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Red Rocks Marsh NNR, Merseyside

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Old Sunday 27th March 2016, 08:22   #501
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Spring is trying to arrive, brought by winds from the south at last.

A couple of Goldcrests were in the point buckthorn whilst a rather brown but completely normal sounding Chiffchaff was in the south end bushes.

Overhead passage finally registered on the OHP meter. 175 Woodpigeon went south along with 275 Meadow Pipits 8 Magpies and a Sparrowhawk. The year's first Sand Martin went east through the dunes

A Little Egret was in the saltmarsh which was notably devoid of Wheatears
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Old Saturday 9th April 2016, 09:41   #502
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Very cold this morning, but something approximating spring passage occurred.


There was no sign of any overnight migrants, probably due to the lashing rain all night, but the Ring Ouzel was still present, though it evaded me this morning. A few Wheatears arrived on the salt marsh and filtered into the dunes and a Willow Warbler came in off the estuary and a Chiffchaff has set up territory in the north end of the Marsh/superbowl.. There were a few Goldcrests still around. Two Short-eared Owls came in off the estuary, whilst there are still one or two hunting the dunes. I've put 3 in the log but it might be 4.

Overhead passge was better than of late, with around 35 each of Woodpigeon and Meadow Pipit, 3 White Wagtails, 13 Siskin and a Redpoll {sounded lesser) south, 2 Swallows and 260 Pink Footed Geese

There was a very vocal but invisible Tree Sparrow at the point but the prize for most unexpected bird of the day goes to a Red-legged Partridge flushed from the southern dunes. It appeared to go onto the golf course. I've seen more American sandpipers in the area!
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Old Sunday 10th April 2016, 08:09   #503
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Quite a heavy frost this morning, making the boardwalk treacherous. There was a drop of 15 phylloscs (2:1 Wollow to Chiff) at dawn, most of which had gone south by 7am. Leaving the residents male Chiffchaff, a couple of Willow Warbles and a slighly interesting Chiffchaff (quite a green yellow and white bird, with a striking super and yellow vent though without anything else going for it in the call/song (silent) structure dept. 8 White wagtails and 3 Wheaters were in the salt-marsh

There were a fair few finches passing early - and there may have been more later, but due to the clear conditions everything was too high to see or hear. 25 Siskins, 2 Redpoll and 2 Brambling were the highlights.

Today's oddities were a pair of Stock Doves feeding at the south end of the reserve near the Natterjack Scrapes.
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Old Sunday 10th April 2016, 09:45   #504
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A couple more of the Chiffchaff
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Old Wednesday 13th April 2016, 11:50   #505
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A bit of a special day today. The winds were light and from the East of south. It hadn't lashed down all night and it felt warmer and a bit muggy.

Not too much dropped at dawn, though "chacking" thrushes at either end of the Reserve were a good start. A new Ring Ouzel this time a female left the Ivy in the superbowl noisily as I arrived. Meanwhile in the Alders at the south end, a Fieldfare (new for the year) carried on the chack fest before heading off inland and gaining considerable height. Other than that there was little sign of an overnight arrival until a Blackcap sputtered into song in the Ivy before moving into the big Hawthorne. In all there were 4Goldcrests and 2 Willow Warblers joining the resident Chiffchff. No Grasshpper, Reed or Sedge Warblers yet. They really should be here by now.

Today it was overhead passage that stole the show. I nearly missed what on most days would have easily been the highlight of the day while photographing the Blackcap. I didn't have time to get bins, let alone a camera onto the cream-crown Marsh Harrier than came bashing through low with two Crows hard on it heels. I didn't see where it came from, but I am guessing from the estuary. It left NE below roof level and was out of view by the time I got out from the boardwalk and up into the dunes.

By now there was a strong passage of hirundines, Wheatears were starting to materialise on the beach (8 in total) and parties of White Wagtails were coming in off, landing briefly then continuing. The totals were Sand Martin 58, Swallow 10, including one missing tail streamers and the first House Martin of the year and White Wagtail 51.

At about 07:45 things started to take off. I heard an unfamiliar call (I'll pin it down on the tape later) which turned out to be coming from a flock of 4 Ring Ouzels which were circling high. Initially they were dots and I needed the scope to pick them up. Two came a bit lower and allowed me to get some ropey photos. They appeared to be fighting. I heard another Ouzel but failed to see a bird about 10 mins later. So min 4, but probably 6 recorded. I was still putting the camera away from the stratospheric Ouzels when I heard a familiar yet unfamiliar call. It took a bit of time to work out that I could hear cranes. At first I couldn't see anything, but eventually I picked up two dots already high over the beach close to King's Gap and heading off towards the Lancs coast (next stop Leighton Moss?) With the scope I could see that they were indeed Cranes. I tried a photo, but the camera wasn't for picking them up against a near featureless sky. The time stamp of the 1st failure is 07:50.20. I couldn't get past Crane spp on my views - as they flapped and glided away - I could only just make out darker flight feathers and the necks were obscured. However the sound recording should be enough to rule out escapes. If accepted, that's a new species for the Red Rocks List which would be 271 and my 259th.

Also new for the year was a Great spotted Woodpecker which arrived from the south and dropped into the boardwalk Alder. It was a good day for finch passage with 2 Brambling 45 Siskin and a Redpoll spp (it was a bit gruff but didn't land)

The last R ouzel shot has a lot of blue space cut out of it to get them in
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Old Wednesday 13th April 2016, 12:16   #506
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Here is a cleaned up version of the cranes calling - cut off when I start talking.

