Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A Dead Loss!

Well not quite....birding's never a 'dead loss'.

With a search of the Lune Estuary ongoing yesterday for a missing person - with the RNLI and a helicopter involved - I thought it best to avoid the area and decided to walk the route to Glasson Dock from Lancaster, though if it had been a job paid on results....I doubt if I'd have got any pay at all!

I made notes of 43 species, though very few counts were made - more to the point very few needed - but included, 14 Blackbird which was 26 down on the count of 40 made at the end of last year on the same route on Tuesday 30 December, Robin were also of note, 7 down on the count of 12 on the same date

Gadwall Jan Larsson

I always like to see the Gadwall and some seen on Freeman's Pools yesterday. On Aldcliffe Marsh c.120 Pink-footed Geesea single Black-tailed Godwit was on the flood with up to 240 Redshankand just one Little Egret seen the entire length of the walk.

At Conder Green, a Sparrowhawk seen, with a casual count made of 6 Little Grebe on Conder Pool. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock, 56 Goldeneye counted, and c.60 Goldfinch appeared to be intending to roost in trees by the bowling green.

Land Management.

Land Management. Pete Woodruff. 

This is an ongoing Land Management exercise at Aldcliffe below the landward side of Dawsons Bank around the wildfowlers pool area. I shudder to think what the full plan is here, but the four men I watched armed with a chainsaw each were in no way engaged in coppicing, though some of this kind of management is taking place along the hedge as the picture above illustrates. However, wildlife can do without this kind of habitat loss, and the debris in the field is definitely not all the result of coppicing, some of it are trees/bushes taken out. From where the picture above was taken, previously the field and beyond could only be seen through gaps in the trees...I reckon when this job is finished a large area of habitat will have gone forever for no good reason.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Short....But Sweet As Ever.

A bit too brief on Thursday for my liking, but I could only allow myself a short birding break, all of it around the high tide.

From the viewing platform at Conder Green I noted 10 Little Grebe and 2 Goldeneye on Conder Pool with a Reed Bunting close by, c.250 Pink-footed Geese went over south. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock, the drake Scaup still and a Little Grebe seen, at least 50 Goldeneye were on here, but I saw a report of 61 Goldeneye here last Wednesday exceeding the peak count for the Lune Estuary of 60 made on 8 January.

On the estuary, at least 450 Black-tailed Godwit were my highest count here this winter, a Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe were my only other notes. Up to 1,300 Pink-footed Geese were on Jeremy Lane.

At Cockersands I got no further than Plover Scar today to see 75 Turnstone, I watched a single Black-tailed Godwit fly in with some of the Turnstone, and 14 Eider were off here. On my way back from the scar I saw a Rock Pipit, 3 Wren, and a Reed Bunting.

And Finally....

White-tailed Eagle Gary Jones 

Never prepared to publish a post without at least one accompanying photograph, this 'clik the pik' one I couldn't resist for the sheer beauty of this magnificent creature and the excellent image of it thanks to Gary.

Thanks to Ana Minguez for the brilliant photograph of the Black Redstart in the header image. 

Friday, 23 January 2015

....And The Birds In Our Garden.

Juvenile Pomerine Skua Geoff Gradwell

I had been to Cockers Dyke on Tuesday to get decent views of the juvenile Pomerine Skua and an adult Mediterranean Gull amongst the few hundred other gulls assembled here. In the area and on my way back to Fluke Hall I probably saw 20 Twite in three small groups in their bouncing flight along the coastal path.

Song Thrush Antonio Puigg 

At Fluke Hall a walk along the back side of the hedge running along the parking area is always a good idea, today it resulted in an amazing 10 Song Thrush, 9 Dunnock, and a 'few' Blackbird, this was bit of January bush bashing resulting in this excellent number of Song Thrush, also noted was a Reed Bunting, and Nuthatch.

