Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A 'Little' Birding!

Little Grebe 13 Little Egret 11

Little Stint 1 Little Owl 0 

I had gone to Conder Green late morning before going back to Lancaster early afternoon. I saw the Kingfisher four times flying along/across Conder Pool where my best count this time was 13 Little Grebe, with 2 Common Sandpiper, a Ruff, and the customary Little Egret

Chiffchaff Warren Baker

Along the coastal path a bird took my eye in the bushes and had me jumping to attention....it was a Chiffchaff, another bird had the same effect on me....it was a Blue Tit, and another....it was a Robin....next time!!

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, the tide was racing in and I had the advantage of having what was around being pushed nearer to me on the south side though 3 Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank were initially distant, but eventually came closer. With 10 Little Egret, the build up of numbers here must be seen as an invasion of the species, but what a minute what's this then....its a Calidris minuta Little Stint....nice.

Little Owl.

I had seen a request on the LDBWS website last week for information on where to see Little Owl in the area. In replying to the request I had eventually arranged to meet John McTague in Lancaster at 1.30pm, John was down from Scotland visiting his parents. After a look in on Conder Pool and Glasson Dock we went to Cockersands in the hope of finding John's 'need to see' Little Owl which had been showing for me recently in the horse paddock at Bank Houses. Unfortunately the Little Owl wasn't playing the game and the object of the exercise was a failure. 

Good to see you John, hope to see you again sometime when you may have better luck with the Little Owl.

Little Owl Ana Minguez

The Little Owl isn't a native of Great Britain, and there is no conclusive evidence that one has ever reached here naturally. The species has been introduced here on several occasions - mostly unsuccessfully - and there is a suggestion that most of today's Little Owls are descended from birds brought from the Netherlands by one Lord Lilford during 1880-90. It is a scarce bird in Scotland - which is why John McTague wanted to see one today - with very few records north of the Forth/Clyde valley. Lack of records from the N Isles supports the sedentary nature of Little Owls, interestingly there are more records of Scops Owl than Little Owl in Shetland.

Thank you Warren/Ana....the photographs are brilliant.  

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Waders In On The Pool.

Conder Pool was looking decent late morning on Friday. As the tide came in it began to look even better when the waders were gradually pushed off the Conder and Lune Estuary, by the time I left at 1.00pm there was at least 80 birds present.

Ruff And Company. Pete Woodruff.

Two Common Sandpiper have it looking like we may have an extra one this winter at Conder Green, the 2 Ruff still remain here, 2 Spotted Redshank seen again, with 5 Greenshank, 3 Snipe, and 48 Redshank counted. A Kingfisher was on the outlet briefly, and the peak count of 14 Little Grebe were also present and correct again today, as were the two faithful Wigeon and a Little Egret. I saw c.60 Goldfinch over the marsh. Apologies for a repeat of my dodgy photographic efforts but couldn't resist having another shot at the Ruff. 

The Lune Estuary held too much tide for the waders to have returned but I did see 7 Ringed Plover hanging on to what little mud was uncovered. Three Little Egret seen, and a ringed Black-headed Gull could well have been 6CY seen here 1 September but was too distant to read this time.

I really should have missed out the visit to Cockersands with the clock against me, but in what short time I spent there, a Wheatear, 35 Linnet, and a Kestrel noted. 

A Stoat was ahead of the motor on Moss Lane, on the hunt and in search of a meal, and at one point did it's sit up and beg Meerkat impression.

If you plan a visit to Conder Green in early October, you might be interested in the road works sign in place at the end of the lay-by at Conder Pool. I have a feeling there may be restrictions to view the pool from the platform. 


Snow Bunting. Marc Heath.

Marc Heath reports 'Early Snow' at Reculver in Kent on Thursday 25 September. Thanks Marc....excellent images of this early bird.

Friday, 26 September 2014

In The Pink....

....and one or two other coloured birds, a butterfly, and a free ad for a magazine.

Pink-footed Geese Brian Rafferty

In a conversation with Gordon - a friendly birder from Heywood, Greater Manchester - we agreed that in 20 skeins a minimum of 3,000 Pink-footed Geese had been seen flying south over Cockersands in the course of Wednesday afternoon. Good to see you again Gordon, next time we meet I'll remember your name....promise.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, an adult and 1st winter Mediterranean Gull, the latter bearing an unreadable green ring on it's left leg....I hate unreadable rings on birds, they frustrate the hell out of me.

