16.04.16. Birdlog

16.04.16. No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (6)

The sun was shining and a cold blast was blowing from the east but spirits were high to unwrap a new birding day on the marshes.

16.04.16. Pipes along No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)My first port of call was to the pipe line on No.1 tank and 4 Wheatear there were 4 Greenland forms. Another two (Northern) were out on the banks of Frodsham Score opposite Marsh Farm. The big female Peregrine was sat up on the blue-topped chimney but didn’t linger there for long.

16.04.16. Golden Plovers, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (6)

16.04.16. Black-tailed Godwits, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (16)Walking along the southern track on No.5 tank to view the birds on the flooded sludge deposit tank. The most prominent species were undoubtedly the summer flock of Black-tailed Godwit numbering 1200 birds and the majority in splendid summer plumage. Hidden amongst them were 7 winter plumage Knot, 74 Dunlin, 2 Ruff (partial summer birds), just a few Golden Plover left with the godwit flock with 39 birds here. A flock of 100 Curlew were out on the much drier area of the tank to the west.

16.04.16. Black-tailed Godwits, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (9)

Ducks were reduced in the species stakes and their numbers are also dropping off too. 87 Shoveler, 70 Tufted Duck, 70 Common Teal with low counts of Common Shelduck, Gadwall and Mallard.

16.04.16. No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (4)

A few hardy Sand Martin were heading north while a handful of Swallow were lingering a little longer.

16.04.16. male Marsh Harrier, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

A female Marsh Harrier swoop in but didn’t stay for long. A few hours later a calling male was spotted very high overhead drifted off to the west.

Observer: WSM (images 1-9).

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3 male Wheatear on No.1 tank and half a dozen Swallow feeding low over the fields. The gates are all open so the sheep are roaming free? Sedge and Willow Warbler singing along Moorditch Lane and 4 House Martin flew over Moorditch lane onto No.5. Other Wheatears included a male and 2 female in the ploughed field near the model airfield along Lordship Lane.

Observer: Paul Crawley.

16.04.16. Coot chicks, Holpool Gutter, Ince Marshes. Paul Ralston (1)

16.04.16. Gadwall pair, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (2)I was out for a couple of hours this afternoon from Ince berth and over No.4 tank. There were c30 Swallow over the small water treatment plant on the road to the Pig Farm with Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler also in the area.

At the berth were both Raven and Great Black-backed Gull which filled their bellies full of salt marsh mutton across the opposite bank. Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall, Coot and a single Great Crested Grebe were on the Manchester Ship Canal waters with Redshank and Oystercatcher both seen and heard. 10.04.16. Wheatear, Frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeA flock of 60 Raven were drifting around the salt marsh and smaller numbers were seen about the walk chastising the local Common Buzzard no doubt all benefiting from the glut of lamb and mutton carcasses strewn about the marshes. The ‘Splashing Pool’ held more Tufted Duck and Gadwall and a Coot was showing off her new clutch of chicks. On No.4 tank a White Wagtail was along side a drainage ditch and more Swallow and Sand Martin passed overhead.

16.04.16. female Marsh Harrier, No.4 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (1)

The female Marsh Harrier was hunting the reed bed shadowed by a Kestrel. Back by the Holpool Gutter and a Peregrine was high up over the Growhow Works and the Mute Swan herd was feeding in the crop field at Ince marsh.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 10-11 & 13).

Images 12 by Tony Broome.

Wind Farm in Photos #2

16.04.16. Arrival of lorry carrying wind turbine blade on No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (7)

16.04.16. Arrival of lorry carrying wind turbine blade on No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (17)The arrival this week of the first wind turbine blades to Frodsham Marsh got local and national media coverage so a few images taken today including a video (upload later).

16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (15)

Components and blades in place and ready for assembly and how close they are to Frodsham village (the green swath on the hillside and the house to the left is my childhood home at Churchfields with St Laurence Church above).

16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (13)

A view looking south-east to Frodsham from the north banks of No.5 tank (or cell 5 if you’re from Peel Energy).

