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18.01.20. Birdlog.

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I sat and watched the sunrise over the Mersey Estuary this morning before making my way to the marsh.

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A mass of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover took to the air over No.3 tank when spooked by a Common Buzzard and then by a Sparrowhawk.

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Looking over No.6 tank and the duck numbers were lower than they have been recently but still held reasonable counts of Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Mallard, Northern Shoveler and Eurasian Teal. A male Peregrine flew low over the water trying to flush the ducks, but without success and then targeted the plover flocks over on No.3 tank.re were charms of European Goldfinch feeding on the teasle heads with Chaffinch and Reed Bunting mixed in with them. A Common Chiffchaff was seen near the ramp between No.3 and No.6 but hid in the cover when a Common Kestrel hovered nearby.

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Corvids were feeding on a dead cow on No.3 with 3 Common Buzzard perched on the fence line waiting their turn. The shallow pools held both Eurasian Teal and Wigeon alongside No.4, while a few Grey Heron sat out, a Marsh Harrier made its way to the reed bed on No.6.

Walking along the path beside the Manchester Ship Canal a pair of Stonechat were at the waters edge and a single Great Crested Grebe was fishing on the canal and was flushed by a passing ship.

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The salt marsh held several hundred Canada Goose and 5 Little Egret were noted. There were 9 Mute Swan in the field close to Lordship Lane with a large flock of Eurasian Curlew feeding on Lordship Marsh. Another pair of Stonechat were near to the model flying field and a Kingfisher flew off No.6 and followed the ditch between the flying field and the hovercraft field. Several small parties of Redwing were feeding in the area.

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Stopped off at Plover Lane in Helsby on my way home and the Whooper Swan herd could be seen feeding close to the motorway.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

15.01.20. Birdlog.

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This afternoon we had 21 Whopper Swan and 2 Cattle Egret on Lordship Marsh. Over on No.5 tank were 1000’s of Northern Lapwings with 1000+ Golden Plover, 4 Kestrel, 2 Marsh Harrier. An injured Common Buzzard along track between No.5 and No.6 couldn’t fly even when chased by my dog Dexter!

Observer and image 1 by Mark (Whipper) Gibson.

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Over in Runcorn I found a 1st winter Norwegian ringed Common Gull (White ring with black code: JP016) along Picow Farm Road. That young gull would have flown a minimum of 1,701 km to winter along the western seaboard of Britain.

Observer and images 2-3 by WSM.

12.01.20. Birdlog.

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I started at Ince today for my BTO WeBs count.

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A flock of 54 Eurasian Curlew were in a field alongside the service road to the GrowHow fertilizer plant and a flock of 27 Common Snipe circled the area looking for somewhere to feed. The pools near to the pig farm held 13 Mallard, 60 Eurasian Teal, 15 Gadwall, 3 Northern Shoveler, 12 Eurasian Coot, 5 Common Moorhen and 5 Grey Heron, 5 Pink-footed Goose were seen flying south.

A Common Chiffchaff was seen near to Ince Berth as were several Fieldfare and Redwing.

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Onward along the Manchester Ship Canal path and a flock of 54 Eurasian Coot were on the banks of Frodsham Score saltmarsh and slipped into the water when they saw me on the path. The stubble field alongside the Holpool Gutter held c80 Eurasian Curlew, a handful of Northern Lapwing, 3 Little Egret and a single Grey Heron, 3 Mute Swan dropped in to the field.

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Looking over Frodsham Score as the tide was rising produced several Little Egret and 2 Great Egret were at the river edge alongside many Canada Goose and Common Shelduck.

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A large flock of small waders were  seen in the distance over the river with a Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard both were hunting on the marsh flushing the Northern Lapwing flocks. Several sheep were caught out by the rising water and at least they didn’t make it to dry land I spotted Shaun Hickey and another pal making the great effort of the long WeBS counters trek back to Stanlow  out on the south Mersey marshes.

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Along the lane of Lordship Marsh had c40 Eurasian Curlew in the stubble and 14 Whoopers Swan with 6 Mute’s were in their usual field.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-8 & 13).

