18.03.13. Birdlog

18.03.13. Birdlog (300th posting).

1 White & 2 Pied Wagtail at Marsh Farm; 4 Chiffchaff in copse adjacent to car park above tthe fields by Redwall Reedbed with another along Lordship Lane; 12 Goldeneye on Weaver Bend, 2 Fieldfare in fields along Brook Furlong Lane; 168 Golden Plover on No 5 tank; usual ducks with small number of Dunlin, 2 Redshank & Lapwing. 53 species for the afternoon.

Observer: Peter Twist

18.03.13. Cormorants on No 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

An after work sortie along the northern banks of No 6 tank until dusk saw 36 Cormorants coming to roost. The Grey Heron was lying low down in her nest. 214 Common Teal, 26 Shoveler, 19 Tufted Duck and 3 Wigeon were noted.

A male Hen Harrier was hunting the reed beds here and presumably the same bird was sparring with the sub adult male  Hen Harrier over No 4 tank. A female Sparrowhawk dashed through and 26 Ravens were present on and over No 5 tank.

The Canal Pools had 26 Coot feeding along the banks there.

No 5 tank increased its Golden Plovers from earlier in the day from 168 to c300 birds.

Observer: WSM

16.03.13. Birdlog

16.03.13. Birdlog

16.03.13. Raven mobbing Buzzard. Paul Crawley

A perennial battle between two old adversaries  figthing it out above the skies of Frodsham Marsh. Image by Paul Crawley

16.03.13. Guttonus Gulls eating Mutton, Frodsham Score. Bill Morton

Frodsham Score: 3 Little Egret, 67 Pink-footed Goose, 560 Canada Goose, 120 Common Shelduck, 345 Wigeon, 30 Cormorant, 5 Grey Heron, 6 Mute Swan, 12 Oystercatcher, 1 Grey Plover, 4 Redshank, and 340 Dunlin. A flock of 600 Starlings flew over to settle on the salt marsh.

Image of gluttonous gulls gulping down dead mutton.

Manchester Ship Canal: 12 Tufted Duck, also 12  on the Pumping Station/Splashing Pool and an additional 14 on the Canal pools. 3 pairs of Gadwall on pools below No 4 tank.

16.03.13. Rake Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Image from the junction of Rake Lane with Lordship Lane which leads to the recent Long-eared Owl sighting (distant trees) by Stuart Maddocks.

36 Black-tailed Godwit, 230 Curlew and a Little Egret on flooded fields west side of No 4 tank. A singing Chiffchaff by Rake Lane and calling birds on Lordship Lane and below No 5 tank. The first Coltsfoot in flower by the model aircraft flying field and 60 Golden Plovers flying over.

The Peregrine was sitting sentinel aloft the blue-topped chimney at Weston Point.

No 6 tank: 360 Common Teal, 36 Common Wigeon, 12 Mallard, 3 pairs Shoveler, 26 Shelduck and 19 Tufted Duck and 4 Common Pochard. Shorebirds featured 6 Dunlin and 17 disputing Ringed Plovers.

Observer: WSM

The usual Ravens loitering with intent on No 5 tank and a Water Rail calling below the viewing area on No 6 tank.

A couple of Brambling were along Lordship Lane.

Observers: Arthur Harrison, Paul Crawley.

WeBS March Count Highlights

14.03.13. Weaver Bend. Bill Morton.

Enclosed details of Sunday’s count from the Mersey Estuary . Thanks to those that braved the cold weather.

Although the weather might not seem like it, Spring is in the air and our count shows many species are on the move. The swans seem to have left the estuary but there are still some Whooper Swan in the fields near the M56 at Frodsham Marsh. Our Barnacle Geese have disappeared and the Canada Geese have shrunk dramatically. Shelduck are still in good numbers while Teal, Wigeon, Pintail and Mallard numbers as you would expect have dropped significantly. We still have at least one Great White Egret which was at Hale Marsh (sorry Toni and Ray Sherlock). Oystercatcher numbers are holding up as are Grey Plover with the highest count this winter, the Golden Plover are in good numbers, but Lapwing in very small numbers compared to last month. Dunlin numbers have dropped as they usually do in March, but Curlew and Redshank are still in good numbers. The Black-tailed Godwits were again impressive with 2,000 in Manisty Bay. Good to see the first Avocet of the year, the first summer visitor? Still some raptors and Ian had a male Hen Harrier fly right in front of him.

