A Local Goshawk etc

A Local Goshawk etc

I’m always happy to give local enthusiasts a plug and when Nigel Case showed me this image of a Goshawk I was impressed! But, not as impressed by the fact it was photographed within sight of the marsh.

For more images check out Nigel’s site at http://www.nigelcasephoto.co.uk/  and…

…watch the skies!

A juvenile Goshawk from NW Cheshire. Image by Nigel Case

Common Swifts. Image by Nigel Case.

Ermine Moth Silk and Sign. Image by Nigel Case

30.09.12. Birdlog

30.09.12. Birdlog

High tide saw 4 Sanderling, 2 Ruff, 300 Dunlin, Grey Plover and 2 Golden Plover.

1st winter Mediterranean Gull was new in.

2 Goldcrest and 3 Chiffchaff were presumably part of a wider movement of migrants passing through with both species in ‘good’ numbers at Delamere earlier (WSM).

Observer: Frank Duff

29.0912. Birdlog

29.0912. Birdlog

500 Teal, 3 Wigeon, 12 Shoveler and 4 Pintail. 250 Golden Plover, 5 Grey Plover, 300+ Dunlin, 1 Little Stint, 3 Sanderling, a single Black-tailed Godwit, 13 Redshank and 3 Ruff on No 6 tank (high tide).

A Marsh Harrier and Sparrowhawk added to the stats.

Lordship Marsh (flooded) looking south-east, Image by WSM.

Again high numbers of Common and Black-headed Gulls (600 and 450 of each) were present on Lordship Marsh with birds this time treading water to rise up larve/worms on the flooded fields. Occasionally, one would find a vole and then all hell was let loose with almost the entire flocks squabbling over the dainty morsel.

Observer: Frank Duff, Peter & Richard Nicholls, WSM.

James Walsh had an Egyptian Goose at Weaste flying west along the Manchester Ship Canal. It’s still got a way to go before it reaches Frodsham but worthy of note nonetheless.

28.09.12. Birdlog (flagged Blk-t Godwits)

Received an e-mail today with an update from Vigfús Eyjólfsson co-ordinator of colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwits seen at Frodsham Marsh from the Icelandic population.

The capital letters refer to colour G (Green), W (White), O (Orange), R (Red), Y (Yellow). I’m not sure what colour ‘N’ is on 18.08.12 but it was not one of my reports?

GW-OY flag and RR-WY flag were both ringed as pullus in Iceland 2012

GN-OO was ringed as an adult in NW Iceland.
GN-OO 30.05.06 Reykhólar, Höllustaðir, NW Iceland
GN-OO 23.08.06 Réserve Naturelle du Marais d’Yves, Charente-Maritime, W France
GN-OO 05.09.06 Réserve Naturelle du Marais d’Yves, Charente-Maritime, W France
GN-OO 11.09.06 Réserve Naturelle du Marais d’Yves, Charente-Maritime, W France
GN-OO 12.09.07 Réserve Naturelle du Marais d’Yves, Charente-Maritime, W France
GN-OO 30.09.07 Réserve Naturelle du Marais d’Yves, Charente-Maritime, W France
GN-OO 11.10.07 Réserve Naturelle du Marais d’Yves, Charente-Maritime, W France
GN-OO 26.11.07 Réserve Naturelle du Marais d’Yves, Charente-Maritime, W France
GN-OO 21.03.08 Briollay, Maine-et-Loire, W France
GN-OO 22.03.08 Briollay, Maine-et-Loire, W France
GN-OO 18.08.12 Frodsham Marsh, Cheshire, NW England
GW-OY flag 20.08.12 Frodsham Marsh, Cheshire, NW England
GW-OY flag 27.08.12 and 1st/12th and 21st September Carr Lane Pools, Hale near the, Mersey estuary, Cheshire, NW England Re the Black-tailed godwit juvenile c/r RR WYF this was at Carr Lane Pools,
GW-OY flag 09.09.12 Frodsham Marsh, Cheshire, NW England
GW-OY flag 27.09.12 Frodsham Marsh, Cheshire, NW England
 
RR-WY flag 13.09.12 Frodsham Marsh, Cheshire, NW England
Thank you for this sightings.
Best Wishes
Vigfús Eyjólfsson

27.09.12. Birdlog & Nature Notes #13

27.09.12. Birdlog

Lordship Marsh (looking west with Helsby Hill in the distant left). Image by WSM.

A Marsh Harrier was harassed by the Common Gull flocks hanging out on the recently cut and flooded wheat fields on Lordship Marsh.

600 Teal, 8 Wigeon, 160 Mallard, 10 Gadwall, 10 Shoveler and 35 Shelduck. 28 Black-tailed Godwit (*see below), 10 Golden Plover and 8 Redshank were present on No 6 tank. *Just to refresh on this  juvenile Black-tailed Godwit present on 22nd August and again this evening on No 6 tank. Ringed as a chick (Green over White above left knee and Orange over Yellow above right knee) on 13th July 2012 near Dalvik, N Iceland a big chick 208g. It  is one of c110 godwit chicks colour-ringed in July 2012.

Observer: WSM. Chester Boys.

Nature Notes #13

Short-tailed Field Vole. Image by WSM.