16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (7)

16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (9)

Turbine blade.

16.04.16. Wind turbine blades on No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (7)

Components ferried in on a truck on No.5 tank.

16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (5)

 

Turbines and cranes on No.5 tank (Cell 5).16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (30)16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (44)16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (15)Turbine blades aligned for installation on No.1 tank (Cell 1).

16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (12)

Blue-topped chimney at Weston Point and components on No.1 tank.

16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (10)

Images 1-13 by WSM.

16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley (2)

16.04.16. Wind turbine blades, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley.Images 14 -15 by Paul Crawley.

A short video of a contractor delivering a rotor blade for one of the wind turbines on the marsh. https://vimeo.com/163104366

Nature Notes #48

The Humble Willow

24.03.15. Pussy Willow, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonThe name ‘Pussy Willow’ should immediately conjure up an image of soft, silvery, downy buds on a common wayside tree and then catkins as winter releases its grip and spring sunshine warms the air. It is another name for Goat Willow Salix caprea, one of the many species of willow in the British Isles. Across Frodsham Marsh these fabulous trees are usually dismissed as ‘trash’ trees and their importance and value to wildlife underestimated. Walk down any of the tracks and most birders will stop briefly to peer through the tangle of branches and buds on a willow in the hope of seeing and identifying a bird glimpsed briefly. They’ll probably give it a few seconds or a minute or so before moving on, without ever having looked at the tree itself.
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Photo 3I was sat in my car drinking hot coffee and taking a break after walking around the .IC.I tank last weekend. The SE wind was fresh to say the least and felt cold. Apart from Gorse, Sloes and a few Daffodils, there no other flowering plants in bloom, or so I thought. It suddenly struck me that there were a lot of bees visiting a nearby willow which was in early flower, so I went to have a look. It looked greenish with splashes of pale yellow from a distance, so I wondered what was attracting the insects. It was covered in Buff-tailed Bumblebees, the odd Red-tailed and Tree Bumblebee and a Small Tortoishell butterfly.
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I took a couple of quick pictures and began to look closer at the flowers. They were amazing. The downy buds were bursting into colour and the yellow stamens were covered in pollen which was attracting the insects.

Three species of bumblebees were present but Buff-tailed Bumblebee was by far the most numerous. Tree and Red-tailed were present in small numbers.
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I noticed other insects which I took to be hoverflies. One actually was and I think I’ve correctly identified it as Eristalis pertinax, a common early species which should be readily identified by its yellow front and middle tarsi, which this one appeared to have.
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The other insect turned out to be (but correct me if you think my identification is incorrect) Gwynne’s Mining Bee, Andrena bicolor, a relatively common spring species. The females are 6-8 mm long and have bright reddish-brown ‘fur’ on the thorax and a orangy coloured hind tibiae. The males are 6-7.5mm and are overall blackish. It was very windy and not easy to take photos as the branches were moving all the time, so the pictures aren’t completely sharp.
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The catkins are amazing things when you look at them enlarged, like miniature alien worlds with forests of anthers in which bumblebees plough furrows and smaller insects struggle to walk. Even after the spring flush of catkins, the leaves provide food for many species of insects including a long list of moths. Photo 9 copyThe insects in turn attract predators including a wide variety of birds. Along with another favourite species of mine, the Sycamore, willows are always the trees I head for in the hope of finding something unusual whether it’s a bird or otherwise. Have a look more closely next time you stop by a willow in flower and instead of seeing nothing you will be guaranteed to find something of interest.

And of course, every autumn scene is enhanced by the glow of yellow, orange and red willow leaves as the trees take a break from providing the natural world with food throughout the summer.

The humble Willow is actually anything but humble.

Written by Tony Broome (images 2-9). Image 1 by WSM.

“Oh where are you now
Pussy willow that smiled on this leaf?
When I was alone you promised the stone from your heart
My head kissed the ground”

Sid Barrett

Dark Globe.