19.05.16. Birdlog

19.05.16. (drake) Garganey, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (13)19.05.16. (drake) Garganey, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (19)A brief evening visit in between periods of rainfall. I walked along the south side of No.5 overlooking No.6 tank. The first bird I noticed was a drake Garganey which swam towards me and settled to preen below the bank in thick vegetation. There was a lot of ducks present tonight with Common Shelduck, Gadwall and Tufted Duck showing similar numbers to a few days ago (so no change really), the drake Common Pochard was again here with a couple of drake Common Teal and the odd Shoveler.

A flock of 150 Black-tailed Godwit were roosting in the centre of the water while just 3 Dunlin could be found on the muddy margins with 2-3 Redshank.

28.08.15. Common Swift, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The real highlight of the watch was the 500 Common Swift and 200 mixed hirundines hawking insects which had been forced down by the low cloud and rain.

The shallow scrapes on No.3 tank were a disappointment and relatively birdless with just a solitary Avocet present.

Observer and images: WSM.

Nature Notes #49

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17.05.16.  Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome.As I have mention before in ‘Nature Notes’, if you look hard enough, Frodsham Marsh has a lot more than birds on offer. On the occasional quiet birding day I slow the pace down and have a look around for what else I can find of interest. Looking closely at trees in blossom, flowers in bloom and the insects associated with them often reveals a hidden world. I find it fascinating and at times starkly beautiful.

Spring often gives the feeling that it’s late in coming. The days remain cold and there is often persistent rain and westerly gales as low pressure and Atlantic fronts refuse to give way to high pressure or winds from the south that would bring the first migrants in. Even when the first Sand Martin and Wheatear trickle in, the marsh has already woken up and the Gorse in flower with its coconut-scented deep yellow flowers filling the air with a hint of suntan lotion. When I look closely I always think that they are reminiscent of goose barnacles in shape.

Blackthorn flowers 8707Fast on its heels comes the Blackthorn, the delicate white flowers lighting up the landscape just as the Hawthorn is just coming into leaf in late April. A close look at the flowers reveal them to be anything but white with green sepals, yellow-brown anthers and lemon stigma. They hug the bare branches for a short time to be pollinated by insects before the leaves appear and the fruit begins to develop into the familiar misty-blue sloe berries that ripen as the autumn nights cool. One particular moth, the Sloe Pug is associated with this plant.

Apple blossom 9188

Almost as delicate is the blossom of Apple trees, beautiful soft pink petals and yellow anthers. There is a single tree by the old log along Brook Furlong Lane that has been particularly showy recently.

Hawthorn flowers 9197

Hawthorn Tree 9127As the days in May get warmer and there are dry sunny spells with southerly winds, two more trees put on a show. Some years are better than others and 2016 has been spectacular for Hawthorn blossom. The trees look as though they are covered in snow at the moment, some of them having so many flowers that it’s difficult to see any leaf. From a distance it looks whitish, but close up they are wonderfully different with the white flowers having a lime green centre and stigma surrounded by rose-red anthers. Pollinated by insects, bees and flies, they develop into the familiar red berries much beloved by lots of birds but in particular thrushes.

Horse Chestnut flowers 9160

Horse Chestnut 9134As the Hawthorn puts on its show, one other tree tries to out-do it with bright green leaves and large candelabra of creamy white flowers. Horse Chestnuts are familiar to all young boys as ‘conker trees’ the hard seeds used in many a boyhood conker contest that has resulted in skinned and bruised knuckles. The spikes of flowers are spectacular enough, but get up close and the individual flowers are superb. Cotton-wool textured flowers, centred lemon-yellow and pinky-red with strongly up-curved brown-tipped stigma remind me of ice cream with raspberry and lemon sauce. Bees love these flowers and Buff-tailed and Common Carder Bumblebees were in evidence on the trees below the old log this week.

Fork-jawedNomad Bee - Nomada ruficornis pos 9175 -   CopyHoverfly - Cheilosia variabilis 9759The original track down from the old log (south-east corner of No.1 tank) to the River Weaver is alive with insects on warm sunny days in May and besides the numerous Cow Parsley, there is a single umbellifer, a Hogwort, in flower that is attracting some of the more interesting species. The nicest species is a Nomada bee, tentatively identified as Fork-jawed Nomad Bee, Nomada ruficornis, a parasitic species which lays its egg inside the egg chamber of the Orange-tailed (Early) Mining Bee, Andrena haemorrhoa, and the larvae hatch, kill the original occupier and then lives off the food supply. There was also an Ichneumon Wasp, but I’m not confident at identifying most of this family. I did manage to sort out a black hoverfly that was basking on bramble leaves in the sunshine, Cheilosia variabilis, (illustrated above) a widespread species.

Ichneumon species 9216

My challenge to you is to go to the marsh armed with a camera/note book and capture some of these critters and then let us what you have found?

Written and illustrated by Tony Broome.

Frodsham Marsh Wind Farm in Photos #7

18.05.16. Views of Frodsham Marsh from Oglet shore. Bill Morton (9)

16.05.16. Views of Frodsham Marsh from Oglet shore. Bill Morton (10)20.05.16. Wind Turbines from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton (2)A few views of the wind turbines from a different perspective across the river at Hale Head.

16.05.16. Wind farm, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)The third turbine tower is erected over on Helsby marshes.

19.05.16. Turbines at Helsby Marsh from Hale head

The same turbine but from across the river at Hale Head.

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The first rotor blade inserted.

20.05.16. Wind Turbines from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton (1)

Then the third rotor blade finishes it off.

19.05.16. Wind turbine on Helsby Marsh from No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)19.05.16. Wind turbine on Helsby Marsh from No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (7)A view of the Helsby Marshes from No.6 tank at dusk.

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A view from Townfield Lane, Frodsham of the turbines.

All images WSM except image 9 which was taken by David Stewart.