Thursday, 30 October 2008

Return of the Green Sandpiper

Green sandpiper on the Wildfowlers' Pools and 1st w female scaup still on Freeman's Pools today - thanks to Steve W for keeping an eye on things down there!

Good to see a green sand back at the pools. Overwintering birds at Aldcliffe usually vanish for a while if the water levels get too high, then return once the pool edges become exposed. I wonder where it's been?

To see the rest of Steve's recent Aldcliffe postings click on the link to the LDBWS website below, on the right.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Scaup stays put...

The juv female scaup was again present at Freeman's Pools this morning. Glad to note that Steve W successfully 'twitched' it!
Also there: 4 mute swan, 3 little grebe, 7 wigeon, 3 tufted duck, 1 shoveler, 15 coot & 1 goldeneye plus the usual mallards & moorhens.
Pair of m swans on Frog Pond & 2 coot on Darter Pool.
The Wildfowlers' Pools continue to expand due to the incessant rainfall and are now at sever mid-winter levels with the cycle track being flooded for a good 100m or so. Good job the upper path is there, allowing you to bypass it if you don't have wellies. Not much there bird-wise though, just a group of 50ish feeding redshank, the usual moorhens, a few coot and a little grebe.
Just 1 little egret spotted on the marsh.
1 common snipe flushed from Snipe Bog.
Passerines pitifully quiet in general with just 1 flock of redwing and a few feeding blackbirds, song thrushes and 2 tit flocks in the hedgerows.

And finally...
Congratulations to my very good pal Adrian 'Ziggy' Dawson who today became a first-time dad. As a former Aldcliffe patch-worker this blog wishes him, Rachael and their newborn daughter Isobella our very best wishes.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Scaup scoop!

The combination of a bright day and a 5 o'clock finish on Friday allowed for what will certainly be the last post-work visit from me for quite some time... However, it wasn't exactly stunning.
2 little grebe, 2 tufted duck, 9 wigeon, 7 mallard, 14 coot & 4 mute swan the Freeman's Pools highlights.
2 further little grebe were on the Wildfowlers' Pools plus around 20 mallard and 60 or so redshank.
Another 2 little grebe were on the Flood along with approx 100 mallard.

Didn't manage to get out until the afternoon when I spent spent a soggy spell trying to check the area.
Several hundred lapwing were in the fields with a few redshank and a solitary golden plover. A flock of approx 150 resting BH gulls held an adult Med gull by the Flood.
A shoveler and 2 little grebe were on the Wildfowlers' Pools.
The undoubted highlight was a 1st winter fem. scaup on Freeman's Pools with 3 tufted duck (this is personal first for Aldcliffe and brings my patch list to 177). Also present were 13 wigeon (finally made double figures), 2 little grebe and the usual mallard, coot, moorhen etc. No sign of any pochard.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Winter thrushes arrive...

Late morning, early afternoon prowl around revealed the following 'highlights'...

Freeman's Wood - 50ish redwing tazzing around and feeding in the hawthorns, plus 2 fieldfare and few song thrushes. No tit flocks of note.

Freeman's Pools: 3 little grebe, 2 shoveler, 2 tufted duck, 2 pochard, 1 goldeneye, 5 wigeon, 21 coot, 4 mute swan.
Also 1 stoat and a roe deer.

Frog Pond - 2 mute swan & 1 brown hare.

Darter Pool - 1 little grebe, 2 coot.

Wildfowlers' Pools - 6 coot & a peregrine.

The Flood - 1 little grebe.

Snipe Bog - 4 common snipe

Aldcliffe Marsh - 3 little egret.

Cycle track - 1 LT tit flock contained 2 blue tit and nowt else.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Aldcliffe annex?

Dan again..

I will shortly be in talks with Jon Carter to extend the ancient Aldcliffe parish boundary to include Milking Stile Lane, which is only about 250 metres from Freeman's Wood.

I was hobbling home down Milking Stile early this afternoon when I heard loud firecrest calls emanating from the bushes adjoining Jon's street. A couple of minutes and a bit of pishing later the culprit flitted out from deep cover and gave me a mean look.

Over the next twenty minutes I caught a few more glimpses of this splendid female as it motored around this unpreposessing patch of planting.
A secondary surprise was the number of migrant songbirds alongside this busy stretch of pavement-- with a minimum of four chiffchaffs, 5 goldcrests and up to 10 coal tits rubbing shoulders with the posh kinglet. A few redwings were knocking about too.

Two chiffchaffs looked rather like the continental abietinus race.

This suburban firecrest is the only one I've ever found in Lancashire (glad Ray Hobbs got a look too)-- what a shame it wasn't quite inside the parish patch--or was it?!

Jon's tuppenyworth...

Given that I start birding the minute I leave my house to walk to Freeman's Wood and on to Aldcliffe (as I'm sure you do, Dan), I suppose we could include it... only problem is, where does it end? I recall taking the p*ss out of Mark Prestwood and John Reddish a few years back 'cause they raced to Teal Bay in order to 'scope a razorbill I'd found off the Jetty and they wanted to get it on their Leighton Moss list! By that logic we should be able to count stuff in the Trough of Bowland and Conder (well, you can see both sites from Aldcliffe) :-)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Just the Regulus!

Dan once more.

A paltry four goldcrests located in Freeman's Wood in ever dampening conditions this afternoon. No chiffs or sylvias evident in a thorough search.

Freeman's Pools were only marginally wetter. The largest pool held a pochard, nine wigeon and two tufted ducks. A kingfisher was piping up on one of the shallow pools.

