Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Keeled Skimmer.

I was disappointed on two visits I made to the bog three hours apart at Birk Bank yesterday. When I arrived there on both occasions the hot sun which had been blazing onto the bog had disappeared behind the clouds and a breeze blew up making things a little more cooler. 

However, on the second visit I did see a dragonfly briefly over the bog, then to settle on the board-walk for little more than 30 seconds during which time I managed one of my now famous half decent images before the creature flew off never to be seen again in the thirty minutes I waited for it's return.

But the brief sighting, and the resulting picture was all that was needed to confirm my suspicions that I had found the fourth Lancashire record of a Keeled Skimmer on Birk Bank Bog.  

Keeled Skimmer. Birk Bank Bog 22 July. Pete Woodruff.

The Keeled Skimmer is a species of bogs and mires in western areas and parts of southern Britain, populations are found in North Wales and Cumbria. The Keeled Skimmer became the latest species to be added to the Lancashire List when Allen Holmes found a male on the Grindleton Forest Pond in August 2013.

Steve Graham found two - possibly three - male Keeled Skimmers on Birk Bank Bog last year in August 2015, at which time the comment was made....'perhaps colonisation is finally underway'....maybe yesterdays sighting contributes to confirming this.

I'm grateful to Steve White, and my reference to 'The Dragonflies of Lancashire and North Merseyside' and 'Lancashire Bird Report' in helping me with this excellent record. 


There were other interests for me yesterday when I went up the track from Rigg Lane to cross the top of Birk Bank and back to the bog for my successful return there three hours later, but other things have now taken over my birding/blogging life, so this will have to wait until I get the weekend behind me.

Friday, 22 July 2016

....And A Decent Whimbrel Count.

Whimbrel/Dunlin. Plover Scar High Tide 21 July. Pete Woodruff.

More birds with their backs to me and facing into the wind whilst I took the picture.

On Plover Scar at high tide yesterday, up to 200 waders included a decent count of 27 Whimbrel, with c.150 Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plover, 8 Knot, and 2 Golden Plover, 7 Eider were off here.

Of note on the Lune Estuary, a 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull, single Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit, and 2 Teal by the Conder mouth.

On Conder Pool, an adult Avocet, with the young bird wing flapping on two ocassions and ready to fledge next week. A lone Greenshank had separated itself from c.120 Redshank, with a similar number of Lapwing and 6 Dunlin here, a Little Grebe and 2 Wigeon were noted.

On the circuit, 12 Common Sandpiper were in the creeks and down the channel towards the estuary where I saw a Goosander. Four Swift were over, and up to 20 House Martin were around River Winds and Cafe d' Lune where both properties still have active nests.

The Plover Scar Ringed Plovers.

I saw the breeding pair of Ringed Plover frantically flying round and calling at one chick which was scurrying away from the scar below the sea wall in a bid to escape the tide. I eventually lost sight of the chick in the area of the shore below the kissing gate near Cockersand Abbey, but the parent birds kept flying around and calling with no sign of the other two chicks seen on Monday.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Stock Taking On The Lune Estuary.

Monday 18 July.

Juvenile Wheatear. Pete Woodruff.

Pity it had it's back to me as I got just one shot at the juvenile Wheatear at Cockersand before it flew off, still showing some down in it's plumage.

An excellent find on Plover Scar at high tide was 6 Ringed Plover a pair of which were constantly calling for the thirty minutes I was stood motionless to find the reason being three chicks recently out of their shingle nest. Also on Plover Scar, c.90 Dunlin, with 6 Whimbrel and a single Bar-tailed Godwit close by on Long Tongue, 16 Eider were off here.

Inland at Cockersand, 6 Linnet seen, and I counted 9 Tree Sparrow and 3 Whitethroat feeding on the road ahead....curious! I saw 5 Swift in the three hours here, all loose individuals flying south, and 16 Swallow were on wires on Slack Lane.

The tide was five hours gone when I got to Glasson Dock, the Lune Estuary was quiet with gull numbers not reaching the hundred mark, but 12 Little Egret counted, with my highest post breeding number so far of c.700 Lapwing noted.

Conder Pool was quite a buzz with 17 species easily counted, they included the Avocet adults and lone young growing nicely towards fledging. 6 Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, a Stock Dove, Little Grebe and Little Egret, with House Martins, Swallows, c.30 Curlew and a Kestrel over heading towards the estuary.

From Conder Pool viewing platform I saw a dread of around a thousand birds come up into the air from the Jeremy Lane area, certainly a large number of c.500 Lapwing, with Curlew and gulls before settling back down again.

The Conder Common Tern.

Common Tern adult and juvenile with Redshank 12 July. Pete Woodruff.

