02.01.20. Birdlog.

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On my way into work at first light several skiens of 100’s of Pink-footed Goose were heading to the north east over the Weaver Valley per WSM.

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I started my walk at Brook Furlong Lane this morning. There were 4 Marsh Harrier in the air together over the reeds flushing a flock of winter thrushes and a couple of Common Snipe. A mass of Northern Lapwing were also spooked and took to the air near to Marsh Farm, but again no Golden Plover were with them.

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The 3 Cattle Egret were amongst the cattle at the back of the farm.

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On the River Weaver the Tufted Duck flock were on the far side with Common Pochard, Eurasian Teal, Common Goldeneye, Common Shelduck and a female Greater Scaup here and a 1st winter on No.6 tank. A flock of 60 Northern Pintail were disturbed by pheasant shooting taking place along Brook Furlong and left they duly left the water for the estuary followed by several groups of Common Redshank.

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On to No.6 tank and 3 Marsh Harrier had made their way to the reed bed with 2 hunting and another perched up. More Tufted Duck, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Common Pochard, Common Shelduck and more Northern Pintail on the water. The 3 Cattle Egret could be seen from the elevated ramp looking over No.3 tank towards the farm.

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The Whooper Swan herd are still close to Lordship Lane with the resident Mute’s for company. I countered several pairs of Stonechat were noted on my walk as were Kestrel, one of which caught a vole along Moorditch Lane.

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images1-4 & 6-14).

Image 5 by WSM.

A ringtail Hen Harrier was over Frodsham Score per Dave Craven.

New Year’s Day 2020

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The roaring 20’s kicked off in style with one of several Cetti’s Warbler singing in the changes at dawn along Brook Furlong Lane.

A movement of c400 Pink-footed Goose were heading out to feeding grounds to the north-east in the glow of a rising sun, while flocks of Eurasian Wigeon were heading from inland sites to spend the day on the Mersey Estuary.

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The 1st winter Greater Scaup was with a mixed flock of 60 Tufted Duck (also 2-3 white blazed imm tufties in the same flock) and 10 Common Pochard. The female Long-tailed Duck was hiding below the jetty and 14 Common Goldeneye were also present. The Eurasian Teal flock were much reduced and small numbers of Common Shelduck, Gadwall and Mallard were also present. A pair of Stonechat were out in the morning sunrise.

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A walk to Marsh Farm produced 3 Cattle Egret still keeping their bovine friends company. The salt marshes on Frodsham Score had 3 Great Egret with several Little Egret scattered about. Birds of prey featured the usual array of Common Buzzard and Kestrel, a female Merlin and a Marsh Harrier.

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The 20 strong Whooper Swan herd by Lordship Lane were with 2 Mute Swan, but unfortunately the activity of fireworks over night may have encouraged the Bewick’s Swan to make an early departure.

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A look over No.6 tank swa 176 Northern Shoveler, c600 Eurasian Teal, 2 Common Goldeneye, 67 Tufted Duck, and presumably the same 1st winter Greater Scaup from the Weaver Estuary as seen earlier? Also 26 Northern Pintail and 17 Common Pochard.

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A birders map of Frodsham Marsh for copy and paste onto your phone for future visits.

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A dredger was discharging silt from a huge pipe into the Weaver Estuary, all this activity dislodged a Common Sandpiper that flew up the ship canal to the west.

Observers: Paul Ralston (images, WSM (map & images 1-13).

New Year’s Eve 2019

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The last day of an eventful year and my last walk around the Weaver Bend.

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The 3 Cattle Egret were moving around the fields close to Marsh Farm looking for their bovine brothers. The big plover flock that have recently been in the area were nowhere to be seen today, probably out on the salt marshes.

The Weaver Estaury had the Tufted Duck flock which were out near the junction of the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Weaver, along with Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Common Shelduck and Common Goldeneye.

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A herd of 23 Mute Swan were on the river with one particular bird showing a lot of aggression to another pair.  A flock of 64 Northern Pintail were at the Weaver Bend alongside more Eurasian Teal and a pair of Gadwall.

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A Peregrine flew past over the I.C.I tank and perched on a pylon near to the M56 motorway. A large skein of Pink-footed Goose were heading out towards the Mersey Estuary.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-6).

