Sunday, 21 September 2014

....and another PL.

On Friday Cockersands produced my second Painted Lady of the week/year, it was on the headland below Cockersands Abbey, also 5 Wheatear, 15 Skylark were in flight over a field with goodness knows how many more hidden in the stubble, and the Little Owl showed again at Bank Houses.

Oystercatcher. Brian Rafferty.

With little else to be found on Plover Scar, the uncounted Oystercatcher and Redshank soon had me feeling I should put some more purpose into my birding, so I counted at least 100 Herring Gull, 45 Wigeon, and 3 Eider off the scar. 

Snipe. Brian Rafferty.

Conder Green was at least looking a little decent, and the creeks were quite lively. Along with the regular/resident Redshanks and a Curlew or two, I found 2 Spotted Redshank both adult, 2 Ruff a 'little and large' duo, 4 Greenshank, 11 Snipe, and a Little Egret. On Conder Pool I counted 12 Little Grebe.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, a distant juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, an adult Spotted Redshank, and 10 Little Egret were all welcome sights at an otherwise quiet section of the River Lune.

Moorhen. Martin Lofgren.

Ten Moorhen seen on 9 September in the field adjacent to Bank House Cottage at Cockersands were noted again today, as always they were by the wide ditch which dried up weeks ago and had me wondering how these birds are coping as a species which indispensably requires ready access to at least a minimum of open fresh water. 

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for the Oystercatchers and Snipe, and to Martin Lofgren at Wild Bird Gallery for the Moorhen.  

Friday, 19 September 2014

PL Nearly Wins The Day.

 Painted Lady Warren Baker 

I found my first Painted Lady of the summer on Wednesday, it was on Corricks Lane at Conder Green and was set to take the 'Best Of The Day' award....

Stonechat Cockersands. Pete Woodruff. 

....but the PL took a knock for the top spot when I saw a bird silhouetted against the light atop of a bush at Cockersands, but it didn't take many seconds for me to make it out to be a brilliant male Stonechat and the butterfly had to make do with being knocked into second place....and I at least got a reasonable 'clik the pik' into the bargain.

Also at Cockersands, 8 Wheatear were seen in close proximity of each other along the headland, the Little Owl was sunning itself again in the bushes at Bank Houses horse paddock. I saw no more than 20 Linnet today compared to the 250 seen on Monday, 14 Eider were off Plover Scar. A Kestrel seen, and a Peregrine Falcon took me by surprise as it rose out of long grass along the headland only a few metres in front of me with prey in its talons and dropped out of sight again at the far side of the field.

A small build up of c.70 Wigeon, 30 Golden Plover, and 9 Little Egret was all I could find of note on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock.

Ruff/Redshank. Pete Woodruff.

Meanwhile back where I began with the Painted Lady at Conder Green, Ruff2 Spotted Redshank, a Common Sandpiper, the long saying lone Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Snipe, a Grey Wagtail and Little Egret were all in the creeks. On Conder Pool the build up continues with 14 Little Grebe now counted. I'm not aware of any location in our recording area where the number of this species comes near those on Conder Pool.

Yes, winter's around the corner, and two early Whooper Swan were reported over Heywood, Greater Manchester yesterday afternoon, and the berries are ready and waiting for the Fieldfare, Redwing, and maybe Waxwing at Conder Green.  

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Birdings Inspirations.

I never fail to find inspiration in my birding, sometimes by the bucketful, other times in small measure which perhaps is what my Mondays experience was.

Little Owl. Richard Pegler.

But finding a flock of at least 250 Linnet in the Abbey Farm/Cockersands Abbey area was good, I can't recall my last such number of Linnet, seeing a Little Owl in the bushes at Bank Houses horse paddock was my first here since 19 Nov 2013 and only the second one in four years, though I have a distinct feeling I may not have been looking in the right places.

 Whimbrel. Pete Woodruff.

I also found and succeeded in getting a half decent picture of a Whimbrel off Crook Cottage. These three sightings went some way to inspire me on Monday.

Wheatear. Richard Pegler.   

Also of note at Cockersands, 5 Wheatear, at least 30 Tree Sparrow around Bank House Cottage, where in excess of 100 Swallow were on the rooftop and around the cottage, 5 Little Egret were by the Cocker channel, and c.100 Golden Plover were off Crook Farm. Not for the first time this summer, the only butterfly of note was a single Red Admiral.

I have to confess, the Lune Estuary a Glasson Dock certainly did not inspire me, it was at the lowest tide I think I've ever seen there, with exposed areas I've never seen before either, yet over thirty minutes there was little that I could find to impress, with c.160 Golden Plover and 7 Little Egret all that found their way into the little black book.

