Seeing Red (Kite)

Yellow wagtail (Barrie Cooper)
Spring continues to bring us sunshine, and easterlies with no rain. As a consequence, we have seen relatively little in the way of off-passage migration but the regular stuff returning to territory has certainly been noticeable. And in many cases, quite early too.

Of course the two species totally defying the 'no off-passage stuff' comments are the wagtails, which have continued to drop in in varying numbers over recent days. The one-day peak count of flava wags currently stands at six birds; astonishing anywhere in North Lancashire in spring these days. Among the classic British flavissima yellow wagtails we have also had a nominate flava blue-headed male and a smart 'Channel' male (the latter being hybrid blue-headed x yellow).

'Channel' wagtail (Dan Heywood)
Meanwhile, the maximum estimations for white wagtails has been around the 60 mark - equally remarkable!

Of the aforementioned regular and expected arrivals, the past couple of days has seen a marked increase in warblers around the Aldcliffe patch. As one travels along the cycle track between Freeman's Wood and Aldcliffe Hall Lane the cacophonous sound of various species' songs is all-but impossible to ignore. Joining the chiffchaffs, willow warblers and blackcaps which have been present for a couple of weeks or so, there are now lesser whitethroats, common whitethroats and sedge warblers adding to the aural spectacle. Of course added to these newcomers' vocal contributions are the songs of the 'resident' goldfinches, wrens, song thrushes,  blackbirds and robins, amongst others.

Ringed plover (Jon Carter)
As the water levels continue to drop, the diversity of birds on the Wildfowlers' Pools is equally diminishing. Just a hand full of black-tailed godwits remain along wth a few redshank and lapwing plus single common sandpiperdunlin and common ringed plover in recent days. At least two pairs of little ringed plover remain and avocets continue to drop in from time to time, adding a splash of the exotic.

Wheatear (Dan Heywood)
Other birds of note recorded by local birdwatchers in recent days include swiftwhinchat, grasshopper warbler, tree pipit
and whimbrel.

The highlight of the week so far was the appearance of a smart adult red kite that materialised over Aldcliffe Marsh on Tuesday, attracting the attention of the local gulls and as a result, me!
The bird was clearly following the Lune and heading inland and was last seen as it veered over the old Salt Ayre tip and headed off in the direction of Morecambe. Fortunately I was able to alert a couple of other Aldcliffe regulars who were able to spot the elegant raptor before it vanished from local patch airspace. This is only the second red kite I've seen here in around thirty years of birding at Aldcliffe and as far as I am aware only the third ever record for this site.

Jon