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The Allan Williams WWII gun turret situated on the banks of Frodsham Score.

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A selection of scenic images during todays WeBs count for the BTO on the south Mersey marshes with fellow counter Joe Tawnie (image 12).

Shaun Hickey (images 11 & 14-23).

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I couldn’t make the visit to the marsh today, but I did see a drake Goosander on Blakemere at Delamere Forest per WSM (images 9-10 & 24).

11.01.20. Birdlog.

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I was out early this morning with a start at Brook Furlong Lane where a few Redwing and Fieldfares were mooching about along the lane as the shooters started to arrive for their pheasant shoot.

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A couple of Common Buzzard drifted overhead while I made my way to the River Weaver. The winter female Long-tailed Duck was close to the near bank with a group of 5 Tufted Duck which quickly made their way over to the far bank to join the main flock of tufties and other ducks. There were c20 Mute Swan (6 juveniles 14 adults) were scattered along the river with at least 6 Great Crested Grebe being noted.

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A small group of Black-tailed Godwit and Common Redshank moved along the river watched over by a Peregrine which was  sat on top of the blue topped power station chimney.

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The dredger ship turned around at the Weaver Estaury and Manchester Ship Canal junction and was again discharging waste water as it went.

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A look over the Mersey Estuary and a group of Great Cormorant were lined up at the edge of the river alongside several Eurasian Curlew. Common Shelduck were feeding on the mudbanks and had several smaller geese with them which were sleeping and were far out to get a proper identification.

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Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover were taking to the air near to Marsh Farm were spooked by several Raven flying close to the flock looking for dead stock to clear up.

Frodsham Score was quiet as wildfowlers were out on the saltmarshes while a large flock of Canada Goose could be seen grazing on Ince saltmarsh. Two Marsh Harrier were over the reed bed on No.6 tank.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-8).

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After doing an errand I made my way to the marsh and basically followed in the foot steps of PR who would have been just ahead, but out of my sightline.

I arrived on the River Weaver where I bumped into Errol who was looking for the Long-tailed Duck on the river. After sometime he picked it up with presumably the same flock of Tufted Duck that Paul had seen earlier. I was looking through the flock of 268 Tufted Duck and managed to briefly see the female Greater Scaup which was hiding with the dense tufty flock. Other ducks included 19 Common Pochard, 5 Common Goldeneye, c300 Eurasian Teal, 10 Gadwall, 20 Mallard and 21 Common Shelduck. A pair of Stonechat were working their way along the damp banks while the sound of gun fire rung across the area, keeping the ducks alert at all times.

The 3 Cattle Egret had moved to the pipes at No.1 tank to avoid the stiff reeze, but were easily spooked and flew out to No.2 tank.

A walk along Lordship Lane produced 19 Whooper Swan (6 juveniles) and 2 adult Mute Swan which were much further away across Lordship Marsh.

No.6 tank was fairly quiet and with firing occuring at many points on the marsh today the sludge tank was fairly subdued. There were 68 Northern Shoveler, 17 Northern Pintail, 132 Eurasian Teal, 11 Common Sheduck, 17 Gadwaal, 6 Goldeneye, 14 Mallard, 4 Mute Swan and 8 Little Grebe. A male Marsh Harrier joined briefly with a female over the reed beds while c1000 plovers were up high over Frodsham Score. Psserines were kwwping a low key today but a Common Chiffchaff called from the banks where I was standing.

The sounds of yapping Pink-footed Goose could be heard flying over in the dark over Weston village.

Observer: WSM (image 1).

05.01.20. Birdlog.

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A short walk today from Ince and by the Holpool Gutter. A clay pigeon shoot was taking place at Ince which disturbed the wildfowl in the area, so not much on the pools apart from c40 Eurasian Teal, c15 Gadwall, numerous Mallard and a pair of Northern Shoveler, a Little Grebe being noted.

A raft of c60 Eurasian Coot were on the Manchester Ship Canal no doubt disperbed from the nearby ‘Canal Pools’ alongside 2 pair of Gadwall.

