Saturday, 12 August 2017

Caught In A Shower

Aldcliffe little owl
Had a very enjoyable three hours or so rummaging around the estuary and environs this morning.
Freeman's Pools was quiet with just a couple of coot, a moorhen, mute swan, a gadwall and 6 little grebes.
A check of Darter Pool revealed a garganey. It flew off toward Bank Pool where it presumably touched down. After a blank 2016, this was a most welcome bird!
The Wildfowlers' Pools and Frog Pond were fairly birdless. Due to the high water levels we're not seeing any waders dropping in to feed on the pools. That said, the flood looks good with lots of mud and water but it must be pretty food-free as few birds are bothering with it.
A check of the estuary was more productive.
There were around 2,300 black-headed gulls roosting on what was once Gull Bank (now more of a steep terrace following the collapse of the bank during the 2015 floods) with smaller numbers of common, herring and lesser black-backs. As I scanned through in search of Mediterranean gulls I picked out 9 but there may well have been more. That could be the highest count I've ever had of Med gulls at Aldcliffe...?
Also on the Lune were 42 black-tailed godwit feeding frantically away on the exposed mud. Among the gathered lapwing were the first three 'autumn' golden plovers.

Before heading home I checked on the little owls near FAUNA and found them just as another shower set in. I could see two adults initially but no youngster.
As the rain fell I noticed one of the adults adopting what I thought was perhaps a defence pose (pictured right). It dropped its wings and then brought them to the fore. I looked at the other adult and it was doing the same. Then two young owls emerged and also adopted the same stance.
Was this something to do with feather conditioning? Were they literally taking a shower? I'll be looking into this when I get chance; I've certainly never witnessed that behaviour before.

Jon
    

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Little Grebe Collective

Grey partridge
Managed to squeeze in a quick blast around the patch after work this evening. It was drizzly but mild and calm enough.
First port of call was Freeman's Pools where I was greeted by the sight of an impressive 9 little grebes. Nice to see grown youngsters among them. Otherwise, a couple of coot and a lone moorhen were all I could see on the main pool.
A grey heron, a mute swan and a couple more moorhens graced the top pools. A female sparrowhawk was sat on a fence post.
A scan of the gulls on the Lune revealed nothing of note.
Water levels being generally high, the ponds were all pretty cruddy with no muddy edges for anything to lurk on. Hence, they were dead.
A couple of whitethroat were heard grunting in the hedges and a couple of willow warblers were in the track-side hawthorns.
There were plenty of swallows around but only a couple each of house and sand martin.
The Flood was slightly more birdy with a pair of little egret and both green sandpiper and common sandpiper.
Despite the large numbers of black-headed gull and lapwings on the river, I couldn't find anything else among them. A kestrel was hunting over the saltmarsh.
I came across a single well-grown juvenile grey partridge on the tideline near Walled Meadow. Proof at least that they still manage (just about) to maintain a small but ever-dwindling population in the Aldcliffe area...

Jon