BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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COVER CROP COCKERSAND. PETE WOODRUFF

Friday, 27 February 2009

Keeping the Tradition....



....the three wise men set off on their Friday tour of one of the best coastal areas in Lanc's.

It's almost an embarrassment to record just c.200 Pink - footed Geese on Aldcliffe Marsh when in the back of my mind at least I know damn well people are seeing three of our 'Owls' here at the moment. The only excuse I can put up is that we had other business to attend to....so lingered not.
At Conder Green the Spotted Redshank and Greenshank fare today was one and two respectfully, a Grey Plover. Also to note here, the Common Sandpiper, 2 Little Grebe, and 3 Goldeneye were on Conder Pool. Also noted here was Mark Prestwood who probably won't thank me for this, but I must say he's just about the nicest person/experienced birder you could wish to meet anywhere on your travels, always cheerful and never a negative comment to be made....nice to have seen you again Mark after quite some time.

At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary, 2 Peregrine Falcon and a Little Egret were on Colloway Marsh, otherwise about 9.5m of tidal water.

On Moss Lane 42 Whooper Swans appeared to probably have included the 36 seen yesterday on Jeremy Lane, also three Bewick's Swan's included a juvenile.

In the field opposite Gulf Lane from the A588, a Tundra Bean Goose (thanks for pointing us in the right direction Mark) was with c.3000 Pink - footed Geese, also a Little Egret came out of a ditch here. From Fluke Hall Lane, 2 Little Egret were over Fluke Hall Wood, a female Stonechat here is regarded by me- as the one at Conder Green yesterday was - to be an early passage bird.

What appears to be the last remaining Short - eared Owl on Bradshaw Lane gave yet more excellent views as it quartered the field it appears to be spending its entire life in - as it has been quartering this field consistently for something like six recent visits here by me/us - but not for much longer surely. A quick tour round this area produced c.80 Fieldfare and a single Redwing at Out Rawcliffe.

Thought the pic would give a feel of things to come. I'm not suggesting anyone who visits the blog won't know the butterflies but clockwise from the top left....Painted Lady, Comma, Speckled Wood, and Wall Brown.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Quick wizz round....

....or the wild goose chase!

With an appointment to keep early afternoon, I just had the morning to devote to my birding interest's in order to stave off any risk of depression which always takes over me with the lack of it. JB and I set off hopefully to catch up with the Bean and W F Goose on Jeremy Lane but our hopes were short lived as the 'geese' here had decided to move away from the lane to the rear of the fields beyond and mainly hidden from view, the result was a start to the morning on a 'dip'....oh dear now I've started using 'twitching jargon'. In a nearby field 36 Whooper Swan's were seen and on Moss Lane there were 2 Bewick's Swan's and 4 Whooper Swan's.

A run down the A588 to check out the geese in fields opposite Sand Villa resulted in observing on our arrival a 'nice' man in a Land Rover driving through the field directly towards 4,000+ Pink - footed Geese and whatever else may have been with them with the result you've already worked out....so now we are into our second dip.

By now I'm looking at the time - bearing in mind my appointment - and on the way back to Lancaster a look in at Conder Green produced a Spotted Redshank, a solitary Black - tailed Godwit, and a suprise in finding at least one female Stonechat still here.

So I'm back home less than three hours after leaving there and not much less depressed as I would have been if I'd never bothered going out in the first place....Ah well!

If you're acquainted with Leighton Moss you'll recognise the pic which was taken many moon's ago - when I was more of a 'honey potter' than I am today - from the Jackson Hide looking towards Crag Foot.






Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Stonechats 2008.


I just e-mailed my Stonechat records for 2008 to JW and reckon a few words about them might interest one or two visitors to the Birds2blog.

I can't wait to see the comprehensive  RSPB Stonechat records for Bowland, as far as my records for 2008 are concerned from just two of my most favourite areas for this species, the breeding season for this year is best described as a disaster and there will be nobody needing  an  explanation  as to  why  if  they  remember  all the  unused  sun  blocker  in  the bathroom cabinet.

