Trip reports

Wild Goose Chase

Flock of pink-footed geese at dawn over Loch of Strathbeg

Sunday, 14 February 2010

On a cold and frosty morning 8 members of Lancaster Local Group met at Conder Green Picnic Area for a mini bus tour of the Fylde goose fields. Prior to setting off, members scanned the adjacent marsh and the Lune estuary and observed the following on the incoming tide: Goldeneye and Wigeon in numbers, along with 6 Bewicks Swans amidst the Mute Swans on the river. Lapwing, Curlew and Bar Tailed Godwit were all starting to roost on the marsh edging. In the tidal Conder Creek 2 Spotted Redshank were seen before flying off.
Our first stop was the fields along Jeremy Lane, where a small group of mixed Bewicks and Whoopers were seen, giving members a chance to observe the size difference and the amount of variation in the yellow on the respective species bills. Pinkfooted Geese were seen in an adjacent field, but before they could be observed, a farmer entered the field and they all took to flight. As we continued along Moss Lane towards Cockersand Abbey, geese could be seen in the air and by watching where they landed a flock of c7,000 active birds were found spread over 2-3 fields with much movement between the groups of birds. By carefully scoping through the flocks we managed to turn up a single Barnacle Goose amongst the masses. Another nearby field held in excess of 600 Curlew. Grey Partridge were also seen.
As it was now nearing high tide we made our way towards Lane Ends at Pilling and on a roadside fence line a Barn Owl was spotted. As we stopped to allow all members to see it, the owl took to flight, only to settle on a post farther on.
At Lane Ends, members scoped the marsh as the tide came in and found the following:
On the tide itself: Red Breasted Mergansers (3) along with 14 Great Crested Grebes
and 105 Whooper Swans; numbers of waders - namely Knot and Dunlin, along with several Lapwings and also 30 Grey Plovers were seen flying around as the tide displaced them from the roosting areas. In the bushes 2 Fieldfares were feeding on Buckthorn berries. A couple of Moorhen were seen with the resident cockerel flock. Dunnock and Robin also showed. Making our way to our lunch stop we checked out the flooded stubble fields along Fluke Hall Lane and saw Redshank, Lapwing, Black Tailed Godwit.
After lunch it was decided to check out the fields nearby and found a further flock of c3,000 Pink Footed Geese. After scoping to find any other species riding with them (unsuccessfully) we moved on around what is known locally as the triangle, but no further flocks were seen. However, a feral flock of Greylag Geese at a nearby fisheries included a Dark Bellied Brent Goose. As the weather had worsened with misty and cloudy conditions, it was agreed to visit the feeding stations whilst the light held. On the way, a second Barn Owl was seen hunting the ditches and perching on a post.
The feeding stations held: Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammers, Chaffinches in numbers, along with Grey and Red Legged Partridge, Stock Doves, Collared Doves and on the wires above 30+ Corn Buntings; also 2 Reed Buntings were seen. As the light was now fading it was decided to make our way home with a last call at Conder Pool where we saw 2 Little Grebe along with 82 Tufted Duck.
Thus ended the day ended with unforgettable number of geese seen along with several other impressive species.
Thanks to Robin for driving. I think all who went on the Wild Goose Chase thoroughly enjoyed it.
Apologies for any omissions.
J.W. Bateman (Lancaster Local Group Leader)