Saturday, 19 April 2014

As if....

....I had nothing better to do I got my fourth days birding in a row on Thursday, what's the world coming to I ask myself.

There's nothing particularly good about Conder Pool at the moment in that it's basically a lake with a couple of sunken islands, a large grassy area at the eastern end, and a grassy bank along the back edge and little to attract the waders. But as if to contradict all this, when I arrived there again on Thursday there was a minimum of 700 Black-tailed Godwit, add to this figure the beauty of this elegant tall wader in it's summer finery and boy was this a sight for sore eyes.

When the excitement died down with me I also noted the 2 Spotted Redshank progressing into their summer 'black as the devils waistcoat' plumage as my old mentor JL called it, also 2 Common Sandpiper, a Great-crested Grebe still here, and a few Swallow and Sand Martin hawking.

Turnstone. Plover Scar. Cockersands. Howard Stockdale.

At Cockersands I decided to travel light and just don my bino's - a mistake I nearly always avoid making - and got to Plover Scar to find a selection of waders - uncountable with any accuracy in a cold in your face howler - but would suggest,  60 Turnstone,  90 Dunlin,  and a 'few' Ringed Plover. On the round I counted 9 Wheatear,  c.80 Golden Plover in an Abbey Farm field, saw a single Skylark, a Stock Dove, and Reed Bunting.

Reed Bunting Marc Heath 

On the Lune Estuary three hours after the high tide I estimated an all time record of up to 900 Black-tailed Godwit had assembled here, and noted none on Conder Pool on my way home. Also - with estimates rounded off - 150 Redshank, 50 Dunlin, 50 Knot, 30 Bar-tailed Godwit and a solitary Goldeneye. And on the canal basin, a pretty even mix of c.60 Sand Martin and Swallow hawking. 

I'm grateful as ever to Howard for the excellent image of a stunning long distance migrant the Turnstone on Plover Scar at Cockersands, and to Marc for his equally excellent image of the Reed Bunting. 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Birding Limited.

Birding by halves I'm afraid, but it was better than no birding at all, and this wider area - Yellow Wagtail territory - has to be given the full treatment sooner rather than later and that's my intention, but meanwhile....With my time limited on Wednesday I thought I'd give the River Lune a visit and first called briefly at Bull Beck where I had found five Little Ringed Plover last year in a short distance upstream from here but found none today. 

I have no idea what numbers are to be expected in this section of the River Lune, but there appears to be a healthy colony of Sand Martin in mid April this year, a Dipper flew downstream, with 3 Goosander seen. I heard 2 Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, and saw a distant soaring Buzzard.

Down the River Wenning from Hornby, and up the River Lune for no more than a mile from the confluence. I had excellent views of a singing male with a female Blackcap, two Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 4 Reed Bunting, a good number of Sand Martin around but no sign of a colony though I didn't reach Lloyne Bridge, a single Swallow, 2 Common Sandpiper, and 11 Goosander.

White Wagtail Jakob Sigurosson 

Pied Wagtail Simon Hawtin 

On the edge of a flood in the field at the confluence a White Wagtail was conveniently accompanied by a Pied Wagtail which gave an excellent opportunity to take note of the details of plumage variation of the two. 

Many thanks to Jakob and Simon for the White/Pied Wagtail images.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Mellow Yellow.

Donovan....Scottish singer/songwriter 1967.

A proper day on Tuesday, with wall to wall sun and the wind dropped off nicely, all this dictated that I should leg it to Glasson Dock via Aldcliffe,Stodday, and Conder Green which turned out to be another....'Well that was a good idea Mr Woodruff', and I managed 52 species along the way, most notable of which follow....

Yellow Wagtail Marc Heath 

Bird of the day was on the flood at Aldcliffe and was a stunning Yellow Wagtail which was in the company of at least 10 White Wagtail.

Little Ringed Plover Antonio Puigg 

I was also well pleased to find 7 Little Ringed Plover, three of which were also on the flood. 

