Thursday, 30 June 2011


Dan reporting.

Three green sandpipers and five little ringed plovers on the freshwater edges looked set to be the wader  headline today, until I spied a whopping twelve common sandpipers on the estuary opposite Gull Bank.

This species is regular in twos and threes here in April and Autumn, but a dozen here and another single at Freeman's Pool in June must be some sort of record for Actitis hypoleucos. An odd year for waders so far.

I tried to scope them up to age the birds, but an off-lead woofer queered my pitch and the party twittered off upstream.

The strong and cool Westerly breeze seemed to be keeping most dragonflies out of sight, but a female  black-tailed skimmer was lurking on a path in the wood.

Butterflies noted in the sunnier spells included 4 large skippers, 2 green-veined whites and circa 25 fresh-looking small tortoiseshells.


Tuesday, 28 June 2011

I'll take the high road

A cuckoo was flushed from the top path this morning near the flood. It is only the third time I have had this species down here in eight years so it was a bit of a welcome surprise.
The warbler population remains fairly stable with 8 common whitethroats, 4 chiffchaff and ones and twos of blackcap, lesser whitethroat, sedge warbler and willow warbler.
A lapwing chick was at darter pool and a LRP and common sandpiper on the island at Freemans pools.
A sparrowhawk was carrying prey in to Freemans Wood and was seen soon after with empty talons.
A juvenile pied wag was at Wildfowlers.


Much the same as Guy apart from Cuckoo!

Freeman’s Pool 10.30, Common Sandpiper 2, LRP 1, Pied Wagtail 2, Lapwing 25, Swan 2, Moorhen with 5 newly hatched young, Oystercatcher with young..
Freeman’s Wood, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow, White, Les White, Blackcaps, Greenfinch, Jay, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk 2. Wildfowlers’ Pool, Green Sandpiper 1, LRP 1, a few Lapwing, Shelduck. Track numerous Whitethroats, Linnet 2. Flood 1 LRP, Collared Dove. Plenty of Swifts, House Martins and Swallows. River Common Sandpiper 3, Lapwing 400ish, Shelduck plus 17 young. Raven 7, Kestrel 1. Cormorant with large fish, plus 6 on the bank. Goosander with 7 juv, has to be the same ones from the weir.


Saturday, 25 June 2011

The young ones

9 lapwing chicks were located in total today. Many more adults are peewitting in the centre of the fields so there may be a few more around.
An oystercatcher chick is on Freemans island. 2 coot broods are also in the area.
6 chiffchaff were singing at Freemans wood with about the same number of common whitethroat.
A jay and kestrel were also in this area.
A willow warbler and sedge warbler were singing also.


Friday, 24 June 2011

Crow Patrol

A downright chilly late afternoon visit yielded two green sandpipers and two little ringed plovers at the Wildfowler's Pools. Three youngish lapwing chicks there also.

A noisy party of five ravens visited Aldcliffe Marsh, to the great displeasure of oystercatchers and carrion crows.

Out on the windswept estuary the shelducklings seemed to have lost a sibling, a stock dove flew in to drink, and four adult eiders drifted up on the rising tide.


Thursday, 23 June 2011

Tringa Trio

Dan reporting once more... with added boring and pointless pontifications on local waders.

Three green sandpipers were gracing the pools today.

A kind of emblematic bird for Aldcliffe, Tringa ochropus is a regular, if unobtrusive species around the smaller water bodies on the patch. Aldcliffe is one of most reliable places to see green sandpiper in NW England.

These are beginning to return from their far Northern breeding grounds a little earlier than usual.

Indeed, in most years June is (along with May) often the only blank month for this species, with at least one or two in most other months.

July, August and September usually bring peak passage of GE here (don't be alarmed--it's just BTO-ese) with up to 10 birds, but there's usually a small Wintering presence using the puddles, ponds and ditches.

During cold snaps they sometimes resort to the running freshwater of Lucy Brook (alongside Coronation Fields and into Fairfield), but last Winter seemed to be too hard for them, as they appeared to abandon the patch for milder climes.

Ice is a bit tough on the bill, no doubt.

Anyhoo- back to late June, and just one little ringed plover (an adult)  found today. Perhaps any local breeding efforts have come to nowt this year.

At least 5 juvenile lapwings are partly concealed around the area (having spread out from their natal grounds on the maize fields). So, even if lapwing breeding hasn't been a roaring success here, it hasn't been the abject disaster it looked to be 6 weeks back.

A post-breeding flock of L. adults out on the estuary were being perturbed by a peregrine. Not much else there save some ad. black-headed gulls, and shelduck pair with six ducklings.

Aside from c.20 common whitehroat fledglings dotted around I couldn't find too much else of note, bird-wise.

The showery and windy conditions didn't favour dragonfly or butterfly sightings either.

Instead, I took advantage of the currently clear water in the canal with a bit of fish-spotting.... and with many roach, gudgeon and lesser numbers of 3-spined stickleback on show my freshwater year-list leapt to three.


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Skimmer of Hope

Dan again.

Today's best birds were insects, somehow or other.

 I was lucky to find three dragonfly species here ahead of any darter emergence. 

Two male black-tailed skimmers were unexpected, one 'flushed' from bare ground near the Wildfowler's Pools, and another from a bankside nearer Freeman's Pools. Let's hope this species is in the process of colonising the parish.

I scoped the more sheltered parts of the latter site and also noted 3 or 4 rather active four-spotted chasers, which wisely became less showy when a male emperor turned up.

Back to birds....

Two green sandpipers struck a quasi-autumnal note, and a party of 4 shovelers feeding on the wind-whipped estuary was a slightly odd and unseasonal record for the patch.

Three little ringed plovers still around...all adults.


Monday, 20 June 2011

Another untitled blog thanks to ongoing pun drought.

