I was walking along Brook Furlong Lane this morning with the intention of making my way out to the Weaver Estuary. There was very little to occupy my time birdwise except for a couple of Blue Tit hiding in the lichen covered branches of the Hawthorn hedgerow and attempting to be something they were not. I received a call from an old friend Doug Percival who gave me the sad news about the passing of our friend Martin. The reason why I mention (today of all days) about making my way to the Weaver Estuary on a whim was that nearly forty years ago (almost) to the day was the spot where I first bumped into a young birder called Martin Garner. Little did I know that on that day we would forge a friendship and both would grow up birding together. A few years later we conceived the idea of setting up a ‘birdlog’ on Frodsham Marsh to share bird news with our friends. Decades later that ‘birdlog’ would morph into this bird(b)log.
When I eventually got to the Weaver Estuary it was blowing a bone chilling westerly wind with little or no shelter to seek. A party of feeding Goldeneye were braving the centre of the river while the less hardy ducks like Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck and a couple of Black-tailed Godwit were sheltering in the lea of No.1 tank.
Walking back to the old birdlog I met Frank who had only just returned from a business trip to South America and from 35 degrees temperature to barely above freezing was a bit of a shock to his system but we paid a visit to Marsh Farm to look over the River Mersey and watch the tide roll in. A ‘ringed’ Curlew was on the embankment across the Manchester Ship Canal from Marsh Farm but was obviously too far to read any numbers. There was a selection of Oystercacher, Curlew and a few gulls coming in from Arpley tip after it closed for the day but there was nothing untoward amongst them.
The male Peregrine sat hunched up on the blue-topped chimney keeping an eye on proceedings. After a while Frank left to be replaced by Alyn Chambers. Alyn had earlier watched over No.6 tank where he had seen 40 Common Pochard, 140 Tufted Duck and 100 Shoveler. A Marsh Harrier was spotted earlier over No.3 tank (PC).
Walking back along Brook Furlong Lane Alyn spotted a Bullfinch and a Siskin but apart from that it was a little subdued.
Out on Frodsham Score there was c100 Pink-footed Goose, 14 Whooper Swan, Great White Egret, 12 Raven and again the Marsh Harrier per Dave Craven and his excellent Birding The Boundary.
Alyn’s birding tally from the day. 58 species seen during 6 hours on the marsh includes: Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Shelduck (7 on No.6 tank), Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler (100 on No.6 tank), Pochard (40 on No.6 tank, 2 on Weaver estuary), Tufted Duck (150 on No.6 tank, 2 on Splashing Pool, 13 on Weaver estuary), Goldeneye, Pheasant, Cormorant (6 on No.6 tank), Grey Heron (5), Little Grebe (4), Great Crested Grebe (2), Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit (1 on Weaver estuary), Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove (3), Woodpigeon, Kestrel (4), Peregrine (1), Magpie, Jay (1 south of No.4 tank), Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Skylark (1), Long-tailed Tit, Chiffchaff (1 on south bank of No.4 tank), Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Song Thrush (3 on ramp to No.6 tank), Redwing (20 in horse paddock by Moorditch Lane), Mistle Thrush (1 south of No.4 tank), Robin, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Bullfinch (1 along Brook Furlong Lane), Linnet, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting.
A belt of snow coming in from the north-west set against Rocksavage power station was quite impressive.
Observers: Alyn Chambers, Paul Crawley, Frank Duff, WSM (and images 1 & 3-7).
Image 2 by Yoav Perlman.
This Frodsham Marsh Birdlog is dedicated to you Martin.