The Whooper Swan herd were still alongside Lordship Lane this morning and a large skein of c350 Pink-footed Goose flew over Runcorn Docks heading east.

Observer: WSM (image 1).

30.12.19. Birdlog.

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I started this morning watching the sunrise over the Mersey Estuary at Eastham and then I made my way to Ince. The pools held c70 Eurasian Teal, c20 Mallard, c15 Gadwall, 3 Little Grebe (one of which was catching small fish as I walked on to the marsh and again as I made my way back to my car) a single Little Egret and 3 Grey Heron were foraging in the long grass.

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On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and from it were more Gadwall and Mallard. The dredger was making its way west and discharging its waste water as it went.

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Frodsham Score salt marsh was again quiet despite there being no wildfowlers about. Several Little Egret and a single Great Egret were noted and a skein of c30 Pink-footed Goose flew south. A few Redwing were searching for any berries left on the hawthorns and were targeted unsuccessfully by a Sparrowhawk. A Chiffchaff was noted in the scrub. A pair of Common Buzzard were hanging in the air (Kestrel like) and were buzzed by a Kestrel several times.

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The swan herd are still close to the Lordship Lane with the Bewick’s Swan amongst the Whooper Swan herd. I stopped to chat with Keith when a Marsh Harrier made an appearance and had a tussle with a Common Buzzard.

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The 1st winter Greater Scaup was still with the Tufted Duck flock and Common Sandpiper were still present on the Weaver Estuary.

Walking past the Growhow works and the resident Mistle Thrush was feeding in the ploughed field. A large flock of Eurasian Curlew were feeding in the stubble and several pairs of Stonechat were noted on my walk.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-7).

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A walk around Delamere Forest was eventful for the warm clear blue skies and a Peacock Butterfly flying around at the end of the year…bizarre!

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We started with a blistering sunrise over the dark satanic mills over Frodsham Marsh and we end this blog with a blistering sunset over Frodsham Marsh.

Observers: JS & WSM (images 8-9).

29.12.19. Birdlog.

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I started my walk along Brook Furlong Lane this morning where a long deadpredated  Barn Owl lay outside the pony stable. There were several Raven on the pylons and trees along the lane and then a party of Long-tailed Tit were foraging in the bushes.

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Out on the River Weaver were the usual Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Eurasian Teal. Mallard, Common Goldeneye, Canada Goose and Mute Swan a brief sighting of the Long-tailed Duck as it dived under the water, but I couldn’t relocate it when it surfaced. There were several Great Crested Grebe on the river.

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Closer to Marsh Farm and the 3 Cattle Egret were amongst the cattle on the ship canal road. Hundreds of Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover fed in the fields occasionally taking to the air when spooked by a predator. The ‘Canal Pools’ held c200 Eurasian Wigeon and c70 Eurasian Coot with 2 pair of Stonechat close by.

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Frodsham Score salt marsh was almost devoid of birdlife with just a few Little Egret and a few geese out by the river, no doubt due to the wildfowlers hiding in the creeks with their decoys failing to attract the geese.

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A flock of c200 Eurasian Curlew were on the stubble alongside the Holpool Gutter with a single Little Egret for company. A Common Sandpiper was again along the ship canal.

On Lordship Marsh the Bewick’s Swan was still in the company of the Mute and Whooper Swan close to the lane.

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Another 3 pair of Stonechat were noted on my walk back to the car.

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Looking over No.6 tank revealed good numbers of Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Eurasian Teal, Mallard and Northern Pintail all afloat of the water/slude being pumped into the tank by the dredger at the’ Pumping Station.

Back by the motorway bridge a splendid male Common Kestrel wearing a leg iron was sat in a tree while the female hunted close by.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

A Chiffchaff was on the banks by the ‘Splashing Pool’ per Mark (Whipper) Gibson.

28.12.19. Birdlog.

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A walk out to the Weaver Estuary along Brook Furlong Lane was pretty uneventful apart from a few Redwing and Fieldfare were barely hanging in after their berry fest here.

A few Mute Swan were again on the Weaver Bend, a gaggle of 28 Greylag Goose and a ‘white’ form circled the area before heading back out to the River Mersey.

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A look across the waters of the Weaver Estuary was rewarding producing a winter female Long-tailed Duck, which makes a tidy duo after the summer male in May this year.

