30.06.20. Birdlog.

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An after work visit to No.6 tank produced the summer plumaged Red-necked Phalarope which was mostly feeding, flying, swimming or preening. Some good views were obtained with a Common Ringed Plover sharing a muddy spit for a short while before the plover lost its patience and charged the phalarope pulling out a white flank feather. Not surprisenly the phalarope made a quick getaway swiftly followed by the plover.

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A large flock of Black-tailed Godwit continue to feed on the tank with Common Redshank, Northern Lapwing and a fly over Green Sandpiper. A flock of 110 Tufted Duck had 5 Common Pochard were at the eastern ed of the tank.

Observers: Ian & Ben Igglesden( video 2) and WSM (image 1 -5 & video 1).

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A walk around the River Weaver this evening starting at Brook Furlong Lane where Cetti’s Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Common Whitethroat are still vocal with Blackbird, Song Thrush and plenty of European Goldfinch joining in.

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The European Stonechat pair on Alder Lane have moved back to their original nest site and were showing well. Hundreds of Eurasian Starling were feeding near to Marsh Farm and a flock of Linnet were noted. Barn Swallow and Common Swift were numerous hawking low over the fields.

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Looking over the Mersey Estuary and a large flock of mostly Black-headed Gull were roosting with Eurasian Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit amongst them, but surprisingly no Pied Avocet flock were seen on the mud flats or the Weaver Estuary.

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There were 5 Common Sandpiper dotted along the river bank with a single Little Ringed Plover  and a Common Ringed Plover.

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Obsever: Paul Ralston (images 6-12).

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Spindle Ermine Moth where hundreds were along the bank of No.6 tank. Image by Keith Gallie.

29.06.20. Birdlog.

Arriving on the marsh we met Peter Malpass and his Dad and Uncle along with Guy Groves. They had already been out birding and had spotted the Red-necked Phalarope on No.6 tank and had also seen a Common Tern on the River Weaver and a Green Sandpiper at the ‘phalarope pool’.

Observers: Guy Groves, Peter Malpass, Dad Malpass and Uncle Malpass.

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We took a day off work and made a 20 klm walk down to the marshes and along the track to drop in on the second day for the female Red-necked Phalarope that is present on and off at No.6 tank. A flock of several Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Common Redshank, 2 Common Ringed Plover, 2 drake Common Pochard, c100 Tufted Duck and c50 Eurasian Teal. Hundreds of Common Swift were low over the paths and water with a pretty miserable day weatherwise.

Observers: JS & WSM (image 1 & video).

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I called at No.6 after work this evening to be told the phalarope had just left the tank amongst a flock of Northern Lapwing. I didn’t have to wait long before it reappeared at the edge of the pool and I was able to view it through another birders scope. A short while later a Peregrine powered through the wader flock snatching an unlucky bird and taking it to a pylon to pluck and eat in the pouring rain.

Obsever: Paul Ralston (images 2-3).

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Kingfisher sat on a sunken tree on the Weaver Bend by Roger Wikinson.

28.06.20. Birdlog.

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The idea of walking around No.6 tank was soon curtailed with the unseasonal strong cool south-westerly blowing in across the marsh today. We decided to walk along the north track with the bushes providing shelter. All of the spindle bushes were alive with emerging Spindle Ermine Moths from their webby cocoon. Hurrying on and out of the wind we continued to the (apt) ‘phalarope pool’ where a female Mallard with 8 ducklings and a very brief terra firma Little Egret the only recompence for our walk. After a break we headed back with the threat of rain always present.

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At the viewing spot (again sheltered from the wind) above No.6 tank we met Jacqui and Idris Roberts and passed the time of day. Whilst in conversion I still kept my scope focused on the shorebirds below and on the exposed mud and shallow waters.

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A flock of c5-600 Black-tailed Godwit had with them a single non-breeding plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit and a non-breeding plumaged (not Red) Knot. A small flock of Common Redshank, 2 Common Ringed Plover and a petite wader in full breeding plumage…

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…a female Red-necked Phalarope. I immediately put the news out but the waders were very jittery and often took flight circling the tank before resettling. The phalarope always came back to its feeding spot on the edge of the water/muddy margins. Again the whole flock took off again but this time the phalarope could not be relocated (I assume it had gone for a sleep in the grass with the Eurasian Teal). After we left for home the RNP reappeared and showed to those visitors who made the visit to the marsh.

