Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Happy Christmas etc

Season's greetings to all! 

Here's looking forward to a bird-filled 2013.

What surprises will the new year bring?
Will the lesser yellowlegs be relocated in the Aldcliffe area?
What new species, if any, will make it to the Aldcliffe list?

Click on the tab above to see which species have been recorded on and around the patch and see if you can predict the next 'new' bird...
I'm thinking turtle dove, hen harrier (way overdue), bee-eater - maybe even another yank wader or an American wigeon?
Or perhaps we'll see the first Aldcliffe breeding by little egret or avocet?
Only time will tell - good luck and enjoy the birds!


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Life On Marsh

Despite the many pressing things that I find myself having to do as Jenny and I continue our repatriation, I am still finding a couple of hours most days to get out and refamiliarise myself with the neighbourhood birds.
On Monday I was on Aldcliffe Marsh for the high tide once again and it was another big one.
As on Sunday, lots of geese were grazing in the adjacent fields along with good numbers of curlew, lapwing (pictured), redshank and black-headed gulls.
The tideline by Walled Meadow had attracted a decent little feeding flock that contained chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, robin, wren, pied wagtail and 11 rock pipits. As I walked along the seawall up to Marsh Point and Freeman’s Pools I came across at least another 9 rock pipit. Checking through them, there was nothing to suggest they were anything but petrosus types, although one bird with a distinctive supercilium was certainly suggestive of littoralis
The European white-fronted goose was with greylags on the marsh opposite Snatchems.
Freeman’s Pools, now thawed, were starting to attract a few birds including common goldeneye, tufted duck and a pair of mute swans.

Bits of a little owl
On Tuesday I visited the marsh again, though walked via Aldcliffe village and down Railway Crossing Lane. As I passed Admiralty Wood I checked for little owls and eventually located a snoozing bird (pictured here). Nuthatch, treecreeper and great-spotted woodpecker also put in appearances.
I bumped into Steve Wallis in the village; he was on his way home having completed his WeBS count. After a good chat about what Aldcliffe birds I’d missed in the 3+ years I’ve been away and what changes had been observed around the patch we continued on our respective ways.

Late afternoon at Aldcliffe Marsh
The tide peak was considerably lower today and as a result there wasn’t much pushed off the main river. A handful of little egrets were scattered around the saltmarsh and once again there were loads of redshank and lapwing, plus a few dunlin, feeding around The Flood.
I can’t recall ever seeing quite so many moorhen as seem to be around at the moment – have they just been steadily increasing or are there simply a lot in the Aldcliffe area this year? Coot have certainly colonized in recent years (my first record was in the late 1980s and concerned a freshly dead bird along the seawall. I was quite excited.)
Talking of modern additions to Aldcliffe’s avifauna, as I bumbled along the pathway back to Willow Lane alongside Freeman’s Wood I noticed a little egret on the path ahead of me. It was searching for prey in the wet ditch and looked a bit out of place so close to the edge of town. They’ll be nicking koi carp out of garden ponds before we know it…   

This afternoon (Wednesday) I had to go to Morecambe and managed a quick walk down the Stone Jetty. There was nothing much going on offshore, and wader numbers were pretty unremarkable around the shore. Species present included the expected curlew, dunlin, redshank, turnstone, oystercatcher and knot.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Tide Is High

European white-fronted goose
With a midday tide forecast at over 10 metres today, I trundled off down to Aldcliffe to see what might get pushed out of the creeks and into plain view.
The fields either side of the cycle track were filled with hundreds of squabbling geese, the vast majority being greylags. A reasonable number of pink-footed geese and a couple of decent sized flocks of Canadas were also present. Scanning through I managed to find the previously reported European white-fronted goose and rattled off a couple of dodgy-scope pics.
The fields were also hosting good numbers of lapwing and redshank. Ever the optimist, I was hoping that the post-thaw returning redshank would bring back the yellowlegs and wood sandpiper but so far that doesn't appear to be the case. Have these two strays moved on altogether, or might they still reappear? Only time will tell.

Little egret
The Wildfowlers' Pools were pretty quiet, with the exception of a couple of dozen redshank, lots of moorhens, a few teal and 5 shelduck. A single little egret was creeping around the pool edge (pic).
The Flood was awash with roosting black-headed gulls and yet more redshank, plus a couple of dunlin and common gulls.
The distinctive squeal of a water rail alerted me to the presence of two birds lurking in the vegetation on the flooded lower path, with one showing well briefly. A couple of little grebe were also fishing here.

High tide
Back up on the Lune, the tide finally peaked around noon and I walked the high water line in the hope of flushing a jack snipe or two. I didn't. I did, however flush a few common snipe and come across at least 4 rock pipits.
Talking of jack snipe, I found the fresh remains of an expertly picked-apart bird up by the Wildfowlers' Pools a couple of days ago, so there are (or, perhaps were) some around...
Scanning over the river to Colloway Marsh large numbers of gulls, wigeon and roosting waders including dunlin, redshank, curlew, lapwing and golden plover were being occasionally bothered by a couple of peregrines and a sparrowhawk
A small flock of 15 pintail flew down river, not a particularly numerous bird on this part of the estuary. 
Plenty of blackbirds and song thrushes continue to feed in the hawthorns throughout the area with smaller numbers of redwing and fieldfare joining them from time to time.  Other common passerines include the dwindling chaffinch flock in the stubble fields plus occasional pied wagtails, robins, dunnocks and wrens.
Freeman's Pools were bereft of birds, presumably due to the fact that it is still pretty much frozen over.

Thursday, 13 December 2012


On Tuesday morning I hopped on the train for the short 10 minute journey to Morecambe. I was heading to the newspaper offices to catch up with some old colleagues and also meeting my mate Shaun Coyle, who had just returned from yet another month-long sub-Saharan birding trek.
Of course the first thing I did was take a walk along the Stone Jetty and peer out across Morecambe Bay to the Lakeland hills. Although it was bright and frosty, a low haze hung over the horizon rendering the snow-topped mountains all but invisible.

The tide was just starting to drop and a few waders were rousing from their roosts and gathering along the exposed shore and rocks. Lots of oystercatchers were loudly announcing their presence and flying around in loose groups while ruddy turnstones were assembling on the jetty end. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any purple sandpipers amongst them.

Offshore a couple of local fishing boats were attracting large numbers of gulls, mostly herring and black-headed - I scanned through the feeding mass hoping to spot the tell-tale white wing flashes of a Mediterranean gull but there were none present. When I covered this area on a daily basis Med gulls were a regular feature most winters, with one individual returning for many years.

I couldn't pick up any notable birds out on the flat calm water with my bins apart from a couple of great-crested grebes.
A solitary grey heron was with the redshank, oystercatchers, curlew and a lone dunlin on the 'Bubbles' groyne.
Yet more waders were busily feeding on the receding tide edge and as I looked through the medley of shorebirds I heard the chattering of black-tailed godwits. Looking up, a small flock of approximately 30 flew in and dropped onto the beach.
Not a bad way to start any day! 

