16.06.20. Birdlog.

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I made my way to the River Weaver and walked up to the Weaver Bend and the I.C.I tank.

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As soon as I reached the river the 1st summer Little Gull was over the water before circling overhead and then back down again. I continued my walk along the Weaver Causeway that stretches out to the Weaver Bend. A pair of Great Crested Grebe were busy doing their head shaking ritual display, while another pair were more advanced with some fully grown grebelettes.

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There were many Pied Avocet young along the drier parts of the bank and a few pairs were still on clutches. A scattered flock of c60 Tufted Duck were about and a couple females had tuflings in tow. The Common Shelduck pairs were very nervous with the pair of Lesser Black-backed Gull present and ready to strike. The Little Ringed Plover was joined by a Little Egret further up by the sluices.

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I clambered up the bank of the I.C.I tank and what was once an active sludge tank was nowreplaced by Willow Shrub and tall grasses. All along the River Weaver were hundreds of Small Tortoiseshell with much smaller numbers of Meadow Brown and Red Admiral. A walk through the tall grass produced numerous fresh Ringlet butterflies and one imparticular allowed me to get really close with my mobile phone camera.

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Walking back I met Paul and a very confiding jevenile European Stonechat. I bade my farewell and headed over to No.6 tank and a flock of 43 Tufted Duck, 4 drake Common Pochard, 43 Eurasian Teal, 7 Northern Shoveler and 45 Mallard. A couple of Dunlin and 8 Common Ringed Plover with 50 Northern Lapwing.

Observer: WSM (images 1-6).

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A Western Marsh Harrier hunting over No.1 tank as I parked my car it then flew over the river and over towards the I.C.I plant. Later a Common Buzzard crossed the river carrying a prey item.

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A pair of Eurasian Oystercatcher were showing aggression to the Pied Avocet and chasing them away from the bank.

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A walk along the River Weaver and the lonesome Pink-footed Goose made its way along the bank and a flock of c60 Pied Avocet were feeding in the channel.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 7-10).

15.06.20. Birdlog.

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A warm and slightly muggy morning I decided to head to the Weaver Bend to try and locate the Little Gull or (fingers crossed) a Black Tern, there were plenty of warblers along Brook Furlong Lane, mostly Common Chiffchaff and calling Cetti’s Warbler.

On reaching the River Weaver it looked a bit quiet with few gulls, loads of Common Shelduck with shelducklings out on the water and 2 Eurasian Oystercatcher. Tthere was another birder (Roger I think he said his name was). along the track and he was scanning the river and spotted 2 geese asking me if they looked like Egyptian Goose it was hard to tell at first so I took a photo so I could zoom in to see and he was right.

Walking further along I saw so many (c100) Small Tortoiseshell butterflies it was amazing. The first Ringlet of the summer and a couple of Meadow Brown. A Common Kingfisher was perched up on the tree in the middle of the river near the bend and nearby Pied Avocet were with chicks on the bank.

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Cetti’s Warbler.

On my return along Brook Furlong Lane I got lucky with 2 warblers in a bush at eye level, it was hard to tell what they were as it was a very shady spot, turned out to be a couple of Cetti’s Warbler. I managed a few shots on my camera and they proved to be a first for me so quite pleased. I soon reached the car on the motorway bridge, another mornings profitable birding over.

Observer and images: Keith Gallie.

14.06.20. Birdlog.

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An early start and a walk along Brook Furlong Lane revealed the two ‘mixed singer’ Willow Warbler both holding territories either side of both of the old birdlog boxes. Several Cetti’s Warbler were very vocal and Common Chiffchaff made a handy comparison with the Willow Warbler.

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Walking down to the River Weaver and getting caught in the morning rain it was pretty much devoid of the highlights of yesterday, but the Pied Avocet parents were kept busy by the Common Raven winding them up flying over their territories.

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I met up with PR and we both walked up to Marsh Farm where a much reduced flock of Eurasian Starling were hanging about without their star studded pretty in pink glamour girl or boy. A pair of European Stonechat were very showy at the corner of No.1 tank and Common Swift were doing their usual low flybys.

Without much to keep our interest here we made our ways back to the river and where c80 Pied Avocet and a Little Ringed Plover were observed.

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The 1st summer Little Gull reappeared and was either sat on the river or hawking over it. A couple of juvenile European Stonechat could be found in Redwall reed bed.

