30.04.17. Birdlog

An early start this morning and a whistle-stop tour of No.6 tank. There was no sign yet of any Little Gulls or Black Terns that have featured both side of the river boundary this morning, so an update later will be required as and if any appear during the day ahead.

The flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit were tucked in close to the southern banks of the sludge tank out of the brisk south-easterly that blow across the marshes. A small number of Ruff were present with 12 Avocet and the Redshank flock.

A male Marsh Harrier was watched moving east over Lordship Marsh.

The usual ducks were still present with the Tufties increasing to 114 birds and this slight increased in numbers may have been responsible for 8 very wary Common Pochard being present this morning. Suffice to say soon as they became aware of my presence they took flight and were led by the only female. All of them flew out to the Weaver Bend area (where no doubt the Black Tern or Little Gull is waiting to be found?

A Yellow Wagtail buzzed over head in an easterly direction.

Observer: WSM (images 1-3 & 7 & 9).

I started at Brook Furlong Lane once again this morning where Cetti’s, Reed and Sedge Warbler could be heard. Continuing along to the River Weaver and another Cetti’s Warbler was calling close by . A single Whimbrel was in the fields close to Redwall reedbed while Sand Martin, Swallow were hawking over the water and a lone Swift passed by. The river had Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and Common Shelduck with many Canada and Greylag Goose. Herring and Great Black-backed Gull were on gosling patrol while Raven scoured the river banks for something similar. 4 Common Sandpiper were at the river edge along with 2 Oystercatcher and several Redshank.

Two Yellow Wagtail flew over the Manchester Ship Canal and settled on Frodsham Score salt marsh, another 4 more dropped on to the bank near where i was sitting. 12 Wheatear were also on the canal bank. A Third Cetti’s Warbler was calling as I made my way around the tank.

Observer: Paul Ralston (4-6 & 8).

So, after bumping in to Bill on the marsh this morning, he encouraged us to add any other sightings from our day… A male Marsh Harrier was out over the Frodsham Score getting hammered from all the Lapwings around, a Little Ringed Plover on the mitigation area of No.3 tank, 8 male Ruff and 3 Reeves in amongst the Black-tailed Godwit flock, with a couple of the males starting to display.

We continued towards the Marsh Farm, there were 5 Greenland Wheatear, including a gorgeous male! A Reed Warbler singing by old log, and at least 8 Sedge Warbler in the reeds toward the Weaver Bend, while we were there a Whimbrel dropped in to the former Shooters’ pools, and after its seven note whistle it headed toward No.6. There was a Common Sandpiper on the bend, and good numbers of Orange Tip Butterflies. A fairly constant passage of Swift and Swallow was in evidence throughout the morning. A couple of Whitethroat were spotted, and up to 10 Blackcap were having a singing practice at various locations, a lovely, if breezy day.

Observers: Paul and Daph Whorton.

After our family engagement Sparky and myself decided we would take a hike and the decision to walk along the tracks of Frodsham Marsh was purely my own. Shortly after it started to rain so the waterproofs were thrown into the back seat of the car and we drove along the track of No.5 to look over the viewing area on six. A group of 13 Ruff included some newly decorated males with ‘Mr White’ taking centre stage from ‘Agent Orange’ of yesterday (who incidentally was nowhere to be seen today). The numbers of Avocet haven’t change from this morning and most of the godwit flock have vacated the area.

If you regularly watch over No.6 tank it can appear at first to hold the same type of birds but life here is constantly changing. The flock of 25 Mute Swan were not here earlier and the 1st summer Little Gull (subtle pink flush to its underparts) was definitely fresh in. The gull was watched hawking over the water in the centre of the tank before coming closer and then settling with some Avocet for a few minutes but mystically vanished when FD arrived!

Observer: WSM.

29.04.17. Birdlog

The 36 Whimbrel on No.6 tank at dawn had all gone by 06:30 hrs. A Yellow Wagtail was on Rake Lane. There were 2 Grasshopper Warbler were reeling along Lordship Lane.

Things change rapidly on No.6. One minute there are no Black-tailed Godwit, then the next minute you look and there are 175. Yesterday I counted 470. Observer: JR.

A long weekend ahead and a family engagement later in the day and tomorrow meant a limited time in the field over the holiday period.

I set up above the northern banks of No.6 tank where the expected arrival from the advancing high tide out on the Mersey estuary was eagerly anticipated. A group of 200 Dunlin and a flock of 400 Black-tailed Godwit were already present but as circumstances transpired these were the highest counts of those species all day. It was 5 hours to the actual highest point of the tide but suddenly the whole of the flock were spooked and they flew off in scattered groups out to the river. It felt a little like being invited to a party and arriving on the wrong day. It was beginning to be a no-show.

