A Nordic Jackdaw (revisited)

08-12-16-nordic-jackdaw-runcorn-heath-park-fields-bill-morton-1608-12-16-nordic-jackdaw-runcorn-heath-park-fields-bill-morton-13A couple of years ago 19th December 2014 to be exact I came across a Jackdaw with pale whitish patches to the sides of its neck and concluded it was a Nordic Jackdaw belong to the form Corvus monedula monedula. I regularly saw the bird in an area parkland off Park Road, Runcorn throughout the winter and into the following Spring. During that summer it was paired up with a Western Jackdaw C. m. spermologus and was even seen attending to a nest site in the chimney of a nearby house. I saw the bird again in late July and then again in the autumn and into the new year of 2015. There were sporadic sightings of the bird again throughout 2015.

08-12-16-nordic-jackdaw-runcorn-heath-park-fields-bill-morton-10

I didn’t have an opportunity of keeping a regular watch on the Nordic Jackdaw from April 2016 but did notice it was still present at the end of November. The bird was again seen into December.

A great opportunity for those observers/photographers interested in seeing this race in Cheshire and getting some excellent photographs. The bird is attracted to food and can be seen down to a few feet.

nordic-jackdaw-map

The Nordic Jackdaw site is at Park Road, Runcorn and can be seen at the boating lake attracted to bread thrown by families feeding the Mallards or on the nearby playing fields within c130 Western Jackdaws. Grid reference: SJ510815. Nearest post code: WA7 4PU

Video of Nordic Jackdaw here: https://vimeo.com/194849552

Observer and video/images: WSM.

11.10.16. Birdlog

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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.

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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.

Pinkies

Pinkies

Pink Footed Geese 1 Hale 04 12 15. Mike Roberts

Pink Footed Geese 12 Hale 04 12 15Three images from Mike Roberts of a herd of Pink-footed Geese resting out on Hale Marsh just a short flight away from Frodsham. A Skein of 400 birds were noted moving through from Hale yesterday and headed east over Frodsham Marsh per DC.

Pink Footed Geese 9 Hale 04 12 15.Mike Roberts

Hale Marsh and its ‘pinkie’ flock with Christchurch at Weston Point and Runcorn Hill across the River Mersey beyond.

All images Mike Roberts.

Nordic Jackdaw in Wilmslow

Nordic Jackdaw in Wilmslow

29.11.15. Nordic Jackdaw, Wilmslow. Tony Broome (2)

It’s not often this blog ventures from the security of the Mersey but Mr Broome has got something to enhance an article I did some time ago about an eastern Jackdaw at the Heath, Runcorn (see link below).

Nordic Jackdaw in Wilmslow

29.11.15. Nordic Jackdaw, Wilmslow. Tony Broome (4)

29.11.15. Nordic Jackdaw, Wilmslow. Tony Broome (5)28.11.15.  After having cooked a roast chicken dinner on Saturday, I kept the carcass and skin like I always do, so that the local corvids can get chance to squabble over the remains. On Sunday morning I threw the leftovers onto the grass verge opposite my house. Various dogs on leads had to be dragged past the spot by their mystified owners who probably wondered where a cooked chicken had appeared from.

29.11.15. Nordic Jackdaw, Wilmslow. Tony Broome (3)

However, it wasn’t long before the local Magpie troupe had found it and they started to pick at the pieces around the outside. Surprisingly, the six of them were booted off unceremoniously by four Black-headed Gulls that suddenly dropped in and claimed the corpse. I thought that the Magpies would have put up more of a fight but they scattered. As the bones dwindled in number, a Jackdaw dropped in to join the feast and I immediately noticed that it had obvious silvery-white patches either side of its neck. It had to be one of the eastern ones. I grabbed my camera but unfortunately I had it set for sky and had to shoot through a double-glazed window. The results weren’t brilliant.

