Birds2blog

BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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PLOVER SCAR & COCKERSAND LIGHTHOUSE. PETE WOODRUFF.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Just Cockersand.

Two hours either side of the high tide on Monday I concentrated on Cockersand, though I did see the Spotted Redshank at Conder Green as I drove through, to record the bird for something like the 75th time since it's return here on 12 September 2016. 

There was probably little more than 120 Whooper Swan left at Cockersand on Monday, with 330 of my best wintering estimate of a steady 450 having presumably moved northwards. Waders on Plover Scar at high tide amounted to 193 birds, 110 Dunlin, 58 Oystercatcher, 10 Turnstone, 8 Redshank, 4 Ringed Plover, and 2 Knot, a lone Grey Plover was the quality bird. 

A Buzzard was overhead by Cockersand Abbey being mobbed by a Carrion Crow, and in Bank Houses horse paddock, White Wagtail and at least 3 Tree Sparrow.


Wheatear Brian Rafferty  

The stubble field left off Slack Lane towards the Lighthouse Cottage was quite active and held my first smart male Wheatear, a flock of up to 100 flighty finches eventually came down to reveal with some difficulty c.80 Twite and 15 Linnet, also c.50 Meadow Pipit, a few Pied Wagtail, and at least one Skylark, c.800 Golden Plover were settled in the field behind the stubble, and 2 Goldcrest were in the line of Willows with a Wren seen. Butterflies of the day were, 4 Small Tortoiseshell and a Peacock.  

Monday, 27 March 2017

Good Friday!!

A decent day, topped by the smart male Lapland Bunting at Cockersand....Good Friday. 

In the same flooded field I saw at least 25 Pied Wagtail and 15 Meadow Pipit, with one extra bird making up 5 Shoveler today, also 24 Lapwing, 14 Teal, and 3 Redshank. Up to 80 Twite were flighty in the cover crop by Lighthouse Cottage, 55 Black-tailed Godwit were over going south, c.270 Whooper Swan in a more compact group now than they've been all winter is an indication that some have left the area, and I saw 4 Small Tortoiseshell along the headland.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, little more than 80 Black-tailed Godwit , with 2 Knot and 150 Redshank to note, 3 Buzzard were soaring high over Colloway Marsh. Conder Pool could be described as dull, with 13 Tufted Duck , 2 Canada Geese , and the pair of Lesser Black-backed Gull loafing around and domineering Tern Island. On a wander, the Spotted Redshank was in the creeks, the Grey Wagtail was by the iron bridge, and I found 4 Goldcrest from the coastal path.

On the way back to Lancaster, a Buzzard flew over the A588 at the entrance to Lancaster Golf Club. 

The spider.



I don't think the fact this spider was on the bonnet of my car yesterday had any photographic disadvantages, but that it was taken in brilliant sunlight has certainly burnt out body detail. The best I can come up with is a female Philodromus dispar, but I could be way off the mark there for all I know .... maybe someone could put me out of my misery.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Cockersand Delivers....Again.

The flooded field by the junction of Moss Lane/Slack Lane has looked good for a few weeks now, and I've never failed to give it a serious grilling on every visit to Cockersand, it turned up a couple of White Wagtail recently, and in themselves even the Shoveler's are a decent record there.

Yesterday I set myself up at the metal gate and decided to be a better birder for once by making an effort to count the bird's present in the field. Not long after starting the exercise, I glimpsed a bird instantly not a Meadow Pipit of which there was a good number, the bird flew, but I had already muttered to myself what I was certain I had seen....but where's the bloody thing gone to. My lucky day, and it was soon relocated and I kept my eyes glued to the scope whilst making a call to make sure I wasn't going to be the only observer of this bird and to get the news out.


Male Lapland Bunting. Cockersand 24 March Chris Batty. 

Lapland Bunting 1.25 miles SW of Glasson in flooded field by junction of Moss Lane/Slack Lane, Cockersand SD433541 at 1.15pm....The bird was still there at 6.20pm.

I'm grateful to CB for the video-grab he sent to me. 

Friday, 24 March 2017

At Last!

A week since my last outing, I finally had an opportunity for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon with some business dealt with in Lancaster by 2.00pm. I decided to have a walk through the parish of Aldcliffe, nothing too serious, in fact just a walk in a straight line from Keyline to Aldcliffe Hall Lane and not giving the area full justice, then home via the canal to Ashton Road....All very good for my soul.

