Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Red Rings Read

Freeman's Pools at Dusk
For a number of weeks now I have been making regular dusk visits to Freeman's Pools in search of owls. So far, I haven't had any success but it's still early days. At the very least I'm hoping for a wintering barn owl, while short-eared owl also has a good track record at the site. And of course, a repeat of the long-eared owl action we witnessed back in 2009 would be most welcome!
Dusk is an interesting time even still with many species still very active into darkness. A kingfisher was attempting to catch one last meal of the day in very poor light and both kestrel and sparrowhawk were putting in plenty of effort. The kestrel struck lucky with a field vole, while the sparrowhawk failed an attempt to snatch a starling from the mini-murmuration taking place over the pools. Meanwhile a stoat was snaking its way through the waterside vegetation.
A few more cold nights and we may well see an migrant owl or two appearing on the patch as they head for food-rich coastal areas.

Frosty Freeman's Pools
The frosty start to the day made quiet a welcome change this morning. However, I think we'll need a few more days of sustained cold conditions if we're going to see much wildfowl movement in the Aldcliffe area.
Things were much the same on the ponds and pools this morning, with the usual number of coot, gadwall, mallard, tufted duck, teal and little grebe present. A single goldeneye was on one of the upper ponds and a kingfisher was again at the sluiced pool. A pair of reed bunting were busy extracting seeds from the reed heads.
Elsewhere, a great-crested grebe was on the Lune off Marsh Point and the wintering greenshank was out on the marsh.
Four grey partridge were feeding in the fields and a common buzzard was cruising around searching for something to eat. 3 siskins flew over toward Freeman's Wood and a party of 4 bullfinch were in the hawthorns along the cycle track. All the expected winter thrushes were seen in varying numbers.
Several hundred geese, presumably pinkfeet, were wheeling around in the distance somewhere over Oxcliffe / Heysham, while the usual gaggle of greylags and Canada geese were scattered around the marsh. The bar-headed goose was among these.

Talking of geese, there were two Canadas on Freeman's Pools today, each sporting both a BTO metal and a red darvic ring. Whether the original lone goose of recent weeks has been joined by another ringed individual, or the lone goose has gone and been replaced by two 'new' ringed birds I cannot say. Regardless, I was able to read the letters on these two birds' rings and will doubtless discover their origins to be no further than than Windermere, where a ringing project has been in place for some time. 


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