Saturday, 31 January 2009

Spots before my eyes

Very windy and rather nippy...
Freeman's Pools: In no particular order - 1 spotted redshank, 4 wigeon, 1 shoveler, 2 gadwall, 9 mallard, 2 goldeneye, 11 coot, 2 mute swan, 2 little grebe, 2 moorhen.
Frog Pond: c.50 wigeon, 2 mute swan, 5 mallard.
Darter Pool: 1 coot, 2 mallard.
Wildfowlers' Pools: 8 mallard, 5 moorhen.
Heron Pool: 2 heron & 9 moorhen feeding in field by the pond.
2 little egret on Colloway Marsh.
1200+ pinkfeet were in the air between the Heysham bypass fields and wherever it was they were heading to beyond Glasson, though a group of around 70 dropped on to Colloway.
Must have sifted through 1000 BH gulls but couldn't find anything in with them.
Approx 800 golden plover amongst around 3000 lapwing on Aldcliffe Marsh, plus a dunlin. These were all spooked into the air at one point by a female merlin.
A spotted redshank was feeding in one of the small pools just in front of the gate overlooking the marsh - was this the same bird seen at Freeman's Pools half an hour later or were there two in the area? I have to say, they didn't look like the same bird...
This is a pretty good record as this species is just about annual in the Aldcliffe area, though more typically in late summer.
No passerines of note bar a single fieldfare and the tawny owl was in its usual hawthorn, although it was a bit tricky to see having adjusted its position to shelter from the wind.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Mild but dull

Considerably milder than of late and blessed with blue skies and sunshine, though the birding wasn't overly productive... probably not helped by the fact that I didn't get out until 2pm.
Freeman's Pools: 2 little grebe, 2 mute swan, 2 gadwall, 2 shoveler, 11 mallard, 2 wigeon, 2 moorhen, 8 coot, 1 snipe, 3 oystercatcher, 2 redshank. A meadow pipit was feeding on the bank.
Frog Pond: 31 wigeon, 2 mute swan, 4 mallard, 1 snipe.
Wildfowlers' Pools: 80+ mallard, 3 teal, 6 moorhen.
Aldcliffe Marsh was very quiet with a little egret, a few lapwing & oystercatchers, 2 shelduck and 2 mute swans plus a kestrel hunting along Dawson's Bank. Approx 110 Canada geese were on Heaton Marsh.
Freeman's Wood: Rather quiet, the only 'highlights' being the roosting tawny owl, a couple of bullfinch and a jay (which was a well-dudey yeartick!).

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Pottering about...

Got a call from from my old chum and ex-Aldcliffe local-patcher Greg Potter who was in the area this morning, so I went to the patch to meet him. He hadn't seen too much though he'd had a small group of twite in the stubble field - where I too had seen some recently - and 3 male bullfinch along the upper track.
We checked out Freeman's Pools - 3 little grebe, 3 shoveler, 3 gadwall, 2 mute swan, 1 Canada goose, 7 coot, 1 moorhen. Greg had had a sparrowhawk here a little earlier. We went to see the tawny owl (Allowing Greg to complete the resident owl species' for his year-list). We had a look for woodcock but failed to find it, though we had stunning views, in brilliant sunshine, of a female roe deer in the wood.
I did a check of the various pools and the marsh but it was pretty quiet.

As I'm going to be 'retiring' from WeBS counts shortly, and also fully relinquishing my role as count co-ordinator for Morecambe Bay South, I thought I'd have a root around in my old notebooks to see if I could find reference to the first one I did.
Rather coincidentally, my first entry for what was then called a BOEE count was 8th Jan 1989, therefore confirming that I've been doing the count from Aldcliffe to Conder for exactly 20 years. That really makes me feel quite old!
Looking at the figures, there's not a huge difference though a few things are notable. There were no greylag or Canada goose flocks back then and Lapwing numbers were often somewhat higher than in recent years. Back in '89 the count included a female smew (it was on the river near Snatchems) which was probably the last time I saw one in the Aldcliffe area!

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Gull Bank draws blank

Had a quick blast round this morning (9.30-11.30am) from Freeman's Pools down to the Stodday ETW and back.
Wildfowl's a bit slow in returning to the post-thaw pools and the main water had just 7 coot, 8 mallard, 1 shoveler, 2 little grebe a Canada goose and a goldeneye.
A bullfinch was along the track here.
The wet fields and Wildfowlers' Pools were quiet with just a few mallard and moorhen seen.
2 little egret were on Aldcliffe Marsh and 3 rock pipit were zipping around. Managed a year-tick in the form of Ray Hobbs.
A pair of grey partridge were in the Walled Meadow.
200ish pinkfeet came over following the river toward Glasson and a small flock of golden plover were flying around.
Couldn't find anything interesting amongst the large number of gulls (mainly black-headeds) on Gull Bank.
Another rock pipit was bouncing over the saltmarsh by the pylons at Stodday.
Very few passerines along the cycle track bar the odd robin, dunnock, blackbird etc. and reasonable numbers of goldfinch.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Littoral Thinking

Dan here.

