24.11.17. Birdlog.

Sunshine for this mornings walk along No 6 tank, Chiffchaff amongst Long tailed tit flock, Flock of 42 Curlew, c120 Dunlin flew over No 6 but had nowhere to land so carried on back to the river. The two Fulvous Whistling Duck were once again on the water with there 75 Mallard buddies, Ducks included 230 Common Teal, 7 Wigeon, 67 Tufted Duck, c290 Shoveler, 42 Common Pochard and 34 Pintail. Shorebirds were few and far between with c1400 Lapwing by far the most numerous. There appears to be a dead swan at the back of first pools on No.3, it is partly hidden by foliage but with my telescope it does look like a bird, it is in the area I recorded a Mute Swan on my last visit.  There were no scavengers around it.

Observer: Joe Chester (image 1).

A Marsh Harrier was about at dusk with a Sparrowhawk harassing the mesmerising Starling murmurations on No.6 tank.

Observer: Shaun Hickey.

19.11.17. Birdlog.

I was out at first light this morning starting my walk at Ince. There were 2 Little Egret on the pools and another was being hounded by a flock of corvids which was forced to take cover. The pools harboured a few Mallard, Gadwall and Common Teal were also present.

Onward to the Manchester Ship Canal path and the bushes were full of winter Redwing and Fieldfare with a flock of Long-tailed Tit passing beneath them in the hedgerow.

A shoal of small fish were rising on the ship canal and several Little Grebe and a couple of Great Crested were attracted by their presence.

A single Great White Egret and several Little Egret were out on the salt marshes and c200 Pink-footed Goose dropped on to the marsh but didn’t linger and soon moved on. A short time later three Whooper Swan passed heading towards Lordship Marsh.

Several thousand Starling flew through from their roost making their way west along the canal. Those that settled to feed out on the salt marsh attracted the attention of a Merlin which targeted the smaller looser flocks.

The mitigation pool had a mixed flock of Wigeon and Common Teal with a lone Mute Swan for company. A little further away on No.6 tank a further two adult and two juvenile Whooper’s were on the water with 150 Common Teal, 60 Mallard, 270 Shoveler, 40 Pintail, 44 Common Pochard, 42 Tufted Duck, 20 Gadwall and 2 imm Scaup.

I walked along the footpath near the blue slurry tank to have a look at the Whooper Swan flock which contained 7 adults and 5 juvenile birds.

A Barn Owl was inadvertently flushed from the hedgerow then flew off with a posse of tits and buntings in hot pursuit. The fields bordering this hedge had 12 Whooper Swan (7 adults & 5 juveniles) which were grazing close to the M56 motorway.

Walking back along Lordship Lane I noted a mixed flock of Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet and Reed Bunting feeding in the stubble with Pied Wagtail which likewise were in good numbers. In the trees by the Growhow Works were more winter thrushes, a couple of Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Sparrowhawk.

Observers: Paul Ralston (& Mike Turton).

In the period from 3.00 pm a few other birds were worth writing in the note-book including: 12 Goldeneye flushed from the water beneath the east side of No.6 tank. The immature male Marsh Harrier drifted onto the tank quartering the reed bed. The Marsh was joined by a ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier which drew the attention of a passing female Peregrine (she almost dwarfed the ringtail in her bulk). A Sparrowhawk and 2 Kestrel added to the BoP’s for the evening.

A flock of 80 Curlew flew from the south heading for the Mersey estuary for the night and small parties of Common Snip were dropping in to roost on No.6 tank.

Skeins of Pink-footed Goose were flying high in the distance above the Stanlow Oil Refinery and probably numbered 4-500 hundred birds in total. An adult White-fronted Goose was a nice addition for the WeBS counters out on the Ince and Score marshes.

A couple of Cetti’s Warbler were calling/singing from No.5-6 tanks and the Chiffchaff was again nearby.

After an invite to ‘The Birds of Frodsham Marsh’ facebook followers the evening saw 18 people ready for the Starling bonanza.

