Friday, 18 November 2016

Wintry Tales

For the most part today (Friday) the weather hasn't been anywhere as bleak as forecast (unlike yesterday which was every bit as vile as anticipated). That said, I did choose a period of the morning for a spot of birding that coincided with a short but incredibly horrible hail & sleet storm. Hey ho.
Otherwise, my few hours on the patch were relatively pleasant even if somewhat lacking in exciting finds.
Freeman's Wood was bouncing with blackbirds and redwings but not much else beyond a couple of goldcrests.
Freeman's Pools have been a bit quieter lately with the 200+ wigeon flock having moved on. Even so, there were 20 or so wigeon still present along with the usual gadwall, teal, mallard, coot and little grebe. 6 goldeneye remain on the main pool and the number of tufted duck had increased to 15.
The wet fields by Frog Pond are drawing good numbers of foraging lapwing, curlew and redshank along with black-headed and common gulls.
The hedgerows and fields generally seem to be very quiet passerine-wise with no numbers of common finches or any reed buntings being seen.

Common snipe & duck's arse
The Wildfowlers' Pools and adjacent fields are full of water and sizeable gatherings of snipe, teal, greylags and Canada geese was evident. In previous years these 'feral' geese have attracted occasional groups of pink-footed and white-fronted geese, so it's always worth checking through the gaggle.
A pair of goldcrest were near the parking area and a couple of fieldfare were tagging along with the other more numerous hawthorn-hogging thrushes.
A pair of pintail (relatively scarce on this stretch of the estuary) were dabbling on the marsh near the Creek.
In recent years Snipe Bog appears to have lost its appeal to snipe generally; long-gone are the double figure counts from that small area. I was pleased therefore to discover a jack snipe today (having seen one flushed by the high tide in the same area yesterday). These dinky little waders really do brighten up even the dullest of days!
Also seen yesterday but not today were a couple of rock pipits - another bird that seems far less numerous in this area of the estuary these days...

Highlights from a visit to the area on November 9th included:
11 goldeneye & 7 tufted duck on Freeman's Pools
1 goldeneye on Frog Pond
Kingfisher & goosander at Wildfowlers' Pools

Many local folk will be aware that there is quite a significant pied wagtail roost in the city centre during the winter months but a lesser-known roost of grey wagtails can also be found in Lancaster. The birds routinely appear by the canal near White Cross in the late afternoon and last week we counted at least 17 grey wags coming into the roost. Quite a lovely sight!

And I keep checking those rowans and other ornamental berry-filled trees in search of waxwings. It's surely only a matter of time before some turn up in the area...


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