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BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND..........STONECHAT HAWTHORNTHWAITE FELL PETE WOODRUFF

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Langden Brook.

The trek up Langden Brook during the week, didn't have the result I was hoping for, if only for the fact I only got to the half way point when I should have then gone on to the upper track via Holdren Castle, but had to do a 'U' turn to return via the same lower track.

Langden Valley From Holdren Castle. Pete Woodruff. 

I noted 19 species including, a Nuthatch in the trees which line the road at the start of the walk, 2 Swallow were hawking over the field here, something wrong with the Swallow this year, I've personally seen little more than a double figure to date over five visits to Bowland. 

Soon out on to the Langden track, 4 Stonechat were seen as a male and three juvenile, also a Common Sandpiper was on the brook with 2 Grey Wagtail seen, 4 singing male Blackcap and good number of Willow Warbler in song. I only managed to see a disappointing 3 Meadow Pipit, and 3 Raven were together soaring high overhead. Butterflies were, 6 Small Heath, 3 Small Tortoiseshell, and a Red Admiral was on a young Oak.

Common Green Grasshopper. Pete Woodruff.

Both insects were green, a Common Green Grasshopper....


Green Tiger Beetle. Pete Woodruff.

....and a Green Tiger Beetle, a vicious little winged predator which can move at a speed of up to 60cm per second on bare ground, they build a burrow and ambush ground-living insects such as ants.

The Sykes Farm House Martins.

I called at Sykes Farm on my way to Langden Brook, to confirm if I still had previously granted permission to look around the buildings to check the House Martins if I called back later in the afternoon. I learned that some of the property is now privately occupied and so was out of bounds for close scrutiny.

As things turned out I wasn't able to call back, but the last time I was in the area was on 31 May 2017, when I had noted up to 45 nests around the farm complex, and established c.15 nests occupied, most of the other nests were from previous years and I saw no activity during a stake out at the rear of the property. but I did see birds flying to nest holes as I drove past on Wednesday.

Hawthornthwaite Fell.

Noted on a brief visit, a male Stonechat was accompanied by a female close by, and up to 20 Sand Martin appear to have taken to a new colony, but I need to return at a later date for more detail. The Sand Martin were in pursuit of a female Merlin which took off from the ground as I made my return off the fell. 


Swallowtail Moth

Ian was pleased to find a Swallowtail Moth in his garden where he got this record shot in the half light. Not a major find, but a moth quite unlike any other British species with a 'tail' on each hindwing.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Third Time Lucky.

Bee Orchid 22 June. Pete Woodruff. 'Clik the piks'

It was third time lucky when KT and myself visited the site on the outskirts of Lancaster again, where we found three spikes of Bee Orchid, not that all that easy to find in the long grass on the bank. Other Orchids in the area have gone through the roof, when 378 Common Spotted were counted. Thanks to AC for his contribution here.

Garden Pond Frog. Pete Woodruff.

Everyone was chuffed to find a Frog in our garden pond recently, it has been seen three times since in various parts of the garden.

Conder Update.

I had an excellent update from Howard Stockdale, with all the news from Conder Pool.


No Vacancies. Howard Stockdale.

The news included this image of a full house, with two Common Tern, two Avocet, and a Black-headed Gull all sitting on the island.

A Common Tern appeared to be an immature on the marker at Conder Pool two days ago on 22 June. 

Common Tern Conder Pool 22 June. Howard Stockdale.

It was an older bird with stunted growth related to it's injury, having lost most of it's lower left leg contributing to poor health. 

The header image is of the first breeding Common Terns of Conder Pool 2014, and shows an adult with two young including one of the runts I mentioned in my last post as being a tradition with the terns here.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Armchair Birding. Episode 2.

Common Tern Chicks Conder Pool Pontoon 16 June. Howard Stockdale.

Some excellent updated news from Conder Pool. The Common Tern have three chicks on the pontoon, all ringed and one being a runt which is becoming a tradition with the Conder Terns....

Conder Cattle 16 June 2020. Howard Stockdale.

....and the farmer has replaced the sheep with coo's!

Bee Orchid. Pete Woodruff.

I made my third visit to a local site to count at least 147 Common Spotted Orchid, whilst finding no Bee Orchid, moving a step closer towards 2020 being a blank year. Although, unless my camera date was incorrect at the time, this image was taken at the location on 22 August last year, so perhaps plenty of time yet.


Large Skipper. Pete Woodruff.