As I walked along St Georges Quay, a Sparrowhawk put everything in sight on the wing, never fails to amaze me how a hundred birds - sometimes thousands - can sense a threat from a raptor and take to the air in sync. Freeman's Pools showed 3 Goldeneye, 3 Teal, 8 Tufted Duck, and a Little Grebe to note. En-route to Aldcliffe Hall Lane, 5 Chiffchaff, 5 Goldcrest, 4 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Song Thrush, and 2 Great Tit, with 32 Wigeon around the Wildfowlers Pool, and the wintering Greenshank conveniently in the nearest pool to the gate overlooking the marsh.

Over the afternoon I counted 16 Blackbird, and along the canal c.50 Meadow Pipit were flighty over a field. I heard another Chiffchaff, and heard a Nuthatch at the gate to Piccadilly Garden Centre. 

Little Owl. Lancaster Canal 23 March. Pete Woodruff.

I saw 'Gary Barton's' Little Owl, two actually and can't imagine how long ago it was since I could report a sighting of Little Owl let alone two together, scarce and heading towards rare in our area. 

The photograph I managed stands at the lower end of the poor scale, but shows plumage colour variation between these two, the bird on the left in shadow has a greyer look compared to the one on the right which is rufous brown, though here looks burnt out in the sunlight, but the size difference is noticeable, with the left bird much smaller and with a slim upright appearance as opposed to the dumpy little bird we're acquainted with which is presumably down to attitude, any non-birder seeing these would have thought they were two different species of owl.  

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A Grand Day Out.

Children from North Yorkshire will soon be enjoying a special conservation experience on grouse moors with the British Association for Shooting & Conservation thanks to funding from North Yorkshire Police.


Moorland Heather. Pete Woodruff.
A grant from the Police Property Fund will enable hundreds of youngsters between the ages of six and eleven to take part in experience days which will see them visiting the North York Moors, helping with conservation tasks and learning about habitat and wildlife unique to the region.  The police have been keen to support BASC's application with one of the funds largest ever grants which will provide an unforgettable experience for youngsters, and will allow them to find out all about life on the moors through the eyes of a local gamekeeper....well that'll be riveting.

I don't have the time to add much else to this short post, but there are lots of good chuckles to be had out of it, perhaps the best one's I had was that maybe they will be intending to help identify the various traps they set to catch/kill anything that gets caught in them, help the kids to identify the dead animals they come across on their days on the moors, perhaps tell them about the damage caused by the burning of heather, and even educate them on the 'conservation' connection between the gamekeeper, the Red Grouse and the Hen Harrier.

The BASC....Educating the kids on Wildlife and Conservation....Mmmmm!

I'd sooner be birding, but no doubt you've gathered I haven't been lately.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Marked BTG.

It's been a disappointing winter for me with regards to finding marked birds, I've had few chances to get close enough to the huge herd of Whooper Swans spending the entire winter at Cockersand, and getting close to any Pink-footed Geese hasn't happened. But it was excellent that just a half dozen of the 1,750 Black-tailed Godwit seen on Tuesday on the Lune Estuary at Glasson, had come to feed close in from my viewpoint at the bowling green the following day for me to find one of the birds was marked.

The photograph of the Black-tailed Godwit below is courtesy of my man in Iceland who had sent me this copy last year when there was some confusion about a bird I'd found, the picture resulted in the confusion being resolved. Now I've seen this bird again on Tuesday, it was my fifth sighting of OR-GYflag which will be 5 years old come July this year.

OR-GYflag in Iceland. Böðvar Þórisson. 


Quite amazing that I've seen this bird on the Lune Estuary for five consecutive years from 2013 since it was ringed at Ytri Lambadalur, Dyrafjordur, NW Iceland in 2012, and was able to read the combination on every occasion.

