Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Magnificent Seven

I got a message yesterday from a fellow Aldcliffe birder, who we shall call Ray Hobbs, saying that he had found a family party of avocets on the Lune at Marsh Point.
As we all know, these elegant waders were once like the proverbial rocking horse dung but in recent years have become relatively common with breeding colonies now being found at Leighton Moss, Marshside and a few other north west locations.

Juvenile avocets
However, in Aldcliffe terms the species is still regarded as something of a mega. The first and only record (to my knowledge) involved a pair that appeared for a couple days on the then new Freeman's Pools back in May 2008.
So, not only was this a patch tick for Ray but also something well worth following up as far as I was concerned!
Consequently I headed off down there this morning, first checking the pools. Following an absence of several weeks a pair of little grebe were back in residence - they have bred this late at Aldcliffe in the past, so you never know.... The tufted duck pair remain but I have abandoned any thoughts of late nesting by this duo. Otherwise it was pretty unremarkable until a flock of 5 wigeon came flying over the pools before turning around around and heading back toward the river.
Once at Marsh Point I did a thorough scan of the river but alas no black-and-white bentbills were to be seen, though a little egret was prowling along the water's edge.
Along the cycle track things were fairly quiet until I bumped into the aforementioned Ray Hobbs and his hound at the Wildfowlers' Pools. We had a chat and after a while went our separate ways, me heading to Stodday.
I checked the Flood as I passed but it was birdless.
Looks like little ringed plover have had a dud year as I suspected, with no sign of any chicks at all so far and now not even any adults to be found in the Aldcliffe area. It's pretty depressing that with 3 pairs we didn't even get a single bird fledged...

Six of the seven avocets on the Lune
Other than a hunting kestrel and 5 snoozing female-type eiders on the Lune it wasn't too birdy. A small, distant wader on the far shore at Colloway was probably a common sandpiper, but I was 'scopeless and it went unconfirmed.
Before heading home I checked the river at Marsh Point one more time and bingo! The magnificent seven avocets were feeding along the receding tide opposite Snatchems. I got a couple of distant shots, as you can see here. Let wader migration begin!


ray said...

Yes !! Very pleased you got to see them. Still no confirmed sightings of the fabled rocking-horse shit though. ray

Jon Carter said...

Yep, I was rather pleased to clap eyes on them myself! They must have been lurking somewhere beneath the bank when I checked earlier... cheeky blighters.
And I still need rocking horse shit for my British list.

ray said...

When I was in Lithuania there was loads of it. ray