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The flock of Tufted Duck were reduced from c250 to c200 today and in their midst was a very interesting juvenile Greater Scaup. Another bird in the flock was certainly a female hybid Greater Scaup x Tufted Duck. The Common Pochard flock have increased to 28 birds, c130 Eurasian Teal and a ring of 10 Common Goldeneye included many fine drakes. There were 12 Great Crested Grebe, 14 Eurasian Coot and 212 Common Redshank. A flock of 54 Eurasian Curlew and 6 Black-tailed Godwit flew west.

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The detritus on the brackish marsh at the Weaver Estuary, and especially the Manchester Ship Canal is nothing short of pitiful. Apart from a mass of plastic (ironically including a plastic dolphin), a hypodermic syringe and general waste which has found its way into the canal over many years, it must speak volumes for the way we treat the ‘great’ Manchester Ship Canal and its route.

A large raft of Common Shelduck were rising the tide on the river and a few Little Egret were commuting between sites.

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The 3 Cattle Egret were tantilising the cows on the bottom road below Marsh Farm and would have been out of sight of any casual observers looking for them. The Northern Lapwing and European Golden Plover flocks were less flighty today and settled down on No.2 tank.

I bumped into Jacqui and Idris Roberts on my way back and they mentioned that they had seen the Bewick’s Swan with the Whooper herd on Lordship Marsh.

Observer and images: WSM.

27.12.19. Birdlog.

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I watched the sunrise at Eastham where 2 fishermen were catching Cod on the rising tide

I started at Brook Furlong Lane this morning where Redwing, Fieldfare, Chaffinch, European Goldfinch and a flock of Long-tailed Tit made their way along the lane. Out on the Weaver Estuary were 6 Common Goldeneye which joined the large flock of Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Eurasian Teal and Mallard. A flock of c30 Common Redshank were resting with a Northern Lapwing flock at the edge of the river, and 11 Mute Swan were amongst a flock of Canada Goose.

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Hundreds of plovers were in the field close to Marsh Farm and the 3 Cattle Egret were amongst the cattle. A pair of Stonechat were near the pipeline on No.1 tank and the numbers of Raven were numerous all along my walk.

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An injured Great Black-backed Gull had a broken wing and it is assumed it had hit a wind turbine and after it recomposed itself, it walked several hundred yards to join the Raven flock feeding on a dead cow, overlooked by a pair of Common Buzzard sat in a tree.

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The Whooper Swan herd were again near Lordship Lane with 10 Mute’s and the now popular adult Bewick’s Swan and 8 Mute Swan.

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A pair of Kestrel were perched alongside each other along Moorditch Lane. .

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-9).

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Another day and another visit made down to the marshes. A look over No.6 tank produced c10 Common Pochard, 2 Common Goldeneye, 320 Eurasian Teal, 12 Northern Pintail and 48 Northern Shoveler. There were 3 Western Marsh Harrier perched up and numerous Common Buzzard were also sitting tight.

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The Whooper Swan herd on Lordship Marsh still harboured the adult Bewick’s Swan. Tradionally this species does occasionally drop in with the Whopper Swan flocks on the marshes over the years, but they generally don’t linger for long…get it while it’s here! A couple of Western Cattle Egret were in the distant fields but didn’t come any closer and later in the morning shifted from here to Marsh Farm.

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A further extension to my watch included Frodsham Score where a Great Egret was with the many Little Egret present. A barrel chested female Peregrine was out by the shoreline, and 100’s of Common Shelduck were feeding in the same area.

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The 100’s of European Golden Plover and Northern Lapwing flocks on No.3 tank and were constantly agitated rising up into the air on many occasions. In the same field by Marsh Farm were the 3 relocated Cattle Egret feeding under the hooves of the cattle and sheep.

Passerines were few and far between with small flocks of both Redwing and Fieldfare, and I countered 10 European Stonechat throughout my walk.

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I managed a trip out to the sticks in Northwich for the Aston Flash Eastern Stonechat, It’s final identity will only be resolved with a slop bucket and a white laboratory jacket. A good find by local patcher David Bedford and a new species for the county. A little bit jealous it was there and not at Frodsham though.

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Later in the day and back at Frodsham Marsh, I rounded the day off with a Little Egret wading through the aqua course on the hovercraft site.

Observer: WSM (images 11-18).

A Kingfisher was seen by Creg Caird.