Thursday, 24 July 2014

Seconds Out....

....round 2,562....well, maybe not quite that many!


On Tuesday there was a little more 'life' at Conder Green than there had been when I was there the day before, in fact a Fylde birder reliably informed me of eight Greenshank and a juvenile Ruff in the creeks earlier in the morning. I missed the latter and of the eight I found just 2 Greenshank, 6 Common Sandpiper was two up on Tuesdays count. Also of note, 3 Little Egret, a Little Grebe, a Sedge Warbler seen with a bill full of insects, 3 Whitethroat, and a Grey Wagtail, c.220 Redshank were in the Conder channel. If the female Tufted Duck I saw on Conder Pool with three young is the same bird as seen five days ago when it had four, it has lost one I'm afraid.


On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit and a single Black-tailed Godwit which was in breeding plumage though obviously not doing what it's plumage suggests. At least 200 Redshank, 5 Dunlin, and a Little Egret noted.

There was little of note at Cockersands despite a good rake around including into some nooks and crannies, 10 Tree Sparrow, 8 Linnet, 2 Skylark, and good numbers of Pied Wagtail here and there.

The Conder Pool Common Terns.



Common Tern Noushka Dufort

The Common Tern pair are still performing their breeding roles of one sitting and one fishing, feeding, and standing guard. I've seen this feeding behaviour several times and really hope all this will come to a successful conclusion in early September....John Bateman would have loved this, he meticulously documented every species of bird to visit Conder Pool.

Ringed Plover Bob Bushell 

The Plover Scar Ringed Plovers.

Since my last sighting of the pair of Ringed Plover and three chicks on Thursday 17 July, Iv'e checked out Plover Scar at Cockersands on my following two visits. Although the tide has been out I've seen nothing to suggest they are still around with no sign of the adult birds and certainly no sign of the chicks. However, I'm drawing no conclusions until I see the high tide today/tomorrow when - if they do still survive - they'll be under my nose at the landward end of the scar.

Thanks to Noushka and Bob for the images. With the exception of any pics taken by P.Woodruff, Birds2blog images are always excellent and well worthy of a 'clik the pik'.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Mediocre!

 
Woodchat Shrike Antonio Puigg

Not connected to today's post, but it kinda reminded me of Friday 9 May, a day a little more exciting than my birding day was yesterday. 

Thanks Antonio....Excellent. 

Well I'm probably likely to try again many more times on the Conder/Glasson/Cockersands tour, though yesterdays results won't go very far to encourage me to do so, this is at best mediocre, but here goes....

Though the weather certainly wasn't dull, and I don't use this kind of language readily, I'm tempted to say my birding was dull yesterday, the count of 4 Common Sandpiper at Conder Green was a clear indication of this. Other notables were singles of Greenshank, Snipe, Little Egret, Little Grebe, with c.120 Redshank, and 3 Dunlin.


Yellow Wagtail Simon Hawtin

Two reports of Yellow Wagtail at Cockersands on Sunday/Monday had me spending the rest of the afternoon looking for these Mellow Yellows to find two in the dried out ditch running through a field to the south of Slack Lane. A good number of Swallow with fewer Sand Martin and fewer still House Martin, were feeding over the many fields having had a grass cutting day here. I saw a mobile flock of at least 30 Tree Sparrow, and picked out a Peregrine Falcon overhead before going into rocket mode to take a wader out of the sky over the Cocker channel in what must have been the easiest strike this bird has had in a long time.

Common Tern on Conder Pool.     

The female Common Tern on Conder Pool sits tight on the nest whilst the male was seen heading off to some nearby fishing ground.

I reckon with luck there should be young here by around 6 August, they are known to leave the nest in three days though they return for brooding, which means they could be seen by 9 August, they can swim at an early age, and should be fledged by 3 September. Watch this space, or better still....watch Conder Pool.  

Saturday, 19 July 2014

More Of The Same....

....and a trip to the harbour - well Red Nab - on Friday afternoon.


