30.08.16. Birdlog

29.08.16. Wind Turbines on Frodsham Marsh from Weston Road, Weston.. Bill Morton (3)

A late evening visit to watch over No.6 tank to see the dusk build up of ducks. The whole flooded tank was alive with birds. The sound of whistling Wigeon revealed 7 birds along with 340 Common Teal, 200 Tufted Duck, 12 Shoveler, 50 Common Shelduck, 30 Mallard and 21 Gadwall. Other birds of note were 40 Coot, 21 Moorhen, ! Water Rail and 9 Ruff.

A juvenile Marsh Harrier flew over while the usual Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were active this evening. Earlier in the day Steve O’Connell watched a Hobby hawking Dragonflies over the pipeline gate on No.1 tank. He said it was “half an hour of magic!”.

30.08.16. No.6 tank and turbines, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)

There were large numbers of Black-headed Gull flying high over the marsh and the Mersey estuary presumably feeding on emerging airborne ants. High over the marsh Swallow and House Martin were gathering to feast on the flying bug bonanza while Starling are gathering in small parties and I guess it wont be long before they gather for their roosts here.

30.08.16. Sunset over No.6 tank and ducks, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

Other birds of note included 18 Raven heading south to roost in Wales.

30.08.16. Sunset over No.6 tank and ducks, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)

Observer and images: WSM.

28.08.16. Birdlog

28.08.16. Common Buzzard, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome (3)

I decided a day down on the marsh would be in order but at a more leisurely pace and I arrived around 10 am with a couple of lattes from the usual coffee fuel stop at a branded coffee company in the village. It was overcast a fairly still but warm, high grey sky hiding the sun after a night of rain. It soon cleared with a fresh north-westerly breeze picking up and the sun came out to heat the air further and strangely, the 18 c felt a lot hotter.

28.08.16. Michaelmas Daisy, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

A quick look at No.6 tank revealed a lot of water and mostly ducks and gulls. Around 150 each of Common Teal and Shoveler, 2 Wigeon, 2 Common Pochard and 200 Black-headed Gull. 2 Ruff fed closest to the north bank where I was stood but apart from 4 flying Common Snipe and 70 Lapwing which pitched in further to the west, they were the only waders. A car pulled up with birders looking for Wood Sandpiper and Little Stint. They’d heard it was a good place. It may be at times, but not today! There was an air of late summer, that still period where nothing much is moving or showing. The rest of the day would prove to be hard work with little reward. One thing I did notice was the carpet of Michaelmas Daisy/Sea Aster covering a lot of No.6 tank which was covered in swarms of hoverflies and honey bees. There must have been thousands on insects.

28.08.16. Shooters' fields, Frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeI carried on towards No.3, to see what was on the mitigation area. Rabbits by the side of the track showed signs of myxomatosis, as they did elsewhere on the marsh. I wondered if someone had deliberately introduced it? No.3 was virtually birdless and only redeemed itself in a small way by producing a single Green Sandpiper at the west side. Six Linnet flew past, small parties of Goldfinch fed on thistles and twos and threes of Stock Dove went by.

28.08.16. Common Buzzard, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome (4)Common Buzzard were obvious with up to four together over No.5, probably around 12 birds in all, with 2 Kestrel and 2 Sparrowhawk hunting between 3 and 4. There had been a Marsh Harrier (per Arthur Harrison) sighting, but not for me. I looked out over the Frodsham Score but the heat haze was so bad that it made any serious attempt, pointless. As the air heated up mid-afternoon, hirundines filled the sky over No.3 tank. 500+ Swallow and a handful of House Martin, 10 counted, plus 2 Sand Martin, hawked low above the thistles for insects, occasionally perching on docks and other vegetation to take a rest. A few birds but nothing to make the heart hesitate.

28.08.16. No.3 from No.4 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

I had a look on the river but there was no sign of yesterday’s Little Gull, just lots more Black-headed Gull. The field below the old log was being cut but two old tractors. It’s the first time I’ve seen that field cut and wondered why? I also drove up to Marsh Farm but birds were few. More Raven brought the day’s total to 10. It was low tide and I looked across the sandbanks towards Hale Lighthouse where, earlier in the day, DC had watched a Nuthatch depart out across the river towards Frodsham Marsh… which would have been a mega here but  disappeared into the haze on his side and never reappeared on the south side of the water.