Also seen this week on a pleasant couple of hours on an equally pleasant evening, a Large Skipper and Common Blue Damselfly.

Hedge Woundwort. Pete Woodruff. 

The Hedge Woundwort is common throughout most of Europe, but nevertheless a beautiful flower, adding some welcome colour to the roadside verge where I found it. A close relative of Marsh Woundwort, and are both members of the Mint family. 

Thanks to Bryan Yorke for this and previous requests to Bryan for help with ID. Please 'clik the piks' hopefully they may look better.
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During my conversation with the gamekeeper at Cragg Cottage on Wednesday, I asked if he had noted any Stonechats on his daily trips up Clougha and beyond. His reply echoed mine, that the Stonechat was only just beginning the return to Clougha in any number since their departure 10 years ago during the severe winter weather of 2009 - 11. 

Although I had given up on the Clougha/Birk Bank Stonechats when I realised they had abandoned the area following the two consecutive severe winters, on my occasional visits, I was encouraged by finding 9 Stonechat wintering at Birk Bank on 5 January 2017. That said, annual reports for 2018 claimed breeding at 14 locations in Bowland, but I saw no evidence that Clougha was included in the fourteen, and on the few summer visits that I have made there since 2011, I had no reason to think the gamekeepers comment was anything but correct, and that the Stonechat was only just beginning to return to Clougha in anything like the numbers I collected for 10 years 1999 - 2009. 

A good example from my past records would be, 20 Stonechat seen on 15 June 2009. My hopes are that it will soon become what was once our areas stronghold of this brilliant little gem. 

Thursday, 18 June 2020

A Good Day On The Bog....What!

Keeled Skimmer/Large Red Damselfly Pete Woodruff Clik The Pik

It was excellent that I found a pair of Keeled Skimmer on the bog at Birk Bank yesterday, with the/a female ovipositing. I was also pleased to see a pair of Large Red Damselflies coupled, a male Broad-bodied Chaser was being seen off by the male skimmer every time it came close.

Over the bog and on a circuit via Cragg Wood and back down Littledale Road to return along Rigg Lane, 8 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary seen. When I arrived at the stream which is the young River Conder flowing over the ford by Cragg Cottage, I sat a while to eventually spot a dragonfly shooting over the surface, it turned out to be a Golden-ringed Dragonfly which was the main reason for my heading that way....Brilliant.

Birds on the day were as much to be heard than seen. Sightings started of with a surge of excitement when I came across a smart male Stonechat just a few minutes after leaving the car park on Rigg Lane, but it was disappointingly the only one seen in the 5 hours spent there. Up to 5 Garden Warbler and similar Blackcap heard, uncounted but probably 10 Willow Warbler, 4 Mistle Thrush and very few Meadow Pipit, a crouching female Red Grouse probably had young with it, up to 4 Wren singing, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Robin, and a Spotted Flycatcher on the woodland edge at Cragg Wood, with House Martin seen entering nests at Cragg Cottage. 

Butterflies were a bit thin, but noted 6 Small Tortoiseshell, a Red Admiral and Meadow Brown seen.

I had an interesting conversation with the gamekeeper at Cragg Cottage, during which I secured his permission to enter Cragg Wood with the proviso that I did so before the end of August.

Sunday, 14 June 2020

Armchair Birding.

Around and about, and goings on in the garden....The photographs will look even better if you clik the piks.

Conder Pool.


The Sheep Problem Conder Pool 2019. Pete Woodruff

It wasn't good news to hear a pair of Common Tern have suffered a nest failure on Conder Pool, but  good to hear the sheep have now been removed. Last year I had on good authority in a letter....'the sheep were not supposed to go on the surrounds of Conder Pool until late July to reduce disturbance to breeding birds'.

On a more positive note, a pair of Common Tern have taken up on the pontoon now, hopefully a pair of Black-headed Gull already breeding on there, will have fledged young before the terns have hatched, hopefully avoiding a repeat of last years horrific attack by the adult gulls, when the young terns were lucky to have escaped with their lives....just. 

Interesting to note, the Common Terns had two chicks hatched on the pontoon a year ago yesterday on 13 June 2019. Despite the excellent spring weatherand May being the sunniest month on record, things are running late with the Conder Pool terns, but not as late as their first ever visit to Conder Pool, when they didn't arrive here until 2 July 2014.

Bowland. 


 
Woodcock Howard Stockdale 

More good news received from a favourite haunt of mine was a Woodcock at Marshaw. I had two Woodcock here on 21 February 2018, and previously saw two more in the plantation behind Tower Lodge on 18 March 2015. 


