Tuesday, 29 July 2014

You've Been Collared

There were 3 green sandpiper on the Wildfowlers' Pools this morning along with 4 snipe and 3 teal. Another snipe was on the Flood where there were also 20+ alba wagtails.
The regular post-breeding greylag and Canada goose numbers continue to infest the area - at least 3 greylag were sporting nifty neck collars. A quick conversation with Kane Brides from WWT suggests that these are likely from the ongoing Windermere project.
At Freeman's Pools a doe roe deer had 3 fawns in tow.

Following a tip-off from a regular Aldcliffe walker I went back down in the evening to look for barn owl.
Unfortunately, I didn't get lucky in the hour and a half I spent hanging around near Marsh Point. Mind you, the sunset was rather pretty!
The roe deer made an appearance again, but not much else showed bar the gathering of swifts, swallows and house martins over the pools. I kept my eye out for a hunting hobby, but none showed up.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

St George's Quay & The Dragons

Common darters
Unfortunately, the spectacular weather we're enjoying at the moment doesn't appear to have dragged any particularly exciting birds into the Aldcliffe area.
Setting off from St. George's Quay this morning I made my way along the path to Freeman's Pools. A scan over the water, along the vegetated fringes and on the island turned up just the usual bits and pieces. There were a few dragonflies zipping about however, including emperors, common darters (photographed mating) and brown hawkers.
A walk along Dawson's Bank revealed little to add to the list. Small numbers of lesser black-backed  and herring gulls were on the river along with grey heron, little egret, lapwing, curlew and redshank.
Checking the Lune overlooking Gull Bank it was more of the same really, with just a couple of common sandpipers livening things up. The expected post-breeding mid-summer build-up of greylag and Canada geese was getting off to a noisy start.
The Flood was hosting a lone green sandpiper (as has been the case for a number of days) along with a smattering of lapwing. Several pied wagtails and family parties of goldfinch were feeding around the muddy fringes.

Green sandpiper
A lesser whitethroat showed very well near the Wildfowlers' Pools while the pools themselves held a second green sandpiper (photographed badly; preening by a discarded tyre - lovely!) and a common snipe.
A couple more emperor dragonflies were at Darter Pool where the coots were feeding a newly hatched second-brood chick.

Four-spotted chaser
Frog Pond was birdless bar the 'resident' mute swan pair, but it was positively buzzing with odanata including another emperor, several common darters and a very tatty four-spotted chaser (photographed).

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Wading In

Had an enjoyable couple of hours out birding Aldcliffe this morning. I was hoping for some interesting waders on the pools but there was a fair bit of sheep-and-farmer activity around the patch so I expect anything 'good' had long one by the time I got there.
There was nothing on the muddy upper ponds at Freeman's Pools, despite it looking really good for probing bills... Indeed the only thing of note here was the newly arrived pony of dubious origin and ownership that had appeared in the bank-side strip of land. An amount of major damage had been kindly inflicted on the fence and gate in order to get it there... nice.
The pools were relatively quiet with most the usual suspects present: mallard, tufted duck, coot, moorhen, mute swan and little grebe (4 adult, 1 juv). There were lots of sand and house martins and a few swallows feeding over the water.
Frog Pond and Darter Pool were harbouring nothing of note, and the Wildfowlers' Pools had been sheeped-out completely.

Common sandpiper
A lone green sandpiper was feeding on the Flood, along with a handful of lapwing.
Checking the Lune off Cadaver Corner I noted my first post-breeding dunlin flock. 22 birds were present. Also here were 13 common sandpiper and a single little ringed plover. Redshank, lapwing and curlew numbers are starting to build up significantly, as are the number of black-headed gulls.
A lone duck eider was on the river and a couple of good-sized shelduck crรจches implied a pretty good breeding season. Little egrets certainly weren't in short supply with ones and twos pretty much wherever I pointed my bins!      

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Saturday, 12 July 2014

On The Towpath

Hello. Dan here.

This afternoon I checked the rather splendid emergent vegetation along the stretch of canal which forms the eastern boundary of the ARA*. I was looking for dragonflies and damselflies, having a hazy recollection of Banded Demoiselles occurring there many years ago... (Jon, Ray?)...

Odonata seemed to be limited to c50 Blue-tailed Damsels (some females of the bonnie rufescens form) a handful of Common Blue Damselflies and 2 male Brown Hawkers.

Two juvenile Sedge Warblers was encountered in the flags as was a Chiffchaff. A Little Owl was heard to yelp but I couldn't see where it was calling from.

