Sunday, 30 November 2014

Sunny Delights

A quick blast around the patch yesterday revealed little to add to the previous day's sightings.
The pochard (pictured) was still present at Freeman's Pools, though there was no sign of it there this morning (Sunday).
A kingfisher was present on the upper pools today, but otherwise things were pretty much as normal with half a dozen wigeon (pictured), 3 tufted duck, 19 gadwall, 27 teal, 7 little grebe, and 30 coot.

Snoozing pochard
3 grey herons were on the gravel island and a little egret was fishing on the sluiced pool.
A kestrel was doing the rounds as was a female sparrowhawk, scattering the handful of fieldfare and a couple of mistle thrush in the process.
Yesterday's passerine highlight was the single siskin that came over from the other side of the river and headed for Freeman's Wood.

A raven was circling over the Lune late morning; all I could make out on the saltmarsh were the usual mix of greylags, Canada geese and mute swans.
On the river I searched through the black-headed, common and herring gulls but found nothing of note among them, unless one counts the odd wintering lesser black-backed gull.
Grey partridge continue to feed in the fields in and around the maize stubble.

That Canada goose was again hanging around the island at Freeman's Pools but on both of my visits today and yesterday it stayed either partly, or fully, in the water.
As can be seen in the pic, the top of the darvic ring on its left leg is just visible.
Despite my being armed with a 'scope its 'pinkie' ring remains unread.


Friday, 28 November 2014

Diving Duck Debut

Highlights from a morning visit included my first pochard of the season on Freeman's Pools. Also there were 3 tufted duck, 19 gadwall, 7 little grebe and an increase in coot number to 38.

The lone Canada goose that has been in residence on the pools for a couple of weeks now was out of the water and I could see that it was sporting a pinky/orangey darvic ring on its left leg.
I've been curious as to why this bird stays on the pools while hundreds of Canadas and greylags hang out on the marsh. My first impressions of this goose were that it was slightly smaller and more delicately built than the usual gang and perhaps this ring indicates that it is of captive origin? I couldn't see any other rings or whether the coloured ring bore any digits as I only had my binocs - maybe it's a genuine North American vagrant? (I'm not holding my breath...). Hopefully I'll get to 'scope it and see something more definitive in the coming days or weeks.

A green sandpiper was on the Wildfowlers' Pools with good numbers of teal, and 4 grey partridge were in the stubble fields.

Otherwise it was a pleasant enough morning, but ultimately there was little to set the pulse racing.


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Obese Geese

Hi. Dan again.

Just a quick visit today.

Yesterday's Greenshank and Chiffchaff were still around. A male Blackcap was eating haws near Stodday.

A female Merlin was in the north of our patch (as per Pete Marsh- probably the same one as yesterday) and the Bar-headed Goose was with Greylags on the marsh.

The injured white-morph Snow Goose was on the river's edge of Colloway Marsh in some insalubrious company-- a limping Greylag and some baggy-bellied white farmyard types.


Saturday, 22 November 2014


Dan here.

Of course the blog title refers not to the type of precipitation (it was drizzle) but to that time of year when I wonder about the provenance of snow geese.

I spied one over on Colloway Marsh this afternoon. Mostly feeding on its Todd (goose joke!) it was joined by a single Greylag for a while. The white-morph appeared to have a damaged wing.

There was a fair bit of goose activity in general, with a good few hundred pinkfeet flying around at high tide. Some appeared to land over the river at Oxcliffe. Many feral geese were mobile on the Aldcliffe side.

A brown Merlin in hunting mode was my first of the season here. A late (or wintering) Greenshank was a pleasing sight.

Highlights at Freeman's Pools were a Kingfisher, Water Rail (sounds), 19 Gadwall, 30 Teals, two Wigeon and a Goldeneye. A Rock Pipit flew overhead, as did two Golden Plovers and a rather late male Common Darter dragonfly.

Goldcrests numbered three at Freeman's Wood and three at Stodday. A Chiffchaff (pictured below) was near the sewage works where four Grey Wagtails, twenty Redshank and a Raven were present.

Around fifteen Fieldfares were moving to and fro (often harried by Sparrowhawks) and two Redwings, two Song Thrushes and 20 Blackbirds were in evidence.


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

More Of The Same

A glorious sunny morning saw me scouting around Aldcliffe once more but there wasn't a great deal to be added to yesterday's tally.
Once again several goldcrests were in Freeman's Wood along with the usual bullfinch, long-tailed tits, treecreeper, etc.
A green sandpiper was on the upper ponds at Freeman's Pools, while the main water had attracted a trio of tufted duck (1 drake, 2 ducks). 3 meadow pipit were zipping around.
Four stock doves were feeding in the stubble fields but finch / bunting / sparrow numbers remain incredibly low there. A couple of skylarks passed over.

Darter Pool
Darter Pool was hosting a surprising mix of wildfowl with a pair of goldeneye and 2 female tufted duck among a gang of mallard and a lone teal.
There were good numbers of teal at the Wildfowlers' Pools but The Flood was only hosting a pair of redshank and half a dozen moorhen.
A quick scan of the marsh revealed the bar-headed goose in-residence and a sizeable, if distant, gaggle of pinkfeet.


