Design by Committee

Design by Committee

This is your opportunity to make a difference to the habitat at Frodsham Marsh, one of the county’s premier sites for birds.

CAWOS, along with other members of the Habitat Creation and Management Group (Natural England, RSPB, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Cheshire West and Chester Council), has been asked to make suggestions for habitat creation at Frodsham Marsh associated with the windfarm development.
CAWOS Council has decided to invite CAWOS members to have their say.

The key points of the development for bird habitat, which have been included as (legally-binding) conditions in the planning permission, are (for the lifetime of the windfarm, assumed to be 25 years):
– No.6 bed will continue as the operational Ship Canal dredging deposit bed and will be kept wet as a result
– No.3 bed will have several scrapes, seasonally flooded, aimed at attracting waders and ducks and hoping this will minimise the numbers using the east and west ends of the site where the turbines are
– No.4 bed will be maintained as a reed bed including managing it to prevent succession to scrub
– The grass fields over no.2 and no.5 beds will be maintained in a condition favourable for wintering wader species

But the details are not specified in the planning permission and are, to some extent, open to discussion, so we are inviting CAWOS members to put forward suggestions for habitat creation. Some work was started already in winter 2014-15, including removal of most of the scrub from
no.4 bed and digging several scrapes in no.3 bed; the southern ones are believed to be working well with groundwater, but the northern ones do not yet retain water and will be lined with a suitable geotextile material.

Several ideas for extra work have already been proposed, including:
– removing all trees, bushes, fences etc around or within no.3 bed so there are no perching posts for predators, especially to benefit wintering and breeding waders
– sowing no.3 bed with a suitable meadow-grass mix, with cattle/ sheep grazing to keep the grass short
– enhancing the ditch system alongside the track at the south side of
no.3 bed with planting of (more) reeds to create a continuous long narrow reedbed for birds (and water voles etc?)
– including islands in one or two of the scrapes on no.3 bed, to be covered with small shingle
– changing the drainage system on no.4 bed so that it becomes a wet reedbed rather than dry as at the moment … 100+ha of wet reedbed would be amongst the largest in the country and ought to hold Bittern, Water Rail, Bearded Tit etc as well as Marsh Harrier, provided that they tolerate the turbines overhead

But other proposals are welcome. Heavy machinery and manpower is available, so, think big! The agreed work will mostly take place in August and September this year, following discussion at the Habitat Creation and Management Group meeting on 14 July.

Please send your suggestions to David Norman, CAWOS’s representative on the HCMG, at davidnorman@cawos.org, by 30 June.

Brian Dyke
CAWOS Chairman.

Apparently everyone is invited to submit their ideas.

15.06.15. Birdlog

15.06.15. Birdlog

15.06.15. Mozzie and ship canal sigh above No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

An afternoon amble down to No.6 tank and the mitigation that is No.3 tank. There were clouds of mosquitoes including some on this Manchester Ship Canal signage.

The pools there are gradually drying up and are barely holding the local birdlife but 23 Black-tailed Godwit dropped in from resting up on No.6 tank, 2 Dunlin and a pair of Ringed Plover were along the damp edges.

15.06.15. Mitigation on No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

15.06.15. Gun Turret from No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonThe secluded pool attracted 24 Gadwall, 12 Tufted Duck and a Little Grebe, As mentioned above the summering flock of Black-tailed Godwit commuted between the two tanks and the Mersey Estuary.15.06.15. male Ruff, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (6)

15.06.15. male Ruff, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (4)

15.06.15. male Ruff, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2) 15.06.15. male Ruff, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3) 15.06.15. male Ruff, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (5) 15.06.15. Wigeon and Canada Goose, No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonAlso present was the dandy fop male Ruff with 3 Wigeon on the vegetated ground close to the northern banks. 67 Common Shelduck, 3 drake Pochard, 74 Tufted Duck (mostly drakes), 24 Mallard and surprisingly 2 Great Crested Grebe which is testament to the recent pumping of sludge and the increased water level on No.6 tank. A Water Rail was calling in the thick reed beds.

15.06.15. Vechiles on No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)

A female Marsh Harrier was on No.4 tank while the heavy indusrious traffic thundered past kicking up clouds of fine white dust.

Video of Ruff watching the skies then taking a nap here. https://vimeo.com/130812100

Observer (video and images): WSM