30.07.20. Birdlog.

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A camera shy juvenile Common Cuckoo on No.1 tank today.

A walk around the River Weaver and MAnchester Ship Canal again this evening. Befre all of that a start along Brook Furlong Lane where three Bullfinch were moving along the hedgerow with many European Goldfinch feeding on the downy seed heads in the adjacent fields.

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male European Stonechat was on the fence along Alder Lane and the lingering juvenile Common Cuckoo is content to remain in the area around Marsh Farm.

Looking over the Mersey Estuary and Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Eurasian Curlew and Northern Lapwing which were resting alongside many Great Cormorant and several Grey Heron.

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On the Weaver Estuary were more Common Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, several Eurasian Oystercatcher and 4 Common Sandpiper were on the river bank. 

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Flocks of European Starling and Black-headed Gull were feeding on a hatch of flying ants and surprisingly very few Common Swift were seen tonight.

Observer: Paul Ralston (all images).

29.07.20. Birdlog.

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I had a fleeting glimpse of Hobby near the old horse paddock by Moorditch Lane. Further out by the River Weaver was a Small Copper butterfly.

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Parent Wren feeding fledge chicks.
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The juvenile Common Cuckoo was still present.

Observer: Keith Gallie (all images).

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An adult Mediterreanean Gull spent the early evening in the stubble field alongside Moorditch Lane.

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A Green Sandpiper was at the Weaver Bend and another was on the ‘phalarope pool’ with a Common Snipe. Also a juvenile Western Yellow Wagtail.

Observer: Roger Wikinson.

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A watch on the incoming tide this evening presented a scattered gathering of c500 Common Shelduck, 250 Black-tailed Godwit, c200 Common Redshank, 12 Eurasian Oystercatcher, Great Egret and a Peregrine.

Observer: WSM.

28.07.20. Birdlog.

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A walk along Brook Furlong Lane and along the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Weaver after work this afternoon.

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A distant juvenile Common Cuckoo was seen on the brick drainage structure near to Marsh Farm but it didn’t hang around for long. Onto the ship canal and a raft of 57 Eurasian Coot on the far bank and drifted down to the junction where another raft of c40 joined them and more were noted on the Weaver Estuary. Looking over the Frodsham Score salt marsh and several hundred gulls mostly Lesser Black-backed, Black-headed and Common Gull were joined by a flock of Black-tailed Godwit and Common Redshank they all took to the air but soon resettled. Hundreds of Common Swift, Barn Swallow, House and Sand Martin were feeding just above the surface of the water.

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A mixed flock of Common Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, several Eurasian Oystercatcher and at least 5 Common Sandpiper were feeding along the river bank.

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A Western Reed Warbler was still in song along the river path.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-4).

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‘Alas, poor Yorick! I know him’. Earlier in the day along the Sankey Canal at Widnes Warth Marsh and a discarded Giant Puffball floating in the canal drew my attention to a cluster of others including a football sized specimen which similarly was ripped from its footing (by a fungal heretic) from beneath a hedge-layed hawthorn. A young toadlet was again helped on its way across the canal yoe path to a much safer environment.   

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There were 6 Little Egret on the edge of the marsh bordering Spike Island.     

Observer: WSM (images 5-6).

26.07.20. Birdlog.

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An early morning walk with a start at Ince. There were 15 Gadwall, 6 Mallard, 4 Little Grebe and a single Mute Swan were on the pools alongside the track. Also noted were Eurasian Coot and Common Moorhen were numerous along the ditch and on the pools. Western Reed Warbler were contact calling as they moved along the ditchside.

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More Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Common Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were all noted feeding in the hedgerow along the Manchester Ship Canal path. Looking over Frodsham Score produced 3 Barnacle Goose dropped in to join the hundreds of Canada Goose grazing on the short grass, a single Little Egret fed alongside them.

