Friday, 26 May 2017

Pleasant PM With BD On BB.

A bit short notice for BD but his enthusiasm won the day and he came to meet me at Rigg Lane car park just before noon and we went off on a circuit over Birk Bank and back down to the delightful area around Rushy Lee.

Four-spotted Chaser Marc Heath

We hesitated at the bog to see 2 Four-spotted Chaser, and a few Large Red Damselfly some in tandem.  

Birds of the day for me had to be the 3 Stonechat on Birk Bank, seen as a pair and a lone male, but still no evidence of breeding. Thanks to some acute hearing 3 Redpoll went over, one of which came briefly into a tree. With a risk of duplication, 7 Raven - certainly five - was a decent count, whilst 5 Meadow Pipit was a low one, and just one female Red Grouse was also surprisingly low, 2 Song Thrush is always a bird to rate as excellent for me, 2 Swift were over, and a kestrel and Buzzard were the only raptors seen. 

At least 2 House Martin were at the cottage at Rushy Lee, and back on Rigg Lane a male Blackcap in song. On the length of the four hours to get back to the car park, up to 15 Willow Warbler heard.

Small Copper. Warren Baker. 

Butterflies seen were, 2 Small Copper, 2 Orange Tip, a Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, and a worn out Peacock, with good number of Large White mainly in the sheltered sunny Rushy Lee area, moths caught up with for ID were, Brown Silver-Line and Common Heath.

Disappointingly no Green Hairstreak were seen, less surprising for me was no Tree Pipit, I need to check my records, but a few years since I saw Tree Pipit anywhere in this area, and seen no reports of them here either.

Back in the car park at Rigg Lane, a brief conversation with a man armed with camera and tripod, had him telling me of Pied Flycatcher breeding up here 10 years ago....Mmmmm!!   

Thanks to Marc & Warren for their excellent images.  

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Conder Pool....Up And Running.

This time last year, an Avocet pair had only arrived at Conder Green three days ago on 20 May. This year there are now three pairs on Conder Pool all breeding, with two still sitting yesterday.

Returning to Lancaster on the A588, with my motor unable to drive through Conder Green, it automatically turned left at the bridge for me to check out Conder Pool to find Avocet present and accompanied by two young out of the nest.

Avocet Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff. 

With luck this means a fledge date of June 23-26, but luck was already needing to be on their side, with a Grey Heron and Lesser Black-backed Gull close by as I observed two marauding Carrion Crow whilst two adult Avocet and Common Tern attacked the corvids for several minutes. Also roosting on Conder Pool, 110 Black-tailed Godwit.

Oystercatcher Nest Conder Green. Pete Woodruff.

This Oystercatcher nest by the roadside marker in the lay-by by Conder Pool doesn't stand a chance of progressing beyond where it is today when I took this picture. This is a busy pull-in on a busy road, every vehicle pulling into the lay-by has the bird vacating the nest, to run across the road until the all clear, it doesn't stand a chance of incubating these three eggs.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Bob's Yer Uncle!

With ten days behind me, a trip to Barbondale and another to Bowland since my last visit to the Lune Estuary, it was good to be seeing double on Conder Pool when I saw 4 Avocet there on Friday, the pair of originals are going about their breeding, whilst it's anybody's guess what the other two are up to, but when I returned later they had gone to the creeks to feed.

Common Tern. Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff.

Other than occasionally loafing on the frame, the Common Tern pair have previously ignored the pontoon on Conder Pool as a breeding site since it was installed, before today I've never seen these two actually inside it, but have certainly moved in this year giving us birding dudes a grand stand view of progress. 

Also on Conder Pool, a pair of Wigeon, 6 Tufted Duck, and a lone Lesser Black-backed Gull which I'd have preferred not to have seen as another to add to the predation list for the breeders. A Sedge Warbler was in song close to the viewing platform, with another in the reeds upstream from the A588 road bridge where I saw 3 Reed Bunting.

Black-tailed Godwit. Conder Green. Pete Woodruff.

A nice treat was at least 160 Black-tailed Godwit in the creeks, and at River Winds and the Cafe d' Lune, the House Martin appear to have four active nests. Along the coastal path 4 Whitethroat, a Dunnock, and a Whimbrel heard calling loudly.

The Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock was void of waders save another 2 Avocet upstream from the Conder mouth, with 14 Little Egret and 12 Eider noted. 

Cockersand was hard work and little pay, but it's got to be done, 3 Sedge Warbler and a Whitethroat was the sum total of warblers, a pair of Great Tit had a least one fledged young by Bank Houses, 5 Skylark and good numbers of Swallow over fields, 3 Whooper Swan with 2 Mute Swan, 2 Canada Geese, 2 Greylag, and one remaining long staying drake Shoveler were all in the field by the junction of Slack/Moss Lane....

And Bob's yer uncle!  

Many thanks for the header to Peter Guy and his excellent portrait of the Abbeystead Redshank.

Friday, 19 May 2017


One or two Bowland Birds of Quality seen yesterday, though there were some blank spells, not least when I walked the length of track from Tower Lodge up by the plantation and back - a thirty minute crawl - and saw not a single bird but heard one Chaffinch, and in the entire 7 hours birding I heard not a solitary Willow Warbler let alone saw one, found no Redstart, and heard no Cuickoo.

But it was good to find 4 Stonechat on Hawthornthwaite Fell, seen as two pair with no evidence of breeding. Up to 12 Sand Martin were flying up and down Hawthornthwaite Greave were I saw a Grey Wagtail, also 6 Meadow Pipit, a Mistle Thrush, and a Wren, a Buzzard with a couple of primaries missing, was the only raptor seen all day. 

Siskin Noushka @ 1000-Pattes 

At Marshaw, a pair of Siskin and 2 Spotted Flycatcher were around the plantation. Birds seen along the length of the Marshaw Wyre to Trough Bridge, 4 Common Sandpiper two of which appeared to be a pair, 6 Grey Wagtail, and a Dipper.

Redpoll. Howard Stockdale. 

In the Tower Lodge area, male Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Redpoll, and a Coal Tit. A female Stonechat seen from the start of the track towards Winfold Fell was the first I've ever seen here in many visits, a Red Admiral and Orange Tip were the only two butterflies seen. 

Many thanks to Noushka and Howard for their excellent Finches, I appreciate them.

The birding bus for a tour around the Lune Estuary leaves in 5 minutes! 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Ruff , The Harrier & The Falcon.

Turau Meadow in Belarus is currently the largest stopover site for this species during their spring migration across Europe, but this year the numbers amazed everyone. A group of ornithologists, including researchers from Birdlife Belarus and Turov Ringing Station, registered a record count of 120,000 Ruff in a single day, an unprecedented number since observations began at Turau Meadow 20 years ago in 1997.

Turau Meadow is an open floodplain in the middle of Pripyat River and one of Europe’s most essential nesting and stopover areas for more than 50 migratory wading bird species, it is the largest stopover site for as many as 150,000 Eurasian Wigeon and 20,000 Black-tailed Godwit during their spring migration across Europe.

In our recording area the Ruff is no more than a scarce winter visitor, an uncommon spring but fairly common autumn passage migrant. Without records for 2016, an example of a peak count in 2015, was of six birds at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve on 29 August. 

Ruff with Redshank. Conder Pool 8 August 2016. Pete Woodruff.

Little wonder the pleasure I get from finding the occasional Ruff like the one on Conder Pool 8 August last year, though a personal all time best count was of 14 Ruff at Norbreck Farm off Hillam Lane on 25 August 2011. 

If you'd like a few minutes of pure enjoyment, take a look at the video of the Ruff at Turau Meadow below, even the sound is a treat to hear, turn the volume up and watch it full screen....You can skip the ad rubbish at the start of the video.

And Finally.

Depressing to hear, not only no breeding Hen Harriers in Forest of Bowland this year, but anywhere else in England. Also, although two occupied Peregrine Falcon nests have been located in the Forest of Bowland, no other territories have been found at five other shooting estates, and sixteen former territories here remain abandoned.
All very hard to take in even though we might have expected it, and doesn’t go to lift the depression at all.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Catchers & Chats.

Thursdays hunt was for the Flycatcher and the Stonechat. 

At Barbondale I found 5 Pied Flycatcherthey were seen as a pair, two male, and a female, but despite my hanging around to pair up the single birds I failed to do so, but reckon three pairs here to date.

