Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Breaking The Bank

Following last week's 'big storm' I was surprised to see relatively little flooding down at Aldcliffe. In the good old days when the seawall was relatively frequently breached during high tides and gusty winds the Wildfowlers' Pools would often become a temporary lake. As a result, duck and coot numbers would go through the roof (even red-throated diver and razorbill occurred!) and as the water subsided the muddy edges would attract good numbers of waders. 

Well, the sea defences held out on the whole and the fields remained unflooded. Just a section of footpath along Dawson's Bank near Marsh Point had collapsed, causing a small amount of water to enter the northern most maize field. 

Of course, the tide rack had shifted up several metres, even covering the cycle track in places between Aldcliffe and Stodday. I was hoping for some hot passerine action along here but as yet no finch flocks have arrived to pick through the tideline debris. 

On Sunday I noticed some pink-footed geese in one of the fields to the east of the path but I couldn't get a good look as they were mostly obscured by the hedges. Yesterday they had moved to the field by Frog Pond and I was able to count 126 pinkfeet along with a scattering of greylags
Over on Freeman's Pools tufted duck numbers have increased to a barely impressive 5 while the regular gadwall, wigeon and little grebes were all still present. 

Pink-footed geese
Good numbers of redwing, fieldfare and other common thrushes could be found gorging on the hawthorns all along the cycle path between Freeman's Wood and the parking area at Aldcliffe Hall Lane. Bullfinch have been showing nicely along here lately too. 
I'm still impressed by the large numbers of moorhen in the Aldcliffe area these days; I counted 42 at the Wildfowlers' Pools yesterday. 

At dusk I headed back down to Freeman's Pools to see if there was any woodcock or wintering owl activity to be had. Sadly I didn't see either, but I was quite surprised to spot a couple of bats - not sure what species they were but they appeared too large and 'slow', with a direct flight, for pipistrelle or soprano bats. 
Incidentally, while I was keeping a dusky vigil here Dan was up river checking the egrets coming into roost at Ashton Hall. Earlier we'd had a conversation about whether anyone had been looking to see if the Sunderland Point great white egret had been looked for coming into roost there. He counted 39 little egrets, but no sign of the larger species. 


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