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More Gadwall and Mallard were on the ship canal with numerous Eurasian Coot and a single Great Crested Grebe. Three Western Marsh Harrier were in the air together over No.6 tank and a large charm of European Goldfinch were feeding on the thistle heads. A brief glimpse of a Stoat was watched as it crossed the path and disappeared into the vegetation.

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After crossing the Holpool Gutter near to the Growhow Works and a Little Grebe with a single chick fed amongst the Common Moorhen and Eurasian Coot. Back at my starting point and a large flock of Rook and Western Jackdaw were feeding on a recently cut field.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images).

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We took a stride along Moorditch Lane and then onto Lordship Lane where a couple of Western Yellow Wagtail and small numbers of Common Swift were about. The juvenile warblers were being very tame and were often perched up on the fence wires.

The ‘phalarope poll’ was pretty devoid of birdlife with the exception of the 6 (now juvenile) Gadwall that have been here since their duckling days. A female Eurasian Teal and a couple of Stock Dove were their only companions. We carried on and settled on the bank overlooking No.6 tank (thanks to Idris and Jaquci for their home grown tomatos). The Black-tailed Godwit flock had risen in number from yesterday with c1400 birds present. Likewise, Common Redshank were knocking on the 350 door and Dunlin were again in triple figures.

Observers: JS & WSM.

25.07.20. Birdlog.

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I started my birding walk at Brook Furlong Lane this morning where a juvenile Eurasian Bullfinch flew cross my path as I made my way to the riverm. It was the first time in a while that I haven’t been serenaded by Common Chiffchaff and the other warblers that spend the summer along the lane I have previously walked along. On the River Weaver and a flock of c40 Common Redshank and a similar number of Black-tailed Godwit were resting at the river edge.

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There were 7 Common Sandpiper were noted along the river and Manchester Ship Canal while out on Frodsham Score salt marsh more Common Redshank, 100’s Black-tailed Godwit and Euraian Curlew feeding on the mudflats.

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The Mute Swan pair on the canal pools have lost 2 of their cygnets and were keeping a close eye on the remaining two. A juvenile Great Crested Grebe was close by.

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There were 2 Green Sandpiper on the ‘phalarope pool’ alongside several Mallard, 4 Canada Goose and a Tufted Duck with her brood.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-5).

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While Paul was out by the river I took up position looking across No.6 tank and watched a flock of 378 Black-tailed Godwit, c200 Common Redshank, c100 Dunlin, c210 Northern Lapwing, a Common and a single Green Sandpiper.

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A flock of 50 Common Gull had joined up with the usual loafing Black-headed Gull. Ducks were thin on the water with 3 Common Pochard, 23 Tufted Duck (excluding a mother with her 8 tuftlings), some Gadwall, 11 Northern Shoveler and c120 Mallard.

A few Common Swift were much reduced in numbers and Sand Martin were flying low over the water. A couple of Western Yellow Wagtail and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were noted. A male Western Marsh Harrier was over briefly.

Observer: WSM (images 6-7).

22.07.20. Birdlog.

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An after work stroll along the track that separates No.5 from No.6 tank. I met Jaquci and Idris Roberts for a chat and we were interupted by a sickly looking Brown Rat on the path ahead.

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Shortly after SO’H was along the bank watching c500 Black-tailed Godwit which included 2 colour ringed birds. A small flock of 20 Dunlin and several Northern Lapwing. Ducks were few but did include 21 Tufted Duck, 3 Common Pochard, c100 Mallard, 8 Eurasian Teal and an assortment of other species. A Western Marsh Harrier dislodged the shorebirds but they soon resettled.

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A few hundred Common Swift were low over the banks of No.6 and c1000 Common Starling were mostly moulting juvenile birds.

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A young Brown Toad was making its way across the track on no.5 tank to the damp ditches.

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In the far distance the adult female Peregrine was sat on the blue topped chimney over at Weston Point.

Two adult and 2 juvenile Little Ringed Plover (SO’H) were on the drying out mitigation pools.

Obsevers: Sean O’Hara and WSM (images).