I wasn't even able to get to the Clougha/Birk Bank location in the entire month of August simply because, on what days I was available to do so the weather was unbelievably appalling. In March and May I succeeded in identifying 10 birds as 5 pairs but as the season progressed and indeed came to an end, the only breeding evidence I gathered was of a single young bird, and a pair with 4 young - which in the circumstances was a resounding success - both records in the month of July. The year ended on a down note when a rare event occurred here and I found not a solitary Stonechat in December.

As always these record are achieved through in excess of 50 hours observations on Clougha and Birk Bank, and whilst our summer months produce anything like the weather 2007/8 threw at us the upturn of the status of the Stonechat will remain on hold and in any case in my opinion has probably peaked already and much sooner than I had hoped for if it turns out I'm correct on this one.



This picture does at least have a connection to all this as I took it a while back one November evening from Birk Bank.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

In the mist again.

Once again not the perfect day for my choice of
venue in the mist but I had neglected Newby
Moor since I abandoned any hope of breeding
Stonechats here on 9 July last year when I
found just four adult birds and hadn't seen a juvenile at all at this point. That said I had found an amazing eleven birds here on 12 February of the same year. Newby Moor is also an excellent place to find Whinchat with my best ever record here of fifteen on 2 August 2000. I wonder if this kind of number of Whinchat is still possible at Newby Moor nine years on with the birds status as it stands today.

It took two hours to find 2 Stonechat today which were seen as a pair. 4 Raven were seen over a plantation near here, 2 Stock Dove, 3 Snipe were flushed from damp areas, and 210 Lapwing were in a field with 2 Oystercatcher.I saw 2 Stoat one of which was in ermine and was the first since 21 March 2006 at Cockersands.

With time on my hands I went to check for any 'life' at Barbondale and was rewarded with some Dipper behaviour, a first for me when three birds together flew down the stream, I lost sight of one but the two remaining showed display by the male towards the female, two hours later a pair in the same spot were nest building and showed more interesting behaviour again in that one was collecting moss off a stone followed by a few dunks in the water before taking it soaked into the nest hole in the bank....intriguing stuff. A Buzzard, 3 Raven, and a Grey Wagtail were of note.

Not for the first time the Black - headed Gull in the pic is not remotely connected to today's birding but its a nice pic of one in breeding plumage....isn't it?

Monday, 23 February 2009

Gone !

Has the hybrid Ross's Goose x Pink - footed
Goose gone ? The RBA pager message at
8.22 pm suggests it may well have and is now NE of Longtown near Easton in Cumbria. Well I did manage eventually to catch up with this bird last Wednesday, and today I caught up with another bird which has been around a while now when I found a Barnacle Goose with Pink - footed Geese in fields opposite Sand Villa but the Brent Goose, White - fronted Geese, and any of the Bean Geese are simply evading me....but back to the real world.

At Conder Green the Common Sandpiper, a Spotted Redshank and Greenshank seen again today. On Conder Pool, 2 Little Grebe, 4 Goldeneye, and 14 Wigeon were noted. I have a distinct feeling the Stonechat's have departed this area, the first - a male - having been there since 10 November 2008. Noted at Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary were estimates of 1,500 Bar - tailed Godwit, 1,200 Golden Plover. I counted 78 Black - tailed Godwit and no more than 10 Goldeneye of which the numbers have dramatically dropped in recent visits here.


Some 'swan's' from Moss Lane were distant, with the sun in my face and difficult to determine but I did account for at least 4 Bewick's Swan's and 3 Whooper Swan's. Opposite Sand Villa the aforementioned Barnacle Goose was with c.2,500 Pink - footed Geese and c.1,500 were seen later from Libby Lane at Pilling.

Little Egret's seen today......singles on Glasson Marsh, Jeremy Lane, 3 Pilling Marsh, and 2 at Fluke Hall.


The pic of the adult winter Med Gull was taken at Conder Green last year and is one of the many 'goodies' recorded on the excellent Conder Pool since its creation. John Bateman is recording them all and will be an impressive list.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Patchwork Rewards

An excellent tour round the local area
gave some equally excellent rewards
today in the good company of JB/BT.

At Aldcliffe the flood produced both Spotted Redshank and Green Sandpiper together with a brief Water Rail below the hedge. Another Spotted Redshank was seen on the marsh and c.60 Linnet remain in the rough area on the lane.

