Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Local Breeders....

....other birds to note, and a BD.

Checking up on the local breeders yesterday, I found a Common Tern at Conder Green, sitting tight on the nest on the island on Conder Pool, but had no sighting of the other bird on two visits I made there. Also on the pool, 2 Little Grebe one of which was in summer plumage, I counted at least 52 Lapwing and 40 Redshank, and noted in the creeks, 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, a Snipe, and 2 Little Egret.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock held too much tidal water and waders were too distant in the haze, but I could estimate 300 Redshank and 150 Dunlin from the bowling green, with 2 Goosander seen again.

Ringed Plover Juvenile Brian Rafferty     

At Cockersands, high tide Plover Scar was desperate and I found no more than eleven waders in total, but hey....the other local breeders the Ringed Plover family were found still in tact, the three young were the first birds I clapped eyes on when I arrived at the scar and are set to fledge before the week is out....looking good.

There was even bigger numbers of Swallow today over the fields and loafing around on the fence wires, with a few Sand Martin in the mix, also at least 60 Tree Sparrow seen, and a Whitethroat seen disappearing into a bush, with 7 Whimbrel off Crook Cottage. Four Peacock butterflies were in the cover crop field on Slack Lane.

The Banded Demoiselle.


A Photographic Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Kent: Banded Demoiselle &emdash; Male, Westbere Lakes, June, 2013
Banded Demoiselle Marc Heath 

The Banded Demoiselle have expanded their Lancashire range more than any other species in recent years, they are mainly found along slow-flowing lowland streams and rivers, particularly those with muddy bottoms. 

Only two species of damselfly in Britain have obviously coloured wings. In the Banded Demoiselle the wings of the mature male have a dark blue-black band across the central portion. The body colour in the male is metallic blue-green, the flight is fluttering and butterfly-like and I was impressed in watching the beauty of a male 'stream-side butterfly' the Banded Demoiselle as it flew back and forth on the River Conder upstream from the A588 road bridge before disappearing from view.

Thanks to Brian and Marc for the excellent 'clik the pik' photographs.  

Monday, 28 July 2014

Playing The Game.

Excellent news from M&S with a free ad for them on Birds2blog. 



You may remember reading about the issue almost a year ago that M&S were starting to sell Red Grouse in a select range of stores. At the time M&S were taken to task by conservationists and the public at large about the fact they could well be being supplied Red Grouse from moorlands where birds of prey have been relentlessly persecuted in the name of maintaining good stocks of this game bird.


Red Grouse Brian Rafferty

The game bird proved highly popular with M&S customers when it became the first supermarket chain to sell it last year. It was available in two London stores, and M&S had hoped to sell grouse much more widely in some of their other stores. But now they have ceased to stock the game bird on their shelves whilst a code of practice for suppliers is researched.

All this is another small step of many in the right direction of ending raptor persecution on our moors once and for all, and is to be added to three peaceful protests coming up next month on 10 August at Dunsop Bridge in the Forest of Bowland, Upper Derwent Valley in Derbyshire, and South Tyne Trail at Lambley, the latter of which is a FULL event with a capacity crowd booked in at the venue.


BAN DRIVEN GROUSE SHOOTING 
Hen Harrier. Copy Permitted.

However, on a down note, I recall my claim that an e-petition to 'Ban Driven Grouse Shooting' was an all time best petition with regards to attempting to 'Save The Hen Harrier' and I still maintain that opinion. But as I see it to date this petition is certainly not looking like a success at all. When I looked at the figures for signatures a few minutes ago after being up and running for several weeks now it stood at a mere 9,387.

OK, so there are some who won't want to sign anything which is aimed at banning any method of driving birds towards guns....But where are the one million plus RSPB members signatures on this petitions list who you would suppose are the country's greatest 'Bird Lovers'.

Would you sign the petition HERE please.

Thanks to BR for the excellent Red Grouse, photographed perfectly in its natural environment on Clougha in Bowland, an area I personally know well.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

On The Move.

The Common Sandpipers at Conder Green are always amongst the first to show themselves as early movers having been there since last month.


