A brief visit after work and again I was sat on the banks of No.6 tank where c2000 Black-tailed Godwit were also joined by their cousin the Bar-tailed Godwit.
A single Ruff and 11 Common Snipe shared the shallow waters with a smattering of Common Redshank and c400 Northern Lapwing. Ducks featured 41 Tufted Duck and a big reduction of Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, 213 Eurasian Tea, Mallard and singles of Common Shelduck.
A few passerines were noticable by their calls with A Cetti’s Warbler ringing out the loudest.
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.
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.
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 ?
I had a walk around the River Weaver this morning which was quiet with just a handful of ducks on the water. A flock of c200 Common Redshank and a dozen Black-tailed Godwit were resting on the bank and a single Common Sandpiper was noted. The Mersey Estuary didn’t fare much better with 8 Grey Heron and 3 Little Egret near the tidal channel where Common Shelduck were numerous alongside the Great Cormorant.
Walking back along Alder Lane and a mass exodus of godwits left No.6 tank and passed over Marsh Farm which I estimated to be c2000 birds and dropped onto the mudflats.
I stopped off at Ince on my way home and the trio of Garganey are still on the pool alongside several Gadwall, Euraian Teal, Mallard, Eurasian Coot, common Moorhen and Little Grebe, a Common Kingfisher put in an appearance and fished from a tree on the bank.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images).
I had a brief look over the Weaver Sluices where 6 Little Egret were fishing the channels and over Weston a Hobby was hunting the last few Barn Swallow. The pale white morph Common Buzzard was mewing overhead.
Out this morning making my start at Ince where 3 juvenile Garganey were on one of the pools amongst good numbers of Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Eurasian Teal, Eurasian Wigeon, one Tufted Duck and 2 Mute Swan. Five Little Egret left one of the pools and flew out to the Mersey Estuary. Several Barn Swallow were numerous hawking over the farm and pools.
More Little Egret were foraging out on Frodsham Score salt marsh and gangs of Common Raven were still feasting on the dead stock lying about the marshes. A mass of gulls could be seen on the river but too far for me to pick out any rare sea gulls amongst them.
On the ‘phalarope pool’ had Gadwall, Mallard. Tufted Duck, Eurasian Teal and Eurasian Wigeon were joined by several Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Common Snipe.
Common Chiffchaff were noted foraging in the bushes all along the walk and several Reed Buntings were along Lordship Lane, one wearing a metal ring.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-4).
While Paul was doing his thang on the western approaches I made my usual walk out to No.6 tank and after settling down it was good to scan through the wader flocks.
A count of c1800 Black-tailed Godwit (14 juveniles), a single Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Ruff, 2 Common Greenshank, 14 Common Snipe and c400 Northern Lapwing. A look over the ducks revealed a healthy supply of c250 Eurasian Teal, 46 Eurasian Wigeon, c50 Northern Pintail, c76 Northern Shoveler, numerous Mallard and small numbers of Gadwall.
A couple of Peregrine sitting on top of the blue power station chimney at Weston Point, one of them making short work of a teal it must have collected from the estuary.
I started my walk along Brook Furlong Lane today where a flock of c40 Pink-footed Goose passed overhead on their way to the Mersey Estuary. An adult and a juvenile Great Crested Grebe were side by side on the River Weaver with another 9 at the Manchester Ship Canal and Weaver Estuary junction, and a further 12 on the Weaver channel.
Also c20 Common Redshank and 8 Black-tailed Godwit were resting on the Weaver bank with a pair of Mute Swan close by.
A Hobby was sat on the fence close to Marsh Farm and several Common Raven also sat along the same fence. There were 5 European Stonechat on the pipeline on No.1 tank keeping an eye on a hunting Common Kestrel.
No.6 tank had 7 Red Knot huddled together and a Greylag Goose walking amongst them, a Common Greenshank was heard but not seen.
Another smaller skein of Pink-footed Goose flew over.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-6).
An after work visit to No.6 tank on the high tide resulted in a good selection of ducks with 41 Mallard, 21 Gadwall, c150 Northern Shoveler, c450 Eurasian Teal 21 Eurasian Wigeon and 44 Northern Pintail with numerous Little Grebe. The Black-tailed Godwit flock were agitated by somethingwhich resulted with half of the c2000 birds taking flight and exiting to the estuary. Those that stayed included just 8 juvenile birds, so no increase in their numbers.
There wasn’t much happening further to what I have already mentioned. So, I thought I would chance my luck and spy on our neighbours across the estuary, with some ‘net curtain twitching’. A juvenile Sabine’s Gull has been by the lighthouse on the #darkside for its third day, so I texted Ian (iggy) Igglesden on the off chance he was over there, and get specific details on the gulls whereabouts. During the hour I was watching towards dusk the the arctic waif remained on the river and invisible from me a mile away. I then got a call from Iggy and with superb directions from him I could see the Sabine’s Gull flying up from the river to join a melee of Black-headed Gulls following a sprayer on the stubble fields…result! I owe you a Babycham Iggy.
Observer: WSM (image of Sabine’s Gull by Steve Tomlinson).
A report came through yesterday of a (adult?) Long-tailed Skua flying west along the M56 at the marsh. Steve writes; On my way to Woolston Eyes. The skua was flying west, approx 100ft altitude, on a line parallel to the M56. It was very close to the edge of the motorway, marginally on the Frodsham Marsh side. Difficult to be precise on position as I was moving (slowly) I got a good enough view, albeit a relatively brief one, to be confident about the species id (silhouette and distinctive tail streamers were key). Did wonder if it might visit gull roost at Gowy landfill?