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There were many Common Shelduck parents guarding their young from the watchful eye of the larger gulls, some with succesful, and some were definately not.

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Paul made his departure and I met up with my partner JS and we carried on taking a walk around No.6 tank in the warm humid air. Western Yellow Wagtail were heard flying over and newly fledged Pied Wagtail were flicking about the dusty track. The ‘phalarope pool’ didn’t have a single bird on it and so we made my way over to No.6 tank, not before seeing c1000 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies on the track and on every single bramble patch. A parent Stoat lollupped along the lane until it stopped in its track when it caught sight of me and made its escape.

No.6 tank lacked the big numbers of Black-tailed Godwit with just c200 birds present. A single summer Dunlin and a post/non-breeding flock of 47 Northern Lapwing were resting up. Ducks included 24 Eurasian Teal, 19 Common Pochard, 83 Tufted Duck, 7 Northern Shoveler and the usual commoner varieties.

Observers: Paul Ralston (images 1-2 & 5-8), JS & WSM (video & images 3-4).

13.06.20. Birdlog.

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After an early start this morning a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling along Brook Furlong Lane and after a little wait the Rosy Starling put in an appearance for a couple of minutes on the fenceline of No.1 tank.

Looking out to the Mersey Estuary over the high tide and 21 Grey Heron and 6
Little Egret were by the Weaver Sluices.

Moving down to the River Weaver, an adult Mediterranean Gull flew down the
Weaver Estuary and a Little Ringed Plover was on the Weaver Bend.

No.6 tank held 3 Northern Shoveler, 29 Eurasian Teal, 15 Common Pochard, 5 Common Redshank, 3 Common Ringed Plover and a Western Yellow Wagtail amongst the regulars.

Once the sun came out lots of butterflies appeared with at least 300 Small Tortoiseshell counted along the track by No. 3 tank and a Black-tailed Skimmer was hunting over the ‘phalarope pool’ on No.3 tank.

Observer: Alyn Chambers (image 1).

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Like Alyn I also started at Brook Furlong Lane this morning where there was plenty of birds still in song including Common Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Cetti’s Warbler, Wren, Blackbird and Song Thrush all being noted.

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A pair of European Stonechat were on the fence along Alder Lane and one of their offspring was sat on the fence alongside the pipeline. A large flock of Eurasian Starling were moving across the fields, but I couldn’t spot the rosy.

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Out on the Mersey Estuary a flock of c80 Pied Avocet were feeding at the edge of the channel and the injured Pink-footed Goose was still going strong and making its way along the bank. A juvenile Common Ringed Plover was at the river edge with a Common Redshank for company.

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The Common Swift were again massing over the river and fields.

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Onward to No.6 tank and c300 Black-tailed Godwit were in the shallows and a Western Marsh Harrier hunted over the reed bed.  A male Western Yellow Wagtail was feeding on the track near to the ‘phalarope pool’ and another 2 birds were seen at the model flying field on Lordship Marsh.

A return visit to Marsh Farm in the afternoon to try for the Rosy Starling was again unsuccessful with a large flock of sturnus noted moving from field to field.

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A look over the River Weaver and the Black Tern was hawking insects off the surface of the water and the 1st summer Little Gull was back again.. A male Western Marsh Harrier was hunting over No.1 tank.

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Small Tortoiseshell butterflies were all over the marsh with smaller numbers of Meadow Brown being seen.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-13).

Black Tern image 14 by Andy Dutton.

12.06.20. Birdlog.

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As it was a bit busy over at Marsh Farm with birders searching for the Rosy Starling (here for its third day) and the Eurasian Starling flock being over on the other side of the Manchester Ship Canal, I decided to have a walk out to the Weaver Bend. Plenty of Black-headed Gull were feeding with quite a few juveniles.

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On the way back I picked out a much smaller gull but couldn’t get any details on it before it disappeared. Later in the day I returned with my camera only to find it feeding really close in to the river bank and it was a 1st summer Little Gull.(thanks to Alan Conlin for his assistance with id). Great to watch as it delicately picked flies and midges off the water surface.

Observer: Sean (strikes again) O’Hara (images 1-3).

