Frodsham Marsh Birding Review 2016

January 2016

23.01.16. Starling flocks, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (11)

martin-garner by Yoav PerlmanThe birdblog year started with a guest post by Ray Scally who join me on a trek down to the salt marshes to see for himself the birds on the edge of the River Mersey. A Great White and several Little Egret, Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Geese, Peregrine and Merlin were all good indicators of the rich bird life we have out there. His day total of 61 species was a good start for the month. Paul Ralston is an unsung hero of the marshes and his weekly sojourn from the western edge of Ince always produces some highlights. His first visit of the year on 2nd broke the previous high count for Little Egret with 20 birds coming to roost to trees adjacent to the Ince Berth. A Barn Owl and a partially leucistic Blackbird were also noted by Paul. A 1st winter Marsh Harrier was active in the area and a short blast from the repertoire of a Cetti’s Warbler was heard deep in the reed beds. The first of many ‘sinensis’ Cormorants were noted coming into roost onto No.6 tank. A Woodcock was to be expected during a cold snap where it was skulking under brash wood while a wintering Green Sandpiper drew my attention calling over the ‘Splashing Pool’. A couple of Egyptian Geese were seen and the Whooper Swan herd had increased to 18 birds. Two-three Short-eared Owls were performing well on No.5 tank. A Barn Owl was found dead mid month and was probably a victim of the continuous periods of rain we had been experiencing. The Starling murmurations lasted as long as their reed bed roosts could support their combined weight and 10,000 spiraling in the air was quite impressive and produced some interesting patterns including this ‘Orca‘ shape. Winter counts on the river saw Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwits and Knot coming closer inland, three species which aren’t seen in any great counts. Pink-feet numbers increased to three figures and Great White Egrets doubled their’s to two. The 29th was a sad day with the passing of Martin Garner after a long illness. Martin was a leading light in the forefront of bird identification both nationally and internationally. He was one of the instigators of the Frodsham Marsh Birdlog in the 1980’s and in retrospect this blog. The month concluded with PR finding a Hen Harrier over the west end of the marsh.

February 2016

04.01.16. Little Egrets, Ince Berth. Paul Ralston (5)The month began with a ridiculous 25 Little Egrets roosting up in trees close to Ince Berth and the first lambs of the Spring were emerging on 4th. The ‘Carbo’ roost on the dead trees on No.6 were still bringing ‘sinensis’ forms with them. A Water Pipit was flushed from the wet patches on the eastern side of No.4 tank and typically flew high not to return. A Greylag with the Whooper Swan herd throughout the winter was presumed to have been of Icelandic origin? The Great White Egret was strutting its stuff out on the salt marsh of Frodsham Score and a wintering Chiffchaff was heard contact calling from the reed beds on No.4. A Marsh Harrier showed up on No.4 earlier in the month and must have been the bird that wanders up and down the Mersey valley all winter?. Common Pochard is a not so common duck these days so a flock of 40 was an impressive count. The 10th produced a Short-eared Owl, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Peregrine and a Merlin which shows yet again there is a healthy supply of food available for them. The first flocks of shorebirds appeared mid month including 100 Ringed Plover and an Avocet was new in. The first of the years Mediterranean Gulls dropped into bath prior to heading out to the Mersey estuary at dusk. The monthly WeBS counters turned up a pale-bellied Brent Goose on the score marshes. The third week brought in a record roost count of 30 Little Egret and two Great White’s out on the marsh looked like they always belonged there. A massive post roost of 30,000 Starling blackened the skies at dusk and attracted the attention of both Merlin and two Short-eared Owls, but most headed to the unflattened reed beds near Northwich via Runcorn bridge. The month ended with a herd of Pink-footed Geese on the salt marshes.