At Conder Green, one or two of the regulars/lingerers were on show, a Ruff, Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 14 Snipe, and a Little Egret. On Conder Pool 12 Little Grebe counted and a hovering Kestrel. Upstream of the A588 road bridge, the Kingfisher on one of its regular perches where I've seen it on three recent visits here.

Goldcrest. Copy Permitted.

On Sunday, 3 Goldcrest were seen together in the grounds of Nazareth House in Lancaster....

....and a Comma butterfly paid us a visit in the garden.

Must say I like the cover of the October Issue of Birdwatch....best get myself a copy!  

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

In Memorial.

I'm keeping this brief....it's best that way.

Two of the Bowland Hen Harriers - Sky and Hope - are missing presumed dead. Well....they didn't last long.

The RSPB have put out a press release in their usual polite and diplomatic style. But I'm not the RSPB and I'm not prepared to dress up all the facts, figures and news about the disappearance of these two young birds.

Please Sign The Petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting and perhaps we stand a better chance of riding the upland moors of these moronic medieval 'people' from the dark ages once and for all. 

All this needs to change and change quickly while we still have some wildlife left, but whilst mentally ill perverts derive pleasure from blasting birds out the sky in the name of sport and be prepared to pay thousands for the privilege....nothing will change.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Four And Six....Forty Six.

For a little added interest I decided to note all I encountered yesterday and reached forty six species. There's no doubt this figure doesn't constitute a 'World Record' but the choice birds of the forty six follow....

Ruff Jan Larsson  

At Cockersands the Curlew Sandpiper and the Ruff are always a nice find. A Whimbrel was the odd one out amongst the Curlew, and I saw two groups of Golden Plover, 150 were down at the caravan park end on the weed covered shingle and well camouflaged, and another 40 seen from Crook Farm, but I reckon this group numbered many more as the tide had dropped and the mud falls steeply down from here with birds out of view. I saw 3 Wheatear, uncounted Tree Sparrow were around Abbey Farm as were c.40 Linnet, and good numbers of Skylark were in stubble and in flight. I counted 112 Shelduck and 16 Eider off Plover Scar, and a Kestrel seen. The Little Owl was in view obviously having changed its habits and was perched in the bushes in Bank Houses horse paddock again. Forty two Pink-footed Geese over going south and c.250 Wigeon in the Cocker Estuary were both reminders of winters approach. A Silver Y moth seen.

The Lighthouse Keeper. Pete Woodruff.

I watched a Peregrine Falcon fly off the lighthouse, but I was surprised to find another one still there when I looked again. A dodgy 'clik the pik' is above, but the lighthouse is a good way out in the Lune Estuary....well that's my excuse!

The best notes I could make at Glasson Dock was c.90 Wigeon and c.150 Golden Plover. At Conder Green, a Ruff, and Spotted Redshank were in the creeks with 10 Snipe. The sum total on Conder Pool was fourteen birds, 10 Little Grebe, 2 Wigeon and 2 Tufted Duck. Around 40 Goldfinch were over the marsh.

Little Egrets on and around the Lune Estuary. 

Little Egret Antonio Puigg  

I found 40 Little Egret yesterday, including 21 on Cockerham Marsh/Cocker Estuary, with 13 at Glasson Dock, 4 at Cockersands, and 2 at Conder Green. 

Thanks to Jan and Antonio for today's excellent photographs. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

....and another PL.

On Friday Cockersands produced my second Painted Lady of the week/year, it was on the headland below Cockersands Abbey, also 5 Wheatear, 15 Skylark were in flight over a field with goodness knows how many more hidden in the stubble, and the Little Owl showed again at Bank Houses.

Oystercatcher. Brian Rafferty.

With little else to be found on Plover Scar, the uncounted Oystercatcher and Redshank soon had me feeling I should put some more purpose into my birding, so I counted at least 100 Herring Gull, 45 Wigeon, and 3 Eider off the scar. 

Snipe. Brian Rafferty.

Conder Green was at least looking a little decent, and the creeks were quite lively. Along with the regular/resident Redshanks and a Curlew or two, I found 2 Spotted Redshank both adult, 2 Ruff a 'little and large' duo, 4 Greenshank, 11 Snipe, and a Little Egret. On Conder Pool I counted 12 Little Grebe.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, a distant juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, an adult Spotted Redshank, and 10 Little Egret were all welcome sights at an otherwise quiet section of the River Lune.

Moorhen. Martin Lofgren.

Ten Moorhen seen on 9 September in the field adjacent to Bank House Cottage at Cockersands were noted again today, as always they were by the wide ditch which dried up weeks ago and had me wondering how these birds are coping as a species which indispensably requires ready access to at least a minimum of open fresh water. 

