Friday, 30 December 2011

Snow Joke?

Dan here.

Nothing much to report apart from  three lesser snow geese. These white-morph birds have been touring the local beauty spots with greylags.

As ever the question is- are they tickable? They look as plastic as a block of Costcutter cheddar to me.

But I might well change my mind in a couple of days when I draw up the grand Aldcliffe list for 2011.

Season's Stringings,

Monday, 26 December 2011

Blustery Morning....

Blowing a bit of a gale, high tide lots of waders, Lapwing etc being spooked by something which I couldn’t find. Greylags, about 200 at the Wildfowlers’ Pool. Freeman’s Gadwall of note. Track very quiet as very blustery. 6 Little Egrets near pylons. Sewage works 5 Rock Pipits, 3 Meadow Pipits, 2 Grey wagtails and half a dozen Pied Wags. Mistle Thrush in field.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Quiet Morning....

Very quiet down the Old Parish today. Freeman’s Pool 8 Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Coot, Wigeon, Goldeneye. Lapwing 200 at Marsh Point. 3 Little Egrets on marsh. Greylags have returned though lower numbers, 300 or so including 70 near Flood, also on here were 20 Redshank. 2 Song Thrush on track, and two more on sewerage works track along with 6 Redwing, 20 Blackbird and 1 Goldcrest, couldn’t really stop as the track here is under water! Lapwing 3500 on mud. 

Friday, 16 December 2011

Spectacular Mist….lenses that is

Had a cycle round in the snow and not much to see, birds were about just couldn’t see em! Bullfinch pair on track along with Robins, Dunnocks, and Blackbirds. Freeman’s Pool much the same as its been of late. A few hundred Lapwing at Marsh Point. Pair of Oystercatcher were at the Flood. Near the sewage works Fieldfare 21.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Whitening Strikes Twice

Dan here.

In the wake of what the Scots have dubbed Hurricane Bawbag the parish was looking a bit bleak and blasted today.

However, a great egret was looking grand in the same spot as the autumn find-- near the legendary pylons where Heaton Marsh and Colloway Marsh collide.

Couldn't find much else of interest, bar an adult Med.  Sadly there seems to have been a major clear-out of geese.

Freeman's Pools was hosting six goldeneyes and eleven gadwall. A peregrine falcon and two kestrels were noted.


The dead tree that’s been standing for donkeys years succumbed to the wild weather.
Buzzard close by being mobbed by crows, Sparrowhawk, Reed Buntings at the maize field.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Yesterdays Dash.......

Freeman’s Pool Gadwall, Goldeneye, Tufted, Coot, Heron, Mallard, Swan and 6 Bullfinch flew onto hedge. On the track Greenfinch, Chaffinch, 5 Song Thrush and 7 Reed Bunting, a couple of dozen Blackbird. A Kestrel was hunting over the cut maize field. A quick wander along past walled meadow so Little Egret, across the Lune were Lapwing, Golden Plover and Redshank. A Skylark flew over.  Fence around wood is coming on and had a chat with building manager who is a birder, and was very interested in the Aldcliffe mob and gave a nod. Not sure if the land will be eventually built on, though realistically I guess it is in a prime position.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Fence post.....

Asked the chaps who were fencing off Freeman's Wood, and yes its going all the way round and he emphasised the private land bit. Well at least the birds will be undisturbed for now. Freeman’s Pool dozen Gadwall, Goldeneye 2, Coot, Swan, Little Grebe and a pair of tufties. 
The track was quiet, saw 14 Fieldfare, Blackbird and Bullfinch. Bumped into Guy and Ola so walked back towards sewerage works. Little Egret, Linnet flew over. At the works were numerous Meadow Pipits, Pied and Grey Wagtails. A dozen Curlew in the field opposite, a flock of 120 Starlings were flushed by a Sparrowhawk and a pair of Great spotted Woodpecker in the trees.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Freeman's might not be free.....

Heard a rumour a while ago that the estate holder of Freeman’s Wood was planning to fence it off, well it’s started. Not sure about the access, will hopefully find out asap. Could mean very bad news if we can’t have access, I’m hoping that there might be stiles etc.
The pool was much the same as the other day, with a Treecreeper. No geese around that I could see. Little Egrets on the marsh, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank all present. On the track were Blackbird, Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Wren, Dunnock, Robin. Had a scan through all the gulls, mainly Black headed, with up to 30 Herring Gull.  A fairly quiet hour.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Geese and Gales...

Started off at the sewerage works but not much to see, very windy. A pair of Grey/Pied Wags and 9 Redshank. On the track same, a blustery wind kept me cycling along. When I reached the flood I saw Greylags in the fields beyond, and scanning with bins found a dozen or so Euro white-fronted geese.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Egrets there was a few........

Enjoyable plod around the Parish this morning. High tide saw large numbers of birds on the marsh, mainly Lapwing. The Greylags still on or near the cut maize fields. 14 Little Egrets, at least, spread about the place. 5 Skylark and 2 Ravens near the pylons, in the horse field were 6 Meadow Pipits and 2 Mistle Thrush, plus a few Pied wags.

