BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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Tuesday, 31 March 2009

On Cue.


With JB today we sped (well I knew we were speeding but I don't think John noticed) to Conder Green as today was the day I was to be proved wrong about some birds arriving on Conder Pool....but I'm 'avin none of it and there they were two smart Little Ringed Plover on cue and bang on target on the same date as 2008. Excellent SP I'm not having it that anyone should think I found them in 2009 as we both know I didn't but you did....just don't do it again! 

Also noted here today, 4 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, a Little Grebe, and 3 Goldeneye. At Glasson Dock a Swallow was my first of the year (another single over C'sands later) and a Raven flew NW over the basin where there are 5 Great - crested Grebe and a Little Grebe to note.

On the estuary of note, c.120 of Black - tailed Godwit and a similar count of Bar - tailed Godwit, 2 Little Egret, c.1,000 Knot, and 2 Greenshank. A drake Goldeneye may well be the last of the three figure number peak seen on here during this winter. From Jeremy Lane 2 Grey Partridge seen.

At Cockersands the ones qualifying for my book today were c.65 Black - tailed Godwit, 5 Eider, and the Little Owl seen again in its favourite tree behind you know where by now. Three Small Tortoiseshell were the first butterflies this year for me.


On Pilling Marsh there are still c.1,000 Pink - footed Geese, and 2 Little Egret seen today. A short walk in the direction of Cockers Dyke was rewarded with 3 Wheatear.


And finally......John and I had agreed the Short - eared Owl on Bradshaw Lane would surely have departed by now but were both convincingly proved incorrect when it put in the briefest of appearances.


For the record....The drake Eider pic was taken by me some time ago at Rossall Point.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Another Circuit Trio.

Started the day at Aldcliffe where as you can see the speed limit on Aldcliffe Hall Lane has been lifted. The 'little' boy racers have been out and about again with their marker pens....life must be full of excitement for them. Still, marker pens and racing cars don't generally hurt the birds so thankful for small mercies.
A Raven over the marsh was my first encounter of the day followed by a Little Egret, I had four sightings during the two hours here but not regarded as all individuals as they were highly mobile today, around 400 Pink - footed Geese were in the fields. On or around Freemans Pools, a silent Chiffchaff was feeding quietly on the saplings around the pool, 8 Sand Martin were over the trees on the far side but briefly before soon disappearing. I only counted 5 Gadwall today, 13 Snipe were all on the island, a Goldeneye, a Little Grebe, Song Thrush, Dunnock, and 4 Skylark were all noted.


At Conder Green the first bird seen here was a drake Pintail in the Conder channel, unusual and probably a first for me here until I check my records. On Conder Pool, 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, a single Black - tailed Godwit, a Little Grebe, 2 Goldeneye included a smart drake, and 2 drake Shoveler another 'unusual' for the pool.


From Bodie Hill on Glasson Marsh a Little Egret, and 2 Grey Partridge in the field. On the estuary 28 Eider was a decent count here, and c.150 Bar - tailed Godwit included a well hidden 'white' bird amongst them appeared to be the same size and which I regarded - after a lengthy study as best I could - was an albino in which case I'd very much liked to have had a close look at that one.


At Cockersands as the tide dropped I estimated 400 Black - tailed Godwit, 550 Knot, and 800 Golden Plover were flighting around. Other notes on the circuit with no apologies for more estimates (which are accurate within reason) 45 Meadow Pipit, 50 Tree Sparrow, 130 Linnet (that was 130) and a male Reed Bunting. I counted at least 24 Brown Hare in this circuit today. I once counted 32 Brown Hare on a walk from Conder Green plus this circuit and reckon that record would have been easily broken had I done the same walk today....an excellent area for this animal. No sign of the Moss Lane Whooper Swan's today.




Friday, 27 March 2009

Its Friday Again....


....and anything other than birding this could become boring but birding in any of its many forms will not - and can never - become boring and if its Friday then its with JB/BT.

To be honest it would be really nice and rewarding to see the Little - ringed Plover's currently at Aldcliffe but yet again they evaded us though I note from the Birding Aldcliffe Blog [http://birdingaldcliffe.blogspot.com/] Steve had them again on the flood later in the day....I'm going to get really annoyed with Steve if this continues. By the gate at Freemans Pools a Mistle Thrush was in delightful full throttle, also noted stood here about 4 Long - tailed Tit, on the pool 10 Gadwall is an excellent record here for a species not found any old where, I only saw one Goldeneye here today but probably others still here. On the marsh c.500 Pink - footed Geese and a Little Egret was adjacent to the wildfowlers pool.

