Friday, 30 May 2008

Sandpiper excitement

Sorry about the rather misleading title to this posting but the appearance of a common sandpiper on Freeman's Pool this evening was (almost) exciting.
The shoveler pair were still present on the top pool.
A couple of LR plover were present as per usual, with a third on the Wildfowlers' Pools.

Best bird of the day, by far, was the wood warbler I came across in Morecambe Dome bushes this morning. Often a good spot for turning up migrants, this spring has so far been rubbish with very few birds of note, so I was well chuffed with this little beauty! For those who don't know - I usually check the Stone Jetty and the bushes on weekday mornings before work and again at lunchtimes. For those sightings check the LDBWS website:

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Early evening stroll

Good to note at least 3 pairs of linnet in Freeman's Wood this evening plus singing common and lesser whitethroats. A further linnet pair were by Freeman's Pools.
The pools themselves seemed rather quiet, though the fact that it was a nice afternoon combined with half-term may well explain that... the shoveler pair were present as was a lone LR plover.
Nothing of note was on the marsh and there was little on the Wildfowlers' Pools bar the 2 LR plover there. Looks like a garganey-free spring - fingers crossed for a late summer bird!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Mmmmmmm muck

The most notable thing about my brief post-work visit today was the strangely warming and pungent aroma of freshly spread muck in the fields, something that always reminds me of my younger days helping out at our friends' farm in North Yorkshire.
Aside of that olfactory reminiscence, the highlights were the shoveler pair, a couple of LR plover and a kestrel. Good to see a leveret too, as well as three adult hares.
Plenty of house martins and swifts around now.
Dan H had checked the pools thoroughly today and had seen no stints, so it's highly likely that they've moved on despite the continued easterly winds.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Quick blustery visit

No sign of any stints on the Wildfowlers' Pools during a relatively brief visit, though as I know too well and is evident from a number of postings on the LDBWS site birds can often be hidden away for prolonged periods of time at this site. A couple of LR plover were visible but nothing much else.
Mute swans have hatched young on Heron Pool. This was their third and final nest site.

The most exciting thing today though was that my bird table had blown over in the monster gale...

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Birding by bike and stints revisited

The Birding by Bike event went well with a good turn out. Thanks to Rachel for organising it and Dan for his expertise and enthusiasm.
Undoubted highlight was the avocet pair which made a timely reappearance and entertained the crowds at Freeman's Pools. Otherwise we saw what you'd expect but it's always great to look at familiar birds through 'new' eyes - added interests included eider (4) and a good selection of waders at Conder including greenshank, both godwits and common sandpiper.
On my return I stopped off at the Wildfowlers' Pools and spotted both Temminck's stints (and adding Tony Riden to my Aldcliffe yearlist).
One of the stints however got me in a bit of a tizz upon close inspection and I started thinking Baird's sandpiper for a while, but after a good deal of scrutiny I gave up on that fanciful idea! Well, it did have dark legs and appeared longish-winged... and what about that 'oval' shaped body? Hmmmm

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Stints return

Nothing out of the ordinary in Freeman's Wood this morning and even Freeman's Pools were back to their normal almost bird-free selves - ie no avocets and just 1 LR plover.
However, I was delighted to discover at 7am that what were presumably the same 2 Temminck's stints from there yesterday were on the Wildfowlers' Pools and, with patience, good views could be had from the cycle track. Equally, they would be visible from the seawall when feeding on the 'eastern' side of the pools. Apologies for the crappy pics: hand-held camera up to the eyepiece of scope...
This is the second/third occurrence of Temminck's stint at this pool - the first being on 25th June 2004.
A pair of shoveler were on Frog Pond.

UPDATE: The stints were apparently seen throughout the day by visiting local birders. I nipped down for a quick look late afternoon and bumped into Mark Prestwood who was just arriving at the gate. There was no sign of any stints until one flew up from the far end of the pool calling, passing in front of us and heading off in the direction of Railway Crossing Lane at 5.45pm. I checked the Flood in case it had gone onto there, it hadn't (although a LR plover was present).
Another LRP was at the Wildfowlers' Pools but no stints were forthcoming.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Wader bonanza

Oh, the curse of the 9-5!!

First I get a text from Dan H as I'm pedaling Morecambe-bound this morning - reed warbler in Freeman's Wood. Good record.
Second text a few minutes later from Dan - a pair of avocet on Freeman's Pools! A site first - MEGA!
Then, having done my obligatory scan off the Jetty and desperately trying to find something in the Dome bushes, comes the call (yes, from Dan again) - 2 Temminck's stint also on Freeman's Pools. This is a major pull-back! As Dan so rightly said 'seek and ye shall find'...

UPDATE: the stints soon disappeared following the rather noisy arrival of a digger - on site to do essential management work for the Environment Agency.

SECOND UPDATE: the avocet pair were still present at 5pm on Freeman's Pools as were a pair of LR plover. Another LR plover was on the Wildfowlers' Pools.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Monday, Tuesday... much the same

Highlights, if they can be termed as such, from yesterday's post-work visit were the shoveler pair on Freeman's Pools along with the fully anticipated LR plover which later flew over me and onto The Flood. Otherwise, it was business as usual.