Freeman’s Pool saw Gadwall 10, Tufted 4, Goldeneye 4, Coot 9, Little Grebe 2 and Mallard, Grey Heron and a Jay on the fence. Wildfowlers’, plenty of Teal and half a dozen or so Fieldfare.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Freeman’s Pool/Wood shoveler, goldeneye, tufted, mallard, shelduck, grey heron, coot, little grebe. 60 chaffinch, goldfinch, bullfinch, greenfinch, and mistle thrush, kestrel and large stoat. Marsh Point 34 oystercatcher, lapwing and gulls. Maize field still occupied by hundreds of greylags. Wildfowlers’ Pool mainly teal of interest plus a handful of fieldfare. 
Met up with Guy and Ola made our way to the sewerage works. Goldcrest 3, bullfinch 6, blackbird 15+, single fieldfare, meadow pipit, merlin chasing small bird, which escaped. Little egrets 3, curlew, widgeon, cormorant, lapwing, golden plover, canandas etc. red admiral at the cutting. 

Monday, 21 November 2011

Start of the week.....

Brilliant start to the week. Black redstart was a new patch tick found at the sewerage works. The lack of this bird around Aldcliffe has been spoke about a great deal over the years and now finally on the record list. Dan came down and ticked it.  The sewerage works is ideal for this bird, and still plenty of insects around, midges especially! Lets hope it stays for a while. Also present were Grey/Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits and Redshank. 
Finally caught up with the Euro white-fronted geese, 17 on the far side of the river. Hundreds of Greylags around the patch, many being on the cropped maize fields. 3 Little Egrets on the marsh. Freeman’s Pool saw Gadwall, Goldeneye, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Tufted Ducks and a couple of deer. A Kestrel was scanning from the dead tree.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

On The Front Line

Dan here.

My recent attempts to sniff out a late rare passerine (please hume-our me) have been scuppered by plagues of distracting geese, and my attempts to get passable photos of them.

At least thirty-four Euro white-fronted geese were in evidence in the murk today, with three seen on the maize stubble fields, and a flock of 33 on Aldcliffe Marsh, which featured just 4 juveniles.

Sadly this group was scared by some ne'er-do-wells and it re-located to stubble fields near Overton.

I'd reckon there have been more white-fronts here in the past week (a nationwide influx) than there have been over the preceding twenty years or forgive my gruesome photos...I'm just a bit excited to see this species here.


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Gazing at Greys Grazing

Dan here.

Went out this morning with geese on my mind.

However, Aldcliffe Marsh was almost devoid of grey geese, with just five pink-feet in the midst of a whole mess of Canadas.

I heard a distant clamour of greylags and tracked down the regular flock which was feeding in the centre of Colloway Marsh (a few hundred metres south of my jurisdiction, actually!) and also using improved and muddy maize stubble fields NE of Overton.

Associating with them were at least nine european white-fronted geese so I was glad I sat down and 'scoped them.
There's been an interesting and welcome movement of this species across Britain in the past couple of weeks. Bean geese too-- so with a lot of luck a nice little herd of taigas might drop in for a day or two soon.

Fingers crossed.

Passerines highlights within the parish (!) included a group of four goldcrests, three southbound skylarks and a few rock and meadow pipits.

merlin (arch enemy of pipit-kind) was also seen.


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Quick tour...

Freeman’s Pool Gadwall, Goldeneye, Little Grebe, Coot etc. Frog Pond a number of Wigeon. Track saw a few Linnet, plenty of Chaffinch a single Fieldfare feeding on berries. Also, plenty of Crows around today. The fields behind the upper track were being sprayed with manure and attracted a few hundred mainly Black-headed Gulls I found one Med amongst them. Wildfowlers’ Pool had a number of Teal. The geese were some distance away and couldn’t make them out other than Canada none Canada! At least eight Little Egret, eleven yesterday, on the marsh.
I took a quick look on the mud bank near Gull bank and found a Green Sand and Snipe. A Peregrine spooked a huge flock of Lapwing/Golden plover. Sewerage works had a few Rock Pipits and Linnets present.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Full Frontal

Dan here.

It was a bit of a goosefest this morning, with four adult european white-fronted geese initially on Heaton Marsh-- reassuringly aloof from the greylag hordes. A little disappointingly, they decamped to mingle with a motley crew of greylags and Canadas on Aldcliffe Marsh.

Then I was surprised to find 7 Greenland white-fronted geese at the southern end of the marsh. These much more handsome birds were also all adult.... and also very much at ease with the feral honkers (feeding with them, bathing in the river with them-- even playing cards with them).

Mind you, there were at least a hundred more greylags than usual today, so maybe even they weren't all feral after all.

A skein of 58 pink-footed geese circled over the marsh for a while, before continuing east.

In passerine news, 5 rock pipits were at Stodday sewage works and the recently-harvested maize fields had attracted over 70 chaffinches, six bullfinches, (two sparrowhawks) and a few tree sparrows, mipits and reed buntings.

