14.03.20. Birdlog.

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I started at Ince this morning where a Great Egret was with 8 of its Little cousinss around the pools and 7 Mute Swan and a pair of Canada Goose. One of the swans was showing a lot of aggression to the geese and chased them round the flood water. Ducks featured Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Northern Shoveler and Gadwall were joined by 6 Common Shelduck, Eurasian Coot and Common Moorhen were numerous.

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The Barn Owl was again roosting in its box and a Short-eared Owl was near to the berth. Looking over Frosham Score saltmarsh a few hundred Pink-footed Goose and Common Shelduck were grazing with Eurasian Curlew and European Golden Plover also present.

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Another Great Egret was feeding in the channels with several Little Egret and a third Great Egret was on Ince marsh fields in the company of the Greylag Goose that have been there recently.

Common Buzzard and European Kestrel were being harassed by Carrion Crow pairs trying to drive them away from their territory.

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A pair of Black-tailed Godwit were feeding at the edge of the ‘phalarope pool’ on No.3 tank which held more Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Eurasian Teal and Mallard.

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Looking over to Lordship Marsh from the junction of No.4 and No.6 tanks and the Whooper Swan herd could be seen in the distance while the Mute Swan herd were near to the Lordship Lane with 18 at the junction of Lower Rake lane and Lordship Lane. Two pairs of European Stonechat were along the lane showing well on the fence.

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The rookery was busy with birds rebuilding their nest in the trees close to the fertilizer plant and a Mistle Thrush was noted carrying worms in to a section of the works and presumably to its nest?

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Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-7).

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While PR was doing his stuff at the west end of the marshes I walked along Brook Furlong Lane where a couple of singing Cetti’s Warbler and a singing Common Chiffchaff making it feel that spring really has sprung.


I concentrated my efforts on watching the River Weaver at the estuary where the LtD was not in situ today. A modest size flock of Tufted Duck included the long staying 1st winter Greater Scaup, 11 Common Pochard, 11 Common Goldeneye, 43 Eurasian Teal, 76 Common Shelduck, an injured Pink-footed Goose that keeps close to the Weaver Sluice gates and for a short period 16 Pied Avocet.

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A look from Marsh Farm produced 34 additional Pied Avocet, 100 Eurasian Curlew and large umbers of Pink-footed Goose on the distant saltmarshes.

Walking back along Alder Lane and a pair of European Stonechat were attentive to each other.

Observer: WSM (images 8-10).

13.03.20. Birdlog.

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A walk from Helsby along Lower Rake Lane to the Manchester Ship Canal and the afternoon tide awaited. A band of 7 European Stonechat lined the lane and were very appraochable and the nearby fields held 14 Mute and 21 Whooper Swan.

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On arrival the spring sunshine was warm on the neck and the shimmering salt marshes made it difficult to see the geese in the distance. Settling down for the incoming tide I didn’t expect the weather to take a turn for the worse when the cold grey clouds rolled in from the south-west. It was batten down the hatches and sail this one out.

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The sounds of yelping Pink-footed Goose calling from the edge of the river only increased with the incoming tide and I estimated c900 birds present. The flocks of distant Dunlin and Common Redshank shifted their forms and moved along the shoreline creating shapes but never came close. Flocks of winter plumaged Grey Plover kept their distance from c500 European Golden Plover which flew over and then amassed in the short swarthy marshland grass.

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The marsh was littered with Little Egret and 3 Great Egret were loitering close to the edge of the Manchester Ship Canal. An additional fourth bird was in the fields of Ince inner marsh with an oddly paired Greylag and white domestic bird.

After the tide receeded it was a long walk back to the car in heavy rain but a Marsh Harrier kept the spirits up.

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It’s the type of birding that makes this side of the river look “seriously shabby”.

Observers: JS & WSM (images).

12.03.20. Birdlog.

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A quick visit to the Weaver Bend after work this afternoon a flock of Tufted Duck, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Common Goldeneye, Mute Swan and Great Crested Grebe were all present.

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A Pied Avocet flock were flying out to the Mersey Estuary in small groups at least 50 altogether. A group of c15 Common Redshank were on the bank with a pair of Eurasian Oystercatcher and a Common Ring Plover. c300 Canada Goose were on the river with more grazing on No.1 tank with a few Eurasian Curlew for company.

