Thursday, 30 December 2010

blasts from the past

and the leo

blasts from the past

Inspired by Steve, i hope you enjoy these films. I should have uploaded them before. Sorry.

Patch tick

A male brambling was good find down here today giving me a patch tick and taking my Aldcliffe list up to about 135 species.
I met up with Steve shortly after and had a productive trawl round in pleasant breathless conditions. The good news is that the smaller passerines seem to have survived the 5 week immersion in the deep freeze. 3 flocks of LTT's were located along with numerous chaffinch and blue tits, about 6 greenfinch and the same number of goldfinch. 3 bullfinch and a goldcrest were on the track leading up to the sewerage works. The only casualty seems to be a redshank at the sewerage works which looks like  it's neck was broken when it flew in to the wire mesh fence. The influx of thrush species have dispersed but a handful of redwings and fieldfares remain with the mistle thrush guarding a haw bush on the walled meadow. A peregrine and kestrel were at the pylons. 12 barnacle geese were on the marsh with PFG's in an inaccessible field sandwiched between 2 hedges and therefore uncountable. 4 goldeneye were in the river and a little egret flew south. On cue, the green sandpiper landed on the flood as we were asking each other when was the last time each of us saw it.
Skylark 5, Meadow Pipit 1, Pied Wagtail 9, Raven 1. A few hundred Lapwing near gull bank, a dozen or so of each Curlew and Redshank in fields.

Friday, 24 December 2010

No Rail delays at Aldcliffe..........

Another satisfying plod through the winter landscape, started with a look in Freeman’s Wood, a few thrushes and a Woodcock being the highlight. Proceeding down towards the walled meadow I was struck by how many Fieldfare were present, a number of Redwing mixed in. On the river I watched the Wigeon moments before the tide came in. I headed back towards the railway crossing and all the Fieldfare were in the hedges, I then noticed a Sparrowhawk near the gateway. On the way back along the track by the ditch I waited patiently to get the film of the Water Rail, great Christmas treat eh!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Now you see them..................

Had a stroll around part of the Parish this morning, the big freeze remains big and freezing! All pools in the area frozen and empty of birds. At marsh point there were a good number of gulls Black-headed, Common and a quite a few Herring Gulls. There were 25 Mute Swans and around 75 Canada Geese. Also present were Goldfinch, Wrens, Robins, Great/Blue Tits, a Bullfinch was near the bottom gate. On the track, I got into position at the top of the rise on the flood defence, I was about to trawl through the geese in the field next to the bund, Pink footed/Greylag, one never knows what might be with them, and as I find this a hard task I was determined to have a good look. Then as soon as began they all took off, then I noticed the dog walker! I managed to film the event, and I challenged them about not sticking to footpaths of which there are many! The response was everyone does it and the farmer doesn’t mind! So what about the geese? They continued, crossed the track and proceeded to continue along the bund.

Along the track I saw a good hundred or so Fieldfare, a few Redwing and at least 9 Song Thrush. In the ditch I glimpsed a Water Rail as I hurried on not wanting to disturb anything. A Buzzard was flying over being harassed by a pair of Crows. A Greenfinch was in the hedge along with a number of Dunnock, Robin, Wrens and about 20 Blackbirds.
I headed back via Aldcliffe village which looked very peaceful and Christmassy in the snow.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Ice Age...........

The winter is back with vengeance after a couple of days of slightly above freezing temperatures. On the surface Aldcliffe looked beautiful, clear blue skies under an inch or so of snow and frozen pools. Look a bit deeper and it's a fight for survival. It was bloody brass monkey weather, and I felt it for those birds and animals desperately trying to stay alive in this record breaking cold spell. There were large sheets of ice floating down the river, the banks frozen. 
A Skylark was about near the sewage works along with a pair of Grey Wagtails. The main highlight was the influx of thrushes, with Blackbird numbers as usual, but there was a good couple of hundred Fieldfare and Redwing between the cutting and Wildfowlers’ Pools. Also a pair of Song Thrush and a Mistle Thrush made their presence known. I haven't noticed any unusual behaviour as yet, the cold reminded me of last winter when Dan and I had a Song Thrush literally by our feet, no doubt the poor thing was starving to death. Today, however, the birds, what there was, were as twitchy as ever.
On the river I saw a good few hundred Wigeon, a few Swans, Curlew and Redshank. Unsurprisingly there were two groups of people who had taken it upon themselves, and dogs, to walk across the marsh so no geese to be seen!
Freeman's Pools were lifeless bar a few Woodpigeons in the trees. The dead copse nearby has all but disappeared, only one tree standing, a shame as that small area attracted quite a few birds, including Kestrel.

Sunday, 12 December 2010


A pleasant day where I was able to take off my hat and gloves. Started from Stodday where a grey wagtail was at the sewerage works. The apple tree on the lane here still has fruit on and is attracting blackbirds and tit flocks. A mistle thrush, which are quite scarce down here, was alarm calling at the walled meadow. Small numbers of redwings and fieldfares were at weedy corner with 2 bullfinch, a song thrush and more blackbirds. A female sparrowhawk was harrassing the starlings and redshank feeding on the "improved" fields. About 300 pinkies were in this area also. A green sandpiper was on the flood. Freemans pools are completely frozen over. There is usually an ice free patch were all the ducks cram in to but even this has  disappeared with the severity of the cold this winter. 2 skylark were heard and then later seen over the pylons.


Saturday, 4 December 2010

Think Pink........

                                           Not your average Saturday morning! 

Despite the dodgy looking cloud cover it stayed dry, and a bit of a thaw happening, though one couldn't tell from looking at the pools which were all still solid ice and bird-less. Aldcliffe was unusually quiet, people wise, for a Saturday morning, hardly surprising given the recent spate of wintry weather we have had! I started with a wander through the woods and saw Goldcrest, remarkable considering the cold, how do they survive? Also a good number of Blackbirds present. On the track were Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch. A number of Robin, Wren, Dunnock and Blue/Great Tits in the hedgerow. A good pile of farmyard manure has been dumped in the maize stubble field which will hopefully attract a few birds, only a Robin on there today.
I then bumped into Guy and we headed towards the noise of geese. There was up to three very active Water Rail in the ditch, and a few Redwing and Fieldfare in the trees. There was roughly 900 Pink-footed Geese in the fields opposite the walled meadow, with a number of Lapwing and gulls mixed in.
Said cheerio to Guy and made my way along the tidal wall. It wasn't long before another 1000 or so Pink-footed Geese arrived on the marsh joining forces with the 300 or so Greylag and 275 Canada's. I had already counted 10 Barnacles and another 7 landed with the fresh input of geese, I attempted a trawl through but was getting a bit nippy, anyway at least 17 Barnacles back on the marsh. Also present were a few Curlews, Little Egret, Wigeon, Teal and a flock of 16 Snipe flew north. A further 35 Fieldfare were flying between the hedges near Bank Pool.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Life in the Freezer...........

It is usual to have a cold spell at the end of November, but it feels more like February and is apparently the coldest November for 17 years, going to be a tough long winter for the birds. Yet it is the hottest year on record according to the Met Office! Freeman's Pools are frozen, apart from usual corner, with 18 Coot and a couple of Swans paddling about. Marsh Point saw gulls and Lapwing. Despite the blue skies it was freezing, and everywhere iced up, apart from the river of course, which was busy with gulls, Lapwing, Grey Herons, Wigeon and Goldeneye etc. In the channel at Cadaver Corner were Little Grebes and 2 Little Egrets. 
The highlight was the track down from the Wildfowlers’ Pool, here there were at least 2 Water Rail showing well, along with Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Redwing, Robin, Wren and mixed tit flock. A Kestrel was perched nearby watching all the Lapwings and Gulls in the fields. Mixed in with these were a number of Golden Plover, Curlew and Redshank.  I had a look for the Barnacles but all the geese were way out on the marsh, and as I had no scope I couldn't be sure.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Wild goose chase

2 peregrines were in the vicinity of the pylons putting every wader up between Glasson and Snatchems.
The barnacle geese were still on the marsh at the north eastern end.
10 goldeneye were at Freemans pools with 2 tufties.
The fields are still being prepared with lovely black stuff. I'd quite like some of that for my veggie patches.
20 fieldfares in the area. Lots of berries still on the hawthorns. Will waxwing enter my Aldcliffe list?


Monday, 22 November 2010

Happy Monday.....

