Winter Solstice Edition

02-10-16-weaver-estuary-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-9Now that we’ve finally reached the shortest day and what is effectively the true celebration of this season. I have collected a few images from the last week or so to illustrate the marsh in just a few of its mid winter moods.

Above the power station at Rocksavage is mirrored in the still waters of the River Weaver.

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The second image shows the change in weather systems from a cool clear day to the brief period when the Weaver valley and the marsh are shrouded in morning fog. The image above has a curious disruption through the clouds which could be caused by an aircraft flying through the canopy?

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Looking west from the banks of No.5 tank across the mitigation area of No.3 tank fields to the turbines on No.4.

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No.3 tank and the mitigation area . Unfortunately much was expected from this site but as yet it has reaped very little for the time and effort afforded to it.

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Looking east along the ancient road that is Lordship Lane looking to Frodsham Marsh from Ince Marsh fields. The old Kamira woods lay to the right of the image.

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The flooded fields of Lordship Marsh and Frodsham Hill beyond. Whooper Swans occasionally use the fields to graze when there is little disturbance.

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No.5 tank looking east to the turbine substation and the old fence line where hopefully we’ll being seeing Short-eared Owls if the weather turns colder.

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No.2 tank just south of Marsh Farm an excellent site for Curlew, Lapwing and Golden Plover.

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The steaming plumes of vapour emitting from Fiddlers Ferry Power Station in the distance and the incinerator plant beyond the blue-topped (ex) power station chimney at Weston Point.

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A flock of Lapwings in flight and behind the Mersey estuary and the gantry wall that shields the Manchester Ship Canal from Christchurch at Weston Point.

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Finally, the omnipresent wind turbines caught in the ebbing sunset over No.6 tank. One of my favourite pictures from the marsh this month is this Tolkienesque image of the dark watch tower of Barad-dûr laying across the (literally) dead marshes.

Images: 1-2 & 11 by WSM and images 3-10 by Tony Broome.

26.11.16. Birdlog (Part 1)

26-11-16-sunset-and-factory-steam-growhow-works-frodsham-marsh-paul-ralston-1Looking out of the kitchen window this morning and I the view didn’t instill me with a confident weather window ahead. Charging the metal road steed I headed down to the marsh and once clearing the swing bridge the sun started to poke its head above the fog.

26-11-17-goldeneye-no-6-tank-frodsham-bill-morton-1I sent a text to Tony to find he was down by the waters edge along the River Weaver at Redwall reed bed. I decided to park up at the motorway bridge and embark on a long haul trek along Moorditch Lane, through the tanks 5 & 6 then cross by the ‘Splashing Pool’ down to the Mersey marshes adjacent to the Manchester Ship Canal, circumnavigate No.4 tank, along Lordship Lane and the track between 4 & 6 before finally meeting up with Paul and then Mr Broome at the junctions of 3,5 & 6..Phew!!!

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No.6 tank was frozen apart from a few patches kept clear by the Shoveler and Common Teal flocks present. A fine drake Goldeneye had the looked of like a celebrity as it was tucked in with a few Common Pochard, Pintail and Gadwall. A small gathering of Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls were standing on the ice. A Green Sandpiper flew over calling and dropped into the daisy beds.

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The elder bushes on No.5 tank sometimes shelter feeding finches and when I spotted a few Chaffinches I noticed one had a white or pale yellow colour ring on its leg. This is the second bird I have seen locally over the last couple of days. Anyone know if there is a colour ringing scheme going on nearby?

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The mitigation pools were totally frozen, it wasn’t worth lingering here and I made my way out to the salt marshes. A few Little Egret were out tip toeing through the skeletal remains from the previous high tide death toll on the river. Further out towards Ince Marsh a herd of 8 Whooper Swan could be seen and PR managed to get some photographs later in the day.

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I took position on the embankment attempting to get some elevation but the fog blanket lay across the marsh and the distant river was lost from view.

26-11-17-turbines-in-the-fog-frodsham-bill-morton-18The same fog made an eerie view with wind turbines standing above the low laying mist giving them the look of marching aliens from the film the ‘The War of the Worlds’. It was difficult to extract much from this birding day but sometimes you have to put a hard slog down to experience.

