Adventures in biological recording – June (Part 1)

Tigerlily blue

My adventures in biological recording for this month have so far included going on a Invertebrate recording event with Cheshire Active Naturalists, seeing my first Water Vole and a touch of Bat Surveying!


Cheshire Active Naturalists are a group of professional and amateur naturalists that provide training (only £30 a year!) in a variety of natural sciences to members, the great thing about this group is having the opportunity to learn new skills in a relaxed environment with people who are extremely knowledgeable about what they are teaching and not forgetting that the yearly membership fee is very good value for money for the scope and amount of courses on offer. So far since joining I’ve had the opportunity to attend courses on conducting Phase One habitat surveys and using the extremely useful but difficult to get your teeth into book – “The Vegetative Key to the British Flora”.

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13.06.15. Birdlog

13.06.15. Birdlog

13.06.15. Paul Ralston (1)

A walk around the Weaver Bend this morning starting at Brook Furlong Lane. Chiffchaff and Reed Warbler singing loud and proud in the hedge and reeds along the lane with Wren, Blackbird and Song Thrush joining in.

13.06.15. Paul Ralston. copy

On to the river bank more Reed and Sedge Warbler with Reed Bunting were seen and heard. Two male Pochard were amongst the Shelduck, tufted Duck, Gadwell and Mallard on the river and a least a dozen Great Crested Grebe were fishing successfully. Swifts and martins were hunting high up over the river and Starlings were in a flock of approx 300 birds which drew the attention of a passing Sparrowhawk.

The Shooters’ Pool held more Tufted Duck and Gadwell with the addition of a moulting male Shoveler and single drake Common Teal and a Black-tailed Godwit. The Black Swan was keeping company with Mute on the Weaver Bend  and a Willow Warbler sang nearby.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

13.06.15. Paul Ralston (2)

An additional Black Swan was on No.6 tank, while the second bird favoured the Weaver Bend and that area also attracted an Avocet. Back to No.6 tank and a couple of drake Wigeon, 2 Pochard and 70 Tufted Duck (mostly males) were evident,  The Lum had a ‘reeling’ Grasshopper Warbler while a lovely male Whinchat was star struck at Redwall reed bed.

The mitigation area on No.3 tank had a single Dunlin, a Black-tailed Godwit, a splendid Ruff with a fine black feather mane. A Ringed Plover with chicks, also a Little Ringed Plover and a Yellow Wagtail. The male Marsh Harrier was again over six and a Cuckoo over the mitigation site plus Water Rail calling closeby.

A Painted Lady added a bit of colour to the black pipes on No.1 tank.

Observers: Sean O’Hara, Paul Crawley, Frank Duff.

12.06.15. Birdlog

12.06.15. Birdlog


Dad and I went for a look at No.6 and in amongst all the Canada Geese I picked out this Barnacle Goose and I got a phone scope picture (above).
There were also 3 Wigeon on No.6 tank with some Gadwall and 26 Black-tailed Godwit. There were also 2 Avocet present and 6 Common Teal.
3 Little Ringer Plover were on the mitigation area of No.3 tank.
Observers: Nigel and Findlay Wilde

11.06.15. Birdlog

11.06.15. Birdlog

11.06.15. Green Sandpiper, No.3 tank Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A late start but we wanted to get there as the sun was ready to slip below the Liverpool skyline.

11.06.15. Drake Wigeon, No.6 tank Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The mitigation area on No.3 tank conjured up 4 Black-tailed Godwits that hightailed it out to the Mersey Estuary before I could get the scope on them. A pair of Ringed Plover had two fluffy chicks to care for and with 2 Dunlin nearby and a late or early Green Sandpiper depending on how you look at it bird was feeding on the drying up pools.

11.06.15. Sunset over Liverpool from Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

The secluded pool held a surprise with 3 drake Wigeon which flew out to the main water body when a male Marsh Harrier was quartering reed beds nearby.

No.6 tank had good counts of Common Shelduck with 230 birds, 32 Tufted Duck, a pair of Shoveler, 23 Gadwall, 5 Cormorant and a couple of drake Pochard. While the WD Sospan Dau busily dredged the Manchester Ship Canal into the small hours (pictured above)

11.06.15. Sunset over Liverpool from Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)

A bat  watch revealed a few Pipistrelle over the horse paddock and a Water Vole was swimming across the ditch by the motorway bridge.

