31.05.20. Birdlog.

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An early morning start at Ince before the temperature rose throgh this morning. The lane was alive with birdsong with Wren, Common Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Cetti’s Warbler, Sedge and Reed Warbler were joined by a Song Thrush and Blackbird. The pools were quiet with just a few Mallard, Gadwall, 2 Common Shelduck and a Little Grebe.

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Wren in the sunshine.

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On the Manchester Ship Canal, Tufted Duck, Mallard and Common Shelduck were numerous with plenty of Canada Goose on the water with hundreds more out on the Frodsham Score salt marsh.

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Not a great deal on the ‘Canal Pools’, a single Great Crested Grebe was noted hopefully its partner and young were in the reeds out of sight.

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The Common Redshank pair were feeding at the edge of the ‘phalarope pool’ and being tolerated by the Northern Lapwing for a change. More Sedge and Reed Warbler were vocal along the path with Eurasian Reed Bunting and Common Whitethroat being commonplace  no sign of the leucistic bird unfortunately.

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A pair of Western Yellow Wagtail were on the fence along Lordship Lane and a Common Buzzard was mobbed by the a flock of Rook as it strayed to close to their rookery. Back at the start of the walk a Euraian Sparrowhawk was rising on the thermals and was joined by

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another 2 birds and all three circled together for a short while before drifting off.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-7).

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From mid morning we walked out from Marsh Lane and along Moorditch, Lordship Lane and around No.6 tank.

Our first stop was at the ‘splashing pool’ where a group of 34 Tufted Duck and 6 Gadwall were settled. Just a short hop away is the ‘phalarope pool’ and apart from an anxious Common Redshank, 3 Sunshine Wagtail and c100 Sand Martin over the area it was a little underwhelming. We continued to have a look over No.6 tank but not before we socially distanced ourselves from Jacqui and Idris Roberts. Looking through the shimmering heat haze made taking photographs a pointless task. There were 14 Common Ringed Plover, 2 Dunlin, c500 Black-tailed Godwit, 16 Red Knot, 11 Mute Swan, 146 Tufted Duck, 2 drake Common Pochard and a few odds and sods.

Observers: JS & WSM (image 8).

A Mediterreanean Gull was with the Black-headed Gulls on the Weaver Bend per Roger Wilkinson.

30.05.20. Birdlog.

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An early start from Brook Furlong Lane and along the River Weaver and Manchester Ship Canal and then around No.6 tank this morning. The ‘mixed singer’ Willow Warbler was vocal in its usual area at the south-east corner of No.1 tank and was joined by Wren, Blackbird, Cetti’s Warbler, Common Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat. Both Reed and Sedge Warbler were numerous during the length of my walk with a brood of fledged sedge’ seen along Lordship Lane. Onto the River Weaver and the water level has dropped exposing a sand bank mid river which looks promising for future visits.

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A pair of Great Crested Grebe was on the river and one of them was giving a youngster a piggyback ride while the other was fishing successfully. Several Pied Avocet had young on the far bank and the parents were kept busy chasing crows and gulls away from them.

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On the Weaver Estaury were 28 Mute Swan noted alongside many Canada Goose and Common Shelduck with a brood of 10 young shelduckings crossing the river with their parents. There were a pair of Eurasian Oystercatcher on the Manchester Ship Canal between Marsh Farm and the dredger berth and I noted Tufted Duck and Gadwall being on the water and a family of Pied Wagtail were on the bank.

The ‘phalarope pool’ held a Canada Goose family with Mallard, Common Shelduck and again Gadwall being present. The Common Redshank pair were contact calling to their young ones hiding in the grass and were buzzed every now and again by a Northern Lapwing. Linnet and European Goldfinch were feeding along Lordship Lane with more Reed and Sedge Warbler seen and heard, as were several Reed Buntings. Looking over No.6 tank and the 22 Red Knot were in amongst several hundred Black-tailed Godwit and several Pied Avocet.

Walking back and close to my car a Eurasian Cuckoo was calling and was seen to fly over Brook Furlong Lane towards Redwall reedbed. If you plan to walk along the Weaver Causeway footpath take some insect repellant as clouds of midges rise from the vegetation as you brush pass.

