Thursday, 24 April 2014

Another Trip Down The A588....

....and beyond to achieve a short list.

Black-tailed Godwit. Howard Stockdale.

According to Böðvar....on Monday only seven BTG had arrived in his area in NW Iceland, and on Tuesday there was still c.150 Black-tailed Godwit on Conder Pool including another ringed bird, but unfortunately they flew off before I could get to read it, they appear to be favouring a field on the far side of the canal. 

Also of note, 2 Spotted Redshank, a Common Sandpiper, and 2 Wigeon looking set to stay the summer here again. A Willow Warbler was in song from the coastal path. On the Lune Estuary, another c.250 Black-tailed Godwit, and c.90 Bar-tailed Godwit. From Bodie Hill I saw 5 Eider.

Linnet Warren Baker

Noted at Cockersands, the 14 April c.120 Linnet still in the Abbey Farm stubble, 6 Wheateara Stock Dove, and 2 Little Egret in the Cocker channel.

Swallow Astland Photography 

In all the areas I visited on Tuesday a trickle of Swallow went through, but probably didn't go beyond a total of fifty individuals.

Thanks to Howard for the BTG's, Warren for the Linnet, and Peter and Susan for the Swallow....All round excellent photography.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014



I wanted to do my bit to get this sickening story to as many people as possible, and as far around the world as is possible.

I have even more admiration than usual if I'm seeing a....'celebrity getting his hands dirty'....and this man has done himself proud on this one, and in my view a dangerous one too. But take note he says that for many years he has lobbied the UK's bird charities to campaign to raise awareness about the slaughter of migrant birds on Malta. And that he equally tried to stimulate television programme makers to cover the issue both without success, but no surprise there to me I should add.

Well done the television companies who take him on to present nature programmes, but wouldn't take him on with this much more powerfully important issue.....Read On 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A Bright Idea.

When KT came up with the suggestion we paid Leighton Moss a visit on Sunday, it sounded a bright idea. Well....Leighton Moss means birds and that's good enough for me, and much better than no birding at all.

Marsh Harrier. Brian Rafferty.

Everything we saw was predictable, but it was good to see 3 Marsh Harrier during the visit, and BR's images are excellent, giving typical views of the birds hunting over the reeds at Leighton Moss, also a couple of Buzzard sightings. Records are more often ones of the male Blackcap in song and up to eight were heard during the visit, but we had good views of two males and more unusual a female on one occasion. There was a 'few' Chiffchaff mainly heard, but much fewer Willow Warbler I noted.

On the way to the Lower Hide a Great-spotted Woodpecker and a brief male Bullfinch seen, also 9 Red Deer were resting quietly in the corner of a field. Of note at the hide, 11 Pochard, a 'few' Gadwall, and a Great-crested Grebe. Large numbers of Sand Martin with a few House Martin seen, all feeding high up.

In the Lillian Hide, large numbers of 'chattering' RSPB members taking a look at....'not much about'....following a few quid spent in the shop, and bowl of soup with a roll in the kaf. At the Grisedale Hide excellent views of a Garganey pair with a Raven doing a little loitering overhead.

Like I said....better than no birding at all!

Whimbrel. Brian Rafferty.

Calling in at Teal Bay in Morecambe yesterday I found 4 Whimbrel on the groyne at high tide just as I had thought I might.

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for the excellent trio of Marsh Harrier and Whimbrel.

Monday, 21 April 2014

The Turnstone And The BTG.

The Turnstone.

Turnstone. Howard Stockdale.

I was delighted to recieve this brilliant image from HS of the equally brilliant Turnstone on Plover Scar at Cockersands just a few days ago, where you can get up close to the waders at high tide. The Turnstone is one of the most attractive of waders in it's stunning breeding plumage, and a bird which is a common winter visitor to our area, and a passage migrant.

Most birds wintering here are from the Greenland and Canadian Arctic breeding populations. A view supported by examples of two birds which were ringed in Lancashire, one recovered in Greenland during the breeding season, the other seen in the Canadian Arctic, similarly, one ringed in the Canadian Arctic was seen at Seaforth in Liverpool.

However, Fennoscandian breeders occur in Britain in autumn, and move on to winter in West Africa, a claim supported by a bird ringed in Finland in 1973 was recovered 12 years later at Banks Marsh in 1985. But a Turnstone longer lived than this one was of a bird ringed in Liverpool in 1977, it was seen 16 years later at the very same location in Liverpool in 1993.

The BTG.

Seeing 700 Black-tailed Godwit last Thursday 17 April close up at Conder Green on the pool, and with two birds ringed as a bonus - with a total of 900 on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock later the same day - was one of those memorable moments which has made my interest in birds and birding the passion it has become today.

