Sunday, 31 August 2008

Redstart makes up for flat tyre... almost

A few more grounded migrants around during a late afternoon/early evening trawl.
A tit flock at the Wildfowlers' Pools held an astonishing minimum 8 chiffchaff, 2 willow warbler and a pair of goldcrest. The bulk of the flock was made up of long-tailed tits, unsurprisingly.
A green sandpiper was visible here from the gate on the cycle track.

A little grebe was on Freeman's Pools.

A little egret and an adult Med gull were on the river amongst the many BH gulls.

At Stodday ETW the number of alba wagtails had dropped to just over 40 but again there was nothing else associating with them. Very surprised that no grey wags were present (again) given that normally this species is virtually guaranteed here. Disappointed there were no yellows...
Oh, and this is where I got a puncture and had to wheel my bike home, though at least the journey was brightened up somewhat by a redstart and lesser whitethroat, plus a number of robins, which were around the sheep pen at the Walled Meadow.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

A few migrants moving through

The most notable thing yesterday (Friday) was the number of hirundines around. I was aware of large numbers feeding from the moment I left home in the morning and all the way to Morecambe - there were feeding groups of mainly swallow with lesser numbers of house martin, all over the place. At Aldcliffe in the evening this was yet again evident with literally hundreds of birds, including a few sand martins, feeding over the fields and pools - doubtless fuelling up before taking advantage of the change in weather.
This morning, there were very few hirundines feeding in the Aldcliffe area but there was a definite thinly scattered but persistent movement south.

4 wheatear were on the tideline.
Going through a few tit flocks I came across just one chiffchaff and a single lesser whitethroat (yesterday evening one tit flock contained 6 willow warbler and a chiff). Another notable feature in the past couple of days is the 'return' of singing robins all along the cycle track - presumably establishing their winter territories.

2 green sandpiper were over the marsh and landed on the river off Heaton, I imagine these were the same 2 seen 20 minutes later at the regular haunt of the Wildfowlers' Pools.
A single common buzzard drifted over the marsh while both a peregrine and a female merlin also put in appearances. The resident raven pair were kicking about.
2 common sandpiper were on the Lune as was a shoveler in amongst a group of mallard.
Went through the gulls but despite the many BH's there were no Meds present.

Lots of dragonflies & damselflies around with dozens of common darter throughout the area and a single ruddy darter at Frog Pond. Brown hawkers were also much in evidence.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Leucistic lapwing reappears

The leucistic lapwing seen on the marsh back in July was feeding in the fields this afternoon.
Also present amongst the many nearby starlings was one with a whole white tail (a completely white bird was near here a few years ago).
Otherwise, a little egret flying through and good numbers of hirundines were the only birds of note at Aldcliffe.
At Stodday ETW around 200 swallows/house martins were feeding over the beds with at least 80 alba wagtails at the site, though I couldn't find anything else amongst them despite a pretty thorough grilling. Probably worth checking here in the next few days if these numbers remain...

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Sunshine Sunday

A late afternoon prowl around the parish revealed little new.
A very large juv peregrine was doing the rounds and a female sparrowhawk was over Freeman's Wood.
A pair each of little grebe and green sandpiper were at the Wildfowlers' Pools.
A noisy raven duo were honking over the marsh.
Some jet-skiers kindly flushed a group of 11 snipe.
2 chiffchaff were the only notable 'migrants'.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

SEO performs again

Quick post-work visit revealed little at Freeman's Pools bar an adult little grebe and the usual coot, mallard etc.
3 little egret flew over Frog Pond heading north, gaining height - could they have been heading for the Leighton Moss roost? 8 teal were new in on the pond.
2 ravens were dossing about over the marsh again.
Returning to Freeman's Pools, homeward bound, I noticed the short-eared owl was engaged in something of a fracas with one of the local kestrels. The falcon retreated to a hawthorn while the owl did a few turns over the rough grass area before landing on the fence and allowing superb views in the intense evening sunlight. All this, just 20 minutes walk from the city centre...

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Prowl reveals owl

As I approached Freeman's Pools along the cycle track this evening I noticed a short-eared owl flying around the overgrown field behind Keyline. It flew over to the pool and hunted around the northern end before continuing its foray over the rough sedge area beyond. This is presumably the same bird as seen a week ago by Pete Crooks - has it been present here, and perhaps over the river on the tip - since then?
Otherwise, 2 green sandpipers were visible at the Wildfowlers' Pools from the cycle track, as were the teal pair.
In the wet fields above the upper track there were 30+ common gulls and just a handful of BH gulls. Over 80 BH gulls were on the Flood but there were no Meds to be seen.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Soggy fields attract Med gull...