At Conder Green the Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank seen. Also to note was a Merlin perched on a post out on the marsh as viewed from the old railway bridge and a male and female Stonechat were on the east side of the A588 by way of a change and were presumed to be two of the three wintering birds. On the pool 4 Goldeneye, 12 Wigeon, a drake Pochard, a Little Grebe, and 3 Black - tailed Godwit were all noted.

An amazing 21 Bewick's Swan's - including three 1w winter birds - had moved to Jeremy Lane from the distant views fourteen had given me on Moss Lane on Wednesday. Also in adjacent fields were c.2,000 Pink - footed Geese.

At Cockersands, at least 270 Black - tailed Godwit seen, with another 30 on a flood on Moss Lane and c.160 on the Lune at Glasson Dock the total came to 460+ at three locations.

In the field opposite Sand Villa again today c.75 Whooper Swan seen. An invasion into Fylde territory gave excellent views of a Short - eared Owl hunting once again though from a personal point of view I'd much rather have seen this bird- and the many previous sightings of these beautiful creatures on Bradshaw Lane - hunting the uplands of the Trough of Bowland anytime. Just up the road 23 Corn Bunting were on the wires at the feeding station.

A Raven was reported to me over Canon Hill mid- afternoon heading towards Aldcliffe.

With apologies for another empty picture box......an 'excellent' days birding.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Up and Down.

Being a sucker for punishment I went 'up' to Harrisend on a day which looked like it could turn out like Monday did on Clougha in a fog.
As it happens it stayed quite clear whilst I was there but by the time I got back to the car it was looking decidedly grim. So I decided I'd had enough of this murky upland stuff and went off 'down' to the coast.

At Harrisend I found just 2 Stonechat seen as a pair, also noted were at least 9 Red Grouse and 6 Greylag were over going NE, a Great - spotted Woodpecker was over the farm below Harrisend.

From the A588 at Sand Side the hybrid Ross's Goose x Pink - footed Goose was with c.800 P F Geese and in the field opposite Sand Villa numbers were down today with 60+ Whooper Swan counted and no sign of any Bewick's Swan's. On Gulf Lane the 2 Little Owls were seen again today, just 2 Fieldfare seen and a female Merlin glided silently over a field no more than a foot off the ground. On Moss Lane I counted the highest number I ever saw in one sighting of 14 Bewick's Swan's including 3 juveniles. It's worth noting just one Bewick's Swan was present at Martin Mere on Sunday according to their website news. From Bodie Hill c.450 Pink - footed Geese were noted flying SW.

At Conder Green 2 Stonechats today were a male and female indicating the possibility all three are still present here with two males seen yesterday. These three - and the Cockersands male - are the first Stonechat's I have ever recorded in our area for almost a full winter period. Also noted here, the Common Sandpiper, 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, and a Grey Plover. On Conder Pool, 6 Goldeneye and 6 Little Grebe were to note.

Single Little Egret's seen today were at Cockers Dyke, Backsands Lane, Gulf Lane, and Glasson Marsh.

As for the non - bird pic definitely not taken today......more like the French Riviera than Glasson Marina but there you go!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Local Marathon.

With JB today we had quite a tour round to find some but not others, some of the 'finds' follow.

Before we left home I saw one of the 'urban' Grey Wagtail's from our kitchen window. At Conder Green 2 male Stonechat remain here though there was no sign of the female today. The Common Sandpiper obliged as did a Spotted Redshank, 3 Little Grebe, and c.40 Black-tailed Godwit went over from the estuary towards Jeremy Lane. A Great - spotted Woodpecker flew from the picnic area towards the canal basin at Glasson Dock were an adult Med Gull was seen. On the Lune Estuary here another adult Med Gull seen, also noted here, 2 Bewick's Swans with estimates of 220 Black - tailed Godwit, 1,500 Bar - tailed Godwit, and 470 Golden Plover, 8 Goosander were also of note here. A Little Egret was distant on Collowy Marsh.

