Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Two Days And Six Rings.

Another walk on Sunday produced 4 Blackcap, two of which were a male and female from the woodland trail at Lancaster University, and another in full song which gave excellent views.

The song of the male Blackcap runs equal with that of the Nightingale, as the best songbirds to be heard in the UK. 

Also seen, 6 Willow Warbler, 5 Chiffchaff, 2 Jay, and 2 Mistle Thrush one being on the woodland tail where a Nuthatch seen, and my first of the year Orange Tip, and 2 Speckled Wood

Yesterday Mike wanted to accompany me on a visit to Harrisend and Hawthornthwaite, but needed to be back home by 12.30pm, so off we went to get on Harrisend by 8.30am. I'll avoid any drama, other than to say the morning was a disaster, in that we found not one Stonechat on either of the fells, although the visit to the latter was much briefer than I would have liked. My best contact for Stonechat tells me in an e-mail, that despite being in Bowland every weekend since mid-February, he saw his first bird yesterday up Langden.

On Harrisend, a good number of Willow Warbler, especially around the old Hawthorn surrounded by gorse where there was a highly mobile up to six birds. Also at least 20 Meadow Pipit, a male Reed Bunting, a Snipe in flight, 5 Red Grouse, and we may have heard/seen 3 Curlew

On Hawthornthwaite, a smart male Wheatear, 12 Meadow Pipit, 4 Red Grouse, a Redshank, and Curlew. A lone Swallow seen as we passed Yates's Farm.....Where are all the Swallows?


Black-tailed Godwit.

Photo Credit. Howard Stockdale.

A Black-tailed Godwit colour marked RGY - RNR was seen at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve on 17 April. I'm grateful to Howard Stockdale for the excellent image of the bird, and to Pete Potts for the history following my submitting it to him.

With the exception of 9 sightings, it was seen and recorded nowhere else other than 85 times in Kent, and has a history as long as your arm. Here condensed....


29 Sep ringed as an adult probable female at Harty, The Swale, Kent. 
07 Oct Oare Marshes
10 Dec Queensborough Harbour. 7 subsequent records at this location


03 Feb Queensborough Harbour
26 Apr Rutland Water, Leicestershire
05 July Oare Marshes. 22 subsequent records at this location


16 Jan Oare Marshes
22 Mar Motney Hill 
06 Apr Motney Hill


22 Jan Elmley
05/07/12 Feb Motney Hill
18/25/28/29/ Apr Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve
09 July Oare Marshes. 20 subsequent records at this location


01 Jan Conyer 4 subsequent records
31 July Oare Marshes 16 subsequent records at this location


09 Mar Queensborough
09/23/24 Apr Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve 


16 Nov Oare Marshes


17 Apr Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve 

Saturday, 20 April 2019

The Buzz Is Back.

A little more interest and movement at Conder Green on Wednesday than I had experienced on Monday, not least because I found 8 Wheatear in a ploughed field north of the picnic area at Conder Green, they were accompanied by 4 White Wagtail, 28 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding close in on the shore seen from here.

At Conder Green, 5 Common Sandpiper seen, and on Conder Pool the 2 Avocet looked settled here, a Greenshank, the Cockersand 2 Black Swan, 11 Tufted Duck, and 10 Teal.

Golden Plover C'sand 17 April. Pete Woodruff.

At least 220 Golden Plover and a White Wagtail were in the field behind Lighthouse Cottage again. I took great pleasure in spending 30 minutes looking through these birds, perhaps I might see a Dotterel with them, based on finding one with 275 Golden Plover in a field close by at Abbey Farm, albeit 6 years ago on 16 April 2013, and five Dotterel seen in the same field I was at today on 8 May 2015 (Stuart Piner).

Sand Leek. Pete Woodruff

In a recent conversation I was reminded that my long lost friend and mentor John Leedal and I had found a specimen of Sand Leek Allium scorodoprasum on the banking at the edge of the marsh north of Conder Green. 

It was because I went to search the area of the marsh for the Sand Leek that I found the Wheatear in this field....Thanks John, It was good my buzz returned today too.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019


The Lune Estuary gave the impression it was closed on Monday, with sightings at a premium, and not for want of time and effort, although.... 