Onward....and I saw/heard 10 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcap, and - disappointingly - just one Willow Warbler, but at least it represented my first of the year. Other notables were, a Gadwall pair on the wildfowlers pools, with Little Egret and 10 Swallow on the route.

I had little time for anything too time consuming at Conder Green - you know about the bus don't you - but noted 2 Spotted Redshank, and a Common Sandpiper. A Great-crested Grebe on Conder Pool is anything but usual and I don't recall my last one seen on here. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock a good number of Black-tailed Godwit were obvious despite no time to linger, as were 3 Goldeneye, and 4 Eider.

Brimstone Warren Baker  

Best butterfly was the fly by Brimstone, and though I made no notes on butterflies I saw single figures of Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock.

Thanks to Marc, Antonio, and Warren for three brilliant and much appreciated images.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

And The Winner Is!

Black-tailed Godwit/Knot Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff.

When I arrived at Conder Green yesterday morning I was met by the amazing sight of what resulted in a count of 610 Black-tailed Godwit on Conder Pool. I haven't searched my records yet, but I recall arriving at the pool one morning in March a few years ago to estimate a mix of 1,000 Black-tailed Godwit and Knot, a few of which are in the above poor quality image. I don't remember the ratio on that occasion, but think the number of BTG was slightly less than yesterdays. One record for sure, I never saw Knot on Conder Pool before or since this date. 

There are now 2 Common Sandpiper at Conder Green along with 2 Spotted Redshank, up to 8 Sand Martin were over the pool, and a Dunnock was in song by the viewing platform.

Swallow Simon Hawtin  

At Cockersands, at least 10 Swallow over in singles during my visit, 3 Wheatear, last Thursdays 120 Linnet again in stubble, 4 Skylark, and c.200 Golden Plover in flight like rockets over the fields then out of view. On Plover Scar at high tide, a mere eighteen waders, 12 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, and singles of Turnstone, Redshank, and Oystercatcher.

And at Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary on the falling tide, c.220 Black-tailed Godwit were almost certainly part of the earlier Conder Pool flock, c.60 Bar-tailed Godwit, c.450 Redshank, a drake Red-breasted Merganser, and 4 Greylag at the Conder mouth. Off Bodie Hill I counted 12 Eider and 3 Goldeneye.

The Spotted Flycatchers are coming and will probably be somewhere to the south of your house anytime soon!

Spotted Flycatcher Astland Photography    

Thanks to Simon and Peter and Susan for the brilliant images.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Starting At The End.

Friday followed 12 March for being a good day to get myself back to Bowland with some long sunny spells on offer.

Surprised to find it was 11 months since last on Harrisend Fell on 7 May 2013, and having found no Stonechat there I abandoned any hope of their return there for another year, I started off there on Friday. The bad news is that I again found none, another visit there in May with the same result and I will abandon Harrisend once again as another year the Stonechat didn't return. Whilst on Harrisend I counted at least 28 Meadow Pipit, 4 Linnet, 3 Raven, a Buzzard, Kestrel, and 5 Peacock butterflies.

Fellside Farm at the foot of Hawthornthwaite Fell. Pete Woodruff.

With other plans in mind I gave Hawthornthwaite a look over the bottom half and found the pair of Stonechat seen here a month ago on 12 March, so a little hope of some breeding here with the one pair at least. Also into the little black book, 10 Meadow Pipit, a Wren, 3 Red Grouse, a Buzzard, with Curlew, Lapwing, and Oystercatcher noted, and 2 Peacock.

A wander for a couple of hours from Marshaw to Tower Lodge gave 4 Grey Wagtail to brighten things upon the Wyre, smart birds and a close second to the Yellow Wagtail. Also of note, 2 Jay, a Coal Tit, and another Peacock was the sum total for my efforts. Calling in at Abbeystead on the way to Lancaster to see if the Brambling might still be around I saw a nice Song Thrush collecting a beak full of worms and obviously breeding close by. 