As the sun dropped below the horizon the Starling flocks began to emerge from the distance with flocks joining up and circling the area. Like previous evenings they lacked the murmurations that people who had come wanted to see. The birds don’t always perform on cue and instead of producing spectacular shows they instead shoot straight into their reed bed roost (which in itself is just as showy) before leap frogging each offer to move out to the centre of the tank. Perhaps the lack of raptor attacks would have contributed to the avian firework show?

The same or another Barn Owl was in the horse paddock off Moorditch Lane.

Observers: Paul Ralston (images 1-5), Mike Turton, Arthur Harrison, WeBS counters, Shaun & Courtney Hickey, Heather, Harley & Findlay (it’s been a long time since I added your names to a post) Wilde, Sparky & WSM (image 6) and facebook followers.

18.11.17. Birdlog.

I arrived early, but not too early and met AC on Moorditch Lane who had already seen a Scaup and 12 (5 juveniles) Whooper Swan at dawn We went our separate ways, me to do my WeBS count on No.6 tank and Alyn to ‘find himself’ over at Marsh Farm.

After a while of scanning across No.6 tank I managed to find both Scaup which have now both been present for 6 days. The Goldeneye immatures had increased to 4 birds but generally duck numbers were quite low compared to earlier in the week. There were 246 Shoveler, 63 Pintail, 36 Common Pochard, 31 Tufted Duck, 67 Mallard, 12 Gadwall, 123 Common Teal, 7 Wigeon and two Fulvous Whistling Duck which flew around the open water a few times before exiting stage right.

A small flock of 43 Dunlin flew in and out during the height of the tide.

A Marsh Harrier was quartering the reed bed for most of the afternoon into the evening while a Merlin put in a couple of appearances, mostly in pursuit of its lunch and supper.

A Little Egret flew through and headed out to the estuary while several skeins of Pink-footed Goose totalling c500 headed from the south-west and pitched down on Ince Marshes (presumably they are overspills from the Dee Marshes?).

A couple of Cetti’s Warber were calling from the willow thickets and a Chiffchaff was towed along by a roving band of Long-tailed Tits.

A Buff-tailed Bumlebee flying past me was a bit of a surprise. The clouds produced some interesting formations with Herringbone, Mare’s tails and the above rib cage effect.

I put out an invite to my Twitter followers to join me on the banks of No.6 tank for the Starling dusk roost. It was a nail-biting end of day spectacle but eventually from nowhere c30,000 birds streamed in from various locations and wheeled around in front of a dozen or so admirers. Although there wasn’t any bendy shaped murmurations on offer, there were plenty of oo’s and awe’s to keep everyone entertained. The majority of the roost relocated and pitched down for the night in the reeds in the centre of the bed and I presume our presence may have contributed to that?

During the course of the evening numerous flights of Common Snipe were moving about with a combined total of 109 with 40 Black-tailed Godwit, c100 Curlew and another Little Egret.

A great evening to share one of our local nature events…for free!

Observers: Alyn Chambers, Shaun Hickey, Paul Ralston (images 2 & 6 & 8-9), Mike & Mandy Turton, WSM (images 1 & 3-5 & 7 & 10) and twitter friends.

17.11.17. Birdlog.

I squeezed in 20 minutes of birding (after work) and during the only blast of sunlight we have had all day illuminated the marsh. Soon after the early evening gloom closed the day away and we trudged to the bright lights of Christmas shopping. 

It was immediately obvious as we walked along the track on No.5 tank that the swirling mass of black in the distance was several Starling murmurations. Flocks of them were streaming in from several directions and the appearance of a young male Marsh Harrier and later a Merlin sent them into an impressive series of pulsating clouds of predator evading birds. This spectacle doesn’t occur every evening and mostly the birds enter the reed beds without too much ado, but when the weather conditions are right they linger in large flocks long enough to create impressive performances.