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A small selection of ducks did not contain anything different from the norm and will for now go uncountered. Common Swift again put in a remarkable performance with birds sweeping low over the tank.

The Peregrine was back on her lofty perch on the blue topped chimney at Weston Point.

Observer: JS & WSM (images).

Video of the Red-necked Phalarope by Sean O’Hara.

Video of Red-necked Phalarope by Frank Duff.

27.06.20. Birdlog.

I made my birding start along Brook Furlong Lane where the hedgerows were filled with noisey Cetti’s Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and the ‘mixed singer’ Willow Warbler at the green box birdlog.

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Walking along Alder Lane and the tame European Stonechat was singing from the wire fence and nearby reedy areas. A large flock of c800 Eurasian Starling were definitely not in the pink.

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Looking out from Marsh Farm out to the Mersey Estuary was very much rewarding with a huge herd of c5000 Canada Goose (there is a WeBS count next weekend, so hopefully a more accurate count can be made) on the distant mudflats.

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Watching the tide roll in brought a lot of movement and displacement of birds from their usual low water activities.

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A small flock of 6 non-breeding plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit were separated from c400 Black-tailed Godwit.

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Several Eurasian Oystercatcher, c100 Eurasian Curlew and a new record count of (208) Pied Avocet with 197 (mixed adults and juveniles) huddled together at the edge of the salt marsh and a further 11 birds on the nearby Weaver Estuary.

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A pair of Egyptian Goose flew from Frodsham Score out to the Weaver Bend and a couple of hours later flew back out again.

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The Weaver Estuary was alive with stuff including a flock of 56 Eurasian Coot, c78 Tufted Duck, a single each of Common Ringed and Little Ringed Plover, a skittish Green Sandpiper, Pied Avocet (as mentioned above) and several showy Great Crested Grebe.

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A pair of Common Tern were perched up watching the hundreds of Common Swift hawking low over the river.

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A number of hirundines were either perched up resting or still in the activity of nesting.

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Observer: Video & images: WSM.

24.06.20. Birdlog.

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A hour or so after work along the River Weaver.

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The juvenile European Stonechat were flycatching along the river path while Reed Bunting, Sedge and Reed Warbler were all noted with some feeding young in the reeds along the way.

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There were 2 Common Sandpiper and 3 Common Redshank on the river bank and a Western Marsh Harrier crossed the river followed by a flock of Eurasian Starling. An additional c400 were feeding in the fields around Marsh Farm and again nothing shone out from the crowd. A look over the Mersey Estuary produced c2000 Canada Goose on the mudflats and the Pied Avocet numbers were low compared to recent visits.

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Another pair of European Stonechat look to be feeding a second brood on Alder Lane and quite a model pair they are.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

22.06.20. Birdlog.

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A day off work and a morning around the marsh starting at the motorway bridge on Brook Furlong Lane which was still full of singing warblers with 2 Cetti’s Warbler was heard and briefly seen. There were 4 European Stonechat chicks which were seen foraging along the river footpath. On the river Tufted Duck, Northern Shoveler, Common Shelduck and Mallard were all still guarding their ducklings from the ever watchful gulls.

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There were 4 Adult Pied Avocet and 2 dependent chicks were on the far bank, a big drop in numbers from recent visits with most birds having moved out to the estuary. The juvenile Great Crested Grebe chicks were again fishing close to the bank as the parent birds were resting out on the river.

There was a build up of Common Swift, Barn Swallow and House Martin.The swifts were flying within inches of me as I disturbed insects from along the path infront of me.

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At the Manchester Ship Canal and Weaver Estuary junction a fledged Pied Avocet and an adult fed at the tide line and made their way over the canal to join the flock feeding in the channel. A flock of 18 Grey Heron were resting on the cropped grass on Frodsham Score salt marsh and a group of c40 Black-tailed Godwit were amongst the waders. A couple of Common Sandpiper were noted as they crossed the canal and a large flock of Eurasian Starling were moving back and forth across the canal but still no sign of the recent rosy with them.