Dipper Juvenile Howard Stockdale 

A juvenile Dipper and Common Sandpiper were seen on the Marshaw Wyre.

The Orchid Wander.



Common Spotted Orchid. Pete Woodruff.

The wander with KT for an update on the local orchids was rewarded by up to 44 spikes of Common Spotted Orchid including this variant white. No sign of any Bee Orchid yet, flowering from early June. I'm beginning to wonder if 2020 isn't going to be a year for them here. A couple of butterflies were braving the not too perfect weather, a Red Admiral and the Meadow Brown was my first of the year.

From The Garden.


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Our now resident Carrion Crow was joined by relatives this week, with six being on the rooftops opposite one day. I can't work out what's going on with these birds hanging around a residential area, particularly the resident bird been here two months now.

Three pairs of Blackbird visit our garden daily, and we've had two new young in the garden this week, so four to date is a good result this year, also a young Dunnock was a welcome sight, the adults have been around all year. The Coal Tit still continue to entertain, collecting seed from the feeder and burying them all over the garden and beyond with their amazing behaviour, the pair emptied the sunflower feeder in a day. I watched them this morning whilst having my 'snap, crackle, and pop', one of them flew from the feeder to the same area of the garden twenty times in ten minutes non-stop. 

Thanks to Howard Stockdale for the much appreciated e-mail this week, with news and images attached.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Past Times.

There's a stranglehold on my birding caused by these Covid days, so I made another delve into the archives and found the second of my notes, this one published in the January 2005 issue of British Birds. By coincidence, on the same page in the same issue of the British Birds magazine, there was an article published by the then recorder for Lancashire and North Merseyside until 2000.

The Hunting Strategy Of Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus

The note on persistent searching for prey by Eurasian Sparrowhawk in British Birds 96: 653-654, prompts me to recall an individual of this species which I observed at Leighton Moss in Lancashire, on 3 September 2003. The bird came into view in flight over one of the pools and perched out in the open on a dead branch. During the next 15 minutes, I watched this bird fly across the water to the reed edge, at distance of at least 150m in the direction from which it had first come, and without landing, turn and fly back to the same perch. It then repeated the same manoeuvre three more times, always taking the same flight path to the same area of the reed edge, and always turning without landing, to return to its original perch. On each occasion, flight was fast and direct, but noticeably not as rapid as it would have been when chasing prey. On its fifth flight, the hawk disappeared into the reeds at the precise point at which it had turned on the preceding four sorties, and emerged with a small unidentified prey item before flying off.

As far as I could see, this Sparrowhawk appeared to know that prey was hidden in the reeds, and if this was a planned method of hunting, it is one that I have never witnessed before and, on this occasion at least, was a successful one.

Pete Woodruff.
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White-winged Black Tern Chlidonias leucopterus. 

A White-winged Black Tern was present on the Lune Estuary, Lancashire, during during 14-24 August 2003. During the birds stay, it regularly fed on butterflies, especially Small Tortoiseshell, which in turn were feeding on Sea Aster on the saltmarsh. Considerable numbers of butterflies were present in the warm sunny weather, and the tern took full advantage of this, I estimated that it caught a butterfly every three minutes.

There is no mention of butterflies in the diet of this species in BWP, and I wondered if the long stay of this White-winged Black Tern was related to this readily available food source.

Maurice Jones.
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View Over Lake Windermere From Gummers How


F-15C 'Grim Reapers'.

I remember one day a few years ago, climbing to the top of Gummers How in the Lakes, and walking straight into these guys on a training exercise in their flying machines. All round excitement is a bit of an understatement in this video. Watch the man in the first few seconds of the film with No 8 on his shirt getting excited to have achieved the shot of freezing one of 'em....Pump up the volume. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

The Hareden Dawdle.

Had a pleasant leisurely four hours on the Harden Fell track on Monday to note 21 species including, on the way to Hareden Farm, 4 Blackcap were singing males, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, Chiffchaff, and 2 Grey Wagtail on the brook, a Treecreeper seen collecting twigs as nesting material, when I then saw the bird disappearing into a crevice on a nearby tree. At Hareden Farm, I saw at least 2 House Martin, and from where saw a Buzzard overhead, and first heard a Cuckoo a little distance away, my ninth this year, all heard non seen, and a singing Redstart heard

On to the moorland which eventually produced 11 Stonechat, seen as six male, a female, and four juvenile, 25 seen here 28 May (ELOCI honestly didn't know you could still find this many Stonechat at one location and in a compact area anywhere in Bowland these days. Also to note, at least 6 Willow Warbler heard, 2 Reed Bunting, and at least 10 Meadow Pipit. Butterflies seen, 18 Small Heath and a Small Copper

On my way back to Lancaster, I pulled in above Trough Bridge to find a Spotted Flycatcher and a Nuthatch, both searching for insects on the Marshaw Wyre, one on the bank, the other on the stones.