The flocks streamed through with several thousand gathering into a down pipe and drop en masse into their chosen reed bed roost for the night.

Today I would say there were 50,000 birds and I’ll be here at dusk tomorrow evening if you want to catch up and (perhaps) enjoy it for yourself?

Close by a Cetti’s Warbler was singing away while a Chiffchaff was calling alongside the path we were watching from.

Observers: Sparky & WSM (all images).

13.11.17. Birdlog.

A very early start with the sun lighting up the sky from the east and all of the pot holes along Moorditch Lane frozen.

I had to be careful with popping my head above the banks overlooking No.6 tank even in the dark. The sound of honking Canada Goose filled the air accompanied by whistles from the Wigeon mingling close by. Eventually the dawn chorus erupted and the best part of the geese splashed and flapped their way off the open water and headed out across the reed beds to the salt marshes on the edge of the Mersey estuary. With the dawn light came another flight of c500 departing Wigeon in loose flocks following the Canada’s.

After a period of calm the rest of the ducks settled and I managed to get a thorough scan of those present. It wasn’t really a surprise to count 978 Wigeon remaining, there were more on the eastern side of the tank but to shift by position would have meant disturbing the birds below where I was watching from. Other ducks included: 2 Goldeneye, 64 Pintail, 23 Common Pochard, 2 1st winter (female?) Scaup, 43 Tufted Duck, a few Gadwall, 120 Mallard and 587 Common Teal including the Green-winged Teal that’s been knocking around for a week or so.

The young male and young female Marsh Harrier were quartering the reed beds but soon lifted into the sky and headed into a south-westerly direction (Dee marshes?). The Peregrine was sat on the lip of the blue-topped chimney overlooking Weston Point.

The flooded fields off Lordship Lane were frozen so there wasn’t much in the way of passerines. A flock of c300 Redwing and Fieldfare were notable. One small flock were perched uncomfortably close to a perched Common Buzzard.

There were 3 Whooper Swan in fields close to the M56 motorway.

Three Cetti’s Warbler were widely scattered ranging from No.4 to No.5 tank.

Observer and images: WSM.

12.11.17. Birdlog.

The numbers of ducks were typically good with some of the usual suspects present, Common Teal, Wigeon,Mallard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Pintail and Common Shelduck all available. Along the hedges were Fieldfare and Redwing.

I called in to watch the Starling roost this afternoon at No.6 sludge tank. There were more Starling arriving than yesterday with no murmurations to boast about as the birds came in low over the reed bed and went straight in to roost site. A Sparrowhawk shot in and out of the roost without any obvious commotion from the hoards within. I didn’t notice if it made a kill but it couldn’t have failed.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

11.11.17. Birdlog.

A walk along the River Weaver towards Marsh Farm this afternoon. A group of Goldeneye were on the river with Common Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Great Crested and Little Grebe also noted.

A Common Sandpiper was also spotted.

A couple of Grey Wagtail whiled away their time on the river bank.

A pair of Stonechat were in the reed bed and a large charm of Goldfinch fed on the burdock seeds.

I made my way to No.6 tank to view the Starling roost there. Although numbers were down on the previous few days I still managed an impressive c8000 as they collapsed the reed bed.

The Green-winged Teal was reported with Common Teal on No,6 tank.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

There were 3 Water Pipit reported on the flooded field adjacent to the ramp track (to No.4) at the south-west corner of No.6 tank off Lordship Lane. Also 20 Meadow Pipit and 300 Pied Wagtail heading to their roost.

There were well over 20,000 Starling and when the entire mass of suddenly arrived in the reed bed they collapsed the reeds and there was an audible thud!

Also present 1 Fieldfare with the wagtails; also sub-ad male Marsh Harrier on south side of No.6 – I was hoping to see the spectacle of it spooking the Starlings, but it didn’t quite come close enough; also Cetti’s Warbler calling continuously at top of 2nd ramp.

Observer: John Watson.