Nordic Jackdaw in Wilmslow

Nordic Jackdaw in Wilmslow

29.11.15. Nordic Jackdaw, Wilmslow. Tony Broome (2)

It’s not often this blog ventures from the security of the Mersey but Mr Broome has got something to enhance an article I did some time ago about an eastern Jackdaw at the Heath, Runcorn (see link below).

Nordic Jackdaw in Wilmslow

29.11.15. Nordic Jackdaw, Wilmslow. Tony Broome (4)

29.11.15. Nordic Jackdaw, Wilmslow. Tony Broome (5)28.11.15.  After having cooked a roast chicken dinner on Saturday, I kept the carcass and skin like I always do, so that the local corvids can get chance to squabble over the remains. On Sunday morning I threw the leftovers onto the grass verge opposite my house. Various dogs on leads had to be dragged past the spot by their mystified owners who probably wondered where a cooked chicken had appeared from.

29.11.15. Nordic Jackdaw, Wilmslow. Tony Broome (3)

However, it wasn’t long before the local Magpie troupe had found it and they started to pick at the pieces around the outside. Surprisingly, the six of them were booted off unceremoniously by four Black-headed Gulls that suddenly dropped in and claimed the corpse. I thought that the Magpies would have put up more of a fight but they scattered. As the bones dwindled in number, a Jackdaw dropped in to join the feast and I immediately noticed that it had obvious silvery-white patches either side of its neck. It had to be one of the eastern ones. I grabbed my camera but unfortunately I had it set for sky and had to shoot through a double-glazed window. The results weren’t brilliant.

29.11.15. Nordic Jackdaw, Wilmslow. Tony Broome (1)

It wasn’t a particularly dark bird underneath and there was some contrast between the black throat and the dark grey underparts which were mottled black. The black fore-crown and centre crown contrasted greatly with the pale grey ear coverts, nape and neck which terminated on the neck sides in pale silvery-white patches that almost met around the nape when the bird stretched its head up. The mantle, like the underparts, was dark grey with black blotching in neat rows, particularly on the coverts. When turned face-on the neck patches even looked white at times. The wings and tail were blackish grey, although the greater coverts, secondaries and tertials took on a metallic royal blue hue at certain angles. It was quite an attractive bird and the last thing I expected when I threw my chicken carcass onto the grass.

The race of Jackdaw that breeds in Britain, most of western Europe and Italy is Common Jackdaw (a named coined by the Dutch birders) ‘spermologus’ which is the Jackdaw you normally see around and about and the common breeder. In Scandinavia, Nordic Jackdaw,’monedula’, similar to the bird in the pictures, is the usual race and then further east into Russia is ‘soemmerringii’, Russian Jackdaw, a much darker race with generally blacker underparts, paler grey heads and whiter neck patches. In between the Russian and Scandinavian races there are integrades and similarly, between the European and Scandinavian races there intergrades. They are a complex.

This bird was very similar to the one that is discussed on the Frodsham Blog, hence the write-up.

A great article is on Martin Garners website, Birding Frontiers, and it has lots of photos and a link to the Dutch birding site. Martin’s site

A link to the Runcorn Eastern Jackdaw:

Thanks to Dave Craven and Bill Morton for commenting on the photos.

Tony Broome

30.11.15. Birdlog

30.11.15. Birdlog

30.11.15. Ducks, No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston

A break in the weather was short lived and by the time I got to the marsh it was pouring down so a quick walk along the path between No.5 and No.6 tanks. Small numbers of Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Common Teal with Mallard and a few Wigeon were out on the water. A single Pochard could be seen amongst the tufties but there may have been more on the far bank. A flock of Raven were scouting the area for carrion and several parties of Fieldfare passed through. A flock of c1000 Starling were heading east to there roost for the night.

Observer and image: Paul Ralston.


28.11.15. Birdlog

28.11.15. Birdlog

Kestrel, Tony BroomeIn the bleak mid winter and it felt like it today on the marsh. I wimped out and wisely used the car for watching from. The pools on the mitigation of No.3 tank are filling up nicely  with all the rain that is falling since yesterday tea time. The newly created scrapes at the northern side need a lot more water yet. Otherwise the pools already filling up held a small party of Mute Swan.