A lesser redpoll was at the Willow Lane end of Freeman'sWood. A third goldeneye is now at Freeman's Pools.


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Green Back

Just a fleeting look on my way elsewhere today.... but a female merlin and a green sandpiper were noted.


Friday, 11 November 2011

In the Euro Zone

Dan here.

A few decent birds today, with wildfowl heading the list.

A faint yip-yip-yipping, then distant views of a few sturdy medium-size geese culminated in good views of these five european white-fronts heading South. Perhaps these Baltic breeders were en route to the Severn estuary where the majority winter.

Euro White-fronted Geese: appearing to be 4 adults and a juv. 

My first two goldeneyes of the season were on Freeman's Pools. A scan of the estuary at high water revealed five shovelers, six gadwall and a pochard mingling with wigeons and teal near Gull Bank.

A nice female merlin was panicking the saltmarsh lapwings and starlings (around 2000 and 500 birds respectively). Merlins can be a regular sight here in winter.

A woodcock flew over the water from Heaton Marsh, dropping into cover near the cutting.

The hedges and bushes held a few each of goldcrest, song thrush and fieldfare, with around 50 (mainly 1st- winter male) blackbirds, including a dozen or so loudly mobbing an ivy roosting little owl by Stodday sewage works.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

A maize in....

One maize field harvested. In the hedge plenty of action 2 Tree Sparrow, Reed Buntings, Linnets, Brambling 1, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Dunnock, Blue Tits, on the track Blackbirds, Goldfinch, Bullfinch, Wren, Robin, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush. Heading east Fieldfare 20, at the cutting Redwing and more Blackbirds. Freeman’s Pool Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Coot, Little Grebe and a Kestrel. Flood Shoveler and a Shelduck. 
Shooting on the opposite side spread the birds out a bit. Little Egret 1, Lapwing numerous, Curlew, Redshank. Ravens 2, Peregrine Falcon 1 near the pylons.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Fair Fieldnotes

Dan here.

Work on the brand nature area in Fairfield  (top right corner of the parish!) is in full flow.

This morning I met some of the Fairfield Association (who have acquired the land) on site and the landscapers, hedge specialists and conservation officers helping them with the project.

Among many other changes to this sliver of wet farmland, scrapes have been excavated in the juncus areas, aswell as deeper ponds where reeds are to be planted.

It's all going to look impressive. As we walked around I pointed out the manic noise of water rails emanating from cover along Lucy Brook. Overhead, a sparrowhawk was chasing goldfinches and I could hear a nuthatch calling near the orchard.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

Outside, Looking In

Today I cruelly abandoned Aldcliffe for the other side of the Lune for the second weekend running.

I didn't have so much luck this time, and in fact one of the nicer sights was while wistfully looking back East towards the parish, when eleven whooper swans flew South down the estuary at some considerable height.

Several large skeins of pink-footed geese were also noted using Aldcliffe airspace just after dawn as they dispersed Northward from their Fylde coast roosts.


Friday, 4 November 2011

Roving Reporter

Dan here.

Just a short trip out hand deliver a copy of the latest birdwatching society bird report to a member in Aldcliffe village.

I've been thumbing through my copy and as usual Aldcliffe gets many mentions.

On my way there and back saw a few fieldfares and goldcrests, five little egrets and two ravens.


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Gulls On Film

Dan here.

Although we have a few Mediterranean gulls at Aldcliffe now and again, these are the first pics I've taken that are almost worthy of public consumption. I managed to creep up on this attractive beast this morning as it fed in a field and got these eye-level shots..

I'm often mocked by my girlfriend for finding this species devilishly handsome. Happen she's jealous. Readers--am I alone in this?

 Vestiges of vis mig were in evidence this morning. The following were noted heading over- mostly South:
17skylarks, 6 meadow pipits, 50 fieldfares, one redwing, 30 chaffinches and 35 woodpigeons.

Four tree sparrows were lurking near the maize fields, as were a goldcrest and forty greenfinches.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Online Meds

Dan again.

A sunny afternoon dawdle was pleasant but unspectacular bird-wise.

The warmer clearings in Freeman's Woods held at least 12 common darter dragonflies and a migrant hawker. Several red admiral butterflies were also noted.

Two adult Mediterranean gulls were with field-feeding common and black-headed gulls. Fifteen pink-footed goose went over to the South. Ten more were with feral geese on the marsh.

Only a few goldcrests were found today, and so far this Autumn Aldcliffe has been poor for chiffchaffs and other tit-taggers.


Friday, 28 October 2011

Great Egxpectations

Dan here.

Glad I went out today, because I finally found a great egret*, a bird which has been on my Aldcliffe wishlist for years.

It was feeding beneath the pylons which cross where Heaton marsh and Colloway marsh meet, in the company of ten little egrets and four grey herons.

A shocking dodgyscoped shot of this new patch tick:

The high tide revealed around 20 rock pipits and a few skylarks that would otherwise be lurking in the marshes, unseen.

Around 8 goldcrests and a single siskin were to be found in the copses and hedgerows, aswell as a lonely redwing and small parties of fieldfares and blackbirds.

