11.11.12. Birdlog

11.11.12. Birdlog

Dawn rising over No 6 tank.

An immature/female Goosander flew east over No 6 tank, 45 Tufted Duck, 12 Pochard, 6 Wigeon, (m&f) RD and 4 Pintail.

Partial summer plumage Golden Plover, No 6 tank.

Two partial summer plumaged Golden Plover were with 650 winter birds including presumably the bird from Pickerings Pasture. 600 Lapwing, 2 Ruff, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and 600 Dunlin were on the tank for the morning tide and 60 Common Snipe flew from the tank.

12 Raven were present and others were arriving when I left at 8.30 am.

The usual female Sparrowhawk was enjoying an early breakfast until it was disturbed.

At dawn over 600 Wood Pigeons moved through.

Redwings and Fieldfare were present in large numbers along Brook Furlong Lane (old birdlog track) with 100 and 300 respectively. A male Stonechat was along the pipes on No 1 tank. A luecistic Starling was with its more normally coloured cousins at the Ship Street entrance.

Observer: Alyn Chambers, Frank Duff, Sparky, WSM.

All Images by WSM.

10.11.12. Birdlog (counting up)

10.11.12. Birdlog. (counting up)

Frodsham Score was on form again with 2,000 Canada Geese and within their midst was a Barnacle Goose and 2 Small Grey Geese ( both melted into the flock before being identified.

2 Little Egret and a Great White Egret were reward for the long trek to the north-west corner of No 4 tank for views across the Score (with thanks to Guido for a bit of pot-hole driving. AMB, WSM).

View of Mount Manisty on Frodsham Score from the north banks of No 4 tank. Image by Tony Broome.

Immature male and female Goldeneye were on the Ship Canal below No 4 tank. Upwards of 450 Teal, 23 Shoveler, 4 Wigeon, male and female RD and a pair of Pintail on No 6 tank.

Tony Broome with his de-mob coat c1970, birding Frodsham Score today. Image by WSM.

The usual pair of Peregrines was positioned on the tall blue-topped chimney at Weston Point, Several Buzzards were present including a well-marked intermediate individual. A Merlin was on Frodsham Score and a female Sparrowhawk was again active and putting the frighteners on the Starling flocks.

Waders present in the area included flocks of Common Snipe with 20, 15 and 35 in flight over the tank.

3 Water Rails were disputing winter feeding territory below the viewing area on No 6 tank.

Upwards of 40 Raven were present on the marsh today and one particular bird bore colour rings to its legs, left green over yellow and green on right leg, this individual was present on No 5 tank. The other birds were divided between No 5 tank and Frodsham Score.

Fieldfare were evident with flocks of various sizes moving through with a maximum of 53 in one flock. Both Blackbirds and Song Thrush numbers were again in good numbers a combined count of 20 Song Thrushes along the track at No 6 tank was fairly typical for the day.

2 Stonechat near Marsh farm were birds seen in previous weeks.

Observers: Arthur Harrison, Guido D’Isidoro , Frank Duff, Tony Broome (VIP appearance), WSM.

Got an email from John Barber who was watching No 6 tank and said: Several hundred Golden Plover were present around 8.30am, close to the viewing position and in good light. After a few minutes I picked out a bird which looked almost identical to yesterday’s bird at Pickering Pasture ( possibly the same bird ?? ) So I carefully watched it for about twenty minutes, until it finally raised and stretched it’s wings, revealing white axillaries – so this particular bird wasn’t an American Golden Plover.

09.11.12. Am Goldie revisited

09.11.12. Am Goldie revisited

Last night we had a three-way discussion about the reported American Golden Plover at Pickerings Pasture, Halebank, Widnes. Between myself, Frank Duff and Tony Broome. I initially thought that the bird showed a usual amount of white along the flanks and that the photograph recalled the partial summer plumage of a Pacific Golden Plover. But one photograph although interesting can be misleading and begged for some niggling consideration. Tony Broome phoned me and had also came to a similar view and was baffled by the bird. I texted Frank and he also showed interest in the birds identity. Unfortunately work commitments prevented me popping over to Pics today to have a look at the bird but Frank did. He later phoned to say that he thought that the bird may be a late moulting European Golden Plover. His conversation is below.

Went to see the AGP and on reflection and after looking at the available literature I’m not convinced that the bird is not a late moulting European Golden Plover. I saw the underwing and they looked white as the other plovers, bird seemed same size as goldies and didn’t look leggier than any of the others. The day light was poor but I remain to be convinced. The white flanks fit in with ‘Goldie’ moult and don’t fit with AGP.