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The wildfowlers were out on the salt marshes so it was only Little Egret and gulls which were present. The fowlers had gathered their haul of dead birds and boarded their boat to make their way back to Marsh Farm and within 10 minutes all of the Canada Goose made their way back to the salt marshes, followed by a Marsh Harrier, closeby two more Marsh Harrier were hunting the reed beds.

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A flock of c100 Eurasian Curlew were in the stubble fields with a single Little Egret and 2 Grey Heron. Mean while a Peregrine was sat on the ground watching the waders, but didn’t seem too interested in giving chase. A mixed flock of Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting were feeding in the same field.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).

I couldn’t make my visit to the marsh until the last hour of the day, so I decided to attack the birding from the Ship Street end.

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The ‘Weaver causeway’ track alongside the River Weaver was churned up by quad bikes, and a muddy mess it is to walk through. Nevertheless, I persevered and saw 10 Northern Pintail, 10 Common Shelduck, 45 Eurasian Teal and 10 Mute Swan, one of which have a severely broken wing (reported to RSPCA).

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A look to the Weaver Estuary produced c75 Tufted Duck, the 1st winter drake and female Greater Scaup, female winter Long-tailed Duck, 10 Common Goldeneye, c100 Eurasian Teal and 10 Common Pochard. A Common Chiffchaff was calling from the reeds and a Cetti’s Warbler called as well.

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My walk back to Ship Street was uneventful, although masses of Black-headed Gull were heading from their inland feeding sites to spend the night on the Mersey Estuary…or the FA Cup Merseyside derby?

Observer: WSM (4-6).

04.01.20. Birdlog.

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The winter female Long-tailed Duck was amongst the 63 Tufted Duck, 12 Common Goldeneye, female Greater Scaup, 4 Common Pochard and 6 Great Crested Grebeon the River Weaver. A flock of 230 Common Redshank were moving up river and a Common Sandpiper was noted.

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A couple of Stonechat kept company on the grassy banks.

A skein of c60 Pink-footed Goose passed overhead on their way to the Mersey Estuary.

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A pair of Stonechat were at the shooters’ berth and a mass of 100’s Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover were in the air near to Marsh Farm. The 3 Cattle Egret were feeding amongst the calves close to the farm.

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The ‘Canal Pools’ were quiet with c40 Eurasian Coot a few Mallard, a pair of Mute Swan and a single Black-tailed Godwit.

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Common Buzzard and Raven were again common throughout the day. A Sparrowhawk passed over the canal to hunt the European Starling flocks on the Frodsham Score salt marsh where a couple of Great Egret were standing out literally on the edge of the river. Also noted were tens of hundreds of Canada Goose spread out across the marshes.

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The herd of 19 Whooper Swan included 6 juvenile birds and are still along Lordship Lane and were joined by c80 Eurasian Curlew.

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A look over No.6 tank produced 2 Marsh Harrier and 71 Northern Shoveler, 17 Northern Pintail, c300 Eurasian Teal, 31 Common Pochard, 2 Common Goldeneye, 46 Tufted Duck and 14 Mallard.

Observers: Paul Ralston (images 1-7), WSM (images 8-9).

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There was a 1st winter drake Greater Scaup with the flock on Weaver Bend early afternoon in addition to the female that was also present.

Jonathan Scragg (image 10).

03.01.20. Birdlog.

An early dart from work and 40 minutes secured on the banks of No.6 tank watching; c300 Eurasian Teal, 26 Northern Pintail, 46 Tufted Duck, 61 Northern Shoveler, 31 Common Pochard, 2 Gadwall and 2 Common Goldeneye and a Little Egret flying over.

There were 5 Marsh Harrier coming into roost this evening with droves of Raven heading south to their roost sites. Also noted 4 Kestrel and 3 Common Buzzard.

Flocks of Pink-footed Goose were flying onto the Mersey Estuary at dusk.

Looking along Lordship Lane and I could glimpse the Whooper Swan herd in the same fields as normal.

A Cetti’s Warbler rang in the evening and a small number of European Starling were bunching up in flight.

Observer and archive images: WSM.