Redstart Brian Rafferty 

Twenty two other species in the 2.5 hours here included, 4 Redstart all male, 4 Robin, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Wren, a singing male BlackcapTree Pipit, Wheatear, Treecreeper, and a Mistle Thrush. Two butterflies seen were a Small Copper and an Orange Tip.

The plan was that I now went to Newby Moor, another former chat stronghold where my records show that I notably found 11 Stonechat on a cold winters day nine years ago on 12 February 2008, I have doubts that number will ever happen again during the breeding season let alone in mid-winter. 

Today's visit to Newby Moor was my first since 27 May last year, and I was pleased to find 5 Stonechat, being two pairs and a lone male for the fifteen minutes I had it in my sights waiting for a female to show. Also of note, at least 20 Meadow Pipit, 4 Willow Warbler, and 2 Reed Bunting. On the River Wenning below Clapham Station, a Grey Wagtail, and a little less expected 2 Redshank. I also saw 7 Orange Tip in as many minutes, and a Red Admiral was my first this summer.

Whinchat at Newby Moor. 

In addition to being a Stonechat stronghold, Newby Moor was also good for Whinchat, and in the days when I was in the area on a regular basis I collected records during the summer each time I visited. Some peak counts for Whinchat here included, 15 on 2 Aug 2000, 7 on 4 Aug 2001, 10 on 3 Aug 2002. These kind of numbers of Whinchat certainly cannot be found around the Newby Moor area today and my recent visits here have produced no sightings at all including today's.    

Thanks to Richard for the excellent male Pied Flycatcher header, and to Brian for his equally excellent male Redstart.  

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Steady Plod....What Again!

Another steady plod around the Lune Estuary on Tuesday started with a brief look in at Conder Green where I poked my nose through the screen at Conder Pool to see the Avocet pair on the island, and the Common Tern pair looking more interested in the pontoon than they've ever done previously, I reckon they're going to nest there this time, 45 Black-tailed Godwit were in the creeks.

Turnstone. Howard Stockdale

With the exception of 8 Eider and 112 Shelduck counted on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock the place was void of waders and gulls. Of 8 Sedge Warbler seen, three were on Jeremy Lane, with another five at Cockersand where on Plover Scar, c.2,500 Dunlin, 60 Ringed Plover, 2 Sanderling, and a Turnstone which was a stunning male in summer plumage making it one of the best dressed birds I know. A Peregrine Falcon came bombing through and changed the landscape in an instant with a good portion of the waders leaving post haste, but one of which the falcon made a weak effort at taking out, then went on it's way, a Whimbrel and 5 Eider were off Crook Farm.

In Bank Houses horse paddock, I watched Tree Sparrows flying into the air, hovering at times and fly-catching, I've never seen the Tree Sparrow as a flycatcher before. Three Wheatear, 3 Skylark, and 2 Whitethroat seen, with 2 Whooper Swan and 95 Mute Swan in the Moss Lane T junction field.

With an hour to spare before an appointment in Lancaster, I went to Aldcliffe to do a little part-time birding along the top path and return via the bottom path to note, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Whitethroat, a Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, 2 Greenfinch, and on the Wildfowlers Pool 2 Little Ringed Plover.

Thanks to Howard for the stunning male Turnstone image.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Other Borrowdale.

There is a sizeable area of beautiful unspoilt land to the north of Kendal, sandwiched between the M6 near Tebay and the A6 near Shap. It is dominated by the Lake Districts ‘other’ Borrowdale which cuts a deep wide swathe through the hills.

Mike rang me on Sunday evening to ask if I was birding on Monday, he asked if he could come along, and perhaps we could pay a visit to Borrowdale....well of course we did.

I don't think 21 species was a good result for the four hours here, but most notable was the healthy count of a least 20 Willow Warbler with a good number of Chaffinch also notable, 4 Redstart were all singing males, a Tree Pipit gave itself away singing atop a tree, and a Treecreeper seen with nesting material escaped me before I could see where it went with it's beak full.

Wheatear. Pete Woodruff.

