Monday, 14 January 2013

Barn Stormin'

Freeman's Pools at dusk
I've been determined to go down to Freeman's Pools on a reasonably fine late afternoon with the hope of seeing what, if any, owls might be hunting around the area.
I've heard from several dog walkers that barn owls have been showing fairly regularly and after that brilliant spell back in early 2009 when we had barns, short-eared and long-eared owls all present it was definitely got to be worth a good look.
I also wanted to see if any woodcock were flying in from Freeman's Wood to feed at the pools, as they often have in winters past.
As it happens, I got down there a little too early for owl-action and so happily checked the Wildfowlers' Pools, the Flood and everything in between.

The Aldcliffe drumlins viewed from the Flood
There were still quite a few pinkfeet up on the drumlins, but they were feeding low in the field and many were obscured by the hedges, so an accurate count wasn't possible.
Other wildfowl in and around the Aldcliffe area included the usual mute swans, shelduck, mallard and teal plus good numbers of coot and the large numbers of moorhen.
I have noticed that the number of adults to 1st year moorhens suggests that 2012 was a very productive breeding season. I don't know what numbers are like at Leighton Moss and elsewhere, but there are at least 50 moorhens on the Aldcliffe patch at the moment.

Moorhens, moorhens everywhere...
I had the good fortune to bump into Ray Hobbs at the parking area, who was in search of snipe for his year-list. We had a good natter, but after a while I had to scarper as the light was starting to fade and I had owls on my mind.
I headed up along the track to Marsh Point and started scanning over the western edge of Freeman's Pools - traditionally good owl habitat.
Within a few minutes a barn owl dutifully appeared as it hunted over the rough ground, giving pretty decent if somewhat distant views. I continued to check around the pools for signs of any other species but I couldn't locate any other owls, and I also dipped on woodcock.
A merlin dashed through in the fading light, chasing a lapwing which managed to escape its speedy pursuer. 



Sam said...

John, got to this post from the Lancaster birding site, and thought that you might be interested to know that I also saw a barn owl, possibly the same bird, at around 17.10 on the other side of the river between the river and the tip. I followed it along the cycle path for a few minutes. this is a fairly regular occurrence on my cycle home from work.



Jon Carter said...

Cheers Sam, good to know that it's a regular bird (again, assuming it's the same one).
I saw it again this afternoon just before 5pm, it was hunting along the river bank by Freeman's Pools.