28.12.18. Birdlog.

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I was out and about round No.6 tank for a walk as far as the Holpool Gutter this morning. As usual there was plenty of Common Teal but not much else apart from a dozen Shoveler.

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The Raven hoard were still feasting on the dead sheep mutton laying on No.3 where 4 Common Snipe wading in the shallow waters.

An opportunistic Sparrowhawk snatched a Goldfinch out of the charm bracelet of finches. Other raptors namely, 3 Common Buzzard were sat on the fence posts bordering No.3 an old disused sludge tank.

Along the Manchester Ship Canal path and a look over Frodsham Score salt marsh where a few thousand Canada Goose were grazing with the mixed plover flocks resting nearby.

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A single Great Crested Grebe and 15 Tufted Duck were on the ship canal. A look through the Mute Swan herd alongside the Holpool Gutter fields included 28 with the four Russian White-fronted Goose back grazing alongside the swans.

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Walking back along the path between No.6 and No.4 and a Brambling popped out of the Chaffinch flock, which held several Reed Buntings.

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The Whooper Swan herd has moved a couple of fields towards Rake Lane and are a great daily addition to birding on these marshes.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

27.12.18. Birdlog.

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My walk to Marsh Farm was pretty uneventful apart from a pair of Stonechat on the pipes that run through No.1 tank. After all that excitement I rallied round and took a hike around the ‘bend’ and the Weaver estuary where 147 Tufted Duck were present on the River Weaver with 12 Common Pochard, 120 Common Teal, 5 Goldeneye (1 drake), 700 Canada Goose, 6 Little and 12 Great Crested Grebe. A Common Sandpiper secreted itself into a big herd of Canada Goose.

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No.6 tank beckoned next but on arrival there was literally nothing to see (a vacant void) after a long wait a flock of 28 Shoveler and 2 Common Shelduck dropped in.

A look across the marshes and in the distance the incoming tide was dislodging the shorebirds from the salt marshes. The impressive swarms of c30,000 Dunlin were again outstanding with c800 Golden Plover and c1000 Lapwing.

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A large skein of c300 Pink-footed Goose headed in from the south and alighted on Frodsham Score.

The Whooper Swan herd continues to winter on the farm fields of Lordship Marsh, per Jacqui & Idris Roberts.

Observer and images: WSM.

A ringtail Hen Harrier was back after a short absence per Ruby Merriman.

26.12.18. Birdlog.

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I started my walk along the Weaver Bend this morning where 18 Mute Swan were on the river and a young swan lay dead on the bank. Ducks included Common Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Gadwall were all noted with several Little Grebe and a single Great Crested Grebe.

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A Marsh Harrier was sat in the reed bed and 2 Common Buzzard were perched in the trees on the banks of No.6 tank. A Sparrowhawk flew low over No.3 spooking a large flock of Starling. The ‘phalarope pool’ on No.3 held Common Teal and Shoveler and then a flock of 20 Black-tailed Godwit dropped in to feed alongside them.

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On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a flock of c100 Stock Dove flew off Frodsham Score salt marsh when a Common Buzzard cruised by.

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The Lapwing and Golden Plover flocks were still settled and enjoying the peace and quiet as the shooters were targeting pheasant and pigeon elsewhere on the marshes.

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The remains of another dead swan were on the bank of the Holpool Gutter while the herd of 27 Mute Swan were back on their wintering field with a single Pink-footed Goose for companionship.

Walking back along Lordship Lane a skein of Pink-footed Goose flew high heading south. Not much activity along Lordship Marsh as shooting was taking place with the Curlew flock moving between the fields.

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I stopped off at Plover Lane on my way home and could see the Whooper Swan herd grazing on Lordship Marsh in the distance.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-6).

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A good old-fashioned post-Christmas walk along the track between No.6 and No.5 tanks in what at times felt like Springtime. The Common Teal flock on No.6 were much reduced than on my previous visits and similarly the Shoveler flock was reduced down to 23 birds.

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Another dead sheep on No.3 attracted c35 Raven with one particular corpse laying close by for some images to be taken.