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A Common Kestrel was sat on the ground in the pony paddock and several Redwing were in the nearby bushes.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

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Weaver Estuary.

Images by WSM.

11.03.20. Birdlog.


With the increasing evening light I took advantage of it after work to get in some midweek birding on the marsh. The wintering female Long-tailed Duck finally re-emerged after hiding for 3 days. Likewise, the 1st winter female Greater Scaup (like the LTD) was a little out of place with every other species of duck in display. A pair of ‘weed’ displaying Great Crested Grebe were good value and many of the drake Common Goldeneye in a flock of 19 birds were ‘head tossing’ like a heavy metal convention. Eurasian Teal numbered 230 birds while Tufted Duck regain their former count of c150 with 7 Common Pochard.

Perhaps the highlight was the return of Pied Avocet to the River Weaver and with the setting sun birds streamed out of the river to roost on the Mersey Estuary for the night. The combined count was 88 birds and constitues a new site record.

A single European Stonechat and a couple of Cetti’s Warbler were mobile along the river edge.

The small flock of Fieldfare continue to linger at the old birdlog and a large herd of Canada Goose were grazing on No.1 tank.

 Observer and image: WSM.

10.03.20. Birdlog.

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An after work visit to Ince this afternoon. Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and Eurasian Teal were all present in reduced numbers. There were 3 Mute Swan were noted on the pools. Eurasian Coot and Moorhen were collecting nest material and 6 Little Egret were feeding together. Eurasian Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in the shallow waters with 2 Grey Heron in attendance.

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I haven’t seen the Short-eared Owl duo on the last couple of visits, so was surprised to see them back near the berth.

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A look over the Frodsham Score salt marsh and c200 Pink-footed Goose were amongst the Canada Goose and Common Shelduck gathering on the marsh. Eurasian Curlew were numerous on the marsh and a flock of c50 were flushed by a Common Buzzard on the stubble field. There were 5 Greylag and the white goose still present have taken a liking to the stubble field and have been there on my last few visits.

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A Merlin left the top of an oak tree near the berth and sat on a hedge watching a European Starling flock feeding in the stubble.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

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A flock of 8 Avocet arrived on Sunday 08.03.20 seen by Dermot Smith and during my visit this evening after work produced 31 birds. A Marsh Harrier was by the River Weaver and both Chiffchaff & Cetti’s Warbler were vocal along the track.

Whooper Swan herd were in the the far distance on Lordship Marsh and a fine male Peregrine flew over.

Observer: WSM.

08.03.20. Birdlog.

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I began my walk at Ince this morning for my Mersey Estuary WeBs count.  A Little Egret was sat in a field in front of the ‘pig farm’ waiting for the trotters to be let out of their pigstys and when they were released the egret immediately flew straight to them and was watched snatching grubs unearthed by their piggy little feet.

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Another 7 Little Egret could be found around the pools. The recent collection of ducks gathering at the pools was much receded with, 16 Mallard, 32 Tufted Duck, 26 Eurasian Teal, 2 Northern Shoveler, 6 Eurasian Coot, 4 Moorhen and only one Mute Swan.

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Waders were made up of c60 Eurasian Curlew in a field alongside the Growhow Works road and 10 were in the flooded field with 25 Black-tailed Godwit.

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The Barn Owl was again roosting in its box while a Water Vole was watched feeding on the bank and then swam across the ditch to within 10 foot from where I was standing. Raptors included European Kestrel, Common Buzzard and Eurasian Sparrowhawk were all active in the area.

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A look over Frodsham Score saltmarsh saw hundreds of Pink-footed Goose were grazing, but not as many as recently, but still impressive numbers.

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A long line of European Golden Plover were resting on the marsh with several in their summer plumage. 6 Greylag Goose including the domestic type bird were on the stubble field with a Great Egret still hunting the ditch alongside c80 Eurasian Curlew.

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A walk over No.4 tank and a group of 6 European Stonechat were together in the reeds and brambles and a Great Spotted Woodpecker landed in the scrub before moving  on. A Cetti’s Warbler was heard in the reeds closeby.

