After I gave an illustrated talk on ‘The Birds of Frodsham Marsh’ to 1st Ashton & Manley Scouts this evening I managed a half hours birding with an impressive backdrop of a blood-red sunset over the Mersey estuary.
No.6 had a smallish flock of 46 Black-tailed Godwit feeding knee-deep in the centre of the dwindling water on the sludge tank. A few non/post breeding Lapwing are beginning to gather and that is always a sign or sigh of a turn in their fortunes for mid summer. A not so common Oystercatcer was fast asleep. Over 200 non-breeding plumaged Black-headed Gull had gathered to roost for the evening but were unsettled and kept rising up en masse before resettling.
The ducks were obviously still present (whenever are they not) with Common Shelduck still paired up, without any further signs of getting down to producing young. A couple of Common Pochard were joining up with the few Tufted Duck and both Mallard and Gadwell were well represented. The Coot flock were bunched in a tight group and numbered 43 birds.
A few Common Swift were riding the evening sky and a Reed Warbler was gurgling away in the reeds below the bank.
Observer and image: WSM
Overnight and early morning rain kept a visit to No.6 tank at bay until 9.30 am. The lay by at the north-eastern edge of the sludge tank was more than sufficient for the purpose of conducting my WeBS count. The added attraction of loads of low flying Common Swift does help when you’re watching from the banks.
The first brood of 10 ‘shelducklings’ with their parents was a first for the summer. Tufted Duck were back to something like their regular counts with 63 birds present. A raft of 10 drake and a single female Common Pochard joined the tufties. The Common Shelduck count was much reduced with only 111 birds. A drake Shoveler and 4 drake Common Teal were leftovers from last evening. The usual 43 Mallard and 64 Gadwall joined in the action as did 2 Little Grebe, 43 Coot, 2 Moorhen, 4 Mute Swan, 14 Canada Goose and 8 Grey Heron.
Shorebirds included a couple of Common Ringed Plover, 14 Lapwing and 121 Black-tailed Godwit spent the period feeding on the wet muddy margins to the shallow waters.
A female Marsh Harrier was seen over the reed beds. Nearby a Cetti’s Warbler serenaded during the course of the watch, while c100 Common Swift regularly whizzed past. and 60 Sand Martin were feeding low over the water.
A juvenile Little Grebe was on the ‘secluded pool’ and a pair of Marsh Harrier were both in the air together. There was also Common Buzzard and Kestrel along Lordship Lane, where the usual Reed Warbler and Bunting both were tuning up in the ditch alongside it. Butterflies produced Painted Lady and a single Brimstone were noted.
Observers: Paul Ralston (images 6-8), WSM (images 1-5).
An evening walk around No.6 tank produced a male Marsh Harrier over No.4 tank but it was too distant and didn’t range close.
A couple of Reed Warbler were still singing from the ditches alongside Lordship Lane with several Reed Bunting feeding on the dusty lanes.
A few Avocet could be heard but unseen on No.3 tank.
We eventually ended up looking out across the open waters of No.6 tank. Common Shelduck were the most numerous duck species with Gadwall a close second and Tufted Duck in at third position. There were 9 Common Pochard which is a surprise considering they are not always present on this sludge tank. Six drake Common Teal preening in the shallows could be non-breeding birds?
Observer: Sparky, WSM.
A very brief visit after work for an hour. The sightings are really a matter of completeness for the time of year with migration generally over for a few weeks. The assembled groups of ducks included a majority Common Shelduck with tens of both Mallard and Gadwall. The Tufted Duck flocks have vacated No.6 tank for the time being with just a handful present. A couple of Drake Shoveler and a drake Common Pochard were perhaps the highlight.
It comes to something when the largest flock of waders on the sludge tank are Dunlin but this evenings gathering saw 21 birds with 8 Ringed Plover. A dismal 17 Black-tailed Godwit was very low but one of them stood out with its fiery red plumage.
A female Marsh Harrier was floating over the reed beds and several Common Buzzard were about.
The mitigation area on No.3 tank was virtually devoid of any birds except for a single Gadwall.
There were plenty of Common Swift hawking insects above the banks of the tanks.
Observer and images: WSM.