March 2016

23.01.16. Great White Egret on Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)Spring sees a time of change with wintering species moving out and new summer birds moving in. The 3rd saw three separate Iceland Gulls out on the Mersey estuary which were viewable from Marsh Farm. Time spent gull watching from the farm also turned up 7 Avocet feeding on the mudflats adjacent to the Weaver Sluices. The two Great White Egret were again present on the salt marshes while 30 Little’s were in one field at Ince. A skein of Pink-footed Geese were again seen and Med Gulls continued to make appearances. An impressive flock of 1,000 Golden Plovers over the marsh were calling constantly. The end of the first week saw a Barn Owl disturbed from its hedgerow roost site along the west end of the marsh. A report of a Glossy Ibis over the M56 wouldn’t make it pass the Cheshire records committee so we’ll have to wait another day for our first ‘proper’ one here. A dark bellied Brent Goose showed up on Frodsham Score during the tide. A Green Sandpiper could often be seen along the ship canal. A couple of Short-eared Owl were still about mid month and shorebirds featured strongly with 1,000 Black-tailed Godwits, 500 Golden Plover and 30 Ruff. By the month’s end there were quite a few summer migrants in full song or moving north but also winter migrants still present with Pink-feet, Goldeneye, Whooper Swans and an Iceland Gull present.

April 2016

moorditch-lane-frodsham-marsh-ray-scallyThere were numerous summer visitors present on the first day and like the end of last month we still had a few winter birds reluctant to move north. There were Whooper Swans and Pink-footed Geese still out on the marshes. An Osprey flew north while Marsh Harrier, Goosanders and Cetti’s Warbler were seen on the 3rd. The second week of the month saw an incredible 183 Raven flying south to roost over the marsh and constituted a county record! The remaining Golden Plovers were gearing up for their push north while a flock of 1,680 Black-tailed Godwit were building up to stay or move on. The last two weeks had good numbers of shorebirds moving through and with them was a partial summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 16 Avocet and 400 Redshank, the latter being a really good count. The Frodsham Festival of Walks I guided this month was eventful for both its birds and its weather. The highlights being a thunder-storm raining down Whimbrels, a cracking Short-eared Owl and the everlasting image of groups of birders/walkers huddled together in groups to shield off the horizontal rain. Ray Scally paid another visit and sketched a drainage ditch along Moorditch Lane that had been dug out by German and Italian prisoners of war in the 1940’s. Moorditch Lane joins up with Lordship Marsh and was once an extensive flood marsh but today is partially used by model aircraft and a hovercraft company so disruption for birds here is quite high.

May 2016

22.05.16. drake Garganey, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeThe first Garganey of the summer was a fine male on (mitigation area) No.3 tank. A count of 36 Whimbrel was a highly impressive flock on flooded fields off Godscroft Lane. Those very fields would later in the year be used by a recreational use (go figure as they say). A late Short-eared Owl was spotted hunting the sludge tanks on 17th. Another drake Garganey showed up on No.6 tank later in the month while Avocets were busy sitting on eggs. The Short-eared Owl was loathed to leave the area and lingered long into the latter days of the month. A couple of summer plumaged Curlew Sandpipers included a one footed bird that had been seen at Seaforth a week earlier. The third period saw a Cuckoo arrive to the marsh and two drakes Mandarin flew into a ditch never to be seen again? A lonely Red Kite headed north over Lordship Marsh. The month ended with c3 Med Gulls and the remaining Curlew Sandpipers were still present.

June 2016.

27.12.15. Green-winged Teal, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonIt was a quiet month until the 8th when the drake Green-winged Teal resurfaced on No.6 tank. The Avocet flock reached a total of 37 birds. The teal was present again a week later while three Garganey were notable. A 1st summer Little Gull put in a brief performance on the river. A new high of 42 Avocet were countered on the marsh and a Cuckoo was observed. Common Swift numbers were reaching several hundred and they would become one of the spectacles of the summer with birds flying so low you could hear their bills snapping overhead.

