31.10.15. Halloween Special

It’s a Scary One!

31.10.15. Lapwing flock, off Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (6)

31.10.15. Golden Plover, No.6 tank, frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

31.10.15. Birds from frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

I thought that I’d get down to Frodsham early today but for a number of reasons I was an hour late, arriving at Costa for the obligatory latte with orange, extra hot, one shot, to take out, at 08.30hrs.

I noticed a big flock of Wood Pigeon moving south as I entered the Frodsham and was eager to find a vantage point on the marsh, probably the north east corner of No.4 tank, to do some vis-miging. As I drove over the Marsh Lane bridge, a big mixed flock of Fieldfare and Redwing flew over south, perhaps as many as 200 birds. My intentions were dashed however, as hordes of pheasant shooters headed for No.4 and No.3 tanks. So, I pulled in alongside No.6 and began to scan the ducks and waders.

31.10.15. Birds from frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

Of note, there were about 500 Lapwing and 200 Golden Plover settled in, with 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Green Sandpiper, the usual Spotted Redshank, a handful of Dunlin, 10 or so Common Snipe, 8 Ruff and about 50 Shoveler with Gadwall mixed in. Everything suddenly scattered skywards as a Peregrine did a circuit and lesser numbers of birds returned. Finley (newly crowned Young Ornithologist of the Year) and Heather Wilde (proud mother of newly crowned Young Ornithologist of the Year) turned up and we chatted about cameras and settings and how many photos are deleted at the end of the day. As the sky was wall-to-wall grey, any photos of flying birds would only be average at best. Where was the blue sky?

Kestrel by Heather Wilde

All of a sudden, a loud call of a bird overhead grabbed my attention….the ‘shreep’ of a Richard’s Pipit. I shouted and desperately looked up but my attention was drawn to other birds going over and it passed southwards presumably, unseen….. What a shame! A great bird for the marsh! Starlings passed westwards in small parties and the odd Grey Wagtail called from the grey above……Bill turned up and we moved to the junction of beds No’s 3,5 and 6 tanks where there was excellent all round vision. But relatively little was passing except for a nice flock of 22 Skylark that went straight into the light southerly breeze.

31.10.15. Med Gull at Weaver Bend, From frodsham Marsh. Sean O'Hara

Then news began to filter through from Hale….where from about 7 to 9.30, they had Hawfinch, Woodlarks, Ring Ouzels, Lapland Buntings, and more, in amongst 16,000 passerine and pigeons heading south west over the fields by the lighthouse. Most before I’d arrived! That hour I was late had cost me dearly!….. As we read the news, a long procession of shooters left the marsh being out on No.4 tank and the mitigation No.3 tank?

31.10.15. Birds from frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

Finley (and Heather) left to get some revision done at home. Bill and I carried on up to No.4 and walked out to the north east corner, where I should have been at dawn. No passerines of note, but 5 Great White Egret, 7 Little Egret, 2 more Peregrine, a Sparrowhawk and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were nice to see, the egrets and lots of ducks including hundreds of Wigeon being flushed onto the grass by a 9.3m high tide around 2.pm. As we watched a Chiffchaff move through the Elderberry bushes, Dave Craven began to tweet from Hale…he could see a Spoonbill and two Common Scoter on our side of the river! We got onto the scoters quickly enough, 2 immature/female types, but despite a couple of hours scanning for the Spoonbill, we had no luck, it remaining out of sight, probably behind the Score bank to us. Frank turned up, freshly back from Cornwall and although couldn’t help with the Spoonbill, he did find an interesting gull, too far out to be sure about ID, but it was reminiscent of an Azorean Gull…a very striking individual. We also missed a Guillemot on the Hale side of the water. What a cracking day the Hale birders had today!

31.10.15. Azorean Gull (adult), off Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (4)

31.10.15. Sunset from Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

We headed back and stopped by No.6 once more and Frank left to unpack his cases, have a shower and to dress up in his Halloween costume to go out trick or treating, leaving me and Bill to enjoy the dusk. A juvenile Hen Harrier came in from the east which was a really nice, fresh bird, and it began to hunt the rough vegetation across the tank, closely followed by a Merlin and at one stage a Sparrowhawk, all of which chased the same Meadow Pipit at one point, which tried to evade capture by climbing high and jinking and twisting. The Sparrowhawk came close and had the pipit in its talons but dropped it and the pipit plunged to the ground, safe at last. No.6 emptied of gulls and Bill and I were treated to a spectacularly brooding sunset with flocks of Starlings wheeling about in the eerie light, almost forming murmurations before settling in the phragmites. A fitting end to an enjoyable Halloween.

