Saturday, 4 July 2015

Red To Green.

I managed another of my random visits to Heysham Harbour yesterday, I wanted an hour to look over Red Nab before the tide reached it's 9.50m at 1.00pm.

It was a little tense when I arrived at around 11.00am to find a couple of kids walking out in the direction of Red Nab and heading straight towards c.250 gulls. I got myself set up at a good vantage point opposite the birds about fifty of which had already done a bunk having been spooked by the kids. But luck went my way when the kids did a u-turn and headed back from whence they came to leave me to do the business.  

Spot The Med. Pete Woodruff.

In the hour I gave to looking through the birds I found 11 Mediterranean Gull, broken down to 5 x adults, 3 x 2cy, and 3 X 3cy birds. By 12.00pm the tide had pushed almost everything off Red Nab. Walking back to the motor I heard 2 Blackcap and saw a Whitethroat.

The Conder Pool Common Terns. 

Adult With Young Common Terns. Pete Woodruff.

An excellent sight at Conder Green was initially seeing one Common Tern young on Conder Pool, but within the next few minutes two more had arrived out of the nest box and on to the scene with an adult watching everything else that moved. I called back an hour later on my way home, to find two of the young swimming and the other one looking interested....Brilliant stuff.

The Common Terns at Conder Green arrived late in the season last year. I first saw the birds on Conder Pool 14 July, my first sighting of two young was 26 August, and I was able to record a fledged bird 1 September. My last sighting of these birds was on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock on 12 September.

This year they have produced an extra young, and are way ahead of last years very late breeding season.

Also of note on Conder Pool, a drake Teal was another returning bird, with the drake Wigeon seen, a Greenshank, 5 Common Sandpiper, and a Little Egret. Another pair of Oystercatcher have two very young chicks in the west corner of the pool. On a wander round, a Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, 2 Reed Bunting, a Meadow Pipit obviously feeding young somewhere, and the House Martins are visiting two nest at the Cafe d' Lune.  

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was uninspiring but I saw Thursdays Greenshank again, and just 3 Little Egret

Thanks to Peter Guy for the brilliant Black Guillemot header.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Ducks, Plovers....

....and others.

Eider. Pete Woodruff.

It was a pleasure to find 4 Eider with 16 ducklings off Crook Cottage at Cockersands yesterday afternoon. Though two of the adults were under at the time, I was very lucky to get this shot of all the ducklings up at once as they were diving up and down like yoyo's. It's pointless trying to view my attempt to photograph silhouetted dots other than with a 'clik the pik'. 

Ringed Plover. Pete Woodruff.

It was a slightly greater pleasure to find a pair of Ringed Plover have three young on Plover Scar. Though I didn't see them fly whilst I was present, they appear almost ready to fledge if they haven't already done so, but if they've bred on Plover Scar again this year they fooled me. One of the adult birds was feigning injury at an Oystercatcher close by the young, it put on quite a show. I took several shots without success, but this one gives an idea of the Ringed Plovers distraction tactics horizontal on the shingle....Fascinating stuff.  

Also on Plover Scar, up to 20 Golden Plover were my first returns of the species, c.30 Herring Gull, a Whimbrel, and a Little Egret flew past. A walk along the headland produced 6 Linnet, and a 'few' Pied Wagtail.

Mediterranean Gull. Noushka Dufort @ 1000-Pattes

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 2 Mediterranean Gull were both stunning summer plumage adults. The 10 Little Egret seen on my last visit here on Monday were still around today, also a Greenshank was excellent as another returning bird.

Thanks to Noushka for the brilliant Mediterranean Gull.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Marshaw Delivers.

With the weather more settled now and some good sunny days, I was off to Bowland again on Tuesday to get an update on the state of the birds between Marshaw and Trough Bridge via Tower Lodge.  

       Siskin. David Cookson.

OK....This is about just five birds, but they made it a decent start to the visit, and I'm talking quality not quantity here. 