Three Common Sandpiper had arrived at Conder Green, a lone Black-tailed Godwit was in the creeks, and 2 Avocet appear to have settled in on Conder Pool. A few Swallow and Sand Martin were high over the canal basin at Glasson Dock, and 2 Stock Dove on Jeremy Lane.

Golden Plover. Pete Woodruff.

A male Merlin drifted past me a few metres below the headland at Cockersand before veering left over the field by the abbey and out of sight. A White Wagtail and 48 Golden Plover behind the Lighthouse Cottage, in an image showing classic lack of Woodruff photographic skills.

Marsh Marigold. Pete Woodruff. 

I found the Marsh Marigold in a ditch at Cockersand whilst looking through the Golden Plover on Monday. A common and widespread flower, though I've seen it nowhere else at Cockersand - maybe I've not tried hard enough - it has protection status.  

Monday, 15 April 2019

The Urban Egret.

Little Egret. Hala Carr. Pete Woodruff.

Cloudy and windy, not a choice day for the walk from Bowerham to Lancaster University via a mainly scenic route, it produced the surprise of a Little Egret looking set to become a garden bird candidate when this individual was on the green by Abbeystead Drive at Hala Carr yesterday afternoon.

Mistle Thrush/Blackbird. Pete Woodruff.

It was no small surprise to also find 2 Redwing in the area, late birds not having yet returned to their north European breeding grounds in mid-April, they were on a football pitch sized green space behind Moorside School. In the surrounding trees, a Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Song Thrush, a Mistle Thrush, Jay, and 2 Nuthatch, with Greenfinch heard.

At least 20 Blackbird seen on route to Lancaster University, with Rook seen and up to 30 nests in the rookery there. 

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Friday 12 April.

Another original title!

Conder Green. Pete Woodruff

I found a Common Sandpiper at Conder Green yesterday. Probably a returning bird, but the interesting thing about the sighting, the bird was found at the same location where I saw the wintering bird on eight visits out of ten to Conder Green, predictably on the bank to the left of the red boat. 

Lesser Black-backed Gulls Conder Pool 12 April. Pete Woodruff.

If the behaviour of these two is anything to go by, it looks like Conder Pool might have a breeding pair at last. These/a pair arrive and loaf around here annually, but never go on to nest, though they gave the impression they might do, but certainly did yesterday. There was an absolute nil regarding anything new and not much old on Conder Pool, but 3 Black-tailed Godwit noted in the creeks.

On the Lune Estuary, in a mixed flock of roosting birds similar to Monday, c,100 Black-tailed Godwit, and c.60 Bar-Tailed Godwit. At Cockersand, 520 Golden Plover in the field behind Lighthouse Cottage, 3 White Wagtail in field behind Bank House Cottage, a Stock Dove and Kestrel seen.

Habitat Destruction.    

I took the top photograph of work in progress at Glasson Dock on 30 October, and below what the scene looks like behind at job done. Yesterday I discovered the destruction has continued along the coastal path towards Conder Green, the white speck is the long time yacht stranded on the marsh, a distance of something like a mile, with trees, bushes, wild flowers, and grasses all devastated as habitat for birds, and excellent for a number of butterfly species....Gone!

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Wait For It!

On my second visit this month, the Lune Estuary has yet to show me any signs of migration, with the exception of one or two sightings, I've seen just three Sand Martin, a Chiffchaff, and two Avocet on Conder Pool.

Meadow Pipit. Pete Woodruff.

On Conder Pool yesterday, a single Meadow Pipit, a Goosander, and 2 Pink-footed Geese, I had seen three here 27 March. A Greenshank was down the channel from the iron bridge. On the Lune Estuary, up to 100 Black-tailed Godwit, and 60 Bar-tailed Godwit were my only notes here, and a Chiffchaff was at Christ Church.

Ringed Plover/Dunlin Plover Scar. Pete Woodruff. 

At Cockersand, 52 Ringed Plover, and 15 Dunlin on Plover Scar, at least 520 Golden Plover were in the Abbey Farm fields. Otherwise, a Stock Dove was with Wood Pigeons, the local Kestrel seen, a pair of Shoveler were notable on the large ditch through the field at the junction of Moss/Slack Lane, and 2 Sand Martin flew north over fields as I drove away from Cockersand. 

