Monday, 30 June 2008

More of the same

Quick post-work visit...
3 LRplover at Freeman's Pools this evening, 2 vocal birds in flight (may have included the juv) and another (adult) on the island.
Oystercatcher family still seem to be doing well, though the coot brood is down to one.
There was an unfortunate bit of disturbance from a dog-walker who walked the entire main pool edge, freaking out all the parent birds. I had what I hope was a polite and instructive chat pointing out that the site was being managed as a wildlife site but in fairness, she did point out that there was nothing to imply as such. Though the mass of signs saying No Unauthorised Access, Danger Deep Water and such perhaps should have hinted that public access wasn't exactly being encouraged...
Lots of hirundines and swifts feeding over Freeman's Wood.
The 2 young coot on Darter Pool appear to be doing well, nearly adult sized now.
The drake shoveler was dabbling on the Wildfowlers' Pools, as viewed from the gate.
All being well, and based on previous year' experience, we could well see the first returning green sandpipers within the week...

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Nowt new...

A routine visit resulted in routine birds.
At least 2 oystercatcher youngsters seen at Freeman's Pools today, growing well. The drake shoveler, rapidly moulting into eclipse plumage, remains. The coot pair here still have 2 small chicks and just one adult LRP put in an appearance. My first patch dragonfly of the year put in a brief appearance though unfortunately it was way too far away to ID.
A large tatty peregrine put everything up over the marsh and latterly the Wildfowlers' Pools.
There were lots of swifts and hirundines (mainly house martins) around with good numbers, in particular, over the marsh at the sluiced channel.
Couple of whitethroat in song along the cycle track.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Another Aldcliffe first!

A late afternoon visit revealed a rather unexpected Aldcliffe first in the shape of an adult hobby.
The bird came over me from the direction of the marsh and went into Freeman's Wood where it was rapidly met by a rather agitated local kestrel. The pair engaged in a spectacular dog-fight over the wood and adjacent (Frog Pond) field for around 5 minutes. The hobby then flew back up the edge of the wood toward me and shot up over Freeman's Pools much to the alarm of the feeding house martins and swifts. After a total of around 12-15 minutes it disappeared over the pools and despite some thorough searching I failed to relocate it. Meanwhile Dan H arrived (I had, of course, called him about this fab patch tick) and while I went off to see if I could determine whether it had perched up somewhere around the pools he stayed put in case it reappeared which, much to his delight, it did.
Dan had it come out of the wood again in the area where it had battled with the kestrel but by the time I returned it had vanished and despite my hanging around for another hour or so I didn't see it again.
Other news: the juv LRP on the island was trying its wings out in front of an attentive mum & dad and was making short flights. Other (or just a mobile one of the above?) adult LRPs were on the Wildfowlers' Pools and Frog Pond.
Approx. 100 swift were feeding over the marsh and starling numbers are really building up there with the main feeding flock containing around 200 birds (though sadly nothing pink & black amongst them...)

Monday, 23 June 2008

Little oiks make an appearance

Freeman's Pools
Could just make out at least one oystercatcher chick with an adult in long grass by the pool side this evening, so presumably the young were able to get off the island somehow. Answers on a postcard...
Otherwise both adult LRPs were present though no youngster spotted.
The coot brood were down 1, to 2 chicks. No tufties or shoveler seen.

First moorhen chick of the year on the Wildfowlers' Pools.

Greylag pair with 4 goslings on the river.

My brother Dave saw a roe deer in the proposed nature reserve at Fairfield (viewed from the Millennium Orchard) this evening - certainly the first I've heard of there.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Friday Night and Saturday Morning

Friday eve.
A quick blast round after work revealed a few of things of note.
2 adult LRPs were flying around Freeman's Pools.
A coot pair had 3 newly hatched chicks here too, a breeding first for this relatively new site.
The oystercatcher pair have vacated the gravel island and there was no sign of the 3 young birds - will they pick up and carry young? Or have the nippers simply snuffed it in that horrible wet weather a couple of days ago?
Just 1 tufted duck present plus the drake shoveler.

Saturday morning
Just about avoided the rain...
c.50 swifts were feeding over Freeman's Wood.
The lone LRP chick, and both adults were seen at Freeman's Pools this morning. Still no sign of the little oiks. First sand martin here for a few weeks. Single tufted duck and drake shoveler.
A little owl was by the Wildfowlers' Pools.
A lesser whitethroat was singing in the hedgerow along the seawall path.
The mute swan pair have had a rotten time of it - after abandoning (for whatever reason) the first nest at Darter Pool they eventually hatched just one cygnet at Heron Pool and have now relocated, completely youngsterless, to Frog Pond.
A handsome toad (above) was encountered along the cycle track.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