The next duck Count is April 14th, meeting at 11am at Stanlow let me know if you come. It is a very low high tide, so places along the north shore and New Ferry might not get covered and so hang onto some good numbers. The will be plenty of migrants about then so keep your eyes peeled. In April 1999 there was a Terek Sandpiper at Frodsham Marsh that used the Mersey Estuary and then in May that year a Broad-billed Sandpiper also turned up, though neither was seen on a WeBS count.

We said we would have a Spring meeting. That is now confirmed. Thursday 18th April Wigg Island, Runcorn at 6.30 until 8.30. Let me know if you are coming so I can get enough biscuits, or just turn up.

Contact Dermot for further details on dermot.smith71@googlemail.com; if you fancy coming along to the counts. We might even get some gull watching in as they fly passed Wigg Island before the meeting?

Draft agenda: Review of the Winter, Summary of who counts where, how we drum up more counters and where do we deploy them, Relationships with the farmer and wildfowlers, Slide show, bring your own local bird and wildlife photos on a memory stick and we can all have a look at what people have seen.

Dermot Smith (WeBS co-ordinator)

14.03.13. Birdlog

14.03.13. Birdlog

Pretty quiet on No.6 tank (not a single wader present) but 425 Golden Plover were on No.5 tank. Walking along the west side of No.4 tank to view the Frodsham Score, I flushed 2 separate Green Sandpipers from the Holpool gutter. On Frodsham Score itself were 1 Great White Egret, 5 Little Egret, 51 Pink-footed Geese, 760 Canada Geese and 482 Shelduck.

Observer: Greg Baker.

IMG_1421 copy14.03.14 Hen Harrier, Frodsham Marsh. Colin Butler

I came onto the Marsh from Matty Lane and as soon as I drove over the motorway the male Harrier was hunting over the farmers fields, I went to take some photos from the road that runs parallel to the beds when it flew over my head, managed to get a shot through the windscreen. Had a quick drive round, didn’t have much time the only thing of note were some Brambling and an obliging Buzzard.
Observer: Colin Butler.
An after work walk around I.C.I tank and I flushed out 4 Common Snipe from the flooded field below the tank. Further along and below the Bailey Bridge were 14 Goldeneye some of which flew around to the ‘bend”. When I eventually got there the males were giving it all to the attendant females, all head tossing and puffing up their chests. 6 Little Grebe, 74 Common Teal and 12 Tufted Duck were some compensation for the effort.
Observer: WSM
14.03.13. Hedgerow destruction at the Lum. Bill Morton
An entire length of two Hawthorn hedgerows bordering two fields at the Lum have been chain-sawed to ‘improve’ the area. I must be missing something maybe they are doing a worthwhile job and improving the habitat for the benefit of all the wildlife that utilised the hedgerows before they creatively removed it. There are obvious consequences to this action but I’m sure there is a logical explanation for this “conservation” work? More Pheasants perhaps?

13.03.13. Birdlog

13.03.13. Hale Lighthouse at sunset. Bill Morton

Sunset over Hale lighthouse this evening. Images by WSM

13.03.13. Snow storm edging from the east over Hale Head. Bill Morton

A snow storm edging in from the east over Hale Head this evening.

13.03.13. Birdlog

40 Mute Swan in field by Rake Lane with 50 Curlew but no Whooper Swans. 2 Green Sandpiper flushed out of Holpool Gutter to the west of No.4 tank plus 3 Little Egret in fields west of the gutter. On Frodsham Score were 60 Pink-footed Goose,1 Barnacle,1 Greylag, 3000+ Dunlin and 30 Grey Plover.

Lordship Marsh: 5 Brambling with large Chaffinch flock,12 Fieldfare, 2 Jay. 65 Black-tailed Godwit roosting on No.6 tank.

Observer: Brian Rimmer

A Woodcock over Rake Lane was notable.

Observer: Guido D’Isidoro

The (sub-adult male) Hen Harrier and 6 Common Buzzard were over No 6 tank, where a Water Rail was calling and nearby 12 Ravens were about.

Observers: Arthur Harrison and Colin Butler

13.03.13.  female Stonechat, Frodsham Marsh. Colin Butler

A Chiffchaff and immature male Stonechat were along the track south of No 4 tank.

