New to Frodsham Marsh: Red-rumped Swallow

Red-rumped Swallow a bird new to Frodsham Marsh 

Greg Baker

29th August 2012.

WEATHER: Sunny with heavy showers following a more prolonged period of heavy rain earlier in the day.  Wind moderate to fresh south-westerly easing to moderate.

I arrived at Frodsham Marsh at around 5pm and spent 30 mins or so scanning No 6 Tank from the top causeway that runs along the north side of the tank.  The earlier heavy downpours had attracted many Teal and a flock of Ringed Plovers to the shallows in the centre of the tank and I noticed the recently resident 4 Ruddy Shelducks feeding on the mudflats further in from the shore.  There was a steady stream of hirundines moving west over No 6 Tank with more (mainly Barn Swallows) feeding over the  adjacent No 5 Tank.  Looking at the Ruddy Shelducks once more, I noticed that the rain had created a number of small pools towards the south-west corner of the tank, close to where the main pipe deposits dredgings onto the tank from the Ship Canal.  Rather than returning back along the causeway, I decided to drive to the south-west corner to check out these pools.  Looking over the embankment there, I found an interesting mixed flock of Pied, White and Yellow Wagtails and a couple of Greenshank.  There were also more hirundines, but here their progress west was more leisurely than on the north side, as many were taking advantage of the shelter and presumably good feeding provided by the south embankment.

A small flock of mixed Barn Swallows and House Martins were feeding above the south-west corner and I was quickly attracted to one individual in particular.  This was clearly a swallow rather than a martin, being larger and with a flight action like a juvenile Barn Swallow with wing-beats appearing more rushed compared with the suppleness of an adult in its pursuit of insects but not as flickering as on a martin.  It was with about 4 Barn Swallows feeding at a height of about 30 metres above me and at a slightly lower elevation than the House Martins, however it was clearly not a Barn Swallow.  From below a dark vent and pale throat with no hint of a breast band drew immediate attention.  The underparts were off-white and appeared a little duskier compared to the Barn Swallows, though I could not detect any obvious streaking.  The tail streamers were longer than on the House Martins but seemed no longer than on a juvenile Barn Swallow nearby.  By this time I recognised I might be onto something interesting but I had still not seen anything of the upperparts.  Thankfully the bird banked twice in excellent light and I was able to clearly see a pale rump, showing a peachy-white tinge where the rump patch joined the dark blue back but otherwise being whitish, plus a pale collar.  The rest of the upperparts were similar in colouration to a juvenile Barn Swallow, lacking the typical gloss shown by an adult. Now I was sure it was a Red-rumped Swallow.


I watched the bird for another minute before it began to drift off west along the south embankment of No 4 Tank in advance of another rain shower.  I contacted Mark Payne and Paul Brewster to put the news out.  Mark was in the area and soon arrived, later followed by Frank Duff.  By now large numbers of hirundines had begun to gather over the south embankment of No 6 Tank as the wind began to lessen and the latest shower moved on but unfortunately, and to my knowledge at least, the bird was not seen again.  No photographs were taken and the bird was not heard to call.

I believe the Red-rumped Swallow was a juvenile given the length of the tail streamers, lack of any glossy sheen on the upperparts and paleness of the rump and collar, neither of which showed any marked rusty tinge.

N.B.  I have experience of seeing Red-rumped Swallows in the Mediterranean region, Central Asia and the Indian sub-continent.

Greg Baker

30.12.12. Birdlog

30.12.12. Birdlog

Frodsham Score did it again when Mark P hit a hat trick of Frodsham goals! First up was a Great White Egret along with 6 Little Egrets and then 17 Barnacle Goose…back of the net! Mark made a few enquiries and contacted Graham Clarkson from WWT and apparently there is a regular flock, in the Martin Mere, Prescott, Eccleston and Knowsley areas, they could be from here? Other birds from the same watch included, 1,000 Canada Geese, 500 Lapwing and a solitary Merlin.

Observer: Mark Payne

The Weaver Bend had 28 Common Teal, 2 Greenshank and 20 Redshank there also.

In the field and hedgerows from Ship Street was 20 Pied Wagtail and both Siskin and a small roving band of Long-tailed Tit.

Observer: Lee Lappin.

Common Buzzard by Findlay Wilde

A Common Buzzard is confused does it turned left or right?

Stonechats by Findlay Wilde

Two images (above) by 10-year-old Findlay Wilde who visited the marsh today with his dad Nigel. Findlay writes his own blog .for more of the same.

29.12.12. Birdlog

29.12.12. Birdlog

29.12.12. Dunlinflock, Frodsham Marsh. WSM.

Dunlins streaming on to No 6 tank.

High tide brought an incredible 15,000 Dunlin to No 6 tank but, a combination of a nearby  motor trail bike and a Sparrowhawk forced most of them back out to the river. 5,000 remained but were unsettled and constantly flew then settle before flying again. Additionally, 1,000 Golden Plover and 2,000 Lapwing were also present but more reluctant to take to the wing.

