Wading In

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
Great to see a green sandpiper back on the patch this morning. I was beginning to think that we wouldn't have one in the Aldcliffe area this winter. I suspect that it will remain elusive in the coming weeks but we'll wait and see. Today it was on The Flood.The Flood, along with the fields by the Wildfowlers' Pools, are looking fabulous at the moment. The high water levels of recent weeks have receded and as a result the fields are nicely boggy and seemingly hooching with invertebrates. There were loads of teal dabbling in the muddy shallows this morning along with multiple redshanks, curlews, snipe, up to 11 dunlin and a couple of black-tailed godwits.It could be well worth keeping an eye on these wet fields as anything could potentially turn up - past winters have seen such oddities as lesser yellowlegs, wood sandpiper, knot and little sti...
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Whooper Trouper

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
Had a couple of hours mooching around the patch yesterday (Saturday) morning.Things were looking slightly livelier at Freeman's Pools with some more goldeneye new in (now 8 birds present) along with 22 coot, 4 tufted duck, 3 little grebe and 19 gadwall. A little egret was on the island.Checking the Lune at Marsh Point, a pair of great crested grebes drifted by on the incoming tide.With the maize fields now fully cut, good numbers of corvids, woodpigeons and geese were rooting around in them. Also there were plenty of chaffinches and a few reed buntings and greenfinches searching for food. I could hear tree sparrows calling and eventually tracked two down in the hedge near Darter Pool. Whooper swanAs I made my way along the cycle track a couple of skeins (comprised approx 70 & 130 birds) of pink-footed geese went over, heading south. A d...
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Return of the Goldeneye

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
The clear winner of the 'Highlight of the Day' category was the pair of goldeneyes on Freeman's Pools this morning. Generally duck numbers seem to be rather low so far this autumn, not only at Aldcliffe but other places too. The cooler air from the north this weekend will have no doubt brought more wildfowl in but on the whole I expect we'll need a spell of prolonged wintry weather before we see any really significant changes. Also with water levels being so high, the traditional ponds are likely too deep for dabbling ducks to feed so flooded fields may be attracting more birds than usual.Collared greylagThe usual 20-odd gadwall were at Freeman's Pools along with 3 wigeon, a handful of tufted duck, a few coot and 5 little grebes.The maize was being harvested today so hopefully we'll get some finch and sparrow action in these fields in the n...

Better Gate Than Never

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
Boy, where has the time gone? One minute it's early September and I'm looking forward to lots of exciting autumn birding, then it's suddenly mid-October and it feels like I've hardly been out!Well, that's not strictly true - I have had a few visits to Aldcliffe and environs but I've not exactly come back with a bulging notebook.North RonaldsayPlus, I spent the last week of September on North Ronaldsay, in Orkney. And that was pretty much dawn till dusk birding for 6 days. Our stay on this magical isle didn't coincide with The Big One (that came several days later) but we still found and / or saw plenty to entertain us.Rustic bunting by Mark WitherallHighlights included rustic, little and ortolan bunting  olive-backed pipit, bluethroat, red-breasted flycatcher, barred and yellow-browed warblers plus plenty of birds I don't see enough of...

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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