Birds2blog

BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Time And Tide.

I got the timing right at Heysham yesterday and got there three hours before high tide to take up the challenge and find 15 Mediterranean Gull on Red Nab and Stage 2 outfall, they were seen as 9 adult, 2 1st summer, a 2nd summer, and 3 juvenile. A juvenile Black Tern was at the seaward end of Stage 2 outfall.

Mediterranean Gulls. Red Nab. August 24. Pete Woodruff.

In the image above there are three adult birds on Red Nab in this shot. For bigger pictures 'clik the pic's'.

Little Gull. Red Nab. August 24. Pete Woodruff.

A sub-adult Little Gull obliged me again - as one had done on a visit 8 July - by showing well close in on Red Nab around an hour before the high tide. 

Earlier I had been to take a look over Conder Pool and the Lune Estuary, a rather fruitless affair really, although after the customary multi-counts I eventually peaked at 10 Little Grebe, up and down like yoyo's taking small fry by the dozen. A Common Sandpiper was on the back terrace, and I noted 2 Little Egret, 3 Pied Wagtail a single female Teal and drake Wigeon.

The Lune Estuary was also rather fruitless, but up to 300 Golden Plover were camouflaged on the weedy stones at low tide, and a dread of unknown origin revealed several hundred waders mainly Lapwing in the air....All a bit short, but sweet as ever.  

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Lift Off!

I broke the five day stand down from birding for a couple of stolen hours yesterday to find Conder Pool having a quiet period, I reckon the mid-afternoon high tide would have made a difference, but I wasn't going to be there then.

After about six attempts the best count was of 10 Little Grebe, but more interesting hidden away from view at the platform, I found 8 Black-tailed Godwit from the west end fence, 3 Greenshank were on the back terrace, and up to 50 Lapwing, 30 Mallard and a Grey Heron were also noted. In the creeks 4 Common Sandpiper and 3 Little Egret.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock there was at least 1,500 gulls, too distant for comfort and a hampering haze, but I did my best and an adult Mediterranean Gull was surely not the only one amongst this lot. Another adult Mediterranean Gull was with c.250 predominantly Black-headed Gull on a flood off Jeremy Lane.

A check of Plover Scar proved little more than 200 waders with estimates of 150 Dunlin, 45 Ringed Plover, 8 Turnstone, and 4 Whimbrel. Around Cockersand Abbey, 16 Linnet and 14 Meadow Pipit seen, with 6 Wheatear and 2 Brown Hare in the same Abbey Farm field.

The Picture Gallery.


Jeremy Lane Tuesday 23 Aug. 

'Clik the pik'....spot the Med.

Brown Hare. Abbey Farm Field. C'sand.

Grey Heron. Conder Pool.

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Twitch That Wasn't!

I abandoned any hope of reaching the end of my unplanned four days out of birding today, it's put down large quantities of rain in the past 18 hours and is still doing so, the local radio station is putting out flood alerts here and there, and I don't go birding to get soaked, so here I am wasting my life away staring at a computer screen. 

Yesterday with KT, we were stuck in Lancaster traffic when I received a much appreciated text alert to tell me of an adult summer plumage Sabine's Gull on the beach off the Battery car park. How fortuitous, as Morecambe was our destination, and given a clear run from the Bus Station in Lancaster we could have been there in around 10 minutes, as the traffic was it took 30 minutes. But all this mattered not, when we arrived at the said car park that's all we found, cars parked and not a birder in sight. Later we hear, apparently the bird had flown within three minutes of being found....The twitch that wasn't!


Sabine's Gull. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery  


The first record of a Sabine's Gull (SG) in Britain was of a bird at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, in the autumn of 1839. But an earlier record is of one in Northern Ireland at Belfast Lough in autumn 1822, four years after the species was first discovered in Greenland by Edward Sabine.

With the exception of autumn this is an exceptionally rare species in Britain at any time of the year. Oakes writes, the first Lancashire record was of an immature SG at Morecambe in October 1893, the first modern record of a SG in Lancashire, is of a bird at Blackpool in September 1950. 

