Thursday, 31 December 2009

Aldcliffe has the Ansers

Above: some thoroughly wild geese and a bearded vulture.

NE 0-2, 4-6 Oktas, dry.

A late morning to early afternoon visit with Steve W was centred on the five-species goose flock on Aldcliffe Marsh which included 500+ pink-footed, three barnacle and the snow goose quartet. Sadly no brents, beans, euros or any other stragglers today.

Waders seen included whopping numbers of black-tailed godwits. Around 180 were roosting at Marsh Point, thirty feeding in the improved fields and a further 200 probing for methane on the former tip.

Parish passerines included forty or more linnets, five tree sparrows, three meadow pipits and a lone redwing.

A water rail could be seen feeding on the iced-up 'flood'.


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Shakin' All Over.....Aldcliffe!

Usually I feel quite at home in freezing conditions, winter camping and thrashing up snow filled mountain gullies. However, birding is a different matter, facing a bitterly icy wind and trying to gaze down a scope is a headache, eye watering experience, which I’m sure you all identify with. Needless to say I had ago and what I saw was probably only half the story!
Nothing on pools, apart from Wildfowlers’, which seem to be thawing quicker than the others, saw Shoveler 10 usual Mallard. All the Moorhen and Coot along the bottoms of various hedgerows along the track.
The hedge by the dung heap produced….
Tree Sparrow 2, possibly more.
Reed Bunting 6
Chaffinch 8
Dunnock 4
Song Thrush 1
Blackbird 3
Robin 2

Further down,
Bullfinch 3
Greenfinch 4
Goldfinch 3
Blue Tit 2
Great Tit 2

Spraying slurry in fields attracting….
Few hundred gulls, mainly Black headed,
Good number of Lapwing, Redshank and Curlew.
Golden Plover 1

Marsh, didn’t hang about as freezing…….
Canada Geese 220
Greylag Geese approx 350
Snow Geese and Barnacle Geese present, attracting out of town birders!
Little Egret 3

Sewage Works and field opposite
Grey Wagtail 1
Lapwing 75
Curlew 17
Redshank 160
Grey Partridge 5
Fieldfare 90
Redwing 35
Blackbird 18

Rushed the Marsh so didn't spot the Dark-bellied Brent Goose seen by Pete Woodruff yesterday or any Pinks.


Monday, 28 December 2009

where shall i wander......

Geese being the highlight today…….
Despite a slight thaw yesterday it was back to winter at Aldcliffe, frost, sun and no wind. As I arrived I saw thousands of Pink Footed Geese flying over Snatchems/Asda, they split into two large flocks going north and south respectively. Aldcliffe was lucky enough to have about 350 of the birds land in the fields near the flood.
Freeman’s, Darter and Frog Pools all frozen and not a bird insight. Wildfowler’s had a small open pool with Mallard, Coot, Moorhen and Shoveler all crammed in.
Dung heap on stubble field saw mixed flock of Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting and Dunnock with a couple of Meadow Pipits and one Fieldfare.
A single Snipe was feeding in a small pool, Pied Wagtail and few Mallard on the flood.
Water Rail showing well on the track along with Chaffinch, Bullfinch and Goldfinch.

Little Egret 2
Snow Geese 4
Barnacle Geese 3
Greylag and Canada’s
Curlew 17
Skylark 1

Marsh Point
Collection of Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Black-headed, Common, Herring, Great black backed and Lesser black backed Gulls.
Goldeneye 2
Cormorant 6
Grey heron 4

Breaking News..
14.00 news just in from Pete Marsh who spotted another Barnacle Goose which has come in with about 400 Pink Footed Geese. Also, an orange-legged looking Pink Foot, that disappeared! Which will be worth trying to find and confirm. Thanks Pete.


Monday, 21 December 2009

Stone Me

Despite the blizzards birding was a joy today at Aldcliffe. Highlight was a male Stonechat on the sea wall opposite Snatchems. Along with up to 15 Meadow Pipits. Freeman’s Pool was frozen apart from one small bit which held 9 Coot. The hedge by the dung heap continues to be a hot spot, had Tree Sparrows, Dunnock, Chaffinch and Reed Buntings. While in the surrounding fields saw up to 70 Crows along with a good selection of waders, hence why the only bird I actually saw on the marsh was 1 Little Egret, all the geese were miles away in fields on the far side. Had a good look at owl roosts but nothing doing. Full list...........
Surrounding fields east of track.
Curlew 23
Lapwing 60
Snipe 1
BH Gull 175
Carrion Crow 78
Moorhen 11

Track and hedge near dung heap
Tree Sparrow 16
Chaffinch 15
Reed Bunting 6
Dunnock 4
Fieldfare 1
Redwing 3
Song Thrush 6
Little Grebe in ditch.

Wildfowlers’ Pool, mainly frozen.
Coot, Moorhen,
Shoveler 4
Snipe 1

Stonechat 1m
Little Egret 1
Goldfinch 16
Kestrel 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Greenfinch 2
Meadow Pipit 12/15
Skylark 2


Saturday, 19 December 2009

Skid row

Icy conditions down on the track. A couple of teenagers were busy developinga 30 foot ice slide. Oh to be young again!

Most of the news came from other people. Ray Hobbs reported seeing 19 tree sparrows on the maize fields and 40 coot in a small ice free patch of Freemans pool.
One of the regular dog walkers reported seeing the barn owl last week at Freemans pool last week. Good to see that it is in the area still but was it visiting the eastern side of the Lune from a roost on the the other side?

