Frodsham Marsh Wind Farm in Photos #10

18.06.16. Frodsham Marshe Wind Farm from Helsby Hill. Tony Broome (1)

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

18.06.16. Frodsham Marshe Wind Farm as from Helsby Hill. Tony Broome (2)

Looking north to the River Mersey.

18.06.16. Frodsham Marshes from Helsby Hill. Tony Broome (6)

Looking north-east to No.6 tank.

18.06.16. Frodsham Marshe Wind Farm as from Helsby Hill. Tony Broome (6)18.06.16. Frodsham Marshes from Helsby Hill. Tony Broome (5)

The M56 runs through the marshes.

18.06.16. Frodsham Marshes from Helsby Hill. Tony Broome (4)


18.06.16. Frodsham Marshe Wind Farm from Helsby Hill. Tony Broome (3)

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.

18.06.16. Instalation of wind turbine #9, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh Bill Morton

The 9th wind turbine is erected on No.5 tank today.

All images by Tony Broome except for 8.

15.06.16. Birdlog

15.06.16. Ruffs, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)15.06.16. Ruffs, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (7)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.

15.06.16. Rain on No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

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?

15.06.16. Avocets, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

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.

Frodsham Marsh Wind Farm in Photos #9

15.06.16. Wind Turbine (No.5 tank) construction from Moorditch Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)

15.06.16. Wind Turbine (No.5 tank) construction from Moorditch Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)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.

15.06.16. Wind Turbine (No.5 tank) construction from Moorditch Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (11)

15.06.16. Wind Turbine (No.5 tank) construction from Moorditch Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (8)15.06.16. Wind Turbine (No.5 tank) construction from Moorditch Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (9)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.

15.06.16. Wind Turbine (No.5 tank) construction from Moorditch Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (7)

An image from the west along No.5 tank.

All images: WSM.

13.06.16. Birdlog

13.06.16. Green-winged Teal, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (8)13.06.16. Common Buzzard on pylon, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonWe managed a walk late afternoon to check the bird activity on No.6 tank. The Tufted Duck gathered there mustered 97 birds with 9 Common Pochard in tow. Common Shelduck numbers were much depleted probably due to birds dispersing to their breeding banks on the River Weaver and Frodsham Score. It’s interesting to see the build up of Gadwall over the summer, the species is easily the commonest duck on the tank. A few post breeding/failed breeding/non-breeding or yet to breed Mallard were gathered in smaller numbers while Shoveler included 2 pairs and a single drake.

The influx of Common Teal recently and a satellite flock across the River Mersey at Carr Lane pools continue to hang about. Hale’s loss is Frodsham’s gain when their American Green-winged Teal joined up with 47 birds again. After scrutinising the teal flock it was a little surprise to find a pair of Garganey with the male moulting in or out its flank feathers? Another more resplendent drake was found on the north side of the tank.

13.06.16. Green-winged Teal, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (11)

The assembly of summering 1st summer Black-headed Gull numbers reached a present peak of 250 birds and surely they’ll attract something different over the rest of the summer if they continue to stay?

Avocet reached a count of 26 birds on ‘six’ with a further 4 birds elsewhere. The two tiny chicks are getting bolder and stronger ready day and giving their mother anxiety attacks. The 300 Black-tailed Godwit were mostly feeding and roosting in the dense dead daisy bed.

13.06.16. Garganey (drake), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

A Hobby was over Helsby Marsh but apart from a Common Buzzard (see image) or two there wasn’t much raptor activity today.

A couple of tatty looking Painted Lady Butterflies were again on the dirt track above No.6 tank.

Observers: Sparky, WSM (and images).

Nature Notes #51

Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn - Agapanthia  villosoviridescens Frodsham Marsh May28th16 9639

Are we sitting comfortably…then let me begin.

It’s been a while since we included invertebrates in some detail from the marsh on this blog. As I constantly remind everyone, there is a lot more to see than just birds, especially in the quieter summer months. This is partly due to the fact that much of the marsh is unimproved and the vegetation is lush. As the temperatures have risen, so has the emergence of creepy crawlies become more apparent and any walk will turn up many surprises.

One of the nicest looking bugs was a beetle that I chanced upon below the old birdlog situated at the south-east corner of No.1 tank. It’s long curved zebra-striped antennae immediately caught my eye and I managed to secure a quick snap with my camera. Fortunately it was an easy one to identify and goes by the long-winded name Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Agapanthia villosoviridescens (pictured at top of page), a species with a more southerly distribution and with relatively few sightings this far north. It likes moist meadows with nettles, Hogweed and Cow Parsley, all of which were present. I also found another on my next visit.