July 2016

05.07.16. Eygptian Goose and Common Swift photo bombing, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (4)The beginning of the month was notable for even more Avocets with numbers reaching a record peak of 64 birds on 5th. The first returning Green Sandpiper was seen and a wandering Egyptian Goose from Hale Marsh popped over the water for a summer break to Frodder’s. A flock of 500 Sand Martin gathered for a few days on six. Cuckoo’s have been thin on the ground this summer, so it was good to watch a juvenile bird on No.5 tank. A loose flock of 71 Raven cruised south to their roost site over the sandstone hills. The water level on No. 6 was too high and so the expected arrival of summer migrating shorebirds did not materialise! The end of the month featured a Black-necked Grebe, 2 juvenile Marsh Harriers, a Hobby zipping through and a female Common Scoter was on Six.

August 2016

27.08.16. 1st summer Little Gull, Weaver Bend, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonThe Black-necked Grebe continued its stay into the month and the first 3 Little Stints of early autumn were seen. A Greenshank graced Six and a fly over Tree Pipit was heard by one of Cheshire’s acclaimed young birders (Findlay). There were two Hobby’s by Marsh Farm while a regular passage of Med Gull’s wandered through en route to the river. There were 25 Curlew Sandpiper and 2 juvenile Little Stint on 21st and the month ended with a splendid 1st summer Little Gull performing nicely on the Weaver estuary.

September 2016


08-10-16-juvenile-female-garganey-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-24A Great White Egret reappeared out on the salt marshes. A couple of adult Hobby took up temporary residence with some excellent views by Marsh Lane and in fields by Marsh Farm. The first juvenile Garganey of the autumn appeared with 15 Ruff and the ever-present Marsh Harriers were patrolling the marsh. An early passage of Pink-footed Geese moved south over the marsh on 17th. Upwards of 5 Great White Egrets were a new high total for the Mersey marshes. The first Otter this century was spotted on the River Weaver close to the ‘bend’ on 20th. A few days later a dead Guillemot was found on the edge of the Weaver estuary and both Little Stint and 15 Curlew Sandpipers were still being seen. The juvenile Garganey was found on the secluded pool and put in a lengthy stay while one of the few Cetti’s Warblers that can occasionally be found on the marsh sang out loud from the same are of reed beds.

October 2016

11-10-16-sparrowhawk-juvenile-female-marsh-lane-frodsham-marsh-bill-mortonTwo Black-necked Grebes were found by the MNA group and 8 Bar-tailed Godwits were hiding out on the Weaver estuary. There were 7 Curlew Sandpipers still about on No.6 tank and a big movement of Pink-footed Geese continued moving about. An adult Med Gull was found bathing in the waters of No.6 and was seen following a plough for several days in fields off Moorditch Lane. The juvenile Garganey was refound and the first Merlin of the autumn was seen. A 1st winter drake Red Crested Pochard was present at dusk in poor light but could not be found the next day. It is presumed the same bird that reappeared in south Cheshire some days later? A young female Sparrowhawk got in trouble by jailing  itself behind a wire mesh fence until it was rescued on Marsh Lane. A new record high of 293 Shoveler  was on No.6 tank. The WeBS counters on the salt marshes had a great day with a couple of Black Swans, A Glaucous Gull and 4 Great White Egrets. The mass arrival of Yellow-browed Warblers did their best to avoid being found on Frodsham Marsh but it wasn’t for the want of trying. It was no great surprise when one appeared just outside the area on the banks of the Gowy Gutter and several were regularly seen at this time over on the Hale side of the river. The third week saw the arrival of the first Whooper Swans of the autumn/winter period. The month ended with a late Curlew Sandpiper and a couple of juvenile Common Scoter on the River Weaver.

