Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Here To Stay....Gone For Good.

Here To Stay.

It was good to find both of the Common Terns on Conder Pool again on Tuesday. 

Common Tern. Conder Pool. 26 May. Pete Woodruff.

Following their arrival here last Friday they are obviously here to stay and hopefully to breed for their second year. When I arrived at the pool and first saw them, the bird on the right of the picture above was inside the right hand box of the ones in place on the island....Brilliant stuff.

Gone For Good.

Of all our birds, the Skylark epitomises the dramatic fall in farmland bird populations more than any other.

Towards the latter part of the 20th century - maybe more than for any other species since the Whitethroat in the early 1970's - alarm bells began to ring when a drop of 60% in numbers of Skylark was shown and an intensive study began into the decline.

I've seen and heard the Skylark at Cockersands on every visit made there recently, and when I was there again on Tuesday I did my own study, one which I do each year around this time and in particular at this location, which cost me absolutely nothing save a couple of hours of observations and with no science or intense study necessary. These were observations anyone could have done on a visit to the countryside in thousands of locations up and down the land, all with the same result. 

May Harvesting. Pete Woodruff.

This huge field was one of at least six I found having been cut, machine placed into neat lines ready....

May Harvesting. Pete Woodruff.

....for the man and his army of tractors and trailers, to hoover up the grasses, along with all the nests, eggs, or young the Skylarks would have had.

The results of the lengthy, costly, and intense scientific studies....'seem to be largely due to the adverse effects of changes in agricultural practices'....well there's a surprise!!

For a little more impact 'clik the piks'....they're quite good. 

Monday, 25 May 2015

Back In The Spotlight.

To be honest I wasn't fit to be out on Friday, and I actually played my part as a so called birder only by half. I was well on the way down with a virus of sorts and by now I'm almost on the deck with it....but enough of this irrelevant dribble for a birding blog.

The Conder Tern.

Common Tern and nest box. Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff.

Common Tern. Conder Pool. 22 May 2015. Pete Woodruff.

It was nothing less than an absolute delight to find a Common Tern back on Conder Pool on Friday afternoon - a nice surprise - and was the first bird I saw on an otherwise almost deserted pool. 

The Common Tern is known for it's site fidelity and this one was within a couple of metres of last years nest, one past record of site fidelity within the species is of a pair faithful to the same site for 17 years which only came to an end when one of the birds died. At one point my bird on Friday was joined briefly by another, but by then I was viewing from the fence at the west end of the pool and I actually missed it's arrival to join it's mate, but I reckon it almost certainly came in with a fish and presented it to her in early courtship behaviour which takes place on the ground. 

The Common Tern can begin egg laying in mid-May, though last year they didn't arrive on Conder Pool until eight weeks later in mid-July yet still had a successful breeding season it's fingers crossed for a second excellent breeding record on Conder Pool in 2015.

Other sightings noted. 

Something of another spectacle was of at least 100 'hyrundines' hawking over Conder Pool in the murky damp mist of Friday afternoon, half this number were House Martin, with Sand Martin, Swift, and Swallow. About 6 House Martin were flighting around the River Conder/River Winds/Cafe d' Lune area but I saw no nest activity at either of the properties.

Driving along Jeremy Lane a bird on a fence post had me jumping to attention, until it turned out to be a Reed Bunting. At Cockersands, a large number of waders were again in the Abbey Farm field distant as last Tuesday, I estimated up to 500 Dunlin, and 150 Ringed Plover. Plover Scar was deserted at high tide, and having seen a Wheatear I had to admit to defeat in the cold, misty, damp conditions.

This brief trip out last Friday was well rewarded by the reappearance of the Common Tern to put Conder Pool back in the spotlight yet again. 

Saturday, 23 May 2015

B'dale Revisited.

I like to keep my eye on things in the early summer at Barbondale and made my second visit there this year on Thursday in weather more reminiscent of March with grey skies, a cold wind still blowing, and not a glimpse of sun to be seen....this can't possibly be good for breeding birds.

