19.05.14. Birdlog

19.05.14. Birdlog

19.05.14. Avocet chick, Shooter' pools, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

It’s mid afternoon and the mercury is rising, with the warm stiff south-easterly bringing the temperature down to a comfortable level, in my car the temp reading is 30 degrees.

19.05.14. Tufted ducks, Weaver estuary, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A walk down to the Weaver Bend taking in both the estuary and the Shooters’ pools saw the usual gathering of paired up and bachelor male Tufted Ducks on the River Weaver. The Weaver estuary had what could be one of the breeding Barnacle Goose from the gantry wall. 3 pairs of displaying Great Crested Grebe and several pairs of summer Gadwall.

19.05.14. Shooter' pools, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The walk along the Weaver causeway was brief when the splendid looking male Marsh Harrier flopped by taking time to survey the fields by Redwall reed bed.

The Shooter’ pools still had a small colony of nesting Black-headed Gulls, a Ringed Plover and 5 Avocet. The breeding pair looked over the remaining chick which caused concern by wandering out of sight of the parents. The female was fairly territorial and couldn’t even tolerate the otherwise demure Lapwings.

Observers: Terry Egan, WSM (and images)


18.05.14. WeBS Count & Birdlog

18.05.14. WeBS Count & Birdlog

A big thanks go to Heather and the Wilde Bunch for covering the Frodsham WeBS count on my weekend in work.

What a beautiful day to be doing the WeBS count today.

The WeBS count was a very quiet affair: 36 Shelduck, 57 Tufted Duck, 27 Mallard, 1 Cormorant, 2 Grey Heron, 1 male Marsh Harrier, 6 Lapwing, 2 Oystercatcher and 11 Sand Martins.
18.05.14. Yellow Wagtail, Lordship Lane, frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde.
The journey back along Lordship Lane held lots of hidden treasures though. A stunning Yellow Wagtail was sitting up on a fence post, before taking flight and doing battle with another one that appeared from no-where.  A Whitethroat was feeding in the shrubs and we could hear a Bullfinch somewhere near by. The whole of Lordship Lane was a chorus of singing Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting and Reed Warblers. And we also saw our first dragonfly of the year.
The Wilde Bunch.

I visited Frodsham Marsh and had a very enjoyable visit today. At least one of the Avocet chicks remained on the shooters’ pools by the Weaver Bend together with 5 adults. One of the adults seemed to be keeping an eye on the chick some of the time but at other times the chick was feeding alone around one of the pools. I don’t think there were any more remaining. There were also 6 Lapwing chicks there and the Ringed Plover.

I thought the habitat at Weaver Bend was looking quite good and I constantly felt like something unusual could be just around the corner.

John Spottiswood’s A birder in Holmes Chapel

Observer: John Spottiswood

A Barn Owl was in the field near the ramp up to No.6 tank and then landed in hawthorns and showed well about 7 pm this evening.
Observer: Mark Wotham

18.05.14. Birdlog (Tony Broome Guest Blog 1)

18.05.14. Birdlog (Tony Broome Guest Blog 1)

My first look at Spring

18.05.14. Sedge Warbler, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome
After a full week of work in the days and three nights on call, I awoke this morning with a decision to make… To go or not to go, that was the question. The choice was either to do all those tasks at home that had been waiting or to drive the 26 miles to Frodsham Marsh for my first visit of the Spring. Time is precious. But it was May 18th, there was a south-easterly blowing and the sky was a perfect Azure Blue…I arrived later than I would have liked and parked at the base of the entrance road to No.6 tank at around nine o’clock. The song of Whitethroats filled the air. I sipped the strong latte that I’d just picked up from the Texaco station near Fluin Lane in Frodsham. It smelt good.

The distant tirade of Skylarks complimented the Whitethroats and a wave of birding optimism enveloped me. The ditches were lined with Cadmium Lemon Oilseed rape and Titanium White Cow Parsley, against a backdrop of the fresh new Bright Green cereal crops.

I decided to walk around No.6 and set off with a spring in my step. I’d do a day list. At the top of the dirt road I walked around the first gate and peered westwards over the sludge tank and the little water that remained. Tufted Ducks, Mallards and a Gadwall… but not much else. I continued walking, the hurried ramblings of Sedge Warblers now competing with the Whitethroats for attention. One male sat in the open on a post and I snapped a few shots. I liked warblers…. they never failed to make my step falter, no matter how common they were. Then a car pulled up. It was my fellow birder Frank Duff who brought me up to speed with what was about.

