One more visit after work where the volume of birds on No.6 tank were very much reduced and obviously due in part to the falling height of tides. A flock of c700 Black-tailed and a single Bar-tailed Godwit, 7 Ruff, 12 Common Redshank, 50 Northern Lapwing and 14 Common Snipe. Ducks were also out in force with c100 Tufted Duck, 5 drake Common Pochard, C350 Eurasian Teal, c120 Northern Shoveler, 17 Northern Pintail, and several Gadwall.
A Sparrowhawk flew across the open water and none of the waders or ducks didn’t even lift up their heads.
A quick dash down to No.6 to cover the high tide spill over on the tank. Already in situ were the best part of 2000 Black-tailed Godwit. After scrutinising through their numbers I manage to count 18 juveniles and a colour ringed bird, the latter was the same bird present here on 02.08.20. Its history is here:
YY-GH was ringed as an adult and has been recorded since at:
Also present were 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Common Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 9 Ruff, 1 Red Knot and 53 Northern Lapwing.
A good pre-roost of 70 Common Gull, c400 Black-headed Gull, 1 adult Herring and 3 juvenile/1st winter Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Ducks were again the second main feature with 267 Northern Shoveler, 18 Gadwall (a couple of drakes courting ducks), 67 Tufted Duck, 6 Common Pochard, 31 Northern Pintail, 350 Eurasian Teal. A flight of 20 Pink-footed Goose flew in from the south-east to spend the evening out on the Mersey salt marshes.
Just as the sun sank below the western sky the first of five Western Marsh Harrier came into roost and put on a fine performance.
I took a stroll along Brook Furlong Lane and around the River Weaver after work this afternoon. A mixed party of tits mostly Long-tailed Tit with several Blue and Great Tit made their way along the lane with a couple of Common Chiffchaff close by.
Looking over the Mersey Estuary with the tide already coming in and waders were numerous feeding close to the tide line. Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Red Knot and c70 Pied Avocet were noted and being watched over by a Peregrine sat on the blue topped tower. On the Weaver bank a further c250 Common Redshank and a single Red Knot foraged on the shoreline. There were decent numbers of Gadwall, Eurasian Teal and Mallard were on the water with c300 Canada Goose. A group of 5 swans, 4 Mute and a single Whooper Swan were noted on the river. The Whooper Swan parted company with the Mute’s and joined the goose herd.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-2).
An after work visit to No.6 tank is getting less available with a 19.15 sunset but this time the low cloud rolled in mid afternoon and it got dusk like when I arrived at my spot on the marsh. Immediately a flock of c2000 Black-tailed Godwit with birds peeling away from the start to roost on the estuary. Looking through their numbers revealed a single frosty summer Dunlin, 26 Red Knot (mostly juvenile birds), a single Ruff, 2 Greenshank, 10 Common Redshank, 127 Northern Lapwing, 17 Common Snipe and 8 juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit. After an hour the whole godwit flock exploed into the air to avoid an attack of an unseen predator. Those that felt safe to remain included the 2 Greenshank, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and a handful of Black-tails.
Ducks were very conspicuous with 187 Northern Shoveler, 31 Northern Pintail, c300 Eurasian Teal, 20 Mallard, 1 female and 5 drake Common Pochard and 31 Little Grebe.
Our monthly BTO WeBS count had counters scurrying along the banks of the River Mersey and some inland sites to record the autumn movements of shorebirds and wildfowl that find the estuary a vital lifeline for their journey onward or to stay here for the winter months.
The duck numbers are down on recent visits, so I stopped off at the pools at Ince marsh fields where 4 Mallard, 21 Gadwall, 5 Eurasian Teal, 7 Little Grebe, 18 Eurasian Coot, 7 Common Moorhen, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Mute Swan, 2 Northern Shoveler, but typically no sign of the recent 3 Garganey. I carried on my walk to the Holpool Gutter where 8 Gadwall, 7 Common Moorhen, 4 Mallard, 4 Eurasian Coot and a Common Kingfisher was seen speeding along the gutter.
Looking over Frodsham Score salt marsh as the tide came in and displaced numerous Little Egret and 2 Great Egret were fishing in the channels, joined by hundreds of gulls. Eurasian Curlew and Common Redshank were feeding at the water’s edge.
