The South Mersey Marshes (Mount Manisty) by Shaun Hickey.

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South Mersey Mersey Marshes – Mount Manisty

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A small group of bird watchers are lucky enough to have access to the South Mersey Marshes once a month to carry out a BTO Wetland Bird Survey. We have three areas to cover which include; Mount Manisty, the Point and Ince/Frodsham Marshes.

When a BTO WeBs counter is issued an area on the Mersey Marshes to count birds then it would be advisable to have a pair of decent wellies, because you will return across a marsh that has just been covered with the tide and is very, very wet. During the summer months the area of the marsh is waist high in vegetation so that can add to difficult walking conditions. Today I have been issued the task of counting the wildfowl and waders at this Mount Manisty.

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The other sites within the vicinity is Stanlow Point. This area is a sandstone outcrop on Stanlow Island and is part of the sandstone ridge that extends south-east to Whitchurch.

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The counters day begins 3-4 hours before high tide and we all meet at the oil refinery to be checked in with site security. From here we head to another part of the site to receive a visitor pass and another security check. We park our vehicles and get ready for the day ahead.

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An oil refinery mini bus takes us to the small ferry where we cross the Manchester Ship Canal and onto the Mersey Marshes. This part of the refinery is very much in use with oil tankers bringing crude oil in and other tankers taking the finished products out and beyond to the outside world. Once across the ship canal we pass through a locked gate and onto Stanlow Island. A small walk takes us passed some disused building and down to the area where the River Gowy enters the Mersey Estuary after syphoning under the Manchester Ship Canal we have just passed over.

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We usually approach the river where the Gowy enters a deep tidal channel and it is from this point we get to see what birds are feeding on the exposed mud. The usual species are Eurasian Teal with Common Redshank, Common Shelduck and Mallard. The Eurasian Teal can be in their 1000’s during the winter months and to see them take to air in one huge flock is truly magical. After an initial briefing we head off in our various directions to cover the estuary. For me it’s a six mile round trip to Mount Manisty and Manisty Bay and to give you some perpesptive for people who are not familiar with this area, then the site is alongside the Manchester Ship Canal at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire and directly opposite from Liverpool Airport across the mile wide river.

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We head around Stanlow Point where we are greeted with a huge expanse of exposed mudflats at low tide. Out on the mudflats the birds are well spread out feeding away, there are Dunlin, Red Knot, Grey Plover, Eurasian Teal, Eurasian Curlew and Common Redshank being the main species. Overhead a few hundred Northern Lapwing are fluttering about looking for a safe area to settle. There’s quite a few Canada Goose along the marsh edges with a few more wallowing in the mud out on the estuary. Good numbers of gulls are present with Great Black-backed Gull standing out from the crowd. I say my farewells to Ian Coote and Ruth who are staying at the ‘Point’ and I head off across the saltmarsh with Mount Manisty far off in the distance.

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A couple of Grey Wagtail are a good start to the day on the high tide mark right behind the ‘Point’. The first area that I pass is a rather large flash of water tucked away in the corner of Manisty Bay against the ship canal bank. I often look at this place and think maybe it was once used as a type of duck decoy pond? There’s a Great Egret patrolling the far bank with a dozen Little Egret keeping guard and always on the lookout. A small group of Common Redshank see me and take flight and circle around before heading over the high banks towards the ship canal. As I walk around the right hand side of the flash I flush 2 Water Rail from the long grass plus a few Common Snipe. There are more egrets scattered over the marsh towards the rivers edge with a total of 22 being noted.

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I hug the canal bank to my left approaching the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum on the opposite side of the canal. There’s a metal gantry perched on steel sheet piles that keep the ship canal separate from the marsh from here I gain access on top of the gantry to see what’s on the canal and have a good look over Manisty Bay. There are reasonable numbers of Black-headed Gull here with a solitary Great Crested Grebe alongside a fishing Great Cormorant and more Mallard boosting their numbers.

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Back down on the marsh the walk continues. Most of the waders and ducks are out on the river, or in the long vegetation out of sight from me. I can hear Eurasian Curlew and Common Redshank with the odd whistle of Wigeon.

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A Fox is keeping its eyes on me occasionally standing on its hind legs to gain a bit of height over the long grass.

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A female Marsh Harrier is patrolling the edge of the marsh disturbing everything it approaches. I in turn push Chaffinch, Linnet and European Goldfinch flocks all along the canal bank always keeping a good distance away. The numbers of Wren that I’m flushing out is unreal, and really I should have kept a count, but an estimate of 70 is a conservative one.

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Along the lower bank of the ship canal is a row of timber posts that must have been used to carry a pipe line in years gone by. These posts provide great plucking stumps for the local raptors. I always like to have a look for pellets and slowly rip them apart to see what’s been on the menu (I guess Chris Packham would love it here)

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I approach a large gully on my right hand side it’s roughly 3m-4m deep. I’ve attached two images, one at low tide and another at high tide.

