12.07.16. Birdlog

12.07.16. Black-tailed Godwit, No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (9)

12.07.16. Black-tailed Godwit, No.6 tank, frodsham MarshI wasn’t expecting much change in the bird activity which has been present on the marsh so far this month. A Sandwich Tern, Green-winged Teal, 2 Garganey, Hobby over the river at Hale and a poached Great White Egret seen from there but present on Frodsham Score put a different expectation on my visit this evening…Guess what? How wrong can I have been. Such is birding that the boundary river can give and it can take away. Another well birded effort by the boys for all their hard work on the Hale patch.

12.07.16. Black-tailed Godwit, No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (10)

12.07.16. Little Grebe and chicks, No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2) Anyway, with my expectations dashed, I did manage to have a lovely evening with bright sunshine and a cool breeze. The Tufted Duck flock fluctuates between 50 to 200 birds and tonight they covered the middle ground (or water) with 110 present. Common Pochard managed 8 drakes, 8 Common Teal and 45 Common Shelduck.

An adult Great Crested Grebe had a stripy juvenile while a Little Grebe pair were more successful in rearing 8 juveniles.

09.07.16. Common Swift, No.5-6 tanks, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (4)

The emerging daisy beds concealed a flock of 100 Black-tailed Godwit with 10 Redshank and a fine dressed male Ruff. Further out on the drier areas of the tank a flock of 67 Dunlin with a small bunch of Ringed Plover were present. All of the godwits rose with their attendant Lapwing flock when the female Marsh Harrier flew over their heads. Another raptor this time a Peregrine was hunched up on the blue-topped chimney over at Weston Point.

Hirundines contained mostly Sand Martin with smaller counts of House Martin. The Common Swift were feeding much higher in the sky because of the fine weather but a few descended as the sun dropped.

A Sedge Warbler was still singing from the reedy ditch along No.5 tank.

Observer and images: WSM.

10.07.16. Birdlog

09.07.16. Black-tailed Godwits and Grey Heron, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)

10.07.16. Comma, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston.Out this afternoon from Ince Berth and around No.4 and 6 tank. Several species of butterfly were noted during my walk with Meadow Brown, Comma, Tortoiseshell and a single Painted Lady on the Manchester Ship Canal path. A Little Egret was keeping company with a Grey Heron and they both left the canal bank to land on the Frodsham Score and they carried on feeding there.

10.07.16. Water lilies, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (1)

The Canal Pools were very quiet with just a handful of Mallard and Coot on the water where the smaller pools were a mass of yellow water lilies.

10.07.16. Marsh Harrier, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (1)

A Peregrine made a couple of stoops at a Common Buzzard and then turned its attention to a feral pigeon and both were lost to my sight.

10.07.16. Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (2)

09.07.16. Common Swift, No.5-6 tanks, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (25)On the mitigation pools a flock of Lapwing, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and a Ruff still in summer plumage was with them.  On No.6 tank the flock of Black-tailed Godwit and 30 Curlew were roosting in the shallows. I didn’t notice any Avocet with them. the duck numbers were down compared to recent visits and a Little Egret dropped in to feed. There were two Kestrel hunting the bank and the Swift flock were putting on a show whizzing past at head height . At least 3 Chiffchaff were still calling during the walk but the Reed and Sedge Warbler have stopped singing.

09.07.16. Common Swift, No.5-6 tanks, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (18)

A Sparrowhawk was hunting along the bank on No.4 and another Kestrel was over the Growhow works while the female Marsh Harrier was over the Hoolpool Gutter.

Observer: Paul Ralston (2-5).

 

 

Images 1 & 6-7 by WSM.

09.07.16. Birdlog

09.07.16. Views from No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

09.07.16. Common Swift, No.5-6 tanks, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)The summer doldrums continue with what appeared at first to be a dearth of birds. I waited until the morning rain ran its course. I took up my surveillance overlooking No.6 tank from the north side. A gathering of 156 Tufted Duck associated with 7 Common Pochard, a few Common Teal, much reduced numbers of Gadwall, a couple of Shoveler and the usual Common Shelduck upending across the waters of the tank.