November 2016

20-11-16-whooper-and-mute-swans-ince-marsh-paul-ralston-1There were 4 Curlew Sandpipers still lingering on No.6 tank in the first week and 100 Knot were out by the Weaver Sluice gates. Meanwhile the Whooper Swans could still be found on Ince and Frodsham Score salt marshes. Wintering birds were beginning to settle in to their routine while a wintering Chiffchaff and Cetti’s Warbler occasionally called/sang or popped their heads above the parapet. Raptors were again in both good numbers and variety with the wintering Marsh Harrier leading the favourites. Likewise, a wintering Common Sandpiper was on Weaver estuary. The Great White Egret popped out of the tidal gutters on the salt marshes long enough to be counted. Not to be out done there were 20 Little Egrets to keep it company. A Barn Owl was seen along Moorditch Lane at the end of the month and a cold snap forced hundreds of Scandinavian thrushes to the berry laden hedgerows.

December 2016

11-12-16-common-sandpiper-frodsham-marsh-tony-broomeThe last month of the year saw the Whooper Swan herd relocated to fields adjacent to the M56 motorway, but weekend disturbance forced them back to fields west of No.4 tank. They reappeared here again on 31st. Out on the salt marshes the Great White Egret tally reached 3 birds. Golden Plovers were peaking at an impressive 1,000 birds and they were mostly associating with c2,000 Lapwing. There were 3 Little Stint hanging out on No.6 tank mid month. An estimate of 5 Common Sandpipers were on the Mersey estuary but didn’t fool us for one moment (unlike some local and national birders who had a false start with a single photograph posted on the blog). The usual Green Sandpiper(s) ranged widely and popped up at several locations. A sub-adult Marsh Harrier could be found roosting at dusk and a Water Pipit broke cover to show its self on No.6 tank.

I would hazard a guess this year was not the most productive on record for rare birds. The water level was artificially high on No.6 tank during the main wader migration periods. The lack of any contingency plans for the mitigation promised by the working group involved on No.3 tank was woeful. The continued disturbance from the wind farm construction and contractors contributed to this poor birding year. However, ever the optimist there were some incredible counts including Little Egret, Great White Egret, Shoveler and Raven. A mixed bag of fortunes so, we’re hoping that 2017 at least produces some great birds and birding for all those that regularly put time and effort in recording the bird life of Frodsham Marshe :O).


Tony Broome: Images 6 &14

Alyn Chambers

Paul Crawley:

Frank Duff

Arthur Harrison

Bill Morton (WSM): Compiled and images 1 & 4 & 7-11-12

Paul Ralston: Images 3 & 10 & 13

Findlay & Heather Wilde

Illustration (5) by Ray Scally

Image of Martin by Yoav Perlman

…and all those who took the time to pass on their sightings.

Good Birding for 2017

31.12.16. Birdlog

dsc_1331Stepping out this morning from Ince on the last visit of the year.  The pig farm fields held a large flock of Curlew and the new pools had an addition to the usual Mallard and Common Teal with a drake Pintail with them for company.


Out on the salt marsh there were 2 Great White Egret side by side with several Little Egret. The Wildfowlers were out by the River Mersey on the edge of the score marshes and their labrador was seen to retrieve a goose from a tidal gutter and later a Wigeon was seen to drop like a stone in to the river after being shot.  Onward with my walk up to No.6 tank and a mass of waders left the tank and made their way out to the estuary (looks like I mis-timed my visit again). A selection of ducks and smaller numbers of waders were present including a couple of Little Stint. Walking back along the Manchester Ship Canal path and a flock of Linnet and Chaffinch were moving through and a Goldcrest was with a mixed tit flock.


At Ince Berth a Chiffchaff was seen looking for insects on the wall. On the lane back to were I had left my car there was a number of Reed Bunting and a species which up to 4 years ago was a regular sight in the hedgerow here but has not been seen by me since…Yellowhammer was a nice finish to my walk and to the year.

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 1).

dsc_1393I took the last opportunity of 2016 to do a spot of birding on the marshes. Starting off from the advantage point above No.6 tank. The flock of waders that had settled below me all took off and disappeared over the horizon. I was beginning to have the same thoughts that Paul had earlier (was it the aftershave?). It wasn’t long before they all return and settled down to have some frenzied feeding. The Lapwings were quite skittish and kept their distance while Dunlin didn’t appear to be too bothered and commenced feeding below the bank from where I was standing. The Little Stints that had been seen earlier increased by one and all three were present until dusk. Other birds of note here included 340 Dunlin, 132 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Ruff, 78 Common Shelduck, 675 Common Teal, 111 Shoveler, 8 Pintail, 1 Common Pochard and  34 Tufted Duck.