A brief visit to Cockersands gave me time to note just 5 Black - tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Plover, and 3 Red - breasted Merganser on the estuary. The wintering male Stonechat appears to have departed the area, not seen since 28 January. From Moss Lane 3 Bewick's Swan's and 4 Whooper Swan's were distant with Mute Swan's.

In the field opposite Sand Villa - with limited time available - were 95+ 'swan's' estimated as 70+ Whooper Swan's, 5 Bewick's Swan's, and the remainder Mute Swan's. A Little Egret was the only bird of note on Pilling Marsh, another was in Fluke Hall Wood. On Fluke Hall Lane c.1,000 Pink - footed Geese with similar numbers in the Eagland Hill area and on Horse Park Lane. This brings me to the missing birds again today, if you can find them - or some other kind soul does and phones them in to RBA - there are Bean Geese, White - fronted Geese, Brent Geese, and Ross's x Pink - footed Goose hybrid to be seen but they have ALL evaded me on a few visits to the area recently. As if to rub salt into the wound, two minutes after I arrived home at around 4.45 the pager gave three local messages out as the aforementioned birds at Pilling Marsh, Backsands Lane, Eagland Hill, and The Heads......Pooh!

The Short - eared Owl pic at Bradshaw Lane head last week is just about passable as decent. Believe it or not I took several shots of this bird and on not one of them - that didn't end up in the bin - was the bird looking at me. Surely these birds are soon to be off up into the hill's and with none seen today perhaps this has already happened.

Apologise for the empty pic boxes on the last two post's. I loose the first pic at the point of publishing? Then I get the second pic up and end up with the empty box and have yet to discover how to get rid of it......HELP!!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Wot no birds!

Proof - as if it was needed - that upland birding during the winter months can be really quite depressing....that's unless there's a Red Kite or a passing White -tailed Eagle overhead. A Short - eared Owl would have been nice but I only ever once saw one up here a few years ago, and incidentally only ever once saw a Hen Harrier here too.

The choice of day turned out to be a bad one as for most of the time at any altitude there was quite a heavy fog and whilst I was anywhere beyond half way to the summit of Clougha it never lifted, below this the visibility was clear and quite good but the visit produced nothing with any accuracy and it took me three hours to find my first Stonechat near Ottergear Bridge and I only found one more as I approached the car park five hours after I had arrived there at ten o'clock this morning....Still, it has to be done.

I had decided today I would note EVERY bird I saw up here, in the end it didn't take much ink to do that. I saw at least 12 Red Grouse, 2 Raven, 3 Robin, 2 Wren, a single Chaffinch and a Kestrel, a Grey Heron was by the small reservoir with 6 Mallard on there also. From Rigg Lane I noted 2 Brown Hare.

The pic was taken from the boardwalk looking at the bog - but certainly not today - a place to find small numbers of Small Pearl - bordered Fritillary in late May - June.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

A short story....

....about a topical subject at the moment
plus a moderate quality pic - totally
unrelated to the story - which I took recently at Glasson Dock and is of a gull stood on ice on the canal basin. The birds plumage is too pale for Yellow-legged Gull though that was the colour of its legs. Still a lot to learn and until I do some reading am at a loss, but not much new there......well on occasions anyhow.

We've been seeing some interesting and informative post's on the LDBWS website regarding Twite and the associated and ongoing ringing programme with the species. I personally have had a reasonable winter for this bird and could have observed more than 100 in one day this week if the Conder Green birds had obliged and added their number to the 62 already seen that day, but unfortunately they evaded me. I have already expressed my view that the Twite is an often difficult bird to get to grips with when it comes to reading ring combinations and a good deal of time and determination is needed to get a result from the exercise and so far this year I have gained absolutely nil in this regard.

But my most exciting Twite find was on 11 April 2005 when, whilst walking the the banks of the Rivers Wenning and Lune on the prowl to find my first Yellow Wagtail of the summer (not an easy task these days) I had reached just north of Loyne Bridge on the River Lune when I came upon two distant passerines which turned out to be Twite. These two birds were the first of the species I ever found off passage and away from places like Cockersands, Fluke Hall and the likes on the coast. But more excitement - and a bonus - was to come when I found one of the birds was ringed and on this occasion was easily read. Passing this news on to the appropriate people we were to learn that the bird had been ringed at Cant Clough in Lanc's and was one of about 32 ringed there on 26 July 2003, apparently someone had also had a 'similar bird' at Askam which brought about the comment, quote....' so you have at least some South Pennine birds coming your way'....unquote. The e-mail I received ended, quote....'definitely interesting stuff'....unquote. Well I certainly went along with that at the time and still do.