Sepedon spinipes Frodsham Marsh May28th16 9578Whilst I was looking around a marshy area near No.4 tank I found a couple odd-looking flies. The first struck me as very different to what I’d noticed previously and although it sat there for a long time, I was having trouble focusing my camera and all I have is a shot from the rear, but enough to identify it as Sepedon spinipes, a snail-killing fly (or marsh fly). The angled back legs with spines are used to grip the female when mating. The larvae feed on small aquatic snails and can eat between eight and fifty as they grow. The species are not common in Cheshire.

Thereva nobiltata Frodsham Marsh May28th16 9601

The second fly was like a miniature grizzly bear, quite simply the hairiest fly I’ve ever seen. There are several closely related and difficult to tell species in Britain, but again, there are not many local records of this species the only one in Cheshire, Thereva nobiltata. The larvae eat everything from rotting plants to other insects and worms. What a great looking insect!

Cheilosia variabilis Figwort Cheilosia Frodsham Marsh  May20th16 9361There are also a lot of hoverflies on the wing at the moment. One jet black with long wings was sunning itself on nettles on the track below the old log. Cheilosia variabilis is a species that inhabits damp woodland and stream sides and is one of several Cheilosia species.

Another specialist species which is often abundant in beds of Phragmites and other tall emergent vegetation in ditches, ponds and marshy areas is Tropidia scita (image below), a small hoverfly with bowed legs which is quite distinctive once you ‘get your eye in’. There are lots in all suitable habitat across the Frodsham Marsh.
Tropidia scita Frodsham Marsh May20th16 9287
Leucozona lucorum Frodsham Marsh May22nd16 9433Of the Spring hoverflies that is abundant along woodland rides, edges and hedgerows is the easily identified Leucozona lucorum, a distinctive black and white species with a golden thorax. There were several below the old birdlog and along the early part of No.6 tank on Moorditch Lane.
Even commoner are those hoverflies belonging to the Eristalis group. They have a loop in their vein R4+5 which immediately points to this genera although a couple of other species share this feature.

Eristalis pertinax Tapered Dronefly Frodsham Marsh  May20th16 9294

An early species is Eristalis pertinax or Tapered Dronefly, so named because of its triangular-shaped abdomen. It is widespread and flies in most months of the year.

Whilst I was looking or hoverflies in a marshy bit of ground next to a patch of open water, I noticed some interesting looking spiders that attempted to hide as I approached. They would leave their webs and run to a blade of grass and seemingly vanish. When I did manage to track one down, I found it sitting with its legs stretched out in front and behind it, although the image shows one more relaxed, an example of which is pictured below. They are not fairly easy to identify but the common one in that type of habitat is Tetragnatha extensa (image below) more commonly known as a Stretch Spider or Long-jawed Orb Weaver. They inhabit vegetation near water and build orb webs to catch prey. They can even run on water.

Stretch Spider Tetragnatha extensa Frodsham Marsh  May28th16 9566
Blue-tailed Damselfly Frodsham Marsh May28th16 0236There was also an emergence of Blue-tailed Damselflies, the males floating about like puppets in the breeze. Relatively easy to identify, they are a common species here.

Tiger Cranefly Nephrotoma flavescens Frodsham Marsh  May22nd16 9426Tiger Cranefly Nephrotoma flavescens this is distinctive and is attractively marked yellow and black. There are several closely related species and telling them apart is not easy. I found some along the track below the old birdlog where the hawthorns and long vegetation with umbellifers are. The nice thing about a cranefly is that they generally don’t move far when spotted and will happily sit and have their photo taken.

Tipula vernalis Frodsham Marsh May28th16 9606The second cranefly species looked non-descript and was amongst the marshy area near No.4 tank. I just took a few snaps as a matter of interest to compare to the Tiger Cranefly. When I looked closely at the pictures, it was amazing they had an alien-like appearance around the head, with green eyes. I had to ask for help on this one and the Dipterists website came back with Tipula vernalis.

Garden Chafer Phyllopertha horticola Frodsham Marsh  May30th16 9774
And so on to the last two species, for now and both easy to identify.

There was a big emergence of Garden Chafer Phyllopertha horticola (image above) across the marsh particularly in sandy areas and the beetles were seeking mates and were chasing one another. The larvae feed underground on grass-roots for three of four years before emerging as adults. They didn’t look so striking until I had a look at the pictures in close-up and then the green thorax and brown wing cases and the mass of hairs all over them made them a lot more interesting.
Swollen-thighed Beetle Oedemera nobilis Frodsham Marsh  May28th16 9590
The last beetle has been mentioned in ‘Nature Notes’ previously but because this image makes it look even more beautiful as it feeds on a Buttercup, I thought it was definitely worth including. The beetle is a pollen feeder and are reasonably common across the marsh particularly on flowers such as umbellifers and buttercups. I give you…Swollen-thighed Beetle Oedemera nobilis. The males have the swollen thighs which give them their name. The polished metallic green is brilliant and you can even see my reflection on its thigh! Cheshire is on the northern edge of its range.

