BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Fog Bound,Ice Bound.


Not the best of weather for a trawl
round the patch as the pic illustrates.... but it has to be done.

If anywhere has an entitlement to be advertised as a good birding spot to spend an hour now and again - or better still every day - Conder Green has. Within five minutes of leaving the motor at the car park in the picnic area I had found a female Stonechat, Greenshank, 2 Spotted Redshank, and the Kingfisher all from the iron bridge. On the circular back to the car park I noted a Little Grebe, a Reed Bunting, a Dunnock, a Grey Plover, and by way of a change I counted up to 100 Teal in the channel. The pool as expected was frozen but 6 Wigeon held on to a small area of water, the place was otherwise deserted.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock I was barely able to pick out c.20 Goldeneye, c.70 Dunlin close by were the only birds in view through the 'soup'.

Things were no better at Cockersands but I could just count 'about' 250 Redshank and Dunlin, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Turnstone, four Red-breasted Merganser, and c.900 Knot. A Little Egret was in one of the Abbey Farm fields along with c.200 Golden Plover and 4 Brown Hare.

On Gulf Lane the Tree Sparrows were around but uncounted again, and at Moss Edge probably in excess of 6,000 Starlings. At the west end of Gulf Lane were c.5,000 Pink-footed Geese, despite going through these birds a couple of times over 30 minutes I could find no odd one's out though many of them faded into the mist. I also noted a Sparrowhawk, and 2 Brown Hare.

On Fluke Hall Lane there was 85 Whooper Swans of which about 10 - 12 were juveniles.

If you are reading this, and have read other posts on this blog I really appreciate that. Enjoy your birding in whatever form it takes as thats what its all about, enjoying and learning, I do all the time, every time.
Thanks again for taking a look and......A HAPPY NEW YEAR.


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Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Scaup.

The female Scaup turned up again on the basin at Glasson Dock yesterday after an absence of a week or two, last seen by me during a WeBS count on the River Lune off Bodie Hill on 14 December.

My IT wizard turned up unexpectedly this evening so had to cut short my computer 'fun' for tonight. Hopefully the equipment will work much better after he performs his special brand of expertise......

......normal service will resume as soon as possible!
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Monday, 29 December 2008

Overdue.

A day round the 'patch' with JB today was well overdue but didn't quite produce the birds we know are there, but also didn't take any of the edge of the tour....it never does as results aren't everything. But the Stonechat's here and at Cockersands (four in total) didn't show, the White-fronted Geese at Aldcliffe didn't, and the Whooper Swan - presumably the one with 200 Mute Swan's on Jeremy Lane 9 December - at Glasson didn't.

c.2,000 Pink-footed Geese were too far away on Heaton Marsh and the fields beyond this morning. I'm not sure I personally ever saw PFG here in December and certainly never in this number if I did.

Two Spotted Redshank and 2 Greenshank were again at Conder Green, also two Little Grebe, and a Grey Plover were to note.

On the canal basin at Glasson Dock the female Scaup here again today, the drake Pochard number increased to eleven, c.100 Tufted Duck and a Goldeneye were also on here.

On the Lune Estuary the Goldeneye number also increased to at least 100 counted today which didn't include the ones 'under' whilst panning through them. Some more 'at least' numbers were 1,000 Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot. A Little Egret was on Glasson Marsh.

A brief visit to Cockersands was another mis-timed one at high tide but revealed 5 Turnstone near Plover Scar, a species always of note.

On Gulf Lane some uncounted Tree Sparrow were almost certainly the c.40 birds seen here on Friday 13.

On Pilling Marsh the only bird to note was a single Little Egret. Obviously the wrong time here as we missed the Bean Goose and 2 Barnacle Geese here this morning. Interestingly there wasn't a 'goose' in sight late afternoon.

On Bradshaw Lane Head 2 Short-eared Owl gave excellent views here again today.

The pic as always has nothing to do with 'birding' but is of the Central Pier many moon's ago in a thin shroud of mist, and - if you look hard enough - several hundred Starling's going to roost which they did in their thousands.
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Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Thanks and Merry Christmas.