20.07.20. Birdlog.

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An evening stroll along the lanes by No.4 tank produced a brief encounter with a Long-eared Owl sat out in the evening sunshine. Three Great Spotted Woodpecker and a couple of Common Sandpiper rounded the night off nicely.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).

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The juvenile Common Cuckoo was again on No.1 tank this morning but pressure from motor vehicles and cyclists forced it to move over to No.6 tank.

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Also a Peregrine nearly did for a Wood Pigeon which lived for another day.

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Observer: Keith Gallie (images 4-11).

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Earlier in the day I came across this Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar that crossed my path at the Trans Pennine Trail through Widnes Warth Marsh. I gave it a safe passage to a patch of Rosebay Willowherb, but before that took a short video of it.

Later in the day approaching dusk I looked out over the Weaver Sluices where 31 Pied Avocet and a huge flock of Black-tailed Godwit could be seen. The 1000’s of Canada Goose are scattered widely across Frodsham Score salt marsh, while the Mersey Estuary sees an increase in the numbers of Eurasian Curlew and Common Redshank. Common Shelduck lay like a white carpet across the mudflats and (I didn’t count them) must be approaching a 1000 birds.

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Neowise comet over the northwest tonight. Image by Mark Caine.

We went to the top of Frodsham Hill after sunset and waited with a small crowd of people some of which gave us the opportunity to enjoy their secondhand pot smoking fumes :O(. It wasn’t long before I pick the pale tail of the comet emerge in the north western sky. The longer the evening preceeded, the better the image became. If you do try for the comet, take binoculars and a telescope, and a place with as little light pollution as possible (Frodsham Hill is good for the elevation but not for the light pollution below).

Observer: WSM (images 12-14 & video).

19.07.20. Birdlog.

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I started this morning at Brook Furlong Lane where Common Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Common Whitethroat were present, some vocal and others foraging in family groups. A family party of European Stonechat were along Alder Lane as were several Common Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit.

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Looking out over the Mersey Estuary and c25 Pied Avocet were leftovers from the big numbers earlier in the month and were feeding in the tidal channel alongside many Black-tailed Godwit and Common Redshank. On the other hand the Weaver Estuary had 5 Common Sandpiper and 4 Dunlin at the edge of the relict salt marsh there, and a flock of c40 Common Redshank and 15 godwit were noted.

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Another family group of European Stonechat were on the bank at the pipeline on No.1 tank and the juvenile Common Cuckoo was seen perched on a telegraph wire and dropped down to feed on the cut field, a short while later it moved back to the fence which gave me the opportunity to watch it feeding on caterpillars until it was disturbed by 3 joggers. It then flew to the pipeline fence again for a rest.

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A walk around No.6 was uneventful with just the usual ducks on the water and with only a handful of Mallard on the ‘phalarope and splashing pool’ it was again low profile birding. A flock of c200 Northern Lapwing were resting on the exposed mud on 6 and a Western Marsh Harrier drifted over without disturbing them.

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More family parties of warblers including Western Reed and Sedge were active along Lordship Lane and a Common Gull was amongst the Black-headed Gull flock feeding amongst the hay bales.

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Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

18.07.20. Birdlog.

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A damp walk around the River Weaver and Manchester Ship Canal this morning starting at Brook Furlong Lane. There was still the odd Common Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat and Blackcap in song along the lane and a young dark morph Common Buzzard sat on a post watching out for an easy meal (which there arn’t).

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Onto the river path and the first of 10 Common Sandpiper was noted with another seen at the shooters’ pools. Over on the far bank were c15 Common Redshank and c20 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Eurasian Oystercatcher and several Northern Lapwing foraging.

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On the actual river were small numbers of Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and Common Shelduck being noted. One Tufted Duck had a single tufling with her. Eurasian Coot numbers are building up with c70 seen on the river and ship canal, and more Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Common Sandpiper feeding from the river bank with an additional 5 Common Sandpiper and a Common Ringed Plover feeding together at the junction of the ship canal and Weaver Estuary.

