15.08.17. Birdlog

The  smaller flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit were again feeding and resting in the shallows. A similar number of Dunlin were close by and another flock was on the east side of the tank. Several Redshank and Ringed Plover dropped in to feed and were joined by a Greenshank. There were 3 Common Buzzard and 2 Kestrel active in the area and several Raven passed overhead.

Observer: Paul Ralston.

Field Grasshopper (Jimmy Cricket) were chirping from the undergrowth  lumbering through the grass but were too timid to reveal themselves. I did manage to capture one eventually.

Archive Images: WSM

14.08.17. Birdlog

Me and my spouse took a hike down to the marshes this afternoon a couple of hours before the high tide on the Mersey estuary. There were c2050 Dunlin already in situ with 447 Black-tailed Godwit occupying the relative shelter below the southern banks of No.6 tank. Within that total was 43 juvenile godwits, so an increase in their numbers but a dramatic decrease in the overall flock from a few days ago.  A lot of those birds were resting up regaining some strength and sleeping after their long Icelandic flight. Also many were stretching their wing muscles and chattering away to each other before their onward journey and I assume the bigger flock have either moved on or have relocated, or both? The flightless bird in the eastern corner had a few companions today. A separate roost of 143 Ringed Plover were settled on the much drier ground a short distance from the main godwit and Dunlin roost. A solitary Common Sandpiper, 167 Lapwing and 3 Ruff were the only other waders of interest.

Observer: WSM (archive image).

13.08.17. Birdlog

A few sightings from Sean today included 8 Common Sandpiper on the River Weaver. Over on No.6 tank was 500 Dunlin, 1 Green Sandpiper and a Spotted Flycatcher in trees above the track on No.5 tank.

Observer: Sean O’Hara.

Sparky and myself had a family engagement so afterwards we walked off a little alcohol consumption along the track on No.5 tank. The Spot Fly that Sean had found earlier wasn’t on show and the area of open water and mud on the tank below the track was almost devoid of birds except for a few species of ducks including an eclipse drake Common Pochard. The resident Black-tailed Godwit (wing injury so can’t fly) was again in the eastern corner of the tank, 120 Lapwing and 6 Ruff were the only other birds of interest.

Observers: Sparky and WSM (archive image).

12.08.17. Birdlog

A walk around No.6 tank early this morning started with a charm of c200 Goldfinch on Moorditch Lane with a Kestrel taking a keen interest. Onward ever onward to No.6 and there were just c300 Black-tailed Godwit resting in the shallow waters with 2 Avocet and 2 Ruff in with them. A few Tufted Duck, Common Teal, Mallard and Common Shelduck were joined by a flock of 20 Shoveler. A large flock of Black-headed Gull were on the water while a flock of Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gull were roosting on the drier mud. A low flying Common Buzzard flushed a Green Sandpiper out of a ditch on No.3 tank. Another flock of Black-headed Gull with several Common Gull were feeding on the cut crop fields alongside Lordship Lane where more finch flocks had gathered with one containing over 200 Linnet!

Observer: Paul Ralston (archive image 1).

After work today I made my way to the succulent wader magnet that is No.6 tank. On arrival the afternoon tide was quickly slipping back into the Irish Sea so time and tide were being stretched a little further than they should have been. A colossal gathering of c3000 Dunlin were again present and this time I slowly gathered my patience and systematically worked my way through their bustling numbers. It can be hard going tiptoeing along lines of these birds with the magnification at its ultimate limit. Counting up 2997…98…99…Dunlin! I drew a blank again in finding those two Siberian waifs that I look forward to every August namely the Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper but 3 Ruff added some variety.

The flock of Black-tailed Godwit were again in big numbers and the level of juvenile birds has increased since yesterday. An adult Hobby spooked the wader flocks and was watched chasing down a Dunlin which it forced high into the sky, then detached the poor wader some distance away from its companions. I don’t know if the falcon managed to catch its prey because they both disappeared from sight. All this activity unnerved the rest of the Dunlin flocks and with the tide well receded they took the opportunity to head back out to the estuary. Just when things looked like they had settled the big blundering juvenile Peregrine wobbled through and flushed the godwits which followed the Dunlin to the relative safety of the Mersey mudflats.

A juvenile Marsh Harrier was quartering the distant reed bed and while I was heading home a juvenile Sparrowhawk was sat on the dusty track. It stayed put long enough for me to get lots of photo’s but alas I have exceeded my WordPress media limit so you’ll just have to imagine the birds.

Observer: WSM (archive images 2-3).

11.08.17. Birdlog

After last nights disappointed with the shorebirds on No.6 tank I was determined I wouldn’t miss out this time. I parked the car adjacent to my usual spot with Sparky declining my invitation to join me on a damp windy bank looking over a selection of birds. She instead chose the comfort of the car.

