Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Hot Patch....

Freeman’s Pool had Little Grebes, Coot, Grey Heron and two Kestrel. A quick stroll through the wood revealed Jays, Chiffchaff, Linnets and usual finches, Wrens, Robins, Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Coal Tits.
A good 900 BH Gulls present on the river, a fast incoming tide disturbed Canada’s, Curlews and Redshank. Two Ravens were flying about the patch. On the track saw Chiffchaff, Wrens etc, Skylarks flying over and a handful of Meadow Pipits, also 6 Swallow were busily feeding in the unseasonably hot weather, which also brought out plenty of butterflies and dragon flies. Three Little egrets were on the marsh, a Grey Wagtail near the pylons and a peregrine bombing over. 

Monday, 19 September 2011

Owtabout? Nowtabout!

A mid-morning visit was rather uneventful.

A small amount of visible migration was taking place, but not assiduously recorded!  As ever, meadow pipits were most numerous (circa 50 per hour), but eight skylarks, two alba wagtails and a siskin were also noted heading through, SE.

A lesser and two common whitethroats and a handful of chiffchaffs were also seen. A treecreeper was calling in the railway cutting area and a young peregrine was keeping Gull Bank free of waders.

Five shovelers were at Freeman's Pools.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Not too late for a swift one

Given the calm conditions I thought I'd get out early and try clocking some visible migration.

The passerine movement had several lulls when dark cloud thickened, but in blue or broken skies there were some good pulses.

Between 0730 and 1130 the following flew over the estuary, mostly heading SE:

meadow pipit  535
swallow          315
swift                  1
skylark             28
siskin                20+
alba wagtail      30
grey wag            4
linnet                  4
goldfinch            7
chaffinch           10
jackdaw             3
reed bunting       2

The swift (lovingly pictured above) was pleasingly late in the year. It coincided with the heaviest swallow movement (280 SE in half an hour from 0840h).

The hedgerows were quiet-- perhaps understandably given the songbird exodus weather overnight, but two restless flocks of blackbird (8 and 7) and a coal tit were clear signs of Autumn, as was an acorn-bearing jay.

Long-tailed tits were also prominent.

Wader-wise, a bar-tailed godwit with a mangled leg (pictured), 30 dunlins and 15 golden plovers were the best I could muster. DH

The Majestic Meadow Pipit


Migrating Skylarks


Saturday, 17 September 2011

One for the Lads

Without any sign of vagrant waders or much evidence of the magic of migration I had to be content with micro-birding nuances that only hardened Aldcliffers would appreciate.

Sixty lapwings were at the fringes of the flood this afternoon. Although the estuary and marshes often have hundreds and sometimes thousands of peewits, sixty at this particular spot is really something- eh patchers?

Another small pleasure was the discovery of 5 stock doves at Stodday ETW. I see one or two of this subtly attractive species down here every so often, but a quintet isn't bad at all. Eh, lads?

A greenshank was on the marsh and circa 10 dunlins, 12 ringed and 6 golden plovers were at Gull Bank.


Friday, 16 September 2011

Planet Dearth

A damp and rather disappointing afternoon visit for Guy and myself.

Just a few each of robin, chiffchaff and goldcrest in the hedges. A wheatear flew downriver. A lesser whitethroat was heard to call.

Two green sandpipers were seen and two or three siskins flew over, unseen.


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Ful Mars for Trying

A calm and mellow day with moderate use of Aldcliffe airspace and a nice mix of species.

Visible migration was dominated by meadow pipits and the first pink-footed geese of the Autumn.
Around 450 of the former were heading South, East and even North-East between 0945 and 1345

The geese, fresh from Iceland, came through South in skeins of 42, 32 and sixteen.

Otherwise, 'vis' was limited to single figure counts of skylark, grey wagtail and linnet. Hirundine (martin) passage seemed non-existent.

An out-of-habitat nuthatch and coal tit were by the walled meadow and evidenced some seasonal dispersal of some kind. A few whitethroats, chiffchaffs and a goldcrest were also in the hedges.

Clearly haven been driven inland by recent high winds, a fulmar (pictured thru the heat haze above) was both a welcome patch-tick and a rather sorry sight at the same time.
It was sat on the mud at Gull Bank amid lapwings and starlings, two species that these seafaring tubenoses must seldom come into contact with.

Other estuary birds included a juvenile ruff, 40 juv. dunlins, a goosander and an eider.

Singles of greenshank and green sandpiper were lurking elsewhere. A kingfisher was diving into the flood and up to five common buzzards were circling.

The brown hare (not strictly a bird) is hanging in in small numbers here despite some illegal hunting by decorators and their lurchers.
This one looked mortified, not only at being photographed, but also at having been caught running from a tiny stoat.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A Grade A Grey Day

Dan here.

Had a quick look round the obvious spots on my way back from a thoroughly mediocre 'seawatch' at Plover Scar, near Cocker Abbey (just 2 gannets, some PG skeins, a kittiwake and a thorough soaking).

On the patch proper two grey plovers were an Aldcliffe year-tick on the estuary mud, and three green sandpipers were on the Flood.

Four snipe and a gathering of around a hundred hirundines were at Freeman's Pools late afternoon.

A wheatear was also seen.


Monday, 12 September 2011

Inland Seawatching

High winds and a high tide which swamped the saltmarshes gave scoping the birds of the estuary a seawatching feel around midday.

No true seabirds noted, though the visit's highlight, pintails, are most often seen in stormy conditions down here. One was consorting with 30 wigeon in the Gull Bank area, and another three were seen heading South a little later.

A surprisingly scarce visitor to Aldcliffe these days ... I think these are the first pintails I've seen here in three or four years.

