Tuesday, 3 March 2015

I'd Sooner Be Birding....

....but since last Thursday my prospects have not been good.

Wheatear. Simon Hawtin.

So I'm taking a look at some migrants I might find in the next four weeks before March is out, not least of which will no doubt be the Wheatear and in my case will probably be at Cockersands. The all time earliest Wheatear in Lancashire was a male at Pilling Lane Ends on the Fylde coast as early as 26 February 2003.

Sand Martin. Simon Hawtin.

Other earliest ever February arrivals in Lancashire have been Sand Martin which was seen on 24 February 1990, and a Garganey found by quite a coincidence on the same date of 24 February five years later in 1995. 

Another 'early bird' in the month of March could be the Little Ringed Plover and I'm hoping they turn up and stay to breed on Conder Pool this summer. Lancashire's earliest LRP was found on 8 March 2010.

Other earliest Lancashire arrivals in March....

Osprey. Seen 4 March 2005 at Arkholme. 
Swallow. Seen 10 March 1997.
Ring Ouzel. Seen 11 March 1999.
Sandwich Tern. Seen on 13 March 1990.

Spotted Flycatcher. Pete Woodruff.

A summer visitor I'm looking forward to seeing again this year is the Spotted Flycatcher. Though the species is a Red Listed and declining breeder, it has appeared in Bowland in the Marshaw/Tower Lodge/Trough Bridge area in decent number these past few years. On 9 August 2011 I found an excellent ten Spotted Flycatcher in the Tower Lodge and surrounding area, with five birds seen in May 2012. I found the same number of five in 2013 and were seen as two pair and a lone bird, and saw another five on 13 June 2014 with two young out of the nest and being fed.

The earliest Lancashire record of Spotted Flycatcher was on 20 April 1985.

The Garden Bird.

Greenfinch. Ana Minguez.

I was made up this morning when a pair of Greenfinch turned up, a MEGA bird for our garden.

Thanks to Simon Hawtin for the excellent Wheatear and Sand Martin images, and to Ana Minguez at Naturanafotos for the brilliant Greenfinch.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Black And White Again....

....and some other colours.

The River Conder was in spate on Thursday with not a wader in sight, and the 10m+ tides earlier in the week have Conder Pool like Conder Lake again, and with the Black Swan having arrived on there looking more like an Ornamental Lake. 

With only one Little Grebe seen it's looking like the wintering birds may have nearly all dispersed. Also on the pool, the Spotted Redshank was roosting with 32 RedshankI also only found the drake Goldeneye today, with a pair of Goosander noted, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull, stood erect and looking like it was in full command of what little was left above water of Tern Island. 

On the canal basin at Glasson Dock, I counted 30 Goldeneye, with not a single one seen on the Lune Estuary, but c.400 Black-tailed Godwit present, and c.175 Dunlin feeding close by from the bowling green, the only other bird of note was a Great-crested Grebe at best irregular here.

Whooper Swans. Cockersands. Pete Woodruff.

The Cockersands Swans have spread themselves out far and wide now and stretched from Moss Lane through several fields towards Bank End. I made little attempt at counting but have no reason to suggest other than my count on 17 February of c.260 Whooper Swan still holds with a 'few' Bewick's Swan seen.

The waders at Cockersands were in fields in huge number with at least 550 Golden Plover and a similar high number of Lapwing, with Dunlin, Redshank, and Curlew all present, 6 Stock Dove were also seen, and I saw 8 Tree Sparrow in the Bank Houses area. 

Brown Hare Brian Rafferty

I counted an excellent 12 Brown Hare on my visit to the Cockersands area today, and as I drove away from here down Moss Lane towards the A588 c.250 Golden Plover flew overhead and across the road.

Thanks for the Brown Hare Brian, and the Short-eared Owl header Gary....Brilliant on both counts.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Black And White Twitch.

Although chasing other peoples birds isn't the norm for me, finding myself in Carnforth on Monday afternoon with some business finished the obvious choice was to head off to Cote Stones to see the Black Redstart, but on arrival at the location and with not a soul or bird in sight I soon realised I had a twitchers 'dip' on my hands. 

Eurasian White-fronted Goose. Chris Batty.

So off I went about a mile down the road towards Silverdale to turn down the track and go under the railway bridge to look west into the fields where I eventually found Eurasian White-fronted Geese in company with c.150 Greylag as viewed through a telescope like a jelly on a plate in an cold westerly howler....well that was fun!

