Frodsham Marsh is my personal 'local patch', generally a local patch is an area where a single person or a group of birdwatchers choose to watch over a particular area in an attempt to see or record or even just chill out to watch its birds and/or the fauna and flora in that given area.
Where and Why: Frodsham Marsh is situated in the north west of Cheshire on the south banks of the River Mersey and is a mixture of farmland, salt marsh, woodland, river and industry. It lies on the northern edge of the Cheshire plain at the village of Frodsham. The route follows several tracks taking in two rivers, an active sludge deposit tank, hedgerow bordered lanes and open farmland all of which are ideal for owls, raptors, passerines and waterfowl. There is no particular time of day to see birds but high tides create the best opportunity for birds moving to and from the river.
The marsh is accessed at the south end of Main Street in the village via Marsh Lane. Once on Marsh Lane (SJ5078) park up and/or follow the road on foot. Follow the road over the bridge which crosses the M56 for a few minutes: Brook Furlong Lane is ahead with its hawthorn hedge bordered track. The hedgerows are good for late autumn/winter blackcap and chiffchaff and in previous years waxwing and hawfinch have been seen. Continuing along the track for a third of a mile and when the road starts to climb up a short steep ramp (at the fork in the lane), follow the left track up the ramp to Marsh Farm (SJ498791). At the first cattle grid check the pipes that run the length of No.1 tank (SJ5079) for stonechat.
Following the track to the west at the sharp S bend is No.3 tank (SJ4978) which has a series of shallow pools. This tank was set aside as mitigation during the creation of the wind farm. I once found a wintering curlew sandpiper here so again a good opportunity for those with a sharp eye. The open area is good for short-eared owl, marsh and the occasional hen harrier. It is possible to walk the perimeter of No.6 as the track circumnavigates the tank. At dusk huge numbers of starlings can gather to roost in the reed beds and spectacular murmurations create some bizarre shapes - they in turn attract raptors with sparrowhawk, merlin and harriers often seen together.
Lordship Lane can be reached by following Moorditch Lane as it baresleft skirting the outer walls of No.6 tank towards the outdoor carting site and model flying field. It is possible to circumnavigate this sludge tank and where it meets the ramp track between No.4 and No.6 tanks the fields towards the M56 motorway attracts a herd of whooper swan in the winter. If the stubble fields are flooded they can be good for linnet, stonechat and the occasional water pipit.
Sites and access
There are some access restrictions on the marsh most notably around the wind farm construction sites and it is advised that you should not enter areas where turbines are situated. The marsh is also a working site with farm vehicles and access required at all hours so if you do use a vehicle please remember to park where you are not blocking access. The roads/tracks and paths are pitted with pot-holes which can fill with rain water and are potentially a problem for vehicles. The location is not suitable for wheel chairs and the nearest public toilets are in the village.
For more information, visit the Frodsham Marsh Bird Blog for everything about the marsh.
Facebook: The Birds of Frodsham Marsh page for regular updates and information.
Facebook: Cheshire & Wirral Birders page for countywide bird news and comments.
Twitter: @FrodshamBirder for at the moment bird news as it happens from the marsh.