Pink-footed Geese Brian Rafferty  

On my way back to Glasson Dock, I pulled in to see 55 Whooper Swan in fields opposite Braides, and at Thurnham on Moss Lane found up to 3,000 Pink-footed Geese. On the canal basin the drake Scaup was again with Tufted Duck and 23 Goldeneye counted, a Little Grebe was also on here, and I caught a glimpse of the Kingfisher as it disappeared over the lock towards the dock.

The Lune Estuary was awash with the tide and I noted nothing more than a single Goldeneye and 2 Little Grebe, with the Snow Goose distant on Colloway Marsh again. Conder Green was virtually under water with 2 Rock Pipit pushed off the marsh at high tide, but more of a surprise was a Song Thrush alongside the pipits. On Conder Pool, 7 Little Grebe, 2 Goldeneye, 3 Snipe, and a Brown Hare running along the back terrace.

....and the birds in our garden.

House Sparrow 1000-Pattes  

With the continuing decline of the Red listed species, it was good to see 40 House Sparrow in one sighting in our small urban garden recently, on the same day 8 Blackbird had also been present at the same time....This weekend KT will be doing the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch.

Thanks to Geoff/Antonio/Brian/Noushka for the excellent images, they are much appreciated.    

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Routine....But Pleasant With It.

By 2.00pm on Monday at Cockersands it was pleasantly warm in the sun and the wind abated. I got closer views and was able to count 95 Whooper Swan in the field NW of Bank End accompanied by 2 Bewick's Swan. Off Plover Scar up to 3,000 Wigeon were spread over a wide area with some birds distant on the sea, also at least 65 Pintail were of note, with 4 Eider and a Red-breasted Merganser seen. Few waders to be seen here today, but 28 Golden Plover were in a field, with Redshank, Curlew, and Lapwing in small numbers in various fields.

Reed Bunting. Pete Woodruff.

Small birds during my wander at Cockersands, 26 Greenfinch seen in three small groups, 7 Reed Bunting - one of which obliged whilst I tried my hand at photography - 3 Wren and a Dunnock

Peregrine Falcon Wildsnaps

A Peregrine Falcon was again perched up on the railings around the lighthouse, and a local Kestrel seen, I also decided to take particular note of 4 Brown Hare.

Scaup. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery  

On the canal basin at Glasson Dock a drake Scaup mingled with 15 Goldeneye and uncounted Tufted Duck, with a Little Grebe and Kingfisher which gave me brief views as it disappeared over the lock gates.

On the Lune Estuary, waders were a little sparse again today, but 38 Bar-tailed Godwit and 14 Black-tailed Godwit were of note, with an estimated 300 Dunlin way over below Waterloo Cottage and 3 Red-breasted Merganser seen. Off Jeremy Lane, 5 Whooper Swan were a family party of two adult and three juvenile. In the same field, c.600 Pink-footed Geese and 40 Greylag.

At Conder Green, in the creeks and on the pool I got a double figure again of 12 Little Grebe, with Spotted Redshank, 4 Snipe, a pair of Goosander and 14 Wigeon. Two species noted from the coastal path, c.15 Chaffinch and a Reed Bunting.

The Cockers Dyke Skua.

Pomerine Skua. Stuart Piner.

The juvenile Pomerine Skua which - since having been first found at Knott End on 10 January - has pitched up in the Cockers Dyke area to the joys of many a birder. It appears healthy in the photograph above and gives the impression it could fly off over the sea and disappear into the sunset. I went to see this bird yesterday and it now appears to have at best a problem with it's left wing, and at worst a broken one. I find it difficult to believe it can still fly but will be well pleased to see the next photograph or being told of it doing just that.

For 'something better 'clik the pik'....With thanks to Phillip/Martin/Stuart.

Monday, 19 January 2015

The Cliff Swallow.

Cliff Swallow Nests. Patrick Tillet.

