Saturday, 2 February 2013

Lack of Little Larids

Earlier in the week Jenny and I had to go to Morecambe, so we took advantage of our short visit and had a stroll along the promenade and down the Stone Jetty.
The tide was incoming but it was pretty calm, unlike the following couple of days when gusty winds would have made the whole venture far more interesting. The only things close offshore were a handful of great-crested grebes (actually the first I've seen since being back in the UK).
I checked through the turnstones roosting on the shore near the Bubbles groyne but sadly there was no purple sandpiper huddled among them. There was quite a nice gathering of waders though, including several dunlin, 6 ringed plover and a knot. On the groyne itself, masses of oystercatchers mingled with a few curlew and redshank as well as the ubiquitous black-headed gulls.

Snoozing smew at Freeman's Pools.
Meanwhile back at Aldcliffe it's been business as usual for the past few days. The redhead smew continues to lead some local listers a merry dance by 'hiding' from time to time, but it can be reliably found at Freeman's Pools as some time or other most days.
Yesterday (Friday) it was actually hauled out on the island, snoozing among the dabblers.
Although I've seen lots of smew over the years I'm pretty sure that this is the first one that I have seen out of water! It was pretty distant, and you can see from the cruddy pic here how easy it could be to overlook this bird. In this position it really resembles a mini female goosander (common merganser to my Canadian and American chums).
Elsewhere the lone linnet continues to hang out with the tideline goldfinch flock but the twite appear to have moved on.
Despite the high winds midweek, I haven't found any little gulls among the throng of black-heads. Heysham has had a few of course (see the Heysham Obs blog for details) and Aldcliffe often picks up the odd one or two in these conditions.
The other bird I've been hoping to find on the patch but has so far eluded me is stonechat. Pete Crooks had one near Freeman's Pools a short while ago, but I have yet to come across one of these classic early migrants. I have checked the traditional sites and all along the tideline but the little sods are playing hard to get. Oh well, I'm sure it's just a matter of time.


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