At Conder Green where the tide was rapidly heading towards the road the only place for birds was on Conder Pool where I can strongly recommend a visit at this state of the tide. If a rarity is going to get displaced from the creeks or the Lune estuary it's going to end up on here I'll tell you....but not today, nor have the LRP's arrived here yet but they will before the end of the month....anyone like a wager ? Today there were 3 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 220 Redshank, a Grey Plover, Snipe, Goosander, Little Grebe, and a Goldeneye. The Lune estuary from Glasson Dock was nothing but water save 10 Goldeneye, probably all that remains of the species her now. Three Brown Hare were in a running battle from Bodie Hill, and on Moss Lane there was 12 Whooper Swan's to be seen today.
Though we tried a few location's from here on we found nothing of note and ended the day at the feeding station on Bradshaw Lane where at least some 'good' species can be seen giving some excellent photographic opportunities including 9 Yellowhammer, 10 Tree Sparrow, 2 male Reed Bunting, 2 Dunnock, 2 Stock Dove the male of which displayed on a couple of occasions, and a Buzzard seen from here.

The Black - tailed Godwit pic was taken at Cockersands but not today....I'm running out of 'birdy pic's' HELP !




Thursday, 26 March 2009

Delayed Action.

By the time the weather improved and I got myself sorted it was 11.45 when I arrived at Aldcliffe where I did a circuit followed by another circuit at Conder Green and the trio of the day at Cockersands.
At Aldcliffe, it was never going to be a day of birdsong and discovery, apart from the odd Wren or two the place was silent but as I got to Freemans Pools one of the the first birds I saw was a distant, half hidden and resting wader but more on this later. I noted a Little Grebe, 4 Goldeneye and 8 Gadwall possibly nine but had to bolt from a heavy hail shower. Along the embankment 2 Wheatear m/f, a Little Egret, and a Green Sandpiper was on the wildfowlers pool. When I got back to the car at the bottom of Aldcliffe Hall Lane I met Steve who I told about the wader on the pool and said I was going to check the bird out armed with my telescope which I had left in the car for 'walking comfort', Steve followed on his bike. I had told him of my suspicion about this bird and by the time I got back here it was slightly more alert and through the scope it was what I had thought, a Greenshank. The LRP's which I had hoped to 'twitch' I 'dipped' on....well if I'm going to twitch I'll need to learn the language !

At Conder Green the Common Sandpiper obliged as did one of the four (yesterday) Spotted Redshank, also a Greenshank, 2 Grey Plover, and a Snipe. From Jeremy Lane a Little Egret was in a field here as it/one had been a few weeks ago on one or two occasions. On Moss Lane there are still 8 Whooper Swan's though one has detached itself and was in a field with Mute Swan's half a mile up the road opposite Gardners Farm.

At Cockersands between Crook Farm and Lighthouse Cottage I noted c.400 Dunlin, and a 'few' Knot. Also c.260 Golden Plover in a Abbey Farm field, up to 15 Linnet, a Skylark, Reed Bunting, Sparrowhawk, and counted at least 12 Brown Hare.
I note at 9.15 pm there are no more than 50 RBA pager messages today including just four in Lanc's - something of a 'low' national record I would think - indicating not a few birders out and about but that the spring has come to a grinding halt. That said there has been an arrival of some early Swallow's which will be thinking they went wrong somewhere along the way. The one in the pic is from last summer.




Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Another Diversion......

......well, from birding as I know it anyway. Grounded again today for reasons beyond my control, how long must this go on I ask myself. But a little time to do some 'surfing' brought me to this simply excellent and joyful news regarding the island of Malta, a place I insist on only visiting in the name of birdlife conservation and most certainly not for a relaxing holiday.


In the past few days BirdLife International, BirdLife Malta, and the RSPB have welcomed the news that the spring hunting of Quail and Turtle Dove will be banned on the island in 2009. The islands prime minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi said....no hunting could take place in Malta whilst a court case was pending so as not to prejudice the case at the European Court of Justice.


Well I don't know about you, but the fact he said this and that the hunting will cease remains to be seen....I know what I think will happen but my comments in this regard end here. Anyone who has any inclination about the hunting practices in Malta won't need - or indeed want - to read my rantings on a blog (I've been accused of such rantings before) as they will already be aware of whats been going on here for all time and if I can be allowed just one political comment here it would be....being a member of the EU, isn't it time the Maltese were made to honour the international bird protection laws (EU's Birds Directive)....I think so don't you ?