I met Alyn Chambers and his brother during the course of this watch and they added 15 Common Pochard on the River Weaver, a Merlin and 3 lots of Stonechat numbering 6 in all.

There was an interesting event that Alyn witnessed today when a Herring Gull was struck by one of the rotor blades on a wind turbines positioned on No.4 tank. The gull was seen to fall to the ground and it was presumed this bird was killed by the blade.


I decided to make a trip to the south-east corner of No.4 tank to look across the fields. It didn’t take me long to find 15 Whooper Swan feeding in the flooded fields alongside the motorway. I saw these swans yesterday whilst driving west along the carriageway and Alyn also mentioned seeing them earlier in the week, so it looks like they are back again.


I walked out to the banks of 4 and looked out across the salt marshes and saw a single Great White and 5 Little Egret but not a lot of anything else.


I spent the rest of the day up until dusk watching the gathering of 1000 Lapwing and 900 Golden Plover to their roosting places on No.6. A male Sparrowhawk made a half-hearted attempt to ambush the roost. The plovers had a clear view from all sides and were up and over before the raptor could make any attempt to catch one. The highlight of the evening was the arrival of an immature female and a sub-adult male Marsh Harrier performing acrobatic manoeuvres over the reed beds.

…and the birds to end the year go to the two adult Peregrines watching the end of the day on top of the blue topped chimney.

Video of No.6 tank here:

Observer: WSM (video & images 1-3 & 5-6).

27.12.16. Birdlog

27-12-16-great-white-egret-frodsham-score-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-2Just as we are emerging back into some sort of normality it would be remiss of me not to have another day spent birding out on the marshes. I bumped into Paul on the banks of No.6 tank but not before most of the waders that had been on there took off and left the area completely. After that we both made our way to No.4 tank where a pair of wintering Stonechat were playing catch in the reed beds. Apart from a Common Snipe little else was present to occupy our time so we headed out to the north-west corner to look out across Frodsham Score.


Paul had earlier  seen 9 Whooper Swan in the Ince marsh fields and we soon relocated them hiding away behind a hedgerow. There was a mixed flock of 1500 Lapwing and Golden Plover semi concealed by the winter wheat in the fields but everything got spooked and they flew up circling the area before resettling.


The salt marsh was fairly quiet with the majority of birds being Canada Goose spread far and wide. There was two Great White Egret resurfacing from the tidal gutters every now and then while a dozen Little Egret were present. A Peregrine was sat on the edge of the river while a female Merlin chose an area close in.


No.6 tank was very much a shadow of its previous visits with 9 Ruff, 6 Dunlin, 8 Golden Plover, 200 Black-tailed Godwit and 30 Redshank being the shorebird highlights. Common Teal numbers were down and apart from a few Shoveler, Pintail, 29 Common Pochard and 48 Tufted Duck that was really about it.


The 2nd winter Marsh Harrier was disturbed from the secluded pool and disappeared out beyond the tank. The usual male Stonechat was again on No.5 tank and flocks of Goldfinch made up the rest.


Observers: Paul Ralston (images 2-3), WSM (images 1 & 4-6).

26.12.16. Birdlog

26-12-16-no-6-tank-in-the-evening-light-paul-ralston-326-12-16-no-6-tank-in-the-evening-light-paul-ralston-2The last hour of daylight around No.6 tank this afternoon produced a single Great Crested Grebe, Common Pochard, Shoveler, Common Teal, Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck and Mallard with 6 Mute Swan close by.