A great deal of water but few birds of note...
Highlight was an unringed adult Med gull amongst approx. 60 black-headed & 24 common gulls feeding in wet fields at Aldcliffe this evening. The nearby Flood really was, well, a flood.
A single green sandpiper was flitting around the Wildfowlers' Pools and a pair of teal were new in here. No sign of the garganey pair anywhere.
A shoveler was on Freeman's Pools.
2 ravens were wreaking relative havoc on the marsh.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

New hawk compensates for drenching...

Did my WeBS count from Aldcliffe to Conder on foot and back, some good birds and some very mixed weather. Set off at 11.30am, got home a bit knackered at 5.45pm.
Notable highlights were 2 green sandpipers at the Wildfowlers' Pools and another on Freeman's Pools, the garganey pair again on Frog Pond and an adult yellow-legged gull (presumably the Sunderland/Bazil Point bird on walkabout) at Gull Bank, though surprisingly no Meds amongst the many black-headeds there. 10 snipe were flushed from the river edge by jetskiers.
A peregrine was on the pylons at Stodday.
5 little egrets were seen on the estuary. 3 golden plover were amongst the lapwing and single whimbrel & spotted redshank were at Conder as well as 4 common sandpiper .
A wheatear was near Waterloo and singles of both whitethroat along the cycle track were the only notable passerines.

The biggest surprise of all came in the form of a goshawk which drew attention to itself by flushing everything off Bazil Point and the adjacent bit of the marsh as it passed low-ish over and on across to Conder giving excellent views as I sat at looking toward the Conder mouth south of Waterloo. It then climbed a little more and did a couple of tight circular flights in good light to emphasise the upperpart colouration and then drifted off over Long Plantation and away to the east. Judging from its size (it absolutely dwarfed the BH gulls and lapwings that scattered around it), and having consequently checked dimensions, it was an adult female.
Where it came from (although it wasn't wearing any jesses) may be another matter for discussion! Stunning.
Just a shame it was out of the Aldcliffe parish!!

Late news from yesterday - again just outside the Aldcliffe area, a juv yellow wagtail was feeding with a small group of pieds, on the Girls' Grammar School playing fields in Fairfield, briefly yesterday afternoon (as I was on my way to get a haircut...).

Friday, 15 August 2008

Double ducks

At last! I managed to get down to Aldcliffe for the first time this week for a post-work visit and it was actually dry and reasonably productive.
Highlights were the re-appearance of the garganey pair, and two green sandpipers, on The Flood. Also there was a mallard with very recently hatched ducklings (it's quite surprising how much a lone small duckling dabbling in the middle of a pool can look like a phalarope at distance with the naked eye!).
A quick scan over the marsh revealed at least 4 wheatears, implying something of a fall...
Had stunning views of a very pretty vixen by Darter Pool where a little grebe was lurking in the waterside vegetation.
A lesser whitethroat and several willow warblers were in the track-side hedgerow.
Nothing of note at Freeman's Pools, except a single emperor dragonfly.
A very noisy gaggle of panicking swallows drew my attention to a male sparrowhawk who was soliciting more interest than perhaps he wanted.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Club Med

Dan reporting once again. Hello mother!

A 'scoping sesh from Dawsons Bank turned up a mediterranean gull on the estuary mud. This time a big-looking adult in non-breeding plumage.
Circa 200 lapwings and 2 dunlins were roosting here, with a peregrine eyeing them up from the top of a pylon.

One of about fifteen roving willow warblers seen ended up in the clutches of a sparrowhawk. Three common whitethroats (a juv. and 2 adults) was the sum total of sylvias.

Pond-watching revealed 2 green sandpipers and a few snipe. The garganeys seemed to be absent-- though I didn't check Bank Pool , arguably the most 'garganey' spot in the parish.

Only two species of dragonfly seen in borderline conditions- common darter (c15) and brown hawker (one).

LATE NEWS - A short-eared owl was present by Freeman's Pools early afternoon - via Pete Crooks.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Downpours and Dabblers

Dan today!

The two garganeys were again the pick of the parish. I 'scoped Frog Pond from where the track crosses the new bund. An adult male and an ad. female I think.

Freeman's pools were quiet- 2 dabchicks the highlight. A third little grebe was on Darter Pool.

