20.10.12. Birdlog

20.10.12. Birdlog

Arty fish-eye image, Frodsham Score. Image by WSM.

No 6 tank: 64 Tufted Duck, 8 Pochard, 400 Teal, small numbers of Gadwall, Pintail and Wigeon.

A female Merlin was observed in flight low over the Michaelmas Daisy clumps and later in the evening perched on the tree stump in the centre of the tank. Upwards of 10 Buzzards were at various locations across the marsh.

Wader wise 384 Golden Plover, 4 Ruff, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and single Grey Plover. A Water Rail was squealing from the reedbed on No 6 tank.

(17 Common Snipe were on No 6 yesterday. Observed by Arthur Harrison).

The birdlog road (Half Furlong Lane) had a roving flock of 20 Long-tailed Tit, a single Redwing and 3 Lesser Redpolls flying over were noted. Also present along the banks was this Great Spotted Woodpecker. A male and female Stonechat were present by the cattle grid on the approach track to Marsh Farm.

Great Spotted Woodpecker. Image by Paul Ralston

Frodsham Score: 5-6 Little Egret and 2 Great White Egrets (WSM) were again present (from yesterday, PR).

Record shot of the Great White Egret from yesterday. Image by Paul Ralston.

High tide on the score saw 6 Whooper Swan and upwards of 1000 Canada Geese which pulled in a single Barnacle plus, 3 (1st winter) Greenland (flavirostris) White-fronted Goose (WSM). Other wildfowl included 50 Wigeon and a flock of 500 Teal.

100 Grey and 54 Golden Plover. An incredible 200 Oystercatcher! Single Bar and Black-tailed Godwit, 230 Curlew, 75 Dunlin, 1 Ruff and 34 Redshank was worthy of the watch.

8 Raven over the score added to the picture there.

Also present from the pools below the north bank of No 4 tank was yet more squealing Water Rails.

Observers: Frank Duff, Guido D’Isidoro, Paul Ralston, WSM

18.10.12. Birdlog

18.10.12. Birdlog (No 6 tank).

A fine rainbow over the marsh this evening. Image by WSM.

400 Teal, 65 Tufted Duck, 7 Pochard, 20 Wigeon, 10 Gadwall, 14 Shoveler and 40 Mallard.

A Water Rail was calling from the depth of the reedbed.

Golden Plovers continue to roost on the tank with 310 present at dusk. Also there was 400 Lapwing, 4 Ruff, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Redshank, 4 Dunlin, singles each of Little Stint and (juvenile) Curlew Sandpiper.

3 Raven were over Frodsham Score.

The pre-roost of Starlings continue to gather on No 6 tank. First they settle on the pylons by the motorway, then in small flight sorties they come together combining to form larger groups. These groups then drop like stones into a variety of reedbeds along the edge of the tank. Hopefully, this roost will increase in size over the next few months?

Observer: WSM.

17.10.12. Birdlog

17.10.12. Birdlog

A Little Egret and 350 Curlew, 27 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Snipe, 40 Knot, 27 Redshank and 1,000 Dunlin were present on the tide at No 6 tank.

Observer, Arthur Harrison.

A Black Kite was reported to one of the bird information services at 2.45 pm and apparently sighted over the M56 motorway at Frodsham Marsh?

An after work watch over No 6 tank included sightings of 500 Common Teal, 20 Wigeon, 10 Pintail, 15 Gadwall, 64 Tufted Duck and 12 Pochard. Wader wise 300 Lapwing, 110 Golden Plover, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Ruff and 43 Curlew were noted.

Observer: WSM.

A Tale of Two Geese.

Field sketch of juvenile Pink-footed Goose by WSM, 19.10.01.

Above a sketch from 2001 of a juvenile Pink-footed Goose present on No 1 tank. The head shape and bill initially recalled Bean Goose, until it stood up and revealed some fetching pink-legs. Notes on this bird featured below by Tony Broome.

