19.11.16. Birdlog (Part 2)

19-11-16-goldcrest-brook-furlong-lane-frodsham-marsh-tony-broome-1Down to the marsh, along the M56, stopped off for a latte and made the bridge on Marsh Lane for 10.06 hrs. A glorious day. Bright sunshine, blue sky and a light south-westerly breeze. Parking up at the old birdlog adjacent to No.1 tank and I then wandered along the Brook Furlong Lane and then back across to Redwall and the River Weaver. There were c10 Fieldfares and 15 Redwings with a few (4) Song Thrush erupted from the berry-laden hawthorn hedges as I passed underneath.


19-11-16-goldcrest-brook-furlong-lane-frodsham-marsh-tony-broome-2A flock of tits contained just a single Long-tailed and a couple of Goldcrest. Interestingly, the photos I took clearly showed the features of our British subspecies, Aegithalos caudatus rosaceus, which has a spotted throat and small upside-down chevrons across the breast. A.g. europaeus, the European subspecies lacks these features, but it is the one usually illustrated in field guides. There were also 2 Stonechat, the usual pair were in the field by Redwall and around 15 Goldeneye fed out on the water towards the sluice gates.

19-11-16-blue-tit-brook-furlong-lane-frodsham-marsh-tony-broomeI drove up to the Marsh Farm, but except for a dead calf, a handful of Raven, there wasn’t much. On the way to join Bill at the western end of No.6, I took a picture of a Chaffinch close to the parked car. Looking at the results later it had a hoverfly, Erisyrphus balteatus in its bill, which is a very late record for the insect although they are recorded in every month if the weather is mild. After lunch overlooking the mitigation area on No.3. Common Teal fed in the shallow water below us. We walked out to the bank overlooking Frodsham Score and viewed 4 distant Whooper Swan, a Great White Egret and up to 20 Little Egret. Dunlin flocks swirled and twisted like mist and eventually an estimated 10,000 settled on the edge of the water accompanied by 40 or so Grey Plover.


A Marsh Harrier came across from the Hale side and headed for No.6 and flushed all the waders and ducks as it casually drifted by in the distance. A Merlin did a fly through and caused further unrest as it did so. 3 Grey Wagtail flew over going east. We went back to the junction of No.3, 4 and 6 to watch the Starling roost at dusk. There were eventually a flock of c5000 but the birds stayed away to the west as it grew darker. 18 Raven left the sheep dead sheep corpse on No.5 and headed for the hills to roost.


I also headed to my own roost, back up the M56 and not a bad day with some nice photos.

19-11-16-song-thrush-brook-furlong-lane-frodsham-marsh-tony-broome19-11-16-redwing-brook-furlong-lane-frodsham-marsh-tony-broome19-11-16-chaffinch-brook-furlong-lane-frodsham-marsh-tony-broomeObserver and images: Tony Broome.

19.11.16. Birdlog (Part 1)

19-11-16-fox-frodsham-marsh-bill-mortonAfter my earlier visit to see the Peregrine which was perched up on the Ethelfleda railway bridge and the Nordic Jackdaw both in Runcorn I made my way to Frodsham Marsh.

19-11-16-little-egret-no-5-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-1There was a chill wind whipping up from the south-west and the sunny morning gave way to grey clouds in the late afternoon. No.6 tank had a gathering of 500 Lapwing with 200 Black-tailed Godwit and a couple of Ruff. The usual duck species were again present with both Shoveler and Common Teal being the most prominent. A smattering of Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Pintail and Common Shelduck made up the rest.

19-11-16-little-egret-no-5-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-6Another dead sheep (of which there are many) attracted 18 Raven, 2 Common Buzzard and a Fox. Even a Little Egret dropped to see what all the fuss was about. I wouldn’t have been surprised if a pride of Lions were resting up nearby the carnage is endemic!