Began at the sewage works, in the fields were roughly 200 BH Gulls and a Med Gull, un-ringed. Along the track were a handful of Pied Wagtails, Chaffinch, Blackbirds and Robins. A Little Egret near the pylons was feeding; also 2 Rock Pipits by the fence, and a few Wigeon floating up the channel with the tide, and a Snipe flew up stream.
At the railway cutting I saw 2 Goldcrest, a handful of Redwing, 2 Greenfinch, 2 Bullfinch, Blue Tits, Great Tits and a flock of 6 Long-tailed Tits. On the marsh were 4 Little Egrets, plus all the usual Curlew and Redshank. The Flood had a flock of 30 Redshank feeding. 2 Fieldfare were in the hedge.
Freeman’s Pool had a Little Egret and 3 Goldeneye, along with the usual Coot. Had a walk along the river bank and found the Barnacle Geese, I could only count 15, though they were quite mobile, despite all the Greylags and Canada’s they all stayed in their small group.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Barnacle geese

Ray Hobbs had a flock of 16 barnacle geese at Aldcliffe on Thursday 18th Nov.
I'm pretty sure that's a record for the site. I assume they're Caerlaverock overshoots, rather than fence-hoppers?

Jon C.

Monday, 15 November 2010

All work.... not much play........

Managed A couple of hours down the patch today, though things were very busy down there. Farmers, hedge cutters and workman all doing jobs at key areas, so fairly quiet while I was there. Freeman’s Pool had a dozen Gadwall, 4 Shoveler, 1 Goldeneye, 2 Teal and Coot numbers appear to be on the increase. Still loads of water on the Wildfowlers’ Pools and the Flood, so not much on there. On the marsh were Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank and 2 Little Egret. All the geese were way out, usual Canada and Greylags.
Plenty of gulls Great/Lesser Black-backed, Herring, Common and Black-headed. On the mud were hundreds of Lapwing and approx 185 Wigeon, there were a good number of Golden Plover mixed in.
On the pylons were 2 Ravens.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

On a roll..........

A perfect autumn day, cold, crisp and bright. Freeman’s Pool was much the same as yesterday, with the addition of 2 Shoveler. The Wildfowlers’ Pool was occupied by Canada Geese and the still present 3 Little Grebes; a large skein of Greylag flew in from the North West and landed on the marsh. A Bullfinch was calling from the hedgerow. In the fields on the Flood side, were good numbers of Lapwing and a couple of dozen Golden Plover feeding alongside. 
Gull Bank had a number of Black-headed Gulls and few Common Gulls, there was about 35 Teal, 20 Wigeon and 55 Dunlin, a Great Crested Grebe was fishing the near bank. Further up river were hundreds of Lapwing and around 135 Golden Plover. 3 Little egrets were feeding on the marsh, also about 25 Shelduck present.
 I continued towards the pylons, on the incoming tide were 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, 4 Goosanders and a pair of Goldeneye. 
A Peregrine Falcon was keeping tabs from one of the pylons while another was causing chaos over Calloway Marsh. I managed to spot a couple of Rock Pipits around the plastic bag covered fence near the picnic area.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Autumn Chill......

A chilly blustery day, but fine and dry. Started off at Freeman's Pool and there are 5 Goldeneye present, usual Gadwall, Little Grebe, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen and today a Little Egret. I popped into the woods briefly, GS Woodpecker, Redwing and Treecreepers being the highlight. There is a noticeable increase in Chaffinch numbers all the way to the sewage works. The half a dozen or so Greenfinch are still present along the track, along with Goldfinch.
Wildfowlers’ Pool had 3 Little Grebe and 1 Kingfisher. Frog Pond was occupied by Canada Geese, 55ish. The Flood and surrounding fields had a few gulls and Redshank wandering about. On the marsh were 3 Little Egrets. A Kestrel was near the walled meadow. 
Last Sunday on my WeBS count there were up to 6 Rock Pipits near the pylons, it was almost a 10m tide which makes seeing these birds easier as they get pushed closer to the track. Today, at the works, apart from all the Chaffinch, 35ish, there were a good number of Blackbird around. I noticed snow on the Cumbrian Mountains. Also of note was a Peacock Butterfly.

Friday, 5 November 2010

More Weather.......

Managed a quick cycle round before the wet weather set in yet again. Freeman's Pool was where it was happening, Green Sandpiper being the highlight. Also on the pools were Gadwall, Goldeneye, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Grey Heron, Mallard and Mute Swans. Had a look in the woods and saw plenty of Redwing, also a pair of Treecreepers busy flitting from tree to tree. There were around 6 Wrens between the gate and Marsh Point.
Wildfowlers’ Pool was flooded and nothing much to report other than Moorhens and a Little Egret in the far corner of the field. A Sparrowhawk flew over.
The area known as the Flood is now a substantial piece of water, and totally void of any birds when I looked. The marsh looked busy with gulls, I was scope less so couldn't go through them. 

Monday, 1 November 2010

The one that got away

A walk round with Steve yesterday was interupted by a couple of wildfowlers in the stubble fields. We anxiously watched as a greylag flew over the guns but lady luck was on it's side. It seemed fairly quiet, not sure why???
 A couple of goldcrests were in the hedge near weedy corner, a couple of water rails were squealing when the guns were discharged with a female shoveeler close by, one definite chiffchaff near darter pool and possibly another at Estuary Gate, a blackcap in the hedge opposite wildfowlers and 9 gadwall at Freemans pool.
Watched one of those flying latterns being blown high from east to west last night whilst walking the dog at 9pm and imagined all the little gems a wind like that would bring to Aldcliffe today.


Saturday, 30 October 2010

Possible Lapland Bunting

Started off rom the sewerage works at 10.00 and got back there at about 1.00. A beautiful morning with bright red autumnal colours in the hedges and blackberry bushes. The smell of dying, fermenting vegetation in the railway cutting smelt like beer brewing. I wish October could go on forever. Two other birders were also making the most of it. One had seen a chiffchaff at the estuary gates.
My sightings included 5 pied wags and one grey wag in the sewerage works. 3 goldcrest on the cycle track at Stodday and a treecreeper accompanying a tit flock on the way back. 50 widgeon under the pylons and about 50 golden plover on gull bank. A little egret on the marsh and 25 fieldfares along Dawsons bank.
On the marsh towards Marsh Point I heard 2 skylark overhead. Accompanying them was a slightly smaller passerine with a blunt head, not as heavily built breastand slightly narrower wings. Unfortunately I didn't hear a flight call. I had a good view of the silhouette of this bird for about 30 seconds before landing on the marsh so I was able to get a good comparison with the skylarks. Being an honest person I won't put this down as life tick but add it to the long list of possible and probables I seem to have.
A little grebe , 9 heron  2 goldeneye and 3 tufted ducks were all in the vicinity of freemans pool. Pishing round the sycamores in Freemans wood brought down a few tits and finches.


Thursday, 28 October 2010


Had a bash through Freeman's Wood for an hour or so, flushed at least 3 Woodcock. Plenty of Redwing and Blackbirds, couldn't count them as they were very mobile. On the pools were 2 Goldeneye new in, along with the usual. Quite a bit if water coming down the Lune after recent rainfall, so Marsh Point was quiet. A Kestrel was hunting over the fields. The recently harvested maize fields saw hundreds of Greylag Geese feeding, good influx of Woodpigeon and Corvids. On the track were half a dozen Greenfinch, various groups of Goldfinch and few Chaffinch.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Hardened Flytippers

A quick visit to the patch today  revealed 5 little egret on the marsh, c. 20 fieldfare round weedy corner, little grebe and a few teal on wildfowlers, a juvenile mute swan on the tiny pond right next to Dawsons bank, a gadwall on Bank Pool, lots of corvids on the maize fields with a few chaffinch and reed bunting.
I seem to lose concentration in certain areas of the patch. One of these is at the footpath through Freemans leading to Marsh Point. I flushed a slender passerine feeding in the leaf litter which quickly disappeared in to the trees and couldn't be relocated. I think I may have missed out on something half decent.
A greensandpiper and redshank were on the flood with an empty packet of viagra close by.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

A-maize-ing time............

Started at the sewage works, my initial observation was of Blackbirds, about 25 in the small trees. 2 Grey Wagtails, 1 Chiffchaff and 2 Goldcrest, along with 4 Dunnock, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Robin, and Wren also present. I headed north and about 25 Fieldfare flew over, NW, a Great Crested Grebe was on the river. At the railway cutting, more Blackbirds, 1 Song Thrush, 3 Goldcrest, 1 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 2 Dunnock and a flock of 9 Long-tailed Tits present. 2 Little Egrets were on the marsh. A flock of 18 Jackdaw were in the dead tree on the hillside.
No sign of Brambling spotted yesterday, though the track from railway crossing was very busy with tractors and little else, the Maize is being harvested, so hopefully will be plenty of birds on the stubble very soon. Wildfowler’ Pool 2 Little Grebe and a few Teal present. On the flood I was pleased to see a Water Rail skulking about.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Galliformes and Ratite’s………?

