Birds2blog

BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The GP's Have It For Me.

Greenshank. Conder Pool Friday 17 November. Pete Woodruff.


A snoozing Greenshank on Conder Pool was good enough to get me off to a nice start on Friday morning, 17 Wigeon were also of note here, and the 180 Teal at Conder Green were split between the pool and creeks, where I found 7 Little Grebe and the Common Sandpiper which was down by the now finished and newly painted bridge....must have cost a fortune.

The Lune Estuary was quiet wader wise, apart from the presence of the usual several hundred Lapwing, 320 Dunlin and 7 Snipe, with c.350 Wigeon seen.

The Cockersand at least 500 Whooper Swan were initially in the field by Bank Houses as seen from the headland, but by the time I got there they had been disturbed and were eventually scattered over five fields. On Plover Scar, c.450 Oystercatcher, and little more than a two handed number of Turnstone, Redshank, and Dunlin. A Mistle Thrush and single Fieldfare again, seen by the cover crop on Slack Lane.

When the tide had dropped, 22 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit were feeding off Crook Farm.

A Goldcrest was in our garden Saturday morning.

The Grey Plover.


Grey Plover. Brian Rafferty.

At high tide on Friday, Plover Scar held a quite decent count of 14 Grey Plover, almost certainly my best ever count at any time of the year at Cockersand.

The Grey Plover had it for me today, a wader that breeds in the high Arctic regions of Russia, from where they migrate to winter in areas throughout the world including Britain, making it one of the most globally widespread of all the wader species, though none of our Lancashire estuaries currently supports internationally important numbers of Grey Plover.

Thanks to Bob for his Greenshank header image, and to Brian for his Grey Plovers, excellent and much appreciated.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Uphill Struggle.

Hawthornthwaite Fell.

It was an uphill struggle to find the birds in more ways than one on Wednesday, but literally so on Hawthornthwaite. Apart from the fact the Stonechat isn't as easy to find as it was during it's upturn in status which peaked during the early 2000's, I'd got 3/4 of the climb to the peak before I found a distant pair of Stonechat, the only two seen on my visit, and at a higher elevation than Iv'e ever seen them here before. But ne'r mind....mission accomplished. 

Wren. Martin Jump. 

Four Wren on Hawthornthwaite seems to indicate a good colony, I had six seen here on 18 October, also 10 Red Grouse

Marshaw - Tower Lodge - Trough Bridge.

A Dipper was seen on the Marshaw Wyre with a juicy aquatic invertebrate in it's bill, but it was disappointing not to find any Grey Wagtail here today. Behind Tower Lodge, Goldcrest and 2 Treecreeper seen, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit and Great Tit, and by the time I got to Trough Bridge, 2 Nuthatch, a MistleThrush, and a Kestrel noted, 4 Red Grouse were seen from the track towards Winfold Fell. 

The last bird I expected to see as I arrived back at Marshaw was a Cormorant flying north over Marshaw Farm. On the way back to Lancaster, up to 220 Common Gull in a field at Quernmore, with a Kestrel seen on a roadside fence post.


Autumn Bowland. Pete Woodruff. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

....And The Cockersand Whooper.

Monday's birding didn't fail me again even if it was a little lower down the scale in the quality department.

The number has increased to around 550 Whooper Swan in the field adjacent to Bank Houses at Cockersand SD432534. It was a treat to hear them all bugling away, standing erect and necks stretched to the limit at the sight of someone watching them from the lane. In the same field, 48 Redshank 2 Snipeand several hundred Starlingthere was also quite an impressive count of at least 1,500 Wigeon in the Cocker channel. From Slack Lane, 120 Golden Plover in fields, and my first albeit a solitary Fieldfare gave me good views in the Willows.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson, 450 Common Gull were of note, 24 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Goosander, and singles of Bar-tailed Godwit and the no better than scarce here Turnstone

At Conder Green, of the 5 Little Grebe seen, two were on Conder Pool where I saw 65 Teal, 17 Wigeon, 3 Tufted Duck, and 2 Snipe. The other 3 Little Grebe were in the creeks where I found the Common Sandpiper, and from the coastal path, the only birds seen were 2 Robin and a Wren.

And The Cockersand Whooper Swan.


