After a mixed week during the course of my holiday in Norfolk I headed down to Frodsham Marsh for what could be the last of this year’s effort at finding a Yellow-browed Warbler? It was a late start and I arrived around 10.30 hrs and parked up by the old birdlog before walking back along Brook Furlong Lane and then turning around to walk the lower path towards Redwall reed bed. With a fresh east to south-easterly wind blowing I thought there should have been an air of expectancy? But the new wind turbines were working and they were surprisingly noisy, the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of the blades going around which filled the air and became hard to ignore. However I persevered and looked for a roving tit flock. I didn’t connect until I reached the track below the birdlog again and two or three Long-tailed Tit appeared.
A single Chiffchaff called and 2 Goldcrest got closer until one appeared for a photo shoot. They are fabulous little birds and so resilient. I always marvel at the fact they can cross the North Sea every year to reach us to winter. At Redwall reed bed a pair of Stonechat perched up on dead twigs before moving onto the path next to the River Weaver. Four Raven began to play in the wind and the photo I took made them look like aeroplane fighters turning to head for a target…’The Raven Squadron’. It was quiet. A Common Snipe got up and called in alarm, heading off towards the I.C.I tank.
I looked at the river. A flock on the water in the distance was made up of c60 Tufted Duck, a single male Common Pochard and about 7 Great-crested Grebe. But there was little else of note. I walked back to the car and met Knutsford Ornithological Society stalwarts Bob Groom and Jackie, on a rare visit to the marsh. Bob used to bird watch at Frodsham in its heyday in the seventies and eighties. I drove up to Marsh Farm, noting another pair of Stonechat on the fence next to the pipes. Small parties of Goldfinch fed on the track and 5 Linnet flew off before I could grill them for Twite?
The tide was at its lowest point and birds too far off to be enjoyed, so I headed for No.6 tank, passing Bob and Jackie again who were looking from the eastern end. I parked up at the junction with No.’s 3 and 5 and had a look at the ‘Secluded Pool’ which was quiet as well as secluded, but two more Common Snipe flushed noisily. The sun was low and straight ahead when I looked at No.6 and the birds were silhouetted. However, the closest birds were 3 Curlew Sandpiper and 11 Ruff, which was nice. There were also about 200 Black-tailed Godwit feeding below the fence and I picked up a single Bar-tailed Godwit in their midst. It spent the next half hour preening and gave unusually good view for a Bar-wit. They’re normally in the distance on Frodsham Score.
With lots to catch up with at home it was a relatively early departure eastwards along the M56. No YbW’s but some nice photos.
Observer: Tony Broome (images 1-5).
I met Arthur Harrison on the motorway bridge and he was just leaving the marsh but he mentioned seeing a couple of Stonechat by the first turbine on No.5 tank. I parked up and walked along the track on No.5 tank to view the open water of No.6. Typically filled with ducks the open water was scattered with Shoveler and appeared to be in excess of 200 birds (although I wasn’t really into counting them this evening). Although Common Shelduck numbers have increased. The tide was high on the River Mersey but I wasn’t as fortunate as Tony seeing only 40 Black-tailed Godwit with 12 Ruff.
The main aim of my visit was to watch the Starling gathering at dusk and to see what raptors would be enticed to their bountiful number. A Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Common Buzzard were on the periphery. The young female Marsh Harrier twisted and turned over the Starling roost beds,causing them to avoid capture in some impressive murmurations. Whatever the harrier did to catch one the entire flock made its task almost impossible.
Observer: WSM (images 6-8).
Video of turbines here: https://vimeo.com/188579324