I was in touch recently with an American member of a photographic website I joined a couple of years ago, he had posted this picture of Swallows nests clamped to the structure similar to those of the House Martin. With an interest I made enquiries as to the species and learned that they are the nests of the Cliff Swallow. In addition to this info from Pat, he told me of the song by Leon Rene in 1940  'When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano' - you need to be a bit ancient to remember it - apparently a popular song in it's day and was written as a tribute to the annual springtime return of the Cliff Swallows to Mission San Juan in Capistrano, Southern California.

Mission San Juan. Robert. A. Estremo.

What is regarded by some as the miracle of the Swallows of Capistrano takes place each year at Mission San Juan Capistrano. 
As the faithful Cliff Swallows wing their way back to the most famous mission in California, the village of San Juan Capistrano takes on a fiesta air and visitors from far and wide gather in number to witness the return of the Swallows.

At dawn the birds arrive and begin rebuilding their mud nests, which are clinging to the ruins of the Great Stone Church of San Juan Capistrano. The arches of the two story vaulted Great Stone Church were left bare and exposed, as the roof collapsed during the great earthquake of 1812

After the summer spent within the sheltered walls of the Old Mission in San Juan Capistrano, the Swallows take flight again and leave after circling the Mission San Juan....A pretty inspirational story I thought.

Cliff Swallow. Copy Permitted.

An extremely rare vagrant in the UK, the first record of which was only a little over 31 years ago of a bird found on the Isles of Scilly in October 1983. 

Non of the three birders who initially saw the bird on St Agnes could put a name to it, it had flown past them with Barn Swallows, they were able to eliminate Red-rumped Swallow and had presumed it was a hybrid. But a fourth birder arrived to see the bird land and immediately recognised it as a Cliff Swallow identified from the species he had seen in America. This Cliff Swallow was last seen on the Scilly Isles 18 days after it had been first spotted and was seen by several hundred birders. 

I'd sooner be birding....And that's exactly what I'm off to do right now!  

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Good Friday!

Well it was a Good Friday if only because it was my first trip out since Monday, though the gap was never planned to be that long.

Nothing special, but it was good to be out and about to see the regulars again, including 9 Little Grebe found today at Conder Green, two of which were downstream from the old railway bridge - which is where I found the Common Sandpiper - three in the creeks, and four on Conder Pool where I saw just one lone drake Goldeneye. A Reed Bunting was the only other bird to note on my wander, whilst c.300 Pink-footed Geese were making a northerly move overhead from the south in their distinct V formation.

Goosander Warren Baker @ Pittswood Birds 

On the canal basin at Glasson Dock, I saw 7 Goldeneye and noted up to 50 Tufted Duck. The Lune Estuary was remarkably quiet with little more than 50 Black-tailed Godwit, a pair of Goosander, a Red-breasted Merganser, and another 28 Goldeneye seen.

At Cockersands, an excellent sight was of at least 2,500 Golden Plover overhead and undecided where to land, with another c.350 Golden Plover in a field by Abbey Farm. A Snipe was over too, the Kestrel was hovering, 17 Greenfinch were at the Caravan Park end, and 52 Whooper Swan were still distant in the field NW of Bank End with obvious Bewick's Swans still present with them.

Dusky Warbler. Martin Lofgren.

News via the RBA pager service was of a Dusky Warbler found yesterday at Marton Mere LNR, Blackpool. A notoriously difficult bird to observe with it's secretive habits. It is a rare vagrant....

Radde's Warbler Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery 

....and has to be separated from the 'lookalike' Radde's Warbler. 

The last Dusky Warbler seen in Lancashire was a little over 11 years ago at Fairhaven Dunes, Lytham St Annes in October 2003. Thanks to Martin and Warren for the excellent images, and to Geoff Gradwell Gallerie for the header of the long staying juvenile Pomerine Skua on the Fylde Coast.

I'm looking forward to a 'Good Monday' hopefully....I don't do weekends!   

Thursday, 15 January 2015

A Bit Too Mutch!!