Field sketches by Bill Morton of two ‘Lesser Golden Plovers’ at Tetney Marshes, Lincolnshire, July 1986.

Although these birds are from late summer they still show what a bird (with retained partial summer plumaged) like the Pickerings Pasture bird could appear like.

If you have the opportunity to go and have a look tomorrow check out its ID features and join in with the discussion. It’s all about learning and gaining experience and all to often birding throws up a curve ball. Eds.

This is the site that covers Pickerings Pasture for directions and more about the work of the volunteers. http://www.thefriendsofpickeringspasture.org.uk/

08.11.12. Birdlog

08.11.12. Birdlog

2 Pintail, 300 Golden plover, 5 Redshank, 2 Dunlin, on No 6 tank and 7 Raven on No 5 tank.

Observer: Arthur Harrison.

Extracts from an email from birders at Pickerings Pasture: Just a note to ask you to keep a look out on the sludge beds at the Golden Plover flock. Today at Pickerings Pasture at about 3.00 pm, amoungst 800 Goldie’s on the sandbanks we had one in partial summer plummage with grey under wings. Fairly certain it is a Lesser. Managed to get some poor photographs. It may return tomorrow pm after the tide, or possibly go on the sludge beds at tide time?

I know where I’ll be birding on Saturday!! Frodsham Marsh.

Saxon Falcon

Saxon Falcon

In the year AD 915 the area south of the River Mersey was under the Kingdom of Mercia and was overseen by a Princess named Ethelfleda. She was the daughter of the Saxon King Alfred the Great. If you’re of a curtain generation then you may remember being taught this at school – Alfred was the king who burnt the cakes (teachers taught you about proper history ‘when I was a lad’). Being the daughter of the king, Ethel was given charge to control the land of Mercia in this area up to, and including, the south shore of the River Mersey (the river derives its name from a Saxon word meaning ‘boundary’). The land to the north was controlled by the Danes (or Vikings if you like).

In more recent times the towns folk of Runcorn and Widnes got to gether and celebrated the naming of the railway bridge to their favourite daughter Ethelfleda.

There is a point to this…when you travel across Runcorn Bridge from a southerly direction you can see adjacent to the road bridge a sandstone constructed railway bridge (Ethelfleda)  – both of these cross the River Mersey at the narrowest part of the Upper Mersey estuary.

04.07.16. Peregrine, Ethelfleda Railway Bridge. Bill Morton (1)

A car passengers view of where the Peregrine usually sits up on the railway bridge.

20.06.16. Peregrine, Runcorn Bridge. Bill Morton (2)

Peregrine chasing Wood Pigeon. Image by Nigel Case.

Peregrine on bridge by Dave Stewart (2)

Over the last few years I have noticed something that you can only observe when you are being driven across in a car from the south. There are four heraldic shields depicting, two of Britannia seated and holding shields, one of a bird (which looks like a Black Stork but is probably a Cormorant) and one heraldic shield. Just below both of the Britannia shields is a metal via ferrata type ladder. Some days (normally during the winter months) you get a really good (but very brief) view of a fine adult Peregrine Falcon just perched up on the ladder. If there are feral pigeons on the bridge then it’s likely there will be no falcon.

Note of caution! If you travel along this road make sure that you are the car passenger! Safety is paramount and at a  moments distraction a driver can cause an accident! So, remember only look if you are the passenger!

Peregrine, Runcorn Bridge. Bill Morton


Ethelfleda Railway Bridge where the Peregrine rests up (viewed from Mersey Road, Runcorn).

The iron ladder is the site where the Peregrine rests up. For the safest view, you should set your scope up at the west end of Mersey Road, Runcorn – it’s also a good site to watch the winter Starling roost (wear a hat – it can get quite messy!).

Today 07.11.12. I saw the adult female perched on the ladder on two trips across the bridge in the morning and in the afternoon.

Image 4 by Nigel Case, image 5 by David Stewart and all  other images by WSM.

Post updated 04.07.16.

Nature Notes #16

Nature Notes #16

Sparky and I spent our day off walking the trails of Delamere Forest and checking out two of the sinister sounding but in reality serene Dead and Black Lakes there.

Green Man Beech Tree Sculpture at the Whitegate car park, Delamere Forest.

We came across this recently carved art work at the end of the Whitegate car park (where the Xmas trees and village is usually situated). On the reverse of the tree is a message, have a look if you’re in the area!

Autumn reflections and colours at Dead Lake, Delamere Forest. WSM.