Some excellent news gratefully recieved from my man in Bowland with 8 Stonechat seen at Langden on Friday, and 2 pairs at Croasdale yesterday. It was good to see Eric, Andrew, and Nicole out and about in Bowland on Friday.

Dipper. John Darbyshire.

The River Wyre.

As on the 12 March, I noted no Dipper seen on the Marshaw Wyre again today.

The River Wyre is located in the county of Lancashire and joins the Irish Sea at Fleetwood. The river is 22 miles long and is the longest river in England it's estuary can be seen from its source in the Forest of Bowland. I have only seen a small section of the river today in the Marshaw/Tower Lodge area, but throughout the rivers length it is a mix of fresh and salt water and is home to a varied population of fish including barbel, eels, perch, roach, sea trout and salmon. A wide selection of trees grow along the banks of the River Wyre including ash, oak, hazel and willow, it is also home to some rare plants and animals and is designated as a County Biological Heritage Site. 

Thanks to Noushka for the Jay, and to John for the Dipper.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Seek And Ye Shall Find.

Well you may not always find, but on this occasion I did eventually. 

Wheatear Cockersands 10 April. Pete Woodruff.

I raked about at Cockersands for 3.5 hours yesterday, and it was 2.5 hours before I decided to turn off the road to take the Abbey Farm track and check out the stubble field and dung heap, and hey, what a good idea that turned out to be. So the Wheatear isn't some mythical creature after all 'cos I didn't just find the one in my pic - never photographic excellence my pics - but two. Not many minutes later in the adjoining stubble field I found up to 120 Linnet, an excellent count for the species in our area. Also of note, 2 Swallow, 10 Meadow Pipit, and singing Skylark. I estimate up to 150 'swans' in the distant fields and with only my secondary bino's round my neck I reckon the vast majority Mute Swan but a 'few' Whooper Swan still here, I must try to get to grips with figures next visit.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, by recent comparison low number of c.40 Black-tailed Godwit and 28 Bar-tailed Godwit, with just one female Goldeneye seen, and as if to turn my suggestion on its head....'scarce in this area of the River Lune as viewed from the bowling green'....8 Eider seen today. Fifteen Sand Martin were seen as ten over the canal basin, and five flying up the River Lune.

Conder Pool held the wonderful sight of 195 Black-tailed Godwit quietly resting in the far west corner, 2 Spotted Redshank and a Common Sandpiper were in the creeks. 

And finally....a little picture gallery for your entertainment.

Osprey. Howard Stockdale.

I've 'missed' at least four birds I'd very much liked to have seen recently at Cockersands, like this Osprey seen flying over the Whooper Swans off Moss Lane....

Marsh Harrier. Howard Stockdale. 

  ....and this Marsh Harrier, also seen recently in the Crook Farm area at Cockersands. Thanks for the images Howard....excellent.

And I thought you might like to know, Mrs Mutt has decided the marshes in the Conder/Glasson area are good for exercising the mutts. This woman has eight dogs with her on this occasion, though that doesn't look like the count in this pic. 

Incidentally, yesterday I saw another walkies outfit a mile out on the sands off Cockersands Abbey walking south towards the Cocker, this person had 18 mutts in her charge. I assumed she was aware of the tide table, even three hours prior to high tide and none of them would have got back across the Cocker Channel and would have been trapped on the sands.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Nowt Spectakler!

Nothing spectacular yesterday, but it was good to be out and about birding for a couple of hours, with the thought of never knowing what's next to keep you buzzing.

Spotted Redshank Phillip Tomkinson

Its quite amazing how rapid is the transformation from winter to summer plumage for these birds, and by this weekend the two Spotted Redshank - which obliged again at Conder Green - will be in advanced plumage like the one in the image above. 