Sanderling Brian Rafferty

But on Thursday I had more evidence of movement when on Plover Scar at Cockersands I found 2 Sanderling, at best a rare autumn migrant here and a delight to see. They were accompanied by 5 Whimbrel seen as more movers. A Wheatear was off the headland, my first autumn bird and was another species to join the 'Movers Club' along with a 'few' Meadow Pipit


Merlin. Phillip Tomkinson.

Bringing up the rear of movers at Cockersands was a Merlina juvenile/female down from the moors at an early date skimming low over the field off Slack Lane. 

A thorough search of Plover Scar just after high tide had me finding two adult Ringed Plover but no sign of any young, but I'm still not prepared to call this final as these birds could well have had their heads down amongst the stones so will give it another try hopefully on Monday. Others on the scar, estimates of 350 Oystercatcher, 60 Dunlin, a Little Egret, and 4 Eider off here. Swallow were in good number over the fields, with an odd House Martin or two, also with counts less than a double figure, Linnet, and Tree Sparrow

Stoat. Phillip Tomkinson.

As I drove along Moss Lane a Stoat ran ahead of me for a while on the grass verge.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, numbers of Lapwing and Curlew are building up, and I saw 5 Pink-footed Geese here again, with at least 15 Greylag, 2 Goosander, and 2 Little EgretUnable to ever drive past and ignore Conder Pool, a few minutes here gave a Common Tern on the island, with 6 Common Sandpiper in the creeks, and a Grey Wagtail noted.

Thanks to BR for the Sanderling, and to PT for the Merlin and the Stoat, they are really appreciated. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Seconds Out....

....round 2,562....well, maybe not quite that many!


On Tuesday there was a little more 'life' at Conder Green than there had been when I was there the day before, in fact a Fylde birder reliably informed me of eight Greenshank and a juvenile Ruff in the creeks earlier in the morning. I missed the latter and of the eight I found just 2 Greenshank, 6 Common Sandpiper was two up on Tuesdays count. Also of note, 3 Little Egret, a Little Grebe, a Sedge Warbler seen with a bill full of insects, 3 Whitethroat, and a Grey Wagtail, c.220 Redshank were in the Conder channel. If the female Tufted Duck I saw on Conder Pool with three young is the same bird as seen five days ago when it had four, it has lost one I'm afraid.


On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit and a single Black-tailed Godwit which was in breeding plumage though obviously not doing what it's plumage suggests. At least 200 Redshank, 5 Dunlin, and a Little Egret noted.

There was little of note at Cockersands despite a good rake around including into some nooks and crannies, 10 Tree Sparrow, 8 Linnet, 2 Skylark, and good numbers of Pied Wagtail here and there.

The Conder Pool Common Terns.



Common Tern Noushka Dufort

The Common Tern pair are still performing their breeding roles of one sitting and one fishing, feeding, and standing guard. I've seen this feeding behaviour several times and really hope all this will come to a successful conclusion in early September....John Bateman would have loved this, he meticulously documented every species of bird to visit Conder Pool.

Ringed Plover Bob Bushell 

The Plover Scar Ringed Plovers.

Since my last sighting of the pair of Ringed Plover and three chicks on Thursday 17 July, Iv'e checked out Plover Scar at Cockersands on my following two visits. Although the tide has been out I've seen nothing to suggest they are still around with no sign of the adult birds and certainly no sign of the chicks. However, I'm drawing no conclusions until I see the high tide today/tomorrow when - if they do still survive - they'll be under my nose at the landward end of the scar.

Thanks to Noushka and Bob for the images. With the exception of any pics taken by P.Woodruff, Birds2blog images are always excellent and well worthy of a 'clik the pik'.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Mediocre!

 
Woodchat Shrike Antonio Puigg

Not connected to today's post, but it kinda reminded me of Friday 9 May, a day a little more exciting than my birding day was yesterday. 

Thanks Antonio....Excellent. 

Well I'm probably likely to try again many more times on the Conder/Glasson/Cockersands tour, though yesterdays results won't go very far to encourage me to do so, this is at best mediocre, but here goes....

