ASB on the Marsh

BAWC_Horiz_Logo_RGB-300x110A 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:

  1. 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 ian.howse@portofliverpool.police.uk  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/ .

19.03.16. Birdlog

19.03.16. Pink-footed Geese, Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

19.03.16. Peregrine on the blue-topped chimney from No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonFelt like Winter hasn’t relinquished her grip on the cold and an east-north-easterly breezed blow across the marsh as I was sat on the embankment overlooking Frodsham Score with the ebbing tide draining out of the river. Despite this there were plenty of birds moving about.

A gathering of 340 Wigeon on the distant banks of the Holpool Gutter out on the edge of the salt marsh was nice to see. A herd of 170 Pink-footed Goose were lingering birds from the winter but small skeins of 23 and 27 didn’t linger and flew north en route to their breeding grounds. 8 Little Egret and the usual Great White Egret were again on the score marsh. Talking about winter the herd of Whooper Swan which have been present throughout had grown to 23 birds (including 2 juvenile). A Stonechat was on No.4 tank.

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The mitigation area of No,3 tank are filling nicely for the coming Spring and a small cluster of duck included some Common Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall but it was interesting to see 8 Ringed Plover here. A flock of 32 Raven flew over with bellies full of fresh meat from the carcasses laying abandoned in the fields.

19.03.16. Pink-footed Geese, Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (5)

19.03.16. Golden Plovers, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonThe water on No.6 tank is slowly draining away and is becoming attractive once more for the Black-tailed Godwit flocks which totalled c1000 birds (FD), with several in fine ruddy red breeding plumage. A flock of 50 Redshank, 500 Golden Plover, 60 Dunlin and 13 Ruff also found conditions more than suitable. A couple of male Grey Heron were in a battle royal for the favours of a female and at one moment one bird had its competitor in a half Nelson. All of this was watched on by a young male Merlin who found a convenient perch in the middle of the flooded water.

19.03.16. Grey Herons fighting, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

19.03.16. Grey Herons fighting, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonDSC_1552DSC_155419.03.16. Grey Herons fighting, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton19.03.16. Grey Herons fighting, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonDuck number were again impressive with Shoveler slightly reduced from the WeBS count down to 178, 16 Pintail, 300 Common Teal, 46 Common Shelduck, 46 Tufted Duck, 30 Gadwall, 34 Mallard, a Great Crested and 5 Little Grebe. Out on top of the blue-topped chimney sat the ever-present Peregrine.

Observer: WSM (images 1-2 &-4-11).

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Meanwhile, a Goldcrest was along Brook Furlong Lane with another two at Twiggery Wood. The Weaver Estuary held 85 Tufted Duck (7 male and 10 female) with 14 (9 males) Goldeneye, there was a build up of pairing of birds with 13 pairs of Gadwall noted. Common Buzzard included a kettle of 7 birds. A big arrival of 18 Avocet were out on the mudflats off Frodsham Score banks, then 2 more flew north over the Weaver Bend (total of 21 birds). Also present on the score were 21 Oystercatcher with 6 on the River Weaver along with 201 Curlew. There were 4 Stock Dove in the Twiggery Wood fields, where 15 Fieldfare and 5 Redwing hung out with a flock of 20 Linnet, another 40+ were along Lordship Lane. Finally, a female Stonechat ended my observation.

Observer: Tony Broome (images 3 & 13).

17.03.16. Birdlog

17.03.16. Short-eared Owl, Lordship Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Nigel Case

A visit this afternoon by Nigel Case along Lordship Lane produced 3 Short-eared Owl which performed well with this stunning shot.

Image by Nigel Case.

17.03.16. Mediterreanean Gulls, Blakemere, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton (30)

17.03.16. Mediterreanean Gulls, Blakemere, Delamere Forest 17.03.16. Mediterreanean Gulls, Blakemere, Delamere Forest. Bill Morton (4)

Further afield we took a visit to Blakemere, Delamere Forest where we saw a 2nd summer and 5 adult Mediterranean Gull including a colour-ringed bird. See link here for the history of this bird: http://baguage.lpo-anjou.org/32J9.htm

Observers: Sparky, WSM (images).

15.03.16. Birdlog

15.03.16. Short-eared Owl, No.4 tank, frodsham Marsh, Paul Ralston (2)

The last hour and half of light turned out to be really productive on my short walk from Ince Berth to the Holpool Gutter.

