Saturday, 27 September 2008


Had an exceedingly slow-paced bash at Freeman's Wood today with phylloscopus inornatus in mind.

A garden warbler, three blackcaps, 6 chiffchaffs and 20 goldcrests were all spread out-- hardly any flocking in the summery, insect-rich conditions... Also 5 coal tits and 3 jays.

I allowed myself a few sneaky peeks above the canopy, and 3 swallows were seen heading SW.

Dragonflies were aplenty this afternoon with at least 100 common darters, 13 migrant and 2 brown hawkers in and around the wood.


Freeman's Wood Pt 1

Freeman's Wood is a fun patch of woodland, scrub (and playing fields!) at the top end of the glorious parish of Aldcliffe.

Yesterday, I (Dan) re-acquainted myself with it after a year of neglect.
I've had a little accident and the wood is within limping distance of me house!
I even had to take my girlfriend with me because my cracked ribs means that it hurts when I pish.

With Rachel on pishing duties we slowly worked the wood for migrants but a few goldcrests, coal tits and chiffchaffs were the best we could manage.

Freeman's Wood has a reasonable track record for less common passerines. I found myself a yellow-browed warbler here in the big invasion of autumn 2005.

Jon Carter's nearby hedgerow firecrest of last year surely ended up somewhere in Freeman's thickets.

In spring 1989 a subalpine warbler was the ace find of Dave Carter and Ziggy Dawson.

Freeman's is a good spot for holding chiffchaffs and blackcaps through most winters. I've found mealy redpolls quietly snacking on seed heads here too .
A great grey shrike hung out in the 'lino dump' zone in the winter of 91/92.

A decent patch-within-a-patch and often worth a hobble...

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Coots mon!

An influx of coot onto Freeman's Pools noted this evening with at least 11 birds present.
6 mute swan, little grebe and a couple of wigeon there too.
Another pair of swans were on Frog Pond.
Not much on show, from the gate, at the Wildfowlers' Pools - 1 pintail, 11 snipe and 5 teal. Heard a kingfisher but couldn't spot the blighter.
2 green sandpiper dropped noisily in from a considerable height.
A few goldcrest were heard along the cycle track hedgerow and I watched a pair for several minutes at close range engaged in some sort of dispute with a lot of very high pitched calling (even by goldcrest standards) and some interesting posturing.
A couple of hundred lapwing were feeding in the fields along with 60ish curlew.
Both the Flood and Marsh appeared quiet.

I couldn't help but notice that today was the first day for some time that I haven't seen any hirundines at all...

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Ruff around the edges

Morning visit reasonable - 2 wigeon amongst the mallard etc on Freeman's Pools. 2 chiffchcaff nearby.
4 green sandpiper on the Wildfowlers' Pools plus 5 shoveler & 5 teal.
Another green sandpiper was on The Flood and 5 little egret were on the marsh.
I then bumped into Ray Hobbs by the Walled Meadow who reported a stock dove at the cutting - quite a scarce bird here these days... as we chatted 2 waders flew over us and on to The Flood, further investigation revealed them to be a pair of ruff. Very nice!
A few meadow pipits were kicking about and my first rock pipit of the autumn flew onto the marsh.

As I was on my way back home I came across Steve W who was on his way to d a trawl around - later he told me he'd had an osprey over the marsh about ten minutes after I'd left!

At home, a group of buzzards were thermalling to the west of my house (as viewed from my back yard at 1.35pm) - closer observation revealed one of the 6 birds in total to be an adult honey buzzard, the rest were commons. After a while the honey b. departed swiftly to the SW, soon followed by the com's. As it happens, fellow birder Shaun Coyle was visiting and also got on to the bird - providing him with the first decent bird he's seen in England this year!

