Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Hello. Dan here.
A green sandpiper was found on the patch by that nice young man Guy today. This species has been absent (or at least very elusive) this winter.

Otherwise, it was geese all the way, with around 700 pink-footed on the saltmarshes and eleven Eurasian white-fronted sprinkled in.


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Secret Seven

Dan here.

Over three hundred pink-footed geese were feeding on Aldcliffe Marsh today.

As I scanned through the PGs, heads of Eurasian white-fronted geese would occasionally pop up from a shallow dyke in the centre of the saltings.

After an hour of playing peek-a-boo I ascertained that there were seven in all.


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Out for the count......

10 ish to 12ish
Freeman’s Pool
Wigeon 6, Lapwing 25, Gadwall 6, Teal 25, Goldeneye 4, Tufted Duck 9, BH Gull 78 (numbers building here) Oystercatcher 3, Mallard 9, Coot 6, Mute Swan 2.
Marsh Point
Oystercatcher 147, BH Gull 88, LBB Gull 14, Comm Gull 2, Herr Gull 11
Maize Fields
Fieldfare 2, Woodpigeon 23, Pheasant 2, Moorhen 4, Oystercatcher 2, Lapwing 10 looked to be displaying on territory.
Blackbird 9, Robin 2, Dunnock 4, Chaffinch 4, Long-tailed Tit 3, Song Thrush 1, Goldfinch 8.
Frog Pond
Gadwall 2, Wigeon 6.
Wildfowlers’ Pool
Teal 15, Oystercatcher 2, Curlew 2, Little Egret 1, Shelduck 2, Coot 5, Moorhen 13, Mallard 8.
Aldcliffe Marsh
Pink footed Geese 220, Erasian White fronts 4, Mute Swan 28, Little Egret 1
Gull Bank
Dunlin 200, Lapwing 650, Curlew 26
Crow 37, Magpie 11, Raven 2.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

You've been warned.......

Freeman’s Wood received a final touch, confusing signs, confusing because I thought they were the flippin trespassers not us! An unusual warm spell today, apparently above twice the norm, funny that! High tide pushed many birds inland. Freeman’s Pool saw Goldeneye, Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Coot, Little Egret, Little Grebe and Grey Heron.
At Marsh Point were approx 500 Oystercatcher. The track was quite busy with Greenfinch and Chaffinch. In the fields the Pink footed Geese were still present along with 2 Eurasian White fronts. The Wildfowlers’ Pool had Teal and Little Egret. By the walled meadow riverside, were 2 Rock Pipits, probably more but not enough time today. At the sewage works Little Egret, in the pylons Ravens busy nesting.  

The recent incident with the thugs shooting on the marsh gets quite a mention in the Lancaster Guardian today. Anyone seeing any illegal hunting, shooting, hare coursing, deer hunting please ring 999 straight away. If you see cars and motorbikes on the cycle track get number plates and report them. As the wood is now closed off I saw three scramblers actually on the marsh a few weeks ago!


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Stunning Redhead.......

Wandered down the Parish late morning, peered into the woods at various points, Linnets, Chaffinch singing, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tits etc. Freeman’s Pool was busy up to 12 Goldeneye and similar number of Teal, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Tufted Ducks, Coot, Shelduck and large group of BH Gulls, Lapwings. Across on the tip were 140 Oystercatcher and 70 Lapwing.
Highlight was on the Wildfowlers’ Pool where initially it looked like the usual suspects when suddenly as I was about to leave a Smew popped up and then gave excellent views as it dived and moved up and down the narrow stretch of water. Dan came down for a look, great bird, reckon it was probably the one regularly seen  from Glasson. Little Egret flew in as Skylarks flew overhead. In the fields were about 200 Pink-footed Geese and 2 White fronted Geese.  
Near the walled meadow 2 Grey Partridge showed well. At the sewage works saw Pied Wagtails, Teal, Shelduck.  2 Ravens were eyeing up the pylon nests. A Kestrel was hovering nearby.

                                 Dan's Pic

They paved paradise........