A visit to Conder Green on Thursday had the pair of Common Tern still engaged with their 'late' and first breeding attempt on Conder Pool. Also the now resident Spotted Redshank with c.80 Redshank, 4 Little Egret, 2 Little Grebe, 4 Wigeon, and a female Tufted Duck with four young. The peak autumn count this year of up to 16 Common Sandpiper were in the creeks and in the channel off the old railway bridge, with 5 Dunlin noted.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, a distant 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, c.120 Redshank and 20 Dunlin were close from the bowling green, 5 Eider were hauled out, 17 Canada Geese noted again, with the recently seen 5 Pink-footed Geese and Greylags nowhere to be seen.

I moved no further than Plover Scar in the time I spent at Cockersands where initially the place looked deserted after c.60 Golden Plover took to flight as I approached, but I eventually located the pair of Ringed Plover and three chicks which appeared to be returning from a wander in the direction of the abbey along the shore. From the coastal path I watched them settle back down on the scar as the tide reached its height.


Ringed Plover Marc Heath 

The Plover Scar chicks are two weeks older than this one and noticeably so by now, they need up to two weeks yet before the month is out to reach fledging....here's hoping.

The Red Nab Gulls.

Returning from over the border in Cumbria on Friday I decided to pay a visit to Red Nab to watch the gulls on the incoming tide to count 12 Mediterranean Gull including the/another green ringed bird, though unfortunately distance had it I was still not able to nail the marks. 


Peregrine Falcon Martin Jump

Two Peregrine Falcon did what they do best and cleared out every last gull off Red Nab en mass. On the reserve I saw the male Emperor Dragonfly patrolling the pool again, a female ovipositing, and 4 Gatekeeper seen.

Thanks to Marc and Martin for the excellent RP and PF....Much appreciated.  

Thursday, 17 July 2014

T's And P's Again....

....with other birds noted, and a smart looking caterpillar seen.

The pair of Common Tern were still present on Conder Pool on Tuesday and are certainly breeding if not pretending to. The male was feeding the female fish and she was making tidy the nest she sits on. Two Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank, a Little Grebe, and 2 Little Egret were also on the pool, whilst at least 10 Common Sandpiper were in the creeks, and 3 Reed Bunting and a Grey Wagtail were upstream from the A588 road bridge.

At Cockersands, the pair of Ringed Plover and three chicks were all still on Plover Scar at high tide with around 14 days to fledging if luck prevails. Also of note on a wander, excellent views of a Sedge Warbler, with a Reed Bunting, a Whitethroat was accompanied by two juvenile, 4 Snipe in the ditch where I've seen a single bird on three previous visits, and a 'few' Sand Martin hawking over the harvest fields. 

The Caterpillar. 

The Vapourer Caterpillar. Pete Woodruff.

As I walked down the drive at home on Tuesday I spotted a caterpillar on the Lady of Shallot Rose about which KT was not best pleased. 

It was The Vapourer Orgyia antiqua which has a steel grey hairy body with red spots, four creamy 'shaving brushes' and assorted hairy horns, all of which make it an easily recognisable caterpillar. It's food plant is almost any deciduous tree or shrub, it is common in many urban areas where it is often seen as a pest....I think it's a brilliant little creature pest or not.


The Vapourer. Ian Kimber. 

The male Vapourer is a Tussock Moth of the family Lymantriidae, the adults of which have no proboscis, they don't feed, and are therefore granted only a short life. Only the male Vapourer has functional wings and flies mainly by day, the females wings are reduced to nothing more than minute flaps, and she rarely moves from her cocoon after emergence and usually lays her eggs on the cocoon itself. 

Thanks to Ian Kimber at UK Moths for the image of the male Vapourer moth.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Terns And Plovers.

Common Tern on Conder Pool.

Common Tern. Geoff Gradwell.

Last Wednesday I saw a Common Tern briefly at Glasson Dock, on Sunday I received a message to tell me two were on Conder Pool, and yesterday I saw them there for myself. Excellent birds to see on the pool, but I recall seeing Common Tern on Conder Pool one day with John Bateman a few years ago when we saw them as a first record for the location.

