08.02.14. Birdlog

08.02.14. Birdlog

08.02.14. Wildfowlers on Frodsham Score.

Despite the cold, the wind and the rain it was a case of buttoning up the coat and grabbing the gloves for a few hours birding on the marsh. First up were the ducks on No. 6 tank and it wasn’t a surprise to see them back on the water, albeit tucked well into the shelter of the banks. 200 Common Teal, 24 Shoveler, 11 Common Pochard, 54 Tufted Duck, 56 Mallard and even the Cormorants were sheltering there.

08.02.14. Lapwing over No. 3 tank. Bill Morton

No 3 tank continued to attract the Golden Plover and Lapwing flocks but with the wind making it difficult to stand let alone keep the scope steady. 08.02.14. Canada geese off no. 1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The fields on No. 1 tank held c800 Canada Goose and a few were already paired up and squabbling before they collectively sprung up and headed off to the Weaver estuary.

The wintering Chiffchaff was again on No. 5 tank sheltering out of the chilling wind at the base of a tree.

08.02.14. Embankment on Frodsham Score. Bill Morton

19th century technology and construction meets 21st century British weather. I had a look at the land slip on the banks of Frodsham Score from Marsh Farm after Guido mentioned it on his post recently. The seemingly never-ending rain is beginning to effect the stability of these banks but there again it always has.

08.02.14. Marsh Farm, Frodsham Mars. Bill Morton

A few images for Farmer Chris at Marsh Farm. Observer and images: WSM

08.02.14. Livestock at Marsh Farm. Bill Morton

08.02.14. Livestock at Marsh Farm. Bill Morton

07.02.14. Birdlog

07.02.14. Birdlog

07.02.14. View from Pale Heights looking south-east over Eddisbury Hill Fort, across the Cheshire Plain and beyond to The Pennines. Bill Morton

A view from Pale Heights looking south-east over Eddisbury Hill Fort, across the Cheshire Plain and beyond to The Pennines.

07.02.14. Meadow Pipit, Pale Heights, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton.

An afternoon stroll through Delamere Forest is always worthwhile and there’s usually something to attract our interest not least the excellent views from Pale Heights.

A notable passage of Meadow Pipit moving through there at midday and a small over flying flock of Crossbill which didn’t linger.

An evening walk along the track above No. 6 tank on the marsh at Frodsham was rewarded with 23 Tufted Duck, 24 Shoveler, 11 Common Pochard, 84 Common Teal and 24 Cormorant. A low flying training helicopter was responsible for disturbing the plover flock on the tank with sizable numbers of Lapwing, Golden Plover and Dunlin circling around for a good half hour.

Upwards of 30 Raven on No. 5 tank were again squabbling with 4 Great Black-backed Gulls and with the corvids superior numbers they were holding their own for a change.

Observers; Sparky, WSM (all images).


06.02.14. Birdlog

06.02.14. Birdlog

Ducks and stuff on No. 6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

I called in at Frodsham late morning with the tide on the river being out. 50 Curlew were in fields south of Lordship Lane. A total of 300 Lapwing (on No. 3 and No. 6 tanks) 200 Golden Plover also on No. 6 tank. A few more Curlews in fields near the farm. A total of 500 Canada Geese on No. 3 and No. 1 tank by Marsh Farm.

A dozen Pied Wagtail, 6 Reed Buntings, a flock of 80 Redwing at the horse paddock below Marsh Lane. A total of 100 Goldfinches in various flocks around the marsh. My first lambs of the year at Marsh Farm. 3 Raven and a Fox (shh!) at Marsh Farm.

I noticed that the banks along the MSC opposite Marsh Farm had collapsed in several places, presumably because of the continuous heavy rain there. It will all be dredged up and poured into No.6 sometime in the future? The drainage ditches along the track between the pig farm and the Growhow works were in the process of being widened and deepened presumably for windfarm access?

Ciao from Guido Isidoro.

After a visit to Delamere Forest it would be remiss to leave out the old faithful so we duly parked up in Frodsham on market day and walked out along the track above No. 6 tank. The weather was dull, grey with a slight threat of rain but fortunately that held off until we were securely heading home.