Birds need water to drink, and they bathe in it on occasion's too, and as if to will the birds to come to me, I had been stood on the iron bridge leading to the grit road over the Marshaw Wyre only a few minutes when a pair of Siskin dropped in on the stream, briefly bathed and were off. Only a few more minutes later I picked up 2 Lesser Redpoll atop of the pines which also dropped on to the stream to drink. But better was to come, when I saw a movement in the trees in the small plantation, I initially thought I'd found my first Spotted Flycatcher of the day, but it was a female Pied Flycatcher which gave me excellent views when I went after the bird and found it flitting around in the plantation.

Dipper. David Cookson. 

Also on the Marshaw Wyre here, a small number of Sand Martin with Swallow, the four Common Sandpiper including two young - which I saw on my last visit here seven days ago on 23 June - were seen again with another adult found upstream from here. Also a various points of the Wyre, 4 Dipper included a young bird, and 4 Grey Wagtail.

Of the 25 species seen in five hours, others of note were from four sightings of Spotted Flycatcher up the track from Tower Lodge, to eliminate duplication I reckon I saw three birds which were seen as a pair and single bird. A total of 4 Nuthatchno more than 4 Willow Warbler3 Coal Tit, 3 Mistle Thrush, a Dunnock, and a Treecreeper seen. Two Jackdaw were feeding two young at Marshaw, and the only raptor was a lone Kestrel.

Thanks goes to DC for the Siskins and the Dipper in flight with a tasty meal in its bill.

Ian Kinley.

Some visitors to Birds2blog will have known Ian, and I was sorry to hear that he had died. I only met Ian on a couple of occasions, but he was readily recognised as a nice man who was a well versed and dedicated Cumbrian birder who will be sadly missed by those who knew him, and especially birders who were always close to him.   

Tuesday, 30 June 2015


Painted Lady. Warren Baker @ Pittswood Birds

Butterflies generated a little more interest for me than birds yesterday if only because I found 7 Painted Lady, all at Cockersands except one at Conder Green, also 8 Small Skipper, 8 Small Tortoiseshell3 Speckled Woodand a Common Blue....Hardly impressive stuff, and the Painted Lady number was hardly a mass invasion, but good to see some butterflies at last.

I got just a glimpse of one of the Common Terns heads above the vegetation on Conder Pool where I noticed an increase in wader numbers, being c.350 Redshank and up to 40 Lapwing, the two young Oystercatcher still surviving and growing, and I could find only 3 Common Sandpiper today. On the circuit, two - possibly three - House Martin nests are active at Cafe d' Lune, whilst none have taken up at River Winds this year, 3 Reed Bunting and 10 Linnet seen.

Juvenile Grey Heron. Pete Woodruff.

On the Lune Estuary, 10 Little Egret was a good count, with good close views of 2 Grey Heron juvenile with their full black crown, grey neck, and dingier plumage, a build up of Lapwing and Curlew numbers was noted. On Jeremy Lane 2 Reed Bunting as I drove along.

At Cockersands, a couple of hours raking around produced just 3 Skylark, 2 Linnet, a Sedge Warbler, and a Reed Bunting, and the usual Bank Houses area Tree Sparrow.

Splash Of Colour. Pete Woodruff.

A splash of colour in the Cockersands sea of green....'Clik the pik' it's quite pretty, and the Painted Lady is even prettier - stunning even - thanks to Warren.

Monday, 29 June 2015

The Squeeze....Short And Sweet.

Common Tern Attack Martin Jump  

After a busy morning last Friday, I managed to squeeze in little more than an hour at Conder Green to find the Common Terns attacking all and sundry that came within a few metres of the nest, which - if the terns are on course with their breeding - will by now have young, though when we're likely to see them through the vegetation is anyone's guess, but Common Tern young swim at an early age so maybe not long to wait.

Numbers have now started to build up, with 6 Common Sandpiper seen in the creeks with a double figure likely here anytime soon, also a Spotted Redshank any day now. Up to 200 Redshank were between the creeks and Conder Pool where I noted the drake Wigeon. I also finally caught up with a Lesser Whitethroat on the coastal path singing in the rain....