If you've been taking a look at the blog since I started it up recently I'd like to thank you and hope you found at least a little something of interest on it and didn't find anything 'grandiose' or scientifically inaccurate as I'm not guilty of either. Please continue to follow it up and let me have your comments if you feel that way inclined as I'd love to see them positive or negative.

The pic is about as near to a Christmas one as is possible within my picture library and was taken many years ago in the Coniston area of the lakes where I spent many of my days off work in a previous life before 'birding' took me over - and 'dumped' photography - which I wish it had have done fifty years ago instead of only a mere thirty.

Thanks again and......MERRY CHRISTMAS.


Pete Wooduff.
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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Return....

....to the patch to note the highlights.
At Conder Green, the best bird here had to be the male Stonechat seen again, 2 Greenshank, a Kingfisher, 6 Little Grebe, 2 Snipe, and 2 Goldeneye.

On Glasson basin - where the marina looked nothing remotely like it does in this picture - 4 Goldeneye, and 10 drake Pochard are still increasing in number, where do all the females go?
On the Lune estuary a Merlin and later a Pergrine Falcon both succeeded in putting to flight in sheer panic in excess of 18,000 waders, wildfowl, and gulls, also noted 2 Little Egret. I reckon the female Scaup of late is lurking somewhere on the river here.

At Cockersands lighthouse another male Stonechat, and at the Caravan Park another male Stonechat seen. In the Bank Houses paddock, 10 Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, c. 40 Linnets, and 4 Meadow Pipits. Five Grey Partridge seen just down the road from here in Abbey Farm fields.

An enjoyable - if bloody miserable day weather wise - checking the birds of the area whilst hoping for something 'new' which does happen occasionally but not often enough perhaps.

I have a distinct feeling this may be my last 'birding day' until next Monday to which I can only add roll on next Monday......better still roll on Easter!
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Monday, 22 December 2008

Good Birding....

....bad weather, which turned on JB and I in just the same way that it did on Friday last, but before we finally let it grind us down....

At Conder Green a Stonechat NEVER fails to please me, also a Greenshank in the Conder channel. It was good to find the wintering Common Sandpiper on Conder Pool before flying off to the creeks. Eight drake Pochard on Glasson bowl means the number slowly increasing but a female never in sight. On the Lune Estuary there were several thousand waders, wildfowl, and gull's which JB has already comprehensively reported on the LDBWS website. My notes include a Little Egret below Waterloo Cottage, and (by way of a change for me) I noted at least 400 Common Gull here today whilst looking for a Med Gull. From Bodie Hill c.80 Goldeneye is an ever increasing number of this species on the River Lune here. A 'few' Redwing were still around on Moss Lane.

At this point of the proceedings we almost both agreed to throw in the towel in a miserable low mist and heavy drizzle, but decided to continue on to Pilling where at least we did have the reward of a Barn Owl on Fluke Hall Lane, an area never seen before in both our records. On Pilling Marsh the usual and now expected Little Egret - but just the one seen today - and c.500 Pink-footed Geese brought the day to a positively miserable end in a damp pea soup.

Visitors to the LDBWS website and RBA pager owners will have noticed mention of a frustrating 'grebe' which instantly appeared to large for Black-necked/Slavonion Grebe and to small for Great-crested Grebe which 'should' have made it a Red-necked Grebe. John's account indicates the frustration which followed and until/unless someone reports otherwise - hopefully tomorrow - the claim remains a firm 'possible' only.

I never took a Barn Owl pic in my life but the Tawny Owl above was an excellent find a couple of years ago in the Forest of Bowland.
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Sunday, 21 December 2008

Notes....

....from my book on bird behaviour.

Many years ago now I staked out one day at Out Rawcliffe to see a Barn Owl which had been interesting me over a period in it's daytime feeding habits and during the 20 minutes I was there I took note of a Yellowhammer. I decided to time the bird which was singing constantly during the 20 minutes and timed the song - which was repeated eight times per minute - resulting in my discovering this individual singing an amazing 160 times....some songster!

