Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A free morning

A walk from the estuary gate along the sea wall to freemans pool and back again along the cycle path revealed the following birds;

1 blackcap singing in the high trees again at estuary gate.
2 LRP's on the flood
Pair of teal on wildfowlers
2 lapwing chicks near wildfowlers pool - safe from any disturbance from the preparation of the stubble fields.
Present on the stubble fields and therefore not quite safe - another lapwing chick and a pair of grey partridge
10 singing common whitethroats, 2 singing sedge warblers, 2 lesser whitethroats and a willow warbler also.
Mute swans nesting on Freemans and darter pool.
3 oystercatcher pairs scattered round the area.
Displaying curlew near trig hill. This is an annual occurence in this area. Do they breed up there???


Saturday, 23 April 2011

Saturday morning

Pleasant walk round the patch this morning. It's the time of year when this visual past time becomes virtually an audible puruit only.

4 sedge warblers at various spots round the area.
2 lapwing chicks near darter pool.
Common whitethroat present in the mid teens - it's my perception that these have been the most common warbler in the patch for a couple of years now.
Willow warblers (4)  and chiffchaff still singing.
Blackcap singing on top of a tree at the estuary gate car park was the best sound of the day.

Unfortunately it looks like the locals had spent Good Friday sunbathing at freemans pool. A kayak has been abandoned  poolside and a pile of tins, crisp packets and a football has been left. With a bit of luck, May will be cool, wet and windy to allow the local ground nesting birds to breed successfully.


Tuesday, 19 April 2011


A cloudless sky, hot sun and 10m+ tide. The 2 LRP were on Freeman’s Pool, along with Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Tufted Duck, Coot, Little Grebe and Gadwall. Plenty of Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Com/Les Whitethroat. Roughly 25 Swallow came through and 9 Meadow Pipits. The Flood saw 2 LRP, 2 Wheatear and 3 Pied Wagtails. The Wildfowlers’ Pool was quiet apart from a pair of Teal and Shelduck.
Aldcliffe Marsh saw 6 Wheatear. Later there was also half a dozen beyond chat wall, could have been same ones? Also I noticed 2 Buzzard in trees, possible breeding pair. At the pylon, the tide was high by this point; there was a Peregrine, also a Raven. Pink-footed Geese 900 or so still present. A Kestrel flew over. The high tide brought in 17 Eider which was good to see. Other birds were Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Long-tailed Tits etc. 2 more Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk but alas no Osprey, none that I saw anyway.

4 Buzzard circling over Aldcliffe

Monday, 18 April 2011

New Day....

Had a quieter time today, apart from some nutter on a quad bike with 2 kids hurtling up to marsh point, crazy, great example for them eh!
Anyway, Freeman's Wood was more or less the same as yesterday, though to be honest that is absolutely fine, I could easily have spent all day in here, there is always something to see and hear. The pools saw 9 Shelduck, 4 Gadwall, Tufted Ducks, Coot etc. I made my way to the Wildfowlers' where I was pleased to see 2 LRP. There was also some Ravens hanging about, at least 5 I reckon, they were quite high and seemed to be in two small groups.
The Flood saw 2 more LRP and a few Mallard. Also of note were Orange Tip M&F, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Hovercraft horror

This was the last of four hovercraft on the Lune at Aldcliffe today.

People Pollution..........on mass

I met up with Guy at 08.00 for wander round the old parish. Freeman’s Wood was a noise with bird song, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Com/Less Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush (quite a few about today) Blackbird, Robin, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Dunnock and Wren. The pools saw 2 LRP, 2 Gadwall flew in, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot etc a male Kestrel doing the rounds. The sound of warblers was heard all along the track. A Linnet and a couple of Skylarks flew over, and one or two Meadow Pipits. 
On the marsh were 1 Wheatear, numerous Shelduck, Oystercatcher and Curlew. The Flood saw 2 LRP a couple of Shelduck. Little Egrets seem to have vanished. A Buzzard was on a fence post, seen here a few times now. Ravens and Peregrines in the pylons and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers flew down river.
Although it was a beautiful day and I enjoyed the birding it has to be said that the weekends are a busy noisy affair at Aldcliffe. I was longing for the days when no one came here bar a few poachers! I remember the track being totally overgrown with just a narrow path to follow. Mile Lane was a humped backed water filled pothole riddled affair totally bike-less. Now its lycra clad cycling clubs zooming along barging their way through, and the familiar noisy groups of Sunday cyclists and walkers with dogs all complaining about each other!  Today there was even 4 hovercraft on the river, as well as the usual abominable jet skis on mass.Then the van arrives with the motorbikes and they invade the woods making a right racket, by lunchtime the area was like a noisy tacky fairground and I was glad to get home for some peace and quiet! 

