Monday, 11 May 2015

Spots Before My Eyes

I wasn't too hopeful as I set off for a spot of Aldcliffe birding this morning. The as-forecast brisk south-westerlies weren't convincing me that there would be much to found on the patch (skua passage not really being a feature of the Aldcliffe birding calendar).
I had a good root about in Freeman's Wood and came across a fine spotted flycatcher - my first for the year.
In the sheltered areas there was plenty of activity from the territorial blackcaps, common whitehroats, chiffchaffs and such.
Freeman's Pools were relatively quiet with most of the breeding birds simply going about  their business. On the island 6 tufted ducks (4 male, 2 female) were snoozing alongside a pair of drake goosanders. A couple of gadwall were dabbling around in the poolside vegetation.
There were lots of hirundines skimming over the water - chiefly house martins with smaller numbers of swallows and a couple of sand martins. Swifts too were hawking low over the pools.
In the maize fields there were 4 wheatears and a whinchat feeding in the furrows.

How to make a lapwing egg omelette
A large proportion of the bigger field was ploughed on Friday and I watched the tractor being trailed by up to 600 large gulls. These were mostly sub-adult herring gulls although a few adults of both herring and lesser black backed were also mixed in.
The lapwings were going berserk as they valiantly, if pointlessly, defended their doomed clutches (for the second time this spring).
Today, there were still up to 12 lapwing sat (presumably on eggs) on the areas yet to be ploughed while others were inspecting the potential of relaying in the freshly turned sections. I suspect any that do attempt to nest again will once more be wasting their efforts as the fields haven't yet been seeded.

I bumped into Dan near Walled Meadow and he too had struggled to find much in the blustery conditions. We checked the Flood was it was practically devoid of avian life. Dan mentioned more wheatears out on the marsh.
Other than the usual very vocal lesser whitethroats along the cycle track as I'd headed from the maize fields there wasn't much else to be added to the day list.


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