Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A Twitchers Tale.

I'm not known as a twitcher, but have on ocassions been known to contradict my claim that I'm not one, and a search through my records came up with the date Friday 2 February 2007, a sunny and mild day when with John Bateman and Brian Townson we drove to Bingley in the White Rose County of Yorkshire where we had excellent views of a first winter American Robin which had been in the area for several days. 

American Robin. Martin Lofgren.

The American Robin is the most widespread N American thrush, and is a colourful bird which goes some way to make me understand what gives lots of birders the urge to twitch - and in some cases drive hundreds of miles - to see a bird you've never seen in your life before.

The American Robin has some interesting history connected to it in Britain and Ireland. The first record in Britain was of a bird on Lundy, Devon in 1952, and was found following a period of strong westerly winds responsible for a massive wreck of Leach's Storm-petrels. It was eventually driven into a Heligoland trap, ringed and noted to have lost almost 40% of it's body weight. But this record in Britain was predated when an old Irish record of a bird at Shankill, Co Dublin in 1891 was reviewed, accepted, and subsequently preceded the British record on Lundy in 1952. But the actual first mention of American Robin in Britain was from Dover, Kent in 1876, but it was considered to have escaped from a passing ship.

A failed attempt by one Lord Northcliffe, to introduce American Robin to Britain in Guildford, Surrey, was probably responsible for a bird that built a nest in Richmond Park in May 1912.

Pacific Diver Farnham GP 2007. Pete Woodruff.

But Friday 2 February 2007 was a double bonus day, and after we'd had our fill of the American Robin we were off across country to see another 'MEGA' bird which by amazing coincidence was in the same County of Yorkshire at Farnham Gravel Pits near knaresborough. This was a juvenile Pacific Diver and a first for Britain which gave excellent views and had been present here about a month since early January, the news of which had initially been suppressed the site being a private one. 

The Pacific Diver is a largely Nearctic species that breeds from Alaska across N Canada and also occurs in NE Siberia. Hard to understand why a bird which leaves the frozen waters of N America to winter along the Pacific coasts as far south as China and California, to end up on an inland gravel pit in Yorkshire. Even more amazing is that a total of three of this species were found in GB in 2007, with the bird in Yorkshire Jan/Feb, the second at Llys-y-Fran in Pembrokeshire, and the third at Mounts Bay in Cornwall, both these birds present Feb/March....truly amazing.

Thanks to Martin Lofgren at Wild Bird Gallery for allowing me to use his excellent image of the American Robin, and to PW for his photographic efforts with the 'Yorkshire' juvenile Pacific Diver.

I'd sooner be birding!....but can't/aren't....maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Doing The Rounds.

I was able to look in on Conder Pool on Friday, the lay-by was clear of roadworks machinery and there was no sign of human activity. The road has three large holes, two of which are filled in with temporary material, and the road is controlled by lights, but difficult to work out what is exactly going on here, relaying/repairs are on the cards but there's some delay in getting the job started.

Fifteen Little Grebe were quietly enjoying their diving and catching small fry by the dozen, they appeared to have the pool to themselves. In the creeks, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, c.80 Redshank, similar Teal, and 2 Little Egret.

I decided to leg it to Glasson Dock again, well apparently we have to be on our guard and on the look out for Yellow-browed Warbler around this time, so I went into jump to attention mode when I saw a small number of 'tits' working through the bushes on the coastal path, it was nice to find one bird amongst them was a Chiffchaff, otherwise Blue Tit, Great Tit, and Long-tailed Tit.

Common Gulls/Black-headed Gull. Pete Woodruff.

Checking the Lune Estuary I took notes of estimated 450 Common Gull, 420 Golden Plover, 150 Bar-tailed Godwit, 50 Knot, 2 Spotted Redshank, and 10 Little Egret.

Curlew Sandpiper Jan Larsson

At Cockersands, a Curlew Sandpiper was off Crook Farm and took the days 'pole position' for me, closely followed by an adult Mediterranean Gull which was with Black-headed Gulls in a ploughed field off Slack Lane where I saw 4 Greenfinch and the local Kestrel hovering overhead. Up to 500 Golden Plover were by the Cocker channel, and 3 Wheatear were along the headland. I wondered if these would be my last of the year, but knowing Cockersands and the Wheatear historically....probably not.