Take a look at the RSPB website on which you can view a short video showing a bird from millions shot annually - a Honey Buzzard - which was taken into care on the understanding it could be saved only to discover the bird was suffering from internal injuries caused by a hunters gunshot wounds and had to be 'put down'....strong stuff ehhhh.


I personally think it a bit of a sickener to hear Alistair Gammel - who is the director of the RSPB's International Division - saying 'This hunting ban if implimented will benefit the conservation of wild birds across Europe during their breeding and migration periods and therefore there will be more birds in the autumn when the hunters can shoot legally'....sorry, could you repeat that Mr Gammell.















Tuesday, 24 March 2009

For the Record.

A record shot of the first ever wintering Common Sandpiper at Conder Green until someone tells me different. A pity this bird hadn't been a little more obliging in mid winter when the pic would have had a bit more meaning as the bird has survived not only the entire winter period but the coldest December for c.30 years......Well done 'sandy' you've pleased me no end every time I visited Conder Green and clapped eyes on you.

Viewing the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock made it perfectly clear that it was now late March. I doubt if there was any more than 200 birds of any species to be seen as far and as wide as the eye could see, and in terms of reasonable accuracy there were no more than 30 'gulls' in total.

With JB today we went first to Aldcliffe to see if the LRP's were still on the flood....they were not but c.700 Pink - footed Geese were to note on the marsh.

In a mix of mid morning and mid afternoon visits to Conder Green 2 Spotted Redshank, and a Greenshank were seen, and on Conder Pool the Common Sandpiper, a Little Grebe, and 4 Goldeneye were of note. On the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock 10 Goldeneye, 5 Red - breasted Merganser and a Goosander were the only birds to enter my book.

From Moss Lane there was just 8 Whooper Swan's remaining in the field's they have occupied for a few weeks now. And at Cockersands an excellent count of at least 475 Black - tailed Godwit between Crook Farm and the Lighthouse Cottage. Also noted here, at least 800 Golden Plover went up with everything else in the area but as is often the case no reason/raptor seen, also a solitary Grey Plover, Ringed Plover and 2 Red - breasted Merganser.

The day seemed to come to a grinding halt from here on even though we did do some 'searching' as far as Knott End though c.1,500 Pink - footed Geese were on Pilling Marsh. A detour along Gulf Lane produced the ever faithful Little Owl which today stood posing at the entrance to its nest box.

JB's 'sightings' on the LDBWS website will add many more to this list for today as I continue to be more than a little remiss in my recording habits.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Two of a Kind.

I made what turned out to be a rash decision this morning when I gave up on the weather before setting out at 9.00 and got stuck into a house maintenance job which I couldn't leave unfinished once started when the weather improved. But later in the day I touched on birding when I had a good root through my old records and amongst quite a lot of good reading came across these reminders which I am posting on the blog void of any names save one.

I had entered the Eric M'cbe Hide at Leighton Moss in the afternoon of 18 October 1995 and was asked by two birders already in the hide, if I could help with a wader they were watching which was posing some difficulty. Well it initially posed the same difficulty for me too as it was resting with its head tucked in and legs fully submerged in water. It was roosting with a Greenshank and several Redshank which helped considerably for comparison purposes and with which it was noticeably smaller than both. We were looking at something different here, and at something probably rare. Eventually the bird made the move we were hoping for and almost instantly I suspected we were looking at a LESSER YELLOWLEGS and blurted out this thought in my excitement. However, before the bird had 'come to life' a fourth birder had arrived on the scene and had obviously decided to kept quiet on the subject for the time being but did in fact very soon produce from his pocket the only mobile phone in the hide and made the necessary call/s which for me was confirmation that my ID had been correct.

Two years later I was in the very same hide on 13 September 1997 but this time I was in the excellent company of my friend and mentor John Leedal. Earlier in the afternoon I had seen a wader from the Jackson Hide on the reserve which - to frustrate me and by something of a coincidence - was resting as the bird in 1995 had been. However, this time I seem to have convinced myself this was a Wood Sandpiper with what I could see of the bird and after some time in the hide left it at that. With hindsight I don't ever recall any conversation in the hide about this bird but many years of visiting Leighton Moss has proved beyond any doubt this is often to be the case here. So now I'm in the Eric M'cbe Hide once again and after a while a very interesting wader came down and I instantly thought this was the bird seen earlier on the reserve but in a matter of a few minutes I realise I was again looking another Lesser Yellowlegs in the face and was almost certainly the bird which was at the reserve earlier in the afternoon and which I had wrongly identified then. 

