Thursday, 31 July 2008

Raven vs Hare

An unusual observation this evening in the form of a raven actively chasing a hare on the saltmarsh. The hare would run short zig-zags then the raven would hop/fly toward it and try and hack at it only for the hare to leg it again. This went on for some time until the hare took cover and the raven got bored and flew off. All the while a group of 5 carrion crows watched on with mounting interest. It was like something from Aesop's fables..!
Otherwise it was the same old stuff really - the 3 green sandpipers were still on the Wildfowlers' Pools along with 4 snipe. Another 4 snipe were on The Flood.
Little grebes were on Darter Pool and Freeman's Pool.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Green sandpipers remain

Arrived at Aldcliffe after a thorough drenching just in time for a clear, warm 30 minute window. At Freeman's Pools an adult little grebe was 'new' in, otherwise all was quiet there.
The juv little grebe was still on Darter Pool alongside the usual suspects.
The Wildfowlers' Pools held the 3 green sandpipers in-residence plus 8 snipe and a lone female/eclipse teal - tried to string it as a garganey but it was, frankly, nothing like one. A sparrowhawk was ruffling a few feathers around the pools.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Monday early evening

1 green & 3 common sandpiper at Freeman's Pools, despite the hot weather having attracted a couple of the nearby Marsh Estate's lets say, more infamous brothers having clearly been enjoying a swim.
Soon a bunch of, admittedly relaxed and utterly non-destructive, teenagers arrived for a trample around the pools, successfully flushing everything in the process! Oh well...
Nearby, the Wildfowlers' Pools contained a further 2 green sandpipers and 5 snipe. 2 meadow pipit passed over.
The juv little grebe was again at Darter Pool (where a lone emperor was patrolling).

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Morning glory

A cracking morning weather-wise (though one or two local birdie-purists may disagree!) and some interesting things around.
Just a single common sandpiper - no LRPs - at Freeman's Pools along with the oik pair with their well grown youngsters and the coot brood of 1 doing well.
3 little egrets were 'new-in' on the marsh and the greylag flock has built up to 292, with a further 12 coming in later from the north-east.
3 green sandpipers were on the Wildfowlers' Pools plus 2 snipe.

Insects were well represented with 2 emperor, 4 brown hawkers a handful of common darters and lots of damselflies.
Butterflies included comma, red admiral, small tortoiseshell, speckled wood, and so on..

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Winds of change

The change in wind direction certainly had the desired effect with the result that there were a minimum of 3 green sandpipers at the Wildfowlers' Pools this evening.
Nearby the juv little grebe was on Darter Pool - with 2 Emperors there at last!!
A LR plover and 2 common sandpiper were at Freeman's Pools.
Then at 6.40pm I noticed a medium sized raptor coming over the trig-point hill (from the direction of Fairfield) - it soon revealed itself to be a marsh harrier. It drifted low over me and started hunting over the maize fields. It appeared to be a juv, or a very dark female, with no pale edges to the forewings. Only my second at Aldcliffe in 20 years of birding there!

Monday, 21 July 2008

No surprises...

All much as expected this evening with 3 common sandpiper and 1 LR plover at Freeman's Pools.
A little grebe was on Darter Pool along with the coot family and a grey heron.
A single green sandpiper was at the Wildfowlers' Pools.
As has often been the case in recent years, the moorhens have very young chicks at the moment - it is my assumption that once the more aggressive coots have well developed young they become more tolerant and therefore 'allow' the moorhens to nest. As coots are relatively recent colonists this is simply an observation - I'd be interested to find out what happens at other sites where both species breed.

Sunday, 20 July 2008


At least it stayed dry for my monthly WeBS count but boy, was it windy!
On foot from Aldcliffe to Conder and not once could I shelter from the breezy onslaught, which not only made 'scoping a pain but also made for less than enjoyable, leisurely birding. Ho hum...
Highlights were:
Freeman's Pools - 3 com sandpiper & 1 LR plover.
Aldcliffe Marsh - 1 LR plover & over 700 lapwing. A peregrine was sat on a stump for a while before chasing all the waders.
A green sandpiper was on the Wildfowlers' Pools.
There was very little on the river, possibly due to the large number of jetskis, motor boats etc.
A few bar-tailed godwit were at Conder plus 2 dunlin, 2 golden plover and, rather surprisingly, just 1 common sandpiper.
A kingfisher and 1 LR plover were at Conder Pool.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Late afternoon