Black-tailed godwits, oystercatchers & redshank

Monday, 10 December 2012

Monday Meanderings

River Lune at low tide, looking toward Aldcliffe Marsh
It was another gloriously sunny, crisp cold day today and once we'd taken delivery of a new fridge/freezer (life doesn't get any better than that, does it?) I donned my wellies, grabbed my bins and 'scope and walked out to Aldcliffe.
With the exception of a great-spotted woodpecker and twinkling charms of goldfinches it was fairly quiet along the path by the now inaccessible Freeman's Wood but there was a fair bit going on at Freeman's Pools.
Scanning out over the water I could see tufted ducks, wigeon and teal plus 17 gadwall. Hugging the edges were the expected moorhens while coots and little grebes fished busily.
A little egret was preening on the banks - funny how we've become so blasé about these recent colonists. It's not all that long ago that the discovery of one of these exotic herons in this part of the world would have caused something of a twitch.
I checked through the larids on the estuary, finding just the usual suspects: black-headed gull, herring gull, common gull and lesser-black backed gull. A gargantuan great black-backed gull came by - I'm often surprised by just how bloody massive and menacing these bird are at close range!
Good numbers of lapwing were present and few redshank were picking their way along the river's edge.
As I trundled along the seawall path I noticed a common buzzard in the stubble fields. It was on the deck and soliciting a fair bit of interest from the local carrion crows. Several jackdaws and a handful of rooks looked on. The latter species isn't always easy to find in the Aldcliffe area, so their presence usually attracts a fair bit of interest from local patchers.
Out on the marsh I could see a couple more little egrets and good numbers of geese. Bearing in mind the albifrons white-fronted goose found by Pete Crooks a couple of days ago I spent a bit of time 'scoping through the birds but I couldn't locate it among the mass of greylags grazing on the marsh. Approximately 60 pink-footed geese were also present along with the usual shelducks, Canada geese, dodgy farmyard ganders and a just 5 mute swans. It's not all that long ago that Aldcliffe hosted herds of 100+ mute swans in the winter, which of course regularly attracted whooper and Bewick swans.
On the other side of the river large skeins of pinkfeet, totalling approximately 2000 birds, were moving around.

Common snipe - Wildfowlers' Pools
At the Wildfowlers' Pools there was no sign of either of the recent 'celeb' birds. We birders all know how luck can often play a part in our avian adventures, but I can't believe just how fortunate I was where the lesser yellowlegs and wood sandpiper are concerned. Considering just how long they've been hanging around, they pretty much disappeared immediately after I saw them! Today, barely half a dozen redshank were present, plus 3 common snipe (pictured).
Given Aldcliffe's reputation as a near-guaranteed site for wintering green sandpiper, I have been amazed not to come across one in any of the usual spots. Perhaps, along with the wood sand and lesserlegs they're all just feeding somewhere else for the meanwhile and will reappear on-and-off throughout the winter?
At 'snipe bog' I flushed 7 common snipe but failed to find any jack snipes.
Passerines were generally unremarkable during my 4-hour trek, with just common stuff such as greenfinch, song thrush and the like being seen. A couple of redwing and fieldfare were great to see in the hawthorns, but the tideline was bereft of activity. It was low tide, so there were no pipits and just a couple of pied wagtails kicking around.
Curlews and more lapwings were feeding with starlings in the wet fields at Stodday.
Returning along the cycle track I added little to the day's tally, so I took a last-minute diversion via the newly created FAUNA Nature Reserve near my house. I used to regularly bird this area before it was a 'nature reserve' and it was pretty productive from time to time. A long mixed hedgerow attracted spring migrants such as redstart and whinchat (as well as hosting many breeding birds), wheatears and whimbrel would often feed up in the sedgy meadow and a couple of small pools appealed to waders including snipe and green sandpiper. Now that the hedgerow has been removed and a path stuck right through the place I expect we can wave goodbye to this site being of any interest to anything but wood pigeons and magpies (both of which were about the only birds seen there today).
I'm a big believer in protecting green spaces and I hope to be proved wrong about this once diverse spot, but the 'improvements' don't seem to be much to get excited about unless you're walking a dog or going for a jog.  


Friday, 7 December 2012

My tringa ling(ers)

After 3 years living in western Canada I returned to Lancaster earlier this week and in between various essential domestic chores I managed to squeeze in a few brief visits to my favourite local patch in the known universe - Aldcliffe.
Of course I was well aware that a lesser yellowlegs has been hanging around the area, and despite the fact that I just came from a place where they're pretty much 'trash birds' I was eager to add this American vagrant to my Aldcliffe list. Perhaps more interesting still in a national context was the highly exceptional presence of a wintering wood sandpiper at the Wildfowlers' Pools.

Wood sandpiper
Thankfully I managed to catch up with both; the lesserlegs on Monday and the sandpiper on Wednesday when I manged to get some terrible digi-scoped pics in the bright morning light.
Today (Friday) I met up with old Aldcliffe regular Greg Potter but we came away without sight nor sound of either bird.
For me, the thrill of re-connecting with common birds I used to take totally for granted has been a real highpoint. Even such naff birds as robins and blue tits have been giving me a little tingle, while the soft call of a bullfinch or sight of a bunch of lapwings roosting on the estuarine mud has had me in near rapture!  

Redwings, fieldfares (pictured), little egrets, tufted ducks, kestrels, sparrowhawks and even moorhens have been competing for my attention.
And I've really been scrutinising those coot undertail coverts...   
I was also fortunate enough to see a couple of (Bohemian) waxwings at the end of my street a couple of days ago. Not exactly on par with the sizeable flocks doing the rounds this winter but a pleasure to see nonetheless.
As the weeks go by I'm sure the novelty of the commoner species will wear off as I encounter them on a near-daily basis, but for now I couldn't be enjoying the birds of Aldcliffe and beyond more.   

And I must thank Guy, Steve and Dan for maintaining this blog and keeping us all up-to-date with the avian goings-on at Aldcliffe.


Wednesday, 5 December 2012


A possible goshawk was seen briefly but very clearly down at the flood this morning. It was very large (almost buzzard sized), barred chest and broad winged. It passed over Aldcliffe Hall Lane where I was able to ascertain it wasn't wearing any falconers jessies (I think that's the term).
It's good to see a posting from Jon Carter, the founder of the Aldcliffe blog, on the LDBWS website. It's even better that he has seen the wood sand and lesser yellowlegs today and that this big beast didn't take either of them.

Guy (with thanks to Dan for suggesting the today's blog title)

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Winter bliss....

Blue skies and frost. Lesser yellowlegs on wildfowlers’ pool with up to 8 snipe. A merlin was in the area. Reed bunting, chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, bullfinch along track. Fieldfare, redwing, song thrush and blackbird present. A peregrine was near the pylons. On the river 2 whooper swans came up on the tide, goosander, goldeneye and great crested grebe also on the river. Freeman's Pool gadwall, coot, tufted duck, teal, goldeneye, mallard, grey heron and mute swans.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Thursday, 29 November 2012


Lesser Yellowlegs and Wood Sandpiper still present, not seen by me but info from LDBWS, also 2 Waxwing. My flying visit was highlighted by 16 Rooks mixed in with other corvid on the stubble fields. The large flock of Chaffinch still present.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Friday morning....

Freeman’s Pool Goldeneye, gadwall, moorhen and coot. On the track a large flock of chaffinch, 120approx, very mobile. Reed bunting and linnet present and a few fieldfare and redwing in the nearby trees. Wildfowlers’ Pool 6 goldeneye, 8 little grebe, a wader, possibly lesser yellowlegs but when I got round on the embankment side I couldn’t find the thing, a birder said he had seen it today and that it had been reported yesterday. On the marsh were half a dozen little egrets. Steve

Monday, 19 November 2012

It's official?......

The Lesser Yellowlegs and Wood Sandpiper still present. Interesting that Wood Sandpiper has not made the journey south, can this bird now be said to be wintering? 3 Goldeneye, Little Grebe and Tufted Duck also here. On Saturday a Chiffchaff was seen on the sewage works track, also a handful of Coal Tits. Ravens were hanging about the pylons. A flock of 8 Linnets were moving north along the river bank. A flock of Greenfinch, up to 9, was also present. On the marsh 5 Little Egrets and the usual Canada/Greylag Geese, 3 skeins of Pink feet 70, 175, 70, Lapwing, Golden Plover and Dunlin all spooked by something. The maize fields have been cleared.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Such is life...........

Visited the patch AM. Freeman’s area, pool saw Goldeneye, Gadwall, Coot and Moorhen. In the trees were plenty of Redwing, flying off into wood, and a Great spotted Woodpecker female. Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch on track, Fieldfare half a dozen, 40 here the other day. Frog Pond saw 12 Wigeon. On Wildfowlers’ Pool Goldeneye, Shelduck, Snipe, Teal, Tufted Duck. On the Flood were 20 Black-tailed Godwit. On the marsh 5 Little Egret, 2 Great crested Grebe, Canada’s and Greylags. At the cutting birding was interrupted by a dying rabbit, my diagnosis of the observation was correct as a Stoat reappeared and continued its killing, they take forever, luckily a bloke suddenly turned up with a terrier which dispatched of the poor thing instantly. We watched as the Stoat dragged the rabbit off. Being a high tide I was hoping to see Pipits but couldn’t find any. 

and the lesser yellowlegs was also in the area of widfowlers this afternoon.