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I bumped into Paul en route back to my car and we had a chat befor going our separate ways. I finally met up with TB and he kindly donated a hot brew to warm my tired limbs.

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The misty sunset was one of the finest with no difference between the sky and water at No.6 tank.

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Unfortunately the Barn Owl didn’t make a reappearance from last evening (per Arthur Harrison).

Observers: Paul Ralston (images 1 & 5-6 & 8), WSM (images 2-4 & 7 & 9-10).

23.10.16. Birdlog

23-10-16-ravens-frodsham-marsh-tony-broomeAfter a mixed week during the course of my holiday in Norfolk I headed down to Frodsham Marsh for what could be the last of this year’s effort at finding a Yellow-browed Warbler? It was a late start and I arrived around 10.30 hrs and parked up by the old birdlog before walking back along Brook Furlong Lane and then turning around to walk the lower path towards Redwall reed bed. With a fresh east to south-easterly wind blowing I thought there should have been an air of expectancy? But the new wind turbines were working and they were surprisingly noisy, the whoosh-whoosh-whoosh of the blades going around which filled the air and became hard to ignore. However I persevered and looked for a roving tit flock. I didn’t connect until I reached the track below the birdlog again and two or three Long-tailed Tit appeared.

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A single Chiffchaff called and 2 Goldcrest got closer until one appeared for a photo shoot. They are fabulous little birds and so resilient. I always marvel at the fact they can cross the North Sea every year to reach us to winter. At Redwall reed bed a pair of Stonechat perched up on dead twigs before moving onto the path next to the River Weaver. Four Raven began to play in the wind and the photo I took made them look like aeroplane fighters turning to head for a target…’The Raven Squadron’. It was quiet. A Common Snipe got up and called in alarm, heading off towards the I.C.I tank.

23-10-16-goldcrest-frodsham-marsh-tony-broome-1I looked at the river. A flock on the water in the distance was made up of c60 Tufted Duck, a single male Common Pochard and about 7 Great-crested Grebe. But there was little else of note. I walked back to the car and met Knutsford Ornithological Society stalwarts Bob Groom and Jackie, on a rare visit to the marsh. Bob used to bird watch at Frodsham in its heyday in the seventies and eighties. I drove up to Marsh Farm, noting another pair of Stonechat on the fence next to the pipes. Small parties of Goldfinch fed on the track and 5 Linnet flew off before I could grill them for Twite?

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23-10-16-stonechat-redwall-reed-bed-frodsham-marsh-tony-broomeThe tide was at its lowest point and birds too far off to be enjoyed, so I headed for No.6 tank, passing Bob and Jackie again who were looking from the eastern end. I parked up at the junction with No.’s 3 and 5 and had a look at the ‘Secluded Pool’ which was quiet as well as secluded, but two more Common Snipe flushed noisily. The sun was low and straight ahead when I looked at No.6 and the birds were silhouetted. However, the closest birds were 3 Curlew Sandpiper and 11 Ruff, which was nice. There were also about 200 Black-tailed Godwit feeding below the fence and I picked up a single Bar-tailed Godwit in their midst. It spent the next half hour preening and gave unusually good view for a Bar-wit. They’re normally in the distance on Frodsham Score.

With lots to catch up with at home it was a relatively early departure eastwards along the M56. No YbW’s but some nice photos.

Observer: Tony Broome (images 1-5).

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I met Arthur Harrison on the motorway bridge and he was just leaving the marsh but he mentioned seeing a couple of Stonechat by the first turbine on No.5 tank. I parked up and walked along the track on No.5 tank to view the open water of No.6. Typically filled with ducks the open water was scattered with Shoveler and appeared to be in excess of 200 birds (although I wasn’t really into counting them this evening). Although Common Shelduck numbers have increased. The tide was high on the River Mersey but I wasn’t as fortunate as Tony seeing only 40 Black-tailed Godwit with 12 Ruff.