An adult White-fronted Goose is easily distinguished with it's white facial blaze and black belly barring, and in favourable conditions is separable from the Greenland race by being slightly paler, and with a pink bill as opposed to the Greenland orange bill.   

A visit to the Allen Hide overlooking the salt marsh - which by now was almost totally submerged beneath a 10m tide - produced, a Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, 10 Snipe, a single Turnstone was noted with Redshank and Dunlin, a few Pintail were with Wigeon and Teal, a Red-breasted Merganser, and at least 12 Skylark seen.

From the Eric Morecambe Hide I saw at least 350 Black-tailed Godwit, and in the far distance I could just make out an Avocet, presumably one of Sundays two new arrivals here. 

Robin. Pete Woodruff.

From the path to the hides, this Robin posed nicely for me whilst I practiced any photographic skills I might have, ending quite an enjoyable three hours 'hide hugging' to be honest. 

Thanks to Chris for his excellent image of the Eurasian WFG. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Three Weeks Later.

Another of those 'better late than never' posts, with blogging time at a minimum of late.

Last Friday I was back on the coastal route from Lancaster to Glasson Dock with 43 species noted along the way, not exactly riveting stuff and none of which earned me any brownie points I'm afraid. Today I was on the move almost three hours before finding my first of just 3 Blackbird at Ashton Golf Course, a crash in numbers on the forty I saw on this route on 30 December 2014, and the same 'at least forty' on 26 January, but I found 7 Robin compared to five on the same date. On Freeman's Pools I noted 4 Goldeneye, 2 Little Grebe, and a 'few' Gadwall and Wigeon

Rock Pipit Phillip Tomkinson 

Along the embankment on a 10.70m tide the marsh was completely submerged, but a bird some distance ahead on the tide wrack nearly escaped me before flying off but was almost certainly a Rock Pipit. The flood at Aldcliffe was completely deserted.

Raven. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery 

Two Raven were in the Stodday area with no surprise there, also c.30 Goldfinch were accompanied by 5 Reed Bunting and Chaffinch, 3 Little Egret seen along the way.

A quick circuit of Conder Green found the obliging Spotted Redshank, a lone Black-tailed Godwit, with the resident 2 Goldeneye, and 4 Little Grebe on Conder Pool. On the canal basin at Glasson dock I found just 3 Goldeneye today....The bus to Lancaster is coming.

The Garden Bird. 

Blackcap Simon Hawtin  

My day was made up on Sunday when a male Blackcap visited our garden, not the first to have ever done so - two previously - but a bird in the mega category here just the same, it was followed two hours later by a Wren, always a welcome sight in our garden.

The Leighton Moss Birds.

Avocet David Cookson

Two Avocet reported back at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve on the Allen Pool yesterday, three days later than in 2014.

Thanks to Phillip/Martin/Simon/David for the excellent photographs.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Give Nature A 'Barrett' Home!

I'll be brief.

The RSPB's 'Give Nature a Home' slogan has taken on a new meaning as Barratt Developments agrees to incorporate 'green' infrastructure in thousands of new house-building projects, with green infrastructure, including orchards, hedgehog highways, newt ponds, tree-lined avenues, fruit trees in gardens, bat, owl and swift nest-boxes and nectar-rich wild flowers for pollinators such as bees. The development will also include 250 acres of wildlife-rich open space the size of 100 football pitches  with access to all....WOW!

Well, I want to be amongst the first to give a big up for the RSPB and Barrett Homes. But there's a connection here with a nasty piece of work called Mr Wood....

Amongst Yorkshire's top twenty shoots you'll find Farndale, an estate owned by the Barrett family of Barratt Homes fame, but leased to game farmer Michael Wood who has recently been convicted of permitting a pole trap at his game farm, a barbaric device banned in this country over a century ago.

Sparrowhawk In A Pole Trap. William Osborn @ Arkive  

I sent an e-mail to the Game Farmers Association as I thought he was the chairman but didn't have the evidence. I also asked if he would be booted out of the association following the pole trap conviction. This is the reply from my inbox, you'll note - true to form - the issue about whether or not he would be booted out of the GFA was not addressed....  

Hello Pete

Michael Wood is Chairman of the Game Farmers Association. He has always maintained that he did not know of, or permit, the use of the illegal traps on his farm. He intends appealing his case, which therefore remains sub-judice, so it would be inappropriate for the Game Farmers’ Association or for me to comment further at this stage.

