Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Short Cut!

I had to cut short yesterdays birding, but the decision was made all the easier with some nasty showers and a bloody strong and cold westerly wind in the face. But I was able to check out The Green and The Dock before the cut off.

Fieldfare. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery  

From the coastal path at Conder Green I noted a 'few' uncounted Fieldfare and Redwing12 Chaffinch, and 3 Blackbird.

Conder Pool resembled a choppy lake making the count all the more difficult, in the end I settled for 10 Little Grebe with the company of 3 Goldeneye, 22 Wigeon, 7 Tufted Duck, a 'few' Mallard, a Red-breasted Merganser, and a Little Egret. In the creeks, the Spotted Redshank obliged with excellent views, the Common Sandpiper - as is often the case - was down by the old railway bridge.

Lapwing. Bob Bushell @ Birdsfod

I don't ever recall being able to say....I saw not a solitary Lapwing on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock today....that was bizarre. This, and just c.250 Redshank, 30 Black-tailed Godwit, and 3 Dunlin, close in by the bowling green, had the place looking almost wader deserted. Other notes, c.90 Wigeon, a solitary drake Goldeneye and Great-crested Grebe. On Colloway Marsh, the Snow Goose seen again, but beware, at times there are white farmyard geese on here, a mix of 150 Pink-footed Geese and Greylag predominantly the former, and a Peregrine Falcon biding it's time again.

As far as I'm concerned, any birding is better than no birding, but I'm afraid this didn't fall into the 'exciting' category, and it was a bit too short lived for my liking.

If I can remind you to 'clik the pik' to get the full benefit of excellent photography from Martin and Bob.    

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Hardly Riveting.

I gave Cockersands a good three hour rake around on Tuesday and came up with nothing to be called riveting. I walked the length from the Caravan Park to Crook Farm and return with one or two diversions to little avail.

Wren Ana Minguez  

That said, the 600 Pintail I saw off Plover Scar on 1 December were not far short of that number again today off here with up to 1,000 Wigeon. On the Cocker channel another 3,000 Wigeon were an impressive sight mostly hauled out on to the mud, 3 Red-breasted Merganser and 3 Little Egret were also of note. In and around the Bank Houses horse paddock, 4 Meadow Pipit and 3 Wren seen.

Whooper Swan Brian Rafferty 

Off Moss Lane I noted at least 55 Whooper Swan still in the fields, and I was able to up the recent counts with c.100 Fieldfare and a few Redwing seen todayOn my way back to Lancaster and unable to drive past the place even in semi-darkness, Conder Pool held 12 Little Grebe.

Wigeon on Conder Pool.

 Wigeon Bob Bushell 

The Wigeon breed across the northern Palearctic from Iceland to the Bering Straits. There is a small breeding population in Scotland where they commence egg laying in mid-April, in Iceland the dates are from mid to late May.  

On Monday I watched a pair of Wigeon on Conder Pool, the drake of which was in the act of mating with the female which was completely submerged for several seconds on occasions, when she surfaced the drake showed aggression by stabbing at her head and pulling on her crown feathers before she was submerged again. Odd behaviour in mid-December, though in wintering areas drakes are known to compete for mates in display behaviour....but this was a first for me, and was the first entry in my book of 'Notes On Bird Behaviour' since March 2013 when I observed Mallards and Shelducks diving on the River Lune at Glasson Dock.

Thanks to Ana/Brian/Bob for the photographs in this post.  

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Monday's Little Black Book.

By the time I left Cook Cottage yesterday - having paid a visit to the very nice people there - the light was beginning to fade, and by the time I reached the Cocker channel it had faded even more. I had left my telescope in the motor, this to add to the lack of light by 3.45pm was all pretty frustrating as there was collectively a few thousand waders, wildfowl, and gulls to look through had I got my act together here earlier in the day with the proper optics. Some you win....some you loose. 

Conder Pool had 12 Little Grebe on view, with 21 Wigeon and 7 Tufted Duck also noted. In the creeks, a Snipe, and the Common Sandpiper seen downstream from the iron bridge. 

Redwing. Martin Lofgren.

Along the coastal path to Glasson Dock I saw 10 Redwing, counted 13 Blackbirds, a Song Thrush never fails to please, 5 Great Tit, 2 Blue Tit, 2 Wren, 2 Robin, a Goldfinch and a Chaffinch.

