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12.08.18. Birdlog.

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A walk around No.6 tank this morning just before the tide with c70 Dunlin (containing many juveniles), 5 Ringed Plover and a single Black-headed Gull to boost their numbers. A little underwhelming but at least they are not grouse getting their annual blasting to avian oblivion. #Inglorious12th

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A couple of Common Swift were with a small group of House Martin and Swallow hawking insects above the trees by the eastern ramp track.

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

I started my walk from Ince this morning but with the amount of construction work going on the wat through it was barely worth the effort starting from there. The fields have been stripped of its main asset that is top soil and piled into mounds leaving nothing to encourage the wildlife to prosper. The pools held a few Mallard, a pair of Gadwall, Coot and Moorhen with many Swallow and House Martin flying overhead.

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Onward and forward I suppose to the Manchester Ship Canal where Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and a single Common Shelduck out on the water.A pair of feral Barnacle Goose was amongst several hundred Canada Goose also on the canal with many more additional Canada’s out on the salt marsh.

Frodsham Score had Little Egret a small flocks of Dunlin and Ringed Plover being noted.

A Marsh Harrier was hunting along the river edge and another left No.4 tank and made its way out to the estuary.

A flock of 20 Black-tailed Godwit flew out to the marsh as the tide was rising and several large roosts of mixed gulls rested on the score marsh.

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Butterflies made an effort today with Common Blue, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Large White’s were all on the wing during my walk.

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The Canal Pools had a couple of Common Snipe feeding at the edge of one of the pools and a Whinchat on its return migration sat on a rock as I passed by.

A juvenile Common Buzzard was constantly calling to its parents which were sat nearby trying desperately to ignore it. A Sparrowhawk harassed a mixed Linnet and Goldfinch flock on No.3.

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No.6 tank during the high tide featured a Sanderling with 147 Ringed Plover and 119 Dunlin (per Alyn Chambers)..

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 3-6).

11.08.18. Birdlog.

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A big tide out on the Mersey estuary slowly edged over the salt marsh stopping well short of the banks of Frodsham Score. There were plenty of gulls taking advantage of the salt marsh to roost while hundreds of Black-headed Gull tried their luck flushing out rodents that may have been forced from their hiding places ahead of the advancing tide.

Curlew by far the commonest shorebird flushed by the tide with a few Black-tailed Godwit and really surprisingly no Ringed Plover or Dunlin!

Out on the River Mersey there were hundreds of Common Shelduck but specialising in all things Canada Goose the Mersey estuary is by far the best (or worst) place in the NE Atlantic for this species.

A few Yellow Wagtail were moving back and to across the Manchester Ship Canal and a couple of juvenile Marsh Harrier quartered the distant salt marsh dislodging even more Curlew from their hiding places.

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A walk back along the track to No.6 tank was pretty uneventful and a quick scan over what is essentially an Atacama Desert wannabe on No.6 sludge tank revealed, 71 Ringed Plover, 20 Dunlin and 9 Black-headed Gull.

A Green Sandpiper dislodged itself from cover while a mixture of hirundines were busy fueling up and a lone Common Swift drifted over.

Observer and images: WSM.

10.08.18. Birdlog.

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After work we took a hike around No.6 tank with low expectations on the birdy front and guess what…? We were not to be disappointed.

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A couple of Yellow Wagtail were flushed from a pathside tree and went off thrilling to their next destination. The stubble fields adjacent to Lordship Lane was buzzing with a flock of c220 Linnet.

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The track between No.4 & 6 tank had a freshening breeze to cool the sunshine and the nearby ‘Splashing Pool’ had only a couple of Tufted Duck and a single Gadwall. The highlight bird spot from the path we where watching from was a group of 12 Raven riding the updraft from the steep banks of the Manchester Ship Canal by the side of the Pumping Station. The flock was joined by a juvenile Peregrine which engaged in a bout of playful fly tumbling with the corvids. I have seen film footage of a juvenile Sparrowhawk play fighting with Jays before on TV but this was equally entertaining and there didn’t appear to be any antagonism between the species.

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A look over No.6 tank and despite the deluge we had a lunch time the sludge tank remained very much…dry!

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Observers: Sparky & WSM (images 2-4).

Paul Crawley (images 1 & 5-7).

09.08.18. Birdlog.

An evening stroll down to the Weaver Bend where the water level is still higher than it should be for some decent birds to be present. There were 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Common Sandpiper, 6 Redshank, 1 Oystercatcher, a juvenile Little Ringed Plover with 8 Shoveler, 18 Tufted Duck and a juvenile Great Crested Grebe.