Dan here.

Three adult little ringed plovers were seen in the parish this afternoon. No sign of Guy's green sand from yesterday.

Plently of juvenile birds noted today, including  several 'percher' swallows.  Young  crows, lapwings, wood pigeons, whitethroats and coots were also in evidence.

The insect list on this warm midday circuit was led by three emperor dragonflies, the first I've seen here this year.
Plenty of common blue and blue-tailed damselflies in tandem.


Sunday, 19 June 2011

Return passage?

A pleasant 60 minutes stroll this morning.

1 lesser whitethroat visible on the top path. 2 linnets were also here.
1 willow warbler singing closeby and several common whitethroats.
1 sedge warbler carrying food and another calling near Darter pool. A male reed bunting was also singing here.
A green sandpiper at Wildfowlers is probably the first sign of return passage in the parish. A black tailed godwit, redshank and lrp were also present here.

A moorhen and 3 chicks at Freemans pools.
Thankfully we don't have any lesser bbg's predating lapwing chicks. I saw at least 4 in the maize fields on Wednesday afternoon but these seem to have disappeared by today. They are usually pretty mobile so hopefully they have moved to the field margins.

Retrospectively, I wished I'd checked Freemans wood. It's usually pretty good in windy but bright conditions.


Thursday, 16 June 2011

Untitled due to Pun Failure

Hi. Dan here, reporting on a pleasantly sunny afternoon on the patch.

The local lesser whitethroats seem to have got their second wind, with four singing vigorously. Three skylarks were in song over the saltmarshes too.

A family of common whitethroats and several juvenile long-tailed tits were in Freeman's Wood . Several grasshoppers were in song by the locustella warbler territory there, to confuse.

In fact, insects were perhaps more notable than birds, with around 300 common blue damselflies, and lesser numbers of blue-tailed damsels in the verges and pond margins.

Butterflies of note included 10 large skippers dotted about the verges, mostly feeding on purple vetch flowers.

The estuary showed an increase in black headed gulls (typical of mid to late summer here), and two broods of shelduckling were at the water's edge.

200 greyish bar-tailed godwits `just downstream of the pylons were presumably the oversummering Conder Green flock.  Two adult little-ringed plovers noted in the parish today. No juveniles in tow as yet.


Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Freeman’s Pool/wood, 23 Lapwing on the island, 2 Oystercatcher. Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat and Lesser. Chaffinch with fledged , Greenfinch with fledged. Treecreeper. 
Track, Goldfinch with fledged, LRP at Wildfowlers’ Pool along with 2 Shelduck. Linnet, Whitethroats, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush.   

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Boogie Nights......

This evening myself, Dan and Guy all rendezvoused near the Wildfowlers’ Pool. Dan had suggested the idea in the hope of hearing Quail.

There was plenty of flying things that none of us could identify, bats, the track being a brilliant tunnel for them. Robins catching moths, LRP, Grey Partridge and pheasants all calling and party revellers near the walled meadow, but no Quail heard. Dan and I then went to Freeman's Pool and heard Grasshopper Warbler; we went onto the old field part and had a fantastic singing display. I have heard these birds in the daytime, but their night time song is amazing, really loud, it just kept going on for minutes at a time. 

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Flush With Success

Dan here.

My fave find of the year so far was the discovery of a quail on Aldcliffe's hallowed ground this morning.

It flushed out from my feet from the trackside verge between the Wildfowler's Pools and Darter Pond at 0545h. It flew 15 yards up the track before hanging sharp right over the hedge and dropping into the field that contains Frog Pond.

The flight was strong and even, as I suppose would befit something that was recently in Africa. The flight jizz was a little like a small, stripy woodcock.

I'd been in the area from half past three and had heard no Q song, which is a shame since I had a friend's hand-held tascam and had been making good recordings of sedge warbler, whitethroat and reed bunting sounds.

Other birds fresh-in comprised 2 gadwalls, a little egret (not common here mid-summer)... and a black swan, which had obviously just made the commute from Australia.


Friday, 3 June 2011

A Young Dubius Charadr?

Hello. Dan here.

Thought I'd make use of the first calm morning in weeks with a pre-dawn listening session.

An early start (0345-0630) paid some dividends with crepuscular singers including:

Two grasshopper warblers (1 Freeman's Pools, 1 'upper track'), 4 sedge warblers, 9 common and 2 lesser whitethroats.

Other singers heard along the cycle path included 3 reed buntings and 4 song thrushes.

Highlight of the morning was probably the common tern sat by the river underneath the power lines.

As I watched it preening a flock of 14 black-tailed godwits flew quite high upstream, only to head South a couple of minutes later.

Another two blackwits in rather subdued plumage were feeding at the Wildfowler's Pools.

The drake wigeon appears to be over-summering in the parish.

A grey partridge and five hares were welcome sights on the maize field, as were two sitting lapwings and and two incubating oystercatchers.

A fleeting view of what could well have been a three-quarter scale juv. little ringed plover in marginal vegetation was somewhat tantalising.


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Not much going on.....

Freeman’s Pool quiet with a few Coot and Swans. House Martins, Swallow and Swift added interest. Lapwing seem to have given up with the maize fields, one or two only on here, the maize is shooting up. Whitethroats, Blackcaps and a Sedge Warbler on the track. Wildfowlers’ dull. Marsh covered in sheep. A LRP was the highlight on the flood. The railway cutting is gong to be ruined within a few short years because of the Himalayan Balsam spreading. This is a perfect spot for it! I pulled up quite a bit today, if you see any do the same. I also found some Knotweed, which I pulled up. I have seen the damage these two plants cause, Skerton Weir is overrun with the stuff which doesn't leave room for much else. Lancs county council have been contacted but don't hold your breath!