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28.11.20. Birdlog.

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I was working this weekend so limited to when I could visit the marshes, so after finishing my toil this afternoon on a very grey dreary November day I walked as far as Kinsey Lane, Ince where the Western Cattle Egret have now increased one to four birds.

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Also with them were 3 Little Egret and all were foraging, except for one little being aggressive and chasing the other little’s away. There was shooting taking place nearby which flushed the all egrets and a flock of c50 Eurasian Curlew. The Pink-footed Goose flock could be heard but were hidden in the grey gloom as they made their way to the south Mersey marshes and estuary.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

27.11.20. Birdlog.

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I was hanging the washing out first thing this morning (very domesticated) and a skein of c250 Pink-footed Goose flew over from the Mersey Estuary heading in an easterly direction.

We took ourselves out to Tatton Park today for a walk around the area. Arriving at the wildlife section of Tatton Mere and I found 5 colour ringed Black-headed Gull loafing about on the partially submerged fence that separates the main water body from the cordoned off area for wildlife. A selection of Common Pochard, Tufted Duck and smaller numbers of Common Goldeneye. A skein of 38 Pink-footed Goose flew over the mere heading north west and the same 38 birds reappeared an hour or so later and a Green Woodpecker was evading me getting a photo.

I’ll update this post as and when I get details on the colour ringed gulls.

Observers: JS & WSM (images 1-6).

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I paid a late visit to Ince after work this afternoon. The 3 Western Cattle Egret and 2 Little Egret were again amongst the pigs along Kinsey Lane, Ince. A skein of c80 Pink-footed Goose made their way to the Mersey Estuary for the night followed by a flock of c30 Black-tailed Godwit. There was little on the pools apart from 8 Eurasian Coot, 2 pairs of Mallard, 2 Eurasian Teal and a pair of Mute Swan with one sporting a green darvic ring, a single Grey Heron looked surly alongside them.

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Little Egrets at the Ince Nature Reserve.

There were 7 Little Egret dropped down at the edge of the screen pool before going to roost nearby. While walking past the pig field on my way home in near darkness the 3 Western Cattle Egret were still busy night foraging.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 7-9).

26.11.20. Birdlog.

We started our 12.5 km walk from Marsh Lane, Frodsham taking in firstly at Moorditch Lane where winter thrushes and the resident Mistle Thrush pair were busy guarding their hawthorn bush with its heavy crop of berries. The Fieldfare and Redwing will eventually move into the crop when the weather and berry supply begins to get lean.

A look over No.6 tank showed up 4 Mute Swan, 42 Common Pochard, 41 Tufted Duck, 87 Northern Shoveler, 12 Northern Pintail, c400 Eurasian Teal, 30 Mallard and 4 Gadwall. A small number of Common Snipe and Northern Lapwing were also present.

The ‘phalarope pool’ and the ‘splashing pool’ had 110 Eurasian Teal, 16 Mallard, 7 Northern Shoveler and a single female Northern Pintail.

Whooper Swans off Lower Rake Lane.

We continued our walk joining up with Lordship Lane and its very muddy tracks. A herd of 31 Whooper Swan (4 juvenile) were oppoite Lower Rake Lane, presumably they’ll move over to Spring Farm in due course. A flock of c100 Eurasian Curlew and a ringed Black-headed Gull were also nearby.

After spending some time in this area we made our way back for a picnic at the ‘phalarope pool’, and the first of several skeins of Pink-footed Goose heading back from their inland feeding grounds (in south Cheshire?). I estimated their combined numbers was c1500 geese, and all heading into the south Mersey marshes at dusk. Two pairs of European Stonechat were ‘stane chacking’ along the fence line boardering No.3 tank.

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A final look over No.6 tank revealed a Black-headed Gull roost that included a briefly bathing adult winter Mediterreanean Gull, 5 adult & 1 juvenile Whooper Swan back lit by a rich pinky sun setting between two slices of cloud. A female Western Marsh Harrier was quartering the reed beds and a Common Chiffchaff contact calling from the banks below me.

I found a wasp nest a few days ago at Spike Island in Widnes but the back end of it had been gnawed away by a rat. The front end was perfect and displayed the ingenious construction.

Observers: JS & WSM (images).