06.02.14. Cormorant, No. 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Any road up, it’s all about the birds and I was surprised by the initial lack of birdlife? That was until the grey mass scattered across the tank focused into roosting Golden Plover and Lapwing. I didn’t have the inclination to count them today but an educated guess would say 450 – 500 Golden Plover and 800 Lapwing. A further distant flock of Lapwing flushed from Ince/Manisty area were in excess of 2000 birds and impressive as they were laced across the horizon.

06.02.14. Coomon Snipe, No. 6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A flock of 30 Common Snipe flew in to settle in the sedgy margins and soon melted away in the vegetation.

18 Raven gathered on No. 5 tank looked bored and ready for trouble as they sat idly on the fence posts.

06.02.14. Common Buzzard. Bill Morton

I remember in the 1970’s the only chance of seeing a Buzzard locally would be crossing the border into Wales. Today I could easily take a tramp around the marsh and get over a dozen birds, by far the commonest bird of prey here.

06.02.14. Shoveler, No. 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonNo. 6 tank still held onto a few ducks with 12 Shoveler, the drakes looking splendid in their best bib and tucker plumage. 34 Mallard, 80 Common Teal, 11 Common Pochard and 9 Tufted Duck along with 12 Cormorant made for a woeful gathering. Not everyday is the same.

Observers: Sparky, WSM (and images).

05.02.14. Birdlog

05.02.14. Birdlog

I walked around the marsh today and I saw Dunlin, Common Teal, the usual Lapwing and Golden Plover in good numbers with Common Shelduck and Raven added to the sightings. Without doubt the highlight was a Short-eared Owl on the banks of No. 6 tank by the drainage towers. I still haven’t seen a Merlin here!

Observer: Guy Groves

04.02.14. Birdlog

04.02.14. Birdlog

04.02.14. Big Sky over No. 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonA brief visit towards the end of the day and a walk along the track above No. 6 tank coincided with the evening tide and a mass of 10,000 Dunlin tightly packed in three massive roosts. Also attached with them was 34 Grey Plover, 600 Golden Plover and 1,000 Lapwing.

Eventually the waders gathered together and streamed back out to the river sketching through a beautiful inky sky

30 Cormorant roosting up for the night on the dead tree had with them a continental ‘sinensis’ form. Ducks always make up for any shortfall and a note-book entry of 100 Common Teal, 12 Common Pochard, 34 Mallard, 4 Pintail and 9 Tufted Duck was duly made. Both a Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were about to add a passing interest. Looking further west over No. 4 tank revealed the Marsh Harrier coming into roost and quartering the reed beds there.

Observers: Sparky, WSM (and images).

A Back Stage Pass!

A Back Stage Pass! Article by Stuart Maddocks

Ince Map

Here is a map I put together from Google Earth this morning. Sorry for the rush but I currently have (Man) flu and I’m a bit off colour.