Another bird seen one day at Witherslack was a Song Thrush, a species I had no idea was given to mimicry. However, I saw this bird on two consecutive visits at the same place and was heard to mimic a Green Woodpecker with remarkable accuracy.

I think most of us know the Starling is a perfectionist at mimicking other birds and the one I saw and heard on a wire above our house one day certainly thought it was a Curlew....amazing stuff!

The cloudscape was taken from the Clougha track....well where else!
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Friday, 19 December 2008

Aborted....

....by the weather which took a turn for the worse
early afternoon. But not before a couple of hours doing a round with JB/BT during which we found 120 Whooper Swans behind Head Dyke Farm where we attempted to gain permission to get closer to the birds but failed because we couldn't find anybody on the farm premises to grant it. Also a Little Egret seen from Head Dyke Lane. Up to 6 Little Egret were on Pilling Marsh, and one Little Egret on Glasson Marsh. Earlier we had seen Tree Sparrow's on New Road opposite North Woods Hill Farm, and c.20 at the feeding station on New Road. At Eagland Hill c.5,000 Pink-footed Geese here. And at Conder Green the only birds seen were 3 Little Grebe through a wound down car window which invited a passing motorist to drench JB and myself with about two gallon of rain water standing on the road surface, obvious confirmation that someone of illegitimate origin had just driven by.

Botanist's may be interested to see the Marsh Gentian in the pic. A rare plant I prefer not to name the location of on the internet, but which - with the help of my late mentor John Leedal - we found after much searching in Sept/Aug 2004. Subsequent visits over a couple of weeks during these two months turned up eight spikes which I recall excited JL considerably to say the least......halcyon days! I've not the faintest idea where else this plant can be found, but do know the species is a protected one.
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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Half Day

Only managed three hours after lunch today before the weather turned nasty.

A Merlin put an impressive minimum of 8,000 Knot, 650 Bar-tailed Godwit, 255 Golden Plover, and a 'no idea but a lot' number of Lapwing to flight on the Lune at Glasson Dock, 18 Goldeneye were counted here. At Conder Green 2 Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank, 4 Goldeneye, 5 Little Grebe were on the pool, and 3 Grey Plover in the channels, and singles only today of Fieldfare.

I noted c.400 Golden Plover on Glasson Marsh but wondered if some were from the count earlier at Glasson Dock. On the basin just a drake Goldeneye to note and not even the regular drake Pochard's seen today.

A badly timed visit to Cockersands at high tide showed just a couple of hundred Oystercatcher and 6 Turnstone on Plover Scar, with c.40 Black-tailed Godwit in fields, and a 'few' Tree Sparrow. Over Cockerham Marsh c.5,000 Pink-footed Geese seen.

The pic of Cockersands Abbey was taken on a much more pleasant day in the summer with the monstrous power station cunningly hidden behind the ancient abbey.
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Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Hunting Strategy.


I had read an article in a previous edition of British Birds about the hunting strategy of Eurasion Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus which prompted me to write another which was subsequently published in the January 2005 issue.

This bird was observed from the Public Hide at Leighton Moss on 3 September 2003. The bird appeared in flight over the full length of the pool then perched out in the open on a dead branch. During the next twelve minutes I watched it fly across the water to the reed edge a distance of something like 150m in the direction from where it had first come, and without landing turned and flew back to the perch it had come from. This bird repeated this same manoeuvre three more times, always taking the same direct flight path and to the same area of reed edge, always turning without landing, and returning to the same perch. On each occasion flight was fast and direct whilst notably not as rapid as it would have been whilst chasing prey. I was now watching this bird crossing the pool for the fifth time, but this time it disappeared into the reeds at the precise point at which it had turned on the previous four sorties and emerged with a small unidentified prey item and flew off.

As far as I could see, this individual appeared to know that prey was in the reeds all the time and if this was a planned method of hunting it is one which I have never witnessed before and on this occasion at least, was a successful one.

Sparrowhawk image Pete Woodruff.
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Monday, 15 December 2008

Birdless....


