Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Conder Terns.

Tragic that you can read about a colony of 900 pairs of Common Tern, said to be breeding on the shore between Formby and Ainsdale in the early twentieth century, they were being ruthlessly slaughtered by 'sportsmen'. The colony was down to fewer than 80 by 1937, and had disappeared by the late 1940's. 

Forward 50 years to the mid-90's in Lancashire, and a colony having existed on the Lune Estuary on Colloway Marsh supporting c.40 pairs in 1954, and rose to up to 250 pairs from 1978-83, but by the 1990's the colony had become extinct, in the main by human disturbance.

Into the 21st century, and as a species no better than a scarce passage migrant, not least in Morecambe Bay, all the gloom following the demise of the Colloway Marsh colony, has been lifted by an excellent and successful fifth successive year on Conder Pool as the only pair of breeding Common Tern in our recording area in North Lancashire.

In 2014, a pair of Common Tern were an excellent sight on the late date of 2 July, to add to the already impressive species list for Conder Pool, they went on to breed and to successfully raise and fledge two young on 26 August. I saw an adult and these two juvenile for the last time on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock on 12 September. 

In 2015, a pair arrived on 22 May, and went one better that year, to fledge three young on 3 July. All five of this family were last seen on 28 July on the Lune Estuary.  

In 2016, a pair arrived on Conder Pool on 6 May, to breed and to hatch three birds, but only two went on to fledge and were last seen here on 12 July. 

In 2017, adult birds arrived two days later than the previous year on 8 May, three eggs were eventually seen in the scrape on 2 June inside a pontoon now in place on the pool, on 11 June three chicks were seen, by 5 July all three had successfully fledged and were last seen on Conder Pool on 14 July.

In 2018. A pair of Common Tern were back on Conder Pool, this time one day earlier than the previous year on 7 May. Through the hostilities and the demise of three young Oystercatcher raised in the same confined space of the pontoon, they raised three young to fledging, two on 3 July, the runt two days later, all three were still in the area when IP reported them to me on Friday 13 July.

A second pair of Common Tern which had arrived for the first time on Conder Pool before the original pair had hatched chicks, appear to be having a second breeding attempt, seemingly having abandoned the first, as at Friday 13 July, a bird has been sitting again for up to 16 days.  

I'm grateful to Brian Rafferty for the 'Preston Dock' Common Tern images, and to Martin Jump for his header image of the Little Tern which he saw making a brief appearance, also at Preston Dock on Sunday 8 July.


The Bowland Harriers.

Copy Permitted

There are three active Hen Harrier nests in Bowland this year holding a grand total of 13 chicks, the first breeding in three years since 2015.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Back To The Ranch.

Bowland birding was thwarted for me yesterday.

Yer Barred!

When I arrived at the car park on Rigg Lane, I was met by the barrier at the car park having been lowered and locked with three notices about no access, fire risk, and closed by the landowner. So it was Plan B and back to the ranch for me and some more CG updating.

Little Ringed Plover Conder Pool 11 July. Pete Woodruff.

Bird of the day was the juvenile Little Ringed Plover which paid a visit to the pool, 3 Common Tern adult seen, included the sitting  for 12 days bird on Tern Island, 6 Little Grebe, and an adult Avocet. An adult Redshank was guarding and calling constantly to what was probably Mondays chick, with another day/s old chick seen, making at least four young Redshank seen on Conder Pool recently.

At least 150 Redshank and 5 Dunlin were in the creeks as seen from the viewing platform, 10 Common Sandpiper and 2 Greenshank on the circuit, and good numbers of House Martin still active at nests at River Winds and Cafe d' Lune.

Gatekeeper. Pete Woodruff. 

Five Gatekeeper seen along a short stretch of the coastal path, with a much improved pik of one compared to last Fridays photographic efforts by me.

Common Tern Conder Pool 11 July. Ian Pinkerton.  

It took IP's continuing dedication to the CP terns, and his report and photograph today, to prove me wrong, that the juveniles hadn't dispersed, they were alive and well, and back on the pontoon on Conder Pool this afternoon, despite not having been reported anywhere on the Lune Estuary since Sunday, and not seen by me since last Friday.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Updating The Pool.