28.08.16. , No.3 tank and thistlesFrodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

What struck me about No.3 tank/mitigation area was the complete lack of management (see image above). I thought the plan was to prepare it with livestock and mowing machines to produce short turf so that migrant and wintering waders had somewhere to feed. The lined water holes are useless, their banks too steep or the water too deep, the thistles are too high and too extensive and the long grass uneaten. The only real scrape, closest to the road was virtually dry and as usual birdless. A very disappointing affair considering how much Peel Energy had promised the local community, RSPB, CAWOS, local birders et al

Observer and images: Tony Broome.

27.08.16. Birdlog

27.08.16. 1st summer Little Gull, Weaver Bend, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

27.08.16. Green Sandpiper, Ince Marshes. Paul RalstonA walk from Ince Berth and around No.4 tank this late morning. There were 3 Little Egret which were out on Frodsham Score and a large flock of gulls mostly Black-headed but a few Common Gull with them were noted. Several Great Black-backed were sharing the mutton with a few Carrion Crow and Raven. Also seen was a pale phase Common Buzzard which was sat by the Pumping Station. Two Green Sandpiper were on the scrape by the ‘Splashing Pool’ and 200 Goldfinch fed on the thistles. 3 Kestrel were in the air together over No.4 and a Sparrowhawk flew past.

27.08.16. White and Hoverflies, Frodsham Marsh. Paul RalstonLeaving the marsh on the track to Ince some mitigation work by the pig farm has created a couple of pools and scrapes one of which held another Green Sandpiper, Common Teal, Moorhen and Grey Heron. There were plenty of butterflies about including Large White, Small Tortoiseshell and a couple of Painted lady butterfly.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-3 & 6).

27.08.16. Kestrel and Frodsham Hill from Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston

27.08.16. Great Black-backed Gull, Weaver Bend, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.

I took a walk from Brook Furlong ending up fighting my way through the impenetrable jungle that is the track that runs below the old birdlog at the eastern side of No.1 tank. It was obvious that few feet have trodden this way for some time and after negotiating the hidden ankle trapping bramble briers, razor-sharp Phragmites blade edges, face height spiders webs complete with angry-looking spiders, water droplet laden Willowherb and then having to swat off midges and pestering Noon flies, I eventually emerged (red-faced) onto the embankment of the Weaver Causeway. After wiping the sweat, dust, webs and an assortment of face and optic hugging creepy crawlers from my person and regaining some composure, I set up the scope and almost immediately out on the River Weaver was a 2nd calendar year (1st summer) Little Gull (hooray for the river!). The Little Gull spent most of the time riding the flow of the water before swimming back to repeat this procedure. It was later found perched up on the banks of the Weaver Estuary giving some really good views and was dwarfed by an adult Great Black-backed Gull perched on a bouy. A couple of Kingfisher flashed past with one shooting into a Willow Tree on the river bank. Little Gull video 

27.08.16. Green Sandpiper, Ince Marshes. Paul Ralston

27.08.16. Spider spp, Weaver Bend, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)27.08.16. Frog, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonThe Weaver Estuary had a few Black-tailed Godwit with the odd Redshank, 1 Ruff and 3 Common Sandpiper. Other birds of note here included: 3 Great Crested and 14 Little Grebe. Some of the Canada Goose which have exceeded 10,000 birds on the Mersey Estuary spilled out onto the Weaver and they could be seen crowed along the gantry wall opposite Weston Point.

A look over on No.6 tank saw in excess of 1,000 Black-headed Gull with 200 on the same ploughed field as the other day.

A couple of Little Egret flew over the old birdlog at a poignant moment.

27.08.16. Spider spp, Weaver Bend, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)A covey of 5 recently released Red-legged Partridge were walking ahead of my car so I won’t be sharpening my ticking pencil just yet (Mr Scally).

A Common Frog was making its way across the lush grass on No.1 tank and there were some big Garden Spiders with webs slung across the path on the Weaver Causeway.

Observer: Frank Duff, WSM (images 1 & 4-5 & 7-9).

I would like to take the opportunity in thanking Pam & Johnny Garner and their lovely family for inviting me to join them in scattering Martin’s ashes on the marsh today. His wish was that his ashes should be shared between Flamborough, Spurn and Frodsham Marsh. It is comforting to know that we have him back at the place where he started his birding. His ashes lay close to the old bird log at the south-east corner of No.1 tank looking east towards the Weaver Bend. RIP MSG.

