23.11.19. Birdlog.

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A few DIY painting jobs indoors kept me away from the marsh until lunch time. On arrival the ducks were keeping to the west side of the open water which is spreading deep into the vegetated areas of the tank. The Eurasian Teal flock numbered c700 birds, but difficult to assess their numbers properly due to birds feeding deep into cover.

A slight increase in the numbers of Northern Pintail to 47 was impressive, but not so impressive compared to the thousands wintering here in the 1970’s & 80’s. Northern Shoveler reached a good count of 147 and much smaller counts of Gadwall and Mallard. A flock of 28 mostly drake Common Pochard outnumbered the Tufted Duck here today.

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Out over on Frodsham Score were c1000 Northern Lapwing dispersed from their feeding grounds with several hundred Golden Plover also seen.

I walked along Moorditch Lane where a Weasel dropped its vole prey when it saw me, but I stood still long enough for it to retrieve its meal. There were hundreds of Fieldfare roaming the hawthorn berry bearing hedgerows with smaller numbers of Eurasian Skylark, Song Thrush and Blackbird following suit.

The track between No.5 & 6 tanks had a couple of Cetti’s Warbler and a roving Long-tailed Tit flock had 3 Goldcrest and a briefly glimpsed Firecrest. A Great Spotted Woodpecker and a calling Chiffchaff made a good selection to the already mentioned passerines.

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Hundreds of Black-headed Gull were joined by Stock Dove (one with crossover deformed bill) Rook, Carrion Crow and Western Jackdaw in the flooded fields of Lordship Marsh.

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The highlight for me was a Western Cattle Egret (the marshes 4th record) with 3 Little Egret. A couple of Water Rail were calling from the reeds on No.4 tank

There were 3 Marsh Harrier hunting the rapidly flooding reed beds while a Short-eared Owl kept close to the banks. The usual Common Buzzard, dusk hunting Common Kestrel and roost seeking Raven flocks were still around as I walked back in the dark.

Observer and images; WSM.

22.11.19. Birdlog.

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It was the last hour of light and a walk around No.6 tank seemed a good idea. The Fieldfare flock continue to strip the berries off the bushes along Moorditch Lane while a patrolling Eurasian Sparrowhawk and a Common Kestrel put in attendances. On No.6 were Northern Shoveler the dominant species with c300 noted. There were smaller numbers of Mallard, Eurasian Teal and at least a dozen Common Pochard.

More Mallard and Northern Shoveler were on the pools on No.3 tank along with the resident Euraisan Coot.

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A charming flock of European Goldfinch and Chaffinch were feeding on the dried flower heads along the lane and a single Marsh Harrier hunted the reed bed.

Looking over Lordship Marsh from the junction of No’s 6 and 4 produced a couple of Little Egret and 12 Whooper Swan again in flooded fields by the motorway.

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A tally of c1000 winter thrushes contained mostly Fieldfare, but also Redwing, European Blackbird and Song Thrush feeding in the bushes and stubble fields alongside hundreds of Eurasian Starling. A flock of c60 Eurasian Curlew and 5 Black-tailed Godwit left Lordship Marsh and made their way towards the estuary for the evening.

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Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

17.11.19. Birdlog.

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Starting at Ince today and its pools which were quiet with just 14 Mallard, 5 Eurasian Teal,  2 Gadwall, 10 Eurasian Coot, 8 Moorhen and 4 Little Grebe. Eurasian Curlew numbered 34 near the pig farm, and an additional 15 were at Ince berth and c 70 alongside the Holpool Gutter.

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Winter thrushes were in abundance along the lane and Manchester Ship Canal where a Great Spotted Woodpecker followed them along the canal path. A mass of Northern Lapwing were high up over the Frodsham Score salt marsh, most only visible with my binoculars and a flock of c300 Golden Plover were noted with them. A flock of Great Black-backed Gull were resting on the marsh and several Little Egret were dotted about the marsh.

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The Ruddy Shelduck was again near the gutter and 6 Egyptian Goose were further out along the marsh.

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The ‘splashing pool’ held 29 Mallard and 15 Northern Shoveler while the ‘phalarope pool ‘ held only 14 resident Eurasian Coot.

Looking over the reed bed on No.6 tank a single Marsh Harrier and 2 Common Buzzard were again active in the area .

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The Whooper Swan herd could be seen in the distance on Lordship Marsh and 2 Little Egret and c400 Black-headed Gull were feeding in the flood water.

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A female Eurasian Sparrowhawk was hunting the thrush flock in the woods near to the Growhow Works and a Common Bullfinch and another Great Spotted Woodpecker were near the incinerator plant.

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A large skein of Pink-footed Goose flew over towards the Mersey estuary and a short while later a smaller number c40 flew back south. Two Flocks of Black-tailed Godwit passed overhead heading inland to wherever they were feeding.

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The Northern Lapwing flock c1000 was seen over the stubble field, but I didn’t see them land in the area.

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A small patch of past their sell by date Puff ball fungi were noted in the nettles and brambles along the verge.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

16.11.19. Birdlog.

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An early start saw 3 skeins of Pink-footed Goose passed over the A5117 heading south as I made my way to the marsh The 4 Whooper Swan could be seen on Lordship Marsh close to the M56.

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I parked on the motorway bridge and made my way to No.6 tank where large numbers of Redwing, Fieldfare Blackbird and Song Thrush were feeding in the hawthorn and elderberry  bushes throughout my walk. No. tank had c400 Canada Goose. A male Stonechat was fly catching in the reeds, while on No.5 and a pale phase Common Buzzard sat on the fence.

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One of the scrapes on No.3 held yet more Eurasian Teal and Northern Shoveler which were spooked by another Common Buzzard.