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Legs & Co.

The message below was posted to the LDBWS site by Pete Crooks on Sunday:

"Lesser Yellowlegs - juvenile still on flooded fields next to Aldcliffe Wildfowlers' Pools and showing well this morning. Apart from one Snipe this was the only wader present 

Also: 6 Little Egrets on Aldcliffe Marsh, but otherwise quiet."

Good to know it's still around! Thanks for the update Pete.


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Mellow Yellow......

AM. Fieldfare have arrived and what beautiful birds to cheer up a cold November morning. On the track by the Flood were at least 35 Blackbird, also Redwing, Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush. Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch present. Pete C was on the sea wall observing the waders, the Lesser Yellowlegs juv and Wood Sandpiper juv were showing very well in the sunlight. Also present were Snipe, Goldeneye, and Scaup possibly 2, one being harder to id for sure. 2 Meadow Pipits were seen from the gate on the track, the Wildfowlers' Pool is the place to be at the moment.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Obsessive, moi?

I managed a quick hour on the patch yesterday afternoon. After the excitement of the lesser yellowlegs, I resumed my almost obsessive searching in the bushes for a decent phyll warbler. Two  sizeable tit flocks with two chiffchaff and three goldcrest in tow were located. These flocks seem to move quicker as the weather gets colder and it was hard work keeping up with them. 5 pied wags and 2 grey wags were at the sewerage works.
I made a quick visit to the flood where the lesser yellowlegs was feeding with 8 black tailed godwits and a similar number of redshank. This really is a fantastic bird and well worth a twitch.


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

3 patch ticks in one visit

Ticked off the lesser yellowlegs which is fairly mobile between wildfowlers and the flood. In the same scope shot I could see a ruff hobbling around and by moving my scope down a little, I got the wood sandpiper. This was spotted in the arm of wildfowlers pool which runs parallel with the cycle track. 3 black tailed godwits and about 20 snipe would have made the visit wortwhile even without these three birds. Hopefully the expected drop in temperature will slow down the rate water levels are falling and keep these birds in the area.


Monday, 22 October 2012

Leg work...........

Got down to the Wildfowlers’ Pool for 08.15, had spare forty minutes to find something, saw Ruff and 11 Snipe, Canada Geese were roosting then flew. Second visit 11.15, Ruff was on the Flood, I then walked along river bank to Wildfowlers’ Pool, found Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper flew in, and there was also Goldeneye, Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing, Little Grebe but no Lesser Yellowlegs. Other birders present said someone had paged it in this morning. Eventually another birder arrived saying the Lesser Yellowlegs was now on The Flood. It took a while to spot, then it flew a few yards with a handful of Redshank and then I could see the difference, initially I couldn’t see it amongst them. Also present were Curlew and Black-tailed Godwits. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Yellow is the colour...........

Well another ace bird spotted by Pete Crooks, Wildfowlers' Pools, the water levels have dropped and perfect for waders.................not been able to get down but here is a copy from LDBWS

Lesser Yellowlegs - juvenile still showing well at Aldcliffe Wildfowlers' Pools this afternoon, but somewhat flightly.

Wood Sandpiper - juvenile much easier to see this afternoon and nice to be able to firm it up from a 'probable' during my brief lunchtime visit.

Also: 1 female Scaup, 1 Goldeneye, 10 Little Grebe.

20 Redshank, 7 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Ruff

Pete C

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Territorial pishings

I'd have liked to spend the whole day on the patch but work limited my visit to a quick hour. Pishing round the bushes at Stodday revealed two chiffchaff and 6 goldcrest amongst the tit flocks. A merganser and great crested grebe were under the pylons. A mystery bunting flew over with a metallic call. The tone was rather reminiscent of a yellowhammers sound.
4 pied wags and 2 grey wags were at the sewerage works and 4 skylark flew over.


Friday, 19 October 2012

Two in the bush......

09.30ish. Freeman’s Pool had a handful of widgeon and gadwall along with coot, moorhen, little grebe and mallard. Wildfowlers’ Pool scaup fem was here this morning plus little grebe, lapwing and redshank. 130 canada geese were in the fields. On the marsh were little egret, gull bank were 450 golden plover, 30 dunlin and 1000 lapwing, wigeon 25. 2 redwing near chat wall. Plenty blackbird with up to 20 seen near to and along sewage track. A chiffchaff was calling, possibly 2. A kestrel was hunting along the cutting. A mixed flock of goldfinch, greenfinch and chaffinch in the bushes. A sparrowhawk was taking a bath in one of the flooded parts of a field made for great viewing.


Monday, 15 October 2012

Arrivals and Departures.....

09.30. Freeman’s Pool saw Gadwall 8 and Coot. Wildfowlers’ Pool Little Grebe 4, Shoveler, Tufted Duck 1, Grey Heron 1, Lapwing 70, Snipe 5, Redshank 12, on the track where it’s flooded there was an adult swan with signet, unfortunately since yesterday the signet has perished, it appears to have got stuck in the wire fence and drowned. On the marsh Greenshank 1, Goosander 2, Redshank 5, Little Egret 5 on the same small pool, a further 15 Little Egrets present. Golden Plover and Lapwing. Skylark 2 and a pair of Meadow Pipits. The sewage works and track, saw Redwing 1, Blackbird 6, Song Thrush 2, Long-tailed, Coal, Blue, Great Tits, Chiffchaff 2, Pied Wagtail 30+ and 2 Grey Wagtail, a Kestrel was hunting close by.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Midday, Wildfowlers’ Pool (lake) Scaup female juv I think, Tufted Ducks, 1 Goldeneye f, Lapwing 25, BH Gull 70, Snipe 1, Little Grebe, Teal, Mallard, Coot and Moorhen, Willow Warbler. On Aldcliffe Marsh a Greenshank was showing well, Little Egret 7, Canada Geese and 2 Barnacle, a few Skylark flying over. 2 Buzzards were also present.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Pished and miffed......

09.00 - 12.00
Had a slow walk along the track from the crossroads towards the sewage works and a few things of interest. There were up to 12 Robin and a few more Chaffinch flitting about. A Blackcap and a few Chiffchaff in the bushes. 2 Flocks of Long-tailed Tits, a GS Woodpecker and 2 Jays. A pair of Grey Wagtails and 8 Pied Wagtails near the works. A Comma and Speckled Wood here as well. On the river a GC Grebe, Dunlin 250, Lapwing and Curlew along with up to 8 Little Egrets. The 2 Barnacles still present. A large number of river birds were disturbed by something, on the return walk I bumped into a couple who thought they had seen a Marsh Harrier, I missed it as I was pishing yet more Robins and Wrens! Definitely not a Buzzard as this was still circling above. A Raven and Kestrel was also seen and 2 Skylark and Linnets. 

Sunday, 7 October 2012


2 barnacle geese were on Colloway Marsh before re-locating to the parish properly at snipe bog. 5 goldcrest and 5 little egrets were seen. 2 swallows moved through with a few meadow pipit and skylarks.


Saturday, 6 October 2012

Two flew over

Two whooper swans entered Aldcliffe airspace this morning and flew down the estuary towards Glasson. Other sightings included 4 goldcrests, 6 swallows, 30 pink footed geese and approx. 100 golden plovers on Gull Bank.
There was a bit of finch movement until about 9.30. One of them had a "tchup" call which got my attention but by the time I had a view of it, it was over my head and flying away from me, so couldn't get an ID from the silhouette. I fear I may have missed a lapland bunting.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Marsh Hurrier...........

