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, 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.

Observer (video and images): WSM

14.06.15. WeBS Count

14.06.15. WeBS Count

14.06.15. feamle Marsh Harrier, No.4 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde

It was a cold and murky morning for the WeBS, but the birds didn’t disappoint.
We headed to No.6 tank and the mitigation area on No.3 tank via Lordship Lane where hundreds of Swifts were feeding mixed in with good numbers of House Martin and a handful of Swallow.  There was a fine jet of water spraying out of the grass and covering the road on the approach to the fork in the road just before No.6 which was a bit odd. We couldn’t quite work out where it was coming from, but it was coming out with quite some force (car windows up job).
14.06.15. singing Skylark, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde
All along Lordship Lane we could hear Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting.  Small flocks of Goldfinch and Linnet were flitting from tree to tree and Magpies were looking on rather snooterly.
14.06.15. Black-tailed Godwits and Ruff, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde (1)
A female Marsh Harrier was perched in a tree in the far distance across No.4 tank, but it gave a great opportunity to zoom in with the scope and study her properly.  There was also a flyby on No.4 tank from a male and female Cuckoo (is this quite late or not). A Dunnock in the gloom took a bit of ID-ing and I’d be too embarrassed to mention some of the IDs we came up with before a glimmer of sunlight revealed him! A Kestrel was seen heading back towards Frodsham Hill carrying prey, and then shortly after heading back out to the score to hunt again. We saw this repeated several times throughout the morning.
14.06.15.  Chiffchaff, Frodsham Marsh
The Splashing Pool held Tufties, Coot families and a Little Grebe, and 2 Jays flew across the pool and landed in one of the shrubs.
No.3 tank was very quiet with just a few Shelduck, Canada Geese and Coot, but it also held 5 Dunlin, 8 Black-tailed Godwit and a very busy Meadow Pipit.
No.6 tank held the treasures of the day. There were a flock of over 100 Black-tailed Godwit happily feeding until the male Marsh Harrier did the slowest, closest flyby we’ve ever seen. I think we could have reached out and touched him – way too close for the big lens anyway. Well, all hell broke loose as everything took to the sky. The Godwits scattered and it was then that we could see a stranger flying with them. They resettled in 2 groups, with one bird dropping back down in between them; a stunning Ruff in full summer plumage.
14.06.15.  female Gadwall and ducklings, Frodsham Marsh
Highlight of the day. He was splendid. The photos are just record shots as he was way out across the tank in the gloom, but absolutely stunning through the scope. I’m afraid everyone walking past was made to look at him.  4 Avocet were feeding on the far side of No.6 tank and wildfowl included 2 Pochard, 4 Teal and 3 Wigeon. 3 Ringed Plover were feeding in the middle of No.6 and a Little Grebe was on the main body of water.
Not a bad morning at all.
Elsewhere across the marsh: 1 female Marsh Harrier
 Observers: Heather (images 1-3), Nigel & Findlay Wilde.
14.06.15.  Bar-tailed Godwit, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh
Also note on the mitigation of No.3 tank was a Bar-tailed Godwit with 20 Black-tailed Godwit and the black ruffed Ruff.
14.06.15.  male Ruff, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh
The 2 Black Swan were on the Weaver estuary with 38 Mute Swan, 8 Great Crested Grebe and a drake Pochard with the Tufted Duck. One Avocet and a Little Ringed Plover were on the Weaver Bend. In the area were also a singing Willow Warbler, 3 Greenfinch and a Mistle Thrush.
Observer: Alyn Chambers (images 4-7).

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).