Thursday, 31 December 2009

Aldcliffe has the Ansers

Above: some thoroughly wild geese and a bearded vulture.

NE 0-2, 4-6 Oktas, dry.

A late morning to early afternoon visit with Steve W was centred on the five-species goose flock on Aldcliffe Marsh which included 500+ pink-footed, three barnacle and the snow goose quartet. Sadly no brents, beans, euros or any other stragglers today.

Waders seen included whopping numbers of black-tailed godwits. Around 180 were roosting at Marsh Point, thirty feeding in the improved fields and a further 200 probing for methane on the former tip.

Parish passerines included forty or more linnets, five tree sparrows, three meadow pipits and a lone redwing.

A water rail could be seen feeding on the iced-up 'flood'.


Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Shakin' All Over.....Aldcliffe!

Usually I feel quite at home in freezing conditions, winter camping and thrashing up snow filled mountain gullies. However, birding is a different matter, facing a bitterly icy wind and trying to gaze down a scope is a headache, eye watering experience, which I’m sure you all identify with. Needless to say I had ago and what I saw was probably only half the story!
Nothing on pools, apart from Wildfowlers’, which seem to be thawing quicker than the others, saw Shoveler 10 usual Mallard. All the Moorhen and Coot along the bottoms of various hedgerows along the track.
The hedge by the dung heap produced….
Tree Sparrow 2, possibly more.
Reed Bunting 6
Chaffinch 8
Dunnock 4
Song Thrush 1
Blackbird 3
Robin 2

Further down,
Bullfinch 3
Greenfinch 4
Goldfinch 3
Blue Tit 2
Great Tit 2

Spraying slurry in fields attracting….
Few hundred gulls, mainly Black headed,
Good number of Lapwing, Redshank and Curlew.
Golden Plover 1

Marsh, didn’t hang about as freezing…….
Canada Geese 220
Greylag Geese approx 350
Snow Geese and Barnacle Geese present, attracting out of town birders!
Little Egret 3

Sewage Works and field opposite
Grey Wagtail 1
Lapwing 75
Curlew 17
Redshank 160
Grey Partridge 5
Fieldfare 90
Redwing 35
Blackbird 18

Rushed the Marsh so didn't spot the Dark-bellied Brent Goose seen by Pete Woodruff yesterday or any Pinks.


Monday, 28 December 2009

where shall i wander......

Geese being the highlight today…….
Despite a slight thaw yesterday it was back to winter at Aldcliffe, frost, sun and no wind. As I arrived I saw thousands of Pink Footed Geese flying over Snatchems/Asda, they split into two large flocks going north and south respectively. Aldcliffe was lucky enough to have about 350 of the birds land in the fields near the flood.
Freeman’s, Darter and Frog Pools all frozen and not a bird insight. Wildfowler’s had a small open pool with Mallard, Coot, Moorhen and Shoveler all crammed in.
Dung heap on stubble field saw mixed flock of Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting and Dunnock with a couple of Meadow Pipits and one Fieldfare.
A single Snipe was feeding in a small pool, Pied Wagtail and few Mallard on the flood.
Water Rail showing well on the track along with Chaffinch, Bullfinch and Goldfinch.

Little Egret 2
Snow Geese 4
Barnacle Geese 3
Greylag and Canada’s
Curlew 17
Skylark 1

Marsh Point
Collection of Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Black-headed, Common, Herring, Great black backed and Lesser black backed Gulls.
Goldeneye 2
Cormorant 6
Grey heron 4

Breaking News..
14.00 news just in from Pete Marsh who spotted another Barnacle Goose which has come in with about 400 Pink Footed Geese. Also, an orange-legged looking Pink Foot, that disappeared! Which will be worth trying to find and confirm. Thanks Pete.


Monday, 21 December 2009

Stone Me

Despite the blizzards birding was a joy today at Aldcliffe. Highlight was a male Stonechat on the sea wall opposite Snatchems. Along with up to 15 Meadow Pipits. Freeman’s Pool was frozen apart from one small bit which held 9 Coot. The hedge by the dung heap continues to be a hot spot, had Tree Sparrows, Dunnock, Chaffinch and Reed Buntings. While in the surrounding fields saw up to 70 Crows along with a good selection of waders, hence why the only bird I actually saw on the marsh was 1 Little Egret, all the geese were miles away in fields on the far side. Had a good look at owl roosts but nothing doing. Full list...........
Surrounding fields east of track.
Curlew 23
Lapwing 60
Snipe 1
BH Gull 175
Carrion Crow 78
Moorhen 11

Track and hedge near dung heap
Tree Sparrow 16
Chaffinch 15
Reed Bunting 6
Dunnock 4
Fieldfare 1
Redwing 3
Song Thrush 6
Little Grebe in ditch.

Wildfowlers’ Pool, mainly frozen.
Coot, Moorhen,
Shoveler 4
Snipe 1

Stonechat 1m
Little Egret 1
Goldfinch 16
Kestrel 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Greenfinch 2
Meadow Pipit 12/15
Skylark 2


Saturday, 19 December 2009

Skid row

Icy conditions down on the track. A couple of teenagers were busy developinga 30 foot ice slide. Oh to be young again!

Most of the news came from other people. Ray Hobbs reported seeing 19 tree sparrows on the maize fields and 40 coot in a small ice free patch of Freemans pool.
One of the regular dog walkers reported seeing the barn owl last week at Freemans pool last week. Good to see that it is in the area still but was it visiting the eastern side of the Lune from a roost on the the other side?

An unusual sighting were 2 ringed plover with 2 dunlin 100m upstream of the pylons. Not a patch tick for me but I did treble the number of ringed plover I have seen down here.
A kingfisher flew over heading from the sewerage works to the river, 1 water rail on the frozen cycle track and 4 song thrush in a field with a few blackbirds.


Friday, 18 December 2009

Tree Sparrows...

Spent a freezing hour and half this evening looking for owls and saw none. However, I did see 20/25 Tree Sparrow near the dung heap hedge along with 30 Chaffinch, making quite a sight. On Freeman’s Pool were the usual Coot and 4 Gadwall, solitary Canada. A Kestrel came in and landed in a tree nearby and followed by a Woodcock flying over, almost dark at this point and my numb feet told me time to call it quits.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Sunday omnibus

Todays journey round the parish seemed a repeat of the visits I have made this week.

Chiffchaff at Stodday sewer works. Good views this time seemed to suggest that the bird is of the abietinus race shown in Collins.
4 goldeneye in the river.
1 red breasted merganser flying upstream.
10 redwing to the east of the sewer works and 120 redshank in the sewer works.
3 barnacles on the marsh.
2 squealing water rails along the flooded cycle track.
4 meadow pipit and 2 pied wags on the frozen flood.
1 golden plover with mixed gull/wader flock on fields.


Could not locate the Barnacles or Water Rails this morning. There were 8 Snipe at freeman’s Pool and 9 Goldeneye, 2 Goosander at Marsh Point and a Pochard on the Wildfowlers’.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Back on the Rails

E 0-2, 1 okta, ice on the shallower pools.

I tackled the parish in a pincer movement this afternoon, scanning it from the far side of the estuary and having a quick wander down the track just before sunset.

The geese on the marsh weren't having a relaxing weekend, being unsettled by light aircraft and (terrestrial) shooting. But aswell as canada and greylags there were:

four snow geese
three barnacle geese and
six pink-footed geese.

30 black-tailed godwits were at Marsh Point.

Wildfowl on Freeman's Pools included six goldeneye, eight gadwall and three tufties.

Two water rails were quite showy on the flooded part of the track.

The flooded Wildfowler's Pools fields had 40 redshanks, 5 shovelers, and a hedge-full of tree sparrows (about 20).

Just out of the parish, five rock pipits were near The Golden Ball pub.


Friday, 11 December 2009

Whooper wonderland

Another perfect winters day.

2 large swans were circling the marsh looking for a good landing site. Visually, I couldn't identify them until I heard them honking and they landed just up stream of the pylons.
2 red breasted mergansers and 2 goldeneye were also in the same area.
2 skylark flew overhead
Kingfisher was on the Lune at the western viewpoint and 6 gadwall were on one of the smaller Freemans pools.


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Shiver me barnacles

Not sure if this is a particularly suitable headline. Today was one of only a few winter days each year I am able to walk along the sea wall without hat or gloves.

3 barnacle geese with the greylags and a couple of pinkies on the marsh at Railway Crossroads.
2 greensandpipers on the flood.
20 linnet on the stubble fields.
4 snow geese on the opposite side of the Lune.
3 bullfinch on the top path.
2 grey and 5 pied wags at the sewerage works.
At least one chiffchaff in the bushes at the sewerage works. 1 pale bird with a faint supercilium was seen and I also heard another bird calling on the cycle track which may have been a chiffchaff.


Monday, 7 December 2009

Snow Joke

SW 3-5, 8 oktas, rain.

The beginning of a gloomy afternoon visit saw the four snow geese cutting across the estuary to feed on Heaton Marsh.

It's funny- when they're on the Aldcliffe side, these white-morph birds look and behave like wild vagrants. On the wrong side of the river.....they look all wrong!

I struggled to find much of interest in the parish proper.

An adult mediterranean gull flew N. over the marsh (P96 perhaps?).

14 tree sparrows and nine linnets were the pick of the stubble.

I heard green sandpiper in the vicinity of the flooded Wildfowler's Pools, but failed to see it/them.