Human Remains

There's always a possibility of finding human remains in Bowland. I think perhaps in this case Morrison's would do well to put labels on the packaging asking to 'Please Take Your Litter Home'.

Thanks to Martin Jump for the brilliant header image of the Snipe reflected in a Bowland pool.

Stonechats.

I've recently found Stonechat records on Clougha 27 May (LDBWS) As a partially migrant breeder on the uplands of Bowland, subject to fluctuation in severe winters, these are excellent records. In 20 years plus, I never saw anyone with binoculars on Clougha on my 10 year long visits every month of the year. The last time I visited Clougha was 5 January 2017 when I found 10 Stonechat wintering there.

Swifts.

At least 20 Swift high over Bowerham yesterday evening at 8.45pm.

Orchids.


Common Spotted Orchid. Pete Woodruff.

I found up to 14 spikes of Common Spotted Orchid yesterday at a traditional site on the outskirts of Lancaster.

Garden Life.


Lupins & Roses. Pete Woodruff. 

The Lupins and Roses are looking good in the garden just now, and the occasional Coal Tit paid a visit collecting Black Sunflower seed from the feeders and burying them all over the place....Great entertainment. 

Bee On Alium View Full Screen

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Holme Wood And Grizedale Brook

Holme Wood ranks as one of the best woodlands I have ever visited, and I made an escape there to gain more Bowland therapy. 


View Full Screen 3.5 mins On You Tube 

It was quite hot on Thursday, but despite the early date, I first checked out the brook running from Grizedale Bridge into the woods for Golden-winged Dragonfly to no avail, but I found six here 16 July last year when I also found 3 Purple Hairstreak in the Oaks here. I think a week or two might put today's failure right.

A Brown Hare was running down the road as I walked towards Holme Wood from where I saw 5 Small HeathGoldfinch and Meadow Pipit with a nest close by, also a Pheasant with six chicks just out of the nest, later 3 Green-veined White seen. As I got close to entering the wood, a Nuthatch seen was feeding young in an Oak nest hole. 

Once in the woods, the place was full of bird song and I noted 16 species on a circular walk through this pleasant woodland, including in order of seeing, a pair of Great-spotted Woodpecker, plenty of Willow Warbler song, a Grey Wagtail on the brook, a Song Thrush, Great Tit, a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Goldcrest, 4 Blackcap heard as 3 singing male and a female which gave excellent views, a Chiffchaff, Treecreeper, Pied Wagtail, and a DunnockA Cuckoo was heard repeatedly somewhere down Grizedale Valley, and at least 4 Swallow were around the farm at Fell End as I returned back to the car. 

On Harrisend, it took me an hour to find a distant lone male Stonechat, with 10 Meadow Pipit, 4 Willow Warbler, 2 Mistle Thrush, and 2 Kestrel seen together. Butterflies seen, 9 Small Heath and a lone worn out Peacock.
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Garden Frog.

It was good to find a Frog in our garden this Sunday morning. Initially in the pond and later hauled out on the pond side. 

Garden Frog 31 May 2020. Pete Woodruff.

A video and image of a bit of a mystery organism found in our pond. I have no idea what it is or where it came from, but the video shows one of the creatures swimming, the other dangling from a 'thread' on the garden mesh over the pond.

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And a grab shot of the same.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Do Not Disturb!

A post with good value for money, serving the purpose of sharing the less pleasant side of birding, and is published in agreement with the person in the spotlight on this issue. 

OK, so whats the problem there then?....Well there are lots of problems actually, but the most significant ones are, the person who covertly photographed someone he knew out on Plover Scar at Cockersand recently, yet surprisingly sent the photo in an e-mail to a second person and asked....'any idea who this %*:@ wit is?'....So this is already becoming offensive, and now the second person is sending another e-mail with five names copied into it including mine. This second person also knows who the one is on Plover Scar, and now we have seven people involved on the case, and this pathetic deceit begins to gather a pace.