An off-passage meadow pipit flock of twenty-eight was feeding in the rough grass.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Sylvia's Cover


Thought I'd make the most of the still conditions this morning and do a spot of Aldcliffe 'vis' ... almost all birds were heading south or south-east

Raven - 1E (though probably a local).
Chaffinch- 16.
Linnet- 4.
Alba wagtail- 32.
Meadow pipit- 34.
Goldfinch- 9.
Song thrush- 3.
Greenfinch- 29.
Coal tit- 3.
House sparrow- 3.
Siskin- 3.
Grey wagtail- 3.
Snipe- 6.
Starling- one flock of 80.
Golden plover- 123.
Skylark- 20.
Redpoll sp.-3.
Reed bunting- 1.
Smaller (silent!) finch sp. -flock of 17.
As I began working Freeman's Wood I could hear more skylarks, meadow pipits and alba wags heading over , until fog stopped the vis trickle at about 0930.
The FW bush-bashing was fairly productive with a shy garden warbler, 3-4 male blackcaps, 15 or so goldcrests, 9 coal tits and c.40 song thrushes.
Seems to have been an influx of robins with around 25 in the wood. I could only find one chiffchaff, but another was just out of area halfway down Willow Lane.
At 1100 43 pink-footed geese headed S as the fog began to dissipate- a welcome change to all the feral honkers that seem to dominate the area at the moment!
Before a family exercised their dogs in Freeman's Pools 2 pochards had added to the duck numbers.
A green sandpiper was vocal and mobile in the north of the parish.

Jon: Following my return from 2 weeks out of the parish (birding in the Western & Northern Cape = approx 180 new birds), I had a lazy amble with Jenny this afternoon (that's not a euphemism, but a description of our walk) but it was unsurprisingly devoid of notable birdlife.
We did bump into Dusty (long time, no see) who reported 3 buzzards and a little egret.
The pochard pair were on Freeman's Pools along with a drake tufted, 21 coot & a little grebe. Nice to be back... cheers, as always, to Dan for keeping things interesting here.

Thursday, 9 October 2008


Little'uns like chiffchaffs and goldcrests were hard to come by in Freeman's Wood with just two of each found this afternoon.

The only 'new' birds in the wood were thrushes, with at least 15 song thrushes (british-looking, mind!) skulking in the denser patches, and a typically noisy flock of 9 mistles on the rampage.

A quick squint through the branches towards Freeman's Pools revealed 10 wigeon by the island.

A migrant hawker was hawking over Lucy Brook despite the overcast and windy conditions.


Monday, 6 October 2008

Vis and Vee

A little bit of visible migration over the top end of the ancient parish this morning 0830-1000:

Tree sparrow 2.
Skylark 17.
Meadow pipit 19.
Chaffinch 20.
Linnet 2.
Swallow 7.
Grey wag 3.
Alba wag 9.
Snipe 1.
Reed bunting 3.

All were heading south-east-ish into the stiff breeze..

The maize fields were chock-a-block with reed buntings- at least 20 knocking about.

The largest of Freeman's Pools had 10 wigeon, 3 tufted duck, a shoveler and 6 little grebes- plus the regular feral geese which noisily descended from the NE at about quarter to nine.

Still good numbers of common darter dragons in sheltered spots.


Sunday, 5 October 2008

It Pays to Pish?

Dan again.

I've persisted in searching for migrant passerines in the parish the past few days- spending inordinate lengths of time pishing up trees in Freeman's Wood for the most part!

The wood has been holding between 8 and 25 goldcrests daily, up to ten chiffchaffs and a whole heap of tits. The day before last I heard a call that reminded me of y.b. warbler, but whatever it was only piped up once before it melted!

Today, a silvery-looking songbird flitted out and up from the hedge that bisects Fairfield paddocks (cf. Jon's map!) in response to my whistling.

It was obviously a flycatcher- but which?
It landed at 20ft above me (up an ash)- at which point I could rule out spotted (no striations- clean white) and red-breasted (on under-tail pattern).

It flew on and I re-found it 80 metres away in the community orchard- an obvious white wing-bar.
I wanted to scrutinise such a late migrant 'pied'. Initially I thought it looked like an adult female, rather than a more likely 1st-winter bird. I got good views of a pale, greyish-brown flyca and began to try and rule out semi-collared and collared flycatcher... Not as easy as I thought...Especially since I didn't know what I needed to look out for....

The face was pale, and 'open'-looking- with the jet black bill and eye looking unusually conspicuous. The lores quite pale aswell. The crown was a little lighter than the mantle- a 'milky', 'mushroom' kinda colour!

After awhile, (thinking I'd lost the bird for good) I hobbled home and checked a field guide which showed both female-type semi and collared flycatchers as lighter and gentler-looking than pied I began to sweat.

I hobbled back to the scene and eventually re-found it just 50 metres from where I'd last seen it- it was flycatching in willows. I noted that the rump was concolourous with the mantle and tail (bad news for a collared?) and that the white in the wing looked more restricted as with pied.

Later, when Pete Crooks came to my aid- a small median covert bar was also showing in the more contrasty late sunlight.

The under-tail (it was above us- wood warbler style!) was mid-dark grey with white outers. It was tame and silent throughout....

Cheers to Pete and Ray for coming out and giving their thoughts.

Anyway-- almost certainly a pied....that's enough of the boring story of an interesting little bird!

Tomorrow- Dan looks at a house sparrow for too long...