Waders were made up of Lapwing, Golden Plover, Redshank, Common Snipe, Dunlin and 2 Little Stint very much the order of the day A Marsh Harrier drifted over from No.4 and dropped down into the reed bed in the failing light. Along Lordship Lane a Kingfisher called as it made its way along the ditch and a Kestrel was noted hunting in near darkness.

26-12-16-no-6-tank-in-the-evening-light-paul-ralston-1 Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

25.12.16. Birdlog

25-12-16-wader-flocks-roosting-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-mortonThe big day’s arrived and I’m doing it free food preparation via the marsh (I’d only be in the way). With only a brief hour or so I encamped on my usual spot above the open water of No.6 tank and this time the shorebirds that had arrived from the morning tide was still present.


A mass of plovers and Dunlin were gathered below me on the mud with a couple of yesterday’s Little Stint still weaving their way through the throng of birds. I estimated that there were c1000 Golden Plover, c2000 Lapwing, 230 Black-tailed Godwit, c100 Redshank, a single Common Snipe and 9 Ruff. Faced with the little time I had available it was a fair return with the variety of species and numbers seen. During the course of my observation the whole shorebird flock exploded from the ground when a Peregrine bolted through and later a similar melee occurred when a Sparrowhawk glided by.


I didn’t really have time to work my way through the ducks but Common Pochard had increased to 41 birds, while 500 Common Teal will surely feature their American cousin in the next few weeks?


There was a collection of gulls present bathing out on the water with 200 Common, 130 Black-headed, 20 Great Black-backed, 4 Herring (argenteus) then an adult and a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull which given the numbers that are sometimes seen out on the Mersey estuary is still actually a rare gull on the marsh.

I didn’t see the harrier from yesterday but one of the two Peregrine was sat on the blue-topped chimney like a  predator version of the proverbial angel (of death) on top of the  Christmas tree.

Oddly, my first ever Wasp for Christmas Day was flying about my yardinere this morning.

Observer and images: WSM.

24.12.16. Birdlog

24-12-16-little-stint-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-14Now that the festive season is upon us it was with relish that my visit to the marsh today was eagerly accepted. I arrived to an overcast sky with a cold wind and poor light conditions, which wasn’t a good start. The reason for my eagerness was firstly, time off work and secondly, birding! It didn’t take too long to get into the full swing of things with the feeding Dunlin flocks relativity close by to the edge of the embankment I was stood upon.


A gathering of 340 Dunlin included 3 wintering Little Stint (pictured above in flight and the three with a Dunlin together pictured below). These birds have appeared over at Pickerings Pasture on a few occasions but it’s the first time they have joined together on this side of the river. A Black-tailed Godwit flock were scattered across the tank and numbered 220 birds with 120 Redshank and a nice total of 15 Ruff. Looking to the north of big flocks of Lapwing could be seen disturbed from thier feeding fields with a rough estimate of 2000 birds. There was a smattering of Golden Plover flocks moving around as well.

Little Stint video here:


The ducks were again gathered close into the bank due to the cold westerly blow with the exception of 121 Common Shelduck which braved the centre of the open water. Common Teal reached 331 birds with 12 Tufted Duck flighting in, 31 Common Pochard, 6 Pintail, 3 Wigeon, 6 Gadwall, 67 Mallard and 70 Shoveler were already in situ.

Birds of prey were very much in evidence and included a couple of Peregrine perched up together on the blue topped chimney at Weston Point. There were 2-3 Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrel and a female Sparrowhawk. A 2nd winter male Marsh Harrier was seen briefly carrying prey before it dropped out of sight into the reed beds on No.6 tank. This was an interestenly plumaged bird with a pale barred tail and rump, chocolate-brown upper parts creamy head and lapels and two-toned wing pattern. It eventually reappeared and was seen leisurely quartering the area an hour later.