I have it on good authority that a single Waxwing was seen on Rowan this morning from Station Road in High Bentham.

And finally......My computer is going into hospital tomorrow until goodness knows when but hopefully not too long, though I doubt very much that anyone on the planet will be affected in any way at all by this news.
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Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Shanks's Pony....

....to Glasson Dock where the pic was
taken at 4.15 this afternoon with not
a bird in sight.

In a field at Aldcliffe at least 60 Redwing seen, and down Aldcliffe Hall Lane only a fraction of the excellent Linnet flock of yesterday with only about 20 birds seen today.

Noted between Aldcliffe and Conder Green, 2 Grey Wagtail, 6 Dunnock, 15 Blackbirds were feeding under the same hedgerow as Monday 2 February, 2 Greenfinch are not an easy bird to find these days and appears to be heading towards scarcity status, 4 Reed Bunting, 8 Goldfinch, and a Snipe flushed.

At Conder Green, 50+ Twite were very mobile, 2 Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, 4 Little Grebe, and 5 Grey Plover may well constitute a personal best record here for the species.

Before leaving Aldcliffe I had walked to Freemans Pools and returned via the coastal path but I had met Dan and Steve when I got back to the crossing gates and had seen nothing to add to Steve's comprehensive list of sightings which he should always be complimented on. However, the subject of recording is worth an article as I myself often wonder were the cut-off point should realistically be when reporting birds on a 4/5 times a week basis and in particular always from the same area/s. The best single example would be that you wouldn't record seeing 2,500 Starlings on - lets say - four consecutive days all at the same location, and what about corvids/gulls as another example of recording neglect. But enough of this......another time perhaps.
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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Bright on weather....

....dull on birds.

Well not really as any days birding is a good day but in varying degrees and
today didn't quite get off the ground. JB and I started the day at Knott End which was a badly timed decision as the tide was well in when we arrived and the only birds for the records book were just 4 Twite.

A look in at the goose fields around Eagland Hill produced up to 5,ooo Pink-footed Geese. At Fluke Hall the first thing to note was a Skylark singing its towering flight song like it was early spring, 7 Pied Wagtail, 3 Meadow Pipit, and 12 Linnet were in a ploughed field west of the slipway, a Buzzard was perched up in a tree and c.1,000 Pink-footed Geese seen. From Backsands Lane the Black-tailed Godwit number had dwindled from 250/300 recently to just 50 today in the same field.

In the fields opposite Sand Villa the Whooper Swan number appeared to be the same as yesterdays count though the troughs in these fields make counting difficult if not impossible at times, 2 Bewick's Swan's were seen here today.

On Moss Lane heading to Cockersands a Little Egret was on the move from ditch to ditch and was probably the same bird seen on Jeremy Lane yesterday. At Cockersands, 6 Twite were at the Caravan Park end, and the Bank Houses Little Owl was again perched in tree's around the paddock. At the lighthouse end, 4 Grey Plover, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, and 3 Red-breasted Merganser were the only birds of note.

I really don't have to note this here, but in truth JB joined me today to do the very same thing as I had done myself yesterday in that once again we 'missed' the White-fronted Geese, Brent Goose, Bean Goose, and the hybrid Ross's Goose x Pink-footed Goose......Oh dear where am I going wrong!

The Skylark pic represents the one singing at Fluke Hall this afternoon, but this one was at Halforth one summers day.
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Monday, 9 February 2009

Todays Notes.

As the tide pushed onto the marsh at
Conder Green a Greenshank was revealed, also a Spotted Redshank and 3 Snipe. These marshes must be one of the best in the area for Jack Snipe (seen here on previous occasions) but not the easiest of marsh to negotiate having many hidden channels and holes to break your ankle in and along time since I tried it out with 3 JS seen, the 3 Stonechat were on here again today. The Common Sandpiper was trying to break through the iced over grass on the 'shelf' at the back of Conder Pool and surely must have been wondering once again were it went wrong last autumn, 3 Little Grebe also noted.

