Sunday, 28 February 2016

Knot Hot Spot

Highlights from a 3+ hour trawl around the Aldcliffe patch on Friday included the still present Siberian chiffchaff showing superbly again near the Wildfowlers' Pools.

Black-tailed godwits
As the water levels continue to drop many of the fields are starting to revert to something close to normal.
Of course the Flood is still flooded, but then it often is (hence its name). And the Wildfowlers' Pools looks absolutely fantastic as newly emerging boggy islands and large areas of shallow water are attracting masses of waders.
A feeding flock of 136 black-tailed godwit were frantically feeding alongside the more regular redshank.

Among these birds was a lone knot - quite a scarcity in these parts. That said, you don't have to go very far to see tens of thousands of these easily overlooked shorebirds but they rarely stray so far up the estuary to Aldcliffe.
In other interesting wader news, a greenshank was on one of the saltmarsh pools.
Scanning the far side of the Lune at high tide, I could see 4 pintail (2 males, 2 females), another bird that doesn't occur on the patch too regularly.

Blonde pink-footed goose (right)
Among the 1200 or so pink-footed geese grazing on Heaton Marsh I could see a distinctive leucistic goose (pictured). Birds similar to this (or indeed the very same goose) were seen at Aldcliffe in mid-Feb 2012 and early March 2013. A rather striking orange-legged pinkfoot was also present.

Jenny and I took a stroll out again today (Sunday), taking in part of the patch. Three visiting birders were looking for the chiffchaff but hadn't seen it. I had a quick look but there was no sign of it while I was there.
However, I did spot a neat water rail rummaging around in the vegetation at the fringes of the still flooded cycle track.

The Wildfowlers' Pools continues to host tons of birds and a quick count revealed at least 270 black-tailed godwit plus the lone knot. These fields really do look amazing. Well, I'm sure the landowners aren't quite so impressed but from a birder's perspective it's something else!


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