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Close to home a check on a local Peregrine site and one of the 2 nests had left and the nest site and was sitting close by being watched over by a male.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-4).

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The Weaver Bend with its drought effect island.

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While PR was on his long tramp we waked in from Frodsham Bridge and at the sluice gates a Kingfisher darted out from a cuvert into the river narrowly missing colliding with a speed boat.

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As Paul had mentioned earlier the River Weaver is at its lowest for a considerable time. The lack of run off from the hills and surrounding lane and the recent low tides have produced a area worthy of attention a few weeks back if it had been this low.

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I managed a count of 57 Pied Avocet and that included several downy young and theere could have been more on the raised Weston Marsh tank but that was not viewable from my elevation. A couple of Great Black-backed Gull and flyover corvids got the Common Shelduck up from Weston and Marsh and the Weaver Bend and I estimated that we have c450 birds, the sky was full of them. Mostly 1st summer Black-headed Gull were all along the river and numbered into their hundreds.

A walk past the birdlog half way along Brook Furlong Lane produced the second ‘mixed singer’ Willow-Chiffchaff.

Observers: JS & WSM (images 1 & 4-24).

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The riddle of the leucistic passerine which was initially thought to be a Reed is infact a partial leucistic Common Whitethroat…unless you think otherwise?

Images 25-26 by Jon Gilbody.

29.05.20. Birdlog.

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A walk out and around No.6 tank with a prolonged stop at the ‘phalarope pool’ on No.3 tank where we sat off enjoying a sandwich and a brew. There wasn’t much to see although the Northern Lapwing young are begining to look like their parents. After about 30 minutes a duck emerged from the bank below where we were watching from and revealed itself to be a fine drake Garganey. The bird gave some fantastic views busily feeding and not so busily sleeping between more feeding. It was a great couple of hours spent watching this bird before we dragged ourselves away leaving it still there.

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Drake Garganey in finer plumage.

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Closer profile.

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I left JS to drive home while I set up on the banks of No.6 tank to watch the shorebirds below.

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I was then joined by PR and we both watched the 854 Black-tailed Godwit well scattered across the area and the Red Knot (no red ones) numbered 22 birds today. A small group of Dunlin, 6 Common Ringed Plover and 14 Pied Avocet with some nesting out of the fragile mud. A Western Marsh Harrier quartered the reed beds before moving to the north.

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Ducks were again back in good umbers with 3 drake Common Pochard, 87 Tufted Duck, 130 Mallard, 16 Gadwall, 14 Common Shelduck, 14 Northern Shoveler and 9 Eurasian Teal.

Garganey video on twitter.

Observers: JS & WSM (images 1-6).

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No sign of the Garganey on the ‘phalarope pool’ after I lefy WSM there was just Mallard, Common Shelduck, Gadwall, Common Moorhen and Eurasian Coot. The Canada Goose had 6 goslings at the edge  of the pool and the Common Redshank pair were being harassed by the Northern Lapwing.

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A Western Yellow Wagtail dropped in to feed on insects in the shallow mud and a Dunnock wearing a metal ring was nearby.

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One of the cows belonging to Marsh Farm had an abscess the size of a football on its face.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 7-9).

28.05.20. Birdlog.

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We parked up in Marsh Lane and walked out along Moorditch Lane where a few Common Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat and Sege Warbler vied for attention on a beautiful warm summers day. Looking across the flood water of No.6 tank with the sun slowly creeping in from the south-east I was able to scan the birds on or by the water.

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The Red Knot flock had increased by one to 20 birds with c50 Dunlin, 14 Pied Avocet, 12 Common Ringed Plover, c400 Black-tailed and a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit.

Ducks were again in situ with 134 Tufted Duck, 6 Eurasian Teal, 7 Northern Shoveler, 43 Common Shelduck and 10 Mute Swan. A Western Marsh Harrier was hiding under the bank and slowly floated above the willow trees at the ‘secluded pool’.