Around five red admiral butterflies were noted.


* these large, scarce egrets are more often referred to as great white egrets, but this name gets my tautology goat. Until Britain gets colonised by dark-morph western reef herons, I've no need for the 'white'.

 Aargh! Thanks for listening.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

No luck.......

Despite my attempts at bush searching I didn’t see one warbler or owt. The high tide pushed many birds on land, hundreds of Lapwing, Golden plover, Curlew, Redshank. Dunlin and a flock of 10 Snipe in the fields. Little Egret visiting the Wildfowlers’, Freeman’s saw the usual Grey Heron, Gadwall, Tufted, Little Grebe, Coot and Moorhen, Kestrel in dead tree. A Buzzard, on the hillside. Great spotted woodpecker at the cutting, Reed Buntings near the maize. Plenty of Chaffinches about, a Bullfinch on the track. An influx of Mistle Thrush with 7 seen, Song Thrushes, along with a few flocks of Fieldfare and two large flocks of Starling. A Rock Pipit near seweage works. 

Sunday, 16 October 2011


Dan here.

A peek out of the window this morning suggested that a day of bush-bashing might be worth a try.

Indeed, the completely still, misty and drizzly conditions felt pretty good for searching for a posh passerine, but in the end, it wasn't to be.

Quite a few off-passage songbirds were around early on, with around  50 fieldfares, 30 redwings, 60 (mainly 1st-Winter) blackbirds, 20 song thrushes and a few mistle restless in the copses and hedgerows, and an increase on recent robin numbers.

Two lesser redpolls and small parties of redwings and blackbirds were to seen to spill skywards from Freeman's Wood, which had around 10 goldcrests later in the day.

A blackcap, a chiffchaff and 2 goldcrests were at Stodday.

The visibility soon improved, with sunny spells and freshening winds. From ten till two a steady but light passage of Skylarks occurred, with an estimated 30 per hour overhead, Southeast.

355 pink-footed geese in five skeins also pushed through SouthWest in this period.

A shoveler was on the Wildfowlers Pools and eleven gadwalls and five wigeon were on Freeman's Pools.

Four migrant hawkers and two common darter dragonflies were out in sheltered spots.


Friday, 14 October 2011

Crossbill Traffic (so hard to get through to you)

Dan again.

A bit of visible migration this morning (0830-1230), but lower figures than might have been expected, especially with big numbers of winter thrushes moving a few miles either side of the patch.

Fieldfares were in shorter supply than yesterday and chaffinches, also a key feature of local vis-mig logs, were barely into double figures.

I didn't scribble much down on account of the strange paucity of vis, with only skylark, meadow pipit, linnet, alba wagtails and c.50 redwings getting into mid-double figures.

All that being said, the morning was fun nonetheless, with a party of seven crossbills briefly circling the walled meadow as if to land, before gaining height and chip-chip-chipping off West.

This is a new species for my own Aldcliffe list, if my memory serves me well.. Mr. Carter-- have you recorded them here before?

Two Southbound bramblings were also nice to see and hear. Single figures of tree sparrow, swallow, reed buntings, mistle thrushes and high Eastbound snipes were also noted overhead.

Five chiffchaffs and 3 goldcrests were seen. A green sandpiper was at Freeman's Pools and a greenshank is still using Aldcliffe Marsh.


Thursday, 13 October 2011


Given the forecast for a dry and calm morning I thought I'd get out early-ish to do a spot of vis mig. However it was almost eleven before I was out and communing with dots in the sky, but luckily there was some passerine passage until well into the afternoon.

Most were heading S.E. over my vantage on the saltmarsh edge.

1100h-1445h... in no particular order:

swallow           7
alba wagtail    11
jackdaw          7
meadow pipit  210
skylark            79
linnet               39
reed bunting     7
yellowhammer  1  S
siskin                (a few- heard only)
redwing            2   E
fieldfare            67 E
tree sparrow     2 

The yellowhammer was particularly pleasing, since this species is very scarce in this part of Lancashire. The last one seen here was a long-stayer several Autumns ago.

The first redwings and fieldfares of the season are always lovely to see and hear too. After the vis session A further 120 of the latter species dropped into the hedgerows for a minute or two before heading off, West.

Decent numbers of long-tailed tits and smaller numbers of blue and coal tits were frantically hedge-hopping South. A single chiffchaff and two goldcrests were trying to keep up.

Five blue tits, obviously wanting to crank the pace yet more, parted with their long-tailed congeners by rising in small circles to about 20 metres, before flying West across the marsh and estuary.

Wader-wise 28 dunlins, 2 black-tailed godwits 2 snipes and 160 all-European golden plovers were the pick of the waders on the 'Aldcliffe' stretch of estuary, where a rock pipit was also in evidence.

A greenshank was on the marsh, as were up to nine little egrets. Eight tree sparrows were in the yet to be harvested maize, and six gadwalls were on Freeman's Pools. A minimum of five buzzards were noted.