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The ‘Phalarope Pool’ held a small number of Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler and 4 Eurasian Coot. A Cattle Egret was mooching around the cows on No.3 tank and then was seen to fly towards Marsh Farm. There were 22 Mute Swan  in there usual place on Lordship Marsh and 18 Whooper Swan were near to the farm.

The Rook colony is building up with Western Jackdaw and Carrion Crow were all feeding on a seeded field.

Walking back to my car and another Cetti’s Warbler rang out loud and proud and was briefly seen moving across the lane.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-8).

A couple of Western Marsh Harrier were ranging freely over No.6 & No.4 tanks and loads of Raven were active in and around the marshes.

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A walk around Delamere Forest and imparticular Blakemere where the first summer adult Mediterreanean Gull was with the main flock of displaying Black-headed Gull colony.

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A couple of drake Goosander and a female added to a Spring like day.

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Observer: JS & WSM (images 9-11).

07.03.20. Birdlog.

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I started at Brook Furlong Lane this morning where a pair of Magpie were adding to their nest in the bushes next to the bridge.

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A mixed flock of European Starling, Redwings and Song Thrush were feeding in the pony paddock until they were targeted by a Sparrowhawk. Both Great Tit and Chaffinch were calling on this spring like morning and several Common Buzzard were calling overhead.

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On to the river where Canada Goose were the most numerous wildfowl noted with reduced numbers of Tufted Duck, Mallard Common Pochard, Eurasian Teal and 15 Common Goldeneye.

A small white domestic goose was amongst the Canada’s while 2 white Domestic Greylag types were also noted.

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The partial leucistic Canada Goose has survived the shooting season and was alive and well on the Manchester Ship Canal. Looking over the Canal Pools more sTufted Duck, Mallard, Eurasian Teal and several Gadwall were noted alongside c40 more Canada Goose and a pair of Great Crested Grebe.

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A small number of singing Eurasian Skylark were up on high over the pools and 4 pair of Eurasian Oystercatcher were active around the pools. A flock of c50 Eurasian Wigeon were on one of the scrapes but made their way out to the Metsey Estuary. Raven and Common Buzzard were searching for casualties during the lambing season in the area.

A look over Lordship Marsh and the Whooper Swan herd were still in situ with a flock of c30 Eurasian Curlew feeding with them. Lapwings were also on territory on the marsh chasing corvids that came to close.

The water on No.6 tank held decent number of Tufted Duck, Mallard, Eurasian Teal and smaller numbers of Common Pochard, Gadwall and Common Shelduck with at least 3 pairs of Little Grebe.

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I stopped of at Ince on my way home and a Western Cattle Egret was following in the footsteps of a feeding pig and was snatching morsals of food that was disturbed by the anomals grubbing around in the field in front of the farm. On the flooded fields 5 Little Egret were busy in the shallows with a mixed flock of Black-tail Godwit and Eurasian Curlew.

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Again Tufted Duck were numerous with Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Gadwall and Northern Shoveler. Also present Mute Swan and Little Grebe were establishing their territory.

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A couple of broken duck eggs were on the path and a pair of Raven were searching the reed beds for nests.

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Looking over the Frodsham Score saltmarsh from Kinsey Lane and large herd of Pink-footed Goose were grazing on the short grass before making the long journey north.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

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I paid a visit to the marshes after work and made the muddy trek down Brook Furlong Lane to join the River Weaver. A look through the 112 Tufted Duck, 11 Gadwall, 11 Common Pochard, 31 Eurasian Coot, 7 Great Crested Grebe, 11 Common Goldeneye, 54 Eurasian Teal revealed the female Long-tailed Duck.

A large flock of 350 European Golden Plover flew over spooked by a Common Buzzard flying over their roosting site. A Cetti’s Warbler sang out from the reed bed but otherwise it was fairly quiet for passerines.

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A look over No.6 tank saw 81 Tufted Duck, 7 Common Goldeneye, 8 Northern Shoveler, 7 Common Pochard and 12 Eurasian Coot.

A female Western Marsh Harrier was joined by two other birds.

Looking out to Lordship Marsh I just about managed to 21 Whooper Swan with the Mute Swan herd in the fields by the motorway.

Observer: WSM.