15.08.16. Birdlog

15.08.16. sinensis and Carbo Cormorants, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)

A fine summer evening to be out and about in the industrial countryside of Cheshire, which leads me to my evening visit to the marsh. There is still plenty of birdlife to be seen on No.6 tank and eventually these birding forays will produce something a little bit more popular with the local birding populace. However, it appears one of the stars of recent weeks may had sought waters new with no sign of the Black-necked Grebe this evening. With the grebe’s absence Dabchick had rallied round and produced a good count of 25 birds with a solitary Great Crested Grebe for company.

The Common Teal are back with 234 birds keeping mostly below the north banks. Along with the usual Mallard, Gadwall and Shoveler were 2 Wigeon, 100 Common Shelduck. 43 Tufted Duck and 5 Common Pochard.

15.08.16. Marsh Harrier, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (5)

15.08.16. Marsh Harrier, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (14)The two young Marsh Harrier were very active going back and forth over the reed beds but one of them caught a teal and proceeded to de-feather its prey while the other harrier watched on. The patience of the onlooker got the better of itself and after a little tussle and prey mantling the stronger bird forced its sibling away.

15.08.16. sinensis and Carbo Cormorants, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)The Cormorant roost held 12 birds with 4 ‘sinensis‘ present with the usual carbo’s.

At dusk Curlew began to fly in for the evening with loose flocks of 10-20 birds whilw 11 Black-tailed Godwit circled No.6 tank but again the water level is high and they joined up with a flock of 500 over Frodsham Score.

A small south bound roost flight of Raven was noted while several hundred hirundines were moving south.

Observer and images: WSM.

Several Reed Warbler were feeding their juvenils plus Sedge Warbler,
15 Dunlin, 1 Redshank and ad and immature Little Ringed Plover.

Observer: Mike Cooper.

14.08.16. Birdlog

17,04.16. Marsh Harrier, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome. (6)

The juvenile Black-necked Grebe was again on No.6 tank this afternoon along with a female Marsh Harrier and juvenile Mediterranean Gull.

Observer: David Bedford.

13.08.14. Black-necked Grebe, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Findlay Wilde

A couple of Hobby were over the marsh this morning while the Black-necked Grebe was present on No.6 tank.

Observer: Alyn Chambers.

Image 1 by Tony Broome; Image 2 by Findlay Wilde.

13.08.16. Birdlog (updated)

13.08.16. Wheatear, No.1 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)

13.08.14. Black-necked Grebe, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Heather WildeA morning birding session (for a change) along the track of No.5 tank overlooking No.6 tank. One of the first birds noted was the juvenile Black-necked Grebe which for some reason didn’t reappear for a few hours later. I guess it was up all night and needed a snooze hidden in the reeds below the embankment. Also present were a couple of Little Grebe families scattered across the water. An adult Great Crested Grebe was also active.

It was a bit of a surprise to find that the Common Teal numbers have increased with c100 birds, the majority of which were flushed from the dense Michaelmas Daisy beds. The Tufted Duck flock were present in reduced numbers with 5 Common Pochard.

A juvenile Marsh Harrier was over No.3 tank and a female was seen over No.4 tank. Several Kestrel were noted with Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard and two Peregrine including a hunting Peregrine over No.6 tank and the ever-present female on top of the blue-topped chimney.

Shorebirds were virtually absent with a couple of Greenshank seen flying out to the estuary, small numbers of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Lapwing.

13.08.14. Wheatear, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde

Marsh Farm was fairly productive with 3 Yellow and 6 White Wagtail on the banks of Frodsham Score across the Manchester Ship Canal from the farm. Along the pipes on No.1 tank were 7 Wheatear, 23 Linnet, 1 White Wagtail and a flyover Tree Pipit (FW). A small passage of Common Swift were heading south while a charm of 200 Goldfinch are a gathering mixture of adult and juvenile birds.

13.08.16. Canada and Barnacle Geese, No.3 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (11)

13.08.16. Barnacle Geese, No.3 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonThe highest flock of Canada Goose in the entire country is encamped in the north-west with the Mersey estuary basin being its stronghold and so it would be inevitable that the colour ringing programmes would eventually show their bling on the marsh. I was able to count 8 birds with red colour rings and a couple with green colour rings, it would be interesting to see where they originate from? Also within their midst was a single Barnacle Goose with a neatly twisted piece of blue wire wrapped several times around its foot (did the ringers run out of rings?)