There is a deep croaking/grunting call at the start (1st 7 secs) of the tape which I didn't hear in the field. Not sure if its raven, distant plastic goose or a crane call I don't know. The cranes start at 10 seconds. I rustle quite a lot after that!

I've put on a light high pass filter (reducing sounds under 1kHz) and have amplified the recording in the interests of being able to hear it!I can't upload Wave files.. I'll convert, but for now here they are

https://soundcloud.com/jane-turner-1...ss-and-amplify
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Old Sunday 12th March 2017, 18:52   #507
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>>>This<<< was the highlight of the morning, closely followed by 2 Goosander.

The 1st Golcrest of the year as and an overhead Siskin were also of note
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Old Sunday 15th April 2018, 09:31   #508
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Habitat "Improvement" at Red Rocks continues apace. The ancient and iconic boardwalk hawthorn, much of the reedbed sallows and all of the Grasshopper Warbler Territories have been cleared. Today was the 1st time I heard a warbler sing on the reserve - and that was only for a few seconds.
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Old Sunday 15th April 2018, 09:33   #509
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and here ae the Grasshopper W photos referred to above
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Old Sunday 15th April 2018, 21:06   #510
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Very nice capture Jane, I have only ever seen one Grasshopper Warbler and that was last year and hope to get a better picture of one this year fingers crossed.
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Old Friday 20th April 2018, 10:02   #511
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Red Rocks NNR

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Habitat "Improvement" at Red Rocks continues apace. The ancient and iconic boardwalk hawthorn, much of the reedbed sallows and all of the Grasshopper Warbler Territories have been cleared. Today was the 1st time I heard a warbler sing on the reserve - and that was only for a few seconds.

Jane.......

Who is carrying out the above mentioned work,...and what final outcome, are they trying to achieve?
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Old Friday 20th April 2018, 14:00   #512
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Cheshire Wildlife Trust.
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Old Friday 20th April 2018, 17:22   #513
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Cheshire Wildlife Trust.

Jane........

I've looked at your 'Attached Thumbnails', and I'm certainly not an expert in conservation, so the reasons for the work that has been carried out by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust,.... may well, in this case, be very valid ones, but at this stage of the 'Habitat Improvement', I have to admit, that I just can't see them.

Where it's noted "recently restored dunes"........they now, don't even look like dunes!

Where it's noted "dense Burnet Rose cover removed", and also, "two Apple Trees, and several Dog Roses removed"........does anyone know WHY this cover was removed?

It's a lovely photo of the Grasshopper Warbler that you've taken....but he looks fed up, and I can't say I blame him!
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Old Friday 20th April 2018, 18:26   #514
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They are meeting arbitrary targets for the % of scrub allowable in dunes and reed bed. However they have left two large copses of introduced ornamental pines, Mock Orange and Tea Plant, while removing native Gorse, Hawthorn and Dog Rose. They also did not include the rapidly developing new reedbed and fixed dune system outside the old SSSI boundary in the calculation.

They claim that the work is support the population of re-introduced Natterjack Toads, though they are just about as far away as its possible to be on the reserve from their areas of dune resotration. Cynically I have a feeling that they have been given some money and need to spend it doing something.
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Old Friday 20th April 2018, 19:58   #515
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They are meeting arbitrary targets for the % of scrub allowable in dunes and reed bed. However they have left two large copses of introduced ornamental pines, Mock Orange and Tea Plant, while removing native Gorse, Hawthorn and Dog Rose. They also did not include the rapidly developing new reedbed and fixed dune system outside the old SSSI boundary in the calculation.

They claim that the work is support the population of re-introduced Natterjack Toads, though they are just about as far away as its possible to be on the reserve from their areas of dune resotration. Cynically I have a feeling that they have been given some money and need to spend it doing something.

OK......I understand, that the limiting of scrub allowable in dunes and reedbeds, may be a good thing, but 0%, is probably a bit excessive.

Also, I didn't think that anyone preferred introduced species, over native species anymore.....in fact, in modern day conservation, it's invariably, the other way round.

I would imagine, that the Cheshire Wildlife Trust, have had their hands tied, by some sort of legislation, regarding the supporting of the re-introduced Natterjack's, so maybe, they themselves, are a bit helpless in this situation....but having said that, I don't think that the wildlife trusts in general, tend to stand up for themselves anymore.
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Old Friday 20th April 2018, 20:57   #516
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We had and a non-ideal, but acceptable compromise agreed with them. But they changed their minds and accelerated a 5 year plan into one year, and included all the non-natives in the % retained.
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Old Friday 20th April 2018, 21:36   #517
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We had and a non-ideal, but acceptable compromise agreed with them. But they changed their minds and accelerated a 5 year plan into one year, and included all the non-natives in the % retained.

Right.......got it.......so basically, what should have been a more controlled operation over a longer period, turned into a 'rush job', and they removed everything at once, which has clearly badly affected the regular migrating birds, and probably quite a few other varieties of resident wildlife also.

But, the thing that is still confusing me the most in all of this, is where the Natterjack's stand to benefit, from all of the work that is being carried out.
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Old Friday 20th April 2018, 22:42   #518
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There will be no benefit for Natterjacks - they are 1km away in the outer dune slacks
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Old Saturday 21st April 2018, 11:51   #519
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There will be no benefit for Natterjacks - they are 1km away in the outer dune slacks

1Km away!.................so it would seem that the work is only being carried out, to ensure that Red Rocks falls in line with everywhere else, regardless of whether it's beneficial for the site, and it's wildlife, as a whole.

This is the problem with the current line of thinking regarding uniformity, what's good for some sites, simply isn't good for others.
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