07.01.17. Birdlog (Part 1)

07-01-17-little-stint-in-the-mist-no-6-tank-frodham-marsh-bill-morton-5I was thinking about calling this post ‘Waders in the Mist’ because it was foggy when I arrived on the marsh and the only birds you could actually see were a few Dunlin. The birds were feeding at the edge of the reed bed below the bank where I was standing, the rest could only be heard hidden beyond the thick mist. After an hour the fog shifted to the east and the birds began to reveal themselves.


A large gathering of Herring Gull, Great Black-backed, Herring, Lesser Black-backed including a Larus fuscus intermedius, Common and Black-headed Gulls were either bathing or resting up while the fog cleared. Shorebirds included 500 Dunlin, 2 Little Stint (1st winters), 23 Redshank, 170 Black-tailed Godwit, 500 Golden Plover, 780 Lapwing, 100 Curlew and 23 Common Snipe.

Video of Little Stint in slowmo here: https://vimeo.com/198495593


07-01-17-pink-footed-geese-no-6-tank-frodham-marsh-bill-morton-8Ducks can always be relied upon to give a birder something to do and a flock of 23 Common Pochard, 87 Tufted Duck, 18 Pintail, 76 Shoveler, 320 Common Teal, 54 Common Shelduck, 49 Mallard, 6 Wigeon and 7 Gadwall (certainly did give me something to do and that was count them). Additionally, a further 50 Wigeon and 43 Common Teal were on the pools on No.3 tank.

A disoriented skein of 8 Pink-footed Goose flew south but soon turned tail and headed back to the north.

07-01-17-no-6-tank-frodham-marsh-bill-morton-2The sub-adult Marsh Harrier flew in and headed east while later in the day it returned from the east and headed out to No.4 tank. I was watching the Peregrine sat on top of the big blue topped chimney at Weston Point when suddenly not one but two flew out off the chimney rim. They both gained height and disappeared out of sight into the mist. Shortly after the entire flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover out on the river marshes exploded from their rest and flew up in streams of hundreds of birds and this contined on and off for most of the afternoon.

A recently dead sheep that I spotted earlier this week had been well gutted by the 34 Raven attending to the corpse and many could be seen digesting their meal whilst perched up on the fence line with bellies hanging low.

Observer and images: WSM.

02.01.17. Birdlog

02-01-17-grey-heron-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-paul-ralstonI  started my walk out at Ince this morning and the drake Pintail was again on the new pools there with both Mallard and Common Teal. A small flock of Fieldfare were searching the bushes for the remaining berries.


02-01-17-goldfinch-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-paul-ralstonAlong the canal path a large flock of mixed finches included Linnet, Goldfinch and Chaffinch with several Reed Bunting were active in the area. They all got spooked when a Sparrowhawk cruised by. On the Manchester Ship Canal were a few ducks including Common Teal. Tufted Duck, Mallard with Coot, Little and Great Crested Grebe gathered. A herd of 18 Mute Swan with 5 Greylag Goose were on the field alongside the Holpool Gutter. A ship was making its way out of the ship canal and flushed 2 Common Sandpiper from the far bank with 3 Redshank . I saw a Peregrine which was in hot pursuit of a wader that managed to seek the safety of the bank of No.4 while the falcon throw on its anchors and aborted the mission. I finished 2016 with a Chiffchaff and started 2017 with a Chiffchaff that popped up of top of some bushes on the banks of No.6.


02-01-017-stonechat-no-4-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-8A couple of Little Stint were with a small flock of 50 Dunlin  and a larger flock of Black-tailed Godwit which were close in to the bank. A Great Crested Grebe was seen to catch a small silver fish while a Grey Heron was searching for eels in the shallow water. There were several Stonechat during the course of my walk and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was in bushes on the south end of 6.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-4 & 8 & 10).


On arrival at Moorditch Lane close to the bridge the crosses the M56 motorway the Fieldfare and Redwing were still feeding in the horse paddock field. Along the track that separates No.5 and No.6 tanks, it opens out on your left hand side revealing the open vista of the working sludge tank of six. Today the majority of the mud and open water was frozen and there were no calidris waders present from Paul’s earlier visit. A gathering of 3-400 Common Teal, 77 Shoveler, 45 Common Shelduck, 3 drake Wigeon, 15 Common Pochard, 23 Tufted Duck and 7 Pintail were a decent mixture of ducks.


