17.05.18. Birdlog.

A brief visit for a walk around No.6 tank in the fine warm summer sunshine is always a treat. This years Spring hasn’t been one to remember for its summer migrants and it’s still worrying that there is no Cuckoo reported!

The lanes were busy with singing Reed Bunting and sky scrambling Whitethroat, while the trackside ditches had both Reed and Sedge Warbler out competing each other.

Towards the end of our walk a quick scan over the receding waters of No.6 sludge tank revealed the usual c100 Common Shelduck with just a few Tufted Duck and Common Teal, plus 3 pairs of Shoveler. A flock of c320 Black-tailed Godwit had 3 Ruff with them but there wasn’t much of any other shorebirds to brag about.

Image by Paul Crawley.

15.05.18. Birdlog.

There is a flooded field adjacent to Frodsham Swing Bridge that is attracting quite a few birds this summer. I stopped en route to the marsh to have a look over and although not overly stocked it did have a few interesting species. A breeding pair of Coot have a family brood which they are busy tending to at the moment with a brood of Mallard ducklings also present. It was a surprise to see a pair of Shoveler and two pairs of Gadwall looking settled. Previously Garganey, Little Egret and Avocet have frequented this spot so it’s worth keeping an eye on it, if you are passing.

Contractors were busy reinstalling some meccano pieces to the tall beacon light on No.5 tank and nerves of steel for the two guys who were perched atop of the mast.

No.6 tank was again quiet but the brisk north-westerly wind and bright sunny skies did little for the late Spring migrant rush. A flock of c300 Black-tailed Godwit were lazy out the hot weather in the cooling shallow waters. A small group of Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Mallard and paired up Common Shelduck were also present.

A male and female Marsh Harrier drifted over No.3 tank where a small flock of Black-tailed Godwit lingered for a short while. The presumed two AWOL Barnacle Goose were still hanging out by the shallow pools.

A singing Chaffinch along Moorditch Lane.

Frodsham Hill looking east along Lordship Lane.

Helsby Hill looking south from Lordship Lane.

14.05.18. Birdlog.

Weaver Bend & estuary: 30 Canada Goose, 4 Great Crested Grebe, 17 Gadwall, 21 Tufted Duck, 54 Common Shelduck, 7 Common Teal and 2 Avocet.

Weston Marsh: 256 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Avocet.

Redwall reed bed: 7 Reed and 3 Sedge Warbler.

Brook Furlong Lane: Male Bullfinch, singing Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 6 Long-tailed Tit, 12 Goldfinch.

No.6 tank: 57 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Redshank, 1 Dunlin, 67 Common Shelduck, 7 Common Teal, drake Shoveler, 13 Mallard, 24 Gadwall, Marsh Harrier, 4 Common Buzzard, 54 Jackdaw, 43 Carrion Crow.

No.3 tank: Female Marsh Harrier, 8 Gadwall, 11 Common Shelduck, 31 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover and a male Yellow Wagtail.

The sounds of screaming Swift could be heard over Marsh Lane.

Images 7-11, male Blackcap feeding by Paul Crawley.

Butterflies: Green-veined White, Peacock, Speckled Wood and Orange-tip.

A walk along Brook Furlong Lane and along the River Weaver in bright evening sunshine. A pair of Common Shelduck on the damp ground in the pony paddock and Chiffchaff and Blackcap singing. A male Bullfinch was in the hawthorn hedgerow while his mate remained hidden in cover.

A female Marsh Harrier flew from the Redwall reed bed and was photo bombed by an easy jet coming in to land (harrier jump jet). Onward to the river where the usual ducks were present including: Common Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and 3 Mute Swan on the water. An earlier brood of Canada Goose goslings joined a much smaller brood and all made their way to the river when they saw me approaching.

A pair of Ringed Plover were again present and this time they were joined by a pair of Little Ringed Plover. A single Avocet passed over on its way to the estuary and several Raven and Common Buzzard were perched along the fence line.

On my way back a Great Spotted Woodpecker was sitting on a fence post along Brook Furlong Lane.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 10-12). images 1-6 & 12.

12.05.18. Birdlog.

Back from a short break in Scotland with close encounters with Otter, Puffin, White-tailed Sea Eagle and a reality check in Cheshire.

I was out this morning with a start at Brook Furlong Lane where Whitethroat and Blackcap were vocal. A pair of Bullfinch were noted along the lane and both Reed and Sedge Warbler were on territory.

A Whimbrel was seen flying along the River Weaver and a couple of Ringed Plover and a single Little Ringed Plover were at the river edge. Several broods of Canada Goose were on the river and Great Black-backed Gull were keeping a close eye on the geese goslings. Mallard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Common Shelduck were all present in reduced numbers and a single Great Crested Grebe was close to the reed bed.