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for the Oystercatchers and Snipe, and to Martin Lofgren at Wild Bird Gallery for the Moorhen.  

Friday, 19 September 2014

PL Nearly Wins The Day.

 Painted Lady Warren Baker 

I found my first Painted Lady of the summer on Wednesday, it was on Corricks Lane at Conder Green and was set to take the 'Best Of The Day' award....

Stonechat Cockersands. Pete Woodruff. 

....but the PL took a knock for the top spot when I saw a bird silhouetted against the light atop of a bush at Cockersands, but it didn't take many seconds for me to make it out to be a brilliant male Stonechat and the butterfly had to make do with being knocked into second place....and I at least got a reasonable 'clik the pik' into the bargain.

Also at Cockersands, 8 Wheatear were seen in close proximity of each other along the headland, the Little Owl was sunning itself again in the bushes at Bank Houses horse paddock. I saw no more than 20 Linnet today compared to the 250 seen on Monday, 14 Eider were off Plover Scar. A Kestrel seen, and a Peregrine Falcon took me by surprise as it rose out of long grass along the headland only a few metres in front of me with prey in its talons and dropped out of sight again at the far side of the field.

A small build up of c.70 Wigeon, 30 Golden Plover, and 9 Little Egret was all I could find of note on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock.

Ruff/Redshank. Pete Woodruff.

Meanwhile back where I began with the Painted Lady at Conder Green, Ruff2 Spotted Redshank, a Common Sandpiper, the long saying lone Black-tailed Godwit, 14 Snipe, a Grey Wagtail and Little Egret were all in the creeks. On Conder Pool the build up continues with 14 Little Grebe now counted. I'm not aware of any location in our recording area where the number of this species comes near those on Conder Pool.

Yes, winter's around the corner, and two early Whooper Swan were reported over Heywood, Greater Manchester yesterday afternoon, and the berries are ready and waiting for the Fieldfare, Redwing, and maybe Waxwing at Conder Green.  

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Birdings Inspirations.

I never fail to find inspiration in my birding, sometimes by the bucketful, other times in small measure which perhaps is what my Mondays experience was.

Little Owl. Richard Pegler.

But finding a flock of at least 250 Linnet in the Abbey Farm/Cockersands Abbey area was good, I can't recall my last such number of Linnet, seeing a Little Owl in the bushes at Bank Houses horse paddock was my first here since 19 Nov 2013 and only the second one in four years, though I have a distinct feeling I may not have been looking in the right places.

 Whimbrel. Pete Woodruff.

I also found and succeeded in getting a half decent picture of a Whimbrel off Crook Cottage. These three sightings went some way to inspire me on Monday.

Wheatear. Richard Pegler.   

Also of note at Cockersands, 5 Wheatear, at least 30 Tree Sparrow around Bank House Cottage, where in excess of 100 Swallow were on the rooftop and around the cottage, 5 Little Egret were by the Cocker channel, and c.100 Golden Plover were off Crook Farm. Not for the first time this summer, the only butterfly of note was a single Red Admiral.

I have to confess, the Lune Estuary a Glasson Dock certainly did not inspire me, it was at the lowest tide I think I've ever seen there, with exposed areas I've never seen before either, yet over thirty minutes there was little that I could find to impress, with c.160 Golden Plover and 7 Little Egret all that found their way into the little black book.

Something of a brief visit to Conder Green produced a Ruff, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, and a Little Egret in the creeks. On a quiet Conder Pool, a peak count of 12 Little Grebe, and a Kingfisher was again flushed by bad fieldcraft upstream on the bends from the A588 road bridge.

The Conder Common Terns.

I've neither seen nor heard of the Common Terns from Conder Pool since they were last reported at Cockersands on Sunday 14 September. Hopefully they have departed the area and are safely on their journey south.

Thanks to Richard Pegler for the images. Richard takes classic photographs of the Little Owl as can be seen in the example above, and will see if you visit his website.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

In Response.

Until I get the time to do a write up on what I saw and didn't see yesterday, I thought you might be interested in reading this evasive and pathetic response to the petition to ban driven grouse shooting. 

I'm afraid it's a little lengthy and perhaps not everyone will last the course to read it but please try to so that you can see just how pathetic and evasive it really is from the office of DEFRA. You will see it mentions that four pairs of Hen Harrier have successfully bred in England in 2014. So instead of the English Hen Harrier breeding population being at 0.9% of its biological potential we now know that it is at 1.2% of its biological potentialWOW....how we should be joyful and celebrate.