Friday, 4 December 2009


News from Guy, 2 Green Sandpipers on the wildfowlers pools at 2pm

Managed an hour or so down the patch this morning. The Freeman’s Pool Island has been cleared of all vegetation, looking really promising. A new dung heap by the gate to the stubble field has attracted more birds. There was a Great Crested Grebe on Wildfowler’. There seemed to be more Geese on the Marsh, will hopefully get down over the weekend and have a scan through. The Snow Geese still present.
Freeman’s Pool,
Goldeneye 2
Little Grebe 1
Snipe 2
Coot, usual
Kestrel 1

Track, Stubble Field.
Feral Pigeon 80
Rook 8
Tree Sparrow 19
Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin, Reed Bunting, Wren
Pheasant 4
Little Grebe on flooded end of track
Darter Pool, Mute Swan 6

Wildfowler’ Pool
Great Crested Grebe 1
Little Grebe 1
Shoveler 4
Coot, Moorhen
Redshank 17
BH Gulls 35/40

Lapwing 1800
Snow Geese 4
Greylag, Canada Geese
Little Egret 2
Shelduck 4

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Outside, Looking In

SE 3-4, 3-7 oktas, dry.

Didn't set foot in the parish today, but did scope it from the wrong side of the estuary !

The four snow geese were still on the marsh mid-afternoon, though they later decamped to improved fields on the Heaton side of the river.

At only around a hundred metres outside of the area, a barn owl (hunting the edges between Snatchems and Salt Ayre cycle track) is worth a mention here too.


Monday, 30 November 2009

Yes Sir, I Can Frugi

NNW 2-4, 2 oktas increasing to 7 oktas by midday. Dry.
Late morning visit.

Not many folks get too excited about the humble rook (corvus frugilegus), but here at Aldcliffe we can, and there were eight feeding on and around the maize stubble fields this morning.

These stubble fields were good for other farmland birds today, the best being:

Eleven grey partidges (what a record!)

17 skylarks

19 tree sparrows and

2 stock doves.

The flooded wildfowler's pools fields were graced by 3 whooper swans (sadly later frightened off by an enthusiastic off-lead dog.)

Other wildfowl on this temporary lake included a few shoveler, wigeon and teal.

Aldcliffe marsh was dominated by a four-figure lapwing flock and c.300 greylags along with a party of four (presumed escaped) snow geese.

These have recently re-located from the Silverdale saltmarshes and were first seen in the Aldcliffe area by P. Woodruff on the 28th.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Wet and wild

A recent move to Scotforth has changed my Aldcliffe routine. I now tend to start from the Stodday sewerage works and move north up to Freemans pool and wood. The birding in the south of the parish feels very different to the area about Freemans. Freemans woods and pools have got the ability to turn up anything in the right weather but I don't have that feeling yet about the south of the parish but the ungrazed tidal marsh, thick bushes of the cycle track and the steep grassy banks of the sewerage works all offer potential. 1 meadow pipit, 2 grey wags and 5 pied wags were present at the sewerage works. I then met up with Steve to help with the Snatchems to Conder WEBS. Highlights were c.2000 lapwing on Aldcliffe marsh and totals of 11 goldeneye, 2 rb mergansers, 2 goosander, 1 greater crested grebe and 9 little grebe from the conder area
Guy McC

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Taking stock

Pleasant walk round even in the inclement weather.
Water levels are dropping for now but it's looking good for water rails along the bottom path if we get a cold snap.
Flock of c. 150 golden plover on Aldcliffe marsh. They are usually only seen this far up the Lune during bad weather.
4 reed buntings along the sea wall.
4 little egret on Aldcliffe marsh with 4 on Oxcliffe marsh and perhaps the same 4 on Colloway later.
2 stock dove in the stubble fields.
4 tufted duck on Freemans pool
5 snipe flushed on the marsh with a further 12 at snipe bog.
10 long tailed tits near on the top path with a lone chiffchaff belonging to the western race.
1 goldeneye and 2 little grebe on wildfowlers.
c. 20 blackbirds in various places with 10 together near the sewerage works.
3 meadow pipits and 7 pied wagtails in the sewerage works.

Guy McC

Monday, 9 November 2009


Aldcliffe, lunchtime visit. In total contrast to the very wet weekend today was frost and blue sky and not a breath of wind.
Freeman’s Pools
Some work being done as I arrived, which was useful as it allowed a good count of Coot totalling 38.

Darter Pool
Mute Swan 3
Coot 2
Moorhen 3

Wildfowlers’ Pools, filled to the brim.
Green Sandpiper 2
Kingfisher 1
Little Grebe 1
Snipe 1
Moorhen usual.
Flood, saw Moorhen 5.

Little Egrets 3
Skylark 1 going south.
Usual Greylag and Canada’s.

Cropped maize fields continue to attract a number of birds. Jackdaw, Crow and a large flock of feral pigeons as well as Woodpigeon.
Chaffinch 30
Reed Bunting 6
Dunnock 2
Greenfinch 4


Sunday, 8 November 2009


Sunday 8th Nov, got down for an hour this morning to Freeman's Pools.
Nothing new in that I saw. After yesterdays heavy rain pools filling up and fields flooding.

Sparrowhawk giving good views on fence post.
Greenfinch 4
Goldfinch 8
Song Thrush 1
Gadwall 2
Snipe 2
Tufted Duck 4
Coot usual
Little Grebe 3
Grey Heron 3
Mute Swan 2


Friday, 6 November 2009

Dies Veneris, Vanellus vanellus…….

Aldcliffe 09.00 – 11.00, SSE 7-10, 7 oktas,
First time to the patch for a while, weather was looking dodgy, thankfully apart from a light shower it kept fine. A noticeable increase in Lapwing numbers since the last WeBS count which is good news, lets hope for at least twice as many again over the coming weeks. This time last year the Wildfowlers’ was more like a shallow lake and had good numbers of waders present, today hardly anything.

Lapwing, up to 2000, numbers increasing from last WeBS which was 1200.
Little Egret 3
Canada Geese 130
Shelduck 2
Peregrine 1

Freeman’s Pools
Gadwall 2
Tufted Duck 2
Goldeneye 2
Mallard and Coot usual.
Little Grebe 2
Mute Swan 2
Pheasant 4
Grey Heron 2

Frog Pond had 2 Mute Swan
Darter Pool also had 2 Mute Swan, Moorhen 2

Wildfowlers’ Pool
Nothing else of note, water levels rising.

Moorhen 8
Redshank 2
Pied Wagtail 2

Fieldfare 6
Redwing 4
Chaffinch a flock of 16, moving south along hedgerows.
Goldfinch, Greenfinch small numbers.
Dunnock 4
Robin 7/8
Blackbird 35/40, from Freeman’s to meadow.
Reed Bunting 6/8
Wren 7/9
Maize fields have been cropped, a large number of Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Greylag Geese 220 and Woodpigeon 90+, Starlings


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Hunt for Red, October

Morning visit.
SE 1-3, 8 Oktas, a little light drizzle at first.

I thought the weather looked promising for something grey with an orange tail, but there wasn't a BR on the marsh debris this morning.. (is this even on the Aldcliffe list, Jon?)

I switched to look for stripy easterners in the sycamores and willows, with no success.

So, the parish passerine highlights were:

A chiffchaff, goldcrest, blackcap, lesser redpoll and 22 song thrushes in the wood.

Also 45 reed buntings and two tree sparrows in and around the maize field.


Monday, 26 October 2009

All Quiet on the Western Bund

Late morning to mid-afternoon visit.
SSW 0-1, 6-8 Oktas, dry.

Me and Steve W decided to take advantage of the calm conditions to do some good hard listening.

But what few warblers we came across on our bush-bashing search were all exceedingly quiet and shy. Even the flocks of tits seemed to have taken a vow of silence, so it wasn't always easy to locate the action.

The best of a mute bunch:

4 blackcaps, a chiffchaff and 1-2 goldcrest in Freeman's Wood.

Two goldcrests and 2 rock pipits Stodday sewage works.

A water rail, 3 tree sparrows and an Eastbound flock of 17 skylarks were a little more vocal.


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Swanning Off

Weather: SW 0-1, 8 oktas, light mist.

Dan here.

This picture of 4 off-passage whooper swans over Frog Pond this morning is dedicated to Guy McLelland because he is a big fan of my photography! I can see why.

Only had chance for a quick look around today, which was a shame because passerine numbers were reasonable-- highlighted by:

50-60 blackbirds

c20 song thrushes

c25 redwing

c30 meadow pipits

97 greenfinches (a decent flock for Aldcliffe)

2 tree sparrows

2 goldcrests (a mega so far this autumn!)

and a littoralis-looking rock pipit.

Didn't seem to much in the way of vis, with just 5 skylark and 7 meadow pipits noted moving S.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Fringillas in the Mist

WSW 0-2, patchy fog (pictured) eventually clearing to reveal 5-8 Oktas. Dry.

The parish was moderately thrashed by Guy, Steve and myself (Dan) this morning and the main points of note were....

Reed buntings: an unprecedented high in and around the (unharvested) maize field-- hard to come up with a decent count but obviously at least 40 birds and probably into three figures.

(Re: the ringing of this species at Middleton and L. Moss-- all seen well were unringed).

Also attracted by the maize crop:

c.35 linnets, 6 tree sparrows, c.40 chaffinches, c.10 greenfinch.

Visible migration:

recording was often halted by and made tricky by fog but 0800-1200 saw circa

skylark 35
meadow pipit 35
chaffinch 30
linnet 15
greenfinch 15
alba wag 8
reed bunting??!
redwing 4
swallow 1
siskin 1

(Snipe mig? A fair bit of activity including 7 + 26 + 11 seen to head South or Southwest)

Also of note in the parish:
6 song thrushes, 2 green sandpipers, raven, merlin, sparrowhawks, 5 little egrets, a blackcap, 2 chiffchaffs, 25 long tailed tits... and a continuation of the goldcrest drought.


