A Teal of Two Halves

23.11.13. Common Teal, No 6 tank. Bill Morton

On Saturday 23rd November I was walking back to my car after a fruitful bird watch from Frodsham Score. I decided to have one last scan through the Teal flock on No. 6 tank. My attention was drawn to a drake Teal with an obvious vertical fore-flanked stripe. My immediate reaction was that it was a Green-winged Teal but I was a little concern and cautious something wasn’t quite right?

I telephoned Frank Duff and said that I was fairly sure that I had a Green-winged Teal but needed to get better views. I was watching the bird from roughly 1/4 mile away and fired off a series of images on my hand to scope digi-camera (only one was worthy of a record shot and is centre right in the image above). I needed to get off the bank and walk east along the track to get better views, during this walk the teal flock would be out of sight until I managed to get to the viewing area. When I eventually got to the spot to see the Teal flock, I could not relocate the bird? There was no obvious flight of duck from the tank as they usually relocate to a secluded pool if disturbed and I would have seen them fly in from the track I was on. I was flummoxed by the assumed GWT not being present. Then my initial doubt resurfaced and I phoned Frank again to say “correction, no need to come down to the marsh after all”.

I guess that the camera can lie and from the distance I was at and the angle of the Teal it appears now to be a Common Teal displaying a combination of odd light/angle and edge of paler breast colouration appearing as a fore-flank stripe (this latter feature appears cream coloured on the picture and is much broader than it would be on a real Green-winged).

I had been watching/counting the Teal flock on the marsh all autumn and having previously found three drake (one pictured above) Green-winged Teal on the marsh in years gone by, I was hoping to add to the collection. Alas it was not to be a fourth…any comments welcome. Images below show a ‘proper’ Green-winged Teal nearly 10 years ago.

Green-winged and European Teal, No6 tank, Frodsham Marsh, 23rd April 2004, 2

The above image shows well the fore-flank stripe on the GWT (upper bird) and the obvious vertical upper flank stripe on a Common Teal.

I sent the image to Tony Broome and Frank and they equally concurred with my initial cautiousness. It’s not the first time I’ve sent them images of odd-looking ducks and asked them to make a comment (and probably not the last).

Below images of a Frodsham Marsh GWT. All images by WSM.

Green-winged Teal, No6 tank, Frodsham Marsh, 23rd April 2004...

Green-winged Teal, No6 tank, Frodsham Marsh, 23rd April 2004

Green-winged Teal, No6 tank, Frodsham Marsh, 23rd April 2004, 8

24.11.13. Birdlog

24.11.13. Birdlog

16.02.13. Great White Egret, Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh

Nice to be back and to walk around No. 4 tank from Ince. Frodsham Score produced 17 Whooper Swan,3 Little Egret on the salt marsh and one of the Great White Egret showed distantly on Ince marshes. c200 Fieldfare along the south banks with a single Jay and a couple of Long-tailed Tit. Otherwise a bit quiet.

Observer: Brian Rimmer

23.11.13. Birdlog (500th Post)

23.11.13. Birdlog (500th Post)

23.11.13. Common Buzzard, No 5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A sunny but cold start to the morning ended up fairly mild with murky grey skies at dusk. A picture perfect Common Buzzard posed on an Elder tree on No. 5 tank surveying the rough pasture for breakfast.

23.11.13. Fieldfare, no. 4 tank, Frodsham Marsh

A flock of 400 Fieldfare loitered in the hawthorn trees scattered along the north bank of No. 4 tank late in the afternoon a handful of Redwing were also present. A mixed flock of 150 Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Greenfinch joined the thrushes.

23.11.13. Whooper Swans, Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh.

I only had my mind set on birding the Score from along the Manchester Ship Canal tow path today. My scope set up and a sweep from left to right revealed the obvious white forms of 16 Whooper Swan gathered loosely with Mutes. Two Bewick’s Swan were more selective and kept themselves to themselves further out toward the tide edge. Several hundred Canada Geese continued to attract 61 Pink-footed Goose to their margins.

On the rising tide were small numbers of Wigeon, a Green Sandpiper and hundreds of Dunlin, Golden Plover and Lapwing. The birds were gathered to roost on the grassy marsh directly across the canal from me and easily scoped on full mag. A couple of yellow beaked Twite were feeding with them and looked a bit odd as they manoeuvred through the much larger Lapwings, Dunlin and Redshanks.

23.11.13. Whooper Swans, Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh

There was no sign of any Great White’s today, 9 Little Egret made up the short fall.

A couple of Buzzard were prey mantling scraps of dead sheep from the pestering Raven which outnumbered them by ten to one. Watching over all this action was a female Merlin and a small adult Peregrine perched and sat on the distant salt marsh toward Mount Manisty.

No. 6 tank at dusk held 340 Common Teal, 1 Shoveler, 3 drake Pintail, female Wigeon, 7 Pochard and 3 calling Water Rail. 500 Lapwing gathered with Curlew and Golden Plover on No.5 tank to spend the night here.

