17.10.16. Birdlog


You have to take the birding as and when you can and now that the days are drawing in and the opportunity to stay out later is getting less and less. The ploughed fields alongside Moorditch Lane again attracted 300 Black-headed Gull and it didn’t take long to extract an adult Mediterranean Gull from their number.

I went straight to the mitigation area on No.3 tank to basically check it out first before continuing back to No.6 for some proper birds. The mitigation had 3 Black-tailed Godwit and a dozen Common Teal (a return to form). No.6 tank rarely disappoints and there is always something to see whatever floats your boat or bird. I had an idea that the Shoveler flock presently residing here was increasing and after my WeBs count on Saturday which exceeded the previous record count, I had another go this evening. It was no surprise really when that count was again exceeded with a record reaching 310 birds!


The usual build up of duck species continues with in excess of 450 Common Teal and 20 Pintail. Other ducks worth mentioning include Common Shelduck, Gadwall and Mallard. There were 5 Black-tailed Godwit and 10 Ruff either roosting or feeding.


17-10-16-peregrines-on-the-blue-topped-chimney-weston-point-bill-morton-10A Kingfisher was watched looking for somewhere to roost for the evening and chose a hawthorn bush overhanging the water.

There was a pair of Peregrine on the blue-topped chimney, they were both sat there preening until the male launched itself (bungee like) from the chimney edge and dropped like a stone hurtling to the ground 107metres (354ft) below. No sooner was it out of sight than it reappeared high over the power station building to rejoin the female again on the chimney’s lip and she didn’t appear to be too impressed.

Observer and images: WSM.

The blue-topped chimney

The history of the power station is a little vague. There are only a few references to it online. It was constructed sometime between 1910 and 1920 to serve the new Castner Kellner plant at Weston Point. The plant, originally built to produce various acids and alkalis through electrolysis later came under the ownership of I.C.I and today is run by Ineos Chlor. The original turbine sets were replaced by more up to date Parsons units in the 1930s (two of which remain in situ) and sometime during the 1950s four of those were replaced with upgraded AEI/Vickers sets. In 1998 the more modern ‘Rocksavage’ station opened on the other side of the I.C.I Runcorn site rendering Weston Point’s generation capacity obsolete.

Have a read of this article about the inside of the power station building and watch the video here: http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/weston-point-power-station-runcorn-may-2011.t60571

16.10.16. Birdlog


I started at Ince Marsh this morning and walked along the Manchester Ship Canal and headed around No.4 tank. There were 6 Fieldfare filtering through from the east coast and were along the lane by the Pig Farm, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over too. The new pools were quiet with a few Mallard and Common Teal noted. Along the ship canal path a mixed flock of tits fed along the hedgerow with a charm of the ever-present Goldfinch around.


16-10-16-dunlin-and-starlings-frodsham-score-frodsham-marsh-paul-ralstonOut on the Frodsham Score salt marsh were 3 Great White Egret along with several Little Egret and a Grey Heron were sat amongst a gull roost. As the tide came in a couple of hundred Golden Plover rose up and circled round before settling down again. A Starling bait ball and a similar assembly of Dunlin were trying to avoid an unseen predator. On the bird of prey front it was a little quiet with only Common Buzzard and Kestrel seen. A single Green Sandpiper was on the canal bank and two WeBs counters were looking over the marsh from the high bank. A couple of Grey wagtail were near the incinerator plant.

Observer: Paul Ralston (images 1-3).


We made our way along Moorditch Lane before taking a 360 degree turn to retrace our steps at the junction of tank, 3, 5 & 6. The mitigation pools had 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Common Teal and a bunch of Raven nearby.

No.6 tank held most of the Shoveler flock from yesterday numbering 278 while Common Teal were hovering around the 360 mark. 20 Pintail, Gadwall, 45 Tufted Duck and 5 Common Pochard. There were 7 Ruff lingering along the muddy edges on the tank.

Observers: Sparky and WSM (image 4).


Ian Coote) A flurry of activity on the WeBs count along the Mersey marshes today saw a couple of Black Swan, 4 Great White Egret, Glaucous Gull on Frodsham Score/Mersey marshes and a Yellow-browed Warbler (only just outside of the Frodsham area…alas!). There was also a Harbour Porpoise in the river.

Per Shaun Hickey

A couple of images showing the wind farm on the marsh and another images looking to Runcorn bridge and beyond stanchions for the new bridge over Wigg and Spike Islands.