Orange and black ruffed Ruff video: https://vimeo.com/215350708

The ducks were not too concern by the disturbance that affected the godwits and soon settled but there was no sigh of yesterdays Garganey but c100 Tufted Duck, c200 Common Shelduck, a pair of Pintail and 150 Common Teal were present.

With the approach of the incoming tide small parties of Black-tailed Godwit started to arrive back and with them came a few Dunlin, 23 Avocet and Ringed Plover. A thorough scan of the godwits did not unearth a single colour ringed bird but 5 Ruff more than made up for this by their colourful feather decorations. Five Whimbrel tumbled out of the sky and soon after an adult summer Mediterranean Gull dropped in to bathe with a party of Black-headed Gull before circling the tank and headed out to the river.

All this activity drew the attention of a passing Peregrine that made a poor attempt at attacking the godwits. A pair of Marsh Harrier were performing well in the distance.

Most of the summer migrants have effectively made their pressence known so far and both Cetti’s, Reed and Grasshopper Warbler were all heard singing on the marshes today.

Observers: Frank Duff, Paul Miller (images 5 & 8 & 10-11), Phil Oddy, WSM (images 1-4 & 6-7 & 9 and video).

28.04.17. Birdlog

I started along Brook Furlong Lane today after an early finish at work. The lane was full of the songs of both Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat.

I made my way along the River Weaver to its junction with the Manchester Ship Canal and noted 4 Avocet on the Weaver estuary bank with 6 Ringed Plover. Close to the river edge were 5 Great Crested Grebe with Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Mallard and Gadwall. A total of 8 Common Sandpiper were along the river and ship canal. A couple of Wheatear were also seen.

Making my way back along Brook Furlong Lane and a Cuckoo was watched leaving a fence post and disappeared over a hedge.

Onward to No.6 tank and c100 Tufted Duck, c200 Common Shelduck, 40 Mallard, c100 Common Teal, 20 Gadwall, Pintail and 3 Common Pochard (2 male 1 female). Down at the shallow end the wader numbers were again low with only c50 Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Avocet, 5 Ruff and c80 Redshank. In amongst the godwit flock was a fine male Garganey which was preening until a godwit came to close which the drake took exception to and chased it off.

Observer: Paul Ralston images (3 & 5).

We took a hike up to Brook Furlong Lane on the recommendation of Paul’s Cuckoo sighting but was waylaid by a singing Cetti’s Warbler which was followed by a Willow Warbler in full song but throwing in Chiffchaff phrases.

On our return we headed around No.6 tank stopping off to look for Paul’s Garganey. After a bit of scanning it emerged from the back of a group of Common Teal soon followed by another drake and both Garganey were busy upending together. A passage of Swallow included a couple of Common Swift which were new for the year.

Walking along back another Cetti’s and a Grasshopper Warbler were singing from the side of the track.

A Fox was giving a fine example of the fjallraven logo on the marsh this evening (see title image).

Observers: Sparky & WSM (1 & 4).

The shorebirds that have been such a feature of late were not viewable this evening but Joe Chester saw in the tide earlier in the day and countered 630 Dunlin with a Common and Curlew Sandpiper with a Peregrine noted.

A Marsh Harrier and Yellow Wagtail were noted (Jean R).

Image 2 by Frank Duff.

27.04.17. Birdlog

After taking a group from the Frodsham Festival of Walks for a ramble around the marsh last night, I basically had it all to myself this evening. At first glance it appeared that all of the godwits which have been a feature of the marsh over the last few weeks had departed en masse! A flock of 26 Avocet, 30 Redshank, 3 Ruff and a single Ringed Plover were really the only shorebirds present. I continue around No.6 tank via Moorditch and Lordship Lanes before following the track back to the view-point above the north banks of six. On my return there was a flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit with a solitary Ruff and the Avocet flock from earlier.

The Common Shelduck gathering continues to remain around the 200 mark. The usual flock of c100 Tufted Duck look a good draw for any potential vagrant duck that may wander over the marsh. There was little change in the other species except for a pair of Pintail which were flushed by a couple of dog walkers and they didn’t return. Interesting to see them lingering here well into Spring though. A gathering of 50 Coot feeding through the patchy dead daisy beds was unusual given the time of year while others were already sitting on their nests.

A walk out to the mitigation area only revealed a couple of Ringed Plover with a few Redshank and several Shoveler and Common Teal.

