Monday, 23 November 2015

Cold Comfort

I nipped down to Aldcliffe on Friday to see if the whitefronts were still around but alas, they appeared to have moved on.
As it happens, there wasn't a great deal going on at all and a couple of hours scouring the patch turned up little of note, beyond the regular birds.

Yet to be harvested maize
One thing I did notice was that the maize field was still waiting to be cut. It would appear that the crop itself has been exceedingly poor this year and the plants appear to be rotting where they stand. I assume that this crop is destined to be animal feed but I wouldn't expect that lot to be much use this winter. Was it really worth destroying 22 lapwing nests for?

After a weekend working at the North West Bird Festival at Martin Mere, I had today (Monday) off and headed down to the patch this morning to see if the colder conditions had made a tangible difference to the numbers of birds to be seen.
First up, was Freeman's Pools. All the regular species (gadwall, coot, teal, wigeon, little grebe, tufted duck, etc) were present with no notable change in numbers.
However, new arrivals were noted with the appearance of 4 new goldeneye and a smart drake pochard. As it happens, a male pochard turned up here in late November last year and stayed for just a few short days. Will this one hang around any longer?
The edge of Freeman's Wood was buzzing with the commoner species of finches, tits and a few showy goldcrests.
I headed along the cycle track and became swiftly aware that the maize had finally been harvested over the weekend. As a consequence there were masses of jackdaws and carrion crows, plus a few rooks pillaging the fields.
A scan of the furrows and hedges revealed good numbers of foraging chaffinch, reed bunting and a couple of tree sparrows. Hopefully, we'll see an increase in the number of birds taking advantage of the spilled maize in the coming days and weeks.
The cooler conditions had certainly brought more thrushes in too with plenty of redwing, fieldfare and blackbird stripping the hawthorns of their remaining berries.
Water levels at the Wildfowlers' Pools was still impressively high and there were plenty of redshank feeding in the waterlogged fields. Meanwhile the greylags had moved inland a little and were grazing in the fields to the east of the upper cinder track. A scan through the flock turned up 38 pink-footed geese but again, no whitefronts.
Out on the marsh and estuary it was business as usual with flocks of lapwing and golden plover with smaller numbers of dunlin, assembling on the river bank as the tide dropped. A wildfowler was active out on Colloway Marsh, pushing the relatively few wigeon and teal onto the Lune.

A repeat visit to Aldcliffe (via FAUNA) late afternoon added one each of black-tailed godwit, spotted redshank and dunlin to the tally of waders at the Wildfowlers' Pools.


No comments: