20.07.20. Birdlog.

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Image may contain: grass, bird, plant, outdoor and nature

An evening stroll along the lanes by No.4 tank produced a brief encounter with a Long-eared Owl sat out in the evening sunshine. Three Great Spotted Woodpecker and a couple of Common Sandpiper rounded the night off nicely.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).

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The juvenile Common Cuckoo was again on No.1 tank this morning but pressure from motor vehicles and cyclists forced it to move over to No.6 tank.

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Also a Peregrine nearly did for a Wood Pigeon which lived for another day.

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Observer: Keith Gallie (images 4-11).

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No photo description available.
No photo description available.

Earlier in the day I came across this Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar that crossed my path at the Trans Pennine Trail through Widnes Warth Marsh. I gave it a safe passage to a patch of Rosebay Willowherb, but before that took a short video of it.

Later in the day approaching dusk I looked out over the Weaver Sluices where 31 Pied Avocet and a huge flock of Black-tailed Godwit could be seen. The 1000’s of Canada Goose are scattered widely across Frodsham Score salt marsh, while the Mersey Estuary sees an increase in the numbers of Eurasian Curlew and Common Redshank. Common Shelduck lay like a white carpet across the mudflats and (I didn’t count them) must be approaching a 1000 birds.

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Neowise comet over the northwest tonight. Image by Mark Caine.

We went to the top of Frodsham Hill after sunset and waited with a small crowd of people some of which gave us the opportunity to enjoy their secondhand pot smoking fumes :O(. It wasn’t long before I pick the pale tail of the comet emerge in the north western sky. The longer the evening preceeded, the better the image became. If you do try for the comet, take binoculars and a telescope, and a place with as little light pollution as possible (Frodsham Hill is good for the elevation but not for the light pollution below).

Observer: WSM (images 12-14 & video).

19.07.20. Birdlog.

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Image may contain: grass, bird, plant, outdoor and nature

I started this morning at Brook Furlong Lane where Common Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Common Whitethroat were present, some vocal and others foraging in family groups. A family party of European Stonechat were along Alder Lane as were several Common Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit.

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Looking out over the Mersey Estuary and c25 Pied Avocet were leftovers from the big numbers earlier in the month and were feeding in the tidal channel alongside many Black-tailed Godwit and Common Redshank. On the other hand the Weaver Estuary had 5 Common Sandpiper and 4 Dunlin at the edge of the relict salt marsh there, and a flock of c40 Common Redshank and 15 godwit were noted.

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Another family group of European Stonechat were on the bank at the pipeline on No.1 tank and the juvenile Common Cuckoo was seen perched on a telegraph wire and dropped down to feed on the cut field, a short while later it moved back to the fence which gave me the opportunity to watch it feeding on caterpillars until it was disturbed by 3 joggers. It then flew to the pipeline fence again for a rest.

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A walk around No.6 was uneventful with just the usual ducks on the water and with only a handful of Mallard on the ‘phalarope and splashing pool’ it was again low profile birding. A flock of c200 Northern Lapwing were resting on the exposed mud on 6 and a Western Marsh Harrier drifted over without disturbing them.

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More family parties of warblers including Western Reed and Sedge were active along Lordship Lane and a Common Gull was amongst the Black-headed Gull flock feeding amongst the hay bales.

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Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

18.07.20. Birdlog.

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A damp walk around the River Weaver and Manchester Ship Canal this morning starting at Brook Furlong Lane. There was still the odd Common Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat and Blackcap in song along the lane and a young dark morph Common Buzzard sat on a post watching out for an easy meal (which there arn’t).

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Onto the river path and the first of 10 Common Sandpiper was noted with another seen at the shooters’ pools. Over on the far bank were c15 Common Redshank and c20 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Eurasian Oystercatcher and several Northern Lapwing foraging.

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On the actual river were small numbers of Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and Common Shelduck being noted. One Tufted Duck had a single tufling with her. Eurasian Coot numbers are building up with c70 seen on the river and ship canal, and more Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Common Sandpiper feeding from the river bank with an additional 5 Common Sandpiper and a Common Ringed Plover feeding together at the junction of the ship canal and Weaver Estuary.

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Looking over to the Mersey Estuary and several hundred more Black-tailed Godwit were resting at the edge of the water alongside Great Cormorant, common Shelduck and a single Little Egret. Hundreds of Canada Goose were on Frodsham Score salt marsh with many making their way on to the River Mersey. 

A mixed group of c100 Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Sand and and House Martin were hawking over the river and a mass of Common Starling passed overhead to feed on the nearby fields. The European Stonechat pair were on the fence line and had a juvenile with them.