The ploughed field adjacent to the east bank of No.6 tank had 4 Wheatear which were sheltering in behind the clods of turned earth. Numerous Swallow were hawking low over the water on six but there wasn’t any obvious migrant movement for me.

Walking back a Cetti’s Warbler song nearly burst my ear drum as I walked by a thick bramble patch close to the track.

The Peregrine was perched up facing into the cold breeze on the blue topped chimney at Weston Point.

Observer and images: WSM.

26.04.17. Birdlog & Frodsham Festival of Walks #2

Lots of migrants passing through Frodsham Marsh today, c50 Wheatear, c20 Willow Warbler, 2 Whimbrel (on No.5 tank) a male Whinchat (around Redwall reedbed) and a Hobby being the highlights also c4 Grasshopper Warbler and c3 Cetti’s Warbler and lots of Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Two pairs of Hare boxing were also great to watch. Not many Sedge Warbler back so hope they are just late arriving this year. A Green Woodpecker was seen on No.6 tank

Observer: Paul Miller.

An after work walk this evening was very quiet on the pools at Ince only 4 Mallard and 3 Common Shelduck. On the Manchester Ship Canal path there were 6 Wheatear which went into panic mode when a Sparrowhawk flew b. I walked over to No.4 tank and surprised a Brown Hare making its way along the track. Walking back to Ince and 10 Little Egret were observed going to roost there.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 2-4)

Frodsham Festival of Walks (Evening visit).

The evening walk commenced from Brook Furlong Lane where 70 walkers/birders joined me for the last of the bird walks this season on the marshes. We headed off to the raised tracks between No.5-6 tanks. The open sludge tank of No.6 lacked the high numbers of Black-tailed Godwit of the previous few days with just a couple of hundred present. I guess a lot of them have already made a move to the north. Even those that were left didn’t linger for long and decamped out on the river. What was left certainly kept us busy with a very confiding Whimbrel sat all alone in the shallow water below our view-point. A selection of Redshank and 21 Avocet were also present.

Ducks were busy engaged in their courtship or pair bonding displays and included 200 Common Shelduck, 50 Common Teal, 60 Tufted Duck, Shoveler and Gadwall all added to the bird list.

The mitigation pools had 3 Dunlin and a few noisy Redshank.

We continued our walk to the south-west corner of No.6 and the junction with No.4 where a Grasshopper Warbler was heard briefly. Several Sedge and a single Reed Warbler were heard along Lordship Lane and a solitary Wheatear was spotted by a few lucky people. The walk ended with a Cetti’s Warbler singing.

Observers: Frodsham Festival of Walkers and WSM (and images 1 & 5-6).

25.04.17. Birdlog

The high tide out on the Mersey estuary brought in 800 Dunlin to join the c1000 Black-tailed Godwit that were already en masse on No.6 tank included 5 colour ringed individuals. Five Ruff joined the 50 Redshank and 2 Ringed Plover.

Observer: Roger Wilkinson.

On the mitigation pools on No.3 tank was a Greenshank with Ruff, Dunlin, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit. Also 3 Whinchat on Lordship Lane with 9 Wheatear on the ploughed/model aircraft field. A Marsh Harrier flew over.

Observer: Steve O’Connell.

I had to wait until 6.30 pm before I managed to drop in on the action on No.6 tank. The Black-tailed Godwit flock was much reduced with only 500 birds present. Hiding within their numbers were 3 Whimbrel, 49 Redshank, 3 Ruff a single Knot and 30 Avocet.

Common Shelduck are increasing and 230 birds were mostly paired up. Joining the eastern side of the flooded water were 94 Tufted Duck, 50 Common Teal, 100 Shoveler and 45 Gadwall.

Swallow numbers have increased with 150 hawking over the open water at dusk.

Observer and images: WSM.

Storm over Frodsham image by David Stewart.

24.04.17. Birdlog

After some chores were attended to at home I eventually made my way down to the marsh this evening in glorious sunshine. When I arrived I met Arthur who stoically stood on the banks using the Elder trees as cover from the chilling northerly wind.

The cold northerly was really responsible for the holdup with the godwits heading north. All over the country northbound shorebirds have been gathering and waiting for this weather to change into a favourable direction. And so it was that the Black-tailed Godwit flocks gathered tightly below the northern banks of No.6 tank. Each one attempting to gain some kind of shelter from the piercing wind. Generally it was a real struggle for them to keep their footing and many birds were blown sideways. The leggy godwits were adopting a John Wayne stance to combat the buffering breeze. Legs spread wide and wings bunched and tucked away almost like a gun slinger. Hidden amid the c1500 Black-tail gems were 6 colour ringed birds and 7 Bar-tailed Godwit including two ultra rare summer plumaged birds…a big grin spread across my chops.