13.08.16. Canada Geese (colour-ringed), No.3 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (6)

13.08.16. Canada Geese (colour-ringed), No.3 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (4)One particular goose which bore a green colour ring with C95 was ringed as a female gosling on 12.8.14 at Baddiley Meres near Nantwich per David Cookson. The Canada Goose were ringed by the RSPCA Ringing Group as part of a project looking at movements to and from Lake Windermere, Cumbria, where the majority are ringed during their annual moult period.

Per Kev Leighton

The British Swan Study Group, British Trust for Ornithology, Cheshire and Wirral Ornithology and Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

Website = https://cheshireswanstudygroup.wordpress.com/

Observers: Paul Crawley, Guido D’Isidoro et al, Findlay & Heather (images 2 & 3) Wilde, WSM (images 1 & 4-7).

12.08.16. Birdlog

12.08.16. Goldfinch, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley (1)

12.08.16. Goldfinch, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley (4)Today down on the marsh I saw a Yellow Wagtail flyover and calling near Marsh Farm and another (possibly same bird?) over the junction of No’s 3,5 and 6 tanks. A juvenile Marsh Harrier was over the mitigation and over on No.1 there were male and 2 female Wheatear on the pipes. A Common Snipe flew over No.6 heading towards 3. The Black-necked Grebe and a Great Crested Grebe were again on six. The young of this years Kestrel were to be seen widely over the marsh.A flock of 60 Curlew managed to find space to feed despite the abundance of turbines on no.5 tank. A golden charm of dozens of Goldfinch illuminated the trackways.

Observer and images 1-2 : Paul Crawley.

A few Common Swift were moving south over Weston towards the marsh this evening (WSM).

12.08.16. Frodsham Marsh wind farm from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton (2)

12.08.16. Frodsham Marsh wind farm from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton (1)12.08.16. Frodsham Marsh wind farm from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton (3)The wind farm as viewed from across the river (WSM).


The 19th and final (we think?) wind turbine is now installed and the above is an image taken from Langdale Road, Frodsham by Dave Stewart.

11.08.16. Birdlog

11.08.16. Carbo and sinensis Cormorants, No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)I’ve been away on my jollidays for the last couple of weeks and after finishing work at midday I was winging it north when I received an email from Paul Ralston. He had found a Black-necked Grebe on the marsh and I don’t take dipping out very well!

11.08.16. Black-necked Grebe (juvenile), No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Anyway as they say time is a great healer…So on my first evening back I made a point of visiting the marsh in the forlorn hope the grebe was still lurking about even though there hadn’t been a report of it since 7th. Yeah baby! It was still there feeding in the middle of the open water of No.6 tank. It was practically the only bird (except for a few Little Grebe) that braved the stiff but warming breeze.

Most of the ducks were cowering in the reedy vegetation tucked tightly close into the bank. I don’t know what’s been happening but the exposed muddy area on the tank is no longer there and most of the duck have scarpered. Despite this the (low) high tide pushed a few shorebirds onto what area was dry enough and included a male Ruff, 100 Lapwing, a few Redshank and a single Dunlin. This was nothing like the previous post 22 years ago!

There were a small number of Cormorant arriving for their roost and in amidst their throng was a sinensiss bird.

Gulls were also dropping in for a quick bathe before departing out to the estuary which included mostly Black-headed with the odd Common (including 2 juveniles) and some Lesser Black-backed Gull.

11.08.16. Marsh Harrier (juvenile), No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

One of the two juvenile Marsh Harrier looked in really pristine plumage as it floated over the dense reed beds while over on the blue-topped chimney the big chested Peregrine was busy preening.

Observer and images: WSM.

On This Day…11.08.94

White-rumped Sandpiper painting (3)

Dunlin, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Ringed Plover…What was that?

I was sat hunched up just below the rim of the north embankment of No.4 deposit sludge tank and partially obscured by a few scattered thistles, a small bush or two and, clumps of rank grass. I was here two hours before the expected high tide on the River Mersey which lay several hundred metres beyond the Manchester Ship Canal and behind my position. I untwisted the cap off my flask and poured out a cup of steaming hot tea rummaging at the bottom of my rucksack I pulled out my squashed cheese sandwich. This would be sustenance for the duration of my time here and of course fully charge my batteries.

