It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Autumn

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
It certainly felt autumnal again this morning, not so much weather-wise but bird-wise.A few migrants hinted at the real onset of passage.Distant whinchat & wheatearTwo redstarts were the highlight, both dazzling males.The whinchat remains by the Wildfowlers' Pools - I assume it's the same bird I first saw on 27th and again on Saturday, when it was with a wheatear.I could see 5 wheatear out on Aldcliffe Marsh though I suspect there were more around.A few other bits and bobs in the hedges included a lesser whitethroat and a male blackcap plus several willow warblers and chiffchaffs. Swallows were moving south in good numbers.A green sandpiper was on the Flood but given the reported national influx of pectoral sandpipers it wasn't exactly what I'd hoped to find!Similarly, the mass of waders on the Lune in recent days has yet to attract any...

Autumn Beckons

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
My last few rummages around around the local patch have certainly had a feeling of impending autumn about them.This morning, the undoubted highlight was a lovely whinchat with 3 wheatears by the Wildfowlers' Pools. Oddly, I didn't find any other obvious grounded migrants anywhere else though overhead, swallows were clearly on the move.A green sandpiper was on the pools too. There were 2 here yesterday morning.Kingfisher, Freeman's PoolsAlso yesterday, there was a pair of kingfishers at Freeman's Pools though I couldn't see them this morning. Wader numbers continue to creep up with good numbers of curlew, lapwing and redshank on the estuary. A few black-tailed godwit have been dropping in and ones or two's of dunlin and greenshank have been on the river. Just 3 golden plover have appeared so far.An adult great crested grebe was on the Lune y...
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Purple Patch

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
Well, it's certainly been an interesting few days!On Friday, shortly before I was due to catch my train to Oakham for the Birdfair a juvenile purple heron was discovered in front of the Grisedale Hide at Leighton Moss. Now, given that the last purple heron at the reserve (and in this area) was back in 1996 (I saw that one too) this was not a bird to be missed.So, I duly legged it up the Skytower - following intel from Kev Kelly that it had flow into reeds 'behind Lilian's' - and scanned the vista. Kev decided to join me as it was no longer visible from the hide and we had no idea what it was going to do next.Purple heron (not the Leighton Moss one...)After a few gruelling minutes the heron rose from the reeds and flew a short distance before pitching down, out of sight once more. It did this a couple more times before relocating to Grisedal...
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Caught In A Shower

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
Aldcliffe little owlHad 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 201...
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Little Grebe Collective

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
Grey partridgeManaged 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 coupl...

Field Good Factor

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
I had an extremely soggy trundle around the patch on Saturday morning, but it wasn't without its rewards.Freeman's Pools were relatively quiet; 3 tufted duck, a couple of little grebes and a few mallard, coot and Canada geese on the water. A reed warbler was half-heartedly singing but kept typically hidden.A single green sandpiper was at the Wildfowlers' Pools along with a shelduck and one fledged youngster. The sedge warbler-in-residence was belting it out from a path-side hawthorn.A lone breeding-plumage black-tailed godwit was also here, freshly returned no doubt from Iceland. Also back in the Aldcliffe 'hood were the first post-breeding greylags of the year - approximately 120 including a couple of collared birds.Out on the Lune the tide was low and as a consequence the mud was littered with lapwings and black-headed gulls. From among t...
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Sunday Summary

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
A couple of hours spent blasting around the patch today, just as the tide started to drop was reasonably productive.Once the jet skiers by Snatchems had packed up and gone off to do whatever it is people like that do, the gulls and lapwings started to settle once more around the river's edge.Scanning through I was slightly disappointed to find just one Mediterranean gull but as it was an extremely handsome adult still sporting it's breeding finery, I was quite happy with it. It was quite distant, hence the terrible dodgi-scoped pic here.Med gullOther than a single eider and my first 'autumn' common sandpiper the Lune was as to be expected; little egrets, grey herons, etc.Highlights from the Wildfowlers' Pools included a pair of eclipse shoveler and 2 green sandpipers. The Reedy Corner sedge warbler was singing its heart out as were multiple...
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Green Back

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
My first green sandpiper of the post-breeding season was bang on cue this evening with a single bird at the Wildfowlers' Pools.We usually see a few passing through from early July onward and numbers can reach double figures in exceptional years. Of course there's also the chance of the odd wood sandpiper dropping in too; we generally get on one every other year or so.Other notable stuff from my latish sojourn included a couple of noisy water rails in Reedy Corner (have they bred here this year?), both reed and sedge warblers singing and a little ringed plover. Although I still haven't seen any young plovers so far this year, there's still a chance that there may be a late brood, as there was last year.At Freeman's Pools the 2 young little grebes continue to grow but other than a few mallard duckling and Canada goose goslings there's been li...
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Tern Up For The Books

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
With the sun a-blazing it was always going to be about insects today. Having hardly spent any time birding around Aldcliffe lately, I was keen to see if there was much about - and particularly interested to see what dragonflies had emerged.On the odanata front it was great to see my first emperor dragonflies of the year; four of these monsters were cruising around at Darter Pool. Also here was a lone four-spotted chaser and a few broad-bodied chasers along with multiple common blue damselflies.Butterflies were seriously lacking and just a handful of speckled woods, and the odd red admiral, peacock and skipper were seen between Aldcliffe and Glasson.Birds-wise, Aldcliffe highlights included a newly hatched brood of lapwing chicks at the Wildfowlers' Pools. Otherwise the patch was pretty quiet. Talking of lapwings, the post-breeding (perhaps ...

The Migrants Keep Trickling In…

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
This morning I led a guided walk around the FAUNA reserve in Lancaster. It was the first one that I've done for a while and we had a great turnout. Thankfully the weather behaved and we saw a decent selection of common birds including both common and lesser whitethroat, reed bunting, stock dove and a pair of grey partridge.Afterwards I went off for a trundle around Aldcliffe to see if anything had dropped in. There were plenty of singing warblers around; willow warbler, chiffchaff, sedge warbler, both whitethroats, and blackcaps all belting it out.The highlight was a whinchat in the maize fields, followed by another by Freeman's Pools.  A few pairs of lapwing seemed to have resettled in the maize fields, along with a pair of oystercatchers. Hopefully they will have some success this time - it appears that the seed went down soon after ...