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This gulley was once a main channel to Ellesmere Port docks before the ship canal was built and cut it off. Along the route of the gully is an old wooden tripod that was once a lamp post when the waterway was used for shipping. These posts are also another great plucking post for raptors.

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The hollowed out timbers are a raptor catchment base with pellets, lots of seeds and shells from the crops of the dead birds.

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A quick glance over my shoulder and a large Common Buzzard is having a tussle with another raptor that I first take to be a Marsh Harrier, which I spotted a short while earlier. Not entirely convincing myself about its idenity.  I untangle my binocular strap that had wrapped around my camera strap and then both birds disappeared behind the canal bank out of sight, I continue onwards…

… and westbound, the ‘mount’ is very much in touching distance now and I approach the it to my left with a huge reed bed that I have to navigate first. A large mixed flock of finches were feeding on the floor, mostly Chaffinch, Linnet and European Goldfinch with a few Greenfinch, 4 Common Bullfinch with both Blue and Great Tit in good numbers too. Reed Bunting were everywhere and two more Water Rail are flushed with one calling as it flew into the reeds. At that momont I receive a text from Ian Coote who was at the ‘Point’, he stated he had seen a large hawk with the possibility it was a Northern Goshawk which had flown over him and his fellow counter earlier and had put up all of the egrets, but more importantly it was now heading towards me! This got me thinking about the buzzard/harrier tussle I had seen earlier…was it/wasn’t it? The last bird you would expect to see hunting the marsh would be a Goshawk.

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Mount Manisty is man made mound of rubble and spoil from the evcavation of the Manchester Ship Canal 125 years ago this year. Archive photographs show the ‘Mount Manisty’ without a single tree on it. Today, the ‘Mount’ is completely covered in trees and bracken. I have battled my way to the top over many counts and years, but not today. On top of the ‘Mount’ is a trig point that was built by the Ordnance Survey when they mapped the UK in the 1930’s. There’s also another trig point at Stanlow Point.

As I walk along the bottom of the ‘Mount’ this is the first time I can see the water’s edge up close. A flock of Red Knot and Grey Plover are feeding with Common Redshank and good numbers of Eurasian Teal which are dotted about. Right around the corner is a small beach where Rivacre Brook syphons under the canal before discharging into the River Mersey. It’s strange to think that the small brook at the end of the road where I live ends its course at this point. There are some old workings which have been left next to the syphon head and they look like some kind of sluice gate?

A wintering Common Sandpiper is bob-bobbing about with a few more Grey Wagtail along the waterline. More Common Shelduck are out on the river with good numbers of Eurasian Curlew being spotted on the river’s edge towards Eastham Locks.

With high tide an hour or so away I start to head back as I don’t want to be cut off by the tide and then have to wait for it to to recede, or battle my way through trees and bracken instead.

More Eurasian Teal and Common Redshank are noted being pushed up river by the ever approaching tide. This end of the ‘Mount’ is quite square in shape and as I turn the first corner there are two Carrion Crow mobbing a bird at ground level. At first I though it was a Sparrowhawk, but when it takes flight right towards me less than 30m away it gains a bit more height and is most definitely the Goshawk which I and Ian et al had seen earlier. A dark heavily streaked individual bird and presumably a juvenile. It flew right through the trees and disappeared in a flash. I was very happy with that one as I’ve only ever seen them at a distance before and definately a Mersey Marsh tick!

Back around the reed bed I just beat the tide and I head to one of my vantage points on the elevated canal bank. From this spot I can see where the large gully enters the Mersey Estuary. The tide has now filled the gully and covered the edge of the marsh. Wigeon, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Teal , Eurasian Curlew, Common Shelduck and lots of Common Redshank are counted. A large group of Great Cormorant are watching the tide come and go as they stretch their wings out. I had forgotten about the looming clouds that are approaching from the south and the rain begins to fall. I wrap up and head back towards the ‘Point’ with my hood up and head down. A few Stonechat and Common Snipe are added to today’s list and a few more Common Buzzard as well.

A Sparrowhawk was keeping the finch flocks on edge alongside the canal bank and another raptor is patrolling the marsh, this time a fine Peregrine. I take cover against the canal bank to watch the hunt between predator and prey unfold like I’ve done many times before. I’m always amazed at the speed of birds of prey and the area they cover in such a short time. It veers to my right over the canal bank out of sight. It then turns up on my left 100m away heading towards the river. Eurasian Teal, Common Redshank and Eurasian Curlew all fill the air, but it completely ignores them heading straight towards a flock of Wood Pigeon. They typically panic, but the falcon hurtles straight through them heading out over the estuary towards the Dunlin flocks that are flying over the river. The Peregrine makes a stab right into them but with the poor visibility I loose sight of the bird and don’t see it again. More Common Snipe are flushed on my way back across the recently flooded marsh with me almost standing on one.

