Thursday, 30 October 2014

Wading In.

Golden Plover Martin Lofgren  

I decided on a species count yesterday and managed 48, but there are some decent winter wader numbers building up with estimates of 1,200 Golden Plover, 800 Knot, and 550 Bar-tailed Godwit on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock where I also noted 21 Black-tailed Godwit, a Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, and an adult Mediterranean Gull. Three Pink-footed Geese were on the south end of Colloway Marsh, and there was a Goldeneye on the canal basin but none seen yet on the River Lune.


Turnstone Simon Hawtin 

At Cockersands, almost certainly my all time best count - need to check my records - of 275 Turnstone on Plover Scar and certainly a better count than the peak at Cockersands in 2013 which stood at 150 birds. Also on the scar, not 50 other waders, with 25 Oystercatcher, 15 Dunlin, 3 Redshank, 2 Knot, and 2 Ringed Plover. Offshore, 4 Red-breasted Merganser noted. I also saw a Wheatear having thought the three seen on 17 October may have been my last this year. A single Grey Plover was below Crook Cottage with Redshank, and I saw 3 Red Admiral during the visit.


Goldeneye Jan Larsson  

At Conder Green my best count on two visits here was of 15 Little Grebe on Conder Pool with another Goldeneye here. In the creeks 3 Goosander, 2 Snipe, and a Spotted Redshank which was downstream from the old railway bridge, 2 Reed Bunting noted from the coastal path.

I took no notes of Little Egret numbers but saw at least eight including the regular winter bird often in the ditch north of Bank House Cottage at Cockersands.

Thanks for the photographs Martin/Simon/Jan. 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

We Will Win.

Red Kite Brian Rafferty 

Seven months ago 16 Red Kites and 6 Buzzards were found poisoned at Conon Bridge in Ross-shire, Scotland. The police have recently put out a press release about their investigations on this incident, the headline of which reads....

'Following investigations Police Scotland can now confirm that the birds were most likely not targeted deliberately but instead were the victims of pest control measures'.


Buzzard Jan Larsson 

OK....So now you have to ask yourself, how can this CONFIRMATION be possible without a confession from whoever laid out the poison baits to know that they had done so to target legitimate pests, or to target raptors. In any case the only legitimate method of poisoning 'pests' is by the controlled use of rodenticides, the substance used in this case was the banned Carbofuran, illegal even to posses let alone use.

Though this is an ongoing investigation and - as is always the case - we only know what we are told about this one, it's difficult to know who is set to gain from this ridiculous, unbelievable, and worrying press release from the police in Scotland. But I've been in touch with a man at RSPB Scotland who has given me his take and involvement with this issue in confidence, and I'm now much more in the know about this first hand, and from other angles which I have read about. 

But the fact remains....Birds of prey continue to be persecuted in alarming numbers, and whilst this goes on and we can read and hear about the kind of response from the very people who are charged with protecting them by bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to account, persecution will never be brought to an end.

Meanwhile the call cried out 'WE WILL WIN' following the Hen Harrier Day this summer, carries much more confidence than I have whilst I continue to read about the massacre of 22 raptors in Ross-shire and the kind of resulting comments from the police during the investigation period.

On a lighter note....

I see a report of a new all time high of 20 Little Grebe on Conder Pool last Sunday. And a walk through Williamson's Park on the same day had me finding a Little Grebe in the old Moor Hospital reservoir at Fenham Carr, where I had seen it/another almost twelve months ago on Monday 18 November 2013.

Thanks to Brian and Jan for the excellent 'clik the pik' images.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

All A Bit Routine....

....and not much of it to write about on Friday either. 


Little Grebe Antonio Puigg 

But the 18 Little Grebe on Conder Pool was an all time high and certainly not routine. The lone Greenshank was on the back terrace again, 7 Snipe were inconspicuous amongst the vegetation, 3 Goosander and up to 300 Black-headed Gull present. It was high tide and apart from the Teal and Mallard I found nothing else of note on what was left of the marsh above water.


