It is always a great thrill to show off the birding delights of Frodsham Marsh to other birders and today I had the privilege of guiding Knutsford Ornithological Society. Late summer and early autumn can produce a wealth of migrating shorebirds and typically no two days are the same.
We all met up on the motorway bridge on Brook Furlong Lane off Marsh Lane in Frodsham at 9.00 am and after a brief welcome we headed north to the River Weaver. Edging along the field that leads to Redwall reed bed we paused to watch a showy Reed Warbler bouncing about in a hawthorn bush. A Green Sandpiper was flushed from the waterlogged corner of the field and flew off typically calling its alarm. After negotiating the narrow path and spear thistles we emerged on the bank overlooking the river.
Another Green Sandpiper was joined by a Common Sandpiper on the river and both were sheltering from the brisk breeze below the banks. A selection of Tufted Duck with her ducklings, Little Grebe and Canada Goose were spread out across the water.
The Weaver estuary had more Canada and a Bar-headed Goose popped out of the herd before flying off round the corner of the river and disappearing west along the Manchester Ship Canal. We retraced our steps and wandered back along the field to join Moorditch Lane and our next location at No.6 tank.
We had timed our arrival perfectly because the big flock of c850 Black-tailed Godwit had already been pushed off the rising tide on the River Mersey. The godwits had settled on No.6 with a flock of c500 Dunlin. These smaller waders had made a splinter contingent to roost, bathe and feed alongside the bigger shorebirds in the shallower water. A few Redshank and 5 Ruff were feeding here, there and everywhere with a lone Avocet for company. Everything looked idyllic until the Dunlin flock scattered and formed little whirling clusters of bait balls. An energetic adult Hobby did its best to separate one of the birds from the looser flock and it did actually succeed in that task. Dunlins aren’t an easy prey item and the falcon soon peeled away to leave this calidris to join its fellow travellers.
We reluctantly tore ourselves away and headed past the birdless mitigation area and ended up at the ‘Splashing Pool’ where a few Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Mallard were spotted. Several Raven were drifting on the wind above the banks of Frodsham Score adding to a beautiful sunny, big clouds kind of day.
A couple of Painted Lady, Comma, Red Admiral and Gatekeeper Butterfly were enjoying the warm sunshine on the edge of the tracks.
With weary legs we all headed back to the motorway bridge after some terrific birds were secured for our time here. There were a couple of exceptions with both Marsh Harrier and Peregrine putting in no shows.
Observers: WSM & Knutsford Ornithological Society.
A little later I returned with Frank Duff and we added Sparrowhawk, Ringed and Little Ringed Plover to the day count.