As I approached the sewage works, at the new stables, there are some  Golden Pheasants and Rhea’s in an enclosure, which added a bright colour and interest to an otherwise dull cloudy day. Another flash of colour in the form of a Goldcrest, which was accompanying a fast moving flock of Long-tailed Tits was seen in the trees surrounding the works. Peering over the fence I saw at least 20 Pied Wagtails, five were Alba. Continuing up the track to Freeman’s there were three more flocks of tits, one with a Chiffchaff in tow. 
Gull bank had mainly Lapwing with some Golden Plover and Dunlin on the mud. Three Little Egrets were on the Marsh, with Mute Swans, Curlews and a couple of Snipe. In the fields were Canada’s and Greylags. The Flood and Wildfowler’ were populated with Moorhen and Mallard.
Had a wander through Freeman’s Wood, nothing much about, not that I saw anyway. I did notice a good number of Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Robins. Also present were four Dunnock, two Jay and my first of the autumn two Redwing.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Last visit to the patch

Unfortunately, my many social engagements(!) have prevented me from doing any useful birding during my stay in the area, but I managed a decent trawl around the Parish of Aldcliffe this afternoon. This will probably be my last visit to the old patch for some time...
Naturally, my ears were straining for the sounds of a flyover Lapland bunting, or a yellow-browed warbler in the sycamores, but neither materialised.
To be honest, there wasn't a great deal around, the few highlights being:
4 little egret on the marsh
6 gadwall & tufted duck (Freeman's Pools)
5 little grebe ( "   " & Darter Pool)

There were 3 roe deer at Freeman's Pools too. 

Jon C.


Thursday, 7 October 2010

Springing into Autumn........

Beautiful day, felt more like Spring, and a leisurely walk/bike around the old Parish, so leisurely in fact I forgot I was bird watching and spent quite a bit of time taking photographs, chatting to people and chilling out watching the world go by. The birds I did manage to take notice of were, Green Sandpiper on the Wildfowlers’ Pool. At least 9 Little Egrets, plenty of Curlew, and a Peregrine spooked hundreds of Lapwing on the far shore. Various Skylark flying over, approx 9, and at least the same amount of Wheatear. A raven was on the marsh. The Canada and Greylag were close to the bank thanks to the high tide. Flushed a couple of Snipe on the shoreline, and also came across a very rotten dead Buzzard, also a living one soaring way above. A quick look at the sewage works produced about a dozen Pied Wagtails.  

Patch work.

Boy, it was a touch breezy out there yesterday (Wednesday)!
I took a stroll by Freeman's Pools (highlight being a female tufted duck), then along the marsh sea wall path before returning along the cycle track. Birds seen along the way included c450 greylags, 200ish Canada geese, little egret, wigeon, green sandpiper, etc,
I couldn't find any migrant passerines at all - just a couple of grey wagtails over. Even the sheltered area around the walled meadow was bereft of birds.
I was amazed by the lack of common autumnal species - blackbirds, robins etc. Hedgerow activity was disappointing, to say the least. A lone goldcrest was the only thing of note.
Quite a few common darters and, presumably migrant, hawkers were seen.

Jon C.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Back in the Saddle

Hello, Jon C here.
After a getting reacquainted with the Stone Jetty yesterday, I had a stroll around Aldcliffe this afternoon. Old habits die hard. Having not seen the likes of little egret, mistle thrush, moorhen, pied wagtail, etc for 12 months, I rather enjoyed it.
Highlights included a green sandpiper and pair of Eurasian wigeon on the Wildfowlers' Pools, and 6 little grebe and a pair of gadwall on Freeman's Pools. A party of 6 barn swallows passed through.
Let the good times roll!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Pea Brained Earwigs................

Bright idea!
Who gets the bill!
Exciting and crazy morning at Aldcliffe. As I was approaching Railway Crossing I noticed a bespoke camper/traveller van, which I have seen a few times down here, with a bloke (pea brained earwig) entering the van with what looked like a petrol container. I stood at the gate looking across over the marsh; the bloke then got in a car and drove off. I did think it looked all a bit odd. I then noticed the flames, rang 999, and prevented a fire which would have been much worse; the fire brigade were here in no time. There were vehicles parked nearby, how stupid or what! The van was half burnt out.
Bird wise, I noticed a few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits flying over, heading south. I struggle with identifying vismig, there was a very interesting bird flying high over the river, but hadn’t a clue! There were a number of Chaffinches, nothing like the numbers seen over Caton Moor and Heysham see LDBWS. Reed Buntings in the hedge and a good number of ticking Robins. A Little Egret was on the Marsh along with Curlews and Lapwings. At Gull Bank there were a few hundred Lapwing, a scan with the scope revealed 1 Grey Plover and 6 Golden Plover. A Grey Wagtail was on the track. Freeman’s Pool had the usual and the Wildfowler’ Pool had a Kingfisher, still a large amount of flood water throughout the area.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Water, water everywhere

visit at dusk
I hadn't realised how much rain came down last night until I saw the flood. It is at typical late autumn levels and the lower path is covered also. If we get a November like last year then most of the patch will be under water.
6 pied wags were at the flood..
30 black headed gulls and 2 common gulls were feeding on the fields with roughly the same proportions of lapwing to curlew
c. 30 swallows where in the Freemans pool area. Wonder if the roost in the maize?
2 kestrels looking for supper in Freemans pool area
Numerous robins ticking along the cycle track. Easily my favourite sound of the autumn....well except for goldcrests.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010


As with yesterday's rooks (only two seen today) this morning was about contenting oneself with locally scarce species in the absence of any tasty migrants.

Ringed plovers are hardly mindblowing but occur only rarely on our patch, so a party of 7 on the near riverbank by the pylons was a bonus of sorts.

Green sandpiper is a wader far more regularly encountered here, but none were on show today.

Around 800 lapwings were on Gull Bank, when not being scattered by peregrines, and a great crested grebe floated past on the incoming tide.

Best passerine was a lesser redpoll near Stodday, which later flew South with goldfinches and chaffinches. Indeed, there seemed to be a fair bit of finch passage mid-morning, more usual in late October.

Warblers comprised five chiffchaffs and a lesser whitethroat.

Three shovelers and a tufted duck were by the Wildfowler's Pools.


Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Rook of Rove.

Conditions were mild and mellow down the patch today. By midday warm sun broke through and dozens of black headed gulls began insect- feeding over Freeman's Wood and up to 10 migrant hawkers were hunting and pairing.

Rooks are not easy to come by at Aldcliffe, so a noisy roving party of 40 mainly 1st-winter birds are worth a mention.

I arrived late morning, seemingly at the tail end of an OK morning for visible migration. Meadow pipits were airborne and Southbound and a party of seven skylarks went over too.

A little later a common buzzard drifted over to the South.

Passerine-wise I couldn't find anything better than two tree sparrows, six chiffchaffs, a blackcap and a goldcrest.

And in terms of waders the highlights were a lone bar-tailed godwit, 4 greenshanks and two green sandpiper.


Saturday, 18 September 2010

Pishing in the wind

Amazed at what a week of westerlies does to the patch. I spent a good half hour pishing the  bushes round the abandoned football pitch. The only "quality" was a female blackcap and 2 coal tits.
The juvenile little grebes are still with their parents on Freemans pools.
A mystery wader flew off the flood and over the cycle track. It looked slightly rakish but a bit too small for a greenshank. I'll check it out again tommorrow. The blackberries make the place worth a visit even if the birding is a disappointment..


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Wind stops play......

Wild week weather wise has slowed things down. Had a wander through the patch, Tuesday, and not a great deal to be seen. The flock of Wigeon on Freeman's Pool is steadily growing, 12, a couple of Gadwall and Tufted Ducks also present. The woods were particularly quiet compared with the weekend, I did notice about 40 Swallow flying about. The Flood had a single Green Sandpiper. There were plenty of gulls anchored down at various spots. A Raven flew over the empty main Wildfowler' Pool. There was also a couple of what I think were Common Hawkers on the track, near Darter Pool.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A good spot

I set off from the car park near the flood at about 8 this morning.
2 green sandpipers were on the Flood.
1 juvenile lesser whitethroat was associating with a tit flock near wildfowlers where a kingfisher was sat over the pool. This is a good spot for breeding lesser whitethroat so I can't be sure if this was a local bird or a migrant.
1 chiffchaff and 1-2 willow warblers were with a seperate flock in the same area.
The little grebe pair were each feeding a chick on Freemans pool.
c. 20 snipe were about the area.
The area round the abandoned football pitch in Freemans had 6-8 blackcap, 5 chiffchaff, 2 goldcrest and a spotted flycatcher. With it's combination of elderberry, hawthorn and blackberry bushes and 2 apple trees and high sycamore which keep their leaves well in to November, this is the place to be on an autumn morning.
A coal tit was on the path down to Marsh point.
Raptor interest was provided by a kestrel over the maize fields, a sparrowhawk in Freemans and 2 peregrines down by the pylons.