My birding yesterday amounted to little more than an update on things Conder Pool and around.

Four adult Common Tern seen included the sitting bird on Tern Island and it's on guard mate. The two other adults seen in the air most of the time on a chase, were not necessarily the other breeders as six adult were reported here on Sunday. So the family party may well have already dispersed as no young were seen in two visits I made yesterday, no big surprise though, as last years young fledged on 7 July, and were never seen again after 14 July. 

Redshank Conder Pool 9 July. Pete Woodruff.

A Redshank chick, and two - possibly three - older young seen, which were in classic Wood Sandpiper lookalike plumage with some downy feathering on the head. Void of checking my records, 260 Redshank counted were probably an all time high for Conder Pool. Five Little Grebe was another increase in numbers, 2 Avocet adult were seen, with one visiting the creeks twice to feed, but no sign of any chicks, 2 Wood Pigeon flying on to the near island was a bit of a novelty.

In the creeks, 10 Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank, and upstream from the road bridge, a Snipe seen, and singing Sedge Warbler. Along the coastal path, 12 Gatekeeper, a Red Admiral, and Brown Hawker seen. 

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Here We Go Again!

Avocet Conder Pool 6 July. Ian Pinkerton.

pair of Avocet now have three chicks on Conder Pool, they were introduced to all comers by being escorted to swim across the pool the whole way to disappear from view into the west corner....This unnecessary swim for these birds was to escape a pair of clowns that came upon the scene, and who just can't fall in with everyone else, but have to climb over gates and hedges to parade off-limits along the south side of the pool and cause disturbance to the birds which would have been much better out of sight as much as possible to escape the attention of predators like the Lesser Black-backed Gull which came overhead and dived at them, to thankfully be seen off the premises by the parent birds. 

Common Tern Conder Pool 6 July. Pete Woodruff.

Seven Common Tern were still on Conder Pool on Friday, with the three fledged birds on the pontoon with adults, and the Tern Island pair ongoing with their breeding attempt/s. 

Also of note on Conder Pool, 62 Redshank, 24 Oystercatcher, and 4 Little Grebe. In the creeks and channel, 13 Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank. It was interesting to see with the SwallowsHouse Martins, and even more interesting a Swift at Conder Green Farm which flew as if to go under the gutter, I've seen this behaviour before at this farm by the Swift where they have never bred to my knowledge. On a wander, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat, with an Emperor Dragonfly and Brown Hawker seen on the canal again.

On a short circuit of Aldcliffe, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, a Whitethroat, and a Brown Hawker. But the main purpose of the visit was to see if I could find some butterflies....

Gatekeeper. Pete Woodruff.

Seen on the day, 16 Gatekeeper, of which 7 were on the coastal path at Conder/Glasson, where I saw a Silver Y in the churchyard at Glasson Dock. Also at Aldcliffe, 11 Meadow Brown, and singles of Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, and Speckled Wood.  

Many thanks to Bob Bushell for the excellent LRP header....A nice 'first' for you Bob.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Disaster In Greenland.

Sanderling Brian Rafferty

An excessive spring snowfall this year, has brought about a disastrous non-breeding year for shorebirds in Greenland, involving my most favourite of all, the Sanderling.

Jeroen Reneerkens studies breeding Sanderling working from the Danish Research Station at Zackenberg, NE Greenland. Over a two week period there, he says he heard not one singing Sanderling, and only a few times heard Knot and Dunlin, and having seen just two pairs of Sanderling over the two weeks, he concluded they had broken up and never saw them again in the days following his earlier sighting.

Zackenberg Mid-June 2018. Image Jeroen Rennerkens.

Jeroen also suspects that, given the snow conditions were similar in the whole range of NE Greenland, the majority of Sanderling never arrived in Zackenberg, but stayed in more southerly regions where better feeding was likely. 

The Sanderling egg laying date is around 16 June, with 4 July being the very latest, but on 27 June this year, all of their habitat in the Zackenberg Valley was still covered in up to a metre of snow, resulting in a non-breeding year in Zackenberg, or even the entire north-east Greenland.

Image Jeroen Rennerkens. 