Onto the ‘phalarope pool’ and surprienly a juvenile Garganey was present amongst the Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall and Mallard resting or foraging on the pool. There were 3 Common Snipe and 2 Black-tailed Godwit also seen.
Over at Weston Point an adult Peregrine was sat on the blue topped chimney and another at the fertilizer plant watching across the marsh.
Dragonflies were out in force making the most of the hot weather and Barn Swallow were busy feeding up over the pig farm at Ince.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).
A build up of the high tides over the last week produced a monster 10m one today. No.6 tank was again the focus of my attention. The big flock of c2000 Black-tailed Godwit was cut short by the inconsiderate overflying one of their smoking battle of Frodsham model aircraft over the deposit tank.
Anyway, those godwits that remained tallied c500 birds and within their midst were 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 9 Ruff, 2 Common Greenshank, 3 Red Knot, 32 Common Snipre and 120 Northern Lapwing.
Ducks were mostly gathered on the eastern sector of the water and 161 Tufted Duck, c200 Northern Shoveler, c400 Eurasian Teal, 29 Northern Pintail, 14 Eurasian Wigeon, 4 Common Shelduck, 14 Gadwall and 78 Mallard. Also present were 7 Common Moorhen, 7 Eurasian Coot and 24 Little Grebe.
The mitigation area on No.3 tank included 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 45 Eurasian Wigeon, 14 Northern Shoveler and a Western Marsh Harrier.
A walk around No.6 tank and along the Manchester Ship Canal path as far as the Holpool Gutter this morning. Several hundred Canada Goose had roosted on No.6 overnight and left as the sun came up leaving c800 Black-tailed Godwit which had a few Ruff and a Curlew Sandpiper amongst them.
There were were 6 Mute Swan which passed overhead and a short while later a single Whooper Swan flew east over No.3. On the ‘phalarope pool’ where 3 Ruff, 5 Common Snipe and a single Black-tailed Godwit foraged at the edge of the pool, while Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard and Eurasian Teal gathered on the pool.
A pair of Common Sandpiper flew side by side along the ship canal and several Little Egret, 3 Great Egret and 6 Grey Heron were feeding in the tidal channels on the Frodsham Score salt marsh. A blast from a Cetti’s Warbler was heard from the bank on No.4 where Common Chiffchaff and a Lesser Whitethroat were seen in the elderberry bushes. Walking back along Lordship Lane with Barn Swallow were hawking over the recently cut fields and a Sparrowhawk was hunting the many finch flocks in the area.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-4 & 8).
I took my hike out to the west end of the marsh and after taking up position I watched the rolling tide fill the tidal channels then spread its messy mocha coloured fingers caressing the green swath of salt marsh grass.
All this wateryness produced small flocks of Dunlin, Red Knot, Grey Plover (including a smart summer plumaged bird), numerous Eurasian Oystercatcher, hundreds of Eurasian Curlew, 3 Great Egret and several Little Egret. A couple of Peregrine, and a male and a juvenile Western Marsh Harrier were keeping a check on proceedings.
A look over No.6 tank where c2200 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, 1 Red Knot and 6 Ruff. Ducks were in plentiful supply with 161 Tufted Duck, c200 Northern Shoveler, 52 Northern Pintail, 31 Eurasian Wigeon, c100 Mallard, c340 Eurasian Teal and 21 Little Grebe.
The ‘Biter’ training vessel sailed along the Mnachester Ship Canal en route to Salford Quays.
A look over No.6 tank produced 5 Ruff with a urther 3 on No.3 tank. Also present were 25 Pink-footed Goose flying over.
Observer: Mark (Whipper) Gibson
A little walk out to the ‘phalarope pool’ at the far south west corner of No.3 tank and the tew tew calla of some Common Greenshank could be heard . A chillout group of Northern Lapwing with 17 Eurasian Teal and 7 Black-tailed Godwit. A juvenile and an adult Western Marsh Harrier floated over barely disturbing the ducks on a splendid late summers evening. Groups of godwits were heading to No.6 tank from the direction of the Mersey Estuary.
A walk back and a loo over No.6 tank produced 4 Ruff, c1000 Black-tailed Godwit, c200 Northern Lapwing and the usual assortment of incoming migrant ducks.
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.