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

Ringed as a chick. OR-YYflag 06.07.12 Holt, Onundarfjordur, NW Iceland

OR-YYflag 02.10.12 Réserve Naturelle du Marais dYves,Yves Charente-Maritime,W France
OR-YYflag 25.10.12 Le platin, Aytre, Charante-Maritime,W France
OR-YYflag 02.11.12 Réserve Naturelle du Marais dYves,Yves,Charente-Maritime,W France
OR-YYflag 14.11.12 Réserve Naturelle du Marais dYves,Yves,Charente-Maritime,W France
OR-YYflag 27.12.12 Fort Royer,Saint-Pierre-d Oléron, Charente-Maritime, W France
OR-YYflag 01.01.13 Boyardville, Ile d Oléron, Charante-Maritme, W France
OR-YYflag 10.01.13 Fort Royer,Saint-Pierre-d Oléron, Charente-Maritime, W France
OR-YYflag 11.01.13 Fort Royer,Saint-Pierre-d Oléron, Charente-Maritime, W France
OR-YYflag 23.01.13 Fort Royer,Saint-Pierre-d Oléron, Charente-Maritime, W France
OR-YYflag 26.01.13 Fort Royer,Saint-Pierre-d Oléron, Charente-Maritime, W France
OR-YYflag 29.01.13 Fort Royer,Saint-Pierre-d Oléron, Charente-Maritime, W France
OR-YYflag 03.03.13 Marais de Landes,Saint Loup, Charente-Maritime, W France
OR-YYflag 14.03.13 Cabane Rouge, Hiers-Brouage, Charente Maritime, W France
OR-YYflag 31.07.13 East Flood, Oare Marshes, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 07.08.13 Oare Marshes, East Flood, Swale Estuary, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 11.08.13 Oare Marshes, East Flood, Swale Estuary, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 15.08.13 Oare Marshes, East Flood, Swale Estuary, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 26.08.13 Oare Marshes, East Flood, Swale Estuary, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 27.08.13 Oare Marshes, East Flood, Swale Estuary, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 30.08.13 Oare Marshes, East Flood, Swale Estuary, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 17.09.13 Oare Marshes, East Flood, Swale Estuary, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 23.09.13 Oare Marshes, East Flood, Swale Estuary, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 24.09.13 Oare Marshes, East Flood, Swale Estuary, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 26.09.13 Oare Marshes, East Flood, Swale Estuary, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 03.10.13 Oare Marshes, East Flood, Swale, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 09.10.13 Oare Marshes, East Flood, Swale, Kent, SE England
OR-YYflag 14.04.14 Glasson Dock,Lune Estuary,Lancashire,NW England. Pete Woodruff.
OR-YYflag 17.04.14 Conder Pool, Conder Green, Lancashire, NW England. Pete Woodruff.

Ringed as a chick. OR-GYflag 06.07.12 Ytri Lambadalur, Dyrafjordur, NW Iceland

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, Lancashire, NW England
OR-GYflag 17.04.14 Conder Pool, Conder Green, Lancashire, NW England. Pete Woodruff.

Dyrafjord. Photo Böðvar.

Onundarfjord. Photo Böðvar.

Both these images were taken yesterday 20 April, and are close to where the Black-tailed Godwits are ringed in NW Iceland. I am grateful to Böðvar for supplying me with the histories of this remarkable wader and for the photographs with such speed.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

As if....

....I had nothing better to do I got my fourth days birding in a row on Thursday, what's the world coming to I ask myself.

There's nothing particularly good about Conder Pool at the moment in that it's basically a lake with a couple of sunken islands, a large grassy area at the eastern end, and a grassy bank along the back edge and little to attract the waders. But as if to contradict all this, when I arrived there again on Thursday there was a minimum of 700 Black-tailed Godwit, add to this figure the beauty of this elegant tall wader in it's summer finery and boy was this a sight for sore eyes.

When the excitement died down with me I also noted the 2 Spotted Redshank progressing into their summer 'black as the devils waistcoat' plumage as my old mentor JL called it, also 2 Common Sandpiper, a Great-crested Grebe still here, and a few Swallow and Sand Martin hawking.

Turnstone. Plover Scar. Cockersands. Howard Stockdale.

At Cockersands I decided to travel light and just don my bino's - a mistake I nearly always avoid making - and got to Plover Scar to find a selection of waders - uncountable with any accuracy in a cold in your face howler - but would suggest,  60 Turnstone,  90 Dunlin,  and a 'few' Ringed Plover. On the round I counted 9 Wheatear,  c.80 Golden Plover in an Abbey Farm field, saw a single Skylark, a Stock Dove, and Reed Bunting.

Reed Bunting Marc Heath 

On the Lune Estuary three hours after the high tide I estimated an all time record of up to 900 Black-tailed Godwit had assembled here, and noted none on Conder Pool on my way home. Also - with estimates rounded off - 150 Redshank, 50 Dunlin, 50 Knot, 30 Bar-tailed Godwit and a solitary Goldeneye. And on the canal basin, a pretty even mix of c.60 Sand Martin and Swallow hawking. 