Bluebell Wood. Pete Woodruff.

This pik - which has no relation to the post but adds a little colour to it - was taken in Gibson Wood which is situated between Rigg Lane/Littledale Road and held Wood Warbler which I watched for 4/5 consecutive years in the late 90's early 2000 but not since.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Clougha/Birk Bank.

If you are planning a visit to this area in the near future the map on the right might be of use to you. As can be seen the boardwalk over the bog is being replaced but worked has not yet started and I was able to continue on my way using the boardwalk which in fact is in better condition at the moment having dried out and not under water as it has been for the past four months.
A good sunny if windy day for the monthly 'tab' on the Stonechat's which today totalled eight birds seen as four pairs, a good start to the season being only mid March. However, the stewards of the countryside are out and about with their boxes of matches as the smell of burning heather was in my nostrils during the visit here today. Well the uplands management is OK, I just wish the cut off point for these burns was made to be sooner.

The notes ended up a bit sparse as was to be expected but the sighting of two male Wheatear was excellent one of which had already found its way to about 400m above sea level two days earlier than the one I saw up here on 21 March 2007. Meadow Pipits were few and far between and I saw just six which is the same number of Wren noted, the Red Grouse beat these counts by one, and I noted one Mistle Thrush in flight beyond Ottergear Bridge. But the big surprise was the last sighting of the day when I went on to Rigg Lane from the car park to check out a field which held an excellent double figure count of Wheatear on a date around this time last year to find at least 70 Fieldfare there.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Wot No Wheatear !


Well yes....five actually.


With JB today as ever we started at Conder Green where we had to miss Conder Pool (what....and LRP expected any day now) as RSPB staff have apparently made a start to erecting a screen and planting a hedgerow which will obviously restrict viewing - as we know it today - considerably, a small price to pay in order to give the birds protection they need and deserve from disturbance....well I'm all in favour of that. Despite all this a Spotted Redshank, and a Greenshank were noted in the creek.


On the canal basin at Glasson Dock 2 pair of Great - crested Grebe were noted. And on the estuary for the note book, another Greenshank, and a Little Grebe, whilst wader numbers were around 11 Black - tailed Godwit, 15 Bar - tailed Godwit, and 20 Knot. Unless he saw more than I did, JB's sightings on the LDBWS will indicate a solitary Goldeneye and a 'handful' of Wigeon here today.


The undoubted highlights of the day were 2 male Wheatear off Bodie Hill. On the sight of these two birds a thought ran through my mind, that the day I stop getting a 'buzz' from the first Wheatear of the year I'll take up stamp collecting....but I won't be holding my breath on that one.


At Cockersands another 3 Wheatear were in the field behind the now rebuilt derelict building opposite Bank Houses. This is the place I usually find my first bird of the year but Glasson Marsh took that prize this time. Also to note, a male Merlin put up 95 Golden Plover in a field and glided over the hedge at around 50mph in front of the car, also c.20 Tree Sparrow, and 9 Eider drifted past the lighthouse on the incoming tide. From Moss Lane 32 Whooper Swan's remain in the field whilst the Bewick's Swan's were 'absent'.


On Pilling Marsh c.3,500 Pink - footed Geese and a Little Egret seen. A walk for me towards Cockers Dyke from Fluke Hall surprisingly didn't produce a single Wheatear nor anything else for that matter and from here on the Little Owl on Gulf Lane was the only bird to find its way into the book. This bird incidentally poses like no other Little Owl poses so if you 'do' photography and need Little Owl in your album pay this little blighter a visit for a result.
Well at least todays pic is appropriate as it is of a few of the 95 Golden Plover put up by the Merlin at Cockersands.


Monday, 16 March 2009

Upland'ing.


Still only mid March and I didn't need reminding about that with a stiff cold wind today but at Harrisend a count of 6 Stonechat was a reasonable one and included some interesting interaction between two males and was obviously over a female which was in close company. I saw just one Red Grouse on here and a conversation later in the day with the gamekeeper I see almost every time I visit a particular area indicated a long way to go before the 'tic' battle is won with young dead within days of hatching last year if they are unfortunate enough to collect one. Also noted here, 2 Buzzard, very few Meadow Pipit yet with only about eight seen today, and 2 Brown Hare.