Also, a few Wigeon on Frog Pond and a Raven over marsh.
Freeman's Pool 6 or so Wigeon and 3 Tufted Duck new in. There was also 3 Greenshank. A Merlin did a quick flyby before off over the Marsh, along with the Greenshank and the 45 Lapwing that were on the island!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Thursday Morning.....

Very high tide today, and good sized bore seen from Marsh Point, though not much bird wise happening. There were 6 Skylark on the sea defence and 1 Whimbrel near the pylons, a Common Sandpiper flew past. There was a Little Egret on the Flood and a few Snipe. Wildfowlers’ had 3 Little Egret and a Kingfisher. Freeman’s Pools were quiet, a Kestrel was hunting near the trees and the island had a mixture of Canada Geese and Lapwing.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

On a Whim

A warm sunny afternoon at Aldcliffe, but bird-wise it was no great shakes.

A tittering whimbrel using the marsh was the highlight. A species easy to connect with here during Spring passage, less so in Autumn.

A juvenile plumage sedge warbler was skulking around in some rushes and two green sandpipers were at the Wildfowler's Pools.

Odonata was more in evidence in the Indian Summer weather: Around 20 migrant hawkers were about, including two copulating pairs, a brown hawker and 20-25 common darters (one of which pictured above).


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Our Bon 'Mot

Hello again. Dan here.

Not a bad morning in the parish, with the lovely wood sandpiper still gracing the pools. Green sand here too.

Three greenshanks were on Freeman's Pools, along with 3 gadwall and a kingfisher.

3 tree sparrows were near Darter Pool.

A bonny guillemot swam up with the rising tide as far as Stodday, where 2 green sandpipers and a wheatear were to be had.

A  little further upstream a stock dove was drinking, a little owl was squawking and a lesser whitethroat was in full song!

A rare expedition South of the pylons with Steve W followed, the highlight of which being 5 curlew sandpipers and a shoveler near the mouth of the Conder. Other warblers today comprised 5 chiffchaffs, 2 willow warblers, a whitethroat and a blackcap.

Sunday, 5 September 2010


Was initially disgruntled to have missed the Wood Sandpiper, as I had been visiting regularly and hoping for one. So I was very pleased when today, after a bit of a search, the Wood Sandpiper showed up on The Flood giving excellent views. There was also a Green Sandpiper and a few Snipe present. On the Wildfowlers’ Pool there were 2 Green Sandpipers and a Kingfisher, a Collared Dove was also present.

The Marsh was busy with all the usual birds, Greylag, Canada, Curlew, Redshank, Little Egret, Grey Heron and plenty of Snipe and good numbers of Lapwing. Freeman's Pool was quiet, usual Coot, Little Grebe and 2 Gadwall flew in. A female Kestrel was on the fence. Still a number of Swallows about.

Friday, 3 September 2010


Hello. Dan reporting.

My two best birds today were both sporting striking supercilia.

First was a gorgeous wood sandpiper, which was stalking the pools of the parish. I managed to get a couple of shots by poking my lens through the branches of a hedge.

Jon 'Canuck' Carter had 5 or 6 wood sands down Aldcliffe over the years, but this was only my second in 12 years. I phoned it in to RBA to be told that it had already been logged- three hours earlier. Old news!

Anyhoo, the second set of eyebrows was on a pleasant whinchat which was hunting the juncus by Freeman's Pools. Two kingfishers there also.

Other highlights included a merlin, three green sandpipers, thirty common snipe and the continued plague of juv willow warblers.


Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Swallows and Aldcliffe.........

Visited Aldcliffe last night hoping for Barn Owl, no joy on that score. Though the evening was not without its highlights. The Flood had 1 Green Sandpiper and a handful of Teal. 3 Snipe flew over. At Freeman's Pools I positioned myself at Marsh Point, it was a very still evening and the sound of birds carried for miles. Suddenly about 200 Swallow flew over, a Sparrowhawk past me at head height and zeroed in, the chase was a very optimistic attack, the Sparrowhawk was out manoeuvred easily, and it could not keep up with the tight twist and turns of the Swallow. A dog fox was watching every move! 

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Teal Total

Freeman's Pool, saw a Little Grebe with 2 very small young, on the upper small pool another with 1 even smaller young. On the island were 4 Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret paid a quick visit, 2 Gadwall also present with the usual Mallard, 2 Swan and Coot. Today was very windy which made viewing the Marsh hard work; at Marsh Point were the usual gulls and roughly 900 Lapwing. Wildfowler’ Pool saw 3 Snipe and 7 Teal, which turned out to be about 35 Teal as the farmer entered the fields on his quad bike and flushed them all. The Flood had a Green Sandpiper, the single Lapwing that's been there for ages, 2 Curlew, 4 Snipe and 3 Pied Wagtails. On the Marsh were a few hundred Canada Geese, 3 Little Egrets and not much else. Further down river a large dead cow was making its way to Cadaver Corner! 

Friday, 27 August 2010


A Greenshank was making its way around the upper pools at Freeman's. Little Grebe, 3, were on the main pool, along with Coot, and a Grey Heron on the Island. A kestrel was hunting near the river. At Marsh Point plenty of LBB Gulls and a few Herring Gulls. No sign of any Wheatear, 1 spotted yesterday, Wednesday, by Jeff Butcher. A Willow Warbler in the bushes. On the Wildfowlers’ Pool, despite farmers, 2 Green Sandpiper, plus 1 Snipe.

Saturday, 21 August 2010


Charm of Goldfinch, in excess of 120, amazing, also more along track. Freeman's Pools were quiet. It then began to rain heavily! On the track were quite a number of frogs. Wildfowlers’ saw 4 Gadwall new in, and a single Snipe. A flock of 25 Snipe then flew over and a Little Egret. The Flood had a single Green Sandpiper and 3 Pied Wagtails and numerous finches. There are an increasing number of Crows in the area, up to 60 present the other day. I walked along the river; at Snatchems were a few hundred Lapwings and a single Black-tailed Godwit. On the Marsh saw a few Curlew and 2 Little Egrets. Plenty of Swallows present throughout the area. Drenched but worthwhile……..I think!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Happy Warblerings.........

Had a wander about today, went into the woods at Freeman's near the track, which was very rewarding. Saw four Blackcaps, six Willow Warblers, Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and a quick glimpse of a small bird about the size of a Goldcrest, which I think it may have been. There were two Bullfinch and numerous Wren, Blackbirds and Chaffinch, a noticeable lack of tits.
I then walked to Marsh Point where I saw up 500 Lapwing and a good number of large gulls, Common Gull numbers slowly increasing. I scanned the smaller pools and found a Greenshank skulking about, lovely sight.
Wildfowlers’ was a no go today as the farmers were busy in there. The track had the usual Goldfinch and not much else. On the Flood were two Oystercatchers and a single Lapwing. A Sparrowhawk was disturbing the scene on the marsh. At Gull Bank there were plenty of Greylag and a good few hundred Black-headed Gulls.

Evening stroll from railway crossing along upper path and back round. The Flood was very busy, at least 4 Snipe, 2 Green Sandpiper, 3 Curlew, and 9 Mallard. In the fields were hundreds of Lapwing and a good number of Curlew, all disturbed by a dog walker! In nearby fields were a few hundred Greylag and Canada Geese.
The track was interesting, a flock of Long-tailed Tits had 3 Chiffchaff tagging along, and in the hedge were at least 4 Willow Warbler. A Sparrowhawk was busy over Aldcliffe village along with kestrel.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

A bit of a Bore........

Thursday night, midnight, a tidal bore came right up to, and past Skerton Bridge, must have been a goodie. So, as it was a big tide the following day I got myself positioned at Marsh Point hoping for the same. Sadly it was not to be, there was a bore but only small and had petered out in no time.
Saturday, WeBS to Skerton Weir, Freeman’s Pool had a mixed gaggle of Canada and Greylag, new in were 6 Teal. There was about 12 Coot, one young, 2 Little Grebe. The Bullfinch are still in the trees. At Marsh Point were 82 LBB Gull, Herr Gull 55, BH Gull 16 and 8 GBB Gull, along with 225 Lapwing. A bit further up river I saw 5 Common Sandpiper.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Watching the tide roll away.......

There were a number of Canada Geese on Freeman's Pool Island and little else. On the path to Marsh Point I saw 2 Bullfinch, first I have seen here all summer. At Marsh Point were Lapwing and good selection of gulls. On the track saw 2 Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff, along with Goldfinch and Tits. On the Wildfowlers’ I saw 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Snipe, 2 Pied Wagtail, Grey Heron and numerous Moorhen. A Little Egret flew over. I made my way down to a bench, near Chaff Wall, and waited for something good to come over, the highlight was a female Peregrine, which then showed numerous times hunting the waders against a fast incoming tide adding much to the drama. Three Snipe flew over, and there were 3 Little Egret on the far bank.


