Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Flava of the Month, or Yellow Peril

Dan here.

After a couple of days away the patch seemed to be gently pulsing with new blood this morning; lots more Willow Warblers (one pictured) with c20 dotted around, a couple of extra male Blackcaps and 2 Lesser Whitethroats doing the old squiggle and rattle in the hedgerows..

Ten White Wagtails (the continental cousins of our Pied) were on The Flood along with three of the British race, where three Little Ringed Plovers were feeding.

A Black-tailed Godwit was at the Wildfowlers pools, as were two Snipe. A pair of Stock Doves were at the foot of Trig Hill and 3 Pink-footed were on the marsh.

After a good look round I thought it safe to retreat to the vantage platform near Marsh Point, perhaps to spy a late-ish Osprey and log some passerine vis mig.

Following a couple of hours of light Redpoll sp. and Siskin passage (c20 and c8 respectively) plus 10 Swallows and 22 Sand Martins, I was pleased to hear the refreshing spizzz of a migrating Tree Pipit and a short while later thrilled by a heard-only but northbound Yellow Wagtail.

As most of you will be aware, yellow wags are highly desirable round these parts...I daresay they haven't bred in the parish for several decades, and I could count the number of my Aldcliffe records (in 15 years) on one slightly mutated hand-- and one of those was of the blue-headed race.

I felt even more smug than usual that I had concentrated on the skies, which had seemed like the right thing to do in clear and fairly calm conditions. But ignore the muddy deck at your peril, because shortly after the tripit/flava one-two I heard on the grapevine that a Mr. Woodruff had just been watching a terrestrial Yellow Wagtail just a kilometre away.

Having being trumped by a visitor, I sloped home to lick my wounds in front of the computer, only to read that U3A shrikefinder general Jeff Butcher had also visited MY patch and had found TWO YWs in the same spot as Mr. Woodruff.

Traumatising. Whether today's yellow fever relates to 'just' two or the more likely three individuals is difficult to say, but either way, it's a very good result for this species in 21st Century Aldcliffe.

In other yellow news. 2-3 male Brimstone butterflies were seen patrolling. Also an early Green-veined White.



Friday, 11 April 2014

We Three Rings

Dan reporting, on a clear and sunny day with a few migrants but like yesterday little to shout about.

Three Little Ringed Plovers were together on The Flood, while a male Wheatear was not too far away on the saltmarsh.

A Lesser Whitethroat was singing near the young spruce plantation that will hopefully attract groppers in the next few years. Willow Warblers weren't much in evidence but Chiffchaffs could be seen and heard very easily, with around 15 noted this morning. Two female Blackcaps were in the vicinity of two babbling males near Stodday. The singing Song Thrush pictured was nearby.

A little visible migration was noted between 0800 and 0900, with at least 30 Meadow Pipits, 15 Siskins and 12 Lesser Redpolls over and heading N. There was then an hour-long lull for no obvious reason-- then a few more northbound MP, SK and LR.

A Lesser Redpoll was quietly trilling in a tree near Aldcliffe village , and a Grey Partridge was calling by the sewage works tanks.


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Emberiza Synthesizer?

Hello. Dan here.

The parish was full of colour and song early morning, nowhere moreso than the Stodday stretch of the path. Aside from the strident sounds of Wrens, Chaffinches, Blackbirds, Chiffchaffs and Greenfinches, a Greenshank (fairly scarce here in spring) called noisily as it flew upriver.

Three Kestrels were chittering as they played kiss chase around one of the pylons.

Faint strains of something akin to Yellowhammer song were heard from the Aspen plantation, but its source wasn't sighted. It could have been the one that got away, or it could have been a Blackcap, since the troubadour pictured above was skilled at mimicry, with overtures featuring the alarm calls of Swallow, Robin and Blackbird.

Three Eiders (two drakes) were on the estuary. Some rather high vis. was limited to c25 Meadow Pipits, some typically invisible Siskins and a Lesser Redpoll, all heading NNW.

Late afternoon saw a bit of Sand Martin passage with c25 noted over Willow Lane.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Know Your Linnets

Dan here.

A day of changeable skies, with a half-decent list of summer migrants for so early in April, but nothing too exciting found.

A smattering of hirundines were passing through in the afternoon, with 2 Swallows and 12 Sand Martins noted.  Morning vis seemed non-existent in evidently unfavourable weather.

