Sunday, 3 April 2016

Ringing The Changes

Spring is certainly well and truly upon us. Recent bouts of birding at Aldcliffe have revealed quite a bit of activity; wintering birds are thinning out and breeding species are revving up nicely.
On calm days skylarks and lapwings can be seen and heard over the marsh and maize fields respectively while singing chaffinches, goldfinches and wrens are busy proclaiming territories all over the place.
Up to 12 lesser redpoll continue to mix with the goldfinch flock along the tideline.

We've had the first real arrivals of true spring migrants in recent days too with freshly arrived chiffchaffs aplenty - I counted 12 yesterday (Saturday) between Freeman's Wood and Aldcliffe Hall Lane. I could only find 2 wheatear on the marsh but they were nonetheless a very welcome sight.
Aldcliffe regular Manjeet Lamba struck lucky earlier in the week when he came across a firecrest in the newly relayed hedges by the Wildfowlers' Pools on Tuesday morning. Given the large numbers of firecrests in the country in recent days this was almost certainly a new bird, as opposed to the Freeman's Wood one out on manoeuvres.

Drake pintail
Wildfowl numbers have dropped off a touch with the relatively long-staying pintail no longer on site and even the tufted ducks have moved on. Up to 7 goldeneye remain at Freeman's Pools along with a handful of wigeon and teal while up to 3 shoveler and half a dozen or so gadwall are still hanging around the Wildfowlers' Pools.
As the water levels continue to drop here the numbers of birds are similarly dropping. However, a feeding flock of c260 redshank have been at Frog Pond along with the ubiquitous little egrets.

Little ringed plover
The solitary greenshank is still to be found most days out on the Aldcliffe Marsh pools.
Little ringed plover seem firmly settled in at The Flood with 3 present there today.
I keep looking up in the hope of picking out the first patch passage osprey of the season but so far the only raptors winding up the gulls have been common buzzards and sparrowhawks.
Every day at this time of year one can hope to add another new bird for the year as long-distant migrants arrive and short-range ones move through - it's just a case of putting the time in and (often) being a bit lucky!

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