Monday, 5 October 2009

Tree sparrows

The first tree sparrows of the autumn turned up today in the few bushes between the two maize fields with a flock of 5 churring around. Also had a curious record of one in Freemans associating with a goldfinch flock. A chiffchaff was singing in the bushes. Freemans pool had approx. 20 wigeon, 2 gadwall, a little grebe, female shoveler and 2 tufted duck on it. 8 reed bunting were scattered around the parish with a wheatear on the high tide mark. 5 little egret were on the marsh with 4 snipe and a peregrine flushing the lapwing flocks.
Guy McC

Thursday, 1 October 2009

(B)Logging off...

Good to know that I'm leaving the parish in such capable hands as those of the patch-work tribe. With such dedicated souls beating a path around the site surely more great birds will be discovered lurking on the fringes of the Aldcliffe area...

Here's a nice dudey pic of the pools for you all to enjoy.

I'll be keeping an eye on the blog from the colonies - and doubtless butting in from time to time.


Jon C


British Columbarius

Dan here.

Now that the Rev. Jon Carter is off to terrorise North American birds instead, I thought I'd better start working his parish again.

I too was hankering for yanks this afternoon, but there was to be no pec on the pools or American goldie in with the plovers.

But a juvenile curlew sandpiper on the estuary at Gull Bank was a pleasing find.

Also in the area:

a female merlin (Falco columbarius)

Whooper Headlines

I certainly won't be able to produce the headlines of Jon, wit of Dan or accuracy in counting of Steve but thope this is okay.
Highlights of a walk round Aldcliffe this morning was 6 chiffchaff scattered around the area with 3 in Freemans (including 2 singing birds), 1 at the cutting and 2 at the walled meadow. Green sandpipers numbered 3 on Freemans pool and 2 on Wildfowlers. A kingfisher was on the pools also. The marsh was quiet with 8 little egrets and a sparrowhawk spooking the waders. Approx. 30 meadow pipit and a regular flow of skylark passed over with the largest being a flock of 7. A merlin was hunting on the lower path. A single whooper flew down the Lune at 11.15ish. Other Icelandic migrants were 3 skeins of pink footed geese numbering approx. 60//30/40. 2 common buzzards were seen close to the Freemans pools on the return trip. They managed to catch a thermal, rose quickly and moved south.
Guy McC

Monday, 28 September 2009

Last orders?

Managed to get an hour in round the patch today - the first time I've looked through a pair of bins in a week! An utter disgrace...

Anyhoo, the highlights were relatively few - though it may just turn out to be my last visit (eek).

Freeman's Pools
20 wigeon
3 tufted duck (1stw m, 2f)
6 mute swan
15 coot
1 little grebe
Usual other bits and pieces

Marsh Point
What looked like a 3rd yr yellow-legged gull was on the river briefly, though the drizzle reduced views somewhat. Structurally convincing (large & 'square' headed), darker mantled than the herring gulls and light than any of the LBBs wit no visible mirrors in the primaries. Streaky headed with a dark eye effect. Legs looked pinkish.

Frog Pond
2 pinkfeet with Canada geese in the field

Wildfowlers' Pools
1 green sandpiper
6 snipe
20+ teal
4 shoveler

Aldcliffe Marsh
4 little egret and a further 3 on the river by the pylons plus another at the back of Colloway Marsh.

4 swallows seen.

Very few passerines noted in general with nothing of note amongst the singe tit flock I came across.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Pluvialis apricaria, couldn’t resist……

Met up with Guy and we had a trawl round the patch. Highlight was a flock of Golden Plover with a wonderful Latin name that rolls off the tongue, and a flock of Dunlin, all seen on mud just beyond Cadaver Corner. Other birds today……
Golden Plover 50
Dunlin 25
Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank.
Greenshank 1
Little Egret 4

Flood saw Snipe 3/4,Redshank 1, Moorhen, numerous finch in hedgerows.
Frog Pond, Mallard and Mute Swan 4
Darter Pool couple of Moorhen.
Wildfowlers’ Pool Green Sandpiper 1, Kingfisher 1, Snipe 4, Teal 5/6
Track, Reed Bunting 6/8, numerous Green Finch and Chaffinch, Robins 12/15. Woodpigeon 25 in fields. Kestrel 1,
Peregrine 1, Raven 1.

Freeman’s Pool
Wigeon 11, Tufted Duck 2, Gadwall 2, large number of Greylag and Canada’s, usual Coot and Moorhen. Linnet 12/15 in dead tree’s, Goldfinch 100+. In the wood, Sparrowhawk 1, Blackcap 1.

Pink-footed Geese, 2 skeins over 30/40 in each.
Swallow 1

Monday, 21 September 2009

Lune Surfers......

Just arrived at Gull Bank to watch everything flushed by the Lune Bore, a big tide racing in as it did yesterday, great sight. Initially some birds, especially geese, attempted to surf the wave but then gave up and took flight. A Peregrine was hunting along with a Sparrowhawk on the Marsh pursued by Ravens. Three Green Sandpipers at the Wildfowlers’ Pools along with a Kingfisher, more below......
Freeman’s Pool
Canada Geese 150/170
Greylag Geese 45
Gadwall 2
Mallard, Coot and Little Grebe.

Peregrine 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Raven 3
Curlew 80/90
Little Egret 3

Snipe 2
Moorhen 3
Redshank 1
Grey Wagtail 1

Track, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tits.

Wildfowlers’ Pool
Kingfisher 1
Green Sandpiper 3
Snipe 2
Usual Moorhen etc.

Swallow 15/18

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Having a gander

Took a hangover-easing walk with Jenny round the patch over the hightide today. And what a tide!

A green sandpiper was again in the wet field at Fairfield and a pair of jay were nearby.

9 little egret were visible on the marsh and a mobile flock of 24 teal were whizzing around. A peregrine was busting up the waders and a kingfisher was on the Wildfowlers' Pools.
Another kingfisher was at Freeman's Pools, where there was also a 500+ mixed flock of Canada and greylag geese (plus 3 scabby white things).
The female tufted duck was still on the main pool.

A handful of swallows were feeding in the area.

A few common darter were seen and a common/migrant hawker briefly put in an appearance as did a couple of red admirals.


I returned for an early evening visit where the following were among the highlights:

A very high common buzzard over the tip

3 raven were honking about.

40+ swallows were feeding over Freeman's Pools with the gadwall pair, a little grebe and a female sparrowhawk present plus the other usual suspects.

Half a dozen snipe were feeding on the Flood along with 4 teal and a grey wagtail.

2 shoveler and another couple of snipe were visible on the Wildfowlers' Pools.

Noticed lots and lots of long-tailed tits in the hedgerows throughout the area.

A stoat ran across the path near Frog Pond.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Owl, osprey & others...

Guy McLelland's Saturday morning posting:

Decent morning down here.
Short-eared owl, high over the tip and being mobbed by a crow at 8am
Decent selection of migrant common warblers in Freeman's Wood.
Wheatear on high tide mark, 2 reed buntings at Bank Pool and 5 little egrets on the marsh.
Kingfisher at wildfowlers' Pools.
2 kestrels, 2 gadwall and tufted duck on Freeman's Pool.
Highlight was an osprey flying down the Lune at 11am.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Pain in the (wry)neck

Thought high tide would be a good time to catch sight of the Little Egrets, I was not disappointed, saw maximum of 10 after various counts over 30 mins, and possibly one or two more present as they were quite active. The Lapwing and Starlings being flushed by a Peregrine added to the atmosphere. 2 Greenshank very busy feeding on a shallow pool, they kept circling round a Grey Heron, which seemed totally unfazed. The hedge by Freeman’s Pool produced some goodies.

Marsh, high tide.
Little Egret 10.
Greenshank 2
Peregrine 1
Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Mute Swan.
Raven 2

Teal 8
Lapwing 1
Moorhen 3
Snipe 2

Wildfowlers’ Pools
Kingfisher 2
Green Sandpiper 1
Shoveler 1

Freeman’s Pools
Canada Geese 170/180
Greylag 30/35
Gadwall 1
Little Grebe 1
Usual Coot
Lesser Whitethroat 2
Chiffchaff 3
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2 in dead tree’s
Swallow, some heading south down river, others
seemed to be hanging around.


Today I made my last ever post-work visit to the patch, given that I am now officially unemployed.

A pair of gadwall and a female tufted duck were on Freeman's Pools along with all the usual suspects. A kingfisher was on the upper pools.
40+ swallow were feeding in the area.

Very little at the Wildfowlers' Pools mainly due to a hare-seeking lurcher and its attendant 'gent'.

8 egret were visible on the marsh, as were the 2 greenshank as seen by Steve earlier.

15 teal & 5 snipe were on the Flood.

Met a fellow birder who visits Aldcliffe infrequently (but given that he lives in Lincolnshire he still gets there more often than a lot of 'local' birders...) by the name of Matthew Strahan who, as well as reporting another kingfisher at the Wildfowlers' Pools and a sparrowhawk at Freeman's Wood, mentioned a wryneck that he and his father had seen at Walled Meadow last September - I later bumped into his dad by the marsh gate who also recounted the tale!
And I was only thinking the other day how nice it would be to see another wryneck at Aldcliffe - it's 20 years since I last saw one there! (03/09/89)

Jon C.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Egrets, I've had more than a few...

11 little egrets (largest ever recorded at Aldcliffe?) on Aldcliffe Marsh at 7.45am today.
Thanks to Joy for the report.


Excellent count, though we had 14 on October 10, 2008 on the marsh, earlier that day they were all on the Wildfowlers' Pool according to a dog walker.


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Pishing about...

