|Aldcliffe Marsh; looking north from The Creek|
Everything seemed in order; the usual wildfowl on the various pools, bullfinches and winter thrushes in the hedgerows and a couple of peckish sparrowhawks patrolling for Christmas dinner.
The undoubted highlight was the flock of skylarks in the stubble fields - at least 40 birds rising from the muddy maize stumps from time to time, easily the largest number I've seen in the Aldcliffe area for many years. I reckon I'd have to check my notebooks from a couple of decades ago to see if I've ever seen that many here!
The other notable thing was the sight of a pair of whooper swans flying down river. They dropped onto Aldcliffe Marsh briefly but obviously thought that the grazing mute swans weren't quite up to their standard and took off again.
Earlier today (Saturday 28th), I got wrapped up and headed out once more, hoping that yesterday's stormy conditions might have thrown something our way... after all, similar conditions have brought common scoters, little gulls, kittiwakes and such in the past.
Alas, it wasn't to be and I couldn't find anything windblown of note. The skylark mob was still working the maize fields and the usual gadwalls, tufted ducks, goldeneyes, little grebes et al were all present and correct on Freeman's Pools. Several little egrets were lurking in various boggy corners, and just a single snipe was at Snipe Bog - no doubt more were there before the one-man-and-his-dog had splashed through the area just before I arrived.
In a wet field adjacent to the cycle track I was surprised to find a feeding flock of some 48 meadow pipits. Meanwhile out on the marsh, I spotted at least 3 rock pipits but the low tide prevented me from being able to really scrutinize any.
If you're heading down Aldcliffe in the next day or so, be aware that a section of the cycle track is currently flooded, as per usual near Reedy Corner, so take the upper cinder path to bypass it unless you've got wellies.