Friday, 24 April 2015

Wot No Sandpipers.....

....but a nice motorbike at Cockersands!

It looks like the Conder Green Common Sandpipers may have departed, including the long staying wintering bird, well at least I found none there on Wednesday, also the Curlew Sandpipers were nowhere to be seen at Cockersands either. But I did count 162 Black-tailed Godwit off Crook Farm again and feeding as the tide ebbed along with 6 Knot and a 'few' Dunlin and Redshank joining in, no doubt the BTG's will be off to Iceland any time soon.

Whimbrel Brian Rafferty 

Waders on Plover Scar at high tide were represented by up to 150 Dunlin and 50 Ringed Plover with a Whimbrel seen, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser and Great-crested Grebe were off here. Of the few other notes I made, 6 Wheatear made the top of the list, with a White Wagtail to follow, a 'few' Tree Sparrow around Bank Houses, and good views of a nice Skylark.

At Conder Green, the Spotted Redshank shows no sign of any departure yet and has been joined recently by a Greenshank, the lone antisocial Black-tailed Godwit was still present, and I counted 22 Tufted Duck on Conder Pool which seems to have gone 'off the boil' of late.

It's quite interesting that the pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls seem to have taken a liking to Conder Pool for several weeks now. I find it hard to believe in the event of any Common Terns showing up they will create an alliance of any kind with them, they were bedded down again comfortably by the 'nest boxes' on Wednesday.

Never mind the bird....what about the bike!  

If you like a nice bike, there was one parked up at the Lighthouse Cottage car park on Wednesday, owned by a nice man I spoke with who didn't mind my reminding him that the 'fast boys' call these Harley-Davidson machines 'pussy cat' bikes.

Wednesday's Birds. 

A reported Grasshopper Warbler at Conder Green, a Caspian Tern on the River Lune in Lancaster, not to mention 152 Sanderling on Plover Scar at Cockersands in mid-April....PHEW what next!!  

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


Willow Warbler Geoff Gradwell

A pretty decent spring day yesterday had me through Holme Wood and down the Grizedale Valley to find - or more to the point to hear in most cases - Willow Warbler9 Chiffchaffa singing male Blackcap, 4 Wren, 3 Nuthatch, 2 Coal Tit, a Treecreeper, and a Reed Bunting, all noted amongst a few other common woodland bird species.

Buzzard. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery  

On Harrisend I had 6 Buzzard sightings though some duplication risk here, but saw at least four individuals. I saw 3 Willow Warbler, a Kestrel, and was amazed at seeing only 2 Meadow Pipit this visit. 

Stonechat. Noushka Dufort @ 1000-Pattes 

Two and a half hours on Harrisend produced a female Stonechat with no sign of a male in the same area I found the pair on 18 March. So, despite my receiving regular sightings of Stonechat from birders near - in our recording area - and far, they still show no sign of making any notable comeback to a few upland locations on my books, and in the case of Harrisend, just the pair this year according to my observations, and none found on Hawthornthwaite 18 March though a revisit here is overdue. 

I'm bound to call yesterday's birding experience....subdued.

Thanks to Geoff/Martin/Noushka for the excellent images which are much appreciated and help to liven up the post no end.    

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Is It A Bird!....No 2.'s another butterfly, but this one didn't quite get the award as the Painted Lady did last Friday, to much bird competition this time.

Brimstone. Warren Baker @ Pittswoodpatch 

But it was good to see the Brimstone butterfly yesterday over the horse paddock at Bank Houses, Cockersands, an excellent follow-on to the Painted Lady last week. Thanks for the image Warren.  

Curlew Sandpiper. Cockersands. 20 April. Pete Woodruff.

It was also good that Sunday's Curlew Sandpipers had hung around for me to see them on Plover Scar yesterday. A visit at high tide produced the birds, one in summer plumage, the other in the process of attaining it. A return visit two hours after high tide had the same two on the scar, plus another off the lighthouse cottage car park. Also on Plover Scar, estimates of 500 Dunlin and 150 Ringed Plover, with a Whimbrel seen. 

White Wagtail. Cockersands. 20 April. Peter Rhind.

Off Crook Farm I counted 108 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Wheatear were along the headland, and I saw 3 White Wagtail including the classic in the image above for which I thank Peter Rhind. At least 100 Linnet were flighty and fragmented, and c.150 Golden Plover are still loafing around in the fields.  