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The ‘phalarope pool’ lacked yesterday’s Garganey but it was encouraging to see the Gadwall ducklings looking healthy. A Common Redshank was having problems settling on the waters edge with the 3 pairs of Northern Lapwing showing litle tolerance towards it. A Western Yellow Wagtail came in for a drink before heading back to No.4 tank. The leucistic headed Reed Bunting was also spotted by some birders close to the track.

Additionally, the Common Redshank pair have two chicks which is good news considering the circumstances the nesting pair had to endure before the chicks hatched.

Observers: JS & WSM (images).

27.05.20. Birdlog.

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We took a long walk (12 miles) to cover the eastern side of Frodsham Marsh today starting from Frodsham Bridge past the Quay and out by the Bailey Bridge that crosses the River Weaver just east of the Weaver Bend. The old track from Frodsham Bridge brought back many memory from my early childhood before all the housing estates were built and when an old farm stood there, but time and tide wait for no man and we continued to the Weaver Bend. An hour or so spent here was great watching some of the 40 Pied Avocet present (with more birds along the line of the river) persistentaly mobbing a pair of Great Black-backed Gull that were waiting to snatch one of the bold ranging young avocets. A Little Ringed Plover was noted along with numerous Northern Lapwing.

It was enjoyable to see several hundred non-breeding Black-headed Gull along the river and out to the Weaver Estuary. A pair of Great Crested Grebe were proudly carrying their chick pillion on their backs, obviously cautious of the beady eye of the black-backs. There were 23 Mute Swan on the river.

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Walking off the marsh from the south-east corner of No.1 tank and the ‘mixed singer’ Willow Warbler was again proclaiming its territory to both other Willow’s and…err, Chiffchaff.

Observers: JS & WSM (images 1-2).

Sightings from my walk around the marsh this morning.

After avoiding a Hedgehog on Marsh Lane I headed to No.6 tank. On the
tank were 14 Common Ringed Plover, 52 Dunlin and 17 Pied Avocet were joined by 19 Red Knot and 2 Western Yellow Wagtail seen.

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A further Western Yellow Wagtail was by the ‘phalarope pool’, which held a drake
Garganey.

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A Spotted Flycatcher appeared in the trees on the south bank of No. 4
tank along Lordship Lane.

Moving down to the Weaver Estuary, 45 Pied Avocet were on the banks with a
further 58 at the Weaver Bend, along with a Little Ringed Plover.

The pipes on No. 1 tank held a Northern Wheatear and 3 European Stonechat.

Counts from across the Marsh included 11 Cetti’s Warbler, 2 Willow
Warbler, 12 Common Chiffchaff, 27 Sedge Warbler, 29 Reed Warbler, 10 Blackcap
and 23 Common Whitethroat.

Observer: Alyn Chambers (images 3-4).

26.05.20. Birdlog.

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I took a walk along Moorditch Lane and out to the east side of No.4 tank and back. As soon as we reached the ramp track to No.6 tank and a Eurasian Cuckoo was calling from the thick bushes on No.5 tank. A little later it could be seen flying along the track and took a dash into the bushes at the end of the road. I settled down to watch through the shorebirds on the banks of No.5 tank looking down and across with the sunlight obscured by a bank of heavy cloud. The light and haze was difficult to get anything like a decent image through my scope.

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Almost immediately a drake Garganey drifted into my vision and continued to swim to the edge of the water and haul itself out of the pool and walk over to a bunch of Mallard dozing in the heat of the afternoon, and duly fell asleep.

A flock of c350 Black-tailed Godwit were either sleeping or feeding and a smallish flock of Dunlin were joined by 3 Red Knot, Northern Lapwing and some Pied Avocet. The resting flock of c350 1st summer Black-headed Gull were still present and c70 Tufted Duck and a couple of pairs of Northern Shoveler made up the rest. We were complating moving on when the cuckoo flew just a couple of feet above our heads giving out its distinctive ‘cuckooing’ call.

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We carried onto the ‘phalarope pool’ where a Western Yellow Wagtail was joined by a Pied. The Gadwall ducklings are starting to get bigger while the female was keeping a watchful eye on them.