Shaun Hickey (images 5-6).

15.10.16. Birdlog

15.10.16. male Stonechat, Pumping Station, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton.

15.10.16. Hale lighthouse from Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonThe morning ahead did not look promising with a steady drizzle falling from a heavy grey sky and a brisk breeze. By the time I arrived on the marsh it began to clear up and the temperature was steadily rising.

No.6 tank was surprisingly little with ducks gathered in clusters and apart from a ‘in and out’ flock of 200 Dunlin, 1 Ruff and a heard only Golden Plover there was no other waders. However, there was some compensation when I managed a count of 293 Shoveler a new record for the marsh! 267 Common Teal, 21 Pintail, 11 Gadwall, 20 Common Shoveler, 56 Tufted Duck and 10 Common Pochard were the best of the rest.

15.10.16. Green Sandpipers, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

15.10.16. Eroded bank on Manchester Ship Canal, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonI met up with AC and we wandered across to look over Frodsham Score with the ebbing tide. It soon became apparent this wasn’t going to be a good day for shorebirds and apart from a couple of flocks of murmurating Dunlin, 12 Golden Plover, 14 Little and a single Great White Egret that was about it! Three Green Sandpiper were flushed from the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal as a ship passed by.

Walking back we bumped into a pair of Stonechat that were behaving nicely in the bright sunshine and another female was on No.3 tank.

We carried onto Marsh Farm where there was 2 male and a female Stonechat by the farmers discarded metal dump. Looking out from the last cattle grid it was good to catch up with some of the 29 Avocet that Alyn had seen earlier on his visit (see next paragraph). Scanning out across the estuary from the farm and using my telescope on full mag, I managed to poached a Mediterranean Gull from several hundred Black-headed gulls following a tractor ploughing a field adjacent to the lighthouse.

Alyn watched from Marsh Farm this morning and produced the following: 82 alba Wagtail, 12 Meadow Pipit and 5 Skylark south. 39 Linnet, 11 Goldfinch and 4 Chaffinch east along the ship canal. A Merlin flew through a couple of times. 29 Avocet and 3 Ruff with Lapwing on the Mersey estuary. 2 Common Sandpiper on the ship canal.

15-10-16-common-sexton-beetle-by-the-manchester-ship-canal-frodsham-marsh-bill-mortonThere were a few butterflies encouraged out by the warm afternoon sunshine which included Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral. Elsewhere a Migrant Hawker or two were still patrolling the tracks on No.5 tank. A Common Sexton Beetle was on the canal path from the Pumping Station.

Observers: Alyn Chambers (image 5), WSM al (images 1-4).


My first visit to the marsh for ages this afternoon and I saw.2 Stonechat near the farm, 1 Green Sandpiper on canal until flushed by a passing ship. The Weaver bend, 2 Ruff, 5 Redshank, 6 Common Snipe,1 Green Sandpiper (probably same bird), 17 Black-tailedGodwit..and no birders, think they’ve all headed off to Spurn!!

Observer: Sean O’Hara.


There were literally tens of thousands of spider silk strands (“ballooning”) cast across No.2 tank and glistening like a cloak between the thistle beds.


15-10-16-water-wave-wash-from-the-cemsol-ship-passing-along-the-manchester-ship-canal-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-115-10-16-water-wave-wash-from-the-cemsol-ship-passing-along-the-manchester-ship-canal-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-12Earlier while we were watching from the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal a large ocean-going vessel the Camsol sailed back disturbing the huge rafts of Canada Goose from their slumber and little parties of duck and Coot including the 3 Green Sandpiper mentioned earlier.


11.10.16. Birdlog


I wasn’t going to write-up a post this evening because it didn’t really add much to what has already been seen this week. But a chance encounter leaving the marsh made me think again!

On my arrival at No.6 tank after 4.30 pm saw yesterday’s RC Pochard was no longer to be found but 9 Common Pochard were. There was 300 Common Teal, 120 Shoveler, 13 Pintail, 60 Tufted Duck, 10 Common Shelduck and 7 Mute Swan. The congregated Black-headed Gull pre-roost build up reached 679 birds. A single Avocet was new in, 10 Ruff and two Black-tailed Godwit were the only additions to my watch.

A Chiffchaff and a small flock of Long-tailed Tit were active along the track while loose flocks of Raven were heading through to the south.


