Nature Notes # 24 in 3D & ED

Nature Notes # 24 in 3D & ED

No you’re not having a migraine but If you have a pair of 3D glasses they would be useful.

30.07.13. Common Stinkhorn in 3 D. Bill Morton

Watch a normal format video of it here…

30.07.13. Common Stinkhorn in 3 D. Bill Morton

Phallus impudicus (Common Stinkhorn)

Very common in late summer and throughout the autumn, this fungus first signals its presence by its foul odour, which often carries a great distance; this is one of the few fungi you hunt by smell! Nearly always connected to dead wood, it often fruits in rings around tree stumps and presents a rather weird sight, usually with large numbers of flies feeding on the slime-covered cap. It is interesting (if rather anti-social) to collect an ‘egg’ of this fungus and hatch it under a glass jar. The whole process only takes a few hours, usually during the night or early morning.

…and the ED bit is...Emerald Damselfly.

31.07.13. Emerald Damselfly, Black Lake, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton

As its name suggests the Emerald Damselfly is a member of the green family of damselflies and it is a common sight right across the whole of the United Kingdom.

30.07.13. Emerald Damselfly (male and female in mating wheel), Black Lake, delamere Forest. Bill Morton

The Emerald prefers shallow bodies of still water with plenty of tall grassy vegetation around the margins and adjoining areas. They may be found on a very wide variety of habitats including bogs, ditches, canals, ponds and lakes.

Emerald Damselfly, Black Lake, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton

It can be seen from late June through to September but is at its best in late July and early August when they are fully mature and at their most vibrant and colourful.

30.07.13. Emerald Damselfly (male), Black Lake, delamere Forest. Bill Morton

The females are all green and have a thicker abdomen than the male and have brown eyes. The males are mainly green but have blue segments on the base and tip of their abdomens. They also have striking bright blue eyes.

Emerald Damselfly, Black Lake, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton

The Emerald differs from other species in that when at rest it nearly always has its wings spread in the dragonfly type pose; where as most other damselflies tend to sit with their wings closed and parallel to their bodies.

30.07.13. Emerald Damselfly (male), Black Lake, delamere Forest. Bill Morton

All images by WSM.

Check out this site for more information on other Damselflies (

30.07.13. Birdlog

30.07.13. Birdlog

30.07.13. Wood Sandpiper, No 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.

A Little Egret flew in at dusk from the east. 3 Dunlin, singles of Common, Green and Wood Sandpiper.

One – two Marsh Harriers were noted.

Common Gulls out numbered Black-headed gulls for the first time this summer with over 200 roosting on the tank.

Again good numbers of non-breeding and breeding ducks included 10 Pochard and the bubbling Ruddy somewhere on the marsh?

Several hundred Swifts were forced to feed along the banks of the tank by the brooding thunder clouds overhead.

Observers: Don Weedon, Frank Duff, WSM (and image).

28.07.13. Birdlog

28.07.13. Birdlog

Tufted Duck (female), Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

In no particular order is Guido’s sightings from the marsh today: 4 Mute Swan, Canada Geese 100 on No 4 and No 3 tanks, Common Shelduck 400 on the River Mersey at low tide and 20 on No 6 tank. The most I have ever seen here! Mallard , Teal , Pochard and Tufted Duck 50+ in total. Pheasant 2 small chicks, Little Grebe 2, Cormorant 1, Grey Heron 2, Marsh Harrier Male with 2 juvenile birds? Common Buzzard 2, and Sparrowhawk 1 male noted ( other birders saw a Hobby take a swallow close to the ramp before No 6 tank, Peregrine 1 over the Ineos Chlor plant.

Moorhen 1 at small pool on No 3, Coot 4 + chicks, Ringed Plover 10 on No 6 came with the Dunlin and then left. Lapwing 30 +,Knot 1 on No 6 showing fading brick-red belly, Dunlin 200 on No 6 and a Green Sandpiper on track south of tank. Redshank 2 flying over the Score, Black-tailed Godwit max of 44 on No 6, Curlew 200 + on the River Mersey, Snipe 2 over No 4.

Black-headed Gull 20 + and 2 juveniles, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-Backed Gull 10 on No 6, Great Black-Backed Gull 6 on No 6, Stock Dove 2, Wood Pigeon, Swift ( many over the Score and the track to No 6), Skylark 2 on No 6, Sand Martin 2 at Marsh Farm and Meadow Pipit 2 Lordship Marsh, Grey Wagtail 1 female Holpool Gutter chasing Buzzard !!

