The Promise of Autumn

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
Well, that was a long time between posts wasn't it folks?I have to say, despite my not posting anything on here since the beginning of April there's hardly been an outcry from my loyal readers... one or two mentions here and there just about covers it.So, what's the reason for the lack of input on my part? I don't really know, to be honest. I've been birding around the Aldcliffe area as usual but I've been somewhat uninspired by my wanderings. The terrible weather in spring meant little in the way of passage migrants on the patch and the wonderful summer heatwave was admittedly good for many breeding birds though was dull as far as variety goes.And here we are, about to embark on autumn - surely the most exciting of all seasons in the birders' calendar. But before we look at the potential joys of September, here are few notable records from...

Is it spring yet?

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
Welcome to the most uninspiring spring of all time. Which is quite fitting I suppose, given that this winter was possibly the dullest I can remember as far as birding around Aldcliffe is concerned.The lack of posts here has been solely down to a lack of enthusiasm on my part - I've been out around the patch on plenty of occasions but the birds have barely differed from one visit to the next.In summary:There was loads of water, the pools were high and the cycle track was flooded for most of the season. Water levels have now dropped. Of note, the smaller rear pool at the Wildfowlers' Pools has been 'de-vegetated' and re-landscaped for the benefit of ducks but little else.   Duck numbers were relatively unremarkable although we had a decent mix of species. Highlights have included double figure shovelers and up to five pintail throug...
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Slow Start to New Year

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
I've never been very good at making New Year's resolutions. And it turns out, I'm not that good at keeping them. My intention was to ensure more regular updates on the Birding Aldcliffe blog during 2018  but I haven't exactly got off to a good start...I do have some excuses; the first two weeks of January saw Jenny and I heading off to Cuba for a spot of post Christmas respite. A spot of winter sunshine and a handful of new birds seemed most appealing. Despite some unseasonal rain and rather cool conditions on some days, the overall trip was great with relaxation and exploration enjoyed in equal measure.And yes, I saw a few 'new' birds. Highlights were of course the endemic species, such as Cuban tody, seen here in my short video:As well as the endemic and near-endemic specialities, Cuba is also the wintering site for several species o...

Floods, Ice and Wildfowl

Posted on - In Birding Aldcliffe
Wishing all readers of this blog a very merry Christmas and a bird-filled New Year.Sunset over the flooded Wildfowlers' PoolsMy own resolution for 2018 will be to try and post on here a bit more often than I have of late... to summarise the past few weeks: rain, rain, ice, rain, drizzle.Flooded Wildfowlers' PoolsNothing much has changed birds-wise beyond a few ducks dropping in here and there.The high water levels have attracted a few more dabblers than we normally get at Aldcliffe and the Wildfowlers' Pools have seen several pintail (not a common bird on this stretch of the Lune) and a few shoveler too. Teal numbers have been impressive at times and last week there was a mass arrival of mallard with in excess of a hundred birds present.A few pink-footed geese have commuted over from the Oxcliffe area or stopped off briefly while heading th...

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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