A brief visit late on this evening to check the birds on No.6 tank. It was a slight surprise to see that the Black-tailed Godwit summering flock had relocated away from this tank tonight. There were a few none-breeding Lapwing hanging about with a single Redshank. The Ringed Plover parents were again standing close to their near juvenile plumaged young and 3 typically quarrelsome Common Sandpiper nearby. Ducks numbers were also reduced with only 9 Common Pochard and 67 Tufted Duck being the highlight but 66 Coot were post/failed/non-breeders. A Great Crested Grebe stood guard and Little Grebe were winnowing nearby.
Over on No.3 tank the 2 young Avocet chicks are looking more like the species now that the black feathering is beginning to appear. A couple of Ringed Plover linger here but haven’t bred.
The Peregrine was again perched up on the tall blue-topped chimney overlooking the River Mersey and a Hobby was attracted to Frodsham village by the huge numbers of Common Swift present.
Observer: WSM (images 1&3).
Image 2 by Tony Broome.
An afternoon walk around No.6 tank started off with two Common Shelduck chicks with no apparent sign of their parent bird or any other siblings, they fed unconcerned in the ditch along Lordship Lane. Also in the ditch were a pair of Shoveler. Both Reed Warbler and Common Whitethroat were feeding fledged chicks in the bank side vegetation while a Kestrel hovered above in search of a prey. 18 Mute Swan fed in the flood water and good numbers of (96) Tufted Duck, (32) Gadwall, Mallard and 120 more Common Shelduck with a small amount of (8) Common Pochard and (46) Common Teal were noted. Lapwings were busy giving a Common Buzzard a hard time as it flew over their nesting sites while the godwit flock continue their vacation here and most look splendid in breeding colours. The 2 Avocet chicks are fearlessly protected by both parents and are growing quickly. A Stoat was seen on the tail of a Rabbit and a party of Raven were sat on the fence for a change.
Observer: Paul Ralston (image 2).
An evening trip over Runcorn bridge as a car passenger to Widnes resulted in capturing the pagan Peregrine Falcon (top image) perched up with Britannia in situ and the Union Flag at her helm.
While Paul took the morning shift I had to wait until after tea to take my usual ramble along the track north of No.6 tank. I stopped off briefly to watch the two Avocet chicks which by now are considerably bigger than the local adult Ringed Plover present (see image 3).
Over on No.6 tank much the same birds were noted that PR had watched earlier in the day. The exception being a finely plumed male Ruff and two Avocet. There were several hundred Common Swift, Sand Martin and Swallow high over the marsh. A male Cuckoo was seen briefly before it was inadvertently flushed from a tree overlooking the south-east corner of six.
Another Peregrine was perched up on the blue-topped chimney over at Weston Point.
Observer: WSM (images 1 & 3-6).
All the rare bird action seems to be happening elsewhere this Spring/Summer, so it was a little gratifying to find a 1st summer Little Gull (image 3) resting with a small group of similarly aged Black-headed Gulls on No.6 tank. The Little Gull disappeared without trace for a short while before reappearing to settle again. That was before a sub-adult Peregrine flew over munching on a small wader in flight (Hobby like). The gull didn’t linger much longer and departed to the south-west over Helsby Hill.
As I have mentioned in previous posts the ducks just prefer being on No.6 tank and there were totals of 164 Tufted Duck with Common Pochard whiched today numbered 19 drakes and a single female. There were 6 Shoveler, 23 Mallard, 54 Gadwall, 50 Common Shelduck and 64 Common Teal (while the Green-winged is still enjoying its stay across the river at Carr Lane). The area is flooded with water from a combination of recent heavy rain and the pumping of sludge from the Manchester Ship Canal. These are ideal conditions for ducks and the 2 pairs of Little and a pair of Great Crested Grebe are taking to it kindly.
The summering Black-tailed Godwit flock of 447 birds have taken to feeding and roosting in the newly emerging Sea Aster/ Michaelmas Daisy clumps and a foppy dressed male Ruff joined them for a period.
The Avocet chicks are still looking like they can fend for themselves under the tuition of their overly protective parents.
A female Marsh Harrier was knocking about out on the marsh while the occasional Kestrel and Common Buzzard were present.
There were still plenty of passerines either feeding young in or out of the nest including a singing Reed Warbler using one of the (ready to be inserted) turbine rotor blades as a resonating sound board (top two images). The high flying build-up of Common Swift continues with birds a plenty over the marshes.
A car burst into flames on the M56 (west bound) with smoke billowing high over Lordship Lane and was visible from No.6 tank.
Observers: Frank Duff, Dermot Smith, WSM (images 1-2 & 4 & 6). Image 3 by Tony Broome and 5 by Alyn Chambers.
We’ll be reducing the inclusion of the Frodsham Marsh Wind Farm posts in due course so in the meantime here’s a few from today from Helsby
Looking north to the River Mersey.
Looking north-east to No.6 tank.
The M56 runs through the marshes.
The two top images are of the Wind turbines on No.1 tank (left) and on No.5 tank (right) with the Weaver Bend sandwiched between.
The 9th wind turbine is erected on No.5 tank today.
All images by Tony Broome except for 8.
I thought I’d give the marsh the once over for a change and parked up and walked the length of the track overlooking No.6 tank. The threatening angry-looking clouds out to the north-west didn’t really concern me too much (but the lack of an overcoat would be a bad move later in my watch).
Ducks are a big feature on the tank at this time of year so the first female Gadwall ferrying her 12 ‘gadlets’ to safety and away from the bigger ducks was a good start. All in all Gadwall are a much underrated species and don’t really feature much in general conversation with other birders but they do have a penchant for the marshes and with 100 birds here a welcome sight diversion from the average.
There was plenty of other species of duck to distract the 12 summering Common Pochard with 34 Tufted Duck present, Common Shelduck and Common Teal which totalled 74 birds (excluding their American friend). Three Garganey were reported to one of the bird information services for today?
A gathering of 16 Avocet were mobile around the tank unlike the sedentary 300 Black-tailed Godwit which were again roosting up with the teal in the dead daisy clumps. A surprise find were two splendid red, black and white dandy looking Ruff within the godwit flock.
As I mentioned earlier I hadn’t bothered to bring along my overcoat this evening, which transpired to be a very bad decision indeed. The malevolent clouds that looked nasty earlier rolled in with thunder and lighting. Despite sheltering in the lee of the hedge which provided some protection the storm punched through and by the time I had reached the relative comfort of my car there wasn’t a dry item of clothing remaining (and I mean not dry!).
Observer and images: WSM.
I watched the installation of the first rotor blade to the latest (8th) wind turbine on the south-east corner of No.5 tank. It towers high above the horse paddock and the junction of Moorditch Lane and Marsh Lane. It will be the closest turbine to Frodsham village and its work even brought people out from their homes on Moreton Terrace off Marsh Lane.
The first bade is readied into position by the cranes whilst inside the top section an engineer is ready to insert the industrial pins into their slots.
An image from the west along No.5 tank.
All images: WSM.
A view from Helsby Hill published 1910 in T.A.Cowards ‘The Fauna of Cheshire’. It doesn’t bear any resemblance to today’s marsh of course, but they may have heard Corncrakes and Turtle Doves all over?
Thanks to Tony Broome for unearthing this photograph.