The usual Raven parties were patrolling the banks of Frodsham Score with scouting parties heading across the marsh on the lookout for sheep carrion. A Common Buzzard flew over the secluded pool and flushed out 34 Common Teal and a Shoveler. Elsewhere, Common Teal on the main body of No.6 tank attracted more teal mostly seeking shelter in the vegetation along with 23 Gadwall with the drakes in the act of nuptial displaying. A lone drake Pintail braved the elements and was feeding in the centre of the tank.

High tide brought in a few small (several hundred) Dunlin with a duo of Ruff in tow. Apart from the buzzard there were two Kestrel hunting the sludge tank banks while a couple of flocks of Fieldfare were enjoying the benefits of a late crop of hawthorn berries at the horse paddock and below the inside basin of No.6 tank.

Observer: WSM.

Image by Tony Broome.

25.11.15. Birdlog

25.11.15. Birdlog

25.11.15. Whooper Swans, Frodsham Score. Paul Ralston

25.11.15. Starling murmuration, Frodsham Score. Paul Ralston

A walk around No.6 tank and along the Manchester Ship Canal path during high tide. A small flock of Pink-footed Goose heading south over No.4 tank calling as they went. A Merlin was again attacking the Starling flock over Frodsham Score. A Great White Egret was feeding on the rising tide with 3 Little Egret with several Grey Heron for company. The Whooper Swan numbers have increased with a flock of 15 birds near where the Holpool Gutter enters the salt marsh but later moved over to Ince Marsh. The wintering Green Sandpiper were in there chosen spot. No.6 tank held good numbers of Common Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and a few Common Shelduck with the Mute Swans.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston

25.11.15. Pink-footed Geese, Frodsham Score. Paul Ralston

23.11.15. Birdlog

23.11.15. Birdlog

23.11.15. female Merlin, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

23.11.15.Fieldfares, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonA whistle-stop visit to check on the owl show on No.5 tank towards dusk was marred by the cold damp and drizzle conditions. There was little of note although a female Merlin perched up was waiting for the Starling roost to assemble.

An adult Peregrine was present on top of the blue chimney at Weston Point and a few Common Buzzard were loafing about while a couple of Kestrel were actively hunting the embankments of No.5 tank.

The recent cold weather saw a small movement of both Fieldfare and Redwing with birds leaping from one hedgerow to the next.

The usual crow of opportunity the Raven never ceased to impress with their dinner topped up with dead carrion laying about the fields.

Observer and images: WSM, Sparky

22.11.15. Birdlog

22.11.15. Birdlog

22.11.15. Snowy Welsh hills from No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston

22.11.15. Weston Point from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton

Masses of Redwing moving west along the Manchester Ship Canal at first light this morning and 4 Little Egret out on Frodsham Score.

A Merlin sat on a post took a brief interest in a flock of Golden Plover passing by but soon settled back on its post.

No.6 tank had good numbers of Gadwell, Common Teal, Shoverler, Mallard and a few Wigeon plus 7 Mute Swan . The track along Lordship Lane again held large numbers of finches which were made up of Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and perhaps a few Brambling mixed in with them?

22.11.15. Golden Plover, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston

Back on the ship canal were 5 small geese which flew over the score could just be made out in the poor as Pink-footed Goose and a good flock of Golden Plover sat with the Lapwings near the Holpool Gutter.

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 2-3) and image 1 by WSM.

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A late start, arriving at just before 9 am to an overcast, gloomy sky with bouts of drizzly type rain for the first hour. I sat in the car at the old log and let the heaviest shower pass by. The fields were wet and Frodsham Hill had mist hanging half way down it. I ventured out and walked to the Weaver past Redwall reedbed. The river was definitely lacking in birds. A few Teal dozed on the bank half way down and a mixed flock of Tufted and Pochard dived a bit further along. 12 Coot fed on the short grass. The best of the birds were 13 Goldeneye including two males. I walked back along the bank and around the field that surrounds Redwall, flushing 8 Common Snipe from one particularly wet marshy area. Redwin and Blackbirds left the Hawthorns in dibs and drabs.

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I got back to my car and was just sipping a coffee when a familiar zingy call reached my ears, followed by a stuttering Tzic….Tzurk…….Tzic, tzic… and a male Yellowhammer dropped into my favourite old apple tree, at the back of the tree of course. It sat there for about thirty seconds before flying off high eastwards… A good record as they are hard to connect with on the marsh these days.

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Next, I had a look at Marsh Farm. Around 500 Lapwing fed on No1 whilst 9 Raven pulled apart a dead sheep on No.2 tank. The tide was at low point but the weather brightened up and the sun came out, lighting up Hale Lighthouse like a beacon from the skies. But apart from the usual waders and hordes of distant gulls, there wasn’t anything of note.

