05.07.16. Birdlog

05.07.16. Eygptian Goose and Common Swift photo bombing, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (6)

It was a fine evening to be out bird watching and I couldn’t find any excuses not to be down on the marsh.

05.07.16. Black-tailed Godwits, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

It was immediately obvious by the chattering calls from the waters of No.6 tank as I walked along the track (concealed by the line of trees that shielded me) from the keen eyes of the Avocet and Black-tailed Godwits that were feeding in the shallows below the bank. When I eventually popped my head over to see the birds most of the godwits flew up and headed out to the Mersey Estuary. This is usual behaviour by them and being naturally suspicious, I’m wondering if there’s been some recent disturbance here?.

05.07.16. Avocets, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Anyway, back to the Avocet flock which were bunched up close together and difficult for me to count. After several attempts at getting an accurate number I settled on 63 (yes! Another new record!). The birds were a mixture of adult with lesser numbers of juveniles. Tim Vaughan who is compiling the Avocet section for the Lancashire Bird Report suggested that these could be displaced from Martin Mere, because, some of their birds departed the area at the end of June?05.07.16. Common Swift, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (8)

The first non-breeding Dunlin have started their return passage with 10 birds feeding with the remaining godwits, Redshank and Lapwing. A couple of new Ruff were also noted.

05.07.16. Tufted Duck (female), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)

The 3 Little Egret were in deep vegetation on the south side of the tank and didn’t emerge much from their cover. Tufted Duck were back to three figure counts along with a handful of Common Pochard, numerous Mallard, Gadwall and 24 moulting Common Teal.

05.07.16. Eygptian Goose and Common Swift photo bombing, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (4)

The surprise of the night was Hale’s Egyptian Goose and the image at the top of the page also shows a Swift spectre photo bombing it. A pair of Common Shelduck were guarding a crèche of 50 shelducklings.

05.07.16. Little Ringed Plover, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (7)

Little Ringed Plovers on No.3 tank.

05.07.16. Painted Lady Butterfly, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (10)

The mitigation on No.3 tank was woefully deserted with just a Shelduck and a pair of Little Ringed Plover with their juvenile present.

05.07.16. Marsh Harrier, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (4)

A female Marsh Harrier gave good views as it quartered the grasslands of No.5 tank.05.07.16. Peregrine, Ethelfleda railway bridge, Runcorn. Bill Morton. Bill Morton

A Peregrine was sat up on the blue-topped chimney and is separate from the bird that sits on Ethelfleda railway bridge, Runcorn/Widnes during the day (pictured above).

A flock of 500 Sand Martin with resting up in the daisy beds while Common Swift continue to provide a spectacular display of how close can they get to you before veering off at the last second! One particular bird had a gorget of leucism (pictured above) and many were seen with bulging throat crops.

05.07.16. Common Swift, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (14)

A few butterflies were noted including a couple of tatty Painted Ladies on the dusty track.

05.07.16. Painted Lady Butterfly, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Observer and images: WSM.

Nature Notes #53

I’ve been seeing a few more insects whilst I’ve been out and about. Some are just large enough to get a decent photo or two, but the majority are beyond the capability of the equipment I presently own and will remain so until I invest in a good macro lens.

Black Slip Wasp Pimpla sp Frodsham Marsh Jul3rd16 0767

However, the results from my happy-snapper are good enough to identify the easy species, or at least put them in the right family. One of the most spectacular I noticed was an ichneumon-type wasp sat on the end of the calyx of a White Campion. Unusually it didn’t move as they usually do. They have very good eyesight and sensory organs and take off well before you get anywhere near them. When I looked at the photo, all became clear. It appeared to be laying an egg inside the calyx, probably in some hapless moth or butterfly larvae. The common name is ‘Black Slip Wasp’, pimpla sp, one of several look-alike species which are shiny black with bright orange legs. In addition, they have long, ridged gazelle-looking antennae. Brilliant things….unless you’re a larvae.

Broad Centurian Chloromyia formosa Frodsham Marsh Jul3rd16 0687

The Hogweeds were covered in one of the soldier fly species, a shiny, metallic, brightly coloured family of insects. The common one at Frodsham Marsh is the Broad Centurian, Chloromiya formosa, the one in the picture being a male with a golden thorax, the females being sky-blue.

Volucella bombylans Frodsham Marsh Jun22nd16 0769

Volucella bombylans is a big, hairy, attractive bee look-a-like hoverfly, very fast flying and fond of nectar, regularly feeding on umbellifers and brambles. This one is trying to pass itself off as a Red-tailed Bumblebee….a very convincingly mimic.


Grypocoris stysi Frodsham Marsh Jun22nd16 0458

One of the common flower bugs at the moment, particularly on the hogweeds below the old birdlog (situated at the south-east corner of No.1 tank), is the colourful Grypocoris stysi. It feeds on flower heads as well as aphids.

There’s always something on the marsh that’s worth taking a closer look at which includes the odd surprise.

Written and illustrated by Tony Broome.

Nature Notes # 52 (Part 3)

White Mullein Verbascum lychnitis Frodsham Marsh Jul3rd16  0741

White Mullein Verbascum lychnitis Frodsham Marsh Jul3rd16  0738 (960x1280)I was wandering about last Sunday (3rd July) when I noticed a tall plant in the near distance that I immediately took to be a Mullein. However when I got up close, it was covered in white, not yellow flowers? The leaves weren’t hairy like the Great Mullein in my garden. There was a small group of them numbering around fifteen or so in a small area. I took a few photos and later identified it as White Mullein, Verbascum lychnitis, a nationally scarce species and one I can’t remember seeing before. It’s always nice finding such an attractive and rare flower.

In the same area there were many campions, mostly White Campion, Silene latifolia and a what appeared to be a single Pink Campion, a hybrid between White and Pink Campion, Silene latifolia x dioica, which can be quite common in certain areas but one which I hadn’t noticed on the marsh before.

White Campion Silene latifolia Frodsham Marsh Jul3rd16  0747 (1280x960)

White Campion Silene latifolia Frodsham Marsh Jul3rd16  0745 (960x1280)White Campion

Pink Campion Silene latifolia x dioica Frodsham Marsh  Jul3rd16 0749 (960x1280)

Pink Campion

Written and illustrated by Tony Broome.