What's going on here then?....Well these two people appear to refuse to take it upon themselves to contact the offender to tell him he's is out of order here, and shouldn't be out on Plover Scar just for the sake of getting a good pik of some birds. Instead, they pretend not to know the man, and decide to attract attention by sending out messages that are deceitful, to the five randomly chosen individualsof which out of all the other four, I'm the only one who knows 'who this %*:@ wit is'. Let's remember, both these two people know this, and I'm heavily involved here now 'cos I'm being used as some sort of scapegoat.

I've been in touch with both the authors of this issue, one of whom I politely pointed out that, whilst this is not defending anyone being out at a location like Plover Scar for the purpose of photography, the same disturbance - stress and injury to the birds too - is caused by cannon netting several hundred waders, for the purpose of clamping rings on legs, albeit for the more serious scientific benefits as opposed to those of a chance for a picture....But cannon netting is mass disturbance ....isn't it?

I respect the man on Plover Scar, when he denies disturbing the birds on this occasion, in an e-mail he tells me....'as you can see, images like these are not possible if the birds are distressed in any way, and as mentioned, my method of fieldcraft has provided for so many groups, charities, and associations with natural history imagery that has been published nationally over the years by organisations, including the RSPB, BTO, and many more in support of their ongoing projects'....I will continue to do what I enjoy for all those that appreciate the time and effort that I go to in capturing the beauty of all wild species in their natural environment, and adhere to the code of practice guidelines.

I read in an e-mail the case is now closed, but I have been asked to suggest, for any future issues in this regard, either or both of the two should communicate with the man in question direct.
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I was grateful to Ian Mitchell for getting in touch and sending two excellent moths  in  his  on  Sunday.

 
Small Elephant Hawk Moth Ian Mitchell Clik the pik

This moth was a first for Ian's trap.


Poplar Hawk Ian Mitchell Clik the pik

This moth he gets 1-2 per year.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Second Hand Birding!

Lets face it....The reality is, my birding is on it's arse, and the blog heading for liquidation. But welcome e-mails and excellent photographs are gratefully received, and are keeping me up to date on things in and around the area....Please clik the piks

Conder Green.

There has recently been up to 55 Bar-tailed Godwit at Conder Green, a high count for the time of year, and a bird at best irregular here, and even rare on Conder Pool, I've not searched my records yet to find the last if there ever was one. Also seen over Conder Pool,  sightings of Arctic Tern are a new species in my records since I first christened 'Conder Pool' 17 years ago in 2003.


Common Tern Conder Pool 20 May Howard Stockdale  

It was good news to hear the Common Terns had decided to leave the killer Black-headed Gulls - three breeding pairs - to the pontoon and set up home on the island....well Alleluia to that. No repetitions of last years horrific attack on the CT youngsters thank you very much.

Bowland.


I know three birders who have been to Bowland over the past few days, all have commented on the 'Stay Alert Stay Safe' hordes in the Tower Lodge area, with bumper to bumper parking in some spots, kids on the Marshaw Wyre throwing stones and building dams - well that's what kids do isn't it - but no good for the stream habitat of breeding Grey Wagtails, Common Sandpipers, and Dippers.


Sand Martin Cam Brow 20 May Martin Jump 

All three birders have made notes to me about the Sand Martin colony at Cam Brow, where there are in excess of 30 nest holes in the bank above the stream where picnickers congregate to cause more disturbance to the birds, and where all three birders have had verbal abuse when they've tried to explain what's happening here regarding breeding birds. 


Pied Flycatchers 22 May Howard Stockdale 

Great news that the Pied Flycatchers are breeding again at the nest box project, albeit just the one pair. This image is the first I've seen of the male at Tower Lodge this year, and having found a mate with obvious intentions to breed. I'm also hearing about a pair of Bowland Spotted Flycatchers nesting barely 2m up the trunk of a Beech, these birds nested in the same tree last year. Also, news of two confirmed Stonechat nests in Bowland was good, one in the trough and one at Abbeystead. 


Buff Tip.Ian Mitchell. 

Nearer to home....A Buff Tip found in Bowerham, with folded wings it resembles a twig from the Silver Birch. The moth is regular in Ian's trap, all the same, it was a spirit lifter for me.

I'm grateful to Martin, Andrew, Howard, Dan, and Ian, for their contributions to this post, without this it wouldn't have happened.
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Not the same impression in the video, but when I looked at the front of the house, at least 50 Bombus hypnorum where bingeing on the Cotoneaster. Turn up the volume you might hear the buzz. 


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Second Hand Birding, but....

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING FIRST HAND!