Observers: Emily Traynor, WSM (and images).

10.06.15. Birdlog

10.06.15. Birdlog

28.05.15. male Cuckoo, Brook Furlong Lane fields, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)

24.08.14.Brimstone Butterfly, Pale Heights, Delamere Forest

I spent an hour at the Weaver Bend this afternoon. There were a few Drinker moth caterpillars and thousands of mosquitos plus a Brimstone and two Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.

The Cuckoo was along the Redwall reed bed and there were 8 Great Crested Grebe and a single Little Grebe on the River Weaver. The Black Swan was also about.

Observer: Paul Crawley.

Images: WSM

09.06.15. Birdlog

09.06.15. Birdlog

09.06.15. Juvenile Black-headed Gull, Weaver Causeway, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A walk down by the river to the Weaver Bend and back to the old log and then over No.6 tank and the mitigation area.

The Weaver Estuary held tens of Tufted Duck with a few pairs of Great Crested Grebe. A juvenile Black-headed Gull suggests it was born locally and not far from the river.

Hundreds of Swifts were low flying over my head along the Weaver Causeway and always entertaining to watch.

A Black-tailed Godwit was in the Lum with 3 drake Teal, 6 Gadwall and 7 Oystercatcher. On the way back a Cuckoo was back in the fields bordering Redwall reed bed.

09.06.15. Southern Marsh Orchid, Garden Snail, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

09.06.15.G arden Snail, I.C.I tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A drive over to No.6 tank and Common Shelduck were there in big numbers along with 26 Gadwall, 2 drake Pochard and 120 Tufted Duck. A little surprise was 5 Avocet in the recently flooded vegetation.

The mitigation had 5 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 summer Dunlin and both Ringed and Little Ringed Plover.

09.06.15. Mayfly, Weaver Causeway, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A secret site held loads of Southern Marsh Orchid and swarms of tens of thousands of Mosquitoe (and the one illustrated is a male) were on the wing attracting the Swift to the area from Redwall reed bed all the way along the river to the Weaver Bend. It is obvious these insects have recently emerged and that common this evening that they covered every available surface including the tripod legs, camera, my coat, trousers everything with a surface and even some without.

Observer: WSM (and images)

07.06.15. Frodsham Marsh Wind Farm (change to track at No.3 tank)

07.06.15. Wind Farm (change to track at No.3 tank)

06.06.15. No.3 tank (track change eastside), Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)

This week Peel Energy’s contractors altered the track at the south-east corner of No.3 tank where it takes a sharp bend to the left, from where the track leads to the eastern side of No.4 tank. Although not a radical charge it’s a change nonetheless, I have included some images just to Illustrate the area. It also appears that the bend in the track is at a higher elevation than previously and provides a better view over the mitigation area. Peel Energy have even created their own web site here

06.06.15. No.3 tank (track change eastside), Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (8)
06.06.15. No.3 tank (track change eastside), Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (6)06.06.15. No.3 tank (track change eastside), Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (11)09.06.15. New track layout No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)09.06.15. New track layout No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