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The pair of Mute Swan have nested on one of the canal pools and are incubating, better late than never and Eurasian Coot is also incubating close by. A pair of Great Crested Grebe attempted to breed but I don’t think they have have been succesful.

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A Little Ringed Plover has joined the wagtail family on the ‘phalarope pool’ and were joined by a pair of Tufted Duck which soon moved to the ‘splashing pool’ to join the 10 Tufted Duck and 8 Mallard already there A Western Yellow Wagtail flew up from the path with a beak full of grubs to feed its young on No.6 tank.

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On No.6 the godwit flock was resting in the grass making it hard to estimate their numbers, a flock of c50 Northern Lapwing took to the air as a Western Marsh Harrier passed by and a Green Sandpiper flushed with them landed a bit closer to where I was watching. A pair of Eurasian Bullfinch were seen on Moorditch Lane.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-8).

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Just like Paul I also booked a day off work and along with JS we walked in from Frodsham Bridge along the River Weaver to the Weaver Bend. The northern banks of the I.C.I tank was alive with Ringlet butterflies with several in chase and display with each other. The variety of butterfly species is increasing with many Comma and Red Admiral becoming evident.

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On the ‘bend’ a small selection of ducks could be seen with a pair of Pied Avocet seeing off the larger gulls that often cross over the river. There were 3 sitting pairs and a pair of Oystercatcher on the out of bounds Weston Marsh tank. Also on that site were 400 Black-headed Gull and c200 Common Shelduck.

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The walk along the Weaver Causeway to Redwall reed bed was uneventful so we carried on along Brook Furlong Lane and through the village and onward to home.

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

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Semaphore Fly (Poecilobothrus nobilitatus) displaying in a puddle along the track leading to the River Weaver.

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Juvenile European Stonechat in Redwall reed bed.

It was a nice morning with a rather fresh a walk along Brook Furlong Lane towards the River Weaver with Common Chiffchaff in my left ear and Cetti’s Warbler in my right ear it was a good start. The mixed singing Willow Warbler near the old logbook was in full song but I didn’t see it, there were Red Admiral, Comma, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, and Large Skipper all the way. Where the path forks there was a Grasshopper Warbler reeling had no chance of seeing it. At the river I noted 2 Great Cormorant sat on poles digesting their fish dinner.

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Also 2 Great Crested Grebe and loads of Tufted Duck, a few Common Shelduck with young out in the middle of the water and 2 Mute Swan close in to the river bank, and few hundred Sand Martin.

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As finished taking photos of Northern Lapwing on shooters’ pool I turned round looking over the river and saw a duck flying, I took a few photos but wasn’t sure what it was, but looking at the photo later it became apparent it was a juvenile/female Mandarin (still a rare bird in this part of Cheshire).

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On the way back I also had a male Blackcap peek a booing.

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Another good morning at Frodsham Marsh (the place sells itself).

Observer: Keith Gallie (images 12-21).

21.06.20. Birdlog.

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I made a start this morning along Brook Furlong Lane where the usual warblers were present and vocal. A small group of Linnet and European Goldfinch were feeding on the grass seed heads on No.1 tank with Meadow Pipit sitting on the fence. Another pair of European Stonechat were showing well at the bend in along Alder Lane and a dozen or more Common Raven were feasting on a sheep carcase with 18 more sitting along the fence waiting their turn.

Out on the Mersey Estuary were 3-4000 Canada Goose marching across the mudflats and coming from all directions, it was a strange sight to watch. Again there were decent numbers of Pied Avocet feeding in the channel with a couple of Eurasian Curlew presen. A Common Sandpiper and a single Common Redshank were at the edge of the River Weaver with more Pied Avocet passing up and down the water course. 

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A couple of juvenile European Stonechatuvenile and several juvenile Reed Bunting were noted from Redwall reed bed with Sedge and Reed Warbler feeding young. On the River Weaver were 2 juvenile Great Crested Grebe fishing close to the bank while the parent birds slept. A Eurasian Cuckoo flew past me as I made my way back along the river path and disappeared from my sight. The remains of a Common Buzzard noted on No.3 tank could have been a victim of the turbines or something sinister?