Looking forward to next weeks birding....Meanwhile, thanks to Jan Larsson for the excellent Curlew Sandpiper image. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Briefly Birding!

Whooper Swan. Brian Rafferty.

On a relatively brief birding day Wednesday I made the short trip south down the A588 to find 82 Whooper Swan, 62 of which were on Pilling Marsh, and 20 in a field off Fluke Hall Lane, my first of the winter with not a Pink-footed Goose in sight, though I made no attempt to search further afield and onto the mosslands.

At Conder Green, Conder Pool was out of the question with the lay-by taken over by roadworks machinery, manpower, and traffic signals causing mini jams. The job appears to be a week late starting as I saw the sign erected two weeks ago claiming to start on 6 October. To make matters worse, it looks like there's work being done on both the pool and at creeks end of the outfall. I'd guess the pool was void of birdlife though I didn't go near the place....the creeks certainly were deserted.

Spotted Redshank. Brian Rafferty. 

A walk round the undisturbed parts of the creeks had me finding a Spotted RedshankCommon Sandpiper, and Snipe. Along the coastal path and looking in the wrong direction, when I turned I caught sight of the back end of a flock of what were almost certainly my first Redwing.

Bar-tailed Godwit. Brian Rafferty

Checking the Lune Estuary as I legged it along the path I estimated at least 350 Bar-tailed Godwit up a hundred on my count there on Monday, a 'few' knot were intermingled with them. By the time I got to Glasson Dock I had seen a Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, c.200 Dunlin, 150 Golden Plover, and a Goosander hauled out.

Migrants at Walney.

Yellow-browed Warbler. Stuart Piner.

I note in addition to having 7 Yellow-browed Warbler so far this autumn 17 Stonechat were amongst the grounded migrants yesterday at Walney Bird Observatory  

Thanks to BR for the trio of images for the post, and to SP for the YBW at Cockersands last autumn, they are much appreciated. 

Good news about a bad idea. 

If you read and had any interest in This perhaps you'd like to know the status of the Planning Application which is that it has been withdrawn. But....'And here's another bad idea'....certainly hasn't been withdrawn and is at best not a good plan if it goes ahead. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Eleven Days Later.

After eleven days out of business 'twas was good to get out birding again yesterday to notice Conder Pool as Conder Lake again following the recent high tides. With 12 Little Grebe on the pool I found the peak count of seventeen on 2 October down by five, but I note seventeen reported again on Saturday 11 October. In the creeks, a Ruff, 2 Spotted Redshank, a Snipe, 2 Little Egret, and up to 80 Teal

Robin Bob Bushell 

Along the coastal path, three birds in the bushes got me jumping to attention with wishful thinking but they turned out to be 2 Robin - one trying to see the other off - and a Blue TitI noted 42 Tufted Duck on the canal basin at Glasson Dock, and on the Lune Estuary, an estimated 250 Bar-tailed Godwit and 180 Golden Plover, with at least 250 Wigeon of note.

At Cockersands I eventually ended up being not happy, it was cloudy with a brisk and cold NE wind, it came on to rain a good 30 minutes away from the motor, and no 'prize birds' seen....whatever 'prize birds' are. 

Off Crook Farm, 12 Dunlin, 10 Knot, and up to 900 Golden Plover which I was able to grill two hours later when I found them in a field with Lapwing behind Crook Cottage. On Plover Scar, c.80 Turnstone and 800 Oystercatcher, 4 Red-breasted Merganser were off here, and 4 Little Egret in the area.

Little Egret. Pete Woodruff.

Opposite the Caravan Park, this Little Egret posed whilst I practiced the art of photography....Mmmmm! In the Cocker channel, 4 Great-crested Grebe, 6 Red-breasted Merganser, and 6 Little Egret seen on Cockerham Marsh.

Common Crane Cockersands 12 October. Stuart Piner.

On Sunday 3 Common Crane flew south over Cockersands at 1.03pm, an hour and thirty seven minutes later at 2.40pm, 3 Common Crane flew SSW over Seaforth LWT in Liverpool. Thanks to SP and the RBA pager service for the news.

