14.04.19. Birdlog.

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An early start this morning from Ince along with the sun rising over the wind turbines.

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The first Reed Warbler was alarm calling from the reed bed at the start of my walk which then gave a brief performance before diving back into cover. A pair of Greylag Goose have taken residence on one of the ponds along with several Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and a single Common Shelduck.

Onward and forward to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a sudden sharp blast from a Cetti’s Warbler rang out from Ince Berth followed by numerous Chiffchaff calls in the hedgerows alongside the path. On the ship canal were more of the same species of ducks and a pair of Great Crested Grebe were making the most of the spring weather.

Several Curlew and 2 Little Egret were feeding out on the salt marsh and a large roost of Great, Lesser Black-back and Herring Gull were settled on the shortly cropped grass.  Four Mute Swan were still on their wintering field on Ince marsh fields and another 16 were making their way along the canal.

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The ‘Splashing Pool’ held more Common Shelduck, Mallard, Eurasian Teal with the addition of several Northern Shoveler and Canada Goose. The spring silence was disrupted again by a very vocal Cetti’s Warbler.

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A Coot was sat on its nest in the shallow water of the ‘phalarope pool’.

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Walking back along Lordship Lane and I saw several Linnet and the odd Meadow Pipit busy collecting nest material, and a final blast from…yes you’ve guessed it Cetti’s. Also seen were Reed Bunting on territory and 2 Wheatear in the stubble field where c40 Curlew were feeding. A Blackcap was singing on the banks on No.6 tank, while a charm of c50 Goldfinch were keeping an eye on a Kestrel perched nearby.

A couple of Peregrine were high overhead and another Blackcap was in a melodic mood on my meander home.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images).

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It was a very cold south-easterly that greeted us on the marsh this late morning into the afternoon period, so it was best to keep moving and not to linger for too long.

We walked along Moorditch Lane and then through Lordship Marsh before taking a look over Frodsham Score salt marsh. Two Cetti’s Warbler gave out a powerful song from deep in cover while the sounds of Curlew filled the air with melancholy.

A couple of Marsh Harrier ranged widely during our walk but provided some close views. The Raven were still enjoying the fringe benefits of some very organic farming methods here.

Looking across the salt marshes at low tide did provide a couple of Little Egret possibly the birds PR had seen earlier and a group of 65 lingering Pink-footed Goose must surely be thinking of heading north to the land of fire and ice very soon.

There were 9 White Wagtail on the Manchester Ship Canal tow path and No.4 tank echoed to the tunes of Willow Warber and Chiffchaff while Swallow and Sand Martin raced eagerly north.

Walking along the track between No.6 and No.3 tanks a Ring Ouzel flew out of the same elder tree as one did last year, so now I’m calling it the ouzel bush.

No.6 tank was again busy with ducks and Common Shelduck have arrived in force with 111 birds being present, some Tufted Duck and Northern Shoveler made up the rest.

I counted 7 singing Cetti’s Warbler today, so it’s firmly established itself in the Mersey and Weaver valleys.

Observers: JS & WSM.

13.04.19. Birdlog.

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I made a visit to the marsh after work today and bumped into Arthur Harrison and we saw up to 7 Ruff including a couple of males attaining their summer finery on No.6 tank tonight. A female Marsh Harrier was showing her best feature as she glided over the reed beds while a couple of last years young Kestrel were play fighting.

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The only other birds of interest were several Swallow hawking low over the fields on No.3 tank.

Observers: Arthur & WSM (images).

12.04.19. Birdlog.

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An early dart from work and a walk along the River Weaver, Manchester Ship Canal and No.6 tank. The usual ducks were on the river but no sign of any Goldeneye that have spent the winter here.

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There were 5 Avocet which flew down river calling as they went only to return a short time later. 4 Common Sandpiper, 5 Ringed Plover and c30 Black-tail Godwit were on the river bank alongside 4 Oystercatcher.

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Out on the Mersey estuary were a few hundred Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew which fed on the mudflats while Cormorant fished in the tidal channels.

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A female Wheatear sat on a post near to Marsh Farm and several Swallow and Sand Martin fed over the cattle in the field alongside the ship canal.

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A mixed flock of Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit and Lapwing washed the estuary mud from their plumage in the fresh water pools on No.3 tank.

There were a couple of  Chiffchaff were contact calling in the bushes near the ‘Slashing Pool’ and a Marsh Harrier sat in the reed bed on No.6 tank.

A flock of c60 Goldfinch fed in the stubble field and the Lapwing were on corvid patrol  and vented their frustration out on a passing Kestrel.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-7).

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An after work ramble down on the marsh involved a circular walk around No.6 tank.