Monday, 17 November 2014

I'm Alright Jack

Managed a good 3 hours or so trawling around the patch this morning where conditions were, on the whole, reasonably mild, calm and bright.
I came across at least 6 goldcrests in Freeman's Wood along with the usual common stuff including jay, great-spotted woodpecker and treecreeper.
At Freeman's Pools there were 23 gadwall, 24 coot, 7 little grebe and single each of goldeneye and tufted duck as well as the expected other bits and pieces. Around 50 lapwing were on the island.
The usual mass of greylag and Canada geese were out on Aldcliffe Marsh where I once again spotted the bar-headed goose (pictured).

 Among the many greylags I was able to read the letters on all 4 of the collared geese I could find. As I've mentioned previously on these pages, these birds were fitted with these distinctive orange collars at Windermere. Researchers are trying to determine the movements of this particular group of birds and it will certainly be interesting to find out what these geese get up to at various times of the year.

 A flock of c140 pink-footed geese came in (presumably from grazing in the Oxcliffe area? - or further afield?) and settled on the marsh.

As yet I haven't seen any common snipe in Snipe Bog this autumn / winter, but a single jack snipe was a nice find there today.

Other stuff seen around the area included peregrine, sparrowhawk, kestrel, fieldfare, little egret and skylark.  


Saturday, 15 November 2014


Hello. Dan here.

Spent a couple of hours at the western viewpoint for Freeman's Pools this afternoon.

While I was there I noted singles of Water Rail, Green Sandpiper, Kingfisher and Siskin. A Goldeneye was the pick of the ducks.

A Rock Pipit was heard, 10 Pinkfeet dropped onto the marsh (where Jon's Bar-headed Goose is still in residence), and two Goldcrests were at the edge of Freeman's Wood.


Friday, 14 November 2014

You're Barred.

I learned two new things this morning. My new wellies are fully waterproof as expected, and my old 'waterproof' trews are way past their best...

Other exciting revelations while birding Aldcliffe in the downpour included the discovery of a bar-headed goose among 400 or so greylags on the marsh by The Creek.

Now, my memory is a bit leaky at the best of times so I'm not entirely sure whether I've seen this species on the patch before. Aldcliffe has an unenviable list of dodgy fence-hopping wildfowl to its credit and while this commonly kept exotic honker has certainly occurred here in the past (in 2012 during my 'Canada years' at least) but I'd probably have to trawl through hordes of old notebooks to confirm whether I've clocked one myself.

Bar-headed goose on the loose. Pic by Swati Kulkarni
Of course the bar-headed goose is rightly famed for its amazing migratory prowess. This species is known to fly higher than any other bird on the planet, crossing the Himalayas and even passing over Everest. However, I expect our friend on Aldcliffe has traveled no further than from Grange duck pond...

Other highlights were very few - in fact the only thing really worthy of mention were the pair of kingfishers on the upper ponds at Freeman's Pools. 


Photo courtesy of Swati Kulkarni's Flickr page

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Love A Duck

Howdo, Jon here.
After yet another involuntary absence of sorts I managed to squeeze in a couple of visits to the patch this week for some much-needed Aldcliffe birding. It's good for my soul...

On Sunday I spent a good couple of hours checking all the usual haunts, but other than a few semi-notable birds-of-strictly-local-interest it was fairly standard fair.
Highlights included:
2 pink-footed geese were among the many hundreds of greylags and Canada geese on Aldcliffe Marsh. Also on the marsh were good numbers of lapwing, golden plover and redshank, alongside smaller groups of dunlin and curlew and 2 black-tailed godwit.
21 gadwall, 2 wigeon, 3 tufted duck and my first 'patch' goldeneye of the season were on Freeman's Pools. The usual multiple little grebe, coot, moorhen, mallard and teal were also present, as was a young male roe deer.
At least 5 grey partridge were being very active, flying around the maize fields and constantly calling.  
A water rail was heard squeeling in Reedy Corner but remained typically unseen.
A couple each of skylark and rock pipit were the only passerines of note other than a handful of redwing and a lone fieldfare feasting in the hawthorns.

Following an enjoyable hour and a half leading a bird walk around the FAUNA reserve and area on Monday morning I headed off to Aldcliffe once again to see if anything much had changed in the past 24 hours.  (Click HERE for species list).
There were 4 snipe on the Flood and a small flock of 18 linnet nearby, while a couple of small flocks of fieldfare bounced from hedgerow to hedgerow.
A kestrel was hunting around the area and a sparrowhawk was patrolling the pathway hedges.
On Freeman's Pools a fourth tufted duck had dropped in as had 5 shoveler.
A kingfisher was on the upper pools. 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Sylvan Scenes



Dan here. Happy November!

A quick walk around Freeman's Wood today turned into a two-hour session.

Highlights were a party of six Bullfinches (eating rather decayed blackberries), one or possibly two Chiffchaffs, a female Blackcap, two Goldcrests and two Coal Tits.

Thrushes comprised 12 Redwings, two Song Thrushes and 25 Blackbirds.

Also noted were a Jay, a pied pecker, 10 Long-tailed Tits and one each of Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. A skein of 65 Pink-footed Goose headed S overhead.

Freeman's Pools was hosting a Goldeneye (my 1st of the season) plus 15 Gadwall, 12 Little Grebes and a Snipe.