By the time I arrive at the ‘Point’ the rain has settled in for the duration, the sight of 35,000 Dunlin landing on the recently exposed sand banks spread out as far as you can see, they are joined by Grey Plover, Red Knot, Common Redshank, Oystercatcher, gulls and geese. A superb spectacle to witness and such a privileged to have all this wonderful wildlife on our doorstep. I eventually meet up with Ian and we trudge back towards the ferry chatting and enthusing about the Goshawk and how well Liverpool FC are doing in the Priemership and how poor Chelsea (Ina’s team) are.

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WeBs is co-ordinated by the British Trust for Ornithology and they are always looking for extra counters to join us at this amazing place. If you would like to experience just some of the Mersey magic come and join us. There’s a Comments box at bottom of page. Please let us know if you are interested or simply spare a comment on how you liked this article.

A huge thank you to my friend Ady McCabe for his amazing aerial photos of the Mount Manisty area from on high.

Written and illustrated by Shaun Hickey.

The South Mersey Marshes (Part 1) by Shaun Hickey

https://frodshammarshbirdblog.wordpress.com/2019/11/28/the-south-mersey-marshes-by-shaun-hickey/

Additional articles covering this area are here:

Round the Back pt 1 by WSM

https://frodshammarshbirdblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/08/round-the-back/

Round the Back pt 2 by WSM

https://frodshammarshbirdblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/round-the-back-part-2/

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.

08.05.16. Birdlog (WeBS Count)

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Out this morning from Ince Berth along the Manchester Ship Canal and around No.6 tank. The ship canal held Mute Swan, Common Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard and Tufted Duck. The canal path was alive with Whitethroat, Blackcap, Goldfinch, Sedge and Reed Warbler all competing for territory.  On the small compound by the Holpool Gutter a female Yellow Wagtail sat and a male flew overhead.

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On the mitigation pools on No.3 tank were 4 Avocet several Redshank and Lapwing feeding while a Black-headed Gull sat on a nest. On No.6 its self were a couple of hundred Black-tailed Godwit which were resting and even more feeding in the shallows. A party of Mute Swan contained unfortunatelya  dead bird in the water. A single Avocet  was also noted. Along Lordship Lane there were lots of Reed and Sedge warbler with Reed Bunting in good numbers. A single Grasshopper Warbler was heard while overhead a Peregrine passed by heading towards Frodsham town. Back on the canal path a Fox was seen with a young Rabbit clapped in its jaws. A Cetti’s Warbler  was heard in a secluded reed bed.

Observer: Paul Ralston (all images).

WeBS Count by Don Weedon

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he high tide was another monster one out on the river and again totally flooding the salt marshes and leaving little room for shorebirds to settle.

The counts from No.6 tank included: 11 Mute Swan, 2 Canada Goose, 83 Common Shelduck, 73 Gadwall. 58 Mallard, 6 Common Teal, 77 Tufted Duck, 10 Lapwing, 300 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Ruff, 6 Avocet, 5 Redshank, 60 Dunlin, 5 Whimbrel, 7 Ringed Plover, 3 Grey Heron.

No.3 tank count: 2 Mute Swan, 39 Canada Goose, 4 Greylag Goose, 7 Common Shelduck, 3 Mallard, 1 Common Teal, 4 Gadwall, 14 Lapwing, 5 Avocet and 3 Whimbrel.

Round the Back (Part 2)

10.04.16. Sheep skulls on Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (5)

10.04.16. Ferry terminal to Frodsham Score. Bill MortonSometime ago I wrote a blog post (Round the Back Part 1) about a visit I made in my youth to Frodsham Score and Mount Manisty with Halton RSPB members group. At the end of article I mentioned that I would love to make a return visit and last Sunday (10.04.16) my wish came true. 10.04.16. Redshank in the Gowy Gutter. Bill Morton (4)

10.04.16. Redshank in the Gowy Gutter. Bill Morton (2)We arrived (that is Sparky my partner and me) at Stanlow oil refinery in a cold easterly breeze to join a group of 7 other http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/webs volunteers for the monthly wader and wildfowl count on and off the vast southern Mersey marshes. After the compulsory security check we were ferried by minibus to the terminal and then ferried (literally) across the Manchester Ship Canal to the ‘no man’s land’ that is the salt marsh border edge of the River Mersey. There were high metal security fences, locked gates and derelict buildings which once housed a police station and the works of a time gone by … and not a little unlike what I imagined a cold war Russian Gulag prison camp would look like.