07.06.15. Birdlog

07.06.15. Birdlog

07.06.15. Heather Wilde Frodsham Birds (9)

We did manage a last minute trip there this morning, although I am really not sure how this counts as the exam revision he is supposed to be doing!!!! Boys eh!
We started off at the Weaver Bend and were greeted by a flock of about 400 Black-tailed Godwit which had just taken flight. A Oystercatcher was calling noisily from somewhere and the Shelduck were guarding burrows on the far bank. There was a single Pochard on the water in amongst the Tufted Duck. Hundreds of Swift were feeding over the water and the fields.  Reed Buntings were again showing really well, along with Sedge and Reed Warblers.
07.06.15. Heather Wilde Frodsham Birds (10)
Fin caught a fleeting glimpse of a Little Gull heading up river, but it disappeared over the bank at the far end before he could draw breath and tell me about it!
There was a Little Ringer Plover feeding in the pools in the field next to the bend and 2 Grasshopper Warbler were ‘reeling’. One from the fence in the field and the other from a small shrub on the river bank.  Cuckoos were sadly not seen or heard.
07.06.15. Heather Wilde Frodsham Birds (11)
The mitigation tank was quiet and the usual suspects were on No.6 Tank; Black-headed Gulls, Shelduck, Canada Geese, Grey Heron. However a pair of Yellow Wagtail flew over the bank right next to us and landed in the middle of No.6.  On the pipe side of No.6 a Ringer Plover chick was feeding recklessly in the open as some rather menacing gulls circled over head. An adult Ringer Plover was feeding in the puddles of No4 Tank.
A very pale fronted Buzzard was on the fence along Lordship Lane but it tool flight as we approached and then followed us all the way along the lane.
Observers: Findlay and Heather Wilde (images 1 – 4).
07.06.15. Heather Wilde Frodsham Birds (12)
An Avocet joined the 3 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Ringed Plover and 10 Black-tailed Godwit all from the mitigation area on o.3 tank.
A Little Ringed Plover was at the Shooters’ pools while a pair of Marsh Harrier were over No.4 tank.
Observers: Sean O’Hara with additional sightings by Sparky and WSM.
07.06.15. Frodsham birds, Paul Ralston (9)
An evening walk around No.6 and along the River Weaver. The Black Swan was amongst the Mute’s on the river with several Great Crested Grebe where one particular grebe was struggling with a large fish it had caught. The bird dived on several occasions to avoid the attentions of the many Black-head Gulls intent on robing it of its catch.
07.06.15. Frodsham birds, Paul Ralston (7)
The air was full of Swifts and smaller numbers of House and Sand Martins. There were 4 off road bikes which disturbed the peace and quiet as they rode the riverside  path and made their way to Brook Furlong Lane. Reed and Sedge Warbler were singing in the bankside vegetation and Goldfinch and Whitethroat were feeding their fledged young in the hedgerows.
07.06.15. Frodsham birds, Paul Ralston (8)
No.6 held many Shelduck with Mallard, Tufted and Gadwall amongst them. the mitigation pools held 8 Black-tailed Godwit several Ringed Plover, a single Redshank and Lapwing.
The male Marsh Harrier was over No.4 as were 3 Common Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk.
07.06.15. Frodsham birds, Paul Ralston (6)
Along Lordship Lane the Lapwings were agitated by me walking by and flew within a couple of feet of my head. The bank on No.6 was full of hawking Swift, Swallow and House Martin but the hoped for Hobby didn’t show.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 5 – 8)

06.06.15. Birdlog

06.06.15. Birdlog

06.06.15. 1st summer Little Gull and Swifts, Weaver estuary, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (9)

The 1st summer (2nd cy) Little Gull was again on the River Weaver by the ‘bend’ and moving up to the estuary some time later.

06.06.15. Partial luecistic Black-headed Gull and Swifts, Weaver estuary, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A partial luecistic Black-headed Gull joined the regulars also along the river.

06.06.15. Black Swan, Weaver estuary, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)

The Black Swan was noted and the usual amount of Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe and Common Shelduck were present. 300 Common Swift were hawking low over the estuary and no amount of eye straining could pick a paler rumped bird out but it was good to hear the first hand account from the Scotsman himself regaling his story.

06.06.15. Black-headed and Black-tailed Godwits, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (5)

Bar-tailed Godwit copyNo.6 tank is beginning to show promise with the continued pumping of sludge onto the tank here. 254 Black-tailed Godwit were joined by a similar number of 1st summer (2nd cy) Back-headed Gull. A Bar-tailed Godwit and 4 Ringed Plover came in on the high tide and a further 6 Ringed Plover were on the mitigation area.

The Cuckoo was spotted briefly along Brook Furlong Lane while a Peregrine sat on top of the blue chimney at Weston Point.

Observers: Greg Baker, Mike Ball, Alyn Chambers (image 5), Frank Duff, Ken Dummigan, Mark Garner, WSM (and images 1 – 4).

05.06.15. Birdlog

05.06.15. Birdlog

Started at the Weaver Bend this evening where a 2nd cy Little Gull was picking off the insects with good numbers of Swift, Swallow and Martins. Also present were the Black Swan, an Avocet and 6 Pochard.
No.6 tank had a 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull, a Little Egret and a Cuckoo, which flew along the north bank.
A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling briefly from the scrub of No.5 tank.
2 Painted Lady butterflies were out in the evening sunshine.
Observers: Alyn Chambers, Frank Duff