An after the watershed 6.00 pm curfew that Servo Security seemed to be kind on illegally imposing on the marsh of late.
Anyway, apart from the over zealous security measures, I still managed a fine evenings bird watch on my local patch that is Frodsham Marsh. The flooded fields by the model aircraft fields continue to hold good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit with 7 finely plumaged Ruff and close views of 31 Whimbrel this evening.
A watch over No.6 tank revealed another 5 Whimbrel with 6 Curlew, 70 Redshank, 12 Dunlin and 13 Lapwing. Common Shelduck are still the most numerous duck alongside 70 Tufted Duck and a handfull of both Gadwall and Shoveler. All the Common Teal appeared to have moved out of the area but it didn’t stop a drake Garganey feeding in the shallow waters of the tank.
There was a movement of hirundines and Swift through again this evening and the air was filled with the tunes of the countryside and the low rumble of traffic from the nearby motorway.
Observer and images: WSM.
A slow amble along Moorditch Lane where we bumped into Arthur H who we hadn’t seen for a while. It was a pleasant surprise and after a chat we continued our walk along Moorditch Lane. The contractors have again dug up the ramp track to No.5 tank after finding some faulty wiring so bypassing them we continued along Moorditch to join MacDuff at the junction of Lordship Lane.
The flooded stubble field close to the model aircraft flying field was holding a flock of Black-tailed Godwit and at least 12 Whimbrel were with them. Nearby, a Whinchat was perched up in the stubble but soon after found the barb wire fence much to its liking and sat out for long periods. A couple of Swift flew over heading north.
Just a few metres over the banks on No.6 tank were 6 Whimbrel which joined up with 500 Black-tailed Godwit, 120 Redshank, 4 Avocet and a couple of Ringed Plover. The flooded areas were alive with Common Shelduck and in comparison other duck species were in much lower numbers. Walking back along Moorditch Lane the banks facing south-east were alive with warblers and Whitethroat, Willow, Sedge and Chiffchaff all vied with each other to out sing themselves. There were several hundred hirundines hawking low over the track and in the late evening it started to have a feel that summer was almost upon us.
The partial leucistic Jackdaw was again present in the corvid flock roaming around the flooded fields adjacent to the M56 off Moorditch Lane.
A Smooth Newt was watched to climb out of the water channel into the area of one of the culverts. Arthur mentioned that he had seen at least three good-sized eels here last week.
As featured yesterday the first instalment of the wind farm is gaining some notoriety. I thought the crane was very high but compared to the height of this machine even without its wings we’re in for an interesting period locally.
Observers: Frank Duff, Sparky, WSM (all images).
Stepping out this morning before the change in the weather from Ince Berth around No.4 tank and through to No.6. A selection of warblers including Whitethroat, Blackcap and Chiffchaff were in full voice as them sang along the Manchester Ship Canal path. A Common Sandpiper crossed the canal opposite the berth. On the canal itself and Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Mallard and Common Shelduck were loitering around. Out on the Frodsham Score both Raven and black-backed gulls fed side by side on the carcass of a calf with a couple of Common Buzzard on standby.
A couple of Marsh Harrier were seen quartering the reed beds and a Sparrowhawk flew overhead. Walking along the path around No.6 and 8 Avocet were feeding on a scrape near the mitigation pool on No.3 tank, while six held good numbers of Common Shelduck and Tufted Duck with a few Shoveler and Pochard. The waders were made up of a few hundred Black-tailed Godwit and a smaller flock of Dunlin and Redshank. There were 4 more Avocet seen here.
Walking along Lordship Lane both Sedge and Reed warbler were holding territory and a Kestrel hunted the bank. Back along the canal and Wheatear were keeping company with Whinchat.
An additional note from yesterday evening involving my walk on the Gowy Meadows which produced 5 Short-eared Owl, 3 Whinchat and several Wheatear.
Observer: Paul Ralston (image 1).
The first of the Wind Farm towers with hub attached as seen from Weston.
Images 2-4 by WSM.
A Common Sandpiper was on the Canal Pools and 9 Avocet were on No.6 tank where a Passage of 30 Swift flew through. The pipes on No.1 tank were again good for Wheatear with 12 present were perhaps Greenland forms. while way over on Brook Furlong Lane a singing Lesser Whitethroat was rattling off a ditty.
Observer: Frank Duff.
Walking down Brook Furlong Lane this afternoon a Lesser Whitethroat was singing in the hedgerow and a Whimbrel was in an adjacent field. The female Marsh Harrier was hunting across the fields towards the River Weaver.
