14#14 Birdlog

14#14 Birdlog

12.96.14. Pochard (drake), no.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

No great surprise to see both the Lesser Scaup and the Red-necked Grebe again on the marsh for their summer recess in NW Cheshire.

12.06.14. Red-necked Grebe, River Weaver, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Other birds worth noting are 10 Great Crested Grebe, 70 Tufted Duck, 60 Common Shelduck and 2 drake Pochard, a pair of Common Teal both on No.6 tank. The Avocet parents minding their respective chicks. A male Marsh Harrier was frequenting the fields over No.5 tank.


Still plenty of opportunity for those who haven’t made the trip or those who want a second or third helping. It might be worth spreading your nets and checking further down the river to the Weaver Bend or even to the Bailey Bridge there are other birds to be found?

14.06.14. Juvenile Pied Wagtail, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley

14.06.14. Large Skipper, Frodsham Marsh. Frank Duff 14.06.14. Speckled Wood Butterfly, Frodsham Marsh. Frank Duff

Observers: Lee Lappin, Paul Crawley (wagtail image) and Frank Duff (Large Skipper and Ringlet Butterfly images).
Additional images by WSM

13.06.14. Birdlog

13.06.14. Birdlog

12.06.14. Lesser Scaup, no.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Friday the 13th wasn’t the shocker you would have expected so, both the Red-necked Grebe and the Lesser Scaup continue their stays into a third week. The Scaup is now beginning to shows signs of moult and I guess he’ll be present on the marsh throughout the summer.

12.06.14. Red-necked Grebe, River Weaver, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Additional birds noted included a Common Sandpiper, Avocet chicks (3), a single Little Ringed Plover on or by the River Weaver and 8 Raven on No.5 tank.

Observers: Chris Done, Sparky, WSM (and upper images).

Red-necked Grebe, Manchester Ship Canal/Marsh farm, Frodsham Marsh.1997. Gary Bellingham.

Just to celebrate the grebe’s 3 week stay, I have included Gary Bellingham’s photo of the 1997 summer plumage RNG which frequented the Manchester Ship Canal below Marsh Farm.

12.06.14. Birdlog

12.06.14. Birdlog

12.06.14. Red-necked Grebe, River Weaver, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

It’s been great to have the chance of seeing two rare Cheshire birds on my doorstep. It gave me the opportunity of seeing, hearing and generally picking up on the nuances that a brief encounter with a rarity doesn’t always present its self. This evening I was alone on the River Weaver by Redwall Reedbed and watching the Red-necked Grebe close into the bank. The grebe would spend 90% of its time sleeping but was still aware of me and its surrounding (one eye kept open). When it did raise from its slumber it appeared startled and gave out a loud call. I managed a few pics but found the process of digi-scoping a bit frustrating when I took my eye of the bird it would invariably become active.

Further along the river an Avocet was flighty and vocal but generally I spent my time with the grebe.The only other highlight was a Peregrine on the blue-topped chimney above the estuary.

12.06.14. Southern Marsh Orchids, River Weaver, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A meadow near to the river was a riot of colour with loads of Marsh Orchids peeking out from the long grass there.

12.06.14. Lesser Scaup, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Eventually I tore myself away and paid a visit to see the Lesser Scaup which was marginally more entertaining. The duck could be seen  with Tufties and a couple of Pochard swimming back and to along the banks of the viewing area.

Observer and images: WSM

10.06.14. Birdlog

10.06.14. Birdlog

10.06.14. Weaver estaury, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The evening started with thunder clouds rolling in and time for me to head on to the marsh and get in the thick of it. The Weaver estuary and particularly the area off the causeway was still hanging onto its little treasures, most notably the Whooper Swan and the summer Red-necked Grebe. Towards the end of my visit here I was having difficulty trying to relocate the grebe from my earlier sightings. I was about to give up when I could hear it calling ‘aaoouuh’ repeated several times whilst raising its head feathers! I don’t know why the grebe did this, there was nothing nearby to initiate the display/contact call? Whatever, the reason it was something worth hearing/seeing.

10.06.14. Great Crested Grebe, River Weaver, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Other birds of note was a pair of nesting Great Crested Grebe with 5 others paired up. 67 Tufted Duck, 15 Oystercatcher and Avocet.

The Shooters’ pools still continued to play host to the three Avocet chicks with attendant parents nearby. 10 Black-tailed Godwit dropped in for a brief visit.

A couple of Common Hares were sat together in a field but disappeared when I got my camera out.

I just had enough time to pop over to see the Lesser Scaup and found it asleep despite a male Marsh Harrier hunting the banks overlooking its residence area.