....well almost.

I had to remind myself it is mid December and having spent the customary 4 hours once a month - for a 'few' years - on Clougha/Birk Bank I recorded a first in having not seen a solitary Stonechat, though I did see one on Rigg Lane along with c.200 Fieldfare. I noted 18 Red Grouse in the 4 hours on here with the usual cautionary count for this bird. On the way down from Clougha I noticed a good number of corvids in a field of the farm which accommodated the Hooded Crow recently. Thinking if they were still there later I would call in at the farm to ask permission to view the field (it was behind the farm not the field it had been in initially) but more than an hour later the field was void of birds so the idea was abandoned.

It was really hard putting aside the time of year and the coldest 'beginning' to a winter for 30 years, because not seeing a single Stonechat today seemed to bear out the evidence that these birds do make cold weather movements though I must say no ringing recoveries have ever proved this, but my records for example 2000 - 2007 are - with the exception of 2001 when I made no visit - 3/x/3/4/4/6/7/8 which indicates the numbers were on the rise year on year until we reach this cold start to the winter of 2008/9.

But the good news regarding the Stonechat continues. Figures show that in almost 15 years the species has increased in numbers by almost four-fold representing one of the biggest increases by any species, and warmer weather is allowing the Stonechat to expand their range and successfully so. Unfortunately another one of my 'favourites' the Spotted Flycatcher, appears to be at the other end of the spectrum and has decreased by almost 60% in 15 years. The BTO have rightly called this decline 'shocking' and continuing research hopes to find the apparently complex causes.

The picture's are of sculpture's which I spotted last time I was on the top of Birk Bank and which I admired for their clever construction......but who the artist is I have no idea.
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Sunday, 14 December 2008

WeBS Plus.

Well there I was once more, the lonely birder at
the gate at Pilling Lane Ends staring several
thousand birds in the face again and thinking do I really have to count and separate this lot. It may be a little repetitive to say this but....God how do I find myself in these situations.

One or two bonus birds to mention during the count/s. A Pale-bellied Brent Goose was on the sea at high tide off Pilling lane Ends. Off Bodie Hill on Glasson Marsh - yes I do two counts, well how mad am I to do that - a female Scaup was seen along with two Little Egret with another below Waterloo Cottage on the Lune. Also on the Lune I could only count 30 Goldeneye today but still the highest in our area. And at Conder Green a Greenshank was in the channel. Also here a possible 6 Grey Plover, and if anyone was to think whats notable about that the reply would be that this is an all time record for the species at Conder/Glasson where every winter I can find them but never more than four maximum in all the years birding here....have you?
It was good to see two 'birders' have found the wintering Common Sandpiper again at Conder Green proving me wrong in claiming it had done a disappearing act.

Once again - and how many times do I have to say this - the bird above has absolutely nothing to do with today's proceedings but is a reasonable pic of a female Kestrel....isn't it?
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Friday, 12 December 2008

Far Away

Well the Autumn colours are as far away as ever again now but thought this would serve as a pleasant reminder. It was taken at the far end of Ottergear Bridge below Birk Bank and shows the amazing colours of green/yellow/orange/and red all in the same tree.

Todays birding can only be described as mediocre but still producing interest and some noted ones are here......

At Aldcliffe c.300 Canada Geese and c.200 Greylag were impressive counts. Though the numbers are unremarkable, there are still a few Fieldare and Redwing at Conder Green, 5 Little Grebe were in the Conder channel, and a Spotted Redshank was on Conder Pool. On the River Lune upstream from Glasson Dock 85 Goldeneye is a number which seems to keep rising with the species here leaving all other area's in single figures. The female Scaup was back on the canal basin today along with two drake Goosander and 6 drake Pochard to note. The 1st winter male Stonechat showed itself again at Cockersands on the shingle near the Caravan Park, and 20+ Black-tailed Godwit were in fields here. At the Crimbles Lane/Gulf Lane junction 40+ Tree Sparrows were in a new area for me. And an impressive up to 1,000 Wood Pigeon were seen from Bradshaw Lane. The only negative thing to say about recent visits to Conder Green is that the Common Sandpiper thought to be set to winter here as done a disappearing/moving on act.
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Thursday, 11 December 2008

Drawn again....