Kind Regards

There's much more to be said about Mr Wood, like this also at Farndale ....but I did say this was going to be brief!

The Mute Swan Issue.

Mute Swan Gary Jones 

Six dead Mute Swans have now been recovered, two from Conder Pool, two from Jeremy Lane, and two from Cockersands. But the grand total of dead birds is nine - possibly ten - with two badly decomposed/scavenged at Conder Green, and another yet to be found when I get more info from the farmer I have already spoken to. 

I hope to learn more soon. Meanwhile, at the moment it's all gone a bit quiet on the autopsy results.  

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Anything Interesting!

On Tuesday whilst observing the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, I was approached by a passer by and asked if I had seen anything of interest. I was eventually pleasant - naturally - to this person who unfortunately came up to me just as I had picked up what was obviously an 'odd' Black-headed Gull assuming adult winter plumage, but with yellow legs and bill which was black at the tip, and just a faint black ear spot on an otherwise pure white head, this bird was a follow on from the recent 'Brown Knot' at Cockersands. Another Black-headed Gull seen was ringed but too distant to read, it could well have been 6CY seen here on 1 and 26 September 2014.

Mediterranean Gull Jan Larsson 

But in reply to the query I showed the man 2 Mediterranean Gull which were both adult, c.600 Golden Plover, 20 Goldeneye, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser, a Goosander, and a Peregrine Falcon which was on the south end of Colloway Marsh again....I think he left quite pleased with himself. 

Wigeon Martin Jump  

I never tire of finding the Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper at Conder Green which I did again on Tuesday, with the exception of a few weeks during the breeding season the former now spends the year at Conder Green, and the latter has spent at least four winters here. Also of note, 4 Little Grebe, a pair of Goosander, and 45 Wigeon were split between the pool and creeks. On the canal basin I counted 32 Goldeneye.  

Redwing Warren Baker  

In and around the Bank Houses horse paddock at Cockersands, a single Redwing, 12 Blackbird, 2 Song Thrush, a Mistle Thrush, and 4 Stock Dove. The field off Moss Lane still held an uncounted but estimated 260 Whooper Swan, with 22 Bewick's Swan including four juveniles.

This had been a relaxing birding session following on from earlier assisting the man from MLC in the collection of three dead Mute Swans in the area, with two more having been collected this morning from Cockersands. I'm hoping to have some feedback on all of this soon.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

....And A Garden First.

Having made the arrangements I met up with the man from MLC Services Ltd and we collected three of the dead Mute Swans I posted about Here one off Conder Pool and the other two from the field off Jeremy Lane, these two birds were within a couple of metres of each other. I made the request to be informed of the outcome of the autopsy. 

Mute Swans Cockersands. Pete Woodruff.

The bad news is that four hours later I found two more dead Mute Swans at Cockersands, these two were also in close proximity to each other....this is all becoming a bit of a mystery about eight dead Mute Swans I found within about two miles.

I got in a decent 5 hours today, but my blogging allowance is out of time and the 'Seen Anything Interesting' post will have to wait. Meanwhile....

Goldcrest David Cookson 

We had a first record in our garden this morning when I saw briefly what I at first thought was a Wren disappearing into the ivy - the bird visits us often - but it soon revealed itself to be the UK's smallest bird....a Goldcrest.

And Another Plug.  

I decided to give our man Bob Bushell at 'Birds and Nature in the Forest Of Dean and Beyond' a plug, so....Here It Is 

The Mute Swans are more obviously so on a 'clik the pik' and the Goldcrest and Waxwing are both even bigger gems too.  

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Geese, Swans....

....Wildfowl, Waders, and some other birds.

The Geese.

Pink-footed Geese Brian Rafferty

As I walked towards Plover Scar on Thursday I heard geese calling, looking round an estimated 9,000-10,000 Pink-footed Geese seen in two skeins heading NW, eventually going down, some in the Jeremy Lane area, others in the Glasson Dock area out of sight behind Crook Farm.

The Swans.

I saw a combined total of at least 297 Bewick's/Whooper Swans, seen on Jeremy Lane as 12 Bewick's Swan, 7 Whooper Swan, and a Black Swan. On Moss Lane, 6 Bewick's Swan and 268 Whooper Swan. A Whooper Swan was on the sea SW of Plover Scar, another in the Cocker channel, and two on Cockerham Marsh off Bank End.

The Wildfowl.

Wigeon/Curlew. Pete 'clik the pik' Woodruff.