Did the 'spring tide shuffle' today- working along the marsh to see what birds were flushed as the water came over the top.

In terms of passerines the highlights were three skylarks, 7-9 Scandinavian rock pipits, 15 meadow pipits and five pied wags. No finches or buntings at all.

I didn't do very well in the snipe stakes- with just 4 common and no jacks dislodged by the rising water.

In other news, two shovelers and two goldeneyes were on Freeman's Pools with the tawny owl snoozing nearby.

A water rail and a kingfisher were also present in the parish, as were five 'weegrets', as my chum calls them.


Monday, 12 January 2009

Monday morning Greens...

Today Freeman's Pool so welcome return of 2 Green Sandpipers, all the pools are now ice free and birds making a come back. Stevew

Brilliant news Steve. I wonder where they've been all this time? I guess we can expect a rash of Aldcliffe-bound yearlisters now! Jon.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Sight for thaw eyes

Did my WeBS today in rather vile conditions. At least it was mild-ish... and definite signs of thaw on the pools.
Highlights from the Aldcliffe-Stodday (ie in 'the patch') section included the following:
A pair of gadwall were on the river near Snipe Bog - where just 1 common snipe was flushed - and a little egret was also here briefly.
8 black-tailed godwit and just 2 golden plover were on the marsh.
4 shoveler were on the Wildfowlers' Pools.
130 Canada geese were on the river while the greylag flock (approx 500) & the lone pinkfoot were in the fields.
Quite a few lapwing, BH gulls and redshank were feeding in the fields.
2 rock pipit were along the tideline.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

The geese are getting fat

Highlights from a trundle around the patch today:
Approximately 580 greylag (and 1 pinkfoot) were feeding in the stubble fields between the cycle track and Aldcliffe Marsh.
150 or so Canada geese were on the marsh itself as were a couple of little egret.
A stock dove flew over from Stodday toward Oxcliffe.
An adult Med gull was one of only a handful of birds on Gull Bank.
The majority of black-heads were feeding in the fields alongside lapwings, redshank and a dozen golden plover. Single fieldfare and redwing were present too.
A further couple of fieldfare were by the still frozen Freeman's Pools, where 2 mute swans and a pair of drake shoveler were the only waterbirds. A couple of the local track-suited intelligentsia were busy jumping up and down on the ice to test it's thickness. Insert your own joke...
Two drakes and a duck shoveler were also on the Wildfowlers' Pools.
The tawny owl was roosting in its usual spot.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Monday sightings...

Received the following records from Alan Dent

Afternoon walk along cycle track today Monday 05/01/09.

1 male kingfisher sat on post adjacent to drainage ditch.
2 water rail feeding in drainage ditch.
1 raven feeding on sheep carcase between Walled Meadow and Snipe Bog.
2 grey partridge in hedgerow of second field down from crossing.

Thanks for these Alan.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Let's list again...

Managed a decent trawl around the patch today, starting in Freeman's Wood, up to Marsh Point and along the estuary to Stodday. Checked the sewage works, then along the cycle track back to Freeman's Wood.

Bagged a few year-ticks (bringing my total to 73) of which the highlights were rock pipit, little egret and fieldfare. A woodcock was flushed in much the same area as a few days ago.
The greylag flock was present on the marsh and contained approx. 420 birds. Amongst them were 2 pinkfeet but no whitefronts. The Canada flock was also nearby and was joined by a further 6 pinkfeet.
Freeman's Pools were, like all the other ponds etc, completely frozen and were consequently birdless.
A group of 12 linnet were a pleasant sight in the stubble fields, though very few other finches etc could be found.
A water rail showed brilliantly in the brackish ditch by the cycle track.

There certainly seems to have been an increase in the number of blackbirds and robins in the last few days, they were all over the place!

Oh, and my mammal yearlist went up by two - stoat and grey squirrel...

Thursday, 1 January 2009

09 list gets underway

Happy New Year to all our readers!

An afternoon walk down the patch with Jenny gave me a year-list of 48, which, given the rather fuzzy brain I was working with, wasn't all that bad.

Again all the pools were frozen - the small patch of open water on Freeman's Pool hardly bigger than a double bed - so the brackish drainage ditch by the cycle track proved essential for a very confiding kingfisher and relatively showy water rail.
Other highlights included nuthatch, grey partridge, peregrine (the only raptor seen!), goldcrest, redwing, tawny owl, goosander & little grebe.

Lowlights: unfortunately couldn't see any little owls in the Admiralty Wood, I couldn't find any reed buntings and a frustrating high-flying swan, which looked really good for a whooper, didn't allow for confirmation of ID as it was heading away from us.

If I get an early finish from work tomorrow (fingers crossed), I'll try and give the area another bash and try and bag a few of those common species I failed to jam into today... however I've got my pre-work Jetty visit and, consequently, a few more year-ticks in the morning to look forward to!