An after work visit and we walked along Brook Furlong Lane where the two ‘mixed singer’ Willow Warbler were at the old birdlog and the now obselete new birdlog. A Cetti’s Warbler blasted away from the hedgerow.

At the farm the Eurasian Starling flock were absent so after a short wait we walked back and went down to the River Weaver after Sean’s Little Gull.

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We stopped off briefly to watch the two European Stonechat at the south-west corner of No.1 tank. When we arrived at the river the Little Gull wasn’t available to view, but it was brilliant to see c1000 Black-headed Gull rise from the Weston Marsh tank in panic flight (didn’t see their tormentor).

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A further scan of the river revealed a 2nd summer Mediterreanean Gull and c2000

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Common Swift were over the river, fields and above the blue topped chimney.

Observers: JS & WSM (images 4-9).

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A flock of c300 Eurasian Starling were feeding over the far side of the Manchester Ship Canal but the ‘rosy’ wasn’t amongst them.

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A flock of c60 Pied Avocet were seen in the same area.

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A  pair of Common Shelduck were on the canal with their brood were targeted by the Lesser Black-backed Gull and while one parent flew up to meet the attacker another gull swooped in to steal a shelduckling The Pied Avocet nesters were busy trying to drive off the attacking gulls.

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Tufted Duck, Mallard, Common Shelduck and Gadwall were all present in decent figure with large numbers of Canada Goose and their young.  A Sparrowhawk was on patrol over the Redwall reedbed.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 10-14).

No photo description available.

Please remember Frodsham Marsh is a working site and I have included (in shaded pink) the area where the Rosy Starling frequents. Please note this area is part of Peel’s wind farm and there is no access. Please keep our relationship with the tenant farmer cordial by not walking along the banks or through the grazing fields. Watch from the bend in the track beyond the first cattle grid along Alder Lane leading to Marsh Farm.

Many thanks, Bill

A Rosy Starling New to Frodsham Marsh.

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After a morning keeping an eye on fledging Peregrines on the other side of the River Mersey I decided to pop over to Frodsham Marsh to check out the Eurasian Starling flocks as there has been a big influx into the UK of Rose-coloured Starlings. I headed straight out towards Marsh Farm to find a large mobile flock of starling on the road which I slowly followed as they moved towards the farm. There was no obvious sign of any rosy coloured birds. I stopped at pipes that cross No.1 tank and immediately as I got out of my car I saw a flash of pink as the flock moved further up the road. That was Frodsham Marshes first ever and unmistakable adult Rose-coloured Starling!  The starling flock remained mobile but I had some great scope views over the next few hours as more birders arrived to enjoy the ‘pink stink’.

Observer: Sean O’Hara.

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I got a call off Sean whilst I was at work about his excellent discovery on No.1 tank, but it was an agonising hour and half before I could make the trip down after I had finished for the day.

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On arrival a small cluster of birders including Sean were scoping the starling flock hiding mostly in the tall grassy field. It wasn’t a long wait before I could see the Rosy Starling emerge from the flock but obscured at the base of the wire fence. Slowly the numbers of birders began to rise, not unlike the countrywide invasion of the species. It was a much valued addition for all those present for their Cheshire tick list. The flock contained c500 birds mostly juveniles and were unsettled and frequently took to the wing. During one of these sorties the entire flock flew out to the farm building and eventually settled on the corregated roof.

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Walking up the path to get a better view I got my telescope on its full magnification and the rosy pastor could be seen with its wings stretched out and the white nictating eye membrane being quite obvious. It appeared to me that this irruptive migrant was tired and was in deed of some rest. It later flew out to the sheep pens across the Manchester Ship Canal to feed and sleep with the other birds. After this the entire flock fragmented and I last saw it flying with a much smaller flock out to the banks of the Weaver Estuary.

Looking across to the Weaver Sluices I counted 23 Grey Heron fishing the receding tide and 2 Little Egret. A flock of 16 Pied Avocet were on the estuary mudflats.

Observer: WSM (images).

08.06.20. Birdlog.

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An after work visit to the ‘phalarope pool’ revealed just one of the Common Redshank chicks which is gaining strength and size everytime I see it.

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The pool was a little deviod of birdlife so I retraced my steps and spent sometime watching over No.6 tank. The Black-tailed Godwit flock of c550 birds was still present and Pied Avocet have 11 nests on the perilous soft mud. Ducks were back with a vengence with 13 Common Pochard, c80 Tufted Duck, 11 Eurasian Teal, 61 Mallard, 42 Common Shelduck, 6 Northern Shoveler and 2 Gadwall.

