Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Part-Time Birding.

More part-time birding for me yesterday. With just a couple of hours free-time I was determined to get to Conder Green to check out any changes in the scenery there.

Two Little Grebe were the only notables on Conder Pool, at least 12 Common Sandpiper was today's count, some of which very mobile, c.350 Redshank, the majority of which were downstream of the channel to the estuary along with c.30 Dunlin. Only a few House Martin were seen, with no nest activity at all at Cafe d' Lune. The only butterfly seen was a Small Skipper on a day more reminiscent of the end of April than July.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 2 Mediterranean Gull, being an adult and 3cy bird. Estimates of 350 Dunlin and 250 Redshank, with 2 Red-breasted Merganser noted.

Little Grebe on Conder Pool.


Little Grebe Bob Bushell   

Two Little Grebe on Conder Pool yesterday were something of a coincidence as it was precisely the same 28 July in 2014 that I found the first two of the winter there. The numbers will build on the pool from now on, into August and beyond as they have done in previous years, last years peak was reached on 27 November with 22 Little Grebe on the pool then, an impressive count.

Common Tern on the Lune Estuary.

The visit to the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock had the excellent bonus of all five Conder Common Tern there as two adult and three juvenile, initially roosting on the mud, then moved downstream for a while before disappearing out of sight even further downstream. However, I note 9 Common Tern reported here yesterday, being 6 adult and 3 juvenile.

Thanks for the Little Grebe Bob, it is much appreciated.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A Garden Hunt...

....and a piece about the Common Tern and the Red Grouse.

Red-tailed Bumble bee. Pete Woodruff.


A recent hunt in our garden for insects turned up one or two of interest, including this smart Bombus lapidariuscommonly know as the Red-tailed Bumble bee, which I found on our Elecampane Inula helenium. Quite a large bee easily recognised by its long jet-black coat and pollen baskets, and red rear. 


Green Lacewing. Pete Woodruff.


If only for its bright green colour, red eyes, and delicate wings, another good find was the appropriately named Green Lacewing Nothancyla verreauxi. Despite their fragile appearance these insects are carnivorous, with both the adult and larvae devouring large numbers of aphids and other small insects. Rather bizarrely some species of the lacewing larvae camouflage themselves by fixing the drained skins of their victims to the backs....'Clik the pik' to enlarge.


The Conder Common Terns.


Common Tern Martin Jump

Despite having not seen the Conder Common Terns on my last visit five days ago and suggesting we may have seen the last of them having moved on, they were reported seen on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock on Sunday, and also the same day at Cockersands. 

Grouse Shooting.

Grouse shooting for 'sport' is dependant on intensive habitat management which in the main damages protected wildlife sites and is directly to blame for the disappearing Hen Harriers. This land management also includes practices which increases the risk of flooding, water pollution, and also increases greenhouse gas emissions.
Red Grouse Simon Hawtin 
If you have'nt signed the Ban Driven Grouse Shooting petition yet, would you consider signing it Here 


Thanks to Martin and Simon for the excellent images.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Three Ducks, Four Gulls....

....and one or two other birds.

Paying a visit to the Aldcliffe area on Friday, if I'd have been on a paid on results here I'd have had to have beans on toast for tea. 


Ruddy Shelduck. Eric Baccega @ Arkive 

But I did see the 3 Ruddy Shelduck on the Wildfowlers Pool, been in the area over a week now having been found last Friday. They are pretty smart birds, though nothing to get too excited about, the majority of Ruddy Shelduck in the UK are unlikely to be genuine wild vagrants, and one of these bears a pink ring probably indicating which collectors ornamental pond it comes from.

I ticked off 24 species in the time it took me to do a circuit, but few of any note. At least one Little Grebe, Little Egret, and Gadwall were of note on Freeman's Pools, and small groups of Goldfinch here and there were of note. The walk along the embankment had me seeing probably up to 90 Meadow Brown butterflies.

Some business in the afternoon at Morecambe had me off to Heysham later to search Red Nab and find 4 Mediterranean Gull all adults, with c.250 Curlew also roosting here at high tide. 

Ringed Plover. Pete Woodruff.


With the Black-headed Gulls checked out on the outfalls I continued to the south wall to find the same Ringed Plover above which I had seen on my last visit here on 16 July, about which I made the following comment in my post....