Something of a brief visit to Conder Green produced a Ruff, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, and a Little Egret in the creeks. On a quiet Conder Pool, a peak count of 12 Little Grebe, and a Kingfisher was again flushed by bad fieldcraft upstream on the bends from the A588 road bridge.

The Conder Common Terns.

I've neither seen nor heard of the Common Terns from Conder Pool since they were last reported at Cockersands on Sunday 14 September. Hopefully they have departed the area and are safely on their journey south.

Thanks to Richard Pegler for the images. Richard takes classic photographs of the Little Owl as can be seen in the example above, and will see if you visit his website.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

In Response.

Until I get the time to do a write up on what I saw and didn't see yesterday, I thought you might be interested in reading this evasive and pathetic response to the petition to ban driven grouse shooting. 

I'm afraid it's a little lengthy and perhaps not everyone will last the course to read it but please try to so that you can see just how pathetic and evasive it really is from the office of DEFRA. You will see it mentions that four pairs of Hen Harrier have successfully bred in England in 2014. So instead of the English Hen Harrier breeding population being at 0.9% of its biological potential we now know that it is at 1.2% of its biological we should be joyful and celebrate.


Dear Peter Woodruff
The e-petition 'Ban driven grouse shooting' signed by you recently reached 16,828 signatures. As this e-petition has received more than 10,000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response....
It has been estimated that £250 million per year is spent on management activities that provide significant benefits for conservation. Shooting makes an important contribution to the rural economy. When carried out in accordance with the law, shooting for sport is a legitimate activity, and our position is that people should be free to undertake lawful activities should they wish to do so. Landowners are free to manage wildlife on their land, provided it is carried out appropriately and legally, in accordance with any the relevant wildlife legislation. Hen Harriers It is encouraging to learn that there are four Hen Harrier nests this year which have chicks, given that in 2013 there were no known Hen Harrier fledglings in England. Some of these fledglings will be tracked with satellite tags we have funded. The Uplands Stakeholder Forum Hen Harrier Sub-group was set up in 2012 with senior representatives from organisations best placed to take action to address the decline in Hen Harriers. These include Natural England, the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the National Parks Authority and the RSPB. Defra welcomes the involvement of all parties. The Sub-group has developed a draft Joint Action Plan containing a suite of complementary actions intended to contribute to the recovery of the Hen Harrier population in England. We are working with Sub-group members to finalise the Plan. Illegal killing of birds of prey The killing of birds of prey is illegal, all wild birds being protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Anyone who kills or injures a wild bird is committing an offence and could face jail if convicted. Bird of prey persecution is one of the six UK wildlife crime priorities. The England and Wales Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group leads on action to address these crimes through prevention, intelligence and enforcement activity. The National Wildlife Crime Unit gathers intelligence on illegal activities affecting birds of prey, providing assistance to police forces when required. Earlier this year the Government confirmed that the Home Office and Defra would together provide funding until 2016, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to tackling wildlife crime. Alongside this, there have been successful conservation measures which have led to increases in Buzzard, Peregrine and Red Kite populations over the last two decades. Peatland In February 2013 we, along with the devolved administrations, made a statement of intent to protect and enhance the natural capital provided by peatlands in the UK. In September 2013 the Pilot Peatland Code was launched with the aim of promoting the restoration of UK peatland through business investment. It is intended that the Code will assure restoration delivers tangible benefits for climate change alongside other benefits such as restoring habitats for protected species and improving water quality. The last decade has seen increasing numbers of conservation initiatives (such as Nature Improvement Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest) many of which are focussed on peatland restoration in the UK. We are working with a wide range of partners on peatland restoration, including land owners and environmental NGOs. Rural Development Programme We are committed to helping create a more sustainable future for the English uplands, which are endowed with natural assets that are important for delivering a range of valuable “ecosystem services”, including food and fibre, water regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities for health and well being. We will be investing over £3 billion in agri-environment schemes (Environmental Stewardship and its successor) in the next Rural Development Programme 2015-2020. Addressing loss of biodiversity will be a priority for the new Programme. In addition funding will look to maximise opportunities to deliver biodiversity, water quality and flooding benefits together. Defra is working with a wide range of interests to finalise scheme details in good time for 2015. 

This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100,000 signature threshold.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Short Post.

Not a short post as in fence post, but a short post 'cos it was little more than an hour long wander along the coast at Rossall Point yesterday following one of those compromises with KT, that if we went to Fleetwood for any other reason it had to include the aforementioned wander for me to have my necessary birding fix.

Eventually 3 Wheatear were seen on the golf course, but better still was to follow when I picked out one of those brilliant little gems the Whinchat which instantly made my day....well it would wouldn't it.

