Sunday, 25 October 2015

Another First for Aldcliffe

Once the (un-forecast) rain stopped this morning I dragged myself down to the patch for a spot of Aldcliffe birding.
First, I made my way through Freeman's Wood noting good numbers of redwings, blackbirds and goldcrests around the place. A charming pair of bullfinch showed well and a female blackcap was seen gorging on blackberries.

At Freeman's Pools there was nothing out of the ordinary, although it was good to see numbers of classic wintering species still creeping up (14 each of wigeon, teal and gadwall plus 31 coot).
As mentioned several times on this blog in the past, rooks are relatively scarce visitors on the patch. We can usually expect a few in autumn and early winter but they rarely exceed double figures, so a total of 22 scattered around the fields to the east of the cycle track was cause for minor celebration.

Stopping, as always, to check all the small flocks of passerines along the hedgerows I came across a modest tit flock made up of the usual bits and pieces; blue tit, great tit, long-tailed tit, wren and a couple of goldcrests. Then just a few metres behind, a 'large' warbler loomed into view.
My first naked-eye thoughts were of reed warbler but as soon as I got my bins on it it was clear that this was my long-awaited first Cetti's warbler for the patch.
The bird was feeding low down in a sparse hawthorn and gave brilliant views for several minutes before dropping down out of view.

So, if you were one of the 52% of participants who chose Cetti's warbler as probable next new bird for Aldcliffe (see the poll on the top right). please give yourselves a round of quiet applause. Now I'll have to think of another bird to replace it and keep the poll open... incidentally, the last new patch bird, pectoral sandpiper, wasn't even included in the options!

Close by, a party of at least 6 lesser redpoll were feeding on rosebay willowherb seedheads - presumably this is the same small flock that was in the same area nearly 3 weeks ago?


Friday, 23 October 2015

A Week Away Works Wonders

Blimey, it's a been a while since I posted something on here.
That doesn't mean that I haven't been out birding, more a case of that I've struggled to find motivation to write anything about in what has been a very unusual autumn period.
Common migrants have been hard to find (nice clear September nights for clearing out with no off-passage stuff to speak of) and ongoing mild conditions means relatively few weather-induced arrivals from the north.

The influx of yellow-browed warblers had me hopeful but as yet not a single one has materialised on the patch. That said, I've been working away fair bit and also just spent a week on the Scillies so there may have been dozens of the wee sprites at Aldcliffe, but with practically no birders checking the area they could easily have gone unnoticed. It's a philosophical (phylloscophical?) conundrum: a yellow-browed warbler calls in the sycamore but there's no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound?   

Phone'scope pic of Hudsonian whimbrel
Anyhoo, I saw loads of yellow-browed warblers on the Scillies  along with an embarrassing glut of firecrests - always great to see. The Hudsonian whimbrel on Tresco gave me a British tick, as did the St Mary's Blyth's pipit and my third, if well overdue, 'first' was the dazzling (if a little tick infested) olive-backed pipit on St Martins.

'Fawn Yawn' at Land's End

Kev Kelly and I also found the islands' only Pallas's warbler of the season while on Tresco and we finished the week off with a look at a ridiculously approachable juvenile rose-coloured starling at Land's End. The pic of the starling here was taken with my phone. No 'scope, no trickery, just my phone.

Closer to home, here are a few of the highlights from the past few weeks around Aldcliffe...

Oct 4th: a few blackcap around plus 2 'new-in' tree sparrows

Colour-ringed grey wagtail
Oct 5th: common whitethroat, 5 chiffchaff (all but one silent), loads of goldcrests and a very showy party of 6 redpoll.
Colour-ringed grey wagtail at Stodday ETW (ringed at Middleton 27/9/15).

Sept 27th: few chiffchaffs found in the company of the local tit flocks. Small numbers of meadow pipit & swallow overhead.
A drake scaup on the Lune.

Sept 18th: 1 blackcap and common whitethroat this morning. A few swallows mainly in small numbers though one tight flock of 22, plus 4 meadow pipit and 6 alba wagtail over. Chaffinch, greenfinch and reed bunting numbers creeping up a touch. A couple of willow warbler and 5 chiffchaff.
A ringed adult Med gull at Gull Bank
Gadwall up to 6 at Freeman's Pools, plus 2 tufted duck, 6 wigeon, a green sandpiper and the usual little grebes, etc.