....to the patch. I just cannot live without
it....these are the highlights.

At Conder Green, the pool is slowly freezing over and the Kingfisher was the only bird to light up the place today. By the old iron bridge a similar number of recently seen c.40 Fieldfare and a 'few' Redwing.

On the nearly frozen Glasson Basin 6 drake and a female Pochard were to note, also a drake Goosander and a Goldeneye.

On the River Lune the female Scaup was displaced from the basin along with the Tufted Ducks, a Little Egret, three Little Grebe were also noted. A Peregrine Falcon was on Colloway Marsh.

On Glasson Marsh, another Little Egret, c.90 Bar-tailed Godwit, and a Peregrine Falcon could have been the Colloway Marsh bird.

At Cockersands, 22 Black-tailed Godwit were in fields here, only 5 Tree Sparrows seen today, 14 Linnet, a Little Egret was in inland fields, and the 1st winter male Stonechat seen again. Five Brown Hare were in the same field together.

At Bank End, up to 55 Twite seen were followed by a call to PJM to say none appeared to be ringed. I regreted this call as these birds have been checked out with the result about 50% are in fact ringed apparently with metal rings I understand. So my excuse is that I was looking for 'colours' in poor light. However, at the end of the day I think it's called 'jumping in with both feet'......some people never learn.

I called back at Glasson Dock on the way home and got the picture of three birds on their way to the moon but not knowing they had flown past it!
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Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Caton Moor....


....for two hours only today as I was booked to 'taxi' family to an event at
Caton. I think this comes under the heading 'Husband of the Year' but who knows or cares!

My visit to Caton Moor was rewarded by precisely what I had gone there for in a 1st winter male and female Stonechat, another excellent wintering record, how many more on these moors? The only other birds of note in this brief visit was a Buzzard and a 'few' Fieldfare.

I was alerted in a text this morning by an ace Fylde birder who's initials are SP (that's Starting Price at a bookies) to a single Waxwing a Glasson Dock. Unfortunately I couldn't respond by going there for the reason noted above but I thanked SP for the call. I should also have thanked him for being instrumental - along with CB - in placing a link to this blog on the Fylde Bird Club website, but I overlooked this and hope they both see this entry to put this failure to rights. Thank You.

It is unfortunate there is a down side to all this in that it's becoming a little too regular for these Fylde birders to invade our area albeit at their most northerly point. It's all very well taking a look at our birds but if it continues that they keep finding scarce/rare birds I'm afraid at best a permit only situation is going to have to be put in place, and at worst a total ban will have to be enforced. The matter is being closely monitored.
Once again the photograph is unconnected to the post but was taken recently at Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary. The count of Wigeon's so far this winter is dramatically down at Glasson Dock and appears only a little better at Cockersands according to JB/PW records.
Another picture gone missing here on my screen anyway....must be a gremlin around as I have no idea why it disappeared.

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Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Out of stock....

....of suitable bird pics but this one is
appropriate for today's birding part of
which covered the canal basin at Glasson Dock and these are the highlights of a rewarding day with JB.

At Conder Green a Spotted Redshank, always likely to be seen here these days and three seen 1 December, the Kingfisher also obliged here again today.

A female Scaup was on the canal basin which accommodated at least 120 Tufted Ducks and a Little Grebe to note.

There was an excellent show on the Lune Estuary of c.1,700 Knot, c.400 Bar-tailed Godwit, and what may sound like a little sarcasm but certainly isn't....three Dunlin. Another bird 'missing' from the Lune Estuary this winter so far is the Wigeon the number of which I am sure will have been recorded by JB on the LDBWS website. A Little Egret was below Waterloo Cottage

A smart male Merlin was on Colloway Marsh though distant.

On the Lune from Bodie Hill c.7o Goldeneye is by far the best count anywhere in the area so far this winter and appears to represent yet another 'missing' species from the area. These blighters always seem to be diving when it comes to a count by me so never anything accurate in my records but if there wasn't 70 here today then it was 75.