Retracing my steps I headed along Brook Furlong Lane where the only bird of note was a calling Bullfinch.

Arriving at the track overlooking No.6 tank and the vacant space that once held water was barely even a damp patch anymore. Despite the dust pool of a sludge tank there were 15 Lapwing huddled together and 4 juvenile Pied Wagtail.

Eventually the evening wore on and a spectacular sunset was thwarted by an ominous black rain front rolling in from the distant Atlantic. The top bird(s) were c230 Curlew (many in heavy wing moult) heading into the Mersey estuary and No.6 tank from inland sites. Flocks of Black-tailed Godwit dropped out of the sky to settle on the Canal Pools for the evening.A couple of Marsh Harrier were quartering the area as the light dwindled.

Observer: WSM.

Images: Heather Wilde.

07.08.18. Birdlog.

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An hour or two before the sunset over the Mersey estuary. The No.6 sludge tank was drying out nicely with nothing to show for itself. I made an excursion to No.3 tank where a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit were eking out an existence on the very shallow pools there.

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A Green Sandpiper was still frequenting the ‘Secluded Pool’ with a Water Rail, juvenile Sedge and Reed Warbler also present. A couple of Yellow Wagtail flew over and a small flock of Swallow headed west.

An adult female and a juvenile Marsh Harrier circled the area and a Sparrowhawk was on stealth mode at duck.

Observer and images: WSM.

06.08.18. Birdlog.

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A day off and a walk along the River Weaver and along to No.6 tank.

There was a pair of Mute Swan (one with a green darvic ring) were on the river with several hundred Canada Goose and a few Greylag with there the white farmyard companions. The river produced sightings of 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Oystercatcher and c200 Lapwing at the junction of the river and Manchester Ship Canal. A Cormorant was disturbed off the canal and coughed up a decent sized fish in its haste to get away.

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A look over the Mersey estuary and there were hundreds of Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Dunlin, Cormorant and Grey Heron all feeding in a tidal channel while a large number of Common Shelduck were by the Sluice Gates. 15 Pied Wagtail were grouped together along the canal bank and 3 Yellow Wagtail passed overhead.

A Peregrine was in hunting mode and sped past Marsh Farm and out to the estuary. On to No.6 tank which has now dried up with just a puddle under the Cormorant roost tree and nothing to show on the cracked mud for my effort.

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The ‘Secluded Pool’ still has a small amount of water and held a few Coot, Moorhen and a Green Sandpiper.

I spoke to a visiting birder from Knutsford who had watched a Hobby hunting the many Swallow over tanks 6 and 3, it was joined by a pair of Peregrine.

The Raven that I handed in to the care of a veterinary clinic recently has now regained its strength and was released by the vet near where it was found over the weekend.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

04.08.18. Birdlog.

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A walk out to the River Weaver and then a divert to the estuary where the incoming tide gently ushered a flock of 34 Curlew from the mud flats.

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A flock of 170 sleeping Common Shelduck and a detached Ruddy Shelduck below the Sluice Gates on the Mersey estuary side. A begging juvenile Oystercatcher was half begging for food and at the same tide probing the soft earth. Two flocks of c700 Black-tailed Godwit were reluctant to be shifted my the incoming water with a lot of shuffling and wing stretching.

The Weaver estuary was rather quiet but 4 Common Sandpiper, 7 Lapwing and 17 Great Crested Grebe excluding an 18th bird on the Weaver Bend.

Walking back along Brook Furlong Lane and a juvenile Bullfinch, Willow and Chiffchaff and Whitethroat could be seen and heard in the hedgerows.

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A visit to No.6 tank would on a normal August day be eagerly anticipated but the prolonged periods of dry weather (with little rain to make a difference) and the lack of sludge pumping into the tank has resulted in a wader free zone. The only birds of note being a Little Ringed Plover, 3 Common and 4 Black-headed Gull. The two juvenile Marsh Harrier were constantly calling to each other over the area.

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The only puddle with enough water was enough to bring in 2 bathing juvenile Yellow and 2 Pied Wagtail. A pair of juvenile Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler were edging down the reed stems to quench their thirst.

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Butterflies were a plenty and Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Comma, Painted Lady, Large and Small White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and a few Common Blue were all on the wing. Also noted were Emperor Dragonfly and Ruddy Darter.

Observer and images: WSM.