An unusual sighting were 2 ringed plover with 2 dunlin 100m upstream of the pylons. Not a patch tick for me but I did treble the number of ringed plover I have seen down here.
A kingfisher flew over heading from the sewerage works to the river, 1 water rail on the frozen cycle track and 4 song thrush in a field with a few blackbirds.


Friday, 18 December 2009

Tree Sparrows...

Spent a freezing hour and half this evening looking for owls and saw none. However, I did see 20/25 Tree Sparrow near the dung heap hedge along with 30 Chaffinch, making quite a sight. On Freeman’s Pool were the usual Coot and 4 Gadwall, solitary Canada. A Kestrel came in and landed in a tree nearby and followed by a Woodcock flying over, almost dark at this point and my numb feet told me time to call it quits.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Sunday omnibus

Todays journey round the parish seemed a repeat of the visits I have made this week.

Chiffchaff at Stodday sewer works. Good views this time seemed to suggest that the bird is of the abietinus race shown in Collins.
4 goldeneye in the river.
1 red breasted merganser flying upstream.
10 redwing to the east of the sewer works and 120 redshank in the sewer works.
3 barnacles on the marsh.
2 squealing water rails along the flooded cycle track.
4 meadow pipit and 2 pied wags on the frozen flood.
1 golden plover with mixed gull/wader flock on fields.


Could not locate the Barnacles or Water Rails this morning. There were 8 Snipe at freeman’s Pool and 9 Goldeneye, 2 Goosander at Marsh Point and a Pochard on the Wildfowlers’.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Back on the Rails

E 0-2, 1 okta, ice on the shallower pools.

I tackled the parish in a pincer movement this afternoon, scanning it from the far side of the estuary and having a quick wander down the track just before sunset.

The geese on the marsh weren't having a relaxing weekend, being unsettled by light aircraft and (terrestrial) shooting. But aswell as canada and greylags there were:

four snow geese
three barnacle geese and
six pink-footed geese.

30 black-tailed godwits were at Marsh Point.

Wildfowl on Freeman's Pools included six goldeneye, eight gadwall and three tufties.

Two water rails were quite showy on the flooded part of the track.

The flooded Wildfowler's Pools fields had 40 redshanks, 5 shovelers, and a hedge-full of tree sparrows (about 20).

Just out of the parish, five rock pipits were near The Golden Ball pub.


Friday, 11 December 2009

Whooper wonderland

Another perfect winters day.

2 large swans were circling the marsh looking for a good landing site. Visually, I couldn't identify them until I heard them honking and they landed just up stream of the pylons.
2 red breasted mergansers and 2 goldeneye were also in the same area.
2 skylark flew overhead
Kingfisher was on the Lune at the western viewpoint and 6 gadwall were on one of the smaller Freemans pools.


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Shiver me barnacles

Not sure if this is a particularly suitable headline. Today was one of only a few winter days each year I am able to walk along the sea wall without hat or gloves.

3 barnacle geese with the greylags and a couple of pinkies on the marsh at Railway Crossroads.
2 greensandpipers on the flood.
20 linnet on the stubble fields.
4 snow geese on the opposite side of the Lune.
3 bullfinch on the top path.
2 grey and 5 pied wags at the sewerage works.
At least one chiffchaff in the bushes at the sewerage works. 1 pale bird with a faint supercilium was seen and I also heard another bird calling on the cycle track which may have been a chiffchaff.


Monday, 7 December 2009

Snow Joke

SW 3-5, 8 oktas, rain.

The beginning of a gloomy afternoon visit saw the four snow geese cutting across the estuary to feed on Heaton Marsh.

It's funny- when they're on the Aldcliffe side, these white-morph birds look and behave like wild vagrants. On the wrong side of the river.....they look all wrong!

I struggled to find much of interest in the parish proper.

An adult mediterranean gull flew N. over the marsh (P96 perhaps?).

14 tree sparrows and nine linnets were the pick of the stubble.

I heard green sandpiper in the vicinity of the flooded Wildfowler's Pools, but failed to see it/them.


Friday, 4 December 2009


News from Guy, 2 Green Sandpipers on the wildfowlers pools at 2pm

Managed an hour or so down the patch this morning. The Freeman’s Pool Island has been cleared of all vegetation, looking really promising. A new dung heap by the gate to the stubble field has attracted more birds. There was a Great Crested Grebe on Wildfowler’. There seemed to be more Geese on the Marsh, will hopefully get down over the weekend and have a scan through. The Snow Geese still present.
Freeman’s Pool,
Goldeneye 2
Little Grebe 1
Snipe 2
Coot, usual
Kestrel 1

Track, Stubble Field.
Feral Pigeon 80
Rook 8
Tree Sparrow 19
Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin, Reed Bunting, Wren
Pheasant 4
Little Grebe on flooded end of track
Darter Pool, Mute Swan 6

Wildfowler’ Pool
Great Crested Grebe 1
Little Grebe 1
Shoveler 4
Coot, Moorhen
Redshank 17
BH Gulls 35/40

Lapwing 1800
Snow Geese 4
Greylag, Canada Geese
Little Egret 2
Shelduck 4

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Outside, Looking In

SE 3-4, 3-7 oktas, dry.

Didn't set foot in the parish today, but did scope it from the wrong side of the estuary !

The four snow geese were still on the marsh mid-afternoon, though they later decamped to improved fields on the Heaton side of the river.

At only around a hundred metres outside of the area, a barn owl (hunting the edges between Snatchems and Salt Ayre cycle track) is worth a mention here too.