The biggest surprise of the day was on Jeremy Lane where a lone Whooper Swan was with at least 200 Mute Swans posing the question....has this bird been with the 'Glasson Mutes' since its arrival here perhaps two months ago.

At Cockersands, two Little Owls were perched in a small tree in the Bank Houses paddock and poses another question....has the Little Owl bred here this year after all, bearing in mind none have been seen/reported here for over 12 months? Another Merlin was seen on Moss Lane, or had the Colloway bird been on the prowl. Also another Little Egret was in a field behind the CP.

OOA as they say, four Short-eared Owls were seen from Bradshaw Lane this afternoon, and if these creatures fail to excite you then its time to hang up your boots and collect your pension, as for me I hope to still be birding in a hundred years time but somehow don't think I will be. Also, yet another Little Egret flew NW over Pilling Marsh....they really are all over the place these birds nowadays.
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Monday, 8 December 2008

Resurrection

Its a few years ago now that I found a Blue Tit at Clapham in N York's. The bird was on its back and for all intents and purposes was dead. However, on taking a closer look I noticed its legs and tail were twitching. Thinking a little human intervention might help I slid my hand underneath the bird and held it righted and cupped in my hands as an aid to recovery. As I did so it took to flight a short distance before colliding with a wall. At this point I realised it had been - and still was - stunned. As I approached, it again took to flight and collided yet again with the wall. During the time I spent with this bird I had heard no calls from any other bird but at this point another Blue Tit took me by surprise and flew straight at the bird in trouble and I couldn't help but notice it made contact with the one on the ground and in an instant they flew off together.

It could well be claimed that I had merely witnessed a bird which had stunned itself before making a complete recovery. But the question here must be asked, had the second Blue Tit been observing what was going on, in itself I thought this was interesting. But I was intrigued to think this bird had made a planned move to rescue the one on the ground and with speed flew to it at which point I actually saw the two make contact which I found quite remarkable. It must be said I had seen something a little more than a bird having stunned itself and concluded I had witnessed some pretty remarkable behaviour between two Blue Tits.

The only connection between the Blue Tits and the photograph is that they were both at the same place in N Yorkshire......I think the sign is positively brilliant. I'm a dunce when it comes to mathematics, but when it comes to spelling I'm as good as the next, if you're not then you'll wonder what on earth I'm talking about.
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Sunday, 7 December 2008

A bit unseasonal but....

....the pic of a smart male Yellow Wagtail fits in nicely with some records from LDBWS archives. Like the one in 1978 which states....32 Yellow Wagtail per hour passing Arkholme viaduct......pardon!

If you know anything about the local bird scene a peruse through the old LDBWS Annual Reports would have you believe you were reading some serious printing errors as things have changed so much, and in some cases beyond recognition.

1959.

Nightjar. 15 - 20 pairs on Warton Crag.

Yellowhammer. 60 - 70 Leighton Moss 31 December.

Stonechat. Rare visitor no evidence of recent breeding.

1964.

Collared Dove. A NEW species for the area.

Redpoll. 250 Leighton Moss Sept/Oct.

Stonechat. No birds seen during the summer months.

1966.

Caspian Tern. 25/26 July and 24 Aug (John Wilson) A first for Lancashire.

Stonechat. No breeding records.

1968.

Cirl Bunting. Four at Conder Green was not verifed.

1970.

Little Egret. 25 May first record for the area.

1973.

Twite. Undoubtedly a bird which is overlooked......

......and on it goes.
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Saturday, 6 December 2008

Rainbows End

I take a different view on rainbow's
since seeing this one recently. I was
actually driving along Jeremy Lane in the direction of Conder Green and on
my way to see the Long-tailed Duck which took up residence for a few days recently - to the delight of many a birder - on the canal by Thurnham Mill Inn. The end of this rainbow points directly to the very spot where the bird was on the canal as I made my way to see it. Rainbow Nav...Mm!!

