Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Shrikes!....What's This.

Juvenile Red-backed Shrike. Dan Haywood. 

This juvenile Red-backed Shrike was found at Sunderland Point yesterday and well documented by Dan with these excellent images, though as with my Wryneck at Cockersands on Monday 13 April, this bird did a disappearing act much sooner than would have been liked, allowing nobody but the finder a chance to see this little beauty.

Whinchat. Dan Haywood.

Dan had been in touch with me on Monday to alert me to some 'good stuff' he found in the Cockersands area for which I was grateful, including this Whinchat at Crook Farm. The Whinchat runs a close second to any rarity anytime anywhere in my book, a little gem. 

Dan had said he might bump into me at Cockersands on Tuesday, but as it turned out his decision to go to 'The Spurn of the West' at Sunderland Point was the best decision where he found the brilliant young butcher.

Thanks to Dan @ dansautumnoffensive for letting me use his images for the post, they are much appreciated.

Tuesday's Birds.

As for my Tuesday's birding....Well not as 'birdy' as Dan's, and hasn't really veered away from the routine yet, but my continuing to live in the land of hope I'll post my findings tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Deep Depression!

No not the weather, just me getting fed up with being off the birding road again since last Friday. But living in hope this might change in the next few minutes when I jump up and away from this computer.

Meanwhile, to avoid a hole developing in Birds2blog, a couple of notes on the Lune Estuary....

Ringed Plover.

I note a record of 95 Ringed Plover on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock on Sunday. Seen as a build up of passage birds, with 35 I found here on 21 August, and 50 seen 28 August. This is certainly something I've not personally observed here before, though round the corner and down the coast at Cockersands, I found a peak count of 450 Ringed Plover on 14 August 2013, the month and into early September when passage of this species is mainly concentrated.

Most of these autumn birds are probably heading for southern European or African wintering grounds. Of ringing recoveries the furthest movement of Ringed Plover from Britain has been of a bird found in Ghana one year in December. 

Spotted Redshank.   


Spotted Redshank Antonio Puigg @ Pasión por las aves 

The Spotted Redshank had returned to Conder Green last year on 1 July. Two months later and the bird has failed to return here this time where it has wintered in recent years. But a Spotted Redshank has been reported on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock on 28 July, and again last Sunday 30 August....Perhaps the very CG bird! 

Thanks to Antonio for his excellent juvenile Spotted Redshank.

I'd sooner be birding! and soon will be anytime now....owt about?

Sunday, 30 August 2015

With Determination.

Tied up almost all day on Friday, with determination I eventually escaped, but not until after 2.00pm, enough time to take a look at Conder Green, the Lune Estuary, and a wander off Jeremy Lane and on to some accessible farmland, all of which turned out to be quite sparse, though the Lune Estuary held good numbers of waders mainly RedshankDunlin, and Lapwing, viewable from the bowling green, but all too distant and hazy for anything like easy observations. But I was able to achieve the best ever number of the species in my book when I counted at least 50 Ringed Plover. I know I'm repeating myself here, but this is not a bird to be found at all regularly on the Lune Estuary at this location, and certainly not in this number.

At Conder Green, the place was deserted, with the American gone and birders having had their fill, or decided it was no longer to be found. The place was almost deserted by the birds too, but 3 Common Sandpiper were in the creeks, 4 Little Grebe were on Conder Pool, and good numbers of Redshank and Dunlin down the channel from the railway bridge. 


Goldfinch Jan Larsson  

The permitted wander round some farmland at Lower Thurnham had me finding a flighty 25 Goldfinch2 Wheatear, a hunting Kestrel, and a Brown Hare lazing horizontally in a field.

Ban Driven Grouse Shooting.


Red Grouse Brian Rafferty 

The petition to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting has gone into snail pace mode.

After having been up and running for just two of it's life expectancy of six months, it has collected just 14,500 pitiful signatures. Mark Avery can't be anything other than extremely worried about what is heading for the second failure of this important step in the right direction to help stamp out the illegal persecution of the Hen Harrier.

I'd like to add another of my three pennyworth in promoting this petition to ask visitors to Birds2blog - and those they wish to pass the message on to who have not yet signed - if they would consider doing so right now, it will also go towards proving me wrong about the impending failure.


Obviously few want driven grouse shooting to be banned....Well there's a sickening surprise. 

The link to sign is at the top of my sidebar, and also Here    

Thanks to Marc for the shrike, Jan for the finch, and to Brian for the grouse....Brilliant on three counts.

Friday, 28 August 2015

No Sign.

If you visited Conder Green yesterday to see the Lesser Yellowlegs as I did, or Glasson Dock to see the Spoonbill, you was out of luck as the day ended with no sign of either. I reckon yesterdays tide was the first the American had encountered which covered the mud banks at Conder Green since its arrival on Sunday....it went off to roost somewhere and didn't return....neither birds have been reported today.

To be honest, there was no sign of much else anywhere I paid any attention to yesterday, but apparently I missed the Wood Sandpiper at Conder Green, and the Little Stint at Glasson Dock.

