Thursday, 17 September 2020

Scratching The Surface.

Tip of the iceberg stuff in the expanse that is the Forest of Bowland, where we'll never know the true picture on the status of birds, in particular my very own favourite. 

trip up the west and east sides of Hawthornthwaite Fell earlier in the week, had my tally reaching 41 Stonechat at three locations visited in Bowland over 19 days. On the west side, 4 Stonechat, at least 80 Meadow Pipit and 4 Red Grouse. Butterflies seen, 16 Red Admiral, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, a Peacock and Comma.

Something of a surprise was a grounded racing Pigeon which was found to be marked, Pink left, White right. Enquiries with a neighbouring pigeon fancier about my find, indicated the colour combination was of a bird ringed in England. The bird was a smart individual with immaculate plumage, it appeared to be in good health and was feeding on heather seed.

On the east side of Hawthornthwaite, 4 Stonechat, a lone Meadow Pipit and 5 Red Grouse. Butterflies, 10 Small Tortoiseshell, a Red Admiral and Peacock. A Stoat ran across the grit track ahead of me. 

As I got to the gate to go back out and on to the Trough Road at Marshaw, I had a fleeting glimpse of two small butterflies between the canopies of two large Oaks. Purple Hairstreak surely?....but I don't record possible/probable.  

The Spider.

I watched this Garden Spider spinning its web as one of the endless wonders of the natural world for us all to see, the energy and determination of this creature fascinated me. In the present climate we find ourselves in, I had 84 secs of chilling out therapy in my own garden. 


Sunday, 13 September 2020


I've spent endless hours engrossed in birding at Cockersand, often there until dusk and beyond, and occasionally got drenched in a downpour with nowhere to hide. I always had my camera to hand for the scenery if not for the birds. 


With birds to be discovered, Cockersand sits on the chart in my book as the best in our area. Many are the times I've rocketed there in response to calls and text alerts from a birder to get gripping views of American Golden Plover (4) and Long-billed Dowitcher to mention but five.

The list of some of the birds found over the past 14 years....

2006. Broad-billed Sandpiper 15 May Maurice Jones.
2008. American Golden Plover 19 Nov Stuart Piner.
2009. Long-billed Dowitcher 13 Oct Stuart Piner.
2009. Black Redstart 9 Nov Pete Woodruff.

2011. American Golden Plover 4 Nov Stuart Piner. (Photo Stuart Piner)

2011. Kentish Plover 3 May Pete Woodruff. (Photo Mick McGough)
2012. American Golden Plover 5 Sept Stuart Piner.

2013. Dotterel 16 April Pete Woodruff. (Photo Chris Batty)

2014. American Buff-bellied Pipit 4 May Stuart Piner. (Photo Stuart Piner)
2015. Wryneck 13 April Pete Woodruff.
2016. American Golden Plover 28 Sept Stuart Piner.
2017. Lapland Bunting 24 March Pete Woodruff.
2017. Sabine's Gull 11 Sept Ian Hartley.

2018. Red-backed Shrike 27 May Kate Hughes. (Photo Ian Hartley)
2018. Pallid Harrier 16 Sept Ian Hartley.

And Finally....

I found Margery earlier in the year, she's been featured on B2B before, but certainly worth another look, and I'll swear the image of her husband is that of a birder I know!

Sunday, 6 September 2020


September has been a decent month for me in the past, and some searching through the records has turned up a little interest out of the little black book.

I have to divert from September to start with the oldest, and note the record of a Lesser Yellowlegs I found on the Eric Morecambe Complex at Leighton Moss on 18 October 1995, this was the first record in our area of this North American wader, it was followed by the second Lesser Yellowlegs found at the same location 2 years later on 12 September 1997 when this time I was in company with John Leedal. These two birds were the first of four more seen over the years....

Banks Marsh 6 February 1999

Eagland Hill 14 September 2002

Glasson Dock 24 September 2011

Conder Green 23 August 2015

Black-necked Grebe Juvenile Len Blumin@Flickr 

September continued to be good for me, in that I found a juvenile Black-necked Grebe on Conder Pool 1 September 2008, this bird obliged for 17 days, and was last seen on Conder Pool on 18 September.

Just 18 days after my Black-necked Grebe, I was coming back down Clougha Pike whilst doing my Stonechat survey of the area, as I reached the top of Birk Bank, on 19 September 2008 a Honey Buzzard gave me 90 seconds of pleasure as it flew by me south. 