The Common Tern may have departed, I've not seen them since an adult and juvenile on 12 July, but there was a report on Sunday 17 July when all four adult/juvenile were seen on Conder Pool, but not since. Therefore a breeding programme concluded in ten weeks and two days - arrival to departure - for a pair of Common Tern on Conder Pool and their third consecutive year, with ten weeks of pleasure watching all this unfold. Excellent....amazing even. 

Meanwhile, the Avocet which arrived on Conder Pool two weeks after the Common Tern on 20 May, their story continues with bated breath.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Blast From The Past.

Copy of a post on Birds2blog 5 years ago, with photographs by yours truly.

Down By The Riverside. 12 July 2011. 

River Lune

The River Lune snakes its way through the beautiful Lune Valley. In the picture above the river is actually flowing north east which is towards the direction it came from. Ingleborough is in the distance the very tip of its summit in the clouds, but as the river goes out of sight on the left in the picture it turns to head south west again towards Lancaster and on to the estuary about 12 miles downstream at Cockersands. So here I was doing what I love to do the best, to the neglect of everyone and everything else.

Little Ringed Plover

Five hours plus on the River Lune upstream from Bull Beck yesterday produced some excellent results and I refused to award the Gold to any given species as I was torn between 5 Little Ringed Plovers including two unfledged but growing young, and the 4 Green Sandpipers I saw together an hour later further upstream on the best flood I've seen in ages and in perfect condition, a Kingfisher seen was also excellent. With the risk of duplicate counting taken into account I recorded at least 22 Common Sandpipers, also of note a lone Ringed Plover, 8 Grey Wagtail, a juvenile Robin, a Kestrel, 3 Red Admiral and a 'few' Small Tortoiseshell noted. 


Oystercatchers were dotted about here and there on the shingle and I saw one young chick on the visit. I have no idea of the status of the Sand Martin on the River Lune in 2011, if there is info somewhere out there about this I've had no time to look for it, what I do know is that I'd rate the numbers I saw here yesterday as at least 'quite large' and it was a joy to watch young in the bank opposite peering out of the many nest holes, quite a few of them with three little bodies vying for pole position at the entrance.

Living on the edge.

During the visit here I couldn't help but think, the natural world these birds are part of is also their enemy particularly during the breeding season. The Little Ringed Plover adults were watching their two young every move whilst threats like the Grey Heron, 'gulls' and 'corvids' were all on the prowl. Also the fact these birds are breeding on the shingle banks are at some risk of being washed away following any prolonged heavy rain causing the river to flood and wash away everything in its path including the many hundreds of Sand Martins trapped in their nest holes until fledged.

Back to the present 18 July 2016, and I'm off to give the Lune Estuary a good going over.

Saturday, 16 July 2016


....the best  lager Stonechats in the world!

With 12 Stonechat found on Harrisend yesterday - only one of which was a male - there was evidence that four breeding pairs are in the area I cover on this fell this year. This is by far the best count on Harrisend since 24 July 2008 when I made the same count of 12 birds, and puts Harrisend back on the map for Stonechats in numbers equal to pre the harsh winters of 2009/10/11.

Also in the count of 13 species in the three hours I spent on Harrisend, 16 Meadow Pipit, 4 Blackbird including one juvenile, 3 Reed Bunting, a Wrenand Wood Pigeon over. I kept seeing large numbers of corvid exploding into the air above the ridge, but on one ocassion I estimated what seemed a strange mix of up to 400 Carrion Crow and Rook, Lapwing, and Starling in the air, with at least 3 Raven noted, raptors seen were a Buzzard and Kestrel

Little Grebe with small fry. Pete Woodruff.

I dropped down to the coast and Conder Green from Harrisend to find the Avocet family still in tact, with the adult birds seeing off anything in sight that moved. A couple of sightings on Conder Pool which stirred me nicely was my first Kingfisher here this year, 2 Little Grebe in their brilliant summer dress was rewarding, and were the first on the pool since the last winter bird I saw on 5 April. A wander around the creeks and channels followed and produced a count of 13 Common Sandpiper.

2nd summer Mediterranean Gull. Pete Woodruff.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock had livened up considerably, if only because a large number of gulls were present compared to little more than fifty on Tuesday, and included 5 Mediterranean Gull, also of note were up to 30 Bar-tailed Godwit.

The Conder Common Terns. 

There was no sign yesterday of any of the two adult and two juvenile Common Terns on Conder Pool, the Lune Estuary, or at Cockersands, and I've since seen no reports of them anywhere to date.

Thanks to Howard for his excellent in flight Whimbrel header.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Same Again Please!

