Thursday, 2 January 2014

New Year's Ave

As the blustery, wet and relatively mild weather continues, so does the decidedly repetitive avifauna in the Aldcliffe area.
I had a very soggy outing on New Year's Eve and saw pretty much the same stuff that I've been seeing for what feels like an eternity. The same ducks were on Freeman's Pools; the same thrushes in the hedgerows; the same waders on the marsh, etc.
A brief gap in the rain on New Year's Day allowed me and Jenny to get out for a walk mid-afternoon. 
Setting off from home we did a familiar route taking in the main 'easy' Aldcliffe patch and clocked 52 species in about an hour. While we didn't see (or particularly look for, to be fair) some of the common stuff like golden plover, dunlin or even coal tit we did see peregrine, little egret, little grebe and the increasingly tricky greenfinch.
Indeed, a number of local birders have mentioned the difficulty in finding greenfinches nowadays. Until very recently this familiar species could be seen just about anywhere, but in the past few years numbers have declined dramatically. The main cause appears to be the spread of Trichomonosis - a disease commonly found in pigeons and doves. This devastating disease seems to have adapted and made the leap to infect finches. If nothing else, its spread surely emphasizes just how important it is to keep garden feeders clean.
And I expect the rapid and worrying disappearance of this once ubiquitous songbird will give a few anti-raptor campaigners a bit of extra science-free fuel in their rant against sparrowhawks, peregrines, red kites, buzzards, etc, etc...

Flooded section of cycle path, Aldcliffe
With little climatic change forecast for the immediate future, it looks likely that we'll seeing few notable changes around the Aldcliffe area for a while.
A severe cold spell would certainly shake things up a bit, but there's nothing on the horizon as far as I can tell.
The rain has caused a little localised flooding but nothing major. The cycle track has been hit a little bit near Reedy Corner, as usual, but it's not very deep and one can still ride though without getting a drenching.

So, it's simply a case of donning the wellies and waterproofs and getting out and enjoying what there is to see.
Before long the annual pink-footed geese invasion should commence and they'll be dropping in en masse, hopefully dragging an unusual interloper along for the ride!


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