The squeeze was over and the rain had won again.

Is it a bird!

No, its Wallace and Gromit at the Morecambe Kite Festival....Brilliant stuff.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Dull And Dreary Barbondale.

I'm tempted to call the birding dull and dreary as well as the weather. When I visited Barbondale on Thursday the weather was certainly dull and dreary, more reminiscent of April than June. As for the birding....well I can never quite refer to birding as dreary.

As I drove towards the footbridge to park up, a Jay flew across my path. The first bird I saw soon after I got on to the footpath was the Cuckoo which I had seen on my first visit here on 7 May but not since. Lucky to see this bird as ten satellite tagged Cuckoo's have already left the UK, seven of which are now in France, two in Italy, and another having moved on from Italy and into Slovenia....Amazing stuff.

I found just one pair of Pied Flycatcher still feeding young, hopefully they might successfully fledge as the weather forecast sounds good with a heat wave on its way apparently. But the breeding Pied Flycatchers have suffered badly at some locations, no big surprises there I would'nt' think.

Green Woodpecker Antonio Puigg  

I heard a Green Woodpecker 'yaffle' just once briefly, saw/heard just 3 Willow Warbler, heard a singing male Blackcap, a 'few' Long-tailed Tit, a Treecreeper, a female Reed Bunting carrying food in its bill, and a Kestrel.

Barbon Beck. Pete Woodruff.

It took me two hours to find a Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Grey Wagtail were on Barbon Beck, one of which did me a good turn by attacking the flycatcher which was out of my view behind one of the large stones in the beck, it flew into a nearby tree and promptly started to shake itself and preen, it had obviously been disturbed from bathing.

Every ground nesting birds nightmare a Stoat ran across the path ahead of me, 2 Painted Lady butterflies didn't represent an invasion but good to see all the same.

Some negatives at Barbondale this year....I've personally found no Whinchat, Tree Pipit, or Wheatear in four visits, seen just one male Stonechat on 7 May and not since, and today I saw not one Redstart.

The Cuckoos.  

You can keep up to date with the Cuckoos having said goodbye to the UK Here 

Friday, 26 June 2015

The LBJ.

On my first visit to Barbondale this year on 7 May, I had noted two distant female Pied Flycatcher together showing interest in a nest hole, at the time I had thought this rather odd, but marking them in my little black book I moved on. 

Not having seen these birds since May, it has taken me until my latest visit to Barbondale yesterday to realise that I had been caught off guard with these two, this time I observed them both going to a nest to feed young, and realised as I got closer to them, I was watching a pair of Pied Flycatcher, one of which was a brown female lookalike 1st summer male.

1st Summer Male Pied Flycatcher Brian Rafferty 

Off guard not least because this is the second bird of its kind I've seen here at Barbondale, my first was of one seen 28 April 2011. Nevertheless, this bird is clearly a brown 1st summer male Pied Flycatcher showing bold wing markings, a white-edged tail, and the forehead patch divided into two in the middle.

Male/Female Pied Flycatcher Martin Jump  

Thanks to Brian for his prompt attention to forwarding me these 1st summer male photographs at the top, and to Martin for his male and female birds above.

Thursday, 25 June 2015


Tuesday was an excellent day chat-wise, though ten Stonechat isn't anything of significance, but my best in 6 years and good to find them at the three locations visited, and the weather was excellent too. The plan was first to check out Harrisend, and then Hawthornthwaite on the west and east side, and I succeeded in doing all three.

Stonechat Gary Jones 

Harrisend produced the best result of the day and I found 6 Stonechat there, seen as two pairs, one of which had two young. Also noted, 23 Meadow Pipit4 Redpoll, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Wren, 2 Jay, and a Linnet. I flushed a Snipe ahead of me out of a damp area, raptors seen 2 Buzzard, butterflies were 3 Small Heath.