Thanks to BB/SP/PW for photographs....excellent and all worthy of 'clik the pik'. 

Saturday, 11 October 2014

On Your Doorstep.....

....and in the Arctic.

The depraved criminals who are slaughtering birds of prey and any other form of wildlife that gets in the way of the 'sport' they love, are closer to home than you might have imagined. Take a look at the map below - sorry a bit difficult to read - and if you are a birder who likes to get into the uplands of Bowland and live within this recording area, you will clearly see these people are doing their evil work on your doorstep. 

The map charts the last transmissions of the two young Hen Harriers - Sky and Hope -  recently 'gone missing', and is a clear indication of just where and when these two birds were at the time of their death.

I've trampled in and around these two circles on this map and the Bowland uplands many times over the years, and spend as much time birding here as anyone. I meet and speak to many of the 'estate staff' going about their daily land management routines, which range from some unnecessary to the downright criminal, and it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth to think I 'might' have rubbed shoulders with someone in disguise and not quite what they seemed.

Sky’s last transmission was at 7.33pm on Wednesday 10 September around Summersgill Fell, west of Thrushgill, in the Forest of Bowland. Hope’s last transmission was at 10.51am on the Saturday 13 September around Mallowdale Pike, also in the Forest of Bowland....'Missing in the Forest of Bowland'....well there's a surprise then!

LEGO has announced it will not renew its contract with Shell.

In the last few weeks Lego has made the break with Shell, having finally seen that it's a bad look for a toy company to work with another company that doesn't care about protecting our children's future. This is a huge blow to Shell’s strategy of partnering with beloved brands to mask its plans to drill in the Arctic. And it's the perfect start to the next phase of a campaign to keep Shell from plundering the Arctic’s pristine waters.

Now Shell is more alone than ever, but is still racing full speed ahead to get permission to drill in the fragile Arctic waters of Alaska in 2015. Meanwhile just days ago, the Arctic sea ice cover reached one of its lowest points on record.

Greenpeace and their movement to 'Save the Arctic' is now more than six million strong and just days ago they took the proposal for an Arctic sanctuary all the way to Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General.

Today’s news is the next step. It sends a strong message to other brands that companies that support Arctic drilling are simply too toxic to work with. And that the public will no longer accept silence when the stakes are this high. Whatever Shell does, wherever it tries to hide, we’ll be there exposing its true face, condemning its environmental destruction, and standing up for the Arctic.

Thanks to Marc Heath for the Rustic Bunting.

Still no birding for me, this is serious....maybe even life threatening!!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Annual Reports.

My birding has taken a direct hit due to major refurbishment to one of the rooms at home. Not looking good, and I may well be 'out of it' for more than a week at this rate.

But I'm in receipt of two excellent 2013 Annual Reports, so at least plenty of birding interest to read. Both of these reports are excellent publications, and I would personally like to thank everyone involved in the production of these two comprehensive records. If you have an interest in the records of the birds of the LDBWS recording area....

....and Lancashire in 2013 I can strongly recommend them. 

Though the cover photograph on the LDBWS report is an ID simple, the one on the Lancashire report is something of a challenge you might like to take on. 

I took particular note that both the LDBWS and Lancashire Reports recorded the only pair of Stonechat I found in the Clougha/Birk Bank area in 2013, and both also mentioned that I had recorded 43 here in 2005 before they started a decline culminating with a total disappearance following two harsh winter periods after which the Stonechat has yet to return to Clougha including this year of 2014. This despite pairs apparently breeding in all the main valleys and in many side-valleys on the United Utilities Bowland Estate. Perhaps the Stonechat isn't going to make a return again to the former stronghold of Clougha/Birk Bank....I'll be investigating this in 2015 with renewed enthusiasm.

It was interesting to see only one Common Sandpiper had wintered in our area in 2013 being the Conder Green bird. This winter looks like it may have two birds though three were reported on Friday 3 October.

Dotterel Cockersands 16 April 2013. Chris Batty.

The Dotterel found at Cockersands with Golden Plovers took it's rightful place in the reports. 