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A female Western Marsh Harrier was perched up in her usual position. There were hundreds of Common Swift high over the marshes.

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The hedgerow bordering the north bank of No.6 still has spindle bushes smothered with the webs and caterpillars of the Ermine moth.

Observer: WSM (images 1-8).

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A small number of Pied Avocet chicks swam across the Weaver Bend. Gary also saw a Peregrine take one out of hundreds of 1st summer Black-headed Gulls on the bend.

Observer: Gary Worthington.

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An early evening walk along Brook Furlong Lane and the Weaver Bend. A family of Blackcap were seen foraging in the bushes along the lane and the ‘mixed singer’ Willow Warbler was vocal in its usual area with Common Chiffchaff and Cetti’s Warbler were also seen and heard.

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A juvenile European Stonechat was on the fence along the pipeline with European Goldfinch and Linnet were abundant with several young birds amongst them feeding on the grass seeds. Canada Goose were on the Manchester Ship Canal with a large number of young seeking safety in numbers. The Sand Martin colony may have failed to breed succesfully this year as only a couple of birds were near the nest site. Common Shelduck, Mallard and Gadwall were present in small numbers. 

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A herd of 45 Mute Swan were feeding at the river edge. The Pied Avocet were busy flying back and forth keeping the gulls away from their young. The hundreds of Common Swift from the weekend have moved on with just a handfull hawking over the river.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 9-11).

07.06.20. Birdlog.

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I started at Ince today for my monthly BTO WeBs count on Ince marsh fields. The pools at Ince held 7 Mallard, 6 Gadwall, 2 Tufted Duck, 5 Common Shelduck, 5 Eurasian Coot, 8 Common Moorhen and 4 Little Grebe. 

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There were 3 Grey Heron in the fields and nearby the Barn Owl was at the entrance to its box enjoying some down time from the kids. The Holpool Gutter held 2 Gadwall, 3 Common Moorhen, 1 Eurasian Coot and the adjacent field held 30 Northern Lapwing, 2 Canada Goose and a mixed flock of Rook with many young begging for food. The Western Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and plenty of Wood Pigeon were all over the place.

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On Frodsham Score salt marsh were hundreds of Canada Goose, several Common Shelduck and Mallard were resting with more Canada Goose with young on the Manchester Ship Canal.

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The ‘Canal Pools’ were quiet with just Canada Goose and their broods with 2 Tufted Duck and a Mallard.

The Common Redshank pair were agitated by a Common Buzzard passing close by overhead and joined the Northern Lapwing in an effort to deter it from targeting their young hiding in the grass.

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Passerines featured Reed Bunting, Sedge, Reed Warbler and Common Whitethroat were all active on my walk with some feeding young birds. A male Western Marsh Harrier flew over with a prey item and was met by the female which caught the prey as he dropped it.

No photo description available.

A Peregrine sat on a tower at the Growhow Works digesting its meal. A Grey Wagtail was on the bank of the gutter and a Pied Wagtail fed a youngster that was begging for food.

Observer: PAul Ralston (images 2-7).

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We took a walk around No.6 tank and stopped off at the ‘phalarope pool’ where a Little Ringed Plover was performing well on the bare mud. Like Paul had seen earlier the Common Redshank parents were busy keeping an eye on their young.

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Continuing further on and stopped off at No.6 tank where a flock of c650 Black-tailed Godwit had just been put on the alert by 2 Peregrine sitting on the bare ground (per John Gilbody).

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Another Little Ringed Plover was with 6 Common Ringed Plover, 24 (11 nests) Pied Avocet and a single Dunlin. An adult female and a juvenile European Stonechat were in the reed bed below where I was sitting.

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A Little Egret flew over our heads and headed off to the Mersey Estuary.

Observers: JS & WSM (images 1 & 8-10 & 12-14).

Image 11 by John Gilbody.

06.06.20 Birdlog.

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It’s that time of month when the BTO duty of counting wildfowl and shorebirds on, over or by the Mersey Estuary.

