Monday, 11 April 2022

Spring Things...

I've managed a few trips down to Aldcliffe for a spot of birding in recent days; spring time, despite the rather crummy wind direction of late, always lures me out in search of birds passing through. Despite the unhelpful conditions, it's been mostly dry (bar the odd hail shower) and some determined migrants have made it through. 

Personal highlights this week have included a fine drake garganey on Freeman's Pools on Friday, a wheatear by The Flood on Tuesday and both swallow and willow warblers today (Monday 11). 

Dan H had his first tree pipit of the season earlier in the week and an osprey flew over Fairfield just after noon today. 

Up to 3 little ringed plovers and a green sandpiper have been regular on both the Wildfowlers' Pools and the Flood. We could do with a bit of rain to keep the Flood a little wet and muddy to attract waders and wagtails in the next couple of weeks...   

As ever, the Easter holidays has seen an increase in the number of people with off-lead dogs wandering around all over the saltmarsh, having first walked past all the signs explicitly asking them not to. It's really no wonder that the number of birds seen in these areas of marsh have diminished significantly in recent years. Constant disturbance simply prevents birds from roosting, feeding and nesting.     

(Pic of drake garganey not taken at Aldcliffe but recently at Cockersands)       

Monday, 4 April 2022

2022 Update!

Flippin' heck. It's been a while. 

As ever, I have had lots of good intentions to update this page from time to time but alas I simply haven't got round to it. So, here we are almost two years since the last post. Quite a lot has happened in that time to be fair, both in the wider world and indeed at Aldcliffe. And, while many of the bigger issues have been somewhat consuming, we shall try not to focus on those here and instead direct our interests to the matter of birding in and around the Aldcliffe area. 

Since our last blog post, there have been a one or two notable developments in the area. 
The Lancaster & District Birdwatching Society (LDBWS) have installed an excellent feeding station by Pony Wood at Fairfield. As a result we have seen a wide variety of species using this resource including good numbers of reed buntings and bramblings - much to the delight of local birdwatchers and the local community in general. 

Also, some extensive drainage work has been done in an effort to reduce flooding in the fields bordering Aldcliffe Hall Lane and the cycle track. This has the potential to reduce this area's appeal to birds (particularly passage waders and wagtails etc) but the actual outcomes have yet to be seen. 

Meanwhile the overall condition of the Aldcliffe landscape continues to be generally poor for wildlife and the stretch from Freeman's Wood to Stodday is increasingly uninviting to many birds. A notable increase in the number of people using the cycle-track and the spill-over disturbance onto the marsh and into the fields, especially by significant numbers of people with off-lead dogs, appears to be having quite an impact. Despite lots of signage having placed at the entry points, many dog-owners appear to think that it applies to other pet owners only.

The Wildfowlers' Pools still attract plenty of birds seasonally as do Freeman's Pools, so it's not all bad.

When I started this blog, the primary purpose was to try to highlight the area's potential and hopefully encourage more birdwatchers to visit - after all I had been birding here since the 1980s and knew how good it could be! Thankfully, more people do birdwatch here now than ever and thanks to this increase and regular ongoing coverage by a small but dedicated band of local patchers we have a far better understanding of the area and its value to breeding and wintering birds as well as off-passage migrants. 

So, given that it's spring (not that it feels like it out there today) let's kick off with some seasonal news...

Spring migrants so far include: 

Chiffchaff (plenty singing around the entire area for some time now) 

Blackcap: (small numbers singing in and around Freeman's Wood)

Little ringed plover (at least 3 birds on The Flood and Wildfowlers' Pools)

Ruff (1 at Wildfowlers' Pools 27-28 March)

(No one had any sand martins here yet???)

Other odds and sods in recent weeks include red kite, tundra bean goose, white-fronted goose, barn owl, Mediterranean gull, ringed plover, black-tailed godwit, etc. 

It is my intention to maintain some sort of updates here moving forward, but I've had those sort of intentions before. Let's see how we get on...