09.15 – 12.00
Highlight was Marsh Harrier female adult, flew low over Aldcliffe Marsh, hassled by everything, even Little Egrets screeching and mobbing. After recent wet visits it was a proper treat to be strolling in the sunshine, without doubt the birds were also enjoying the fine weather.  Ravens 2, Sparrowhawk 1, Kestrel 1, Com Buzzard 1. As I walked along the river bank towards Snatchems there was plenty to see, Long-tailed Tits, Blue/Great, Linnet, Reed Buntings, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Blackcap, Robin, Wren, overhead going south up to 25 Skylark, 30 Meadow Pipits, 6 Swallow and other small birds I couldn’t ID. On the marsh were 4 Snipe, 40 Curlew, a good 400 Dunlin spooked with hundreds of Lapwing. Pink footed Geese x2 of 70 over, Little Egret 3. Wildfowlers’ 2 Green Sandpiper, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Mallard and 30+ Pied Wagtails, saw 2 Alba.
Freeman's Pool nothing as some idiot was walking a dog round the pool!

Monday, 1 October 2012


09.30. Mixed with the Canada Geese was a Barnacle, let’s hope for more to follow. Greylag, Lapwing and at least 6 Little Egret also on the marsh. A few Swallow heading through plus a stream of Meadow Pipits. Pink Feet also flying over, 70, 120, 90 and a couple of smaller groups. A bird of prey was spooking birds over the marsh looked Merlin sized from a distance. Gadwall, Shoveler and Mallard plus variations on the Wildfowlers’ Lake. Also a still present are Pied Wagtails and saw 1 Alba. Jay on fence post.

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Great Flood.........

Strange old day, expected to see quite a bit along the track but saw nothing apart from a few robins. On the marsh were Little Egret, Canada’s, Greylag, Curlew, Lapwing a pair of GBB Gull flew in. The Flood was nothing compared to the new lake formerly Wildfowlers' Pools! Plenty on here, wish I'd had more time, Shovelers, Tufted, Teal, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Moorhen, Mallard, Coot, gulls, Merlin, Kestrel and up to 40 Pied Wagtails. A Buzzard was near Freeman’s Pool.

Sunday, 23 September 2012


With the exception of the bluethroat a few years ago, one of the areas of the patch which has always underperformed is the railway cutting. A spotted flycatcher was in the bushes here today along with about a dozen goldcrest beteween the cutting and Stodday. I love these little warblers and their high numbers may indicate that they have had a good breeding season in northern Britain. My only hope is that the weather quietens down to allow some Scandinavian birds to reach us and bring some eastern warblers with them. 6 chiffchaff, 40 goldfinch, a kestrel and 40 swallows were in the same stretch.

I've just come back from a holiday in Corsica where I confirmed what I suspected about the main factor which assisted collared doves to colonise northwestern Europe. I was told "on ne peut pas les manger" when I remarked to a local that they were very common in the villages.


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Agreeable Grebes...

9am. A wonderful sunny morning, almost forgotten what they’re like! Had a stroll for an hour, Freeman’s Pool Little Grebe 8, a couple of Shoveler, Gadwall, Grey Heron, a few more Coot than of late. Still quite a number of swallows around but nothing like the numbers of the other day. Also of note up to 9 Robin seen, a 2 Linnet heading SE. The Flood was occupied by 40 Lapwing and usual Moorhen. On the Marsh 6 Little Egret. Saw 3 Chiffchaff silently flitting through the bushes.

Monday, 17 September 2012

two for one.......

11am. Big tide today, and blustery with it. A common sandpiper flew down river. On the marsh were wheatear 4, little egret 4, merlin 1, lapwing 900. A kestrel and sparrowhawk hunting near the track. Wildfowlers' Pool little egret and 9 teal. A flock of 16 linnet and 4 pied wagtail near the riding school. Throughout the patch swallows were gathering, hard to say how many, hundreds. Chiffchaffs heard. Flock 0f 90 goldfinch near pylons.

Message from Dan this aft, 12 shoveler on freeman’s pool. A whimbrel and 2 migrant hawkers present.


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Not alot..........

Good to have an hour birding today down the parish. Plenty of Swallows around, over pools and the flood. Freeman's Pool still quiet, Little Grebe, Grey Heron. Nothing to speak of on the track, a Teal on the Wildfowlers' Pool. On the marsh were 4 Little Egrets. Wish I had more to report! At Admiralty Wood a Common Buzzard, I have seen this bird here over the past couple of weeks.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Seasons Clash

The seasons clashed down on the patch this morning. The Lune estuary whooper swan was below the pylons basking in the warmth of the morning sun. Do they normally migrate in family parties? If so, I wonder what happened to the poor thing for it decide to head south so soon? There were plenty of birds present still with a significant proportion of their migration trip ahead of them. 20 chiffchaffs were round the sewerage works with a couple of willow warblers and a blackcap. 30 swallows, 6 house martin and 8 linnets were also present.


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Still Dull.....

With all the rotten weather of late it was great to see the sun this morning and I headed down the old parish with high hopes. However, it turned out to be fairly quiet all in all. Freeman’s Pool did have up to 8 Little Grebe, also a few Grey Heron on the island. The track was also quiet, while above me were plenty of Swallow and House Martin which didn’t seem to be going far. On the marsh a couple of Little Egrets were feeding, the Canada Geese numbers are now almost 200 and Greylag on the increase. Plenty of Black-headed gulls around numbering 1200 at least. In the trees by sewage works the Chiffchaffs are still out in force along with Long-tailed tits. On a fence post a Buzzard snoozed and a pair of ravens hung around the pylons.
The news re Freeman’s Wood looks positive at the moment see opposite.
Mile Long lane hit the headlines, Lancaster Guardian reporting the track being used as a rat run by various cars, hardly news it’s been going on for years! Explains the quashed hedgehog and frogs!


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Warbler fest - Tuesday

You know that you have to get out bush bashing when you look out of your bedroom window in Hala and see two willow warblers in your garden, one of which is hopping around on the lawn like a robin taking insects.
Approx. 30 chiffchaff, 6 willow warblers and a lesser whitethroat were between Stodday and the flood on Tuesday morning. The only bird of note on the marsh was a little egret.


Sunday, 12 August 2012


It is pretty normal to get a couple of warblers with tit flocks during August. The tables were turned today with a couple of tits joining a warbler flock at Stodday. Approximately 20 chiffchaff, 4 willow warblers and a lesser whitethroat were moving through the bushes.


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Grey Escape

What appeared to be a bar headed goose was floating below the pylons at high tide. Have any gone missing from Grange duck pool recently?
Phyll warbler passage seems to be increasing with 10 chiffchaff heard or seen between Stodday and the estuary gates. Some of these were in bushes which are not usually favoured by the breeding local warblers.


Saturday, 4 August 2012

Green Action......

07.30 – 09.00
Freeman’s Pool pair of Little Grebes, also one on Dater Pool and the swans with 2 signets. The Flood was the highlight this morning with 4 Green Sandpiper. 42 Curlew were in the fields. A Buzzard near walled meadow and the hedges busy with finches, tits and warblers Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Raven present. Little Egret on marsh.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Going for Gold

Three people with metal detectors were in the maize fields today. I lost an attachment to my tripod in this area a couple of years ago. I wonder if they found it? Met up with Steve and had a pleasant walk down the track.
Small passerines are more obvious in the bushes with chiffchaff, willow warbler, lesser and common whitethroat either heard or seen. The top track seems on form for warblers. Combined with Stodday, this is a good alternative to my favourite warbler spot on the patch which is still out of bounds. A reed bunting was carrying food at Darter pool and a juvenile robin was nearby.
Two green sandpipers and a snipe were feeding on wildfowlers. 3 little egrets were seen from the estuary gates and a female sparrowhawk was worrying the starlings and lapwings on the estuary.


Flood, saw first Teal of autumn, Pied Wagtails also present. A Buzzard around fields nearby.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

L'addition s'il vous plait

The spoonbill was on Gull Bank during mid-morning.
4 little egrets were on the marsh.
2 green sandpipers were at the flood.
A juvenile kestrel was sat on the sewerage works fence. 3 kestrels were in this area yesterday.
A decent sized flock of approximately 30 long tailed tits had a couple of chiffchaffs and a blackcap in their entourage at the sewerage works.
A common whitethroat and chiffchaff were seen carrying food.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

High Spoon.......