10.00am - 11.30am
Work happening on Freeman’s Pools.
Freeman’s Wood saw plenty of activity today. Spent an hour wandering around the bottom end where a number of warblers responded to a bit of varied pishing.
Chiffchaff 4
Willow Warbler 1
Linnet 1
Plenty of Chaffinch, Goldfinch.
Good number of Long-tailed, Great and Blue Tits all responded to my pishing noises!
Blackbirds 12/15
Robins 5/7
Wren 3/4

Reed Bunting 2
Still a few Swallow in area.
Raven 2

Wildfowler’ Pool
Teal 12
Little Egret 3
Snipe 2
Usual Moorhen.

Flood saw just a few Mallard and Pied Wagtail 4.


Seems that the same group of birds were present in what is currently my favourite hedge this evening, as I too pulled out 4 chiffchaff and a willow warbler amongst a healthy tit flock. There were at least 40 birds in the flock feeding in the cycle track trees and aforementioned hedge near the viewpoint overlooking Freeman's Pools. The highlight amongst them was a rather late lesser whitethroat.

A flock of 22 swallow were buzzing about, presumably in advance of roosting in the maize field.

A green sandpiper was visible at the Wildfowlers' Pools as was a female shoveler and a handful of teal.

15 teal were on The Flood along with 5 snipe.

A little egret was on Aldcliffe Marsh.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Gadwall's well that ends well.

After a weekend without any visits to the patch I managed an hour after work this evening.

All the usual gubbins (coot, snipe, little grebe etc) was at Freeman's Pools though a small increase in wildfowl was evident, the highlight being a fine drake gadwall.

A green sandpiper was flushed by a dog walker doing the rounds at the Wildfowlers' Pools, as were a dozen teal and a female shoveler.

A bit of pishing drew a female blackcap out from a tit flock along the cycle track.

2 more teal, 3 snipe and few redshank were on The Flood.

Friday, 11 September 2009


Today saw an exceptional count of Buzzards 14 in total in just over 2 hours, one group of 8 over Jon’s house, followed by 3,1,2 and all followed the same route, climbed high then speeded south. My hope of an Osprey was satisfied as one passed fairly high overhead speeding south, it then appeared to join 2 further raptors way down river, but at that distance I could not identify, though they were of similar size.

Also of note,
Freeman’s Pool was busy with some grass cutting, not much around other than the usual Coot etc.
Rook 1
Meadow Pipit 4
Swallow, though less numbers than yesterday.
Sparrowhawk 1
Kestrel 1
Raven 2/3
Crow 40+
Lesser Whitethroat 2
Finch, seemed to be more around today, Green, Gold and Chaffinch.
Wood Pigeon 14/16

Darter Pool
Moorhen 2
Coot 1

Wildfowlers’ Pool
Green Sandpiper 3
Teal 5

Little Egret 3
Canada Geese.
Butterflies Comma, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshell.


Excellent stuff Steve.
Just one more week to go and I'll be unemployed and able to get there during the day myself (for a couple of weeks anyway)!

My post-work visit was, by contrast, unremarkable with the following highlights...
A greenshank flew into the upper pools at Freeman's for a brief preen and nose about before heading back to the estuary.

2 green sandpiper were visible (and audible) at the Wildfowlers' Pools where an impressive, by Aldcliffe standards, 23 teal were also present plus a single shoveler and 4 snipe.

A pair of ravens were honking around over the Trig Point Hill.

A kestrel was hunting the area, as usual.



Thursday, 10 September 2009

Black Rook in 'Sunny' Weather...

Aldcliffe AM
An unusual pair of visitors to Aldcliffe, 2 Rooks, they were flying along the tidal bank.

Freeman’s Pool quiet, Coot, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Mallard.
Sparrowhawk in dead trees.
Chiffchaff in wood,
Jays 2.
Buzzard flying over.

Darter Pool saw Coot 1 and Moorhen 1

Wildfowler’ Pool
Usual Moorhen.
Grey Heron 1
Green Sandpiper 3
Teal 17
Kingfisher 1

Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Greenfinch a good number in area 8+.
Goldfinch 20+
Long-tailed Tit 7/8
Blue and Great Tit

Rook 2.
Raven 2
Snipe 12
Willow Warbler 1, Whitethroat 1, Greenfinch 3, Reed Bunting 2 in hedge’s.

Plenty of Swallows still in area. Also today quite a number of butterflies about, including 2 Red Admirals. Plus a number of Dragon Flies and Common Darters.


My post-work jaunt wasn't half as productive as Steve's, somewhat predictably.

Freeman's Pools was as could be expected until, that is, a tractor and mower turned up and started cutting some overgrown areas around the main pool. Most birds seemed alert but generally tolerant of the noisy site management, apart from the 5 snipe and teal which revealed themselves in panic.

A coot was with 2 moorhen on Darter Pool and 2 mute swan were on Frog Pond.

A kingfisher was at Wildfowlers' Pools - a pair of teal were the only other birds of interest present.

A little egret briefly popped its head out of a creek on the marsh but it was otherwise quiet there.

I bumped into Ray Hobbs who mentioned, amongst other things, that he'd seen the adult winter Med gull at Gull Bank a couple of days ago.

He also, like me, thinks that Bat For Lashes should really have won the Mercury.



Monday, 7 September 2009

High flyin' baby and other Groovies...


A quick post-work dash meant just a check of Freeman's Pools.

An increase in the number of mallard was evident - presumably as a result of shooting on the other pools? These 'protected' waters may well prove the essential bolt-hole for fleeing wildfowl in coming weeks.
2 little grebe, usual coots & moorhens etc.
A kingfisher was on the upper pool again, using the new fenced-off areas as a convenient perch.
Two green sandpiper dropped in from the north.
There were hundreds of swallows moving through, feeding high.


Early afternoon.
Started off well with a very exciting moment over the Marsh. All the Lapwing and Starling flushed by Peregrine and scanning above I noticed 2 Buzzards and just above them an Osprey climbing. Then all calmed down and the rest of the afternoon was fairly quiet.
Osprey, circling ascending high.
Buzzard 2
Peregrine 1
Sparrowhawk 1
Raven 2
Little Egret 2
Curlew 150/160
Canada Geese

Goldfinch 5
Reed Bunting 2
Blackcap 1
Plenty of Swallow

Wildfowler’, Flood and pools quiet.


Sunday, 6 September 2009

More of the same...

Sunday AM - Steve W
Ravens 2
Little Egret 2
Curlew 150/160
Pied Wagtail 2

Reed Bunting 4/5
Chaffinch 6/7
Goldfinch 8/9

Freeman’s Pool
Coot 13
Grey Heron 3
Mute Swan
Little Grebe 2


Had a walk with Jenny & our visiting friend Mark early afternoon.

A green sandpiper was in a wet field near the Fairfield Orchard and a little owl was showing well at the Admiralty Wood. Nuthatch and GS woodpecker here too.

4 little egret were on Aldcliffe Marsh but it was fairly routine stuff otherwise (lots of human activity).
Wildfowlers were building some new shooting blinds at Frog Pond... Looks like Aldcliffe may see an increase in shooting activity this season.

A later afternoon trawl around the patch was still quiet, though the adult winter Med gull was at Gull Bank.
2 egrets were still on the marsh and a single teal was on The Flood.

Jon C


Saturday, 5 September 2009

Kings & greens

Couple of hours trawling the patch this morning threw up the following:

Freeman's Pools
2 kingfisher
11 coot
2 little grebe
3 moorhen
1 heron
22 mallard
2 house martin & numerous swallows (plenty throughout the area)

Frog Pond
2 mute swan
6 mallard

Darter Pool
1 moorhen
2 reed bunting

Wildfowlers' Pools (very high water levels)
1 little grebe
2 teal
6 moorhen
16 mallard

The Flood (very flooded)
1 snipe

Aldcliffe Marsh
1 greenshank
2 green sandpiper
(obviously 'flooded out' of the pools)
5 dunlin
1 raven
usual high numbers of lapwing, redshank, curlew etc.

No sign of any Meds amongst the commoner gulls on the river.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


Managed a very quick & damp blast around the main sites on the patch after work this evening.

All as normal (coot, little grebe, heron, mute swan etc) at Freeman's Pools with the exception of a kingfisher, on the upper pools.

3 green sandpiper were visible from the cycle track at the Wildfowlers' Pools along with numerous mallard and 6 teal.

A redshank and curlew were the only birds on The Flood and a quick scan of the marsh revealed nothing of note.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Aldcliffe and beyond

Monday midmorning. Steve W.

Freeman’s Pool
Little Grebe with chick top pool.
Usual Coot

Wildfowler’ Pools
Common Sandpiper 1
Teal 18/20
Usual Moorhen
Grey Heron 2

Flood saw Green Sandpiper 2, Curlew 4
Black-headed Gulls 200+ in field near walled meadow.

Peregrine 1 possibly 2
Sparrowhawk 1
Kestrel 2
Wheatear 4
Little Egret 2
Reed Bunting 3

Plenty of Swallow throughout area.
Goldfinch 25


Finally had a bit of time on my hands for a while today and had a trawl around the patch and on to Conder late morning - mid afternoon.

Freeman's Pools
Little grebe on the upper pools still with growing chick. 2 adults on the main pool.
14 coot, 3 grey heron, 8 snipe, 6 mallard, 4 moorhen plus nearby kestrel, sparrowhawk and raven.
2 lesser whitethroat were in the hedgerow.
Female roe deer.

Wildfowlers' Pools
3 green sandpiper, 10 teal, 2 shoveler.

A little egret was on the marsh and an adult winter Med gull was amongst 150ish BH gulls at Gull Bank.

Steady trickle of swallows through plus the odd house martin.