15.03.16. Great White Egret, Ince marsh fields, Paul Ralston (2)

15.03.16. Little Egret roost, Ince Berth, Ince marsh fields, Paul Ralston (2)A Great White Egret was in a field alongside the Manchester Ship Canal path and 19 Mute Swan, 2 Greylag and 2 Canada Goose were alongside the gutter. On the gutter itself were several Tufted Duck and 4 Common Teal which lifted when a Common Buzzard checked them out.There were a couple of Short-eared Owl hunting the gutter and over No.4 tank, while the other was along the canal bank. Back at the start of my walk and a Kingfisher was seen in the fading light going to roost in the ditch by the berth. The newly established Little Egret roost site saw 15 birds joining other birds already there.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).

15.03.16. Iceland Gull and gulls, Runcorn bridge. Bill Morton (2)

A little further afield and to the east of Runcorn bridge at Mersey Road, Runcorn the evening gull fly by saw several thousand birds bottled-necked at the narrows and within their throng was an adult and a 3rd winter Iceland Gull.

15.03.16. Starlings, Runcorn bridge. Bill Morton (10)

15.03.16. Gulls, Runcorn. Bill Morton (5)

There have been upwards of six Iceland Gulls (noted usually from Hale and Marsh Farm) from their evening departure at the nearby Arpley tip. If you want to see birds from either Mersey Road or Wigg Island, Runcorn you should be there from 17.00 hrs. The gulls congregate on the sand banks west of the new bridge workings and at 17.30 hrs the big gulls start to fly over from Fiddlers Ferry. You can even watch from the comfort of your warm car.

Additionally, the Starling pre-roost on Runcorn Bridge featured a few thousand birds but without any raptor activity there they didn’t put on any murmurations worthy of note. Interestingly, the flocks soon filtered from the bridge in the half-light and streamed out to (presumably) their huge Northwich roost sites to the east?

Observer: WSM (images 4-6)

13.03.16. Birdlog

13.03.16. Sunrise over the Manchester Ship Canal, frodsham Marsh. Pal Ralston

A short walk this morning from the model air field bordering Lordship Lane and around No.6 tank. A stunning sunrise (pictured above) over the Manchester Ship Canal was a beautiful start to a wonderful Spring morning. However, it left a mist over the salt marsh making viewing difficult when I got to the view-point on No.4 tank.

Along Lordship Lane there were Reed Buntings holding territory and Lapwing displaying, while overhead a pair of Mute Swan dropped into No.6 tank.  Many Meadow Pipit were in active parachute display and a couple of Skylark filled the air with song over four.

The mitigation pools on No.3 tank had Common Teal, Shoveler and many Coot. A pair of displaying Ringed Plover and Lapwing were also noted. A surprise on No.6 tank was a single Great Crested Grebe.

13.03.16. Wrens fighting, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Pal Ralston

A pair of Wren were in a territorial dispute on the footpath and only stopped when a dumper truck drove past. A Raven passed over head with what looked like a beak full of mud heading in the direction of Helsby Hill.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-2).

13.03.16. Common Buzzard and lambs, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley

The early morning sunshine was still trying to break through the misty cloud when I arrived on the marsh. Walking to the Weaver Bend, the air was full of birdsong, even above the roar of the M56 traffic, which the almost non-existent south-east breeze was doing a fine job of blowing towards the fields.

I drove along Brook Furlong Lane. A pair of Raven croaked in display overhead. There were in excess of 25 on the marsh during the day. Parking up at the old log and sipped my usual cup of latte whilst I got sorted out. Three Grey Heron went sailed past in single file calling noisily. Walking down Brook Furlong to the footpath to the River Weaver. A Green Sandpiper flew up and landed again by a pool in the adjacent field. 6 Common Snipe got up and zig-zagged off and a Grey Wagtail flew over calling.

The song of Skylark filled the air with 4 birds overhead in the fields by the river. 5 male Reed Bunting were also on territory in the phragmites. On the river 3 adult male, an immature male and 9 female Goldeneye moved off towards the Weaver Sluice gates but apart from the usual Tufted Duck, over 100, there was little else. I walked back to the car.

13.03.16. Pied Wagtail, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley.

The ramp up onto No.6/5 was still closed, possibly on purpose if I was being cynical. Laying a few metres of underground cables shouldn’t take three weeks. So I had to drive around via Lordship Lane. A fine .Stonechat, all orange below and sporting a small white rump patch sat up briefly before dropping into cover.