My sighting was a part of an influx of Honey Buzzard in our recording area in 2008, thought to have been displaced Scandinavian migrants. It was one of 10 records including the first of these, which was of a juvenile female having been ringed and solar-powered satellite transmitter fitted at the nest in Scotland. This bird was known to have roosted overnight on the Cumbria border on 13 September, crossed the English Channel to France, then over the Straits of Gibraltar. It reached southern Morocco by mid-October, but by mid-November the transmitter was still at the same remote location in the Atlas Mountains, suggesting that it had become detached, or the bird was dead.

I spent many hours along with John Leedal staked out in the Rusland Valley in Cumbria watching Honey Buzzard during the early 2000's, mostly fruitless hours, but we did have our days, and we had them close one day on which I made an excellent recording of one bird calling reminiscent of Grey Plover....Halcyon Days. 

Red-throated Diver.

I was intrigued by the report on LDBWS website, of a Red-throated Diver swimming upstream in the River Conder on Friday morning. I've no doubt this sighting was seen as questionable, but I was in touch with Malcolm Sole about his report, he gave me some more details and further claimed the bird to be in winter plumage. If this wasn't the case, then the question has to be....what did Malcolm see in the creeks at Conder Green on Friday morning?  

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Another Excellent Plan....Again!

The plan yesterday was to check out Harrisend, but not until I had taken a look at Grisedale Brook for Golden Ringed Dragonfly. Maybe too late now, as the flight season runs out by late August, but being a good sunny warm day I thought maybe just a chance, but I drew a blank, it was too late, and I had to settle for a male Migrant Hawker, 6 Small Tortoiseshell, and a Buzzard soaring overhead.

But it was a different story for 3 hours on Harrisend, which resulted with 15 Stonechat found seen as adults and juveniles. Also of note, a Raven honking overhead with some excellent aerobatics seen, 2 Buzzard hanging on the wind over the ridge, a Kestrel hovering, and a Reed Bunting. Butterflies seen, 12 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Red Admiral, and a Small Copper, with 2 Silver Y moths seen.

Stonechat. Howard Stockdale.

So 33 Stonechat at two locations in 7 days. In the little black book, it looks a bit like the early 2000's all over again. Thanks to Howard Stockdale for the Stonechat on Abbeystead Lane 9 August.

I'd sooner be birding....Good to be birding again yesterday and always is, it's what I do, an illness for which I hope there's never a cure.    

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Perfect Timing.

Walking along the Roeburndale Road, then left on to the grit track to the wind turbines, and return to Brookhouse via Quarry Road was a perfectly timed plan. 

Please clik the piks.

The bulk of birds were found along and around the wall stretching the length of 1.5mile long grit track between Roeburndale Road and the wind turbines situated at the top of Quarry Road on Caton Moor. A total of 18 Stonechat were seen, the birds were constantly on the move along the wall. Also 2 Wheatear, at least 50 Meadow Pipit, 4 Wren, several Swallow through south, a Kestrel, and a Red Grouse.

I've seen this congregating behaviour by Stonechats before. I found 10 together on Birk Bank on 26 July 2005, seen as a male and female accompanied by 8 juvenile, with a second male coming on the scene when some chasing took place. Another sighting was at Cross of Greet Bridge on 26 June 2006, when I found 10 juvenile together and noted they were leap-frogging along a wall downstream from the bridge.   

View from Caton Moor. Pete Woodruff.

Views of the inner bay and the Lakeland mountains were marred by low cloud, but spectacular just the same.  

These sheep faced me as I made my way up Roeburndale Road, a flock of Blackface accompanied by a Soay ram.

White Ermine Larva. Pete Woodruff.

This caterpillar crossed Quarry Road as I walked returning to Brookhouse.

And Finally....

Great Wood Wasp. Pete Woodruff.

Found entangled in cobwebs in the garage, a sad end for a magnificent creature.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Back In Business.

Monday was too good a day to miss. The weather can be good during September, but maybe we won't get another day quite as nice as Monday again this year.

Painted Lady. Pete Woodruff.

So I did a circuit Glasson - Conder Green - Glasson along the canal towpath, a pretty good idea if only because finding this Painted Lady at Scalestone Pond, puts me amongst a small band of butterfly enthusiasts having done so this summer, with just ten records found on the Butterfly Conservation Lancashire Branch website over three months since the end of May, also here 2 Silver Y moths.

Migrant Hawker. Pete Woodruff. 

Along the towpath, I found this female Migrant Hawker, obligingly it came to rest on the hedgerow, also seen 6 Brown Hawker.

I had a look in on Conder Pool to see if any high tide roosters had taken up there, to find 6 Greenshank, a lone adult Avocet, and Common Sandpiper. Probably saw up to 80 Swallow on the circuit, and a few House Martin still around the renamed and now called Greenfinch Cafe. At least 40 Small Tortoiseshell and a Red Admiral seen.