WSM.

24.08.16. Birdlog

24.08.16. Wheatear, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)A couple of hours birding after work and any day with a Curlew Sandpiper in it is definitely a good day. I just made this evenings high (low) tide which wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Out on the drier south west corner were 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 43 Ringed Plover and 230 Dunlin but little else. An injured Common Teal was sat out on the bare mud and it looked to have a wing injury but unfortunately it lay on the open soft mud and could not be rescued.

The ducks out on the eastern side of the tank featured the usual Tufted Duck, Common Teal, Common Pochard, Cpmmon Shelduck. Shoveler and Gadwall but each species were low in number and barely worthy of counting. A juvenile Common Buzzard was very confiding.

24.08.16. Wheatear, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)A look over No.1 tank revealed a couple of ‘set down’ for shooting Red-legged Partridge and juvenile male and female Wheatear were along the pipes. At Marsh Farm a small passage of Swallow were heading west along the Manchester Ship Canal and overhead Yellow Wagtail were calling. The Raven were sky dancing over Frodsham Score while small parties of Curlew were flying in for the evening roost. Out on No.3 tank a post breeding/juvenile flock of 500 Goldfinch were bouncing around the Canal Pools

Observer and images: WSM.

22.08.16. Birdlog

22.08.16. Wind turbines from No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)

A very quick dash and brief visit to the south-west corner of No.6 tank after work. I just about managed to connect seeing part of a 2000 strong Dunlin flock before half took to the wing and headed out to the estuary on the ebbing tide. Despite this the other half remained long enough for me to search their numbers. Within the Dunlin flock that remained were 134 Ringed Plover, 2 juvenile Little Stint and 21 Curlew Sandpiper which left me to wonder what was in the first flock that departed on my arrival?

22.08.16. Little Stint, Ringed Plover, Curlew Sandpipers and Dunlins, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (4)

20.08.16. Juvenile Sparrowhawk, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (5)A flock of 300 Lapwing had a juvenile Ruff for company but that was about it.

The juvenile Sparrowhawk that I saw a couple of days ago was still hanging about the fence line bordering the tank junctions.

Ducks again featured the usual species namely Common Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Common Shelduck.

22.08.16. Grey skies over the Mersey Estuary. Bill Morton (2)

Observer and images: WSM.

21.08.16. Birdlog

31.08.13. Curlew Sandpipers and Teal, No6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton21.08.16. Common Teal, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (1)Out around No.6 tank this morning and a group of Common Teal resting in a dead tree on the bank with a pair of Reed Warbler feeding below them. A juvenile Marsh Harrier went by in the direction of the River Weaver. Several Little Grebe were on the water as were Coot and Moorhen. On the ‘Splashing Pool’ a Kingfisher was doing a circuit around the flooded area and another Reed Warbler was seen. A small flock of waders on the mudflats south end of six were too far out for me to identify with my bins but AC had his telescope on them earlier and helped with the specifics.

21.08.16. Wheatear, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (1)

21.08.16. Kingfisher, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (1)Walking along Lordship Lane the wader flock was spooked by an unseen predator and several Black-tailed Godwit and Redshank flew over followed by a single Little Egret. A female Wheatear was sitting on a drainage tower and a pair of Kestrel were hunting the bank.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-4).

Started this morning at No.6 tank. Out on the water the ducks included 39 Shoveler and 5 Common Pochard. Moving around to the west end of the tank 9 Ruff were present among small numbers of Lapwing and Redshank. A Green Sandpiper dropped in during a shower and the female Marsh Harrier flew through.

The bushes along Brook Furlong Lane held 4 Lesser Whitethroat with the usual Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat.

Heading back to No.6 tank for high tide a Greenshank was circling but headed back out to the estuary. At the west end of the tank the wader numbers were starting to build. Mixing with the Dunlin and Ringed Plover were at least 25 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Little Stint, 2 Knot, 1 Common Sandpiper and a Black-tailed Godwit. Most of these scattered and headed back out to the estuary when a Peregrine shot through.

Observer: Alyn Chambers.