Friday, 19 September 2008

Steady increase in wildfowl

Quick blast around this morning (7.15am-7.50am) before heading off to Morecambe.
Not much in the way of passerine migrants noted along the cycle track apart from a few chiffchaffs (inc 2 singing birds) and a pair of coal tits.
Using PJMs robin methodology, there were many singing birds - indicating the relative lack of grounded migrants.
Around 20 meadow pipits and a lone alba wagtail passed over.
250ish Canada geese were on Freeman's Pool and a pair of wigeon were there too.
7 shoveler, a wigeon and a green sandpiper were at the Wildfowlers' Pools.
2 little egrets and 21 wigeon were on the marsh flashes.
3 further green sandpipers were on The Flood.

A post-work visit added nowt new - 2 wigeon were on Frog Pond.
5 shoveler, little grebe, 1 green sandpiper & 9 snipe plus a few teal were at the Wildfowlers' Pools. A chiffchaff was nearby.
2 little egret were on the marsh - though Steve W had 6 there earlier (see his entry on LDBWS site).

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Dark night returns

Post-work blast around - couldn't help thinking that it's a shame that the 'decent' weather's coincided with the lack of available daylight after work... only a couple of weeks and I'll be back to being limited to weekend-only birding at Aldcliffe. Boo.

Anyhoo, this evening's highlights included:
2 little egret & a pintail on the marsh
2 green sandpiper & 12 teal at the Wildfowlers' Pools
Little owl near the walled meadow - where there was also a wryneck-shaped chunk of wood in a bush that had me going for a few minutes...
Loads of robins around but no sign of any 'typical' passerine migrants.

Guy McC had a good morning at Freeman's Wood with highlights including spotted flycatcher (the only Aldcliffe record this year?) and lesser whitethroat plus good numbers of chiffchaff.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Out for a duck

It says something when the highlight of a visit to Aldcliffe is the thrilling discovery of a tufted duck 'new-in'! This exciting aythya was loafing around on Freeman's Pools, where there are now also two pairs of mute swan. Phew.
By the Wildfowlers' Pools, I bumped into Steve W where we spied a green sandpiper, 2 little grebes and a drake shoveler. He mentioned that he'd seen a kingfisher there yesterday.
Other than a pair of peregrine over Colloway Marsh, there was little else to report from my post-work visit ...

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Year-tick trio

Didn't get much birding in today, but managed a walk with Mrs C down the cycle track and up the seawall (keeping my eyes ever skyward in anticipation of passing honey buzzards etc...)

A female merlin was on the marsh and 5 little egrets were dancing around one of the flashes.
Then a distant large raptor came into view, high and heading in a south-westerly direction. After trying my best to make it into something more interesting I had to concede, as it finally gave better views, that it was a common buzzard - albeit very likely a migrant given its behaviour.

Then came the year-ticks alluded to in the title, in the form of a Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster Bomber passing over the estuary to turn and make their scheduled appearances for the crowds at Morecambe. Got a good 20 minutes out of them too. Very nice.

Lots of common darters, migrant hawkers and a couple of brown hawkers around.

Nipped out again at 4ish to pluck some blackberries for tonight's pud, once more keeping my eyes mainly skyward, but a lone green sandpiper on the pools was my sole reward. Apart from the blackberries, of course...

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Out for the count....

Did my WeBS count today (as opposed to tomorrow) for a number of reasons that: a) I cannot be bothered going into and; b) won't interest you in the slightest...

Some interesting stuff along the way. Set off on foot, started my count at Aldcliffe at 10.15am and finished it at Conder Pool at 2.10pm then walked back doing a little 'leisure' birding.