The SG breeds across Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, and north east Siberia, they winter in the eastern Pacific off north west South America, and in the south east Atlantic off south west Africa. The SG leaving breeding grounds in Greenland, do so by the middle of September, adults leaving before juveniles, most move across the Atlantic towards south west Europe, it's when this passage encounters westerly gales that numbers are pushed onto the western coasts of Britain.  

Many thanks for the excellent in flight Sabine's Gull (juvenile) much appreciated Martin.  

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Out Of Business!

Fluke Hall - Cockers Dyke.

I've been out of the birding and computering business since Wednesday, when I'd call a wander along the coastal path from Fluke Hall to Cockers Dyke a decent couple of hours well spent, though the way there didn't produce any birds of note for the little black book, and the butterfly species and counts didn't amount to anything like what I had hoped for on the perfect day for them. Last year on 12 August I collected up to 200 butterflies of 9 species along this route. On Wednesday 4 species and 80 individuals were noted, the highest count of which were the at least 60 Large White, 11 Small Tortoiseshell, 8 Common Blue, and a single Gatekeeper.

Sandwich Tern. Jan Larsson @ Vingspann

Bad timing at Cockers Dyke, with around 300 gulls seen, predominantly Black - headed Gull, accompanied by 2 Sandwich Tern which added nicely to some interest.

Whinchat. Paul Foster @ Paulifos

It was good to find 4 Wheatear along the walk back to Fluke Hall, and even better when I got my sights on a small bird instantly not another Wheatear, but a smart Whinchat of the 1st winter kind. Three Linnet flew up off the sea defences, and a lone Tree Sparrow was on the path dealing with an insect in it's bill.

Conder Green.

I can't drive past Conder Green, and my car automatically refuses to as well. Calling in on Conder Pool on the way back to Lancaster, I saw the adult and juvenile Avocet, and counted 15 Little Grebe....but these are all accounted for in my previous post.

I'm hoping by Monday my four day birding blank will end....but who knows.

Thanks to Antonio for the header, and to Jan and Paul for their images....Excellent on all counts as always.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

And The Osprey Came Too.

Tuesday 16 August.

Late off the block, I went straight to Cockersand primarily to look over Plover Scar at high tide, but the net result was little more than around 150 Dunlin and 90 Redshank. Along the headland a Wheatear was on the shingle below, with 4 Linnet and 8 Tree Sparrow around Abbey Farm. 


Osprey. Callum Bushell.

As I got my eyes on a Whimbrel on the shoreline, the bird crouched up to it's belly in water anxiously looking around, several gulls went into the air, and what waders had been on Plover Scar were flying past, I looked to my right and there it was, a lumbering Osprey low over the water and flying south giving excellent views. 

As I got back to Plover Scar a couple of hours later, c.350 Golden Plover had assembled there. Butterflies seen, 2 Painted Lady, 4 Common Blue, c.25 Small Tortoiseshell, and uncounted but probably up to 50 Large White, with a Silver Y moth by Crook Cottage.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, probably 2,500 Lapwing on the sands off Colloway Marsh, a Greenshank, and 12 Little Egret were my only other notes. At Conder Green, there were 12 Little Grebe on Conder Pool, I found only 3 Common Sandpiper in the creeks here today.

Conder Pool Wednesday 17 August. 

I called in on Conder Pool yesterday, unable to drive past and ignore the place on my way back to Lancaster. I've no idea where they came from, but I was a little more than delighted to see the Avocet adult and juvenile fly into view through my binoculars to land straight out from the viewing platform in front of me. Also on the pool, an excellent 15 Little Grebe now on here. 


Little Grebe. Bob Bushell.


The build up to a double figure of Little Grebe on Conder Pool has happened early this year. I've not done a past records search beyond 2015 when they didn't start to increase from 5 in early September, to 8 on 11 Sept, and a double figure of 10 on 22 Sept, with 13 by the end of the month, they peaked for 2015 in my book at 18 on 16 October. 

Thanks to Callum for his Osprey, excactly the view I got of my bird on Tuesday, and to Bob for his Little Grebe, see their website Here    

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Last Push.

Probably my last visit up Clougha Pike this year, though I may just squeeze in one more before the end.