Meadow Pipit Phillip Tomkinson 

Cockersands was definitely routine....As I got out of the motor 12 Meadow Pipit went over, and 6 Greenfinch were noted on Slack Lane. As the tide dropped the waders started to build up on Plover Scar to feed, notably Oystercatcher, Redshank, and Curlew, but 2 Grey Plover were a treat, it isn't every day you see the Grey Plover at Cockersands, a solitary Black-tailed Godwit, and c.65 Turnstone - appropriately named - are a pleasure to watch as they flick the stones over with their bill in search of a meal. Three Great-crested Grebe were off the scar, and in an Abbey Farm field, c.350 Lapwing with 40 Golden Plover mingling with them.


Tufted Duck Martin Lofgren

At Glasson Dock I counted 52 Tufted Duck on the canal basin, with a Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe noted. By now the light was fading and having grilled a few hundred gulls on the Lune Estuary a couple of times, I was lucky to be able to see the distant Spotted Redshank.

If there was birding by floodlight I'd be there, but I'm on my way home now....'twas lighting up time.

With thanks to AP/PT/ML for the excellent photographs, they are much appreciated.

And finally....


Beech In Autumn. Pete Woodruff.  

A walk through our local Williamsons Park and Lancaster Cemetery yesterday found both locations - in particular the cemetery - to have numerous Beech with the ground below littered with mast waiting for the arrival of the Brambling, a few Chaffinch were around one yesterday. 

The tree above is at Tower Lodge in Bowland, and is one of the finest of it's kind underneath which I found 80 Brambling on 10 November 2010.

Thanks to Jan Larsson for the brilliant Redwing in the header photograph. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Well....That Was Fun!

I left Lancaster full of the joys of birding unknown that the weather would change my way of thinking soon after I got to Conder Green not 15 minutes later, followed by one of those sit in the motor at Glasson Dock to see if things would improve. It didn't and an hour later I threw in the towel....I don't bird in downpours, it's well up the list of my birding 'don't do'.

Common Sandpiper. Pete Woodruff.

But at least before my prematurely aborted day I got in some coverage of Conder Green if only from the lay-by. With a little scanning around most of the 'Conder Specials' put in an appearance including the 'wintering' Common Sandpiper - this bird ain't going nowhere - on which I performed my amateur photographic skills whilst it rested on the near island. I also succeeded in counting 15 Little Grebe on Conder Pool again, with a lone Greenshank on the far terrace, and a Little Egret stabbing away at the waters edge. It was high tide and on the marsh I noted a Ruff and 2 Spotted Redshank.


Grey Wagtail. Geoff Gradwell. 

Whilst waiting at Glasson Dock to see if the downpour would pass by I saw a Grey Wagtail on the roof of the Victoria Hotel. Brilliant reflection in this image, and much more attractive than my rooftop bird.

Well, that was fun!....Hoping for more time next time.

Painted Lady.


Painted Lady Noushka Dufort 

A Painted Lady butterfly was found at Cockersands Lighthouse Cottage last Friday 17 October and was reported to me by my man from the Fylde Barry Dyson....Much appreciated with a count of Painted Lady not beyond one hand in our recording area this summer. Excellent image of the beautiful Painted Lady butterfly on Aster.

Thanks again to GG and ND for the images.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A Twitchers Tale.

I'm not known as a twitcher, but have on ocassions been known to contradict my claim that I'm not one, and a search through my records came up with the date Friday 2 February 2007, a sunny and mild day when with John Bateman and Brian Townson we drove to Bingley in the White Rose County of Yorkshire where we had excellent views of a first winter American Robin which had been in the area for several days. 

American Robin. Martin Lofgren.


The American Robin is the most widespread N American thrush, and is a colourful bird which goes some way to make me understand what gives lots of birders the urge to twitch - and in some cases drive hundreds of miles - to see a bird you've never seen in your life before.