The Conder was pretty deserted, all the birds of note were on Conder Pool and included, Common Sandpiper, at least 35 Black-tailed Godwit, 25 Redshank, and 15 Tufted Duck

On the Lune Estuary, the estimate of 300 Black-tailed Godwit still holds, though I saw just a 'few' Bar-tailed Godwit today, c.350 Redshank were accompanied by 2 Knot, 4 Goldeneye appear to be the last of the species, and 2 Eider seen as if to kick in the head my recent suggestion they're scarce in this section of the Lune Estuary. I heard a Chiffchaff by Christ Church.

On Jeremy Lane a Little Egret came out of a ditch as I drove by. I had to retreat from Cockersands but had time to see c.250 Golden Plover in an Abbey Farm field, and had little opportunity to note other than a 'few' Whooper Swans still in distant inland fields.

Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper at Conder Green.    

It will be interesting to see what the Spotted Redshank/s at Conder Green will do this year, it is only absent from here for little more than 8 weeks in the year, and if my records from 2013 are anything to go by, the last sighting was of three birds on 1 May, then a return two months later on 3 July when I saw one bird. Small numbers of Spotted Redshank have wintered on the Lancashire coast since the late 1950's, and a count of seven birds was made on the Ribble Estuary in December 2001.

Common Sandpiper David Cookson 

Records from 2013 for the Common Sandpiper show that the species was only absent from Conder Green for only a little over 4 weeks from the end of May, then ten seen on 3 July. A few birds have wintered in Lancashire since the 1960's and one has wintered again at Conder Green for its fourth year, a species that winters as far south as W. Africa, but for whatever reason has chosen to stay here. Between November 2004 - March 2005 saw reports of up to 154 Common Sandpipers overwintering in Great Britain, and there is evidence that birds may show fidelity to their wintering sites.

Thanks to PT and DC for the excellent SR and CS for the much appreciated photographs, 'clik the pik'....they really are excellent.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Chat None....Rock On!

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....Not since last Thursday, but tomorrow....hopefully.

Stonechat Antonio Puigg 

Negative news on the status of the Stonechat in areas of Bowland it seems. A text this morning from a reliable contact and regular visitor to Bowland - more regular than me and that's something - was to say 'No Stonechats seen in visits to Bowland over the last two weeks'.

Rock Pipit Phillip Tomkinson

The Rock Pipit (RP) is an uncommon if regular passage migrant and winter visitor to our area in North Lancashire, and is a bird I always welcome sightings of and which generates an interest for me.

Two sub-species of RP occur in Britain, nominate petrosus and littoralis from Fennoscandia and the Baltic. It is only in recent years that most birders have been led to believe that the vast majority of Lancashire records are in fact of littoralis due to habitat preference, migratory behaviour, and relatively large numbers of passage and wintering birds. A little support of this is of a bird found dead on the Fylde in 1998 which carried a ring that recorded it as being marked in Sweden four years earlier in 1994. Another Scandinavian colour-ringed bird was also seen at Bank End Point in 1998. Previous to this kind of evidence it was common that the vast majority of records were thought to be of the British RP petrosus

The Scandinavian RP had always been seen in Lancashire as a scarce spring passage migrant actually seen at a less than annual occurrence, which arose from the fact that the two species are indistinguishable until late winter, when Scandinavian birds start to attain a distinct breeding plumage, which - as if to make complications even more so - in turn renders them confusable with the Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta

And so, the British RP is known to be exceptionally sedentary, the only significant dispersal being of birds that move from Shetland to Orkney and north-east Scotland, whilst the Scandinavian birds are migratory, with large numbers wintering on the English east coast. All this taken into account, surely there can be no reason why the British RP doesn't occur perhaps from Cumbria or western Scotland.

Thanks to Antonio and Phillip for the excellent images.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

....But Still No Wheatear.

Swallow Brian Rafferty

On Thursday it was good that I saw my first Swallow of the year, three in fact flew along the headland before heading off inland over Cockersands Abbey. I couldn't help but ponder the amazing journey they've almost completed as I watched them go by.

Stock Dove. Copy Permitted.