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock showed c.120 Black-tailed Godwit, 50 Bar-tailed Godwit, and 25 Knot. And at Conder Green, a Goldeneye, at least 15 Tufted Duck, and a Little Egret were on Conder Pool. In the creeks, a Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, and the lone Black-tailed Godwit. And on the circuit, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Willow Warbler, 3 Reed Bunting, 2 Long-tailed Tit, and a Kestrel. Two pair of House Martin are repairing last years nests at Cafe d' Lune. A Stoat was on the pool perimeter, not good news for the nesting birds there. 

I watched a Dunlin come within a whisker of loosing it's life to a powerhouse Peregrine Falcons talons at Cockersands today, the falcon few off to make a strike somewhere else. 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Is It A Bird!....

Painted Lady Jan Larsson, it was a butterfly which took the award above all the birds on Friday when I found a Painted Lady on the coastal path south of Aldcliffe. 

The Painted Lady is a migrant to our shores and originates from North Africa. Unfortunately it is unable to survive our winter which is a great pity, not only does the Painted Lady often arrive in large numbers, but is a welcome sight as it nectars in gardens throughout the British Isles in late summer. This butterfly has a strong flight and can be found anywhere in the British Isles including Orkney and Shetland, and has the distinction of being the only butterfly species ever to have been recorded from Iceland.

Other butterflies, a Comma and 7 Peacock on the trek from St Georges Quay in Lancaster to Conder Green.

Blackcap Warren Baker 

Also of note as I passed through the Aldcliffe area, 2 Little Grebe appeared undeterred - whilst just about everything else had been - by the disturbance of work being carried out around Freeman's Pools. The apparently resident Greenshank was on the marsh looking pretty smart in it's breeding plumage, and 3 Little Ringed Plover were on one of the best floods in the area at the bottom end of Aldcliffe Hall Lane.

On the route along the length of the coastal path to Conder Green, 13 Blackbird, 12 Willow Warbler, 7 Blackcap included two female, 7 Chiffchaff, 6 Wheatear, 3 Long-tailed Tit included a pair nest building, 3 Dunnock, a Song Thrush, a notable number of uncounted Chaffinch and Robin, a Treecreeper and Kestrel, 2 Little Egret, and 2 Red-breasted Merganser on the river off Nansbuck Cottage.   

And Finally....

An Osprey reported - RBA - over Harrisend Fell yesterday afternoon.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Up A Lazy River.

I took a look in on the River Lune at Bull Beck yesterday to find no Little Ringed Plover where I had found five there on all three visits I made in 2013. 

I made no attempt to count Sand Martin but good numbers seen at the colony, a Kingfisher here is always a pleasing sight, 30 Greylag were accompanied by 5 Canada Geese and oddly a lone Pink-footed Goose, a singing male Blackcap was heard from the path. A pair of Stock Dove were on an old barn in the field on the far side of the river, a Brown Hare and a single Peacock butterfly noted.

Swift. Simon Hawtin.

An enjoyable four hour saunter down the River Wenning from Hornby and upstream on the River Lune produced 32 species noted including my first and earliest ever Swift, a single bird over Priory Farm with small numbers of Swallow and Sand Martin around. Two Goldcrest seen included one bearing a metal ring on it's right leg, 4 Goosander were on the River Lune with a Grey Wagtail, and 2 Ringed Plover were on the flood in the field down by the confluence with a few Redshank, 2 White Wagtail and 3 Willow Warbler seen, and a Buzzard soared overhead.

Tree Pipit. Alan Williams @ Arkive

A wander down the path on the opposite side to take in the Hornby Wastewater Treatment Plant had me finding a Tree Pipit there, with 8 Reed Bunting feasting on insects with Chaffinch, and a Treecreeper seen further down the track.

Thanks for the photograph of the Swift Simon, they don't come in big number of the Swift, and certainly not better than this one. 


I've seen a report of 152 Sanderling at Cockersands today, an amazing and unprecedented number at this or any other location in our recording area in mid-April.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Anticlimax.

Back to Dunnocks and Dunlins!

Having had an unsuccessful early morning rake around the Cockerham Sands Country Park on Tuesday in the hope that Mondays Wryneck was still lurking around, I made the walk to Bank End to find Mondays c.700 Pink-footed Geese in the air over Cockerham Marsh exercising their wings again ready for the flight north sometime soon, but with nothing else seen of note.

At Cockersands there was a howler blowing on the headland and to be perfectly honest legging it along there was a complete waste of time, though at least 50 Eider were bobbing up and down on the swell off Plover Scar, a Wheatear was in the horse paddock at Bank Houses, a 'few' Swallow over, and 3 Skylark and their endless flight song sounding like a beautiful spring day that wasn't.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was also quiet save c.375 Black-tailed Godwit and up to 12 Bar-tailed Godwit. Also of note, 5 Eider, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, c.120 Redshank fed close by from the bowling green, with just 2 Dunlin, a pair of Pintail hauled out was unusual here.

