Monday, 28 October 2013

The Imperfect Storm

What's this - two posts in three days? This could get silly...
I managed to squeeze in an early afternoon visit to the patch today, convinced that I might find some windblown stray of some kind or other. It's fair to say at this point that I didn't.
Nonetheless, it was great to get out and have a root around Aldcliffe.

First I checked the glamorous environs of the Lune Industrial Estate in the hope that a black redstart might be lurking somewhere. I then had a scout around Keyline, with the same species in mind. I walked along the estuary from here to Marsh Point in case something interesting was feeding along the tideline, checking the river as I went but finding just the regular gulls and a brace of goosander.
Freeman's Pools were suspiciously quiet, though it may have been just down to the brisk wind causing birds to seek more sheltered pools nearby.
This certainly appeared to be the case; there were several wigeon, a tufted duck and a bunch of mallard on Frog Pond.
On Darter Pool a juvenile little grebe was joined by 10 smart gadwall.
Around 35 teal were at the Wildfowlers' Pools along with a pair of shoveler and 2 more little grebe.
The Flood, the Marsh and the hedgerows were pretty drab with nothing of note to be seen. A pair of stock dove were flying around near Walled Meadow and a skein of c80 pink-footed geese passed over heading SSW.
On  my way back things had picked up a bit at Freeman's Pools with 3 goldeneye and another tufted duck on the water as well as a minimum of 7 little grebe.

So, it looks like we pretty much missed out on the weather event of the decade up here in North Lancashire, but I suppose there could be one or two wind-borne goodies just waiting to be found out there in the next few days... 

Saturday, 26 October 2013


Snow goose
The lack of activity from me on this blog of late isn't entirely due to me having not been out. It's fair to say that I haven't been out quite as much as I'd like, but I have been checking the patch whenever time has allowed. The grim reality is that I've hardly seen anything all that worthy of mention.
When the rest of the UK was inundated with yellow-browed warblers I was out every day checking the tit flocks and scouring the sycamore's in and around Freeman's Wood but unfortunately drew blanks on each occasion.
Wader numbers have been slow to build and there were very few migrant shorebirds generally in the Aldcliffe area. As witnessed in many other places, Aldcliffe saw a major passage of pink-footed geese but none stopped off on the estuary.
To put things into perspective, the highlight of this otherwise very drab autumn (on the patch) was the arrival of a pristine, yet proven escapee, snow goose that turned up when the greylag flocks returned to the marsh. 
I also had a week off in September and went to Majorca with Jenny. I had two target birds, moustached and Balearic warblers - you can read my brief account and see some lovely pictures of some Mediterannean exotica here or by clicking on the tab above.
In the past few weeks I have also enjoyed a few hours at the RSPB reserves at Burton Mere on the Dee estuary (where I was treated to amazing views of a hobby snatching dragonflies in front of the hide) and the newly renovated Campfield Marsh on the Solway. 

Anyway, just for completion here are some annotated posts that I put onto the LDBWS website since I last blogged...  

October 16

Among the 270 or so Canada geese on Aldcliffe Marsh this morning were at least 3 birds sporting orange/red darvic rings on their left legs. I was without 'scope so couldn't get any digits.
These are part of a RSPCA-related ringing scheme based out of Windermere.
Otherwise it was pretty unremarkable out there. I scoured the tideline for northern buntings, checked the marsh for ibis and kicked a few bushes for grounded migrants but came back with nowt. A solitary green sandpiper was the only thing of note.

October 8th

Nothing much new to report from Aldcliffe this morning, just much the same stuff as present for the past week or so but with less emphasis on migrant passerines.
Indeed I couldn't even find a single chiffchaff despite a thorough grilling of a handful of tit flocks.
Reed bunting numbers are pretty good along the cycle track and particularly in the maize fields, while greenfinch and chaffinch seem to have increased notably.
Approx 70 black-tailed godwit were on the Lune off Marsh Point, and an adult Mediterannean gull was with the many black-headeds at Gull Bank. Around 160 wigeon were on the river here.
3 grey wagtail were among a dozen or so pied wags at Stodday ETW.
No sign of any green sandpipers anywhere, just 8 snipe on The Flood.
At least 6 little grebes, 3 shoveler and 5 gadwall on Freeman's Pools, plus 6 swallow briefly feeding over the water before moving on.

Had a walk along Morecambe prom from Stone Jetty to Broadway as the tide was rising early afternoon. Highlights included a rock pipit on the jetty, a scattering of (25+) eider, plus the expected turnstones, redshank, oystercatchers etc.
An adult Med gull was flying around near Promenade Music (couldn't see any rings). 

October 01  

A good scout around the patch this morning failed to turn up anything beyond a paltry trickle of swallows and at least 5 chiffchaff as far as classic migrants was concerned.
An adult Med gull was on gull bank, a single black-tailed godwit was on the marsh and a green sandpiper was heard.
A pristine, if highly suspect, snow goose was among c.370 greylag on Aldcliffe Marsh.

September 24 

As noted elsewhere recently the skies have been punctuated with skeins of pinkfeet in recent days and this morning had 3 large groups pass over the estuary. One skein contained a very small goose, but it was way too distant to get anything on it.
Gadwall are back on Freeman's Pools with 6 present plus 3 new-in shoveler. At least 6 little grebe there too.
No sign of the fence-hopping sacred/Australian white ibis today.

Very few migrants around - several chifchaffs, a couple of blackcap and single male stonechat being the most obvious. A steady trickle of meadow pipits were moving through.
Reed bunting and chaffinch numbers are building up in and around the maize fields.
Waders continue to increase with yet more lapwing arriving along with golden plover and a scattering of dunlin. Redshank are still pretty thin on the ground.
3 green sandpiper were on The Flood, then later the Wildfowlers Pools.