Now enjoy some my cropped pics of speeding specks which highlight the magical views possible while out vis-migging:

The Mighty Skylark

The Stately Reed Bunting

Fieldfare: The Wildebeest of the Heavens


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Skein If You Wanna Go Faster

Dan here.

An early afternoon visit was quite wet to begin with, but as the cloud lifted a few birds moved through, namely 24 meadow pipits, six skylarks and three swallows (all South-East) and these Southbound skeins of pink-footed geese:



On the deck, a 7-8 goldcrests were dotted along the hedgerows, a greenshank was still haunting the marsh and a siskin was heard in Freeman's Wood. A grey partridge was heard and the whooper swan was grazing alongside cattle beneath the pylons.


Sunday, 9 October 2011


Dan again.

An adult spotted redshank was in the Gull Bank area of the estuary this afternoon, near a brute of an adult Mediterranean gull while a lone adult whooper swan was quietly feeding on the marsh behind.

A greenshank was on Aldcliffe Marsh, while a single wheatear was just yards outside our recording area!

A gadwall was on Freeman's Pools and a common buzzard was noted overhead.


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Light Rain, Light Grilling

Dan here.

Around 500 golden plovers were on the patch today, so I thought I'd better get grilling given the superb run of yank wader finds in the NW that began one day after I quit these shores for a fortnight.

Two grey plovers were the best I could pick out. Three snipes, eight dunlin and a thousand lapwings were on our stretch of the estuary too.

Two lots of pink-footed geese moved through SW, with 62 (pictured) and a bird trying to form a skein of one an hour later.

A single green sandpiper was at one of the ponds and a skylark was heard.


Friday, 7 October 2011

Back to autumn.......

Plenty of activity today with all the common birds. The hedge near the top of pools by the river saw flocks of Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Blackbirds, Robins, and a single Swallow over the maize. On the pool were Little Grebe 6 and Coot. A Kestrel was doing the rounds. On the river were 15 Mute Swan. Wildfowlers’ saw 1 Green Sandpiper and a number of Teal. On the marsh was a single Wheatear, 1 Little Egret, roughly 1500 Lapwing, plenty of Curlew. Heard a few Skylarks above. 
At the old cutting a flock of 35 Linnet were very active, along with Bullfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch. A Peregrine spooked all the waders and a Sparrowhawk then bombed through the cutting. A beautiful Hawthorn Shieldbug landing on my arm finished the morning off nicely.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Hot Patch....

Freeman’s Pool had Little Grebes, Coot, Grey Heron and two Kestrel. A quick stroll through the wood revealed Jays, Chiffchaff, Linnets and usual finches, Wrens, Robins, Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Coal Tits.
A good 900 BH Gulls present on the river, a fast incoming tide disturbed Canada’s, Curlews and Redshank. Two Ravens were flying about the patch. On the track saw Chiffchaff, Wrens etc, Skylarks flying over and a handful of Meadow Pipits, also 6 Swallow were busily feeding in the unseasonably hot weather, which also brought out plenty of butterflies and dragon flies. Three Little egrets were on the marsh, a Grey Wagtail near the pylons and a peregrine bombing over. 

Monday, 19 September 2011

Owtabout? Nowtabout!

A mid-morning visit was rather uneventful.

A small amount of visible migration was taking place, but not assiduously recorded!  As ever, meadow pipits were most numerous (circa 50 per hour), but eight skylarks, two alba wagtails and a siskin were also noted heading through, SE.

A lesser and two common whitethroats and a handful of chiffchaffs were also seen. A treecreeper was calling in the railway cutting area and a young peregrine was keeping Gull Bank free of waders.

Five shovelers were at Freeman's Pools.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Not too late for a swift one

Given the calm conditions I thought I'd get out early and try clocking some visible migration.

The passerine movement had several lulls when dark cloud thickened, but in blue or broken skies there were some good pulses.

Between 0730 and 1130 the following flew over the estuary, mostly heading SE:

meadow pipit  535
swallow          315
swift                  1
skylark             28
siskin                20+
alba wagtail      30
grey wag            4
linnet                  4
goldfinch            7
chaffinch           10
jackdaw             3
reed bunting       2

The swift (lovingly pictured above) was pleasingly late in the year. It coincided with the heaviest swallow movement (280 SE in half an hour from 0840h).

The hedgerows were quiet-- perhaps understandably given the songbird exodus weather overnight, but two restless flocks of blackbird (8 and 7) and a coal tit were clear signs of Autumn, as was an acorn-bearing jay.

Long-tailed tits were also prominent.

Wader-wise, a bar-tailed godwit with a mangled leg (pictured), 30 dunlins and 15 golden plovers were the best I could muster. DH

The Majestic Meadow Pipit


Migrating Skylarks


Saturday, 17 September 2011

One for the Lads

Without any sign of vagrant waders or much evidence of the magic of migration I had to be content with micro-birding nuances that only hardened Aldcliffers would appreciate.

Sixty lapwings were at the fringes of the flood this afternoon. Although the estuary and marshes often have hundreds and sometimes thousands of peewits, sixty at this particular spot is really something- eh patchers?

