Out this morning around No.4 tank taking in the canal path until the weather broke and the clouds opened. A herd of swans out on the Frodsham Score salt marsh contained both Mute and Whooper Swan and c 2000 Canada Goose which were grazing out there.
A flock of Black-head Gull on the canal went in to panic mode when a Merlin powered through them and set its sights on the massive flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover on the field alongside the Holpool Gutter. Fieldfare and Redwing were in good numbers along the path searching in vain for the hawthorn berries and in turn attracted the attention of a Sparrowhawk.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).
After Storm Desmond moved through, drowning the Lake District as it did so, today was meant to be dry, calm and clear skies.
As I drove down the M56 with the wipers on go fast and the rain being so heavy I couldn’t see much and the wind so strong that trees were bending, I wondered why I was heading towards Frodder’s. But there’s always something to see and I’m the eternal optimist so, I carried on and arrived at the old birdlog around 09.30 hrs. The rain was blowing sideways and I drove up to Marsh Farm and got the coffee and biscuits out and parked so that the rain was battering the other side of the car.
I looked at the grey sky and noticed a passerine flying north about a 100m away. It had a peculiar whirring undulating flight that got alarm bells ringing…was it a Snow Bunting? I watched as the silhouette carried on out over the Mersey Estuary and as it dipped below the skyline for a second I got a flash of white. The views were far from conclusive and a ‘possible’ was all I could put in the little black notebook. A couple of Kestrel and a Raven flew past but there was no sign of any Stonechat on the pipes.
I finished the coffee and drove slowly back towards the old log where I parked up and walked out to the River Weaver, around the wet field by Redwall reed bed. No Snipe today, probably nervous after yesterday’s shoot? The Weaver was equally devoid of birds, the best I could do was 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Goldeneye.
The hedges had quite a few thrushes picking at the last of the hawthorn berries and as I got back to the car to have some lunch, a chit-chit, chit, chit suddenly woke me up again. I called and it changed direction and came and sat in a Hawthorn near me calling. A Lesser Redpoll. It sat there for a few minutes before flying off. A piping Bullfinch dropped in nearby but disappeared almost immediately. FD turned up and we walked along Brook Furlong Lane looking at thrushes. Around 30 Fieldfare, 10 Redwing and 20 Blackbird flitted between hedges and occasionally came down to the track to drink from puddles.
FD pointed out that I had a flat tyre, not the best thing to have on the tracks at Frodsham. As it wasn’t completely flat I managed to get to No.3 tank but the skies were gloomy and the pools looked bird-less apart from the odd pipit and wagtail. Ray and Lynne were there and showed me a picture of a raptor that had been sat on the fence until just before I’d arrived. A very nice Merlin. Deciding that my tyre took priority I headed into Frodsham to find a garage. As I headed out along an incredibly muddy track due to a farmer transporting manure for a field on Moorditch Lane, a small flock of Linnet got up from weeds and perched up in a hawthorn. Just over the bridge into Frodsham, a noisy party of House Sparrow sat in the hedge and looked at me. My first photogenic birds all day…but bird-wise the least inspiring day for a long time.
Observer: Tony Broome (images 4-9), Frank Duff.