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).