02.05.15. Wheatear, Weaver Bend, Frodsham MarshWe were split into groups and Sparky and myself were joined by Brian Tollitt and our chaperone for the duration Dermot Smith. After negotiating the wader infested shiny River Gowy as it squeezed under the ship canal to broaden out into a proud beast of a gutter complete with dozens of noisy Redshank we edged our way single file along the bramble covered banks to reach a path sandwiched between the canal and the short-cropped damp salt marsh to our left. I know it may sound a bit childish but I had a fizz of excitement deep down in my heart for the realisation that I was walking out to the forbidden land of Frodsham Score. As we walked along I was conscious of keeping Sparky (a non birder) company but taking in the atmosphere all around me which was hugely distracting.

10.04.16. Badger prints on Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (2)

A male Wheatear popped up on the edge of the marsh, we startled a Fox as it  crossed the path ahead and Badger prints pressed into the soft ground were an indication of other wildlife here.

10.04.16. Oystercatchers, astham. Shaun Hickey (3)Shortly after, it or another Fox appeared out on the marsh nonchalantly passing a few Shelduck in a tidal pool and further out two Whooper Swans looked regal against a backdrop of Hale lighthouse and the pale green shimmering heat hazed bridge that crosses the river from Widnes to Runcorn.

10.04.16. Whooper Swans and views on Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (10)All around were signs of industry from the huge works of Ineos Chlor to the east, Stanlow disappearing slowly behind and the majestic Liverpool skyline to the north-west. We were walking along the edge of Ince Marsh, ignoring the ammonia wafting in from the pig farm and the smell of burning plastic that hung in the air and for just one moment I was lost in the green wilderness.

Despite these minor distractions we eventually stopped for lunch and Sparky brought out a small bottle of white wine to aid the creative juices which as it happened came in handy with the numerous bleached white sheep skulls illuminating the tide line kerb edge on the marsh hike and my creation (see top photograph).

10.04.16. Golden Plover on Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (2)

10.04.16. Tree on Frodsham Score. Bill MortonIt beggars belief how many sheep succumb to the highest tides at night but it’s a frightening place for the uninitiated, never mind sheep that only think the grass is greener on the edge bordering the river. A small covey of partial summer plumaged Golden Plover were hunkered down in a small channel to avoid the freshening cold wind while we scoffed our dinner. We had a little time to kill whilst the farmer tended to herding his flock to areas of safety close to the ship canal before we continued our walk out to the raised banks in the distance. 10.04.16. Cow bones on Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (1)

10.04.16. Building on Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (1)We left Brian behind to count and photograph the birds which were coming closer in with the tide. There was an amusing sight tinged with a little bizzareness when a scene from a spaghetti western reared its ugly head. A desiccated cow complete with its weathered hide and one horned skull looked up at us from the outside of the wildfowlers retreat bringing a smirk to my face.

 10.04.16. Sheep skulls on Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (2)

 

Perhaps the most testing time of the day was negotiating the gathered sheep on the banks of the revetment wall. We gingerly inched our way giving the sheep a wide berth but this meant having to venture out onto the gelatinous salt marsh mud with the partially submerged arched sheep vertebrae and hideous skulls poking out. It was reminiscent of a scene from the film the Lord of the Rings where Gollom leads Frodo and Sam through the dead marshes. 10.04.16. Small gutters on Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (1)

10.04.16. Barnacle Geese over Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (6)We did eventually find an area of terra firma from where we climbed up the embankment to watch the swelling river. Although it was an impressive mega tide it wasn’t particularly brilliant for bird numbers and most of the good stuff had decamped over on my usual WeBS count pitch looking over No.3 and 6 tanks further to the south-east on Frodsham Marsh proper. 10.04.16. Pink-footed Geese over Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (10)

10.04.16. Ravens over Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (1)The avian highlights of the day involved an impressive flock of 75 Raven disturbed from the edge of the score followed by a roving gaggle of 34 Pink-footed and 6 Barnacle circling the Mersey basin looking for a suitable dry area to settle during the tide. Dermot went off to count some Oystercatchers a little further away and I continued my count while Sparky watched the mini tsunami pour force across the marsh twisting, doubling back and seeping forth into all the channels before eventually the whole of the marsh was covered.

10.04.16. The Royal Iris sails to Eastham Locks past Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (5)

10.04.16. The Royal Iris sails to Eastham Locks past Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (1)The blue skies and brisk weather all highlighted what a wonderful area on the banks of the River Mersey we share with all those birds and wildlife. When Dermot got back to us to us he said he’d had a brief view of a Seal but it didn’t reappear. As the tide resided we gathered for the walk back and to join up with Brian at the shooters hut. Just then the ship canal cruise boat Royal Iris sailed by heading to Eastham Lock from Salford Quays.