One of the birds yesterday gave excellent views plunge diving for small fry which it caught one after the other in quick succession. But there was more to these two birds than at first thought. As I observed them I noted some interesting behaviour when one of the birds - sat as it would be on a nest and never moved in the thirty minutes I was there - was approached by the other in what appeared to be a begging gesture with its bill opened.

 
Common Tern. Geoff Gradwell.

Courtship feeding between Common Terns occurs on the ground when the male will feed the female fish, then give it's own begging-call for the female to return the fish back to it. Fylde birder AC claims to have seen the male feeding the female on the ground yesterday which appears to confirm my suspicions - with doubts considering the date - about these birds.

Thanks to Geoff Gradwall for the excellent images in which the one above with a closer look shows two eggs in the nest at the lower right hand corner of the photograph.

I had little time left for anything too serious on Conder Pool following my interest in the Common Terns but noted a Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, 6 Common Sandpiper, 2 Little Egret, and 2 Little Grebe

Ringed Plover at Cockersands.  

Low Tide Plover Scar. Copy Permitted.
High Tide Plover Scar. Pete Woodruff.

I arrived at Cockersands to watch the tide coming in and eventually cover the greater part of Plover Scar, but derived great satisfaction in finding the pair of Ringed Plover complete with their family of three chicks, all five of which were engaged in keeping at least one step ahead of the approaching tide with the adult birds ceaselessly calling for the entire 1.5 hours I watched events as they were squeezed into the relatively small area still above water. The adult birds also saw off two other Ringed Plover, 3 Oystercatcher, 3 Dunlin, and a Turnstone to claim the scar all to themselves. 

I reckon these chicks have been out of the nest for two weeks now and need another two more weeks of good fortune to reach fledging before the end of July.

A single Whimbrel was also present on Plover Scar, and elsewhere here I saw
16 Tree Sparrow, 14 Linnet, 7 Greenfinch, a Snipe, and a Whitethroat. 

'Clik the piks'....they're really good!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Bowland'ing.

Yet another compromise was needed again on Friday in the Woodruff household. As there was to be absolutely nothing on this earth that was going to get in the way of my planned birding in Bowland. But a request was put to me for the use of the motor, it was either yes....but you have to take me to Marshaw and collect me at 5.00pm to come home, or no....I'm off to do some serious birding today, you'll have to have the motor some other time....the former offer was accepted and away we went.


Spotted Flycatcher Country. Pete Woodruff.

A most enjoyable seven hour birding wander, with some considerable legwork, standing around staring at and looking into trees, and checking the Marshaw Wyre in the Marshaw-Tower Lodge-Trough Bridge area which ended with 27 species found.


Dipper Martin Jump

I was pleased to find 5 Spotted Flycatcher, including a young bird being fed around the area of the nest I found 13 June. Good counts of 11 Mistle Thrush, 9 Grey Wagtail, 7 Nuthatch, 5 Treecreeper, 4 Kestrel, and a Great-spotted Woodpecker. Young birds were represented by a Goldcrest and 3 Coal Tit. I saw just 2 Willow Warbler, and it took me 4.5 hours to find 2 Dipper on the Marshaw Wyre. Six Red Grouse were on the moor edge above Trough Bridge. 

I was back at my transport pick-up point by the cattle grid near Marshaw Farm where there appears to be a decent House Martin colony. But the plan was to give the east side of Hawthornthwaite a couple of hours which turned out to be a good idea as it actually rewarded me with a Grand Finale.


Stonechat Ana Minguez  

Having counted at least 20 Meadow Pipit and 7 Red Grouse up to arriving at the shooting lodge where my day was well made up by the sight of a pair of Stonechat and at least five young.

Butterflies seen on the day were, 3 Meadow Brown and 2 Small Heath....where are all the butterflies. A Golden-ringed Dragonfly was the only dragonfly seen.

Redstarts and Stonechats.

Of note, I found no Redstart again as I hadn't on 13 June. Other than a Fylde birder who has seen them here, I don't recall seeing any other reports of Redstart in this area this year.

I recorded today's Stonechats on Hawthornthwaite as 'at least five young'. I never succeeded with an accurate count, the birds were very mobile, never seen together, and often disappeared from view. Though the majority of clutch size is five, there was a distinct possibility of a family party of eight here today.

