Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Wader washout

Not a green sandpiper nor little ringed plover to be seen anywhere this evening. Have they all moved on or merely been disturbed to a temporary site?

There wasn't really much of anything, the highlight being a kingfisher which flew onto Freeman's Pools from the Lune. Otherwise, the mallard with her brood of 4 were seen, the original coot pair with their 2 growing young were intact though the new youngster(s) to the other pair were down to just one.
3 sheldcuk, 5 mallard, 3 heron & 7 greylag were on the main pool until Captain Nemo turned up again in his wetsuit and engaged in some Olympic training.
Maybe he's the Eddy the Eagle Edwards of his generation?
Freddy The Frogbotherer Freeman, perhaps...


Monday, 29 June 2009

4 of one & a third of a dozen of the other...

Another pair of coot revealed 2 new chicks at Freeman's Pools this evening. The others were still present but there was no sign of the mallard family. A pair of greylag were on the island along with 3 herons.
Also at Freeman's were a single green sandpiper and 3 LR plovers on the upper pools.
3 male black-tailed skimmers were also present, best seen from the cycle track viewing area.

At the Wildfowlers' Pools the wader numbers were reversed with a single LR plover and 3 green sandpiper though little else.

Both Frog Pond and Darter Pool were quiet. With the exception of 100 or so starling and a couple of skylarks the Marsh was pretty birdless too.
A red admiral was near Keyline.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Can't see the wood for the greens

A late afternoon trawl was the best I could manage today, just as a brief shower started...

No sign of yesterday's wood sandpiper though the 2 green sands remain on the Wildfowlers' Pools. Has anyone else been down today to look?
3 little ringed plover were also there.
A pair of little grebe were on Frog Pond - I assume these were the failed breeders from Freeman's Pools.
A single little grebe was also on the upper pool as usual. The mallard brood has now dropped to 4 though the coots still have 2 and the young oik was following its parents around.
The tawny owl I came across the other day was present again, though in a different tree, once again betrayed by a noisy blackbird. I guess this is the same bird as seen in the nearby hawthorn during the winter.

Good numbers of painted ladies still around but the total lack of sunshine kept any dragonflies well hidden.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Wood in the 'hood

A wood sandpiper and 2 green sandpipers were at the Wildfowlers' Pools this afternoon, though difficult to see as the water levels are low and few muddy edges are visible from either the gate on the cycle track or from Dawson's Bank.
With a bit of effort and patience the birds at this site always eventually come into view without the need to go into the field and flush everything.

Otherwise, a single juv LRP was on Frog Pond (plus a probable black-tailed skimmer) and the moorhens at Darter Pool have a single chick.

At Freeman's Pools all was quiet. The mallard brood of 5 seem to be still doing well as do the 2 coot chicks. An oystercatcher was being followed around by a half-grown youngster.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The new Pine Lake?

Tonight's pool-based entertainment was provided by a couple in wetsuits, swimming caps and goggles giving it full lengths in the main Freeman's Pool. What next? Frankly, I give up...

What few birds there were included 2 adult and 1 juv little ringed plover on the upper pools. Another juv LRP was at the Wildfowlers' Pools though I couldn't find any green sands anywhere.

The male broad-bodied chaser was still in its favoured spot.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Swiftly does it

Having given a bit of advice to Warren Bevan regarding a collapsed house martin nest at Lancaster Golf Club a couple of days ago (brood saved and doing well thanks to Warren's rapid action) tonight's bird in peril came in the form of a swift.

Dave & Holly (of the appropriately named band The Lovely Eggs) came round with an unknown bird in a box. The mystery creature had been found by Dave in a state of distress before it collapsed on the floor of the Music Co-Op on Lodge Street, where he works.

Opening the box I was faced with a lovely adult common swift - giving it a quick check, I took the gamble that it was well and simply unable to take off from the deck and took it out.
The bird climbed up my hand -indicating it was indeed in OK shape - before I launched it successfully into the air.
Amazingly free of lice considering its species, this was the first time I'd ever handled a live swift and we all let out a little cheer at our special Disney moment...

Monday, 22 June 2009

'Sands of time

I received a call while heading for Aldlciffe after work saying that a couple of local youths were 'enjoying the facilities' at Freeman's Pools with at least one swimming in the main pool and mucking about around the island.
By the time I arrived they were long gone though the pool seemed, perhaps unsurprisingly, pretty quiet. It's a good job the little ringed plover have fledged - a week earlier and it could have been quite disastrous...