My visit coincided with a high tide on the River Mersey and small flocks of both Lapwing, Golden Plover and Dunlin slowly gained in numbers. The plovers reached a thousand birds and the Dunlin in a mind-blowing serpentine line breaking into c30,000 birds.

The flooding tide brought out 3 Great White and several more Little Egret. An injured Whooper Swan was riding the incoming tide, while two other birds included one odd adult with a swollen base to its (mostly) black bill? Wigeon were the most numerous ducks but sensibly kept close to the river’s edge.

The Ince Marsh fields still had PR’s Mute herd and single Pink-footed Goose.

The reed beds on No.4 tank had a Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Cetti’s Warbler, a couple of Chiffchaff and a female Stonechat.

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Walking back and a female Marsh Harrier dropped in on No.6 tank while the evening mist filled the fields with an eerie shroud.

A Peregrine roosted on one of the pylons by the M56 to be the last bird of the night.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (images 7-11).

A Christmas Day Birdlog.

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I took advantage of some time this morning to walk along the track between No.6-5-4 tanks before heading back for the festive binge.

The peeling bell-like sounds of Common Teal were ringing out close to the banks of No.6 tank. I carefully popped my head just above the lip of No.6 sludge tank and managed a count of c400 birds. An additional flock of 24 Shoveler were the only other ducks on the water.

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A Kestrel was unconcerned by my presence on No.5 tank and allowed me enough time to video it.

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A small skein of Pink-footed Goose flew low over No.3 tank but much larger numbers could be seen in the distance over Frodsham Score.

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A large gathering of c40 Raven were enjoying the fringe benefits of a dead sheep and were joined for their Xmas lunch by 4 Great Black-backed Gull and a very possessive Common Buzzard, totally enjoyable watching their avian hierarchy in progress.

A Cetti’s Warbler gave a brief song from the reed beds on No.4 and a distant Great White and Little Egret appeared from the murk on Frodsham Score salt marsh.

My furthest point of my Christmas Day Bird Walk was at the corner of No.6-No.4 where the 25 Whooper Swan herd could just about be discernible through the thick hedgerow close to Hillview Farm on Lordship Marsh.

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Not enough time for the afternoon tide but sometimes you have to give in to kicking off your slingbacks and bins and loosen that belt for the afternoon.

Merry Christmas to all our readers and hopefully you’ll dip in and out of this blog into 2019.

Best wishes.

Bill Morton (observer, videos and image maker).

24.12.18. Birdlog.

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I was out around No.6 and No.4 tanks this morning. There were several hundred Common Teal on No.6 with Mallard, Shoveler and Gadwall. Numerous Curlew were passing overhead to feed in the fields along Lordship Lane and a flock of 30 Stock Dove were noted.

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A large flock of Linnet were on the weedy seed heads along with Chaffinch, Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit finding something with a little more protein.

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A separate charm of Goldfinch chose No.4 to sate their appetite.

I tried hard to locate Whooper Swan herd in the morning fog but only four birds appeared overhead and dropped down on Lordship Marsh in the mist.  A female Sparrowhawk was hedge hopping along Lordship Lane.

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The fields adjacent to the Holpool Gutter had 4 Mute Swan but again no sign of the recent White-fronted Goose flock, but hopefully they will still be in the area. A Kingfisher was seen again speeding along the gutter and typically left a blue flash behind it.

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All was quiet on the Frodsham Score salt marsh and even the plover flocks were settled and not panicking as they normally do. The rest of the 18 Mute Swan herd were on the Manchester Ship Canal 18 but soon made their way back to the fields.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images).

The presumed Nordic Jackdaw continues to be seen on the football fields off Park Road, Runcorn per WSM.

23.12.18. Birdlog.

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I took an hour to spare this morning and went to see if the Eurasian White-fronted Goose (Anser (albifrons) albifronsa) were still in the area after my visit yesterday. There were still shooting activity taking place so everything was on high alert with only 2 Mute Swan on their wintering field by the Holpool Gutter. A gaggle of grey geese could be seen in the distance but were spooked and left the field not long after my arrival.

