Frodsham Festival of Walks 2019

A couple of dates for your local birding calendar. Two (FREE) guided bird walks on , Sunday 28th April at 09.30 & Wednesday 1st May at 18.30 for Spring migrants and lingering winter birds. Meet on the motorway bridge on Brook Furlong Land via Marsh Lane, Frodsham (No dogs please). Details here: …. a big thanks to all the local birders Colin Butler, Shaun Hickey, Paul Ralston and Don Weedon who have agreed to step in at the last minute to cover my absence.

23.04.19. Birdlog.

I managed to fit in the last hour of daylight after dropping the ladies off for an evening in Chester.

The light wasn’t at its best but the muggy atmosphere did bring out a ‘reeling’ Grasshopper Warbler while nearby a blast from the vocal arsenal of a Cetti’s Warbler sounded out. A pair of Yellow Wagtail were coo-cooing in their display while a Ruff moulting into its showy breeding plumage cut a lone figure in the wet areas of No.6 tank. A few shy Common Snipe tried their best to hide in the straw yellow dead plant stems. The Black-headed Gull pairs have risen to 3 pairs.

Ducks were again present and included 74 Common Shelduck, 43 Tufted Duck, 17 Gadwall, 14 Shoveler and 8 Eurasian Teal.

Raven flocks were still heading south at dusk and there must still be plenty of rack o lamb available on the salt marshes.

The highlight was the ringtail Hen Harrier coming in for its roost without too much fuss.

The sounds of Reed, Sedge Warbler and Common Whitethroat were the back sounds to the evening and I trundled home with a few good birds under the belt.

Observer and image: WSM.

Earlier Jimmy Mancini saw a Whinchat on the fence line that borders the model aircraft field off Lordship Lane…

…and Guy Groves and Peter Malpas had a quick visit to the Weaver Bend where they saw Avocet pairs, A pair of Pintail, Sedge Warbler and the ringtail Hen Harrier leaving No.6 tank.

22.04.19. Birdlog.

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An early evening walk around the River Weaver tonight started with a Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Greater Whitethroat and Eurasian Reed Warbler all seen and heard during my walk. On the river the usual Tufted Duck, Common Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall and a few Eurasian Teal were joined by 8 Mute Swan and many Canada Goose.

A large female Peregrine flew low over the river with the intention off flushing the wildfowl but turned its attention to the Lapwing on the Weston Marsh sludge tank on the other side of the river.

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There were 3 Common Buzzard hunting the river bank and a Kestrel caught a vole in the reed bed near to Marsh Farm. Upto 4 Ringed Plover and 2 Common Sandpiper at the edge of the river. A Northern Wheatear flew across the Manchester Ship Canal to join 4 others on Frodsham Score salt marsh. Both Sand Martin and Swallow were out in force and it won’t be long before they are joined by the Common Swift. A Brown Hare was seen on my walk back to my car.

Observer and images: Paul Ralston.

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A Garden Warbler was singing in a garden overlooking the Weaver estuary in Weston Village this evening per WSM.

Spring on Frodsham Marsh

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A couple of nests of a Canada Goose pairs. One has obviously taken advantage of a life ring and the other hasn’t.

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A Common Shelduck flys over Frodsham Score and for the species April/May is one of their best months with large numbers arriving to breed here.

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Not all cowboys are birders and not all birders are cowboys ;O)

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A view from the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal.

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Hundreds of Black-tailed Godwit waiting the tide out on the salt marsh.

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One of the most ubiquitous species of duck in the summer months is the Gadwall

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Like a gang of hoodlums these Raven are hanging out on Frodsham Score and reached a total of c250 today.

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The area where the Manchester Ship Canal and the Weaver estuary converge.

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Wheatear numbers are increasing daily and c40 birds were present today.

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Common Buzzard are the most numerous raptor on the marshes.

Images 1-19 by Shaun Hickey.

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Black-headed Gull pairs are nesting here for the first time in several years.

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A Peacock Butterfly and Orange-tip were two of the species found widely on the marsh and Shaun saw a Brimstone.

Images

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A Garden Orb Spider

Images 20-23 by Paul Crawley.

21.04.19. Birdlog.

I was out this morning with a start at Ince. There was plenty of  Blackcap, Greater Whitethroat and Chiffchaff all seen and heard with 2 Reed Warbler singing in the reed bed with Swallow flew overhead.

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The pools held 17 Mallard, 4 Tufted Duck, 2 Common Shelduck, 2 Little Grebe, 6 Coot and 3 Moorhen. The Manchester Ship Canal held more of the same plus many Canada Goose and a single Mute Swan.