Meet the very nice Mr Mutch....

Well you wouldn't want to meet him, and he's not very nice either. In fact George Mutch holds the distinction of being the first gamekeeper in the UK to be jailed for persecuting birds of prey.

Goshawk Arkive 

On Monday Georgie boy received a pitifully short four months in prison after being found guilty on four charges of, illegal use of a trap, illegal killing of a Goshawk, illegal taking of a Goshawk, and illegal taking of a Buzzard. The offences took place in 2012 on a 5,500 acre estate in Scotland where hidden camera footage was obtained and allowed in court as evidence. 

And this is how nice Mutch really is....The footage revealed that Mutch had killed a juvenile Goshawk by removing it from one of the traps and beating it on the head several times with a stick, he could also be seen putting a Buzzard and another Goshawk in sacks and walking off with them in his hands. The video is available of Mutch finishing off the juvenile Goshawk when he removed the bird from the trap by repeatedly beating it's brains in with a stick.

I reckon this guy got off lightly, I find it difficult to refrain from suggesting other sentences he should have been given, but I think a couple of days on the top of a mountain in the Cairngorms locked inside the same trap he set for the birds of prey in Aberdeenshire wouldn't have done him any harm....Well hopefully it would have done him a lot of harm.

On the other hand, a commentator - obviously with a fondness for gamekeepers - suggested a prison sentence was incorrect as....'Mr Mutch already stood to loose a lot by his actions here, his job and his home tied to it, his gun licence, membership of the Scottish Gun Association, and his family will suffer'....Will he really, get real Mr Commentator. 

We need to remember there are many George Mutch's out there to continue what he did, we can't sit back and relax, nor can the birds of prey. So now, what about vicarious liability....The monkey dances whilst the organ grinder plays the tune....who owns Kildrummy Estate?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The Green, The Dock, And The End.

High noon yesterday before I escaped the clutches of 'other things' and got myself tucked in to the Green, the Dock, and Bank End.

Spotted Redshank. Pete Woodruff.

At Conder Green, the winter resident Spotted Redshank obliged by being at rest with 5 Redshank on the near island on Conder Pool.

Unless I missed some, it looks like the 8 Little Grebe I counted on Conder Pool are the left overs from the - reported on another website - best ever peak count of 23 on 30 November. Also on the pool, 3 Goldeneye and the resident female Red-breasted Merganser, a search around the creeks turned up the Common Sandpiper.

Ruff David Cookson 

Bird numbers are of course influenced by the state of the tide, and in stark contrast to my visit to the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock last Thursday when the tide was low and at least 12,000 waders were in view from the bowling green. Yesterday the scenery had completely changed with the tide racing in and high, but a Ruff with c.220 Redshank and 15 Dunlin close in from the bowling green, made the effort worth while as the Ruff is always a welcome bird for me anywhere in our area. I found only 9 Goldeneye and 8 Black-tailed Godwit here, the Snow Goose was again distant on Colloway Marsh.

On Jeremy Lane, 42 Greylag noted with not a single large white bird anywhere else in sight. At Bank End, at least 85 Whooper Swans were accompanied by a few uncounted Bewick's Swans.

Thanks to DC for the Ruff....brilliant bird, brilliant photography.

And Finally....

Sunset Over The Fylde. Pete Woodruff.

I managed to capture another of those famous west coast sunsets, which - if you don't mind my saying - looks even more impressive if you 'clik the pik'....as do the other two.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Stonechat In 2014.

Stonechat In Bowland 3 Jan 2015. Howard Stockdale.

During the course of 2014 I collected 113 Stonechat records, very few of which were duplicated, many of which were kindly sent in to me via e-mail by followers of Birds2blog, and other records from birders I know and see round and about, who are aware of my interest in this species and are kind enough to recognise my appreciation of keeping me informed.