18.05.14. Hawthorn hedge along Lordship Lane, , Frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeNow until that moment I’d still been fairly up-beat even if the paucity of ducks had been a bit of a surprise. The Frodsham regular soon made me realise that there wasn’t much about and the afternoon’s tide was the best hope of anything of note appearing. Never mind, I’d carry on walking and watched the car disappear into the distance. I soon caught Frank up however, at the slope halfway along the tank. We looked at the near patch of water… Nothing! I looked into the distance, No.6 tank seeming to stretch away into the distance a lot further than I remembered. The next useful pool was another 500 metres further on. It was at that point that optimism drained through my boots and I thought of everything I should be doing at home…. and I jumped into Frank’s car, abandoning not only my walk but my day list attempt. The further pool held a Little-ringed Plover, a pair of Gadwall and a single Black-tailed Godwit. We turned around and I picked up my car and followed Frank to Marsh Farm.

The track was dusty and it seemed to take an age to reach the farm. It was nice to see Wheatears fly along the barbed-wire fences, the flashes of their white rumps bright in the sunshine. It was hot by now, around 22c. Gazing out over the Score, we both half-heartedly tried to wish a rarity to appear. How about a Montagu’s Harrier….or a Spoonbill…..the list was long. Even Frank’s exclamation that there was the male Marsh Harrier approaching only lifted spirits whilst we watched it. What a beautiful elegant bird, floating on outstretched wings as it quartered the pool and reeds a few meters away. Okay, I admit, I was as impressed as I always was when I saw one.
I ate my stale turkey sandwiches that were the last on the shelf in the Texaco shop and munched on cheese and onion crisps.

18.05.14. View looking toward the Shooters pools, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

It was nice in the sunshine but birds were few. Frank decided to leave for home and I followed, stopping briefly at the old log to scope the ‘Shooters pools’ in the distance and found a single Avocet. Another good bird. But, the list of tasks at home nagged at me and I headed back down the M56 towards Wilmslow….. a day initially full of optimism cut short. But why?
It wasn’t east coast quality but what I’d had was good. Male Marsh Harrier, Avocet, Little-ringed and scores of Whitethroats and Sedge Warblers…. Everyone has pressures of some description and sometimes it’s difficult to justify just doing nothing. Was that the reason? Maybe the fact that other sites nearby had seen rarities but none ever seemed to find their way to Frodsham Marsh, such as Ring-necked Duck, Spoonbill, and White-winged Black Terns, all of which were close by over the last couple of days. Was that it? Were my expectations any different to anyone else’s? I didn’t think so. Frank had left at the same time as me, all hope having been left on the track at Marsh Farm. But birders are always optimists. Nothing one minute then euphoria the next. Birding’s like that. It always has been. It always will be.

I think that from my point of view, my lack of enthusiasm today was a combination of things. The work that lay in wait to ambush me as I arrived home but also the fact that I’d just come back from birding abroad and was used to watching wader sites full of birds. The contrast with Frodsham was absolute and it felt like a waste of time. It wasn’t of course. Birding is never a waste of time. It just feels like it sometimes.

Tony Broome.

17.05.14. Birdlog

17.05.14. Birdlog

17.05.14. Black-tailed Godwit flock, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley

17.05.14. Black-tailed Godwit flock, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley

On the warmest day of the year high tide brought in 700 Black-tailed Godwit, a (very confused) male Ruff looking like a short-legged godwit was observed defending an abandoned Coot egg? 2 Little Ringed Plover and a drake Garganey which always adds an exotic touch to the proceedings, all were on No.6 tank.

17.06.14. Avocet, Frodsham. John GilbodyIn the afternoon a Water Rail was feeding out in the open and the male Marsh Harrier was spooking the waders off the ‘Shooters pools’, where 3 Little Egret dropped in.

Earlier in the day there was no sign of the Avocet chicks but two very animated adults would suggest that they were being led the short distance to the river and relatively safer conditions away from the gulls and crows?


Ruff Video by Paul Crawley. https://vimeo.com/95633701

Observers Paul Crawley (and upper images), Frank Duff, John Gilbody (and lower image).


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16.05.14. Birdlog

16.05.14. Birdlog

16.05.14. Sedge Warbler, Redwall reed bed, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Taking a stroll down the river to check on the ‘new kids on the block’ and only three Avocet chicks were remaining from yesterday. I think you’d expect some of the chicks not to make the long haul.

Great Crested Grebe numbers have increased to 5 pairs displaying (from yesterday) and one pair nest-building. 80 Tufted Duck, 6 Gadwall, 10 Mute Swan, an further Avocet was feeding along the edge of the Weaver estuary and a Common Sandpiper looked small as it manoeuvred its way through the Canada Goose goslings.

16.05.14.Goldfinch singing, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

There were 5 Wheatear along the pipes on No.1 tank and further afield the Marsh Harrier was hunting No.5 tank.

