Sunday, 1 March 2015

Teal For Two

Due to another planned deer cull protest at Leighton Moss today I spent the day working at the reserve. RSPB staff and volunteers were once again out to counter-argue the anti-cull rhetoric to visitors. The protesters were very few in number and very pleasant, so their presence ultimately had little impact.

Before starting my shift in the visitor centre reception I wandered down to see if I could see the recently discovered green-winged teal at Griesdale Hide. Just one other birder was in the hide when I went in and after a couple of minutes of scanning with my bins I found the bird and pointed it out to the other chap. Better still was the mass of black-tailed godwit right in front of the hide - a sight I never tire of.
As it happens, I saw another green-winged teal over at Saltholme a couple of weeks ago when I was there on RSPB business. And of course during my tenure as a Canadian resident I used to see loads of them; I would spend considerable time and effort scanning through rafts of the North American duck in search of Eurasian teal with frequent success. Despite many hours of checking the teal flocks at Aldcliffe and along the Lune estuary I have yet to find one on the patch. One of theses days...

I've managed a few quick visits to Aldcliffe in the last week or so and Freeman's Pools in particular has been quite interesting. The post-freeze wildfowl numbers have returned to normal with gadwall, teal, wigeon, mallard and tufted duck all well represented. A handful of goldeneye have been hanging around as has a single female red-breasted merganser - the latter an uncommon site on these pools. At least 6 little grebe are present.
Water levels are pretty high at the pools at the moment and the gravel island is all but submerged. Even still it has been attracting sizable roosts of lapwing and black-headed gulls with the occasional snipe thrown in for good measure.
There was a flock of around 60 fieldfare there a couple of days ago and there were also up 1,200 pink-footed geese out on Aldcliffe Marsh. The wintering greenshank seems to have settled into a more reliable routine and was in the same area as it has been the last few times I've been down there.

The Tide Is High
Last week I had walk along the waterline at high tide, from Snipe Bog to Marsh Point. There were at least 6 rock pipit seen (all those seen well were typical petrosis types) along with 2 or 3 meadow pipit and a handful of pied wagtails, a couple of linnets and a small number of goldfinch foraging in the flotsam. Pretty measly stuff compared with the sort of numbers we used to get.


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