29.11.15. Nordic Jackdaw, Wilmslow. Tony Broome (1)

It wasn’t a particularly dark bird underneath and there was some contrast between the black throat and the dark grey underparts which were mottled black. The black fore-crown and centre crown contrasted greatly with the pale grey ear coverts, nape and neck which terminated on the neck sides in pale silvery-white patches that almost met around the nape when the bird stretched its head up. The mantle, like the underparts, was dark grey with black blotching in neat rows, particularly on the coverts. When turned face-on the neck patches even looked white at times. The wings and tail were blackish grey, although the greater coverts, secondaries and tertials took on a metallic royal blue hue at certain angles. It was quite an attractive bird and the last thing I expected when I threw my chicken carcass onto the grass.

The race of Jackdaw that breeds in Britain, most of western Europe and Italy is Common Jackdaw (a named coined by the Dutch birders) ‘spermologus’ which is the Jackdaw you normally see around and about and the common breeder. In Scandinavia, Nordic Jackdaw,’monedula’, similar to the bird in the pictures, is the usual race and then further east into Russia is ‘soemmerringii’, Russian Jackdaw, a much darker race with generally blacker underparts, paler grey heads and whiter neck patches. In between the Russian and Scandinavian races there are integrades and similarly, between the European and Scandinavian races there intergrades. They are a complex.

This bird was very similar to the one that is discussed on the Frodsham Blog, hence the write-up.

A great article is on Martin Garners website, Birding Frontiers, and it has lots of photos and a link to the Dutch birding site. Martin’s site

http://birdingfrontiers.com/2011/04/10eastern-jackdaws/

A link to the Runcorn Eastern Jackdaw:

https://frodshammarshbirdblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/07/eastern-jackdaw-in-runcorn/

https://frodshammarshbirdblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/26-01-15-birdlog/

Thanks to Dave Craven and Bill Morton for commenting on the photos.

Tony Broome

Eastern Jackdaw in Runcorn

Eastern Jackdaw in Runcorn

25.12.14. Nordic Jackdaw, Runcorn Heath. Dave Kennedy

During the last couple of winters I have on several occasions seen Jackdaws with a shock of silvery white on their necks but never had the opportunity to get photographs and at the end of 2014 I still hadn’t but I know someone who did.

The further east you go in Northern Europe the nominate Western Jackdaw (the form we get in the UK) gets replaced by one of the Eastern forms and one form Corvus monedula monedula aka Nordic Jackdaw has been reported on numerous occasions mainly during the Autumn and Winter in the UK and Ireland. Although many maybe intergrades between western and eastern birds.The video link below shows a bird which I initially found on 13th December 2014 close to the boating lake at Heath Park, Runcorn and then refound by Dave Kennedy who managed to get his video of the bird. He obtained further images (above) and video (below video link) of this bird which appears to be paired with a Western Jackdaw and prospecting a chimney stack at a house close by. Make your own mind up on the racial identification of this bird but if you are interested in seeing it for yourselves then early morning is best. The flock of seventy-odd birds is best seen before the dog walking co-operatives are out and about. It associates with a ‘normal’ Jackdaw which has some white in the wing so not too difficult to find.

Christmas Day 2014. Heath Park Football fields, Runcorn. http://vimeo.com/116152088

Second video shows the bird on a chimney top.

http://vimeo.com/116102616

Images and video by Dave Kennedy.

A Grey Chiffchaff

21.12.14. Siberian Chiffchaff, Runcorn Hill. Andy Humphreys (2)

I thought you might be interested in this Chiffchaff that Andy Humphreys came across on Runcorn Hill LNR on Sunday 21st December in area of heathland called ‘The East Quarry’. The bird was bathing in a small pool and was also heard to call several times a distinct Bullfinch like “peep”.

21.12.14. Siberian Chiffchaff, Runcorn Hill. Andy Humphreys (3)The bird by call ticks the right box for an Eastern Chiffchaff but some of the plumage features falls into that shadowy area of a grey Chiffchaff. Note the all black bill, complete absence of any green or yellow on mantle and head, grey mantle, pale super and almost white underparts. There is a faint ‘double’ wing bar (a little odd) caused by the pale tips to the greater and median coverts. The cheeks are also pale or appear so from the photographs. There is the Bonellis Warbler like effect caused by the contrast between the mantle and the yellowish colour on the closed wing and a faint trace can be noted on the tail.

