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).

19 & 20.04.17. Birdlog

19.04.17 Birdlog

There was 6 Pink-footed Goose with the Black-tailed Godwit flock on No.6 tank. Meanwhile a Whitethroat close to the ramp track was close to where Sedge Warbler was singing from the reed ditch there.

Observer: Gary Worthington.

20.04.17. Birdlog

An after work trip and a watch over No.6 tank saw the continuing build up of the Black-tailed Godwit flocking to the marsh.

A thorough scan of the flock which were gathered close to the north banks revealed 650 birds (4 colour-ringed) and hidden in their number was a single Bar-tailed Godwit (centre middle in above image 3). Also noted were 6 Knot (one beginning its summer moult), 30 Redshank (bird in image 5 with metal ring on raised leg), 2 Curlew, 4 Whimbrel, 16 Ruff (in their fine dandy neckerchiefs), a solitary Greenshank was heard calling before it was spotted feeding along the waters edge on the south edge of the tank. Six Common Snipe, 8 Ringed Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Green Sandpiper and 7 Dunlin.

The reported Curlew Sandpiper  reappeared out of nowhere and it was great to watch this wanderer feeding belly deep in and out of the towering godwits. A flock of 20 Golden Plover flew over calling but decided not to settle and moved off elsewhere. With 10 Avocet on No.6 and another 24 birds on the mitigation pools produced a new high count of 34 birds so far this Spring. It was definitely shorebird central on the marsh this evening.

Duck were playing second fiddle to the waders this evening with 105 Tufted Duck, 67 Shoveler, 100 Common Shelduck, Gadwall and Common Teal noted.

Sedge Warbler song rang loud and proud from the reed beds while a few Sand Martin were heading west.

Curlew Sandpiper video here: https://vimeo.com/214081625

Observers: Nigel Troup, WSM (images and video).

I believe the finder of the Curlew Sandpiper was Janet Jones?

18.04.17. Birdlog

An early evening watch over No.6 tank produced a flock of 400 Black-tailed Godwit which were busy preening and bathing in the sunshine. The seven note whistle of a flock of 5 Whimbrel (or should that be 35 whistles?) alerted me to them as they cascaded down from the heavens to settle on the bare mud away from the godwit flock. They flew off calling but return with a Curlew 20 minutes later.

The Little Stint continues to be present but this time it cut a lonesome figure as it feed on the big patches of sludge on the edge of the vegetation.

A Golden Plover had all the look of ‘Goldie no mates’ as it sat belly deep in the water hanging out on the margins of the limosa’s with a few Redshank and 19 Ruff safe guarding the edges.

Ducks on N.6 included 115 Common Shelduck which joined 112 Shoveler, 46 Tufted Duck, 79 Common Teal and several Gadwall. A Fox was prowling along the edge of the reed bed while Lapwing were keeping vigil.

Nearby the Avocet flock reached 27 birds with a solitary Ringed Plover 3 additional Ruff and a variety of ducks.

Passerine migration was slow going this evening but a couple of Sedge Warbler were new in to the reed beds on six.

Observer and images: WSM.

Additional notes 3 Whitethroat (JR).

17.04.17. Birdlog

It felt decidedly cold this morning with the icy wind coming in from the north.  I was serenaded by a couple of Sedge Warbler and watched 100 Sand Martin and a few Swallow brought down by the low cloud on a brief visit.

No.6 tank was quiet with a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit flying in from the flood fields by the M56. Already in situ was 5 Ruff, several Dunlin, 33 Redshank and 3 Avocet. A flock of 115 Golden Plover drew my attention by their evocative calls over head from the direction of the Mersey estuary and they settled out in the middle of No.6 well away from the wet areas. Also with them were 12 Ringed Plover. The drier areas on six also brought in 5 White Wagtail.

Ducks included GADWALL! (Stan) and the usual assortment of 43 Tufted Duck, 120 Shoveler, 60 Common Teal.

A look over No.3 and the mitigation produced more Avocet, Common Teal, Shoveler and a pair of Wigeon.

The Peregrine was sat on the blue topped chimney for the duration of my visit.

Observer and images: WSM.

16.04.17. Birdlog

Out before the rain this morning which included a walk around the sludge tanks.There was a Cetti’s Warbler again at two locations on the marsh and these was joined by Chiffchaff and Blackcap. The wader numbers were low compared to yesterday but the tide was out at the time of my visit. The mitigation pools on No.3 tank had a few Avocet, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit  with Shoveler, Common Teal and a dozen Wigeon around the distant flash. A Wheatear was on the edge of the pool but moved on when a Common Buzzard passed overhead. A Coot has built a nest in the middle of the gutter but I don’t think it will survive when the water level rises again.

A Little Stint was again on No.6 tank.

A Marsh Harrier was drifting over No.4 as where several Common Buzzard. Only 4 Mute Swan were on the field alongside the Holpool Gutter. Back along Lordship Lane and Reed Bunting were back on their territory and a pair of Oystercatcher dropped in to the stubble field which upset the local Lapwing. At the junction of 4 and 6 tanks there were 2 Ringed Plover and several Redshank on what is left of the flood field and a flock of Black-tailed Godwit were feeding in fields by the M56.

Observer: Paul Ralston (sunrise images 3-4).

Additional images 1-2 by WSM.