Friday, 30 May 2014
Dan here, with the main points of interest from a few visits this week.
The south, east and north of our isles seemed to be groaning with scarce migrants this week but if the NW of England was, nobody was finding them---myself included.
Never mind. Vis-mig-wise I mustered two late Sand Martins heading N, and a slightly unseasonal northbound Lesser Redpoll.
A count of 22 House Martins feeding over Freeman's Pools in showery weather was a good one, perhaps thanks to an increase in numbers using eaves in the Willow Lane area this year.
A pair of Arctic Terns has been noted daily, elegantly flapping round the estuary as far up as Marsh Point, and also getting cosy in the thriftier parts of Colloway Marsh south. I imagine rising water levels will scupper any hopes of a tern colony ever re-establishing itself there. Any wealthy conservationist/engineers fancy designing and helicoptering in some concrete nest platforms?
I watched a pair of Peregrines hunt down, kill and eat a Woodpigeon on the low tide mud near Gull Bank. The female was wearing the trousers and ate the majority while the male looked on. It's the first Peregrine sighting I've had here since mid-March.
Young birds are very much in evidence throughout, including five Goosander ducklings (down from 7 on May 13th) in the company of their mother. Recently-fledged birds ranging in size from Grey Herons to Chiffchaffs and Blue Tits are out and about, and flocks of post-breeding Starlings (circa two-thirds juveniles) have been numbering up to 300. Lapwings seem to be faring a little better than last year, with several full-size juvs seen, and two or three adults on eggs. No pitter-patter of LRP chick feet heard yet.
A pair of Grey Partridges looked rather exposed (and dare I say it- forlorn?) in a recently-harvested silage field and I feared that they might have lost a clutch to the machines.
An incubating Oystercatcher was highly agitated by a thoughtless traipser exercising her dogs way out on the thrift-covered saltmarsh. The irony is that at least half of the legion of marsh-wanderers will be animal and nature-lovers, who I picture tuning into BBC Springwatch (increasingly beyond parody!) and weeping at the sight of a Weasel chobbling a Dunnock brood...or something.
The old wildfowlers sign stating 'conservation area-- please keep to the footpath' has recently been re-painted but for many Aldcliffe users, ignorance is bliss.
Black-headed Gull numbers have been building recently with up to 150 adults per visit. I would guess that they are failed breeders taking an early bath.
In large wildfowl news, c100 Greylags have been feeding in and around Heaton Marsh, and the Aussie abomination (Black Swan) is still using Colloway Marsh north.
In one of the few warm spells this week, I noted c30 Common Blue Damselflies (with several pairs in tandem) at Darter Pool, and c15 Common plus 3 Blue-tailed damsels at the shallow pond by the eastern viewing area of Freeman's Pools.