Sanderling Martin Jump 

At least 130 Sanderling were on the shingle at high tide, with probably 50 Ringed Plover and similar Dunlin, with a 'few' Turnstone, all unmercifully disturbed by too many people with too many mutts running riot. But by now I was a happy man, I'd seen one of my most favourite of birds the Whinchat, and one of my most favourite waders the Sanderling....Thanks for the image Martin. 

Grey Seal Arkive 

As a bonus two Grey Seal were close inshore off the Observation Tower. 

If it's birds it doesn't take much to please me....and all I needed was an hour!!

The Conder Common Terns.

An adult feeding two juvenile Common Tern were reported at Cockersands yesterday, almost certainly the Conder Green birds.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Back For More....

....and glad to be back.

One of the first birds I found on Friday at Conder Green was a Little Stint in the creeks, looking positively minuta as it fed by a Lapwing, it was also accompanied by 2 Ruff, a Spotted Redshank, and 4 Black-tailed Godwit. On Conder Pool I counted 10 Little Grebe again, 4 Snipe, and noted 3 Wigeon which will soon be joined by their kind on the Lune Estuary. Tuesdays estimated 120 Goldfinch were again flighty over the marsh, and from the coastal path I saw one or two tits moving through the bushes which had me hoping for a decent flock with a 'goodie' amongst them, but all they amounted to was 3 Long-tailed Tit and 3 Blue Tit.

I managed to get to Glasson Dock just before the incoming tide pushed about 800 waders off the south bank, around a 50/50 of Lapwing and Redshank and 6 Dunlin. I didn't gain much to qualify for the little black book at Cockersands despite my wanderings there for almost 3.5 hours. Plover Scar was completely deserted by high tide, elsewhere a Whimbrel was the only wader of note. At least 70 Tree Sparrow were in the Bank Houses area as were c.30 Goldfinch, 3 Skylark and a female Kestrel.

The Conder Common Terns....

....have now become the Lune Estuary Common Terns with two adult and two young seen here on Wednesday. The two juvenile terns were amongst the 800 waders at Glasson Dock on the south bank yesterday just as the tide was about to push them off. I also found one of the adult birds in flight and watched it dive twice to fail to take a fish, followed by a successful dive to take the small fry to feed one of the waiting young. The runt of the two has by now caught up on size with its sibling and both were here on the Lune Estuary precisely two months since the adult pair were first found on Conder Pool on 12 July. No doubt the next move these birds make will be in a southerly direction....into the sunset and bye bye.

Wot No Pics!   

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The Tragic And The Excellent.

The tragic news.... 

Hen Harrier. Tim Birch.

From a successful breeding attempt, three of the five Derbyshire Peak District Hen Harrier chicks are already dead. Two of the birds are thought have perished at the hands of natural predation with no evidence of anything suspicious having taken place at this stage. All three remains/bodies have been taken for post-mortem. The remaining two other chicks are doing well....I think it best I make no other personal comments on this.

The excellent news....

Stonechat Ana Minguez

Thanks to two contacts I have gratefully received two excellent records. Those of 5 Stonechat seen on Warton Cragg today 13 September, and of a Stonechat and a Whinchat in the same view at Ocean Edge also today....Thanks to JW/AC, much appreciated.

Buzzard Martin Lofgren   

It was excellent that I saw 5 Buzzard soaring together over my Lancaster house this morning. I watched them in some brilliant aerial display with twisting and turning, stoops, and legs dangling. Hard to know what it was all about outside the breeding season, and whether they were all adult birds, or a family group....I suspect the latter.   

Thanks to JW/AC for the Stonechat records, and to AM/ML for the excellent images....All much appreciated. 

Post edited to correct an image which is no longer one of a Hen Harrier. It can sometimes be a bit of a pain being a human being.....WHOOPS!! 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The Re-run.

On Tuesday I did a re-run of Mondays tour with only a little new of note and certainly nothing to write home about.

Kingfisher Ana Minguez

At Conder Green, two Kingfisher sightings were both in the creeks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. On Conder Pool, 3 Common Tern were seen as two adult and a juvenile, also 6 Greenshank, 9 Little Grebe, 4 Tufted Duck, 3 Wigeon, 18 Canada Geese, and a Little Egret. Maybe the Common Sandpiper I saw is going to be a wintering bird at Conder Green, it appears to be the only one being seen now....but I could be jumping the gun on that one.

Ruff David Cookson     

Also in the creeks, one of Mondays Ruff put in an appearance, the lone Black-tailed Godwit, and 10 Snipe were in flight over the marsh. A Grey Wagtail was upstream, a Kestrel seen, and a passage of at least 120 Goldfinch over the marsh was a good count of the species in early September.

There was little of Plover Scar left above water at the height of the 10.10m tide just after mid-day, and it held just 27 waders, 19 Ringed Plover, 6 Dunlin, and 2 Turnstone. Around Bank House Cottage I noted a 'few' Tree Sparrow again, with c.30 Goldfinch and a notable count of 10 MoorhenI got a glimpse of a skulking Whitethroat on Slack Lane where 7 Greenfinch on the wires was a reasonable number of the species in these days. 

