Monday, 7 March 2016

The Sound Of Music

Snowy Lakeland mountains over Aldcliffe Marsh
That rarest of things happened today. My day off coincided with the best weather forecast for the week. And so it came to pass; it was cold and crisp, bright and sunny and still. Perfect.
I headed off for a scour of the Aldcliffe patch early doors and pretty much had the area to myself (one of the benefits of working at weekends is that I get days off when there are fewer dog-walkers, cyclists and what-not around).

Freeman's Wood was alive with the sound of music; birds were singing all over the place. Song thrushes, robins, dunnocks, wrens, great tits, blue tits and goldfinches were all belting it out.
The wildfowl at Freeman's Pools had diminished a bit with no diving ducks present on the main pool at all. Around 40 wigeon were there but were rather unsettled by the incongruous sound of firework rockets going off from somewhere near the Lune Industrial Estate.  
Little grebes were 'singing' and a pair of oystercatcher seemed settled on the island - they regularly nest here. A cluster of 12 snipe were also on the island. A pair of tufted duck were on the upper pools.

Lesser redpoll
I walked along Dawson's Bank toward Aldcliffe Hall Lane, scanning Aldcliffe Marsh as I went. To my left, a few pairs of lapwing were displaying over the maize fields.
The flooded Wildfowlers' Pools were still busy with waders but the morning light was against me and most of the birds flushed before I got chance to check through them all.
There were certainly fewer birds here today than on my last visit, the bulk being redshank and black-tailed godwit.
A foraging finch flock on the tideline comprised 30+ goldfinch and at least 9 lesser redpoll.
I got fabulous views of a hunting stoat who was rather ambitiously stalking a couple of wood pigeons near Walled Meadow.

Drake scaup, Aldcliffe
The only duck on The Flood was the drake scaup! In fact other than 6 shelduck and 4 redshank there was nothing else doing at all. After a while the scaup flew off and headed for the Wildfowlers' Pools.
In the hedgerow near the Pools the Siberian chiffchaff was busy catching invertebrates while nearby a common chiffchaff was singing intermittently in the warm sunshine.

Late morning I headed to FAUNA for our monthly coordinated snipe count. Along with a record count of 153 common snipe (though some may have involved re-counts) we also counted 7 jack snipe and 2 water rail. 13 teal were in School Pond and a brown hare was in Big Meadow marsh. Not too shabby.


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