Tony Broome (images 2-4 & 6, 7 & 9).

27.10.15. Grey Heron, Sunset, Moray Forth. Bill Morton (5)

Additionally Sean covered some others ares on the marsh and came up with an adult winter Mediterranean Gull on the Wevar Bend and a female Goldeneye on the Weaver Estuary.

Observer: Sean O’Hara (image 6).

Image 5 by Heather Wilde.

Also present today was 500 Wigeon on the incoming tide on Frodsham Score with a smattering of 23 Oystercatcher, 4000 Dunlin, 200 Curlew, 34 Grey Plover and 1000 Lapwing with 120 Golden Plover.

No.6 tabk was busy with 200 DUnlin, 300 Golden Plover and at dusk a couple of Green Sandpiper flew in.

Images 1, 8 & 10 by WSM

25.10.15. Birdlog

25.10.15. Birdlog

Frodsham Marsh birds and birding by Tony Broome

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I parked up at the old birdlog and walked to the River Weaver via Redwall reed bed where a Cetti’s Warbler was calling and seen briefly. There was an influx of Blackbird with c15 in the hedgerows along Brook Furlong Lane. Kestrels seen on tanks 4, 5, and 6.

I drove up to Marsh Farm, but the tide on the River Mersey was to high so didn’t stay long but a couple of Stonechat along the pipes on No.1 tank were a welcome distraction.

Driving around to No.6 tank I met Alyn Chambers and we exchanged bird gen. Birds noted included: 500 Golden Plover, 600 Lapwing, 8 Ruff, 52 Common Snipe (counted at dusk), 3 Dunlin and 3 Black-tailed Godwit.

Continuing on to No.4 where I walked down to the Holpool Gutter. A Green Sandpiper was along the Manchester Ship Canal and looking out to Frodsham Score a cream headed Marsh Harrier was hunting the marsh. The harrier landed and fought with crows over something edible and eventually it flew off out to the rivers edge. A Peregrine was also out there but having trouble with a Common Buzzard.

Other birds noted: 4 Little and a Great White Egret. Passerines were heading over and I saw a Lesser Redpoll, 50 Linnet and 200 Goldfinch over the gutter.

The secluded pool was quiet with a Common Snipe then it was back to No.6 tank where a young Mediterranean Gull (juv/1st winter), 50 Common Gull, 50 Black-headed Gull and 100 Shoveler, 10 Pintail, 1000 Common Teal and 10 Gadwall were seen. A Sparrowhawk was mobbed by 3 Carrion Crow and a single Rook over the Canal Pools and a Common Buzzard at No.1 and 2 No.4 ended the day.

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Dryomyza anilia a common marsh dwelling fly that lays its eggs in dead birds and fish and possibly fungi.

Observers: Tony Broome (all images), Alyn Chambers

24.10.15. Birdlog

24.10.15. Birdlog

24.10.15. Sparrowhawk, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)

24.10.15. Sparrowhawk, No.1 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (2)A rainy start, middle and eventually a sunny finish out on the marsh today. In the continues rain I was pitched up watching from the car an area where the exposed mud on No.6 tank attracted me and the birds. A total of 51 Common Snipe were feeding on the exposed muddy areas which have appeared due to the water level receding. Also present was 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Ruff and the ever-present Spotted Redshank.

24.10.15. Snipe, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (3)

24.10.15. Snipe, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (6)A good selection of ducks were having to cope with less areas to swim, dabble and dive but they have had it all of late. Shoveler numbers reached 169, 34 Gadwall, 17 Pintail, a Wigeon, 320 Common Teal and smaller counts of Tufted Duck, Mallard and Common Shelduck.

A watch over the Mersey Estuary from Marsh Farm produced a couple of Great White Egret, 23 Oystercatcher and 200 Redshank were the most obvious species.

24.10.15. Great Whites Egrets as seen from Marsh Farm, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton (4)

A Sparrowhawk was hunting the fence line on No.1 tank where three Stonechat kept sentinel.