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Then to the best part of the marsh for me, the NE corner of No.4 tank overlooking the Score. Unlike yesterday, it was calm. Cold yes, but not penetratingly so. The sun came out and bathed the landscape in a warm glow. I scoped the Score for anything interesting… At least 11 Little Egret but no sign of the Great White’s that could be seen from Hale Lighthouse. Lots of distant gulls and geese but they were all too far away to see any detail.

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Then a great bit of aerial combat took place in front of me. A Common Buzzard got up off the ground and flew across the Score which alerted the local adult Peregrine and it came straight in to harass the Buzzard. The Buzzard jinked to avoid the onslaught, but was saved by the unluckiest Feral Pigeon ever, which flew straight between the combatants. The Peregrine left the Buzzard to chase the pigeon and soon hit it in mid-air in a cloud of feathers. The pigeon dropped to the ground and as the Peregrine turned around to come back for another strike, the Buzzard pounced and landed on top of the pigeon. One really annoyed Peregrine! That is karma in my book. If the Peregrine hadn’t hassled the Buzzard, it could have concentrated on the pigeon and eaten well. There must be a moral to that story…

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Then big black clouds rolled in from the NE and I retired to the car, had another cup of coffee and drove towards the bridge and home. A Stonechat called form No.6 and odd Reed Bunting flew along the Elders. A Grey Wagtail fed on a steaming pile of manure near the motorway bridge, a mixed flock of about 30 Linnet, a few Goldfinche and Chaffinch fed by the ditch, balancing on the dried stems of Oilseed Rape. I tried to drive slow and get some photos but they were much too wary. Even so, it had been a good few hours, enjoyable as always.

Observer: Tony Broome (images 4-9).

21.11.15. Birdlog

21.11.15. Birdlog

21.11.15. Black-tailed Godwit, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome (1)

The mild weather of late had disappeared virtually overnight and an arctic northerly was forecast to blow all weekend. There were Leach’s Petrels on the coast, maybe there’d be some on the river?

21.11.15. Sunrise over Frodsham Hill from Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

I was up ridiculously early, for me anyway, 05.45 hrs. Breakfast eaten, coffee made, butties packed and off out into the chill air, westwards down the M56 towards the Frodsham Marsh, making one stop en route because it was still dark at 7 am. Yes, an extra hot latte with orange from my favourite coffee emporium in Frodsham.

21.11.15. Black-tailed Godwit, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome (2)

21.11.15. Frank Duff on No.4 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeI arrived at the corner of No.4 tank around 7.30am and was surprised to see Frank role up shortly after me. He’s never early! It’s amazing what a potential grip off will do to a man! On the other side of the river DC was already in situ next to the lighthouse. Wall to wall blue sky for a change. I followed Frank out to the north-west corner of No.4 to do some river watching as the 7 am tide fell and birds began to move about. It was a low high tide, just over five metres and not the best to drag in seabirds, both height-wise and time-wise. Add to that, a howling northerly gale that made 3c feel like -3c and we were going to struggle. Dawn came and as the sun rose above Frodsham Hill, it lit up the vista in front of us like a searchlight. But it was bitterly cold! We both got down behind bank to try and get some respite from the searing cold, but it only worked to a lesser degree.

21.11.15. Coot, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome


21.11.15. Finch flock, Frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeTwo and a half hours later with only a Peregrine and a Little Egret to show for our efforts, we walked back for coffee. 5 Pink-foot Goose flew north in the distance. No petrels, no skuas, no…nothing! DC had seen a flock of Bewick’s Swan, 2 Great White Egret, a male Red-breasted Merganser and two flocks of Redpoll, some of which looked so pale that they looked like Mealies, and one which perched up near him later proved so.

21.11.15. Stonechat, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

21.11.15. Grey Heron, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

Frank left for breakfast and set off to have a wander about. It wasn’t that easy in the cold wind and seeing anything was hard enough it was so strong, but hearing anything was impossible, my hood covering a wooly hat..and my ears. Frodsham Marsh is totally exposed and any wind is a problem, but a northerly poses special difficulties. Curlew and Golden Plover fed in the fields and I flushed a single Common Snipe and 5 Skylark.

