Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Johnny Two-Swifts

Dan here.

Passage migrants have been a bit thin on the ground (and in the air) the past few days in Aldcliffe.

(This will make parish patch-watchers Jon and Guy feel a little better as they slum it elsewhere-- Canada and Southern Spain respectively. I hope you are receiving this out there).

This morning, unable to commune with any scarcities, I sat on the wooden fence near Cadaver Corner and called upon The Great Spirit for a sign-- is my hunting in vain?

A few seconds later the earth shook and the Great Spirit fair threw me from my perch. Blimey.

After this 3.7 Richter wake-up my sense of purpose was renewed. Still didn't find owt though!

The pick of today:

2 swifts, 3 or 4 whimbrels, a mixed hirundine rain-flock including twenty house martins and 15 sand martins...5 eider were by the pylons while just downstream twelve knot (3 in summer plumage) and a grey plover thought about crossing the parish line.

Warblers were fairly inconspicuous but one or two blackcaps appeared to be new in, and I noted my first female whitethroats of the year.
Micro-siters might have been impressed by two house sparrows by Darter Pond.
Other than hirundines and swifts vis mig was minimal- with only one siskin and a meadow pipit noted!


Monday, 27 April 2009

Sylvia's Cover

Pictured: a newly-arrived common whitethroat pops out to check it's in the right place....it is...(it's above the 'th' of footpath)..

Dan here.

Had hoped the downpours would re-invigorate the patch somewhat, but the only definite off-passage birds were a whimbrel, three wheatears and two sand martins. Better this evening perhaps.

A little owl, siskin, nuthatch and willow warbler were in the Pony Wood/Aldcliffe village area of 'the parish'.

Evening visit saw quite a number of House Martins and Swallows with 1 Swift. Also, LRP 2 on Freemans and a Little Egret on Frog Pond. Stevew

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Tide Cycle

This morning me and Steve led a Birding by Bike trip organised by the cycling team at Lancaster City Council, as part of their events programme aimed at getting more people riding and healthy.

Aldcliffe performed quite well for the nine novice birders- we were able to show them little-ringed plovers (which were much admired), whimbrel, reed bunting, little egrets and more.

We also got them enjoying the song of common whitethroat, blackcap, goldfinch and raven.

Other highlights included a sedge warbler, common sandpiper, a few house martins and the continued presence of two pairs of gadwall. Sand martins were still moving through at about 20 per hour today.


Thursday, 23 April 2009

Wader Go!

Dan here.
Wherever I am I'm always thinking of Aldcliffe. So when I was passing Snatchems (the dark side of the Lune) at midday I couldn't resist having a lingering look to the south and east.

A north bound flock of twenty-two whimbrels (my first of the year)dropped in to have a closer look at Freeman's Pools, a pleasant sight and a lovely sound. A minute or so later seventeen of them headed back south, perhaps leaving five behind on the gravel island?

Had an evening scoot around the parish proper but could only find one whimbrel - near Cadaver Corner.

Three handsome Icelandic black-tailed godwits were feeding at Wildfowler's Pools.

The picture is one I took near Cadaver Corner three springs back.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Tripit Hazard

Highlights this morning included an off-passage short-eared-owl which was flushed and then headed off high to the North, a low-flying tree pipit and a male whinchat.

3 each of common and lesser whitethroat.

Northward passage of mipits, siskins and redpoll spp. (faintly-audible only- very high). Sand martins, swallows and 3 or 4 house martins moving also.

4-5 little-ringed plovers, a green sandpiper, four gadwall and two shoveler were also present in the parish.

Willow warblers present but fairly low numbers-- none in Freeman's Woods!

Dan H and Steve W

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Ruby Tuesday....

Aldcliffe was all quiet after the mad weekend, well it was 06.30! You know the expression about worms and birds; well it was a great couple of hours birding. Met Dan and his ears were burning straight away while mine were just getting warm! Began in Freeman’s Wood with plenty of Blackcaps, 6/7 in all, along with Chiffchaff, 5/6, Treecreeper, 2 Jays and about 8/9 Willow Warblers.
The pool had LRP 2 and new in Shoveler 2m 1f along with Goldeneye 2. We had gone a few yards down the cycle track and Dan heard Lesser Whitethroat, which flew onto the hedge top giving us a great view, there were another two further along, Dan commented that they were the earliest he has seen them at Aldcliffe. Also, a couple of Reed Bunting. 3 Golden Plover landed on the stubble field, which we assumed were northern species, they had been chased off by the Lapwings when we got there. On Darter Pool the Tufted Duck pair still present. Wildfowlers’ saw Green Sandpiper and pair of Teal. There were good numbers of passerines along the track, with quite a number of thrushes. We started to see Wheatear near Chat Wall, and along with a number opposite on the marsh we counted 14 in total. In the meantime Meadow Pipits, Redpoll, Siskin and Swallow were flying over. Near Snipe Bog was a Dunlin.
On the Marsh we counted 5 Little Egrets and saw a Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.
steve and dan

++ Fact fans might be interested to know that an early 'lesserthroat' turned up at Aldcliffe on the same date in 2007. Not to be outdone Heysham also had one on the same day that year.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Happy Monday

As you can imagine from Steve's pic below, Freeman's Pools were pretty birdless yesterday. The canoeist was just 1 of a gang of 8 kids enjoying the new amenities, while the occasional adults with dogs splashing around etc added to the feeling that the reading of signs isn't a high priority when the sun's shining.
In fact, that lot combined with the glut of seasonal jet skiers on the river meant that I hardly saw a bird for the first couple of hours of being out! As you may imagine my WeBS was low on highlights...

