Monday, 7 January 2013

Super Whoopers & Half Snipes

Whooper swans at Conder Pools
After making the lofty proclamation in my last post about how I don't really care about year listing I have found myself mentally noting every new species I spot to my supposedly non-existent year list. Looks like I do keep a year list of sorts after all.
OK, I don't have a clue what my best ever year was, or even how many species I see in an average year but I suppose I'm guilty of being fully aware of the birds that are new in any one year. I came to realise this grim reality when I caught myself actually thinking 'year tick' when I came across a couple of whooper swans on Conder Pools on Saturday.

Having been out of the country for just over 3 years, I expect that my excitement is based less on the fact that these majestic northern swans were first for the year as simply the first I'd seen in ages. I took the rubbish pic here using my little point-and-shoot camera.

The Conder estuary
I'd picked up a new bike the previous day and decided to cycle along the track from Freeman's Pools to Glasson, stopping occasionally to see what was lurking around the Lune estuary and adjacent fields. The day was lovely and sunny and bright, and despite the volume of traffic on the cycle path it was an enjoyable ride. 
To be honest, I didn't really see that much but it was great to get back out on the cycle track and refamiliarise myself with the route.
Highlights included a significant increase in wildfowl in the Aldcliffe area. The pink-footed goose flock had grown substantially and now numbered around 600 birds.
Mallard and teal were particularly numerous on both the Wildfowlers' Pools and Freeman's Pools. The latter site also hosted 14 gadwall and after my observations that little grebe had disappeared from the area, at least 2 were back on the pools. Another little grebe was on the Wildfowlers' Pools.
The stock dove duo were once again in the stubble fields at Aldcliffe and I had a grey wagtail at Stodday Sewage works.

Freeman's Pools from the eastern viewpoint
On Sunday Jenny and I did our regular Aldcliffe walk, but once again it was relatively quiet bird-wise. The most notable thing was that the tufted duck flock at Freeman's Pools had swollen to an impressive 34 birds.
Of course, when I say 'quiet' I really mean that there was nothing out of the ordinary - the 'ordinary' being 100s of golden plover, lapwing and curlew, numerous little egrets and grey herons, cormorants, Eurasian wigeon, fieldfare, raven, etc. Some may consider that far from quiet...

This morning (Monday) Jen and I found ourselves at Jubilee Towers and despite the drizzle we heard the distinctive calls of red grouse almost as soon as we stepped from the car. We clambered up the worn stone steps to the top of the tower and were soon rewarded with the sight of 4 grouse in the near distance. Another, dare I say it... year tick! In fact I'd added another, somewhat less satisfactory 'new' bird 20 minutes earlier when 3 red-legged partridge launched a failed suicide attempt in front of the car.

I finally got around to repairing the tear in my wellies yesterday. I've been squelching half-heartedly along the marsh just lately, so I really needed to get these sorted in order to properly get stuck into finding some jack snipe. 
Within a few minutes of trampling around Snipe Bog (location no. 10 on the Aldcliffe map) I flushed 5 common snipe and 2 dinky little jack snipe. I moved along to another similar area nearer The Channel and flushed another jack snipe - this one let out that soft 'grunt' call that they occasionally do.
So, all in all something of a success; 3 jack snipe and warm, dry feet!



Pete Woodruff said...

Whilst you've been 'out of the country' I've walked this Lancaster - Glasson Dock several times Jon. The Lapwing numbers - for example - along the whole route down the Lune to the dock is truly staggering at times.

Are you going to always be able to post at this length and so comprehensively Jon....I'm impressed.

news said...

Congrats Jon on a succesfull walk.JWB.

Jon Carter said...

Thanks for your comments Pete and John.
It really has been great rooting around back on my old patch!
I'm not sure what the current lapwing WeBS figures are for the Lune, but they used to number a pretty staggering 5,000 when I was counting that Aldcliffe - Conder stretch.
I look forward to seeing you both soon, presumably at Conder?

Stefanie Carter said...

Great stuff! Wish the Jack Snipe had made an appearance when we looked for them.....