There was no need for insect repellent this evening with hundreds of Common Swift strimming the banks of spiraling midges. Some of the birds got so close I could see individual gnats being taken followed by the sound of snapping bills. An opportunity rarely seen in early summer except during the after effects of a thunder-storm.

Arthur managed to add a pair of Yellow Wagtail from the western side of No.6 tank to the days list.

Observers: Arthur Harrison, WSM (image).

07.10.12. Peter Nicolls, No 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley (2)

Finally, on a sad note was the death today of Peter Nicholls an old friend of Frodsham Marsh. We’ll all miss his wry smile and the folding chair set in prime position on the banks overlooking No.6 tank.

Image by Paul Crawley.

09.06.14. Birdlog

09.06.14. Birdlog

09.06.14. Red-necked Grebe, River Weaver at Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton 09.06.14. Red-necked Grebe, River Weaver at Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A stroll with Bob to the Weaver causeway to see the Red-necked Grebe which was immediately present on arrival and providing some of its closest views so far.

09.06.14. Whooper Swan, River Weaver at Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Close by was the summering Whooper Swan which was tagging onto a Mute Swan briefly for a little company. The usual array of species were on the river including 9 Great Crested Grebe and 34 Coot in either non-breeding or post breeding flocks.

09.06.14. Red-necked Grebe and Whooper Swan, River Weaver at Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The Avocets were also on the Shooters’ pools.


A short video of the drake Lesser Scaup on No.6 tank.

Over on No.6 tank was the Lesser Scaup, 2 drake Pochard and 14 Tufted Duck.

A male Marsh Harrier was with the female over the marsh and a Little Ringed Plover was on the drier areas of six.

Observers: Bob Holland, Paul Crawley, WSM (and images).

08.06.14. Birdlog

08.06.14. Birdlog

08.06.14. Lesser Scaup (drake), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.

The Lesser Scaup in the evening light from No.6 tank and a summer Red-necked Grebe from the River Weaver.

07.06.14. Red-necked Grebe, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The Red-necked Grebe continues to be found on the River Weaver at Frodsham Marsh and attracts a steady flow of newer observers with the bird being close by for many photographic opportunities. The Whooper Swan was again summering on the Weaver estuary.

A couple of  Marsh Harriers hurried through while 8 Avocet were present on the Shooters’ pools. Later in the day two Avocet were on No.6 tank. Also present near to the pools were pairs each of Grey and Red-legged Partridge’s (presumed set down by local shooting franchise?).

A small gathering of Lapwing on the closely cropped modal aircraft flyers field would be non-breeders.

The Lesser Scaup was reduced to a supporting act but still the rarer bird and was again present until dusk. A male Marsh Harrier flying against a crimson sunset was a fitting end to the day while a Grasshopper Warbler sang along Lordship Lane.

08.06.14. Sunset over Liverpool. Bill Morton

Observers: Tony Broome, Sheila & Geoff Blamire, Phil Oddy, WSM (and images).

07.06.14. Birdlog

07.06.14. Birdlog

07.06.14. Lesser Scaup, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Alyn Chambers.

07.06.14. Lesser Scaup rear head view, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonThe Lesser Scaup was again in situ on No.6 tank along with 14 Tufted Duck, a drake Pochard, 57 Common Shelduck and Gadwall.

A walk down to the river with increasing periods and severity of rain was required and a through soaking for my troubles after the walk back to my car. However, it was worth the drenching with views of the Whooper Swan (unringed) again. The swan was roosting up on banks of the river.

An Avocet, 9 Great Crested Grebe, 57 Tufted Duck, a pair of Common Teal, 23 Coot and 27 Greylag Goose making up a busy river there.

07.06.14. Avocet chick, Shooters' pool, Frodsham Marsh. Alyn Chambers.

The Shooters’ Pool had the original Avocet chick looking much bigger than the tiny tot we were seeing all those weeks ago. The second pair has only two chicks left and the third breeding pair failed due to the encroaching Black-headed Gulls who were nesting close by. One of the Red-legged Partridge was wandering into hostile territory by hanging out here.

07.06.14. Red-necked Grebe, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Below the banks of the Weaver off the ’causeway’ was the Red-necked Grebe with alternated between bouts of sleeping and preening. Tufted Duck numbered 34, Shelduck totalled 60, a Little Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper were present on the Weaver Bend

Elsewhere both male and a female Marsh Harrier were out and about on the marsh.

07.06.14. Black-headed Gull, Shooters' pools, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonObserver: Phil Barnett, Alyn Chambers, Paul Crawley, Frank Duff, WSM (and images).

Emily Traynor Guest Blog

Emily Traynor Guest Blog

I am an ecology graduate and live in North Cheshire and I want to make the natural world part of my future employment and this is my guest blog for FMBB.

