22.06.18. Birdlog.

Out this afternoon with a walk along to the Weaver Bend. It started with a female Marsh Harrier over the river much to the concern of the Avocet and Common Shelducks families. The air above the water was filled with Common Swift, Sand Martin and Swallow speeding overhead while taking a more terrestrial position were Reed Warbler feeding chicks in the reed bed.

A flock of c80 Black-tailed Godwit settled down on to the sand bank and fed with a dozen or so Avocet and a small flock of Black-headed Gull. A single Redshank made its way in flight down the river and a Great Crested Grebe was noted.

A pair of gulls targeted a crèche of shelducklings and after repeated strikes made off with one each in their bills.

Butterflies were out in force with Meadow Brown, Large White, Red Admiral and the ever-increasing Ringlet. A Black-tailed Skimmer was settled on the pathway ahead of me.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-6).

A male Bullfinch along Brook Furlong Lane, a Cuckoo calling near the old bird log and Avocet and Common Swift to photograph over the River Weaver. There was a lot of activity with Oystercatcher, Avocet and Common Shelduck flying and alarm calling because of the gulls.

Observer: Paul Crawley (images 7-9).

20.06.18. Birdlog.

An after work walk out from Marsh Lane and along Brook Furlong Lane where the hedgerows were still filled with summer bird song.

The tunes of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Cetti’s Warbler were the background music to my walk. After a 15 minute ramble I was on the banks of the River Weaver looking into a stiff breeze coming in from the Irish Sea. The water was filled with c350 Black-headed Gull battling into the wind and feeding on the thousands of airborne fly’s that were hanging above the waves.

I was conscious of the number of Avocet that have breed and/or are passing through the area recently. I managed a count of 96 birds with again the majority being adults/ fulling flying juveniles, a fair number of feeding chicks from tiny balls of fluff to leggy young. Several adults (probably 4 birds) were brooding chicks under their bellies and wings, so, I’d estimate that there was over a hundred birds and probably in excess of that. This is now a new record for this species and hopefully to be exceeded in time.

There was 3-4 Little Ringed Plover and an adult colour-ringed Ringed Plover, the bird that has been in the area since the Spring and originates from a SCAN ringing programme in North Wales. A Common Sandpiper and (what looked like its) chick were skulking around the edge of the reedy island. A couple of Oystercatcher were busy making a lot of noise while on the ‘bend’ itself were a flock of 634 Black-tailed Godwit feeding in an area that was traditional their first inroads into summering in Cheshire in big numbers. It was great to see this old stomping ground looking like its former brilliant self.

The usual Tufted Duck and Canada Goose flocks were again present on the Weaver estuary.

The low flying Common Swift certainly tested my reaction of pressing finger to camera shutter button and capturing blank space or blurred image. Also adding value were both Sand and House Martin feeding closely overhead.

I wanted to check the godwit flock on No.6 tank and really didn’t expect to see much considering the large flock on the ‘bend’ when I eventually arrived it was surprising to see a group of 583 birds roosting in a tight bunch in the shallow waters. Apart from a couple of Lapwing that was about that. The ducks were very much in reduced numbers with 31 Common Teal ans barely double figures in Mallard and Common Shelduck.

A couple of distant Marsh Harrier added to a great evenings watch on the marshes.

Observer: WSM.

Image by Paul Ralston.

Nature Notes #37

It’s that time of year when the Cleg’s are out and biting.

Frodsham Marsh BirdBlog

Nature Notes #37

Horsefly by Tony BroomeWhilst I was looking for something of interest on the umbellifer plants, I got attacked by a ‘Horse-fly’! It’s a summer hazard in grassy areas and Frodsham Marsh is one of their favourite hunting grounds. You have to run the gauntlet from the moment you emege from your car. I was parked at the old birdlog by No.1 tank but they appear from anywhere particularly by No.6 tank. They are more than a nuisance and inflict a nasty bite which can swell up in no time (especially if you are susceptible). I took the opportunity to turn the tables and potted one for further inspection. I wanted to know if they were indeed Horse-flies or a familiar looking fly? Apart from them being quite a complex-patterned fly, their eyes are amazing, reflecting the light in a sixties-style psychedelic pattern. They look really, really weird!.

Horsefly by Tony Broome

Similar to mosquitos and other…

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19.06.18. Birdlog.

A sunrise visit to the Weaver Bend for the reported Red-necked Phalarope pair seen yesterday. On the time I had available before work I didn’t manage to pick them up but a further visit later will be required if they are relocated later today.