The bird from the 13.10.12 (see images for this bird on the posting for that date) had similarities to this bird with a large head and Roman nose bill shape. Although the photograph does not feature enough details, it does show the head and bill shape. When the goose stood up the legs were pinkish and not the orange colour of Bean Goose. Additionally, the back colour recalled the paler grey/brown of Pink-footed and not the darker colour you would expect for Bean. Structurally the bird’s head shape/bill, orangish stripe on the distal third of bill, thick-set neck, and longish legs were potentials for Bean Goose.

Below notes from a bird that shadowed this bird 11 years ago. Eds

Friday 19th October 2001 – A day that promised much.

Frodsham Marsh birdlog reported a goose for three days as a Bean Goose. It was on No1 tank and gave adequate views to birders. However, it soon became clear that the goose was in actual fact a juvenile Pink-footed Goose. My notes were as follows.

Head shape-wise it did indeed resemble a Bean with a flat crown, long sloping forehead which went straight into the bill, which gave it a wedged-shape appearance. The bill itself was slightly convex over big oval nostrils and was all dark except for a narrow pale-coloured band near the tip. The legs were longish and definitely more pink than orange, despite a desperate attempt to make them the latter. It had a dull brown head, darkest on the crown, the dark colour extending as a dark line down the back of the neck. The head and neck were the darkest part of the goose. Neck relatively short like ‘rossicus’ Bean but waisted, not thick-set like that species. Looked thinner still when stretched up in alarm and without adult neck ‘grooves’. The dull overall colouring of the front of the neck merged into a similarly dull uniform brownish breast and flanks with no contrastively dark flanks. The undertail coverts  were dirty white.

The upperwing coverts were all grey based and small neat dark centres and buff tips and looked very brown at times. The lower, larger feathers had centres that were almost anchor-shaped. All feathers had thin pale tips, the greater coverts were slightly greyer with thin white tips forming a line. Tertials dark brown, edged and tipped paler, narrowly but obvious.  Primaries dark grey brown which ended just past the tail tip.  At rest, the dark tail had a broad white tip and thin white sides. In flight the obvious white tail base was visible. On the open wing,  the palest part of the wing was the leading edge which contrasted with the browner and darker overall colour of the rest of the coverts.

The bird flew towards the Weaver at one point and at once looked more Pink-foot.  Forewings very obviously pale grey, the tail with a broad white tip and sides and the rump/uppertail coverts were grey, not brown.  No call were heard.

With hindsight and familiarity, and much more information from a myriad of sources, this bird was obviously a dull juvenile Pink-foot. The brown upper wings, lack of neck lines and contrasting dark flanks and overall dull bill would support the ageing. But it was a very interesting and educational lesson at the time.

Tony Broome

Red-eyed Video

How entertaining could a film about bird watching be? When the bird watchers   are Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin, the film, The Big Year…Not very I’m afraid! But, I’ve got three films to keep you tense, cringing, scared, laughing out loud and all of which hit the mark in one way or another.


 Fanatical birdwatchers have descended upon a small town in the Arkansas bayou in hopes of finding the celebrated Ivory Billed Woodpecker. Declared extinct in the 1940’s, the bird has apparently been spotted by numerous experts. Enter amateur birder and poet Johnny Neander, who has convinced his taciturn sidekick that he will be the one to find the elusive woodpecker. The ensuing chaos divides the small town between believers and non-believers, rabid environmentalists and opportunistic entrepreneurs. Much like the bird itself, Woodpecker explores the intersection of fact and fiction, manipulating our notions of documentary and narrative techniques within a tragic comedy about hope, perception, and some very very strange birds.

a great, funny and surprisingly moving film that’s not to be missed.”                      – FILM THREAT

89  minutes            released by Carnivalesque Films


Alex MacQueen is an actor who has a special place in the hearts of comedy connoisseurs for his recurring role in Armando Iannucci’s TV satire The Thick of It. Now he gives a tremendous turn – witty, and with unexpected depth – in this claustrophobic, tense, ultra-low-budget British film with a neat final twist: the story of an ordinary bloke who comes face to face with a killer. He plays the hapless Roy, a middle-aged “twitcher” or birdwatcher, who spends days on end holed up in a ramshackle wooden shed in the middle of the Suffolk mudflats-The Hide of the title. Poor Roy gets nerdishly over excited about spotting various feathered rarities, fussing over his binoculars and his packed lunch, crammed with spicy meat-paste sandwiches. He also, in the manner of lonely souls who have lived too long on their own, talks to himself, or rather to a photograph of his absent wife.