'A walk along the sea wall to the south side of the harbour had me finding this Ringed Plover. I have no idea what the bird was doing a little out of context here, but it stayed quite close to me and was calling excitedly all the time as it would do to young of which I found none and to be honest didn't expect to, so I was unable to work out why this bird was here and behaving in this manner'.

Well I should have known better as this bird was again calling excitedly, and this time a closer look on the rough ground in a small enclosure here had me finding a downy chick with a pair of adult Ringed Plover. If this chick had any siblings I didn't find any, but the Ringed Plover usually lays four eggs, so no big success with this pair, and the chick will need luck on it's side to escape the attention of the many gulls at the harbour until it fledges in about three weeks time.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

The Road To Nowhere.

Like I said to the friendly man who came up to me at Conder Green on Thursday and asked if I'd seen anything interesting....'not yet, I've just started out today, but it's all a bit quiet just now, though things will start to move soon when the birds return from their breeding grounds and pass through on migration, you've just got to keep on looking'....But unknown to me at the time, I was on the road to nowhere today.

In the time I spent at Conder Green I noted just 16 species, including 11 Common Sandpiper, 3 Little Egret, a Whitethroat, and House Martins which have 9 nests visible at the front of the property at Cafe d' Lune, though I've yet to see all nine being visited, so I'm not convinced all are active nests.


Golden Plover. Pete Woodruff.

Hard to believe in the length of time I was at Cockersands I noted c.250 Golden Plover on the weed covered shingle below the abbey, well camouflaged especially when viewed from a distance, with a similar number of 250 Oystercatcher on Plover Scar, and although I never went beyond the headland, nothing else made it into the little black book.

I called in on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, but the tide had taken over and I saw just c.40 Dunlin with a 'few' Redshank feeding on what little mud was left exposed close to the bowling green, otherwise a thorough scan around produced nothing of note, and no sign anywhere of the Conder Green Common Terns, perhaps the last sighting may well have been on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock last Tuesday.  


This Mute Swan was on Conder Pool on Thursday, almost certainly the same bird reported to me in the area at the beginning of March. The person reporting it had said they had seen a swan off Moss Lane at Cockersands with a noticeable kink in it's neck. The deformed neck - for whatever reason - looks quite a serious one, when the bird has it's head held up and neck stretched it looks even worse, but obviously doesn't seem to put the birds welfare in any doubt five months later, it looked perfectly fit and healthy today.

Thanks to Noushka for the new header image, much appreciated.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

If At First You Don't Succeed.

Look, this is serious stuff....

Open for British citizens and UK residents to sign, Mark Avery has given a rebirth to a petition to 'Ban Driven Grouse Shooting'....if at first you don't succeed try, try, try again! 

Mark Avery created the same petition last year, the truth is it was a resounding failure. It achieved little more than a pitiful 22,000 signatures out of 100,000 needed for the petition to be considered for debate in Parliament, that's a staggering c.78,000 shortfall, and if that's not a resounding failure I don't bloody know what is. 

Where were all the RSPB members and wildlife loving millions for goodness sake, at that rate why would a second run be any different than the last one. The count of signatures on the petition last time I looked a few minutes ago stood at a paltry 3,605, and my prediction is that this will be a bigger failure than the last one.


Dr Mark Avery

Anyway enough of this, I'm just passing on the news that the petition is up and running again, and the Hen Harriers champion Mark Avery is asking you to sign it as a step in the direction of their protection from persecution which is bringing about their extinction. 

Please consider signing Here....I have!

By the way....



Mark Avery has a new book out - Inglorious - you may like to read a review about it Here then go out and buy it. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Conder Common Terns....

....and some other notes.

I visited Conder Green on Monday and again Tuesday to have no sighting of Common Terns on Conder Pool, it was looking bad for getting anything conclusive on this excellent breeding record for the second year at Conder Green.

Common Tern Young Lune Estuary 21 July Pete Woodruff

But there was quite a sight waiting for me at Glasson Dock yesterday where all five Common Tern were on the Lune Estuary with the young being fed by both adults. But better was to come when I watched all three young birds eventually taking to the wing to join the adults to fish for themselves....great stuff.

And some other notes.




Common Sandpiper. Pete Woodruff.



