“Hoopoe on the Bend!”

Hoopoe Weaver Bend note book. Bill Morton
Just why Mark and I were at Frodsham Marsh on 26th Sept 1987 is long forgotten, though I expect it was promising weather conditions or a run of Nearctic waders in the country, since then, as now, it takes a lot to get me away from north Wirral. We had parked up near the log and not seen a great deal, despite walking up to and around the I.C.I tank, checking the Weaver Bend and even getting as far as the Bailey Bridge.  Having struck out we started walking back round the IC..I tank, which held a largish gull roost, shimmering in the heat haze.  I thought I could see something with a slightly paler mantle in the middle of them and was thinking Mediterranean Gull, which would have been quite a good find then.

Hoopoe Weaver Bend note book. Bill MortonThe combination of heat haze and distance persuaded me that I’d be better off if I scrambled over the edge of the tank so that I could rest my elbows on my knees and get a steadier view, sat on the inner edge.  Just as stepped over the top, there was a completely  unexpected explosion of black white and pink from the bare ground in front of me and a Hoopoe took off and flapped low across the tank.

Normally when you find a good bird there is a short or sometimes long period of slow realisation as you piece together clues to its identity and you get  a chance to work out how to communicate what is going on. Not so on this occasion.  I knew it was a Hoopoe in the same instant as the photons hit my retina.  I also knew that there was a chance that it might just disappear if I didn’t persuade Mark to turn round and come up the bank.  He was watching the bend.  I am told not a single word that came out of mouth made any sense at all (except a few choice expletives).  Allegedly I was similarly incoherent when a Pallas’s Warbler interrupted my attempt to put yoghurts in the fridge, by flying across the bottom of the garden, when neither the words Pallas’s nor Warbler passed my lips.  I blame the adrenalin.  Fortunately on that warm day at Frodsham I managed to convince Mark of the urgency of the situation and he joined me on the edge of the tank while we watched the Hoopoe cross over the gulls and apparently land on the far edge near the bridge.

So what to do next?  There is a Hoopoe down somewhere on the edge of the I.C.I tank and no other birders nearby.  No mobile phones.  Then I saw in the very far distance a group of birders, heading off towards Frodsham Score.  I left Mark staking it out and set off to tell them. I was quite fit then, but even so by the time I jogged up to them I was hacking my lungs up and really rather sweaty.  As I got closer to the group I started to feel less and less that this was a good idea.  My worst fears came when I finally caught up to them and explained between gasps for breath, that there was a Hoopoe about.  I think their exact words were “That’s nice Deary” as they carried on unpacking their flasks and sandwiches.  On reflection I might have been quite an alarming sight/sound.  Next I headed off into Frodsham where I hoped that I could find a telephone box.  Fortunately I did and was able to make the appropriate phone calls.  When I got back to Mark, I was treated to the surreal view of the Hoopoe flying up the Weaver within a flock of Redshank, before it crossed the River and appeared to fly into Weston and was seen shortly after over the embankment at the Rocksavage works

Written by Jane Turner.

Note book illustration. WSM

22.02.16. Birdlog

22.02.16. Starlings over No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton  (32)

22.02.16. Starlings over No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton  (29)Birding is truly back on the menu after my working day. I set off for the marsh with the intention of watching the ducks on No.6 tank but the stiff icy cold westerly and my thin coat put paid to that. I used the comfort of the car and selected to park up overlooking the mitigation area on No.3 tank. Although fully flooded and hopefully attractive to migrants in the next couple of months tonight it was a little understated. Lapwings out over Frodsham Score were disturbed by a low flying rozzer chopper and they flew up and down in impressive numbers. There were 12 Redshank on the flooded scrapes but these were soon joined by Lapwing moving in to roost from the river. A small flock of Fieldfare were feeding on the short turf by the Canal Pools.

22.02.16. Starlings over No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton  (23)Shortly after the Starling flocks began to arrive and most stopped off for a collective  bathe in the pools before moving off towards the bridge. Dave Craven over on the north side of the river estimated c35000 birds coming into roost on the bridge so I would be happy to agree with that number being present on No.3 tank.

22.02.16. Starlings over No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton  (17)

22.02.16. Common Buzzard, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton  (1)On No.6 tank the Tufted Duck numbers had increased from yesterday with 24 birds along with 44 Common Pochard, 174 Shoveler, 300 Common Teal and a selection of Common Shelduck. A flock of 70 Curlew flew in from the south for the night. There were 800 Lapwing on the tank with a solitary Ruff for company. The Cormorant roost numbered 9 birds two of which were ‘sinensis‘.

The usual Raven were hanging out waiting for more mutton laying about in the fields to feast on. A Common Buzzard was extremely tame on No.5 tank and a Peregrine was sat on top of the big chimney at Weston Point.

22.02.16. Starlings and Liverpool skyline from No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton  (2)

The Liverpool skyline was clearly visible looking out from the track on No.3 tank.

22.02.16. Sunlight over the Growhow works from No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

Observer and images: WSM.

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