Emily Traynor

I don’t think I can really pin point the moment of when my love affair with the Natural World began, maybe it has just slowly evolved over time, with the help of my family and close relatives of course it’s always been there.

No matter where I was, whether that be having a lunch break half way up a mountain or marooned on a small island in the middle of the Irish Sea, the world of birds were never far away. The lure of a passing Kestrel hovering beside a motorway, a Jackdaw cheekily trying to steal my lunch or the raucous cries of a Herring Gull being dominant at the seaside and a wakeup call for everyone were all the sights and sounds of my childhood.


My favourite place growing up was being taken across to Hilbre Island with my Uncle Alan and his dog Tessie; I spent many hours wandering around the island and enjoying the solitude and quietness of the place with only a Springer Spaniel as a companion.

I suppose my interest in Ornithology has come a bit late in life compared to most bird watchers; while I had been taken on bird watching excursions as a youngster I suppose I didn’t really have the patience to really learn anything from it, while I certainly enjoyed being outdoors after about 5 minutes in a bird hide my mind started to wander only for it to snap back to reality if something ‘interesting’ appeared. But doesn’t that affect us all at some stage?

Thick-legged Flower Beetle, Frodsham Marsh. Emily Traynor.So it has only been within the last few years that it’s something I have become more and more drawn to. I am beginning a process of gaining further knowledge through experience. I am eager to learn about many aspects of nature especially as I’m a trainee Biological Recorder with Wirral Wildlife, mainly recording plant species but with an interest in anything and everything!

Thick-legged Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis)

One of the toughest things I’ve found as a beginner in Bird Watching is identifying species by their calls. The fact that there are so many calls (36 noted from one species the Great Tit) is astonishing and attributed to the one species is quite overwhelming to learn at times! Then there’s the Starling! Don’t get me started on that on!

So when I recently expressed an interest in improving my ornithological skills my uncle Bill decided to take me under his wing (no pun intended) and show me the ropes.

As I had been there many times growing up (I mainly remember seeing dead pheasants on the road) I asked whether I could accompany him on one of his many birding trips to Frodsham Marsh in Cheshire, he quickly agreed!

10.05.14. Sedge Warbler, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonMy favourite experience so far especially as the amount of times I’ve been down the marsh and wondered what that bird species was calling or singing and who made them. One song was difficult to get my head around so my uncle patiently guided me through the difference between Sedge and Reed Warbler and added the Grasshopper Warbler for good measure. All three are relatively small brown jobs and each is as different on closer inspection.

The Grasshopper warbler is unmistakable as they have an almost electrical buzz to their call, my Uncle said it seems amazing that a creature can make such a noise as it doesn’t seem a natural sound.

Sedge and Reed Warbler although different can be hard to distinguish between if there is a few birds calling within the same space. The one for me at least is the Reed Warbler which can be identified by the slight ‘gurra gurra gur gur’ within their call, they also have a slow relaxed tack call. Sedge warblers on the other hand seem almost desperate to be heard, they can’t sing fast enough. They also have almost Grasshopper like electrical trill within their call.

07.05.14. Common Hares, Frodsham Marsh. Emily Traynor

My adventures of the last few months visiting the marsh have included seeing Meadow Pipit, Skylark and then watching Marsh Harrier and Avocet for the first time, I had previously seen Lapwings while volunteering in Shropshire but not this close! I’ve also had the good fortune to observe other wildlife which would be hard to see elsewhere like a paired up couple of Common Hare.

I recently had the opportunity to observe a relatively rare occurrence at the marsh which is a Red-necked Grebe, in handsome summer plumage no less! They are an Amber listed species according to the RSPB and usually are only found in the South and East of the Country in Winter…so goodness knows what it’s doing here?

One arriving at the usual spot on Sunday afternoon I was quite surprised to see 5 cars parked up, I’ve never seen the marsh this busy. On walking down to the River Weaver I passed a birder who must have been in such a hurry he failed to hear the trill of a Sedge Warbler and see the not so subtle tremble of the Reed stalk as the bird moved up to the seed head, The bird went quiet and the stalk stopped moving, I quickly lost sight of the bird. oh well..

I took a slow walk along the River Weaver to the bend in the river where the bird was sitting on the water’s surface oblivious to its fan base that had slowly passed through over the last few days as word was passed on of its presence.

Red-necked Grebe by Paul Crawley

On reaching my destination I found a small party of birders. I was quickly told where the bird could be sighted and was offered the chance to look in someone’s spotting scope to get a better view, a quick glance and the bird went under the water. The most exciting thing the bird did was to catch a fish but only that lasted less than a minute before it was back to diving out of sight only to reappear a few metres away. I was quite surprised that as individuals slowly trickled away till there was only four of us left I realised that I had spent nearly 2 hours observing this bird! Time to move on I thought, a short distance away was the shooters pool which is where the Avocet and Lapwing families resided.