  1. The Hide
  2. Production year: 2008
  3. Country: UK
  4. Cert (UK): 15
  5. Runtime: 82 mins
  6. Directors: Marek Losey
  7. Cast: Alex MacQueen, Phil Campbell, Philip Campbell
  8. More on this film

One dullish day, the door to Roy’s hide opens, and he has a visitor: this is Dave, played by Phil Campbell, a very scary-looking, taciturn scouser with close-cropped hair, a tattoo snaking up his neck and a long coat, under which he is carrying a gun. At first, dysfunctional Roy doesn’t quite understand who or what Dave actually is. But Dave is interested to learn from his stammering, nervy host that people can stay for long periods of time in these hides without anyone bothering them – and there is a police helicopter clattering overhead. They are destined to spend quite a bit of time in each other’s company, and as they begin to relax, they discover they have more in common than they realise.

Dave’s icy contempt for the silly business of birdwatching softens, as it triggers memories of his own childhood, and he is amused and even touched at Roy’s naivety and vulnerability. When he discovers his full name is “Roy Tunt”, Phil asks with a wintry smile if that didn’t get him plenty of nicknames. “Oh yes,” says Roy brightly, “Roy Rogers, Roy of the Rovers, you name it.”

The movie was originally a stage play, entitled The Sociable Plover, by actor and writer Tim Whitnall, who has adapted it for the screen.

The Guardian

One from yesteryear is ‘The Tawny Pipit’ a black and white  propaganda film from 1944 about a small community in the rural countryside of England guarding the nest site of a pair of Tawny Pipits (stunt doubled in the film by a pair(s) of Meadow Pipit) during the Battle of Britain.

‘The Tawny Pipit’  (1944)


During the Second World War Jimmy Bancroft (Niall MacGinnis), a fighter pilot just released from hospital, and his nurse (now his girlfriend) Hazel Broome (Rosamund John) are on a walking tour through the countryside. They arrive at the fictional village of Lipsbury Lea and being keen birdwatchers, discover that a pair of tawny pipits, which are rarely seen in England, are nesting nearby.

Staying in the village, they enlist the locals to protect the nesting site until the eggs hatch. The villagers do so with great enthusiasm, led by the fiery retired Colonel Barton-Barrington (Bernard Miles) and the Reverend Mr. Kingsley.

Unfortunately, the field where the nest is located (known locally as the pinfold) is due to be ploughed up by order of the county agricultural committee, and a delegation to the Ministry of Agriculture in London fails to get the order rescinded. Fortunately, the Minister was Barton-Barrington’s junior at school, and personally intervenes to save the field from being ploughed.

The eggs duly hatch, but not before a plot to steal the eggs on behalf of an unscrupulous dealer is foiled by an alert army corporal (an amateur ornithologist) who is serving nearby.


James Fisher and Julian Huxley were credited as ornithological advisers for the film. Nevertheless, the birds shown in the film are not actually Tawny Pipits but Meadow Pipits.


14.10.12. Birdlog

14.10.12. Birdlog

WeBS counters tallying Teal on Frodsham Score. Image by Paul Crawley.

50 Redwing, 1 Bullfinch, , 3 Goldcrest and 1 Jay along the log road.

300 Lapwing, 3 Ruff, 2 Greenshank, 4 Grey Plover before the tide, 500 Teal, 34 Wigeon and 2 fine drake Pintail plus 5 Swallow and Lesser Redpoll moving south.

5 Whooper Swan, 90 Oystercatcher, 14 Snipe, 600 Canada and 50 Pink-footed Goose flew over Frodsham Score (PC).

Observers: Frank Duff. Paul Crawley, WSM

13.10.12. Birdlog (WeBS count)

13.10.12. Birdlog (WeBS count)

All sightings from No 6 tank unless otherwise stated.