Access from Ince:
01.02.14. Horse and rider, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton
 Horse and rider negotiate the pot-holed track along Lordship Lane.
Whatever your form of transport whether it’s by car, on foot, on horseback, horse and cart, hovercraft, stilts or any other type of transportation that springs to mind. Then you should be aware there are often deep potholes, heavy rutting and soft verges to negotiate. These tracks/roads have caused damage to many vehicles and you should remember this especially if you intend to use  a “normal family car”.
16.04.13. Yellowhammer, Ince Marsh. Stuart Maddocks
Firstly locate Marsh Lane in the Village of Ince and travel west passing The Duke of Wellington Pub on the RHS (right hand side). Continue down the hill passing the treatment works on your left, follow the ‘left to right bend’ (good for close up views of Curlew and Pied Wagtail), and continue straight until the road bends again (RTL),  There are often livestock/pigs in the field on the left and from here carry straight on joining the track (Marsh Lane). Before you access this dirt track please beware of heavy vehicles coming from the (slurry sucking) road tankers which are usually in a rush travelling at speed from the Pig Farm.
24.03.13. Black-tailed Godwits, Ince-Holpool Gutter fields. Stuart Maddocks.Once on the dirt track slow right down to 5 mph (or if your walking, walk slowly:-) if you value your suspension and thus not wanting to damage your car, take it slowly. As soon as you join the track heading east look out for Sparrowhawk, Redwing, Fieldfare and Curlew which can normally be found loitering in the fields. The Summer months have all manner of warblers in the reed beds here. Continue along the track where a small water course is on your right and good for Water Rail, Common Teal, Coot and Grey Heron.
Eventually the track/road splits as you approach a fork, take the left hand track and watch out for Yellowhammer, occasional Little Egret and wintering thrushes. The track leads to the Growhow factory shipping berth, and these two tracks merge and carry on to pass at the rear of the Growhow Works car park, again good for Buzzard, Lapwing, Little Egret etc.
The Growhow works will become apparent on the left, occasionally with a strong smell of ammonia, I normally turn the fan off and close the windows if it is very strong. In the event of works alarms sounding I would advise to retrace your steps and leave the visit for another day but this almost never happens!
06.02.13. Hen Harrier (1st winter male), Frodsham Marsh. Stuart Maddocks
Carry on past the works and cross the bridge over the Hoolpool gutter. r Kingfisher are a good bet, Little Grebe and Green Sandpiper are frequent. It was here I managed to get a shot of a young male Hen Harrier in the Winter 2012/13, other possible sightings may include Black-tailed Godwit and Whooper Swan off Rake Lane.
Beyond the Hoolpool Gutter Stream and your on Lordship Lane. Be aware that it can get quite muddy here so only attempt if you feel confident or you have one of the modes of transport mentioned at the top of the page.
There’s good potential in this area as few observers venture this far and I would recommend walking at least part of the lane for good birding. In the past Nightingale and more recently Long-eared Owl have occurred. Back in the car and continuing down the lane keeping speed to a snail’s pace remembering the risk of vehicle damage.
25.03.13. Mute Swans at Rake Lane. Stuart Maddocks.Eventually the track becomes better and you can drive around the back of No. 6 tank by joining the elevated access point on the left hand slope just off the tarmac road (Moorditch Lane). Once at the top of the track the sludge tank will become apparent on your left side and No. 4 tank lays further along this (at times pot-holed track). Follow the track westbound to do a full loop of the tank. Again be aware of very deep hidden holes in the track towards the back during winter time.
Eventually you will join Lordship lane again and if you turn right you rejoin the track you left earlier and travel back home to Elton/Ince.
Hope this helps and now I shall retire back to my sick-bed with aches and a snotty nose!
Stuart (“achooo!”) Maddocks

02.02.14. Birdlog

02.02.14. Birdlog

I went onto the marsh from Elton this time and, following Bill’s tip, I did see two adult and a juvenile Whooper Swan mixed in with a few Mute’s in a sheep field. Also, several small flocks of Curlew about Ince Marshes and a couple of Little Egret by the Northgate plant.

02.02.14. Whooper and Mute Swans, Ince Marshes. Bill Morton

4 Little Grebe at the Slashing pool were noted. When I eventually reached No. 6 tank well before high tide there was a  couple of hundred Lapwing/Golden Plover and a Little Stint.

I was again struck by the high numbers of Magpie on the marsh. Several small flocks of Goldfinch in various locations and 4 Skylark briefly caught my attention. Marsh Farm had its now wintering resident female Merlin keeping an eye on a small flock of 30 Linnet and Meadow Pipit there. 7 Raven at the farm and another 4 were on No. 3 tank. A Stonechat and 3 Reed Bunting were at Lordship Lane opposite the model aircraft field. A small flock of Redwing, 19 Pied Wagtail and a Grey Heron were about the horse paddock field.

The best show was again on No. 6 tank at high tide. Approximately 10,000 Dunlin, 2000 Lapwing, 1000 Golden Plover, 500 Curlew, several Ringed Plover and Grey Plover joined the throng. The spectacle was made-up by a swirllng swarm of Dunlin gathering for their tidal roost. Not surprisingly a Peregrine, Merlin, ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier and a 1st winter/female Marsh Harrier made an appearance hoping to benefit from all the free grub. If this isn’t a reminder enough of the importance of No. 6 tank as a Winter high tide roost from the Mersey Estuary then Peel Holdings please note.

02.02.14. guido's muddy $X$, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

If you’re not bothered by a little bit of mud and you’re eager for some solitude then Frodsham Marsh on a Spring tide in Winter is just for you.