Thirty seven seconds of a never still and busy Silver Y moth at Saltcote Pond.

View Full Screen

Tower Lodge.

Following on from my concerns about the tree felling at Tower Lodge in my last post. I made some enquiries and am assured the clear out was the result of much needed maintenance due to storm damage, resulting in the loss of nest boxes. Not a major concern for me, but I learn these boxes are to be relocated at a suitable location to be decided in time for next years breeding season.

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Gulls, Dragons, And Flutterby's.

I had other plans on Thursday, but they fell apart and I ended up at Heysham to check the gulls on Red Nab as the tide came in.

When I arrived at Heysham the tide was around 2 hours short of high and there was c.500 gulls on the seaward edge of Red Nab, so plenty to keep me interested for a while I thought. But the birds were restless and a few soon started to disperse and were flying off south, it soon became obvious they were not going to be pushed towards me by high tide at 1.00pm and there was only c.50 gulls left now. But I did manage to find 12 Mediterranean Gull including three juveniles. Worthy of note, a staggering 107 - possibly up to 117 - Mediterranean Gull were recorded at Heysham on 27 July. 

There was some added interest in the gull search, as one bird bore a green darvic ring and was probably the previously seen individual in July marked in Germany as an adult in 2012, and seen at Heysham in 2017/18/19, the bird was too distant for me to read the ring today. A second gull was also ringed, but frustratingly was again too far off to be read. This bird had a white darvic ring, and is established to have been marked in the Netherlands as a nestling in June 2019, it was seen in Wales later that year, and again in Wales February this year, before being seen again on the Heysham outfalls in mid-August.

As I came away from Red Nab, on the pond I saw, 2 Emperor Dragonfly, also a male and female Common Darter, and 2 Migrant Hawker. Though the weather was suitable, an hour at the west end of the reserve gave a small number of 7 species and 20 butterflies, 5 Common Blue, 4 Small Tortoiseshell, 3 Meadow Brown, 2, Red Admiral, 2 Speckled Wood, 2 Gatekeeper, and 2 Small White.    

The Southern Hawker.

Southern Hawker Male. Pete Woodruff.

I watched a male Southern Hawker flying around the trees on the reserve, it appeared to never be going to settle, but it eventually did come to rest at the height of about 6 meters on a not very healthy looking conifer. I managed to locate the hawker with my camera steadied on a tripod and got a half decent shot. 

The Southern Hawker was first recorded in Lancashire in 1940, although it appears that they were not recorded for another 50 years in North Lancashire in the 1990's, and in fact not in East Lancashire before 2000.

The Spotted Flycatcher.

Spotted Flycatcher. Pete Woodruff.

I hear from a reliable source....The Spotted Flycatcher appears to have had a poor season this year at regular sites visited in Bowland including the area around Tower Lodge which is a stronghold in my records for the Spotted Flycatcher. 

I was concerned to hear the compound at Tower Lodge has been cleared of up to 60% of the trees, as a consequence the Pied Flycatcher nest boxes have suffered a near death, with little if any more than four now left from at least ten originally put up. The small woodland has been developed into some sort of mini safari and picnic area, with ducks, an odd looking turkey, hens, a trampoline, and table and chairs. 

Sunday, 16 August 2020

Mainly Dragons And Other Bits.

 The Heather at Birk Bank at its best 12 August. Pete Woodruff. 

I performed a couple of Houdini acts this past week, one was an escape to the fringes of Bowland where I managed an update on the dragonflies of Birk Bank bog.

Birk Bank Bog. Pete Woodruff.

Never in abundance, I found a male and female Keeled Skimmer, a Black-tailed Skimmer, Black Darter, Common Darter, and a Large Red Damselfly. A wander in the area, came up with 9 Peacock, a Small Copper, and Small Tortoiseshell.

My second escape was along the towpath of the canal between Glasson Dock and Galgate, which is one of the most aesthetically pleasing sections of the Lancaster Canal. Along this length of the walk I found 28 Brown Hawker, including three seen ovipositing towards the end of the route at Galgate. Also seen, 2 Emperor Dragonfly and a Migrant Hawker. I think I need to return here again, to find 54 Migrant Hawkers like I did 20 September 2019 on the short stretch of the same canal Glasson Dock - Conder Green. 

Birds noted, a Kingfisher, with Buzzard and Raven over. Butterflies, 12 Small White, 6 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Peacock and a Meadow BrownThat's not many butterflies in 4 hours, as wasn't the 11 butterflies seen at Birk Bank earlier in the week, leaving me muttering to myself....where are all the butterflies.

News From The Pool.

I was grateful once again to Howard for keeping in touch with news from Conder Pool, where the Avocet and two juveniles remain, and 2 Green Sandpiper with the bonus of one ringed in my new header image.

