|Whooper swans at Conder Pools|
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|
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|
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!