White Wagtail. Noushka Dufort @ 1000 Pattes

On Conder Pool, a White Wagtail was the star bird, with 4 Common Sandpiper seen again, as was the lone Little Grebe, the now nearly all black Spotted Redshank obliged, with a Stock Dove and a pair of Canada Geese taking an interest in the place, a Dunnock sang sweetly by the viewing platform.

Thanks to Noushka for the excellent White Wagtail.

I note with interest, a Swift reported flying north over the M6 motorway seen from Blea Tarn Road yesterday. An early bird equalling one seen on the same date 15 April 2013, the earliest ever in Lancashire being a bird seen 1 April 2004.


The Dotterel at Cockersands mentioned in the previous post was found in April 2013....not a year ago as claimed.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A Pain In The Neck....

....but definitely not initially so, and the kind of stuff which made my passion for birding go through the roof years ago.

Some might say if you're birding at Bank End from Cockersands, why not make life easier and drive there....what and maybe miss something along the way on the walk.

Wryneck Antonio Puigg 

I'd legged it to Bank End on Monday- the road to nowhere as it happened - and was on my way back to Cockersands. When I was 100m short of the entrance to the Caravan Park a bird I hadn't seen flew up off the ground ahead of me and on to the wall, with no time to think to myself 'it'll be a Meadow Pipit or something' bino's to my's a bloody Wryneck!

I gave no thought of a problem at the time, but the bird promptly dropped off the wall and into the park, as it turns out I think it would have been much the better if it had stayed on the seaward side where it first was and out in the open for me to follow. I hot footed it to the reception, got the permission to enter, and soon found the Wryneck between two caravans, in amongst the pretty flowers and vegetation the residents plant by and behind these caravans. The bird moved between the vans below the wall and I saw it briefly twice more before it moved out of sight behind another van and unbelievably never saw the bird again, despite now being accompanied by another birder to cover almost the entire Caravan Park perimeter and drives. From the moment I set eyes on this bird until it disappeared, I had it in my sights for no more than 15 seconds in total. I did the same coverage for one hour yesterday not long after first light to no avail.

A little of the excitement of finding the Wryneck was eroded for me by the fact that none of the dozen or so birders - who had made the effort to come to see this bird whilst I was present - made the connection....a bitter disappointment for me too.

Obviously a good time of year for me, a year ago tomorrow (16 April) - again at Cockersands - a Dotterel was found in a field by Abbey Farm with Golden Plovers.

The Wryneck.

It's hard for Lancashire birders in the 21st century to comprehend that the Wryneck once bred in the county quite commonly, but breeding numbers began to decline before the mid-19th century. Today it is no more than a rare passage migrant, and birds like this one at Cockersands on Monday are rare in spring, but there is an old record of one at Yealand Conyers in March 1948, this record aside, there are only four other spring records in Lancashire, most arriving in September with the latest record being of a bird at Cockersands 20 years ago in October 1995.

Thanks to AP for the Wryneck in his excellent photograph. 

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Piece Of The Action.

I saw a bit of action yesterday not least because 4 Common Sandpiper were at Conder Green with three on Conder Pool, and one below the old railway bridge. Also on Conder Pool, 2 Wheatear were evidence of a bit of migrant action, the Little Grebe seen again, the lone Black-tailed Godwit, a Goosanderand a Kestrel seen.

Willow Warbler. David Cookson. 

On the circuit, a Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, and Reed Bunting were all in the same bush.

On the Lune Estuary, c.350 Black-tailed Godwit and a 'few' Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Eider, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, and a Little Egret. Over the canal basin at least 6 Swallow were my first this year. On Jeremy Lane, 7 Wheatear were more evidence of migrant action, and the Moss Lane Kestrel seen again opposite Gardners Farm.

At Cockersands, I counted 75 Mute Swan with no Whooper Swans seen today, the Black Swan has apparently moved on to Aldcliffe Marsh. In Abbey Farm fields c.120 Golden Plover, with c.20 Linnet over and a lone Swallow at Bank Houses.

Wheatear. David Cookson. 

At Bank End, a Wheatear on the marsh, with the lone Whooper Swan still on Cockerham Marsh, and 2 Little Egret. At least 700 Pink-footed Geese were also in flight over the marsh.

Thanks to DC Images for the excellent 'clik the pik' photographs, the Wheatear being my favourite....piks with a difference....luv'em.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The First Came Last.