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

High Tide but no High Fives........

Very high tide today, was hoping to find something different, but alas it was not to be. That's not to say there wasn't anything unusual! I did see plenty of the usual Aldcliffe birds, which was well worth the effort. Freeman's Pool was quiet and not a lot happening. Wildfowlers’ Pool saw 2 Green Sandpiper. The Flood had a number of finches feeding, 6 Greenfinch and equal number of Goldfinch, along with 3 Pied Wagtail. Plenty of Swallow around, House Martins and some Swifts also present. The marsh was almost all covered by the tide. There were plenty of Greylag, Canada, Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank and six Little Egrets. Also, up to 6 Common Sandpipers. A Peregrine was spooking them all.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Better late than never........

Late evening stroll for an hour, starting from Freeman's Pool. Was speaking to a dog walker who had seen Barn Owl last Monday, so going to get down again when I have more time, no sign of the bird tonight. Plenty of Swifts throughout, probably 80+, along with Swallows and House Martins. Wildfowlers’ Pool saw Kingfisher and three Green Sandpiper. Darter Pool Moorhen with three large young.

Spent an hour or so having a wander round this evening. Freeman's Pool saw Little Grebe, Coots and four Oystercatcher. Wildfowlers’ Pool was good, with six Snipe, two Green Sandpiper, five Redshank and two Curlew, plus Grey Heron and one Little Egret. Nowhere near as many Swift about this evening only saw about 17, and a few Swallows. The Swift were quiet and flying higher. No sign of the Barn Owl, maybe a little to early.

Sunday Morning........
Wildfowlers’ Pool today, at least 9 Snipe, 4 Green Sandpiper  present. 2 Common Whitethroat, 2 Linnet on the track. Raven over marsh.Curlew and Lapwing increasing in numbers, along with Greylag and Canada's. 5 Little Egrets on the far bank, and 4 Goosander, I was thinking that these could be the family from Skerton Weir, who knows?! Peregrine near Snatchems. An Osprey reported flying south further down river earlier in the morning. Dog walker reported a Buzzard at the treatment works.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Alien Invaders........

Another bright and breezy day down the Parish. Freeman's Pools were a bit quiet, probably due to a great deal of noise coming from a chainsaw chopping down the dead trees next door, shame as they were used by many birds.Not sure as to what extent they are felling, will keep posted. Wildfowlers’ Pool saw Little Ringed Plover and a Green Sandpiper. The Flood finally has some birds on it, a Snipe, Green Sandpiper and 2 Lapwing. 
A few hundred Black-headed Gulls in newly harvested fields produced 1 Mediterranean Gull. Four Little Egrets were on the riverbank. I spotted one Common Sandpiper with a good number of Lapwing.
As I made my way through railway cutting I noticed some Himalayan Balsam at the northern end, I pulled some of it up, but will need to return and pull up the rest, as it is quite hard to get to. If this stuff takes hold it will spread throughout the area in no time at all!  

Sunday, 25 July 2010

More like Autumn.....

Cycled through the Parish with Dan, a cold chill in the air. On Freeman’s Pool were 3 Common Sandpiper, plenty of Swift, Swallow, House Martin and a few Sand Martin, all disturbed at one point by a Sparrowhawk. 2 Gadwall flew in, Coot and Moorhen with young present. Numerous Pied Wagtail and Goldfinch were seen, and 2 Linnet. The track saw Greenfinch and Common Whitethroat while on Wildfowlers’ there were 2 Green Sandpiper and a Little Egret. On the river were 4 Goosander.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Sudden Impact. ...

Some work being done on flood defence, so heavy vehicles on the move. Freeman's Pool saw 2 Little Ringed Plover, 5 Pied Wagtails and usual Little Grebe, Grey heron and Coots. Lots of House Martins, inc juv, Swallows and Swifts throughout patch. Marsh Point 120 Lapwing disturbed by Sparrowhawk. Nothing much happening on track or Wildfowlers’ Pool, water levels back to normal, flood is a flood again. Gull Bank, low tide, up to 900 Lapwing, all disturbed by two very acrobatic Peregrines intent on killing a few , made my day. 

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Changing Times.........

Wild day weather wise. 
Freeman’s Pool was busy, a Little egret was making its way around the edges, while about 20 Greylags were mixing with half a dozen Grey Herons on the island. Little Grebe and Moorhen also present. At Marsh Point there was a Common Sandpiper, increasing numbers of Redshank and Lapwing. On the marsh I saw seven Little Egret and about 165 Greylag. A Raven was causing a stir, being mobbed by five crows.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

All the threes.........

Bit of a damp plod today, a very welcome change. I was doing my monthly WeBS from Snatchems to the Skerton Weir. Had a stroll round Freeman’s Pool and up to Marsh Point. The pools were very quiet, with just a Moorhen with a family of three young being of interest. Three Little Egrets flew over, followed by three Little Ringed Plover, three Shelduck, three Redshank and finally three Common Sandpiper, was beginning to feel slightly confused until, with relief, I saw two more Common Sandpiper on the mud! Along the river northwards I came across 7 Oystercatcher, 40 lapwings and 4 Mute Swan.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Evening All.....

 Cycled through the patch the last couple of evenings. The highlight has been 3 Green Sandpipers on the Wildfowlers’ Pool. Plenty of Swifts last night, along with House Martins, Swallows and the Oystercatcher fledgling showing well on Freeman's Pool.
Little Owl was just visible in Admiralty Wood.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Opinions, everyone has one…….even me

Interesting wander today, started off walking round the open space behind Freeman’s Wood and lots going on there, Sedge Warblers, Lesser and Common Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Reed Bunting. Greenfinch, Chaffinch and a few Linnet. On the pool were 6 Grey Herons and no scope with me so not sure about LP. I did see 2 Coot with 4 new red-faced chicks.

I made my way down the track and Wildfowlers’ Pool was very quiet, of note were 3 Collared Doves. Stopped off at the gate onto the marsh and got chatting to some wildfowlers’ which was interesting. They had been busy collecting rubbish and conservation work. One of the chaps had quite a lot to say about conservation and was saying how much the marsh has changed over recent years with all the sea defence work that has taken place. Personally I put it down to the landfill site and the rapid expansion of White Lund trading estate, but then again there are as many opinions as there are mouths! Amongst the debate about RSPB, foxes, birds of prey and farming, get the picture, I could hear the Skylarks, watch the Swifts bombing about and across the way I could see 3 Little Egret. The expression too many chefs spring to mind with this type of discussion, yes cooking, I was beginning to boil, though he was talking about the marsh being like a bank and it needs investment, everyone it seems wants to manage the land with their own agenda, and in the end it seems that what all these various differing groups are doing is managing the mess we have made! 
Should I accept that seeing 2 Skylarks was a worthwhile outing when I consider what would have been around fifty years ago, not really no!!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Green Day...........

Good yomp round and the highlight was 2 Green Sandpiper on the Wildfowlers’ Pool along with a Little Ringed Plover. Despite the lack of rain there are still wet areas, and saw some young Moorhens. On Freeman’s saw 2 Coots both with young, a Sparrowhawk visited briefly. Marsh Point 80 or so Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, also present were 37 Lapwing, 7 Oystercatcher and 30 Black-headed Gull with a couple of juveniles.  Plenty of Swallow, Swift and House Martins throughout the patch. Bit quiet on the warbler front though plenty of finches, Dunnock and suchlike. In the fields was pleased to see 5 Ravens circling each other as they made their way along the hedgerows.
On the river I was surprised to see the Goosander and three well grown young that I have been observing daily at Skerton Weir, will be interesting to see where they turn up next. Also, there were Shelduck with plenty of fledged young. 2 Little Egrets were on the marsh along with at least 2 Skylarks.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Aldcliffe Irregulars

A walk round with Steve after not seeing him for a couple of months was an enjoyable experience although I think he may have got a bit sick of me listing all the birds I saw on a recent Polish trip. We also bumped in to a couple of birders from Leyland who follow the blog. It is always good to get new birders down here. I hope Ted and Alec come back soon.
A juvenile lrp was on the island on Freemans pool today with a parent bird. The bird looks developed enough to be able to leave the island. Another LRP was on wildfowlers. The 2 oystercatcher chicks are also thriving well. They can be seen from the eastern viewpoint feeding in the margins on the west bank.
4 lesser whitethroats were in the hedge by wildfowlers with a similar number of commn whitethroats.
a male sparrowhawk was hunting over the maize.
2 raven, 2 little egret and about 40 curlew were on the marsh.
Sedge warbler, reed  bunting and blackcap in Freemans wood.
Stodday sewerage works had a 20 plus flock of LTT's and 2 chiffchaff and a juvenile blackcap.