Lordship Marsh: These fields held abundant Short-tailed Field Voles this Autumn, many of which have been predated on by Common and Black-headed Gulls over the last few days. The gulls gathered en masse to spook out the hiding voles who’s availability of normal habitat is rapidly declining under the flood water. It’s a bit like a ‘Voles Armageddon’!

A (not so) Common Hare was watched in fields by the approach road to No 6 tank this evening. Quite a rare sight on the marshes in these days of over shooting/hunting/habitat loss and despite all the weight tipped towards their inevitable decline they hang on in there!

Image by David Wilson.

26.09.12. Birdlog

26.09.12. Birdlog

Rain, rain and more rain on it’s way! Image by WSM.

Evening Watch: With all this rain we have been experiencing over the last three days you can be forgiven in thinking that it’s ideal only for ducks. The counts below can testify to that fact. Raised water levels have exposed seeds from the Michaelmas Daisies and, both Wigeon and Teal are taking full advantage of this and can be seen feasting on the autumn bounty (all reports from No 6 tank).

43 Shelduck, 600 Common Teal, 2 Garganey, 25 Tufted Duck, 7 Pochard, 164 Mallard, 34 Gadwall, 26 Shoveler, 12 Wigeon and 8 Pintail.

Image by Paul Crawley.

28 Golden Plover and a single Ringed Plover. 11 Avocet, Ruff & Reeve, 12 Redshank, 3 Greenshank and 50 Curlew were staking out an over night roosting site.

A Sparrowhawk was hunting the banks of the tank.

Observer: WSM.

Rob Cockbain: Where there’s Muck, there’s Birds

Where there’s Muck, there’s Birds by Rob Cockbain

I read about Frodsham Sludge Pools in Eric Hardy’s Monday article “Countryside” which used to appear every week in the Liverpool Daily Post. It was decided by me, and my two friends Mike Jones and Graham Henshaw, that a visit was called for!

As we lived in different parts of Liverpool we would set off on our bikes, and we agreed to meet up at the Widnes-Runcorn Transporter Bridge. After a long cycle ride we arrived at Marsh Lane, Frodsham and proceeded towards the high banks of the sludge pools, which we could see in the distance.

Graham Henshaw and Mike Jones birding 1953 style. Image by Rob Cockbain.

At this moment I should mention that bird-watching equipment in those days was not up to much: binoculars were either old army-types and very heavy, or opera glasses which were really not much good. Bird identification books were very poor too, especially for carrying in the field: my bible was the three volumes by T.A. Coward – Birds of the British Isles, which you obviously could not carry about. Things were about to improve and in my rucksack was a new edition of Bird Recognition by James Fisher with black and white drawings of a selection of birds that could be seen.

On climbing the banks of what was known as No 3 sludge pool, the one which had been mentioned in the article by Mr Hardy, we peered down onto the mud with eager anticipation to see – nothing, just an odd gull on the water! It was decided to hide the bikes and walk right around the pool. A big mistake. About an hour later over by the ship canal, we had seen only a few swallows, wagtails and pipits!

No 4 Sludge Pool in May 1953, image by Rob Cockbain.

Later, we noticed a party of waders coming in over the canal from the Mersey and landing on an area of mud about 200 yards away from us. We walked towards them and then crept closer to avoid flushing them.  Ringed Plover and Dunlin in summer plumage were obvious to us as we had seen them before, but the juvenile Dunlins caused some confusion. ‘Bird Recognition’ came in handy and we finally worked them out. In the flock were three very unusual birds with a different stance, bigger than the Dunlin, with slightly down-curved bills and with a buffish wash down their breasts. These took more time but eventually one flew a short distance and we noticed a white rump – our first Curlew Sandpipers but according to the book these were rare! Eventually, after much discussion, we were sure we had made the right identification. On that same afternoon we saw our first Ruff: thus it was three happy birders who cycled home that evening.

I have made many visits to the sludge pools since that day, especially in the early years. It is sad to say that although good birds still turn up and new species are occasionally found, the pools are only a shadow of what they used to be: breeding Lapwings were all over the place, Yellow Wagtails were a common breeder, with autumn roost of up to three hundred birds. Vast Swallow roosts were in the reed beds, ten or so pairs of Whinchats and up to twenty pairs of Meadow Pipits were breeding alongside Corn Buntings, Cuckoos and Grey Partridge: all in reasonable numbers.

Why has it changed so much? When driving round the beds in those early days your car windscreens were plastered with insect remains, but not now. Besides pesticides, the grazing land has been improved, with more drainage.  Also the fields have been covered with ammonium nitrate which kills most invertebrates and poisons the water courses. Just a thought!

Let’s hope that when and if the mitigation area for the proposed wind farm comes into being this will help to improve the Sludge Pool area and its wildlife, though I fear it will never go back to the numbers of birds that were once present.

Rob Cockbain.

Rapidly approaching 60 years later and Rob still watches the area spending his time birding Hale, Pickerings Pasture and the shore area across the river from Frodsham Marsh. Birdwatching post war was left to a few intrepid pioneers like Rob, Mike Jones, Graham Henshaw , Graham Thomason and Eric Dimlow et al. What turned up and the potential of these young sludge pools can only be guessed at. I’m sure if they were here today they would be eagerly covered by more than the few birders who plug away week in week out. Eds.