Highlights included:
3 green sandpiper at the Wildfowlers' Pools
8 little egret in total (3 Aldcliffe)
5 little and 1 black-necked grebe (the latter and 2 of the former at Conder Pool)
1 rather late common sandpiper on the Lune as well as 2 greenshank, 2 ruff (quite a surprise) and - a scarce bird for Aldcliffe - a ringed plover.
6 wigeon flew in at Waterloo and a female goosander was present.
A female merlin scattered the waders and excited the swallows at Conder.
A nuthatch was an unexpected find in the hedge along the seawall at Aldcliffe.
A whitethroat was eating blackberries by the cycle track at Aldcliffe.
3 wheatears were on the marsh and kingfishers were seen at Ashton Hall lake sluice and on the Conder.
2 pair of raven honked around Conder and Aldcliffe.
What was presumably the same dead razorbill as found by Dan the other day was still rotting nicely at Waterlooo.

Other notable counts included: 212 mute swan, 328 greylag & 339 Canada geese. Despite the large numbers of BH gulls along the Lune I couldn't find any Meds, though to be honest I wasn't overly-diligent...

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Lieutenant wigeon

Not too much to report from a briefish post-work visit this evening.
The 2 wigeon, as spied by Guy McC previously, were still present on Freeman's Pools though there was little else there. A greyish juv-like chiffchaff with an odd piercing call was with a small tit flock in the hedge by the pools.
A single green sandpiper was seen at the Wildfowlers' Pools and a pair of little grebes were on The Flood.
Only around 20 swallows coming in to roost, though more were heading that way a little later - as seen from my house.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Fowl Weather

The following account of birding Aldcliffe on tuesday 9th is by Dan Haywood aged 33-and-a third.

On my way out I spied a wheatear alighting atop a lamp-post on the Marsh estate.

I rushed down the road on my Raleigh Chopper hoping that this urban chat indicated some sort of a passerine fall in the parish...

Not so. I managed to pish out a few willow warblers and a goldcrest from some sheltered cover at Stodday, but any scarce sylvias or hippos were staying silent and well-hidden!

Only ducks were 'new in' so far as I could tell... A pair of gadwall were keeping a green sandpiper company at Freeman's Pools, and two pintails and 16 teal were making 'the flood' look pretty.

On the saltmarsh a scrum of 6 little egrets was mercilessly ridding a tiny pool of animal life--a bit like shooting fish (or shrimp or crabs?) in a barrel.

A few sand martins were a small part of a hirundine swirl (c.100 birds) over the sewage tanks. Twos and threes of swallows seemed to be heading south here and there.

Four migrant hawkers were on patrol inbetween downpours.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Just Swell

Dan reporting for Mr. Carter's hard-earned readership!

The swollen Wildfowler's Pools were the focus this morning, with three greenshanks, 4 green sandpipers, 12 redshanks and 17 black-tailed godwits using the grassy edges.

The 'flood' just N of Aldcliffe Hall Lane had a kingfisher and two little grebes. A med. gull was reported to me as being present a little later.

A modicum of visible migration in the parish with c60 meadow pipit, 5 alba wagtails and 3 grey wagtails over SE, noted between 0915 and 1100. No hirundine movement though.

Stodday sewage works seemed to have pulled down a few migrant wags, with nine grey wagtails on-site.

Spent much of the day honing my pishing-craft, but the bushes were hardly bursting with passerines. My vocalisations did have the undivided of a juv. whitethroat and a few chiffchaffs for a little while though.
And I can really rile a robin.

Thanks Dan - now Jon's breaking news bit...
Well, hardly breaking. 15 snipe were flushed by a sprogbasher at the Wildfowlers' Pools this evening though only a handful of redshank and lapwing, plus a couple of curlew, were present.
The greater sand-lapwing was again amongst the flock feeding in the fields - it really is a striking looking bird.
Little else of note bar the huge distant flocks of birds dropping into the Cockersands / Pilling area as viewed from Aldcliffe Marsh - I can only guess that they were pinkfeet? There were probably a couple of thousand birds...

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Sunday, sunny Sunday...