More little oiks

Managed to spot at least 3 oystercatcher chicks on the island this evening. No sign of any wee LRPs and just 1 adult was visible. The shoveler pair were hanging around in a favourite corner with the drake being very aggressive to a passing moorhen. 2 tufties still there.
Arctic tern again over the marsh.
Lesserthroat responded well to pishing and showed down to a couple of feet.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Little Oiks

At last, I had my first sighting of a young oystercatcher this evening. Just one recently hatched chick was seen on the gravel island at Freeman's Pools with a very attendant parent.
Otherwise it was business as usual. 2 drake tufteds, 2 shoveler etc.
A single Arctic tern was fishing in the small pools over Aldcliffe Marsh for the second time this week, perhaps there's actually a pair at the old colony after all. I'll check it out when I'm doing my WeBS count this weekend...
The curious drainage sink-hole near the parking area at Railway Crossing Lane has been keeping my interest of late. It seems to be full of stickleback of some kind, a number of which are gravid. Often in with them are loads of shrimp. Now, I'm not sure whether this pool is supplied by salt water from the Lune or a fresh water spring and to be honest, I'm a bit confused as to why it has what I thought were a freshwater fish species and shrimp, which I conversely assumed were salt or brackish water dwellers. Wikipedia, here I come!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Gloomy Sunday

A brief and terribly timed blast around early evening (my visit coincided nicely with the only significant spell of cold, wet weather all day. Smashing).
Not much doing, jut 2 drake tufted duck remaining on Freeman's Pools, along with the shoveler pair and just one LRP visible. No new sprogs noted, apart from a newly fledged brood of blue tits along the cycle track.
Oh well, only a few weeks and I can start looking forward to the first post-breeding green sandpipers...

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Aldcliffe kindergarten

Friday eve.
After a few days of work/domestic related obstacles I finally managed a quick tea-time visit.
The most notable thing was the appearance of many young birds - lapwings in particular seem to have done reasonably well at hatching decent broods, though of course it's early days...
The tufted duck bachelor party now includes 5 birds at Freeman's Pools and the drake shoveler is still present, though looking rather tatty. 2 LRP present.
Fledged broods of blackcap, whitethroat, willow warbler and robins etc were encountered along the cycle track and a little owl was on the receiving end of 2 very agitated lesser whitethroat on the upper path.
The coot pair on Darter Pool still have 2 very healthy looking young.

Saturday morning.
Yet more lapwing sprogs about the place, though I'm not sure how well the maize-field broods will fare following a chemical spraying this morning. No sign of any oystercatcher chicks yet despite a number of pairs.
Confirmation of successful breeding by the LRPs again, though I could only see one chick - hopefully others have hatched and were simply keeping hidden.
The coot pair at Bank Pool still have their 2 young despite my fearing the worst last week.
A lesser whitethroat was in full song in Freeman's Wood.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Mediocrity rules

You may have noticed a slowdown in the regularity of postings - that's because nothing much has changed.
Well, I say nothing. The big news this week was the arrival of a further drake tufted duck making the total 3m, 1 f. The greylags (30+ usually) continue to hang around Freeman's Pools quite a bit and a little grebe remains there, as well as the LR plover pair. Hares really seem to taken to the place too.
The coot pair at Bank Pool appear to have lost their chicks and I could only see 1 of the young with the parents on Darter Pool. Both common and lesser whitethroats seem to be busy feeding young along the cycle track and there are lots of fledged long-tailed tits around.
Plenty of blue-tailed damsels but no dragonflies as yet...

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Same old same old...

Past couple of days have revealed little new.
I even went out later yesterday evening (7.30-9pm) in the hope that I might witness something a bit different but it was pretty much business as usual, though to be fair a vocal grey partridge in Low Wood paddocks was worthy of note .
Unfortunately I don't even have the 'excitement' of moth sightings to post to brighten up these rather dull times (as I have neither the gear nor the knowledge to provide such information).
To summarise: 2 shoveler, 3 tufted duck, 2 LR plover plus numerous mallard, greylags, Canada geese, the odd common and lesser whitethroat, blackcap etc. kestrel, reed bunting and so on.
The coots on Darter Pool are now something of a reduced family with just two chicks currently surviving.
The increase in breeding coot in the Aldcliffe area in the past 2-3 years seems to have coincided neatly with far fewer moorhen nests early in the season. Last year no moorhens successfully bred until well after the coot young had fledged - I assume that the more aggressive coots take the best sites first?

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Mixed weather brings little change

Saturday was glorious weather-wise but little of note bird-wise. The usual fare really, with the avocets still absent. Last seen on Tuesday (to my knowledge) the pair have obviously decided that Freeman's Pools are not as much to their liking as it first appeared...

Sunday highlights were the re-appearance of tufted ducks, 2 drake and 1 duck, on Freeman's Pools and the sight of approximately 120 swift over the estuary. A cloud of 40+ house martins also dropped by briefly.