21.11.15. Goldfinch, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

So, the day was to be totally normal after so much expectation. 5 Kestrel, 70 Goldfinch, 12 Linnet, a male Stonechat on No.6 tank, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 5 Gadwall on the Secluded Pool, 2 Common Buzzards, 1 Grey Wagtail and 2 Sparrowhawk. Thrushes were in evidence. 15+ Blackbird, 20+ Redwing and 120+ Fieldfare fed on Hawthorn berries in several areas. Kimera Wood had a Great-spotted Woodpecker but little else. The head-high nettles and fallen branches made entry and exit into the wood a very slow process and I emerged an hour later feeling stung and battered….but very hot.

21.11.15. No.3 tank track, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

21.11.15. Kestrel, Frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeI stood by the corner of No.4 tank enjoying another brew and Frank turned up. He’d had some  Goldeneye and a few Whooper Swan on the Weaver Bend but little else. As we chatted a Merlin went through over No.4 and onto No.3 tank. It, or another was hunting in the area in late afternoon. As I drove off towards home, I stopped by No.5 to watch a couple of Short-eared Owl perched on posts and hunting over the rough grassland. A couple, relatively new to birding had stopped and the owls were a lifer for them. Off course I’ve forgotten their names, possibly Ray and Lyn, but a nice way to end the day for all of us.

21.11.15. Curlew, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

Observers : Tony Broome (write-up and images), Frank Duff and over at Hale Dave Craven (some minor alterations by the editor).

20.11.15. Birdlog

20.11.15. Birdlog

20.11.15. Gt W Egret, Frodsham Score. Paul Ralston

20.11.15. Curlew, Ince Marsh. Paul RalstonA short walk along the canal from Ince Berth to the Canal Pools early this morning. There were 2 Great White Egret far out on Ince Marsh and 4 Little Egret about the marsh. A male and female Sparrowhawk hunting the many finch flocks along the pathway. Also present in good numbers of were Golden Plover and Lapwing.

20.11.15. Green Sandpipers, Canal Pools, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston

The usual pair of wintering Green Sandpiper were again along the Canal Pool. On the way off the marsh the fields by the pig farm held many Curlew and the roadside bushes were full of Fieldfare and Redwing.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston,

The idea of a barragr across the River Mersey rears its ugly head again time for action:

18.11.15. Birdlog

18.11.15. Birdlog

18.11.15. Goldeneye, Weaver Causeway, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston

A walk around the Weaver Bend carrying my replacement camera after I had lost my camera on the marsh yesterday. There were good numbers of Tufted Duck with 4 Great Crested Grebe and 6 Goldeneye were on the river. A quick look over No.6 tank and more tufties were there with Common Shelduck, Common Teal, Mallard and a dozen Mute Swan. One last look for my lost camera along the canal path and along the bank on No.4 tank and amazingly I found it at the bottom of the bank amongst the brambles!

Observer and images: Paul Ralston

17.11.15. Birdlog

17.11.15. Birdlog

A storm approaching over the River Mersey at 4.30 pm. Bill Morton

An early morning walk from Ince Berth and around No.6 tank. There were 5 Whooper Swan out on Frodsham Score where there were also 5 Little Egret and 2 Great White Egret.

A Merlin was again forcing the Starlings in to a tight bit ball and putting on a great display but failed in its attempt to secure a full English breakfast.

Several Fieldfare were feeding on the hawthorn berries and a mixed flock of finches made up of Chaffinch, Linnet and Goldfinch moved through the hedges. A large flock of Pink-footed Goose were heading south and went straight overhead.

The two wintering Green Sandpiper were on the Canal Pools. Onward and to No.6 tank which was surprisingly quiet with small numbers of Common Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck, a couple of Common Shelduck and a dozen Mute Swan. Walking around No.6 tank brought me to Lordship Lane which held more finch flocks and were hunted by a Sparrowhawk. A flock of Reed Bunting were in the blackthorn bushes by the southern ramp to six where and a Kestrel sat close by. T

The Splashing Pool was also quiet with a few Coot, Moorhen plus 2 Little Grebe. A Green Sandpiper was seen leaving at the far end of the pool. The walk back along the canal produced a Short-eared Owl hunting the bank on No.4 tank.

I dropped my camera along the canal path went back to look for it no sign of it. If anyone comes across it could them leave a message on the comments box at the base of this page. Thanks.

Observer: Paul Ralston.

A storm approaching the Mersey Estuary this evening. Image by WSM.

07.11.15. Black-tailed Godwit (coloure ringed) No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (17)

I received the data back today from Jenny Gill regarding the colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit. Details below. Continue reading