I'd forgotten what the sun felt like - how very pleasant.
Bird-wise there wasn't a great deal going on however, the highlights being just 3 green sandpiper (had the 'new' birds taken advantage of the relatively calm night to clear out or were they simply being elusive?) and a lone greenshank which flew noisily on to the marsh from the direction of The Flood, just minutes after having a conversation with Steve Wallis about the lack of greenshanks at Aldcliffe this year!
A single black-tailed godwit was amongst the waders flushed by a peregrine on the river.
A few snipe were kicking around, including a very 'grey' bird roosting on the island at Freeman's Pools where the little grebe remains.
A pair of showy lesser whitethroat were feeding in elders by the Walled Meadow and there were plenty of hirundines around, though little else 'migrant'-wise apart from a few ticking robins.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Green sandpiper bonanza

As per Guy's sightings yesterday there were still a minimum of 6 green sandpiper in the area this morning.
Initially, 4 flew off Freeman's Pools towards the Wildfowlers' Pools. It was very difficult to ascertain the exact number of birds as singles were scattered around feeding in the wet fields - as viewed from the sea wall. Eventually I was able to confirm at least 6 - as they were all visible at the same time, though one or two others may well have been creeping around elsewhere.

Other highlights included:
A snipe flushed in Freeman's Wood, plus 2 at Wildfowlers' Pools.
1 pintail, 5 teal and at least 4 shoveler in the area.
2 little grebe (1 Fm's Pools & 1 Wfs' Pools)
Kingfisher at Bank Pool.
3 wheatear.
Lesser whitethroat and male blackcap at Walled Meadow.
Raven in the fields.
Only 54 greylag were on the marsh - the rest at Carnforth Marsh? 150ish Canadas present.
Tit flock in Freeman's Wood included at least 7 chiffchaff, 2 willow warbler and a goldcrest.
Female sparrowhawk was doing the rounds as was a male kestrel.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Depression's setting in...

The pools around Aldcliffe are at mid-winter levels water-wise, something I've never know in almost 20 years of regular coverage of the area. The lower cycle path is flooded to a depth of around 10 inches in parts.
Unfortunately the avian occupants were somewhat less noteworthy early evening...

Freeman's Pools: 1 little grebe, 2 coot, 1 heron.
Darter Pool: 2 coot
Wildfowler's Pools (and adjacent flooded fields): 70+ mallard, 6 teal, 1 shoveler, 1 little grebe, 1 green sandpiper (feeding in furrow) , 2 snipe, 2 coot, 12 moorhen, 2 little egret.
The Flood: 2 shoveler, 7 mallard, 1 little egret (presumably 1 of the above birds).
Marsh: (very quick scan..) 1 little egret (again, as above).

* Guy McClelland had a further 6 green sandpiper today feeding in the wet field furrows as viewed from the seawall - invisible from the cycle track.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Water, water everywhere...

Following the obligatory soaking en route from work the clouds actually parted just as I reached Freeman's Pools and some sky appeared that wasn't altogether grey. It was actually blue. A colour I'd forgotten existed sky-wise.
Anyhoo - a little grebe was the only thing of note on the very full pools. Looks rubbish for waders at the minute.
Similarly, all the other usual pools were pretty full and pretty quiet with just a single green sandpiper and a couple of snipe on the Wildfowlers' Pools, as well as numerous mallard. The usual release of mallard here in summer by the Wildfowl Association artificially boosts the numbers so it's quite difficult to tell when post-moult wild birds truly start to appear in any number. A single teal was present too.
Meanwhile in other duck news, a trio of shoveler and a female pintail were on The Flood - unprecedented this early on in the year.
The wet fields above the raised path had attracted good numbers of common and BH gulls, but no Meds.
Bumped into Nick, a regular down Aldcliffe, who reported at least 6 wheatear along the tideline.

* Osprey seen over Freeman's Wood/Pools earlier (4.30pmish) by Andrew McCafferty.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Two grebe evening

Both little and great crested (scarce here) grebes on the Freeman's Pools this evening (though sadly not a displaced BN!).
Otherwise very quiet - unless the loud pop of another exploding rear innertube counts...