Ciao from Guido D’Isidoro.

02.02.14. Pipistrelle Bat over Marsh Lane motorway bridge, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A Noctule/Pipistrelle Bat over the motorway bridge from Marsh Lane at 3.45 pm was a bit of a surprise as it circled overhead before being lost to view.

02.02.14. Setting sun over No. 6 tank and Growhow works . Bill Morton

No. 6 tank again held the small but nonetheless ever-present Athya ducks until a ‘Copper Chopper’ put everything up and they flew around reluctant to settle until it left the area. Roosting flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwing joined the melee to add a dramatic sight.



Ducks included: 120 Common Teal, 34 Mallard, 24 Shoveler, 2 Wigeon , 10 Tufted Duck and 11 Common Pochard soon settled down but the Common Shelduck were perhaps not so tolerant and flew straight out to the river after being disturbed.

A Chiffchaff was again calling from the reeds below the bank of No. 5 tank.

02.02.14. Setting sun over No. 6 tank and Growhow works . Bill Morton

The setting sun over No 6 tank never fails to grab my attention and tonight was as good as usual.

Observers: Sparky and WSM (all images).


01.02.14. Birdlog

01.02.14. Birdlog

01.02.14. dunlin flock over Frodsham Score. Bill Morton

01.02.14. Stonechar (male), Lordship Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonA walk around the sludge tanks was a good leg stretcher before I snuggled down on the north banks of No. 4 tank for the 10.2 metre tide this afternoon.

The highlights of the walk was a female Merlin attacking a Skylark over Lordship Marsh, a male Stonechat feeding along the fence line opposite the model (boys club) aircraft field on Lordship Lane. Then on the west side of No. 4 tank at Ince Marsh were 300 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Whooper Swan (with 11 Mute Swan) in fields there and a Green Sandpiper flushed from the Holpool gutter.  These were a good warm up for the spectacle to follow.

The tide was flowing nicely and as always it came in filling the tidal gutters almost unnoticed and before I was ready the wading birds were streaming through.

01.02.14. Red-breasted Goose with Common Shelducks, Frodsham Score. Bill Morton

The incoming tide brought with it 11 Whooper Swan, although the juvenile was not present today? 60 Pink-footed Goose, 1600 Canada Goose and 2 Barnacle Goose were welcome.

01.02.14. Red-breasted Goose with Canada's, Frodsham Score. Bill Morton

I had a hunch which I was hoping would pay off. I was expecting Hale Marsh to get completely flooded on the rising tide which would leave the Red-breasted Goose with nowhere to go but out on the river. I never really expected it to follow my plan, when picking it up in flight with a Common Shelduck in mid river and then watching it until it settled on the water opposite from where I was sitting! You can imagine how pleased I was (now that was a good hunch!) I gave Frank a call and he managed to get there in time and suitably got it UTB’d! . The goose drifted west on the ebbing tide and eventually joined Shelducks on the flooded salt marsh.

01.02.14. Wader roost on Frodsham Score: Redshank, Bar-tsiled Godwit, Curlews and Oystercatchers. Bill Morton

Frodsham Score wouldn’t be Frodsham Score without lots of waders to keep your retina ready, 200 Oystercatcher were really impressive, 400 Curlew, 9 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10,000 Dunlin, 7 Grey Plover (surprised by the lack of numbers for this species) and 140 Redshank made a welcome diversion.

01.02.14. Wader roost on Frodsham Score. Bill Morton

A young Peregrine was attempting to catch an isolated Lapwing above the river but it never really put in the final strike and the Lapwing lived for another day.

No. 6 tank was exposed with the wind and rain and it was not a great surprise the ducks kept close to the sheltered banks. I made a count before and after the tide which resulted in a couple of Cormorant attaining summer plumage two of them with white heads and thigh patches. 120 Common Teal, 24 Shoveler, 8 Common Pochard, 8 Tufted Duck and 30 Common Shelduck were in reduced numbers.

01.02.14. Golden Plovers & Lapwings, No. 5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonNo. 5 tank was flooded with several pools attracting gulls and plovers. 700 Lapwing and 500 Golden Plover were keeping low but two of the goldie’s were showing extensive black underparts.

Observer and images: WSM