I marked up 23 species in the three enjoyable and rewarding hours I spent there, most notable was 3 Pied Flycatcher seen as a pair and a lone female, though I suspect there was more evading me as my next visit might hopefully prove, the visit on 7 May produced three pair. Also of note, I found 5 Redstart including a female, and probably heard another three singing males, at least 10 Willow Warbler were seen/heard, 2 Nuthatch included one entering a tree hole, 2 Dunnock, a Treecreeper, Goldcrest, and a number of Chaffinch are notable here this year. A Dipper was on Barbon Beck where several Swallow were hawking accompanied by a lone Sand Martin.

Plan for the day was to go on to Clapham and the Newby Moor area where I've not visited for a couple of years as a previous Stonechat stronghold prior to the two harsh winters starting in 2009/10. But the weather on Thursday held back my enthusiasm for a visit, so I abandoned the idea for another day.

Two Of A Kind.

   Stonechat Brian Rafferty

Jay Gary Jones 

Two 'I can't resist these' in flight shots, both in the 'brilliant' category, the Stonechat with thanks to BR, and the Jay with thanks to GJ. Thanks also to Ana for the excellent Nightingale header, one of which isn't likely to turn up anytime soon up here i'nt north.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Gone With The Wind....

....and the rain.

'If you ever go across the sea to Ireland'. Pete Woodruff.

Yes, I was at Cockersands again on Tuesday, you only have to look at the 'clik the pik' picture above to know that and to see how serious the rain really looked. There was a bit of a howler blowing and cold with it, the rain was rushing towards me and I had to make another of those all to common dashes to hell out of days birding ended with something of a short list.

But before the rain....There was an interesting good number of waders in a field too distant to scan through with any accuracy, but combined with those on Plover Scar at high tide, my estimate was of, 600 Dunlin and 400 Ringed Plover

Sanderling. Howard Stockdale.

Also on the scar, a single Sanderling and a male Turnstone looking positively superb in it's summer plumage. I heard a Whitethroat in the Lighthouse Cottage garden, saw 2 Stock Dove, 2 Skylark, and that was my lot for the couple of hours I got in at Cockersands.

At least 50 Swift with a 'few' Sand Martin were hawking over Conder Pool - I had seen good numbers of Swift also over Moss Lane - the Great-crested Grebe was the only notable bird on the pool.

And a bit of a fluke.

 Swift. Pete Woodruff.

When I was taking a pic of the nest boxes on Conder Pool I had no idea this Swift was shooting past in the viewing screen. I was really pleased when I put my shots up on the computer to find this bird perfectly placed in the frame as a bonus. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015


....until I can get out birding again, a couple of interesting records.

Raven. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery

I'm reliably informed of up to 40 Raven recently over Cold Stone on Catlow Fell SD7160. I'm personally not sure of the significance of the Raven at this location in the Forest of Bowland, but have to say it sounds an exceptional record, at least in terms of the number of birds. 

Common Tern Martin Jump 

Also an interesting record of a Common Tern at Conder Green seven days ago on 12 May. Interesting in itself....

Nest Boxes Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff.

....but more interesting in wondering if the bird paid any attention to the nest boxes in position on two islands on Conder Pool, placed there specifically in the hope they attract the Common Terns back there again this year to breed as the did successfully last year to rear two young to fledging and create an exciting and excellent breeding record for the area.

The Conder Green Spotted Redshank.

Spotted Redshank Paul Foster

The resident Spotted Redshank at Conder Green has departed, I last saw the bird here on 22 April, it was last seen in 2014 six days later than this years date on 28 April, it returned to Conder Green a little over two months later on 1 July 2014, it will be interesting to see the date it returns this year.

Thanks to two Martin's for the excellent and much appreciated images, and to Paul for his excellent Spotted Redshank which was shot on his recent trip to Cyprus, quite some distance from our bird at Conder Green.

I'd sooner be birding!....and didn't bargain for another gap to follow so soon after last weeks 'off the road' experience.  

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Back On The Beat.

It was good to get out birding again on Friday, though the first port of call at Conder Green things were a little quiet with just 2 Goosander, 3 Tufted Duck, a rare visit by the Great-crested Grebe, and a Little Egret all on Conder Pool.

