Friday, 19 September 2014

Quiet Patch

Jon here.
I've had a busy few weeks and opportunities for birding Aldcliffe have been scarce, to say the least. Thanks as ever to Dan for covering the patch so diligently and for regularly updating the blog!

Last week I was on Jersey, visiting my brother Paul. I didn't get much time for birding but of course I had my bins with me wherever I went on the island.
I stumbled across plenty of common migrants including several spotted flycatchers, reed warblers, blackcaps and such, plus regular marsh harriers and the occasional hobby. Highlights included great white egret, cetti's warbler and black-necked grebe at St Ouen's Pond while a couple of birds I quite fancied running into totally eluded me. These were Dartford warbler, which unlike good Victorian children were heard but not seen, and short-toed treecreeper, which despite being a common resident proved otherwise during my visit.

Yesterday, I actually found a couple of hours to get down to Aldcliffe and have a good kick around. It seemed pretty quiet on the whole, though I suspect my arrival around 9am meant that I'd missed the best window of activity.
Freeman's Pools were hosting an impressive 10 little grebes, though not much else bar a trio of tufted duck and the usual other bits and pieces (plus a dead juv great black-backed gull on the island). A small increase in common teal numbers was evident but still no sign of any garganey - are we going to have a totally blank year?
7 wigeon were on Frog Pond along with the expected mallard & teal.
The maize fields continue to attract good numbers of chaffinch and reed bunting plus a single goldcrest was in the hawthorn hedge there.

A small number of chiffchaff were evident throughout the area but on the whole common migrants were very thin on the ground. The only other warbler seen was a lesser whitethroat by the Flood.
At the Wildfowlers' Pools a single green sandpiper was still in residence. Another pair of little grebe were also here as was a kingfisher and couple of snipe.
Out on the estuary a group of c40 golden plover were mixed in with the roosting lapwing on Gull Bank. There was nothing of note among the throng of black-headed gulls along the river, just the usual dozen or so little egrets.
A greenshank was feeding on the Lune by Cadaver Corner and another kingfisher was also seen here.
Good numbers of swallows were on the move throughout the morning; the only other 'vis' included small numbers of meadow pipit (compared with the huge movements a short distance away at Heysham & Sunderland Point), 2 skylarks and 7 grey wagtails.
Butterflies were out in force including the comma pictured here and dragonflies included common darter and migrant hawker (also pictured).     

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