Clutches of seven are extremely rare in Stonechats, but interestingly a female holds the record in England and possibly Europe, when she laid a collective total of 19 eggs in one breeding season in 1994 with clutches of 6/7/6, all three nests were successful

Thanks to Martin for the young dipper being fed by the parent bird, and to Ana for the male and female Stonechats....Excellent and much appreciated.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Plover Watch.

Ringed Plover. David Cookson.

Nice and sunny, but also quite windy yesterday especially on the headland and Plover Scar at Cockersands for 45 minutes where I found 4 Ringed Plover adults but no sign of the chicks, though I'm quite confident they are still around alive and kicking. I have a suspicion there may be two pairs with young on the scar judging by the behaviour of the other two adult birds. I'm also curious about the 4 Oystercatchers also present here on every visit I've made recently. 

But I'm sorry to say there's bad news on the horizon....next Monday 14 July at 1.00am the tides culminate with a height of 10.6m, there will be little - if any - of the scar with its head above water and with nowhere else for the chicks to go to be honest its not looking good....time will tell.

I only paid a brief visit along Slack Lane at Cockersands where it was good to find 3 Whitethroat, an adult and two juvenile, also noted a Skylark and Reed BuntingI had only diverted to here until a dog walker out on Plover Scar when I arrived had departed.


Common Tern. David Cookson.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock remains quiet, but as I arrived there a 'tern' caught my eye coming off the river to fly over the road to the canal basin. I went in pursuit to see it moving off the basin and over the dock in time to find it was a Common Tern. I noted 4 Bar-tailed Godwit distant in the haze, no Pink-footed Geese seen, but 17 Canada Geese still around, and the 15 Greylag have increased from five adults to 10 and 5 juvenile. 

At Conder Green, the adult Spotted Redshank obliged on Conder Pool on the near stony island, roosting with 2 Greenshank and a 'few' Redshank, a Little Grebe also seen. I could only count 10 Common Sandpiper in the creeks with 2 Little Egret. A Sedge Warbler sang briefly near the Stork Hotel, and 2 Great-crested Grebe juvenile came into view off the far bend down the Conder channel from the old railway bridge.  

Thanks to David Cookson for the Plover and Tern images in this post, excellent and much appreciated.

A bit of somewhere in the uplands stuff in the pipeline for tomorrow maybe!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

'Are You A Twitcher?'....

....said the man yesterday stood near my car as I returned to it after looking over the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock....'I'm not known to be a twitcher'....I replied....'but I have been known to travel good distances to see rare birds on occasion's, and do understand what drives the twitchers to undertake long journeys to see a rare bird'.

On the Lune Estuary I found 2 Common Sandpiper, noted a build up of Redshank and a few Dunlin, and with nothing more to stir me, to make my birding appear more meaningful I counted 72 Mute Swan viewable from the bowling green.

At Conder Green, at least 13 Common Sandpiper seen here, the Spotted Redshank was on Conder Pool, where I also took note of 3 Little Egret, and 2 Little Grebe. A Greenshank was in the creeks. I note Shard Bridge the only other serious competitor for Conder Green and Common Sandpiper numbers in autumn, had a count of nineteen this morning 8 July. 

The good news from Plover Scar at Cockersands, is that I found almost immediately the two adult Ringed Plover, in a large area yesterday with the tide being out, but it took me around 20 minutes to locate the three chicks whilst the parent birds ran around calling constantly of which I got a pretty decent recording, a Little Egret was also on the scar.

Linnet. Warren Baker.

A pleasant walk round the area at Cockersands though little of note. I heard a Sedge Warbler on Slack Lane, saw 2 Greenfinch and a smart male Linnet, with good numbers of Swallow over the crop fields. 

Butterflies and a Dragonfly.

Gatekeeper. Warren Baker.

A decent number of c.40 Small Tortoiseshell again at Cockersands, with a Small Skipper and my first Gatekeeper of the year at Conder Green.

Sombre Goldenring. Noushka Dufort. 

But if I'd have found this dragonfly yesterday I'd have achieved overnight stardom. Unknown in the UK and has become quite rare in France, and is considered NT - Near Threatened - in Europe, it occurs in central and southern Europe, from the Pyrenees eastwards to the Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine.

Cockersands Corn Bunting. 

A Corn Bunting was recorded at Cockersands yesterday, first in the morning, and again late afternoon. A 'Mega' bird in our area where it is now regarded as no more than an irregular visitor in the summer months, with no records in 2012. Having never personally seen the Corn Bunting in our area, I was a little 'peed off' at missing this bird, it was heard about 6.00pm, an hour after I had been stood by the same bush. 

Thanks to Warren for the Linnet and the Gatekeeper, and to Noushka for the Sombre Goldenring....Three more images worth a 'clik the pik'.  

Sunday, 6 July 2014

A Stonechat Surprise!

This time the post should be called 'Running Late'.

On Thursday I came across a bird quite unexpected in early July at Cockersands when I found a juvenile Stonechat on a fence wire accompanied by 2 Reed Bunting and 2 Meadow Pipit

For the second time running my sole purpose for the visit to Cockersands was to check out the Ringed Plover chicks on Plover Scar to find them alive and well until I left at 4.45pm. Other notes on Plover Scar, 7 Ringed Plover in total included the family of five and two other adults, 8 Golden Plover, 2 Grey Plover, a Common Sandpiper, and 2 Eider off here.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock showed the geese once again represented by 17 Canada Geese, and 5 Greylag, whilst 3 Pink-footed Geese have been reduced from the recently seen five, a Little Egret also seen.


Grey Wagtail Simon Hawtin  

At Conder Green, the Common Sandpiper count remains at twelve, with c.120 Redshank noted, 5 Little Egret seen two of which were upstream from the A588 road bridge. A Little Grebe on Conder Pool was a new bird with the two recently in summer plumage nowhere to be seen. A Stock Dove was also on the pool, and 2 Grey Wagtail below the road bridge is a species I've only recorded at Conder Green twice in more than two years.


Stonechat Juvenile. Copy Permitted.

All in all, Thursday was a bit of birding with some added interest for me, not least of all the Stonechat at Cockersands. Precisely what this bird was doing here, and even more interesting where it had come from is anyone's guess, maybe down from the uplands of Bowland, a local coastal bred youngster....I think not. 

First brood Stonechats may begin to disperse as early as June, but the first autumn passage birds are more usually seen in late July/early August. So a juvenile Stonechat at Cockersands on 3 July was something like a month ahead of my expectancy of seeing one here, and 2 months earlier than the main passage in September. The autumn passage of Stonechat in our area is usually regarded as no better than poor.  

Friday, 4 July 2014

The Meds And The Plovers....Again.

This has to be called part time birding, and part time blogging....

I was in Morecambe Wednesday lunch time, and with my optics a permanent fixture in the car boot I was off to Heysham to check through the gulls whilst the tide pushed them ever nearer on Red Nab. I spent a good 2 hours there, unable to get beyond the outfall because of a barrier in place reading 'No Public Access'.


Mediterranean Gull. Pete Woodruff.

I found 4 Mediterranean Gull, though a Peregrine Falcon put an end to the survey on two occasions, it taking the gulls up to twenty minutes to reassemble back on to Red Nab off the sea, and me having to start all over again. Three of these birds were ringed, but distance, lack of decent light, and the wind, all contributed to the frustration of not being able to read two of the rings beyond one being a green darvic, the other a yellow, though the bird ringed 2P96 was present here again as Sunday, a Common Sandpiper was something of a bonus.

On the pool, a female Emperor Dragonfly was again ovipositing, with two female Broad-bodied Chaser, and Common Blue Damselflies, a Chiffchaff was heard.

Doing the rounds.

I managed to do some of 'the rounds' yesterday, but with not enough hours in a day, and not enough days in a week, birding/blogging can be difficult - if not impossible - at times. Meanwhile, the three Ringed Plover chicks on Plover Scar at Cockersands, were alive and well up to 4.15pm at least when I left, scuttling around finding food for themselves, whilst the adults stood guard, followed them around, and watched their every move.