Stonechats. Gary Jones on Facebook

There was a little reward for the slog up here yesterday, with the sight of 3 Stonechat which were seen as a lone female on Clougha, and a male and single young on the top of Birk Bank, despite my hanging around a while I found no others with these two, though time and determination may well have uncovered more of a family group gone to ground.

I was well satisfied with the other 22 rewards - this is upland birding remember - with 11 Meadow Pipit, 4 Wheatear, 3 Red Grouse, 2 Raven went honking over, changing direction a couple of times, before flying east to soar over Clougha summit. Raptors seen, a Sparrowhawk, and about five Kestrel sightings were maybe all of the same bird. Butterflies were, 5 Red Admiral, 4 Painted Lady, 4 Peacock, and singles of Small Tortoiseshell and Meadow Brown.


Common Darter. Birk Bank 15 August. Pete Woodruff.

I looked over the bog on the way to Clougha, and called back five hours later on the way back down. In perfect sunny, hot, and very calm conditions both visits, I found up to 8 Common Darter including a pair in tandem ovipositing....


Black Darter. Birk Bank 15 August. Pete Woodruff.

....a male Black Darter....


Black Darter (female). Pete Woodruff.

....and what I think is a female Black Darter seen briefly on the board-walk in the small and poor quality picture above.

Thanks for the Stonechats Gary, much appreciated. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

12 August 2016.

No different than any other day in August, with nothing particularly glorious about it, and definitely not if you're a Red Grouse, or more tragically if you're a Hen Harrier, and as a birding day for me it was definitely nothing glorious as it was something of a repeat of Tuesday's birding though my list ended even shorter than it did that day. 

It was good to see the juvenile Avocet at rest on Conder Pool, though no sign of the adult. We're heading towards a double figure count with 9 Little Grebe on the pool, otherwise all was quiet, and I note the female Tufted Duck with four chicks on 29 July has never been seen since....Deja vu. 

I found 11 Common Sandpiper in the creeks and down the channel, and noted up to 8 House Martin around Cafe d' Lune with two nests still active. Despite the windy conditions I saw a Painted Lady, a Peacock, and a Speckled Wood along the coastal path.

As Tuesday the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was a virtual desert again, but I returned here a couple of hours later as the tide raced in and began to push a few waders into view to see up to 50 Redshank and similar Lapwing, 4 Dunlin and 2 Knot, one in winter plumage, the other retaining some fading summer red. Across the river I found an adult Mediterranean Gull, and was treated to a display by 2 Common Tern fishing over a pool which had obviously trapped small fry from the previous tide, these two birds were dipping into the pool, up and down like they were dangling from elastic bands....brilliant stuff.


Photo. Pete Woodruff.

I found this caterpillar along the coastal path at Glasson Dock....


Photo. Ian Kimber. 

....it's the larvae of the Cinnabar, a fairly common moth resembling no other British species excluding perhaps the Burnets. The Cinnabar has been introduced into New Zealand, Australia and North America to control poisonous ragwort, on which its larvae feed.

Thanks to Ian Kimber UK Moths for the image of the Cinnabar.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Short....But Very Sweet.

I didn't get very far on Tuesday, time didn't allow me to, but although it was very short, it was certainly very sweet, and I got far enough to see the lone surviving Conder Green Avocet had fledged, having found it with the adult feeding in the creeks before flying back to the pool twenty minutes later to send me into a state of elation. Wonderful stuff, all accounted for in yesterday's post 'The CP Avocets' below this one. 


Little Grebe Brian Rafferty  

Also on Conder Pool, another increase with 8 Little Grebe seen, also up to 120 Redshank and similar Lapwing accompanied by 8 Dunlin which aren't a particularly regular bird on the pool. In the creeks, 4 Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, 4 Little Egret, and the Goosander I'd seen last Saturday, I saw 2 Swift over during the visit. Though there was quite a stiff wind and cool with it, I found 4 Gatekeeper and a single Speckled Wood in a sheltered area off the coastal path.


Common Tern Martin Jump  

I didn't have much time for the Lune Estuary, but to be honest didn't need it as the area was a virtual desert with relatively few gulls and barely a wader in sight, though I did manage an adult Mediterranean Gull and 2 Common Tern which were both adult fishing the river and low tide channels.

A short birding trip, but definitely a very sweet Avocet one. 