A female Marsh Harrier was busy hunting along the banks of No.5 tank before drifting off to the east. Apart from a Kestrel that was it for my raptors today.

.09.07.16. turbines, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)

05.07.16. Pochard (male), No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)09.07.16. Sand Martins, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

I was about to give it all up until I heard a flock of Black-tailed Godwit flying in from the estuary. These were followed by smaller flocks and in excess of 700 birds eventually settled frustratingly in the flooded dense daisy beds. After some thorough scanning I managed to extract out a flock of 50 Dunlin, 1 Common Snipe and 19 Redshank. A couple of Ringed Plover made up for anything else on No.3 tank.

09.07.16. Avocets, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (8)

A little later a flock of 13 Avocet flew over but with the recent pumping of sludge and heavy rain the water level was quite high and didn’t suit their needs.

09.07.16. Black-tailed Godwits, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (10)

09.07.16. Common Swift, No.5-6 tanks, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (16)09.07.16. Common Swift, No.5-6 tanks, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (12)The summer build up of Common Swift was again impressive with birds ridiculously close on many occasions. I’ve included a few images but alas, the light didn’t help in capturing their detail. Also present was a gathering of 300 Sand Martin with a few House Martin.

09.07.16. Common Swift, No.5-6 tanks, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (39)

 

 

Observer and images: WSM.

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.

03.07.16. Birdlog

Little Egret, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

After one of the worst June months I can remember, weather-wise. I’ve been looking at the daily forecasts, in the hope that better weather would be around the corner. So when I awoke to sunshine and fair-weather clouds, I got my gear, made up a sandwich and a flask of coffee and headed due west, arriving at Frodsham Marsh around 11 am.

Avocet, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

Waxcap, Frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeIt was quiet bird-wise, but this time of year it always is and no surprise there then! I spent a couple of hours on No.4 tank looking at wildflowers and found a few that were interesting enough for me to photograph. There was also fungi to look at including a Blackening Waxcap.  Afterwards it was on past No.3 and onto No.6 tanks. Pottering about looking at more flowers, a Marsh Harrier went past quartering the vast phragmites reed bed. The secluded pool held 2 juvenile Pochard, both fully grown, which flew off. I wondered if they’d bred on No.6? A very obliging Little Egret dropped in and fed unconcernedly along the side of the pool, stalking prey silently. I heard a wader calling in the distance but couldn’t hear enough to be sure of what it was until I flushed it from the pool on the way back to my car later, a Green SandpiperCinnabar, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeThe first returning bird of the summer.

The usual bright yellow and black Cinnabar Moth caterpillars were munching their way through Oxford Ragwort which was just coming out and bright blue and black Common Blue damselflies floated amongst the tall grass.

 

Marsh Harrier, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome (2)A quick look at the main water on No.6 revealed over 300 Black-tailed Godwit and another record count of 54 Avocet.

Not a bad few hours after all my earlier pessimism.

Observer and images: Tony Broome.

02.07.16. Birdlog

02.07.16. Canada Geese, Black-tailed Godwits and Ruff, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)After straying out to the east of the county the reassuring warm glow of the dark satanic (wind)mills looming large over Frodsham Marsh beckoned.

02.07.16. Black-tailed Godwits and Teal, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton02.07.16. Little Egret, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)There was a brisk wind blowing through from the west and it felt cool standing high up on the banks of No.6 tank. There down below were the sheltering Black-tailed Godwit flock barely visible in the lush Michaelmas Daisy vegetation. After a careful scrutinizing of the flock I managed to eek out two breeding plumaged Ruff, several Teal and 2 Little Egret.

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

02.07.16. Little Egret, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)Further out on the borders of the sludge tank there was a new record of 52 Avocet, it would be nice to see us doubling this count by the end of summer?

There wasn’t much in the way of ducks and that included low numbers of Tufties.

A Peregrine was sat hunched up on the blue-topped chimney attempting concealment from prying eyes beyond the river on the Hale side.

Observer and images: WSM.