23.11.13. Shrimp boat off Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh

23.11.13. Shrimp boat and Hale lighthouse off Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh

A shrimp boat sailing into the estuary on the incoming tide looked tiny compared to the river and expanse of salt marsh.

Observer and images: WSM

The Weaver Bend had 100 Teal, 30 Redshank and a single Black-tailed Godwit

20  Redwing flew over from field at base of No. 1 onto No. 5.

On No. 3 tank were 200 Lapwing, 20 Golden Plover and 50  Curlew.

Observer: Lee Lappin

“I had an amazing encounter on the grass path by the I.C.I tank where I stumbled across a Stoat killing a rabbit (one of the many thousands that live there), which it then dragged into the long grass and presumably had quite a satisfying meal. Something I never thought I’d see in person.”

Observer: Michael Giverin

17.11.13. Birdlog

17.11.13. Birdlog

30,000 Dunlin, 3 Great White Egret and Merlin just a few of the birds recorded by the Mersey WeBS counters on Ince marshes/Frodsham Score.

Read more about Mike’s and Shaun’s day counting crows ducks on the Mersey WeBS count. http://mikebuckleybirding.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/wetland-estuary-bird-survey-webs-sunday.html?m=1

16.11.13. Birdlog (WeBS Count)

16.11.13. Birdlog (WeBS Count)

16.11.13. Stonechat, Redwall reedbed, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Sandwiched between the modal aircraft flyers to the south, syndicate pheasant shooters to the north and hovercraft riders to the east, the marsh was lacking a little solitude today. It was no surprise the waterfowl and waders on No 6 tank were below what’s normal for this time of year: 46 Common Shelduck, 475 Common Teal, 9 Common Pochard, 4 Tufted Duck and 2 Mallard made up the waterfowl count.

16.11.13 Wader roost, No 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh

Waders roosting for the tide included a single Redshank, 67 Black-tailed Godwit, 547 Dunlin, 200 Golden Plover and 240 Lapwing.

16.11.13. Kestrel. N0 5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

While the Weaver estuary was having a temporary rest bite from the syndicate pheasant shooters who were blasting away nearby earlier. I managed a count there including 12 Little Grebe, 54 Redshank, 54 Lapwing, 24 Coot, 3 Goldeneye, 18 Tufted Duck and a single female Wigeon of which just about made the walk out to the river worthwhile.

16.11.13. Peregrine and prey on top of the blue-topped chimney. Bill Morton.

A 1st winter female Stonechat hanging about Redwall reedbed was quite photogenic and a Peregrine on the top of the blue chimney at Weston Point was observed enjoying a prey item.

16.11.13. Stonechat, Redwall reedbed, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Small flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare shared the hedgerows with a roving Long-tailed, Blue Tit flock with a Goldcrest in tow along Brook Furlong Lane.

Observer and images: WSM

10.11.13. Birdlog

10.11.13. Birdlog

10.11.13. Common Snipe, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley

A solitary Black-tailed Godwit, 150 Golden Plover and 40 Snipe in two parties flying around No. 6 tank.  A Water Rail showing in the open on the little pool on 6 and a female Merlin was the first sighting of the Autumn.
Paul Crawley
Pete then got his car stuck when turning around and Chris the farmer kindly brought a tractor around to pull him out.
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Observers: Paul Crawley, Rick and Pete Nicholls.

09.11.13. Birdlog

09.11.13. Birdlog

09.11.13. Great White Egret, Frodsham Score. Bill Morton

A sunny morning turned into a sunny afternoon on Frodsham Score and a sunny delight of egrets entertained out on the isolated salt marsh. The Great White Egret eventually put in a show joining c 7 Little Egret (hard to determine numbers due to birds popping in and out of the tidal gutters) for a couple of hours on the rising tide. Also present were 34 Pink-footed Goose, 9 Whooper Swan and 600 Wigeon settled along the edge of the score prior to the tide.

09.11.13. great White Egret, Frodsham Score. Bill Morton.

The first Autumn ground frost this morning  along the shadowed areas of No 5 tank, did not deter the 100 or so Golden Plover (with 200 Lapwing) on the tank there. Meanwhile, on the score waders were fairly low-key. 2,000 Dunlin and 300 Golden Plover in flight were only visible when disturbed by an unseen threat.

Walking along a track I flushed a Water Rail from No. 4 tank. A gathering of 70 Carrion Crow in trees on the tank were tolerating several Raven in their midst until they felt uncomfortable enough and mobbed them out.

No 6. tank was almost devoid of any birdlife with 3 Cormorant, 16 Common Teal, 23 Common Shelduck and the female Ruddy Duck.

The highlight was a brief blast from a Cetti’s Warbler adjacant to the ‘Splashing pool/Pumping station and 25 Linnet bunched together on an Elder with 60 chattering Goldfinches. 11 Long-tailed Tits were the only other passerines on the move on four.