07.07.12. Greenshank, No 6 tank, Frodsham Marsh by Paul Crawley

Shortly after finishing my brew and sarnie my attention was drawn to a “tew-tew-tew” call from a bird which had caught my peripheral vision as it slung itself over my shoulder in flight and settled on the muddy mire over to the right of my position – it was obviously a Greenshank and one of seven birds seen during the rising tide. This lone bird was swiftly followed by a small group of 20 Dunlin and they settled closely to the ‘shank’ in the same area of wet ground in front of me. Within seconds a second group of waders flew inches over my head and with a whoosh they pitched down with the birds already present and immediately commenced to feed, nervously pecking at the surface of the mud. On closer inspection a carpet of emerging midge larvae were laying like a black swarm on the isolated pools and these had spilled out onto the adjacent muddy areas.Dunlin flock with Weston point in background. Dermot Smith.

I was in a cramped position and I needed to stretch my legs so, I slowly lifted my body to an upright stance and carefully turned to look at the state of the tide beyond the rim of the embankment. Almost immediately a large group of Ringed Plover were approaching my position, roughly at eye level and coming directly toward me. The leading bird was pivoting from side to side in flight and the following birds did likewise taking the lead from the birds in front. Just as the Ringed Plovers were about to enter the confines of the sludge tank they caught sight of me and ever so quickly but gently shifted their flight line and careered to my right. Snake-like, the entire flock moved further out onto the tank before wheeling round to join the birds already feeding. Small flocks were soon followed by much bigger parties and then groups of hundreds of Dunlin and Ringed Plover were pouring over my view-point with an audible almost rythmatic pulse of wind through wings interspersed with piping and rasping “krree” calls.

10.08.15. Dunlin flock, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

As I mentioned earlier the midge larvae were emerging from their shallow water bodies and the bank where I sat had clouds of adult midges hanging like a veil about my head. However there was a freshening north-easterly breeze and the mini-muggers dropped below the bank giving me a respite from their bites and only occasionally causing me mild irritation.

The incoming tide oozed its watery self through the channels out on the river and then eventually spilling over onto the salt marsh at Frodsham Score where Oystercatcher, Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit could be seen and heard as they sought shelter wherever they could. The score salt marsh changed from a verdant green swathe into a mocca grey-brown watercolour and flocks of serpent-like lines of shimmering Dunlin laced together to waft in clouds as they too needed a resting place for the period of the river tide.

The shorebirds continued to enter the sludge tank in flock after flock and the sounds of their frenzied chattering whilst alighting soon meant that something special was about to unfold. Just as I expected the last group of birds from the river had entered the tank, a flock of about 400 Ringed Plover nearly parted my hair as they ‘Flosbury flopped’ over the bank and darted to join the others on the ground below. I barely had time to use my scope, trying to find a start point for my count or to even work my way through this shorebird hoard (which was really a pleasant problem to have). I found a cluster of waders gathered and thought they would be a good point to lead me onto other groups and a clear area where most birds could be seen reasonably well. The assemblage contained several hundred Dunlin, little parties of (mostly adult) Ringed Plover and the odd Ruff as a focus point.

It was inevitable that this amount of birds would attract unwelcome attention. I caught sight of a Sparrowhawk flying along and just below the rim of the tank as it flipped down using a series of phragmities clumps as cover to approach the birds at ground level. The taller Greenshanks were partially obscured by the vegetation and spotted the hawk first – a collective warning cacophony rung out alerting all of the smaller birds. Instantly the entire flock of hundreds of waders that had been either feeding or roosting rose as one and as they did so the Sparrowhawk shot straight from cover and flung out a leg ripping a young Dunlin from the air. It was a pitiful sight to see as the raptor carried the still struggling bird to a small elder tree on the far bank to dispatch its quarry. The whirling masses of both Ringed Plover and Dunlin took their time giving the site a good ‘reccy’ before resettling on the mud again.