Gingerly I edge myself into position on the bank with a big elder bush concealing my presence to the birds that were busy feeding on the muddy ground below. There were lots of waders and it had a feel of the old days where I didn’t really know which point I should start to look from. My usual scatter scope approach usually serves me well and I frantically spun the scope on its tripod like a machine gunner. A flock of 100 Ringed Plover and c2000 Dunlin were spread widely across the area and it was difficult at first to get my eye in, eventually a quick sweep didn’t reveal anything out of the norm. There were many fresh juveniles to keep the interest level high with various degrees of plumages but not anything other than Dunlin.

I changed my attention to the c1700 Black-tailed Godwit that were bunched tightly in the shallow waters and with the combined Dunlin flocks it was quite an impressive sight. Slowly working through the godwits started to reveal the first of 15 juvenile birds and a couple of complete summer plumaged birds shone out like beacons.

Nearby a group of 6 Ruff and a few Redshank were the other contenders but on this occasion nothing to really set the pulse racing but I’m certain it’s only a matter of time before someone picks out a goodie?

I am unable to upload new images at present until I can sort out data issues with WordPress and so I’m working with thin air at the moment. If there are any donators/sponsors out there willing to secure the future of this blog then please drop me a line. I have limited income but I’ll carry on for the next 12 months with or without new images and then bow out.

Observer and archive image: WSM.

10.08.17. Birdlog

It is a few days since I managed to get down to the marshes and I was chomping at the bit to do a spot of birding. Driving along Marsh Lane I stopped to have a chat with Idris and Jacqui Roberts and that prove to be costly (apologies to both of you ;O).

On arrival at No.6 tank I had barely got myself seated with a quick scan of the exposed muddy areas revealing a big flock of Black-tailed Godwit (and I mean big numbers!). Also present in big numbers (and again I mean big numbers!) was a flock of Dunlin. Suddenly the entire flocks of birds exploded into the air and the majority bolted out to the estuary with the remainder bunching into a massive bait ball. I don’t normally swear at birds (erm? I might have to re-edit that comment) but a huge blundering (Bella Emberg of a) juvenile female Peregrine crashed through the area sending everything on its way. My fist was in a mock clench and shaking in the direction of the fast departing falcon…I could have cried!

Looking out across the near empty sludge tank a single Greenshank, 1 Ruff, 7 Redshank and 5 Black-tailed Godwit remained. What was lurking within those now vacated shorebirds could only be guessed at. I’m not a happy bunny!

Common Teal have increased with 83 birds and 7 Shoveler are fresh arrivals.

Earlier another Greenshank was off Widnes Warth Marsh with 4 Redshank.

Observer and archive image: WSM.

Over on the Weaver estuary a dozen Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Common Sandpiper were present while a few Common Swift and Sand Martin were overhead.

Observer: Paul Ralston.

07.08.17. Birdlog

An early evening walk around No.6 tank. There were Common Shelduck with a few getting bigger ‘shelduckling’ still present with a few Mallard, 1 Shoveler, 12 Tufted Duck and 14 Common Teal but generally duck numbers were low again. A loosely gathered flock of 22 Little Grebe were about the water.

What waders were here tonight included 30 Lapwing, 25 Black-tailed Godwit, 15 Redshank, 2 Green  and a Common Sandpiper which took to the air as a juvenile Marsh Harrier flew over and was shown the door by the Lapwings. An extra 10 godwit were on the mitigation pools with 20 Greylag and 50 Canada Goose. 

Observers: Paul Ralston (images), WSM.

05.08.17. KOS Field Trip

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.

04.08.17. Birdlog

Late afternoon and early evening walk along the River Weaver and No.6 tank. There wasn’t much in the way of waterfowl on the river today other than a few broods of Tufted Duck and Mallard. Several Little Grebe and 5 Great Crested were joined by a flock of 30 Greylag Goose which dropped on to the water before moving out to the estuary.

A single Curlew flew up river and 8 Redshank and a lone Common Sandpiper were on the far bank  while the photogenic Dunlin sat within a few yards of me preening and resting with its head under its wing (poor thing). On to 6 and the Common Shelduck made up the majority of ducks on the open water with a small number of Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and Common Teal were noted. There was also c100 Black-tailed Godwit had 3 Avocet amongst them.

A flock of 30 Dunlin were on the muddy edges with a juvenile Kestrel sat nearby watching over them.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

03.08.17. Birdlog

I took an hour out to give No.6 tank a brief once over after work. There was a flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit with a single Redshank and 2 Ruff.

Duck numbers were again much reduced with barely double figures of Tufted Duck along with 50 Mallard, 1 Shoveler, 1 Gadwall and 14 Common Teal. A raft of 18 Little Grebe was a good sign of another successful breeding season on the marshes.

A distant juvenile Marsh Harrier sailed over the reed beds while Common Buzzard were watched high over Helsby Hill.

The usual Raven hoard were again patrolling the margins of the marsh on the lookout for an easy meal.

A couple of Broad-leaved Helleborine (Epipactis helleborine) are at Wigg Island, Runcorn with one in full flower.

Observer and images: WSM