch alongside c80 Eurasian Curlew.

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A walk over No.4 tank and a group of 6 European Stonechat were together in the reeds and brambles and a Great Spotted Woodpecker landed in the scrub before moving  on. A Cetti’s Warbler was heard in the reeds closeby.

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The ‘Phalarope Pool’ held a small number of Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler and 4 Eurasian Coot. A Cattle Egret was mooching around the cows on No.3 tank and then was seen to fly towards Marsh Farm. There were 22 Mute Swan  in there usual place on Lordship Marsh and 18 Whooper Swan were near to the farm.

The Rook colony is building up with Western Jackdaw and Carrion Crow were all feeding on a seeded field.

Walking back to my car and another Cetti’s Warbler rang out loud and proud and was briefly seen moving across the lane.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-8).

A couple of Western Marsh Harrier were ranging freely over No.6 & No.4 tanks and loads of Raven were active in and around the marshes.

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A walk around Delamere Forest and imparticular Blakemere where the first summer adult Mediterreanean Gull was with the main flock of displaying Black-headed Gull colony.

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A couple of drake Goosander and a female added to a Spring like day.

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Observer: JS & WSM (images 9-11).

07.03.20. Birdlog.

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I started at Brook Furlong Lane this morning where a pair of Magpie were adding to their nest in the bushes next to the bridge.

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A mixed flock of European Starling, Redwings and Song Thrush were feeding in the pony paddock until they were targeted by a Sparrowhawk. Both Great Tit and Chaffinch were calling on this spring like morning and several Common Buzzard were calling overhead.

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On to the river where Canada Goose were the most numerous wildfowl noted with reduced numbers of Tufted Duck, Mallard Common Pochard, Eurasian Teal and 15 Common Goldeneye.

A small white domestic goose was amongst the Canada’s while 2 white Domestic Greylag types were also noted.

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The partial leucistic Canada Goose has survived the shooting season and was alive and well on the Manchester Ship Canal. Looking over the Canal Pools more sTufted Duck, Mallard, Eurasian Teal and several Gadwall were noted alongside c40 more Canada Goose and a pair of Great Crested Grebe.

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A small number of singing Eurasian Skylark were up on high over the pools and 4 pair of Eurasian Oystercatcher were active around the pools. A flock of c50 Eurasian Wigeon were on one of the scrapes but made their way out to the Metsey Estuary. Raven and Common Buzzard were searching for casualties during the lambing season in the area.

A look over Lordship Marsh and the Whooper Swan herd were still in situ with a flock of c30 Eurasian Curlew feeding with them. Lapwings were also on territory on the marsh chasing corvids that came to close.

The water on No.6 tank held decent number of Tufted Duck, Mallard, Eurasian Teal and smaller numbers of Common Pochard, Gadwall and Common Shelduck with at least 3 pairs of Little Grebe.

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I stopped of at Ince on my way home and a Western Cattle Egret was following in the footsteps of a feeding pig and was snatching morsals of food that was disturbed by the anomals grubbing around in the field in front of the farm. On the flooded fields 5 Little Egret were busy in the shallows with a mixed flock of Black-tail Godwit and Eurasian Curlew.

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Again Tufted Duck were numerous with Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and Northern Shoveler. Also present Mute Swan and Little Grebe were establishing their territory.

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A couple of broken duck eggs were on the path and a pair of Raven were searching the reed beds for nests.

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Looking over the Frodsham Score saltmarsh from Kinsey Lane and large herd of Pink-footed Goose were grazing on the short grass before making the long journey north.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

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I paid a visit to the marshes after work and made the muddy trek down Brook Furlong Lane to join the River Weaver. A look through the 112 Tufted Duck, 11 Gadwall, 11 Common Pochard, 31 Eurasian Coot, 7 Great Crested Grebe, 11 Common Goldeneye, 54 Eurasian Teal revealed the female Long-tailed Duck.

A large flock of 350 European Golden Plover flew over spooked by a Common Buzzard flying over their roosting site. A Cetti’s Warbler sang out from the reed bed but otherwise it was fairly quiet for passerines.

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A look over No.6 tank saw 81 Tufted Duck, 7 Common Goldeneye, 8 Northern Shoveler, 7 Common Pochard and 12 Eurasian Coot.

