Sunday, 20 January 2013

Bean Counting

Bean goose
Saturday saw a huge increase in the number of geese in the Aldcliffe area. All the birds were grazing in the fields to the east of the cycle path and most of them were relatively easy to scan through. I estimated there to be around 3,500 pink-footed geese, c600 greylags and the 60 or so 'resident' Canada geese.
I scanned through the pinkfeet in search of ringed birds, plus any other species.
I only found one collared goose (LCT) - it'll be interesting to see where else this bird has been seen.
Searching through a mass of feeding pinkfeet my eyes were dazzled by a pair of bright orange legs, and within seconds the distinctive head of a bean goose loomed into view.

Bean goose
Barely annual in North Lancashire, bean geese are always a treat to find in the Aldcliffe area.
Of course, the worst thing about finding a bean goose is having to figure which bloody type it is; fabalis (taiga) or rossicus (tundra).
The latter is the most likely in our area, but both can occur.
This particular bird didn't strike me immediately as any one in particular, but now that I've had chance to look at the cruddy pics I got I'm definitely leaning toward rossicus.
Anyhoo, here are those same cruddy dodgi-scoped shots so please feel free to weigh in with any comments.
Incidentally, I had a look on Sunday afternoon and all the pinkfeet had cleared out.

Common snipe
The other minor highlights from Saturday included 6 dunlin on the Flood (22 there on Sunday) plus fields filled with lapwing, curlew and golden plovers. Snipe were present at the Wildfowlers' Pools, Flood (pictured), Darter Pool and Freeman's Pools.
I returned to the area later in the day where the barn owl once again made an appearance right on cue.


The Week In Review

On Tuesday I had a quick cycle around the main Aldcliffe locations to see what things were doing in the sub-zero frosty, sunny parish. Well, it was going to be a quick cycle until I got a puncture at Stodday which of course resulted in a leisurely stroll back along the path to Freeman's Wood and Pools.

Snowy Lake District mountains loom over Aldcliffe Marsh
The fields were attracting good numbers of black-headed and a few common gulls plus lots of waders including impressive numbers of lapwing and golden plover. Mixed in were curlew, redshank, dunlin and even 5 knot - not a bird I expect to see in the Aldcliffe area all that often, never mind feeding in fields.
A small flock of 8 twite were near the walled meadow but they were very flighty and unfortunately I couldn't see if any were colour-ringed.
Otherwise, it was pretty much business as usual with the expected wildfowl species, egrets, common buzzard, sparrowhawk and what-not. There were 5 common snipe roosting at the Wildfowlers' Pools.

In the late afternoon I returned to the Pools in search of the barn owl and once again it appeared just before 5pm. I went again on Wednesday (trying to figure out roughly where its roost might be) and I got great point-blank views, but better still picked up a woodcock - it flew in from Freeman's Wood over the pools and across the river, presumably to feed on the defunct tip.


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