A Wheatear was on the wall by Borrow Brook along quite a length of which was a small colony of Sand Martin, 2 Dipper seen. A Great-spotted Woodpecker was in flight, and 2 Green Woodpecker heard, a Buzzard was the only raptor seen.

Coming back to Lancaster, we decide to shoot off to Conder Green to find it good that the Common Tern pair have returned to Conder Pool for their third year, they have joined the Avocet pair breeding here for their second year, in the creeks up to 45 Black-tailed Godwit.

The first Swift over Bowerham seen this morning.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Cutting Edge!

Quite a nice picture in the header of the cover crop at Cockersand, but it isn't there to be admired as such, it was my intention to elaborate much more on this, but unfortunately I ran out of time, so here's the condensed version....

The cover crop forms part of the Countryside Stewardship Grant for the farm in question, and by the way, I have the full permission from the farmer to publish this piece of info, with whom I have a good relationship, I know the family well and visit them regularly, along with two other farmers in the area, all of who know my interest in birds just as well as I know their interests and all the problems that go with modern day farming.

Cover Crop Field 5 May 2017. Pete Woodruff.

The truth is, the grant for the cover crop at this farm which was seed-bearing to provide food for wild birds throughout the winter has been withdrawn, the short end of this news being that it's all down to cut backs and is a tragedy for the farmland birds which benefited from this small piece of land on this farm, the likes of which our birds should have in many corners on many farms but don't.

Ironic isn't it, the cover crop in the picture above has died a death all in the name of 'saving money', whilst the field in the picture on the opposite side of the road and another field next to it, have both recently seen the destruction of several breeding Lapwings with their nests/eggs/young buried beneath the soil.

OK don't worry, this post isn't about me farmer bashing, it's about facing the facts, a part of which is that the farmers don't have a choice, which formed part of our conversation last week when the farmer discussed the cover crop issue with me, whilst I discussed the annual demise of the Lapwings.

I've sent a message to the Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom telling her she's not fit for the job she thought she qualified for as Secretary of State for DEFRA, and I've forwarded her an application form for a job as a barmaid at the Boars Head where she would be more suited to work.

Now the good news.

Common Tern. Conder Pool 11 July 2016. Pete Woodruff.

Hopefully we may be seeing something like this on Conder Pool by mid-July....Apparently two Common Tern were reported on Conder Pool Saturday, twelve months to the day since their arrival there last year on 6 May. 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Great Escape.

Well I did manage to break free in the early afternoon yesterday, and for that reason alone it certainly was great....birding always is.

Swift Simon Hawtin

I saw my first 11 Swift at Cockersand, two flew low and close by me off Crook Cottage - where 3 Whimbrel were on the shore - with another nine Swift two hours later over Lighthouse Cottage. A female Whinchat was around the cover crop, with a singing Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat in the area, and in the time spent at Cockersand I saw 8 Wheatear

In what was the flooded field, a pair of Shoveler were still there, as are the 2 Whooper Swan, with 2 Linnet, and a Skylark seen. I found another 4 Lapwing young, two of which were in the road with screaming adults above, I had to break into a gallop to usher them under a hedge to save them from the wheels of a fast approaching van. 

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was virtually waderless, though 10 Bar-tailed Godwit were distant below Waterloo Cottage, my only other notes were of 85 Shelduck, 10 Eider, and 6 Wigeon.

House Martin. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery 

At Conder Green, I watched a House Martin entering a nest at River Winds, another was nest building at Cafe d' Lune, a Whitethroat was around the car park at The Stork, and the Avocet pair were seen as one on the nest on Conder Pool - where 30 Black-tailed Godwit were roosting - the other Avocet was in it's favourite feeding area in the creeks, were I found 4 Common Sandpiper and a Whimbrel.

Twelve months ago to the day, the Common Tern pair arrived on Conder Pool....Eyes down look in! 

Thanks go to Simon/Martin for their excellent in flight images.

The Ladybird.

l recieved a photograph from Cheryl Woodruff of a Ladybird asking me if I could identify it.

Ladybird. Cheryl Woodruff. 

It's a Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis, the most invasive Ladybird on earth, and one of the most variable species with an exceptionally wide range of colour forms. It was introduced to North America and Europe to control aphids, in the UK it threatens our native Ladybird and other species.