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Nearby a juvenile Common Cuckoo fresh from its host nest and host Meadow Pipit in attendance was sat on the pipeline fence. The cuckoo was gaping wide its mouth hoping to be fed by the pipit, but it didn’t respond and soon after the cuckoo caught its own meal of caterpillars.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-5).

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A view over the Weaver Sluices onto Frodsham Score reveal a Great Egret strutting its stuff on the salt marsh.

Looking at the weather forecast we were not expecting to take our walk around the marshes in complete dryness, and as it turned out it didn’t stop raining throughout our time here. It was not a complete washout with a ‘reeling’ Western Grasshopper Warbler sounding out its tune in the drizzle. A few Common Chiffchaff were doing their best to brighten up preceedings while a couple of deafening Cetti’s Warbler disrupted the peace with their own rendition of a blast of gun artillery.

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We walked up Alder Lane hoping to catch up with Paul’s earliersighting of a juvenile Common Cuckoo, and accordingly it duly obliged and flew from a tree it was sheltering in to the pipeline across No.1 tank. From there it relocated in the newly cut field grass and onto the fence bordering the lane. I got some reasonable views but when the farmer drove by it decided to leave No.1 tank and move to the fields east of No.5. A large flock of Common Starling lacked a rosy hue which would have been quite good.

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Our walk took us next to No.6 tank and a belt of blackish clouds rolling in over Helsby Hill gave us a period of hunkering down under the umbrella. A flock of 51 Tufted Duck, 4 drake Common Pochard, 12 Mallard and 15 Little Grebe was okay, but a flock of 350 Northern Lapwing and a female Western Marsh Harrier was a little better.

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Image may contain: bird, outdoor and nature

With the prospect of getting wetter we carried on home but not before watching over a medium sized flock of Black-headed Gull feeding in a cut wheatfield. I could immediately see an adult Mediterranean Gull without the aid of of my binoculars. I soon had my scope up and ready for action. I picked out a juvenile bird feeding in the field as well and juvenile Med’s are very rare on the marsh, and is presumably one from the Delamere colony en route to spend its time on the Mersey Estuary.

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Image may contain: cloud, sky, plant, tree, grass, outdoor and nature

The above two images are from two days ago but show the track (leading to the west) between No.5 (right hand side) and No.6 tank (left hand side) in drier times.

Observers: JS & WSM (images 6-12).

14.07.20. Birdlog.

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After work I made my way to the marsh and walked out to No.6 tank and settled down to view…not a lot of ducks! A couple of ducks in the centre drew my attention and they turned out to be a pair of Common Scoter!

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Image may contain: bird, outdoor and water
Image may contain: outdoor, water and nature

I knew Sean O’Hara was nearby so I sent out a text to him and Paul Ralston. It wasn’t long before they both had the opportunity to see them before the ducks expected departure. I left them both (the scoter that is) asleep on the water and tried my luck elsewhere.

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The tide was incoming so a look from a more elevated position gave me the chance to get a look over the Weaver Sluices and Frodsham Score. A big flock of c1000 Black-tailed Godwit were forced to relocate from the muddy feeding ground for much drier mudflats. A smallish flock of 39 Pied Avocet were bunched together and several hundred Canada Goose were gathering on the salt marshes.

Observer: WSM (images 1-7 & video 1).

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A Western Marsh Harrier was over No.3 tank then perched up on No.6 single. A single Black-tailed Godwit was on the ‘phalarope pool’ alongside the usual ducks and c200 Northern Lapwing on the exposed mud near to the slurry pipe.

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 8).

Sean O’Hara got good views of the Green Sandpiper which frequents the ‘phalarope pool’ on No.3 tank and a Western Yellow Wagtail family (videos 2-4).

12.07.20. Birdlog.

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Another walk along the River Weaver and Manchester Ship Canal today.  A small pleasure boat made its way along the Weaver as far as the ship canal so not a lot to be seen due to disturbance. The 3 Dunlin were still in the company of a couple of Common Ringed Plover but were flushed and moved out to the Mersey Estuary, at least 4 Common Sandpiper were noted along the river and the canal. There were several family parties of Pied Wagtail were feeding at the waters edge.

Looking over the Mersey Estuary and again c3000 Canada Goose were out on the mudflats with several hundred Black-taileded Godwit, 15 Pied Avocet, c30 Eurasian Curlew present and gulls were in their hundreds, mostly Black-headed and 4 Grey Heron.

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The Mute Swan pairs on the ‘Canal Pools’ have 4 cygnets, the first for a couple of years on the marsh. 