Forty six Goldeneye were seen as 2 on Conder Pool, 16 on the canal basin, and 28 on the Lune Estuary. Eleven Tufted Duck and a drake Goosander were on Conder Pool with another Goosander on the Lune Estuary. At Cockersands between Plover Scar and the caravan park, c.250 Pintail, several hundred uncounted Wigeon and 39 Eider.

The Waders. 

I saw at least 2,400 Golden Plover, with 1,500 at Glasson Dock, and 900 off Bank End. The Common Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, a Black-tailed Godwit and Snipe were at Conder Green.

Some other birds.

I saw only 4 Little Grebe at Conder Green where a Sparrowhawk was patrolling and a Buzzard drifted over south minutes later. A Peregrine Falcon was again on Colloway Marsh, and 4 Fieldfare were in the tree again by Bank Houses but flew off. The bird of the day for me had to be the male Stonechat seen again off Jeremy Lane....I'm beginning to wonder if this little bugger has been in the area all winter. 

And finally.... 

Some news about dead Mute Swans found in our recording area is Here 

Friday, 13 February 2015

The Tuesday Marathon....

....better late than never.

Bird of the day on Tuesday whilst on Jeremy Lane counting 10 Whooper Swan and noting the Black Swan with them, was the male Stonechat, another fluke as I had given the bird only a moments thought supposing it had moved on since I first found it on 27 January and certainly wasn't looking for it today, but a movement a half mile away took my eye and there he was on the fence posts,  vu....gems and flukes again.

To my shame I decided to ignore the swans off Moss Lane this time and drove by them in the field, but a birder I saw later gave me the figures of 285 Whooper Swan and a single Bewick's Swan there.

At Cockersands, waders noted off Crook Farm, 18 Black-tailed Godwit and 12 Knot, with at least 500 Dunlin strung out along the shoreline to Plover Scar, 32 Eider, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser were off here. A 'good number' of Turnstone were strung along the shingle, seen off the headland at high tide.

Shoveler Noushka Dufort  

A female Shoveler with the Wigeon was the big surprise, never seen one at Cockersands in my life before as a bird known to avoid marine waters. 

Mistle Thrush Antonio Puigg

Another surprise came in the form of 6 Mistle Thrush in a tree together with up to 40 Fieldfare by Bank Houses. Other birds noted in the Cockersands area, c.20 Meadow Pipit, 14 Greenfinch, a Reed Bunting, a local Kestrel, and 2 Brown Hare.

At Bank End, 2 Whooper Swan were on Cockerham Marsh by the Cocker channel, with 2,500 Golden Plover here, c.50 Pintail seen void of a search with probably many more in the area, 3 Black-tailed Godwit noted. Back at Crook Farm, 1,500 Golden Plover had come down on the mud as the tide receded, and at Crook Cottage another 9 Mistle Thrush were in a tree top here.

Goldeneye Brian Rafferty 

On the canal basin at Glasson Dock, 41 Goldeneye and 39 Tufted Duck counted, and on the Lune Estuary, c.2,000 Golden Plover, 11 Goldeneye, 9 Snipe, and c.350 Common Gull of note.     

At Conder Green the Spotted Redshank obliged yet again, as did the Common Sandpiper down by the iron bridge. On Conder Pool, 6 Little Grebe, 2 Goldeneye, 34 Wigeon, 3 Tufted Duck, a single Snipe and Black-tailed Godwit, 34 Wigeon, and the singing Dunnock by the viewing platform again. From here I saw probably 7,000 Pink-footed Geese over the Jeremy/Moss Lane area. 

Thanks to Noushka, Antonio and Brian for the excellent photographs.   

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


Still too much on my plate and too little time for blogging about Tuesdays birds. But here's a post which took me just six minutes to write about three knot and an odd one out with a Shelduck.

Knot With Shelduck. Pete Woodruff.

Above is the heavily cropped record shot of an aberrant Knot I saw at Cockersands yesterday with three of its kind and a Shelduck. The bird is best described as 'sooty brown' and is most likely the same individual I saw previously about a couple of years ago, I have as yet been unable to trace my record for the date on this

A bird with atypical pigmentation which seems quite rare as opposed to aberrant pale birds which are seen with more frequency. I think it is reasonable to suppose this is possibly the same individual also seen at Cockersands on Plover Scar 27 February 2013 by a Cumbria birder, and previous to that by another birder on Glasson Marsh a few weeks earlier.

Tuesdays birds to follow soon.