Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Mongrel Duck Creates WeBS of Deceit

On Monday I had a meeting at Sizergh Castle, home of the famous hawfinches. Unfortunately I wasn't due there until 1pm so I held out little hope of actually seeing any. We arrived at the Castle around 12.30pm in the persistent drizzle and made our way to the temporary cafe. Naturally I kept a beady eye out for any chunky finch action and was delighted to find a single bird sat high in a large tree. I alerted my colleagues to its presence and it showed nicely before flying a short distance before landing on the top an even larger tree. Not a bad bird to get while technically at work...    

On Sunday I did my old WeBS count from Aldcliffe to Conder. This stretch is now ably managed by Steve Wallis but he was unable to do it this month and so I was quite happy to reacquaint myself with the survey that I spent around 20 years doing.
And what a day! The horrendous winds had dropped and it was bright and quite sunny. A rare thing these days...
I first did my count at Freeman's Pools, which was pretty unremarkable, before starting the Aldcliffe to Conder stretch. Kicking off at Marsh Point, I walked along Dawson's Bank to Aldcliffe Hall Lane, beyond the Walled Meadow and from then on along the cycle track to Conder.
A pair of adult Mediterranean gulls, including one almost in full breeding garb, were among a large group of roosting gulls on Aldcliffe Marsh. A couple of 1st winter birds were seen further along; one at Gull Bank and another on the river at near Ashton Hall.
The most notable bird of the count was the wigeon that I had hoped to find - that hybrid yank that Dan had last week!

Hybrid Eurasian / American wigeon (far right)
I must admit, when I first spotted it at the mouth of the Conder I couldn't really see why it wasn't a pure American wigeon but with no field guide and only my dodgy memory to consult I really couldn't be sure.
Thankfully Ian Hartley came along and between us we pretty much determined that it was likely iffy.
A flying visit by Stuart Piner confirmed our thoughts and we left at least happy to have seen such an instructive bird.
Looks like I should have paid more attention to the many 1000s I saw while living in Canada!
Anyway, here's a rather crappy snap that I managed to get of it before my camera batteries helpfully ran out...
The count in full:
Mute swan 36
Pink-footed goose 732
Greylag 6
Shelduck 96
Mallard 40
Pintail 2
Wigeon 1028
American wigeon hybrid 1
Teal 2
Goldeneye 8
Goosander 4
Little grebe 2
Cormorant 25
Little egret 14
Grey heron 2
Moorhen 30
Coot 11
Oystercatcher 394
Golden plover 462
Lapwing 2290
Dunlin 230
Redshank 577
Spotted redshank 1
Black-t godwit 3
Curlew 334
Snipe 1
Black-headed gull 1188
Common gull 18
Mediterranean gull 4
Herring gull 8
Lesser black-backed gull 35
Great black-backed gull 2


ray said...

Chunky Finch Action ?

Jon Carter said...

Yep, my favourite kind of finch action...