Other highlights were 6 winter Knot, 125 Redshank, 30 Avocet, 12 Ruff, with a selection of dandy plumed males and 3 Dunlin. A Curlew Sandpiper was reported earlier by one of the bird information services?

A Marsh Harrier hung in the wind like a kite over the southern banks while hirundines cut through the blow with all the ease that only they can master.

Ducks again included c120 Tufted Duck with 150 Common Shelduck and numerous Common Teal.

A fine birding experience and all I have to do now is thaw out my extremities for Wednesday evenings Free ‘Frodsham Festival of Walks’ Birdwatch which begins starts 6.30 pm on Brook Furlong Lane/Marsh Lane, Frodsham. All are welcome.

Earlier the Peregrine was perched up on the heraldic shields on Ethelfleda railway bridge across the Narrows at Runcorn Bridge.

Observers: Arthur Harrison, WSM (images 1-9).

A Peregrine and a Sparrowhawk was seen and two colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit were spotted by Joe Chester (image 10).

Several Whinchat were with a dozen Wheatear along the fields on Lordship Marsh.

Observer: Graham Manson (image 11).

Gowy Meadows revisited.

Had a walk over to the Gowy Meadows after work this evening and bumped into Paul Lee. Weboth shared multiple Wheatear and at one point there were 5 Whinchat in a line on a fence (you wait all Winter for a chat and five come at once).

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 12).

Swallow video by WSM here: https://vimeo.com/216622652

23.04.17. Birdlog

We had an engagement in Manchester with Maximo Park this afternoon so I took the opportunity to cash in on an early bird(watch) this morning. Arriving on No.5 tank to look over the north side of No.6 and the hugely impressive flock of c1000 Black-tailed Godwit were again bunched up close to the banks. I managed to get a peep at the colour ringed leg of a dozing Blackwit but the sleepy heads in the flock remained static and it was difficult to see both legs. This bird didn’t stir throughout the period of my time this morning so it was just the one colour combination noted. After preening for long periods the Bar-tailed Godwit spent most of the time asleep tucked in tightly within the other godwits.

Already present were small flocks of Dunlin with others arriving in dribs and drabs before they eventually reached a group of 450 birds. I was expecting to pick out the previous days Curlew Sandpiper but on this occasion it was absent (presumably relocated to Burton Marsh today?). The Redshank numbered 140 with a dozen Ruff. One particular male Ruff was strutting his stuff to a totally indifferent Reeve. I felt a bit of embarrassment for him after his rejection but we’ve all been there (haven’t we lads?). The Avocet groups reached c30 birds at various locations and 2 Whimbrel and a flock of Ringed Plover were on the drier ground.

The Marsh Harrier couple continues to be spotted but are ranging widely.

Video of Bar-tailed Godwit here: https://vimeo.com/214412121

Observer and images & video: WSM.

A walk around the marsh today resulted in 16 Wheatear and the first Whinchat of the summer. Four Grasshopper Warbler were ‘reeling’ away.

Over on the Weaver estuary there were 5 Common Sandpiper and a Swift zapped over. Close by there were three Wheatear on No.1 while 10 were present at Marsh Farm and a White Wagtail was seen. The days total brings a grand total of 29 Wheatear. General birding across the marsh produced 2-4 Cetti’s Warbler, 15 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 5 Blackcap, 18 Whitethroat, 13 Sedge and 6 Reed Warbler…Phew!

Observer: Alyn Chambers.

Additional sightings: Ron Brumby and Mike Turton.

22.04.17. Birdlog & Frodsham Festival of Walks on Frodsham Marsh #1

Frodsham Festival of Walks on Frodsham Marsh #1

The rendezvous was on Brook Furlong Lane motorway bridge and after a brief visit to see what was on No.6 tank I met up with 63 birders/walkers for the first of two Frodsham Festival of Walks visits to the marshes (the other on Wednesday next week).

After a brief introduction we headed out along Moorditch Lane where numerous Chiffchaff were joined by the flutey sounds of a Blackcap and the cascading song of a Willow Warbler perched up high and competing with one of the wind turbines nearby.

Arriving via the ramp track to No.5 tank I gave an overview of the development and working life of the used and active sludge/silt on the marshes. The first birds we noted were some of the 115 Tufted Duck that were tucked into the eastern side of the tank with a couple of hundred Common Shelduck and 50 Shoveler.

