Saturday, 13 April 2013

Balmy Even!

On recent standards by mid-afternoon yesterday was pleasantly sunny and warm and I had decided it was a good day to do the Lancaster - Glasson Dock stretch. Starting at Skerton Bridge I noted 4 Goosander on the river, but from there on I had to wait to arrive at Freeman's Pools to start taking notes with a Little Egret and Little Grebe seen. Robin, Chaffinch, and Great Tit were all singing and gave the feeling....perhaps it is spring after all. 

Goldfinch/Greenfinch Noushka Dufort

It was good to note two pair of Goldfinch and a pair of Greenfinch almost certainly nesting in the trees along the path to Marsh Point, the Greenfinch with nesting material in its bill I was particularly pleased about. On the wildfowlers pool a Green Sandpiper and another Little Egret seen, on the flood 4 Little Ringed Plover.  

From Aldcliffe Hall Lane to Conder Green a 'little' action at long last was in evidence with 4 Chiffchaff and 7 Wheatear seen. Also of note a Buzzard soaring, 2 Dunnock, 2 Mistle Thrush, a Kestrel, 12 Blackbird, and my first Small Tortoiseshell of the year. Approaching Conder Green I saw c.10 Redwing as seen 8 March and 3 April in the same area.

At Conder Green 2 Spotted Redshank with a third sighting wasn't proved to be other than one of the two seen a few minutes before, but possibly three birds seen. Also Common Sandpiper and 2 Snipe on Conder Pool. At Glasson Dock I had spent five hours walking south and not seen a single Swallow, but one flew by me over the canal basin, minutes later 2 Sand Martin were hawking over the basin, my first this year.

The Black Poplar.

Black Poplar. Pete Woodruff.

I always admire this brilliant Black Poplar tree by the path running alongside Freeman's Pools to Marsh Point, it is a rare tree which is threatened by its cultivated relations. There are so few wild Black Poplars left that it is unlikely that they will pollinate each other, instead the large numbers of cultivated trees will pollinate them. This means that there are hardly ever any new truly wild Black Poplars. The number of Black Polar is thought to stand at 8,000 today, with only 400 female of which this Lancaster tree is one.

The Black Poplar was a well-known and much-loved feature of Sunderland Point - historically known there as the Cotton Tree - and familiar to generations of villagers and visitors alike. It finally and sadly toppled over on 1st January 1998, the victim of old age and the fierce gales that struck the area a few days earlier on Christmas Eve 1997, it was estimated to have been up to 250 years old. 

It isn't so with this tree, but the bark of the Black Poplar often appears black due to the deep craggy fissures and burrs which are clearly apparent here. An amazing tree with quite a lot of folklore surrounding it, a small sample of which tells us that the bright red fallen catkins are called Devil's Fingers and bring bad luck if picked up. 


Richard Pegler said...

Great images here, and delighted to see you've used Findlay's header.

Thank you for the info on the Black Poplar. I was totally unaware of the perilous status of this tree. Worrying!

Findlay Wilde said...

What a brilliant collection of birds to see in one day. Some of my favourite birds are the ones we take a bit for granted like the beautiful Goldfinches and the families of Sparrows. Thank you so much for using my gannet picture. From Findlay

Warren Baker said...

Facinating stuff about the Poplar Pete, so sad its going into extinction though :-(

Enjoy the spring mate, now its here!

Pete Woodruff said...

Richard/Warren....Pleased you found the bit about the Black Poplar interesting, a quite amazing tree.

Findlay....The Gannet image falls well into the 'excellent' class and was always likely to find its way on to Birds2blog.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Just beautiful!!!.. A hug

geoff gradwell said...

There are plans to plant black poluar on my patch, but then again they were supposed to have done so back in 2000... I think vandalism might have taken care of any earlier efforts, perhaps more substantial trees this time??? ... I'll kep you posted if it ever happens

best w