A Common Sandpiper was on the Canal Pools and 9 Avocet were on No.6 tank where a Passage of 30 Swift flew through. The pipes on No.1 tank were again good for Wheatear with 12 present were perhaps Greenland forms. while way over on Brook Furlong Lane a singing Lesser Whitethroat was rattling off a ditty.
Observer: Frank Duff.
Walking down Brook Furlong Lane this afternoon a Lesser Whitethroat was singing in the hedgerow and a Whimbrel was in an adjacent field. The female Marsh Harrier was hunting across the fields towards the River Weaver.
Two Whinchat were in the field by Redwall reed bed and 14 Common Sandpiper were along the Weaver shore between the estuary and the bend. Two more Whimbrel were on the Weaver Bend before joining the single bird flying off to the south east.
Another Lesser Whitethroat was by the I.C.I tank along with 2 Willow Warbler and a Greenfinch.
No.1 tank held 12 Wheatear, with further single birds by Marsh Farm and on the Frodsham Score.
Later in the evening a Short-eared Owl was hunting along Lordship Lane and another Whinchat was on the south bank of No. 6 tank.
Observer: Alyn Chambers (images 2-4).
WSM (image 1).
A brief look over the fields by the motorway bridge and a flock of Jackdaw revealed a partial leucistic bird.
I wasn’t expecting many people to turn up for the Frodsham Festival of Walks this evening but at 7.00 pm, 20 hardy souls had gathered on the bridge that passes over the M56 on Marsh Lane. The atrocious rain that had blighted the day appeared to have eased and there was a blue window spreading over from Liverpool (never underestimate the British weather). As we walked along Moorditch Lane we entered No.5 tank up the muddy track overlooking No.6…and then the heavens opened! The flashes of lightning over Liverpool and then Frodsham Hill weren’t very reassuring especially when Findlay was the only person with his lightning conductor (telescope and tripod) to hand. The lightening was closely followed by a hail storm and we resorted to turning our backs to the storm to avoid the stinging hail stones which lashed faces, optics and birds.
When eventually the wind, rain and hail moved through we then began to really enjoy the spectacle that was present on the shallow flooded waters of the sludge tank below us. There were numerous Common Shelduck paired up with much smaller numbers of Common Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler. The main attraction was the Whimbrel flocks dropping out of the sky to settle for the night here. A flock of 18 birds were part of 27 birds present with a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit, 50 Black-tailed Godwit, 78 Redshank, 2 Ruff, 120 Dunlin and a Little Ringed Plover.
Dragging ourselves away from the wader feast we continued our walk alongside the mitigation area on No.3 tank which looked good but delivered little. Approaching No.4 tank a female Marsh Harrier was seen in the distance but shortly after it reappeared flying over the banks of No.6 tank and above our heads before it did a quick U-turn and flipped back to resume hunting. A surprise was a Short-eared Owl that appeared over No.4 before flying north. A couple of Swift hurtled through avoiding the advancing rain belt which was equally hurtling towards us.
No.4 tank had a ‘reeling’ Grasshopper Warbler and along Lordship Lane where a Sedge Warbler was audible.
Observers: Findlay & Heather Wilde (images 3-4), WSM (images 1-2) and the walkers from the Frodsham Festival of Walks.
Tony Broome had a brief visit earlier in the day and managed a few shots of Swift and Wheatear in nice weather.
I met with Sergeant Ian Wilson from Cheshire Police, based at Blacon and Frodsham, early in the day for a meeting to discuss the birds and conservation of the marsh and disturbance from scramblers and other anti-social behaviour. It was a good hour or so as I explained the work Peel are doing with the wind farm including the mitigation area and how the birds use the flyway between the River Mersey and Frodsham Score and the tanks including No.6 where they feed. Ian used it as an orientation exercise and to get an understanding of the conservation issues facing the marsh especially as it is now the breeding season and how scramblers can do much more damage than they realise. The weather was kind and pale blue skies and sunshine tempted a few birds out, even if the Swifts and hirundines would struggle to feed in only 4c. Not long afterwards the skies darkened and the rain began, getting heavy and persistent in a strengthening westerly wind.
Ian has asked that anyone visiting the marsh and witnessing scrambling or any other behaviour that is anti-social, to contact him on the number below. If possible, take photos and note registrations, but discreetly. Be careful not to place yourself in any confrontational situation or personal danger. Cheshire Police are training officers in rural crime and it will involve conservation issues no doubt. Ian is keen to gather intelligence on anything and as birders, we are in an ideal position to act as the eyes of the police.
Remember as well that Ian Howse from the Port of Liverpool Police and also Steve Turner, the conservation officer from CAWOS, are also keen to keep disturbance at Frodsham Marsh to a minimum, so you can also contact either of them. If on site and you need help for any reason, the security on site is SERVO, just stop one of their security guards.
Written contribution by Tony.
Cheshire Police – Sergeant Ian Wilson 01606 366009 / 07720 997505
Port of Liverpool Police – Sergeant Ian Howse 0151 949 1212 / 0151 949 6929 / 07876 474549
CAWOS – Steve Turner – firstname.lastname@example.org
I am guiding a walk this evening around the marsh for birds.
Venue: Meet on the bridge that crosses the M56 on Brook Furlong Lane/Marsh Lane (accessed at the southern end of Frodsham’s Main Street).
Meeting time: 7.00 pm for a quick start.
The present weather forecast is for rain/showers (top photo from last year) so please wear appropriate clothing for the conditions, stout footwear or wellies and binoculars if you have them. We will be walking over tracks with some uneven ground. Please do not bring dogs on the walk (lambing season is still in progress and sheep wander widely).
A short after work walk along the Gowy Meadows this evening was rewarding with a Wheatear, Whinchat and Stonechat being a pleasant reminder that Spring was here. A family of Stonechat I came across had a brood with a recently fledged youngster sitting on a fence. Despite the cold weather birds were getting on with rising broods.
I also watched a Fox was digging as fast as it could in the ground and soon after left in a hurry with a Rabbit clutched in its jaws. On the way back to my car a Glossy Ibis was seen in the company of 2 Little Egret and all three birds landed in a wet part of the meadows and then soon after they flew together heading over Stanlow to Ince Marsh.
Park in the lay-by next to the church in Thornton-le-moors, opposite is a gate leading to the meadows. Another access point is along the A5117 where it crosses over the River Gowy.
Observer and images: Paul Ralston.
A collection of images looking south from Rocksavage overlooking the works. This one is of the Weaver Bend.
Partially obscured by the pipes, scaffolding and towers Rocksavage Plant dominates the foreground but beyond is one of the best birding spots in Cheshire.
Weston Marsh lagoon is out-of-bounds to birders except for paid ecologists but is clearly an area ideally suited for shorebirds and Common Shelduck.
The same area with the works in the foreground and No.1 tank beyond.
The raised banks of the lagoon host nesting Common Shelduck.
The River Weaver bottom right, Weston Marsh, No.1 tank and the Welsh Hills in the distance.
The edge of the works with the River Weaver running alongside the wooded former I.C.I tank which many older birders will have ticked off such birds as Buff-breasted, Baird’s, Pectoral Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, Shorelarks etc etc.
It’s still hard to believe the woodland shown above was once the I.C.I sludge tank and beyond are the Frodsham Hills.
A track around the I.C.I tank.
The M56 motorway crosses the Weaver Navigation.
All images by WSM.