Observer and images/video: WSM.

The images/video featured were taken from a 1/4 mile away in heat haze and handheld hence blurriness.

07.11.13. Birdlog

07.11.13. Birdlog

07.11.13. Meadow Pipit, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.

The Weaver estuary held 3 Goldeneye plus what are presumed to be from No 6 tank 46 Tufted Duck and 4 Pochard. 10 Little and a Great Crested Grebe were really the only other waterbirds of note.

Shorebirds settled along the edge of the Weaver estuary salt marsh and included 60 Lapwing, 5 Black-tailed Godwit and 16 Redshank.

Numerous Redwing and Fieldfare were along Brook Furlong Lane and a Stonechat was calling from Redwall reed bed.

A single Great White and 3 Little Egret were on Frodsham Score with a wintering flock of c 5 Whooper Swan.

Observer and image: WSM

Nature Notes # 30 (Fungi Thingies)

(Fungi Thingies)

04.11.13. Blusher, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton.

04.11.13. Blusher, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton.Sparky and me spent sometime on a walk through the least populated place in Cheshire today and possibly our second favourite place in the county (well at least my second favourite). No obvious bird sightings apart from flocks of Siskins flying about.

Dave Stewart texted me yesterday to say he was watching a flock of Crossbills from Aston Lane, Delamere before sampling a pint or two of the dark brew at a local hostelry there. Unfortunately there was no sight or sign of any for us today.

All things fungi were on the menu plus some ‘food for free’ foraging with a heavy Sweet chestnut crop hard to ignore collecting, so the stuffing is sorted for the winter festivities.

04.11.13. Pine Bolette, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton.

04.11.13. Milkcap spp, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton.A series of fungi images with some identification requiring further study but as we say it’s a learning process and some of these thingies look very similar (I will correct if necessary).

Images from top to bottom: Blusher; Pine Bolette, Milkcap spp, Leccinum melaneum (taken in Runcorn), Collared Earth Star, and Wood Blewit (taken in Runcorn)? Helvella, Candle Snuff fungi.

All images: WSM (except last by Dave Stewart)

03.11.13. Laccinum melaeum Bolette, Woodside School. Runcorn. Bill Morton (1)

04.11.13. Collared Earth Star, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton.

10.11.13. Helvella fungi, Blakemere, Delamere Forest.10.11.13. Candle Snuff fungi, Blakemere, Delamere Forest.

1st November 2013. Wood Blewit, Rock Savage

10.11.13 Autumn colours, Dead Lake, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton

04.11.13. Birdlog (03.011.13 belated)

04.11.13. Birdlog

04.11.13. No 6 tank at dusk., Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.

Due to work commitments and the lack of evening light, I haven’t had the opportunity to birdwatch the marsh for the last seven days. It was with some eagerness that I dropped into the marsh for the last hour or so of the daylight. Bright sunshine greeted me on arrival and a compact flock of 400 Common Teal were along the flooded margins of No 6 tank. The flock was throughly scrutinised for something other than that species but alas, nothing worthy of note. Also with no sign of the reported Scaup from yesterday (per Birdguides?) I had to make do with 6 Tufted Duck, 2 male Pochard and a couple of Shoveler settling into roost with the female Ruddy Duck.

46 Common Snipe and a single Black-tailed Godwit flew in and then duly opted out and left almost immediately heading out to Frodsham Score. 200 Lapwings on No 5 tank included 56 Curlew and the odd Golden Plover.

A couple of Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk were noted hunting the tanks in the twilight but the highlight was an immature female Marsh Harrier hunting No 4 and 6 tanks at dusk. This raptor was very mobile ranging widely over No 4 and giving some reasonably close views mobbing a Buzzard and in turn being mobbed by a Raven.

A Great Spotted Woodpecker along the track above No 6 tank was presumably the same bird which has been present here for the last month.

Observer and image (of No 6 tank and works beyond): WSM.

03.11.13. 

A female Scaup was visible distantly from Weaver Bend way out at the confluence of the ship canal and the Weaver. It seemed to swim off up the ship canal out of sight.
First winter female Stonechat on No.5 viewable from the track between there and No.6.
330 Lapwings, 6 Great Black-backed Gull, 92 Curlews, 8 Little Grebe, 45 Coot. 570 Teal (500 on No.6), 42 Black-tailed Godwit (22 on No.6 over the high tide), 61 Tufted Duck were mainly on the Weaver with the Scaup. Aythya ducks seem to have largely deserted No.6- I wonder why. 4 Pochard, 250 Shelduck on No.6. c 80 Redshanks were mainly at Weaver Bend. Everything else was at No.6. c30 Linnet, 11 Shoveler, 4 Gadwall, Little Egret.

Observers: Andy Spottiswood, Phil Oddy

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