Killdeer. Martin Lofgren. 

And Lancashire claimed three first records in 2013, a Killdeer was found at Alston Wetland in April, a Two-barred Crossbill was found at a farm on Browsholme Estate in August, and a Baikal Teal was on Crossens Out Marsh in November.

Thanks to Chris Batty for the Dotterel, and to Martin Lofgren at Wild Bird Gallery for the Killdeer.

Best get my hands into the tool box I'm getting withdrawal symptoms! 

Monday, 6 October 2014

Bad News About A Bad Idea....

....with some suggestions of objection if anyone would like to consider and launch them.

Re application number: 14/00618/CU Proposed Caravan Site at Cockersands. 

1. Road Infrastructure.

The only access to the proposed new caravan site is via Moss Lane. This is a single track road with only a few passing places. There are several 90 degree corners at which accidents have occurred the most recent resulting in a car ending up in one of the dykes. Already the traffic increase during the summer months causes blockades and detrimental wear to the road surface. To add vehicles for another 42 residencies and their families to this seems highly irresponsible to the existing road and its users.

2. Environmental Impact.

While I appreciate the application supplied an environmental impact report it seems to only concern itself with the actual grounds that will be built upon. My concern is with the increased unsuitable recreational uses on the sands themselves. As a birder I've noticed a decline in the diversity and number of wading birds on the sands between Crook Farm and Cockersands Holiday Park. Whilst much of this can be explained by wider environmental factors, some of this is due to the increased use of vehicles on the shore in this area which is especially evident on Plover Scar. 

3.Contradiction in Application. 

In the supporting notes to the application, it is claimed that past approval for the conversion of existing dwellings into three holiday cottages signifies 'the re-use of the existing buildings on site for holiday accommodation is acceptable in principle'. I would argue there is a significant difference between the impact of three holiday cottages and 42 chalets.

4. Light pollution. 

While the plans do not show lighting for the individual plots, 42 chalets would require at least one light each, plus driveway lighting. This will increase the light pollution.

You can read more on the Planning Application HERE and lodge your own objection quoting application number 14/00618/CU  to 

And here's another bad idea.

I'm currently digging into this one, meanwhile here's what I know about the story so far which I find both disturbing and unbelievable....

There are plans to redirect a sewage outfall into the mouth of the River Lune. Although treated, it will only be semi-treated and will affect the water quality in the mouth of the river, this will affect the eco-system and the bird life. The sewage is being redirected because the safer proposed route out into the bay has come across problems, so it is easier to dump the sewage in the River Lune. 

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Little Grebe Hit The Heights.

Little Grebe Warren Baker

On Thursday Conder Pool came up with the highest number so far this autumn when I counted 17 Little Grebe, this count equals the same I made here on 29 October last year....18 needed now for an all time best count. A Common SandpiperSpotted Redshank, 62 Redshank, 2 Snipe, a solitary Dunlin, and Little Egret were all in the creeks.

Linnets On The Wire. Pete Woodruff.

A chunk of my time at Cockersands was taken up getting to grips with a flock I initially picked up distant, but being a flighty bunch they came closer at times, though most of the time they were down in the long grass. But from the outset I had a good idea what I was looking at and eventually they were seen as a high count of at least 300 Linnet. But in flight with them, and on the ground whilst looking round the area, I found Meadow Pipit and Skylark, with Tree Sparrow and Reed Buntingat one point I estimated in excess of 350 birds in the air together....something of a spectacle.

I wandered out on to Plover Scar to find c.400 Oystercatcher, with a number of Redshank, Curlew, and Dunlin. Thirteen Eider, 25 Wigeon, and 2 Great-crested Grebe were off Plover Scar, and off Crook Farm, c.350 Golden Plover, and 30 Turnstone were noted. True to tradition 3 Wheatear were around the abbey, and a Kestrel and 4 Little Egret seen.

Common Sandpiper at Conder Green.

I note a report of 3 Common Sandpiper on Conder Pool yesterday. 

Thanks to SP for allowing the excellent 1 October Cockersands Merlin to show in the new header on Birds2blog....I think I recognise the wall. Thanks also to WB for the equally excellent Little Grebe, and to PW for the 'not so excellent' from the 'dodgy' folder.   

