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 ...

Wagtail Tale & Marsh Hoodie

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
Yellow wagtails were once a fairly regular feature of an Aldcliffe spring. One or two of these lovely migrants would appear at The Flood or around Frog Pond annually but as the species has undergone significant declines throughout its UK range in recent years, local sightings have inevitably become fewer.So, it was a real pleasure to find one this morning by Bank Pool. The bird was a female and it was foraging around the reeds at the edge of the pool. Also there was a singing reed warbler and a coot with a brood of 5 chicks.One other notable feature of the morning was the movement of swallows and swifts through the area. Good numbers were passing through, with many stopping to feed over the fields. A few house martins and a single sand martin were also seen.Several common whitethroat and lesser whitethroat were seen and heard throughout the...

Missing Migrants & Punctual Osprey

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
Fabulous weather and an encouraging breeze from the south(ish) had me out nice and early, thoughts of myriad migrant birds swirling around my brain... Sadly, as is so often the case, my optimism went unrewarded. A couple of hours checking all the best spots failed to turn hardly anything up.Only a single willow warbler was found in Freeman's Wood, along with plenty of chiffchaffs and a few blackcaps. The collective ponds were quiet - 2 goldeneye, 6 tufted duck and a pair of gadwall remain at Freeman's Pools while small numbers of teal and a further couple of pairs of gadwall were on other pools.A lone little ringed plover was at the Wildfowlers' Pools and a pair of greenshank were on Aldcliffe Marsh.A solitary swallow over the marsh was my first on-patch bird of the year, and a few off-passage meadow pipits were seen here and there, but oth...

Renewed Development Threat

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
It's been a while since I last posted here, mainly due to fewer opportunities to visit but also because there's not been a great deal to report.The little ringed plover situation on the Flood has been somewhat unusual; after the arrival of the first bird on 21st March, a second bird appeared three days later. But instead of the steady build up of birds as has happened in previous years, there has been little sign of any plovers since. This morning, one LRP was present - to my knowledge the first Aldcliffe sighting for well over a week.My last sightings of the green sandpiper and greenshank were on 25th March.Chiffchaffs started arriving en force at the end of March and can now be heard and seen all over the place. A sprinkling of sand martins have passed through and an ever-increasing number of blackcaps are singing in various parts of the ...

Little Wonder

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
Little ringed plover - AldcliffeMid to late March always has me anticipating the arrival of the first little ringed plover at Aldcliffe. They are extremely reliable here and turn up each year around the same date; March 17th in 2013, 19th in 2014 and 2015 and 18th last year.So when I clapped eyes on a lovely adult female on the Flood this morning I wasn't the least bit surprised.These dainty little waders are long distance migrants, returning to the UK each spring from their wintering grounds in Africa. They are as much a herald of spring for me as wheatears, sand martins and chiffchaffs.(The pic here was taken previously). Today's morning visit to Aldcliffe followed a few off-patch visits along with fellow birder and good chum Stuart Meredith. First we headed to Sizergh Castle in search of hawfinch. These dazzling and often elusive birds a...
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White Arse Works Wonders

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
WheatearYet more indicators of the coming season came in the form of a smart male wheatear on the tide line on Monday morning.These long-distance migrants are always a pleasure to see and a real sign that there are tons more birds on their way to our shores!In case you're wondering, the name wheatear has nothing to do with either wheat or indeed ears.It is a derivation of the old name 'white-arse' - and if you've seen one flying away from you, you'll know why!Skylarks have been both passing through and singing over the marsh while meadow pipits continue to make their way north in small numbers. Chiffchaffs have arrived in notable numbers in recent days with a few birds singing in Freeman's Wood while others have been feeding quietly in the hedgerows.Presumably the same green sandpiper I saw last Sunday was again present at the Wildfowl...