21.12.14. Siberian Chiffchaff, Runcorn Hill. Andy Humphreys (1)

There are three collybita race present elsewhere on the hill and these can be heard at any time of the day. Incidently, I did hear the what sounded like a tristis “peep” calling yesterday by the bowling greens in the formal park.

If you decide to pay a visit over the next few days then any comments and/or photographs would be welcomed. I have included a map of Runcorn Hill where Andy spotted the “Chiffchaff”. The access is best from the car park off Highlands road and then walk east or through the hill walks to the East Quarry (see map below).

Runcorn Hill Map (3)

Also of interest was a Nordic Jackdaw with the 73 Common Jackdaw on the football fields on Park Road last week and worth having a look for.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Birds-of-Frodsham-Marsh

Cattle Egret #2 for Frodsham Marsh

Cattle Egret #2 for Frodsham Marsh by Tony Broome

13.12.14. Track on No.5 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

An early start and out of bed for 6.30 am, made the toast, sandwiches and coffee for another days birding Frodsham Marsh. I was hoping to be on site for 8am … wrong! My car was full of work stuff from a busy week and had to be emptied, that was once I’d got into the car! I couldn’t open the doors, the temperature being -4c and the car door frames were completely frozen shut! The pitfalls of working in all weathers and terrain. A little perseverance and eventually I was heading west. The roads were like glass and even the M56 hadn’t been gritted, my wheels sliding on a couple of occasions.
I stopped off at Costa Coffee in Frodsham (other coffee outlets are available…eds) and got my usual take-out latte fix with orange syrup (well, it is Christmas!). It was unusually busy…but I realised it was me that was late…being after 9 am. I drove over the motorway bridge at Marsh Lane, turned left and headed for No.6 tank to do the walk that I’ve decided suits me at the moment. The open water on the tank was virtually empty with ice covering most of it, a small number of Common Teal and Lapwings were huddled at the far side in what little water was open. It had warmed up, being a balmy -2c.

13.12.14. track to No.4 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeI began to walk along the track towards No’s 3 and 4 tanks. A small group of five Ruff flew in from the west and disappeared over to the far side. I finally approached the western end of No.3 when I suddenly realised, I needed Wellington’s. The boots were warmer but a pair of wellies would have suited a bash of bog trotting looking for Jack Snipe. Muttering, I turned and went back to the car, making the decision to drive around to No.4 tank and off the marsh for a comfort and coffee break in Church Street. The day seemed to be rushing past me and I hadn’t done anything yet. Returning back to the marsh I meet Arthur Harrison by chance and after exchanging pleasantries and enquiring about the other Frodsham regulars, I wondered where there were? No sign of Frank, who, it turned out, had slipped on the ice and injured his thigh and elbow quite badly. Also, no sign of Bill either?

13.12.14. No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome
The tracks were virtually undrivable, the pot holes full of deep water, but I was just glad to had arrived at last to the corner of No.4/3 and 6 tanks. I walked out to my favourite view-point, the north-east corner of the tank overlooking Frodsham Score. I put my rucksack down and got the toast and coffee out before scanning the Score. It was a fabulous spot, offering virtually a 360 degree view. The swans and geese were a long way to the west and the tide was out.

There were thousands of Lapwings and Golden Plovers which periodically erupted into a blizzard of birds as unseen raptors ambushed them out amongst the creeks. I stood and took it all in, munching on the toast and marmalade, savouring the peace and isolation. There was always something to see and my intention was to wander around any flooded marshy patches and to wait for the Starling roost.

13.12.14. Cattle Egret, Canal Pools, frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome
The wind was from the west but felt very cold, even as the temperature went into the positive side of zero degrees. I pulled by snook higher to cover my nose, tightened the drawstring on my gloves and put my hood up. It was going to be a long, very cold afternoon. I idly counted the cattle on No.3 and casually scanned towards Marsh Farm through my binoculars and immediately noticed a small white shape in the distance flying towards me. A gull? No, too white. Oh, an egret, probably a Little, but it looked ‘odd’. Somehow the wings looked shorter and it had a stiffer wing beat. Maybe not. I watched it come towards me. Alarm bells started to ring, especially as it suddenly veered towards the cattle and dropped in amongst them. Little’s didn’t do that! I swiveled the scope towards it and peered expectantly at the bird and couldn’t believe my eyes, it was indeed a Cattle Egret! I watched, feeling a sense of mild euphoria. I’d missed the first one for Frodsham Marsh last year and it was great to actually find my own instead. Logic told me that it was probably the Burton Marsh bird wandering further afield. I took off my gloves and got my camera out.