The American Robin has some interesting history connected to it in Britain and Ireland. The first record in Britain was of a bird on Lundy, Devon in 1952, and was found following a period of strong westerly winds responsible for a massive wreck of Leach's Storm-petrels. It was eventually driven into a Heligoland trap, ringed and noted to have lost almost 40% of it's body weight. But this record in Britain was predated when an old Irish record of a bird at Shankill, Co Dublin in 1891 was reviewed, accepted, and subsequently preceded the British record on Lundy in 1952. But the actual first mention of American Robin in Britain was from Dover, Kent in 1876, but it was considered to have escaped from a passing ship.

A failed attempt by one Lord Northcliffe, to introduce American Robin to Britain in Guildford, Surrey, was probably responsible for a bird that built a nest in Richmond Park in May 1912.

Pacific Diver Farnham GP 2007. Pete Woodruff.


But Friday 2 February 2007 was a double bonus day, and after we'd had our fill of the American Robin we were off across country to see another 'MEGA' bird which by amazing coincidence was in the same County of Yorkshire at Farnham Gravel Pits near knaresborough. This was a juvenile Pacific Diver and a first for Britain which gave excellent views and had been present here about a month since early January, the news of which had initially been suppressed the site being a private one. 

The Pacific Diver is a largely Nearctic species that breeds from Alaska across N Canada and also occurs in NE Siberia. Hard to understand why a bird which leaves the frozen waters of N America to winter along the Pacific coasts as far south as China and California, to end up on an inland gravel pit in Yorkshire. Even more amazing is that a total of three of this species were found in GB in 2007, with the bird in Yorkshire Jan/Feb, the second at Llys-y-Fran in Pembrokeshire, and the third at Mounts Bay in Cornwall, both these birds present Feb/March....truly amazing.

Thanks to Martin Lofgren at Wild Bird Gallery for allowing me to use his excellent image of the American Robin, and to PW for his photographic efforts with the 'Yorkshire' juvenile Pacific Diver.

I'd sooner be birding!....but can't/aren't....maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Doing The Rounds.

I was able to look in on Conder Pool on Friday, the lay-by was clear of roadworks machinery and there was no sign of human activity. The road has three large holes, two of which are filled in with temporary material, and the road is controlled by lights, but difficult to work out what is exactly going on here, relaying/repairs are on the cards but there's some delay in getting the job started.

Fifteen Little Grebe were quietly enjoying their diving and catching small fry by the dozen, they appeared to have the pool to themselves. In the creeks, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, c.80 Redshank, similar Teal, and 2 Little Egret.

I decided to leg it to Glasson Dock again, well apparently we have to be on our guard and on the look out for Yellow-browed Warbler around this time, so I went into jump to attention mode when I saw a small number of 'tits' working through the bushes on the coastal path, it was nice to find one bird amongst them was a Chiffchaff, otherwise Blue Tit, Great Tit, and Long-tailed Tit.


Common Gulls/Black-headed Gull. Pete Woodruff.

Checking the Lune Estuary I took notes of estimated 450 Common Gull, 420 Golden Plover, 150 Bar-tailed Godwit, 50 Knot, 2 Spotted Redshank, and 10 Little Egret.


Curlew Sandpiper Jan Larsson

At Cockersands, a Curlew Sandpiper was off Crook Farm and took the days 'pole position' for me, closely followed by an adult Mediterranean Gull which was with Black-headed Gulls in a ploughed field off Slack Lane where I saw 4 Greenfinch and the local Kestrel hovering overhead. Up to 500 Golden Plover were by the Cocker channel, and 3 Wheatear were along the headland. I wondered if these would be my last of the year, but knowing Cockersands and the Wheatear historically....probably not.

Looking forward to next weeks birding....Meanwhile, thanks to Jan Larsson for the excellent Curlew Sandpiper image. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Briefly Birding!

Whooper Swan. Brian Rafferty.

On a relatively brief birding day Wednesday I made the short trip south down the A588 to find 82 Whooper Swan, 62 of which were on Pilling Marsh, and 20 in a field off Fluke Hall Lane, my first of the winter with not a Pink-footed Goose in sight, though I made no attempt to search further afield and onto the mosslands.