10.04.16. Views from Frodsham Score. Bill Morton (2)

There were more Wheatears encountered with a White Wagtail a first for the summer. A couple of Little Ringed Plover and a Common Sandpiper were also new in.

10.04.16. High tide Oystercatchers at Eastham. Shaun Hickey (1)As we approached the River Gowy gutter small flocks of Redshank were waiting the tide out on the banks with a gathering of brick-red Black-tailed Godwit bunched closely. Another Fox was spotted before we met the other counters who had emerged from the west of the marshes. As we gathered at the wire fences and disused building to gain access to the ferry terminus, it was time for me to reflect on a brilliant day spent out on the banks of the south Mersey marshes and the 8 mile walk didn’t even register on the legs. A final crossing of the ship canal by the ferry man brought us back to the mainland and after a combined count up of the sightings we ended a really great day out on the edge of the river.

10.04.16. Black-tailed Godwits, Gowy Gutter. Bill Morton (2)

If you are interested in getting involved and feel you can contribute some of your time to a worthwhile project with future counts on the River Mersey check this facebook page out for more information: Mersey Estuary WeBS

Written by WSM (images 1-4 & 6-7 & 9-22 & 24).

Images 5 & 8 & 23 by Shaun Hickey.

Thanks to Dermot Smith and Brian Tollitt for their time and company on the day. A big thanks to Shaun Hickey a fellow Mersey marshophile for kick starting part 1.

14.06.15. WeBS Count

14.06.15. WeBS Count

14.06.15. feamle Marsh Harrier, No.4 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde

It was a cold and murky morning for the WeBS, but the birds didn’t disappoint.
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We headed to No.6 tank and the mitigation area on No.3 tank via Lordship Lane where hundreds of Swifts were feeding mixed in with good numbers of House Martin and a handful of Swallow.  There was a fine jet of water spraying out of the grass and covering the road on the approach to the fork in the road just before No.6 which was a bit odd. We couldn’t quite work out where it was coming from, but it was coming out with quite some force (car windows up job).
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14.06.15. singing Skylark, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde
All along Lordship Lane we could hear Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting.  Small flocks of Goldfinch and Linnet were flitting from tree to tree and Magpies were looking on rather snooterly.
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14.06.15. Black-tailed Godwits and Ruff, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde (1)
A female Marsh Harrier was perched in a tree in the far distance across No.4 tank, but it gave a great opportunity to zoom in with the scope and study her properly.  There was also a flyby on No.4 tank from a male and female Cuckoo (is this quite late or not). A Dunnock in the gloom took a bit of ID-ing and I’d be too embarrassed to mention some of the IDs we came up with before a glimmer of sunlight revealed him! A Kestrel was seen heading back towards Frodsham Hill carrying prey, and then shortly after heading back out to the score to hunt again. We saw this repeated several times throughout the morning.
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14.06.15.  Chiffchaff, Frodsham Marsh
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The Splashing Pool held Tufties, Coot families and a Little Grebe, and 2 Jays flew across the pool and landed in one of the shrubs.
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No.3 tank was very quiet with just a few Shelduck, Canada Geese and Coot, but it also held 5 Dunlin, 8 Black-tailed Godwit and a very busy Meadow Pipit.
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No.6 tank held the treasures of the day. There were a flock of over 100 Black-tailed Godwit happily feeding until the male Marsh Harrier did the slowest, closest flyby we’ve ever seen. I think we could have reached out and touched him – way too close for the big lens anyway. Well, all hell broke loose as everything took to the sky. The Godwits scattered and it was then that we could see a stranger flying with them. They resettled in 2 groups, with one bird dropping back down in between them; a stunning Ruff in full summer plumage.
14.06.15.  female Gadwall and ducklings, Frodsham Marsh
Highlight of the day. He was splendid. The photos are just record shots as he was way out across the tank in the gloom, but absolutely stunning through the scope. I’m afraid everyone walking past was made to look at him.  4 Avocet were feeding on the far side of No.6 tank and wildfowl included 2 Pochard, 4 Teal and 3 Wigeon. 3 Ringed Plover were feeding in the middle of No.6 and a Little Grebe was on the main body of water.
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Not a bad morning at all.
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Elsewhere across the marsh: 1 female Marsh Harrier
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 Observers: Heather (images 1-3), Nigel & Findlay Wilde.
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14.06.15.  Bar-tailed Godwit, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh
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Also note on the mitigation of No.3 tank was a Bar-tailed Godwit with 20 Black-tailed Godwit and the black ruffed Ruff.
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14.06.15.  male Ruff, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh
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The 2 Black Swan were on the Weaver estuary with 38 Mute Swan, 8 Great Crested Grebe and a drake Pochard with the Tufted Duck. One Avocet and a Little Ringed Plover were on the Weaver Bend. In the area were also a singing Willow Warbler, 3 Greenfinch and a Mistle Thrush.
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Observer: Alyn Chambers (images 4-7).