The noise of the hovercraft was similar to a jet engine. One got stuck on the opposite bank and needed full power to get off. Even from a kilometre away the noise was deafening. We have lost the tern colony and all the ground nesting passerines. The only waders breeding in the area are the LRP's and the lapwings and oystercatchers which ususally lose a clutch or two by the tractors preparing the fields. Then these Clarkson type libertarians turn up who don't give a damn about the consequences of their actions. What amazes me is they can still afford the cost of fuel for non-necessary journeys in a country where millions are living in fuel poverty. We're all in this together?


As a footnote, people have been trying to "fix" this situation, but so far have had zero impact. As it stands the Lune is not even classed as a major river, jet skis and the like can go where they want, when they want and at whatever speed they want. The Duchy of Lancaster owns the river up to the high water mark, have tried contacting them! Have tried contacting E.A. etc, written to MP's, local councillors all got nowhere. I am in contact with John Freeman who has been campaigning for years about this issue see On 3rd April 11, and not for the first time, Jet Skis went up the weir at Skerton and onto the fresh water part of the river! The weir itself is in a bad state of repair in parts! Maybe it needs a large collective response to this problem, get a petition going etc. I have met many people who walk around Skerton Weir and all complain about the nuisance and express real concern about the heronry. The other big issue of course is that as other places impose speed restrictions, Windermere etc, it means more skis arriving on the Lune to take advantage of the free-for-all, this situation can only get worse.
There is a compromise, I have been doing the WeBS count from Snatchems to Skerton Weir for the past two years, and the stretch of river from the pub up to Millennium Bridge is devoid of birds at high tide. From the Greyhound Bridge to the weir is busy with birds, likewise the river south of the pub is teeming with birds. It could all be rectified if the jet skis stayed within the limits of the pub to the Millennium Bridge, which is plenty of river for them to play on, and they can still show off to the public! Simple.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Basic Instinct..........

Was going to have an hour or so at trig point, but some young cows in the field changed my mind. Instead I did my usual wander. Went into Freeman's Wood and heard Willow Warbler and numerous Chiffchaff, saw 2 Blackcap. I bumped into JWB/PW/BT (good to see you chaps) doing their Friday round, scoping the island pool and 2 LRP mating, so, good news hopefully. We were reminded about how tough bringing up these chicks will be by all the corvids which were hanging about. I mentioned JC's sighting a few years ago  of a LRP chick being eaten by a crow . Also nesting were a pair of Little Grebe, mating Swans on the smaller pool and nesting Coot. Blackcaps seen on the track along with 2 Common Whitethroat/ 1 Linnet. I noticed 14 Shelduck up on the hill. Just beyond over the village was a Buzzard being mobbed by a Raven.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Blue Sky Thinking

Another watch-and-wait (...and wait...) session for me in warm, calm, sunny conditions.

Visible migration was modest but fairly steady until 1320. No target species!

My tally between 0915 and 1415 was 173 meadow pipits,  24 sand martins, 5 swallows, 7 linnets, 5 redpolls and 2 siskin. Almost all were heading NE over the city and on course for Ingleborough.

Yesterday's lesser whitethroat was still advertising his presence. A couple more willow warblers in the wood.  A pair of stock doves and up to seven local sparrowhawks were noted. The nine hundred or so PG are still on Colloway Marsh.


Saturday, 9 April 2011


Today's highlight was the song of a lesser whitethroat emanating from a favoured patch throughout the day. I'm sure Jon 'Canuck' Carter will agree that this is the earliest arrival date for this species by several days. c900 PG (pink-footed geese) still using Colloway Marsh.

My two vis. sessions were warm and in bright sunshine.... but pretty dull nonetheless. Still no ospreys for me.