Avocet, Frodsham Marsh. Emily Traynor

I managed to get some photos of one of the Avocets when it was disturbed by a Black Headed Gull, flying back and forth over the Weaver vocalizing its displeasure at having a predator so close by. The Lapwing family by comparison were quite relaxed and let their chick wander although not too far.

Suddenly my phone started to ring..argh! It was my lift back home calling to see where I was! I can’t wait for my next visit to Frodsham Marsh, till next time!

Emily Traynor

http://tigerlilyblue.wordpress.com/ My photography and nature blog.

Additional images by Paul Crawley and WSM.

05.06.14. Birdlog

05.06.14. Birdlog

05.06.14. Common Scoter female), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton


05.06.14. Lesser Scaup (drake), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A gathering of 64 Common Shelduck, 12 Tufted Duck and the ever green drake Lesser Scaup was joined by a female Common Scoter. The first on the marsh since the drake 5 years ago and much welcomed by all.

Well done to Mr Crawley for picking this one from the throng. See Paul’s video of the Lesser Scaup Below.

05.06.14. Tufted Duck, Lesser Scaup and Common Scoter (female), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Above the Common Scoter is joined by the Lesser Scaup and a Tufted Duck.

05.06.14. Common Shelduck, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

05.06.14. Common Scoter (female), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

05.06.14. Common Scoter (female), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The Red-necked Grebe was again on the River Weaver off Redwall reedbed.

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

Other birds of note was a Little Ringed Plover on No.6 tank


Lesser Scaup #2 for Frodsham Marsh

Lesser Scaup #2 for Frodsham Marsh

by Sean O’Hara

25th May 2014 
27.05.14. Lesser Scaup, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Allan Conlin
After a busy weekend it was nice to get out birding, if only for an hour or two on Sunday late afternoon. It was 4 pm by the time I arrived on Frodsham Marsh so I decide to head out to the Weaver bend for starters. Things were fairly quiet but it was May and there were some heavy showers about, I was hopeful that something may have dropped in.
On the Weaver there were the usual Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebes, Coot and Canada Geese. On the Shooters’ pools 2 Avocet were present, but no sign of any young, here’s hoping they survive? Plenty of Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and a nice male Blackcap as I came back to the car.
Next I relocated to No.6 tank, parked up near the ramp, and headed off along the path between six and No.5 tanks. Lots of Swallows and Swifts about with some great views of the Swifts as they swooped past at head height. Some heavy showers coming in now so it was nice to find shelter under the big Poplar trees further up the track, I spent some time watching Whitethroats from only a yard or two away, they were obviously too busy feeding young to mind me. The showers eased off for a minute so made it to the view-point and then round to the small secluded pool on six, it was quiet but for a few Teal and some squabbling Coot were there. No sign of the Marsh Harrier, it must be sheltering from the rain a bit like me.
I again sheltered under the trees for a while on the way back watching the same Whitethroat family. At 7.30 pm it was time to head home as the rain stopped again. I’ll have one last look over No.6 tank before I headed for the car.
26.05.14. Lesser Scaup and Tufted Duck, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton
Looking over the water and three birds were quite close to me a pair of Tufted Duck and a paler looking bird…? A drake Scaup! All three birds were asleep with heads under wings, so I had time to set up my scope to have a closer look. I’d seen Lesser Scaup before, at Burton Mere Wetlands and at very close quarters on the lily ponds there, and also the bird at Marshside a year or two ago….alarm bells rang in my head! A frantic dash to the car to retrieve my camera and field guide, luckily not far away. However, by the time I returned the birds had woken up but drifted further away.
26.05.14. Lesser Scaup (drake), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton
The Scaup…possible Lesser Scaup? The bird did a bit of wing flapping a couple of times, so I managed to confirm that important inner white wing bar and definitely slightly smaller than Tufted Duck it was with. I fired off a few record shots but they were very distant and in poor light.
My next thoughts…who to tell? My first ever self found semi-rarity !!!  I knew I needed to tell someone and get this confirmed. I regularly follow the Frodsham Marsh Birdblog blog and occasionally report my sightings. So a  quick drive home to South Liverpool and an e-mail to Bill who administers the blog was my best and the quickest option. I must really take my mobile out with me more often!
The next day I returned to Frodsham Marsh and had seen Bill’s great photos confirming it was indeed a Lesser Scaup. As I pulled up in my car another birder arrived…winding his car window down he asked  ” where is the best place to see the Red-necked Grebe ? ” Don’t you mean Lesser Scaup I replied! I couldn’t believe it?
What a great place Frodsham Marsh is!
Sean O’Hara.
Images: title header by Allan Conlin and others by WSM.