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An early Northern Wheatear was seen near the dredger berth and made its way over to the ‘Canal Pools’ where better views of it were had by me. Eight Common Raven and a Common Buzzard were busy feeding on a sheep carcase in the long grass allowing a close approach before seeing me and making a hasty exit.

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The ‘phalarope pool’ held several Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and a single Black-tailed Godwit while No.6 tank was a wader free zone. A Western Marsh Harrier hunted over the reed bed.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-4).

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The highlight of today’s walk around the marsh was a European Nuthatch (a local scarse bird) which flew south along the track at the east end of No.6 tank. Also seen was a
Western Yellow Wagtail on No.3 tank and 8 Common Sandpiper were along the
Weaver Estuary. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling along Brook Furlong Lane.

Observer: Alyn Chambers.

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Image may contain: sky, tree, grass, cloud, outdoor and nature

We took a stroll around No.6 tank where we stopped by the ‘phalarope pool’ were we exchange pleasantries with Guy and Lou who were cycling from from deepest Cheshire. All the ducks mentioned earlier by Paul were still present including mother Gadwall with her six ducklings. A 1st summer Western Marsh Harrier flew over and another passed by sometime later. The highlight was a Little Egret which dropped in to feed and on this occasion didn’t fly away as soon as iy her us.

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There were again plenty of butterflies along the lane and a Black-tailed Chaser dragonfly was idyling on the track by the viewing area above No.6 tank. The tank was rather quiet but 61 Tufted Duck, 2 Common Pochard, and single numbers of Eurasian Teal, Common Shelduck and Northern Shoveler.

That walk completes 53 klm (each) offsetting our carbon footprint on the marsh this week. #savingtheworldsoyoucanenjoyit

Observers: JS & WSM (images 1 & 5-8).

11.07.20. Birdlog.

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A walk along the River Weaver this morning starting at Brook Furlong Lane where Common Chiffchaffs, Sedge Warbler and Common Whitethroat were still in song and the juvenile European Stonechat were fly-catching along the river path with one bird catching a white butterfly in flight.

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Looking over the river several Eurasian Oystercatcher, a pair of Common Sandpiper were feeding on the far bank and a flock of c40 Black-tailed Godwit moved down river.

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While I was watching the waders a large Brown Rat crossed the path running over my foot as it made its way in to the reeds. c60 Tufted Duck, several Mallard, 6 Great Crested Grebe and 3 Mute Swan were on the river.

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Image may contain: bird, sky, outdoor, water and nature
Image may contain: bird, sky, outdoor, water and nature

There were 8 Common Ringed Plover, 4 Little Ringed Plover which were made up of 2 adults and 2 juveniles, 3 Dunlin (1 juvenile) and another 4 Common Sandpiper,  several Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank and Eurasian Oystercatcher were at the river edge.

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Out on the Mersey Estuary were c3000 Canada Goose were either grazing on the cropped grass or resting on the mudbanks alongside many Common Shelduck and even more Black-tailed Godwit. 

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A Ringlet butterfly was amongst the more common Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell being noted along the river path.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-8).

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Image may contain: bird, sky and outdoor

A little way over the M56 but still within the scope of the marshes was a fine Eurasian Hobby circling the area and a tatty looking Common Buzzard.

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Observer: Nigel Case (images 9-11).

10.07.20. Birdlog.

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A mid day walk around No.6 tank.  Not a lot on the water c40 Tufted Duck, several Mallard and Common Shelduck and a family of Little Grebe. The water levels are high so not so attractive to the waders, a flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit made their way from the estuary but didn’t settle and flew back with just a few dropping on to No.3 tank.

On the ‘phalarope pool’ were c60 Northern Lapwing, c15 Black-tailed Godwit, c30 Eurasian Teal similar  numbers of Mallard and Gadwall with a single Common Shelduck noted.

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Another c60 Northern Lapwing were on the exposed mud near the out flow pipe which was discharging silt from the dredger.

On to Lordship Lane and a family of Reed Warbler were contact calling and several Reed Bunting were present.

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A pair of Stock Dove were at the entrance to one of the owl boxes and 5 Grey Heron were resting in their favourite place alongside the hedge on the model flying field.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).

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Image may contain: bird and outdoor
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Our daily walking ritual took us first to Blakemere at Delamere Forest and a stop to overlook the Black-headed Gull colony. It didn’t take long before the first of 3 Mediterranean Gull showed up. Shortly after two of the three were engaged in a display performance.