Observer and image: Colin Butler

11.03.13. A Day to Celebrate in Many Ways by Stuart Maddocks

11.03.13. A Day to Celebrate in Many Ways by Stuart Maddocks

Stuart Maddocks by Michael King

It was 2 pm when I left the hospital after my appointment. I had some encouraging news even though I needed to go for another scan. The main man with his plan was happy with my progress.

Being on a natural high after my news I got home and immediately reached for my trusty Nikon camera. The sun was shining and it would be a shame to waste the precious light that today was promising. I made a decision and as it happened it would be a decision that would stay with me for a very long time and see Spring turn back to Winter!

Waxwings were my first thought after hearing about a flock at the M56 service station near Helsby. To take a photograph of Waxwings against the blue sky would be a fantastic idea so off I went with  good prospects ahead. Unfortunately my good plan and spirits soon dwindled with empty trees and no Waxwings for me to point my camera at. I left empty-handed but still confident I headed for the marshes.
11.03.13. Curlew, Lordship Marsh, Frodsham Marsh
I have recently been using the pot-holed track from Ince to access the marsh. Close to the marsh access point is often a large flock of Curlew by the pig farm and their evocative calls are a firm favourite of mine. I wasn’t to be disappointed and sure enough the Curlews were there and I snapped away happily with the haunting calls echoing all around me.
The distant sky was laden gun-metal grey and snow had been forecast since last night. I went down the bumpy track with a male Hen Harrier upper most in my mind (a bird I was fortunate to capture on my camera recently). I reached Rake Lane where the Whooper Swans have been showing but alas only the Mutes were present. Never mind, I thought and wound up my ‘chuggabug’ car and set off down an even deeper and more bumpier part of the track.
Eventually, I reached the halfway point along Lordship Lane to what I call the ‘crossroads’. A large flock of what looked like Chaffinch were zooming in and out of the field to the rear of the model aircraft hut. This is always a good place to sit off and wait a while. I have seen Sparrowhawks hunting along the hedges here on many occassions. I waited, and sure enough soon the finch flock were spooked by a large grey shape. I chuckled and grinned to myself, it was the male Hen Harrier out for his dinner served in the shape of finch and lark buffet.
11.03.13. Brambling, Lordship Marsh, Frodsham Marsh. Stuart Maddocks (5)
11.03.13.  Lordship Marsh junction in blizzard, Frodsham Marsh
The beautiful afternoon sun had now been replaced by heavy dark clouds and the wind had picked up ten fold. Suddenly the snow was falling heavily whipped into a frenzy with a terrified finch frantically pursued by the harrier on its tail. Three times the harrier attempted to catch the agile finch but each time he just missed out. I could see how pale he looked against the  snow storm, his yellow eyes and talons catching the remnant light. Eventually the finch won the day and the raptor soon tired and a pair of crows made sure his pride was further dented scolding and chasing him onto No 6 tank. Peace soon returned and the finches relaxed and tweeted in glee at their short victory. I noticed a paler finch amongst the flock and took a photo. The snow was still falling heavily but I could see how yellowish the bird’s flanks were… was this my first Brambling?
11.03.13. Hen Harrier (sub-adult male), Lordship Marsh, Frodsham Marsh. Stuart Maddocks (8)
An atmospheric glimpse of the Hen Harrier emerging ghost like from the snow storm to spook a mixed finch and skylark flock from the stubble field on Lordship Marsh.11.03.13. Hen Harrier (sub-adult male), Lordship Marsh, Frodsham Marsh. Stuart Maddocks (2)

…and just incase you missed it on the first image.

The snow really was falling heavily now and the M56 motorway and it’s cars had disappeared hidden by the snow storm – it was time for me to go. The ‘chuggabug’ is certainly no 4 x 4 and the track is fairly muddy at the best of times but coupled with snow it was squeaky bum time. Off I trundled glowing with pride at my new spots.

11.03.13. Lordship Marsh in blizzard, Frodsham Marsh. Stuart Maddocks (2)

The track turned out to be lethal and twice I nearly put the van in a ditch. When I eventually  reached the old UKF plant the road got better. I wasn’t hanging about as the sky was threatening and turning black and full of snow, I really needed to get a move on if I was going to get off the marsh safely. Just as I had entered a very tight bend along a stretch of the lane, a large brown shape rose and flew 30 yards in front of my headlamps… OWL! I exclaimed slamming on the brakes. I was in luck for the bird was intent on catching a bunting or two for its supper. The large brown shape landed and I let rip with my camera a little in fear that the bird would fly off even though I was confident my luck would holdout. Sure enough after 10 seconds of me making clicking noises with my camera the owl cut it’s loses. The bird took off and flew into the industrial gloom and out of sight. I took a breath and was sure I had just seen my first Long-eared Owl? I would need clarification but I was confident that the two tufts were a very promising feature for it.