Cormorant. Ana Minguez.

On the Lune Estuary, I noted 29 Cormorant in a group on the mud. I was on a 'no counting' day, but did note estimates of 5,000 Lapwing, 500 Golden Plover, 150 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, and could only find 8 Goldeneye. The injured Snow Goose was again on the mud opposite the bowling green, with uncounted Pink-footed Geese, Greylag, and Canada Geese on Colloway Marsh. A Peregrine Falcon was also on Colloway Marsh surveying the terrain for it's next attack, and on Jeremy Lane, 8 Whooper Swan were with Mute Swans.

Every bird has it's own beauty as the excellent portrait of the Cormorant above clearly illustrates, with thanks to Ana at Naturanafotos and to Martin at Wild Bird Gallery for the excellent Redwing.  

Monday, 15 December 2014

A Historical Day.... the battle against the raptor killers.

Goshawk. Jan Larsson. 

Last week a gamekeeper was found guilty of killing a rare bird and setting traps illegally to capture two others on an Aberdeenshire Estate, he was accused of recklessly killing or injuring a Goshawk and illegally taking away another Goshawk and a Buzzard in 2012 and was found guilty of four charges at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

Buzzard. Jan Larsson. 

It is one of the first times in Scotland that hidden camera footage had been used in a case of this kind and was allowed as admissible evidence. 

I should be crying here....But this guys defence was to say the least funny when he claimed he walked up to the cage and noticed that the Goshawk's beak was a funny shape and discovered the lower part of it was broken. He went on to say he didn't think it would be able to feed because raptors tear their prey, and he thought the bird wouldn't survive, so he decided to dispatch the bird by striking it on the head with a stick after which he saw the bird was still twitching, so hit it several more times to finish the job. He then said he buried the bird in woodland because he was scared he would end up in trouble.

A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, which has now banned the gamekeeper, said they would not condone anyone taking the law into their own hands. But then they fall flat on their faces when they say....'we believe it was wrong for individuals 'from one particular profession' to be under surveillance in their place of work without their knowledge' they added....'It is not right for Scottish government to deny people whose livelihoods come under pressure, due to the activity of certain species or animals, recourse to a legal solution to solve that conflict'....I think they really mean being granted the licence to kill birds of prey which get in the way of the shooting industry. 

The bottom line here is....if the leisure industry of killing millions of gamebirds is reliant on the illegal killing of protected species then that industry is finished.

Sentencing is to follow at a later date....Apparently a custodial sentence is being considered, but I aint putting any of my money on that one.

Thanks to Jan Larsson for the excellent and much appreciated images.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Well At Least I Tried!

Goldeneye Arkive  

I managed my best so far this winter when I counted 48 Goldeneye on the River Lune at Glasson Dock yesterday.

Also of note, up to 200 Dunlin seen close from the bowling green on the incoming tide, not a particularly impressive number but again one of the best counts I've had here this winter so far. Nothing else to enthuse but I noted 2 Red-breasted Merganser. The unfortunate broken right wing Snow Goose gave excellent views walking across the mud on the north side of the river opposite the bowling green, and distant uncounted Pink-footed Geese and Greylag on Colloway Marsh probably didn't amount to more than 200 birds.

Conder Pool didn't have 50 birds in view, with 10 Little Grebe counted, the Common Sandpiper seen, 3 Tufted Duckand 35 Mallard at rest on the near island. Off Moss Lane I saw a small flock of Fieldfare again as last Thursday with probably no more than 30 birds, also at least 55 Whooper Swan in a distant field from here. 

The visit to Cockersands was a disaster, the icy howler in my face from the west was a bit like the CIA had got hold of me for interrogation. I got from Crook Farm to Cockersands Abbey before it got the better of me to retreat back to the motor, barely noting a pretty even mix of 400 Golden Plover and Lapwing in total in an Abbey Farm field, and a Kestrel overhead.

Well at least I tried!

The 'mutt problem' rages on. 

The English Dictionary definition of mutt is....

1) A dog, especially a mongrel. 2) A stupid or foolish person.

Cool Dude. Pete Woodruff. 

The Shore Lark at Fleetwood is still pleasing birders at Rossall Point. This despite being reported as being repeatedly disturbed by human traffic with mutts on the beach. I also find regular reports of the same kind at locations in our recording area....All unacceptable when any disturbance of birds is involved and needs to be outlawed. 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Apparently A Good Afternoon!