Considerably better today due to the Pools being unoccupied by all and sundry. The little ringed plovers had returned and the oystercatcher pair seemed to be back into the idea of nesting on the island. 6 gadwall were back, though of the 6 coot nests two had been pretty much wrecked by the Sunday invasion.
A fairly steady, if light, movement of swallows and meadow pipits was underway and at least 1 long-eared owl is still in the area.
A group of 4 jays were in Freeman's Wood.
Steve & Guy had seen the green sandpiper on the Wildfowlers' Pools plus a couple of egrets on the marsh.


An osprey passed up river, as seen from the upper path at 4.20pm. It was fair bombing along, at considerable height. My 3rd Aldcliffe bird this spring and my 4th so far this year... A common buzzard followed about 4 minutes later, higher still.
A little owl and nuthatch were in Admiralty Wood.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Redstart stops

Just a few bits left over from yesterday really, including the male redstart (Guy McC's record shot above - cheers Guy!) and 2 wheatear by Freeman's Pools. Good numbers of willow warblers around.
1 little ringed plover was on the island and another was on The Flood, where a cracking white wagtail and 3 reed bunting were also present.
Once again no sign of any LEOs in the roost.
Green sandpiper was at Freeman's Pools plus all the usual other bits and pieces.
Around a dozen swallows moved through over the 3 hours I was out.

Friday, 10 April 2009

'start-er for ten

Good selection of birds around today with an early afternoon peak.
Willow warblers, blackcaps and chiffchaffs now in song throughout the patch and swallows were moving through in steady, if low, numbers.
No sign of any LRPs in the area and no LE owls visible at the roost.
The first decent bird of the day was an osprey (my 3rd so far this spring) which came up river just before 12.15pm. It headed toward the old tip before turning and seemingly heading toward the coast, which would take it over Whitelund and on to Morecambe, though with reference to Eddy's posting of an osprey seen from Freehold soon after it must have re-orientated itself and cut across back to the Lune. Unless the 2 bird theory comes into play...
A minimum of 5 little egret were seen.
A green sandpiper was at Bank Pool, and later at the Wildfowlers' Pools.
1 house martin went through.
The group of 13 pinkfeet were still feeding in the stubble field.
1 raven flew through.
4 alba wags on The Flood appeared to be all whites, as viewed from Railway Crossing Lane, but they all flew off before I got the chance for a better look from the upper path.
8 wheatear (7m 1f) and a male redstart were on the Freeman's Pool perimeter fence. 12 meadow pipit dropped in.
7 gadwall & 3 tufted duck were on the pools.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Sign of the times

Two pairs of little ringed plover this evening, one pair on the island at Freeman's Pools and another at The Flood where there was also a male white wagtail.

A single long-eared owl was visible at the roost but none were hunting around the pools (that I saw anyway...) up to when I left around 7.30pm.

6 gadwall on the Pools plus tufted duck pair on Darter Pool.
3 pairs little grebe in the Aldcliffe area.

Otherwise, a couple of swallows but hardly anything else of note.

The new signs went up today as the picture above shows. Great news that Lancashire Wildlife Trust have finally agreed to a management deal at this brilliant site.
Thanks to all involved!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Cocks galore

Just managed a quick check of Freeman's Pools on my way home this evening.

The little ringed plover pair were feeding on the muddy margins of the top pool alongside a lone redshank.
Only 5 gadwall were present and 3 shelduck were on the island as were a pair of oystercatcher and a lapwing. A number of lapwing were displaying over the pool.

One feature in recent months is the appearance of lots of cock pheasants in the area, normally a pretty scarce bird in the ol' parish. Their sudden proliferation coincided with the provision of lots of grain feeders in all the fields. It looks like someone's decided to get a pheasant shoot going when the season kicks off again. Oddly, females are rather thin on the ground which makes a self-sustaining quarry somewhat unlikely.
Of particular note are the actual birds themselves which include some cracking green birds - the yanks call them 'Japanese' pheasants, and they're extraordinarily beautiful things. Maybe some gamebird fan has simply released them to brighten up the place! (yeah, right...)

Late breaking news....
From Guy McC: Long eared owl gave good views this evening at Freemans Pool

Cricket teal play on

7 April, late morning,
Garganey pair present, had to be patient and eventually they appeared, same place as last time I saw them, top far right of the main pool. Also, could see 1 LRP, there was a Sparrowhawk on a post when I arrived scanning the pools. There were 4 Tufted Duck on Darter Pool, 1 Green Sandpiper on Wildfowlers’ and a couple of Swallows bombing about over the flood. Further down the track my first Willow Warbler of the year singing away, where do birds get all that energy from?