25.11.20. Birdlog.

A quick visit as the light was fading after work this afternoon. The 3 Westen Cattle Egret were seen leaving the pig field alongside Kinsey Lane and heading to their roost. Also 18 Eurasian Curlew were calling as they passed overhead.

Observer: Paul Ralston.

Elsewhere, the Ruddy Shelduck was still lingering with Common Shelduck just east of the new Mersey Gateway bridge crossing, 4 Pink-footed Goose and a couple of Little Egret were also noted. A Kingfisher showed well at Spike Island, Widnes and a skein of 50 Pink-footed Goose flew over Runcorn old town heading to the River Mersey per WSM.

22.11.20. Birdlog.

I had an hours birding or so at Ince this afternoon. Plenty of Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit were numerous in the stubble fields while in the hedgerows Redwing, Fieldfare, Blackbird and Song Thrush were moving through and enjoying feeding on berries that have survived their previous visits.

I had two Cattle Egret at the pig farm at Ince yesterday, until I checked my additional images off my camera which revealed a third bird, so another visit today to confirm the three birds. They were joined by 4 Little Egret with several Grey Heron watching with interest as they fed on the worms and grubs uncovered by the rooting pigs.

A look over Frodsham Score salt marsh produced more Little Egret and a single Great Egret were feeding in the tidal channels. Shorebirds in attendance were Eurasian Curlew and Common Redshank could be seen at the edge of the River Mersey and a large flock of Northern Lapwing were bunched together as a Peregrine flew over to checked them out.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-6).

While Paul was enjoying the egretteratti over at the western end of the marshes me and JS undertook a 23.5 klm hike down and around the marsh. The mild warm weather was notable for the sunny corners bringing out wasps, bumblebees and numerous other invertebrates.

We bumped into Jacqui & Idris Roberts who had seen 4 Whooper Swan flying south west over No.6 tank but the swans didn’t settle. There were no swans on Lordship Marsh, so I guess their sighting involved birds moving through. A small skein of Pink-footed Goose flew over and were heading to the Dee marshes. During our conversation with J & I we were joined by Arthur Harrison who’s pace along the track between No.3 & 6 tanks was staggered by the sighting of 3 pairs of European Stonechat. The ‘phalarope pool’ had 31 Eurasian Teal, 7 Northern Shoveler and mating Mallard.

Looking across No.6 tank was busy with 2 Black-tailed Godwit, ducks and c200 Northern Shoveler, 350 Eurasian Teal, 7 Northern Pintail, c160 Tufted Duck and 48 Common Pochard.

When we eventually reached home at 5pm no sooner was the key put into the front door and a skein of c250 Pink-footed Goose flew over the house heading down to the Mersey Estuary…You’ve gotta love birding.

Observers: JS & WSM (image 7).

21.11.20. Birdlog.

A walk around No.6 and No.4 tanks this morning. A decent selection of ducks on the water of No.6 with mostly Eurasian Teal and Northern Shoveler, but Gadwall, Mallard, Common Shelduck andNorthern Pintail also being present.

A single Mute Swan, c100 Eurasian Wigeon were on the mitigation pools on No.3 tank with more Eurasian Teal and Mallard. There were skeins of Pink-footed Goose passed overhead heading east with 433 in total, with 95 heading back a couple of hours later. Hundreds of Northern Lapwing were on the wet fields on Lordship Marsh, but no sign of the Whooper Swan herd from yesterday, but it is the weekend and they do like to shoot on the weekends.

Winter thrushes were present but in reduced numbers and a Peregrine was sat on its tower overlooking the marshes. A flock of c80 Eurasian Curlew were foraging on the stubble fields alongside the Holpool  Gutter.

Out on Frodsham Score salt marsh were c1000 Northern Lapwing and c200 EuropeanGolden Plover which were being their usual nervous selves. Also seen were  2 Great Egret and several Little Egret. The Common Raven were doing a good job of cleansing the salt marsh of the deadstock left after the recent high tides. The Great Black-backed Gull were lower down the pecking order and waited their turn to recycle.

Large flocks of finches were moving about the marsh with European Goldfinch being the most prominent followed by Linnet and Chaffinch which were also busy feeding on the weed seeds. Raptors included the usual Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Common Buzzard which did a good job at keeping the passerines on high alert.

