30.01.20. Birdlog.

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Birding after work is back on the menu boys. I made a dash down to the marshes immediately after work and with the sunlight hanging in there I walked out to the River Weaver. A flock of 254 Tufted Duck, 32 Common Pochard, c450 Eurasian Teal, 12 Common Goldeneye (with a couple of head-tossing drakes), A few Gadwall and the long-staying female Long-tailed Duck. All the ducks were sheltering from the brisk south-westerly wind wafting in across the marsh. A Cetti’s Warbler burst into song a few feet from my position nearly bursting my heardrum.

A look across No.5 tank produced a stunning fiery sunset which was made all the better by a steady stream of Pink-footed Goose stretching from the Gowy Meadows area in a continues line to the Mersey Estuary. I estimated there were 3-4 thousand birds. A recent record count by a local birder heading to the estuary numbered c7000. This species is making a truely big return to the ‘Wild Mersey Marshes’.

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The evening ended when a small (Pipistrelle) Bat was flying about the bridge that crosses the M56 at Brook Furlong Lane.

My first Buff-tailed Bumblebee of the year was in Town Park, Runcorn earlier in the day.

Observer and images: WSM.

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A couple of days ago I spotted a male Kingfisher sat on the steps of the lock gates from the Sankey Canal at Spike Island where it enters the River Mersey at West Bank.

 

26.01.20. Birdlog.

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A very gloomy day eventually gave way to some fine evening sunshine and sunset. We walked out to Marsh Farm along Brook Furlong Lane where a pair of European Bullfinch were calling and were quickly followed by a couple of chattering Cetti’s Warbler. The last remaining Fieldfare and Redwing were still loitering in the area.

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Approaching No.1 tank and two Cattle Egret could be found with cattle by the pipes. Continuing our walk and both the egrets took flight and joined the third bird by the farm. A big flock of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover continually took to the air and were presumably flushed by the scrambler bikes racing along the track between No.3 & No.6 tank.

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A look out to the Mersey Estuary produced hundreds of both Common Shelduck and Eurasian Curlew settling down for the night ahead. A few skeins of Pink-footed Goose were flying over heading to the estuary to join them.

The daylight was fading quickly so we decided to walk back along Alder Lane where a couple of Great Egret flew from the Weaver Bend area and continued to their roost out by the river.

We met a father and his very keen son, a birding team from Liverpool and during a conversation about murmurations a ghostly Barn Owl fortuitously flew along the hedgerow and flipped over the track to gave brief but satisfying views for the lad.

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Observers: JS (image 6) & WSM (images 1-5).

25.01.20. Birdlog.

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I started at Rake Lane this morning and a Kingfisher sat on a sluice gate along with a Grey Wagtail wasat welcome by the Hollpool Gutter where it crosses Rake Lane.

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Hundreds of Pink-footed Goose passed overhead flying south after leaving the Mersey Estuary and on a much smaller scale was a female Stonechat sat on a fence post. A large flock of European Starling and corvids feeding in the stubble fields. Reed Bunting and Chaffinch gathered in the hedgerow, but sat tight as a pair of European Kestrel hunted in the area. The fields by the gutter had c40 Eurasian Curlew foraging in the stubble alongside Black-headed and Common Gull.

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Looking over the Frodsham Score saltmarsh were hundreds of Canada Goose grazing on the short grass with several Little Egret and a single Great Egret.

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On the wildlife front a vixen Fox was mouse hunting at the edge of the Manchester Ship Canal and was being trailed by a dog Fox, they both passed within few foot of me then made their way onto No.4 tank where they could be heard calling which attracted another dog Fox, that got wind of me and turned tail and fled suddenly. A single Euraian Oystercatcher is back on territory and sat on the canal bank waiting for its partner to return.

There were 3 Raven sat at the sand extraction area on No.6 tank while a Marsh Harrier hunted the reed bed.

Looking over Lordship Marsh still held onto the Whooper Swan herd were over by the M56 motorway while the Mute Swan were close to Lordship lane and tallied 8 birds. A Common Buzzard was hanging in the air Kestrel like while 2 more Kestrels perched in a tree on the bank of No.4.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-7).

I was on the marsh by mid morning and made the slog out to the banks of the River Weaver were the shooters were about to begin their activities. A flock of 202 Tufted Duck, 32 Common Pochard, 12 Gadwall, 18 Common Goldeneye and finally the female Long-tailed Duck that made a good job at hiding away. My first Eurasian Oystercatcher of the year flew over head calling urgently and the wintering Common Sandpiper flicked across the Weaver Estuary.

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A look at the cattle by Marsh Farm again had the 3 wary Cattle Egret and could even be seen from the darkside of the river at Hale. A Stonechat was the only other bird of note here.

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My next attention was focused on the saltmarsh of Frodsham Score where several hundred Pink-footed Goose were together by the shooters hut. A leucistic necked goose with the Canada Goose main herd didn’t quite look right. The Little Egret were scattered widely and 2 Great Egret could be seen. The only raptor seen was a big barrel chested female Peregrine sat on the edge of the river watching a conveyor belt of food flying by. There were 4 additional Eurasian Oystercatcher on the edge of the ebbing tide.

I continued by walk and found 23 Whooper Swan in the same fields PR had seen them earlier.

My final destination was to look over No.6 tank where 58 Northern Shoveler joined up with 31 Northern Pintail, 350 Eurasian Teal, 132 Mallard, 24 Gadwall, 2 Common Goldeneye, 14 Tufted Duck and 6 Common Pochard.

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A 1st winter Common Gull at Picow Farm Road, Runcorn from 15.01.20 and currently still in the area was ringed near Bergan, Norway 04.08.19. and is currently wintering in the area.

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A partial leucistic Canada Goose was with its more ‘normal’ herd at Wigg Island, Runcorn on 21.01.20.

Observer: WSM (images 1 & 8-12).

24.01.20. Birdlog.

 

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I spent the last hour of light around Marsh Farm and the Weaver Bend.The first lambs of the year were in the fields near to the farm.  A pair of Stonechat were on the fence along Alder Lane and a single Cattle Egret were with the new calves then flew towards the farm to join the other two Cattle Egret there. There were Fieldfare and Common Starling were busy feeding in the fields and were flushed by a Marsh Harrier which made its way towards No.6 tank to roost for the night. A mass of Northern Lapwing and other plovers were high up over No.3 spooked by a unseen predator.

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On the River Weaver were Tufted Duck, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Common Pochard, Common Shelduck, Common Goldeneye and Gadwall were all present along with 21 Mute Swan and numerous Eurasian Coot.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

I was driving westbound on the M56 after work and the herd of 20 something Whooper Swan were still residing in thier favourite fields on Lordship Marsh per WSM.

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).