What joy, Spoonbill patch tick, maybe new record tick will check. The bird flew up from the mud just north of Gull Bank then headed down river to the Conder/Lune conduit where I scoped it again. Back on the patch a skittish Green Sandpiper was on the Flood along with a dozen or so Pied Wagtails with young, the adults still feeding them. Freeman's Pool saw Coot with young. In the fields I was pleased to see a few Rooks, a Buzzard overhead and on the marsh Greylag numbers increasing. 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Woods and floods....

08.30 - 10.30, rain 09.45. Things improving bird wise down the old parish the highlight today being 2 Wood Sandpiper on the Flood, all be it brief, they flew heading NW. Also double figures of Common Sandpiper on and around gull bank, a med gull also seen. A Kestrel was heard and a Whimbrel also. 2 Ravens were hanging about the Wildfowlers’ Pools and a Snipe was also showing well. Swifts, Swallows and House Martins present. A flock of 120 Starling. Lapwing and Black-headed Gull numbers increasing. 1 Little Egret on the marsh.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Birding Meds.........

Three med gulls were a welcome sight after a week of dullness, so dull in fact I had nothing to report! The birds were on gull bank with black headed and lesser black backed gulls. I couldn't hang about as doing WeBS. The swans on Frog Pond  had 2 cygnets.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Whimsical birds.....

Another fairly quiet saunter through the parish. Freeman’s Pools Coot and Little Grebe. On the track a pair of Kestrel were hunting, I stuck around and one dived and reappeared with an unfortunate vole in its talons. A Skylark or two was on the marsh and the excitement continued with two Whimbrel near gull bank. A flock of Long-tailed tits near the pylons, Lesser Whitethroat, Greenfinch, Wrens etc.


Tuesday, 10 July 2012


An adult linnet accompanied by a fledgling was the highlight of a quick visit this morning.
A snipe was heard and then seen this afternoon.


Saturday, 7 July 2012

Lap of the Gods

5 lapwing chicks were at the flooded area next to Darter pool. In previous years, I have seen lapwing chicks form creches in suitable areas on the maize fields especially at Bank Pool. I didn't have the opportunity to check Bank Pool today but another flooded area in the centre of the fields had a few adults in the vicinity so even more chicks may be present.
5 mallard chicks were on the flood, with about 20 black headed gulls including 5 juveniles. Adult swallows were feeding some juveniles at the maize fields. 3 singing willow warblers on the top track may be an indication that some return passage is in progress in between the downpours.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Horses for courses.....

Freeman’s Pool very quiet. On the track were Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Song Thrush and plenty of Blackbird. A Great spotted woodpecker near pylons. On the marsh 1 Little Egret, 5 Common Sandpiper, Goosander, Shelduck, Curlew, Grey Heron, LBB Gull, Herr Gull and a few BH Gull. Lapwing numbers have increased with a few hundred now present. A Buzzard and a Kestrel were hunting and being mobbed. Swallows and Swifts present and a few House Martins. 2 Skylarks also on the marsh. Horse Fly on good form and biting like mad!

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Taking Stock........

I usually see Stock doves flying off into the distance or in the middle of a field miles away. Today I got a great view of two on the Flood with a pair of Woodpigeons, very good looking bird. On the track were Lesser Whitethroat and fledged, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Wren, Blackbird, Dunnock. On the maize field were about 40 Lapwing. The recent heavy rain meant nothing much on the Wildfowlers’ Pool apart from 2 Oystercatchers. On the marsh were 5 Raven, one of which getting serious hassle from a Oystercatcher. Plenty of Swift, Swallow and House Martins around. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Eau no!

The flood is now at a level you would expect to see in November or December. A drowned sheep in the flooded field is a bit of a ghastly sight but a dead cow only 20 metres from the cycle track is going to be a stomach churner in a couple of days. Bird activity is at the expected mid-summer slump with only a few of the more common warblers evident.
Just to the east of the patch at Deep Cutting 4 juvenile shelduck were with 2 adults. Shelduck have been evident in the fields around the patch this year, with two being almost resident at the flood and a group of 6 near Trig Hill. Have they succeeded in breeding in the quieter corners? 2 ravens were also at Deep Cutting heading towards the pylons.


Monday, 18 June 2012

Owls well........

A Barn Owl was a great surprise at Freeman’s Pool (09.00ish), hunting along the bund and by the pools. Not much else to report, Little Grebe pair, Oystercatchers, Lapwing, a Kestrel flew over and a Raven. On the track a family of Lesser Whitethroat, other fledglings seen today were Goldfinch and Greenfinch. Also along track Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Up to 15 Blackbird. On the maize field were 25 Lapwing and a few Oystercatcher.  A Little Owl was seen at Admiralty Wood.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Happy Hour

The main feature during the last two days has been the presence of about 30 house martins on Thursday and a complete absence of these smart birds today.
3 redshank were on the Flood on Thursday. I don't get the opportunity to view these at close range in FSP very often. They are most definitely good lookers.
The local passerines seem to be in the middle of feeding young. Reed bunting and great tit were viewed carrying food, a family party of six wrens were close to the flood and a juvenile common whitethroat was with an adult. A singing willow warbler, sedge warbler and blackcaps suggest that some birds are still keen to find a mate. 2 lesser whitethroats were tekking away.
House sparrows are doing there annual round trip and are collecting insects around Darter pool and flying back to their breeding sites in the direction of Willow Lane. Three coot chicks are on this pool also.


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Tundras and Tytos

Dan here.

The pools have sufficiently muddy margins for the needs of nest-building house martins, but the only passage waders I found today were sticking to the open estuary.

A flock of sixteen ringed plovers were zipping around over the spring tide, and were perhaps of the tundrae form.

Freeman's Pools saw a sedge warbler having a narrow escape from a male sparrowhawk. The commotion upset a little-ringed plover and twelve roosting lapwings, but two gadwall were unperturbed.

A friend has been watching here in the evenings. Last night he watched a barn owl hunting its edges before it flew west and over the river.


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

ye gods!

Dan here.

Had a check for passage waders today, but I ended up stint-less and not getting wood.

However, a northbound flock of 7 black-tailed godwits was a small compensation. They scoped out Freeman's Pools but resisted its charms and headed on.

Swifts and house martins were in good supply, with around 45 and 15 respectively.

It's tempting to think that they're all foragers from nearby civilisation (and the Marsh estate), but two fly-through sand martins were evidence that some passage is still ongoing.


Monday, 28 May 2012

Quiet day......

Had a wander round starting at Freeman’s Pool, fly tipping been sorted, pools quiet, as was the rest of the patch. A few fledged Chaffinch, Dunnock seen. A LRP was at the Wildfowlers’ Pools. A couple of Shelduck on the Flood. On the river nothing much to report, yesterday about 450 gulls today a handful. A Kestrel was hunting by the pylons. Steve

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Dawn Chorus....

Got down the old parish at the crack of dawn and in some ways it was worth it. Didn’t see or hear anything unusual but the resident birds did provide a joyous chorus of sounds. The other noticeable life was a dodgy bloke on a bike and three yobs setting fires and a large tent (every weekend it seems) camped nearby Freeman’s Pool. There has been a tipper load of crap/electrical/building waste dumped near the pools, which I have reported in.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Back Passage?

Dan here.

Although it could be considered the back end of the passage period for hirundines, today's visit turned up more sand martins than any other day this spring.

To begin with, there were seven or eight as part of an impressive aerial assembly over Freeman's Pools which also comprised 15 house martins, 50 swallows and 60 swifts.

This gathering dispersed as the rain eased up just before noon, but at half past one I noticed a pronounced northward push of sand martins (45) and swallows (40) in ten minutes over Stodday picnic area.

At 2PM, 25+ of these migrating sand martins had found Freeman's Pools, where they were the only hirundine present, as a locally notable 18 house martins were feeding over the Wildfowler's Pools.