If you happen to like wet and windy weather, then you've probably been a very happy chappie this week. I hate wet and windy weather, and have been a very unhappy chappie this week, unable to pursue my birding. But it's looking good at the moment this morning and given half a chance....I'm off.

So I picked out at random one of my little black record books to discover quite a decent good afternoons birding I had 15 years ago to the day on 12 December 1999. Apparently it was a day I had decided to check out the birdlife along the promenade at Morecambe including a wander down the Stone Jetty to see a Velvet Scoter. The bird was first picked up flying south towards the jetty soon landing on the sea to give good views to facilitate identification of the bird being a juvenile. Also from here I saw a female Long-tailed Duck, a Red-throated Diver, and 2 Grey Seal making the visit along the jetty a well rewarded one.

Coming off the jetty to what was then called Bubbles Groyne - don't know what it's name is these days if it has one - to find a Purple Sandpiper, and Spotted Redshank there. Further along the promenade from the Town Hall slipway I saw a female Common Scoter to round of the visit nicely....That's what I call 'Apparently A Good Afternoon' at Morecambe.

Continental Crusaders.  

Swallowtail. Marc Heath.

There's an interesting article on the Birdguides website about an influx of exotic continental species into the UK this summer, in which my man from Kent has his excellent image of the Swallowtail butterfly well deservedly published to accompany the article Continental Crusaders  

Common Blue Damselfly. Marc heath. 

Another perfect example of Marc's excellent work is that of the Common Blue Damselfly at sunrise. Thanks for all this Marc, much appreciated.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Shore Lark.

The Shore Lark found last Wednesday is still entertaining visitors to the shore at Rossall Point a week later. If it happens to stay until Sunday I'll maybe pull a fast one on KT and ask if she would like to visit the Freeport shopping complex at Fleetwood to top up her Christmas present list.

My one and only sighting of the Shore Lark (SL) was a memorable one 20 years ago on New Years Eve in 1994, when my old friend and mentor John Leedal and I visited Lytham St Annes where the birds were present. I remember the day well, the weather was a mix of wind, rain, and sunny spells, and it was during one of the latter sunny spells we had excellent views of three SL never forget birding moments like that, and for me fond memories of J. Leedal too.

Shore Lark. Martin Lofgren Wild Bird Gallery 

All British records of SL are believed to be of the subspecies flava which breeds in Fennoscandia and western Russia, they migrate SW to winter along the coast of W Europe, the majority of which winter around the Dutch and German Wadden Sea, with a small number regularly in Britain, especially on the east coast....

Snow Bunting
Snow Bunting. Copy Permitted.

....often with Snow Bunting and Twite. The SL is rare in Ireland, and uncommon away from the mouth of the River Dee and Anglesey. 

Summering SL occasionally occur in the mountains of north and western Scotland where they were found breeding in two summers during the 1970's, but a fledged juvenile found in 2003 was the first confirmed breeding of SL in Scotland since 1977.

I'd sooner be birding....but the 'weather bomb' has arrived and little if any chance at the moment, the whole thing has gone pear shaped.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

That Was The Week!

I managed three birding days last week. Monday started the week in decent style with some good birding and good birds seen. Wednesday was a little more down to earth, and Friday was even more down to earth and ended with an early abortion.

Looking To Crook Farm. Pete Woodruff.

Yes, you may have guessed it....I went to Cockersands again on Friday. The 'winter shower' on it's way in the 'clik the pik' above was the second one to head my way, the first had caught me out on Plover Scar - deja vu - and gave me a drenching before I got back to the motor. So now I'm waiting to see if things would improve....An hours wait said things didn't look like they would and I gave in and headed back to Lancaster. 

The only birds to report at Cockersands were about 30 Turnstone seeking some terra firma at high tide, with 20 Black-tailed Godwit seeking the same, 12 Little Grebe were on Conder Pool.

In birding terms I call that a week which started pretty well, and ended pretty awful....But I'll hopefully be back for more this week.

The Lark and the Bluetail.

Shorelark Marc Heath 

There's been a few human invasions to Rossall Point on the Fylde Coast since a Shorelark was found there last Wednesday and still there yesterday, two birds were present at this location almost 45 years ago in February 1970. On it's arrival at a given location, the Shorelark often settles in for the winter. Influx years are not unknown, and in 1998 an amazing 800 were found in Norfolk.