Monday, 21 June 2010

Juvenile behaviour

1 little egret on the marsh.
1 juvenile coot on Bank Pool
2 oystercatcher chicks with 2 parents at the far end of the main pool. These were quite well hidden in the margins. Hopefully they will avoid predation.
Juvenile blackcap near the black poplar
Juvenile linnet and 2 juvemile  common whitethroats near the abandoned football pitch. Still some singing and display flight common whitethroats and 1 singing chiffchaff.
Sedge warbler closeby.
Lesser whitethroat tekking in the hedge.
I'll put the juveniles on the bto breeding atlas in due course.


Sunday, 20 June 2010

Saturday morning.......

21 Canada Geese on Freeman's Pool, as well as the usual Tufted, Little Grebe, Coot and Moorhen, along with a single Lapwing and Oystercatcher on the island. Hedgerow saw Reed Bunting and Whitethroats looking very handsome in the morning sunlight. On the track were up to 10 Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat, Dunnock and Greenfinches. Wildfowlers’ Pool was quiet apart from Little Ringed Plover and 1 Lapwing, this area is now looking more like a muddy puddle and the Flood is dry as a bone.
On the river was a single female Eider and plenty of Shelduck with a brood of up to 16 chicks. Also, plenty of common butterflies about the place.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Falco tinnunculus.......

My earlier posting of missing Kestrels was thankfully wrong, there were a pair today hunting around Freeman’s Pool. Also of note on the pools were 1 Little Ringed Plover, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Coot, Moorhen and Swifts and Swallows flying about the place.
A stroll into the wood and perimeter was worthwhile, a Sparrowhawk was hunting over the field. 2 Sedge Warblers added interest as well as Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Reed Bunting along with Greenfinch and Jays. Also to be seen at various points Collared Doves, Woodpigeon, Wren, Blackbird, Dunnock and Song Thrush. A Raven was seen flying above Frog Pond.
Wildfowlers’ Pool saw 1 Little Ringed Plover and 2 Lapwing.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Summer Breeze.......

Good walk through Freeman’s Wood this morning and saw plenty of Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Blackcap though no Willow Warblers, it was the same last year, low numbers. Also, Chaffinch feeding young, Greenfinch, a stunning male Linnet, Jay and along with all the flowers all adding up to a brightly coloured summer scene.   
Freeman’s Pool saw 2 Little Ringed Plover, Gadwall, 2 Tufted Duck and Little Grebes. Swifts, Swallows and House Martins all present. In the field saw 2 Grey Partridge. Saw numerous Blackbird, Wren, Robin and Tits all with fledglings as I made my way to the river, tide was almost in, and began WeBS survey to weir. On the river at Marsh Point were 7 Lapwing, 3 Grey Heron and 4 Oystercatcher.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

People are strange............

Aldcliffe is not a rubbish dump.......

Freeman’s Pool was quiet apart from a Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Shelduck, a couple of Little Grebe and usual Coot and Moorhen. On the maize fields there is still a dozen or so Lapwing and a post breeding flock of 25 was seen on the river along with 6 Eiders on the far bank. The Wildfowlers’ Pools had a Shelduck and Little Ringed Plover. On the track were plenty of fledged Chaffinch, Tits and Greenfinches. Numerous Whitethroats, both species, and a Sedge Warbler were also present. On the marsh were a few Oystercatchers and 2 Skylark. Throughout the patch were Swallow, House Martins and Swifts. I have not noticed the Kestrel pair this year, I maybe wrong but it’s probably due to the demolition of the old building at Keyline, which, for a short while, was also home for the Barn Owl.

Not what the fence is for!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Swimming squirrel ?

The first visit for me for about a month. A fortnight in Poland, home improvements and a new job have forced me in to semi-retirement. Highlights from Saturday included 2 pairs of tufted ducks and a single male gadwall on Freemans pools. A little ringed plover was valiantly defending it's territory from overflying LBBG's. Had an odd sighting of a squirrel running across a sandbank in the middle of the river being mobbed by the local gulls. Had it just swam across the river ?? A male reed bunting and whitethroat were singing at Darter pool and a lesser whitethroat tetting near wildfowlers with a chiffchaff nearby.


Saturday, 29 May 2010

Friday Morning.........

Saw Reed Bunting and plenty of Swift and House Martins flying about Freeman’s, along with 2 Little Ringed Plover, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Shelduck. On the track were 2 Grey Partridge and numerous Whitethroats along with a handful of House Sparrows. Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch all present. A Greenshank on the Wildfowlers’ Pool was a pleasant surprise, along with a Teal, Coot and Moorhen.. Up to a dozen Lapwing still attempting to nest on the maize fields, the crop is growing inches daily! On the river saw 1 male Eider.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Evening visit. W 1-3, 4 oktas.

No, the title doesn't refer to that sandpiper from Stocks, but a flycatcher, which was doing just that near Freeman's Pools.

It's my first Spring record of this species at Aldcliffe for five years.

A greenshank was also of note, and up to 5 adult  little ringed plovers have been dotted around the parish this week, two of which are pictured.


Sunday, 23 May 2010

Summer invasion begins.......

                                                        Chicken Fungus

09.15, hot and sunny.

Even with an early start Aldcliffe was awash with people, including those sun seekers who go to any lengths, such as invading Freeman’s Pools ignoring all the signs. It happens every year but still annoys the hell out of me. Despite this “home invasion” there were 14 Greylag, Lapwing, Oystercatcher and a Little Ringed Plover on the island. In the hedges were Whitethroat and a Reed Bunting while Swifts, Swallows and House Martins were feeding over the water. 4 Little Grebe are nesting along with Coot and Moorhen.

On the cycle track were Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat along with 2 Sedge Warblers. Joining the song were Dunnock, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Song Thrush as well as some snail smashing by the latter. Not seen any Bullfinch on recent visits.

Wildfowlers’ Pool was quiet with a pair of Shelduck, Moorhen, Coot and one or two Lapwing.

On the river saw 4 Eider, 1 Great Crested Grebe and a Common Tern. 18 Mute Swan were up river and still plenty of Shelduck to be seen.


Thursday, 20 May 2010

Arctic Circlers

Late afternoon visit. SW 0-2, some hazy sunshine.

It's nice to think that despite some local indicators of  high Summer (a small build-up of non-breeding black-headed gulls, an increase in Freeman's Wood motorcycling) that for some birds, Spring has hardly begun.

In a couple of hours I was pleased to find a variety of passage migrants.

My highlight was a flock of 16 waders, still en route to breed in the the far North. I picked them up in silhouette as they circled high over the estuary, and I fancied them to be ringed plovers, a rather scarce bird for Aldcliffe.

After a while they dropped and settled on the mud, and I found I was half right. A passage party of eight ringed plovers and eight dunlins. I can't recall seeing any late Spring passage here for either species.

A far commoner sight in May is whimbrel, and three were seen flying upstream, tittering as they went.

Songbirds are still in transit too, with a female whinchat and a sedge warbler near Frog Pond, a large wheatear (most likely heading for Greenland) and 3 northbound sand martins.

Could it be too late for blackcaps to still be arriving on the patch? Three males were singing furiously in 'new' spots today. Last week's garden warbler seems to have moved on.

In terms of long-staying potential breeders, the little-ringed plovers and gadwalls are still hanging in.


Thursday, 13 May 2010

Perdix Appendix

I visited the area later on and my highlights were a garden warbler singing impressively in the 'railway cutting' as recently fledged long-tailed tits passed through, the continued presence of little-ringed plover, and a pair of grey partridges, the male of which is pictured (amateurishly) below!                                               Dan.

A couple of days birding………..

Today the Lapwings looked rather lonely on the freshly cultivated maize fields. I did see some young yesterday but only had my bins with me today. Eiders are still present in varying numbers; yesterday saw 1 male and 3 today. The Ravens were noisily hanging around the pylons near the sewage works, and 2 Peregrine appear to have taken up residence on the pylons over the water. A Roe Deer was seen in the pylon field. 
Plenty of Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat throughout the patch, singing alongside Chiffchaffs and only 1 Willow Warbler heard. Today saw 3 Black-tailed Godwits near cadaver corner. The Wildfowlers’, Flood and Freeman’s Pools were very quiet apart from 8/9 Swifts and Swallows. Yesterday there was a group of 35 Jackdaw hanging around the place and 18 Mute Swans came up river with the tide. The sheep are grazing on the marsh. Plenty of butterflies about Orange Tips, Small Tortoise Shell, Small White, Speckled Wood and Peacock. 

