Thursday, 3 December 2015

Whooper Heroes

Five of the eight whoopers with a pair of mute swans
This morning there were 8 adult whooper swans on Aldcliffe Marsh, along with several mute swans. These are the first that I have seen locally this autumn/winter. They seemed quite nervous and became agitated when a couple walked along with a dog. The then flew toward the river's edge and alighted, so they may well stick around for a while if they don't get too disturbed.

Nearby, a nice mixed flock of passerines included 9 tree sparrow and 7 reed bunting along with the commoner finch species. They were feeding in the stubble fields and flying up periodically into the hedgerow along Dawson's Bank.

There was no sign of yesterday's barnacle goose or the 80-plus pink-footed geese that had dropped in to join the greylags. In fact there were very few greylags to be seen; a hundred or so Canada geese were out on the marsh.

I've been spending a bit of time reading the collars on some of these greylag in recent days and am waiting to hear back about their origins. I suspect that, like most of the collared greylags that visit Aldcliffe, they're from the Lake District feral populations. But, as orange collars are apparently used on this species throughout the UK (and there were certainly some that I hadn't read here before) it might just be that we have one or two from a little further afield...

Despite my optimism I was unable to find any interesting storm blown birds earlier in the week, but I didn't half give it a good go in some very testing conditions!
As anyone who has visited the area in recent weeks will know, a significant (and increasing) stretch of the cycle track is completely submerged between the parking area at Aldcliffe Hall Lane and the Wildfowlers' Pools. It's pretty deep in parts and can just about be managed by bike but you'll definitely get very wet feet.
The fields around the Wildfowlers' Pools are really sodden and have been attracting good numbers of teal and redshank as well as one or two goldeneye.

Other recent highlights from the patch have included and adult Mediterranean gull on the Lune at Marsh Point yesterday morning, a pair of grey partridge near Walled Meadow, a couple of stock doves and while I was out looking for owls on Monday (the one calm evening we seem to have had in some time!) I noticed two woodcock flying out from Freeman's Wood to feed in the fields.


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