Whooper Swan. Martin Lofgren.

On Wednesday 8 November with the 265 Whooper Swan in the field NE of Bank Houses at Cockersand I found a bird ringed Orange YYG. It was marked as an adult female in February 2016 at Martin Mere WWT Reserve and hasn't yet been recorded as re-sighted outside the UK, having four records seen at Martin Mere, and three recently at Cockersand.

I'm grateful for the usual reliable help of Kane Brides at WWT in sending me the details, and to Martin Lofgren Wild Bird Gallery for his image of the Whooper Swans. 

Monday, 13 November 2017

Williamson Birdlife.

Nice day on Saturday, and with no birding since Wednesday I was off for a walk through Williamson Park and on to Lancaster Cemetery . 

Not excactly a birding Mecca our park in Lancaster, but between here and the cemetery I noted, 16 Blackbird, at least the same number of Magpie and 3 RobinIn the cemetery, it was good to find my first 50 Redwing with small flocks very mobile from tree top to tree top, also an excellent count of 7 Nuthatch including three close together calling loudly in an excited call, a Goldcrest and 6 Long-tailed Tit were in trees by the cemetery entrance.

The Bullfinch.


Bullfinch. Geoff Gradwell.

Whilst in the cemetery on Saturday I recalled seeing my first ever 5 Bullfinch here 3 years ago on 30 October 2014, never before and not since. Always the chance I might connect with some again today which didn't happen, but checking through my records I noted another interesting sighting in 2004, when I made the following comments....'The most interesting Bullfinch I ever found was of four seen at Birk Bank car park on Rigg Lane 1 November 2004. I saw four here again three weeks later on 22 November when my records read that they were all male, almost a month later I made a third visit to Birk Bank on 18 December to find 8 Bullfinch and made my claim to have heard the distinctive 'toy trumpet' call of the Northern Bullfinch'.

I don't  recall ever seeing Bullfinch in our area of Bowland before, but it is interesting to note that 2004 was the year of a massive invasion of continental Bullfinch into Britain around mid-October when exceptional numbers were reported mainly in Scotland and along the east coast of England around mid-October.

Thanks to Geoff for his excellent Bullfinch composites, and to Richard for his equally excellent Redwing header.

There's a problem with the text background colour in this post which I have yet to rectify, but will have disappeared by the next post.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Whoopers Abound.

Whooper Swan. Brian Rafferty.

I'm reliably told of a total count of 1,350 Whooper Swan at locations in the Fylde, and I saw some Whooper Swan movement into and around Cockersand on Wednesday, with two flights of 25/20 S over Lighthouse Cottage, and later flights of 55/20 from the SW over the Cocker Estuary where birds were also seen on the sea. 


Whooper Swan. Brian Rafferty. 

When I got to estimate them in the field NE of Bank Houses where there had been c.265 on Monday, today there was up to 300 Whooper Swan.

Two Rock Pipit were always moving ahead of me on the tide wrack as I walked from Crook Cottage to Plover Scar around the high tide where there was a decent count of 112 Turnstone, 450 Oystercatcher, 52 Dunlin, and a lone Grey Plover, with 5 Eider off here. Of note on the circuit, 8 Blackbird seen, and up by at least 40 on Mondays count, 65 Collared Dove were in trees by Bank Houses horse paddock, 16 Greenfinch and a Reed Bunting on Slack Lane. 

Of note on the Lune Estuary at Glasson, c.420 Golden Plover, 225 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Snipe and 4 Goosander. And my third consecutive brief look in on Conder Pool - it's been going dark every time - a Common Sandpiper, 5 Wigeon grazing along the terrace at the rear of the pool, 2 Little Grebe were in the creeks, and c.30 Goldfinch were flight over the marsh.

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for his Whooper Swan images.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Fieldcraft!

When I arrived at Cockersand yesterday it was soon apparent that the fields needed a little closer attention again with waders all over the place. In fields around Abbey Farm and Lighthouse Cottage, 550 Golden Plover, 105 Black-tailed Godwit, 75 Curlew, and at least 50 Turnstonewith Redshank and Lapwing, 8 Skylark went into the air, and there was no effort required in finding at least 265 Whooper Swan in a field to the north east of Bank Houses. 