The bulk of these records were of wintering or migrant birds, only six were from obvious breeding territories, though one from the Forest Of Bowland contained 36 territories none of which I assure you were from the locations I monitored for in excess of 14 years on Clougha/BirkBank/Harrisend/Hawthornthwaite, where the Stonechat has yet to return since its demise during the severe winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11. A visit to Clougha/BirkBank on 20 June on what should have been the height of the breeding season produced not a single Stonechat. I did find a pair on the west side of Hawthornthwaite on 12 March and again on 17 June though no evidence of breeding, but a pair on the east side of this fell were found with 5 young on 11 July, Harrisend produced a pair on 17 June with no young seen. At Cross of Greet I was pleased to find 9 Stonechat on 6 June, these were seen as 3 male and 6 juvenile. At Hareden a pair with a young bird seen on 21 May, and 3 adult included a pair with 3 young at Langden. These five breeding records are the only ones collected by me in 2014. 

Prior to the winter of 2009 I would never have dreamed 5 years on, that I would be saying I had found only five breeding records in 2014 about the then more abundant Stonechat. It remains to be seen what the 2014 LDBWS Annual Report has to say about the status of breeding Stonechat in our recording area....unfortunately mine say little.

The most unexpected Stonechat record I ever collected was of the juvenile I found at Cockersands on 3 July. Where this bird had come from, and what it was doing at Cockersands apparently alone as a juvenile and in mid-summer is beyond me. 

The Stonechat In 2015.

Stonechat On the Wirral 3 Jan 2015 Wilde About Birds 

Howard Stockdale and Findlay Wilde have got me off to an excellent start to 2015, with a wintering pair found by Howard above Trough Bridge in Bowland on 3 January, and another wintering pair found by Findlay at Leasowe on the Wirral also on 3 January....Thanks for these records and the accompanying images, a big up to you both, looking forward to seeing the next Stonechat records of 2015, and hopefully doing lots of non-stop birding.

Thanks to Noushka for the excellent header image of the Buzzards in dispute over perching rights. 

Friday, 9 January 2015


Lapwing Noushka Dufort 

When I arrived at the bowling green yesterday to view the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, I have no hesitation in estimating at least 12,000 waders having taken to the wing in a synchronised panic presumably by a raptor which I failed to detect. When they settled back down a good number had disappeared distant and from view, but I made one or two notes of those still in view including at least 5,000 Lapwing, 4,000 Golden Plover, and 350 Black-tailed Godwit, there was also good numbers of Dunlin, Redshank, and Curlew. On Colloway Marsh the Snow Goose was visible though distant, and beware, a 'farmyard white' was with 65 Greylag.

At Conder Green, a little searching in the creeks produced the resident Common Sandpiper and Spotted Redshank. A dwindling number of 7 Little Grebe, and a Red-breasted Merganser were of note on Conder Pool.

Mondays count of 120 Whooper Swan and 10 Bewick's Swan were still in the field NE of Bank End Farm. Otherwise Cockersands was pretty hard work either side of the high tide, a mini howler was still blowing, and not many waders around, though at least 200 Curlew were in the field adjacent to Bank House Cottage, 2 Snipe coming up of the marsh were the only other waders I noted. 

Reed Bunting Phillip Tomkinson 

In Bank Houses horse paddock, 12 Blackbird were of note accompanied by a Song Thrush, 6 Greenfinch and 5 Reed Bunting were in the area, and I noted 3 Little Egret and 3 Brown Hare.


Goldeneye. Pete Cairns @ Arkive 

This winters peak count so far on the Lune Estuary was of 60 Goldeneye yesterday, seen as....

32 River Lune.
25 Canal Basin.
  3 Conder Pool.

These days the Goldeneye can be found in nothing like this number anywhere else in our recording area.

Thanks to Noushka/Phillip/Pete for the excellent photographs.

Some news via the RBA pager service was of 4 Pale-bellied Brent Geese on the Lune Estuary between Plover Scar and Crook Farm this late morning.