Though the weather certainly wasn't dull, and I don't use this kind of language readily, I'm tempted to say my birding was dull yesterday, the count of 4 Common Sandpiper at Conder Green was a clear indication of this. Other notables were singles of Greenshank, Snipe, Little Egret, Little Grebe, with c.120 Redshank, and 3 Dunlin.


Yellow Wagtail Simon Hawtin

Two reports of Yellow Wagtail at Cockersands on Sunday/Monday had me spending the rest of the afternoon looking for these Mellow Yellows to find two in the dried out ditch running through a field to the south of Slack Lane. A good number of Swallow with fewer Sand Martin and fewer still House Martin, were feeding over the many fields having had a grass cutting day here. I saw a mobile flock of at least 30 Tree Sparrow, and picked out a Peregrine Falcon overhead before going into rocket mode to take a wader out of the sky over the Cocker channel in what must have been the easiest strike this bird has had in a long time.

Common Tern on Conder Pool.     

The female Common Tern on Conder Pool sits tight on the nest whilst the male was seen heading off to some nearby fishing ground.

I reckon with luck there should be young here by around 6 August, they are known to leave the nest in three days though they return for brooding, which means they could be seen by 9 August, they can swim at an early age, and should be fledged by 3 September. Watch this space, or better still....watch Conder Pool.  

Saturday, 19 July 2014

More Of The Same....

....and a trip to the harbour - well Red Nab - on Friday afternoon.


A visit to Conder Green on Thursday had the pair of Common Tern still engaged with their 'late' and first breeding attempt on Conder Pool. Also the now resident Spotted Redshank with c.80 Redshank, 4 Little Egret, 2 Little Grebe, 4 Wigeon, and a female Tufted Duck with four young. The peak autumn count this year of up to 16 Common Sandpiper were in the creeks and in the channel off the old railway bridge, with 5 Dunlin noted.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, a distant 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, c.120 Redshank and 20 Dunlin were close from the bowling green, 5 Eider were hauled out, 17 Canada Geese noted again, with the recently seen 5 Pink-footed Geese and Greylags nowhere to be seen.

I moved no further than Plover Scar in the time I spent at Cockersands where initially the place looked deserted after c.60 Golden Plover took to flight as I approached, but I eventually located the pair of Ringed Plover and three chicks which appeared to be returning from a wander in the direction of the abbey along the shore. From the coastal path I watched them settle back down on the scar as the tide reached its height.


Ringed Plover Marc Heath 

The Plover Scar chicks are two weeks older than this one and noticeably so by now, they need up to two weeks yet before the month is out to reach fledging....here's hoping.

The Red Nab Gulls.

Returning from over the border in Cumbria on Friday I decided to pay a visit to Red Nab to watch the gulls on the incoming tide to count 12 Mediterranean Gull including the/another green ringed bird, though unfortunately distance had it I was still not able to nail the marks. 


Peregrine Falcon Martin Jump

Two Peregrine Falcon did what they do best and cleared out every last gull off Red Nab en mass. On the reserve I saw the male Emperor Dragonfly patrolling the pool again, a female ovipositing, and 4 Gatekeeper seen.

Thanks to Marc and Martin for the excellent RP and PF....Much appreciated.  

Thursday, 17 July 2014

T's And P's Again....

....with other birds noted, and a smart looking caterpillar seen.

The pair of Common Tern were still present on Conder Pool on Tuesday and are certainly breeding if not pretending to. The male was feeding the female fish and she was making tidy the nest she sits on. Two Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank, a Little Grebe, and 2 Little Egret were also on the pool, whilst at least 10 Common Sandpiper were in the creeks, and 3 Reed Bunting and a Grey Wagtail were upstream from the A588 road bridge.

At Cockersands, the pair of Ringed Plover and three chicks were all still on Plover Scar at high tide with around 14 days to fledging if luck prevails. Also of note on a wander, excellent views of a Sedge Warbler, with a Reed Bunting, a Whitethroat was accompanied by two juvenile, 4 Snipe in the ditch where I've seen a single bird on three previous visits, and a 'few' Sand Martin hawking over the harvest fields. 