Just like the Enclosure Acts Freeman’ Wood is now of value, put a fence around something and suddenly its of economic worth! Like in the Grapes of Wrath when the Joad family heading west cant find a place to camp, all the unusable land has at last found a use, profit, campsites, and some money grabbing opportunist charges a fortune! No choice, course you have a choice! Nothing new you would be right to think. Nothing new in that, nothing new in economic depressions right! And what better time to rush through development plans than when times are tough, after all its good for jobs, good for the economy, good for profit, good for the local community, all them old chestnuts we lap up.
Talking about campsites Freeman’s Wood is not alone, further down river the new caravan park development near Ashton Hall has almost been given the green light, its called agricultural diversification! Up at Bailrigg they have had plans to build on Greenbelt for years and now those plans have had a dusting off and are back in full swing. Then those pesky Jet Skiers who rampage up and down the river bulldozing all in their path, and for what! What does the Duchy of Lancaster have to say, nowt, they couldn’t give a damn, what about Tory MP David Morris, watch this space. The rowing club at Skerton Weir has plans to expand, more boats, more money less everything else.
You might reckon green is good then again you might question all this green policy crap, you might question the reality and meaning of a tourist landscape, you might think habitat corridors are the answer then again you might question what exactly does caring capitalism mean, you might have even already considered what exactly “Fairtrade” means, and who and what does fair mean, “fair” a word at the moment that’s being misused all over the gaff!
Time to dig out my copy of Germinal and put the bird books down for a bit, time to consider that there was once a fence here before! Time to broaden my horizons and seek inspiration from events further a field and consider why are we always lagging behind, protesting after the events, why are we never on top of our game, should we leave the protection of the environment in the hands of self interested politicians, reformists, charities? Guess not! Though it does make life easier! Should I really collude with the conformist masses who it seems only have at heart the interests of maintaining the economic wealth of a rich owning class, the very same masses who sigh with relief knowing that M&S profits have risen the first quarter! Call me naïve, call me bolshie, call me what the hell you like but facts is facts, no point in crying over spilt milk, take it on the chin, nope gonna go find me a Tawny Owl!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Antique roadshow

A bit of antique flytipping had occurred down near Freemans pools. Two cardboard boxes had been discarded which must date back to the 1960's. To show how old the boxes were, one box was originally for an electric heater with a price of 6/14/0 and the other was a box originally for a twin tub made by a company called English Electrics. Another document, showing the age of the tipped rubbish, was a receipt from the Lancaster and District Co-op society for fixing a kettle. I have a feeling that the person named
 on the receipt shuffled off  this mortal coil a long time ago and can't be held responsible. I'm sure if the boxes were put on e-bay the flytippers would have had a taker and saved themselves the trouble of dumping them at Freemans Pools.

As for that fence, my dad would be proud of it (McClelland family in joke).

All the action was round Freemans pools with 7 species of duck in the area and a euro white throat with the pinkies at Heron Pool. 3 dunlin were on the flood.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Leuc The Drifter

Highlights this morning included six bullfinches and two goldcrests glimpsed through the wholly unwelcome fence around Freeman's Wood. A drumming woodpecker was heard further in.

On the nearby SPA around 500 pink-footed geese and one Eurasian white-fronted goose were using Aldcliffe Marsh. One of the pink-feet was a striking leucistic individual (tonally very similar to a juvenile glauc) which has recently been observed feeding near Cockerham.

A peregrine was agitating around a thousand lapwings and a raven was seen collecting sticks.


Averting Freemageddon

DH here.

For those of you who don't know, the irreplaceable Freeman's Wood is in real peril. It has now been almost entirely fenced off by its new-ish owners, who are based in Hong Kong.

Just a few more yards of metal fence and access for birders, walkers, and other fans of this smart habitat will be impossible. More importantly the habitat itself is under serious threat.

To find out more about the fate of the wood, and how to help avert it, come along to this Sunday's meeting at the Marsh community centre on Willow Lane. 6PM. See you there?

In the meantime--the recent tree preservation order placed on the wood has been challenged by the owners. Please send an email to the council via saying that you welcome and support the preservation order.

Dan Haywood.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

 Above: some wild pinks, panicked by gunfire. Below: two feral snow geese, unperturbed.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Where's Yer Bean?

Dan here.

Geese was the word today, with a whopping six species on Aldcliffe Marsh this afternoon.

Best bird was a grand tundra bean goose, which stood out a mile when with just six pink-footed geese on Heaton Marsh, but was a little trickier to pick out when it joined 2,200 pink-footed geese on the East side of the river!

The bean goose wasn't a large one but had an impressive length of bill. A noble and handsome beast-- more of these please.

Seven Eurasian white-fronted geese were also associating with the hordes of pinks. One of the 2,200 was a collared individual but it was rather too distant to be read.