Monday, 6 April 2009

Holiday havoc?

Popped by the pools on my way home this evening and was treated to the depressing, though doubtless increasingly familiar, sight of an almost bird-free zone.
Yep, the Easter holidays have begun. I'm just glad that I was at work and didn't have to witness the 'fun' being had...
So, in summary - no wildfowl bar 3 mallard and just a few coot and couple of moorhen. 1 lapwing on the island.
On the plus side a long-eared owl was showing brilliantly, hunting in the fields, and passing by almost at arms length.

Today's other good news came from my other local patch at Morecambe and my daily pre-work amble down the Stone Jetty rewarded me with a sub-adult osprey which gave a fine display as it passed over heading north at 8.40am. The local gulls were less impressed...

Late news....
Report of the garganey pair on Freeman's Pools late morning - anyone have details?

Sunday, 5 April 2009

(P)love(r) triangle

Fairly unremarkable visit late afternoon, my brother Dave had trawled the area early in the morning and also reported little.

Highlights: 3 little ringed plover on the island at Freeman's Pools - presumably 'the' pair and a new male as what was probably the 'resident' male noisily chased the other off.
9 gadwall still present, and a pair of tufted duck were on Darter Pool.
3 little egrets: 1 on the Wildfowlers' Pools, 1 on Bank Pool and another on Aldcliffe Marsh.
Green sandpiper and a pair of teal also on the Wildfowlers' Pools.
Sparrowhawk soaring overhead and kestrel hunting the area.
Single raven on the marsh.
10 pinkfeet and a flock of 20 golden plover in the stubble fields.
A few linnets were buzzing around the area.
At least 4 chiffchaff singing in Freeman's Wood.
1 long-eared owl visible at the roost.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Corking querquedulas

The garganey pair flew onto Freeman's Pools at 9.15am (Jeff Butcher saw them come off Bank Pool) and were still present when I left at 10.40am, resting up on the western bank of the main pool. 9 gadwall were still on the pools though I couldn't see the little-ringed plovers on the island, though Jeff saw them there earlier.
Also present in the area were 2 raven (attracting the attention of the local carrion crows), a green sandpiper on the Wildfowlers' Pools and a blackcap singing in Freeman's Wood. A small party of pinkfeet were in the stubble fields.
A good scattering of sand martin were moving through but other than a single meadow pipit there were little other signs of any migration in action though Dan & Steve had had 2 wheatear, a chiffchaff and a goldcrest.
A couple of little egrets were kicking around and I saw my first common toad (alive, that is) of the year! Oh, and now that the stoats are back to 'normal' they seem to delight in showing brilliantly... swines.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Garganeys drop in...

Another first for me, despite my repeated failed attempts to see the pair that was around the Parish last autumn, this species has continued to elude me for many a moon. However, all that was about to change. Today as Dan and I were scanning the sky for Osprey and the Pools for LRP, a lot can happen in a couple of hours, and as Dan scoped the pools once again, I heard “yes” and a pair of Garganey had dropped in on the main pool, making a great sight, the male was striking to say the least. Only the day before Dan had mentioned to lookout for this species. 5 Snipe also dropped in, and Little Grebe’s were calling.
2 Peregrine and Raven were also busy at Aldcliffe today, along with Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Skylark, Meadow Pipits and Linnets.

Cheers Steve
The garganey pair were still present 4.45pm-5.10pm at least.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Jen & Ziggy join the owl club

My old chum and once-Aldcliffe patcher Adrian 'Ziggy' Dawson was with us this evening and joined Jenny and myself in pre-dinner visit to the pools where we soon confirmed that 2 long-eared owls were still present.
The barn owl failed to show by the time we left around 7.40pm.
The little-ringed plover pair were again on the island and the other regulars were present and correct.
An impressive flock of 14 cormorant came over heading for their roost - Skerton Weir?

Guy McClelland took this great shot of barn owl by Freeman's Pools yesterday evening. A long-eared owl was also present briefly.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Hirundine cometh....

While I was observing from the track near Cadaver Corner for Osprey along came Guy who had been doing the same 20m further up! So we joined forces and kept our eyes to the sky for best part of 2 hours. No Osprey, we did see Peregrine, Ravens, Skylarks 4, and Guy had Wheatear 1 earlier (see LDBWS), there was also about 5/7 Little Egret, we had 1 Swallow.
Later, Dan turned up at Freeman’s and with murky conditions approaching from the south the weather pushed in at least 3 flocks of 9/12 Swallow and Sand Martin. Blackcap and Chiffchaff singing from the woods. In the mean time 3 yobs and a dog took it upon themselves to have a stroll around edge of Freeman’s Pool with air pistols, which flushed a number of birds including 6/7 Snipe and generally greatly upset the equilibrium, as we were watching incoming migration they were trying to shoot things!
This evening Guy text to say LEO and BO showing well. Cycled down and missed the LEO, which according to Guy, was chased into woods by two Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Got a view of Barn Owl though it was getting a bit dark to see clearly. Also, despite all the commotion earlier the pools were back to normal including 2 LRP on the island.