While I was driving onto Marsh Lane from the marsh my attention was drawn to a pair of piercing yellow eyes glaring at me from the base of a garden fence. I parked up and grabbed my camera and peeped my head around the corner and found a young Sparrowhawk trapped at the base of a fence that was covered in chicken wire. I can only presume that the raptor had crashed through the hedge after a sparrow (which they often do along the lane hedges here) and then It was obvious its escape route was blocked. After grabbing a pair of gloves (that I borrowed from MacDuff sometime ago), I attempted rather gingerly to extract the ball of fury from the netting. This in truth was rather harder than I first envisaged. After peeling back the wire and lifting it up from the base and receiving several well-aimed beak stabs I coaxed it from between the wires to the bottom of the fence. After one last beak thrust at my hand the raptor made its escape…the ungrateful sod!

11-10-16-sparrowhawk-juvenile-female-marsh-lane-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-211-10-16-sparrowhawk-juvenile-female-marsh-lane-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-111-10-16-sparrowhawk-juvenile-female-marsh-lane-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-6Observer and images: WSM.

10.10.16. Birdlog


An after work visit and another birding quest to add YbW to the marsh list (although I did find one today but not here).


10-10-16-rainbow-and-turbines-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-4I walked along Brook Furlong Lane but a long arm hedge strimmer was working the patch of lane I wanted to cover, so I guessed there wouldn’t be much in the way of passerine activity. Looking along the pipes across No.1 tank revealed two male Stonechat.

I continued along Moorditch Lane where the ploughed field produced 8 Ruff feeding in the troughs with both Lapwing and Starling flocks. A Goldcrest was calling from the Ash trees but nothing else worthy of attention.

Taking the ramp track to No.5 tank I positioned myself overlooking the mitigation fields. Apart from a couple of Black-tailed Godwit feeding in the rapidly diminishing wet scrapes and several hundred chattering away unseen in the excluded pools there wasn’t much else to report on. Things started to pick up when an adult winter Mediterranean Gull flew over heading towards the Mersey estuary.


Returning back to look over No.6 tank it was rewarding to see 15 Common Snipe emerge from the daisy beds while Water Rail were screaming from the reed bed below where I was standing. A couple of Kingfisher were playing tag along the edge of the pool and a male and female Sparrowhawk were hunting the 500 strong Goldfinch flocks gathered in and over the thistle beds.


The young female Garganey made a reappearance since Saturday and was associating with a Little Grebe on the open water but when it caught sight of me it became agitated and flew off into the reeds.


10-10-16-red-crested-pochard-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-11Several hundred Common Teal and Shoveler were a return to late September numbers while Pintail where in double figures and as the sun was setting I conjured up an eclipse drake Red Crested Pochard with a group of 6 Common Pochard but by then the light was fading fast so I only managed a few record shots.


The evening concluded with a gathering of Starling against a sunset sliding behind the turbines…But another blank on my continued YbW quest.


Observer and images: WSM.

09.10.16. Birdlog


A short walk from Ince along the Manchester Ship Canal and along the Holpool Gutter this morning. One of the new pools at Ince Marsh again held Common Teal, Mallard, Moorhen and a single Black-tailed Godwit while soaring overhead were both Raven and Common Buzzard. Onward to the canal footpath and 2 Little Egret were flying west along the canal.


Out on the far bank a Green Sandpiper was joined by a Common Sandpiper and they both were content to preened together, a little later they were joined by another Common Sandpiper. A large flock of Canada Goose had 2 Wigeon hidden amidst their herd. Out on the Frodsham Score salt marsh there were 2 more Little Egret noted and a large flock of both Lesser and Great Black-back Gull were resting while the Raven feasted on mutton which was again on offer.  Along the Holpool Gutter Common Teal and Mallard were in company with Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebe. Both Pied and Grey Wagtail were in the field bordering the gutter and a large flock of Lapwing and Starling were feeding on the newly sown field. Along the lane back towards my start a dozen Mistle Thrush sat on the steel work of the new incinerator plant under construction and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over the lane.

Observer: Paul Ralston (image 2).


We again scoured the lanes the length and breadth of the marsh today and the YbW net is slowly closing around this little sprite! That is until the east wind changes direction and then they’ll be much chagrin and wailing. I won’t be relinquishing my quest to see one on the marsh (although, it’s not a Frodsham tick!). Anyway, we started off walking along Moorditch Lane and climbed the ramp to No.5 tank. There were plenty of Common Buzzard activity with several dog fights between them and their old enemy the Raven.

