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