26.04.15. Dunlin and Ringed Plover, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Heather and Findlay Wilde (2)

I must have been well concealed or the flocks didn’t see me as a threat and as they became bolder they fed even closer to me than they had earlier. At times I was struggling to focus my telescope and then, when my bins became redundant I just didn’t need the use of optics for these closer birds. Soon the anxiety from their earlier threat subsided and the groups spread out further onto the tank. I commenced my scrutiny of the species and numbers. I found a group of birds which I started to sift through and slowly worked my way along their line, Dunlin, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Ringed Plover…What was that? A smallish caldris wader with an obvious frosty coloured appearance and elongated body shape dropped below a sandy ridge into what I guessed was a dried up water channel. I could just see the top edge of its back as it sneaked along the trough, presumably feeding as it went along and I thought it may have been an early Little Stint. The birds dropped out of view so I carried on my sweep until I reached another party of Ringed Plovers and a smallish Dunlin, was this the bird I had just seen?

White-rumped Sandpiper from Bill Morton's note book.

I retraced my steps and swung back to the initial group of Dunlin that I had started to work through. Dunlin, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Ringed Plover…White-rumped Sandpiper! I really had to pinch myself that the bird that I had seen dropping into the sandy channel was an adult (moulting) summer plumage White-rumped Sand!! It sat side on, displaying the truncated body with exaggerated long wings. The immediate impression was of a pale ghostly looking head and underparts contrasting with the reddish colouring on the back with an obvious white V on the upperparts. I scribbled down notes and made a few sketches. The back and mantle were rusty coloured with black streaking while the lower mantle feathers were edge white. There was an obvious pale edging to lower scapulars. The clean white under parts and blackish chevron streaking and fine delicate streaking which ran along the flanks from the sides of the upper breast were noted. A medium length black bill with a fleshy base and flexed black legs were other give aways. I hadn’t seen the rump but on those views it was irrelevant, to me it was obvious what it was. I was more than confident with the birds identity but I had a pressing problem. This was 1994 and mobile phones hadn’t reached Cheshire to the extent that I owned one and I had hitched a lift to the marsh. I didn’t even have a car (not that I could drive anyway). I was obliged by birding protocol to spread my good fortune to the wider fraternity with the tide having now reached its fullest and the shorebirds in an agitated state, beginning to sense the turn of the tide, as they flew around in little parties. It would be a long walk from the north bank of No.4 tank round the Holpool Gutter and that’s before I could reach Rake Lane and then the two-mile trudge to Helsby and the nearest public phone box. I only had a contingency ten pence coin in my pocket to cover all eventualities (like this). The prospect of leaving my spot was a frustrating one but a White-rumped Sandpiper was still a good bird to put out and would generate some interest locally. When I eventually did the walk and found a phone box I called Ted Abraham at his home (I wasn’t going to waste ringing in the news and my 10 pence on his protracted introduction to Birdline Northwest). Fortunately, Ted’s wife answered the phone – he wasn’t available for comment so I left details and retraced my steps back to the north bank of No.4 tank. Most of the wader flocks had returned to the river but fortunately within a gathering of 200 or so Dunlin was the White-rumped Sand and like a lot of rare waders at Frodsham it was evident there wasn’t a hurry to return to the river. Ted et al eventually made it to the marsh and saw the bird but that was the last time it was seen. Oh, I did get to see the birds wrap around white rumped patch on my second helping.

21.02.16. Mersey Marshes waders. Shaun Hickey (4)

Wader watching is still my favourite type of birding and the sludge tanks of Frodsham Marsh are my favourite type of birding habitat.

Written by WSM.

Images: Image 1 by Paul Crawley; Image 2 by Dermot Smith; Image 3 by WSM; Image 4 by Findlay & Heather Wilde; Image 5 by Shaun Hickey; Note book entry and illustration by WSM.

06 & 07.08.16. Birdlog

30.07.16. juvenile Wheatear, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh


Out this morning around No.6 tank where several Chiffchaff were seen. Along Lordship Lane and a Sparrowhawk was on patrol in the area. Water levels are up again on No.6 tank so not much wader activity. There were 4 Ruff and a few Redshank being noted, while duck numbers are low with the usual Mallard, Gadwall, Common Teal, common Pochard, Shoveler, Tufted and Common Shelduck all grouped together. The Black-necked Grebe was close to the bank with several Little Grebe and nearby a Common Buzzard sat on a fence post. A Collared Dove flew over No.3 tank and although regular around the farm buildings on Helsby Marsh they are uncommon out on the distant open areas.  A Reed Warbler was still feeding young  and a Sedge Warbler was contact calling.