Yesterdays count was of 15 Common Sandpiper at Conder Green, several of which were downstream from the old railway bridge from where a Buzzard was overhead. On Conder Pool, a 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull was with Black-headed Gulls, also a Greenshank, and I noted a female Tufted Duck had just one lonely duckling, if this was the leftover from a brood of fourteen recently seen on Conder Pool, then this is a disaster for one pair of Tufted Duck.

Not too much else to note on the Lune Estuary, but c.200 Redshank and 20 Dunlin were feeding close by from the bowling green, with 5 Eider and 2 Red-breasted Merganser all hauled out on to the mud.

Turnstone 

Cockersands was heavy going, with a howler along the headland and not much reward for the effort, though c.150 Golden Plover were on the shingle below the abbey at high tide, accompanied by a stunning lone male Turnstone and Ringed Plover. Another lone bird was a Sand Martin off the Caravan Park, and the Whitethroat on Slack Lane aside, the return via the road was virtually void of birds.

On the way back to Lancaster, a return visit to Conder Pool about five hours after the first, I saw two adult Common Tern flying around, one of which had a fish in it's bill. Difficult to understand what was going on here as there was no sign of any young which I assume were still on the estuary....or were they back in hiding on the pool.

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for the male Turnstone, an exact copy of the bird I saw at Cockersands.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Hat Trick.

I achieved a Heysham hat trick - and my own low quality photo gallery - by making my third visit there in as many weeks. 

There's usually a good high tide gull roost on Red Nab, always best to get there at least two hours before the tide, giving time to check the power station outfalls before settling down to grill the gulls on the nab. I find looking for the Mediterranean Gulls amongst the predominant Black-headed Gull something to enjoy, when the optics pick up an adult Med in summer plumage, it immediately stands out as a much more elegant and attractive bird....I luv'em, and on 8 July no less than twenty one were reported here.

Mediterranean Gull

On Thursday I found 6 Mediterranean Gull, including an adult and a 2cy bird of which I managed a half decent pic to put in my gallery.

Whimbrel

I also managed another half decent shot, this of one of the 2 Whimbrel here.

Ringed Plover

A walk along the sea wall to the south side of the harbour had me finding this Ringed Plover. I have no idea what the bird was doing a little out of context here, but it stayed quite close to me and was calling excitedly all the time as it would do to young of which I found none and to be honest didn't expect to, so I was unable to work out why this bird was here and behaving in this manner. 


Gatekeeper Marc Heath 

Walking back through the reserve I found at least 8 Gatekeeper butterflies.

At Conder Green, an adult and one young Common Tern seen, also 9 Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, a Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting. The light on a pair of Greenfinch I saw turned the male into one of the most attractive and colourful of its kind.

On the Lune Estuary, 3 Mediterranean Gull were seen as an adult and two 2cy birds. Also 9 Little Egret and an adult Common Tern flying off the estuary towards Conder Pool. Incidentally, I saw a report of 3 adult Common Tern at Conder Green last Wednesday. 

Thanks to Marc Heath for the Gatekeeper, the only decent photograph in the post. Also thanks to GG for the Whitethroat header, excellent on both counts and much appreciated.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Bare Bones.

Wednesday seemed to end up having a bit of an allsorts feel about it and not much of it at that, but included the amazing growth of young birds, a dead one, an interesting Wheatear, and the Mutt Brigade.

Terns and Sandpipers.

Common Tern. Pete Woodruff.

The top image of the three Common Tern young with an adult behind them on Conder Pool was taken on 3 July, and the bird in the bottom image with Redshank on 14 July, I find the growth of these birds in 11 days quite amazing.

I saw all three young Common Tern for the first time on Wednesday along with an adult, also on Conder Pool, 10 Common Sandpiper were coincidentally on the same island as they were on Tuesday.

Gulls and Egrets.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock saw two more Mediterranean Gull both 2nd summer birds, also high numbers seem to be the order of the day here recently with 13 Little Egret seen on Wednesday.


Gannet. Pete Woodruff.


Dead was the operative word for Cockersands, and this corpse of a Gannet was a sign of things to come on a couple of hours trawl here. But a juvenile Wheatear was something of a surprise, barely a juvenile out of downy feathers and on the coast already....does the Wheatear breed around here I ask myself.

I won't launch into a rant about where are all the farmland birds, but I find it hard to believe the only birds to qualify for the little black book in two hours spent on and around farmland were two Sylviidae, being a Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler....I worry about the sparsity of birds sometimes!

Butterflies seen, a Red Admiral and 2 Small Skipper.