Dear Peter Woodruff
The e-petition 'Ban driven grouse shooting' signed by you recently reached 16,828 signatures. As this e-petition has received more than 10,000 signatures, the relevant Government department have provided the following response....
It has been estimated that £250 million per year is spent on management activities that provide significant benefits for conservation. Shooting makes an important contribution to the rural economy. When carried out in accordance with the law, shooting for sport is a legitimate activity, and our position is that people should be free to undertake lawful activities should they wish to do so. Landowners are free to manage wildlife on their land, provided it is carried out appropriately and legally, in accordance with any the relevant wildlife legislation. Hen Harriers It is encouraging to learn that there are four Hen Harrier nests this year which have chicks, given that in 2013 there were no known Hen Harrier fledglings in England. Some of these fledglings will be tracked with satellite tags we have funded. The Uplands Stakeholder Forum Hen Harrier Sub-group was set up in 2012 with senior representatives from organisations best placed to take action to address the decline in Hen Harriers. These include Natural England, the Moorland Association, the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, the National Parks Authority and the RSPB. Defra welcomes the involvement of all parties. The Sub-group has developed a draft Joint Action Plan containing a suite of complementary actions intended to contribute to the recovery of the Hen Harrier population in England. We are working with Sub-group members to finalise the Plan. Illegal killing of birds of prey The killing of birds of prey is illegal, all wild birds being protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Anyone who kills or injures a wild bird is committing an offence and could face jail if convicted. Bird of prey persecution is one of the six UK wildlife crime priorities. The England and Wales Raptor Persecution Priority Delivery Group leads on action to address these crimes through prevention, intelligence and enforcement activity. The National Wildlife Crime Unit gathers intelligence on illegal activities affecting birds of prey, providing assistance to police forces when required. Earlier this year the Government confirmed that the Home Office and Defra would together provide funding until 2016, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to tackling wildlife crime. Alongside this, there have been successful conservation measures which have led to increases in Buzzard, Peregrine and Red Kite populations over the last two decades. Peatland In February 2013 we, along with the devolved administrations, made a statement of intent to protect and enhance the natural capital provided by peatlands in the UK. In September 2013 the Pilot Peatland Code was launched with the aim of promoting the restoration of UK peatland through business investment. It is intended that the Code will assure restoration delivers tangible benefits for climate change alongside other benefits such as restoring habitats for protected species and improving water quality. The last decade has seen increasing numbers of conservation initiatives (such as Nature Improvement Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest) many of which are focussed on peatland restoration in the UK. We are working with a wide range of partners on peatland restoration, including land owners and environmental NGOs. Rural Development Programme We are committed to helping create a more sustainable future for the English uplands, which are endowed with natural assets that are important for delivering a range of valuable “ecosystem services”, including food and fibre, water regulation, carbon storage, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities for health and well being. We will be investing over £3 billion in agri-environment schemes (Environmental Stewardship and its successor) in the next Rural Development Programme 2015-2020. Addressing loss of biodiversity will be a priority for the new Programme. In addition funding will look to maximise opportunities to deliver biodiversity, water quality and flooding benefits together. Defra is working with a wide range of interests to finalise scheme details in good time for 2015. 

This e-petition remains open to signatures and will be considered for debate by the Backbench Business Committee should it pass the 100,000 signature threshold.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Short Post.

Not a short post as in fence post, but a short post 'cos it was little more than an hour long wander along the coast at Rossall Point yesterday following one of those compromises with KT, that if we went to Fleetwood for any other reason it had to include the aforementioned wander for me to have my necessary birding fix.

Eventually 3 Wheatear were seen on the golf course, but better still was to follow when I picked out one of those brilliant little gems the Whinchat which instantly made my day....well it would wouldn't it.

Sanderling Martin Jump 

At least 130 Sanderling were on the shingle at high tide, with probably 50 Ringed Plover and similar Dunlin, with a 'few' Turnstone, all unmercifully disturbed by too many people with too many mutts running riot. But by now I was a happy man, I'd seen one of my most favourite of birds the Whinchat, and one of my most favourite waders the Sanderling....Thanks for the image Martin. 

Grey Seal Arkive 

As a bonus two Grey Seal were close inshore off the Observation Tower. 

If it's birds it doesn't take much to please me....and all I needed was an hour!!

The Conder Common Terns.

An adult feeding two juvenile Common Tern were reported at Cockersands yesterday, almost certainly the Conder Green birds.