Two Whinchat were in the field by Redwall reed bed and 14 Common Sandpiper were along the Weaver shore between the estuary and the bend. Two more Whimbrel were on the Weaver Bend before joining the single bird flying off to the south east.
Another Lesser Whitethroat was by the I.C.I tank along with 2 Willow Warbler and a Greenfinch.
No.1 tank held 12 Wheatear, with further single birds by Marsh Farm and on the Frodsham Score.
Later in the evening a Short-eared Owl was hunting along Lordship Lane and another Whinchat was on the south bank of No. 6 tank.
Observer: Alyn Chambers (images 2-4).
WSM (image 1).
A brief look over the fields by the motorway bridge and a flock of Jackdaw revealed a partial leucistic bird.
I wasn’t expecting many people to turn up for the Frodsham Festival of Walks this evening but at 7.00 pm, 20 hardy souls had gathered on the bridge that passes over the M56 on Marsh Lane. The atrocious rain that had blighted the day appeared to have eased and there was a blue window spreading over from Liverpool (never underestimate the British weather). As we walked along Moorditch Lane we entered No.5 tank up the muddy track overlooking No.6…and then the heavens opened! The flashes of lightning over Liverpool and then Frodsham Hill weren’t very reassuring especially when Findlay was the only person with his lightning conductor (telescope and tripod) to hand. The lightening was closely followed by a hail storm and we resorted to turning our backs to the storm to avoid the stinging hail stones which lashed faces, optics and birds.
When eventually the wind, rain and hail moved through we then began to really enjoy the spectacle that was present on the shallow flooded waters of the sludge tank below us. There were numerous Common Shelduck paired up with much smaller numbers of Common Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler. The main attraction was the Whimbrel flocks dropping out of the sky to settle for the night here. A flock of 18 birds were part of 27 birds present with a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit, 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 78 Redshank, 2 Ruff, 120 Dunlin and a Little Ringed Plover.
Dragging ourselves away from the wader feast we continued our walk alongside the mitigation area on No.3 tank which looked good but delivered little. Approaching No.4 tank a female Marsh Harrier was seen in the distance but shortly after it reappeared flying over the banks of No.6 tank and above our heads before it did a quick U-turn and flipped back to resume hunting. A surprise was a Short-eared Owl that appeared over No.4 before flying north. A couple of Swift hurtled through avoiding the advancing rain belt which was equally hurtling towards us.
No.4 tank had a ‘reeling’ Grasshopper Warbler and along Lordship Lane where a Sedge Warbler was audible.
Observers: Findlay & Heather Wilde (images 3-4), WSM (images 1-2) and the walkers from the Frodsham Festival of Walks.
Tony Broome had a brief visit earlier in the day and managed a few shots of Swift and Wheatear in nice weather.
I met with Sergeant Ian Wilson from Cheshire Police, based at Blacon and Frodsham, early in the day for a meeting to discuss the birds and conservation of the marsh and disturbance from scramblers and other anti-social behaviour. It was a good hour or so as I explained the work Peel are doing with the wind farm including the mitigation area and how the birds use the flyway between the River Mersey and Frodsham Score and the tanks including No.6 where they feed. Ian used it as an orientation exercise and to get an understanding of the conservation issues facing the marsh especially as it is now the breeding season and how scramblers can do much more damage than they realise. The weather was kind and pale blue skies and sunshine tempted a few birds out, even if the Swifts and hirundines would struggle to feed in only 4c. Not long afterwards the skies darkened and the rain began, getting heavy and persistent in a strengthening westerly wind.
Ian has asked that anyone visiting the marsh and witnessing scrambling or any other behaviour that is anti-social, to contact him on the number below. If possible, take photos and note registrations, but discreetly. Be careful not to place yourself in any confrontational situation or personal danger. Cheshire Police are training officers in rural crime and it will involve conservation issues no doubt. Ian is keen to gather intelligence on anything and as birders, we are in an ideal position to act as the eyes of the police.
Remember as well that Ian Howse from the Port of Liverpool Police and also Steve Turner, the conservation officer from CAWOS, are also keen to keep disturbance at Frodsham Marsh to a minimum, so you can also contact either of them. If on site and you need help for any reason, the security on site is SERVO, just stop one of their security guards.
Written contribution by Tony.
Cheshire Police – Sergeant Ian Wilson 01606 366009 / 07720 997505
Port of Liverpool Police – Sergeant Ian Howse 0151 949 1212 / 0151 949 6929 / 07876 474549
CAWOS – Steve Turner – email@example.com