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.