The University of (birding) Life

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James Walsh, aka The Mancunian Birder, “Associate professor of the University of Frodsham” talks about his birding experiences on Frodsham Marsh and whether we should start birding degrees and universities…

  Twenty five years ago, I had two brief encounters with two mega waders on Frodsham Marsh No.4 tank, a Least Sandpiper and an American Golden Plover. It was an amazing Autumn for waders roosting during the high-tide with thousands of Dunlin, good numbers of Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stints, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Ringed Plover and Golden Plover, and a number of birders spent many hours enthralled at the wildlife spectacle and looking for rarities amongst the flocks.

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Recalling this “Autumn of waders” with Bill Morton, Frodsham Marsh birder of long standing, I started to think about all the birding experiences I’ve had over the years on the Frodsham Marsh and the adjacent Weaver Estuary and Mersey Estuary, and, in real terms, the amount of ecological research that I have “informally” conducted in the Frodsham Marsh area. From starting the concepts of an “Eco Bird Race” and “The Big Twitch on the Big Ditch” to high levels of avian research.

  It felt like a University graduate recalling an intensive birding degree… the many hours, days, weeks, months, years spent looking at wading birds in great detail, monitoring the rise of the Avocet on-site, caring what happened to the breeding Black-winged Stilt, researching Flamingoes, Ruddy Shelduck, Ross’s Goose, Marbled Duck and Fulvous Whistling Duck, finding a Guillemot swimming along a ditch on Lordship Lane, the Woodchat Shrike, the Whinchat, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Little Egret, Spoonbill, Red-necked Grebe, Long-tailed Duck and notes on the identification of Lesser Scaup…

  Frodsham Marsh is the very essence of the “Northern Greenhouse”, a heavily industrialised site on it peripherie which nature has steaked its claimed and continues to ward off encroachment from additional industry. There is an uncertain future for wildlife as part of the currently highly undervalued Mersey Estuary SSSI.


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The youth of today can now take courses and degrees in Ecology, EcoTourism, Conservation and Ornithology. Birding is a different niche so is it time that we started to have formal birding degrees and Universities ?


Totally Tropical on the River Mersey

“Northern Greenhouse – A New Vision Of The North”

The Big Twitch on the Big Ditch

Mancunian Birder – Rare Encounters

Mancunian Birder – Virtual Birdfair Poll Results

Frodsham Marsh Eco Bird Race

Written by James Walsh.