OR-GY = Orange ring over Red ring left leg Green ring over Yellow flag right leg

OR-GYflag 07.07.12 Ytri Lambadalur, Dyrafjordur, NW Iceland
OR-GYflag 28.02.13 Sunderland Point, Morecambe Bay, Lanc's, NW England
OR-GYflag 14.04.13 Cockersand, Lune Estuary, Lanc's, NW England. Pete Woodruff
OR-GYflag 17.04.14 Conder Pool, Conder Green, Lanc's, NW England. Pete Woodruff
OR-GYflag 25.04.14 Holt, Önundarfjörður, NW Iceland
OR-GYflag 27.04.14 Holt, Önundarfjörður, NW Iceland
OR-GYflag 09.08.14 Leighton Moss, Lancashire, NW England 
OR-GYflag 09.09.14 Allen Pools, Leighton Moss, Lanc's, NW England
OR-GYflag 22.10.14 Leighton Moss, Lancashire, NW England 
OR-GYflag 10.04.15 Cockersand, Lune Estuary, Lanc's, NW England. Pete Woodruff
OR-GYflag 27.04.15 Grafarvogur, Reykjavík, SW Iceland
OR-GYflag 25.02.16 Cockersand, Lune Estuary, Lanc's, NW England. Pete Woodruff
OR-GYflag 23.01.17 Sunderland Point, Lune Estuary, Lanc's, NW England
OR-GYflag 14.03.17 Glasson, Lune Estuary, Lanc's, NW England. Pete Woodruff


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Garden Birds.

A Dunnock was in full song in our garden yesterday, five minutes later I saw some display between two birds.

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Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve.

If you're planning a visit to Foulshaw Moss you should note that it will be closed from Monday 20 March for two weeks for refurbishment to the entrance from the A590 and replacement of the viewing platform.

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for the header image. Not every day you get the opportunity to see let alone achieve an excellent photograph of a Bittern.

Friday, 17 March 2017

A Little Routine....

....with nothing 'new in' to talk about, save a White Wagtail on the flood at Cockersand, one of which I had seen here on Tuesday. Also on the flood, 26 Pied Wagtail, 4 Meadow Pipit, a Skylark, a pair of Shoveler, and 2 Dunlin. Up to 900 Golden Plover were in an Abbey Farm field, and 12 Tree Sparrow at Bank Houses was the best count I've had at Cockersand since I don't know when. On Plover Scar at high tide, 213 waders seen, 135 Turnstone, 68 Oystercatcher, 5 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, a single Knot and Golden Plover. I put in a bit more of a determined effort to count today to arrive at 460 Whooper Swan at Cockersand, not an easy task with birds spread across fields from behind Crook Farm all the way south to Bank End. 

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson, a much reduced number of 650 Black-tailed Godwit, with 2 Eider my only other notes, though I sifted twice through a couple of hundred gulls to find nil of note amongst them. 

Spotted Redshank 15 March. Pete Woodruff.

At Conder Green, the Spotted Redshank is showing signs of plumage change, and 10 Black-tailed Godwit came down on to the marsh from the estuary as I viewed Conder Pool, which showed the Common Sandpiper waiting for the relatives to turn up in the coming weeks, 2 Little Grebe were also showing signs of summer plumage, with 2 Goosander and a Little Egret present. 

Stonechat.

I was grateful for the e-mail from JW to tell me of two pairs of Stonechat at Littledale on Sunday....thanks John, and when I saw PR at Conder Green on Wednesday, I appreciated him passing the news on to me about 6 Stonechat he had seen at Harrisend recently....Much appreciated Peter, I'm well overdue a visit, and time to get up there myself.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

BTG's....

....top of the pop's for me again on the Lune Estuary.

It was good to find the godwits in good number on the Lune Estuary at Glasson again yesterday, but on my first visit as the tide raced in counting was difficult, they were seen in four groups, one at the Conder mouth was particularly hard to get to grips with, they were a distance, packed tight and deep. But on a return three hours after the high tide, life was made easier as the birds were feeding and more strung out, it was an interesting exercise, and the estimate was of at least 1,750 Black-tailed Godwit. Also of note, 3 Knot, 2 Red-breasted Merganser drakes, and 3 Eider were my first here since five on 27 June 2016.

I only had a brief look in on Conder Pool yesterday to find 17 Tufted Duck, a pair of Shoveler, and a single Snipe, a Kestrel was hovering close by.

 
Kestrel Jeremy Lane. Pete Woodruff.

I saw 4 Kestrel on Jeremy Lane, they were seen as two pairs within a few hundred metres of each other and quite an unexpected record.