Almost certainly the same bird seen here 25 October was a male Merlin obligingly on a fence post seen from Slack Lane where I saw a flock of 30 'finches' around the cover crop, 22 Linnet, 6 Greenfinch and 2 Chaffinch.

Off Lighthouse Cottage at high tide, 2 Rock Pipit were on the shingle and a Snipe came up off the marsh. When I returned to this area three hours later when the tide had dropped off, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Grey Plover were noted, with 2 Red-breasted Merganser seen off Plover Scar.

On the canal basin at Glasson, 33 Tufted Duck, a Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe. And the second successive brief look in on Conder Pool gave me a Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher, and a drake Goosander, 5 Little Grebe were in the creeks seen from the viewing platform in the half light.

Kestrel. Cockersand 6 November. Pete Woodruff.

The Kestrel was perched up by Bank Houses horse paddock posing nicely for me whilst I practiced my second rate photographic skills to achieve this 'hazy' shot as proof I'm not making much progress, also of note here was a good count of 25 Collared Dove loafing in a tree.

And a good time was had by all....again.    

Saturday, 4 November 2017

A Southerly Direction.

A trip south along the A588 on Thursday, had me down Crimbles to find 2 Ruff on the flood, with 82 Lapwingand a few Redshank and Curlew. A Barnacle Goose was with up to 450 Pink-footed Geese on Cockerham Moss, and along Gulf Lane at least 450 Whooper Swan including just 27 juvenile in a flooded corn field opposite Cockerham Moss Edge Farm, c.30 Tree Sparrow were in the area.


Pink-footed Geese Brian Rafferty     

I drove on to the viewpoint at Pilling Lane Ends to see several thousand Pink-footed Geese  distant and way out on Pilling Sands, no attempt to count, but probably at least 30,000. Along Fluke Hall Lane, 95 Whooper Swan, and at Fluke Hall 8 Long-tailed Tit in the hedgerow. Forty five minutes at Cockers Dyke sifting through at least predominantly 900 Black-headed Gull, had me find an adult Mediterranean Gull

On the way back to Lancaster, little more than a glance over Conder Pool showed 7 Goosander, and quick notes on the Lune Estuary in fading light, another adult Mediterranean Gull, a Greenshank, and a Peregrine Falcon squat on the weedy stones planning the next attack at low tide.

The Hawfinch.

As a scarce breeding bird in Britain, there is an unprecedented influx of Hawfinch taking place the true origin of which is not known. Although a small number of migrant Hawfinch are seen annually in autumn, but from early October this year single birds and even flocks have been seen at coastal watchpoints away from traditional breeding sites. Observations have also been made in other European countries and noted to have been higher than average counts of the Hawfinch.

Thanks to Antonio for the new header, and to Brian for the PFG....Brilliant images, brilliant birds.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Out And About....Again.

There was 2 Common Sandpiper at Conder Green again yesterday, one in the creeks and one down the channel towards the Conder Estuary. Four of the 5 Little Grebe seen were also in the creeks with just one on Conder Pool where there was a roosting Greenshank, 6 Curlew, and 3 Goosander.

Pink-footed Geese. Pete Woodruff.

From the coastal path, 73 Pink-footed Geese were over >south, 10 Long-tailed Tit and a similar number of Goldfinch.

An impressive sight in excess of 2,000 Golden Plover were on the Lune Estuary, with 82 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Great-crested Grebe and a Goosander noted. On the canal basin, 38 Tufted Duck seen, beware of the female with the white blaze, never as extensive as the Scaup, and this one has an obvious small tuft if you get close enough to it.

Lesser Black-backed Gull. Pete Woodruff.

At Cockersand, 25 Black-tailed Godwit and 10 Bar-tailed Godwit were of Crook Farm, with 25 Collared Dove and up to 40 Tree Sparrow around Bank Houses. Up to 350 Curlew were scattered through the fields here today.

Great-Grey Shrike....AC strikes again!

Great Grey Shrike. Preesall Flashes 1 November. Chris Batty.

I was grateful for the call at 2.50pm to tell me of a Great Grey Shrike at Preesall Flashes, though not seen again by dusk....But there again this morning at 9.05am.

My sincere thanks to AC for the call, and to CB for the image. 

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

This Isn't Birding!