But enough of this negativity, here's what I did see.... 

The species number had increased again at Conder Green when I saw 7 Common Sandpiper, five in the creeks, one in the channel from the railway bridge, and one on Conder Pool, 4 Little Grebe were also on here again. About 8 Linnet seen, and c.150 Redshank and 25 Dunlin where downstream from the railway bridge, and a Painted Lady was good.

I did a circuit at Cockersands with some detours to little avail, but c.80 Linnet were off the headland again where I saw 2 Wheatear, 14 Greenfinch on Slack Lane, and 12 Tree Sparrow around Bank Houses.

Linnet Behaviour.


Linnet Warren Baker

Some interesting behaviour by two Linnets from a group of eight which flew across the creeks, these two individuals were behaving like petrels and were pattering their feet on the deep water surface. I watched these two birds in this manner through a telescope for 10 seconds....Odd and amazing. 

East is east, and west is west. 

An estimated 230 Pied Flycatcher at Spurn Point on the east coast earlier this week.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Yellow....Legs And Tail!

Mondays birding started yellow, and ended yellow.

River Conder. Conder Green. Pete Woodruff.


Tourism at Conder Green has taken an upturn since the arrival of a North American wader which was still present for it's third day yesterday.

As far as I know the Lesser Yellowlegs has remained in precisely this area of the creeks since it was found on Sunday morning - 'clik the pik' for a full frame view - it was on the waterline between the two boats on both occasions I went there.

Lesser Yellowlegs and Co. Pete Woodruff,

I got my second helping of the Lesser Yellowlegs when I visited there again on Monday, and put in a little effort at photographing the bird with the only publishable shots including some intruders when one of 2 Ruff, a Black-headed Gull, and a Mute Swan all got in on the act.

Also of note, 5 Common Sandpiper including one on Conder Pool, where 3 Little Grebe, and the Kingfisher put in another appearance, this time perched distant below the terrace at the far side. At least 80 Redshank and 10 Dunlin were downstream from the railway bridge.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 2 Mediterranean Gull were both adult, also 5 Black-tailed Godwit, and up to 3,000 Lapwing present.

Linnet. Pete Woodruff.

These four were from a number I estimated to be 350 strong at Cockersands last year on 2 October. At Cockersands on Monday, a flock of c.120 Linnet were along the headland, with 2 Wheatear also here, 3 Greenfinch were along Slack Lane.

On the way to Bank End, apart from several white butterflies, the only other one seen was a Gatekeeper. The trek here was rewarded by the sight of a stunning male Yellow Wagtail....yellow start, yellow finish. 

Talking of yellow....


At least 500 Yellow Wagtails at Dungeness Observatory in Kent on Sunday, probably came down in a downpour, not prepared to continue their journey across an expanse of water in such conditions.

Monday, 24 August 2015

As For Last Week!

The Kingfisher.

Last week had its own brand of birding interest for me, not least because on Monday the Conder Kingfisher obliged at last. Having been elusive for me recently - never in the right place at the right time -  I found the bird perched close by, it posed perfectly for a few minutes for me to try out any photographic skills I might have.


Kingfisher (Female) . Pete Woodruff.

I was pleased with some of the results, one of which I thought qualified for the new header for Birds2blog.

Martin Behaviour.

Some behaviour I observed was interesting at Conder Green on Friday when, in the Cafe d' Lune area, up to 8 House Martin were collecting mud in the creeks. These birds may well be having a second or even third brood, as the House Martins breeding season can sometimes be prolonged and into autumn, in which case it's interesting to note, the young from earlier broods are known to help feed those from later ones.

Black-headed Gull.

Also at Conder Green I saw a Black-headed Gull in the creeks, the bird appeared to be injured or was stunned. It was trying to take to the wing with out success, it was covered in mud and was a pitiful sight about which I could do nothing. Another Black-headed Gull was by its side squealing all the time, and attacked the bird pecking at its head a couple of times, a Little Egret also came on the scene, and I was convinced this bird would also attack the gull, but I scared the pair of them off. A few minutes later when I looked, the gull had shuffled itself on to the water, and a few more minutes later when I looked again it had disappeared. I had to convince myself it had been stunned for some reason, and had eventually flown off, though it had appeared to me like it was never going to be able to.

The Spoonbill.


Spoonbill. Chris Batty. 

The Spoonbill is now into its third week on the Lune Estuary, and Chris is the only birder I'm aware of to get an image of the bird which - as in this record shot - has always been distant at the mouth of the Conder viewed from Glasson Dock, though when I found it on Friday 7 August it was 100 metres nearer the bowling green viewpoint than it has been since.

Yellow Wagtails.


Yellow Wagtail Simon Hawtin

My weeks birding had an excellent end to it, with at least 6 Yellow Wagtails on the edges of Cockerham Marsh on Friday. This was the best example of what birding is all about, to find stunning birds like these....Next please!

Thanks to Chris and Simon for the images, much appreciated.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Up The Creek.

