Thursday, 24 April 2014

Whin-Win Situation

I finally managed to get out this morning for a spot of Aldcliffe birding, after what seems like an absolute age.
Things didn't seem too birdy initially as I scanned around Freeman's Pools from the track viewpoint. A couple of gadwall were snoozing on the island alongside a scattering of mallard, shelduck, lapwing and a lesser black-backed gull.
I soon bumped into Dan by the main pools gate who reported a similar lack of activity migrants-wise.
I headed off to Marsh Point while he checked along the path. I soon came across a smart pair of whinchat feeding from the perimeter fence to the north of the viewing area and called Dan with the news. Firsts for the year, he naturally 'twitched' them.

Leaving Dan and his camera in pursuit of the dazzling duo I set off back to the main track and on to the Flood, checking the pools, hedgerows and fields along the way. It was great to see and hear so many whitethroat and lesser whitethroat back on territory.

In the maize field I noticed a couple of wheatear plus a lapwing with a single chick. A couple of days ago I'd made a brief visit and seen a lapwing with 3 chicks; was this was the sole remaining youngster of that brood, or another altogether?
The good news is that thanks to the early spring, at least some of these birds have had chance to get some young off before the fields get ploughed. I'm sure that some nests will be destroyed when the tractors roll in but it's great that these birds have had a fighting chance at getting a successful first brood off for once.

A pair of little ringed plover were on the Flood, with the male engaging in a bit of displaying. On the mud I could see 4 white wagtail and in the field there were 8 wheatears. Along the fenceline I soon picked up another whinchat which was swiftly joined by a second.
In the meantime Dan had discovered a female redstart at the back of the pools and once I'd checked around Walled Meadow (and found nowt) I headed back to see if I could catch up with it. It took a fair chunk of time but I eventually got glimpses of the bird as it fed low in a hawthorn.

Later in the day Dan called to say that he'd found another redstart, this time a male, along Aldcliffe Hall Lane.
Meanwhile I walked to Conder and back at low tide. The few highlights included 9 whimbrel on the Lune off Ashton Hall plus two pairs of eider, whose curious calls could be heard at considerable range.
Thanks to Dan for the pics.


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