Observer and images: WSM

21.10.15. Birdlog

21.10.15. Birdlog

21.10.15. Spotted Redshank and Eygptian Geese, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

21.10.15. Short-eared Owl, No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonI managed an hour and a half’s worth of birding before the light faded away.

A Short-eared Owl was having to combat the attention of a couple of Raven over No.5 tank.

21.10.15. Common Teal, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The water level on No.6 tank continues to drop despite the continues rain we had this morning. The exposed areas held 10 Black-tailed Godwit with 6 Ruff. A small roost of 50 Lapwing were sharing the knee water with 160 Common and 300 Black-headed Gull which dropped into bath before flying off to the river. A couple of Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gull were encouraged to linger.

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21.10.15. Spotted Redshank and Eygptian Geese, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton21.10.15. Eygptian Geese, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonDuring my time overlooking the sludge tank 9 Egyptian Goose flew in from the east, presumably the same birds I saw at Melchet Mere, Tatton Park last week. Also the same birds that bred at Tatton this year and a family party?. They stayed for a brief 20 minutes before they took flight and headed north-west to the Mersey Estuary.

Two Green Sandpiper were very vocal and also very flighty. The Spotted Redshank got a shock when the Egyptian Goose flock flew in and encircled it. A couple of Water Rail were calling from the reed beds below me and an impressive flock of 45 Common Snipe circled the tank before joining others along the Michaelmas Daisy beds.

21.10.15. No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

The spread of ducks out on the open water of No.6 tank were again impressive with Common Teal reaching 600 birds, 100 Shoveler, 2 Wigeon, 20 Pintail, 21 Gadwall and smaller numbers of Tufted Duck.

Observer and images: WSM

Frodsham Marsh Aerial Images

Frodsham Marsh mapA view looking out to the Weaver Estuary with the Manchester Ship Canal taking a sharp righthand turn and the Mersey Estuary beyond.02.10.15. Frodsham Marsh from Frodsham Hill. Tony Broome (9)

In the foreground and to the right lay the fields owed by the F&DW.02.10.15. Frodsham Marsh from Frodsham Hill. Tony Broome (7)

The Weaver Bend02.10.15. Frodsham Marsh from Frodsham Hill. Tony Broome (5)

Runcorn Hill and Weston Village beyond the works at Ineos Chlor.02.10.15. Frodsham Marsh from Frodsham Hill. Tony Broome (2)

The wooded area is the disused I.C.I tank which is mostly covered with Willow trees. The tip of Runcorn Bridge can just be seen.02.10.15. Frodsham Marsh from Frodsham Hill. Tony Broome (4)

The flooded section of No.6 tank with the expanse of the Mersey Estuary beyond.02.10.15. Frodsham Marsh from Frodsham Hill. Tony Broome (3)

Hale Lighthouse and in the foreground the banks of Frodsham Score.

Images by Tony Broome.

19.10.15. Birdlog

19.10.15. Birdlog

19.10.15. Ruff and Spotted Redshank, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

19.10.15. Cormorant, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton

An evening watch over the open water of No.6 tank produced a fine selection of ducks which included: c500 Common Teal, 21 Pintail, 67 Tufted Duck, 12 Gadwall, 34 Mallard, 87 Shoveler, 43 common Shelduck and 7 Common Pochard. The Cormorant roost reached 21 when I left but more were arriving. The small flock of Black-tailed Godwit were flushed by a mobile crane carrying a platform which poked above the tree line.

A Ruff followed the feeding pattern of the Spotted Redshank as it scythed its bill from side to side while the other wader followed in its wake.

18.10.15. Shoveler, No.6 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonA Sparrowhawk patrolled the shrubs along the bank on No.6 tank while a female Merlin was doing likewise above the Michaelmas Daisy beds, presumably hoping to flushed out a pipit?

Observer and images: WSM.

18.10.15. Chester RSPB Birdlog

18.10.15 Chester RSPB Birdlog

18.10.15. Chester RSPB Group field trip to Frodsham Marsh

We assembled on the motorway bridge that crosses the M56 on Marsh Lane before Chester RSPB’s field trip to Frodsham Marsh with Bill.