Sedge warbler 3 ( still singing ), Reed Warbler on No 6, Magpie 10 +, Carrion Crow 12 +, Raven 1-2 on the Score, Starling 30 +, Linnet 6 +. Goldfinch 10.
An  excellent day but sadly no Mongolian Sand Plover !!!

Ciao Guido D’Isidoro

Quite an exhaustive list by Guido.

Frank Duff also noted some of the above and added male Ruddy Duck, 200 Swift and hirundines and 2 Common Sandpiper.

Image: WSM.

27.07.13. Birdlog

27.07.13. Birdlog


A Green Sandpiper, Turnstone and Dunlin on No 6 tank.

Observer: Frank Duff.

Across the marsh at the Weaver Bend were 4 Oystercatcher, 60 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Whimbrel, 20 Redshank, 4 Common Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin, 2 Ringed and Little Ringed Plover.

The female Marsh Harrier was mobbed by a Buzzard over the river and continued on her way west and a pair of Raven were cronking loudly nearby.

Passage of Swallows moving south east with a flock of 150 plus hundreds of Swifts feeding over Weston Point/Weaver estuary.

Observer: WSM.

Additionally No 6 tank still attracted some of the more commoner species with Tufted Duck, Shelduck and Canada Geese being evident.

Observers: Harley and Heather Wilde, Shaun Hickey and Keith

Image: Heather Wilde.

Nature Notes #23

.25.07.13. Green-veined White, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton27.07.13. Butterfly path south of ICI tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton25.07.13. Comma, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton
The Summer of the Butterfly Boom 
27.07.13. Cinnabar Moth, ICI tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton
Birders visiting the marsh all made comment on the profusion of butterflies out and about today. The rising temperatures (my car read 36 degrees at 16.45) in the calderon that is the marsh attracted a bloom of these winged painted palettes. Notable was the Gatekeeper (I countered 300 along the track south of the I.C.I tank) with reduced numbers of Small Tortoiseshell, and Meadow Brown following up behind. Large, Small, Green-veined Whites. Peacock, Comma, Red Admiral, Large Skipper and Six-spot Burnet Moth adding to the colour swash.
Probably the best spot to get close photographs is along the Ragwort covered track south side of the I.C.I tank (access from Ship Street, Frodsham).

25.07.13. Birdlog

25.07.13. Birdlog 25.07.13. Common Tern, Weaver Bend, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton. After work I made it down to the Weaver Bend and estuary to look for a potential Red-breasted Merganser. Unfortunately despite an extensive search I came up with a blank. 25.07.13. Tufted Duck and brood, Weaver Bend, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton. However a cracking selection of ducks and waders made the effort worthwhile. There were at least five large creches of shelducklings and c5 broods of Tufted Ducks with one brood of 16. 3 pairs of Little Grebe had juveniles in tow and 12 Great crested Grebes including juvenile birds. Follow link to see short video-  25 July 2013 22:07 25.07.13. Tufted Duck female with duckling, Weaver Bend, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton. Highlights was 2 very mobile and eventually photogenic Common Tern and an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the Weaver estuary and bend. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A male Marsh Harrier was over the Weaver Bend and the Peregrine was sentinel like on the blue-topped chimney (opposite image). On the wader front were 6 Oystercatcher, 10 Common Sandpiper, 21 Redshank and 67 Black-tailed Godwit. Observer and images: WSM

24.07.13. Birdlog

Birding Frodsham Marsh (Warts and All)

17.07.13. Lapwing (juvenile), No 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh

When you do the whole marsh and see only 3 Magpies its time for a couple of cold beers ! Nonetheless I braved the 29 degrees midday heat and managed to see/hear the usual finches and warblers and a few Reed Bunting, but only two Lapwing, two Raven, one Buzzard, two Greylag Geese, three Pied Wagtail one Kestrel and one Sparrowhawk. Lots of Swallows and many Swift particularly over Frodsham Score.

The large flock of Canada Geese has moved to the other side of the Mersey with several hundred lining the bank on the North side . Adult with young Coot, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck and two creches of Shelduck chicks.

Ciao Guido D’Isidoro.

Birding Frodsham Marsh (A Day of Two Halves)

Nigel and I had an amazing evening on the Marsh tonight. We spotted the male Marsh Harrier looking in the sort of state you’d expect trying to keep up with the toing and froing!
24.07.13. Ruddy Duck pair, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde
50 Shelduck (including 2 big broods of chicks), 25 Cormorant, 50 Tufted Duck, 4 Mute Swan,  single Black-tailed Godwit and Lapwing, 500+ gulls of varying types mostly Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed. The Ruddy Duck pair keeping a low profile away from the main action. 