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Agri Agro

All seemed a little too quiet down the patch last two days. Up to 9 Eider seen near the pylons. The maize fields have been cultivated, it all looked very devastating for the Lapwing, then I saw 5 part grown chicks, so fingers crossed, there may be more knocking about. Also, 2 Little Grebe chicks on Freeman's Pool. Plenty of Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat along the track. Blackcaps, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff also present. The usual Goldfinch, Chaffinch were seen though  the Greenfinch numbers have dwindled.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Some sylvan soloing from Sylvia Borin

Afternoon visit . NE 2-4, 7 oktas, dry.

Highlights today included a rather late greenshank being harassed by gulls as it attempted to feed at Marsh Point, from where a more seasonal common sandpiper was heard.

Pick of the passerine migrants was a garden warbler in full song, and a party of four wheatears gnat-catching from the top of a hedge.

I couldn't determine the race of the chats, as they were a way off, and I'd forgotten my ruler!

Common whitethroats were particularly noticeable near the sewage works, with six males in close proximity.

A drake eider was just up from the pylons, and six whimbrel were feeding just downstream. A little-ringed plover flew NE over Freeman's Wood.

Three male and two female orange tip butterflies were at large when the sun peeked through, and just one speckled wood noted.


Wednesday, 28 April 2010

2 Days in the Parish......

Had a walk in the woods and plenty of warblers singing, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Sedge Warbler. Four Linnets along with a pair of Jays and Mistle Thrush was also present.
In the stubble fields there are Lapwing with chicks, not sure of their chances, apart from all the predators around the farmer will be cultivating any day!
The track to the pylons had numerous Whitethroats, Chiffchaff and finches as well as the usual Wrens, Tits and Blackbirds. A Kestrel was drawing attention from the Ravens while a Stoat was causing a loud response from a number of birds.
The tide was up to the bank though not much was showing today, I saw 9 Wheatear and spotted 6 Common Sandpiper along the river bank.

Freeman’s Pool was quiet, though did see 1 Green Sandpiper and 2 LRP. The wood had 2 Jays, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and half a dozen Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. 3 Swifts were seen in the area.
Dan had 2 Sedge Warblers on the track before I met up with him. We made our way along the track and saw good numbers of warblers. 2 Skylarks. There were 2 Bar-tailed Godwits and 2 Eiders on the river. A Peregrine was hunting near the pylons.  

Sunday, 25 April 2010


Text from Dan this evening mentioned a grasshopper warbler reeling at the Lucy Brook. I investigated must didn't manage to locate the little critter. It's a while since I have looked round Freemans Wood and it is easy to forget what a productive part of the patch it is with blackcap, willow warbler and chiffchaff singing. It is often the place to head on an October morning and has pedigree for records of scarce and rare migrant passerines.

5 swift were in the area, with an lrp at the pool and 3 lesser whitethroat on the cycle track near the wildfowlers.


Friday, 23 April 2010

Raving on........

Had a visit to the patch this aft, started off on a lively note with Ravens on the pylons making quite a racket and a peregrine screeching about the place. There was 1 Wheatear, Mistle Thrush and a Pied Wagtail on the field at the stables. There was a couple of Song Thrush on the track, plenty of Greenfinch and Goldfinch with a few Blackcaps adding to the birdsong. On the Wildfowlers’ there was a pair of Gadwall and the usual Coot, Moorhen, Mallard and 2 Shelduck. There are a number of Lapwings on the stubble fields. Freeman’s Pool had Tufted Ducks, Oystercatcher, Shelduck and 2 Little Ringed Plovers on the island. Singing in the woods were Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Just Passing By.....

Did WeBS today and some good birds made there way up river to the patch. On the marsh were 11 Wheatears, 3 Skylark and 45 Meadow Pipits, and on the river were 5 Eiders with a further 13 beyond the pylons. 2 Ravens and a Peregrine were flying about the place along with a dozen or so Whimbrel. Interesting were 2 Treecreeper in the railway cutting. There was a Little Ringed Plover on the flood. Saw 1 Whitethroat, and plenty of Blackcaps about the place, and still a good number of Greenfinch present throughout the area.

Friday, 16 April 2010

New Kind of Blue......

The highlight today was the sky, a truly clear blue sky. Thanks to the volcanic activity on Iceland, blasting out a huge ash plume which is drifting high over Europe, all planes are grounded in the UK. As a consequence the skies are clear of all the crap associated with aviation, and what a beautiful sight. In the blue were 6 Buzzards all circling higher until out of range. Other birds of note were 2 Little Ringed Plovers on Freeman’s Island, not so happy as there were 14 Lesser black backed Gulls, 6 Canada Geese, 4 Shelduck and numerous Mallard, Moorhen and 2 Oystercatchers all jostling for space. Peregrine, Kestrel and Ravens all present near the pylons. 5 Meadow Pipits were on the riding school meadow.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Thanks for your Osp-vitality

Morning visit.NE 1, later NNE 3. 1-3 oktas.

Today was a bit cool and clear, with more song at eleven than at nine. But small numbers of common migrants seem to be making it up here in spite of the mildly unfavourable conditions.

A male common redstart was flitting about the Fairfield side of the patch early on. This area (the millennium orchard and environs) seems to have a better track record for this species than the better-watched estuary drag.

Visible migration was highlighted by 16 redpoll sp. (and a few more heard-only) making their way NE in twos and threes.

Aside from these, vis. seemed to be limited to two sand martins and a handful of swallows, linnets and meadow pipits.

One, perhaps two lesser whitethroat were back in typical hedgerow haunts today. Aldcliffe is a bit of a stronghold for this little sylvia. Other warblers included around fifteen male blackcaps.

There was a reasonable list for pool-watchers including two little-ringed plovers, a green sandpiper, five gadwall and two each of goldeneye and teal.

I've felt a bit hard done-to on the osprey front this spring ( I shouldn't do really-- I haven't put the time in) so I was pleased to get on a probable female (pictured) heading over Colloway Marsh, over my head and on ENE over Aldcliffe village, at about 100 metres of height.

 I was talking to an off-duty ringer when I heard a clamour of waders which suggested an approaching OP, and rudely broke off our conversation to scan. Sorry Alan. At least I was right!

We're maybe a couple of days past peak osprey passage. But four whimbrels frequenting the mudflats were quite early by Aldcliffe standards. I rarely note them till about the 20th down here.


Saturday, 10 April 2010


              Greenshank on Freemans

Raven pair harrassing a buzzard in the area of the pylons.
Pairs of teal and shoveller on the Wildfowlers.
Pairs of greylag, mute swan, gadwall and LRP's at Freemans pools with singletons of greenshank and green sandpiper. 8 shelduck also.
4 willow warblers singing in various places.
5 swallows and 6 meadow pipits through the parish.


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Knot what we Wanted

Late morning to mid afternoon visit.  NW 1-2 at first, increasing to NW 4-5.   1-3 oktas.

A lengthy vigil for osprey from Marsh Point was a bit osprey-less, even with back-up from eagle-eyed health professional Guy McC.

However, thirty black-tailed godwits and a few knot were roosting beside the Point.

Knot are pretty scarce this far up the estuary. Probably moreso than migrating raptors, irrespective of this session's blank!

A trickle of hirundines was about it for passage, with about 40 swallows and 12 sand martins seen heading north.

Two little ringed plovers were at Freeman's Pools for a while, as were three pairs of shelduck and a little egret.

Forty-five linnets were foraging on the stubble fields, keeping company with four pairs of lapwing and two singing skylarks.

Guy's water rail was a good record for April.

Three or four willow warblers, two blackcaps and seven chiffchaffs were more seasonal. But no wheatears were to be found.


Sunday, 4 April 2010

Knowing me, knowing you, aha!

Managed a patch tick in the shape of 2 red legged partridge on the high tide mark below the pylons.
A walk along the sea wall revealed only 12 meadow pipits.
Met up with Steve at Freemans. 2 oiks were on the island with only 1's and 2's of tufted duck, little grebe and a shoveller. A coot looked like it was making a nest on one of the bottom pools.
4-5 singing chiffchaff in Freemans wood. This areas is getting more grotty with plastic overspliing from the "recycling company " at the end of the quay.
1 green sandpiper on the wildfowlers.
Spent an hour or so watching out for ospreys but I suspect the wind was too westerly and too strong for this species. A peregrine and kestrel were seen.
1 swallow battling up the estuary from the sewerage picnic site.


Saturday, 3 April 2010

Buzz Off...........

Picture by Dan.
A few new in warblers around today. Met up with Dan and we spent a while at the pylons looking for Osprey, alas we were out of luck though we had our first Blackcap of the day. Also a Raven and Buzzard were scrapping it out and giving a good aerial display. Plenty of Meadow Pipits, Wheatear 1 and Swallow 3 a few a Sand Martin.