I got to No.3 and had a scan. A single Ringed Plover, 10 Shoveler, 47 Coot, 30+ Common Teal, but not much else. I walked on towards No.6 and looked out from the bank. There were lots of birds: 3 Avocet, 20+ Common Snipe, c400 Golden Plover, 300 Lapwing, 4 Ruff, 300 Common Teal, a couple of Pochard and a few Tufted Duck. Best of all was a very high count of at least 270 Shoveler and there could have been more hidden. That’s 280 Shovelers between No.6 and No.3 tanks. About 300 Canada Goose and 10 Greylags fed around the new pools on No.3.

13.03.16. Goldfinch, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley.

Then onto No.4 tank and a sit down  at the north-east corner. I was joined by AC. Frodsham Score was hazy and despite a very high tide at around 15.00 hrs, it was difficult to make out much on the edge. Around 300 Wigeon, a Great White Egret, 1 Little Egret, 100 Grey Plover, 50 Knot and only 1000 Dunlin were in evidence. Two Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine loitered overhead and the mew of Common Buzzard drew attention to three birds. Below the bank a Goldcrest called and fed in the Elderberry bushes and a Chiffchaff also showed briefly.

It was almost summer-like as the breeze went around to the south and the sun actually felt warm. 3 Buff-tailed Bumblebee flew past and a distant butterfly, probably a Small Tortoishell added to the feeling that Spring was well and truly on the way.

Observer: Tony Broome (images 9-14)

A Sparrowhawk was over the reedy pool near Marsh Farm on the lookout for Starlings that were anting or hawking for flies. There were 17 Ringed Plover roosting in usual place on No.6 tank.

Observer: Paul Crawley (images 3-5).

Over at the CEGB pools was 10 Siskin and a single Lesser Redpoll. A Common Hare was active in the fields on the marsh while on No.6 tank included good numbers of Common Snipe with an Avocet, 7 Ruff and 1000 Golden Plover.

Observer: Frank Duff.
13.03.16. Bridge over the Holpool Gutter, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)We stretched our legs today and walked out to Ince from Frodsham taking in the Spring like weather and singing birdlife out along Lordship Lane en route via the new Beaver bridge (pictured) across the Holpool Gutter..

The tide wasn’t anything like it was yesterday so most of the birds were staying further out. A Great White Egret and several Little Egret were loitering around hoping for a flooded out vole but even the Black-headed gull swarm were struggling to find anything left after this weeks glut.

There were plenty of Buff-tailed Bumblebee out in the sunshine with a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly seen.

13.03.16. Stonechat and Ewe and lambs, Holpool Gutter, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (10)

A fly over Lesser Redpoll, a solitary Stonechat and a singing Chiffchaff were the only other birds of any note.

Observers: Sparky, WSM (images 6-8).

13.03.16. WeBS counters, Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)

An image of two WeBS counters Billy Picton and Paul Paul Shenton out on Frodsham Score.

15 Whooper Swan were off the Weaver Sluice Gates on the River Mersey late in the day. per Dave Craven.

12.03.16. Birdlog

12.03.16. Golden Plovers, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A walk up Moorditch Lane on the way to No.6 tank and a few Redwing were in the hedgerows with one particular bird posing out on a branch.

12.03.16. Common Buzzard, Lordship Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonI was watching No.6 tank for the WeBS count and a great selection was on show which included: 14 Cormorant (mostly white-headed birds), 43 Mallard, 11 Gadwall, 46 Tufted Duck, 26 Pintail, 230 Common Teal, 153 Shoveler, 6 Common Pochard and 20 Common Shelduck.

Shorebirds included an interesting bunch with 187 Black-tailed Godwit (the largest flock here for some time feeding in the shallow waters) with a solitary Ruff, 6 Avocet (pair copulating), 20 Redshank, 34 Common Snipe, 460 Lapwing and 340 Golden Plover. An obvious lack of raptors about with just a couple of Kestrel noted.

Gulls were rather low in numbers with 340 Black-headed, 12 Common, 1 Herring and 2 Great Black-backed Gull.

12.03.16. Oystercatcher, Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A quick ramble to join FD on the banks of No.4 tank after I received a text from him about a dark-bellied Brent Goose (it departed 15 mins before I got there) out on Frodsham Score marsh. It was later relocated on the Hale side of the river. Thousands of Dunlin were snaking in wriggly lines over the Mersey Estuary far in the distance. Other shorebirds were gathered along the edge close to the retainment bund between the score marsh and the Manchester Ship Canal.

A Great White Egret and 8 Little Egret were following the tide in and out. 90 Pink-footed Goose, out in the distance were a scattered herd of Whooper Swan, 500 Wigeon, Pintail, Mallard, Gadwall, Teal (I’ll leave the duck count for the counters tomorrow), 120 Oystercatcher, 300 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, 300 Redshank and several hundred Curlew.