Avocet. Conder Pool 12 July. Pete Woodruff.

A re-run of Monday's birding had one adult and a young Avocet seen on Conder Pool. The young bird won't be out of the wood until it fledges by the end of the month, and when I took this photograph no parent birds were in sight whilst it was on it's own and out in the open.

One adult and both juvenile Common Tern were seen in the early afternoon, but an e-mail from AC in the evening told me an adult and two juveniles were seen to leave the pool and head out towards the Lune Estuary, excellent stuff but back on the pool yesterday.

A Photographic Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Kent: Migrant Hawker &emdash;
Migrant Hawker Marc Heath  

On the coastal path at Conder Green, a Migrant Hawker, 2 Meadow Brown, and a Small Skipper seen. Noted on the Lune Estuary, a Common Sandpiper, 6 Eider, and c.150 Curlew, a Sparrowhawk zoomed passed me only a few metres out. Appreciate the Hawker Marc, thank you. 

Kittiwake. Pete Woodruff.

I was in the company of AC for three hours at Heysham later in the afternoon, enjoyable but hard work to find a few birds of note, including 2 Kittiwake, one of which was this 1st summer bird which was squat on the seawall and was reluctant to stand and take to the wing until I got within 2 metres of it to squat again further down the seawall, the other Kittiwake was an adult flying around stage one outfall. On Red Nab towards high tide, a 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull, c.350 Curlew, and a single Bar-tailed Godwit which was something of a surprise.

What a difference a day makes.

At Heysham yesterday, a minimum of 22 Mediterranean Gull and 2 Little Gull were recorded at and around the outfalls. Noting the result above for the three hours AC and I put in here the day before....there's no justice in birding at times!!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

A Little Action....

....ends up a damp squib.

It was excellent to see the juvenile Common Terns yesterday, flying around and preening with a parent bird. A considerable difference of growth and fledging between the young Common Terns and the one remaining Avocet young when you note they were all hatched around the same time, the Common Tern will be fishing on the Lune Estuary any time soon, whilst the young Avocet won't fledge for another 14 days at the earliest.

Adult And Juvenile Common Terns. Conder Pool 11 July. Pete Woodruff.

On Conder Pool, all four Common Tern seen, and all three Avocet showing, with up to 150 Redshank present, a Goosander, 'the' single Black-tailed Godwit, and a Little Egret. In the creeks and down the Conder channel 12 Common Sandpiper found.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock,  an Avocet  was at the Conder mouth, 2 Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, 6 Eider, at least 350 Lapwing seen, and the total number of gulls here today was little more than fifty birds. An adult Common Tern seen on the estuary, with one seen on two visits to the canal basin three hours apart, can't be assumed to be a Conder Pool bird. 

The Damp Squib.

I decided to have another shot at Heysham, but against my better judgement I set off in rain and ventured forward in the hope it would clear didn't, and I was hit in the face with a stiff wind and heavy rain along the seawall and eventually turned tail and hot footed it out of the place, but not before I'd found 2 Mediterranean Gullboth stunning birds, an adult and a 2nd summer. At stage two outfall, an adult Arctic Tern and Common Tern, but I'm drowning here now....goodbye.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Below The Nuclear Giant.

In July last year Mediterranean Gull numbers at Heysham were good, I don't recall the month's peak count, but I made two visits during the month, and on 3 July I found eleven birds. So I decided to see what the picture was this year and got to Heysham on Friday 2.5 hours before the high tide to check the roost at Red Nab, and the birds feeding over the power station outfalls.

When I arrived numbers on Red Nab were small, but 2 Mediterranean Gull adult were amongst the mainly Black-headed Gull. I moved on along the seawall to find an adult Arctic Tern on Stage Two outfall, and a 1st summer Little Gull on Stage One, rewarding and made the effort worth while for me. 

1st Summer Little Gull. Red Nab. Pete Woodruff.

When I returned to Red Nab from the outfalls about an hour before the high tide, gull numbers were even smaller than earlier, though I assume this is not generally the case until the tide has pushed them off. But eventually the Little Gull obliged by coming down on to the rocks to give me excellent views. These two photographs are the best from a few attempts. 

Arctic Tern/Mediterranean Gull. Red Nab. Pete Woodruff. 

Also very obligingly, the Arctic Tern decided to go stand and be dwarfed by an adult Mediterranean Gull. 

Walking back through the Nature Park I heard a Blackcap and Song Thrush both in good voice, a Dunnock, and saw my first Gatekeeper this year, and 2 Meadow Brown.

I decided to get myself up to date at Conder Pool and gave the viewing platform 30 minutes to see 2 Avocet adults, and the young bird still surviving and growing by the day, saw 2 Common Tern, an adult and fledged juvenile, and 14 Common Sandpiper.