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I checked some photographs I had taken from the 09.12.18 and they showed that White-fronts were present from that date (I don’t know why I didn’t check then sooner? A Marsh Harrier flew in from Ince and on to No.4 tank putting the Lapwing and Golden Plover flocks into panic mode as well as 6 Common Snipe. A Kingfisher added a splash of colour to an otherwise dull and wet day in the gutter

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

Additionally the Herd of 25 Whooper Swan were still in fields by Lordship Lane as seen from the westbound carriageway of the M56.

22.12.18. Birdlog.

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I started my morning walk out at Ince where the usual Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Common Teal, 2 (drake) Tufted Duck, a Little Grebe and 2 Mute Swan on the pools. A large dog Fox crossed the lane in the morning half-light and its white-tipped brush gave it away as it dropped into a ditch before disappearing into the day.

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On to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a good look over Frodsham Score salt marsh where a mass of Lapwing and Golden Plover were being their usual nervous selves.

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The Mute Swan herd had Greylag Goose for company and with them were 4 Eurasian White-fronted Goose (Anser (albifrons) albifronsa) nice little earner for walking this route. The whole herd of geese and swans were spooked by shooting taking place nearby and took to the wing. The swans soon settled back down but the geese left the area in haste.

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On to Lordship Lane which was rather quiet with more shooting taking place. A flock of Curlew were in the stubble fields and with them were c40 Black-tailed Godwit which dropped in to the fields by the blue slurry tank.  A Marsh Harrier was sat in the reeds on No.6 tank.

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I walked back along the canal path with the tide rolling in which dislodged 2 Great White Egret and several Grey Heron which were feeding in the flood water with just a single Little Egret noted. There were flocks of smaller waders (mostly Dunlin) could be seen at the edge of the River Mersey and a young Peregrine put the whole plover flocks up again.

At Ince Berth there were 6 Whooper Swan making their way over to Lordship Marsh and a Little Egret was in front of the Pig Farm.

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Along Kinsey Lane there was c200 Redwing feeding in the field and the bird feeders at the old farm-house. The same feeders attracted House Sparrow, Goldfinch and several Greenfinch and they all went into a charm offensive when a female Sparrowhawk put in an appearance.

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A skein of Pink-footed Goose were noted heading south.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-8).

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I made my way onto the marsh to cover the rising tide out on the Mersey estuary with a stop off at No.6 tank to look through the big flock of Common Teal that settled here on the tide. There were 3 Pintail and 17 Shoveler but the constant gun fire ringing out across the marshes made them very jiggery. The flock was constantly flighty, circling the tank before the best part of 700 birds headed back out to the estuary (for more of the same). A female Marsh Harrier perched up in a tree and later a 1st winter female was hunting the reed beds added some additional distraction. A Chiffchaff was contact calling from deep within the reed bed but couldn’t be seen.

The tall blue chimney at Weston Point hosted a pair of adult Peregrine surveying the festival treats below.

A large group of Raven don’t normally let a dead sheep rot away and a dozen were making short work of one on No.3 tank (scavenging recyclers per excellence).

When I eventually arrived at my tide rendezvous I looked across the ship canal to the wide vista of Frodsham Score beyond and I could see that the wildfowlers were already in situ. Most of the Lapwing and Golden Plover were further out than would normally be the case and periodically rose in great swarms performing spectacular murmuration displays. The vast army of Canada Goose were riding the edge of the river with c500 Wigeon keeping them company and often rising in the air. A young Peregrine was doing its best to dislodge its dinner from a tidal gutter but the local corvids didn’t give it much peace.

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The incoming tide always attracts Grey Heron with a dozen in the reedy areas and with them were 3 Great White Egret.

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After chin wagging with PR we made our separate ways and I made my way back after some pretty impressive flocks of waders on and over the south Mersey marshes to Lordship Lane. The Whooper Swan herd had been displaced by some shooting activity nearer to their usual grazing spot and I managed to get some clear and open views of the herd much closer to the lane. I assume five of the 25 birds present were those PR had seen at Ince Berth? It was good to see 7 juvenile birds with the adults and fore-runners for future winters here?

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Walking back a very obliging juvenile Reed Bunting stayed long enough for me to fire off a few pics off my camera.

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Observer: WSM (videos & images 9-17).