Saturday, 1 June 2013

Here, there and everywhere...

Blimey - I can't believe that I haven't posted anything here for over 3 weeks! That isn't in any way a reflection of the amount of birding that I've done, but more perhaps a reflection of the quality...
It's been a pretty crappy spring as far as Aldcliffe's concerned, or at least it has been in my experience (bar the odd corncrake, otter, etc).
Add to that the fact that my new job has had me all over the place and I've really struggled to find the time to actually sit down and write a post.
The great thing about my peripatetic lifestyle is that I do get to see a few birds here and there that are ordinarily pretty tough to find in North Lancashire. While on the East coast I have seen yellow wagtails, little terns, yellowhammers and puffins amongst other things.

Joining in the Puffin Fest fun...
Talking of puffins, I had the great pleasure of attending the Amble Puffin Festival in Northumberland. Celebrating the nearby colony of the ever-popular auks on Coquet Island, this event was organised by the town in conjunction with the RSPB, who manage the island reserve.
Unfortunately the day I arrived the weather prevented me from taking a trip out to the island, and the following day I was too busy to find the time. Given that the island hosts a remarkable 90% of the UK's breeding roseate terns, this was something of shame!
In recent weeks I've also paid visits to the RSPB's Saltholme reserve in Teeside, Fairburn Ings in West Yorkshire and the newly opened St Aidan's reserve just outside Leeds.   

Courting common terns at Preston Dock
Last weekend I was at Preston Docks where I joined members of the Fylde Bird Club to help raise the profile of the common tern colony there.
These dainty seabirds first bred at this location in 2009 and following the provision of some artificial nesting sites the colony had grown to an impressive 30 pairs in 2012. Over 80 birds were present while I was there on the Saturday but up to 165 had been counted earlier in that week.
An amazing urban wildlife success by any standards, the volunteers from FBC really deserve to be praised for their efforts in Preston.  

When able, I have continued to get down to Aldcliffe pretty regularly but my visits haven't coincided with anything much of note. Another patch worker Dan, did bag a fine adult hobby at Freeman's Wood on May 14. This dynamic falcon can be expected annually in the Aldcliffe area these days but their appearances are at best erratic and unpredictable.  
A few personal noteworthy mentions include an off-passage whinchat on May 20, the reappearance of a pair of drake tufted duck on 28th and the first coot chicks a week ago, while the Freeman's Pool island pair finally hatched 3 young on May 31.
Of course swifts are all over the place now, and sedge warblers are much in evidence around the patch. 

Broad-bodied chaser
Yesterday I dropped by the Allen and Eric Morecambe hides at Leighton Moss for the first time since they were rebuilt and re-opened. Other than the many breeding avocets and black-headed gulls it was pretty quiet. What wasn't so quiet was the Cetti's warbler that was blasting away just outside the Allen Hide! It even showed well, if briefly before disappearing over the railway line to continue its clamorous activities.
On the main reserve I came across my first odonata since returning to the UK. Up to 3 female-type (or newly emerged males?) broad-bodied chasers were showing well alongside the path near Tim Jackson hide. I couldn't resist taking a couple of snaps.
Spotted flycatcher
On my way home from Leighton, I dropped by to see my folks at their home in Hornby. They had told me of a pair of spotted flycatcher that had been visiting the garden and as I hadn't yet seen one this year I thought I'd take a peek. We watched one bird as it repeatedly brought nesting material to one area, so fingers crossed we will be able to observe the successful raising of a brood of these 'red' listed migrants. 

Now that I have finally updated this blog, I will endeavour to keep posting...

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