Nature Notes #56 (Odds & Sods)

31-10-16-3-year-old-male-black-headed-gull-colour-ringed-j2lc-spike-island-bill-morton-23A small collection of sightings from and about the River Mersey local to Frodsham Marsh.

31-10-16-3-year-old-male-black-headed-gull-colour-ringed-j2lc-spike-island-bill-morton-19Firstly, a colour ringed Black-headed Gull spotted at the canal zone at Spike Island, Westbank, Widnes. A group of birds brought to bread by passersby included a Black-headed Gull wearing a white ring on its right leg and the usual metal ring on its left leg. The letters and numbers displayed on the ring were J2LC on a white band. After sending off details to the BTO we received details of its history. First ringed on 14.05.12 Vaterland, Akershus, Oslo, Norway. After numerous summer revisits to Norway it was eventually spotted in the autumn in the UK at Spike Island in September 2015. So perhaps encouraging to see that it may have started a wintering regime here in the northwest?


The second sighting involved a dead Conger Eel found on the banks of the river adjacent to Ditton Brook at Pickerings Pasture. The creature was a real river monster measuring roughly 2 metres and an estimate weight of 9 kg.


04-11-16-conger-eel-dead-ditton-brook-pickerings-pasture-widnesThe video here:


Fungi are always a popular feature and can be ‘sods’ to identified. I managed a few recent finds starting with this Earthstar which came in this mini form at Blakemere, Delamere Forest.


A mould fungus measured 8 cm tall and 20 cm long and was at the base of a picnic bench in the forest.


19-1016-cedar-of-lebanon-bill-morton-2Emerging Fly Agaric’s are few on the ground this autumn but a cluster of 80 were beneath a Cedar of Lebanon in the cemetery off Greenway Road, Runcorn.


06-1016-coral-fungus-hale-park-bill-morton-9A bunch of Coral fungus were gathered on a wood chip pile at Hale.

common-stinkhorn-egg-daresbury-firs-david-stewartThe sleepy eye of an emerging Common Stinkhorn egg at Daresbury Firs was one of several found along the path leading up the hill path to the top of the firs.



The 31st October saw a huge irruption of Harlequin Ladybirds locally with thousands about. They included hundreds huddled together and secreting themselves into car door and house door sills, post boxes and gate posts etc etc.


05.11.16. Birdlog

05-11-16-dunlin-long-billed-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-21Out early this morning and a mass of Wood Pigeon crossed the M53 motorway as I made my way to the marshes. Started at Ince and the new pools there. The pools held 30 Mallard a couple of Common Teal, 3 Grey Heron and a fly over Little Egret. On to the canal path were more Mallard with a few Gadwall which were wary now that the shooting season is in full swing.


At least 10 Little Egret and a single Great White Egret were out on the Frodsham Score salt marsh, while a large flock of Wigeon were out on the edge of the river. There was a couple of Whooper Swan which looked fresh in and still stained by tundra silt. The usual Lapwing and Curlew were in the field alongside the Holpool Gutter. Two Stonechat were again by the dredging berth at the Pumping Station and several Meadow Pipit were noted. Along Lordship Lane a flock of 50 Curlew were near the model aircraft flying field and a Kingfisher left the ditch and flew over the bank. Another Kingfisher was seen at the junction of tanks 4 and 6. Another pair of Stonechat were feeding alongside the flying field and yet another pair on No.4.

05-11-16-redshank-common-sandpiper-frodsham-marsh-paul-ralston05-11-16-reed-bunting-frodsham-marsh-paul-ralstonBack along the Manchester Ship Canal a pair of Green Sandpiper were in company with a Redshank and several Reed Bunting were in the hedgerow. Quiet on the raptor front with only Common Buzzard and Kestrel noted and no winter thrushes seen on the walk.

No.6 tank held good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing and Redshank with Common Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard, Mallard and Common Shelduck on the water.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-4).



The searing cold northerly wind would have cut through me standing on the banks above No.6 tank if it wasn’t for a spot of creative thinking. A pile of bricks and tussocks of grass saw my seating plan put in place. It became almost barmy! It was certainly warm enough to provide sheltered feeding for a late Migrant Hawker but the biggest surprise was a Painted Lady that made a couple of circuits along the bank (see image 11).

05-11-16-spindle-bushes-in-flower-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-6The Spindle bushes along the top of the bank provided a splash of colour against the clear blue sky and attracted many lingering insects.


05-11-16-dunlin-and-little-stint-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-24The ducks present were variously disturbed by people peering over the banks or shouting at their dogs but despite this I estimated that there were: 214 Shoveler, 24 Pintail, 23 Mallard, 40 Gadwall, 400 Common Teal, 40 Common Shelduck, 47 Tufted Duck and 5 Common Pochard.

Shorebirds are always my main interest and a scattered flock of 200 Dunlin (many long-billed birds to cause confusion), 4 Curlew Sandpiper and a Little Stint moulting into their winter plumages. Also noted were 5 Ruff, 120 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Golden Plover and 120 Lapwing. A Little Egret appeared from nowhere amidst the shorebird flocks but didn’t stay.



Video of the Little Stint here:

Observer: WSM (images 1 & 5-11).

01.11.16. Birdlog

01-11-16-sunset-over-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-mortonWith the last rays of sunlight bursting through the evening sky I managed about 40 minutes birding on the marsh after work.

01-11-16-ruff-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton01-11-16-snipe-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-2The muddy borders to the main pool on No.6 tank attracted 15 Ruff, 4 Black-tailed Godwit and a smattering of Common Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall. A group of 12 Common Snipe flew out from the daisy beds and circled overhead.

A smaller than expected gathering of Starling flew in and dropped into the reed beds on six but there were no spectacular displays. A few Raven drifted south to their roost sites in Wales while gulls streamed out to the Mersey estuary.


A Peregrine was sat on the lip of the blue-topped chimney at Weston Point.

01-11-16-sunset-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-mortonGoldcrests were calling from the hedgerows but their calls soon died down along with the sun.

Observer and images: WSM.