An ear-splitting burst of song from a Cetti’s Warbler made its presence known alongside one of the tracks of the marsh. It’s little wonder this is Britain’s loudest songbird.

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A couple of Marsh Harrier drifting over Lordship Marsh against a riot of yellow from the oilseed rape fields in Helsby made a lovely image. Several Common Buzzard were about with a male Kestrel working really hard to feed its brood.

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The mitigation area on No.3 tank had an assortment of the commoner ducks plus a single Black-tailed Godwit and a couple of Little Ringed Plover. The Canal Pools were thriving with hirundines mostly Swallow but good numbers of Sand Martin.

The open waters of No.6 tank still hold 21 Tufted Duck with numerous Eurasian Teal, Mallard and Common Shelduck. A pair of nesting Black-headed Gull have built a nest well away from prowling Foxes.

The Raven hoards were still pressing the mutton button with loads waiting their line.

Observer: WSM (images 1 & 8-11).

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Earlier Simon Skidmore saw a Marsh Harrier flying over the M56 at 10.20 am from his car on the west bound (Frodsham village side) of the M56.

10.04.19. Birdlog.

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An evening walk along the River Weaver this evening started with several Chiffchaff showing along Brook Furlong Lane while 4 Curlew were feeding in the field alongside the river.

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On the water were Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and still 7 Goldeneye being present with the usual Canada Goose pairs.4 Great Crested Grebe and a single Little Grebe. A Common Buzzard was flying low along the river bank and flushed a small group of Rredshank and Oystercatcher.

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Also the first multiple Common Sandpiper (5) were spread out along the river bank with a single Sand Martin hawking over the Manchester Ship Canal.

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Observer and images 2-6: Paul Ralston.

Image 1 by Duncan Cowley.

09.04.19. Birdlog.

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An after work walk down to the river and then onto Marsh Farm finishing off at No.6 tank.

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The River Weaver was alive with Canada Goose, Common Shelduck and Tufted Duck but the highlight for me was a drake Goldeneye head tossing to attract 6 of the females present. The piping calls of distressed waders mobbing a couple of Common Buzzard over Weston Marsh tank drew my attention to an impressive record flock of 72 Avocet.

Looking from Marsh Farm out onto the Weaver Sluices produced 3 Avocet, 2500 Black-tailed Godwit, 350 Redshank and scores of Eurasian Curlew.

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Brook Furlong Lane had Chiffchaff either singing or calling throughout its length but little else of note.

No.6 tank had again the usual amount of ducks with 44 Tufted Duck being the most obvious. A couple of Marsh Harrier quartering the distant reed beds was compensation for the hike here. A couple of singing Cetti’s Warbler rang out from the banks and a Sand Martin moved ever north.

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A Brown Hare was hunkered down in the sedgy marsh.

Observer and images & video: WSM.

08.04.19. Birdlog.

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A briefer than anticipated visit but still a few goodies on the menu.

A look over No.6 tank featured a pair of Marsh Harrier over the reed beds. Also two Kestrel were hovering in the chilly easterly wind while a lone Sand Martin headed north. The first Willow Warbler and Blackcap of the year were singing loud and proud.

Ducks were much reduced with just 31 Tufted Duck, 4 Gadwall and a smattering of both Eurasian Teal and Common Shelduck. The highlight was a pair of Northern Pintail that flew in, circled the bed and then flew back out again. A lone Ruff was feeding in the thick foliage of the daisy beds while a couple of Common Snipe were dozing in the sunshine.

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The Raven flocks again headed south with full bellies to their roost in north-east Wales.

Observer and images: WSM.

07.04.19. Birdlog.

I had a short walk around the River Weaver and Manchester Ship Canal this morning.

The sound of Chiffchaff and a Cetti’s Warbler were vocal along Brook Furlong Lane as I made my way to the river. On the river itself were Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Gadwall and 4 lingering Goldeneye.

There was also many Canada Goose and a few Mute Swan. A flock of c50 Redshank took to the air leaving a Common Sandpiper behind. Several Oystercatcher were piping as the moved up and down the river bank.

A Kestrel caught a small rodent and took it to a post to eat but was forced to flee by a passing Raven.

There was 5 Sand Martin hawking over the ship canal and a pair of Stonechat being on territory and showing well on the fence line.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images).

During the afternoon we took a hike around No.6 tank where c40 Tufted Duck were hanging out with their usual cousins on the sludge tank waters.

A flock of 50 Linnet were in the flooded stubble field alongside Lordship Lane and a Cetti’s Warbler was present. Several Common Buzzard were riding the thermals.

The mitigation had a few ducks with Eurasian Teal and Northern Shoveler being the most dominant.

Another Cetti’s Warbler burst into song by No.5 tank before we headed home.

Observers: JS & WSM.