At Conder Green, Conder Pool was out of the question with the lay-by taken over by roadworks machinery, manpower, and traffic signals causing mini jams. The job appears to be a week late starting as I saw the sign erected two weeks ago claiming to start on 6 October. To make matters worse, it looks like there's work being done on both the pool and at creeks end of the outfall. I'd guess the pool was void of birdlife though I didn't go near the place....the creeks certainly were deserted.

Spotted Redshank. Brian Rafferty. 


A walk round the undisturbed parts of the creeks had me finding a Spotted RedshankCommon Sandpiper, and Snipe. Along the coastal path and looking in the wrong direction, when I turned I caught sight of the back end of a flock of what were almost certainly my first Redwing.


Bar-tailed Godwit. Brian Rafferty

Checking the Lune Estuary as I legged it along the path I estimated at least 350 Bar-tailed Godwit up a hundred on my count there on Monday, a 'few' knot were intermingled with them. By the time I got to Glasson Dock I had seen a Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, c.200 Dunlin, 150 Golden Plover, and a Goosander hauled out.

Migrants at Walney.


Yellow-browed Warbler. Stuart Piner.

I note in addition to having 7 Yellow-browed Warbler so far this autumn 17 Stonechat were amongst the grounded migrants yesterday at Walney Bird Observatory  

Thanks to BR for the trio of images for the post, and to SP for the YBW at Cockersands last autumn, they are much appreciated. 

Good news about a bad idea. 

If you read and had any interest in This perhaps you'd like to know the status of the Planning Application which is that it has been withdrawn. But....'And here's another bad idea'....certainly hasn't been withdrawn and is at best not a good plan if it goes ahead. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Eleven Days Later.

After eleven days out of business 'twas was good to get out birding again yesterday to notice Conder Pool as Conder Lake again following the recent high tides. With 12 Little Grebe on the pool I found the peak count of seventeen on 2 October down by five, but I note seventeen reported again on Saturday 11 October. In the creeks, a Ruff, 2 Spotted Redshank, a Snipe, 2 Little Egret, and up to 80 Teal


Robin Bob Bushell 

Along the coastal path, three birds in the bushes got me jumping to attention with wishful thinking but they turned out to be 2 Robin - one trying to see the other off - and a Blue TitI noted 42 Tufted Duck on the canal basin at Glasson Dock, and on the Lune Estuary, an estimated 250 Bar-tailed Godwit and 180 Golden Plover, with at least 250 Wigeon of note.

At Cockersands I eventually ended up being not happy, it was cloudy with a brisk and cold NE wind, it came on to rain a good 30 minutes away from the motor, and no 'prize birds' seen....whatever 'prize birds' are. 

Off Crook Farm, 12 Dunlin, 10 Knot, and up to 900 Golden Plover which I was able to grill two hours later when I found them in a field with Lapwing behind Crook Cottage. On Plover Scar, c.80 Turnstone and 800 Oystercatcher, 4 Red-breasted Merganser were off here, and 4 Little Egret in the area.


Little Egret. Pete Woodruff.

Opposite the Caravan Park, this Little Egret posed whilst I practiced the art of photography....Mmmmm! In the Cocker channel, 4 Great-crested Grebe, 6 Red-breasted Merganser, and 6 Little Egret seen on Cockerham Marsh.


Common Crane Cockersands 12 October. Stuart Piner.

On Sunday 3 Common Crane flew south over Cockersands at 1.03pm, an hour and thirty seven minutes later at 2.40pm, 3 Common Crane flew SSW over Seaforth LWT in Liverpool. Thanks to SP and the RBA pager service for the news.

Thanks to BB/SP/PW for photographs....excellent and all worthy of 'clik the pik'. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

On Your Doorstep.....

....and in the Arctic.

The depraved criminals who are slaughtering birds of prey and any other form of wildlife that gets in the way of the 'sport' they love, are closer to home than you might have imagined. Take a look at the map below - sorry a bit difficult to read - and if you are a birder who likes to get into the uplands of Bowland and live within this recording area, you will clearly see these people are doing their evil work on your doorstep. 