On the last two visits I made to Cockersand I've made life easier and travelled light on foot, leaving my telescope behind in the boot with just a pair of binoculars round my neck. Every time I do this I vow never to again, fearing I might find - and sometimes do - some distant small thing unable to get to grips with what it really is I'm looking at. 

Yesterday was a repeat of the trip to Cockersand last Wednesday, when I decided then, that the fields here really are in serious need of a good thrashing, with waders all over the place. Two fields in particular are now excellent stubble holding a fair amount of water, one of these yesterday produced a RuffGrey Ploverand a good number of the c.300 Curlew I found at Cockersand today, also 450 Golden Plover and 54 Black-tailed Godwit, with Redshank, Lapwing, and at least 12 Skylark.

Other notes from the Cockersand circuit, c.50 House Sparrow and a few Tree Sparrow in the Bank Houses area, 7 Greenfinch, and 4 Goldfinch. The last birds I saw here today was Chaffinch male and a Reed Bunting in the Slack Lane Willows.   

Low tide and low counts on the Lune Estuary at Glasson held up to 120 Curlew and similar Dunlin, with 38 Black-tailed Godwit, 28 Golden Plover, and 5 Bar-tailed Godwit. Two drake Pintail were the pick of the wildfowl, 60 Wigeon being a bit of an increase, with 2 Great-crested Grebe and a Goosander the runners up.


Long-tailed Tit. Noushka @ 1000-Pattes 

Along the coastal path, 16 Long-tailed Tit were in procession through the bushes, and 2 RobinAt Christ Church, Great Tit, Blue Tit, a few Long-tailed Tit, 2 Chaffinch male, and a Goldfinch was as good as it got there. 

Conder Pool was down to 4 Little Grebe, with 8 Wigeon having taken up here, the Common Sandpiper was down the creeks by the bridge which is having a face lift, being grit blasted, painted, and a new footpath across it I understand....should look good when it's finished I reckon.

The fields at Cockersand are still in need of a good thrash, and I reckon I've probably missed another Lapland Bunting or something better....This kind of behaviour by me isn't birding for real, it's only pretending to and I've downgraded myself

Saturday, 28 October 2017

A Little On The Thin Side!

At Cockersand, a Kestrel was the first bird I saw, as I drove along Slack Lane it was flying ahead of me just a few metres above and the full length of the lane before landing atop a telegraph post, I saw 14 Linnet by the cover crop. As I set off to walk towards Plover Scar, a Merlin was perched on a post in the field behind lighthouse cottage, 32 Tree Sparrow were at Bank Houses, at least 4,000 Starling were mobile over the fields, and 4 Little Egret were in a field.

The Goldeneye was still on the canal basin, and on the Lune Estuary, another adult Mediterranean Gull seen, 2 Greenshank were at the Conder mouth then flew up the channel, also 2 Snipe, 2 Great-crested Grebe, and a drake Red-breasted Merganser noted. 

On Conder Pool, I managed a count of 10 Little Grebe and 42 Mallard, with the Common Sandpiper and a Goosander in the creeks.

The Curlew.


Curlew. Pete Woodruff. 

Birds were a little on the thin side for me on Wednesday, but 'thin' couldn't be applied to finding at least 430 Curlew as a species in serious decline, with 155 noted on the Lune Estuary at Glasson, and 275 in a field at Cockersand with 245 Black-tailed Godwit

It's easy to be fooled into thinking waders are booming in terms of status when you hear that the Curlew is an abundant winter and breeding bird in Lancashire. OK, 430 Curlew isn't massive, though it's always encouraging to see a decent number like this, and the 245 Black-tailed Godwit made for good reading in my records book too. 

But the Curlew is in serious trouble, it is one of our most rapidly declining breeding birds, numbers are claimed to be down by up to 50% across the UK, and it is a species globally near threatened, making it a priority on the Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern, though the monthly peak counts in our area on the Lune Estuary last year, show the estuary to continue to hold the largest population of Curlew throughout the year with Morecambe Bay at the forefront of holding internationally important numbers, the only other site being the Solway Estuary.

I'll be finding a lot more Curlew than 430 on and around the Lune Estuary in the coming winter months....I look forward to that.

Thanks to Ana for the stunning and much appreciated male Black Redstart header.