Reed Warbler Jan Larrson  

But I was treated to good views of my first Reed Warbler out on the reed edge just upstream from the A588 road bridge, also 2 Reed Bunting seen here too.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock produced little more than 145 waders which were seen as, 75 Bar-tailed Godwit, and 50 Ringed Plover which represented my best ever count of a species at best uncommon in this section of the Lune Estuary, also 20 Dunlin, 14 Eider, and a single House Martin flew by.

On Jeremy Lane, I failed to find the Whinchat reported to me as having been seen earlier, but heard a Sedge Warbler and Skylark, and saw a Brown Hare.

Inland birds noted at Cockersands were, a decent count of 10 Stock Dove, at least 9 Tree Sparrow were around Bank Houses, 7 Skylark, 6 Goldfinch, and 5 Whitethroat, a Little Egret was on Plover Scar. I saw my second Cockersands adult Lapwing in a field with a lone chick surviving the intensive agricultural practices.

No major surprises, but good to be back on the road again following a short break from the normality of my birding life.

The Cockersands Dotterel. 

Dotterel. Cockersands 8-11 May 2015. Stuart Piner.

I was grateful to SP for sending me a selection of excellent images of the Cockersands Dotterel, and have posted three in flight shots of these brilliant little waders which graced the ploughed field behind the Lighthouse Cottage car park and pleased many a birder over their three day stay.

An excellent follow on record by these five birds....

Dotterel. Cockersands 16 April 2013. Chris Batty. 

....which was a single Dotterel found amongst 275 Golden Plover at Cockersands on the early date of 16 April 2013, this was the first record of the species for the Fylde Bird Club for 13 years.

Thanks also to Jan and Chris for the other excellent images. Please 'clik the piks' to see how good they really are.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Political Correctness.

Having been away for a few days, until I catch up and get back into my birding stride, I'm filling the gap again with some more politics.

The post I published before leaving for London - Sign of the Times - touched on the annual spring massacre in Malta which rages on despite the country being a member of the EU which requires them to bide the laws laid out in the European Bird Directive which they blatantly don't. 

OK....So I don't need to be told there's more than Malta involved here, but read the next few lines, and as far as Malta and it's unfortunate birds which get in the line of fire are concerned you'll see the joke and wonder if any of this will make any difference to the 10,000 'funsters' who have already slaughtered thousands of birds this year so far, thanks to a national referendum that voted to allow them to do couldn't make it up.  

The Law of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds, is the EU’s oldest piece of nature legislation and one of the most important, creating a comprehensive scheme of protection for all wild bird species naturally occurring in the Union. It was adopted unanimously by the Members States in 1979 as a response to increasing concern about the declines in Europe's wild bird populations resulting from pollution, loss of habitats as well as unsustainable use. It was also in recognition that wild birds, many of which are migratory, are a shared heritage of the Member States and that their effective conservation required international co-operation.

But the RSPB are up on their feet again to tell us the European Commission is giving everyone the chance to have their say, and the RSPB need you to add your voice to thousands of others and Defend Nature.

Read all about it and join in the campaign Here  

Wot Birds2blog and no pics!!

Apparently there is an error in the link when you get to 'Add Your Voice' which reads....

The client and server don't support a common SSL protocol version or cipher suite. This is usually caused when the server needs SSLv3 support, which has been removed.

So much for trying to have your say and join the campaign!!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Sign Of The Times..

Turtle Dove. Author Unknown.

Malta's spring hunting referendum resulted in the country voting in a national poll to allow the privilege of a few to continue to kill for fun in spring. The rapidly declining Turtle Dove and Quail will be/will have been legally shot this spring, along with other species in their thousands. 

Truly amazing this isn't it, it's all illegal under the terms of the island's membership of the EU, and as such they could be thrown out, but nobody does anything about it, or more to the point maybe doesn't want to do anything about it.  

Quail. Author Unknown.

It is unfortunate that amongst other campaigners, an independent team led by Chris Packham last year to address this issue and to confront the shooters, has had no impact this time, but I'm convinced nobody will be giving up the fight against this tragic situation both in Malta and elsewhere in the world.

Meanwhile some slaughtering back home.... 

An interesting thread developed on a local website I visit daily, interesting if only for the one response to a brief comment I made regarding the disappearance of three male Hen Harriers in Bowland recently. 