Nothing much happens during July down at Aldcliffe as a rule, but this year things seem to be even slower than usual. A very few waders are moving in, and through, but it seems the weather is doing little to bring many new birds.
At Freeman's Pools there were 3 common sands and a single LR plover.
The Wildfowlers' Pools were playing host to a snoozing green sandpiper and another common sand.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Swiftly does it

At least 70 swifts around Freeman's Pools and Wood this evening plus lesser numbers of house martins and swallows.
3 common sandpipers were on the Lune at Marsh Point & at least 2 more plus a pair of LRP were on Freeman's Pools. A little grebe was also present.
Another common sandpiper was on the Wildfowlers' Pools as well as a single green sandpiper.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

A few waders...

3 common sandpiper and 2 LR plovers were at Freeman's Pools this evening. In the adjacent overgrown field a flock of 40+ goldfinch were feeding.
At the Wildfowlers' Pools there was another common sandpiper, 2 green sandpipers and way too many horseflies for my liking.
Otherwise it was pretty quiet, though a very pleasant quiet nonetheless.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Parallel lanes...

Two visits today produced the following:
An impressive 10 common sandpiper were on the Lune at Marsh Point.
1 green & 1 common sandpiper, 2 little ringed plover and the female shoveler were on the Wildfowlers' Pools.
Common buzzard, kestrel and sparrowhawk were seen.
c. 210 greylag on Aldcliffe - a sudden and noticeable increase!

Very little in the way of odanata around with just 2 brown hawker and 1 common darter seen - did the hobby eat all the emperors?!

And finally... a bit of bureaucratic oddness (manners prevents me saying bollocks, oops...) - it seems that having finally realised that the lower part of the road from Aldcliffe village to the parking area was known as Railway Crossing Lane, and erecting a lovely road sign saying just that, someone at County Hall has now decided that it should be Aldcliffe Hall Lane (which I thought historically referred only to the first section of the road ie up to Aldcliffe Hall, as was)... Anyhoo, the sign has now been changed (at what cost?) to declare that it is indeed Aldcliffe Hall Lane.
Looks like I'd better change my map.. again!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

'pipers at the gates of Lune

A check of all the pools this morning turned up the following:
Little grebe on Freeman's Pools, plus the coot pair with 1 chick. The ever-growing oik youngsters are still going strong.
3 little ringed plover, 2 common sandpiper and 1 green sandpiper on the Wildfowlers' Pools.
1 green sandpiper on Frog Pond.
Peregrine over the marsh & 400 or so lapwing revealed themselves as a result.

Decided to spend a couple of hours at Leighton Moss in the afternoon where I added such exciting ticks as marsh harrier and reed warbler to my year-list!
I was rather rather surprised to see 8 greenshank, with a group of redshank, on the island in front of the public hide...

Friday, 11 July 2008

All quiet on the Aldcliffe front

Very quiet this evening with all ponds checked and just one each of green and common sandpiper on the Wildfowlers' Pools.
A female mallard here had 2 very young ducklings.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Whinchat and Waders

Dan here.

Bird highlights of a pleasant look around the parish were as follows:

A whinchat- an adult male.

Green sandpipers- a minimum of four using the various pools, where I also noted 4 LRPs and 2 common sandpipers.

Circa 600 lapwings were on the saltmarsh- but frequently took to the air on account of a peregrine and a kestrel.

21 black-tailed godwits and 3 breeding-plumage dunlins were on the estuary opposite 'cadaver corner'. Little of interest in terms of gulls.

Warbler-wise, I saw two juv. lesser whitethroats, and 2 common whitehroats and 2 chiffchaffs were in song.