A female Western Marsh Harrier was joined by two other birds.

Looking out to Lordship Marsh I just about managed to 21 Whooper Swan with the Mute Swan herd in the fields by the motorway.

Observer: WSM.

06.03.20. Birdlog.

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An hour at Ince marsh after work this afternoon. I parked near the incinerator plant where the pathway near to the farm is now to deep to even attempt to walk along. 2 Short-eared Owl were observed hunting near  to the berth one of which was Common Buzzed by a Carrion Crow.

Out on the saltmarsh were Common Shelduck, Canada Goose and Pink-footed Goose grazing with c60 Eurasian Curlew with several Little Egret feeding in the tidal channels.

The flooded fields held Tufted Duck, Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Northen Shoveler and Gadwall, plus 9 Little Egret, 7 Mute Swan were noted another 2 were swimming along the footpath.

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

Back to my car and two additional Mute Swan flew in to join the rest on the flood and a large flock of Western Jackdaw went to roost in the woods near to the incinerator plant.

Observer: Paul Ralston.

02 & 04.03.20. Birdlog.

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02.03.20. Birdlog.

I called in at Ince after work where a Great Egret was in the stubble field alongside the Holpool Gutter with c60 Eurasian Curlew and 5 Greylag and the domestic type goose.

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A Marsh Harrier was hunting over the bank on No.4 tank while a Short-eared Owl was noted near the berth. Common Shelduck, Canada Goose and Pink-footed Goose were all on the Frodsham Score saltmarsh. The flooded fields held a decent flock of Tufted Duck, Eurasian Teal, Mallard and a few Gadwall were amongst them. Also seen were several Little Egret and 7 Mute Swan being present.

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04.03.20. Birdlog.

A flock of c120 Black-tailed Godwit passed over heading towards the Mersey Estuary and a flock of Fieldfare flew east. The stubble field still held Eurasian Curlew and Greylag Goose while a Great Egret was foraging on the Frodsham Score saltmarsh alongside several Little Egret, Common Shelduck, Canada and Pink-footed Goose were again noted. Two Short-eared Owl were seen with one perched on a rock and the other was close by, but blended into the background and it wasn’t seen before it took flight.

The pools at Ince were much the same as on the 2nd with the addition of 4 Grey Heron amongst 7 Little Egret . A Barn Owl was moving about at the entrance to the box getting ready for its night hunting.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

01.03.20. Birdlog.

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I spent a couple of hours along the River Weaver this morning where c300 Canada Goose were on the water and a further c80 were grazing on the lambing field of No.1 tank.

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A large flock of Common Redshank with a few Black-tailed Godwit and 8 Eurasian Oystercatcher with them were flushed by a ship making its way out of the Manchester Ship Canal and a single Common Ringed Plover was noted. Raven were plentiful feeding on the casualties and bickering with the Great Black-backed Gull. Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover were in reduced numbers near to Marsh Farm and were kept on red alert by a hunting Common Buzzard.

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Walking back along Brook Furlong Lane a Western Marsh Harrier could be seen hunting Redwall reed bed.

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On my way back I stopped off at the pig farm by Ince where the track is still to deep to walk along but I watched a couple of Little Egret and Black-headed Gull foraging amongst the pigs and several Pied Wagtail joined in with them.

Observer: Paul Ralston.

After I finished my weekend shift I made my way down to the marshes but an dult Peregrine flying low over my car en route was a big surprise.

After parking up on the marsh I swiftly legged it to the river and quickly assembled my telescope to view the ducks down stream. A flock of c80 Tufted Duck included 9 Gadwall, 17 Mallard, 11 Common Goldeneye, 31 Common Pochard, 247 Eurasian Teal and the female winter Long-tailed Duck which kept to the jetty and was difficult to see at times. The Grat Crested Grebe look handsome in their summer finery and a couple of Common Ringed Plover gave a feel of Springtime.

A few Fieldfare and Redwing were about while a small murmuration of European Starling were circling about.

Also seen today was the Nordic Jackdaw at the Heath Playing fields, Park Road, Runcorn and a Ring-necked Parakeet at Runcorn Town Hall.

Observer: WSM.