The best part of 1000 Black-tailed Godwit were very tolerant of the huddled hoards perched on the banks above them. The birds were too busy resting up and preening and didn’t seemed to be too bothered, only occasionally did some birds peel off from the main group to head out to the Mersey estuary. Hiding within the godwit flock was the much (locally) rarer  Bar-tailed Godwit (another was present later in the day), most walkers managed to get views through my telescope. A scattered group of 16 Ruff contained some handsome males with their neck plumes beginning to bunch out looking ornate particularly in the bright sunshine. There were 11 Knot which were tucked deep within the group of waders and remained mostly out of sight. A few Dunlin, Redshank, Ringed Plover and a distantly heard Whimbrel were other birds noted.

A couple of Marsh Harrier were performing distantly over the tanks and several Common Buzzard and a Kestrel were present.

We headed out to the mitigation pools on No.3 tank where several duck species included 5 Wigeon with both Gadwall and Common Teal in residence. The Avocet numbers reached 30 birds with several performing their ritual displays.

Walking back along Lordship Lane and both Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler were singing and one of three Grasshopper Warbler gave their distinctive ‘reeling’ song away to our group. The highlight here was the 6 Wheatear popping up from the ploughed field.

The walk ended with a volley of song from a recent colonist to the Mersey valley…the Cetti’s Warbler.

Observers: 63 walkers from the Frodsham Festival of Walks and WSM (images 1-5).

5 Wheatear at Marsh Farm included at least one Greenland form. A Reed Warbler was singing on No.6 tank and the Curlew Sandpiper put in a brief sighting on No.6 tank.

Observer: Frank Duff.

Out on the Weaver estuary there were 6 Common Sandpiper. 3 Ringed Plover included one particular colour banded bird ringed as adult 01/09/12 at Llanfairfechan, and recaptured there on 04/09/16. Both times it was in active primary moult, so likely to have wintered in North Wales, presumably now heading back towards breeding grounds (notes supplied by Stephan Dodd). A Grasshopper Warbler was ‘reeling’ near to the model aircraft field this afternoon. There were 3 Common Whitethroat, 3 Wheatear and 2 Cetti’s along the dusty lanes of Frodsham Marsh.

There were plenty of butterflies out today including the most numerous Orangetips. Also noted Small Tortoiseshell, Green-veined White and Peacock’s.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 8-11)

Additional images: Colin Butler (6-7).

21.04.17. Birdlog

Out on the marsh everything’s hotting up for tomorrows first Frodsham Festival of Walks on the marsh see here: http://frodsham.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Walks-2017-Final-A5-Version.pdf

Today’s highlight was a toss-up between either the Osprey or the Hobby?

I spent 11am until 3.30 pm at the sludge tanks and Weaver estuary. A Hobby and a Common Swift brought summer well and truly into this corner of Cheshire. A couple of Marsh Harrier were over the western end while 1060 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Knot, 10 Dunlin, 11 Ruff, 5 Golden Plover, 101 Redshank, 39 Avocet, 5 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 170 Common Shelduck, 92 Shoveler, 4 Wigeon, Common Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, 9 Mute Swan plus.

Observer: Dermot Smith.

That wasn’t a bad return for Dermot’s visit and Joe Chester did equally well scoring the Curlew Sandpiper and an Osprey!

Observer: Joe Chester (image 1).

I started from Ince this afternoon where a Whitethroat was singing in the hedgerow and a Common Sandpiper was at the edge of one of the new pools. On these new pools were Gadwall, Common Shelduck and Mallard with a single Little Egret. Out on the salt marshes were more Shelduck with Canada Goose and Greylag. A couple of pairs of Oystercatcher on the Manchester Ship Canal bank. At the Holpool Gutter a Stoat was seen to swim back and forth across the gutter checking out the rat holes and gave me great entertainment for a short while. A group of 8 Wheatear were along the fence by the dredging berth with another group of the same size seen later along Lordship Lane. I saw 20 Avocet on the mitigation pools with Common Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, Mallard, 6 Redshank and a Ringed Plover. A Peregrine pulled out of a dive in pursuit of a Wood Pigeon over the oilseed rape fields along Lordship Lane and then targeted the wader flock on No.6. A Mallard had a clutch of ducklings in the ditch and feigned an impression it had a broken wing when it saw me approach. Back at Ince there were 13 Little Egret were getting ready to go to roost as I made my way back to my car. ​

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 3-4).

Additionally and local to Frodsham were c60 Waxwing perched up in trees by railway bridge behind Go Ape activity centre, Delamere Forest. There were 3 Crossbill in flight over the south west corner of Blakemere and a dead roadkill male Stoat on Station Road.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (image 5-6).