At Hawthornthwaite I found just one female Stonechat and never heard let alone seen a single Red Grouse.

From the Hawthornthwaite access track at Marshaw I found another 6 Stonechat four of which were found when I decided to wander off the routine course. This has always been a problem for me as I will now have to spend even more time and do more searching over a wider area if I want to keep tabs on these two extra pair and if I'm not careful I'll be spending the entire summer in the Trough of Bowland. Also noted here were 7 Red Grouse, a Buzzard, and a Red - legged Partridge which is a bird I normally don't take seriously, but this one today is the first I ever saw in this area. A Green Woodpecker was over the access gate when I arrived back there.

In the pic is the female/immature Black Redstart which I found at Fluke Hall on the sea defences behind Fluke Hall Wood four years ago 24 March 2005 and which I had at first thought was a Stonechat when seen at a distance......Nice !

Friday, 13 March 2009

Odd one out.

First the pretty awful pic of a bird seen this morning in company with a female Stonechat at Aldcliffe and which frustrated the hell out of me for a few minutes. I'll spare the details of those few minutes to lay claim it's an 'odd' Stonechat with one of its 'normal' kind which didn't help at all whilst the two were often seen together save to say the comparison merely went to prove just how 'odd' this bird really was. The colours in the pic are true to life though it would have helped no end if could have achieved more detail with better photographic equipment......Want to try to make it into a 'mega'?


I was at Aldcliffe at 7.30 this morning and gave the place a decent going over for two hours with absolutely no feeling I'd see the current 'owl' spectacle and didn't. However, the first bird I saw was a Green Sandpiper in the flood, a quick return here at the end of the visit resulted in excellent views of a Water Rail below the hedge. On the way to Freemans Pool I noted at least 10 Goldfinch, a Goldcrest, c.300 Pink - footed Geese in the field adjacent to the flood, and 3 Reed Bunting. On/around the pool, 3 pair of Gadwall, 2 Little Grebe, 5 Goldeneye, 5 Snipe, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Dunnock, 4 Long - tailed Tit, and a 'few' Meadow Pipit. On the marsh I saw 3 Little Egret, a Spotted Redshank, c.550 Pink - footed Geese came down on to the marsh, and a female Stonechat seen. On Aldcliffe Hall Lane I found two more Stonechat one of which is pictured above.

At 10.00 I joined JB/BT for a somewhat shortened version of the Friday circuit which started at Cockersands today. On what was left of Plover Scar on a 10m+ tide a count of 62 Turnstone was quite a good one for the species with just 2 Ringed Plover. I reckon there are still a number of Twite still around at Cockersands as I saw just two today with the rest evading us. JB reported a male Stonechat to me at the lighthouse car park. The 'swan's' were still to be seen off Moss Lane but with time at a premium we reluctantly 'left them out' today.

A detour round Gulf Lane just gave us the Little Owl on its nest box tree. On Pilling Marsh we saw 4 Little Egret, 3 Whooper Swan, a Merlin, and a distant perched Peregrine Falcon. As you can see I have recorded no waders here today......only half a birder me.

On Bradshaw Lane there is still a Short - eared Owl to be seen. It again took a small vole which was alive then down in less than 20 seconds. A look in at the feeding station produced 29 Corn Bunting, at least 20 Tree Sparrow, 3 Yellowhammer, and 4 Stock Dove......and a good time was had by all!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

In reverse....again!


Made a welcome start to a days birding with JB at Knott End which is the extreme end of our usual 'pattern' where - to be honest - the only birds to enter my book were at least 90 Eider - always an excellent sight - on the sea off the esplanade here. It was a poorly timed visit as the tide was heading towards its 10m+ height making the possibility of waders nil.


At Fluke Hall 30+ Twite were in the field to the west of the slipway, a female Stonechat made my total migrants of the species 20 which is an exceptional figure for the date with more to come. Also to note here, Skylark's in song, a 'few' Meadow Pipit's were passing through, and a Buzzard was perched up on a post and did what many other bird's do when they see JB's camera....it cleared off.


From Gulf Lane 4 Stock Dove are probably another first for me here as I cannot recall ever seeing this species at Cockerham Moss before.


From Moss Lane the 'swan's' were once again as far away from the road as ever but certainly the same number as several previous recent visits being 3 Bewick's Swan's and 44 Whooper Swan's.