Immature/Female Red-flanked Bluetail. Martin Lofgren.

The Red-flanked Bluetail (RFB) is a much sought after rarity which breeds across the Siberian taiga from western Russia to Japan. Potentially a first for Lancashire, last Wednesday a bird photographed from the path to the Allen Hide at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve is thought to have been a possible female/immature RFB....enquiries are ongoing.

Bringing a smile into birding....A RFB discovered in Dorset in 1993 stayed at the location for 10 days and drew in a couple of thousand people to see the bird. On one ocassion the crush was so great that one observer feared for his life as he was swept off his feet during a surge in the crowd!!  

Thanks to Marc for the Shorelark, and to Martin at Wild Bird Gallery for the Red-flanked Bluetail. Two excellent images of two excellent birds.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

What A Difference! excellent five hours with good rewards. 

Wednesday....Empty spaces for five hours and lots of the birds I saw Monday nowhere in sight....What a difference a day - or two - makes.

So no 'Gold Awards' to hand out yesterday and my best count was of 14 Little Grebe on Conder Pool, with a Spotted Redshank in the creeks again. On the circuit, a Song Thrush never fails to please me, a Grey Wagtail was also nice, and the local female Kestrel was hunting the marsh.

On the Lune Estuary as viewed from the bowling green, an adult Mediterranean Gull again, 5 Little Grebe on the estuary is a clear indication of movement away from Conder Pool and the creeks, interesting that they appear to do this annually. Wader numbers were moderate to say the least, with 65 Golden Plover, 18 Black-tailed Godwit, and 16 Bar-tailed Godwit to note. Also 30 Goldeneye, and a female Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Wren were noted behind the Victoria Hotel.

Fieldfare Bob Bushell  

A 'small flock' of Fieldfare were seen from a moving car on Moss Lane but unable to check/count them with a vehicle tailgating on this narrow lane. A single adult Whooper Swan was with Mute Swans on Jeremy Lane.

At Cockersands, although c.350 Golden Plover with Lapwing at Abbey Farm was good, it doesn't come much more desperate than otherwise seeing 4 Greenfinch at Bank Houses, and a Brown Hare on my way back to the motor.

And finally, ending with a smile....

Heads Or Tails Richard Pegler  

Thanks Richard....Hope you don't mind the title for your excellent and humorous photograph of the Jackdaw and the sheepThanks for the Fieldfare Bob....Excellent.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014


....all my troubles seemed so far away. Well I'm not too sure about that, but some good rewards for the five hour trawl I undertook.

It was good to see 4 Bewick's Swan had returned to the River Lune at Glasson Dock, though they are late this year, in 2013 four were found at Cockersands on 4 November, with twelve seen on the Lune Estuary eight days later on 12 November. Also noted here, 42 Goldeneye, 2 Mediterranean Gull were both adult, c.400 Common Gull, 60 Black-tailed Godwit, an estimated 600 Golden Plover, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, and 2 Goosander. On the canal basin I counted 70 Tufted Duck.

Whooper Swan. Pete Woodruff.

On Jeremy Lane, the Whooper Swan above was with 22 Mute Swan, its head and neck stained by iron-rich water. I was taken by surprise to find c.1,500 Pink-footed Geese accompanied by a Barnacle Gooseand in an adjacent field 85 Greylag were accompanied by a Bar-headed Goose.

At Cockersands, stars of the show were up to 600 Pintail off Plover Scar, in my records by far the greatest number ever seen here, they were seen with small numbers of Wigeon, Teal, and Mallard, an adult Mediterranean Gull was in the Cocker channel. Waders off Crook Farm were, c.350 Curlew, 26 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, c.50 Knot and similar Dunlin, 22 Greenfinch were on telephone wires overlooking the cover crop field, and the local male Kestrel seen.

At Conder Green, 18 Little Grebe were seen as 15 on Conder Pool and 3 in the creeks where a Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper were also seen. Two Rock Pipit17 Twite, and a good count of up to 50 Chaffinch were on/around the marsh....

Kestrel. Pete Woodruff.

and a female Kestrel seen....inferior photography as usual by yours truly!

A better than average birding day for me.