Much later in the day the 2 Western Cattle Egret, 4 Little Egret and a Grey Heron fed around the snufferling pigs at Ince.

Obsever and images: Paul Ralston

20.11.20. Birdlog.

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A walk along Moorditch Lane at dawn was rewarding with a skein of 58 Pink-footed Goose heading south east over Frodsham. The walk initially was pretty uneventful with only a couple of Cetti’s Warbler, 3 Goldcrest and an assortment of winter thrushes.

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Looking across No.6 tank from its banks produced 6 leftover Whooper Swan from the herd of 13 that dropped into roost last evening.

They consisted of 2 juveniles and 4 adults, and each had the reminants of rust staining to their heads and necks from their breeding grounds way to the north. Also present were 5 Mute Swan, 188 Eurasian Teal, 18 Common Shelduck, 6 Northern Pintail, 50 Northern Shoveler, 25 Mallard, 4 Eurasian Coot and 19 Little Grebe.

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I continued my walk back to Brookfurlong Lane where there were lots of Fieldfare, Redwing and smaller numbers of Blackbird, Song Thrush and a couple of Mistle Thrush. Two additional Cetti’s Warbler were calling from deep inside the hedgerow. Eventually I reached the River Weaver and looked up to the Weaver Estuary and found the 176 Tufted Duck there. A bigger than the average flock of 58 Common Pochard, a reduction on the 98 seen at the weekend. Also counted were 28 Common Shelduck, 1 Gadwall, c250 Eurasian Teal, 6 Mute Swan, 10 Common Goldeneye and 65 Eurasian Coot.

A thoughtful piece of fly-tipping by the bb(r)c breakfast team.

Observer: WSM (images 1-8).

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An early finish at work and a walk on the marsh with a start at Ince this afternoon. A Grey Heron replaced the Little Egrets at the pig farm, the latter had relocated to the pools. Overhead a couple of Great Spotted Woodpecker passed by on their way to the woods. The pools had c60 Eurasian Teal, 8 Gadwall, 8 Mallard, 2 Northern Shoveler, 5 Mute Swan, several Eurasian Coot and Common Moorhen. The winter thrushes were feeding in and along the canal path trees watched over by a Sparrowhawk.

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Out on the Frodsham Score salt marsh was a mega herd of c2000 Canada Goose grazing on the short salty grass, but were very aware of 2 wildfowlers along the river bank. Several Little Egret were frolicking in and out of the tidal gutters while a single Great Egret added some demure. There were thousands of Common Starlng creating a mass like a black carpet as they rolled about the salt marsh. More Eurasian Teal, Gadwall, Mallard and Northern Shoveler were about when I got to the ‘phalarope pool’ and a Western Marsh Harrier was being taunted by a Common Raven over No.4 tank.

A large flock of Northern Lapwing were foraging on Lordship Marsh and were flushed off the fields by a Common Buzzard. The sight of a 23 strong herd of Whooper Swan were flushed inadvertently by a jogger but soon settled by the Hillview Farm.

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An adult Peregrine was sat on the ground digesting its meal, but its pressence had an effect on the flock of Eurasian Curlew that were feeding in the same field.

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Back near to my start and a flock of c30 egrets had gathered  at the edge of the pool by  the screen hide before going to roost, mostly Little Egret with 2 Western Cattle Egret (probably the 2 birds from recent weeks?) I also noted 4 Common Raven making their way to roost in the woods.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 9-12).

19.11.20. Birdlog.

A walk out along the track that leads west above No.6 tank produced a Little Egret flying overhead to the Mersey Estuary. On the open water was a reduced amount of ducks with 234 Northern Shoveler, 270 Eurasian Teal and smaller numbers of Common Shelduck and Mallard.

A flock of 200 Northern Lapwing flew over and smaller looser flocks of Eurasian Curlew were flying west at dusk. Watching over the tank at dusk brought a herd of 13 (2 juvenile) Whooper Swan which came in to roost for the evening.

Mistle Thrush isn’t a common bird on the marsh and this winter a pair have taken up residency along Moorditch Lane by the pony paddock sharing the hawthorn berries with a few Redwing. There were flocks of Fieldfare flying over and a Common Chiffchaff was heard contact calling in the thickets.