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A couple of Pied Avocet dropped in for a bathe.

Walking all the way around No.6 tank was rewarding particularly when a Common Redshank pair produced their single chick and a pair of Common Ringed Plover both PR and myself have been keeping an eye on had 3 chicks in a field.

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There wasn’t that many people about today compared to the Bank Holiday so there was more on the bird front.

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Observers: JS & WSM (images 1-10).

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Thanks also to Keith Gallie for his excellent pics of the Cuckoo from the Weaver Bend (images 11-14).

An after work walk from Ince to ‘phalarope pool’ on No.3 tank. There was no sign of the Garganey pair from yesterday with just Mallard, Little Grebe and a pair of Mute Swan. There were plenty of House Martin were hawking above the pools and a very vocal Cetti’s Warbler and Song Thrush. A few juvenile European Goldfinch were following their parent birds and stripping the seeds from the field edge flowers. There were family parties of Long-tailed Tit were searching for bugs in the hedgerow vegetation.

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A flurry of Banded Demoiselle were grouped together along one stretch of a ditch with bright blue males chasing the emerald green females.

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All of a sudden I heard a plop of water and a Water Vole which disappeared in a cloud of silt it had disturbed from the bottom of the ditch.

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The Common Redshank pair were contact calling to their hidden chick and the Northern Lapwing chicks are almost as big as their parent birds. A pair of Western Yellow Wagtail dropped in for a visit then flew off over to No.6. Walking back to my car and the Barn Owl was getting ready to leave its box to spend the night hunting the local terra firma vole population.    

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 15-18).  

25.05.20. Birdlog.

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An early start on my morning walk from Ince. A pair of Garganey was a nice surprise on one of the pools sharing it with Mallard and Little Grebe. A pair of Mute Swan were on an adjacent pool and a pair of Little Egret being on another. There were 2 Cetti’s Warbler holding territory singing close by but not seen. The Barn Owl was again in its nestbox.

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On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a pair of Great Crested Grebe were on the water alongside a dozen Tufted Duck and another pair of Mute Swan. Canada Goose were flying on to the salt marsh after grazing on the local farmland and were joined by 10 Greylag Goose.

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A Red Fox made its way towards me but stopped in its tracks when it caught my scent in the air and suddenly fled when it realised I was there. Further along the path a Brown Hare was foraging and it to slipped away just like the fox did.

Another pair of Mute Swan were on the ‘Canal Pools’ and seemed to have bred on the marsh for the second season in a row, unlike the Canada Goose who have goslings all over the marsh.

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There were 2 Western Yellow Wagtail near to the pools with several Pied Wagtail being noted.

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The Common Redshank were agitated (a chick was seen hiding in the grass) as the cattle wandered past.

Eurasian Oystercatcher and Northern Lapwing were seen along Lordship Lane and a pair of Grey Wagtail were on the Holpool Gutter near to the Growhow Works.

Walking back to my car and the Garganey pair seem settled on their selected pool and were busy preening.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-5).

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I made a visit from late morning into the swelterling heat of the afternoon.

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I don’t even know if this constitutes a record shot but they are 3 Knot through the heat haze.
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Looking across the shimmering mirage on No.6 tank I could just about see a collection of c400 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Red Knot, 78 Dunlin, 14 Pied Avocet and 15 Common Ringed Plover. The ducks were at the eastern edge of the tank included 84 Tufted Duck, 2 Northern Shoveler and numerous Common Shelduck. The non-breeding herd of Mute Swan contained 21 birds.

I continued my walk avoiding the bank holiday cyclists and looked across to the ‘phalarope pool’ where the Gadwall pair were overly protective of their fat waddling ducklings. Nearby a partial leucistic ‘white-headed’ Reed Bunting was difficult to get a good view of and when one of the aforementioned cyclist rode by it flipped over the bank and out of sight. As I was walking back along Moorditch Lane a Stoat was wandering towards me, typically no sooner had I pulled my camera from my backpack and it disappeared.