I've deleted the 
authors name as I have no permission to publish it and am not prepared to do so without it. Iv'e also deleted the opening comments which are irrelevant to the main subject, but otherwise have copied word for word what was said in the thread but not including the sign. 

Pete Woodruff.

Everyone - birders or not - should be aware that three male Hen Harriers have gone missing from active nests in Bowland.


….but I did notice that beneath the road sign denoting the boundary of the Forest of Bowland ANOB (between Dolphinholme and Abbeystead) someone had added a second handwritten sign which read 'Twinned with Malta'.

Pete Woodruff

This is an excellent piece of info 'anonymous'.

The sign you mention is presumably the one depicting the Hen Harrier, which in itself is - and always was - an insult to the species, totally inappropriate, and should have been dismantled years ago. 

Now more bad news

More bad news from me is that 'other things' have taken me over for at least four days, but looking like the possibility of a week off the road with no birding/blogging. 

Well, that won't drastically change anyone's life at all....but it certainly will mine. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Not Before Time!

A bit late with the news, but....

Whinchat. Warren Baker @ Pittswood Birds 

An excellent visit to Cockersands on Friday gave me my first Whinchat of the year, though not before time as there have been many reports on the pager, websites, e-mails and texts to me from birders about good numbers passing through, the best of which - thanks to AC - was of 6 Whinchat together at Wrampool Bridge last Thursday. 

Dotterel. Cockersands 8 May. Chris Batty.

But better was to follow the Whinchat when my mobile rang with SP at the other end telling me that he'd found a trip of 5 Dotterel in the ploughed field behind the Lighthouse Cottage car park. I was on my way back to Lancaster at the time, and had pulled into the lay-by to take a look over Conder Pool, but did a rapid u-turn and was treated to excellent views of these five beauties which had come down with the rain and into the field at Cockersands....'Cock of the North'. 

Also seen on this visit, 8 Wheatear, 8 Linnet, a Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Stock Dove, and the Lapwing seen on 30 April with the lone surviving young bird was seen again. On Plover Scar at high tide, an estimated 500 waders were seen as c.250 Dunlin and Ringed Plover, with 2 Turnstone and a Grey Plover of note.

Whitethroat. Ana Minguez @ Naturanafotos

On Jeremy Lane, a Whitethroat, 2 Reed Bunting, and a Brown Hare seen. And on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 14 Bar-tailed Godwit, a single Black-tailed Godwit, 28 Eider were probably my best count ever here in the little black book, and 2 Little Egret.

I never did get to check Conder Pool, in my book a cardinal sin committed. 

Thanks to Warren/Chris/Ana for the excellent images to accompany this post, they are much appreciated. Thanks also to Brian Rafferty for the excellent Dotterel header....not a Cockersands bird I hasten to add.

Friday, 8 May 2015

The Barbon Birds.

Though there was one or two absentees, with the exception of the Meadow Pipits I collected 28 species yesterday, not too bad for Barbondale which is only a relatively small area as those who know the area will tell you but pretty good for species numbers.

Pied Flycatcher. Howard Stockdale.

I found 5 Pied Flycatcher, they were seen as two pairs and a single female though I reckon she had a mate somewhere around keeping his head down, so five pairs the distinct possibility. Seven Redstart seen included a female collecting nesting material and taking it to a tree hole. 

Cuckoo Marc Heath

I had been here a couple of hours but eventually came upon a distant and silent Cuckoo on the hillside. Also of note, at least 5 Nuthatch, a few uncounted Willow Warbler, a Grey Wagtail was the only bird of note on Barbon Beck, though a few Swallow were over the beck, maybe breeders from the farm on the hill, 2 Mistle Thrush and 2 Coal Tit, with a Buzzard and 2 Kestrel representing the raptors. The 21 Meadow Pipit were the only birds I saw on a couple of mile walk following Barbon Beck north-east.

Stonechat Gary Jones 

Only some dogged determination turned up a male Stonechat, seen as the last bird on the day after 6.5 hours in the area, presumably with a female sitting on the nest somewhere close by. 

End your day the proper way and find yourself a Stonechat! 

Thanks to Howard/Marc/Gary for the images....Wonderful stuff.