I was grateful for a call this morning at 10.49am - even before I'd recieved the pager message at 11.03am - to alert me to a North American wader in the creeks at Conder Green....WHAT!!  

Lesser Yellowlegs. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery 


With KT on board I shot off to achieve excellent views of my sixth UK Lesser Yellowlegs, this one an adult. At one point the bird was in the same view as 2 Ruff, 2 Common Sandpiper, and a Greenshank.

Thanks to Martin Lofgren for the excellent image of this equally excellent Nearctic wader.

My previous sightings of Lesser Yellowlegs have been....

Eric Morecambe Complex a 1st winter 18 October 1995
Eric Morecambe Complex a 1st winter 13 September 1997.
Banks Marsh a 1st winter 6 February 1999.
Eagland Hill a juvenile 14 September 2002.
Glasson Dock a juvenile 24 September 2011.
Conder Green an adult 23 August 2015. 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Cloudy, Rain Later.

My records for yesterdays birding reads....'Cloudy, rain later'.

An English Summers Day. Pete Woodruff.

I was an idiot to drive to Cockersands mid-afternoon when I could see what was about to happen with the weather, and when I arrived at the lighthouse car park this was what was heading towards me, it came down in buckets full the rest of the day....I went home!

Yellow Wagtail. Noushka Dufort @ 1000-Pattes

But hey....Earlier on the marsh and embankment at Bank End I saw at least 6 Yellow Wagtail with in excess of 100 Pied Wagtail, all of which went towards taking the sting out of the downpour which followed soon after round the corner at Cockersands.

Noted on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, a 3cy Mediterranean Gull, a Greenshank, 10 Little Egret, and c.35 Ringed Plover just moments after I had told a birder from Norfolk who was with me, that the species is at best unusual here....Mmmm, big mouth!

At Conder Green, I found just one Common Sandpiper in the creeks, with 3 Greenshank, c.150 Redshank, and 2 Dunlin. On Conder Pool 3 Little Grebe and the drake Wigeon.

Garden Wildlife. 

Painted Lady. Pete Woodruff.

The latest record for the garden was of a Painted Lady on our Buddleia yesterday morning.  

Clik the pik....The weather one is grim, and the wagtail - thank you Noushka - and butterfly are excellent....even though the latter is one of mine!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Green, Dock, And The Nab.

It was looking like I was going to have to report none seen at Conder Green yesterday, but just as I was about to leave 4 Common Sandpiper flew together down the creeks, also a Greenshank and little more than 20 Redshank seen. Conder Pool was quiet save 3 Little Grebe, 2 Little Egret, and the all alone drake Wigeon waiting for the arrival of the relatives

At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary, the Spoonbill was duly present at the mouth of the Conder again, with 2 Mediterranean Gull being both adults, a Ruff was with c.150 Redshank close in from the bowling green, and 12 Little Egret counted. 

Mediterranean Gull Red Nab 20 Aug Pete Woodruff

At Heysham Red Nab high tide roost, just the one adult Mediterranean Gull found with c.200 Black-headed Gull, 2 Sandwich Tern, and c.2,500 Oystercatcher with uncounted Redshank and Curlew.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Late Start Early Finish.

It was a late start yesterday, and by 1.30pm the rain - which lasted until early evening - brought about an early finish by the time I got to Glasson Dock where I found 12 Little Egret assembled on the marsh for the high tide roost about an hour away.

At Conder Green, in the creeks I found only one Common Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, c.150 Redshank, a single Dunlin and Snipe, and saw House Martins around the Cafe d' Lune area still. On Conder Pool, 2 Wheatear were something of a surprise, with 24 Goldfinch on the thistles, 4 Little Grebe, and a Collared Dove on here was unusual.

A big disappointment as I was looking forward to another good wander again but finished up with a pitiful short list. Some you win, some you loose, talking of which....

The Yellow-breasted Bunting.


Yellow-breasted Bunting Arkive 


The Yellow-breasted Bunting is an extremely rare vagrant to the UK, the first record being of a female found in Norfolk in September 1905, the latest one being of a juvenile at Brownsman, Farne Islands, Northumberland, in September 2013. 

As one of Eurasia's formerly most abundant species, the Yellow-breasted Bunting (YBB) has declined by a staggering 90% and retracted its range by 5,000km since 1980.

High levels of hunting appear to be responsible for this decline of the YBB, and at night time roosts where the birds gather in huge flocks on migration and on wintering grounds, they become easy targets for trapping in huge numbers. The species is known in Chinese as 'the rice bird' and following initial declines, hunting of them was banned in China in 1997, but millions of these and other song birds were still being killed for food and sold on the black market as late as 2013. 

Back in 2001 an estimated one million YBB were being consumed for food in one Chinese Province alone, and the species has now all but disappeared from Eastern Europe, European Russia, large parts of Western and Central Siberia, and Japan. 

Hard to believe that, in the 21st century, man needs to be better educated on the consequences of eating wildlife. 

Homo sapiens....The greatest and most ruthless of all know predator species.