Another small pleasure was the discovery of 5 stock doves at Stodday ETW. I see one or two of this subtly attractive species down here every so often, but a quintet isn't bad at all. Eh, lads?

A greenshank was on the marsh and circa 10 dunlins, 12 ringed and 6 golden plovers were at Gull Bank.


Friday, 16 September 2011

Planet Dearth

A damp and rather disappointing afternoon visit for Guy and myself.

Just a few each of robin, chiffchaff and goldcrest in the hedges. A wheatear flew downriver. A lesser whitethroat was heard to call.

Two green sandpipers were seen and two or three siskins flew over, unseen.


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Ful Mars for Trying

A calm and mellow day with moderate use of Aldcliffe airspace and a nice mix of species.

Visible migration was dominated by meadow pipits and the first pink-footed geese of the Autumn.
Around 450 of the former were heading South, East and even North-East between 0945 and 1345

The geese, fresh from Iceland, came through South in skeins of 42, 32 and sixteen.

Otherwise, 'vis' was limited to single figure counts of skylark, grey wagtail and linnet. Hirundine (martin) passage seemed non-existent.

An out-of-habitat nuthatch and coal tit were by the walled meadow and evidenced some seasonal dispersal of some kind. A few whitethroats, chiffchaffs and a goldcrest were also in the hedges.

Clearly haven been driven inland by recent high winds, a fulmar (pictured thru the heat haze above) was both a welcome patch-tick and a rather sorry sight at the same time.
It was sat on the mud at Gull Bank amid lapwings and starlings, two species that these seafaring tubenoses must seldom come into contact with.

Other estuary birds included a juvenile ruff, 40 juv. dunlins, a goosander and an eider.

Singles of greenshank and green sandpiper were lurking elsewhere. A kingfisher was diving into the flood and up to five common buzzards were circling.

The brown hare (not strictly a bird) is hanging in in small numbers here despite some illegal hunting by decorators and their lurchers.
This one looked mortified, not only at being photographed, but also at having been caught running from a tiny stoat.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A Grade A Grey Day

Dan here.

Had a quick look round the obvious spots on my way back from a thoroughly mediocre 'seawatch' at Plover Scar, near Cocker Abbey (just 2 gannets, some PG skeins, a kittiwake and a thorough soaking).

On the patch proper two grey plovers were an Aldcliffe year-tick on the estuary mud, and three green sandpipers were on the Flood.

Four snipe and a gathering of around a hundred hirundines were at Freeman's Pools late afternoon.

A wheatear was also seen.


Monday, 12 September 2011

Inland Seawatching

High winds and a high tide which swamped the saltmarshes gave scoping the birds of the estuary a seawatching feel around midday.

No true seabirds noted, though the visit's highlight, pintails, are most often seen in stormy conditions down here. One was consorting with 30 wigeon in the Gull Bank area, and another three were seen heading South a little later.

A surprisingly scarce visitor to Aldcliffe these days ... I think these are the first pintails I've seen here in three or four years.

The lowlight was letting an in-flight wagtail escape identification. On tail length it seemed to be a flava wag, but as I didn't get any plumage detail on it, and as the howling wind masked any calls a probable year-tick got away.

Singles of greenshank, green sandpiper and were also seen.  Two shovelers and three tufted ducks were at Freeman's Pools.


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Whooper Duper

I only had chance for a brief look today, but a nice 1st- Winter Mediterranean gull was on the water just off Gull Bank.

Beyond, a slightly unseasonal adult whooper swan was feeding on the saltmarsh underneath the pylons, in a loose flock of a mutes.

Seemed to be a bit of a Southward push of swallows this afternoon, with around 30 seen heading downstream within half an hour.

Three off-passage sand martins were at the Wildfowler's Pools, where this soft-focus wader pic was snapped..

Elsewhere, Steve W. had a peregrine and two each of raven and chiffchaff.


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Quiet for now

A short evening walk round the northern end of the patch produced two green sandpipers, 2 blackcap and a chiffchaff near the flood. 3 little grebes and 14 heron were on Freemans pool.

Looking at the LDBWS website it looks like it could be a good week with Katia on the way....fingers crossed.


Friday, 9 September 2011

Objet D'arter

A short visit turned up a party of five wheatears on the marsh, a few chiffchaffs and a fly-through sand martin.

Waders included single greenshank and green sandpiper and a few each of dunlin and ringed plover.

A great crested grebe was swimming under the power lines. An adult peregrine was seen.

The afternoon sun brought out some dragonflies including this common darter.


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Sand Bank

Dan here.

A lull in this week's blustery weather made birding more comfortable this afternoon.

After August's adult, an attractive juvenile curlew sandpiper was a pleasing find on the estuary, where a whimbrel (my only one for this passage period) and a greenshank were also to be found.

The curlew sand was in the company of 3 dunlins and 15 ringed plovers were nearby.

A green sandpiper was at Freeman's Pools.