11.03.13.Long-eared Owl west of No 4 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Stuart Maddocks (2)
 I jumped back in the van with a massive smirk spread across my chops and drove off down the snow-covered lane bouncing and buzzing all along the track. Not a wasted day but a day to celebrate in many ways.
I sent BIll and my good birding mate Mike King the images and they soon confirmed my suspicions and like a happy striker I punched the air with glee. 47 years and 7 Christmases had come all at once on the marshes.
All images by Stuart Maddocks.
Spring is typically the time to find a Long-eared Owl on the marsh and invariably they are found sitting on the outside of a Hawthorn or Elder bush by a reedbed. Eds

09.03.13. Birdlog WeBS Count

09.03.13. Birdlog WeBS Count

10 Cormorant, 16 Common Pochard, Pintail (male & female) , 31 Tufted Duck, 26 Common Shelduck 13 Wigeon, 43 Mallard, 350 Common Teal, 1 Avocet, 34 Dunlin, 12 Ringed Plover (2 pairs in display) and two pairs of Water Rail calling from the reeds.

Observers: Frank Duff, WSM.

A Chiffchaff on the western banks of No 5 tank. The Raven total is increasing with c 30 birds present on both No 5 tank and the score.

09.03.13. Spring Lambs and Golden Plovers. Bill Morton.

500 Golden Plovers included 4 birds acquiring summer plumage.

2 Oystercatcher and 14 Tufted Duck at the Pumping Station pool. A 2nd summer male Marsh Harrier flew over then moved off to No 4 tank soon after.

Frodsham Score: 4 Little Egret, 70 Pink-footed Goose, 560 Canada Goose, 400 Wigeon, 120 Common Shelduck.

Observer: WSM.

08.03.13. Birdlog

08.03.13. Birdlog

20 Whooper Swan remain in the field by Rake Lane with 35 Mutes and 5 Greylag Goose.

A Green Sandpiper from the Holpool gutter west-side No 4 tank,also two flocks containing 80 Linnet and 50 Goldfinch.

Frodsham Score was a bit quiet probably due to low water and no egrets but 35 Pink-feet Goose and 1 Barnacle with the Canada’s and the usual showing of Ravens..

No.6 tank: 300+ Teal,12 Wigeon, 25 Tufted Duck, 6 Pochard, 7 Shoveler, 1 Gadwall.

Observer: Brian Rimmer

Falco subbuteo by Frank Whitney

07.06.12. Falco subbuteo by Frank Whitney

Hobby (Falco subbuteo), Frodsham Marsh, 7th June 2012..

Frank Whitney’s selection of images below from a remarkable event that occurred for him and his birding mate Graham last summer. Hobby sightings over the years have increasingly become a regular addition to the summer scene on the marsh and last year was no exception. But unlike previous years they have never been so bold and have provided several birders with some really good photographs. Frank was at the right place at the right time to not only witness the interaction between two sub-adult Hobbies with a recently captured Swift but to get so close to get these pictures. Below is Frank’s account of the observation.

Hobby (Falco subbuteo), Frodsham Marsh, 7th June 2012. Large size, Frank Whitney..Hobby (Falco subbuteo), Frodsham Marsh, 7th June 2012

Hobbies at Frodsham Marsh Frank Whitney, June 2012





Hobby (Falco subbuteo), Frodsham Marsh, 7th June 2012...

While searching for the Ring-necked Duck , after a fruitless search with the darkening skies we decided to give up the search and made our way from the Weaver Bend back to the tanks when we spotted what appeared to be a plastic bag flapping in the breeze, we quickly realised that it was a bird of prey and even better that it was not one, but two birds. It was quite dark by this time but I tried to take some pictures through the window , this didn’t seem to disturb them so I got out of the passenger side while my mate Graham drove slowly towards the two birds but they were so intent on their prey that they gave me only a cursory glance and eventually I was stood about 3 feet from one of them and had to leave it still sat with its lunch , probably a Swift ,one of the highlights of the whole year.

Frank Whitney