Thursday, 2 October 2014

....but it all went pear shaped!

I was late out again yesterday and didn't escape the clutches of 'other things' until 11.30am. Just after I arrived at Conder Green I was met by a Fylde birder who satisfied me that it wasn't just a personal feeling that 'nothing was happening' as these were obviously his feelings too, and I couldn't help but wonder if this was setting the scene for a subdued October for birds/birding.

It didn't take long for my day to turn distinctly pear shaped, but before it did I had seen 2 Greenshank roosting on the terrace at the back of Conder Pool where I counted 9 Little Grebe. A Common Sandpiper, 3 Snipe, and up to 55 Redshank were noted in the creeks, and c.40 Goldfinch were flighty over the marsh.

By now, the Fylde birder had thrown in the towel and I was about to, the weather was rapidly deteriorating, things were turning ever more pear shaped, and my birding was about to take another downturn on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock. But first I had found one of those brilliant adult Mediterranean Gulls that always make my day, 5 Greenshank 'hoovering up' together, and c.180 Goldfinch went over my head.

But now comes the crunch....

....the pair in the pic above complete with a mutt, had walked past me and seen me setting up my scope, they set out onto the estuary directly opposite my 'perch' at the bowling green from where the viewing of this part of the Lune Estuary is excellent, and had by now already disturbed many waders....

....but then they proceeded to parade along the entire length of the south side of the river to the Conder Estuary at low tide when this area is at it's brilliant best and disturbed several hundred more waders....I succumbed to defeat by this ignorant and inconsiderate pair who knew and why I was there....'clik the pikthey look even worse.

Add to the problem of these two idiots and a dog, I can't see across the river now, it's raining and the mist has descended. I'm going home and leaving behind me this excellent and best section of the River Lune down to Cockersands and out to the Irish Sea....but I'll be back.

Which brings me to draw your attention to this excellent ongoing campaign by the Fylde Bird Club. But note they need the help of others - that's you and me - to try to halt this coastal and esturine bird disturbance....Please Read This and report it.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A 'Little' Birding!

Little Grebe 13 Little Egret 11

Little Stint 1 Little Owl 0 

I had gone to Conder Green late morning before going back to Lancaster early afternoon. I saw the Kingfisher four times flying along/across Conder Pool where my best count this time was 13 Little Grebe, with 2 Common Sandpiper, a Ruff, and the customary Little Egret

Chiffchaff Warren Baker

Along the coastal path a bird took my eye in the bushes and had me jumping to was a Chiffchaff, another bird had the same effect on was a Blue Tit, and was a time!!

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, the tide was racing in and I had the advantage of having what was around being pushed nearer to me on the south side though 3 Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank were initially distant, but eventually came closer. With 10 Little Egret, the build up of numbers here must be seen as an invasion of the species, but what a minute what's this then....its a Calidris minuta Little Stint....nice.

Little Owl.

I had seen a request on the LDBWS website last week for information on where to see Little Owl in the area. In replying to the request I had eventually arranged to meet John McTague in Lancaster at 1.30pm, John was down from Scotland visiting his parents. After a look in on Conder Pool and Glasson Dock we went to Cockersands in the hope of finding John's 'need to see' Little Owl which had been showing for me recently in the horse paddock at Bank Houses. Unfortunately the Little Owl wasn't playing the game and the object of the exercise was a failure. 

Good to see you John, hope to see you again sometime when you may have better luck with the Little Owl.

Little Owl Ana Minguez

The Little Owl isn't a native of Great Britain, and there is no conclusive evidence that one has ever reached here naturally. The species has been introduced here on several occasions - mostly unsuccessfully - and there is a suggestion that most of today's Little Owls are descended from birds brought from the Netherlands by one Lord Lilford during 1880-90. It is a scarce bird in Scotland - which is why John McTague wanted to see one today - with very few records north of the Forth/Clyde valley. Lack of records from the N Isles supports the sedentary nature of Little Owls, interestingly there are more records of Scops Owl than Little Owl in Shetland.

Thank you Warren/Ana....the photographs are brilliant.