I'm grateful as ever to Howard for the excellent image of a stunning long distance migrant the Turnstone on Plover Scar at Cockersands, and to Marc for his equally excellent image of the Reed Bunting. 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Birding Limited.

Birding by halves I'm afraid, but it was better than no birding at all, and this wider area - Yellow Wagtail territory - has to be given the full treatment sooner rather than later and that's my intention, but meanwhile....With my time limited on Wednesday I thought I'd give the River Lune a visit and first called briefly at Bull Beck where I had found five Little Ringed Plover last year in a short distance upstream from here but found none today. 

I have no idea what numbers are to be expected in this section of the River Lune, but there appears to be a healthy colony of Sand Martin in mid April this year, a Dipper flew downstream, with 3 Goosander seen. I heard 2 Blackcap, a Chiffchaff, and saw a distant soaring Buzzard.

Down the River Wenning from Hornby, and up the River Lune for no more than a mile from the confluence. I had excellent views of a singing male with a female Blackcap, two Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 4 Reed Bunting, a good number of Sand Martin around but no sign of a colony though I didn't reach Lloyne Bridge, a single Swallow, 2 Common Sandpiper, and 11 Goosander.

White Wagtail Jakob Sigurosson 

Pied Wagtail Simon Hawtin 

On the edge of a flood in the field at the confluence a White Wagtail was conveniently accompanied by a Pied Wagtail which gave an excellent opportunity to take note of the details of plumage variation of the two. 

Many thanks to Jakob and Simon for the White/Pied Wagtail images.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Mellow Yellow.

Donovan....Scottish singer/songwriter 1967.

A proper day on Tuesday, with wall to wall sun and the wind dropped off nicely, all this dictated that I should leg it to Glasson Dock via Aldcliffe,Stodday, and Conder Green which turned out to be another....'Well that was a good idea Mr Woodruff', and I managed 52 species along the way, most notable of which follow....

Yellow Wagtail Marc Heath 

Bird of the day was on the flood at Aldcliffe and was a stunning Yellow Wagtail which was in the company of at least 10 White Wagtail.

Little Ringed Plover Antonio Puigg 

I was also well pleased to find 7 Little Ringed Plover, three of which were also on the flood. 

Onward....and I saw/heard 10 Chiffchaff, 4 Blackcap, and - disappointingly - just one Willow Warbler, but at least it represented my first of the year. Other notables were, a Gadwall pair on the wildfowlers pools, with Little Egret and 10 Swallow on the route.

I had little time for anything too time consuming at Conder Green - you know about the bus don't you - but noted 2 Spotted Redshank, and a Common Sandpiper. A Great-crested Grebe on Conder Pool is anything but usual and I don't recall my last one seen on here. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock a good number of Black-tailed Godwit were obvious despite no time to linger, as were 3 Goldeneye, and 4 Eider.

Brimstone Warren Baker  

Best butterfly was the fly by Brimstone, and though I made no notes on butterflies I saw single figures of Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock.

Thanks to Marc, Antonio, and Warren for three brilliant and much appreciated images.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

And The Winner Is!

Black-tailed Godwit/Knot Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff.

When I arrived at Conder Green yesterday morning I was met by the amazing sight of what resulted in a count of 610 Black-tailed Godwit on Conder Pool. I haven't searched my records yet, but I recall arriving at the pool one morning in March a few years ago to estimate a mix of 1,000 Black-tailed Godwit and Knot, a few of which are in the above poor quality image. I don't remember the ratio on that occasion, but think the number of BTG was slightly less than yesterdays. One record for sure, I never saw Knot on Conder Pool before or since this date. 

There are now 2 Common Sandpiper at Conder Green along with 2 Spotted Redshank, up to 8 Sand Martin were over the pool, and a Dunnock was in song by the viewing platform.

Swallow Simon Hawtin  

At Cockersands, at least 10 Swallow over in singles during my visit, 3 Wheatear, last Thursdays 120 Linnet again in stubble, 4 Skylark, and c.200 Golden Plover in flight like rockets over the fields then out of view. On Plover Scar at high tide, a mere eighteen waders, 12 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, and singles of Turnstone, Redshank, and Oystercatcher.

And at Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary on the falling tide, c.220 Black-tailed Godwit were almost certainly part of the earlier Conder Pool flock, c.60 Bar-tailed Godwit, c.450 Redshank, a drake Red-breasted Merganser, and 4 Greylag at the Conder mouth. Off Bodie Hill I counted 12 Eider and 3 Goldeneye.

The Spotted Flycatchers are coming and will probably be somewhere to the south of your house anytime soon!

Spotted Flycatcher Astland Photography    

Thanks to Simon and Peter and Susan for the brilliant images.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Starting At The End.