On to the Canal Pools and the Mute Swan pair are back on their territory they used last year, but don’t appear to be nesting just yet. More Tufted Duck, Mallard, Common Shelduck and Gadwall were noted, with the addition of a Great Crested Grebe.

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Several Eurasian Skylark, 2 Common Snipe and a Northern Wheatear were around the ponds with 2 more Wheatear seen near to the ‘phalarope pool’. The Eurasian Coot must have slipped away from its nest unseen and left its clutch exposed.

A Cetti’s Warbler was heard on No.4 tank and a Common Buzzard was running around chasing insects on the sand extraction area, and was joined by a second bird.

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The bushes along Lordship Lane were full of singing Blackcap, Greater Whitethroat and Chiffchaff with several Reed Bunting being noted. There was another Coot which sat tight on its nest on in the Holpool Gutter. The fields alongside the gutter were free from any Mute Swan for the first time in a few months. A Common Buzzard took off clutching what looked like a Blackbird and made its way to the wood near the incinerator plant.

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Earlier this morning I visited a site in Alvanley where 6 Northern Wheatear were fresh in for the summer but were outnumbered by a flock of winter Fieldfare feeding in the same field.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images).

There was c30 Northern Wheatear on Frodsham Score during this afternoon’s WeBS count per Shaun Hickey (image 1).

A couple of Marsh Harrier and a ringtail Hen Harrier ere on No.6 tank in the afternoon per Arthur Harrison.

A Common Sandpiper flew down the River Weaver and the Avocet flock flew over the other side of the Weaver. A single Swallow flew over the river dipping in for a drink a few times.

Observer: Paul Crawley.

20.04.19. Birdlog.

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A hot and sweaty hike along the dusty tracks of Frodsham Marsh enjoying time away from work and basking in lovely Spring sunshine.

The ducks of No.6 tank included nearly 100 Common Shelduck with 24 Tufted Duck, 7 Gadwall, 34 Eurasian Teal, 12 Mallard, 2 pairs of nesting Black-headed Gull, 54 Coot, 12 Lapwing, 1 Ruff, 18 Black-headed Gull, a female Marsh Harrier joined up with another. 2 Little Ringed Plover, 4 Avocet and 20 Black-tailed Godwit.

The banks along the way were alive with the sounds of Reed and Sedge Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, 8 Cetti’s Warbler and Swallow.

The mitigation area on No.6 tank had a few of the duck species that was on No.6 tank.

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The ebbing tide on the Mersey estuary had several hundred Common Shelduck with much smaller numbers of Eurasian Teal and a drake Eurasian Wigeon. The only shorebirds of note were 21 Oystercatcher, 70 Redshank, 40 Curlew and 3 Whimbrel. Egrets were low in number but did feature 4 Little and a single Great Egret. A lone Barnacle Goose may have been the bird PR saw yesterday?

Observer and images: WSM.

19.04.19. Birdlog.

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The marsh was disappointing at first, I nearly gave up but after the first Small Tortoiseshell were on the wing at 8 am then things livened up a bit.

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The pipes on No.1 tank had 3 female Wheatear, there were Linnet all over with male Blackcap, Chiffchaff too along Brook Furlong Lane.

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Cetti’s Warbler were singing from several locations, also there were Whitethroat and Reed Warbler.

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Raven were also all over the marsh and Curlew called from the Frodsham Score. 10 Avocet flew in and landed on the Weaver Bend and a pair of Gadwall flew the River Weaver too.

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The best part were the Butterflies which included Small Tortoiseshell, Orange-tip (5 males chasing a female), Peacock’s, Whites, Speckled Wood and the best for last a Brimstone! I didn’t want to leave in the end.

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Observer: Paul Crawley, (images 1-11 & 19).

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An afternoon walk along the River Weaver with a start from Brook Furlong Lane where Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap were all very vocal.

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Butterflies were out in force in the warm sunshine with Orange-tip, Peacock, Small White, Small Tortoiseshell and a single Brimstone Butterfly all noted.

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On the River Weaver were Tufted Duck, Mallard, Common Shelduck, Gadwall, Eurasian Teal, Canada Goose and Mute Swan were all enjoying the day. There were three groups of Avocet which made their way along the river and I counted 18 birds.

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Two Common Sandpiper, 8 Ringed Plover at least 1 Little Ring Plover were all feeding at the edge of the river.

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A Barnacle Goose has paired up with a Canada Goose and the odd pair swam along the Manchester Ship Canal and it’ll be interesting to see what type of babies they produce? A flock of c40 Sand Martin were hawking above the cut making a welcome return to the area.

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Raven were numerous and still clearing up the dead stock lying about the marsh and high above like something out of a cowboy and indian film were several buzzard riding the thermals.

Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Curlew and Common Shelduck were feeding from the sand banks while the tide ebbed on the Mersey estuary.

Numerous Linnet and Goldfinch were feeding on the seed heads near Marsh Farm.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 12-18).

18.04.19. Birdlog.

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An after work walk down to the Weaver Bend to see what was hanging about the river. Three lingering Wigeon were 2 drakes and a duck while 67 Tufted Duck were all busy jockeying for courting positions and Gadwall drakes were busy chasing females over head. Many Common Shelduck were active on the banks of Weston Marsh but no sign of any Avocet.

The Weaver estuary had 9 Great Crested Grebe and small numbers of Little Grebe.

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Marsh Farm was rather quiet but looking out from the cattle grid across the Weaver Sluices and Mersey estuary had hundreds of Redshank, Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit.

A male Wheatear and a couple of non-native Red-legged Partridge released for shooting were also on the pipes.

Brook Furlong lane was alive with Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warbler.

A pretty under par visit but I’m sure things will pick up soon.

Observer and images: WSM.

Mersey WeBS Count Images

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“You should see the other guy”.

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Redshank flock sheltering from the tide on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal and a couple of Little Stint hiding (top left and bottom right).

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Ravens are ever popular on the marshes cleaning up the dead mutton carcasses.

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Frodsham Score and Ince Marshes produce some excellent Stock Dove, shorebird and wildfowl counts.

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Sods of salt marsh kicked up by an advancing tide and wind and then deposited on the marsh to dissolve and be washed away with the next high tide.

All images from previous BTO counts by regular WeBS counter Shaun Hickey.

14.04.19. Birdlog.

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An early start this morning from Ince along with the sun rising over the wind turbines.

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The first Reed Warbler was alarm calling from the reed bed at the start of my walk which then gave a brief performance before diving back into cover. A pair of Greylag Goose have taken residence on one of the ponds along with several Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and a single Common Shelduck.

Onward and forward to the Manchester Ship Canal path and a sudden sharp blast from a Cetti’s Warbler rang out from Ince Berth followed by numerous Chiffchaff calls in the hedgerows alongside the path. On the ship canal were more of the same species of ducks and a pair of Great Crested Grebe were making the most of the spring weather.

Several Curlew and 2 Little Egret were feeding out on the salt marsh and a large roost of Great, Lesser Black-back and Herring Gull were settled on the shortly cropped grass.  Four Mute Swan were still on their wintering field on Ince marsh fields and another 16 were making their way along the canal.

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The ‘Splashing Pool’ held more Common Shelduck, Mallard, Eurasian Teal with the addition of several Northern Shoveler and Canada Goose. The spring silence was disrupted again by a very vocal Cetti’s Warbler.

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A Coot was sat on its nest in the shallow water of the ‘phalarope pool’.

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Walking back along Lordship Lane and I saw several Linnet and the odd Meadow Pipit busy collecting nest material, and a final blast from…yes you’ve guessed it Cetti’s. Also seen were Reed Bunting on territory and 2 Wheatear in the stubble field where c40 Curlew were feeding. A Blackcap was singing on the banks on No.6 tank, while a charm of c50 Goldfinch were keeping an eye on a Kestrel perched nearby.

A couple of Peregrine were high overhead and another Blackcap was in a melodic mood on my meander home.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images).

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It was a very cold south-easterly that greeted us on the marsh this late morning into the afternoon period, so it was best to keep moving and not to linger for too long.

We walked along Moorditch Lane and then through Lordship Marsh before taking a look over Frodsham Score salt marsh. Two Cetti’s Warbler gave out a powerful song from deep in cover while the sounds of Curlew filled the air with melancholy.

A couple of Marsh Harrier ranged widely during our walk but provided some close views. The Raven were still enjoying the fringe benefits of some very organic farming methods here.

Looking across the salt marshes at low tide did provide a couple of Little Egret possibly the birds PR had seen earlier and a group of 65 lingering Pink-footed Goose must surely be thinking of heading north to the land of fire and ice very soon.

There were 9 White Wagtail on the Manchester Ship Canal tow path and No.4 tank echoed to the tunes of Willow Warber and Chiffchaff while Swallow and Sand Martin raced eagerly north.

Walking along the track between No.6 and No.3 tanks a Ring Ouzel flew out of the same elder tree as one did last year, so now I’m calling it the ouzel bush.

No.6 tank was again busy with ducks and Common Shelduck have arrived in force with 111 birds being present, some Tufted Duck and Northern Shoveler made up the rest.

I counted 7 singing Cetti’s Warbler today, so it’s firmly established itself in the Mersey and Weaver valleys.

Observers: JS & WSM.