This evening things were much the same really without the added 'excitement' of the duck duo.
However it was hot-goose action that got the pulse, well not exactly racing but continuing to beat, with 36 greylag and 13 Canadas on Freeman's Pools. I feel a twitch coming on. Not.
The male LR plover was present too, of course.
A peregrine was over Heaton Marsh and the midges were snacking on my bare parts once again.
I ticked Ray Hobbs on my return to Railway Crossing Lane and his 'new' dog Lottie who was enjoying some horse dung. His brief but fascinating lecture on plasmids and their manufacture of insulin was probably the highlight of the evening...

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Saturday highlights

Did my WeBS count on Saturday - with the following highlights:
Freeman's Pools - LR plover 1, heron, coot 4, moorhen 2, plus a stoat.
Aldcliffe to Conder - not a great deal doing, amongst the more notable things were 7 eider on the river. 2 whimbrel were on Aldcliffe Marsh.
2 grey partridge were near the pylons.
Not a single tern was seen, sadly emphasising the demise of the breeding colony.
A group of 95 bar-tailed godwit on the Lune off Overton Marsh was something of a surprise - all in non-breeding plumage.
A spanking summer-plumage grey plover was on the Conder.
2 LR plover were on Conder Pool with a tree sparrow pair there too.
At least 4 lesser whitethroat heard en route plus numerous common whitethroat, blackcaps etc.
Coot have hatched 2 young at Bank Pool while the pair on Darter Pool have hatched 3.
5 hares were also seen.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Flies 6, birds 1

Single LR plover on the island at Freeman's Pools this evening the 'highlight'.
Really rather quiet all round with the only other notable things being 2 drakes and a duck eider on the river. Oh yes, and a peregrine over Heaton Marsh.
Loads of flying insects everywhere including small bitey ones (as the swellings behind my ears will testify...)

Monday, 12 May 2008

Yellow-eyed surprise

I had amongst the best views I've ever had, anywhere, of a short-eared owl this evening as it quartered the fields near Freeman's Pools and Wood.
In brilliant sunlight the bird passed embarrassingly close at times as if it knew damned well that I had no camera with me. Half an hour (and half a mile) later, of course, I remembered that I have a camera on my new phone. By the time I got back, it was around but nowhere as near as before. Ho-hum.
Supporting cast included: 1 LR Plover (and a-part submerged abandoned go-kart, beer cans etc) at Freeman's Pools, pair of shoveler at the Wildfowlers' Pools plus the usual whitethroats, lesser whitethroats etc. along the cycle track. A whimbrel was calling on the Lune.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Hard work for few birds

Had a lengthy slog around this morning but not too much to report.
Freeman's Wood - 2 singing whitethroat and a sedge warbler plus plenty of common stuff in song
Freeman's Pools - Very quiet with just 2 pairs coot, an oystercatcher and lapwing pair on the island. Couple of moorhen, 3 greylag and a Canada goose were also present.
Wildfowlers' Pools - Single black-tailed godwit and pair of shoveler.
Cycle track (from F Wood to Stodday) - 4 lesser whitethroat & 4 common whitethroat. Female whinchat (in the hedge where gropper was last year).
A raven was chasing a kestrel, which had a rodent in its talons, over the marsh.
Looks like all the lapwing are having a crack at relaying in the maize fields after having their nests/eggs/young ploughed over in the past couple of days.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Back to normal...

After a marvelous week being over-awed by some spectacles of migration on Lesvos with Jenny and my old pal Adrian 'Ziggy' Dawson and his wife Rachael it was back to the reasonably mundane. A pretty quiet post-work visit turned up just the following highlights:
1 LR plover - Freeman's Pools (no black terns - well, I can dream!)
3 whitethroat along cycle track (but NO lessers singing!)
Pair shoveler on the Wildfowlers' Pools
1 common tern and a pair of eider on the river
Pair linnet at Low Wood
Whimbrel at Stodday

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Survey Limitations

Hi- Dan here.
A quick evening cycle and prowl was pleasant but uneventful.

Freeman's Pools were very quiet perhaps due to human disturbance.

The moderate easterly breeze increased to a big stiff one making a decent warbler census difficult (those singing were doing so only in the most sheltered spots).
I haven't heard any sedge warblers this year which are often a feature of Aldcliffe in spring.

There were plenty of large black flies around (I call them St John's danglers - please let me know the scientific term and I shall amend this posting) but the only hirundines around weren't interested in feeding, only in stealthily migrating NE.

A pair of shoveler was on the marsh. Three redshanks displayed overhead here, for once unmolested by dogs and their walkers.

A pair of eider was off Gull Bank, which was devoid of any tern species.

A male grey partridge was in Low Wood paddock and my first speckled wood butterflies of the year fluttered nearby.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Tufty Club

Hello Mr Carter- in case you go online in migrant-infested Lesvos I am posting this to assure you that you haven't missed much here this afternoon, at least if my efforts were owt to go by...

The highlight was a good swallow passage through the parish. I counted 88 north in an hour-long tern vigil opposite 'gull bank'.

Freeman's pools had an almighty four tufted ducks (2 'pairs') and a drake teal. A few swifts and house martins feeding here also.

Circa 8 lesser and 4 common whitethroats were in evidence but not particularly vocal in the breezy gloom.

Nothing much by the wildfowler pools or on the dog-filled marsh... I had to resort to going south of the parish boundary to pick up whimbrels, for example.