I'm sticking with my figure of c.450 Whooper Swan still present at Cockersand, though yesterday they had fragmented even more, with birds west of Thursland Hill, and at Clarkson's, Tomlinson's, and Crook Farm fields. It was good to find a female Stonechat on the shore at Lighthouse Cottage, with another 1,500 Golden Plover spectacle at Abbey Farm along with 18 Redshank, and a few uncounted Dunlin, 4 Linnet were in the cover crop. A pair of Shoveler were again with Teal in the flooded field, 3 Pied Wagtail and a single White Wagtail for comparison, c.120 Turnstone were on Plover Scar at high tide, and a Sparrowhawk was over Bank Houses. 

White Wagtail. Pete Woodruff.  

....but no Wheatear yet.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

The Non-Starter.

We had a 'numbers' first on Friday when 3 Siskin visited our garden, all males on the same feeder, excellent....But little did I know that these three were going to be birds of the day as I set off from home on my birding trip around the Lune Estuary, which turned out to be something of a non-starter.

But I must have foreseen the lack of quantity if not quality I was going to have today when I arrived at Conder Pool, which has once again become more a lake than a pool, with little to attract the waders, so to make sure I had something in the book I decided to note every bird I saw, all 55 of 'em....12 Wigeon, 10 Oystercatcher, 10 Black-headed Gull, 9 Tufted Duck, 8 Mute Swan, 3 Shelduck, 2 Mallard, and a Goosander. In the creeks, the Common Sandpiper and a single Little Grebe.

On the Lune Estuary, a Spotted Redshank that could have been the Conder Green bird which I hadn't seen there today, but I last saw a Spotted Redshank at both Conder Green and the Lune Estuary on 3 February. Also, 550 Black-tailed Godwit were well down on Tuesdays count of c.2,250, 3 Goldeneye were seen, but the big surprise was a Peacock butterfly west. 


Whooper Swan. Pete Woodruff.

Separated from the wintering swan herd at Cockersand, 45 Whooper Swan were in a field by Tomlinson's Farm, and the recently seen 4 Shoveler were again in the flooded field at the junction of Moss/Slack Lane.

With five hours and the ground covered, I reckon I'm in the relegation zone and heading for the bottom of the league now after this result!!....but that's birdin in'it.

Coming Soon.


Common Tern. Conder Pool 2016. Pete Woodruff.

A pair of Common Tern arrived on Conder Pool Friday 6 May last year and went on to breed there successfully for the third consecutive year, hopefully 2017 will be the fourth.

Avocet. Conder Pool 2016. Pete Woodruff.

A pair of Avocet arrived on Conder Pool Friday 20 May 2016, they too went on to breed successfully, though unfortunately only one young from four survived. This was a first record for Conder Pool, lets hope 2017 will be the second.

Thanks to MH for his brilliant drake Gargany header....Much appreciated Marc.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Day Of The Godwit.

Black-tailed Godwit. Lune Estuary 29 April 2016. Pete Woodruff.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock on Tuesday, an arrival in style when my count came to at least 2,250 Black-tailed Godwit, a spectacular sight with some of the males standing out in their well advanced bright orange-rufous breeding plumage even at the distance. This count exceeds mine or any other previous counts at this location, including WeBS counts for the Lune Estuary.

Also mingling with the BTG's I could pick out a few Knot and Dunlin, with 6 Goldeneye, a drake Red-breasted Merganser and a pair of Goosander were also of note....The Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper with 3 Little Grebe were all on show in the creeks at Conder Green, and 3 Goosander were on Conder Pool.

At Cockersand, the swan herd was tighter grouped than it has been for several weeks now and was off Moss Lane in fields to the west of Thursland Hill, a report on Sunday came up with a count of 538 Whooper Swan. I found two parties of 11 Bewick's Swan off Slack Lane, seen as 4 adult and 7 juvenile. From the four seen here recently, I saw just the one pair of Shoveler today, also in the flooded field 16 Pied Wagtail noted, and some flighty finches seen in the Lighthouse Cottage area, were almost certainly the c.60 Twite from the rough field behind Bank House Cottage in recent weeks. In Bank Houses horse paddock, 10 Blackbird, 3 Tree Sparrow, a singing Dunnock, Robin, a male Chaffinch, 6 Wood Pigeon, and 2 Collared Dove.  

Further Afield.



Though Stonechat migration may well have taken off in our area, there's been little of any note on the migrant front at PBO yet, though I found a pulse of 10 Stonechat interesting and reported as new there on Tuesday. 

A quote from the website yesterday 8 March....'bird-wise there wasn't a single worthwhile sighting logged on the day-sheet'.