At Cockersands a Merlin was skimming over the Abbey Farm fields and 2 Peregrine Falcon's caused mass panic to c.1,000 Golden Plover amongst other things. Also of note here, the Little Owl showed for the third consecutive visit perched yet again in the tree behind Lower Bank House, 6 Red - breasted Merganser were off the lighthouse car park, and at least 15 Brown Hare were seen here today.


From Bodie Hill c.80 Black - tailed Godwit entered my book and another c.320 at Glasson Dock made the same total of c.400 birds as seen on Friday last. Also at Glasson Dock c.34 Goldeneye, and a Peregrine Falcon on Colloway Marsh was 'death on your doorstep' for every bird in sight. The drake Scaup was on the canal basin still.


And finally......a Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, and a Grey Plover were to note at Conder Green. The Common Sandpiper - which we could not locate - was apparently seen by some visiting birder's......well thats not allowed is it?


The Gannet's are on the roundabout for Morrisons car park and a little cunning composition put the lamp post beyond the roudabout to make it appear to be a 'Gannet Lamp'......Mmmmmm!


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Blast from the past.




Seeing Waxwing's reported on Rutland Drive in Lancaster prompted me to search my old records to come up with the date of 3 Feb 1996 when I note 2 birds were at the precise location 13 years ago.

Looking through old records comes up with some really interesting reminders some of which - not all in the LDBWS area - are often the result of my employment as a delivery driver which gelled perfectly with my birding in a manner unthought of when I initially applied for the job but which eventually could best be described as an excellent 10 years. Here are a few of them......


In the winter of 1992 I found good number's of Brambling at 11 different location's, something we don't seem to be able to do these day's.


In 1993 a visit to Blea Tarn Reservoir on the morning of 5 March turned out to be a very wise move when I found a drake Smew there and is one of the very best past record's I have. There was always a sneaky feeling it was the then regular wintering Dockacres bird on an away trip.


On 6 August 1996 from the path to the Allan and Eric Morecambe Hide's I found an amazing 'probable' up to 100 Painted Lady butterflies. I had never heard of any such sightings of this creature before and certainly haven't done so since.


And a week in Norfolk with my dear friend and mentor John Leedal in May 2000, on a visit to Cley one day produced an amazing 9 Temminck's Stints together.


Talking of 'amazing', a sight I never thought possible on the Eric M'cbe complex at Leighton Moss on 21 September 1996 was of at least 70 Little Stints, 130 here 24-25 Sept. 

And finally......The sight of 17 Grey Partridge in the Eagland Hill area on 4 February 2000 is - I think - the best personal count of the species, though I just have a feeling I counted 21 in the Pilling area one day but cannot put my hand to the record as I write.


The pic at the head of this post is another one of those old 'you won't see it like this again' pic's and is taken from the end of the East Quay at Glasson Dock looking to where the West Quay now stands. The wooden structure at the bottom right is a bit of a mystery to me but presumably was the remains of an old wooden jetty perhaps.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Back to yesterday.


A major problem arose in my household last night just after starting to compose this post. To make matters much worse - on a personal level - the event may well put my birding on the back burner for who knows how long. But if you're reading this its certainly not in order to keep up to date on the problems life is likely to throw at me from time to time so try these......they're my Birds2blog.
At Conder Green, the Common Sandpiper, Greenshank, and 2 Spotted Redshank may all have become very predictable birds to see here by now but when I tire of seeing them and recording them I'll pack the whole birding thing up, also noted a Grey Plover. On Conder Pool which was a little quiet 4 Goldeneye, 2 Little Grebe, 15 Wigeon - which almost equalled the number on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock today - and 4 Canada Geese which could well be a first record on the pool, not sure I have ever recorded them on here before. The drake Scaup was again on the canal basin at Glasson Dock.
On the Lune Estuary - which looked more like a mid summer day bird wise - c.320 Black - tailed Godwit were to note.

From Moss Lane 3 Bewick's Swan's were still in the same field as of late but the Whooper Swan's had moved in the direction of Cockersands and into a field opposite Gardners Farm and numbered 44 today. In Abbey Farm fields three groups of Golden Plover eventually joined up and made a total of at least 850 birds - later at Backsands Lane, Pilling, another 750+ Golden Plover were seen - the Little Owl was again in the tree behind Lower Bank House, and I counted 11 Brown Hare in the area today.