On Jeremy Lane a Little Egret was in a field with c.200 Common Gull.

At Cockersands 42 Twite were in the trees and adjacent stubble field by Bank Houses where the Little Owl was again hiding in a tree. I also took note of 5 Brown Hare in Abbey Farm fields.

In the field opposite Sand Villa 66 Whooper Swan counted, and a male Ruff was in a field off Backsand Lane with 250+ Black-tailed Godwit. And at Fluke Hall 20+ Twite were the first I saw this winter in this area just west of the slipway, also a Little Egret here. A Song Thrush was in song just north of the picnic area at Conder Green this late afternoon when I called in on the way home to see if I could achieve an in excess of 100 Twite figure for the day with the Conder birds but they were not playing ball and so it remains at c.62.

I 'missed' a few birds in the area I covered today - White-fronted Geese, Brent Goose, Bean Goose, and hybrid Ross's Goose x Pink-footed Goose - but you can't be everywhere can you!

Don't think I need to explain where the pic was taken......but at least they're birds and more in keeping with the blog.
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Friday, 6 February 2009

The Short List.

Noted in the short list on the third
consecutive day local patch birding.

At Conder Green 25+ Twite seen late morning had increased to 55+ by late
afternoon just north of the picnic area. The 3 Stonechat were seen here again, also 2 Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank, a Grey Plover, and 7 Little Grebe. Four hours later 6 Little Grebe were on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock therefore not possible to claim having seen 13 birds on the day. Also on the estuary, at least 1,000 Bar-tailed Godwit and 200 Black-tailed Godwit. Goldeneye numbers appear to have fallen here dramatically and only c.40 were seen today, 3 Turnstone are something of a rarity at Glasson Dock and I don't recall ever seeing this species here before......or haven't I been trying hard enough? From Bodie Hill a Little Egret was on Glasson Marsh.

On the short list at Cockersands were 45 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Grey Partridge, and the Bank Houses Little Owl. Also noted were 7 Brown Hare.
For the second day in a row the male Stonechat didn't put in an appearance, perhaps it has just failed by a couple of days to be here a full four months, time will tell.

No appropriate 'birdie pic' again, nothing new there then! This one - which was taken from the Cockersands lighthouse parking area - is of the last house - Old Hall - on the east side of Sunderland Point. The house will have a huge value today but where will it be by the turn of the century. The photograph had two obscene pylons behind it in the composition which ruined the whole scene but which I 'fixed' with Picasa. If you do photography and need tools to manipulate your images with download it now for free......recommended.

If you are reading this Richard I'm pleased to tell you your artwork remains standing and in tact, but a 10 mtr tide one day next week may change all this, although if the weather is anything like today with brilliant sunshine and a flat calm then I'm willing to take bets it stands the test of time and the tide.
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Thursday, 5 February 2009

More of the same.

Not really, birding is NEVER more of
the same. With JB/BT today checking
out the coastal area's the highlight's of which were......

At Freemans Pools a 1w male Stonechat was excellent, two drake Gadwall and 3 drake and a female Shoveler were good records here, 2 Little Grebe and a Goldeneye were also to note on the pool. On Aldcliffe Hall Lane possibly up to 100 Linnet was a good count.

At Conder Green the 3 Stonechat showed again today, I have a 'niggle' that there may be more here and future searches will prove one way or the other, also 2 Spotted Redshank and 2 Greenshank seen today.

From Bodie Hill 2 Bewick's Swans were on the Lune Estuary.

At Cockersands the Bank Houses Little Owl was perched out in the open on a small tree but did what the Merlin did yesterday when it saw Johns camera.

In the field opposite Sand Villa today were 71 Whooper Swans and 2 Bewick's Swans. On the A588 just short of the PLE turn off a Little Egret flew over. On Backsands Lane c.100 Black-tailed Godwit were a reduction of around 200 on yesterdays count in the same field.