Friday followed 12 March for being a good day to get myself back to Bowland with some long sunny spells on offer.

Surprised to find it was 11 months since last on Harrisend Fell on 7 May 2013, and having found no Stonechat there I abandoned any hope of their return there for another year, I started off there on Friday. The bad news is that I again found none, another visit there in May with the same result and I will abandon Harrisend once again as another year the Stonechat didn't return. Whilst on Harrisend I counted at least 28 Meadow Pipit, 4 Linnet, 3 Raven, a Buzzard, Kestrel, and 5 Peacock butterflies.

Fellside Farm at the foot of Hawthornthwaite Fell. Pete Woodruff.

With other plans in mind I gave Hawthornthwaite a look over the bottom half and found the pair of Stonechat seen here a month ago on 12 March, so a little hope of some breeding here with the one pair at least. Also into the little black book, 10 Meadow Pipit, a Wren, 3 Red Grouse, a Buzzard, with Curlew, Lapwing, and Oystercatcher noted, and 2 Peacock.

A wander for a couple of hours from Marshaw to Tower Lodge gave 4 Grey Wagtail to brighten things upon the Wyre, smart birds and a close second to the Yellow Wagtail. Also of note, 2 Jay, a Coal Tit, and another Peacock was the sum total for my efforts. Calling in at Abbeystead on the way to Lancaster to see if the Brambling might still be around I saw a nice Song Thrush collecting a beak full of worms and obviously breeding close by. 

Some excellent news gratefully recieved from my man in Bowland with 8 Stonechat seen at Langden on Friday, and 2 pairs at Croasdale yesterday. It was good to see Eric, Andrew, and Nicole out and about in Bowland on Friday.

Dipper. John Darbyshire.

The River Wyre.

As on the 12 March, I noted no Dipper seen on the Marshaw Wyre again today.

The River Wyre is located in the county of Lancashire and joins the Irish Sea at Fleetwood. The river is 22 miles long and is the longest river in England it's estuary can be seen from its source in the Forest of Bowland. I have only seen a small section of the river today in the Marshaw/Tower Lodge area, but throughout the rivers length it is a mix of fresh and salt water and is home to a varied population of fish including barbel, eels, perch, roach, sea trout and salmon. A wide selection of trees grow along the banks of the River Wyre including ash, oak, hazel and willow, it is also home to some rare plants and animals and is designated as a County Biological Heritage Site. 

Thanks to Noushka for the Jay, and to John for the Dipper.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Seek And Ye Shall Find.

Well you may not always find, but on this occasion I did eventually. 

Wheatear Cockersands 10 April. Pete Woodruff.

I raked about at Cockersands for 3.5 hours yesterday, and it was 2.5 hours before I decided to turn off the road to take the Abbey Farm track and check out the stubble field and dung heap, and hey, what a good idea that turned out to be. So the Wheatear isn't some mythical creature after all 'cos I didn't just find the one in my pic - never photographic excellence my pics - but two. Not many minutes later in the adjoining stubble field I found up to 120 Linnet, an excellent count for the species in our area. Also of note, 2 Swallow, 10 Meadow Pipit, and singing Skylark. I estimate up to 150 'swans' in the distant fields and with only my secondary bino's round my neck I reckon the vast majority Mute Swan but a 'few' Whooper Swan still here, I must try to get to grips with figures next visit.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, by recent comparison low number of c.40 Black-tailed Godwit and 28 Bar-tailed Godwit, with just one female Goldeneye seen, and as if to turn my suggestion on its head....'scarce in this area of the River Lune as viewed from the bowling green'....8 Eider seen today. Fifteen Sand Martin were seen as ten over the canal basin, and five flying up the River Lune.

Conder Pool held the wonderful sight of 195 Black-tailed Godwit quietly resting in the far west corner, 2 Spotted Redshank and a Common Sandpiper were in the creeks. 

And finally....a little picture gallery for your entertainment.

Osprey. Howard Stockdale.

I've 'missed' at least four birds I'd very much liked to have seen recently at Cockersands, like this Osprey seen flying over the Whooper Swans off Moss Lane....

Marsh Harrier. Howard Stockdale. 

  ....and this Marsh Harrier, also seen recently in the Crook Farm area at Cockersands. Thanks for the images Howard....excellent.

And I thought you might like to know, Mrs Mutt has decided the marshes in the Conder/Glasson area are good for exercising the mutts. This woman has eight dogs with her on this occasion, though that doesn't look like the count in this pic. 

Incidentally, yesterday I saw another walkies outfit a mile out on the sands off Cockersands Abbey walking south towards the Cocker, this person had 18 mutts in her charge. I assumed she was aware of the tide table, even three hours prior to high tide and none of them would have got back across the Cocker Channel and would have been trapped on the sands.