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.