This mornings visit was very much like yesterday with more or less the same species. The flock of 500 Black-tailed Godwit and 58 Dunlin were on th edge of the receding water line. Because of the falling water level on No.6 tank it concentrates the duck species so the numbers are slowly being edged out. Common Shelduck, Mallard and Gadwall are the commonest species with Tufted Duck varying with their continued flights out to the Weaver estuary and back. A solitary Shoveler flew in with a returning flock of tufties.
It was interesting to see the Raven flying over from Helsby Hill on their daily flight to plunder the deadstock on Frodsham Score.
A Marsh Harrier was again seen but distantly over No.3 tank.
A couple of Avocet were on the mitigation on No.3 tank but its more of a damp patch lately. Flocks of Common Swift were hawking high over the tank.
A recently dead kit Polecat was beside the road at Frodsham Swingbridge early am.
Observer: WSM (images 1-6).
Taking a walk along Brook Furlong Lane and along the River Weaver this morning just before the cloud burst occurred. There were singing Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler present and a male Bullfinch was noted. A Stoat ran across the path near the old birdlog at the junction of No.1 and 5 tanks. Nearby it drew agitated parties of both Linnet and Goldfinch. The Reed Warblers were again loud and proud with one bird singing within a yard or so of where I was standing and too close to focus my camera.
Raptors included Common Buzzard and Kestrel which were active in the area. A Cuckoo was giving its evocative song somewhere in the distance.
The usual ducks were on the river with a pair of non breeding Great Crested Grebe and a large number of Coot.
A vixen and her 3 cubs were play fighting on a lazy day afternoon while a Common Whitethroat was feeding its young.
Observer: Paul Ralston (images 7-11).
The Summer doldrums have arrived early to this part of Cheshire.
Most of the Black-tailed Godwit flock have relocated at Carr Lane Pools for the forseeable future. A visit to the marsh this morning produced few birds to whet the whistle. A look from Marsh Farm and the River Weaver wasn’t much better. I decided to to have a second look at the Iberian Chiffchaff at Kelsall which was a better alternative to what was on offer on the marsh this morning.
After getting some close views of Cheshire’s VIB and a Spotted Flycatcher it was back to the marshes and a circumnavigation of No.6 tank. On arrival at the viewing area which overlooks the north side of the sludge tank the Black-tailed Godwit flock had increased with a respectable 4-500 birds. The Dunlin flock that was here earlier was still present with 58 birds and a couple of Little Ringed Plover were chasing each other on the drier areas of bare ground.
The reed beds seem to be alive with Reed Warbler and one particular bird hoisted itself to the top of the reeds to belt out a song (video here: https://vimeo.com/220141545. A Cetti’s Warbler was again vocal and it needed to be with the drone of both the model aircraft and hovercraft off Lordship Lane.
A Peregrine hurtled through but didn’t divert from its course while nearby a male Sparrowhawk was on the prowl. A few Common Buzzard were riding the thermals and were joined by a female Marsh Harrier.
A late rain shower brought down several Common Swift and a few hirundines but soon after they gained height and were lost in the big blue yonder.
A view of the western half of No.6 tank (above) totally dry with newly emerging phragmites coming through.
Ducks were all over the place with 6 drake Common Pochard being the standout species (yes it’s that good here!).
The mitigation pools on No.3 tank are drying up just as quickly and held a couple of Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing and 4 Avocet.
There were at least 2 Painted Lady Butterfly at two widely separated spots today so I would guess there were many more. Small Tortoiseshell are increasing with Green-vein White and Speckled Wood’s emerging.
Observer and images: WSM.
A pleasant walk along the marsh lanes today saw a Cuckoo singing near to No.1 tank while the tunes of many warblers could be heard.
Observer: Ian Hughes et al.
I was walking out from Ince and along the Manchester Ship Canal then around No.4 tank this evening. The usual Mallard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Common Shelduck were on the pools at Ince. There were Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler in the hedgerows and a Great Spotted woodpecker flew by. Several hundred Canada Goose were on the ship canal while out on Frodsham Score salt marsh there was a Little Egret. A Hobby was seen over No.4 and a Barn Owl was out on Lordship Lane. The recent Hare activity saw another at the western end of the marshes.
Observer and images: Paul Ralston.