The usual male Stonechat was on No.5 tank while the Raven assembled on an unseen carcass on the tank. Stonechat video here:


24-12-16-peregrine-mersey-road-runcorn-bill-morton-2I paid a visit to Runcorn bridge at dusk to see if I could locate any early white-winged gulls but despite not seeing any. I did manage to see 3 separate Peregrine and a murmuration of c1000 Starling gathering to roost on the girders below the footpath there and slightly above a roosting Peregrine (see image). The Peregrines included two on the bridge and a third perched up on the Deck housing units close by.


24-12-16-starling-murmurations-over-runcorn-bridge-mersey-road-runcorn-bill-morton-4Observer video and images: WSM.

23.12.16. Birdlog

23-12-16-black-tailed-godwits-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-paul-ralston-3A festive early finish from work and a seasonal walk around No.4 to No.6 tanks before the worst of Storm Barbara could hit us with her handbag.

23-12-16-black-tailed-godwits-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-paul-ralston-4I started at Godscroft Lane where a flock of c60 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding and a Kingfisher left the ditch to fly over the banks of No.6 . There were flocks of Linnet and Goldfinch again in good numbers feeding on the seed heads on the wayside of the lane while a Kestrel sat nearby. Onward to No.6 and there were even more godwits joining the Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing and a couple of Ruff there. Ducks were much in evidence with Common Teal, Mallard, Common Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Wigeon and Pintail on the water.


A watch over Frodsham Score salt marsh from the banks of No.4 produced Little except for a few thousand Canada Goose while Raven were enjoying the winds to perform their tumbling aerobatics. The field alongside the Holpool Gutter had a large flock of Lapwing and a couple of hundred Golden Plover. Also present were 9 adult and 3 young Mute Swan. Walking back along Lordship Lane a Merlin passed over head and several Common Buzzard were noted.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

Winter Solstice Edition

02-10-16-weaver-estuary-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-9Now that we’ve finally reached the shortest day and what is effectively the true celebration of this season. I have collected a few images from the last week or so to illustrate the marsh in just a few of its mid winter moods.

Above the power station at Rocksavage is mirrored in the still waters of the River Weaver.


The second image shows the change in weather systems from a cool clear day to the brief period when the Weaver valley and the marsh are shrouded in morning fog. The image above has a curious disruption through the clouds which could be caused by an aircraft flying through the canopy?


Looking west from the banks of No.5 tank across the mitigation area of No.3 tank fields to the turbines on No.4.


No.3 tank and the mitigation area . Unfortunately much was expected from this site but as yet it has reaped very little for the time and effort afforded to it.


Looking east along the ancient road that is Lordship Lane looking to Frodsham Marsh from Ince Marsh fields. The old Kamira woods lay to the right of the image.


The flooded fields of Lordship Marsh and Frodsham Hill beyond. Whooper Swans occasionally use the fields to graze when there is little disturbance.


No.5 tank looking east to the turbine substation and the old fence line where hopefully we’ll being seeing Short-eared Owls if the weather turns colder.


No.2 tank just south of Marsh Farm an excellent site for Curlew, Lapwing and Golden Plover.


The steaming plumes of vapour emitting from Fiddlers Ferry Power Station in the distance and the incinerator plant beyond the blue-topped (ex) power station chimney at Weston Point.


A flock of Lapwings in flight and behind the Mersey estuary and the gantry wall that shields the Manchester Ship Canal from Christchurch at Weston Point.


Finally, the omnipresent wind turbines caught in the ebbing sunset over No.6 tank. One of my favourite pictures from the marsh this month is this Tolkienesque image of the dark watch tower of Barad-dûr laying across the (literally) dead marshes.

Images: 1-2 & 11 by WSM and images 3-10 by Tony Broome.

18.12.16. Birdlog (Part 2)

18-12-16-blue-tit-frodsham-marsh-tony-broomeAfter yesterday’s gloomy, misty and thoroughly murky conditions I was slightly apprehensive about how today would dawn. As it happened I woke to a wintry blue sky interspersed with high streaks of cumulus and a weak sun slowly rising above the horizon to the south-east. Food and flasks prepared and I whisked myself westwards, not even stopping for a latte! I arrived around 09.45 hrs and as I was due to do the Webs count for 14.30 hrs at the fields west of No.4 tank, I headed straight for the track between No.6 and 4 tanks.


