It’s been a while since I’ve been to the marsh, so I was really shocked to see the access ramp to No.6 tank totally dug up and inaccessible. So we set off for a long trip right round the tank in the other direction via Lordship Lane.
It was quiet most of the way round due to the remote control planes zipping round. A quick look over the far end of No.6 tank showed just how dry that section is, and the only bird life seen there was a couple of Pheasants.
Further round, the ‘Splashing Pool’ was occupied by a few Coot. The mitigation area on No.3 tank held 5 Ringed Plover, Teal, Canada Geese, Mallard and a few more Coot. 4 Raven could be seen and heard in the distance.
The sun was glaring over No.6 making viewing conditions a bit awkward. But the main birds on there were Black-tailed Godwit, about 30 Ruff, a scattering of Dunlin, a single Pintail and more Common Teal. Two Grey Heron were feeding in amongst the godwits.
3 Buzzard were circling over No.3 tank which spooked a big group of Pheasants out of the long grass. So a short, but productive visit, but great to see some waders.
Observers: Findlay and Heather Wilde (images 1-4).
While Team Wilde had their actual feet on the marsh, we were taking images of the marsh from Helsby Hill for an update on the wind turbine workings.I lugged my scope/tripod and camera gear up from the village below on a glorious day to be out and about. It is quite interesting to scan the area from the hills for birds down on the river. The Great White Egret and 4 Little Egret, 127 Pink-footed Goose, 11 Whooper Swan and a couple Peregrine were clearly visible in the same area as yesterday with an additional 6 winter swans in the Ince marsh fields.
Observers: Sparky, WSM (image 5).
A recent incident on the marsh has brought Anti-Social Behaviour towards birders and the attention of local police. There is an increasing problem with off-road bikes/scramblers and quad bikes. The persons involved have torn down fences and driven across No.6 tank which is potentially life threatening. All of these active tanks have a seemingly hard surface but inches below are metres of very soft ground/sludge. The use of vehicles on any area tanks carries a potential risk and threatens the fine balance of breeding/wintering wildlife here. The construction site on No.4 tank is also a working area and with any area that is in active use is also a potential danger. None permitted vehicles are also a great nuisance on No.4 tank and threatening the breeding success of birds that are also competing with site construction disturbance.
The people involved with off-road vehicles have threatened one birder and attempted to take their camera and damage their car, when they were asked to leave the area.
The tanks are private land, owned by the Manchester Ship Canal Company. It has a tenant farmer at Marsh Farm and another which is Peel Holdings, the company who are erecting the wind farm. As far as we are aware, the tracks are ex-roads which are now public rights of way. It is an offence to use scrambling bikes or quad bikes and they can be seized and confiscated ‘pursuant to police reform act 5.59’. This goes for any off-road vehicles including four-wheel drives, including those that are used to transport scrambling bikes and quad bikes.
The police force who is directly responsible for the site are ‘The Port of Liverpool Police’. They are asking that anyone who witnesses scrambling bikes or quad bikes being ridden anywhere on Frodsham Marsh, tracks or tanks, to do the following:
- Note time and date, take vehicle registrations if possible and photographs if safe to do so. Don’t put yourself into a confrontational situation where you could risk injury or damage to your car.
2. Call Cheshire Police on 101. Tell them there is an illegal off-roading happening and get a police incident number. Ask them to attend if necessary. They might tell you that it is private land and a civil matter, but that is incorrect. They still have a duty to act.
3. Call the Port of Liverpool Police on 0151-949 1212 and/or email Sergeant Ian Howse on firstname.lastname@example.org Give them the incident number.
4. Let Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society (CAWOS) http://www.cawos.org/ know or leave a comment at the bottom of any FMBB post.
It is important that anti-social behaviour is reported soon after any incident otherwise it could become a bigger problem. In similar incidents, the Port of Liverpool Police have seized hundreds of vehicles at considerable cost to the perpetrators.
The breeding season will soon be upon us. It is also a criminal offence to willfully disturb wintering/breeding birds. For further information check out Birders Against Wildlife Crime: http://birdersagainst.org/ .