In aberrant pigmentation news, this more or less entirely sandy-pink starling was eclipsed by a lesser whitethroat with a mottled white mantle which proved harder to photograph.

I suspect the striking starling was recently fledged- this would explain why we haven't clocked it before- and there were several juveniles around today.

Other young seen included a family of dunnocks, some quite independent robins and two lots of long-tailed tits.

In contrast, the breeding season hadn't yet begun for two wheatears and a whimbrel which still have some way to go. Judging by the amount of racket it was making, the sedge warbler at the Western end of Freeman's Pools has yet to attract a mate.

In the non-breeder category, an immature male goldeneye (presumably the same as last month's) was seen, and two lame pink-footed geese are still on the river. I hoped these geese aren't too tormented by zugunruhe.

Eight eiders were on the estuary where the pylons cross.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Sedge Of Darkness

Dan here.

A brief evening visit today.

The common whitethroat count between Darter Pool and Stodday picnic area was eight, but no lessers were heard. Three song thrushes, two chiffchaffs, a reed bunting and a willow warbler were in song along the same stretch.

A male grey partridge was seen near the pylons.

As dusk approached two sedge warblers were singing near Freeman's Pools, where a late sand martin and ten swallows were feeding. Twelve swifts were over the wood.


Saturday, 12 May 2012

Still off passage

The wheatears were still in the newly prepared fields this morning.
One pair of lapwings were seen mating.
A kestrel was hunting at the bund.
Approx. 40 swifts at the cutting at the Flood with another three wheatears and a LRP.
The cutting at Low Paddock Wood was the spot for warblers today with approximately five chiffchaff, whitethroat and blackcap singing in this short stretch.


Friday, 11 May 2012

Cool for Chats

Dan here.

A few migrants around today, with a decent count of 23 wheatears, and a tag-along whinchat.

Numbers of off-passage martins and swifts were good but less easy to quantify.

Certainly up to thirty swallows, eighteen swifts and six sand martins were over Freeman's Pools but there was clearly some turnover (a changing mix and three or four house martins making a brief appearance).

At least ten swifts were also hawking over two little ringed plovers on the flood and up and down the cutting.  The pleasant chattering of swallows seemed to be everywhere at times. Thirty of the latter were at Stodday sewage works, aswell as three sand martins.

Although not too conspicuous in the stiff breeze, common whitethroat numbers appeared to be up, seeming to evidence a late but welcome main arrival.

A lone whimbrel was noted on the marsh.


Thursday, 10 May 2012

Rain, rain don't go away.

Suprisingly a quite pleasant walk round in the rain where the number of deer observed almost exceeded the number of people braving the conditions.
3 wheatears were on the flood with 2 lesser whitethroats, 2 sedge warblers, willow warbler, common whitethroat and blackcap all singing in this area.
A male pochard was on Freemans pools. I'm sure one passed by at this time last year also.
The lapwings are re-establishing territories on the maize fields. They generally get chicks off on the second, third or even fourth attempt- it's just painful watching all their hard work destroyed.
2 groups of approx. 10 swifts. all these birds were moving south.
2 house martins and approx 40 swallows at Freemans and wildfowlers.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Weather, predators and machines, not a recipe for success....

Interesting day, Sedge Warbler playing tricks on us all, went from Sedge, Reed, Sedge, Reed and finally Sedge Warbler. Starting bid for bins on eBay 50p! Ha ah. Other birds Whitethroats, Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff. On the Flood 3 Lrp. Freeman’s Pool, Goldeneye not present at lunchtime (was still there yesterday). The cultivation has begun of the stubble maize fields, a sad sight as Lapwing, Oystercatcher and Redshank nesting, and a pair of Grey Partridge flushed, difficult to assess damage. There has been a marked increase in corvids over the past few weeks, with up to 40 Jackdaws and half as many again of Crows, so who knows! More comments to follow I’m sure. We need a plan for next year, if the birds attempt to nest again. Last year seemed more successful, maybe the weather has contributed this year as well. Weather, predators and machines, not a recipe for success.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Trickle Over The Trig

Dan Here.

While Guy was birding at marsh level I was up on nearby Hawk Mountain for reasons unclear to myself.

Between 3 and 4 PM some northbound vis was to be had- 84 swallows, 11 swifts, 9 house martins and five sand martins to be precise.

Also some good views of local buzzards, sparrowhawks, peregrines and cattle.

This Freeman's Wood chiffchaff was a highly inquisitive individual.


Late goldeneye

A male goldeneye was on Freemans pools this afternoon
At least 4 LRP's were in the parish. Four were seen together on the Flood with another two seen 20 minutes earlier flying off wildfowlers and heading down the estuary.
4 house martins over the track.
3 wheatears feeding by bank pool with a coot and a chick also.
Low single figures of common warblers scattered around the patch.
2 whimbrel at the estuary gates.


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Warblers on track and others...Cuckoo too

Little Grebe on Freeman’s Pool plus Gadwall and Tufted Duck, a Comm Sandpiper on smaller pool. On track Com/Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Reed Bunting, 3 Siskin over. Flood 2 LRP.  Marsh Whimbrel  5, 2 showing very well, Little Egret 2. At the cutting a Grasshopper Warbler heard, Blackcap and Mistle Thrush, Greenfinch and Song Thrush. Ravens near pylon and Eiders on river.

And also a cuckoo mid afternoon. The bird was first heard from the top track calling from Aldcliffe village direction. It took a couple of minutes to see it when it was mobbed by a gull. It flew behind trig hill towards Willow Lane.


Thursday, 3 May 2012

Two on the marsh.........

Spent a few hours wandering about today. Freeman’s Pool was quiet, a couple of Gadwall and Tufted Duck. Track was as yesterday but with a Tree Sparrow showing well. On the marsh were 5 Whimbrel and a Wheatear along with 2 Little Egrets. On the river were half a dozen Eiders which were cooing. There were more House Martins today heading northwards. On the Flood were 4 LRP.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

FAUNA lives up to name

Dan here.

Spent the morning checking round the new FAUNA (Fairfield Association Urban Nature Area), a corner of the parish that I don't visit often enough.

This area has a good track record for attracting passage migrants, and today it held 4 wheatears, a female redstart, and my first tree pipit of the year. The pipit announced itself with a strident 'spizz' and briefly dropped into the tallest tree in the orchard area.

TP is a welcome addition to my all-time Fairfield list which, over the years, has included such goodies as wood warbler, a late autumn pied flycatcher and waxwing.

Migrants aside, the most encouraging sign that the FAUNA management is working was the presence of a male  lapwing throughout my visit.

One or two pairs of lapwings used to hold territory here up until about twelve years ago. This is the first one I've seen here in several springs, in what is now eminently suitable habitat.

In mammal news, three young fox cubs were a pretty sight.


Steve here,
Had a stroll about this afternoon starting at the orchard, a female Reed Bunting present and there is also a good colony of House Sparrows. Freeman’s Pool saw 2 Comm Sandpiper and a Green Sandpiper along with 2 LRP. On the marsh next to walled meadow was Whimbrel 2 and Wheatear 4. Many warblers singing, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Chiffchaff. A Stoat showed well all be it brief. The afternoon sun brought out a few butterflies Orange Tip including white females, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Early birds.........

Set off early, 06.00, first birds of interest were Swallows, steady stream heading north. On the track Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting. On the marsh near walled meadow Whimbrel showing well, up to 4, Wheatear up to 6 but no Whinchat today. Bumped into Dan who had walked down the river bank, he had 8 Redpoll and a Siskin overhead plus 2 Stock dove on stubble. Walked back to pylons and saw 8 Eider, Goosander with chicks, Raven heard. We got back to Freeman’s Pool and a bit of a shower produced 3 Swift over water, a Sand Martin, Swallow and House Martin. Common Sandpiper on river near old factory 

Monday, 30 April 2012

Whin-Whin Situation

Dan here. Hello.

April finally came to Aldcliffe today, with warm weather and a surge in migrant numbers. Plenty of smart common summer/passage stuff and, (I felt) a chance of a scarcity. I couldn't help but have fun.