Went through the few gulls from behind Glasson bowling green but couldn't see any yellow-legged or Med gulls. Nothing amongst the 300ish dunlin feeding on the shore here either.
A peregrine kept spooking the waders, which made looking for anything amongst the commoner species all that bit easier (in theory!)
4 greenshank, 2 spotted redshank and 2 common sandpiper were on the Conder. Water levels on the river were high and consequently there were no edges on the east side of the road bridge for any waders, though a reed warbler was heard grunting away here.

Jon C.


Sunday, 30 August 2009

Last swifts?

Met up with Aldcliffe veteran and old birding chum Greg Potter on Saturday and had a blast around the patch.

Not too much going on...

Freeman's Pools: Usual stuff, though up to 5 swift moving through with mixed hirundines was notable.

Three newly-hatched moorhen chicks were a bit of a surprise on Darter Pool - wasn't even aware of a second nest!

Just a lone green sandpiper seen at the Wildfowlers' Pools, plus a shoveler.

2 little egret and a single wheatear on the marsh but little else of note.

Common buzzard, sparrowhawk and kestrel seen.



After a morning trying to flog 30-odd year's worth of accumulated crap at a car boot sale near Milnthorpe (2 tree pipits south @8.20am - an obvious highlight) I managed a mid afternoon visit but it was even quieter than yesterday.

A common sandpiper was at Freeman's upper pools area - no sign of little grebe & sprog for the second day...

Two green sandpipers at the Wildfowlers' Pools (looks like the others have moved on, unless high water levels has just displaced them temporarily) plus 5 shoveler & 6 teal.

1 legret on Aldcliffe Marsh.

Gave the gulls on the Lune a good grilling but found nothing amongst them.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

August gets gusty

A quick blast around after work just as the wind got up and the rain piled in. Well, it wasn't quite as bad as all that but it did suddenly turn very autumnal...

Freeman's Pools were quietish - the usual coot, odd mallard & moorhen plus the 2 adult little grebes (minus young, it appears that our celebrations were short-lived) while an adult on the top pond was still in the company of one chick.

Good numbers of swallows around.

A single green sandpiper was visible at the Wildfowlers' Pools, as were a pair of teal but little else.

Five green sandpiper & 2 pied wagtail were feeding on the Flood.

Nothing of note seen on Aldcliffe Marsh.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Wet, Windy Wednesday....

Aldcliffe am. A wet and blustery morning. There was a number of Wheatear on the marsh today.

Freeman’s Pool
Usual Coot
Little Grebe with chick upper pool.
Quite a number of Swallow, gathering on new fenced areas.

Reed Bunting 2
Goldfinch 8
Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, Robin.

Wildfowler’ Pool
Teal 17
Snipe 4
Green Sandpiper 2
Little Grebe 1
Little Egret 1
Pied Wagtail 1

Mallard 4
Curlew 11 in field

Raven 1
Wheatear 7
Lapwing, Canada Geese, Curlew etc.


Monday, 24 August 2009

A taste of things to come..?

Met Steve W at the patch after work and we had a quick check of the main areas.

Around 200 Canada geese were on the main Pool at Freeman's - pushed off the marsh at the very high tide earlier? Do Canadians eat Canada geese? It's Thanksgiving there in October...
Coot numbers were much the same and 2 little grebe were on the main pool, again no young were seen.
A lone adult dabchick was in the company of its sole chick at the upper pool.
A pair of little egret circled the pools a few times then headed off, over our heads, to the estuary.

At least 4, possibly 5, green sandpiper were visible at the Wildfowlers' Pools where there were also 3 snipe and a common sandpiper.

Just a pair of pied wags & a lapwing on the Flood and nothing of note on the marsh.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Better late than never...

Far too many pressing commitments prevented me from getting down the patch for a few days so a brief early evening blast around was much needed. Despite the rain...

8 swift were feeding over Freeman's Wood and Pools with good numbers of sand martin plus the odd house martin a few swallows.
16 coot were on the pools but little else. 2 adult little grebes were seen but no young.
A sparrowhawk was being mobbed by a magpie.

3 green sandpiper were at the Wildfowlers' Pools.

An further 3 green sandpiper were on The Flood along with 5 snipe and a redshank.

3 little egret were on Aldcliffe Marsh.

No Meds amongst the birds at Gull Bank.


Midday, walked past Freeman’s Pool, on my way to do WeBS, and there was a Little Grebe with one chick on the upper pool.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

All About Grebe

There was nothing left of the little grebe nest on Freeman's Pools this evening though the good news was that the birds do have 2 chicks. A bit of a repair job was going on in the sunken nest vicinity.
There was no sign of the single chick with the pair on the upper pool, one of the adults was diving frequently while the other was snoozing - I suppose its possible that the youngster was on this birds back? Do little grebes do that in the way larger grebes do?
4 swift were over the pools and the female roe deer was again grazing by the water's edge.

3 green sandpiper & 2 snipe were visible at the Wildfowlers' Pools plus the kingfisher was still present and successfully catching small fish.

Another green sand was on The Flood with a further 4 snipe.

1 little egret was on the marsh.

A good number of swallow were moving through.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Little egrets & more grebelets

Post-work blast around started, as usual, at Freeman's Pools where the coot numbers seem to be building slowly with 14 there this evening.
The 'new' little grebe nest had one very newly hatched dabchick - hopefully more to come. The pair on the upper pools were still attending to their lone offspring.
A doe roe deer was showing very well.

Could only see 2 green sandpiper on the Wildfowlers' Pools from the gate and the kingfisher seen earlier (see below) was still present, as were 3 teal - surely a garganey should drop by soon?

A greenshank was on Aldcliffe Marsh and a snipe was on The Flood.

At least 2 adult Med gulls were amongst the many common and black-headed at Gull Bank.

I picked a very young bank vole up off the road near Keyline and deposited it into the verge.

Jon C.

Aldcliffe AM

Bumped into Guy and we had a trawl round.
Wildfowlers’ Pools
Green Sandpiper 4/5.
Common Sandpiper 1
Snipe 4
Moorhen, 15+ with juveniles.
Kingfisher 1
Raven 2 fly over.

Snipe 2
Green Sandpiper 2
Pied Wagtail 1

Track by meadow.
Long-tailed Tit 20+
Chiffchaff 1
Whitethroat 2

Little Egret 4
Kingfisher 1, probably same as above.
Green Sandpiper 1, farmers in Wildfowlers’ at this point, I noticed still 3 Green Sandpipers present.
Dunlin opposite side of river.
Scanned Gulls, no med that we saw.

Frog Pond
Little Grebe 1

Freeman’s Pool
Coot usual
Mute Swan 1
Goldfinch 25
Swift, still half a dozen along with Swallows and House Martins.

SteveW Guy McC


Monday, 17 August 2009

Really little little grebe

After slumming it down in Norfolk with my old chum Adrian 'Ziggy' Dawson for a few days it was good to back to the patch.
The birds might not be anywhere as near as 'good', or seen in such numbers, but there's nothing quite like local patch birding.

Freeman's Pools held a bit of a surprise in the form a newly hatched little grebe, though not from the main pool nest (still going strong) but from the pair on the upper pools. I'd assumed they'd failed, but the tenacious little beggars seem to have battled on!
Otherwise 7 swift provided the only other diversion.

Frog and Darter Pools were bereft of avian life though the Wildfolwers' Pools held an impressive 6 green sandpiper. This is the highest number so far this year, I believe.

A sparrowhawk was hunting along the seawall hedge but the marsh seemed pretty quiet.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Oh, what a Circus Take 2

Aldcliffe AM
Call off Guy at 09.20 re another Marsh Harrier on the patch. Got down there, Guy was still watching, and it was in tree at Heron Pool, juvenile, great view and in a tree! It then went airborne reason being some fool walking along the embankment, couldn’t believe it!
We continued and the raptors came thick and fast, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Peregrine and Kestrel, brilliant. Ravens 2.
Guy had also seen Snipe 4 and Green Sandpiper 2 and later I saw Common Sandpiper 1 and Gadwall 2, at Wildfowlers’ Pool.
Our day continued with double patch tick for us a Med Gull, silver ring, on the river mud down from The Channel (Cadaver Corner), along with a flock of Lapwing was also a single Dunlin. Freeman’s Pool quiet with mainly Coot. Darter Pool Little Grebe.
SteveW Guy McC

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Oh, what a Circus

Received a call from Guy McC this morning, the long-eared owl was again roosting in the same area as a few days ago and a marsh harrier came over the pools before heading over to hunt on Colloway Marsh. As far as I am aware this represents the 3rd record of marsh harrier for the patch.

A post-work visit failed to relocate the owl, (though it must be said that Guy does possess an unusually good owl-radar...) despite my knowing exactly which elder it was in.
At least 4 green and 2 common sandpiper were at the Wildfowlers' Pools.
2 swift were over Freeman's Pools. There were the usual little grebes and coot present here (including a new late coot chick).

I was pleased to meet up with Reuben Neville from Lancs Wildlife Trust who filled me in with details of what they were currently doing at the site and what they planned to do in the future.
The Freeman's Pools site really is going to blossom in the coming years - it should be interesting to see how it develops.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Can't see the wood for the greens

A single wood sandpiper was with a common and 4, possibly 5, green sandpiper at the Wildfowlers' Pools at c.6.15pm.
Picked it up on call, then got flight views only and didn't manage to age it. It seemed to be keeping with the greens and was still in the area when I left.
6 teal now here too.

All else was pretty quiet with just the usual suspects at Freeman's Pools. Even yesterday's visiting gadwall had moved on...

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Lots of sunshine this morning, but few birds.

Freeman's Pools still on the quiet side - 1 common sandpiper, 12 coot, little grebe on nest, 1 moorhen, 5 mallard, 1 grey heron.

Darter Pool, the moorhen family and a little grebe.