Straying yet again OOA (I do it all the time) at the New Lane feeding station at least 70 Corn Bunting was an excellent count, and at Bradshaw Lane Head (hope you are reading this GM) the Short-eared Owl gave prolonged and fantastic views as it quartered the field eventually taking a small vole which was taken and eaten in less than 10 seconds. It's hard to believe S E Owl's can start egg-laying in the second half of February. I think you could take bet's they won't be doing that this year if things stay as they are at the moment......will they?

The Stonechat in the pic above is one of the three at Conder Green taken on 8 January, but despite shouting to the bird to do so it wouldn't turn to me for the shot.
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Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Worth waiting for!

As JB says on the LDBWS website he had not been birding for
11 days, but my parting words to him as he got out of the car were....'worth waiting for John'.... and I know he agreed.

John has - as always - dealt with the details of the day, here are the highlights......

At Conder Green 3 Stonechats (2m/f) seen here again today are almost certainly the three seen by me on 8 January.This sighting is even more interesting in that I only ever saw three adult birds together on one previous occasion, these three appear to have been together for a month at least. Perhaps this is more the norm during the winter period but still remains only my second record in winter or summer. Also here, 2 Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank, and up to four Tree Sparrows. The Common Sandpiper showed itself to us again today.

A Little Egret was seen briefly before disappearing down a gully on Colloway Marsh, and from Bodie Hill 4 Whooper Swans seen.

From Moss Lane 45 Whooper Swans, and on the same lane nearer to Cockersands a male Merlin was in a tree within 8 mtrs of the car but soon departed when it saw John dive for his camera. Amazingly it was on a fence post a few mtrs along the lane but didn't hang around when it again saw the camera.

At Cockersands a Short-eared Owl was quartering the marsh as we turned the corner and if a sight like that doesn't excite then it's time to give up. The wintering male Stonechat failed to show and was the only down side of the entire day.

In the field opposite Sand Villa 26 Whooper Swans were with Mute Swans, and c.300 Black-tailed Godwit were in a field off Backsands Lane, at Fluke Hall 5 Stock Dove were to note.

At Bradshaw Lane Head - whilst straying OOA - a Short-eared Owl was hunting Pilling Moss, and 35 Corn Bunting were on wires near the feeding station, lending proof the species is still not extinct in this area, and just up the road from here at Eagland Hill c.12 Fieldfare seen.

En route home to Lancaster a detour round Gulf Lane gave c.2,000 Pink-footed Geese over the Winmarleigh Moss area.

The Wheatear in the pic is the next one on the menu just a few weeks from now, probably for me at either Fluke Hall/Cockersands. The pic is again grossly over cropped and if you can expand it please don't for my sake!
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Monday, 2 February 2009

Snowbound.

Not quite snowbound but reckon I'd have struggled to get out of our road in the car so threw away the keys for the day and walked to Glasson Dock along the coastal path.

In Aldcliffe I saw c.40 Redwing. When I get to the old railway crossing on this walk I usually go right to Freemans Wood but decided short on time so turned left and noted a Grey Wagtail and Dunnock to Stodday where a Raven went to perch on a pylon and instantly annoyed a male and female Peregrine Falcon. This was a first record for me as I never saw m/f together before for size comparison. I probably saw up to 45 Blackbirds on the walk - the one on the right isn't one of them I took this at Clapham - including 11 feeding together under the same hedgerow with 2 Redwing, 25 more Redwing were seen at Conder Green with a Song Thrush to note. Flying east - a bit too distant for ease of ID - were 25 'geese' which I regarded to be Greylag, they were accompanied by a 'white' goose which again I regarded to be of the 'farmyard' type (PFG and a Snow Goose....Whoooops).

Also at Conder Green the 2 Stonechat seen here again, 2 Greenshank, a Grey Plover, 3 Little Grebe, and a Reed Bunting were noted.

On the Glasson Basin, 16 drake Pochard continues the increasing number here but......how come the females are never to be seen? also a Little Grebe and 2 Great-crested Grebe.

On Jeremy Lane, c.200 Golden Plover, 6+ Fieldfare, and a Dunnock to note.

The pager had already told me earlier in the day 'no sign' of yesterdays Black Redstart but I took a non intensive look at Fishnet Point (you can't do serious birding with just a pair of binos round your neck) to confirm no sign for me either.
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