A distant skein of 60 Pink-footed Goose were heading west across the Weaver estaury.


09-10-16-grey-heron-juv-no-6-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-15The waters of No.6 tank were rather quiet but the old boys with their model aeroplanes flying over the tank may have had some bearing on this. What did stay despite this nuisance included 100 Shoveler, 200 Common Teal, Gadwall, Common Pochard and Shelduck. A flock of 150 Black-tailed Godwit shared the muddy margins with 4 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper and close by a Green Sandpiper was fast asleep.


09-10-16-red-admiral-moorditch-lane-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-4Along the track a small band of roving Long-tailed Tit and a Goldcrest raised a few hopes but didn’t contained the required bounty. A small passage of Swallow heading south included a late Sand Martin.

Out on the mitigation pools a flock of partially hidden Black-tailed Godwit occasionally rose to reveal their hiding place.

A stricken Red Admiral lay on the track and I placed it on top of a pole while a curious little spider came out to investigate. There were still Common Darters and Migrant Hawker Dragonflies about with both Red Admiral and Small White’s on the wing.

09-10-16-marsh-harrier-female-immature-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-18Lordship Lane harboured a few passerines with a flock of 11 Reed Bunting, an overhead Siskin and a Kingfisher. Another Kingfisher appeared at the junction of Moorditch Lane while overhead an immature female Marsh Harrier circled high up. A young Grey Heron didn’t know where to put its self looking awkward as it sat on the embankment of the tank.

The quest for WbW goes on…

Observers: Sparky, WSM (images 1 & 3-7).

08.10.16. Birdlog (Part 2)


After the viz-mig trial on Overton Hill (see part one) we headed down towards the marsh and Brook Furlong Lane in the hope of finding a Yellow-browed Warbler, with two reported across the river at Hale. I had to stop off at a leading coffee shop emporium and get some lattes including a brew for that other stalwart of the lanes and sludge tanks, Bill. He wouldn’t let me on the marsh if I didn’t take him a coffee. We walked up and down the lane for an hour or more without any success apart from the odd Goldcrest, tits, Chiffchaff and a flyover Redpoll.


Another skein of 45 Pink-footed Goose flew in against the watery sun veiled by the clouds and moved back north. Nearby 5 Pintail circled the Weaver Bend and 11 Jackdaw headed south in a tight flock. Chiffchaff called unseen or fly catched from the tops of trees in the warm air, a balmy 18c in the afternoon as the Scandinavian high continued to exert its influence westward. We moved around to No.6 tank and sat eating lunch overlooking No.3, before moving onto No.4.


22-09-15-stonechat-no-1-tank-frodsham-marsh-bill-morton-9One plus Siskin whined south overhead, 2 Grey Wagtail followed shortly afterwards. Raptors were showy with the local Common Buzzard kettles sparring with the Raven kettles, a Peregrine came in at speed towards No.6, possibly in the hope of ambushing the ducks there, and there were Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and a single Marsh Harrier. A pair of Stonechat were perched up on thistles by the mitigation area and as we headed around to the south of No.6.


The ‘Splashing Pool’ had a few Tufted Duck on the water with a pale phase Common Buzzard perched up by the pumping station and an arboreal juvenile Moorhen feasting high up on the elder bush berries.



Meanwhile, Bill heard a singing Cetti’s Warbler and watched a juvenile female Garganey on the ‘Secluded Pool’. While watching from the bank he spotted a Little Egret flying over the ship canal bank, a flock of 170 Black-tailed Godwit and 10 Common Snipe which were disturbed by a low flying Peregrine.

Garganey video here: https://vimeo.com/186097280

I was watching from the southern banks of No 6 which held on the open water and muddy margins were 9 Pochard, 10 Ruff and a Kingfisher plus all the usual ducks.



Other critters on the wing included: 5 Red Admiral, a single Migrant Hawker and 3 Common Darter, plus a large ichneumon wasp spp which more or less made up the insect species. Not a bad day in the sunshine with all the raptors about, even if the true stars, the migrants, were going over above our heads at a height that made them invisible from the ground.


Observers: Tony Broome (images 3, 9 & 11), WSM (images 1-2 & 4-8 & 10 & 12-13).