12.03.16. Merlin, Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonWatching over all this was a young female Merlin who was also seen on No.4 tank an hour or so later.

12.03.16. Merlin, Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Birding often throws up an oddball and so it was when Phil Oddy saw the Gowy Glossy Ibis fly over my parked car as he was travelling along the motorway from the Marsh Lane motorway bridge! A car tick and a pity I wasn’t anywhere near when the bird flew over it heading west.

12.03.16. Merlin, Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Observers: Frank Duff, WSM and images.

11.03.16. Birdlog

11.03.16. Merlin, Ince Marsh. Paul Ralston (2)

11.03.16. Grey Heron, Ince Marsh. Paul Ralston (2)An early finish from work and a couple of hours on the marsh starting at Ince Berth. A male Stonechat on the lane to the berth with several Fieldfare on the Manchester Ship Canal path. Also a pair of Common Buzzard were talon grappling way out on the salt marsh and a Sparrowhawk was shadowing a large flock of starlings. A couple of thousand Canada Goose were dotted about the Frodsham Score with smaller numbers of Common Shelduck and Greylag s. On the canal were Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and 5 Little Grebe were noted.

11.03.16. Merlin, Ince Marsh. Paul Ralston (3)

13 Mute Swan were alongside the Holpool Gutter and a Merlin was sat on the hedge dividing the field. 30 Pied Wagtail were in the north-west corner of No.4 tank and a Common Snipe rose up from under my feet. Raven and Great Black-backed Gull were searching the marsh in numbers for any casualties from the spring high tide and another full-grown Ewe floated past in the ship canal. Several Grey Heron were on the canal bank but no egrets were seen during the walk.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

10.03.16. Birdlog

Frodsham and Ince Marshes sign (1)

An after work visit to Marsh Farm to see what was occurring.

10.03.16. Sunset over Mersey Estuary from Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (26)

10.03.16. Sunset over the Mersey Estuary from Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (9)Out on the river the gulls began to pour into the estuary from an easterly direction including Runcorn narrows and others entering from the Weaver valley and then over the sandstone hills of Frodsham and Helsby.

An adult Iceland Gull was picked up with a group of Herring Gulls barely above the sand banks but it disappeared to the west and out of sight. Another bird was located later by the Hale boys.

The area of the score banks attracted 38 Black-tailed Godwit, 90 Oystercatcher, 230 Curlew and smaller numbers of Redshank.

The evening ended with a fine setting sun.

Observer and images: WSM

06.03.16. Birdlog

05.03.16. Common Teal, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

Out this morning starting from Lordship Lane by the model aircraft flying field. Walking along the lane and there was a large flock of gulls across the field and a closer look revealed c1000 birds, mostly Black-head Gull but also some Common Gull were resting  with Lapwing, Golden Plover and Curlew which were feeding behind them.

05.03.16. Gulls over Lordship Marsh, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

A Barn Owl was disturbed from the hawthorn hedge and settled a bit further along the hedgerow.

05.03.16. Lapwings and Golden Plovers, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

05.03.16. Gadwall pair, Frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeWalking up the ramp to No.4 tank and a Lesser Redpoll was seen feeding on the weedy seeds and another two were by the ‘Splashing Pool’. There were also several flocks of Linnet and Goldfinch in the general area. A look over Frodsham Score from No. 4 and a Great White Egret and 3 Little Egret were amongst the many Canada Goose which seemed to be ever-present out there. On the Manchester Ship Canal  was a small group of Tufted Duck, Mallard and yet more Canada Goose on the water. The ‘Splashing Pool’ had much the same with the addition of a pair of Little Grebe.

05.03.16. Lapwings and Golden Plovers, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

Onward to No.3 tank and its mitigation area and a large flock of Lapwing with c1000 Golden Plover some in summer plumage were joined by small number of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Redshank.

05.03.16. Coots, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

05.03.16. Helsby Hill from Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

On No.6 tank there were good numbers of waterfowl made up of Common Teal, Common Shelduck, Mallard Common Pochard, Tufted Duck Gadwall and at least 1 pair of Pintail. Raven and a few Great Black-backed Gull feasting on more mutton while Carrion Crow and Magpie waited their turn to tuck in.

Observer: Paul Ralston, Sean O’Hara.

Two adult Mediterranean Gull were on No.6 tank in the large Black-headed Gull flock and 4 Ruff flew from the tank down to Lordship Marsh.

Observer: Alyn Chambers.

Images: Tony Broome