Three male Blackcaps were around the Stodday zone of the shared use path, with a female in the Aspen plantation there. 4-5 Chiffchaffs here.

Chromedome-- the pale headed Long-tailed Tit was back on his sewage works beat after moonlighting up at Dawson's Bank.

Four Willow Warblers were in song along Upper Track, as well as three Chiffchaffs...much Goldfinch activity in the hedgerows and five or six male Greenfinches displaying along the main drag.

Just one Wheatear was noted, at first feeding on a dung heap, then flitting out onto the saltmarsh.

Little Ringed Plovers comprised the male and the (rather drab) probable female as snapped above, and a third bird seen by U3A bird-finder extraordinaire Jeff Butcher. No sign of any Green Sandpipers today.

A nice count of 77 Linnets was made late afternoon, though when a female Sparrowhawk shot through the maize stubble fields many more (perhaps 120 in total) were spooked, along with c100 Meadow Pipits.

A Grey Partridge was singing near Frog Pond.

A non-breeding plumage Great Crested Grebe was near the pylons, where 4 Ravens were interacting.

Butterflies seemed to be in short supply even when the sun came out--  two Peacocks were on the wing.

Yesterday evening a Lesser Whitethroat-- perhaps Jon's bird from the other day-- was singing in what's left of Freeman's Scrub. Such an early arrival for this species (average early date about the 15th of April).


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Eider Known You Were Coming, Eider Baked a Cake...

This morning's check around the patch was at least a dry one, but that wind was way too westerly for anything much in the way of migrants. Back when I worked in Morecambe I would visit the Stone Jetty daily, pre-work and again at lunchtime. Onshore winds in spring could be pretty productive there, but sadly Aldcliffe rarely benefits from such conditions.
Consequently, I found little of note. Freeman's Pools were bereft of all wildfowl and waders (had some predator or early local dog-walker with a footpath aversion cleared everything out?). 3 little egrets were fishing there, plus a trio of roe deer were grazing the southern perimeter but that was about it. Three sand martin were feeding over the main pool.
A pair of grey partridge were in the fields to the south of the bunds.
The Wildfowlers' Pools held at least 6 gadwall, a drake wigeon and a handful of teal and shelduck.
Multiple chiffchaffs continue to sing from the cycle track shrubbery with a solitary willow warbler in much the same place as yesterday.
Interesting to see that a pair of red-breasted merganser and 5 eider were on the river.
The 70 or so pinkfeet were still on Colloway, and a peregrine was patrolling the estuary but there was no sign of anything new in.


Monday, 7 April 2014

Crappy Monday

The early murk and drizzle looked promising and so I headed off to scour the patch in search of migrant birds. I got a thorough soaking and ended up chilled to the bone during my two hours trawl of all the Aldcliffe hotspots.
Well dear readers, I'm sorry to say that my customary optimism once again failed to pay off and it was really very poor out there. Such is the way for those familiar with birding Aldcliffe.
The various pools and the Flood were all unremarkable with no sign of anything off-passage; out on the marsh there was little of note looming in the gloom.
All along the cycle track the ever-present sound of singing chiffchaffs was encouraging, but I could only locate a single willow warbler - my first for the year. Cheered up by this sweet voiced migrant, I piled on and found just 3 singing blackcaps between the cutting and Stodday.
A red-breasted merganser on the Lune was the only duck of interest, while c70 lingering pink-footed geese grazed out on Colloway Marsh.

Let's just hope that next time I get a day off, conditions are a bit more 'birdy'...


Friday, 4 April 2014

Ouz a Pretty Girl Then?

Dan here.

A female Ring Ouzel was a most unexpected find in the parish this evening (03/04/14). It was feeding the tidal debris near the paddocks on the Stodday stretch of the estuary, before spotting me, giving a series of  lovely dry crackly alarm calls and spreading its silver-grey wings to escape.

I saw it again few minutes later as it rose from the narrow walled field near the pylons and paused on a small tree... at which point I managed to get a single photo-- which was as rubbish a shot of an ouzel (with its back turned) as can be.

It got away and to my chagrin I couldn't reconnect. Me first lowland RZ round here. What a bonnie thrush.

A female Blackcap wasn't too far from two males near the sewage works, and six Chiffchaffs were within 200m of each other. 2 Goldcrests were calling from ivy-clad hawthorns close by.