Also noted at Cockersands, on Plover Scar the estimated total of waders was 117, with 55 Turnstone, 22 Ringed Plover, 36 Redshank, 2 Oystercatcher, and a single Knot, off the scar 8 Eider. At least 320 Golden Plover were resting but alert in one of Abbey Farm fields and most in their smart breeding plumage with 2 Stock Dove close by. I saw 2 Raven over Lighthouse Cottage before doing a u-turn inland. The Whooper Swans are still present in the area, though distant and in a much reduced uncounted number now. 

Black-tailed Godwit Martin Jump  

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, as Mondays count, c.300 Black-tailed Godwit and 240 Bar-tailed Godwit at high tide distant in the gloom, with c.220 Redshank in view close by. 

And at Conder Green, another amazing journey nearly completed, with 7 Sand Martin over the pool was a welcome sight, also 2 Raven over was good, but which I suspected were the earlier marauding Cockersands pair. The two faithful Spotted Redshank seen, with one much more advanced towards summer plumage than the other. Also noted, Common Sandpiper, just one female Goldeneye seen, one Little Grebe, a Little Egret, a Snipe, Goosander, 7 Goldfinch, a male Reed Bunting. A single Black-tailed Godwit on Conder Pool has had me concerned, it having been alone on the same island the past three visits and always asleep, but today it decided to up and away flying off apparently healthy.

Wheatear Findlay Wilde  

Still no Wheatear for me....But young Findlay has photographed these two males perfectly from the point of view they are pictured in their natural rocky habitat. Well done Findlay and thank you for allowing it on Birds2blog. Also thanks to Brian for the Swallow, and to Martin for the BTG.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

The Rant.

If you have no interest in reading about someone going into their latest 'rant' I'd strongly recommend you terminate your visit to Birds2blog right now as I'm about to launch into my latest one.

This isn't about being on the lookout at this time of the year for your first Wheatear, Sand Martin, House Martin, Swallow, the odd Osprey in the skies above, or Meadow Pipits over your head, this is another aspect of birds/birding, and not just about farmland birds.

Driving along the same route around 100 times in a year, I thought it time to check out what I miss from a car, so on Tuesday I spent 4 hours walking - dawdling and lingering actually - with eyes in every direction for 7 miles from Glasson Dock to Cockersands and return, I ended up with another of my 'where are all the birds' feelings, where are all the Robins, Wrens, Tits, and Finches. 

Bearing in mind we all know the situation today regarding our farmland birds, twenty years ago when I started touring around the Out Rawcliffe/Pilling/Eagland Hill prime farmland areas on a regular basis - it gelled with my job - I soon built up a personal picture about the plight of farmland birds, and many is the time I left the area after one of these tours feeling pretty depressed about what I hadn't seen, having felt like I'd been on a trip through a desert, twenty years on and nothings changed. 

OK, so on Tuesday I did see c.80 Meadow Pipit grounded in a field on Jeremy Lane, and saw a 'few' Tree Sparrow taking advantage of mans intervention with the helping hand of nest boxes between Haresnape and Gardeners Farms, saw c.40 Linnet in a stubble field, and best of all, at least 500 Golden Plover on the wing over the fields. 

But here are the bare facts....Over the 4 hours/7 miles I notched up just 16 bird species, none of the other twelve species below went over a count on one hand, some were in singles....

Blue Tit
Great Tit
Reed Bunting
Tree Sparrow
House Sparrow

I don't really wish to go much further down this road, its a long road anyway, but the best example of just one reason why we are loosing our farmland birds - in some cases lost them - can be seen in the Cockersands area where the Lapwings are on territory in fields, and where - if past years and my observations are anything to go by - they stand little if any chance of successfully rearing young on account of intense agricultural practices, I've already seen one field slurried over Lapwings, and if the half dozen Skylark I saw choose the same area to breed in, the same fate awaits them too.

The End....Rant over. 

  Wot No Pics