21.08.16. Wader watching spot at No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Once a month a collection of volunteers are dispersed out along the north and south banks of the river to collectively count the waterbirds that frequent or pass through the Mersey Estuary and its upper and lower reaches. Today was that time of  month and my patch are the sludge tanks on Frodsham Marsh. After yesterdays shorebird haul and the  reporting on the ‘Frodblog’ post it was encouraging that a couple of keen birders were stationed on the west banks of No.6 tank to sample the delights of Frodsham Marsh.

21.08.16.Kestrel. Lordship Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

The ducks present on the open water at the eastern end of the tank were not easily visible with many of the Common Teal hiding in the fragrant infused Michaelmas Daisy beds but those that were visible numbered 87 birds. Common Pochard have reassembled their  recent numbers with 12 birds. Common Shelduck, Shoveler, Mallard and Gadwall were also present. Tufted Duck are the bread and butter birds for my countjng and today 134 were gathered with a further 17 on the ‘Splashing Pool’.

Birds of prey were again evident and both female and juvenile Marsh Harrier were seen and a juvenile  Peregrine caused quite a lot of consternation amid those aerial shorebirds which at high tide had gathered in the south-west corner of the tank. Dunlin numbers were lower than yesterday but still in the 1000 mark, 230 Ringed Plover, 2 Knot, a single Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Ruff, 2 juvenile Little Stint, 26 Curlew Sandpiper (all juveniles with the one adult from yesterday), 2 Avocet, 300 Lapwing and 10 Redshank. Not a bad little tally with an obvious nationwide invasion of Curlew Sandpiper which I’m expecting this count to get even higher?

The Black-necked Grebe had relocated to the Weaver Bend.

An adult Mediterranean Gull was with a flock of 200 Black-headed Gulls in a recently ploughed field adjacent to Moorditch Lane/M56.

21.08.16. Helsby Hill and wheat field from Lordship Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

21.08.16. Turbines from Lordship Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)Above a couple of images from Lordship Lane with Helsby Hill and a wheat field while a short turn of the head looking east are the wind turbines and the Growhow Works.

Observers: David Bedford, Alyn Chambers, Sparky, WSM (images 1, 5-8).

21.08.16. Frodsham Marsh from Mount Manisty. Shaun Hickey.

Thanks to Shaun Hickey for his image of the turbines over on Frodsham Marsh taken from the Mersey marshes on the WeBS count today.

20.08.16. Birdlog

20.08.16. Juvenile Sparrowhawk, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (14)20.08.16. Buff-tailed Bumblebee, No.4 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (5)The weather forecast was warning of gale force winds with driving rain! After popping my head out of the window this morning apart from a few swaying trees it didn’t look so foreboding. I metaphorically saddled up my birding horse and high tailed it to the marsh (gale force winds and rain weren’t going to deter me today!).

A quick look over the embankment of No.6 tank on my arrival didn’t reveal a lot. A count of 123 Tufted Duck, 6 Common Pochard and 87 Common Teal were wimping out and mostly tucked into the leeward side of the south bank out of the wind. A female Tufted Duck still had very young ducklings on the ‘Splashing Pool’.

20.08.16. female Marsh Harrier, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (6)

A juvenile Marsh Harrier was actively hunting the reed beds by the secluded pool and the female replaced it later in the day. A juvenile Hobby was attacking the hirundine flocks that were over the banks between No’s 3, 5 and 6. The big Peregrine must have taken a firm grip perched aloft the blue-topped chimney at Weston Point in the high winds. A few Common Buzzard were loafing on top of several fence posts and a juvenile Sparrowhawk confidingly perched up conveniently for me to grab a photo on a fence along the track on No.3 tank.

20.08.16. Dunlin, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpipers, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (19)

I had a change of plan anticipating today’s high tide and the shorebird movement out on the river. I guessed that because of the height of the tide there wouldn’t much land on the salt marshes for them to sit the tide out. The drier area at the south west corner of the sludge tank must surely be utilised by these shorebirds.