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After we finished our walk at Delamere it was a short diversion to Frodsham Marsh and we continued along the track to one of the lookout posts looking down and over No.6 tank. A flock of 61 Tufted Duck were really the only birds of note here.

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We bumped into Sean O’Hara who had taken a walk down to the River Weaver and spotted a Common and Green Sandpiper.

Observers: JS & WSM (images 4-7). Images 8-9 by Sean O’Hara.

09.07.20. Birdlog.

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I got a text from Sean O’Hara who is currently riding high on finding his third good Frodsham Marsh bird this year with a moulting drake Greater Scaup. We walked along Moorditch Lane and out along the northern banks of No.6 tank where Sean was already in situ and the sea duck was with a loose flock of 150 Tufted Duck and 4 Common Pochard.

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After having our fill of the drake we headed out to the ‘phalarope pool’ where the long staying Green Sandpiper was performing well. A flock of beautifully dressed Black-tailed Godwit were busy feeding with 34 Northern Lapwing and an assorment of Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and Mallard.

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Image may contain: bird, outdoor, water and nature

Walking back and a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in one of the scrapes in the middle of No.3 tank and Common Swift and many hirundines were quite obvious flying low over the fields.

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A look over No.6 tank on our way off the marsh and the scaup and tufties were no longer present, presumably headed back to the River Weaver. A visit to that area later by Paul Ralston drew a blank on the ducks there, but the activity of a dredger may have moved them elsewhere.

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Image may contain: bird, grass, outdoor, nature and water

Observers: Sean O’Hara (video 3), JS & WSM (video 1-2 & images 1-8).

No luck with the scaup on the River Weaver this evening with very few ducks at all on the water. Much later a flock of c1000 Black-tailed Godwit were dislodged from their feeding mudflats by the evening tide.

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Image may contain: outdoor, nature and water

There were 4 Common Sandpiper and Common Redshank feeding at the edge of the Weaver Estuary. Common Swift were numerous flashing past within touching distance as I disturbed insects from my pathway by Marsh Farm. There were also House and Sand Martin joining in feeding up before their long trek south.

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A flock of c1000 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding on the exposed mud on the Mersey Estuary alongside hundreds of Common Shelduck, huge numbers of Canada Goose with Common Redshank and Eurasian Curlew.

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A large flock of gulls mostly Black-headed Gull took to the air as a Peregrine cruised by and a less intimidating Common Kestrel sat on a salt bin while its partner hovered above.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images 9-13).

It was interesting to see Deo-Gloria dregder pumping sludge back into the Weaver Estuary by the Weaver Sluice gates, or were they just clearing their tanks? WSM.

08.07.20. Birdlog.

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A short visit to the ‘phalarope pool’ on No.3 tank before heading back for an engagement at home. A couple of Cetti’s Warbler were sub-singing from the shrub on the bank of the ‘splashing pool’.

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Image may contain: bird, outdoor and water
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The pool had a dozen Black-tailed Godwit mostly in dispute over their feeding areas and each in fine russet plumage.

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A solitray Green Sandpiper and a summer Dunlin were feeding in and around the godwits.

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A female Gadwall had with her 6 ducklings which didn’t aleays keep close to mother.

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Numerous Common Swift were over the pools and a 1st summer Western Marsh Harrier flew over and headed south.

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Observers: JS & WSM (images).

07.07.20. Birdlog.

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A walk around No.6 tank along Moorditch Lane in the steady rain that plauged the day today. A few Common Swift were giving close flight views at the corner in the road along Moorditch Lane and were at head height. Most of the birds along Lordship Lane were keeping still but a flock of 150 Northern Lapwing rose from the fields on Lordship Marsh before resettling again. A duck Tufted Duck with her 7 tuftlings were in the ditch by the ramp to No.4 tank.

A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker did its best to hide behind a fence post before its concealment was sussed.

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The ‘phalarope pool’ had a small number of Black-tailed Godwit which brighten a dreary afternoon, a few ducks and two Green Sandpiper feeding together. A mixture of low flying Common Swit, Barn Swallow and Sand Martin made the weather conditions more bearable.

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Walking on on to No.6 tank and finding some shelter from the continuous rain produced a flock of 114 Black-tailed Godwit a much reduced count from the big numbers of yesterday. 298 Northern Lapwing, 4 Dunlin, 25 Common Redshank and an additional 2 Green Sandpiper.

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Common Swift did their usual aerial display when the rain and clouds brought down their food source and were hawking low over the water. A rain sodden Western Marsh Harrier was sat out in the open perched on its favourite tree stump. A few Tufted Duck and Eurasian Teal were keeping a low profile.

Observers: JS & WSM (images).