Kestrel. Noushka Dufort @ 1000-Pattes

Kestrel which I saw over Harrisend, high and soaring on the thermals, suddenly went into a spectacular stoop. I've never seen a Kestrel stoop before and it was difficult to keep up to, but when it put the brakes on I saw it go to chase another Kestrel which it had obviously seen from the height and distance....amazing, both these birds were female. I watched these two for several minutes, during which time the bird being attacked went circling higher and higher until it took to soaring on thermals, having outrun and outmanoeuvred it's attacker. 

On Hawthornthwaite Fell I found a pair of Stonechat, c.40 Sand Martin were impressive flying up and down the stream. Otherwise, just 2 Meadow Pipit, a Kestrel, and a Small Copper butterfly seen.

On the east side of Hawthornthwaite I found another 2 Stonechat, these two were seen as a male and young bird. I couldn't believe these two were alone, but despite a twenty minute watch no others seen. I saw 4 Meadow Pipit, 3 Wren, 2 Willow Warbler, and a Small Heath butterfly.

At Marshaw it was good to find a pair of successful breeding Common Sandpiper, they were alarmed at my presence and were calling at two young, also seen was a Goldcrest.

Thanks to Gary for the male, female, and young Stonechat, and to Noushka for the Kestrel, excellent on all counts and much appreciated.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Green And Harbour.

A look in at Conder Green yesterday had me seeing both Common Terns, they went into the air together at one point and dive bombed 5 Carrion Crow which came menacingly over Conder Pool, only a few minutes later they attacked a Pheasant in the same manner on the adjoining island. Also on the pool, 2 Little Egret, the summer plumage Little Grebe was here again, not seen since 14 April, 2 Mallard females had just three and two ducklings respectfully, so no good breeding successes there. A good number of Sand Martin were feeding along the pool side hedgerow with a single House Martin noted, a Song Thrush was heard in full song. In the creeks, 2 Common Sandpiper, and at least 70 Redshank.

Mediterranean Gull Geoff Gradwell 

I decided to pay Heysham Harbour a visit and gave the power station outfalls two hours before and up to high tide, by which time I'd found 10 Mediterranean Gull, all 2cy birds in variable plumage with the exception of a stunning adult on Red Nab, two birds were on Stage 1 outfall, five on Stage 2, and three on Red Nab. As I walked back to the motor I saw a Whitethroat on the reserve.      

And finally....The ultimate fly tipper strikes.

We all know the kind of people we share this planet with - but wish we didn't really have to - but thought I'd feature this ultimate in fly tipping at Conder Green. It's been here about a week, and now has some kind of order notice attached to it, but no doubt the council will have to remove the wreck and nobody will be brought to book.  

Monday, 22 June 2015

Despite All My Wanderings!

Willow Warbler David Cookson

I'm told of a local bird recorder in East Anglia who has referred to....'a worrying lack of Willow Warbler locally this year'....a feeling I've had myself in and around our area.

The 'Missing' Gallery.

Not to be seen as a suggestion of the decline in the numbers of these three species, but just that despite all the hours of wanderings, I've yet to connect this summer with the Lesser Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, and the Tree Pipit.

Lesser Whitethroat. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery

Last year I had seen a Lesser Whitethroat on 10 June at Conder Green - I actually saw a report of one there yesterday - as a migrant breeder in our area, mainly restricted to the coastal fringe.

Garden Warbler Jan Larsson 

A Garden Warbler was at Stoops Bridge in Abbeystead on 17 June last year where I see at least one almost annually, a fairly common migrant breeder in our area. 

Tree Pipit Antonio Puigg  

....and a Tree Pipit at Barbondale on 29 April 2014, where I've neither heard nor seen one in three visits to Barbondale this summer, and didn't find one on my Clougha/Birk Bank visit last week. The Tree Pipit is an uncommon and declining breeder, and is a species on the Red List, all of which has contributed to my not seeing one yet this year. 

Thanks to David/Jan/Martin/Antonio for the excellent gallery, and to Warren for the brilliant Redstart header.

I'd sooner be birding!....And when I can, perhaps I'll eventually catch up with these three, but time's running out, the summer solstice has past.