20.08.16. Dunlin, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpipers, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (4)

I found a position that looked perfect and after making a platform I settled down and waited. It didn’t take too long before the first birds flew in and briefly settled before flying off (typical behaviour for waders here). Eventually they started to arrive in loose flocks of tens and then a couple of hundred. They were mostly Dunlin with some associated Ringed Plover but a flock of 50 Black-tailed Godwit didn’t linger and flew back to the estuary. The birds that stayed soon settled and I began my thorough grilling process systematically working my way through their dense flock of 1500 Dunlin. My first juvenile Curlew Sandpiper of the Autumn gave itself up quickly followed by my first juvenile Little Stint. I counted ten Curlew Sandpiper (including a partial summer adult) and after putting out a tweet I was soon joined by MacDuff and he spotted another five birds which were displaced from a water channel in the centre of the tank. Towards the end of our watch the birds trailed off to the river on the ebbing tide and a juvenile Peregrine practising its hunting techniques (or should I mention its lack of technique) made their departure all the more urgent.

20.08.16. Dunlin, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpipers, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (22) It was good to get to see some waders on No.6 tank for a change but how many more shorebirds would we be seeing if the water level was much lower? I’m not even mentioning the poor excuse of a wetland area that is the mitigation on No.3 tank.

20.08.16. Raven, No.4 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)

The Raven are gathering along the banks above the Manchester Ship Canal by the Canal Pools enjoying the turblent air that rises in strong winds here. I counted 30 birds today and I’m sure there will be even more on the WeBS count tomorrow.

Observers: Frank Duff, WSM (and images).

18.08.16. Birdlog

18.08.16. No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

A watch over No.6 tank and a chat with the Chester boys on their Thursday evening bird walk.

The water level on No.6 tank is irritatingly high and it’s a case of another early August with very few shorebirds to wade through. A lone Common Snipe was flushed out of the daisy beds by a wayward Coot and that would have been the wader highlight if it wasn’t for a dusk fly over Greenshank which circled several times before heading out to the Canal Pools/river after failing to find a suitable shallow spot to feed.

Duck numbers were back to normal and a gathering of 146 Tufted Duck, 12 Common Pochard, 340 Common Teal, Gadwall, Common Shelduck, and Mallard filling the open water. A Water Rail was calling from the reeds below the banks.

A couple of Marsh Harrier were over No.4 tank and are presumed the juvenile birds. Common Buzzard could be found perched up across the marsh while a Sparrowhawk was out on manoeuvres.

A passage of 300 hirundines were moving through mostly being Swallow. The post breeding/juvenile build up of Starling included 500 birds gathering over the mitigation area.

18.08.16. Sunset and gulls, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

Another splendid currant bun filled the end of the evening as it slipped out of sight behind tomorrows rain clouds far out on the horizon.

Observer and images: WSM.

16.08.16. Birdlog

16.08.16. Sunset over the Mersey Estuary from Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (21)16.08.16. Black-necked Grebe, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (10)I’ve never been one for being premature but on this occasion I’ll have to throw my hands up and admit I was wrong with my assumption that the Black-necked Grebe have departed. I found it bold as brass in the centre of the tank after a couple of hours watching the area this evening. This is the bird that keeps on giving. The Dabchick numbers were well dispersed with fewer than I countered yesterday.

16.08.16. Sunset, Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (6)

A partial sun halo was visible over the marsh this evening.

The numbers of Tufted Duck were again knocking on 47 birds with 3 Common Pochard present. It was Common Teal that are by far the commonest species reaching the 160 mark along with much reduced counts of Gadwall, Shoveler and Mallard.

Small recce parties of Black-tailed Godwit flew over but again the water level here is just too high. Later in the evening I noted birds flying in to Frodsham Score from an inland site and I guess it will be the fields adjacent to the motorway? Likewise, Curlew are moving through with 300 birds alighting onto No.6 tank at dusk. A solitary Redshank on six and a Common Sandpiper flushed by a boat was on the Manchester Ship Canal below Marsh Farm were additions.

16.08.16. Kestrel and moon rise, Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)

The 2 juvenile Marsh Harrier from last evening were joined tonight by their mother and all three were watched play hunting over the secluded pool.

A couple of juvenile Kestrel were at Marsh Farm (one of which is featured above) and the Peregrine spent some time on the blue-topped chimney.

16.08.16. Sheep and Wheatear, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (6)

Raven were moving south with a combined count of 30 birds while a Yellow Wagtail and a tucking Reed Warbler were seen and heard. The Wheatear continue to be found along the pipes on No.1 tank and weren’t bothered by the sheep that were feeding between the pipelines.

16.08.16. Sunset over the Mersey Estuary from Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (31)

A spectacular sunset over the Mersey Estuary tonight.

Observer and images: WSM.