Observer: Paul Ralston.


29.07.16. Peacock Butterfly, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley.

There were 4 Wheatear (3 female and 1 male) on the pipes across No.1 tank. The Black-necked Grebe was again on six (which PR spotted), 3 Little Stint and 5 Ruff were a bonus, while 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover, 50 Dunlin, juvenile Marsh Harrier, 1 Yellow Wagtail and both denizens of the reed bed a Reed Warbler calling over a calling Water Rail made a visit all the more enjoyable.

30.07.16. Typhoon over Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley (2)

Also typhoon fighter over Speke airport.

Observer and images: Paul Crawley.

03.08.16. Birdlog

10.07.16. Comma, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston.A walk from Ince Berth and around No.6 tank during the high tide which incidentally didn’t produce a great deal although the three Little Egret out on Frodsham Score with a couple thousand Canada Goose were a pleasure and a pain in equal measure (I’ll leave it to you guess which is which). A female Tufted Duck with a brood of young was on the Splashing Pool and a Green Sandpiper on the scrape.

On to the mitigation pool and a couple of Black-tailed Godwit were sharing it with several Gadwall and even more Canada Goose were seen. No.6 tank produced a juvenile Marsh Harrier was chased off by an irate Common Shelduck and a handful of Common Swift were hawking overhead. On my walk back a flock of Dunlin unseen earlier on 6 flew overhead back out to the score and the same or another juvenile Marsh Harrier was over the salt marsh. Butterflies were out in force with Painted Lady, Small and Large, Small Copper, Comma, Peacock and Tortoiseshell were an added bonus to my ramble.

Observer and image: Paul Ralston.

30 & 30.07.16

30.07.16. juvenile Wheatear, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh


On a brief visit today from No.1 tank where I spotted a couple of juvenile Wheatear on pipes early afternoon. A female Common Scoter was found on No.6 tank (FD) and nearby a brood of attentive ducklings accompanied their mother Tufted Duck. On the wader front were 6 Avocet which have been absent for a while and 6 Black-tailed Godwit the rest of the summering birds favouring the north side of the river at the moment in the much fancied Carr Lane Pools.

Observers: Frank Duff, Paul Crawley (and images).


31.07.16. juvenile Wheatear, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley..

Out from 10.00 am until 3.30 pm. Starting with the reported Black-necked Grebe still present  There were also 2 Common Pochard, 170 Lapwing, 300 Dunlin, 2 juvenile Marsh Harrier together on No. 6 tank. The same area held an adult Mediterranean Gull  with 150 Black-headed and 15 Common Gull and a plethora of 200 butterflies.

Observer: Tony Broome.

29.07.16. Birdlog

30.07.16.Black-necked Grebe, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley (1)An early finish from work and a walk around No.6 tank starting from Godscroft Lane. A recently harvested potato field by the chicken farm held a flock of Lapwing and a common Buzzard on the lookout for worms. As I walked over the motorway bridge a feral cat with a small kitten hid in the undergrowth and startled a family of Pheasant.

29.07.16. Reed Warbler, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (1)Along Lordship Lane there were still the odd Reed and Sedge Warbler to be found but they were no longer singing. A couple of hundred Wood Pigeon fed in the crop fields. The Splashing Pool held a Tufted Duck with a brood of recently hatched young and a Coot on the nearby scrape also had a young. The mitigation pools held more Lapwing, Coot and Mallard while a Hobby buzzed a pair of Buzzard nearby and then flew at speed  around a bush trying to flush whatever was hiding in there.

29.07.16. No.6 tank and waders, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (2)

On No.6 tank a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit were wading in the shallows while Common Teal, Tufted Duck, Mallard Common Shelduck and Gadwall fed out on the open water. During observing a pair of Little Grebe close to where I was standing high above the water on the bank another small grebe came in to view and hid in the reeds for a short while, eventually it swam out to the open water and revealed itself to be a Black-necked Grebe!

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-3).

Image 1 by Paul Crawley.