Thanks to Brian/Martin for allowing some excellent photographic gloss to Birds2blog.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The CP Avocets.

Conder Pool. 20 May.

On Friday 20 May I found two Avocet on Conder Pool, initially I thought this was a first for Conder Green, but my memory being what it is, I discovered my records show that two came - but didn't stay - on Conder Pool Tuesday 3 June 2014 as the first record for the pool. 


Conder Pool. 20 June. Simon Hawtin  

This years pair soon became evident they were intent on breeding, and a month later on 20 June they were seen accompanied by four chicks. However, as could have been predicted, the following day I found only three chicks, a week later on 27 June I found just two, three more days later and it was down to one lucky survivor, all the result little doubt to predation and life on the edge for these ground nesting birds.


Conder Pool. 12 July.

So this one Avocet chick now needed all the luck it could have to survive and record Conder Pools newest breeding record to follow on from the excellent breeding record of the Common Terns for the third successive year here.


Conder Pool. 25 July. 

Survive it did and we were able to see the advance in the birds growth towards fledging, and 15 days after I took this photograph, yesterday 9 August, I did the Conder Green circuit having not found the Avocets on Conder Pool, as I walked along the A588 between the bridge and Stork Inn, I found the adult with the juvenile close by, both feeding in the creeks with their distinctive sweeping action of their bills through the mud, the juvenile Avocet had fledged and Conder Pool had reaffirmed it's claim to fame....I was elated. 

It's worth noting, this juvenile Avocet could possibly hold one of the longest hatch to fledging records of at least 50 days. 

Thanks to Simon for his record shot of the four Avocet chicks on Conder Pool 20 June....other pics are yours truly.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Ruff To Start With.

As I turned the corner at Conder Green yesterday, I saw everything up in the air over Conder Pool, soon followed by the sight of a Peregrine Falcon as the answer to the question....why. By the time I got myself onto the viewing platform everything had settled back down save the large number of Lapwing which had taken fright to the falcon to take refuge elsewhere.

Ruff with Redshank. Conder Pool 8 August. Pete Woodruff.

A Ruff appeared from the back side of the island before soon disappearing again. The Avocet adult and juvenile were seen, as where Saturdays 7 Little Grebe, 2 Dunlin were amongst up to 200 Redshank seen including c.50 in the creeks where I found 5 Greenshank, 4 Common Sandpiper, and 3 Little Egret with a Grey Heron noted for size comparison, a single Swift was over the creeks as was a female Sparrowhawk later. 

The Lune Estuary at low tide was virtually void of waders, with barely a hundred gulls to be seen, but an adult Common Tern was perched on a buoy, and at least 40 House Sparrow fed in the car park at the Vic Hotel.

I shot off down the A588 to walk Fluke Hall to Cockers Dyke and find a Wheatear along the way. Nothing exotic amongst the mainly c.90 Black-headed Gull at the dyke, but at least 1,500 Dunlin were feeding with 6 Sanderling, 2 Ringed Plover, and a solitary Knot.

With more suitable weather this walk can be good for butterflies, but today didn't go totally unrewarded, with 2 Painted Lady, 3 Common Blue, a Gatekeeper, and Red Admiral seen.

The Conder Pool Avocet.   

On the face of it, a mystery surrounds the juvenile Avocet on Conder Pool. I've not seen, nor seen any reports of this bird in flight, yet although my dates can't be accurate as we don't know when this bird hatched, give or take a couple of days, photographs and dates indicate the bird is now well beyond it's fledge date.

I had a conversation with a visiting birder yesterday, who offered me the only explanation I've had to date about this late fledging bird, he stood firm in his view that the bird has a poor diet on Conder Pool which has resulted in stunted growth, but when I first saw this juvenile alongside the adult bird yesterday, I initially thought - in relation to size - I was looking at two adult birds until I realised the markings were a dull brown - not black - on the young bird.

Whilst I respect this birders theory about the poor diet, I'm not convinced. I had this bird down to fledge at the earliest on 25 July, or 1 August at the latest which is a week ago, the bird is now at least 50 days old. I think what we have here isn't a mystery at all, it's simply a question of nobody having seen this bird on the wing yet.