The map charts the last transmissions of the two young Hen Harriers - Sky and Hope -  recently 'gone missing', and is a clear indication of just where and when these two birds were at the time of their death.

I've trampled in and around these two circles on this map and the Bowland uplands many times over the years, and spend as much time birding here as anyone. I meet and speak to many of the 'estate staff' going about their daily land management routines, which range from some unnecessary to the downright criminal, and it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth to think I 'might' have rubbed shoulders with someone in disguise and not quite what they seemed.


Sky’s last transmission was at 7.33pm on Wednesday 10 September around Summersgill Fell, west of Thrushgill, in the Forest of Bowland. Hope’s last transmission was at 10.51am on the Saturday 13 September around Mallowdale Pike, also in the Forest of Bowland....'Missing in the Forest of Bowland'....well there's a surprise then!


LEGO has announced it will not renew its contract with Shell.

In the last few weeks Lego has made the break with Shell, having finally seen that it's a bad look for a toy company to work with another company that doesn't care about protecting our children's future. This is a huge blow to Shell’s strategy of partnering with beloved brands to mask its plans to drill in the Arctic. And it's the perfect start to the next phase of a campaign to keep Shell from plundering the Arctic’s pristine waters.

Now Shell is more alone than ever, but is still racing full speed ahead to get permission to drill in the fragile Arctic waters of Alaska in 2015. Meanwhile just days ago, the Arctic sea ice cover reached one of its lowest points on record.

Greenpeace and their movement to 'Save the Arctic' is now more than six million strong and just days ago they took the proposal for an Arctic sanctuary all the way to Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General.

Today’s news is the next step. It sends a strong message to other brands that companies that support Arctic drilling are simply too toxic to work with. And that the public will no longer accept silence when the stakes are this high. Whatever Shell does, wherever it tries to hide, we’ll be there exposing its true face, condemning its environmental destruction, and standing up for the Arctic.

Thanks to Marc Heath for the Rustic Bunting.

Still no birding for me, this is serious....maybe even life threatening!!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Annual Reports.

My birding has taken a direct hit due to major refurbishment to one of the rooms at home. Not looking good, and I may well be 'out of it' for more than a week at this rate.



But I'm in receipt of two excellent 2013 Annual Reports, so at least plenty of birding interest to read. Both of these reports are excellent publications, and I would personally like to thank everyone involved in the production of these two comprehensive records. If you have an interest in the records of the birds of the LDBWS recording area....



....and Lancashire in 2013 I can strongly recommend them. 

Though the cover photograph on the LDBWS report is an ID simple, the one on the Lancashire report is something of a challenge you might like to take on. 

I took particular note that both the LDBWS and Lancashire Reports recorded the only pair of Stonechat I found in the Clougha/Birk Bank area in 2013, and both also mentioned that I had recorded 43 here in 2005 before they started a decline culminating with a total disappearance following two harsh winter periods after which the Stonechat has yet to return to Clougha including this year of 2014. This despite pairs apparently breeding in all the main valleys and in many side-valleys on the United Utilities Bowland Estate. Perhaps the Stonechat isn't going to make a return again to the former stronghold of Clougha/Birk Bank....I'll be investigating this in 2015 with renewed enthusiasm.

It was interesting to see only one Common Sandpiper had wintered in our area in 2013 being the Conder Green bird. This winter looks like it may have two birds though three were reported on Friday 3 October.

Dotterel Cockersands 16 April 2013. Chris Batty.

The Dotterel found at Cockersands with Golden Plovers took it's rightful place in the reports. 

Killdeer. Martin Lofgren. 


And Lancashire claimed three first records in 2013, a Killdeer was found at Alston Wetland in April, a Two-barred Crossbill was found at a farm on Browsholme Estate in August, and a Baikal Teal was on Crossens Out Marsh in November.

Thanks to Chris Batty for the Dotterel, and to Martin Lofgren at Wild Bird Gallery for the Killdeer.

Best get my hands into the tool box I'm getting withdrawal symptoms!