A common buzzard was being mobbed by lesser black backs as it hunted over one of the top fields.

4 green sandpiper were visible at the Wildfowlers' Pools plus 5 teal.

A little ringed plover was on the Flood.

A willow warbler was along the cycle track.
Whether it has been anyone's experience elsewhere, I am still absolutely convinced that this species has been in very short supply at Aldcliffe this year. Normally there will be a good half dozen singing males along the track between Freeman's Wood and Railway Crossing Lane (aka Aldcliffe Hall Lane) and this summer there hasn't been one bird on territory. Is this a peculiarly localised event?

Plenty of butterflies and common darters around plus a couple each common and brown hawkers.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Cut and run

Not sure who's been doing what but it looks as if Lancs Wildlife Trust have been doing some management work down at Freeman's Pools today.
A large area has been cut (good owl/vole area methinks!) and some planting has been done at the upper pools. I had a message from Steve Wallis earlier today (see his posting below) to say that the work was being done and he suspected reed planting - I'll see what I can find out...

Consequently, these pools were pretty quiet with just the usual coot and little grebes on the main water.

A lot of grass cutting had been, and was still, going on in the fields too so the whole Aldcliffe area was fairly birdless. Not even any tractor-following gulls to go through, darnit.

2 green sandpiper were visible at the Wildfowlers' Pools plus a lone teal. (Steve had a kingfisher here earlier).

Around 60 Canada geese have reappeared on the marsh.


Thursday 6th Aug.
An abundance of various species of butterfly were definitely the highlight at Aldcliffe today, amongst the dozens of Painted Ladies was a Red Admiral. Also, a Kingfisher at the Wildfowlers’ Pool, Kestrels at least four present. Many Swallows and House Martins throughout the patch. Little Egret 2 on the marsh along with geese, gulls and waders all on the opposite side of the river! Darter Pool had Moorhen, and Little Grebe. Saw 150 or so Black Headed Gulls in the grass on the rim of Frog Pond.
Freeman’s Pool has had some work done, not sure what, maybe planting of some sort, as there is a number of fenced off areas near the top end, also today 2 Green Sandpipers present.


Monday, 3 August 2009

Summer doldrums...

A quick post-work dash - not much to report really.

Freeman's Pools were quiet with just a common sandpiper and a little ringed plover to break the monotony of coot and little grebes! The tufted duck wasn't even around...

Frog Pond still held the duck mallard and her one surviving offspring, plus 2 moorhen.

Darter Pool's moorhen family were the only things there.

At the Wildfowlers' Pools at least 2 green sandpiper and Tom Wilmer were present.

Other than that, a few swifts, the odd lesser whitethroat and a couple of kestrels were noted along the cycle track.
Jon C

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Utterly butter(f)ly

Had a late morning/early afternoon stroll with Jenny and the Aldcliffe area was awash with butterflies. Lots of painted ladies were in evidence, as expected given the caterpillar count earlier. Also good numbers of speckled woods and a few commas though only a couple of small tortoiseshell and peacock.

Bird-wise, the juv little-ringed plover was on the Flood, then latterly the marsh.

Two family parties of lesser whitethroat were heard and seen along the cycle track and lots of groups of goldfinch and greenfinch were noisily buzzing about.

At the Wildfowlers' Pools a shoveler was new in. 5 green sandpiper were visible from the metal gate.

The Frog Pond mallard brood has shrunk to 1 - I wonder what's been predating those? That particular pool seems to have a terrible track record for the successful fledging of wildfowl.

At Freeman's Pools it was business as usual: 11 coot, 3 little grebe, 4 heron, 5 mallard & 2 common sandpiper. Up to 30 swift were feeding here.

Evening visit

Quick blast round on the bike just to see if anything new had dropped in.
The tufted duck was back on Freeman's Pools though there was little else there of note.

3 green sandiper, 1 snipe and the LRP were seen at the Wildfowlers' Pools.

A couple of kestrel were hunting around the area.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Long-eared reprise

Guy McClelland made something of a surprise discovery this morning when he came across a long-eared owl in the Aldcliffe area.
As an optimist, I was always rather hopeful that the birds present near Freeman's Pools earlier this year may have stuck around (they were certainly still in the area well into April) either to breed or, perhaps more likely, as non-breeding 1st year birds. I had a couple of reasons to believe that there were still LEOs around but hadn't found any hard evidence. So, does this individual imply that to be true or is today's birds a post-breeding 'local' migrant? Whichever, it's a great mid-summer record!
The bird wasn't showing nearly as well as on the pic (courtesy of Guy) when I went down later in the morning and it seemed quite settled in its roost.

Other sightings included 2 green sandpiper and 1 juv LR plover at the Wildfowlers' Pools - where a juv kestrel was also present, sat in the water...?!

A whimbrel and a pair of stock dove were on the marsh.

Lesser whitethroat were much in evidence along the cycle track.

The roe deer pair were showing well at Freeman's Pools and a kestrel and sparrowhawk were engaged in something of a fracas there.

Thursday, 30 July 2009


A post work blast around the patch turned up the following:

Freeman's Pools
3 little grebe (inc 1 on nest), 2 heron, just 6 coot, the juv tufted duck & 5 mallard. Sparrowhawk.
Brown hare.

Darter Pool
Sedge warbler, the resident moorhen family.

Wildfowlers' Pools
Just 2 green sandpiper visible plus a juv little ringed plover (passage or locally bred bird?), 2 teal new in.
Broods of moorhen here included an adult with 5 fuzzy well grown young, another with a pair of slightly younger chicks and another with 2 recently hatched young.

Marsh, Flood & cycle track quiet.

Monday, 27 July 2009

New 'chid on the block

Another of Tom's tip-offs yesterday concerned his having discovered a broad-leaved helleborine - a type of orchid - in the Aldcliffe area.
Now, I'm interested in orchids but I know little about them and to be honest I'd never heard of this plant so I made a point of going to look for it this evening and took a couple of pics - see attached.

Bird-wise, it was pretty much business as usual.

A single whimbrel was on the marsh by The Creek.

Wildfowlers' Pools: at least 4 green sandpiper and 3 snipe present.

Freeman's Pools: the tufted duck was still present. Up to 3 little grebe were on the pools. A common sandpiper and 3 redshank were on the island - the latter interesting as redshank have routinely ignored these new pools.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Wood sand - late breaking news...

Received a call from Tom Wilmer just before 8pm to say he'd found a juv wood sandpiper on the Flood about half an hour earlier.
I grabbed my bike, hoofed off and had bagged it by ten past. It was still feeding on the flood when I arrived but soon after it flew up calling and headed off toward the marsh.
Funnily enough I'd met another birder earlier (hi Chris) at Aldcliffe who had asked about the frequency of wood sandpipers in the area...

Cheers Tom - my second there this summer!

First Med of the season

Following a morning getting soaked (and seeing no birds to speak of...) on a Cross Bay Walk it was a delight to manage a couple of hours (plus) on the patch late afternoon.

Freeman's Pools: juv tufted duck new in, 3 little grebe, 11 coot, 2 common sandpiper etc.

Wildfowlers' Pools: 5 green sandpiper. 1 wheatear (first 'post-breeding' bird).

Lune: juv Mediterranean gull (at last!) - flew in from Stodday direction to feed with a group of BH's just by Gull Bank.
At least 10 common sandpiper in The Channel. 1 little egret.
Yesterday's estimate of greylags would appear to have been a little on the low side. A couple of aircraft came low over the river and put them all up revealing a figure closer to 350.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Ladies day

Highlights from a morning's trawl around the patch this orning included the following:

Freeman's Pools: Pretty quiet, 12 coot, 2 mallard, 1 oystercatcher, 3 moorhen, 1 grey heron, 2 little grebe attending the new nest and another on the upper pools.
Unsurprisingly there have been no little ringed plovers present since the nest was predated.
A few hirundines were around (all species present), plus a handful of swifts.
The most notable thing was the number of immaculate newly emerged painted ladies, hardly a surprise given the huge numbers here in spring and the ensuing caterpillar-fest. Shame about the crappy forecast really as there will be a lot more to come.

Darter Pool: Moorhen pair with 2 young, 1 grey heron. 1 Emperor dragonfly and a common darter here as well as the numerous commoner damselflies.

Wildfowlers' Pools: 4 green sandpiper present. Absolutely naff all else, bar a brown hawker.

River Lune: 6 common sandpiper, 2 whimbrel, 1 little egret. Approximately 250 greylag now on the marsh. Still no Med gulls amongst the hundreds of BH's! A peregrine and a sparrowhawk were freaking out the large starling flocks.

Of note: at home later, Jenny called me into the back yard where she'd discovered some weird insect making a racket in a carrier bag full of garden waste... it turned out to be a startlingly huge woodwasp with a deadly looking ovipositer! Never seen one of those in urban Lancaster before, and we're miles away from any significant conifers. Is this a fairly common sighting?

Monday, 20 July 2009

Light snack, heavy consequences...

I was disheartened this evening to arrive at the pools and see that the little ringed plover that was on its second clutch was having the nest well and truly plundered by a carrion crow.
The parent plover was doing its bet to lure the crow away but the corvid was having none of it. Even a group of magpies were tormenting the LRP further by chasing it! The crow demolished the lot pretty quickly.

I've been keeping my eye on the nest for a bit and this clutch was over the halfway mark. My initial concerns were that the eggs weren't going to hatch before the schools broke up - a couple of kids who regularly play around the ponds had found the nest on Saturday, though after I'd talked to them they'd promised to keep away from it. Pity I couldn't have had the same conversation with the crow...

Otherwise, a common sandpiper was also present. The new little grebe nest has been repaired following a good submerging after the rain, and a bird was actually sat on top of it this evening. That should prove a bit more difficult for the crows to get at.

