13.09.14. Birdlog

13.09.14. Birdlog

13.09.14. Red Kite, Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The main highlight of the day was a juvenile Red Kite which flew in from the north-east circled over Frodsham Score before heading inland over No.3 tank.

No.6 tank at low water was a bit lack with an audible Greenshank and a small group of Ringed Plover. 150 Common Teal, 12 Tufted Duck, 2 Pintail and 4 Shoveler made up the lustre.

13.09.14. Hovercraft clowns, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The tide crept slowly making its way through the tidal channels and began to swell the river but three hovercraft clowns flushed almost everything off the estuary and sent birds off in all directions. 30 Great Crested Grebe was a combination of adult and juvenile birds.4 Little Egret, 1300 Common Shelduck scattered far and wide, 6 Wigeon, 700 Lapwing, 12 Ringed Plover, 1 Greenshank, 200 Redshank, 1,000 Black-tailed Godwit and smaller numbers of Curlew.

13.09.14. Kestrel, Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Above a young Kestrel takes a break with a rest on a MSC sign.

On Frodsham Score were 17 Raven and 4 Jay were moving through on No.1 tank. A Kingfisher was heard on the ship canal while a trickle of migrants crossed the river with 9 Yellow, 3 Pied and a single White Wagtail present. Sand Martin and Swallow were lingering by the farm and these alerted us to an overhead Hobby, which then sparred with a Sprawk before proceeding to catch dragonflies over No.1 tank.

13.09.14. Meadow Pipit, Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh.Tony Broome
13.09.14. Collared Dove, Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

13.09.14. Reed Bunting, Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh.Tony BroomeA mixed bag of passerines included a light passage of Meadow Pipit, a locally rare Collared Dove and 4 Stock Dove.

The warm rising terminals made raptor watching a little easier and apart from the Red Kite and Hobby there were 2 Peregrine, 4 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and 8 Common Buzzard over the marsh.

Observers: Tony Broome (images 4, 5 & 6), Frank Duff, WSM (and 1,2 & 3 images).

12.09.14. Birdlog

12.09.14. Birdlog

12.09.14. Grey Heron and Little Egret, Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton

No.6 tank this morning had 2 Little Stint, 28 Dunlin and a dozen Ringed Plover. A Yellow Wagtail on the edge of the mud, 2 Sand Martin amongst the Swallows after a brief visit.

Observer: Mark (Whipper) Gibson.

A couple of Little Egrets were on the incoming tide at Pickerings Pasture and Wigg Island.

Observer and image: WSM

11.09.14. Birdlog

11.09.14. Birdlog

11.09.14. Work on repairing the canal wall. Paul Ralston

Work on repairing the canal bund which was breached from last December’s tidal surge. Additionally work recently commenced on the creation of a wetland area on No.3 tank, more on this as and when the development progresses. Eds.

Taking a walk this morning from Ince along the canal produced 15 Collard Dove which were around the Duke of Wellington in Ince village, they don’t seem to venture on to the marsh very often. A hundred or more Swallow on the telephone wires with more around the Pig Farm. Also noted were large numbers of Starling which were also close by. On to the Manchester Ship Canal  and a Common Sandpiper on one bank with a Green Sandpiper on the opposite side. A Willow Warbler seen and heard in the bank side hawthorns with Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Greenfinch present.

11.09.14. Cattle Egrets, Frodsham Score. Paul Ralston

Patrolling Frodsham Score was a Peregrine which put up a large flock of mixed gulls into the air. Six Little Egret ( 3 shown above) were about the salt marsh. Added to this Buzzard, Kestrel and many Raven making a mixed assortment of species.

11.09.14. Stoat, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston

A Stoat out looking for a meal ignored the young pheasants close by while it followed the trail of the rabbit it was hunting and came within a few feet of where I was standing and posed long enough for this study shot.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

10.09.14. Birdlog

10.09.14. Birdlog

10.09.14. Shoveler, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A late afternoon visit a couple of hours after the high tide. A kettle of 10 Common Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk circling high over the marsh were enjoying the thermal rise. 370 Black-headed Gulls were also circling over No.6 tank and were presumably feasting off the flying ants, as were the hirundines which had join the food bonanza.