All the big flocks of thrushes hve long gone and only around 20 Fieldfare and 15 Redwing fed on haw berries along Lordship Lane. Apart from c15 Song Thrush and a handful of Blackbird during the day, they were the only thrush counts. I met Arthur Harrison walking back along the track and we stopped for a chat. Not a lot was the summation. I carried on and parked up by the ramp to the mitigation on No.3. It was a glorious morning with a pale blue sky, not a breath of wind and a bright low sun. Unfortunately that’s the last thing you want for No.6 as it’s in your eyes all the time. I did a brief count of Common Pochard from the east end and got 39.


18-12-16-broome-frodsham-marsh-tony-broomeI also had a look at No.3 and No.2 tanks. Up to 30 Raven, some lined up on adjacent fence posts like the grim-reaper’s very own clean up mob, sat waiting their turn as some shepherd-less sheep got devoured by more corvids on the ground. As many as c2500 Lapwing fed on No.2 with a couple of Golden Plover in amongst them. They would all take to the air in a blizzard every now and again before returning to feed.

There were 3 Song Thrush perched up briefly, uttering their high ‘sip’ calls. Meadow Pipit flew back and forth and a lisping call brought my attention to a Water Pipit coming off No.6. They are frequent across at Hale, and I guess must have been at Frodsham, but they’re rarely pinned down here. I went back to the car and drove around No.6 and onto the track towards the west end of No.4 to count the fields. Gorse was in full flower, a dash of golden-yellow in an otherwise somber back drop. A female Kestrel perched up obligingly, intent on unsuspecting prey beneath her and she ignored me long enough to get a few shots. A flock of 25 Linnet ignored me completely and continued to feed on teasel heads.

18-12-16-song-thrush-frodsham-marsh-tony-broomeAnother stop and a bit of “pishing” brought a few birds close and a chance to use some more memory card up. I sat and ate the salmon sandwiches, a change from cheese butties, but still with soup and crisps. Two quad bikes went past noisily, expensive bits of kit.


18-12-16-reed-bunting-female-frodsham-marsh-tony-broome-1I finished up and walked out along the Holpool Gutter. 20 Curlew and about 35 Lapwing took off from the field and apart from 4 Whooper Swan, 3 adults and a juvenile, in the distance, there were no other birds at high tide, maybe due to a four-wheel drive parked up on the track in the middle of the fields and a man and his family who were throwing something for their dog.

I walked to a point overlooking the Frodsham Score but by 14.30 hrs it was already going dark, made worse by cloud coming in from the south-west. Out on the Score there was a lone Great White Egret and 3 Bewick’s Swan, the first of the winter, all adults. I headed back to the car, suddenly noticing that I was covered in burdock seed heads, stuck to my Wellington’s in bunches, my fleece, binocular strap and lens cover. It took me ages to de-bur myself. As I got back to the car, two more off-road, two bikes and a car sped past through the mud. I followed slowly and turned off to go around No.6 again, stopping to look at the water. There were a few more waders on including 200 Dunlin which flushed when a noisy family looked over the fence. I didn’t wait for the sunset finale, but chose to head in the opposite direction and the quiet of home.


18-12-16-dunnock-frodsham-marsh-tony-broome-218-12-16-great-tit-frodsham-marsh-tony-broomeObserver and images: Tony Broome.

18.12.16. Birdlog (Part 1)

18-12-16-whooper-swans-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-alyn-chambersAmong the birds gathered on No.6 tank for high tide today were 5 Whooper Swan, 1 Little Stint, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 32 Pintail and 33 Common Pochard.

Also around the Weaver estuary were a Merlin, a Common Sandpiper and a Little Egret and 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker were along the hedgerow along Brook Furlong lane.

Observer: Alyn Chambers (images 1 & 2).

Tony’s update later.