Back over in core Aldcliffe, Gull Bank held birds including 200 Black-headed Gulls, 70 Lapwings, 2 Common Sandpipers and 2 Little Egrets.  A couple of House Martins were seen to gather mud, presumably for ongoing repairs. I imagine that the lengthy warm spell has dried out many a martin nest to dangerous extremes.

 A Chiffchaff was singing enthusiastically near the sewage works, with another doing so towards Freeman's Wood.

The Green Sandpiper count at the Wildfowlers Pools was 4 once again. Also feeding here were 3 Snipe, 2 adult Little Ringed Plovers and a juv. Pied Wagtail.

By the time I cast my eye over Darter Pool, it was perhaps a way past the day's peak for flying odonata with just 2 Emperors (including an ovipositing female) and one Brown Hawker. This site has a good concentration of Blue-tailed Damselflies, with well over a hundred noted.

A Four-spotted Chaser was by the shallow pond near the eastern viewing point of Freeman's Pools, while several Emperors and a Brown Hawker were seen (distantly) patrolling the large pool.

Birds here included seven Little Grebes (including at least two juveniles), 2 Gadwalls and 12 Lapwings.

Signage news now. Laminated card signs warning of a solar farm planned for the Arna Wood area have been displayed around the parish, while someone has blacked out the old Wildfowlers sign which reminds people that the marsh is a conservation area and that the footpath should be stuck to.


* Aldcliffe recording area!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Flying Visit.

Dan here.

I only had a short time today so headed straight for Darter Pool to see how many dragonflies were on the wing.

In warm midday sunshine the following were seen;

4 Emperors including a female egg-laying
1 Migrant Hawker male (a rather early date!)
1 Brown Hawker
5 Common Darters
1 Four-spotted Chaser

Damselflies comprised 1 male Emerald, 10 Common Blue and c40 Blue-tailed.

Around fifteen House Martins were feeding overhead. I assume that most of these locals emanate from the Allandale Gardens colony (off Willow Lane)-- there have been 21 active nests there this year-- an improvement on previous summers.


Monday, 7 July 2014

Spied Pipers

There were 4 green sandpiper on the Wildfowlers' Pools today. 6 common snipe were also present but there was no sign of any little ringed plovers there.
A single LR plover was on the upper ponds at Freeman's Pools along with a common sandpiper and a pair of teal.
A pair of sedge warblers are still busy feeding young near the Marsh Point viewing area.

Yesterday morning, a pair of adult little ringed plovers with 2 fledged young were at the Wildfowlers' Pools.  
Emperor dragonflies were much in evidence in the sunshine with 2 at Freeman's Pools, 3 at Darter Pool and 1 at Frog Pond.


Friday, 4 July 2014

No Rain, No Gain

While I can't dispute that the rain I got caught in this morning was very much needed, I have to say it wasn't very pleasant getting a soaking.

There wasn't a great deal of obvious change from what was around yesterday, though an increase to 3 green sandpipers at the Wildfowlers' Pools was notable. Also there, 5 snipe and just 2 little ringed plover (1 of each just about visible in this shoddy photo). The poor quality of this pic is even more evident in light of my having seen Chris Packham yesterday evening showing his stunning images... and I have to sit through it all again tonight just to rub salt into the wounds.
A couple of little egret were also at the pools while the nearby willows were positively buzzing with feeding birds including newly fledged great and blue tits, reed bunting and chiffchaff.
It was pretty quiet at Freeman's Pool though an adult sedge warbler carrying food suggested the possibility of a second brood?  
A scan through the post-breeding starling flocks feeding in the fields failed (as it has done every year for the last 3 decades I've been checking) to turn up a rosie starling. With one currently hanging out with its common cousins in Burnley, it clearly pays to be vigilant!     


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Wading In

Still one green sandpiper on the Wildfowlers' Pools this morning along with 5 little ringed plover and 4 snipe. The fluffy lapwing chick was present as were young broods of moorhen and mallard.
On Freeman's Pools both well-brown and recently hatched moorhen and coot chicks seem to be faring relatively well, which is more than can be said for the little grebes who seem to have just one young.
A single drake tufted duck, just starting to moult into eclipse plumage, was also present on the pools. Darter Pool and Frog Pond were quiet, the latter just hosting a mute swan pair.
Good numbers of house martins and swifts were wheeling around, rekindling thoughts of past summers when occasional hobbies have appeared in the Aldcliffe area.

A single raven flew over, attracting attention with its distinctive 'cronk' call.
If water levels and muddy fringes remain reasonable at the Wildfowlers' and the upper Freeman's Pools in the next few weeks there's a good chance that they'll attract some interesting waders. Most years we can expect a few greenshank and one or two wood sandpipers plus the odd avocet or something much scarcer...