The Caterpillar. 

The Vapourer Caterpillar. Pete Woodruff.

As I walked down the drive at home on Tuesday I spotted a caterpillar on the Lady of Shallot Rose about which KT was not best pleased. 

It was The Vapourer Orgyia antiqua which has a steel grey hairy body with red spots, four creamy 'shaving brushes' and assorted hairy horns, all of which make it an easily recognisable caterpillar. It's food plant is almost any deciduous tree or shrub, it is common in many urban areas where it is often seen as a pest....I think it's a brilliant little creature pest or not.


The Vapourer. Ian Kimber. 

The male Vapourer is a Tussock Moth of the family Lymantriidae, the adults of which have no proboscis, they don't feed, and are therefore granted only a short life. Only the male Vapourer has functional wings and flies mainly by day, the females wings are reduced to nothing more than minute flaps, and she rarely moves from her cocoon after emergence and usually lays her eggs on the cocoon itself. 

Thanks to Ian Kimber at UK Moths for the image of the male Vapourer moth.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Terns And Plovers.

Common Tern on Conder Pool.

Common Tern. Geoff Gradwell.

Last Wednesday I saw a Common Tern briefly at Glasson Dock, on Sunday I received a message to tell me two were on Conder Pool, and yesterday I saw them there for myself. Excellent birds to see on the pool, but I recall seeing Common Tern on Conder Pool one day with John Bateman a few years ago when we saw them as a first record for the location.

One of the birds yesterday gave excellent views plunge diving for small fry which it caught one after the other in quick succession. But there was more to these two birds than at first thought. As I observed them I noted some interesting behaviour when one of the birds - sat as it would be on a nest and never moved in the thirty minutes I was there - was approached by the other in what appeared to be a begging gesture with its bill opened.

 
Common Tern. Geoff Gradwell.

Courtship feeding between Common Terns occurs on the ground when the male will feed the female fish, then give it's own begging-call for the female to return the fish back to it. Fylde birder AC claims to have seen the male feeding the female on the ground yesterday which appears to confirm my suspicions - with doubts considering the date - about these birds.

Thanks to Geoff Gradwall for the excellent images in which the one above with a closer look shows two eggs in the nest at the lower right hand corner of the photograph.

I had little time left for anything too serious on Conder Pool following my interest in the Common Terns but noted a Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, 6 Common Sandpiper, 2 Little Egret, and 2 Little Grebe

Ringed Plover at Cockersands.  

Low Tide Plover Scar. Copy Permitted.
High Tide Plover Scar. Pete Woodruff.

I arrived at Cockersands to watch the tide coming in and eventually cover the greater part of Plover Scar, but derived great satisfaction in finding the pair of Ringed Plover complete with their family of three chicks, all five of which were engaged in keeping at least one step ahead of the approaching tide with the adult birds ceaselessly calling for the entire 1.5 hours I watched events as they were squeezed into the relatively small area still above water. The adult birds also saw off two other Ringed Plover, 3 Oystercatcher, 3 Dunlin, and a Turnstone to claim the scar all to themselves. 

I reckon these chicks have been out of the nest for two weeks now and need another two more weeks of good fortune to reach fledging before the end of July.

A single Whimbrel was also present on Plover Scar, and elsewhere here I saw
16 Tree Sparrow, 14 Linnet, 7 Greenfinch, a Snipe, and a Whitethroat. 

'Clik the piks'....they're really good!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Bowland'ing.

Yet another compromise was needed again on Friday in the Woodruff household. As there was to be absolutely nothing on this earth that was going to get in the way of my planned birding in Bowland. But a request was put to me for the use of the motor, it was either yes....but you have to take me to Marshaw and collect me at 5.00pm to come home, or no....I'm off to do some serious birding today, you'll have to have the motor some other time....the former offer was accepted and away we went.


Spotted Flycatcher Country. Pete Woodruff.

A most enjoyable seven hour birding wander, with some considerable legwork, standing around staring at and looking into trees, and checking the Marshaw Wyre in the Marshaw-Tower Lodge-Trough Bridge area which ended with 27 species found.