Moorditch Lane and drainage ditch was a hive of small rodent activity with two Water Vole in the flowing water, a Short-tailed Field Vole scurrying across the tarmac track followed soon after by a Common Shrew.

Finally the Peregrine was watching the sun set over the Mersey estuary and a fitting end to the day.

Observers: Mr Cedric, Arthur Harrison, WSM (and images).

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15.05.14. Birdlog

15.05.14. Birdlog

15.05.14. Ringed Plover, Shooters Pools, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A walk to the marsh was in fine summer sunshine with a cooling breeze making the experience all the more enjoyable. The birds certainly added to the ambiance and a little surprise with the sound of pattering tiny webbed feet.

15.05.14. Avocet chicks, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The Avocet have produced 4 chicks which were actively feeding with an attendant mother overlooking her little’uns.

May 2014. Avocet chicks. Frodsham Marsh Birdblog

A Ringed Plover was also present and the whole marsh was busy with the song and sights of a summer full of promise. Adding to all of this was the re-emergence of the two courting Common Hare in a more secluded field and a Water Vole was collecting food in the ditch alongside Moorditch Lane.

Observers: Sparky, WSM (and images)


13.05.14. Birdlog

13.05.14. Birdlog

13.05.14. Pied Wagtail, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

An evening visit to the Weaver Bend and the ‘Shooters pools’ saw 100 Tufted Duck lingering on the river with an assortment of the commoner species one would expect to find in May. Three pairs of Great Crested Grebe were not so typical and could be non-breeding birds? 3 Avocet were settled here and a solitary Ringed Plover was notable. The fine male Marsh Harrier went through causing little fuss from the local Lapwing.

Marsh Farm beckoned and the pipes that have been attractive to the Wheatears of late didn’t disappoint with 10 birds hopscotching along them with an attendant group of 12 Linnet.

13.05.14. 2 Hobbies over Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

13.05.14. Drinker Moth Caterpiller, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonThe highlight was without doubt the two adult Hobby (pictured) upsetting the nesting Swallows at the farm, the raptors were more interested in courtship bonding. A further 8 Wheatear were also at the farm and looked ready and waiting for favourable weather conditions to aid their onward flight.

Out on the Mersey estaury off Frodsham Score were 2 Avocet feeding with the scattered Common Shelduck flocks there.

Along the paths were good numbers of Drinker Moth Caterpillars including the one pictured.

Observer and images: WSM


11.05.14. Birdlog

11.05.14. Birdlog

11.05.14. Peregrine on the blue-topped Chimney, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

An evening watch overlooking the river from Marsh Farm was rewarded with 1,100 Black-tailed Godwit feeding on the mudflats before the advancing tide.

An Avocet was a welcome surprise there with the 300 Common Shelduck and Mallard.

Towering over all this was a male Peregrine perched on the blue-topped chimney and no doubt selecting something from the avian smorgasbord below. The farm was still attracting Wheatear with 5 birds sheltering from both the stiff breeze and frequent rain. Across the tank and an additional 6 were along the pipes on No.1.

11.05.14. Fox cub, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Three Fox cubs enjoyed a respite from the rain showers earlier but stopped play fighting when mother returned with a Rabbit. Another Rabbit on the Half Furlong Lane was marginally more active with the signs of advanced myxomatosis.

11.05.14. Rabbit with mixie, Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Another flock of Black-tailed Godwit numbered 50 on No.6 tank. While across the marsh, 3 Avocet, Oystercatcher and Black-headed Gulls were on the ‘Shooters pools’.

Observers: Frank Duff, WSM (and images).

10.05.14. Birdlog

10.05.14. Birdlog

10.05.14. Sedge Warbler, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton The threat of heavy rain interspersed with periods of bright sunshine and big clouds was a shall I, shan’t I go birding the marsh today, no contest.

A Whimbrel whistling unseen over No.6 tank with Swifts and hirundines on the move ahead of the rain clouds. Only a few Tufted Duck were on the tank with some Common Shelduck.

A female Blue-headed Wagtail (PR) was at the Ince Berth by Ince Marshes with a typical British form and looked bedraggled and the Marsh Harrier was similarly flying about to dry its feathers after the deluges of the day.

10.05.14. Wheatear, Marsh Farm,  Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonThe track down to the Manchester Ship Canal from Marsh Farm was bouncing with c25 Wheatear including mostly Greenland birds and a male Whinchat.

A passing ship moved most of the birds from the shelter of the boulder bunds by the water’s edge and they flew up the track and perched on the fence posts, giving much better views.

10.05.14. Orangetip Butterfly (male),  Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A very obliging Orangetip Butterfly and numerous Green-veined White’s were on the wing today.

Observers: Paul Ralston, Paul Crawley, Frank Duff, WSM (and images).