On to the Canal Pools where a Carp could be seen cruising close to the surface anda of Mute Swan were guarding their nest.  A couple of geese flying over calling caught my attention as it was different from the usual Canada Goose racket and they turned out to be Barnacle Goose which dropped down to graze with the resident Greylag and Canada pairs. This pair is probably from the feral flock at Caldy on the Wirral?

On to the path alongside No.3 tank and c300 Black-tailed Godwit dropped on to the mitigation pools and fed amidst the breeding Coot and Lapwing with the cattle wandering through the shallow water.

The mud on No.6 held more Black-tailed Godwit with 21 Dunlin and the female Marsh Harrier was over the reed bed. The juvenile Mute Swan that resides in the ditch along Moorditch Lane has been joined by an adult bird and both were content to feed away.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).

A great day today with a female Wheatear at the Marsh Farm and some Swallow, Cetti’s Warbler and a male Bullfinch along Brook Furlong Lane.

No.6 had 300 Black-tailed Godwit and half a dozen Dunlin. The mitigation had 6 Avocet and a further 200 Black-tailed Godwit, a Grey Heron and 2 drake Shoveler. The male Marsh Harrier was over No.4 and there were 2 Little Grebe on the small pool.

Whilst talking to Arthur at the mitigation viewing point a pair of Yellow Wagtail flew into a tree and gave great views.

Butterflies had the usual suspects with Small Tortoiseshell, Orangetip, Whites and Peacock.

Observers: Paul Crawley (images 4-6), Arthur Harrison.

07.05.18 (May Bank Holiday Monday). Birdlog.

There was a single female Wheatear on pipes that cross No.1 tank and then two between the pipes and the Marsh Farm plus a male aswell. A female Sparrowhawk rested on a fence near to the farm, there were lots of Linnet, again Whitethroat and a Cetti’s Warbler calling at both ends of Brook Furlong Lane.

A couple of Speckled Wood Butterflies by the old log along with a strange coloured hoverfly called Leucozona lucorum. No.6 had 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Heron and a few ducks.

Observer: Paul Crawley (images 1-4).

A couple of Stonechat by the Weaver Bend were the only highlight. A Marsh Harrier was over No.6 and nearby 5 Avocet, 1 Black-tailed Godwit and a Barnacle Goose sweltering in the hot weather!

Observer: Sean O’Hara.

06.05.18. Birdlog (Frodsham Festival of Walks Part 2).

An earlier start for the second instalment in my walks for Frodsham Town Council and their parish awareness initiative through a series of walks within the town area. After the initial safety notes we headed along Moorditch Lane but were soon halted by the warblers singing alongside us. A Chiffchaff and Whitethroat song comparison enabling everyone to get their ears accustomed to the background south of the walk ahead.

Arriving on the track between No.5 and No.6 tanks we just about managed to glimpse of a flock of Black-tailed Godwits that were heading back out to the estuary. A Common Sandpiper busily feeding along the edge of the eastern fringes did its best to blend in nicely with the pale brown mud it was walking along. There was a big reduction in the numbers of ducks with most now paired up and off to find their respective nesting sites. A few Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Common Teal, Gadwall and Mallard were the ones that could be seen.

Along the way Sedge Warbler were singing from the ditches while a Dunnock fed with a male and female Reed Bunting on the track ahead. Several more male Reed Bunting could be seen singing from the tops of scrubs and the reed beds.

The mitigation pools had a couple of nesting Coot with several paired up Gadwall and territorial Lapwing ‘pee-witting’ over the grassed areas.

The hoped for Marsh Harrier found the barmy warm weather to stifling and were not to be seen during the period we were there. A Peregrine that flew over may have been responsible for the premature departure of the godwits earlier?

The wet areas adjacent to Lordship Lane have recently been ploughed which is a great shame because a pair of Ringed Plover looked like they were settling to nest there. A Kestrel was taking the shade inside one of the mounted owl boxes while a few Common Buzzard were riding the thermals.

The walk ended where it started to the scratchy dancing tunes of a Whitethroat and easily the commonest summer migrant of the day.

It was good to share some of the more regular Spring migrants with a great bunch of people and hopefully they will take away some new-found knowledge and some good memories.

Observers: Frodsham Festival of Walks (Part two) walkers, Caroline Aston, Don Weedon and WSM (images 1 & 3-4).

A male Bullfinch flew over me along the track on Brook Furlong Lane. Whitethroat and Blackcap seem to be everywhere. The pipes on No.1 tank had 2 female and 1 male Wheatear, there were 4 more female Wheatear between the pipes and the Marsh Farm, while 2 Oystercatcher were on the Manchester Ship Canal.

Video of Wheatear here: https://vimeo.com/268304208

Observer: Paul Crawley (images 3 & 5).

05.05.18. Birdlog.

I received a text message from Paul Crawley of a Redstart on the pipes that cross No.1 tank, by the time I had arrived at the spot he had re-identified it has a female/1st summer Black Redstart. It has been nearly 40 years since my last one here so it was great to have had the opportunity in getting this on my 21st Century list.