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On the Canal Pools were yet more Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mallard Gadwall and many Tufted Duck and joined by c50 Eurasian Coot and a single Great Crested Grebe.

Out on Frodsham Score salt marsh were hundreds of Canada Goose grazing with 6 Eygptian Goose and a female Ruddy Shelduck. The Northern Lapwing were noticeable by their absence and no sign of the recent flocks which winter on the marsh and surrounding fields. A flock of c50 Eurasian Curlew and 6 Black-tailed Godwit were on the stubble field alongside the Holpool Gutter.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-2 & 4 & 9-10).

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With a few commitments tomorrow my WeBS count was made today, so a watch over No.6 tank for the ducks resulted in c743 Eurasian Teal, 143 Northern Shoveler, 18 Common Pochard, 6 Tufted Duck, 12 Mallard and 12 Little Grebe. There were 4 Marsh Harrier quartering the reed beds and the pumping of sludge into the tank encouraged 6 Common Buzzard to try their luck with the undoubted dispersal of voles from their hiding places.

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Three Stonechat were reed topping on the reed beds alongside the tracks of No.5 and 6 tanks. The highlight was when I flushed a Jack Snipe from the edge of the path which gave some brilliant flight views.

The ‘Splashing Pool’ and ‘phalarope pool both had Northern Shoveler and Eurasian Coot, while a flock of 43 Western Jackdaw were finding something to eat from the flooded grasses.

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I continued my watch and positioned on the banks looking north across Frodsham Score and the female Ruddy Shelduck was with her travelling companions the six Eygptian Goose flock.

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A couple of Great Egret were joined by 7 Little Egret and the odd Grey Heron. Out on the edge of the river were hundreds of Eursian Wigeon, c200 Eurasian Curlew, 30 Black-tailed Godwit and several hundred Dunlin. Watching all this action was a female Merlin.

Pumping of silt from a dredger at the pumping station was pumping sludge into No.6 tank.

I continued along to Lordship Marsh where a herd of 12 Whooper Swan could be seen in the flooded fields, while 400 Black-headed, 12 Common and 5 Lesser Black-backed Gull were enjoying the benefits of the recent flooding and 3 Little Egret in the shallows.

Overall it was quite a rewarding days birding with c10 Cetti’s Warbler heard (2 seen), the Eurasian Starling murmurations totaled c8000 birds and a Kingfisher polished off the day as I walked back in the dark.

Observer: WSM (images 3 & 5-8).

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15.11.19. Birdlog.

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The last hour of light of the day and a walk around No.6 tank. There were good numbers of wildfowl on the water with Eurasian Teal, with plenty of Northern Shoveler, Mallard, a few Common Shelduck and Northern Pintail. A Marsh Harrier was sat in the reed bed and a stream of Raven passed overhead on their way to their welsh roost site.

A Great Egret was stalking in the long grass on No.5 tank and a Kestrel was hovering above the egret ready to snatch any rodent disturbed by the egret.

Several small flocks of Black-tailed Godwit made their way to the Mersey estuary followed by a flock of Eurasian Curlew calling overhead. There were Little Egret seen in the distance on Lordship Marsh and a large flock of Chaffinch and Reed Bunting went to roost in the black thorn patch on No.6 tank.

A flock of Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbird were circling around looking for somewhere to rest for the night and a Common Buzzard made a vain attempt to snatch a Wood Pigeon as the light faded.

Observer and image: Paul Ralston.

12.11.19. Birdlog.

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A walk along Moorditch Lane produced a Little Egret feeding in the flooded stubble field alongside the congested eastbound traffic on the M56. Walking along the track between No.5 & 6 tanks had little of note, but later Dave Fitzgerald found a Firecrest in the vegetated scrub. A couple of Cetti’s Warbler were calling from the reed beds.

The flooded No.6 tank had 12 Little Grebe, 11 Mute Swan, 114 Northern Shoveler and c450 Eurasian Teal.

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The strong winds encouraged some aerial performances from 3 immature and 3 adult female Marsh Harrier and all these were still present at dusk.

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A dead Badger in the centre of the track between No.6 & 3 tanks got me to raise an eyebrow to its demise. This track experiences very little traffic, and the badger is highly unlikely to have met its end due to a strike by a vehicle?

A look across a windy tear jerking Frodsham Score produced 7 Little and 4 Great Egret, c900 Canada Goose, 7 Egyptian Goose and a Peregrine.

The flooded fields on Lordship Marsh have taken a battering with water over the last couple of years, but are excellent for birds with 7 Whooper Swan, c200 Eurasian Curlew, c250 Black-tailed Godwit and another two Little Egret. Four miserly Pink-footed Goose heading out to the Mersey estuary were odd in that their numbers were very low today.

Observer and images: WSM.

 

10.11.19. Birdlog.

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As I walked along the lanes to the marsh from Spring farm this morning the sight of Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail and 2 Greenfinch were feeding in the hedgerows and fields. A Little Egret was sat in a pasture surrounded by a flock of Eurasian Starling which became the target for a male Sparrowhawk which managed to single one out and was hot on its tail as they disappeared over a hedge.

The Holpool Gutter held a few Eurasian Teal, Mallard a single Little Grebe and several Eurasian Coot and Moorhen while the stubble field held on to the Eurasian Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit flock, but no sign of the Northern Lapwing and Golden Plover flock from yesterday.

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Out on the salt marsh of Frodsham Score were hundreds of Canada Goose grazing on the short grass and 12 Egyptian Goose that have been on tour of various locations around the north-west of late. A small flock of Little Egret added some authenticity to the proceedings were on the bank of the gutter.

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A pair of Stonechat were in the reeds on No.4 tank and Common Buzzard and Kestrel were soaring in the sunshine.

A dredger was in the pumping station berth discharging slurry onto No.6 tank raising the water levels even higher.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.