09.08.14. Birdlog (Trektellen & WeBS Count)
This was the start of ‘Trektellen’ at Frodsham Marsh. What is Trektellen? It began as a Dutch ‘vismig’ online site, that is, a visible migration on-line database that birders from across Europe contribute to and the results are published each day on the Trektellen website. ‘Trek’ means migration and ‘tellen’ means to count. There are around 540 sites in eight countries, including about 125 sites in the UK. Anyone has access. Most of the major migration sites in the UK are listed and the nearest to Frodsham Marsh is Hale Head or mostly the lighthouse. Some of the counts carried out by Rob Cockbain and Jeff Clarke have been impressive and RC believes that the Hale birds head south-east, somewhere in the vicinity of Marsh Farm on the south side of the Mersey.
We agreed that, myself and WSM would attempt our own watch and follow-up with counts from Marsh Farm and today was the inaugural count. I arrived at 0735hrs to a perfect August morning. The temperature was a pleasant 14c and crystal clear with a light westerly blowing. Interestingly there was no southwards movement from the direction of Hale lighthouse, but a definite east-west migration along the Manchester Ship Canal, with Swift, hirundine and Wagtails moving, their calls emanating from the sparkling blue sky. In three hours, 49 Swift headed west with a local feeding party of around 80 that stopped by briefly, there were 80 Sand Martin that also went west but around 300 hung around to feed and rest on the roof of Marsh Farm. Ten Yellow Wagtail went west in ones and twos and eight Swallow passed by in a party. So, a modest count for a first attempt. Interesting all the same.
Out on Frodsham Score there were the two Ruddy Shelduck in with around 5000 Shelducks. Waders consisted mainly of Curlew, around 500 and Black-tailed Godwit, possibly as many as 700, but counting them wasn’t easy with them constantly moving about. 200 Lapwing were flushed and flew inland, possibly by the Peregrine as it left the blue-topped chimney.
WeBS Count: No.6 tank had 450 Black-headed Gull, 22 Common Gull, 5 Ringed Plover including a pair with a small chick, and two Dunlin initially before 30+ flew in and out and then seven dropped in and fed. Ducks consisted of 9 Gadwall, 107 Teal, 66 Mallard, 27 Shelduck and just a single female Tufted with seven small young. A lone Black-tailed Godwit fed on the far side.
Another aerial rarity to make anyone look skywards was a RAF Lancaster Bomber (pictured below) flying over the River Mersey.
I finished the day back at Marsh Farm as the tide went out. To the west, the clouds darkened on the distant horizon as ex-hurricane Bertha made full steam towards the UK, predicted to make landfall overnight bringing unseasonably strong gales and heavy rain… Autumn looms around the corner.
Observer and images: Tony Broome.