19.04.15. Birdlog

19.04.15. Birdlog (WeBS Count)
19.04.15. Golden Plovers, Curlew et al, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Heather Wilde
It was total gridlock on the marsh this morning. A group from RSPB Southport were doing the circuit (and had spotted 3 Wheatear which we never saw), as well as numerous ramblers, dog walkers and birders.  The banks were alive with birdsong; Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler and a Reed Warbler all competing with each other and a Skylark climbing high trilling above them all.
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23.04.15. male Marsh Harrier, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Heather WildeThe mitigation tank held 2 stunning male Shoveler, Coots, Mallards, Teal, Shelduck, Oystercatchers and a Whimbrel (which later flew on to No.6 Tank).
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The male Marsh Harrier was quartering No.6 tank and then flew off towards the Weaver Bend straight over our heads! 6 Buzzard were riding the thermals high over the chimneys on the Helsby side, as small flocks of birds started to fly in escaping the high tide.
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19.04.15. Golden Plovers, No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome
No.6 tank held the main even though today with 74 Black-tailed Godwit, 16 Ringed Plover, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 8 Golden Plover, 9 Dunlin, 67 Teal, 35 Tufted Duck, 5 Redshank, 2 Greylag Geese, 1 Snipe and a nesting Grey Heron pair. Also present were Mute Swans, Shelduck, Cormorants, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Canada Geese and Mallards.
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A flock of about 50 Curlew circled the tank but didn’t settle. There was also a Yellow Wagtail feeding on the mud at the waters edge on the tank.  About 50 Swallows, 2 House Martins and 2 Sand Martins were feeding over the water.
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Observers: Findlay and Heather Wilde (images 1-2).
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19.04.15. Oystercatcher pair, Pumping Station, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome
Some additional and some overlapping sightings involved:
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A very cold day but a few bits and pieces. Heather got some nice pictures including the male Marsh Harrier over No.6 tank. I saw the f/imm bird over No.4 onto 6.
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Frodsham Score had 30+ Raven and 4 Buzzard. The Whimbrel on No.6 tank flew over me towards there whilst I was on No.3 tank. 23 Oystercatcher on the Score plus a pair at the Pumping Station.
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11 Sand Martin and 2 Swallow on a fence opposite the Pumping Station. 10+ Swallow south over No.6 tank.
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1 Common Snipe at the Canal Pools. Also a male Wigeon on the Score.
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Out of the 74 (Heather’s count) Black-tailed Godwit on No.6 tank, two were colour-ringed. I couldn’t make out one of them, but the other was pale green over black above knee left leg, blue over red above knee right leg.
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Observer: Tony Broome (images 3-4)

24.01.15. Birdlog (WeBS Count)

24.01.15. Birdlog 

24.01.15. Marsh Harrier, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Heather/Findlay Wilde.

Setting the scene on the incoming tide was a pair of Great White Egret tiptoeing their way along the tide line with Little Egret in a supporting role. A female Merlin was again poised and set for the enviable passerine glut.

3000 Golden Plover, 8000 Lapwing, 200 Grey Plover, 100 Knot, 10000 Dunlin, 50 Oystercatcher and typically for this time of year 3 scarce Bar-tailed Godwit for the marsh.

Observer: Frank Duff.

(WeBS Count)

24.01.15. GBB Gull and Raven feeding off sheep carcass, Frodsham Marsh. Heather/Findlay Wilde.

24.01.15. Male and female Shoveler, Frodsham Marsh. Heather/Findlay Wilde.

A really refreshing afternoon at the marsh. We parked up at the same time as Frank who was heading off to the score for high tide. No.6 tank stayed surprisingly quiet considering it was a big high tide. Maybe the large amount of shooters were putting the birds off. Anyway, the numbers for the count were: 100 Dunlin, 1 Curlew, 300 Grey Plover, 300 Golden Plover, 10 Redshank, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 100 Lapwing, 6 Common Gull, 3 Great Black-backed Gull, 8 Black-headed Gull, 7 Herring Gull, 7 Shoveler, 3 Cormorant, 3 Tufted Duck, 30 Common Teal, 40 Mallard, 4 Wigeon, 2 Common Shelduck, 3 Grey Heron and a solitary Moorhen .

24.01.15. Male Stonechat, Frodsham Marsh. Heather/Findlay Wilde.

Other birds spotted throughout the day included a Marsh Harrier hunting for most of the afternoon across the No.6 tank reeds. A very pale phase Common Buzzard spent over an hour sitting in the grass on No.5 tank, a Sparrowhawk did a flyby and a Kestrel was hunting over the new wetland area on No.3 tank. A large flock of Linnet flew by and settled in a tree alongside us for a while. A flock of at least 50 Pied Wagtail were feeding on the mud at the edge of the water on No.6 tank. Redwing and Fieldfare were plentiful and the Starlings were starting to group as were packed up for the day.