The ever singing Skylark was in my ears the entire visit. Pump up the volume for a taste of summer....

I saw at least 10 Small Tortoiseshell and 2 Peacock on the day.  

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Seven Months Later.

Apart from a few Occupational Therapy style outings pretending to be birding, I was out yesterday to be a little more serious for the first time since my Birk Bank visit on 31 August 2018.

Avocet. Conder Pool 24 March. Ian Pinkerton.

It was good to find Avocet on Conder Pool, also Shoveler drake at best a scarce sighting on here, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, and 13 Greylag. Although I've never accurately noted April numbers in previous years, 36 Oystercatcher seemed a good count yesterday, and certainly will be if the intention is breeding on Conder Pool this year.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock looked very early summer in bird numbers, though up to 2,000 gulls seen, waders were all but non-existent save 32 Black-tailed Godwit and a 'few' Redshank and Wigeon hanging on. Cockersand had the same early summer feel, livened up by a Peregrine Falcon having put to flight c.400 Golden Plover, seen later more settled on the shore off the headland. Six Tree Sparrow were around Bank Houses, and I could hear a Skylark singing most of the time I spent at Cockersand.

A count of 82 Whooper Swan at Clarkson's Farm accompanied by 2 Black Swan, was all that was left of a record peak count of 620 at Cockersand on 3 February (Ian Hartley).

Of note, the Spotted Redshank failed to return to winter on the Lune Estuary/Conder Green, nor did the Common Sandpiper, last seen at Conder Green 10 October 2018. Other negatives, I failed to see my first hirundine, Wheatear, or any other summer migrants today.

Thanks to Ian Pinkerton for his image of the Avocet on Conder Pool.

I'd advise not to hold breath for the next blog post....My birding may never be the same intensity as before.  

Sunday, 31 March 2019

The Terns Are Coming.

There's light at the end of the tunnel, and at least some normality looks set to return for my birding soon, here's hoping.


In around five weeks time I'm personally hoping the Common Terns will have arrived back on Conder Pool on the Lune Estuary. If the birds do return here it will be for the sixth successive year this stunning species of bird has graced this pool to successfully raise a total of 14 young to fledging. 

The first pair to arrive on Conder Pool in 2014, must have taken everyone by surprise - they certainly did me - by turning up on the quite late date of 2 July, they went one better than this by succeeding in getting two young to fledging on 26 August, and in fact the second pair in 2015 had fledged three young by the time the 2014 pair had only just arrived on 2 July.

Breeding Common Terns on Conder Pool.


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, they were reported at Cockersand on 14 September


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


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. 


A pair 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.


A pair of Common Tern was 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, appeared 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. A chick was seen 23 July, it fledged 15 August, and was last seen 23 August.

Thanks to Ian Pinkerton for his last image of an adult Common Tern in 2018, seen on Conder Pool 23 August. 

Sunday, 17 February 2019


I'm as yet not able to bird - definitely not able to bird as I knew it - since 2 September, in fact my few attempts to do so have been abysmal, and as my last post on 2 January made clear, Birds2blog was closed for refurbishment, and that I would be back soon....hopefully. 

But an early Stonechat has been the cause of Birds2blog being resurrected even sooner than I had hoped for, and with Andrew Cornall on Friday, I found a stunning male Stonechat working along the fenceposts at Cockersands, 'pennies from heaven' it seemed, and I suggested to AC perhaps an early passage for the Stonechat had taken off.

A text from AC this morning has proved the suggestion to be correct, and the records collected today stand at an impressive 11 Stonechat including Friday's Cockersand bird....

Male Knott End
Female Pilling Lane Ends
Pair Cockersand
Five possibly six from the recycling road off Heysham bypass.

This is the earliest spring passage of the Stonechat that I'm aware of, it's certainly a first for me, and on a search through the LDBWS Annual Reports in 10 years found no February records other than wintering Stonechat.

It's worth noting that 2015 proved to be an excellent passage during March, with up to 74 birds reported, including 7 on Middleton foreshore 8 March, and 13 in the Cockersand/Jeremy Lane area 10 March.

Thanks to Bob Bushell for his excellent Stonechat photographed at Old Passway, Bristol. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2019