The coot brood appears to have become 2 (from yesterday's 3) though it's possible one was hiding in the vegetation. The mallard ducklings were at 5.

On the upper pools a drake pochard was an odd new arrival. The adult and 2 juv LRPs were present as was the drake tufted duck and a little grebe.

Three green sandpiper and a little ringed plover were at the Wildfowlers' Pools.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Baby birds abound

Further to Guy's comments to the posting below it was good to see that 2 juv LRPs were still doing well at Freeman's Pools this morning. Both were feeding along with an attendant adult on the upper pools.

A sedge warbler was blasting away from the water's edge - earlier I'd noted a food-carrying pair active by the old footy pitch, where whitethroat were also busy feeding young. Once again both whitethroat species were much in evidence around the patch.
Other news from Freeman's Pools included the first mallard brood and one of the coot pair with 3 newly hatched young.

The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent doing my WeBS count from Aldcliffe Marsh to Conder.
Highlights included:
3 common tern
25 grey heron
1 little egret
2 raven

At Conder the stunning summer plumage spotted redshank was showing well - I highly recommend going to see this bird before it gets stuck into its moult, it's an absolute cracker!
1 ad LRP was kicking around and 3 common sandpiper were on the river.
2 very young oystercatcher & 2 lapwing chicks were at the Pools, a handful of redshank were amongst the adults feeding on the Conder.

Keeping on with my mutterings about the lack of willow warblers this year I heard ONE (near Ashton Hall) on the entire stretch from Lancaster to Glasson...

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Seeing green

The highlight from a morning trawl around the patch were 2 green sandpiper at the Wildfowlers' Pools - traditionally a favoured site for both passage birds and returning winterers.
Another green sandpiper on Frog Pond later was quite likely one of these birds but it might just have been a third individual.

At Freeman's Pools there were at least 2 adult and 1 juv little ringed plover in the area. The youngster is clearly now capable of flight and was feeding on the muddy upper pools. There might still be 2 young around, any news to confirm this would be appreciated. An adult LRP was also around the Wildfowlers' Pools.
The roe deer pair were showing superbly.

Waterbirds were a bit thin on the ground with a few moulting mallard, 4 shelduck, 3 tufted duck and the usual coot and moorhen plus a little grebe showing.

Further to Guy's observations the other day it was good to see a healthy number of lapwing chicks around the maize fields though I couldn't see any young oystercatchers and no adults appear to be sitting any longer.

A kestrel was hunting around the wood and both common and lesser whitethroats and blackcaps were in good voice and widely distributed around the area.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

A mighty wind

A windy cycle from Morecambe (where I'd been fortunate enough to jam into a Pom skua off the Jetty this morning before work) found me at a blustery Freeman's Pools for 6pm.
Quite a few hirundines (all 3 species) and swifts were feeding over the water while a bundle of snoozing mallard and a couple of shelduck were on the island along with a little-ringed plover.
Another LRP was on the upper pools where a reckless lapwing chick was wandering around unprotected by parents in full view of a couple of herons. Either they were already too full having scoffed its siblings or they were just too dozy to notice, but they didn't seem interested in the slightest.
3 tufted duck were present as were the Canada goose pair.
Elsewhere it was pretty quiet with just another LRP and a common sandpiper at the Wildfowlers' Pools.
A sparrowhawk was hunting near Frog Pond.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Hot chicks

Aldcliffe news from Guy...

Promising lapwing chick count yesterday in the baking sun with further new, doubtless soggier, youngsters seen today.

Little-ringed plover chick engaging in short maiden flights today and the first returning post-breeding green sandpiper - quite an early date but not unprecedented.

Cheers for the updates Guy.

Monday, 15 June 2009

All about evening

Went for a late evening visit just to see what's about later on in the day.
Of course, the optimist in me was keeping one eye out for a repeat of last year's hobby or similar. Needless to say, that particular optimist was left somewhat disappointed...

At Freeman's Pools the LRPs were busy running around the island as usual while the other residents carried on as normal. I suspect that the upper pool dabchicks have a nest somewhere in the vegetated margins as one adult acted very aggressively toward the drake tufted duck at one point.
The female roe deer was out and about.
Good numbers of swift and a few swallow, house & a couple of sand martins were feeding on the copious insects over the water.
The other pools were very quiet.
7 herons were fishing on the Lune at Stodday.