0745-1045 yielded only 47 meadow pipits, 10 sand martins, a tree pipit, a swallow, 12 redpolls, a siskin and 6 linnets. All birds were heading NE.

1500-1800 fly-overs comprised 26 sand martins, a swallow, a siskin and 66 meadow pipits, all NE. The latter figure featured a party of 52 heading over the city at 1730. 


Friday, 8 April 2011

Tree Pipits, Sand Martins, Redstart...

Fairly calm, zero oktas. All birds NNW.

Vis.   0800-1200:

sand martin-       56

meadow pipit-    97

tree pipit- *          2  (1st 0910h, 2nd 1135h.)

siskin-                  3

linnet-                 17

'alba' wagtail-     1

wheatear-            5  (0910h. Northbound flock dropped from 20m to rest in tree for 10 mins pictured)

goldfinch             N/C but c100 NNW.

Vis. 1530-1730:

sand martin-       213**

goldfinch-            79

swallow-                3

reed bunting-        1

* I usually only note a few TP each year here (always vis.), so was pleased with these two early birds.

**A decent afternoon push of SM kept me interested despite lack of migrant raptors.. On average the martins flying higher than the morning's session. In larger parties too-- usually loose flocks of 5-15).

On the deck:

An early-ish male common redstart was hedge-hopping early on, melting NE.

Circa 900 pink-footed geese feeding on Colloway Marsh.

 Seemed to be a few new blackcaps in the wood including a female.


Thursday, 7 April 2011

Chat Overheard / Overhead

A stiff Westerly and sunny spells on my watch today. Pictured below? A wheatear over at 100 feet.

Movement 1030-1530:

meadow pipit- 45 NW  in first hour, 11 thereafter

sand martin- 46 NW

swallow-       11 NW 

redpoll sp.-    2 NW

siskin -             2 N

merlin-             1W

skylark-            1N

wheatear-*       2N

(*1235h. surprised to hear a harsh contact call and find two of these night-orientated migrants heading over North at about 20 metres off the hilltop. Continued high (c50m up) over the town. Can't say whether they had been in flight for a few hours or a few minutes only, (same with all these 'vis.' birds!) but behaviour interested me nonetheless. Half an hour later I picked up a flock of five similar-looking passerine dots quite high NE which were probably also this species).

No target species of the OP kind. Good views of local sparrowhawks and buzzards down to 5 metres. A little egret went over West and pitched down on Aldcliffe marsh.

960 pink-footed geese were seen feeding on Colloway Marsh.

(Pictured below- a local raptor at 30 feet.)


Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Trig unhappy

A watch in pretty blowy conditions 1045-1515 resulted in the following heading N or NW:

23 sand martins in twos and threes

11 swallows

5 meadow pipits

2 linnets

1 redpoll sp.

6 greylag

1 snipe

No target species!

Also noted: the escaped falcon sp. over the city centre, a few willow warblers in song.


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Late Escape

Dan here.

Today's unpleasant weather made my watchpoint untenable (a few swallows N before heavier rain set in), so I had a trail round the more popular parts of the parish instead.

Interest was limited to a pochard, 12 each of sand martin and swallow and two little ringed plovers at Freeman's Pools.

A wheatear was in the stubble field and a male blackcap was in the wood.

Bumped into a similarly bedraggled Steve W who could only add another wheatear and some meadow pipits to the migrant tally.

Late-escaping news from my visit on Saturday included a saker (or saker-type) falcon chasing crows at high speed.

A merlin and 3 male white wagtails were also noted.


Monday, 4 April 2011

Who mentioned spring....................

Had a quick visit this morning, managed to cycle through without seeing a great deal! It was very cold thanks to an icy wind. My plan was to see what, if anything, the forecasted rain might drop. Unfortunately the idea of a cup of tea and much needed warmth put an end to that idea!
Freeman’s Pool had a dozen tufted duck, a handsome gadwall, 6 oystercatchers, a number of Shelduck coming and going and Coot. Chiffchaff singing, I counted 8 on Friday from Freeman’s to the pylons. The horse, grazing at the top end, which is looking worse for wear has apparently been reported to the RSPCA.
The track had chaffinch, greenfinch and 2 bullfinch, there was a Buzzard on a fence post. On the flood I saw 2 LRP and 3 pied wagtail plus 2 Reed Bunting. It began to rain so I set off home!