4 green sandpiper and 3 curlew were visible on the Wildfolwers' Pools, as viewed from the gate.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

A day of two halves

Sunday 19th 10.00am...

Greenfinch 2
Goldfinch 25/30
Sparrowhawk 1
Whitethroat 2
Sedge Warbler 1
Usual Moorhen, Coot, Little Grebe plus large group of House Martins, Swallow and Swifts at the pools and in area.
Moorhen with 2 young on Darter Pool and 2 Emperor Dragonfly.
Wildfowler’s Green Sandpiper 1.
Moorhen 2 on flood
Willow Warbler on upper track along with numerous Goldfinch, Wren and Dunnock.
Marsh, numerous Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Curlew 3, Grey Heron 3, Skylark 1, Kestrel 3. Common Sandpiper 5 on mud with Pied Wagtail 2.

Cheers for that Steve. I only managed an early evening today visit where the highlights included:

1 Little ringed plover, 3 little grebe, the usual coot, mallard etc at Freeman's Pools. Male reed bunting.

2 green sandpiper and first post-breeding snipe at the Wildfowlers' Pools - as viewed from the cycle track gate.

1 green sandpiper on the Flood, plus moorhen pair with 1 well-grown young.

Little egret over the marsh.

Stunning summer plumaged islandica black-tailed godwit feeding in the fields with a group of 12 curlew and 6 lapwing.

Heard a call I couldn't place coming from a briefly seen silhouetted 'large finch' as I was cycling along - a very dull, dry un-melodic trill, almost with the texture of skylark but none of the warmth... if I figure it out I'll post it on here!

Jon C


Saturday, 18 July 2009

Here be dragons...

Highlights from an afternoon trawl included:

Freeman's Pools:
3 little ringed plover, 9 coot (+3 juvs) , 2 little grebe, 6 mallard (+4 juvs), 1 oystercatcher & 1 heron.
Loads of teneral common darters - probably 50+ in one relatively small area checked plus a mature Emperor.

Good numbers of swallow around, inc. recently fledged youngsters, plus a few sand and house martins. Only 6-7 swifts seen.

Wildfowlers' Pools:
5 green sandpiper and another (or one of the FP birds?) little ringed plover.
A huge peregrine passed over.

All quiet on the marsh. A kestrel was hunting along the seawall.

Just 2 moorhen on the Flood, and a sparrowhawk over.

Pair of moorhen with nearly fledged youngster on Darter Pool.

Mallard with 5 very young ducklings on Frog Pond.

Couple of comma butterflies along the cycle track as well as many meadow browns, a few speckled woods, red admirals & painted ladies.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Dabchicks dabble again

Although the first time I recorded breeding little grebes at Aldcliffe involved a very late pair (they were successful, incidentally) I was quite surprised to discover a pair nest-building this evening. Fingers crossed for something more successful than the two (at least) failed attempts so far this season.

The coot family were out and about and the female mallard with her brood of 4 were still doing the rounds.

A very noisy tit-flock came bouncing down the hedgerow by the cycle track containing some very recently fledged birds included 2 scruffy chiffchaff. Nearby a family party of whitethroat were actively feeding.

A little ringed plover and common sandpiper were on the upper pools.

3 green sandpiper were visible at the Wildfowlers' Pools plus 7 curlew there.

Approx 300 lapwing were feeding (with 120ish starling) in the field above the upper track - encouraging to see so many young birds amongst them.

Wednesday wander

Managed a quick trawl round after work yesterday evening.

A green sandpiper was on the island at Freeman's Pools.
A little ringed plover was nearby.
2 little grebe plus the growing coot family and a young moorhen were the only birds on the water.
A couple of kestrels were hunting around the edges.

A further 3 green sandpiper were at the Wildfowlers' Pools.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Freeman at Freeman's

Freeman’s Pool/Wood midday. Spending over a week of slowly recuperating after a slipped disc. I could not sit there or wait any longer, definite cabin fever setting in; I crawled onto my bike and hurtled down to the Parish. I had a very leisurely stroll by the pools and a rather static 45 minutes in the wood, it was very rewarding, and did me the world of good.
Grey Heron 3
Gadwall 2
Little Grebe 2
Green Sandpiper 1
Oystercatcher 2
Lapwing 1
Kestrel 3
House Martin
Reed Bunting 2
Goldfinch 3
Greenfinch 2
Bullfinch 1
Chaffinch 5
Wren 5
Blackbird 20+
Robin 3
Great Tit 2
Blue Tit 2
Coal Tit 2
Treecreeper 2
Chiffchaff 4
Blackcap 3
Song Thrush 2
Sedge Warbler 1
Whitethroat 3
Lesser Whitethroat 2
Crow 4
Woodpigeon 7
Magpie 3


Friday, 10 July 2009

Unkindness thrills

A good couple of hours trawl around the parish this evening.

An amazing sight of a flock of 10 ravens were over the fields and marsh, eventually heading across the river toward Heaton. Quite unprecedented.
A couple of single ravens were seen later but may have been part of this original group, which presumably contained the local breeding birds.

The regular green sandpiper was at its favoured haunt on the upper pools at Freeman's while a couple of little ringed plover were also nearby.

A further 4 green sandpiper were at the Wildfowlers' Pools, though nothing else there of note.

I couldn't find anything interesting amongst the building gull flocks on the Lune - surely there must be a Med around somewhere?
3 eider and couple of common sandpiper were seen.

One adult and 2 juv kestrels were again in the dead trees by the 'owl' field.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Ravens rave on

A post-work trawl today had me arriving at Freeman's Pools just before 6pm.

A 'new' drake teal was present - which reminds me, I forgot to mention the 2 drake tufted ducks that were there on Friday.
Also, the successful coot pair have finished building a new nest. It would appear they are feeling confident enough to squeeze another brood out.
Otherwise, all was pretty quiet really.

Single LR plover & green sandpiper were on the shallow pools, seen from the western viewpoint.
A couple of newly emerged common darter were here too.

A kestrel and sparrowhawk were engaged in something of a dog-fight by Frog Pond, much to the annoyance of the local swallows.

The party of 6 raven were initially above the trigg-point hill, then seemed to be everywhere I went in ones and twos - unless there are more in the parish than I thought!

There was nothing seen at the Wildfowlers' Pools.

A group of 20 lapwing were by The Mud (formerly known as The Flood).

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Ruddy heck!

Had a most unexpected Aldcliffe 'tick' (if indeed such things are tickable) late afternoon as a pair of ruddy shelduck flew down the Lune heading toward the Conder just after 5pm.
While mid-summer influxes of this species are well documented, I'm a bit sceptical about their provenance... I haven't even ticked the group of 7 or 8 I saw on the Hayle during the big influx in 1994 and it remains off from my British list. Having seen loads abroad I don't mind keeping it that way!

Other wildfowl news was more 'valuable', evidence of successful breeding was again implied by an adult female eider on the Lune, off Colloway, with 2 juvs - another 2 juvs were further down river.
Shelduck don't seem to have done overly well - a few juvs were seen, though nowhere near as many as used to be the case 10 years or so ago.

Single green sandpipers were at both the Wildowlers' Pools and Freeman's Pools with 2 juv LR plovers also at the latter site.
2 common sandpiper were on the river.

Up to 5 ravens were honking around and a couple of kestrels were busy hunting.

A couple of weasels were along the cycle track near the Low Wood paddocks.

Still amazing numbers of painted lady caterpillars around (see pics above) - this place is going to be absolutely filled with butterflies in a few weeks assuming all goes well...


Saturday, 4 July 2009

'pillars of the community

The big feature today was the amazing number of what I think were painted lady caterpillars - in their thousands. There were hundreds on the cycle track itself (including many squashed ones) between Freeman's Wood and Darter Pool.

Other than that spectacle, there was a single green sandpiper on the Wildfowlers' Pools and a further 4 on the island at Freeman's Pools.
An adult LR plover was also on the upper pools - as viewed from the western viewpoint.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Thank Freeman's it's Friday

Quick visit after work, an emperor dragonfly was hunting around the main Freeman's Pool.
I bumped into Guy who was at the western viewpoint where there were two green sandpiper and a little ringed plover.
Other than a near-biblical abundance of froglets on the cycle track there was little else to be seen, though great views of a kestrel catching a vole impressed Guy and myself no end!
A red admiral was by the Wildfowlers' Pools and loads of meadow browns were by F Pools.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Emperor strikes back

Enjoyed a gentle, late evening wander with Jenny through Fairfield Orchard, via Aldcliffe village and along the cycle track down to Freeman's Wood and up to Willow Lane.

An adult GS woodpecker was being followed around by two juvs in the Admiralty Wood where there was also a jay.

2 green sandpiper were visible from the gate overlooking the Wildowlers' Pools.

An emperor dragonfly, my first of the year, was on Darter Pool (still flying at 9pm).

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Wader washout

Not a green sandpiper nor little ringed plover to be seen anywhere this evening. Have they all moved on or merely been disturbed to a temporary site?

There wasn't really much of anything, the highlight being a kingfisher which flew onto Freeman's Pools from the Lune. Otherwise, the mallard with her brood of 4 were seen, the original coot pair with their 2 growing young were intact though the new youngster(s) to the other pair were down to just one.
3 sheldcuk, 5 mallard, 3 heron & 7 greylag were on the main pool until Captain Nemo turned up again in his wetsuit and engaged in some Olympic training.
Maybe he's the Eddy the Eagle Edwards of his generation?
Freddy The Frogbotherer Freeman, perhaps...


Monday, 29 June 2009

4 of one & a third of a dozen of the other...