A stock dove was in the Low Wood area- not a common species in Aldcliffe.

Two green sandpipers were on 'the flood' alongside the track hedgerow where 3 willow warblers foraged.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Quick anas inspection...

Returned from the Leighton Moss Summer Fair late afternoon/early eve and legged it down to check if the garganey were still present on Frog Pond. They were.
Had a quick look round the other pools - where the water levels were notably higher - but little else revealed itself.
Approx 40 swift were over the marsh and a little grebe (plus bicycle 'new in') were at Freeman's Pools. A raven was bothering a kestrel over Snipe Bog.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Good weather for ducks.

Decided against waiting for a non-existent clear spell and eventually ventured out mid afternoon. Pretty wet and pretty quiet on the whole with highlights being 1 green sandpiper & 5 snipe seen on the Wildfowlers' Pools, a wheatear by the Walled Meadow and a whimbrel on the marsh.
All of this was soon eclipsed, (no pun intended) by the discovery of two garganey on Frog Pond. Not too sure whether they're a pair (ie eclipse male & female) or an adult female and juv. Only had binocs with me and I didn't want to flush them, but one of the birds was almost certainly an adult female.
Not quite a Sabine's gull (see Heysham blogsite...) but a very welcome find which made the dousing seem worthwhile.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Tidal Bore

Parishioner Dan again.

Saw a Lune bore cruising upstream past the Freeman's Pools stretch. Not a jet-skier this time.

A bit later spent about ninety minutes hoping the tide would get high enough to shift a mediterranean gull in my direction. What a bore...

It was a small 1st summer > 2nd winter med (deceptively BH gull-like) snoozing and preening opposite 'Cadaver Corner'.
I had been 'scoping in vain to make out what was on the white ring (a NW European-ringed bird, I'm told) on its right leg. At times it looked like green lettering/numbering. At others I couldn't make out any at all! Too far off.

A dunlin and 3 black-tailed godwits were also on 'Gull Bank', while on the deep marsh channel N of Dawsons Bank (Aldcliffe proper!) there were 7 common sandpipers and a whimbrel as the high water lapped an inch or two below marsh height.

A grey partridge was calling nearby.

Around 60 common darters, two emperors and two brown hawkers noted.

Butterflies included a fresh-looking comma, a few small tortoiseshells and many speckled wood.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

In the zone...

The post-work visit today was somewhat inspired by my earlier discovery of rain-dropped wheatears at Morecambe and I thought I'd better check out the Aldcliffe chat-zone, which although sounds like a premium rate phone service, is the area south of the Walled Meadow and Cadaver Corner - consistently the best place to look for wheatears, whinchat, stonechat, bluethroat (!) etc. However, today was not the day and, in fact, buggar-all was present.
Otherwise, a pair of peregrine were hunting in tandem around the whole area this evening causing mass panic amongst the lapwing, curlew etc.
2 green sandpiper were visible from the metal gate overlooking the Wildfowlers' Pools as were 3 snipe.
A very bright willow warbler was accompanying a long-tailed tit flock further hinting at the arrival of autumn...
The number of Canada geese seems to have suddenly doubled with up to 60 on Heaton Marsh.
Just 1 com darter and a hawker sp. (migrant or common) were at Freeman's Pools, as were a group of 20ish swift.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Teneral Lee

Dan here.

The title pun refers to my observation that what few common darter dragonflies (c15) I found were a) immature (no ripe and red males noted yet)- and b) in only the most sheltered spots in the breezy conditions.

Other parish odonata seen amounted only to one brown hawker, plus blue-tailed and common blue damselflies.
This week I've been scrutinising the latter species hoping to tick azure damsel for the patch. No luck yet though.

To the birds...

Waders included three freshwater green sandpipers, and a common sandpiper on the saltier pools.
2 whimbrel were also on the marsh. One was seen to be gobbling crabs, their usual quarry at Aldcliffe.

A peregrine, sparrowhawk and raven were soaring overhead.

A few juvenile willow warblers and lesser whitethroats were in the hedges. A juv. and an adult little grebe were seen on the deepest of Freeman's Pools before a number of dogs took a dip!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Quiet afternoon trawl...

All quiet at Freeman's Pools with nothing more than a couple of coot and a moorhen.
Similarly Bank Pool, Darter Pool and Frog Pond were pretty birdless. Nothing much on the Marsh either.
2 green sandpipers and a couple of snipe saved the day at the Wildfowlers' Pools.