24.01.15. Female Stonechat, Frodsham Marsh. Heather/Findlay Wilde.
A pair of Great Black-backed Gulls were feasting on the sheep carcass along with several Ravens. On the way out we stopped to watch a pair of Stonechat sitting up high in the reeds at the edge of No.5 tank.

Thanks to: Nigel, Heather (and images), Findlay and Harley Wilde aka the Wilde Bunch for covering the WeBS count for me.

24.08.14. Birdlog

24.08.14. Birdlog

24.08.14. Sand Martin, Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome.

A ‘trektellen’ count between 07.19 – 09.20hrs at Marsh Farm was without any obvious movement. Lots of hirundines and Swifts fed over the fields. 700 Swallows, 100 House Martin, 400 Sand Martins and 100 Swifts.

24.08.14. Sand Martin, Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome.Yellow Wagtails totalled ten birds, there was a single Grey Wagtail, 4 Pied Wagtails and a pristine juvenile White Wagtail that sat on the fence next to me but flew before any photos could be taken. Meadow Pipits were more obvious than of late with 10 birds feeding around and about, a feeding flock of 600 Starlings flew west and a female House Sparrow sat on top of the hay stack.

24.08.14. Robin, Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome.
A count on the high track between No.6 and No.4 tanks between 10.00-15.00 hrs produced a south-westerly movement of Common Buzzard which totalled 16 plus one flock of 8 which I took to be local birds. A lone Greenshank overflew calling several times, there were six Kestrels around at any one time and a big juvenile Peregrine skimmed my position and looked at me as it went past!

24.08.14. No.4 & 6 tanks, , Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome.

Passerines included two juvenile Whitethroats and a juvenile Reed Warbler, which, along with 7 Chiffchaffs, a Wren, a Chaffinch, a Blackcap and a Great Tit, all fed in one Elderberry bush.

Observer and images: Tony Broome.

The high water brought in 3 Little Stint to No.6 tank (Frank Duff).

23.08.14. Birdlog

23.08.14. Birdlog

23.08.14. Ship from Marsh Farm. Tony Broome

There’s always something to see at Frodsham Marsh and if the birding is a little slack then there’s the big ships that sail through the marsh via the Manchester Ship Canal which will hold your interest before the birding picks up.

23.08.14. Marsh Farm. Tony Broome

The large haystack at Marsh Farm is a great wind barrier and often attracts migrating birds to shelter from the rain and wind. It was early doors and a ‘trektellen’ count from and over the farm started at 09.50-10.30 hrs: A flock ahead of heavy rain featured 800 Swallows, 300 Sand Martins, 50 House Martin, 50 Swift, a solitary Yellow Wagtail and 23 Lapwing heading south-west.

23.08.14. Spotted Redshank and Greenshanks, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

23.08.14. Spotted Redshank , No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

No.6 tank from 10.40-14.00 hrs: A male Marsh Harrier was perched on the grassy field of No.5 and then a little later over No.6.tank. Also noted were 30 Black-headed Gull, 12 Common Gull (with 56 there at 16.50hrs). An adult moulting Mediterranean Gull flew off high to the south at 11.24 hrs. Note: Green ring on left leg below knee, metal ring on right leg above knee. It is possible this bird is from Hamburg, Germany where this colour combination occurs but obviously without the letter or number code it would be difficult for curtain?  

23.08.14. Juvenile Little Stint, No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh.  Tony Broome

Also present were 24 Redshank, 300 Dunlin, 150 Ringed Plover, 9 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Little Stint,  2 Greenshank, 1 Turnstone, a juvenile Spotted Redshank, 12 Lapwing, a Common Buzzard and a juvenile Peregrine. Finally here a count of 40 Pied Wagtail.

23.08.14. No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh.  Tony Broome

Nearby No.4 tank had 4 Common Buzzard, 2 juvenile Willow Warbler in fresh green and primrose yellow plumage, 13 Chiffchaffs, 20 Long-tailed Tit and 6 Ravens.

23.08.14. Marsh Farm track in the rain, Frodsham Marsh.  Tony Broome

The Splashing Pool still had a pair of Little Grebe plus with a small chick. The secluded pool on No. 6 also had a Little Grebe pair with a bigger sized chick.

Observers: Tony Broome (and images), Frank Duff.

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Sacré bleu!

It took a while for this little critter to emerge from the wood (so to speak) hence the post title,  Sacré bleu being a French curse!

14.08.14. Colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Extracts of an email from Jenny Gill who co-ordinates sightings of colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits. This one is from No.6 tank on 14.08.14.

