Return of the Blog

Hello there!
Well, once again I find myself posting for the first time in ages and offering an apology of sorts...

The lack of updates doesn't necessarily reflect a lack of visits to the Aldcliffe patch on my part, more a reflection of my ability to be bothered to log in and write a post! I suppose with spending my working days at RSPB Leighton Moss, my free time spent on the patch is a little escape from the public face of birdwatching and a space where I can retract a little and call my own.
However with the extremely unusual change in circumstances that we're all going through (to varying degrees) it seems that perhaps now is the time once again to share my love of this area on my doorstep.
Of course living so close to my favourite birding spot, I can easily walk or cycle here while observing government guidelines around exercise, etc. The fact that I live within spitting distance is not merely some piece of luck - it was one of the key deciders when we bought the house.

Flooded fields (with garganey centre!)
So, it's spring! Migration is well under way and the patch has been delivering.
One of the things that has changed recently, and is certainly influencing the birding, is the breaching of the seawall along Dawson's Bank which occurred earlier in the year.
Thanks to the efforts of some 'terrier men' (i.e. those who like killing wild animals for fun) a while back, the bank was seemingly structurally weakened by these fine countryfolk digging out a fox den and doing naff all to repair the damage once they'd had their fun.  The wettest February on record coupled with massive tides resulted in some significant damage leaving the maize fields and those around the Wildfowlers' Pools inundated with seawater.

Black-tailed godwit
The positive result, from a birder's perspective, is that the area between the cycle track and saltmarsh has become a temporary lake and latterly a very tasty muddy wetland; highly attractive to birds. In the past few weeks this area has hosted huge numbers of black-tailed godwit, along with good numbers of redshank and plenty of wildfowl. The regular teal, wigeon, gadwall, goldeneye and tufted ducks have been joined by pintail, shoveler and even a spanking drake garganey which spent a few days wowing local birders.

One of the outcomes of the restrictions being placed upon people and how they access the outdoors has been the massive increase in those using the Freeman's Wood / Aldcliffe Marsh footpaths and cycle track. I have never seen it so busy. Even when out at first light, where I may ordinarily see two or three dog-walkers and the odd jogger in the course a couple of hours, now I will encounter 20+ people in an hour. And while such excellent local birdwatching sites as Leighton Moss are closed, more local birdwatchers are visiting the Aldcliffe area too.

Avocets at the Wildfowlers' Pools
It would seem that some joggers and cyclists appear to believe that lycra offers protective powers against Covid-19, and therefore there's no need to observe 2m distancing from others, which does make birdwatching in the area much less enjoyable I have to say. A constant stream of panting individuals along one metre wide paths isn't all that appealing right now and I for one am steering clear of some the spots I would usually check. But, I shall continue to make visits of sorts and post my sightings, and those of others, while doing my utmost to avoid the masses.

If you too live within walking distance of the area and decide to go birdwatching please do observe the guidelines and please pass on your sightings by commenting on this site, or posting on the LDBWS website.

Recent highlights include:
Garganey
White-fronted goose (Greenland)
Marsh harrier
Osprey
Avocets
Ruff
Little ringed plover
Yellow wagtail
20+ white wagtails
Tree pipit
Whinchat
Sedge warbler
plus good numbers of common migrants including: wheatears, sand martins, swallows, house martins, chiffchaffs, willow warblers, blackcaps,

Jon