I was asked yesterday if I had seen any Stoat's in ermine yet this winter. I haven't seen a Stoat in it's winter ermine since 2006, but I have seen eight in total over about 5 years. 2005 was a good year for me when I saw three in two weeks. Apparently eight sightings in 5 years is a reasonable number by all accounts. I'm not well up on the Stoat but I understand the further north you go the more likely you are to see the creature in winter ermine and even then not all of them acquire this coat of white whilst retaining the black tip on the tail. For interest these are the records of this animal in ermine, though the first one I recorded appears to be minus a date.

Stocks Reservoir. This one ran across the causeway.
Champion Moor. 14 Feb 2003
Harrisend. 24 Feb 2003
Birk Bank. 11 Feb 2004
Harrisend. 24 Jan 2005
Newby Moor. 1 Feb 2005
Clougha. 7 Feb 2005
Cockersands. 21 March 2006
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Friday, 5 December 2008

Nice View

Missed my chance of a nice pic today
from the Pilling Lane Ends car park.
The pic was an exact replica of this one taken a couple of weeks ago, but with the added beauty of the snow clad lakeland mountains. Hard to believe the ferry's leaving Heysham Harbour do so with such a dramatic backdrop as seen from this vantage point. The scene here includes the strange lighthouse type tower - in view above the bridge of the boat if you look hard enough - at Ulverston the history of which I know nothing. Well, it isn't a lighthouse....is it? Anyway....back to birds.

John - as always on Friday's and other days if he's out with me - has the honour of producing the records, but I must add here it was good to see the Hooded Crow (again? Oct 29 Birk Bank) from the bottom of Stock-a-Bank. Other notables today were a Kingfisher around Conder Pool, well you can't help but admire this bird if you have any understanding at all of one of our most exotic birds with it's brilliant plumage colours, a Greenshank on the Lune estuary from Glasson Dock, three Little Egret on Glasson Marsh, at least 500 Fieldfare on Moss Lane with a 'few' Redwing in the mix, the 1st winter male Stonechat again at Cockersands, with a Little Egret surprising us in an inland field here, three more Little Egret on Pilling Marsh, and another Little Egret in Fluke Hall Wood. On Bradshaw Lane a Merlin was perched distant but always impressive, and the Short-eared Owl/s apparently waited until we departed before putting in an appearance. Ah well....can't win 'em all.
There was an intriguing RBA pager message this morning of an Osprey SE of Carnforth flying E over the M6 of which nothing more was/has been heard of since.
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Thursday, 4 December 2008

Rare Diver

The last I heard of this bird was that there was....'no
further sign of the Pacific Diver at Mounts Bay off Marazion in Cornwall this afternoon'.

The photograph here shows a Pacific Diver which gave John Bateman, Brian Townson and myself excellent views on 2 February 2007 at Farnham Gravel Pits in York's and is the result of only one of two rarities I ever photographed, the other being an American Robin at Bingley also in York's which all three of us saw on the same day as the diver which - in terms of 'twitching' - will probably never be beaten by myself being a remarkable double whammy and not a million miles away from Lancaster.

The Turnstone count of yesterday at Morecambe turns out to be a rather good one by all accounts, it certainly interested me. I seem to remember making the comment when I counted c.60 at Cockersands one day that it had been my best to date of this 'never in high numbers' wader, and is likely to have me doing a return visit to Morecambe - when the weather and tides are suitable enough - to do the walk from Teal Bay to the Stone Jetty and try to get to grips with something like the true winter figure of this smart little wader with beautiful plumage both on the ground and in flight. Apparently they are know to have taken to roosting on the groynes so hopefully with any luck they may not be too difficult to count. This should be a very interesting exercise which I look forward to doing.
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Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Bay

No not the radio station....Morecambe
Bay. If you're going to give this area a
'going over' for its bird life then you
really cannot do it without admiring the beauty of this place especially on a day like today. Compared to yesterdays disaster regarding the weather this was perfect and the view across the bay is comparable with any other in this country I would suggest. Anyway......the birds.