The deposit tank looked a little bare but considering the heat haze it would have been a problem getting anything like decent views with the haze and sun direction. However, a few waders were still present with a solitary Ruff, 47 Ringed Plover and 10 Dunlin noted. A mixed flock of both Pied and White Wagtail were mobile flitting across the baked cracked mud of the sludge bed. Frank Duff had 12 Yellow Wagtails later in the day.

Duck species were much reduced and the sound of distant gun shots suggested this may have contributed to their absence. 130 Common Teal, 7 Tufted Duck and 4 Shoveler just about warranted an entry into today’s log.

10.09.14. Speckled Bush Cricket, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.

A Speckled Bush Cricket on the track above No.6 tank this afternoon didn’t appreciate the attention we gave it.

10.09.14. female Common Darter? Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

There were several Ruddy, Common and Black Darters about and some Southern Hawkers enjoying the warm weather hunting the track above No.6 tank.

Observers: Sparky, WSM (and images).

09.09.14. Birdlog

09.09.14. Birdlog

09.09.14. Little Stint (colour-ringed), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Greg Baker.

A remarkable record of a colour-ringed Little Stint  which had been ringed in Norway this Autumn was seen on No.6 tank this morning. The finder Greg Baker did some detective work and narrowed down its previous location at one of three sites in that country. He asks if anyone sees this bird to attempt to read the three letters on the yellow ring and hopefully we can narrow it down further – Giske OS located in  northwestern Norway, Revtangen OS located in southwestern Norway and Jomfruland located in southeastern Norway.

09.09.14. Greenshanks, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Greg Baker.
09.09.14. No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Greg Baker
No 6 Tank: 5 Curlew Sandpiper (1 adult and 4 juveniles) arrived with the main Dunlin and Ringed Plover flock just after 10 am.  4 juvenile Little Stint were already present (including a colour-ringed individual whose origins it will be interesting to investigate) as were 12 Ruff and a single Black-tailed Godwit.
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9 Greenshank were roosting at the secluded pool also on No.6 Tank and 5 Chiffchaff were counted along the top track.
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A large flock of wagtails and pipits on the dry mud included 3 Yellow, c30 White and 50 Pied Wagtail along with plenty of Meadow Pipit and a few Skylark.
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Earlier at the Weaver Bend: 4 Pintail, 26 Black-tailed Godwit, 51 Redshank, 4 Little Grebe and 4 Chiffchaff.
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Observer and images: Greg Baker.

Nature Notes #45

Nature Notes #45

As autumn progresses and the mornings hover above freezing, the onset of winter isn’t too far away in real terms. Migrant birds pour through Britain on their way south with all the warblers and hirundines becoming less common by the day. Pink-footed Geese have already begun arriving, the first of tens of thousands of birds that will spent the winter in the UK.
Insects are mainly in pupal stage ready for emergence next year, yet there is one family that are still obvious on sunny, calm, warm autumnal days, the hoverflies. Mainly migrants with a few residents, they feed on the last flowering Perennial Sow-thistles and Marsh Woundworts, Creeping Thistles and Bindweeds.

y PHOTO 1 Bindweed Convolvulus arvensis FM Sept6th14 0371

I found a patch of Bindweed Convolvulus arvensis on the track alongside No.6 tank. It had many of these insects feeding on it. A really nice, delicate flower, unobtrusive amongst the nettles and thistles. I really like this species of bindweed with its blue stamens.
y PHOTO 2 Bindweed Convolvulus arvensis with hoverfly FM Sept6th14 0362The hoverfly is probably a Syrphus or Eupeodes species butthe photo isn’t good enough for an identification.

x PHOTO 3 Episyrphus balteatusFM Aug23rd14 0052
Image 3: Episyrphus balteatus. Much easier is the commonest hoverfly in Britain, Episyrphus balteatus, which is a common resident and migrant and can even be seen in winter on mild days as it hibernates.

Another attractive species is Eupeodes corollae which I found feeding on the Perrenial Sow-thistles on No4 tank. It too is a migrant and can be common even in gardens.
x PHOTO 4 Eupeodes corollae male FM Aug24th14 0116Image 4: Eupeodes corollae
A species pair were also found on the Sow-thistles. Helophilus hybridus and Helophilus trivittatus which look very similar but H.trivittatus is a brighter, more lemony yellow, rather than the deeper yellow of

x PHOTO 5 Helophilus hybridus FM Aug24th14 0131.