At Fluke Hall 4 Stonechat today were seen as 2m/2f and when I arrived along the sea wall invading 'Fyldeland' again a Barn Owl was quartering the fields behind Ridge Farm and gave excellent views.

The pic is another 'half decent' one of the canal basin at Glasson Dock but not today, it wasn't quite so nice as this, in fact the wind at Cockersands once on the headland was quite strong and bloody cold and the place showed little of great interest......but one day!














Friday, 6 March 2009

Birding in two halves....


....the first of which was - as ever on Friday - with JB/BT. Inevitably we went to Freeman's Pool's to see how many owl's we could 'collect'. But as it turned out the big mistake we made was to go unarmed with the necessary info from the guy's who know best as to where we should be training our eye's to find these bird's, as a result we left empty handed. However, the bird's which entered my book here were a male Stonechat, a Green Sandpiper, 4 Little Grebe, a Goldcrest, and 15 Snipe flying around the pool - and fooling me for a few seconds into thinking Golden Plover until I got to grips with the bill - and eventually going down on to the island. A Spotted Redshank, and a Little Egret were on the marsh.


To add to yesterday's record's at Conder Green was a female Merlin perched on a post out on the marsh, and 2 Greenshank, and a Spotted Redshank qualify for being noted again. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock the drake Scaup was seen again, and to note on the Lune Estuary were 320 Black - tailed Godwit, and 30 Goldeneye were eventually counted with 12 here and another 18 from Bodie Hill, so a little improvement on recent counts here.


John and Brian had other commitments today and we split at one o'clock. Try though I may to go elsewhere I wasn't able to resist the magnetism of Cockersands. On my way there I found the 'swan's' on Moss Lane had moved nearer to the road making the count easier than yesterday and was able to confirm the Whooper Swan number to be 42 and the Bewick's Swan to be 3 including the juvenile seen on recent visits here.


At Cockersands I saw c.20 Twite briefly in flight, c.650 Curlew were to note off the Caravan Park, c.650 Golden Plover in a Abbey Farm field were at least 200 up on yesterday's count of 450. A walk in the direction of Crook Farm produced c.400 Black - tailed Godwit, but to prove a point I dashed off to Bodie Hill and Glasson Dock to find not a solitary BTG confirming that these were the birds seen 2.5 hours earlier at Glasson Dock having moved to Cockersands and been joined by another c.80. I somehow suspected I hadn't found c.720 BTG in the area.


The pic's show the Landart recently created at Cockersands only to succumb not many weeks later to the mighty forces of the sea and to end up in a heap. In time the sea will spread the stone's around the shore to leave people never knowing that Richard Shilling's excellent art ever existed here.










Thursday, 5 March 2009

Serious Eight.


I had an excellent and serious eight hours on the patch today......brilliant not for the number of 'mega's' I found but just brilliant. To spare any boredom I'll stick to the bird's highlighted in my book.

At Conder Green 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, the Common Sandpiper obliged yet again, a Grey Plover, 2 Stonechat were excellent, and a Sparrowhawk put everything to flight. On Conder Pool, 48 Black - tailed Godwit plus c.150 flew over to the estuary, 2 Little Grebe, and 5 Goldeneye. The drake Scaup was on Glasson Basin still and a Little Grebe was noted on here.

On the Lune Estuary, a mixed flock of Knot and Bar - tailed Godwit which I had no intention of ever trying to seperate totalled c.1,800. Also noted here, 2 Little Grebe, m/f Goosander, another small group of 16 Black - tailed Godwit, and just 12 Goldeneye seen today. A Peregrine Falcon was on Colloway Marsh.

At Cockersands, another female Stonechat, the Little Owl was perched in the tree behind Lower Bank House where the sign say's Public Footpath. I saw just 3 Tree Sparrow's here today, counted at least 40 Linnet, 15+ Skylark came down into a stubble field, and c.450 Golden Plover were in a Abbey Farm field, and I counted 7 Brown Hare.

From Moss Lane, the 'swan's' have moved even further away from the road just to make life more difficult, but I counted up to 50 bird's which it's fair to assume are the same as seen on recent visits here which are all Whooper Swan's save 3 Bewick's Swan's, the rest were Mute Swan's making a total of in excess of 100 bird's.