Written and illustrated by Tony Broome.

With grateful thanks to Phillip Brighton for help with the identification of the tricky species.

12.06.16. Birdlog

12.06.16. Polecat, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston

12.06.16. Reed Warbler, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (3)Out this morning and the same route as yesterday and much the same result apart from the lost Avocet chick’s reappearance on the scrape.

Walking along an undisclosed track somewhere on the marsh a Fox cub crossed my path quickly followed by mustelid which is rarely encountered on the marsh a Polecat. It was watched hunting the many rabbits that are breeding in the area. A Reed Warbler was seen feeding one of its brood in the ditch along Lordship lane.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-2).

12.06.16. Sand Martin, Wigg Island, Bill Morton.

Sand Martin by WSM.

11.06.16. Birdlog

11.06.16. Sludge pipe, No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (2)11.06.16. Reed Warbler, Lordship Lane, frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (4)Out this morning around No.6 tank starting from the model aircraft flying field at Lordship Lane. Reed Warbler were commonplace in the ditch alongside the lane (including one equipped with a leg iron) and were joined by smaller numbers of Reed Bunting and Sedge Warbler.

A Common Buzzard was feeding on a young rabbit at the southern end of 6 and was then chased off by some Lapwing. The outflow pipe was pouring black sediment water on to 6 raising the water level and thus attracting the attention of several types of small bird after the displaced insects. Again the Whitethroat were contact calling as i walked by and both Chiffchaff and Blackcap were seen and heard. The scrapes on No.3 held 15 Avocet, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Shoveler, Common Shelduck and Gadwall noted. There was just the single Avocet chick seen but the other may have been in the vegetation?

11.06.16. Reed Warbler, Lordship Lane, frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (2)

Continuing my walk and a charm of Goldfinch brushed past my ear in total panic and several more took cover as a Hobby went passed in pursuit mode.

No.6 tank held the summering flock of Black-tailed Godwit along with good numbers of Common Shelduck, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard and a small numbers of Common Teal.

The mammal highlight was a Brown Hare observed feeding in a field well away from potential danger.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

09.06.16. Birdlog

09.06.16. Avocet, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (4)

An evening walk again along the north banks of No.5 looking across No.6 tank. There were 2 Great Crested Grebe, 12 Common Pochard, 23 Tufted Duck, 46 Gadwall, (an uncounted number of) Common Shelduck, 44, Coot and 43 Common Teal (excluding the Green-winged which had bounced back across the river to Carr Lane pools).

08.06.16. Common Pochard (drake), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

The Black-tailed Godwit flock were well scattered but a record increase of Avocet numbered 33 birds with 2 adults and 2 chicks nearby. There were 2 Ringed Plover and 4 Redshank present.

The influx of Painted Lady Butterflies continues with them again present along the dusty tracks but in much reduced numbers. A couple of fine Brimstone’s were flying by.

09.06.16. Wind turbine erection, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The 7th wind turbine is set to be erected on No.5 tank from the newly positioned crane there.

Observer and images: WSM.

Locally a Red Kite was over the M56, Daresbury at 5.00 pm per Shaun Hickey.

08.06.16. Birdlog

08.06.16. Green-winged Teal, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)

08.06.16. Green-winged Teal, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)Another evening walk along the track on No.5 that borders No.6 tank in muggy sunshine. It was difficult to avoid the dusty trucks that emerged to ferry the contractors off the marsh for the day.

With the departure of yesterdays (Carr Lane pool, Hale) Green-winged Teal overnight. I anticipated that with the present numbers of Common Teal it might just find its way after the big tide to Frodsham Marsh…and indeed it did. Scanning the teal flock along the west side of the shallow pool it appeared with a few drakes of its European cousin (no brexit here in birdland).

08.06.16. Common Pochard, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)

The ducks from last evening were once again present with a Great Crested Grebe and 15 Common Pochard.

08.06.16. Dusty trucks), No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)08.06.16. Painted Lady Butterfly, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (9)Black-tailed Godwit were numerous and several were sporting their brilliant rusty coloured summer plumage with 4 Dunlin and 15 Avocet. There were several Painted Lady Butterfly about and some in courtship.

Green-winged Teal Video: Green-winged Teal

Observer: WSM (video & images 1-5).

08.06.16. Goldfinches, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston

08.06.16. Avocet, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (2)A brief sighting of the Green-winged Teal before an unseen predator flushed all the ducks godwits and anything else on the tank. At least a dozen Avocet were between No’s 6 and 3 with 2 chicks still noted on the scrape. Goldfinch were busy stripping the thistle heads  and several Reed Warbler were singing along Lordship lane.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 6-7).