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Looking over to the Mersey Estuary and several hundred more Black-tailed Godwit were resting at the edge of the water alongside Great Cormorant, common Shelduck and a single Little Egret. Hundreds of Canada Goose were on Frodsham Score salt marsh with many making their way on to the River Mersey. 

A mixed group of c100 Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Sand and and House Martin were hawking over the river and a mass of Common Starling passed overhead to feed on the nearby fields. The European Stonechat pair were on the fence line and had a juvenile with them.

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Nearby a juvenile Common Cuckoo fresh from its host nest and host Meadow Pipit in attendance was sat on the pipeline fence. The cuckoo was gaping wide its mouth hoping to be fed by the pipit, but it didn’t respond and soon after the cuckoo caught its own meal of caterpillars.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-5).

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A view over the Weaver Sluices onto Frodsham Score reveal a Great Egret strutting its stuff on the salt marsh.

Looking at the weather forecast we were not expecting to take our walk around the marshes in complete dryness, and as it turned out it didn’t stop raining throughout our time here. It was not a complete washout with a ‘reeling’ Western Grasshopper Warbler sounding out its tune in the drizzle. A few Common Chiffchaff were doing their best to brighten up preceedings while a couple of deafening Cetti’s Warbler disrupted the peace with their own rendition of a blast of gun artillery.

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We walked up Alder Lane hoping to catch up with Paul’s earliersighting of a juvenile Common Cuckoo, and accordingly it duly obliged and flew from a tree it was sheltering in to the pipeline across No.1 tank. From there it relocated in the newly cut field grass and onto the fence bordering the lane. I got some reasonable views but when the farmer drove by it decided to leave No.1 tank and move to the fields east of No.5. A large flock of Common Starling lacked a rosy hue which would have been quite good.

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Our walk took us next to No.6 tank and a belt of blackish clouds rolling in over Helsby Hill gave us a period of hunkering down under the umbrella. A flock of 51 Tufted Duck, 4 drake Common Pochard, 12 Mallard and 15 Little Grebe was okay, but a flock of 350 Northern Lapwing and a female Western Marsh Harrier was a little better.

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With the prospect of getting wetter we carried on home but not before watching over a medium sized flock of Black-headed Gull feeding in a cut wheatfield. I could immediately see an adult Mediterranean Gull without the aid of of my binoculars. I soon had my scope up and ready for action. I picked out a juvenile bird feeding in the field as well and juvenile Med’s are very rare on the marsh, and is presumably one from the Delamere colony en route to spend its time on the Mersey Estuary.

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The above two images are from two days ago but show the track (leading to the west) between No.5 (right hand side) and No.6 tank (left hand side) in drier times.

Observers: JS & WSM (images 6-12).

14.07.20. Birdlog.

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After work I made my way to the marsh and walked out to No.6 tank and settled down to view…not a lot of ducks! A couple of ducks in the centre drew my attention and they turned out to be a pair of Common Scoter!

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I knew Sean O’Hara was nearby so I sent out a text to him and Paul Ralston. It wasn’t long before they both had the opportunity to see them before the ducks expected departure. I left them both (the scoter that is) asleep on the water and tried my luck elsewhere.

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The tide was incoming so a look from a more elevated position gave me the chance to get a look over the Weaver Sluices and Frodsham Score. A big flock of c1000 Black-tailed Godwit were forced to relocate from the muddy feeding ground for much drier mudflats. A smallish flock of 39 Pied Avocet were bunched together and several hundred Canada Goose were gathering on the salt marshes.

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

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A Western Marsh Harrier was over No.3 tank then perched up on No.6 single. A single Black-tailed Godwit was on the ‘phalarope pool’ alongside the usual ducks and c200 Northern Lapwing on the exposed mud near to the slurry pipe.

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 8).

Sean O’Hara got good views of the Green Sandpiper which frequents the ‘phalarope pool’ on No.3 tank and a Western Yellow Wagtail family (videos 2-4).