The day became a bit 'bird sluggish' from then on but a walk from Fluke Hall to Cockers Dyke - just for the sake of invading Fylde territory - was well rewarded by 3 more Stonechat's, this time 2 male and a female making a total of six migrant's seen today. Talking of which at least 120 have been recorded at Portland Bill Obs, the number of which means absolutely nothing to me in term's of previous record's at this prime location, other than it sound's a lot of Stonechat's in six day's. Incidentally, people at the Bill woke to a carpet of snow this morning.
The pic above was taken one day last winter looking back towards Quernmore church below from the accent to Clougha. By the time I'd fumbled with the camera the splendid rainbow that was had almost disappeared......Ah well!








Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Portland Bill Obs.


It was good to peruse the Portland Bill website and even 'gooder' to see spring has arrived there - if it hasn't here yet - and read of the arrival of the first 'few' Wheatear on the first day of March with three at the Bill and two more birds elsewhere on the island. Words like 'not before time' were used on the website to describe an arrival of 23 Stonechat's at the Bill on 27 February with another seven at Reap Lane. The day after, the Stonechat arrival continued with around another twenty five birds at the Bill and went on to record twenty or more on 1 March and yet another twenty or more on 2 March with twelve today 3 March.

Come to think of it perhaps our spring has already arrived too as I personally think the female Stonechat at Conder Green on 26 February was a migrant rather than one of the three birds wintering there since 10 November, and the female on Fluke Hall Lane the day after was certainly a migrant bird as were the four male's at Aldcliffe on Sunday 1 March. I suppose we have other evidence of spring in our area the best of which is probably the arrival of the Avocet at Leighton Moss. So after all it's not 'come to think of it' but positively....Spring is here!

Last year I found my first Wheatear at Fluke Hall 18 March - I think this was later than other peoples first - and the first Little Ringed Plover was on Conder Pool on 31 March. It is interesting that a LRP had been reported at Martin Mere on 28 February but the report was deemed 'questionable'.

Well the pic isn't Portland Bill lighthouse but is the one at Cockersands with Plover Scar in the foreground....but wait a minute, picture posted previously on 22 November......Whoooops!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Beanz Meanz...


....excellent with four in one today after much effort and determination.


My highlights of the day with JB were....At Conder Green where 2 Spotted Redshank and 2 Greenshank were in the creeks as was the Common Sandpiper. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock a drake Scaup. I'm confident I could make quite a lot of money taking bet's on who found this little beauty. The Lune Estuary was almost void of wader's today notably Lapwing, Dunlin, and Golden Plover, but 110 Black - tailed Godwit were counted also c.1,000 Bar - tailed Godwit. Also missing were number's of Wigeon and Goldeneye of which just c.35 and 10 were counted.


The only bird's of note at Cockersands were 3 drake Eider. From Moss Lane the number's of Whooper Swan's and Bewick's Swan's were almost impossible to assess for various reasons not least of all distance and half hidden bird's, but were almost certainly the same as seen last Friday at this location which was 42 and 3 respectfully.


On Pilling Marsh a Little Egret was distant as were a large number of Pink - footed Geese which I planned to get closer to but was saved the trouble because by the time we arrived at Fluke Hall Lane they had begun to come of the marsh and conveniently dropped into the fields here. A detailed scan through them revealed four Tundra Bean Geese, by far the best sighting ever of this species in our area for me and probably going to be a long time before a repeat of such a record. A Little Egret flew over the wood here and down into a ditch inland.


By now the weather was playing its part and a desperate ride to Knott End to see if the rain would relent was at least rewarded with c. 80 Sanderling, a species which rarely goes any further in our direction than here save perhaps the odd stray towards Fluke Hall.


The (not impressive or convincing) pic's are at least relevant to today's birding and show the 4 Bean Geese (in the lower one) despite any photographic details which may falsely indicate otherwise, and also despite the fact that two of them did nothing more than show their a***'s (two right hand birds) in every shot I took.


Sunday, 1 March 2009

Just a couple....


....of pic's totally unrelated to the true purpose of the blog but serves to keep the thing alive until I get out birding again hopefully tomorrow.


Taken many years ago at the height of my photographic interest's, both pic's are of the impressive Thornton Force, one of many to be seen on the circuit of Ingleton Falls. I'm not sure if the guy under the fall was just enjoying the thrill of sitting underneath this giant cascade of water from above, or contemplating 'the end'. If it was the latter I would have willing gone to try to talk to the man to calm him down, but I could never have known as he was still there after I had taken my shot of this quite interesting event.


The second pic is of the same fall but is of a more sedate run of the water following the mighty fall over the edge above.


With any luck, back to birds tomorrow.