I was attracted to the Black-tailed Godwits at Broadway again today, and as Sunday they were in good number with at least 500 here which was around 200 down from Sunday, I also counted 38 Eider off here, but a diving bird took my eye which turned out to be the star bird of the day as it was a female Common Scoter, not a bird you see in this part of the bay with anything like regularity. Also to note were 3 Goldeneye, barely a shadow of yesteryear with this species in the bay, 36 Ringed Plover and a lone Red-breasted Merganser made it into my note book. But the best count of wader for the day was 170 Turnstones between here and the Stone Jetty which will prompt me to search my records to probably find I never counted so many Turnstone anywhere before as high as this. At Teal Bay the three Scaup were at Scalestone again. Wader numbers were beginning to build up as the tide raced in and there was probably 200 more Black-tailed Godwit here with c.120 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Pintail were of note and 23 Eider drifted by on the tide though I wondered if these were a part of the group from Broadway.

From Broadway to the Stone Jetty - other than a serious but failed search for a least one Med Gull - I drew a blank and according to other reports 'missed' the Purple Sandpiper and a Guillemot off the jetty end earlier in the day.

Simon Hawtins photograph of one of the Whasset Cattle Egrets has prompted one of the birders I mentioned 'suggesting' a juvenile reviewing this and concludes that having had better views recently both birds bills are yellow, though he still feels one is brighter than the other......interesting. Apparently both these and the Urswick bird have moved on so three in our area any day soon!

I note a Hooded Crow has been seen in a field at Quernmore and suggestions it may be the bird seen at Birk Bank on 29 October means it has eluded us for five weeks.
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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The Plan....

....was to give the sea off Morecambe
promenade a good 'going over' on the
incoming tide from Teal Bay to the Stone Jetty on foot. What I didn't know as I left home was that the weather had other ideas. By the time I got to Bare there was something a little worse than a serious sleet shower happening so I bought myself a Daily Mirror (always some doubt about buying one of those) to peruse through until the sleet passed over. Unfortunately once again the weather had other ideas and over an hour later I threw in the towel and headed home with a sulk and a fit of depression coming on. However before this I did get one or two brief moments to estimate 3,000 Knot having arrived - and still doing so - for the high tide roost. Also a similar number of c.250 Black-tailed Godwit were here again as they were on Sunday, and a 'few' uncounted Bar-tailed Godwit and 19 Turnstone noted. A handsome - but with an evil look in its eye - male Sparrowhawk landed on the groyne within 20 mtrs of my car. As I drove away with the aforementioned sulk on my face the three Scaup were again off Scalestones......end of today's story.

I rooted out a little book I started ages ago with notes on 'Bird behaviour and other oddities' it says on the cover. By now the book has amassed 106 notes and this is the last of these notes and represents a first for me as something I didn't know the species ever did. The observation was on the River Lune at Glasson Dock on 24 June this year and reads as follows......A group of 14 young Shelduck were noted to dive on several occasions and were timed staying underwater for up to 10 seconds.
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Monday, 1 December 2008

The Beat.

Thought at one point I would see if I could
find the Great Grey Shrike at Dalton Crag.
In the end - and not for the first time - I couldn't drag myself away from 'The Beat'.

Three Spotted Redshank were at Conder Green this morning as were two Greenshank. Four Grey Plover here were - believe it or not - a record number for me, there is at least one here every winter but never more than two....strange. I only managed two Redwing here, and five Little Grebe were in the creeks for a change having usually been on the pool. A Kingfisher obliged and I always reckon if you are prepared to spend a while here you can see this bird eight visits out of ten by my reckoning. There was sixty two Goldeneye on the Lune today, the highest number by far in our recording area until someone tells me different. At least 250 Fieldfare were on Moss Lane. At Cockersands, a 1st winter male Stonechat was the star bird in my book probably the same bird seen 6 Oct and 12 Nov. Up to 3,000 Knot came down on to Plover Scar. At Bank End c.45 Twite see yesterday were here today again. There was no sign of the wintering Common Sandpiper at Conder Green, the disappointment of the day.
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