Another pair of coot revealed 2 new chicks at Freeman's Pools this evening. The others were still present but there was no sign of the mallard family. A pair of greylag were on the island along with 3 herons.
Also at Freeman's were a single green sandpiper and 3 LR plovers on the upper pools.
3 male black-tailed skimmers were also present, best seen from the cycle track viewing area.

At the Wildfowlers' Pools the wader numbers were reversed with a single LR plover and 3 green sandpiper though little else.

Both Frog Pond and Darter Pool were quiet. With the exception of 100 or so starling and a couple of skylarks the Marsh was pretty birdless too.
A red admiral was near Keyline.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Can't see the wood for the greens

A late afternoon trawl was the best I could manage today, just as a brief shower started...

No sign of yesterday's wood sandpiper though the 2 green sands remain on the Wildfowlers' Pools. Has anyone else been down today to look?
3 little ringed plover were also there.
A pair of little grebe were on Frog Pond - I assume these were the failed breeders from Freeman's Pools.
A single little grebe was also on the upper pool as usual. The mallard brood has now dropped to 4 though the coots still have 2 and the young oik was following its parents around.
The tawny owl I came across the other day was present again, though in a different tree, once again betrayed by a noisy blackbird. I guess this is the same bird as seen in the nearby hawthorn during the winter.

Good numbers of painted ladies still around but the total lack of sunshine kept any dragonflies well hidden.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Wood in the 'hood

A wood sandpiper and 2 green sandpipers were at the Wildfowlers' Pools this afternoon, though difficult to see as the water levels are low and few muddy edges are visible from either the gate on the cycle track or from Dawson's Bank.
With a bit of effort and patience the birds at this site always eventually come into view without the need to go into the field and flush everything.

Otherwise, a single juv LRP was on Frog Pond (plus a probable black-tailed skimmer) and the moorhens at Darter Pool have a single chick.

At Freeman's Pools all was quiet. The mallard brood of 5 seem to be still doing well as do the 2 coot chicks. An oystercatcher was being followed around by a half-grown youngster.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The new Pine Lake?

Tonight's pool-based entertainment was provided by a couple in wetsuits, swimming caps and goggles giving it full lengths in the main Freeman's Pool. What next? Frankly, I give up...

What few birds there were included 2 adult and 1 juv little ringed plover on the upper pools. Another juv LRP was at the Wildfowlers' Pools though I couldn't find any green sands anywhere.

The male broad-bodied chaser was still in its favoured spot.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Swiftly does it

Having given a bit of advice to Warren Bevan regarding a collapsed house martin nest at Lancaster Golf Club a couple of days ago (brood saved and doing well thanks to Warren's rapid action) tonight's bird in peril came in the form of a swift.

Dave & Holly (of the appropriately named band The Lovely Eggs) came round with an unknown bird in a box. The mystery creature had been found by Dave in a state of distress before it collapsed on the floor of the Music Co-Op on Lodge Street, where he works.

Opening the box I was faced with a lovely adult common swift - giving it a quick check, I took the gamble that it was well and simply unable to take off from the deck and took it out.
The bird climbed up my hand -indicating it was indeed in OK shape - before I launched it successfully into the air.
Amazingly free of lice considering its species, this was the first time I'd ever handled a live swift and we all let out a little cheer at our special Disney moment...

Monday, 22 June 2009

'Sands of time

I received a call while heading for Aldlciffe after work saying that a couple of local youths were 'enjoying the facilities' at Freeman's Pools with at least one swimming in the main pool and mucking about around the island.
By the time I arrived they were long gone though the pool seemed, perhaps unsurprisingly, pretty quiet. It's a good job the little ringed plover have fledged - a week earlier and it could have been quite disastrous...

The coot brood appears to have become 2 (from yesterday's 3) though it's possible one was hiding in the vegetation. The mallard ducklings were at 5.

On the upper pools a drake pochard was an odd new arrival. The adult and 2 juv LRPs were present as was the drake tufted duck and a little grebe.

Three green sandpiper and a little ringed plover were at the Wildfowlers' Pools.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Baby birds abound

Further to Guy's comments to the posting below it was good to see that 2 juv LRPs were still doing well at Freeman's Pools this morning. Both were feeding along with an attendant adult on the upper pools.

A sedge warbler was blasting away from the water's edge - earlier I'd noted a food-carrying pair active by the old footy pitch, where whitethroat were also busy feeding young. Once again both whitethroat species were much in evidence around the patch.
Other news from Freeman's Pools included the first mallard brood and one of the coot pair with 3 newly hatched young.

The rest of the morning and early afternoon was spent doing my WeBS count from Aldcliffe Marsh to Conder.
Highlights included:
3 common tern
25 grey heron
1 little egret
2 raven

At Conder the stunning summer plumage spotted redshank was showing well - I highly recommend going to see this bird before it gets stuck into its moult, it's an absolute cracker!
1 ad LRP was kicking around and 3 common sandpiper were on the river.
2 very young oystercatcher & 2 lapwing chicks were at the Pools, a handful of redshank were amongst the adults feeding on the Conder.

Keeping on with my mutterings about the lack of willow warblers this year I heard ONE (near Ashton Hall) on the entire stretch from Lancaster to Glasson...

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Seeing green

The highlight from a morning trawl around the patch were 2 green sandpiper at the Wildfowlers' Pools - traditionally a favoured site for both passage birds and returning winterers.
Another green sandpiper on Frog Pond later was quite likely one of these birds but it might just have been a third individual.

At Freeman's Pools there were at least 2 adult and 1 juv little ringed plover in the area. The youngster is clearly now capable of flight and was feeding on the muddy upper pools. There might still be 2 young around, any news to confirm this would be appreciated. An adult LRP was also around the Wildfowlers' Pools.
The roe deer pair were showing superbly.

Waterbirds were a bit thin on the ground with a few moulting mallard, 4 shelduck, 3 tufted duck and the usual coot and moorhen plus a little grebe showing.

Further to Guy's observations the other day it was good to see a healthy number of lapwing chicks around the maize fields though I couldn't see any young oystercatchers and no adults appear to be sitting any longer.

A kestrel was hunting around the wood and both common and lesser whitethroats and blackcaps were in good voice and widely distributed around the area.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

A mighty wind

A windy cycle from Morecambe (where I'd been fortunate enough to jam into a Pom skua off the Jetty this morning before work) found me at a blustery Freeman's Pools for 6pm.
Quite a few hirundines (all 3 species) and swifts were feeding over the water while a bundle of snoozing mallard and a couple of shelduck were on the island along with a little-ringed plover.
Another LRP was on the upper pools where a reckless lapwing chick was wandering around unprotected by parents in full view of a couple of herons. Either they were already too full having scoffed its siblings or they were just too dozy to notice, but they didn't seem interested in the slightest.
3 tufted duck were present as were the Canada goose pair.
Elsewhere it was pretty quiet with just another LRP and a common sandpiper at the Wildfowlers' Pools.
A sparrowhawk was hunting near Frog Pond.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Hot chicks

Aldcliffe news from Guy...

Promising lapwing chick count yesterday in the baking sun with further new, doubtless soggier, youngsters seen today.

Little-ringed plover chick engaging in short maiden flights today and the first returning post-breeding green sandpiper - quite an early date but not unprecedented.

Cheers for the updates Guy.

Monday, 15 June 2009

All about evening

Went for a late evening visit just to see what's about later on in the day.
Of course, the optimist in me was keeping one eye out for a repeat of last year's hobby or similar. Needless to say, that particular optimist was left somewhat disappointed...

At Freeman's Pools the LRPs were busy running around the island as usual while the other residents carried on as normal. I suspect that the upper pool dabchicks have a nest somewhere in the vegetated margins as one adult acted very aggressively toward the drake tufted duck at one point.
The female roe deer was out and about.
Good numbers of swift and a few swallow, house & a couple of sand martins were feeding on the copious insects over the water.
The other pools were very quiet.
7 herons were fishing on the Lune at Stodday.

An agitated song thrush and a couple of very noisy blackbirds tempted me to scramble through some vegetation alongside the cycle track near Freeman's Wood, where after some
searching I eventually discovered an adult tawny owl.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Marsh mellows...

A couple of hours trawling the patch with my brother Dave, in advance of his going to Iceland for 3 months later in the week, saw much as could be expected. ie not very much.
The male broad-bodied chaser was still holding territory and good numbers of painted ladies and speckled woods were much in evidence. A single distant darter species was the only other odanata bar the usual damselflies.
At Freeman's Pools all was well with the LRPs seemingly in good health.
Plenty of vocal lesser whitethroats around.
Despite the success of tits and such this year other young birds seem to be notable only by their absence.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Summertime blues

Saw my first patch broad-bodied chasers at Freeman's Pools today, with a pair ovipositing over the small reed-fringed pool just in front of the viewpoint on the cyclepath. Apologies for the dodgyscoped pic - handheld snapper to my eyepiece...
A few common blue and blue-tailed damselflies were also present though no darter species were seen.
Coots are rebuilding and 1 of the little grebe pairs appear to be doing the same.
The LRP chicks continue to grow - amazing to think that they had only just hatched this time last year!
A trawl along the seawall was rewardless and the Wildfowlers' Pools and The Flood was free of avian interest.
Common and lesser whitethroats were typically in evidence along the cycle track along with the usual LT tits, goldfinches etc. No sign yet of any fledged reed buntings at either of the pairs' sites.
Darter Pool was quiet with the exception of a few common blue damselflies.
Back at F Pools, something was causing something of a commotion and looking hopefully skyward I noticed a sparrowhawk over the ponds - hmm, was that it? Then a buzzard soared low across the water, but wait - what's that large raptor above? Another buzzard. Then a peregrine soared over and a kestrel shot by. Not exactly what I was hoping for but quite a flurry of excitement!