Monday, 29 December 2014

White-front Wonderland

Another cold night meant more frost and iced-over pools, so I got out nice and early today.

At Freeman's Pools many of the birds were hugging the banks. These included 8 wigeon, 41 teal, 22 mallard, 17 gadwall, 3 tufted duck and 2 little grebes. Coot numbers remain steady at around the 40 mark. The upper pools were frozen over so there was nothing there.

I've been half-expecting a wandering bittern or Cetti's warbler to appear in the reed areas lately; they're my new favourite candidates in the 'Next New Bird For Aldcliffe' sweepstake...

White-fronted geese with greylags & Canada geese
The sound of geese coming off the estuary had me rolling my eyes - I'd decided to give my back a rest and leave the 'scope at home today, given the total absence of such birds over the past two days.
Walking along Dawson's Bank I soon spotted a group of c450 greylag and Canadas grazing on the river's edge.
A quick scan through with binocs and I could just about pick out the 5 Eurasian white-fronted geese among them. Even at range they stood out reasonably well among the larger greylags.
There were few other geese around initially, though a decent sized skein of pinkfeet dropped in later.

The ice cover meant that most of the smaller areas of water were frozen and bird-free. Just a few waders including curlew, lapwing, redshank and dunlin were feeding in the fields near the Flood.
Songbird activity along the cycletrack was fairly minimal with a handful of fieldfare joining the numerous blackbirds in the hawthorns. A party of 5 bullfinch were near the Wildfowlers' Pools along with a scattering of goldfinch, chaffinch and greenfinch.

A real sign of cold-weather movement was the flock of 31 skylarks in the stubble field - it's quite a rare sight to see numbers like this on the patch in winter these days!


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