Compared to this Sanderling found dead and weighing 26 grams, it's mass upon capture a few days earlier had been 34 grams, Jeroen had some cheer with the recapture of a Sanderling he had ringed here as a seven day old chick in July 2012, now 6 years old and luckily one of very few birds in good health with a weight of 54 grams.

The breeding area for the Sanderling is larger than NE Greenland alone, hopefully outside this area snowfall may have been less or even not at all, in which case they could have had a good year. So counting and logging the number of juveniles seen in flocks of Sanderling in the UK between August and November will be paramount, but as a species no better than an uncommon passage migrant and rare winter visitor in our recording area, my best chance of helping out on this would be to go south of Fluke Hall to Knott End, and probably better still to Rossall Point.

if you are interested in more of this disastrous year for breeding waders in Greenland, you can read the full story and more detail Here 

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

On The Up.

Returning birds continue to increase in number at Conder Green, with a total of 14 Common Sandpiper seen on Conder Pool, in the creeks, and down the channel. Also up to 260 Redshank and 3 Greenshank by high tide, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, and 4 Little Grebe.

In addition to the pleasure of seeing two young Common Tern fledged on Conder Pool yesterday....7 Common Tern were seen as two adult and three young, and the second pair appearing to be going for a second breeding attempt with one bird sitting close by the first scrape it made, 2 Avocet, with one sitting and due to hatch any day soon, and the other on guard.  

On a wander, a Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat heard, 12 Eider and 2 Goosander were noted on the Lune Estuary, and a Brown Hawker and Emperor Dragonfly seen along the canal. 

Common Tern Juvenile. Conder Pool 3 July. Pete Woodruff.

A wonderful sight to see the first fledged young Common Tern on the near island yesterday, with the species enjoying their fifth successive year of breeding on Conder Pool.

This birds sibling followed off the pontoon and on to the water, and soon took to the wing with unbelievable agility....a joy to watch. The third bird - the runt - will fledge sometime today/tomorrow.  

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

We Have Lift Off!

Another Red Letter Day, this time at Conder Green.

It's been an education to watch the various aspects of behaviour of this family of Common Tern over the past seven weeks, from arriving as a pair on Conder Pool, to making a scrape, brooding eggs, hatching, feeding chicks, to seeing the first fledged bird on the near island today.

It was pure magic and almost in disbelief to see the second fledged bird on the water for the first time in it's life, bathing and enjoying it's new found watery world....

....then taking to the wing for the first time, to fly around Conder Pool with such amazing agility, like it had been doing it for years, instead of having only discovered it could actually fly through the air just 5 seconds ago....breath taking stuff.

I'm grateful to Ian Pinkerton for these photographs, and for his dedication to monitoring these birds for hours on end over a 90 day period, and keeping me updated on 'what's going on at Conder Green' when I wasn't able to be there....Sterling work Ian, move to the top of the class!

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Out For The Count In Bowland.

Good rewards for another visit to check out the area Marshaw, Tower Lodge, and east of Trough Bridge, and for one species at least, this area can again claim to be the recording area stronghold of 12 Spotted Flycatcher. I watched one take a Small Copper, and another take a small unidentified butterfly/moth

Who knows how many Spotted Flycatcher this area might really have, given time and energy to explore the entire south side of the Marshaw Wyre here would be no mean feat....But why have I never done it I ask myself. 

Common Sandpiper Marshaw Wyre 6 June. Howard Stockdale.

Despite having found twelve early returning birds at Conder Green on Thursday, I saw 5 Common Sandpiper still up here with no intention of returning anywhere yet, including a young bird with adults downstream from Marshaw, probably the one in Howard Stockdale's image three weeks earlier, and an adult further upstream that I saw on 12 June alarm calling, suggesting two pairs have bred up here this year.

A good count of 10 Grey Wagtail were on the Marshaw Wyre, 3 Redpoll were over the small plantation where I saw a female Kestrel, with Sand Martin and Swallow noted. I heard just 3 Willow Warbler and saw 8 Meadow Pipit, 3 Nuthatch included a young bird being fed, as was a Great Tit young seen later.    