There were several hundred Black-headed Gull roosting on the exposed sand bank on the ‘bend’ which was reminiscent to the good old days of the 70’s – early 90’s. A flock of 337 chattering Black-tailed Godwit are I guess additional to the flock I had last evening on No.6 tank. There were lots of Avocet this morning and I counted c80 ( others on the estuary but not counted) with the majority being adults and the rest made up of fluffy chicks to flying juveniles.

A pair of Little Ringed Plover were displaying but the aggressive Avocet parents didn’t give them the space to use. A Common Sandpiper was also present.

Numerous Tufted Duck and broods of Common Shelduck seemed to be everywhere. Other species included: Little Grebe, Gadwall and 2 adult Great Black-backed Gull.

One of the highlights were the hundreds of low flying Common Swift flock hawking close enough to be able to hear their bill snapping within inches of my head.

Walking back and a Brown Hare ran ahead of me on the track..

Observer and achieve images: WSM.

18.06.18. Birdlog.

A sighting of both a male and female Red-necked Phalarope on the Weaver Bend, “I was there 1115-1445 watching the phalaropes but sadly people in kayaks started going up and down the river which made the birds a little skittish. They were still there when we left and what beautiful birds”, per Peter Malpas.

Unknown at the time I only had an hour to burn before an engagement with the England World Cup match and in retrospect I should have taken a longer walk out to the Weaver Bend instead.

I arrived on No.6 tank to conduct the high tide count for WeBS which I wasn’t able to do yesterday. There was an impressive flock of 743 Black-tailed Godwit feeding and roosting in the shallow margins of the sludge pool. After a while they all rose as one when a male Marsh Harrier loafed overhead to engage with another. The harriers were joined by another females who took umbrage to each other and locked talons to spiral to the ground where an almighty scrap took place. They eventually unlocked claws and headed in separate directions. A single Redshank was cutting a lonesome figure on the godwit periphery.

Ducks are the main stay of any wildfowl and wader count and slowly but surely their numbers are beginning to show signs of a build up. This evening 43 Common Teal, 46 Tufted Duck, 2 drake Common Pochard, 12 Common Shelduck, 24 Mallard, 4 Shoveler, 6 Gadwall with 6 Coot and 4 Moorhen.

A Yellow Wagtail was feeding on the dryer area of the sludge tank.

Observer and images: WSM

17.06.18. Birdlog.

A look over the River Weaver where 40 Avocet including young were with Common Shelduck and their ducklings. There were hundreds of Common Swift and some Sand Martin.

No.6 had c300 Black-tailed Godwit in the shallow waters.

There were Meadow Brown and Large Skipper and the first fresh Ringlet of the year butterfly on the wing.

A (released) Red-legged Partridge with her brood of seven chicks was also seen and the one became isolated from the family and froze when I approached, I tried to move it out of harms way but it ran off into the undergrowth only to reemerge when I had moved away. It sat on the track waiting for its parent to find it (poor thing).

Observer and images: Paul Crawley.

16.06.18. Birdlog.

A couple of hours this morning and the first proper rain during the weekend for quite a while. The Black-tailed Godwit flock slowly filtered in during the course of the morning and totalled 261 when I left the site. A Little Ringed Plover was joined by a male Yellow Wagtail for a short while with both feeding side by side at one time.

Those ducks that weren’t actively still rearing young were huddled together on the banks of No.6 tank staring their eclipse plumages. 14 Tufted Duck joined 2 drake and a female Common Pochard, 26 Common Teal, 4 drake Shoveler and numerous Mallard.

There were 3 Marsh Harrier active over the marshes while a couple of Common Buzzard enjoyed the draughts from the sludge tank banks to aid their hovering.

The Canal Pools were alive with hawking Common Swift with lesser numbers of both Sand Martin and Swallow.

Observer: WSM (images 1-3).

Late visit to the marsh as me wheels needed servicing. I went to the Weaver Bend as a  2 Common Tern was seen by FD and I wanted Swift and Hirundine photo’s. The Tern was there with the Black headed Gulls. There were dozens of Swift and groups of  Sand Martin flying around in three’s and I think they may be parents with young, showing them the ropes as it were? The Avocet parents were attacking gulls and then one was feeding duck like in the Weaver.

The Weaver is very low at the moment and the island is visible and had c200 Black-tailed Godwit on it till they were spooked by something, 30 Dunlin flew low over the River Weaver towards the Mersey estuary and a Fox was spotted somewhere on the marsh by me.

Observer: Paul Crawley (images 4-5).