After a bout of heavy rain we headed back to Freeman’s, where we saw a Willow Warbler, possibly 2, and another Blackcap, plenty of Chiffchaff in the woods. On the pools were a couple Gadwall, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Little Egret, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Shelduck and a few Lapwing and Oystercatcher earlier. Other raptors seen were Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Peregrine and another Buzzard.


Saturday, 27 March 2010

Calling all birds...........

Aldcliffe was a hard slog today, and I spoke to a few other birders who were also finding things quieter than expected. New in was a pair of Gadwall on Freeman’s Pool, along with Shoveler, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Coot, Mallard and Mute Swans. Chiffchaff’s singing in the woods. A few Goldfinches about looking very smart, and a Little Egret did a flyby. 
A Chiffchaff was seen at the railway crossing, along with Greenfinch.
Elsewhere, of note, were 1 Swallow, Meadow Pipit 5, Skylark 1 and a Green Sandpiper on the Wildfowlers’ Pool along with some Teal. A Kestrel was hunting by the pylons.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Little Ringed Parishioner

  Wheatear snapped today by Dan

Made it down for a quick visit along the cycle track this morning.

Water rail and green sandpiper on the flood.
Goldcrest, little egret and singing chiffchaff near Wildfowlers. A smart stoat was also in this area.
The linnet flock is now down to about 30 birds.
Little ringed plover settled in the parish.
Dan also reported that the smew is still present along with 3 wheatear, 5 chiffchaff, 8 sand martin and a swallow. 485 pinkies are still on the marsh.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010


2 swallows in the parish this afternoon.
The only other signs of Spring was coot building a nest on Darter pool and a skylark singing over the stubble fields.


Sunday, 21 March 2010

Quiet Morning.....

The Black-headed Gulls appear to have moved on, only three present. Smew showing well. Was hoping for some LRP but no joy, checked out the flood and 1 single Redshank. Other highlights....
Freeman’s Pool.
Goldeneye 2
Shoveler 4
Shelduck 2
Oystercatcher 2
Tufted Duck 6
Mallard 9
Teal 4
Wigeon 2
Grey Heron 2
Mute Swan 2
BH Gulls 3, wonder if they have moved on?
Little Grebe 2

Marsh Point
LBB Gull 34
Herr Gull 36
BH Gull 26

Darter Pool
Tufted Duck 4
Little Grebe 2
Coot 2, busy nest building.

Wildfowlers' Pool
Green Sandpiper 1
Teal 6
Redshank 2
Coot and Moorhen

Linnet 65
Reed Bunting 2
Dunnock 4
Greenfinch 4
Bullfinch 2

Pink Footed Goose 900
Little Egret 1
Curlew 9
Redshank 18
Shelduck 12


Wednesday, 17 March 2010

An hour after work

10 tufties and smew all together on the bottom pool.
4 shovellers
2 shelduck
2 goldeneye
8 teal in the area.
1500ish pinkies still on Trig Hill
Greensandpiper on Wildfowlers
Little egret on the flood


Monday, 15 March 2010

A ponder and a wander

Visit with Steve this morning. We debated the merits of the gulls settling on the island. If it's colonised by the gulls would there be a danger of predation by the BHG's or would they offer a degree of protection from other predators. A carrion crow was patrolling the island today - probably the same one which predated the second clutch of LRP's last year. Time will tell.

Peregrine, raven, merganser and 8 meadow pipits in the vicinity of the pylons.
2 little egrets on the marsh.
1500 pinkies on trig hill
Green sandpiper, 2 teal and redshank on the flood.
Sparrowhawk at Aldcliffe village.
Kestrel, smew, 3 goldeneye in the vicinity of Freemans pool.


Saturday, 13 March 2010

Gull Island.......

Quick visit to Freeman's Pools before WeBS back to the weir.
Black-headed Gulls appear to be resident on the island these days, 60 today.

Herring Gull 2
Common Gull 5
Lapwing 7
Smew 1
Teal 6
Tufted Duck 10
Little Grebe 3
Canada Goose 7
Redshank 1
Usual Coot
Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Blue, Great Tit, Blackbird, Wren and 2 House Sparrows.


Monday, 8 March 2010

Spring into action......

Adult Med. Gull at Gull Bank

Beautiful early spring morning, not a cloud to be seen. Bird wise not a bad trawl round. Joined up with Guy for a wander up to the pylons.
Freeman's Pool
Smew 1
Ones and twos of Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Teal, Snipe and Grey Heron plus the usual Coot. The Black-headed Gulls still present on the island along with a few Lapwing and Oystercatcher.
Little Egret and a Grey Heron by the dead trees.
Buzzard circling over the marsh.
Frog Pond, Canada Goose 65
Pink Footed Goose 275 in fields.
Water Rail 2 possibly 3.
Greenfinch 2
Dunnock, Robin and Blackbird.
Gull Bank
Black-headed, Common, Herring, Lesser Black Backed and Great Blacked Gull with 1 Med Gull on far bank.
Goldeneye 3
Raven 3
Carrion Crow 14
Sewage Works Track
Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tit.
Sparrowhawk 1
Kestrel 1


Tuesday, 2 March 2010


Rock Pipit courtesy of Dan 

Another big tide and more Rock Pipits. Today started off from sewage works and headed north to Freeman’s Pools. Got off to a good start 3 Rockits and male Merlin………

Rock Pipits, 16 in total along the length of the route.
Meadow Pipit 2
Merlin 1
Raven 2, on the corner pylon.
Peregrine, 2
Snipe 4
Skylark 20, flock of 9 heading NE.
Greenfinch 4/5, numbers increasing.
Stock Dove 8, amazing number for Aldcliffe, in the stubble field with Woodpigeon.
Little Egret 3
Dunlin 100
Golden Plover 110
Curlew 150
Lapwing, couple of thousand.
Pink Footed Goose 17 heading east

High Tide

Freeman’s Pool
Smew 1
Green Sandpiper 1
Black-headed Gulls, 110 on the island, I noticed similar number yesterday, we were wondering if they were planning to breed and colonise! There were also 65 Lapwing jostling for space. Usual Coot and Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Goldeneye, Shelduck.


High Tide and Rising……

Mon 1st March. 
With a big tide forecast I headed down the Parish with Rock Pipits in mind and was not disappointed, saw at least 3 possibly 5. Other highlights were….

Skylark 2
Reed Bunting 5
Linnet 12
Raven 1
Plenty of waders in fields…..
Curlew 35
Oystercatcher 9
Lapwing 75, good couple of thousand flying around.
Snipe 2 on the tide line and 1 on Wildfowlers’ Pool along with….
Teal, Moorhen, Oystercatcher 2.
Smew on Freeman’s Pool along with one or two of…..
Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mute Swan, Grey Heron
Little Owl showing well enjoying the Sun at Admiralty Wood.


Saturday, 27 February 2010

Happy Days........

What was meant to be a quick trawl round ending up being a leisurely stroll and various conversations with other birdwatchers en route. Guy was having a pedal round and had seen a male Merlin, Red Breasted Merganser 3 by the pylons along with Raven, Little Grebe, and Meadow Pipit 1 on the dung heap near the Flood. Other birds seen,
Freeman’s Pool
Goldeneye, Tufted Duck and Smew still present.
Stubble field and track
Skylark 4
Linnet 17
Reed Bunting 5
Dunnock 4
Greenfinch 3
Goldfinch 8
Chaffinch numerous.
Great/Blue Tit half a dozen of each.
Song Thrush 2
Mistle Thrush 1
Water Rail 1
Wildfowlers’ Pools
Teal 9
Oystercatcher 2
Redshank 3
Moorhen 28
Green Sandpiper 1 and 1 Redshank.
Little Egret 2
Black-tailed Godwit 3
Shelduck 7
Curlew 19
Pink Footed Geese 275


Monday, 22 February 2010

Monday's Rail Timetable

The Water Rails were on fine form, squealing and scolding each other, three in total. I watched one for about forty minutes and got within a couple of meters, amazing birds. Other highlights, Smew still present, along with Tufted Ducks, Wigeon, Goldeneye, and Gadwall and 2 Snipe on the island. Wildfowlers’ was frozen, and the Flood was void of birds due to farming activities. Black-tailed Godwit 106 at Marsh Point.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

British Rail Announcement

A minimum of three water rails continue to entertain down by the hedgerow ditch on the lower path.

The redhead smew is still on Freeman's Pools, along with small numbers of other ducks including gadwall, goosander and goldeneye.

Two green sandpipers and two black-tailed godwits were on 'the flood'.

A hundred-strong wigeon flock by Cadaver Corner did not harbour the rather elusive Cockersands/Conder am wig drake. 

Circa 900 pink-footed geese flew high North over the estuary area early afternoon (descending near the Heysham bypass), and a rather bold grey wagtail was feeding on the sewage works track.