An agitated song thrush and a couple of very noisy blackbirds tempted me to scramble through some vegetation alongside the cycle track near Freeman's Wood, where after some
searching I eventually discovered an adult tawny owl.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Marsh mellows...

A couple of hours trawling the patch with my brother Dave, in advance of his going to Iceland for 3 months later in the week, saw much as could be expected. ie not very much.
The male broad-bodied chaser was still holding territory and good numbers of painted ladies and speckled woods were much in evidence. A single distant darter species was the only other odanata bar the usual damselflies.
At Freeman's Pools all was well with the LRPs seemingly in good health.
Plenty of vocal lesser whitethroats around.
Despite the success of tits and such this year other young birds seem to be notable only by their absence.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Summertime blues

Saw my first patch broad-bodied chasers at Freeman's Pools today, with a pair ovipositing over the small reed-fringed pool just in front of the viewpoint on the cyclepath. Apologies for the dodgyscoped pic - handheld snapper to my eyepiece...
A few common blue and blue-tailed damselflies were also present though no darter species were seen.
Coots are rebuilding and 1 of the little grebe pairs appear to be doing the same.
The LRP chicks continue to grow - amazing to think that they had only just hatched this time last year!
A trawl along the seawall was rewardless and the Wildfowlers' Pools and The Flood was free of avian interest.
Common and lesser whitethroats were typically in evidence along the cycle track along with the usual LT tits, goldfinches etc. No sign yet of any fledged reed buntings at either of the pairs' sites.
Darter Pool was quiet with the exception of a few common blue damselflies.
Back at F Pools, something was causing something of a commotion and looking hopefully skyward I noticed a sparrowhawk over the ponds - hmm, was that it? Then a buzzard soared low across the water, but wait - what's that large raptor above? Another buzzard. Then a peregrine soared over and a kestrel shot by. Not exactly what I was hoping for but quite a flurry of excitement!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Buck the trend

A quick pre-work blast around the pools this morning rewarded me with the unexpected sight of a fine roe buck. Seems our doe-in-residence has been out and got herself a mate... a text message from Steve W later in the day confirmed the pair together.
With mating season looming it may well mean that there could be the sound of tiny hooves heard around the area next spring.
The little-ringed plover family were all intact and a pair each of tufted duck and gadwall were on the upper pools.

A post work visit revealed nothing out of the ordinary (with the exception of loads of bloody midges which really like my blood). All the usual avian suspects were present. A single common tern was fishing on the river at Stodday.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Five alive

Good to see that there were at least two young little ringed plover still doing well at Freeman's Pools this evening, both parents were in attendance and a further adult was on the upper pools.
I saw little else at the pools bar the usual Canada goose duo, 6 coot, 2 moorhen, 5 mallard, 2 shelduck, 2 little grebe and a family party of pied wagtail.
A little influx of lapwing had taken place and around 20 birds were on the Lune.
Another 12 lapwing, and a curlew, were at the Wildfowlers' Pools.
The Marsh and Flood seemed quiet.
A pair of common tern were at the former colony... both depressing and encouraging in equal measure.
Once again the notable lack of willow warblers was curious with just 1 singing bird heard between Lancaster and Stodday - normally there are loads along here.
As usual, good numbers of whitethroat en route.

On a final note: looks like red kite made it onto the Aldcliffe list today without actually being seen by anyone! One was over the tip this morning before heading east i.e. pretty much right over the pools (and my frickin' house!?).

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Steve Wallis's commendably thorough list of birds from a morning visit (as copied & pasted from the LDBWS site):

Freeman's Pool.
LRP 2 and saw 1 chick.
Whitethroat 2, Oystercatcher 2, Lapwing 2, Canada Goose 2, Little Grebe 2, Coot numerous, Moorhen 3/4, Kestrel 1, Carrion Crow 2, Pied Wagtail 2, Pheasant 2
Good number of tits and chaffinch. House Martins and Swallows numerous

Cycle Track
Thought I heard Garden Warbler, it only sang once then disappeared into hedge.
Whitethroat 5/6, Blackcap 1, Sedge Warbler 1, Reed Bunting 1 flew over.
Chaffinch 4/6, Greenfinch 2, Bullfinch 1, Goldfinch 11, Wren 3/5, Great Tit 4+, Blue Tit 2, Blackbird numerous, Song Thrush 2, Oystercatcher and Lapwing in fields, Curlew 1. Jackdaw flew over, Carrion Crow 5 in field, Pheasant 1 in field

Wildfowlers' Pool
LRP 1, Redshank 2, Lapwing 6, Oystercatcher 2, Coot, Moorhen and Mallard numerous.
Woodpigeon 7

Kestrel 1, Skylark 2, Linnet 1m 2f, Sparrowhawk 1, Swifts plenty flying about.
Lesser Whitethroat 2, Grey Heron 2 and saw another 3/4 flying about.