Migrant highlights-- year ticks for the patch are in bold:

2 whinchats, 22 wheatears, a grasshopper warbler, a garden warbler, a sedge warbler, a common sandpiper, five whimbrels, around 20 swifts, fifteen house martins on the move, and a good easterly passage of swallows (c80 per hour).

Eight lesser whitethroats and 4 commons wasn't terribly impressive for the end of April but a good influx of willow warblers was, with around 70 birds noted. I also felt that blackcap numbers were raised somewhat, with 16 singers noted.

5+2+1 siskins headed over, NE, mid-afternoon.

In the outstanding bravery category of this blog, I helped an adult male mute swan that had somehow lodged itself in brambles between parallel barbed wired fences about a metre apart.

I climbed in behind it, seized it by the neck just below the hissing head and tried to lift its body with the other arm.

After some wrestling I returned it to safety. What a guy.

Some butterflies were out and about, with around fifteen orange tips, twenty small tortoiseshells and the first few speckled woods noted.


Sunday, 29 April 2012


Freeman’s Pool same as yesterday, with up to 30 Swallow and a few House Martin hunting along the south edge of the wood, and keeping sheltered from the cold north easterly wind. On Frog Pond were a couple of Tufted Duck. On the track Goldfinch, Linnet, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Great/Blue/Long-tailed Tits and 1 Common Whitethroat, 3 Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap, another 3 Lesser Whitethroat heard along the track to picnic site. On the Flood 2 LRP a Shelduck, 5 Pied Wagtails and approx 15 Meadow Pipits. On the marsh just passed walled meadow a Whimbrel showed well before flying onto the edge of the river bank, possibly 2. 2 Little Egret also present, on the river Goosander with 6 young. 

Freeman’s Wood – TPO upheld at Appeal Hearing...
Some good news re Freeman's Wood click Friends of Freeman's Wood link to read.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Good numbers....

Was hoping for a swift but none to be had, a few Swallows bombing about. Freeman’s Pool very quiet with only a couple of Tufted Duck and Gadwall present. Track had a number of Linnets, up to half a dozen maybe, they were going back and forth which made a count difficult. A local Buzzard over trig point hill. " LRP on the Flood and a few Pied Wagtail. Common Whitethroat 1, Lesser Whitethroat at least 5, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler numerous, It might be just me but there does seem to be more Willow Warblers this spring. Blackcap, a pair near railway cutting. On the river 8 Eiders made good viewing as they came in very close. Ravens near pylons.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A Barn Bought The Farm

Dan here.

The cold and blustery north-easterlies made conditions a little difficult both for birds and locating them this morning.

However, a flock of thirteen wheatears was the best showing for this species so far this year, and three lesser and one common whitethroat were noted.

One of the male blackcaps was seen excitedly courting a female- the first hen I've seen here this year and perhaps a recent arrival.

A bit of finch passage seemed to be on, with 2+2 siskins and 2 lesser redpolls observed as they laboured low into the wind. Around fifteen swallows and two house martins were hunting over Freeman's Pools at noon.

The windswept estuary at Marsh Point had a lone black-tailed godwit in breeding plumage, and the goosander with six young was seen swimming beneath the pylons.

Bird of the day would have been the barn owl near Freeman's Wood.... had it not been profoundly dead. I checked the gory corpse's legs for rings but there were none.

Yours Morbidly,

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Pump up the volume.......

Freeman’s Pools were quiet. On the track by the gates a Common Whitethroat was seen, and singing at a good volume. Also on the track Greenfinch, Backcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Dunnock and a pair of Linnet. In the stubble were 2 Grey Partridge. Wildfowlers’ Pool saw 3 Gadwall, 3 Redshank and a pair of Oystercatcher. The top track saw Lesser Whitethroat, Wrens and Robins. Dog walker on salt marsh left nothing for me. At railway cutting another Lesser Whitethroat, and on the way back one heard near the walled meadow. 4 Song Thrush and a Mistle Thrush at riding school meadow. Peregrine at the pylon, Ravens heard, Buzzard usual spot. 4 Linnets near the picnic site, and Willow Warblers and Chiffchaff. 

Monday, 23 April 2012

Flighty White

Dan here.

Another few hours down the patch but little to show for it.

I finally came across the first common whitethroat of the year-- but a rather shy one. It uttered a half-hearted squiggle from cover and then was seen flitting away along a hedge. Hope to see many more of these and lessers in the coming weeks.

Unexpectedly, a  bit of mid-afternoon passerine vis. was to be had.

I sat for an hour to scan and listen out for in for whimbrels (no luck) and while waiting 42 meadow pipits (twos and threes), 4 sand martins, 6 swallows, 10 linnets and a few stealth siskins passed over, heading north.

There seemed to be little of interest on the estuary save for the surprise of a duck goosander with six young at Stodday. I wonder where they had nested?


Saturday, 21 April 2012

Uncommon Murre.......

The quiet spring down Aldcliffe continues, persistence 24/7 looks to be the way forward! Today’s highlights, Freeman’s Pools more or less empty probably due to three tents! Track Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Linnet 3 and a one or two flying over. A Mistle Thrush was good to see. The marsh was also quiet mainly because of dog walkers. Another issue for us Parish birding residents to contend with, the council are trying to introduce a dogs on leads policy, the once municipal track has now been renamed a cycle track, the obvious outcome is more dog walkers blazing trails across the salt marsh and speeding groups of cyclists, 3 lots 15 or so bikes today in ten minutes and none slowed down! Tell you what think I might just stick to Skerton Weir!
All was not doom and gloom, at the picnic site I had just finished scooping half a dozen or so Eiders when Dan turned up with an entourage of enthusiastic birders which livened the place up. Immediately followed by a Guillemot spotted by Dan speeding up river with the tide. A Raven was also seen. A Meadow Pipit landed on a fence post. Plenty of Swallows passing through today, and Dan reported 2 male Wheatears and 4 Sand Martins.
Local Buzzard was on the usual fence post. 2 Red-breasted mergansers also seen on river, and a Goosander flew over. A kestrel was seen hunting by the pylon.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Friday morning

A pleasant walk round this morning with Steve was fairly quiet.

2 lrp's were on the flood at the start of the walk. These were both at Freemans pools later.
2 reed buntings were in the same area. No more passerines were present on the Flood.
3 redshanks on Wildfowlers with a blackcap close by singing.
4 singing willow warblers scattered round the parish.
A pair of gadwall, 8 shelduck and a few tufties were at Freemans pools.
3 linnets were at the bottom of the stubble fields.
A visiting birder tipped us off about 4 eiders which had drifted up on the incoming time.


Thursday, 19 April 2012


Dan here.

For over a month now 'the flood' has been a holding bay for pied wagtails-- up to twenty-five (mostly males) on a daily basis.
Why there have been more here this spring than in others I don't know, or why they aren't off holding territory somewhere..but their presence has left me wishing for a few of their continental cousins.

There finally was a white wagtail this evening. These occur in small numbers most Aprils, possibly en route to Scandinavia or Iceland.

Other than this minor migrant interest (not even half a tick!), this was another very chilly early evening trawl with little to excite. Forty-five meadow pipits were picking over a damp field. Just two swallows tonight.

Indeed, by the end of the third week of April, the first common and lesser whitethroats are usually gracing Aldcliffe, and a couple more summer ticks have been had to boot.

P.S.- just after I left the scene in disgust, a barn owl was seen hunting along the western edge of Freeman's Pools-- as per N. Robinson, posting on the LDBWS site.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Silent Spring

Dan here.

Bluebells are blooming along Freeman's fringes, but bird-wise Spring seemed to be on hold today.

Stiff southwesterlies were chilling the parish this early evening. Very little was singing or calling and there was scarcely a sign of new arrival.

Some hirundines were scouring Freeman's Pools;  up to 12 swallows, another early-ish house martin and a single sand martin.


I had a bit more luck in the morning with 5 wheatears on the flood and about 5 willow warblers singing in the same area.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sunday Shoveler........