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Image 5: Helophilus hybridus. H.hybridus is a resident species that is found in wetlands across Britain whereas H.trivittatus is a migrant that frequents coastal areas and river courses.

x PHOTO 6 Helophilus trivittatus FM Aug24th14 0108Image 6: Helophilus trivittatus
Lastly and a species that I’d been looking out for, is a specialist hoverfly that occurs around woodland and field edges but in most other habitats as well. Rhingia campestris has an exceptionally long rostrum (like a long nose) that encloses a proboscis that allows the insect to feed in deep tubular flowers like Red Campion and Marsh Woundwort. I found several lethargically feeding on the latter along the path along the Weaver by the Lum. The larvae feed in fresh cattle dung or silage. A very nice find indeed, especially when the birds fail to perform.

y PHOTO 7 Rhingia campestris FM Sept6th14 0399y PHOTO 8 Rhingia campestris FM Sept6th14 0404Image 7 and 8: Rhingia campestris.

Written and illustrated by Tony Broome.

08.09.14. Birdlog & Nature Notes #44

08.09.14. Birdlog & Nature Notes #44

We started the day taking a little time to watch the Tour of Britain Cycle Race zoom over Runcorn Bridge and past us in 7 seconds before disappearing off to Warrington. Then it was down to Frodsham Marsh for a tour of the gathered wader flocks on No.6 tank.

08.09.14. Buff coloured Dunlin, No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The incoming tide on the River Mersey wasn’t particularly high but still it reached high enough to bring in the shorebirds. Already present on our arrival was 550 Dunlin (including the buff coloured bird see image opposite) and 240 Ringed Plover. A careful scrutiny of the flocks resulted in seeing 8 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, 4 juvenile Little Stint, a single Ruff, 1 Greenshank and 3 Black-tailed Godwit. The last thing these birds wanted was to be disturbed from their slumber/dinner by a marauding Peregrine out looking for hors d’oeuvre of petite peep, if there were any on the menu (which there wasn’t).

The Black-headed Gull midday roost of 230 birds included a few Common Gull within their midst. Common Teal continue to rise in numbers with 200 present. Both Shoveler and Common Shelduck filled the gaps

Other birds of note from the tank included 1 Yellow, 12 Pied and 3 White Wagtail with a light passage of Meadow Pipit. Hirundines amounted to 120 birds high above the tank and a Goldcrest calling from bushes close to the ramp area where there was a gathering of 10 Southern Hawker Dragonflies.

Red Darter, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton

08.09.14. Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton

Sated by an injection of wader watching we continued our walk after transporting ourselves to Delamere Forest to follow the route around Blakemere. There were plenty of dragonflies out in force with Black and Ruddy Darters (see image: drag & fag) which were fairly common with a few Southern Hawkers also out and about.

The Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar is an odd-looking creature and aptly named from the elephant trunk like body (with added big bulging false eyes). When we found one crossing the track it gave us the opportunity to carefully examine and test a theory. The theory to be tested was, when handled the caterpillar will raised its head then began to twist and turn in an attempt to frighten us away (which it did but didn’t scare us).

A few photographs later and placed in a safe area we left it to continue to find a suitable food supply and then perhaps scare off the Gruffalo hunters.

08.09.14. Larch Bolette, fungi, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton
08.09.14. Common Stinkhorn fungi, Delamere Forest. Bill MortonA Fungi frolic in the woods (so to speak) resulted in finding a particularly smelly and rude looking Common Stinkhorn. Further fungi species included 08.09.14. Pine Bolette, fungi, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton08.09.14. Fly Agaric fungi, Delamere Forest. Bill MortonCommon Earth Ball, Bill MortonCommon Earthball, Powdery Brittlegill, Larch and Pine Bolette, Saffron Milkcap and Fly Agaric to name just a few of the myriad of these lifeforms beginning to appear in the forest. We’ll look forward to more of the same in the coming months.

Observers: Sparky,WSM (and images)