Garden Happenings.

We've had 9 juvenile Blackbird in our garden this year, and 12 Speckled Wood visited during the day, and a Holly Blue was a scarcity for us on Wednesday.

Wood Warbler.

My memory was jogged as I drove past Gibson Wood last Wednesday, to recall an excellent record of a Wood Warbler that I found in a woodland wedged between Littledale Road and Rigg Lane. I had found this Wood Warbler on 1 May 1996, it was the first of four more consecutive sightings in Gibson Wood that I found on, 10 May '97, 3 May '98, 16 May '99, and 21 May 2000.

I've been looking through the Lancashire Bird Report 2019 which came through the letterbox on Friday, to see the Wood Warbler recorded as a scarce and declining breeder and passage migrant. Despite this excellent record at Gibson Wood 24 years ago, little seems to have changed with this species.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Bike & Bino's.

Come Friday, it will be 17 years since I found a nice little job on the Lune Estuary on 14 August 2003. It was a bike and bino's day - well there's a novelty - my car being out on hire. I decided to take the ex railway track, now the coastal path from Lancaster - Glasson Dock.

It had got to around 4.00pm when I arrived at the old iron bridge over the River Conder. No sooner had I come to a halt on the bike, when I glimpsed a distant bird over the River Lune at the edge of the salt marsh. Apart from being hampered with views directly into the sun, the bird was already appearing to be intent in doing a disappearing act, it was flying downstream and out of sight. By now the best it got was that I had seen a black Marsh Tern, but things were about to get much worse.

The down side, was that I had to return to Lancaster to keep an appointment, the up side was, after the appointment I could then collect the motor and arm myself with some optics and get myself back to the Lune Estuary and hopefully relocate the bird seen two hours earlier.

                    White-winged Black Tern 14 August 2003. Phillip Tomkinson. 

It was my lucky day, the light was more favourable and the bird was soon found much closer now and hawking for insects over the marsh. I had found two desperate hours ago, a moulting adult White-winged Black Tern.

The bird stayed in the area for 10 days, visiting Conder Pool, where it was seen bathing one day.

Conder Pool.

Avocet Conder Pool 7 August. Howard Stockdale.

It was good news when I heard via Howard Stockdale, the two Avocet had fledged at 36 days and were freely flying around, seen as the second successive breeding at Conder Pool. Thanks for the news and image Howard, much appreciated.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

The Common Terns Champion.

It's a year ago today 5 August, since I last saw Ian Pinkerton as he drove away from Conder Pool to go home to Wigan for the weekend with Yvonne. Ian asked if I would keep an eye on the Avocet family which he was hoping to see fledge soon, he made the comment that he hoped they would wait until his return to Conder Green the following weekend.

This is the last photograph Ian took of the Avocets. If I remember correctly, he was concerned that only three of the young with an adult were seen, but in fact all four fledged successfully on 11 August 2019. These are the young that a couple of weeks earlier at barely one week old, the adults took over the bank off Conder Pool, down the bank on the other side, across the busy B5290, and into the creeks....Truly amazing stuff.

View Full Screen

I remember the day Ian nearly exploded with excitement when I drew his attention to this adult and 3cy Mediterranean Gull arriving on Conder Pool.

But for the past 4 years Ian's main passion was with the Common Terns, though some of his last encounters with the Conder Pool birds verged on disastrous. On 22 July I received a message from Ian to say he had just watched a Black-headed Gull kill two of the young Common Tern. The gulls were breeding on the pontoon with the terns, not a compatible situation with three pairs of seabirds in such cramped conditions, war was always on the cards in these circumstances.

Though the birds looked wrecked, and the injuries looked likely to have been fatal, it transpired that thankfully Ian was wrong, and that the young had miraculously escaped with their lives.

View Full Screen

I made a short video when I found even more amazing three days later, these two birds had fledged and had flown onto a near island, with the injury still obvious.    

This is one of the same birds taken 12 August by Howard Stockdale. When you look at this photograph it's hard to believe barely three weeks earlier, a Black-headed Gull had made a near successful attempt to kill it. This Common Tern wasn't seen on Conder Pool again.

Ian spent hours at a time, days and weeks over the years, monitoring the terns on Conder Pool after he had given up his previous life as a golfer to become passionate about birds....'it's all your fault'....he repeatedly said to me, and I was delighted to be told that. Ian even managed to secure having a roof over the viewing platform at Conder Pool via negotiations and good efforts of the committee and birders at Fylde Bird Club.

Ian (Pinky) Pinkerton is deserving of this post which I have dedicated to his memory on this coming Monday 10 August....Conder Pool will never be the same again.