I’ve always found that Christmas Day is the best day for me to bird Frodsham Marsh. Most people would be busy or getting ready for the big food bonanza in the afternoon. I snuck away armed with a stocking full of enthusiasm and not a lot of expectation. The distant low hum of tyre on tarmac traffic on the M56 was lessened by the holiday. The silent guns were not ringing in the air and the lack of model aircraft droning in the sky above the deposit tanks made for an excellent undisturbed bird watch. I could clearly hear all the Meadow Pipit and Skylark flying overhead and the whistling Wigeon on the river.
Unfortunately the serenity extended to No. 6 tank with the lack of birds there. 100 Common Shelduck, 96 Common Teal, 20 Mallard and 3 Common Pochard were the only birds of note.
A World War Two gunning turret with a tree growing through it on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal/Frodsham Score. 50 metres further east (right) of this image was a gathering of 31 Raven sat around looking for trouble!
I decided a walk up to the corner of No. 4 tank and its views across to Frodsham Score could be potentially rewarding? This proved the right decision, 24 Mute and 19 Whooper Swan. 2 Little Egret and a flock of grass chomping Wigeon numbering 300 birds on the edge of the salt marsh. The Wigeon were eager to keep leap frogging each other to get the best of the lush grass there. Several small (100+) Dunlin flocks, Curlew and 39 Black-tailed Godwit added to the watch. Nearby a calling Chiffchaff at the north-east corner of the tank remained unseen unlike a decoration of 240 Goldfinch acting like baubles perched on the old Elder trees there.
On No. 3 tank there were c2,000 Lapwing and the Golden Plover numbers were approaching 7-900 birds. On one occasion the whole flock panic-stricken rose into the air and made for a grand spectacle. A further 1000 Lapwing were present on No. 5 tank.
The ever present pair of Peregrine were watching their festive lunches from the chimney at Weston Point below on the score, while a Merlin was presumably responsible for the plovers anxiety.
This image was taken whilst I was scanning the hill tops from the back of No. 4 tank. A group of Christmas Day friends at the trig point on Helsby Hill. They appear to be enjoying the views over the Mersey and Weaver valleys.
Observer and images: WSM