24.07.13. Ruddy Duck, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde
Plenty of hirundines and Swift about over the marsh and at Lordship Lane were 15 House Sparrows, 25 Goldfinch, 2 Reed Bunting, Ravens, and a really stunning Linnet (pictured below).
Observers: Nigel and Heather Wilde
24.07.13. Linnet, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde.

The Big Twitch on the Big Ditch by James Walsh

The Big Twitch on the Big Ditch – Eastham Locks to Salford Docks

The Inaugural Manchester Ship Canal

Bird Race 24.05.13

James Walsh, Shaun Hargreaves, Steve Burke

The Team – James Walsh, Shaun Hargreaves and Steve Burke

Salford 1

Eastham Locks – where the Manchester Ship Canal meets the River Mersey

Salford 2

Sign at Salford Docklands 100 year Anniversary Walkway (1894-1994) 

Salford 3

Manchester Ship Canal Coat of Arms

 Salford 4

The Manchester Ship Canal, also known as “The Big Ditch”

Moore, Moore, Moore

Moore NR signMoore NR signMoore NR sign

We arrived at Moore Nature Reserve at 04.30 hrs with the aim of the day, to record as many species as possible at sites along the Manchester Ship Canal. The first birds of the day were a singing Yellowhammer, Grey Partridge, a dashing Hobby, plus around the woods, lakes & reeds – Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Jay, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting & Greylag Goose.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (ringed)

Merlin Magic

Frodsham Marsh was next up and a Marsh Harrier quartered the reeds, another Hobby & Raven flew through, whilst a big surprise was a male Merlin!

Eyes on the Prize

Thanks to the wonderful chaps @ Woolston, we gained access to this superb reserve, scoring Black-necked Grebes, Pochard & yet another Hobby!

 Salford 5 Hobby at Frodsham, one of 3 birds seen during the MSC bird race (Steve Burke)

 Mersey Parade

The river splashed on the rocks @ Eastham Locks, with very strong winds making birding difficult but a cruising Peregrine, Great Black-backed Gull &  Linnet were additions to the days total.

24.05.13. Red-legged Partridge, No 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. James Walsh.

One of two Red-legged Partridge on the north track by No 6 tank

Avocet, No 6 tank, Spring, Frodsham Marsh. James Walsh.

Pair of Avocet on Frodsham Marsh (James Walsh)

Frodsham (again) Red-legged Partridge on the number 6 track, Curlews & Wheatear at Marsh Farm, Grasshopper Warbler near the River Weaver and a bonus pair of Avocet on Number 6 tank, and later, relocated on Frodsham Score. This bird is the symbol of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and a story of nationwide, and regional, conservation success.

Party Time

At Salford Docks a Kingfisher zoomed along the Manchester Ship Canal, whilst at North Wharf the only “birds” (excuse the pun times 50) were the ones dancing around on Captain Salts Party Boat, and the flashing lights and booming house music emitting from the Princess Katherine seemed an appropriately surreal way to round off an educational day of 80 species.

James Walsh

Thanks to Frodsham Marsh Birdblog (, Woolston Eyes (

James Walsh

Running Wilde

Running Wilde

Heather Wilde

One of my favourite quotes is by a certain David Attenborough:

When people ask me, “How did you get interested in animals and nature?” I reply, “How on Earth did you lose your interest in animals and nature?

All children are naturally curious about wildlife and nature, and it’s so important to nurture this interest in the early years. So many people talk about how interested in nature they were as a child, but then as they get older other priorities can take over. I think a “scientific model” (based on my own experience) paints a clearer picture of this:


But on a positive, and as the model shows, most of the people I speak to who had that engagement with nature as a child, rediscover the pleasure and rewards of spending time in the great outdoors later in life. My fear is though, if we are not investing time engaging our children with the natural world, then there is less chance of them coming back to it later in life.

I actually lived in Frodsham for 5 years, but this was during the 15-20 stage (see scientific model!), so sadly I wasn’t even aware of the existence of Frodsham Marsh (I did however discover the joys of the Mersey View and engaged in a very different sort of wildlife)!

Early thirties hit and I was completely grounded by the arrival of two-time consuming babies, but this sparked the start of the “what is really important in life” considerations. Seeing the world through their eyes, and being influenced by their infectious enthusiasm for nature on a daily basis, rekindled the love of the natural world I had in my early years.