The species have bred locally but the site is in accessible to the public and this could be a bird en route to that area? A Cetti’s Warbler gave a brief burst of song from two locations.

Paul and I travelled up to the Ince Marsh fields where there are proposed developments, again the fringes of the marshes are being chewed away by big business. There was a Wheatear in the fields off Lordship Lane on the way and the Ince area had the pale morph Common Buzzard circling over and an adult female Peregrine high over head. A look across Frodsham Score proved to be rather lacklustre with a couple of Little Egret being the only slight diversion.

Paul went back for a second helping of the Black Redstart while I continued along the hot dusty track that separates No.6/4/3/5 tanks. A few ducks were sweltering in the heat but the receding mitigation pools on No.3 held very little. A couple of Marsh Harrier were lazily flapping over and the ringed Kestrel was seen again.

The area of mud on No.6 tank is attracting Black-tailed Godwit flocks again with c800 present during the period I was watching over them. One bird slowly revealed its coloured leg rings ((Dutch bred?) continental Limosa limosa was ringed in Hernan Cortés, Extremadure, SW Spain 15.02.17 and also seen in Ireland in 2017. It took nearly an hour for the bird to wade out of the belly deep water for me to get the full colour combination. A couple of Bar-tailed Godwit were hiding amidst the flock and gave some great views whilst they preened. A solitary Dunlin spent most of the time swimming through the godwits legs and a Whimbrel flew over whistling.

A plethora of butterflies included: loads of Orange-tip, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Speckled Wood, Green-veined White and Brimstone’s.

Observers: Paul, Crawley (images 1-3 & 6-8), WSM (images 4-5).

04.05.18. Birdlog.

An afternoon stroll along the Weaver in bright sunshine. A male Marsh Harrier was hunting the Redwall reed bed and a single Black-tailed Godwit was feeding in the wet field.  Sedge Warbler were singing in the ditch alongside the footpath and Swallow and Sand Martin were feeding overhead.

On to the river and Tufted Duck, Mallard, Common Shelduck and Gadwall were all present with a pair of Great Crested Grebe and the ever-present Canada Goose.

A pair of Ringed Plover and a Dunlin for company and 4 Common Sandpiper were noted.

Several Wheatear were near Marsh Farm and a female Kestrel sat on a telegraph post.

A ship heading east along the Manchester Ship Canal caught my interest and fired off a shot from my camera catching both the ship and A photo bombing Brown Hare.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

03.05.18. Birdlog.

I managed to squeeze in enough time after work to catch the tail end of the wader roost on No.6 tank before they departed to the Mersey estuary for the evening.

A bunched flock of 657 Black-tailed Godwit were in the centre of the water and only started to spread out after a period of time. A small flock of Dunlin were attempting to hide below the godwits. There were a few Redshank feeding on the far edge of the water with a pair in full copulating mode. Four Whimbrel were settled on the periphery of the other birds but were later disturbed by one of the two Marsh Harrier that crossed over their heads. A third harrier flew up to join the two raptors. A pair of Peregrine on the lip of the blue topped chimney had one of them tearing at its recently caught supper.

A look over the mitigation pools on No.3 tank produced 4 Black-tailed Godwit and a finely plumed male Ruff. An odd Mallard X Common Teal type hybrid was with a small selection of other duck species.

The watch was slightly marred by the irritating midges helping themselves to my free blood transfusions, but a ‘reeling’ Grasshopper Warbler and both Sedge and Reed Warbler helped to ease the pain.

Observer: WSM ( and images).

02.05.18. Birdlog (Frodsham Festival of Walks 2018).

Frodsham Festival of Walks organised by Frodsham Town Council is a series of walks that take in some of the finest countryside in this part of Cheshire. Tonight was my turn to lead the section that covers Frodsham Marsh. Part two coming up on Sunday. I was ably assisted by three friends Bob Holland, Don Weedon and Gary Worthington who took up the rear (order, order).

We met on Brook Furlong Lane and after a brief health and safety chat I was joined by 55 walkers who faced a stiff cold north-westerly breeze sweeping across the marshes.

Our first call was the active N.6 sludge tank where a small party of Black-tailed Godwit were joined by 20 Dunlin and then 9 Whimbrel (although we only heard them as they flew by) dropped in with the godwits and Dunlin. A Marsh Harrier put in a good show and on several occasions it was harassed by the local corvids.

The mitigation pools on No.3 tank had a few species of duck with courting Gadwall, Common Teal, Shoveler and a late Wigeon.

The cool wind direction reduced the number of migrants but Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Reed and Sedge Warbler were fairly vocal.

The damp pools on Lordship Marsh had a Ringed Plover and a pair of Lapwing gave a couple of passing Lesser Black-backed Gull short shrift.

Observers: Frodsham Festival of Walkers, Bob Holland, Don Weedon, Gary Worthington & WSM (image 1). Image 2 by Paul Miller.