After pairing up with TB we made our way out to the area overlooking Frodsham Score. The rising tide forced a swirling mas of 10,000 Dunlin over the salting’s while 43 Grey Plover were waiting the tide out on the score edge. There were at least 20 Little Egret out on the marshes with a single Great White Egret. 5 Whooper Swan and 12 Mutes were other birds of note.


Birds of prey were well represented with Kestrel, the blue-topped chimney Peregrine hawking high over Weston Point, a very mobile Merlin testing the nerve of a flock of Lapwing out on Frodsham Score while a wandering Marsh Harrier caused a mass panic sending everything up before it leisurely flapped over No.3 to roost out on six. The pale phase Common Buzzard was again perched up by the gun turret on the banks above the Manchester Ship Canal.

Observer and images: WSM.

The Viking Falcon

19-11-16-peregrine-adult-ethelfleda-railway-bridge-runcorn-narrows-from-mersey-road-runcorn-bill-morton-64I was out and about around Runcorn old town this morning and called in at Mersey Road to check on the Peregrine present on the bridge. After an absence of nearly 4 weeks the female Peregrine is back on her favourite perch. She sits boldly on the headdress of Britannia set into one of the heraldic shields that adorn the railway bridge. In actual fact the shield lays above the Widnes side of the river so now she’s known to me as the Viking Falcon.


A brief history of time.


In the year AD 915 the area south of the River Mersey was under the Kingdom of Mercia and was overseen by a Princess named Ethelfleda. She was the daughter of the Saxon King Alfred the Great. If you’re of a curtain generation then you may remember being taught this at school – Alfred was the king who burnt the cakes. Being the daughter of the king, Ethel was given charge to control the land of Mercia in this area up to, and including, the south shore of the River Mersey (the river derives its name from a Saxon word meaning ‘boundary’). The land to the north was controlled by the Danes (or Vikings if you like).

In more recent times the towns folk of Runcorn and Widnes got together and celebrated the naming of the railway bridge to their favourite daughter Ethelfleda.

19-11-16-peregrine-adult-ethelfleda-railway-bridge-runcorn-narrows-from-mersey-road-runcorn-bill-morton-11There is a point to this…when you travel across Runcorn Bridge from a southerly direction you can see adjacent to the road bridge a sandstone constructed railway bridge (Ethelfleda)  – both of these cross the River Mersey at the narrowest part of the Upper Mersey estuary.

04.07.16. Peregrine, Ethelfleda Railway Bridge. Bill Morton (1)

A car passengers view of where the Peregrine usually sits up on the railway bridge.

20.06.16. Peregrine, Runcorn Bridge. Bill Morton (2)

There are four heraldic shields depicting, two of Britannia seated and holding shields, one of a bird (which looks like a Black Stork but is probably a Cormorant) and one heraldic shield. Just below both of the Britannia shields is a metal via ferrata type ladder. Some days (normally during the winter months) you get a really good view of a fine adult Peregrine Falcon just perched up on the ladder. If there are lots of feral pigeons on the bridge then it’s unlikely the falcon will not be present.


Ethelfleda Railway Bridge where the Peregrine rests up (viewed from Mersey Road, Runcorn).

Where to see the Peregrine.

The falcon can be seen from the comfort of your car along Mersey Road at either Runcorn old town or West Bank, Widnes. If it is there then it’s a lot safer viewing than craning your neck whilst attempting to drive over the bridge and looking for her.

Alternatively if you fancy combining raptor watching with some Starling murmurations then get here at 3.00 pm on a winters evening. There is a good chance to see Peregrine, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk or even a Merlin? The gulls move west to their roost site on the Mersey estuary at dusk and the chances of seeing large gulls like Iceland and Glaucous are real possibilities.

Video of the Peregrine here: https://vimeo.com/192287393

19-11-16-nordic-jackdaw-runcorn-heath-park-lake-runcorn-bill-morton-2On the same Scandinavian theme nearby the Nordic Jackdaw can still be seen at the park lake off Park Road, Runcorn for its fourth year.