Sunny with a very cold breeze. Freeman’s Pool Shelduck 13, Tufted Duck 4, Little Grebe 1, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Coot, Teal 6 and a couple of Swallow. Wildfowlers’ Pool saw Shoveler drake, Redshank and 1 LRP. A Willow Warbler was in the hedge and a Chiffchaff. Grey Partridge 2 in the field. Flood saw 2 LRP. Little Egret flew over. On the marsh, very busy with dogs, saw 1 Wheatear.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Whea Three

Dan here.

I spent two hours on my migration watchpoint up Trespass Hill early afternoon. I faced South and hoped an OP would poke through the curtain of rain and parachutists that was all along the North Fylde, but it didn't.

Some vestiges of passerine vis were to be had however, with around twenty meadow pipits, a lesser redpoll and a few linnets moving into the fresh NE breeze.

Seventeen swallows pushed through also, along with an early house martin. I was a little surprised that sand martins weren't at all in evidence, this species having been the key one on my vigils here this time last year.

Eerily similar to last year was 3 Oenanthe oenanthe dropping out of a heavy sky into the same hilltop willow that will now forever be known as the wheatear tree (c.f. my blog 08/04/11 ). A local crow objected to their existence and they flitted low to the W.

I quit the hillock and had a walk round at marsh level like normal people, where a few willow warblers were to be found (silenced by the cold, nagging wind) and around 30 mipits were feeding in the lea of the Aldcliffe Marsh bund.

This is where I bumped into those three male wheatears once more, and also Guy and Ola. The chats were as pleasant and approachable as the McClellands and I got a few decent shots.

Another wheatear, a female, was aloof from this party 200m up the saltmarsh.

Also seen were a grey partridge, three little ringed plovers, and c12 swallows looking for sustenance over Freeman's Pools.


Saturday, 7 April 2012

A Pandi-On Passage

Dan here.

I caved in to peer pressure today and trekked up to my old Aldcliffe vantage point to look for migrating ospreys.

Got lucky and after three and a half hours of scanning one put in an appearance over the Scotforth area.

In any future osprey finding efforts I think I'll give my eyes a rest and just listen out-- it's usually a particular call from the local lesser black-backs that gives them away and so it was today; a few deep and doleful notes that larids seem to reserve for larger raptors.

Unlike a lot of spring ospreys this one was moving quite slowly in wheeling flight, at about 125 metres off the ground and in no particular hurry as it brushed the Eastern fringes of Aldcliffe International Airspace and carried on North over the town centre.

Seemed to me be to rather a large and heavily-built individual and some of my exquisite shots (enjoy!) seem to bear this out.

The only other vis mig noted was 11 swallows, 2 sand martins and 4 meadow pipits. A blackcap was heard in Freeman's Wood.


Friday, 6 April 2012

One flew over..........

Freeman’s Pool as it was yesterday more or less. A Kestrel was hunting along the tree line. The Flood had a few Meadow Pipits today approx 25 and more flying over, 2 LRP. A Swallow was seen over marsh. A local Buzzard was cruising about. At the pylons 2 Peregrine were attempting to sort out the Ravens and then one changed its mind and flew off chasing Meadow Pipits. Eiders still on the river. Got a phone call from Dan who kindly told me an Osprey was about to flyover, unfortunately I was in railway cutting at the time, not at all the best place for a view of the sky! Needless to say I missed it, just got to keep putting the hours in. 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Early Birds....

09.30 – 12.30 incoming, high tide.
Highlight today were 2 Swallow flying north over marsh close in. Think it’s the first time I have seen swallow before sand martin! Freeman’s Pool was busy with Shelduck 18, LRP 2, Gadwall, Tufted, Coot, Herr Gull 2, Oystercatcher 2 (35 on tip), Lapwing pair. Chiffchaffs calling from wood x 2. Ravens 2 think they were same pair at the pylons later. The Flood was quiet today with only 1 Meadow pipit and 2 LRP. Also, Song Thrush and a Pied Wagtail with a few Meadow Pipits heading north.
On the river next to pylons were Eider Duck 2xm/f. A Goosander(f) was on the bank and 35 Curlew. At the picnic site kept my eyes to the skies in hope, got two separate high Buzzards brought to my attention by Herring Gulls, 1 medium phased adult. A Peregrine was causing havoc and a Kestrel hovering nearby. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Quick 45min cycle through. Freeman’s Pool LRP 2,Gadwall 8, Goldeneye 2f, Herr Gull 2 on island there yesterday also. Tufted Duck 8, Shelduck 6, Coot and Moorhen. Track was quiet and only spent a few mins at Wildfowlers’ saw Redshanks and a few Teal of note. The Flood was impressive with somewhere between 90 – 120 Meadow Pipits, LRP 4 and a dozen Pied Wagtails m/f. Dog walker on marsh. On river Red-breasted Merganser 4. Raven 2 at pylons, 2 Jays and Sparrowhawk. Also of note Buzzards 2,1,1 high heading NNW. 

Monday, 2 April 2012

Cool Monday........

Mid morning jaunt starting at the pools, LRP 2, Shleduck 6, Tufted Duck 4, Gadwall 2, Grey Heron 1, Coot and Goldeneye 1. At Marsh Point 2 Red-breasted Mergansers m/f looked stunning, Oystercatcher 60, LBB Gull 8 Herr Gull 5. A Kestrel was hunting along the bund. A lonely Buzzard was soaring near trig point hill. The Flood was busy with up to 30 Meadow Pipits, 2 Reed Bunting, Shelduck 2, Pied Wagtail up to 12 or more and 2 LRP. At the cutting another Kestrel, a Pergergrine blasted through and 2 Ravens were hanging around the pylons. Finishing off with 2 Wheatear on the marsh near the walled meadow.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

In off the red

2 red legged partridges and 2 grey partridges were within 50 meters of each other today at Snuff Mill Lane, in the south east of the patch.

Thursday, 29 March 2012


09.00 - 11.00am
Highlight for me today were seven Little –ringed Plover on the flood, and a few Meadow Pipits and Pied Wags. The Wildfowlers’ Pool saw a Green Sandpiper, Redshank, teal and a few Lapwing. 5 Little Egrets were seen on the patch. A dog walker and 2 spaniels have taken to walking over the marsh in a morning, so not much on there while he’s about! Chiffchaffs, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Blackbird and Great/Blue/Long-tailed Tits all present etc. Kestrel near Freeman’s Pool, and a Peregrine on the pylons, Skylark, and Raven.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Suits Smew, Sir

I had some weird dreams last night which involved rose coloured starlings, great grey shrike and redstarts so I decided to head down to the patch with my gal to see if any rarities were around. The pick of the bunch was the smew, which was on Freemans Pools with a green sandpiper.

Great photo Dan.


Monday, 26 March 2012

Blue Sky........

Clear sky today, apart from aeroplane pollution. Freeman’s Pool was quieter, highlight 2 Little Grebe and a few Teal, Mallard and only 4 Coot. Dater Pool also had 2 Little Grebe. Chiffchaff heard in wood, and approx 7 through to sewage works entrance. On Wildfowlers’ Pool was 1 Green Sandpiper, a handful of Redshank and Teal. The Flood was busy with up to 25 Meadow Pipits, 2 Reed Bunting and 2 Pied Wagtails. A Black-tailed Godwit was on the river looking very smart in summer plumage. A local Buzzard was on fence post and two more quite high circling headed over towards Morecambe bay. Raven, Crow and Jackdaw present, as well as plenty of Woodpigeon. 

Saturday, 24 March 2012

A thorn in the side........

The female Smew was on one of the smaller pools today along with a Little Egret, on Freeman’s large pool were Tufted Duck, Shelduck, Goldeneye, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Lapwing and BH Gulls. Chiffchaff in woods, at least two heard. Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch along track. Wildfowlers’ Pool saw Green Sandpiper 2, Redshank and Teal. The Flood had 2 LRP, Reed Buntings 6, Meadow Pipits and approx 12 Pied Wagtail. A Buzzard was causing quite a stir. Was hoping for a Wheatear but got a puncture instead, so a long walk back, went up through the village and saw 2 Nuthatch.