The Mutt Brigade. 



A member of the Mutt Brigade was on the shore at Cockersands again on Wednesday as portrayed in the image above, ruining all possibility of finding anything between the Caravan Park and Plover Scar - quite a stretch - which is where this person and six charges walked. The day before I had found up to 100 Golden Plover in this very spot with just the slim chance of finding an American Golden Plover with them. But me finding a 'goodie' isn't really the issue here, there needs to be some attempt at stopping this kind of bird disturbance, the black mutt in the water above the handler put a group of feeding Eider to flight minutes before I took this picture. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Back In Business!

I rarely if ever plan to be out of birding for four days in a row, but it's been that long since I was out last Thursday, so it was good to be back in business again yesterday.

Common Sandpiper. Pete Woodruff.

Conder Green produced a peak count of 21 Common Sandpiper, with ten birds together in view on one island on Conder Pool....'clik the pik' to count them. A solitary Knot still retaining it's red summer plumage was a nice find, it was with 54 Redshank and 2 Dunlin. The resident summer Wigeon and a Little Egret were also noted.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 2 Mediterranean Gull were seen as an adult and a 2nd summer bird, also 9 Little Egret, and up to 500 Lapwing slowly building up to looking like winter numbers.

At Cockersands, up to 100 Golden Plover and 3 Black-tailed Godwit were in an Abbey Farm field, 7 Whimbrel flew past Plover Scar which was deserted, but 9 Eider were off here. On Slack Lane, 12 Goldfinch briefly seen were mainly juvenile, 3 Whitethroat, and a Dunnock, with a House Martin over. Butterflies seen were 3 Red Admiral, a 'few' Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell. Eight Brown Hare were all in the same field. 

The Conder Pool Common Terns.

Young Common Tern With Redshank July 14 Pete Woodruff

I saw 4 Common Tern - two adult and two young - on Conder Pool yesterday, but despite two visits, failed to see the third young bird. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable about this, but a text message told me all five birds were in the air together 30 minutes after I left....thanks once again to AC for alerting me to this. 

And Finally....

Harlequin Ladybirds. Pete Woodruff.

Wildlife in our garden again recently, 2 Harlequin Ladybird seen mating as a now widespread if not abundant and unwelcome invader.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Butterflies And Birds.

A nice day Thursday on which I decided to have a look for butterflies in Witherslack Wood.

Speckled Wood/Ringlet. Pete Woodruff. 

Though I took on no counting in a couple of hours in the wood, the highest was the Speckled Wood of which I probably saw up to forty. It was good to find the Ringlet followed with the next best number and I saw at least twenty of these with just one Small Skipper seen. 

But best of the day had to be a High Brown Fritillary which was an obliging individual allowing me to get to grips with the underwing to note a row of brown spots between the outer margin and the silver spangles which are missing in the Dark Green Fritillary. These two butterflies are difficult to tell apart void of good views of the underwing, so I can only suppose another ten seen in flight or distant were the same species, one thing for sure, none of them was a Silver-washed Fritillary as I found not a single one as a big disappointment. 

I get the impression this woodland is not noted for it's birdlife, but I heard a singing Blackcap and Chiffchaff, a Great-spotted Woodpecker seen flying away from me, and a Wren.

Whilst in the area I had earlier called in at Foulshaw Moss to see the Osprey, but to be honest should'nt have bothered as the haze had turned what I could see into a couple of shimmering anythings a mile away. The nest site give-away is the two huge webcams set up to give brilliant images on the internet, but I ended up much more impressed by the views of 2 distant Stonechat than I was of the Osprey.

Unable to resist I drove back to Conder Green and had to go to the west end of Conder Pool to see an adult and two young Common Tern at the back side of the island. I found just 6 Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank in the creeks, and noted 2 Greenfinch by the viewing platform. 

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock I saw 27 Black-tailed Godwit, these birds are really stunning in full breeding plumage, 2 Red-breasted Merganser and 8 Little Egret were my only other notes here.

Saturday 11 July.   

I'm informed of one of the young Conder Common Terns airborne in the early afternoon yesterday. I had seen this bird having a wing flapping exercise on Wednesday and had thoughts at the time that the bird might fledge before the week was out, presumably the advanced eldest of the three....Thanks for the text Andrew.  

Thanks to Simon Hawtin for the excellent Swallows header.