As the wind dropped just a few robins and greenfinches could be heard in the hedgerows. Aside from a juv. common whitethroat, no warblers were apparent. It seems that a comprehensive clear-out of late August's numerous chiffchaffs and lesser whitethroats has taken place.

Two grey wagtails were at Stodday.

The sun came out for the first time in days, and a few dragonflies ventured out-- 3 brown and 2 migrant hawkers and a famished-looking common darter.


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Unproductive, Untitled..

Dan once more, with some slim pickings from the patch.

Seven or eight off-passage sand martins were wheeling over Freeman's Pools, where a lone green sandpiper fed. A goldcrest was heard calling from the wood nearby.

A wind-wobbled scoping of the the estuary gulls revealed nothing of interest apart from the percentage of first-year black-headeds-- around a third were in juvenile or first-Winter plumages as opposed to just 5% in recent visits.

Fascinating stuff.

A goosander was at Gull Bank and a peregrine falcon hunted overhead.


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Live Ringers

Birds hard to come by on a visit in stormy conditions this afternoon, but a flock of 35 ringed plovers by the churning estuary was a good count for Aldcliffe.

Heavy rainfall has made for waterlogged fields and The Flood is living up to its name.


Monday, 5 September 2011

Right Idea, Wrong Location.

Respect due to Aldcliffe stalwart Guy McClelland for finding a rose coloured starling this morning, but with  a  little bit taken back for doing so on the Isle of Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway, and not at Aldcliffe!

I think it's the only rosy pastor in Britain at present, in an unremarkable year for them. There should be a picture of his bird here

I could have done with some of Guy's magic on the patch today. A short afternoon visit turned up very little of interest.

Five dunlins were on the estuary near the pylons, where no Meds were to be found among the black-headed gulls.. A flock of 18 pied wagtails were on the paddocks, but I suspect they had only come from as far afield as the sewage works a few yards away.

I couldn't even locate any green sandpipers, which are usually pretty dependable given a bit of patience. I suspect they were tucked into some hidden nook in the blustery conditions.


Friday, 2 September 2011

Going Gets Ruff

Dan once more.

Going down the old patch got me a ruff, three greenshanks and five each of dunlin and golden plover at Gull Bank just before high water.

A fourth greenshank and a common sandpiper were on Aldcliffe Marsh proper.  Three green sandpipers were dotted elsewhere.


Thursday, 1 September 2011

It's Nice to Have Two Hobbies

Dan here.

The smaller birds of the estuary had even more to torment them today, because aswell as peregrines and sparrowhawks, they also had hobby to worry about.

One juvenile hobby appeared in a clamour of swallows in the railway cutting area of the patch, and was seen well as it took several shallow stoops at various species over the water's edge. It pursued some starlings with all the dogged tenacity of a merlin. Nice bird.

As I followed it Southwards in my scope I became aware of a second, identically-sized falcon which joined it over the Stodday stretch and seemed to be hunting in tandem with it.

I couldn't get any detail as it flew into the midday glare but I took it to be another subbuteo.

At least one headed as far down as Conder Green.

Second best today was seen seconds before all this, with a large-looking (male?) juvenile ruff standing on the last sliver of Gull Bank with lapwings and a few dunlins before high water engulfed it.

The Spring tide covered the East-bank marshes once more, and a greenshank, common sandpiper and a skylark were seen feeding at the foot of Dawson's Bund, while an attractive 1st-Winter Med gull flew inland above it.

The morning's birding was less exciting, but casually-noted visible migration of c.20 each of Southbound meadow pipits and swallows (with a few sand martins) passed through mid-morning, and three hedgerow goldcrests and a flock of 25 linnets were of note. All very Septemberish.

A great crested grebe rode the surging tide up to the pylons, where I took this perfunctory shot.


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Tide Up

Hello- Dan here.

A Spring high tide which covered the saltmarshes prompted a walk along Dawson's Bank, from where 2 wheatears, a common sandpiper, a greenshank and 2 skylarks were seen feeding along the high water mark.

A green sandpiper was feeding on the little-frequented Bank Pool, and a late-ish swift was hawking over the large expanse of tidal water. It, or another, was in the company of house martins elsewhere in the parish later in the afternoon.

A stoat was hot on the heels of a rabbit down the cycle track. A peregrine was hot on the heels of five dunlins over the estuary. Two snipes and a green sandpiper were at point 8 on the site map.


Monday, 29 August 2011

Gull Bank Holiday

Dan reporting for the parish posse.

The Aldcliffe Boys (and girl) were out in force around midday, but the same can't really be said for the birds.

However, between us we managed few migrant species including a wheatear, a grasshopper warbler (an adult, on colouration), a black-tailed godwit, two greenshanks, and five wigeon.

A high-tide Gull Bank wasn't much cop for gulls, since the roost was repeatedly dispersed by pesky jet-skiers.

The Wildfowler's Pools had a green sandpiper, a few teals and a snipe.

Sunday, 28 August 2011


Blustery morning and heavy showers added to the autumnal feel and it's still August. Few more Coot on Freeman’s, 15, along with Little Grebe. 4 Buzzard were seen near the pylons, and a Grasshopper Warbler and Whitethroat. 4 Little Egret on the salt marsh.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Muddy Migrants

Dan here.