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I settled on the banks of No.6 tank and began my count. The Black-tailed Godwit flock were settled down for their siesta during the first period of my watch. The blustery wind from the north-west made the waders and gulls jittery and once they flew up from their slumber they settled in flocks in the shallow waters. After two or three times of uplifting and resettling the flock remain in an area infront of me.

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A scan revealed 4 non-breeding plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit within the 887 strong Black-tailed Godwit flock. There were 4 non-breeding plumaged Red Knot and a small number of Dunlin and 15 Common Ringed Plover. The Pied Avocet flock and breeding pairs totaled 24 birds and with them were 431 Black-headed, 1 Herring, 3 Lesser Black-backed and 6 1st summer Common Gull.

Ducks were absent apart from 7 Eurasian Teal, 24 Mallard and a couple of Tufted Duck. I assume the rest of the ducks have relocated to the Weaver Estuary.

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The ‘phalarope pool’ was pretty devoid of ducks with a Reeve being the only new bird here. The Common Redshank pair were still paranoid about anything that even approached their precious youngsters. A couple of Western Yellow Wagtail flew in and out.

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Walking back and a Stoat curiosyly watched us before slunking away into the pathside vegatation.

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

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A short walk along the River Weaver in strong winds today where hundreds of Common Swift put on an ariel display over the river and fields flashing past at waist height while the Pied Avocet pairs were kept busy chasing the Great Black-backed Gull adults away from their young. A mass of Black-headed Gull were resting on the choppy waters. There were 10 Mute Swan which flew down the river leaving 8 more behind.

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A walk around No.6 tank and 2 Western Marsh Harrier were in the air together the males grey tail stood out from a distance.

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An injured Lesser Black-backed Gull caught the attention of a pale phase Common Buzzard which flew down to investigate, after a few attempts the gull managed to get airborne.

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There were Reed, Sedge and Cetti’s Warbler still vocal along Lordship Lane. A curious group of four Grey Heron were in the model aircrat field, two standing and two laying flat out on the ground.

There were many more Common Swift were hawking above the bank on No.6 and surely would draw in a Hobby if one was in the vicinity.

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A dead Mole lay in the grass which could have been victim of the recent hot weather making the ground hard to penetrate through? Several Marsh Orchids were seen amongst the vegetation on one of the tank.

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Obsever: Paul Ralston (images 11-15). 

…finally, a big thank you to all the people who have taken time out to read these pages and posts since April 2012. Today marks a small but significant mile stone with 500,000 views from across the globe.

04.06.20. Birdlog.

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An after work visit to No.6 tank with the black clouds rolling in from the Atlantic threatening rain (which it did after I made my retreat).

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The flock of Black-tailed Godwit were well scattered around the tank and I guess there were c600 birds present. An obliging Little Ringed Plover was having a dunk in the shallows infront of me, a few nesting Pied Avocet, 29 Common Ringed Plover, 9 (non-breeding plumage) Red Knot, 4 Common Redshank and 31 Northern Lapwing.

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Ducks again were a feature with 5 drake Common Pochard, c80 Tufted Duck, 4 Eurasian Teal, the drake Garganey which spent all its time asleep, Northern Shoveler and Common Shelduck added to the picture.

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There were hundreds of Common Swift hawking low over the water with lesser numbers of Barn Swallow. The Western Marsh Harrier was seen quartering the distant reed beds.

Observer: WSM (1-6).

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An early evening walk around No.6 tank. I parked by the model flying field and a had a look over the banks of 6. There were 7 Pied Avocet were sitting on nests surrounded by feeding Black-tailed Godwit, Common Ringed Plover, 2 Little Ringed Plover and 4 Red Knot.

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There were Red Fox tracks crossing the mud not far from the nests which could be a problem for the sitting birds.

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Three Grey Heron stood stock still taking everything in while waiting for an opportunity to strike! Common Swift were numerous flashing past at head height while Common Whitethroat and Cetti’s Warbler were vocal in several places during my walk.

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The Gadwall brood on the ‘phalarope pool’ are a decent size now and were joined by the Canada Goose brood. A Western Yellow Wagtail was noted on the path.

Back on Lordship Lane a Common Buzzard passed overhead and was mobbed by a dozen or more Northern Lapwing.

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Back by the model flying field there were 2 police cars from the rural crime team on patrol around the marsh on the lookout for fly-tippers and off road bikes.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 7-11).