56 Mallard, 4 Shoveler, 22 Pochard, 24 Tufted Duck, 18 Wigeon, 2 pairs Pintail and 230 Common Teal.

5 Raven were still hanging around No 5 tank.

Observer: WSM

Moore Birds for your Money. WSM.

I called into Moss Side, Moore on the way home (okay, I normally go in the other direction) an old stomping ground when the late Colin Antrobus ploughed a lone furrow there. The lure of some birding goodies to round the year off was too tempting. Anyway, this bevy of beauties was well worth the effort. Smew (female), Waxwings and a 1st winter Glaucous Gull.

2013 Frodsham Marsh Checklist

Frodsham Marsh Birders 2013 Checklist


I’ve put together a species checklist for Frodsham Marsh for your use and it’s free! The checklist is in Microsoft Word format. If you want to start the New Year off or tally up your personal Frodsham Marsh list. For a free copy please email

Black-tailed Godwits, No 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh by Paul Crawley

Some of the 2012 highlights included: 3 Great White Egret (vagrant); Spoonbill; Mandarin (locally rare); 3 Greenland White-fronted Goose (county rarity);  6 Ruddy Shelduck; Ring-necked Duck (vagrant); Red Kite; Buff-breasted Sandpiper (vagrant); Yellow-legged Gull; Ring-billed Gull (vagrant); Arctic Tern; Cheshire’s highest ever count of Raven with 52; Green Woodpecker (locally rare); Cetti’s Warbler; Red-rumped Swallow (a first record! Vagrant); Waxwings (a first record!) and lest we forget Paul Crawley’s infamous ‘Whatwit’ photograph (above) with a few muffled coughs nationwide!.

Any ticks there for you?

Good luck and if you’re over 200 on the list you’re doing well!

26.12.12. Birdlog

26.12.12. Birdlog

Teal, No 6 tank. Frodsham Marsh. WSM.

A brief visit produced the usual selection of duck on No 6 tank including: 30 Wigeon, 120 Mallard, 300 Common Teal, 3 pairs of Pintail, 30 Shoveler, 22 Pochard and 34 Tufted Duck. Also 11 Redshank kept a low profile hiding under the banks.

Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Kestrel and an adult Peregrine (overhead) were present on the marsh.

Ravens continue to loiter around the north banks of No 5 tank.

Brown-lipped Snail, Frodsham Marsh. WSM.

A Brown-lipped Snail on the road by the motorway bridge to Marsh Lane,

Observers: Sparky, WSM.

25.12.12. Birdlog.

25.12.12. Birdlog

25.12.12.Common Buzzard, No 5 tank. WSM.

This Buzzard stayed put when I approached in my vehicle. The branch overhangs the track on No 5 tank and holds either this bird or a Raven or sometimes both.

14 pairs of Wigeon, 300 Common Teal, 4 pairs Pintail, 18 Common Pochard, 24 Tufted Duck and 50 Mallard on No 6 tank at high tide.

Two big female Peregrines enjoying the spoils of a Wood Pigeon Christmas dinner in the middle of No 6 tank. Both birds forced the assembled roosting flock of 1,000 Lapwing and 900 Golden Plover onto No 3 tank to avoid a similar fate. 850 Wood Pigeons were also disturbed off Lordship Marsh at the same time and headed east towards Frodsham Hill.

The old log area east of No 1 tank held a pair of handsome Bullfinches and small numbers of Redwing were present.

Observer: WSM

Merry Christmas and like the Peregrines I’m off for my Christmas dinner!

22.12.12. Birdlog

22.12.12. Birdlog

There was enough rain today to float a boat and it wasn’t until 1.30 pm that it abated long enough for some birding on Frodsham Marsh for the remainder of the day.

Zombie Sheep. WSM.

The Zombie Sheep of Frodsham Marsh . There are plenty of ewes on the marsh covered in burs from the Burdock plant and their fleeces are matted with them. So, it’s highly unlikely they will be hand selected by the Uggs Company for their winter collection.

22.12.12. Buzzard drying its wings, No5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. WSM.

Common Buzzard hanging out to dry on No 5 tank.

No 6 tank held the usual species of duck with 67 Mallard, 2 pairs Pintail, 26 Common Pochard, 5 pairs Wigeon, 4 Gadwall, 31 Tufted Duck, 22 Shoveler, 450 Common Teal and a drake Goldeneye.

16 Redshank, 1400 Lapwing and 960 Golden Plover roosting on the tank.

A Sparrowhawk took advantage of the half-light to spook a charm of 400 Goldfinches and, 12 Raven gathered together for the night on No 5 tank.

22.12.12. Starling roost on No 4tank, Frodsham Marsh. WSM.

Part of the massive Starling bait-ball over No 4 tank.

A huge gathering of 10,000 Starlings coming to roost in the trees and reedbed on No 4 tank was really impressive.

All images by WSM