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Images 9-11 are of the Mersey Estuary from Weston.
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Observer: WSM (images 6-8 & 9-11 of the Mersey Estuary & 12-14 of the Weaver Bend as seen from Cowhay Lane, Clifton.).

24.05.20. Birdlog.

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After work I took a walk along the track between No.5 & No.6 tanks. A flock of c350 Black-tailed Godwit were either feeding in the water or sleeping on the dried muddy areas. Also present were 14 Pied Avocet, 15 Common Ringed Plover and c200 Dunlin. A couple of Western Yellow Wagtail were slashing sunshine colours on the earthy ground. A Western Marsh Harrier was on its usual perch.

A Greenland bound Northern Wheatear was on No.3 tank.

Observer: WSM.

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I spent a couple of hours early evening along the River Weaver and along Brook Furlong Lane. The Willow Warbler with a mixed identity song was showing well alongside several Common Chiffchaff, Cetti’s Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge Warbler.

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A large flock of Black-headed Gull were on the water with a single Common Tern noted skimming the water. There were c400 Common Swift hawking over the river and passing within a couple of foot from where I was standing.

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A Barn owl feather lay in the grass alongside the path evidence of a bird hunting the area.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images).

23.05.20. Birdlog.

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I started my walk at Brook Furlong Lane early this morning and the Willow Warbler with the mixed song was vocal near the old bird log at the south east corner of No.1 tank with several Common Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat and Cetti’s Warbler all added to the soundscape. A Common Raven was being escorted out of the area by a pair of Eurasian Oystercatcher.

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Out on the River Weaver were Pied Avocet defending their territory and mobbing any crovid or gull species that they deemed a threat. Tufted Duck, Mallard, Common Shelduck and Gadwall were all in good numbers amongst the many Canada Goose, and 17 Mute Swan.

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There were 3 Adult Great Crested Grebe grouped together and fishing mid river. A pair of Little Ringed Plover and singles of Common Ringed Plover and Common Redshank were noted. Sand Martin were busy around their colony with a few birds excavating burrows at a different sight along the Manchester Ship Canal. A Common Buzzard came under attack from a pair of Carrion Crow and a Eurasian Oystercatcher as it crossed over the ship canal.

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On to No.6 tank and c500 Black-tailed Godwit, c200 Dunlin, several Common Ringed Plover and 2 Pied Avocet were foraging in the shallow waters .Tufted Duck, Mallard, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Coot and Common Moorhen were abundant with several Canada Goose and 7 Mute Swan.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images).

I am in work this weekend but at lunch time I was at Pickerings Pasture where I noticed a Eurasian Jay harrassing Blue Tit parents and their recently fledged young. It was interesting to see the jay single out one of the young and chase it into a hawthorn bush. The anxious parents were calling to the young bird and at the same time scolding the Jay. The jay circled the bush and flushed out the tit which then flew towards its parents. The jay being much quicker caught the tit in flight throw it to the ground and was seen then to drop on the passerine and carry it away.

Obsevrer: WSM.

22.05.20. Birdlog.

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An early dart from work and a walk aroundNo. 6 and No.4 tanks. There were c400 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Pied Avocet feeding in the shallow water of No.6 with Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Mallard, a few Northern Shoveler and 7 Mute Swan in the deeper water. Common Swift, Sand Martin and Barn Swallow were enjoying the strong wind and put on a fine display over the tank.

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A family party 0f two pairs of Eurasian Coot were on the ‘secluded pool’ with a one of the pair of Little Grebe showing while the other was possibly incubating out of sight.

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The ‘phalarope pool’ held Mallard, Common Shelduck, Tufted Duck, a pair of Canada Goose and their 2 goslings, the Common Redshank tried to drop in but was seen off by the Northern Lapwing parents.

There were c150 Canada Goose on the Frodsham Score salt marsh and a flock of c50 Lesser Black-backed Gull resting on the cropped grass, Four Eurasian Oystercatcher were being blown along the Manchester Ship Canal in the blustery conditions.

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Linnet and European Goldfinch were numerous during my walk today.

Observer: Paul Ralston (and images).