The fly-ridden mud of the 'Flood' attracted a few juvenile invertebrate-lovers today, such as this swallow, little ringed plover, and also a wheatear.

Fifteen black-tailed godwits flew through, two green sandpipers lingered and a greenshank was on the estuary. A stock dove was noted. Five little egrets were on the saltmarsh.

A party of six buzzards wheeled overhead.


Friday, 26 August 2011

Shifting Sands

Dan here.

Some hirundine passage here on a cool, still and otherwise quiet morning.

The presence of local and off-passage house martins and swallows blurred the picture for those two species, but sand martins were simple enough, with 85 South-East along the Eastern edge of the estuary between 0830 and 0930.

Other visible SE-bound migration included a grey wagtail, a swift and 8 meadow pipits.

As in recent days, a few lesser and common whitethroats, blackcaps and particularly chiffchaffs in the hedgerows.

Two green sandipers were seen at the Wildfowler's Pools, and four greenshanks and a common sandpiper were just upstream of the pylons.

Two peregrines were keeping the peewits aloft early on.


Some interesting sightings today from  JWB/BT LDBWS. Especially Little Egrets
 FREEMANs POOL: Grey Heron-6.Mute Swan-2.Coot-9.
Gadwall.Little Grebe.-8 (inc:pr in
plumage still feeding one young)
Kingfisher. (2/3circuits of the pool &
hovering over the island).
(Hedgerow). LTTits-flock of 17 (in with them )
Blue Tit-5 Coal Tit-3.Dunnock.Wren.
WILDFOWL POOL: Teal-3.Green Sandpiper.
ALDCLIFFE MARSH: Little Egret-9 (also 1 on Heaton Marsh)
Canada Geese-230+ Greylag Geese-c150+
Cormorant-5.Grey Heron-2.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


Spent an hour down the patch this morning. Two Ravens were on the usual pylon.Thought I would checkout the meadow near here, Blackcaps, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat along with finches and tits. Two Little Egrets were on the marsh, Lapwings, Curlews and plenty of Greylags also present. Two crows mobbing a Kestrel. Couldn't quite get my eye in today as no scope. A Green Sandpiper at the Wildfowlers' and half a dozen Teal. Freeman's Pools quiet as work being carried out.

Hi Steve!
I too had a nose this morning so much the same as you, but also 3 wheatears (my first down here since Spring), a second winter Med, and another tree sparrow.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Two by Two

Couldn't find too much in a rainy visit, not even in that (formerly) magic bush.

However, 2 common sandpipers, 2 greenshanks and 2 green sandpipers is better than a poke in the eye.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Early 'Start

Yesterday's tripit, the previous day's tree sparrow and this morning's first-Winter male common redstart have all been spied in the same hawthorn bush near walled meadow.

I hope that bush continues to bring me the pick of the passerines every day. That would be nice and convenient.

I've got a soft spot for redstarts. This one was in the company of several juvenile willow warblers and chiffchaffs, and I caught several glimpses as they flitted from tree to tree along the track.


Monday, 22 August 2011

A Flying Tripit

Dan again.

Only had chance for a flying visit in the early evening today, but an off-passage tree pipit made it worth the trip. Casting my mind back, I don't think I've had an Autumn tripit on the patch before, with the others being April fly-overs.

Pool waders consisted of three green sandpipers and a few lapwings.  A greenshank and a common sandpiper were by the pylons.


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Where were you in April?

Dan here.

A fun afternoon of birding down on the patch.

Foremost was a nice osprey which as ever, was heralded by a whole host of irate gulls.
It circled fairly high over the estuary at Snatchems for a few minutes before the sight of the coast lured it WSW.

The first merlin of the Autumn appeared and shot low over Colloway Marsh.

A peregrine was merely scaring the local lapwings and starlings for some time before trying its luck over town. It returned ten minutes later with what looked to be a white domestic dove in its claws.

Five buzzards, two kestrels and a sparrowhawk completed the raptor tally.

Freshwater waders comprised just two green sandpipers and a greenshank. A single golden plover was with several hundred peewits near Gull Bank.

Best passerine was a vociferous tree sparrow just South of Aldcliffe Hall Lane.

Grovelling apology: I ordinarily text out my Ospreys to the more keen local birders...but I've lost my mobile. Sorry Steve.


No sign of any raptors during a walk round with mini me this morning. An unprecedented 24 heron were in the Freemans pool area with 6 little grebe including 1 juvenile. I didn't see any raptors but had some success with passerines. A garden warbler, 2 goldcrest, 2 common whitethroat and a sub-song willow warbler were in the area round the abandoned football pitch. 2 blackcap and a chiffchaff were on the top path. A greenshank was at wildfowlers. There seems to be a lot of these round the area. It's a bit worrying that a birder with the calibre of Dan hasn't got a mobile going in to the autumn migration. Please find it Dan, there are so many birds I will never see if you can't get the news out!