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The main aim of my visit was to watch the Starling gathering at dusk and to see what raptors would be enticed to their bountiful number. A Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Common Buzzard were on the periphery. The young female Marsh Harrier twisted and turned over the Starling roost beds,causing them to avoid capture in some impressive murmurations. Whatever the harrier did to catch one the entire flock made its task almost impossible.

23.10.16. Marsh Harrier and Starlings, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

Observer: WSM (images 6-8).

Video of turbines here: https://vimeo.com/188579324

12.08.16. Birdlog

12.08.16. Goldfinch, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley (1)

12.08.16. Goldfinch, Frodsham Marsh. Paul Crawley (4)Today down on the marsh I saw a Yellow Wagtail flyover and calling near Marsh Farm and another (possibly same bird?) over the junction of No’s 3,5 and 6 tanks. A juvenile Marsh Harrier was over the mitigation and over on No.1 there were male and 2 female Wheatear on the pipes. A Common Snipe flew over No.6 heading towards 3. The Black-necked Grebe and a Great Crested Grebe were again on six. The young of this years Kestrel were to be seen widely over the marsh.A flock of 60 Curlew managed to find space to feed despite the abundance of turbines on no.5 tank. A golden charm of dozens of Goldfinch illuminated the trackways.

Observer and images 1-2 : Paul Crawley.

A few Common Swift were moving south over Weston towards the marsh this evening (WSM).

12.08.16. Frodsham Marsh wind farm from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton (2)

12.08.16. Frodsham Marsh wind farm from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton (1)12.08.16. Frodsham Marsh wind farm from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton (3)The wind farm as viewed from across the river (WSM).

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The 19th and final (we think?) wind turbine is now installed and the above is an image taken from Langdale Road, Frodsham by Dave Stewart.

Frodsham Marsh Wind Farm in Photos #11

09.07.16. turbines, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)

Above are the turbines and in the background are the Growhow works.

16.07.16. Frodsham Marsh Wind Farm from No.6 tank. Bill Morton

From today and the installation of another turbine on No.4 tank.

14.07.16. Black-tailed Godwits, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

A flock of Black-tailed Godwit fly out to via the wind farm en route to the estuary.

13.07.16. Frodsham Marsh Wind Farm from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton (8)

Five turbines erected on Frodsham Marsh with the width of the Mersey Estuary in the foreground.

13.07.16. Frodsham Marsh Wind Farm from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton (5)

13.07.16. Frodsham Marsh Wind Farm from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton (3)13.07.16. Frodsham Marsh Wind Farm from Pickerings Pasture. Bill Morton (7)A series of recent images of the wind farm as viewed from across the river along the north shore showing the turbines and their close proximity to the Blue-topped chimney at Weston Point.

17.07.16. Wind turbines, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1)

17.07.16. Wind turbines, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)17.07.16. Wind turbines, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (5)In fine weather the wind mills stand out.

All images by WSM.

24.06.16. Birdlog

24.06.16. Wind turbine installation, No.5 tank, frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (1) 24.06.16. Wind turbine installation, No.5 tank, frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (3) 24.06.16. Shelducklings, No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (1) 21.06.16. Swift, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (1) 24.06.16. Swifts, No.8 tank, frodsham Marsh. Paul Ralston (1)A short walk along the east bank of No.6 tank as the road is still closed while contractors fit rotor blades to the turbine hub. There were masses of Common Swift and smaller numbers of Sand Martin which were feeding just above the bank and their wing-beats were audible as they passed close by overhead. Waterfowl numbers looked down on previous visits but many shellducklings were noted.  A single Great Crested and 2 Little Grebe fed alongside each other. A juvenile Cuckoo was disturbed as I walked along the bank and flew back from my earlier direction but couldn’t be relocated on my return. There were 2 unseasonal Little Egret were feeding on the west side and 7 Avocet flew in to feed in the shallows. The Black-tailed Godwit flock was seen heading out to the Frodsham Score. A hovercraft was being driven on what looks like a new track on the field behind the model air field?

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3 & 5). Image 4 by WSM.