18.10.15. Chester RSPB field trip to Frodsham Marsh. Bill Morton18.10.15. Bramble Blossom, Frodsham Marsh birds by Tony Broome (3)

A full list of the species encountered from the day bird watch including as they were seen: A collection of released into the wild Red-legged Partridge in fields adjacent to Brook Furlong Lane, Goldfinch, Pied wagtail, Pheasant (again a released species bred in captivity and released into the wild for the purpose of shooting), Goldcrest – a passage migrant and seen on 3-4 occasions, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker was perched in trees by the horse paddock field, Robin, Dunnock and Blackbird noted.

A very late Swallow flew over head over the end of Brook Furlong Lane flying south-east and a little bizarre with a flock of Fieldfare chattering away nearby, 3 Stonechat were observed with a pair at Redwall reed bed and another male on No.5 tank, Reed Bunting, Wren and Blue Tit. Out on the Weaver Estuary was a dozen Mute Swan with 8 birds on No.6 tank, small numbers of Common Teal were on the river with 560 on No.6 tank, 12 Little Grebe, a Grey Wagtail flew over, 21 Cormorant were roosting here at dusk. Sat on top of the blue-topped chimney above the Ineos Chlor factory at Weston Point was the big female and her smaller suitor Peregrine Falcon, Raven were a familiar sight with birds flying over head, Tufted Duck reached a total of 87, 19 Coot, 32 Shelduck and 2 Kestrel.

18.10.15. male Stonechat, Redwall reed bed, Frodsham Marsh. Bill MortonA flock of 9 Pink-footed Geese flew over heading north, Mallard, a female Sparrowhawk was actively pursuing passerines in the elder shrub on Weston Marsh, Magpie, Wood pigeon, House Sparrow, Common Buzzard, Long-tailed Tit.

After sometime along the river the group retraced their steps along Brook Furlong and diverted along Moorditch Lane pausing briefly to take a look at the German P.O.W plauqe and listened to Bill updating the group on the progress and implications of the wind farm on the local environment and its wildlife. We eventually arrived onto No.5 tank were construction work on the turbines is still in progress and we stopped occasionally along the way to watch the birds below us on No.6 tank. Two Ruff were feeding knee-deep in the shallow waters while 123 Shoveler and 14 Pintail, 12 Wigeon, 21 Gadwall were feeding, Carrion Crow and 60 Black-headed Gull.

18.10.15. Moorhen feeding in elder tree, No.6 tank, Frodsham Mrahs. Bill Morton

A female Merlin zipped through and headed west above the daisy clumps, Lapwing, Great black-backed Gull, Redshank and 4 Black-tailed Godwit. The highlight from No.6 tank was a juvenile Spotted Redshank, Redwing, Bullfinch, 8 Pochard. The bird walk continued after lunch (minus Bill) and included other observations like seeing Jay, 1 Grey Heron, Feral Pigeon, Lesser black backed Gull, Common Gull, Little Egret, Canada Goose and a small flock of Siskin.

Chester RSPB Group and WSM (images 1-2 & 4-5)

18.10.15. Avocets, Frodsham Score, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

Tony took the opportunity to find his own birds and was overlooking the edge of the river with 8 Avocet on Frodsham Score. A Peregrine took advantage of the food source out pn the Mersey Estuary and was out hunting. It was joined a little later by a second bird which disputed the hunting grounds, both were engaged in an aerial battle with talons locked in strike mode.

18.10.15. Whooper Swan, Frodsham Marsh birds by Tony Broome (6)

18.10.15. Frodsham Score from the Point, Frodsham Marsh birds by Tony Broome (9)18.10.15. Rock Pipit, Frodsham Marsh birds by Tony Broome (9)A Goldcrest was at the old log while another two were on No.5 tank. 40 Wood Pigeon headed high to the south over No.1 tank. 5 Whooper Swan (including brown stained colouring which suggests fresh arrivals from Iceland) came in from the west over No.1 tank at 10.57 am and carried on south-west. A Kingfisher was on the Manchester Ship Canal, 25 Meadow Pipit on  No.1 tank and another 4 Stonechat were observed. A Cetti’s Warbler was singing a couple of times on No.6 tank, 100 Black-tailed Godwit on Score, 2 Common Snipe and a Grey Wagtail watched at these locations.

A couple of interesting birds included an anthus calling in flight from from Frodsham Score to the Weaver Estuary was a Rock Pipit. A smallish goose on the score looked like one of the Lesser Canada Goose types and requires further study.

Observer: Tony Broome (images 3, 6-9 ), Arthur Harrison.