Sunday, 17 March 2013

B(l)ack In The Red

One my way back home this morning, after an hour or two scouring the Aldcliffe area for aves of interest, I finally found a bird in a particular place that I've been hoping to find for years.
The quickest route for me to get to Freeman's Pools from my house on bike is via the Lune Industrial Estate. This is not the most glamorous of scenic rides, but it does get me where I want to be pretty rapidly.
A bi-product of cycling through the estate is the fact that it's top-quality habitat for black redstart.
Prior to my jaunt overseas I used to regularly pass through this industrial landscape convinced that one day soon the flash of a red tail would justify my optimism. It never did.
Today however, as I wearily turned the last corner onto the grandly titled Port Royal Avenue a bird flitted alongside me and dropped into the yard of the recycling plant. You guessed it; that flash of a red tail told me that at last my black redstart was in the bag!
I slammed on my brakes and I saw the bird hop up onto a skip briefly before it got involved in an altercation with a dunnock resulting in both birds taking off behind the skip and out of view. I quickly cycled round to try and locate the redstart again, but had no idea where it had gone. I spent about 20-25 minutes searching but came up empty handed. There are lots of lovely grotty spots to entice a black redstart on the Lune Industrial Estate... 
The bird appeared to be an adult female, but the views I had were admittedly brief and so a 1stw male couldn't be ruled out. This bird may have been around, unseen by birders, for several weeks or perhaps had just turned up, but during the week this area is so busy that trying to find it during working hours could prove tricky. Nonetheless, I'll be keeping my eye out as I head off to the patch.

Black-tailed godwits
Highlights from the morning included a flock of c170 black-tailed godwit on the Lune just off Low Wood. Some of the birds were well into moult and their orange-red heads and necks really stood out amongst the otherwise grey mass.
A female pintail dabbling around at Snipe Bog was a nice treat. While they may be common at other nearby sites, pintails are generally scarce around Aldcliffe so it's always a pleasant surprise to find one here.
The green sandpiper was at the Wildfowlers' Pools, seen from the metal gate on the cycle track. 
Large gulls continue to increase in number, as they always do at this time of year. Back in the days when the Saltaire Tip was in operation the adjacent river and marsh would be positively teeming with larids and most years we could expect to see Iceland and glaucous gulls appear among the throng. Unfortunately the mounds of decaying trash are no more and gull numbers today are pitiful by comparison. Still, it's always worth scanning through the herring and lesser black-backed gulls loafing on the mud just in case an odd white-winger drops by.

Roe deer (doe left, buck right)
The Freeman's Pools roe deer seem to be in rude health at the moment and the regularly seen trio has multiplied into five animals. Yesterday morning they were all grazing in the field just to the north of the pools (photo) and today they were in the dense vegetation by the pools themselves.
Some twit had let their mutt run around the edge of the pools, which kept the deer on full alert for several minutes.


A little ringed plover was on the flood at around 4pm. From memory, this bird may be a little early returning compared to most years.



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