Frodsham: A Great Grey Day

Frodsham Marsh is by far and least the holy grail of Cheshire birding. With the highest list of any site in the county with an incredible 261 species recorded including the likes of Lesser Scaup, Whiskered & Gull-billed Tern, Collared Pratincole, Wilson’s Phalarope along with Stilt & Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, it’s no wonder why it was the birding grounds for a young Cheshire birder by the name of Martin Garner. Taking into account the epic site that Frodsham Marsh is, it’s strange in knowing that I’ve ever made 4 visits to the site and something which I do feel a little ashamed about.

Whilst out on a mini tour of North Wales with birding buddies Luke Anderson & Tom Wright, we had a call from mum saying that she’d had a notification from Bird Guides saying that a Great Grey Shrike had been reported at Frodsham Marsh !? For those who are unaware then any shrike species in Cheshire is very much a MEGA, in the last 10 years there’s only been 2 records of Great Grey Shrike in Cheshire the 1st being at Moore NR, Warrington in 2007 and the 2nd of which being at Frodsham Marsh in 2016 were funnily enough a Red-necked Grebe was also present, which as you can guess I missed both due to illness.

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Great Grey Shrike – Little Woolden Moss, Gtr Manchester (My 1st encounter with this species)

Having already added Great Grey Shrike to my British Life List back last November with an extremely showy 1st winter bird present on Cheshire – Gtr Manchester boarder at Little Woolden Moss. So with me still needing an overdue visit to Frodder’s not forgetting that I needed it as a Cheshire tick with Tommy & Lukey needing the Shrike as a life tick, it was all set in stone for a meet up at the marsh the following day at precisely 10:00am.

Arriving at the rondayvoo with no sign of Tom we decided to give him a bell to only find out that he’d somehow managed to end up at the completely wrong end of the marsh despite being given not only the post code for the rondayvoo point but also a screen shot of where and when to be. As little Tommy now on a fresh set of instructions Mr Anderson & I advanced towards the site in question in what can only be described as the most dull & dressing weather imaginable that not just damped our mood but washed away all hoping of making a successful connection with the bird.

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The bird was at best a scoped one, but didn’t stop us from attempting a handful of record shots in the rain

After a good 20mins later the pair of us came to the viewing point with local birders Frank Duff, Ian Igglesdale & David Haigh who kindly pointed us in the right direction and sure enough it was an instant click; Cheshire tick for me and a Life tick for Luke, but were was little old Tommy ? Well he really did deserve to see the bird for this as he was now at the other wrong end of the marsh, but after a frustrating 15mins of guiding him round the marsh he finally found his way to us were he finally saw the Shrike. Shame he wasn’t around 15mins earlier otherwise he wouldn’t of just seen he shrike much closer, but we would have had the honour and presage to view an OTTER which was sat right out on the bank only a couple of meter away from the road from which we walked along to get back to the station.

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Think I’ll have to pass on digi-scoping the next twitch I go on

We would have loved to have spent more time with the bird and explored more of Frodsham Marsh but sadly due to the weather we unable to do so and we had to call it a day. Grant it’ll probably hold title for worse twitch of 2017, but the action was quiet over yet as on the train back down to Chester I was casually peering out of the window just seeing what was about. I had the standard Buzzards, Crows, Woodpigeons etc. But something which I wasn’t expecting to come across was a Green Woodpecker flying not just in close proximity but parallel to the train that resulted in Luke getting his second lifer of the day and me scoring a train tick! 

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Here it is folks, my best shot of the Great Grey Shrike taken with a combo of Canon 70D & Canon 5.6 400mm

Thank you for taking time to read my post but let’s not forget to praise the finder of this magnificent bird John Donagh. You can read all about his priceless discovery with more (and better) images here on the *Frodsham Marsh Bird Blog*

 Thanks for reading,

Elliot.

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