My own evening visit was much the same, if briefer and with fewer birds...

An adult little ringed plover and 1 chick similarly visible at Freeman's Pools plus the other usual bits and pieces. This doesn't mean, of course, that only one chick survives as they're pretty mobile and seem keen on being independent from one another. On the other hand carrion crows and BH gulls have been pretty relentless in their searches on the island...
A further LR plover was still at the Widfowlers' Pools.
The raven party numbered 6 this evening - in the field by The Mud (formerly known as The Flood).
A ringed adult LBB gull was on the Lune (metal right leg, yellow/black darvic on left) - just had my bins so it went unread unfortunately.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Dragon's Den

Dan here.

Unsung hero Reuben Neville (LWT) tells me that he found a black-tailed skimmer aswell as being able to confirm my 'probable' broad-bodied chaser at the Freeman's Pools site today.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Sunday service

Made my first visit to the patch since Tuesday this evening. Felt like a lifetime.

Pretty quiet in Freeman's Wood although the continued appearance of fledged long-tailed, blue and great tits both here and along the cycle track is encouraging - though where are all the willow warblers this year? Singing birds seem to be very thin on the ground
Whitethroat were in relative abundance, plus the odd lesserthroat was heard here and there.
At Freeman's Pools a pair of little ringed plover were feeding at the upper pool. An hour or so later presumably the same pair were on the island with at least 2 youngsters visible.
Still no young coot, mallard, little grebes or anything else waterbird-wise. Two adult grey herons and a recently fledged youngster were lurking on the pool edge.
A pair each of tufted duck and Canada goose were still in residence.
All the other pools and the Flood were bereft of noteworthy birds.
An oystercatcher was sat on a clutch in the maize fields and several lapwing appear to be doing the same.
A family party of five raven, presumably the local breeders, were in fields by Aldcliffe village.
The marsh was all pretty quiet bar a hunting kestrel.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Splitting hares

Popped down to the pools this morning before setting off to Morecambe and another day slaving over a hot computer.
Got to say, there wasn't much doing although the gadwall pair were back on the upper pool. Two adult little ringed plover and the 3 chicks were present.
(Not quite the spoonbill/avocet/stilt sandpiper I was hoping for...)

A late evening visit revealed that a further pair of gadwall had dropped in. Otherwise it was the usual stuff.
Frog Pond, Darter Pool and the Wildfowlers' Pools were quiet.

A pair of hare coursers were working the fields. Thankfully the hare that they were chasing managed to give them the slip.
Seems that it's a particularly rotten time of year to be engaging in this rather unpleasant pursuit, with the fields having been just cut in the past two days and the fact that there will be vulnerable young animals around. Doesn't seem terribly 'sporting' to me...

Monday, 1 June 2009

Plovers' concerto

The most notable thing this evening was the presence at Freeman's Pools of another pair of little ringed plover. One of the original pair was on the island with the 3 chicks while a further 3 adults (presumably including one of the breeders) were on the upper pools following each other noisily around and feeding in a tight little trio.
Wildfowl was virtually absent, doubtless due to the low flying paragliders (if that's what they're called - big manned kites with engines on...)
Still reasonable numbers of painted ladies kicking around.

Sunday sunshine

After a day of family-related fun, I managed a quick visit on Sunday evening.

There were still a good number of painted ladies around, certainly 250+.
No sign of the gadwall, but a drake teal was new in.
Even with just bins it was interesting to watch the adult little-ringed plovers taking action to divert two carrion crows working the island. The 3 chicks could be seen bombing around as the parent birds did a decent job of confusing the corvids. When I left all was still well but one wonders how long they can keep this up if the crows return repeatedly.
Other fluffy bird news includes what appears to be a succesful year so far for blue and great tits with fledged broods seemingly in good numbers.