A visit to No.6 tank after work was pretty uneventful so after spending the hour sifting through the birds on the water and water margins I gave up and headed home. I got in conversation en route to my car with Philip and jsut then the entire flock of c500 Black-tailed Godwit rose into the air with 33 Common Snipe and 2 Ruff. The entire flocks of ducks also rose and after scouring the reed beds a Western Marsh Harrier was the subject of all this consternation.
A nice morning at the marsh there were European Stonechat along towards the Marsh Farm, but not much else.
Observer and images: Keith Gallie.
This morning a coincidence that there are 19 corvids in this photo. ( all Common Raven). Walking round No.6 tank there were loads more ravens, 37 Northern Lapwing on the ‘phalarope pool’ with 5 Ruff.
This avie Liz and I and Dexter (dog) went to Frodders walking from Marsh Lane along the track bordering No.5 and No.6 where c40 Common Raven at the double bend above trees by the pumping station. I picked out a late lone Common Swift associating with 50 Barn Swallow and a single Sand Martin. Many Eurasian Teal and Northern Shoveler on mitigation and ‘phalarope pools’.
On No.6 tank produced many ducks and Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Ruff and the same number of Common Greenshank. A Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Common Kestrel and a juvenile Western Marsh Harrier was all seen over No.3 tank.
Observer: Liz, Dexter and Mark (whipper) Gibson.
After work I made a visit to No.6 tank where 3 Greenshank, 3 Ruff, a single Green Sandpiper, c300 Northern Lapwing and c700 Black-tailed Godwit (13 juvenile birds). Ducks were again afeature of my watch with; 42 Northern Pintail, 231 Northern Shoveler, 6 Eurasian Wigeon, 41 Mallard, 14 Gadwall, 41 Tufted Duck and c500 Eurasian Teal. A Peregrine was perched on the tall blue topped chimney at Weston Point.
Earlier there was a flock of 8 Pied Avocet and 6 Little Egret on the mudflats off Widnes Warth Marsh.
I started at Ince this morning where Gadwall were the most numerous duck on the pools at Ince followed by Mallard, Eurasian Teal and a Garganey. More Gadwall were on the Manchester Ship Canal with several Tufted Duck and 2 Great Crested Grebe.
A Common Whitethroat and several Common Chiffchaff were moving along the canal path and a Common Sandpiper was on the far bank. A flock of 35 Stock Dove were flushed off Frodsham Score salt marsh by a Sparrowhawk. Shooting was taking place on the salt marsh so not a lot to be seen there today.
A few small groups of Black-tailed Godwit passed overhead on their way to the estuary after leaving No.6 tank.The ‘phalarope pool’ held c50 Northern Lapwing and a single Black-tailed Godwit with yet more Gadwall, Eurasian Teal and Mallard.
On No.6 tank there were decent numbers of Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Common Shelduck on the water with a minimum of 30 Little Grebe and 2 Common Greenshank amongst the lapwing flock. Several more Common Chiffchaff and 2 Cetti’s Warbler were noted on the bank of No.6.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-2).
It wasn’t until afternoon before I managed to take a hike along the scrambler bike infested lanes of the marsh. A walk along Alder Lane to Marsh Farm produced an adult Eurasian Hobby dragonfly catching over the farm buildings, then later found sitting on a fence post munching a European Goldfinch. A European Golden Plover could be heard high overhead and the rising tide flushed out the Eurasian Curlew from their muddy home.
We continued our walk back along Brook Furlong Lane, then along Moorditch Lane to the ‘phalarope pool’ where a dozen Northern Shoveler, 21 Eurasian Teal, several Gadwall and 7 juvenile Black-tailed Godwit. No.6 tank looked impressive with c2000 Black-tailed Godwit, c200 Northern Lapwing, 3 Ruff, 4 Red (not red) Knot, 3 Common Greenshank. Ducks were out in good numbers and fresh arrivals included; 19 Northern Pintail, 9 Eurasian Wigeon with an increase of Northern Shoveler to c230, 31 Tufted Duck, c300 Eurasian Teal and 45 Mallard.
Another 2 Eurasian Hobby were on No.5 tank (observer Gary Powell).
I started my birding along Brook Furlong Lane this morning where a Cetti’s Warbler was heard and a couple of Common Chiffchaff followed a party of Long-tailed Tit through the bushes.
Onward to the River Weaver where 5 Mute Swan, c150 Common Redshank, c20 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Common Sandpiper and c60 Northern Lapwing were at the river’s edge. Not a great deal on the river with regard to ducks with just c40 Tufted Duck, a few Mallard, Gadwall and Eurasian Teal, plus c60 Eurasian Coot and 4 Great Crested Grebe. A small flock of c20 Dunlin which flew down river and over to the Mersey Estuary to join the Black-tailed Godwit and Eurasian Curlew foraging at the edge of the tidal channel.
A single Eurasian Hobby sat on a fence post near to Marsh Farm and a Common Buzzard crossed the Manchester Ship Canal flushing the waders along the Weaver Estuary. There were 2 Northern Wheatear noted on No.3 tank and a pack of Common Raven scavenged on a sheep carcass.
Looking over to No.6 tank and c450 Black-tailed Godwit were gathered in the shallow water with 3 Common Greenshank amongst them. The godwit flock was flushed by a young Peregrine who put in repeated strikes at the flock without any luck. The falcon turned its attention to the ducks on the water and tried to take a Mallard from the surface but failed again. The other wildfowl didn’t seem to disturbed by the falcons presence and it left hungry but wiser.
There were 3 Ruff amongst the c50 Northern Lapwing and c30 Gadwall were on the ‘phalarope pool’.
Barn Swallow were hawking over the recently cut grass on Lordship Marsh and a flock of c80 Canada Goose fed on the stubble fields.