I also came across a remarkably tame hare and a few immature common darters. A (5-spot?)burnet was buzzing around near Freeman's Pools.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Dry gap in the evening

Had a quick look around in the bit where it didn't rain (8.10pm - 9.15pm) though all was quiet. Highlights were a green sandpiper on The Flood, single common sandpiper on the river and a herd of sheep that had wandered onto the cycle track. I corralled them back (with proper whistles and bike-bell ringing and everything) onto the marsh, via the broken gate they'd obviously come through.
Nothing in the way of hobby food was around so I quit early...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Hobby-less evenings

After an unsuccessful evening vigil (if you don't count the jokes and Willy Russell stories) with Ray Hobbs yesterday, I decided a return visit tonight under considerably more conducive conditions - ie not blowing a gale...
However, an hour or so in decent light (9pm-10pmish) and with lots of prey items around (60+ swift, dozens of house martins and swallows plus a sand martin or two) I still failed to see the hobby again. Is it still around?
Some compensation came in the form of a Freeman's Pool tick - a roe deer!

A quick post-work visit earlier had revealed a green sandpiper, 2 common sandpiper and little ringed plover at the Wildfowlers' Pools plus another common sandpiper at Freeman's Pools.
A pair of common tern were over Aldcliffe Marsh.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Green sandpipers & hobby

Hobby update

Went to test my theory (see earlier posting below) at around 8.20pm...
Had a good root about trying to determine where the bulk of the hirundines were feeding, which was the Wildfowlers' Pools but they soon went off to roost leaving just a couple of swallows and 50+ swift in the area.
I went to the raised part of the path near Freeman's Wood for an all-round view and came across Steve Wallis who had also decided to give it a go.
We spent quite some time with no luck, though did determine that the local kestrels have now, in fact, 3 fledged young. Otherwise the female shoveler and 2 LRPs were on Freeman's Pools along with a pair of newly arrived mute swans.
At approximately 9.37pm I noticed something out the corner of my eye which was pretty immediately clearly the hobby having just caught a swift! It then proceeded to land on the new flood defence bund some 200 metres in front of us where it spent 20 minutes eating the unfortunate bird. We obviously had stunning views! Once finished eating, the hobby flew off into the wood, pursued by a magpie. How long has this bird been around?

A lengthy trawl around this morning proved reasonably fruitful.
Freeman's Pools were pretty quiet with nothing new in and just a fraction of the regular stuff.
The Wildfowlers' Pools were more productive with 2 green sandpipers, 2 common sandpipers and at least 5 little ringed plover present (4 ads, 1 juv). Later, single green sandpipers were also flushed from The Flood and seen on Frog Pond though I'm pretty certain these were the same bird and indeed one of the earlier ones from the WPs.
5 raven were chowing down on the pungent carcass of a sheep on Aldcliffe Marsh - these were presumably the adults and young of the nearby, first-time, nesting attempt.
Just as I was about to call it a day a hobby flew low over Freeman's Pools in the direction of Abraham Heights. Presumably the same bird I saw last Saturday (appears to be an adult), we may be missing a trick here if it is roosting in and hunting from the wood - an evening vigil may well pay off. Unfortunately there have been so few sunny days lately that it won't be finding much in the way of dragonflies to eat and will presumably be targeting hirundines etc.
Whitethroat seem to have had a particularly productive breeding season with yet more broods seen today.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

LRP fest

2 adults and the juv LRPs at Freeman's Pools this evening.
The 2 ever-growing oystercatcher young continue to prosper and a new lapwing chick was on the pool edge.
The local kestrels have fledged at least 1 youngster.

30+ house martin were over Freeman's Wood.

Another adult LRP was on Frog Pond.

2 young coot on the Wildfowlers' Pools bring the area total to 7 currently surviving coot chicks. A little owl was here again.

2 hares noted.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Dr. Ochropus

Hello. Jon's fellow parishioner Dan here.

My highlights from a midday bash were as follows...

A green sandpiper (the herald of July) was roosting on the Wildfowler's Pools, where 3 adult little ringed plovers scampered.

Seven house sparrows were by a darter-less Darter Pond.

A juvenile little ringed plover and a common sandpiper were at the shallowest of Freeman's Pools. A female shoveler flew in from the estuary and landed on the deepest pit.


c6 male emperor dragonflies.
c20 immature common darters, though not flying.
Scores of blue-tailed damselflies and c25 common blue damsel pairs in tandem .

What a difference a day makes...
Stats fans might like to know that the green sandpiper's about bang on time.
The past five years' post-breeding arrival dates were:
2007 - 25/6
2006 - 3/7 (2 birds)
2005 - 3/7 (4 birds)
2004 - 5/7
2003 - 16/7