13.12.14. Cattle Egret, Canal Pools, frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

The egret was on the edge of the herd and still a long way off so my first efforts were very record shot-ish. I began to make phone calls to the locals. Bill didn’t answer so I sent him a text. Frank didn’t answer either. Arthur did…and I believe he, immediately left his lunch on the table, Marie Celeste – like and headed back to the marsh. Frank called me, nursing his sore limbs from his fall earlier. However, the painkillers had began to work and a Cattle Egret on his local patch was too much of a temptation for him to stay house-bound and he too hobbled into his car and drove down. No reply from Bill again as I called. Where was he? Eventually, I got a strange text back asking me if I was on the marsh today? None of my attempts had reached him and he was about as far east as you can go, along the River Weaver. I text him back. ‘Cattle Egret on No3’….to which I got an even stranger reply back…’Seriously?’ ….but was then on his way in no particular hurry as always.

13.12.14. Cattle Egret, Canal Pools, frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeAfter all this messaging I’d almost forgot about the Cattle Egret and when I tried to relocate it, it wasn’t there anymore! I scanned in desperation. Had it flown off? The others were heading my way as I searched. It suddenly walked out of the grass and into the open. Phew! It was still here. I crept closer and hid on the back side of a small mound by the ‘Splashing Pool’ and managed to get some better photographs. It hardly ever stopped moving and I missed the best shots when my battery ran out and I had to change it, cursing as I dropped it into the grass. My hands were freezing.

13.12.14. Cattle Egret, Canal Pools, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome

The egret had an interesting way of feeding. It would deliberately goad the cattle, walking up to them and standing in front of their noses, which seemed to irritate them and they chased it. Then it would stand nearby, neck extended and waving from side to side while keeping its head perfectly still, whilst it fluffed up its crown feathers. It was bizarre to watch and I can’t say I’ve noticed it before. It would then run around the rear of the cattle and pick up prey items. It also fed out in the open away from the cattle, following a strip of disturbed earth through some sheep. Bill and I watched it as it caught and gulped down a vole, probably a Short-tailed Field Vole, a nice fulsome meal.

13.12.14. Cattle Egret, Canal pools, frodsham Marsh. Tony BroomeTypically, the Cattle Egret, a small white egret with a pronounced jowl. The bill was orangey-yellow, the cere pale yellow-green and the eye pale yellow with a dark iris. The short, stocky legs and feet greyish possibly with a pinkish tone in places. Overall it was all white with just a hint of a peach or apricot wash around the crown, jowls and breast.

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As Bill and I watched it, it moved into the canal pool area and we lost sight of it around 3.15 pm. We didn’t see it fly but I guess with the cattle being out on No.3, it will stay around. Unfortunately Paul Ralston turned up just after it moved out of sight, but the bird looked settled and I guess during the course of its stay those who want to add it to their Frodsham Marsh list will catch up with it. I returned to my car and topped the coffee flask up with boiling water from my mobile primus stove and then returned to the watch where we stood in the falling temperatures, eating chocolate bars in eager anticipation of the forthcoming Starling murmuration that would be treating us to a show.

13.12.14. Starlings, No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Broome
Dusk fell as we waited and as the Starlings began to arrive, we were treated to a spectacular sunset. They swirled around in various flocks, one numbering thousands, which enveloped the cattle on No.3 like some dark cloak as they landed for one last feed before bedding down. Interestingly, the birds roosted in several different areas, making me wonder if they changed their roost nightly in an attempt to outwit the waiting raptors. All in all, a very enjoyable day on the marsh.

13.12.14. Starlings over No.3 tank, Frodsham Marsh. Tony Brome (3)
Tony Broome (and images).