The first port of call was at Dead lake where we inspected the hornet tree from previous nature notes. The hornets were no longer in residence but the Common Wasps were still active with critters coming and going continuously. To the side of the area is a steep bank which supported several Fly Agaric fungi.

Fly Agaric at Dead Lake (slug damaged), Delamere Forest.

Oak colours at Black Lake, Delamere Forest.

Above image of Black Lake looking anything other than black.

Migrant Hawker Dragonfly (female), Black Lake, Delamere Forest.

The anticipated dragonfly find was more in hope than any real expectation of seeing anything. So, it was a great surprise to find a female Migrant Hawker and just within its extended flying period. She was still attempting to lay eggs but spent most of the time patrolling the warmer west side of the lake.

Correction: The dragonfly labelled Southern Migrant Hawker at Black Lake, Delamere on this post was a typo error and not the mega! Thanks to Paul Derbyshire for drawing my attention to it. A long day, a long night and tired are my excuses. Anyway, it’s been corrected and apologies. WSM.

All Images by WSM.

05.11.12. Birdlog

05.11.12. Birdlog

An hour and a half’s birding this evening was rewarding with a wealth of birds to be had.

No 6 tank continued to support the same water bird species as the previous evening. Lapwings were in much larger numbers with approximately 680 present along with reduced numbers of Golden Plovers totalling 400 birds. Also present were 40 Dunlin, 2 Ruff and 6 Redshank. Water Rails were ever present and calling from the depths of the reedbeds.

Upwards of 7 Ravens were gathered along the field fence on No 5 tank and, like yesterday were not allowing the presence of a young Buzzard to go unattended. One particular bird was colour-ringed (update on its orgin as and when I find it).

Colour-ringed Raven harassing Common Buzzard, No 5 tank.

Colour-ringed Raven, No 5 tank.

The sound of a Skylark sub-singing from the air was really puzzling until I found it in hot pursuit by an immature/female Merlin. I often find when Skylarks are chased by a predator they will either call loudly or even sing. So, without exception this lark was proving its flight prowess against the inexperienced Merlin by …just taking the ‘P’!

The Merlin was later sat on the fence bordering No 6 tank (below images) and it allowed me to get really close in the dwindling evening light.

A little grainy but close image of a (immature female) Merlin, No 6 tank.

All images by WSM.

04.11.12. Birdlog

04.11.12. Birdlog (No 6 tank unless otherwise stated).

24 Tufted Duck, Pochard, RD, 600 Common Teal, 2 Wigeon and 24 Shoveler.

650 Golden Plover, 300 Lapwing, 170 Curlew, 3 Dunlin at the roost. 8 Redshank feeding in the manner of Avocets, shifting bill from side to side and all in a compact group. An impressive count of 30 Common Snipe was notable.

Winter Golden Plover flock. Image by Mike Roberts.

Water Rails continue to call in the reedbed below the northern banks of the tank.

5 Ravens were holding hostage to a bewildered (presume juvenile) Common Buzzard until I drove past and gave the Buzzard enough distraction to make a bolt for it. Also noted was the female Sparrowhawk.

Several Redwings were heard as they flew over head at dusk.

Observers: Arthur Harrison, WSM.

03.11.12. Birdlog

03.11.12. Birdlog

No 6 tank had the wintering flock of Golden Plover, Lapwing and 1 Ruff.

A fall of winter thrushes including good numbers of Blackbirds at the Ship Street entrance. Along the Brook Furlong Lane (track by the old birdlog) was a female Sparrowhawk and keeping a watch over her was a Grey Wagtail and Bullfinch.

Stonechat at Marsh Farm. Image by WSM.

Immature male and male Stonechat along track leading to Marsh Farm. Also fluttering along the track was a late Comma Butterfly.

Observer: Frank Duff.

A Barn Owl was seen in fields close to Bridge Lane and Frodsham Swingbridge on the A566 road at 6.00 pm.

Observer: Dave Stewart.

01.11.12. Birdlog

01.11.12. Birdlog (All sightings from No 6 tank unless otherwise stated)

I managed 40 minutes birding (after work) before the sun slipped quickly below the western horizon.

400 Common Teal, 45 Tufted Duck, 20 Common Pochard, 30 Common Shelduck, 24 Shoveler and 10 Mallard.

454 Golden Plover with 600 Lapwing, 2 Ruff and 3 Redshank.

A Water Rail was calling from below the north bank of No 6 tank.

5 Raven en route to roost on Frodsham Hill.

Observer: WSM.

Please note there is now a gate attached to the previously ungated posts on the ramp to No 6 tank. If you get locked (unlikely) in, there is a contact number on the new signs along the northern side of the tank (below).