Dipper Martin Jump

I was pleased to find 5 Spotted Flycatcher, including a young bird being fed around the area of the nest I found 13 June. Good counts of 11 Mistle Thrush, 9 Grey Wagtail, 7 Nuthatch, 5 Treecreeper, 4 Kestrel, and a Great-spotted Woodpecker. Young birds were represented by a Goldcrest and 3 Coal Tit. I saw just 2 Willow Warbler, and it took me 4.5 hours to find 2 Dipper on the Marshaw Wyre. Six Red Grouse were on the moor edge above Trough Bridge. 

I was back at my transport pick-up point by the cattle grid near Marshaw Farm where there appears to be a decent House Martin colony. But the plan was to give the east side of Hawthornthwaite a couple of hours which turned out to be a good idea as it actually rewarded me with a Grand Finale.


Stonechat Ana Minguez  

Having counted at least 20 Meadow Pipit and 7 Red Grouse up to arriving at the shooting lodge where my day was well made up by the sight of a pair of Stonechat and at least five young.

Butterflies seen on the day were, 3 Meadow Brown and 2 Small Heath....where are all the butterflies. A Golden-ringed Dragonfly was the only dragonfly seen.

Redstarts and Stonechats.

Of note, I found no Redstart again as I hadn't on 13 June. Other than a Fylde birder who has seen them here, I don't recall seeing any other reports of Redstart in this area this year.

I recorded today's Stonechats on Hawthornthwaite as 'at least five young'. I never succeeded with an accurate count, the birds were very mobile, never seen together, and often disappeared from view. Though the majority of clutch size is five, there was a distinct possibility of a family party of eight here today.

Clutches of seven are extremely rare in Stonechats, but interestingly a female holds the record in England and possibly Europe, when she laid a collective total of 19 eggs in one breeding season in 1994 with clutches of 6/7/6, all three nests were successful

Thanks to Martin for the young dipper being fed by the parent bird, and to Ana for the male and female Stonechats....Excellent and much appreciated.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Plover Watch.

Ringed Plover. David Cookson.

Nice and sunny, but also quite windy yesterday especially on the headland and Plover Scar at Cockersands for 45 minutes where I found 4 Ringed Plover adults but no sign of the chicks, though I'm quite confident they are still around alive and kicking. I have a suspicion there may be two pairs with young on the scar judging by the behaviour of the other two adult birds. I'm also curious about the 4 Oystercatchers also present here on every visit I've made recently. 

But I'm sorry to say there's bad news on the horizon....next Monday 14 July at 1.00am the tides culminate with a height of 10.6m, there will be little - if any - of the scar with its head above water and with nowhere else for the chicks to go to be honest its not looking good....time will tell.

I only paid a brief visit along Slack Lane at Cockersands where it was good to find 3 Whitethroat, an adult and two juvenile, also noted a Skylark and Reed BuntingI had only diverted to here until a dog walker out on Plover Scar when I arrived had departed.


Common Tern. David Cookson.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock remains quiet, but as I arrived there a 'tern' caught my eye coming off the river to fly over the road to the canal basin. I went in pursuit to see it moving off the basin and over the dock in time to find it was a Common Tern. I noted 4 Bar-tailed Godwit distant in the haze, no Pink-footed Geese seen, but 17 Canada Geese still around, and the 15 Greylag have increased from five adults to 10 and 5 juvenile. 

At Conder Green, the adult Spotted Redshank obliged on Conder Pool on the near stony island, roosting with 2 Greenshank and a 'few' Redshank, a Little Grebe also seen. I could only count 10 Common Sandpiper in the creeks with 2 Little Egret. A Sedge Warbler sang briefly near the Stork Hotel, and 2 Great-crested Grebe juvenile came into view off the far bend down the Conder channel from the old railway bridge.  

Thanks to David Cookson for the Plover and Tern images in this post, excellent and much appreciated.

A bit of somewhere in the uplands stuff in the pipeline for tomorrow maybe!