Wildfowl included 104 Common Shelduck, 18 Gadwall, 50 Mallard, 43 Wigeon, 1 Pintail, 600 Common Teal, 4 Pochard and 74 Tufted Duck.

A female Sparrowhawk was hunting Snipe by hovering over the Michaelmas Daisy clumps then dropping down to flush them out. It didn’t appear to be effective but at least she spooked out six birds.

1 juvenile Great Crested Grebe, 3 Ringed Plover, 500 Golden Plover, 600 Lapwing, 300 Dunlin, 1 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, 10 Common Snipe and 2 Ruff.

The Weaver Bend held 8 Little Grebe with 6 Ruff and 20 Redshank.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker, 20 Long-tailed Tit, 5 Goldgrests, small visible passage of Skylark and Meadow Pipit and, 2 Lesser Redpolls.

Observers: Paul Crawley, Arthur Harrison, Frank Duff, WSM, Guido D’Isidoro.

View of Ineos Chlor Works from No 1 tank, 10 minutes later that big grey cloud above the works moved over and I got completely drenched!

Frank Duff came across this grey goose tonight. If you fancy a stab at identifying it then drop us a line in the comments box. Just click on the image and you will find the comments box at the bottom of the page. Unfortunately the quality of the images is as good as they get.

All images by WSM.

12.10.12. Birdlog & Nature Notes #15

12.10.12. Birdlog & Nature Notes #15

Influx of thrushes including Blackbirds, Song Thrush and 6 Redwing. Also present Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Goldcrests along the birdlog road.

Observer: Frank Duff.

An evening walk in fine sunshine around Blakemere at Delamere Forest was rewarded with a fine selection of fungi. Most notable and obvious (although well hidden in bracken) were 10 Fly Agaric Mushrooms. Various Earthstars, Earthballs, Honey Fungi, Russllea spp and a glowing Yellow Stagshorn fungi.

The above image is of an emerging Fly Agaric (amanita muscaria) which has been partially eaten by a slug. That will be one spaced-out slug…Man!

A Fly Agaric (amanita muscaria) in mid stage of development.

Fly Agaric (amanita muscaria at third stage development).

Russula (krombholzii?).

Yellow Staghorn fungi (Calocera viscosa).

Observers: Sparky, WSM.

All images by WSM.

10.10.12. Birdlog

10.10.12. Birdlog

Rob Cockbain is having a fine Autumn 2012 across the river at Hale with a recent sighting of Yellow-browed Warbler in the village there. It is highly likely the Hawfinch heading south over the ‘Head’  this morning went over Frodsham Marsh? Unfortunately, it went unseen and unheard and with only one record of each for Frodsham they were tantalizingly close!

Not much to report from  the marsh this evening. The usual Golden Plover and Lapwings were roosting on No 6 tank and with the light of the day reducing quickly an early departure was on the cards.

Common Snipe are present in some numbers on No 6 tank. With the thick Michaelmas Daisy clumps and rank vegetation they are well catered for in the cover department. Very occasionally a low flying raptor will flush out a group from cover, which seem to fly off high with some urgency. They then reappear from nowhere to hurtle back again with the same urgency in exactly the same part of cover they left a couple of minute earlier.

Common Snipe, No 6 tank. Image by Paul Crawley.

09.10.12. Birdlog

09.10.12. Birdlog

Stanlow Oil Refinery from No 6 tank. Image by WSM.

No 6 tank held 24 Shoveler, 60 Tufted Duck, 46 Common Shelduck and smaller numbers of Common Teal (appears there is a big clear out of this species). A Little Egret flew in from the estuary, turned tail and promptly departed back there.

2 Avocet, 300 Lapwing, 400 Golden Plover on No 6 tank and an additional 200 over Frodsham Score. Common Snipe are still arriving to the marsh with parties dropping in during the evening watch.

Observers: Frank Duff, Arthur Harrison, WSM.