Onto No.6 and an adult and 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plover and 4 recently hatched Northern Lapwing were feeding close together, but froze when 2 Western Marsh Harrier appeared over the reeds.

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Butterflies were again in profusion with the most dominat species being Small Tortoiseshell with Meadoe Brown, Large Skipper, Small White, Comma and a few Painted Lady.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1 & 3 & 5).

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‘phalarope pool’ on No.3 tank.

With mid summers day already upon us we decided to take a hike around No.6 tank where we bumped into Paul who more or less had the same idea. A few Linnet and Yellow Wagtail were loitering on the track but apart from a couple of reeling Grasshopper Warbler singing from the eastern edges of No.4 tank it was pretty vacant. The ‘phalarope pool’ was devoid of lifeforms but the ‘splashing pool’ had 24 Tuted Duck sheltering from the brisk breeze.

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A look over No.6 tank was alot better with c450 Black-tailed Godwit and a well grown juvenile Common Ringed Plover. A small group of 6 Common Redshank and 14 Northern Lapwing were also present. Ducks were back with c100 Tufted Duck, 8 Common Pochard, 7 Northern Shoveler, 61 Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and Mallard.

A Western Marsh Harrier was quartering the reed beds and a couple of Little Egret were by the Weaver Sluices.

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Observers: JS & WSM (images 2 & 4 & 6-7).

20.06.20. Birdlog.

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I started at Ince this morning. The pools were quiet with just a few Mallard, Eurasian Coot, a pair of Little Grebe and a pair of Gadwall seen.

The usual Barn Owl was taking in the sunrise at the entrance to its box. There were Common Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat were feeding young while others were still in song.

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Out on Frodsham Score salt marsh were easily c1000 Canada Goose out on the river and the 2 Egyptian Goose were closer to the Manchester Ship Canal. A pair of Eurasian Oystercatcher were agitated as I walked along the canal path and must have young in the maize field alongside the Holpool Gutter.

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Several Reed Warbler were active in the reeds along the path and a flock of c500 Eurasian Starling were feeding on the far bank of the canal. The water lilies are showing well on the canal pools with just Canada Goose and Eurasian Coot noted.

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The first Green Sandpiper of the summer was an unexpected visitor to the silted up pool near the dredger berth and took off when it spotted me, but it dropped down amongst the reeds nearby. A Western Marsh Harrier was hunting over the reed bed on No.4 and No.5 tanks. There were many young Barn Swallow waiting to be fed on the fence of the pallet yard, a juvenile Grey Wagtail was close by.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-6).

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My start was a little later in the morning and a walk along Brook Furlong Lane was pretty uneventful with just Cetti’s Warbler making a racket as usual (I would never had said those words 15 years ago).

The River Weaver and Estuary was full of birds with c80 Tufted Duck being the most prominant with broods of Gadwall, Common Shelduck, 54 Eurasian Coot and Great Crested Grebe adding to the picture. There was 15 Pied Avocet making a noise with many defending their numerous young from would be predators and a nice Common Sandpiper to round them off.

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I found a dead semi-grown chick on the bank and may have succumed to the recent weather and chewed up by a scavanger…or not?

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Looking across the Manchester Ship Canal onto Frodsham Score from Marsh Farm provided me the opportunity to spot 3 Common Tern fishing the edge of the score, 4 Little Egret fishing the Weaver Sluice gates, 5 non-breeding plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Eurasian Curlew and 25 Northern Lapwing.

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A flock of 181 Pied Avocet were flushed by a Peregrine flying over their high tide roost on Frodsham Score. After scrutinising several photographs of the flock and adding a further (minimum) 15 adults on the Weaver Estuary (my count excludes chicks/downy young and birds not counted on the Weaver Bend) I counted a new record high count for Frodsham Marsh and Cheshire (?) totalling 196 birds. I would expect this total to rise above 200 birds in the next week or two.

The salt marsh and Mersey Estuary was chocker with Canada Goose and the distant ince marsh appeared to have a couple of thousand birds.

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The wing injured Pink-footed Goose chose to keep company with a Canada as it swan in from mid river. There were c20 Great Crested Grebe and nice to see their head shaking display performed on the wild River Mersey.