The lowlight was letting an in-flight wagtail escape identification. On tail length it seemed to be a flava wag, but as I didn't get any plumage detail on it, and as the howling wind masked any calls a probable year-tick got away.

Singles of greenshank, green sandpiper and were also seen.  Two shovelers and three tufted ducks were at Freeman's Pools.


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Whooper Duper

I only had chance for a brief look today, but a nice 1st- Winter Mediterranean gull was on the water just off Gull Bank.

Beyond, a slightly unseasonal adult whooper swan was feeding on the saltmarsh underneath the pylons, in a loose flock of a mutes.

Seemed to be a bit of a Southward push of swallows this afternoon, with around 30 seen heading downstream within half an hour.

Three off-passage sand martins were at the Wildfowler's Pools, where this soft-focus wader pic was snapped..

Elsewhere, Steve W. had a peregrine and two each of raven and chiffchaff.


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Quiet for now

A short evening walk round the northern end of the patch produced two green sandpipers, 2 blackcap and a chiffchaff near the flood. 3 little grebes and 14 heron were on Freemans pool.

Looking at the LDBWS website it looks like it could be a good week with Katia on the way....fingers crossed.


Friday, 9 September 2011

Objet D'arter

A short visit turned up a party of five wheatears on the marsh, a few chiffchaffs and a fly-through sand martin.

Waders included single greenshank and green sandpiper and a few each of dunlin and ringed plover.

A great crested grebe was swimming under the power lines. An adult peregrine was seen.

The afternoon sun brought out some dragonflies including this common darter.


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Sand Bank

Dan here.

A lull in this week's blustery weather made birding more comfortable this afternoon.

After August's adult, an attractive juvenile curlew sandpiper was a pleasing find on the estuary, where a whimbrel (my only one for this passage period) and a greenshank were also to be found.

The curlew sand was in the company of 3 dunlins and 15 ringed plovers were nearby.

A green sandpiper was at Freeman's Pools.

As the wind dropped just a few robins and greenfinches could be heard in the hedgerows. Aside from a juv. common whitethroat, no warblers were apparent. It seems that a comprehensive clear-out of late August's numerous chiffchaffs and lesser whitethroats has taken place.

Two grey wagtails were at Stodday.

The sun came out for the first time in days, and a few dragonflies ventured out-- 3 brown and 2 migrant hawkers and a famished-looking common darter.


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Unproductive, Untitled..

Dan once more, with some slim pickings from the patch.

Seven or eight off-passage sand martins were wheeling over Freeman's Pools, where a lone green sandpiper fed. A goldcrest was heard calling from the wood nearby.

A wind-wobbled scoping of the the estuary gulls revealed nothing of interest apart from the percentage of first-year black-headeds-- around a third were in juvenile or first-Winter plumages as opposed to just 5% in recent visits.

Fascinating stuff.

A goosander was at Gull Bank and a peregrine falcon hunted overhead.


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Live Ringers

Birds hard to come by on a visit in stormy conditions this afternoon, but a flock of 35 ringed plovers by the churning estuary was a good count for Aldcliffe.

Heavy rainfall has made for waterlogged fields and The Flood is living up to its name.


Monday, 5 September 2011

Right Idea, Wrong Location.

Respect due to Aldcliffe stalwart Guy McClelland for finding a rose coloured starling this morning, but with  a  little bit taken back for doing so on the Isle of Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway, and not at Aldcliffe!

I think it's the only rosy pastor in Britain at present, in an unremarkable year for them. There should be a picture of his bird here

I could have done with some of Guy's magic on the patch today. A short afternoon visit turned up very little of interest.

Five dunlins were on the estuary near the pylons, where no Meds were to be found among the black-headed gulls.. A flock of 18 pied wagtails were on the paddocks, but I suspect they had only come from as far afield as the sewage works a few yards away.

I couldn't even locate any green sandpipers, which are usually pretty dependable given a bit of patience. I suspect they were tucked into some hidden nook in the blustery conditions.


Friday, 2 September 2011

Going Gets Ruff

Dan once more.

Going down the old patch got me a ruff, three greenshanks and five each of dunlin and golden plover at Gull Bank just before high water.

A fourth greenshank and a common sandpiper were on Aldcliffe Marsh proper.  Three green sandpipers were dotted elsewhere.


Thursday, 1 September 2011

It's Nice to Have Two Hobbies

Dan here.

The smaller birds of the estuary had even more to torment them today, because aswell as peregrines and sparrowhawks, they also had hobby to worry about.

One juvenile hobby appeared in a clamour of swallows in the railway cutting area of the patch, and was seen well as it took several shallow stoops at various species over the water's edge. It pursued some starlings with all the dogged tenacity of a merlin. Nice bird.

As I followed it Southwards in my scope I became aware of a second, identically-sized falcon which joined it over the Stodday stretch and seemed to be hunting in tandem with it.

I couldn't get any detail as it flew into the midday glare but I took it to be another subbuteo.

At least one headed as far down as Conder Green.

Second best today was seen seconds before all this, with a large-looking (male?) juvenile ruff standing on the last sliver of Gull Bank with lapwings and a few dunlins before high water engulfed it.

The Spring tide covered the East-bank marshes once more, and a greenshank, common sandpiper and a skylark were seen feeding at the foot of Dawson's Bund, while an attractive 1st-Winter Med gull flew inland above it.

The morning's birding was less exciting, but casually-noted visible migration of c.20 each of Southbound meadow pipits and swallows (with a few sand martins) passed through mid-morning, and three hedgerow goldcrests and a flock of 25 linnets were of note. All very Septemberish.

A great crested grebe rode the surging tide up to the pylons, where I took this perfunctory shot.