We’ve had quite a bit of discussion about this sighting and we are now pretty sure that the flag on this one must be Orange (thanks to Pete for finding a photo to confirm that ON-YRf has smaller rings and the Rf is indeed on the right leg, as it should be). The flag is therefore likely to be a stained orange, which is a bird ringed in France.

Thanks to everyone for detective work on this one!

Previous locations of this bird are as from details listed below and include: date & time of observation, country and location, observer, latitude/longitude, habitat and where available flock size.

26/01/2009 NA FR PORT-DES-BARQUES monportail nord Pichard, A 45,930 -1,070 NA NA NA

10/04/2009 NA NL OUDERKERK-SUR-L’AMSTEL landje van Geijsel Van Grieken, G 52,280 4,920 NA NA NA

10/01/2010 NA FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Leuchtmann, M & Blanc, JF 45,950 -1,070 NA NA NA

17/01/2010 NA FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Leutchmann, M & Blanc, J-F 45,950 -1,070 NA NA NA

13/02/2010 NA FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente NA 45,950 -1,070 NA NA NA

19/07/2010 8:00 FR MOEZE le mornay Jomat, L 45,880 -1,080 NA NA 100

22/07/2010 NA FR MOEZE reserve naturelle Lelong, V & Loriol, A 45,880 -1,080 lagune NA 370

28/07/2010 NA FR MOEZE reserve naturelle Jomat, L 45,880 -1,080 lagune reposoir 120

05/09/2010 16:00 FR MOEZE reserve naturelle Lelong, V & Cuvier, Z 45,880 -1,080 lagune reposoir 2100

06/09/2010 16:00 FR MOEZE reserve naturelle Aubry, P & Parisien, A 45,880 -1,080 lagune reposoir 2000

12/09/2010 NA FR MOEZE reserve naturelle Lelong, V 45,880 -1,080 lagune reposoir 600

16/12/2010 15:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Rousseau, P 45,950 -1,070 vasière reposoir 3000

17/12/2010 13:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière NA 3000

11/08/2011 19:00 FR MOEZE reserve naturelle lelong, V 45,880 -1,080 lagune reposoir 3000

07/09/2011 13:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 1130

08/09/2011 13:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 400

15/09/2011 8:00 FR YVES reserve naturelle Lelong, V 46,040 -1,060 lagune reposoir 2500

07/10/2011 12:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 2800

08/10/2011 12:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 3000

09/10/2011 13:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation NA

13/10/2011 17:00 FR YVES reserve naturelle Babin, G 46,040 -1,060 lagune reposoir 4600

20/10/2011 13:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Rousseau, P & Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière reposoir 2500

21/10/2011 13:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 4200

22/10/2011 13:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière reposoir 1700

23/10/2011 13:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Rousseau, P 45,950 -1,070 vasière reposoir 4700

25/10/2011 14:00 FR YVES reserve naturelle Babin, G 46,040 -1,060 lagune reposoir 3200

02/12/2011 13:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Rousseau, P 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 3000

11/12/2011 15:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Rousseau, P 45,950 -1,070 vasière reposoir 800

21/12/2011 15:30 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation NA

29/12/2011 12:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES ile madame Rousseau, P 45,960 -1,110 vasière alimentation NA

06/01/2012 16:30 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 3900

02/02/2012 14:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 2000

05/02/2012 17:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 2200

19/02/2012 13:30 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Jomat, L 45,950 -1,070 vasière reposoir 800

07/03/2012 9:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 800

29/04/2012 12:00 IS ALFTAFJORDUR NA Alves, J 66,020 -22,97 vasière NA NA

22/08/2012 18:00 FR MOEZE reserve naturelle Jomat, L 45,880 -1,080 vasière reposoir 2000

29/08/2012 14:00 FR MOEZE reserve naturelle Jomat, L 45,880 -1,080 lagune reposoir 3500

02/10/2012 NA FR YVES reserve naturelle Laubin, A 46,040 -1,060 lagune reposoir NA

16/01/2013 16:00 FR MOEZE reserve naturelle Rousseau, P 45,880 -1,080 prairie alimentation 600

23/01/2013 13:30 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 3500

07/02/2013 13:00 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Lelong, V 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 3000

20/02/2013 NA FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Rousseau, P 45,950 -1,070 vasière reposoir 1000

30/10/2013 16:30 FR PORT-DES-BARQUES estuaire charente Jomat, L 45,950 -1,070 vasière alimentation 1500

14/08/2014 18:00 GB FRODSHAM frodsham marsh farm, WS Morton, 53,296 -2,757 lagune reposoir NA (it was actually on no.6 tank but i guess that was lost in translation-Sacré bleu)

If you see any Black-tailed Godwits with colour rings/flags send details to Jenny Gill at mailto:j.gill@uea.ac.uk

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