01.12.13. The Wilde Bunch, No 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. WSM (2)

Findlay (link to has developed such a strong affinity with nature, but in particular birds. He has us out in all-weather to all locations and this is how we discovered the hidden gem that is Frodsham Marsh.

30.05.13. Whitethroat, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde.

It’s amazing how one simple, but beautiful experience can leave a mark on you. On the 12th May (link to )  this year it was a cold, wet seemingly miserable day, but we decided to visit the Marsh anyway. To be honest there wasn’t much about so we parked up beside No 6 tank and decided to brave the rain for a few minutes. Well that few minutes turned into nearly an hour standing in the rain with a group of about 50 Swifts swooping and diving in between us. I don’t really do gushy, but it was the most magical experience, they flew so close that you almost felt that you were flying with them.

27.04.13. Whitethroat Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde

Photographing the Marsh, and photography in general is a very recent journey that I have embarked on. Myself, Findlay (add link ) and Harley ( ) all approach photography from very different angles. For Findlay it is all about getting those record shots to go with his written notes on the birds he sees.

Harley has a keen interest in nature, but not the obsession that Findlay has.  Trying to balance the needs of two very different children was becoming a challenge, but photography has opened up a whole new world for Harley. Whilst Finn is happy to just observe (and launch a barrage of questions at Bill), Harley can be found crawling through the undergrowth, viewing the marsh through a lens.

Sedge Warbler (singing in the rain), Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde.

My own approach to photographing the Marsh is simply about trying to capture a moment. It doesn’t have to be perfect (which is just as well as it never is), but it does have to stir some emotion deep within. The marsh has so many contrasting image opportunities, from the stark openness of tank 6 to the hidden corners where wildlife and nature go about their business, getting the balance of life just right.

29.05.13. Dunnock Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde.

I often get asked how we find the time to fit “all this nature stuff” in; well if you look at the state of the washing pile and the dust gathering on the vacuum, there’s a few clues there! But seriously, for us nature is not a “nice to have experience” it is at the core of how we bond as a family. It is an integral part of our family life and we all take something slightly different (but equally special) from it.

Heather Wilde (Head Honcho of the Wilde Bunch)

22.07.13. Birdlog

22.07.13. Birdlog

22.07.13. Common Snipe, No 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.

The highlight was a splendid Little Grebe pair with one of the adults having a snooze whilst carrying chicks and a damselfly perched on its back. 21 Cormorant, 6 Mute Swan, 20 Common Pochard, 121 Tufted Duck, 10 Gadwall and a male Ruddy Duck.

22.07.13. Snipe, No 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.

163 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Little Ringed and 6 Common Ringed Plover, a single Common Sandpiper, 4 Common Snipe.

A male Marsh Harrier was again present.

240 Common Swift and 4 Raven on and over the recently mowed No 3 tank and a fly over Yellow Wagtail was noted. Several juvenile Sedge Warbler were active in the reed bed on No 6 tank and occasionally bothering the roosting Snipes there.

If there is a decline in butterfly numbers then Frodsham Marsh is presently having a boom time with Small Tortoiseshell and Gatekeeper being everywhere along the banks of No 6 tank.

Observer and images: WSM.

Additionally Paul Crawley managed to find a Cuckoo on No 4 tank and 2 Yellow Wagtails on Lordship Marsh.

Nature Notes #22

20.07.13. Butterfly bank, No 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton. copy 20.07.13. Small Tortoiseshell, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde. copy 20.07.13. Gatekeeper, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde.A Wide selection of bugs about today along the butterfly banks of No 6 tank. A profusion of Burdock, Spear Thistles, Ragwort etc encouraged by the warm weather brought out the goodies. Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small and Large Whites and Large Skippers.

Images above: Gatekeeper the butterfly bank and a Small Tortoiseshell

20.07.13. Horsefly, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.

The marsh in summer isn’t complete without a flesh wound by the ever present Horseflies. The best way to treat this problem is to let them land on you before taking defensive action. A swift swat usually does the trick.

 20.07.13. Cinnar Moth Caterpillars, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.   Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars (Tiger Tails) feeding on Oxford Ragwort flower. 20,07,13, Blue-tailed Damselfly, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.Blue-tailed Damselfly is a fairly common species about during these months and are very approachable.

20.07.13. Terellia tussilaginis Gall Fly. Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.

A male Gall fly (Terellia tussilaginis) protects the newly emerging Burdock flower from other males to eventually attract in a female.

20.07.13. Water Vole, Frodsham Marsh

A Water Vole gave Paul the opportunity to capture this image today.

Images: Heather Wilde, Paul Ralston and Nature Notes #22.