The House Martin are still active at Tower Lodge where this Mistle Thrush fledgling was alone at the bottom of the grit track calling frantically. When I came back down the track thirty minutes later, it had walked up a couple of hundred metres, and was still was calling all the time. A hopeless case of, if you find a young bird like this, leave it as there is nothing you can do to help, and hopefully the parent bird will return to find it. 

Calling in at Stoops Bridge on the way back to Lancaster, I saw a Spotted Flycatcher and Garden Warbler. At Christ Church, another Spotted Flycatcher....Fourteen in a days birding was rewarding and a record in itself. 

Alternating Current!

AC was in touch to tell me about an 8 hour survey in Bowland which he took upon himself on 21 June resulting with an excellent find of 18 Spotted Flycatcher, 10 of which were in the same Tower Lodge area as my own 12 in this post. Earlier in the week he had seen 9 Keeled Skimmer at Birk Bank bog, including two female both seen mating and egg laying....Appreciate this Andrew. 

Thanks to Howard for the Common Sandpiper info, and the young and header image.     

Friday, 29 June 2018

Taking Stock.

Testing....Testing....27 June. Ian Pinkerton.

Looking good at Conder Green yesterday, with increasing returning numbers at every visit. At one point 9 Common Tern were on Conder Pool, with all round encouraging signs about the three youngsters on the pontoon, and prospects of an early fledge by the eldest of the trio. 

The second adult pair of Common Tern look to be set to go for a second brood - that's if they ever had a first - and IP always claimed to have seen eggs in the scrape at the first attempt.

Common Sandpiper Conder Pool 28 June. Pete Woodruff. 

In the numbers up club, of the 12 Common Sandpiper seen, nine were on the near island at my first visit, on the second visit all twelve were in the creeks, 242 Redshank were strung out and roosting along the far terrace accompanied by a Greenshank and a Black-tailed GodwitThere are now 3 Little Grebe back on Conder Pool, an Avocet still sitting on the right hand edge of Tern Island, and a Redshank had only one chick on show today from two seen on Monday.

Eider Off Plover Scar 28 June. Pete Woodruff.

Notes from a token visit to Cockersand....12 Eider were off Plover Scar, 2 Whitethroat heard, 3 Skylark were in the air together, 5 Pied Wagtail were around the dregs left in what was the large flooded ditch through the field by the junction with Slack/Moss Lane, where the sick/injured Whooper Swan has remained for in excess of six months.

Butterflies seen were a good number of uncounted Large White, up to 14 Meadow Brown, and 2 Small Tortoiseshell. A Green-veined White was in our garden yesterday.  

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Hot Spots!

Making Progress 26 June. Ian Pinkerton.

On Conder Pool Monday, 7 Common Tern, being the pair and three young, and two outsiders which are adding nothing to the population of this Amber listed species, but the three young on the pontoon will hopefully have fledged around 10 July.

Tern Attack. Ian Pinkerton.

But there's still a lot of action around and about, a pair of Carrion Crow were paying attention to the contents of one of the boxes on the island, and actually appeared to be feeding on something, but the terns didn't like their presence and repeatedly attacked them. 

Also on Conder Pool a Redshank with two chicks little more than a day old on Tern Island, Avocet still sitting on this island, the summer plumage Little Grebe seen again, and the lone Whooper Swan which is now established to have a foot missing.

I set off on a wander along the coastal path to Glasson Dock, to return to Conder Green via the canal tow-path. In the creeks, 6 Common Sandpiper seen, and along the coastal path a Whitethroat and 2 Reed Bunting noted. At Saltcote Pond, 5 Meadow Brown and a Small Skipper were the only butterflies seen in four hours.

Brown Hawker. Warren Baker.

At Christ Church, a Brown Hawker was patrolling the floating vegetation on the opposite side of the canal. With it's all brown body, and amber wings shimmering in the sunlight, a glimpse is all that is needed to ID this brilliant hawker. In the woodland by the church, 2 Blackcap were a singing male, and good views of a more elusive female later....By the time I got back to Conder Green, I had seen 5 Emperor Dragonflies along the tow-path to Thurnham Mill.

PHEW....26 degrees and counting.