The Common Sandpiper....A wintering note.

According to my records, the Common Sandpiper has wintered at Conder Green for seven years since 2008, but I found one 10 years earlier on 1 November 1998, but never saw one in winter here again until 2008. 

So things are looking good, with the star birds progressing well at Conder Pool, and some bonuses for me at Heysham today, and more evidence that perhaps time I got myself some decent photographic equipment!

Thanks for the brilliant Little Owl header, the ultimate of a 'pic with a difference' much appreciated Gary.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Bowland's Twenty Three For Six.

Not the day I hoped for yesterday when I went off to Bowland in weather more like the first week in April than July. I decided to do a count, and ended up with 23 species in six hours....well this is upland birding.

The day started on a down note when a couple of hours on Hawthornthwaite produced not a single Stonechat, but a healthy 18 Meadow Pipit were counted with little effort, and at least 8 Sand Martin were hawking over Catshaw Greave.

Crossbill Naturanafotos   

I was coming to the end of the six hour session at around 4.45 pm, when I saw a movement in the conifer tops about 100 metres up the road from Trough Bridge at SD612538 and briefly saw the brick-red plumage of a bird which I failed to see again, but in hanging around for a few minutes my luck was in, and at least 8 Crossbill returned flying back into the conifer tops....nice one.

Also of note between Marshaw - Tower Lodge - Trough Bridge, 5 Spotted Flycatcher indicating three pairs here this year, also 3 Common Sandpiper still up here and not with their early returning relatives at Conder Green, 9 Grey Wagtail were seen as another example of a good year for the species at three locations I visited in Bowland recently, Dipper2 Nuthatch and a single Willow Warbler seen, a Red Grouse glimpsed as I went briefly out on to the moor east of Trough Bridge before I retraced my steps back to Marshaw where a good number of Sand Martin, with House Martin and Swallow were hawking over the Marshaw Wyre.

I called in at Christ Church, Abbeystead on the way back to Lancaster, to find four active House Martin nests at the vicarage, and one at the church.

Three Swift were over our house this afternoon, I've never seen this behaviour by the Swift before, not seen below rooftop height and not over our garden. 

Thanks to Ana for the brilliant images of the Crossbill, I appreciate this very much.  

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Stars Of The Green And A Ringed Plover.

Four days later and I was back at Conder Green to find the Avocet pair still in charge of the one surviving young, coming along a treat and growing, but still needs luck for another three weeks to be out of the woods and flying....I'll take a shot at fledged by 25 July.

I saw the two adult Common Tern, but no sign of any young, though I'm confident they are well and were in hiding. According to a text message I received on Friday, one of the young had fledged, had flown and dropped into the pontoon, apparently the adult was frantic as the young bird was unable to get lift off and out of the pontoon, but it was reported flying on Sunday. 

Common Tern. Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff.

This was the Common Terns on 21 June with a young bird on the left. I had the two young down to fledge on or around 9 July, but one of them fledged on 1 July 10 days after I took the picture....amazing!

Eighteen Common Sandpiper were at Conder Green yesterday, ten were in the creeks and eight down the Conder Channel, 2 Wigeon both drakes were on Conder Pool, a Goosander was in the creeks, a Reed Bunting in the hedgerow, and 2 Swift over.

I only covered half the Cockersands plan yesterday. On Plover Scar at high tide, 95 Knot, 6 Ringed Plover and similar Dunlin. A single Eider took off from the sea, I watched this bird fly across to Middleton to land on the sea again just offshore.

On what little wanderings I did at Cockersands, I noted 6 Goldfinch, 3 Whitethroat, saw my first 4 Meadow Brown this year, c.25 Small Tortoiseshell, a Six-spot Burnet, and a Painted Lady....

....Think I'll Go Home! 

The Plover Scar Ringed Plover.

On 19 June a Ringed Plover was reported on Plover Scar, the bird apparently had four eggs in a nest. Yesterday I saw a Ringed Plover sitting on the shingle like it was still on the nest, not long after when I looked again it was stood motionless in the same place looking around. It's difficult to know where this stands in relation to whether or not this bird is still in the breeding programme, and I was reluctant to go on to the scar to investigate and disturb the bird. However when I left the area, looking back I saw two people with an unleashed mutt who had done just that along with the 100 plus other waders I'd been counting earlier....the scar is now birdless.

This is definitely not good for the birds, and certainly not for the breeding Ringed Plover, the mutt sniffed it's way around the entire area of Plover Scar, and to say the least I'm not happy about this 'free range' mutts and people situation.