House Martin. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery  

The last bird I saw on Friday was at Cockersands and was my first House Martin of the summer, a lone bird curiously flying south....perhaps it hadn't read the script! The bird actually interrupted my count of 135 Black-tailed Godwit off Crook Farm, they were accompanied by 2 Bar-tailed Godwit.

Along with a Little Egret, seven wader species were on Plover Scar at high tide totalling less than 200 birds collectively, most notable being 2 Grey Plover, with Turnstone, Knot, Ringed Plover and Dunlin, 14 Eider were off the scar, and 2 Wheatear were on the headland. Just 3 Whooper Swan remain in fields, with the Black Swan and 48 Mute Swan. Also in the fields around Abbey Farm, c.400 Golden Plover, 2 Snipe came off the marsh towards Bank End from where I noted the lone Whooper Swan still on Cockerham Marsh.

A Wheatear was in a field off Jeremy Lane. The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was pretty well deserted save an Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, and a lingering Goldeneye all three were drakes.

Common Sandpiper Jan Larsson

At Conder Green, once more the faithful Common Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank showed well, it seems to me the latter transforms it's plumage from winter gleaming white underparts to summer black in little more than a fortnight. I was a little surprised to find a summer plumage Little Grebe on Conder Pool, not sure I ever saw one near mid-April on here before, a single Sand Martin spent about a minute over the pool before flying off. A Great-spotted Woodpecker flew over the coastal path on an otherwise fruitless circuit.

Thanks to Martin and to Jan who also has credit for the new header making for three excellent in flight photographs.

Black-tailed Godwit.

One of the 135 Black-tailed Godwits I saw at Cockersands on Friday was a marked bird, and true to his reliable form I am grateful to Böðvar for sending me the history of this remarkable bird which was ringed as a chick on 6 July 2012 in NW Iceland. 

I saw this same bird on Conder Pool last year on 17 April as indicated on the history sheet, eight days later it was back at Holt in NW Iceland....I wonder if it will undertake and succeed the same journey again this year.  

OR-GYflag 06.07.12 Ytri Lambadalur, Dyrafjordur, NW Iceland
OR-GYflag 07.07.12 Ytri Lambadalur, Dyrafjordur, NW Iceland
OR-GYflag 28.02.13 Sunderland Point, Lancashire, NW England
OR-GYflag 17.04.14 Conder Pool, Conder Green, Lancashire, NW England
OR-GYflag 25.04.14 Holt, Önundarfjörður, NW Iceland
OR-GYflag 27.04.14 Holt, Önundarfjörður, NW Iceland
OR-GYflag 09.08.14 Leighton Moss, Lancashire, NW England 
OR-GYflag 09.09.14 Allen Pools, Leighton Moss, Lancashire, NW England
OR-GYflag 22.10.14 Leighton Moss, Lancashire , NW England 
OR-GYflag 10.04.15 Lune Estuary, Cockersands, Lancashire, NW England

Friday, 10 April 2015

Chasing The Mountain Blackbird.

Langden Brook. Pete Woodruff.

Another lovely day on Wednesday had me back in Bowland chasing the Mountain Blackbird - though not primarily so - in the Langden Valley hotspot. The photograph above shows Langden Brook with the intake downstream at my back where I saw a classic White Wagtail with a Pied Wagtail as if to be there for comparison. Also seen as I walked up the tree lined avenue from the road, a 'few' Chaffinch and Robin were of particular note, with a Dipper, 4 Grey Wagtail, a Goldcrest was busy in the conifers along with a Coal Tit and Blue Titand a Song Thrush in fine voice.

On the walk which I stretched out over four hours, though the place was alive with them I noted at least 40 Meadow Pipit, 6 Wren, and a single Red Grouse heard only, I saw just two raptors in a Sparrowhawk and kestrel. Just one male Stonechat was a huge disappointment for me as was no Wheatear seen.  

Ring Ouzel Paul Foster

After some off the track searching based on info about a pair seen by a birder I spoke with earlier, I found a smart male Ring Ouzel but no female seen. Thanks for the image Paul, your image reflects just as I saw my bird today at the tip of a dead branch. 

Green Tiger Beetle S.Rae

Insects of note, 10 Peacock butterflies and the brilliant Green Tiger Beetle, it is a ground beetle, and it's iridescent green with yellow spots make it readily identifiable, it is an agile vicious and accomplished predator which can fly and makes a distinct buzzing sound when doing so.

I gave a couple of hours on the track up to Hawthornthwaite Fell from Marshaw but it was a walk into a void save 2 Mistle Thrush and a Coal Tit at the start of the track at Marshaw, 24 Meadow Pipit, 6 Red Grouse, and 3 Peacock butterflies. There had been a recent burn here, but....I'll spare you a rant this time.