I saw 3 Little Egret come into my view south over Crook Farm and kept them in my sights for several minutes whilst they flew gaining height all the way down to Cockerham Marsh before loosing sight of them over Bank End....Little Egrets on migration!!

Lune Estuary Common Tern.

From the bowling green at Glasson Dock, I watched a Common Tern for several minutes, the bird was fishing and dived 22 times taking a small fry on 18 of them, failing on only four. I expected to see this bird fly of with its last catch to feed the young on Conder Pool, but it eventually went down on to the mud below Colloway Marsh and promptly started to preen.

Wednesday 10 September.

Two adult and two juvenile Common Tern were reported at Glasson yesterday, almost certainly the Conder Pool breeders on the brink of this space!

Thanks to AM and DC for the excellent images....'clik the pik' to see photography at its best.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Full House!

Apparently the result of crossing out all your numbers on a Bingo card is called a 'Full House'. Well I crossed out one or two birds yesterday and reckon my birding was a reasonably packed house if it wasn't a full one.  

I started at the end again - Bank End - where I counted at least 14 Little Egret on Cockerham Marsh, with 3 Buzzard soaring together overhead.

Whinchat Martin Lofgren

Cockersands started well with a little gem called the Whinchat initially seen atop of a distant bush and looking interesting but flew off before I could get anything conclusive on the bird - some strong language ensued - but my luck was in and following its line of flight I found it again a little closer than it had first been, it was on a fence post in the Abbey Farm area. I was more than a little disappointed with Plover Scar which held only 35 Knot, 4 Ringed Plover, and 2 Whimbrel, with 12 Eider off here. A raptor was too brief and too distant for my liking but was a small male Sparrowhawk/Merlin mobbed by c.150 'corvids'. Also of note, 2 Wheatear, a 'few' Tree Sparrow, a hovering Kestrel, and 5 Little Egret.

Noted on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, a juvenile Spotted Redshank, up to 48 Golden Plover, 2 Ringed Plover at best irregular here, 4 Little Egret, and a Peregrine Falcon.

Little Stint Jan Larsson

And the Grand Finale at Conder Green was kicked off by 2 Little Stint in the creeks, followed by 2 Ruff, 4 Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank, 7 Snipe, a single Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Little Grebe, 2 Wigeon, and a Little Egret which made the tally for the day of 24 Little Egret. A Kingfisher was upstream from the A588 on the River Conder.

The Conder Common Terns.

I watched a Common Tern on the River Lune at Glasson Dock, the bird was diving and took at least one fish to eat it before taking another and promptly flew off to Conder Green. When I got to Conder Green 30 minutes later, I eventually saw an adult flying off towards the Lune Estuary again and also saw both young birds. I was immediately surprised to see how much the runt was catching up in size with the other since I saw them both together a week ago, though I have reason to doubt it has yet fledged, but if I get to see them again by Wednesday I'm taking bets it has by then.

I'm grateful to Martin Lofgren and Jan Larsson for the use of their excellent images of two equally excellent birds I saw yesterday. 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Starting At The End!

I decided on another visit to Bank End again on Friday in pursuit of the Mellow Yellows. I seem to be hooked on them at the moment, they've been showing consistently here for several days now....have they bred around here at some secret suppressed/unknown location I ask myself. 

Yellow Wagtail Marc Heath

A lengthy search along the edge of Cockerham Marsh was fruitless but a few strides up the bank to overlook a field with cattle south of the caravan park turned up 2 Yellow Wagtail, a stunning adult and a juvenile. Also of note, a 'large' number of Swallows around and resting on the farm building rooftops at Bank End, and 4 Little Egret in the Cocker channel....That's my lot here, I'm off to Cockersands.

Golden Plover Brian Rafferty

I didn't give Cockersands the attention it deserves and demands, though I did put in the effort to go out on to the low tide Plover Scar where I found at least 300 Golden Plover, with little else other than the site faithful Oystercatcher, a 'few' Redshank, and 2 Little Egret, with 15 Eider and 25 Wigeon off here. On the way to and from the scar, 4 Wheatear, a movement was evident with 8 Skylark seen, and c.25 Linnet noted. 

At Conder Green, I saw just one adult and the fledged young Common Tern on Conder Pool, also of note, 10 Little Grebe and 7 Snipe. A Little Egret was in the creeks, and 5 Greenshank were feeding together in the Conder channel downstream from the old railway bridge.

Yes I know, I really should be doing some bush bashing right now....but I can't do everything!

Thanks to Marc and Brian for the photographs....Much appreciated and excellent on both counts.