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A Feral Pigeon was taking the piss by sitting on big burtha’s the Peregrine’s perch on the blue topped chimney towering above the Mersey Estuary.

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There was a flock of several hundred Eurasian Starling at Marsh Farm but none of them were tickled pink. A Western Marsh Harrier flew in from the score mobbed all the way by just a few of the big numbers of Pied Avocet.

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The pair of European Stonechat were again performing well on No.1 tank and a small flock of Linnet perched on the barb wire fence had a Lesser Redpoll with them.

Don’t you just miss all this…T

Observer: WSM (images 1 & 7-15).

19.06.20. Birdlog.

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A walk around No.6 tank and the Weaver Bend today started with a blast from the first of several Cetti’s Warbler as I parked alongside the model flying field on Lordship Lane. There were Sedge and Reed warbler still in song with Common Whitethroat and Blackcap.

A Western Marsh Harrier was hunting over No.4, another was perched on No.6 and yet another bird was noted approaching No.6 high up from the east and a pale morph Common Buzzard was hunting in the same area.

On No.6 tank were c20 Tufted Duck and 2 Common Shelduck were on the ‘splashing pool’ while the ‘phalarope pool’ was devoid of birdlife. Common Swift and Barn Swallow were numerous over the fields which drew the attention of a Hobby which disappeared over the bank in pursuit of a swallow.

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The Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in the shallows in reduced numbers c150 and a flock of c80 Northern Lapwing and a dozen Pied Avocet and several Common Ringed Plover, one Northern Lapwing parent had 4 recently hatched chicks which took shelter under her as the rain started to fall. A Western Yellow Wagtail was seen carrying food across the reed bed and another was on Lordship Lane.

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Walking along Brook Furlong Lane and a pair of Eurasian Bullfinch were noted and one of the mixed singer Willow Warbler was vocal near to the log. I had a brief glimpse of a Common Cuckoo leaving its perch on the pipe line on No.1 tank heading over towards Redwall reed bed but a search  of the area couldnt locate it.

There were 6 Great Crested Grebe all adults on the River Weaver which was quiet with very few gulls noted. A Gadwall with 6 youngsters was on the far side amongst the Common Shelduck and Pied Avocet. Hundreds of Common Swift and smaller numbers of Barn Swallow and Sand Martin were skimming the surface of the river and a pair of Common Raven passed overhead cronking but were ignored by the Pied Avocet for once.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).

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I paid a visit to the marsh after work walking along Moorditch Lane to the outer reaches of No.3 tank and its ‘phalarope pool’. The pool was desperately forlorn with only a single Pied Wagtail for company.

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A Common Cuckoo followed me at a safe distance along the fenceline that runs parallel with the dirt track and was observed flying down to the recently mowed field to catch Drinker Moth caterpillars.

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A juvenile Reed Bunting looked splendid in its new livery and brief glimpes of both Sedge Warbler and Common Whitethroat meant they were busy tending to their young.

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Paul had already done a good job with his count from No.6 tank and I can only add 12 Common Pochard, 43 Eurasian Teal and 14 Gadwall. A couple of Western Yellow Wagtail were agitated by my mere presence and flew over my head calling excitedly. They obviously had young nearby.

Observer: WSM (images 4-7).

17.06.20. Birdlog.

Walking along Brook Furlong Lane I was spyed upon by a very suspicious character and it turned out to be Roger Wikinson who’s fast becoming a Frodsham regular. He was telling me about the 1st summer Little Gull which is currently frequenting the River Weaver. There was a report of two birds earlier in the day but one turned out to be a mistaken identity.

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I reached the river and counted c100 Tufted Duck and 6 pairs of Great Crested Grebe. The Weaver Estuary was alive with common stuff and is testiment to value of thi area on the marsh.

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The first Eurasian Oystercatcher chick of the summer was wandering quite far from the parent bird and considering the drama that ensues when the larger gulls fly over I guess this chick needs to pay attention to its whereabouts.

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I couldn’t stay long so I walked slowly back along the lane and the two ‘mixed singer’ Willow Warbler were again vocal. Several Cetti’s Warbler made a racket from the dense hawthorn hedge.

Observer: WSM (image 1) & (2-3 by Ron Brumby).