02-01-17-chiffchaff-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-paul-ralstonI didn’t linger long and continued to No.4 where I met PR and we carried on to the eastern edge of the tank to watch the incoming tide. Overlooking Frodsham Score salt marshes the only birds viewable were the usual Canada Goose with a couple of white domestic birds in tow. The Great White Egret soon appeared from Ince marshes and was joined by half a dozen Little’s. The GWE flew out and settled on the score giving some good views on a beautiful sunny day with a slight breeze only increasing with the arrival of the tide. Shorebirds were moving in the distance with Dunlin, Grey Plover and Curlew staying on the rivers edge.


A Green Sandpiper flew out of the Holpool Gutter below the bank where we stood and 4 Stonechat were giving good views from the same area. Paul had seen another 6 birds at various points of his walk and I managed an additional pair later in the day on No.5. So, given the 6 birds seen at the eastern end of the marsh we have 18 birds this winter!


02-01-17-common-snipe-frodsham-marsh-paul-ralstonAn adult Peregrine flew into the salt marsh and landed on a washed up tree and soon after took flight and headed purposely to the Growhow Works where it connected with another adult and they both engaged in a ritual aerial display. This was a great spectacle to watch and was made even better when a third bird came into view and all three were in the air together. Shortly after Paul said his farewell I continued watching the big gulls roosting the tide out while a Merlin shot overhead.

I returned to No.6 but there wasn’t much in the way of shorebirds, even the godwits uprooted and headed out to the river. There was plenty of squealing Water Rails in the reed bed below the bank and a couple of Common Snipe flew over head.

Video from the viewing area of No.6 tank: https://vimeo.com/197938629


02-01-17-clouds-over-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-4Observer: WSM (video & images 5-7 & 11-12).


01.01.17. Birdlog

01-01-17-little-stint-and-dunlin-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-mortonThe winds of change had moved to a more northerly direction and it felt cold even with gloved hands and scarf to ward off the icy chill. I arrived at my watch position mid morning to the embankment overlooking the rapidly expanding muddy margins to the  No.6 sludge tank. The Dunlin flocks were again gathered a few metres out on the mud but in much reduced numbers from dusk last year. The waders numbered c900 birds and included 210 Black-tailed Godwit but I couldn’t find the hoped for Little Stints.

There was also lesser numbers of ducks to watch through but at least Pochard were back with 16 birds. The Tufted Ducks flocks are fluctuating each day and today’s count revealed 45 birds. Common Teal were well scattered with c560 present with a few Shoveler and Pintail for good measure.



01-01-17-starling-no-4-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-mortonI shifted my position and relocated to watch from the top of the ramp on the south-east corner of No.4. From this point I could scan across Lordship Marsh and the flooded fields either side and in front of the blue silage tank. The whole area looks great for waders and a Green Sandpiper was seen dozing on the edge of the field. Nine Ruff were actively feeding and one male was doing an early courtship dance for a (not interested) female. There were also 140 Redshank, 670 Lapwing and 70 Dunlin alongside Lordship Lane and a passing noisy rattling vehicle didn’t seem to disrupt their feeding too much.  The 15 Whooper Swan had moved a little way to Hillview Farm but still close enough to the M56 (if you’re passing west along the carriageway).


I took a trek out to the corner of No.4 to view the incoming tide and small numbers of smoke like wafts of Dunlin were moving along the edge of the salt marsh. Other shorebirds included 100 Redshank and c200 Grey Plover. A very distant Great White Egret with its serpent like neck and head was swaying along the borderline with Ince marshes. There were also c5 Little Egret flopping about on various sections of Frodsham Score. A couple of wildfowlers were walking across the marshes while an attentive flock of Canada Geese were keeping an eye on them. Likewise, an adult Peregrine perched up on a washed up tree was equally keen on  eyeing up the hundreds of Wigeon swimming into the tidal gutter. A sub-adult male Marsh Harrier flew along the banks and eventually made its way onto No.4 where it dodged the turbines before moving out to the reed beds on six.


The cold wind was beginning to seep through my thick down coat and the lack of sensation to my fingers promoted a tactical retreat. I retraced my steps and headed back to my original point overlooking No.6. When I arrived back the Dunlin flock had grown a little from earlier and it didn’t take long for me to pick out a single Little Stint.

05.02.15. Redwing, Moorditch Lane, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonHeading back along Moorditch Lane and a flock of Fieldfare and Redwing were feeding in the horse grazing field by the motorway.


Not a bad choice from the Frodsham’s selection box on the first day of a brand new year.

Observer and images: WSM.