The Common Starling flocks appeared in numbers reaching a couple of thousand but they didn’t linger and moved off to the north east.

Observers: JS & WSM.

Images by Phil Barker.

16.11.20. Birdlog.

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Keith was out with his camera on the marsh today and managed some little golden nuggets from the tanks and the wayside.

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A Whooper Swan was sharing the water on No.6 tank with the usual duck species and without the stiff breeze of yesterday. A lone Pied Avocet was unusual for the time of year and stayed close to the vegetated margins of the tank.

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Overhead a skein of Pink-footed Goose flew through.

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Elsewhere, A European Stonechat was flicking and flying between various lookout stems and a charm of European Goldfinch, Linnet and another European Stonechat.

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Goldfinch in all its glory.
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The Peregrine was enjoying a much warmer morning to bask in the glory of the mighty River Mersey.

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Observer and images: Keith Gallie.

15.11.20. Birdlog (WeBS Count).

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I was out today for my section of the BTO WeBS count with Bill covering the area to the south of the marshes. My start was from Ince and I stopped at Kinsey Lane where a Pot-bellied Pig was strolling along the lane in front of me as bold as brass, He was returned to his owner by 2 lady joggers.

I looked over the Frodsham Score salt marsh from an elevated position as the tide crept in and I watched as masses of waders were moving along the edge of the river and putting on a great display. 

A single Little Egret was feeding amongst the pigs as were c60 Eurasian Curlew, c300 Black-headed Gull. Onward to the pools and 5 Mallard, 62 Eurasian Teal, 23 Gadwall, 15 Northern Shoveler, 14 Eurasian Coot, 10 Common Moorhen, a single Little  Egret, 3 Little Grebe and 4 Mute Swan were noted. Later 2 Black-tailed Godwit dropped in to feed at the edge of the pool aswell.

A small flock of 4 Common Snipe exploded from the grass as I made my way towards the Ince Berth and a Common Buzzard which I disturbed as it fed on a freshly killed Rabbit. Winter thrushes were numerous and were joined by a Mistle Thrush as they gorged in the hedgerows. 

The tide came in and covered the entire salt marsh forcing thousands of waders into the air and included Dunlin, Common Redshank, Eurasian Curlew, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Northern Lapwing were all present and c400 Eurasian Curlew settled on the fields alongside the Holpool Gutter  A single Great Egret and several Little Egret were fishing in the rising  water and the gulls went in to a feeding frenzy with the corvids joining them.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston

I had a malfunction with a grub screw and my tripod and then with my camera’s sd card so there wasn’t much chance to get any proper shots today.

We made a start for our BTO WeBS count along Moorditch Lane where a modest sized flock of 120 Black-headed Gull were working the flooded fields by the motorway. We continued along Moorditch to join up with Lordship Lane and apart from a small group of more gulls it was pretty devoid of birdlife but the sign of a marde spreader on the fields by Hillview Farm was enough for the Whooper Swan herd not to be present (Jacqui & Idris Roberts saw them fly overhead No. 3 tank yesterday afternoon, so they had departed the area for now).

Walking the track between No.6 & No.4 tanks produced a flock of 54 Linnet, 12 Pied Wagtail and 5 Lesser Redpoll forgaing along the elders on the western banks of No.6 tank.

No.3 tank was next and for a change the ‘phalarope pool’ was empty but there was a lot of people walking the tracks of the marsh this Sunday. Further out Eurasian Teal were numbering 231 birds with just a handful of Eurasian Wigeon and 23 Mallard. A flock of c500 Northern Lapwing over No.2 tank.

The wind was fresh but the forecast for swally weather didn’t materilise with bright sunshine helping the counters on the edge of the wild mersey. No.6 tank wasn’t as busy as yesterday with 204 Northern Shoveler, 320 Eurasian Teal, 7 Gadwall, 31 Mallard, 16 Common Shelduck, 7 Northern Pintail, 29 Little Grebe, 14 Common Coot and 3 Common Moorhen. A herd of 5 adult and 2 juvenile Mute Swan added to the days bounty.

Observer: JS & WSM.