Saturday, 15 March 2014

Super Duper Whooper

Unfortunately I've been somewhat infested by an unpleasant hacking cough & banging headache ailment and had to reluctantly take today off work. I don't suppose it would do to go spreading my vile malady to the general public...
On the plus side, fresh air was very much in need and I took a morning stroll around the Aldcliffe patch. The optimism created by last week's lovely weather was rather diminished as the cool westerly breeze and menacingly overcast conditions reminded me that spring hadn't truly sprung.
That said, I did hear at least four singing chiffchaff on my rounds, so it's good to see that a few summer migrants are braving the elements. Sadly, my target bird - wheatear - was nowhere to be found. Looks like I'll have to wait a few more days...
The only other things of note passerine-wise were a handful of meadow pipits moving through and a few skylark here and there, including one feeding in Snipe Bog.
There was still a wintry feel all round to be honest, with around 1,300 pink-footed geese on Aldcliffe Marsh and up to 30 fieldfare bouncing along the hedges.

Mute swan and whooper swan
A pleasant surprise came in the form of an adult whooper swan sat among a small group of mutes on the marsh. This is only the second one that I've seen here all winter (one back in November - details here) so it was a most welcome sight.
Not too many years ago Aldcliffe was just about the most reliable site in the area for wintering wild swans, often hosting good numbers of both whooper and Bewick's swans. Nowadays, either species is a good find on this stretch of the Lune. The majority of birds visiting our region in recent years end to favour the Cockersands/Glasson area.

A trawl around the patch on Tuesday was notable only for a few vis-mig siskins, meadow pipits and pied wagtails plus my first chiffchaffs of the year - one in song in Freeman's Wood the other busily feeding.
A cracking male linnet was singing by some prime gorse in the wood, and reed bunting were singing their hearts out at Freeman's Pools and Darter Pool.
A single rock pipit was near Snipe Bog and 8 grounded meadow pipits were feeding in Walled Meadow.
The green sandpiper was on the upper pools at Freeman's Pools again while 3 black-tailed godwits were at the Wildfowler's Pools.


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