BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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ALDCLIFFE MARSH HIGH TIDE. PETE WOODRUFF.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Birding by legs.

With an infuriating appointment at 1.30pm and the sun shining brightly at 6.30am the only option open to me was to get on out there and walk the Aldcliffe - Conder Green walk and catch the bus at 12.15pm to get me back to Lancaster to meet the appointment which as far as I'm concerned was a serious infringement of my birding time.

On my way to Aldcliffe a Chiffchaff was heard on Haverbreaks but there was to be no way I was going to put bino's to my eyes here, what and risk arrest....I don't think so. On the flood at Aldcliffe a Little - ringed Plover soon departed and if this was a Freemans Pools bird then it made heavy work of returning there as it climbed to about a mile up and out of sight.

Noted between here and Conder Green, I was a little surprised to hear no more than 5 Willow Warbler, better was 3 singing male Blackcap, 2 Whitethroat, a Lesser Whitethroat, another Chiffchaff at Stodday where a Whimbrel was seen, 2 Song Thrush, a solitary Reed Bunting, 4 Greenfinch must be awarded the 'mega's' of the walk and I really must catch up on the status of this bird, a good number of Blackbird's were seen on the walk with probably up to 30 bird's seen, there was a similar count of Goldfinch along the way too.

At Conder Green a Spotted Redshank was again on the pool though the two Avocet recently in the area were certainly not but were later this afternoon....shucks! At Glasson Dock 7 Whimbrel came down on to the marsh and 10 Eider were on the estuary.

I was eventually able to check out Teal Bay at high tide after the cursed appointment and was rewarded with 14 Whimbrel and 2 Sandwich Tern on the groyne, 14 Eider and a pair of Red - breasted Merganser were on the sea.

I must report a quite amazing, admirable, and concerted effort by c.14 firemen and the Morecambe Lifeboat crew showing extreme dedication to animal welfare in trying their utmost in very difficult circumstances to 'dig out' a cow from the quicksand off Waterloo Cottage on the opposite side of the Lune. When I looked at my watch I worked out the tide was due too arrive in less than one hour and from what I was seeing at the time things were not looking good for the animal. At the time of writing I have no idea of the outcome of the exercise.

Thanks to John Bateman for the use of his Common Sandpiper pic's at Marshaw on Friday 24 April. Hopefully these will breed here again this year as they did in 2008.




Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Rain stopped play....again.

The rain stayed away for longer than forecast today and I succeeded with some birding until 3.00 before retreating to the car for shelter and pointing the bonnet towards Lancaster.

Starting with a look down the Conder channel from the coastal path a Greenshank was soon found with 32 Redshank counted - well I do have to remind myself now and again that I contribute to the WeBS survey once a month so good to keep practicing the numbers game - also singles Black and Bar - tailed Godwit. On Conder Pool I found just the one Little - ringed Plover again today but 2 Common Sandpiper today now means well never know when/if the winter bird left, a pair of Wigeon are still on here and the Black Swan has taken up on the pool and I also saw my first 2+ House Martin here. There was no sign of any Spotted Redshank here or on the estuary today. From Bodie Hill a Peregrine Falcon and one seen a couple of hours later at Cockersands could have been the same bird. Also here to note, 9 Eider is a drastic reduction in number of late, 3 Wheatear, c.10 Tree Sparrow, a Grey Partridge, 4 Skylark, a Sedge Warbler was singing on Moss Lane, and 2 Stock Dove are something of a rarity here. I didn't take particular notice of the Brown Hare here today but did note four.


By now I was walking in the rain at Pilling Marsh but persevered and found at least 3 Whimbrel and c.500 Pink - footed Geese are still on the marsh. At Fluke Hall another 2 Wheatear seen but now the rain was getting serious, and I was getting serious too......about going home as I don't subscribe to too much 'birding by car' I'll leave that until my legs seize up.


Many thanks to Brian Rafferty for permission to post his photograph of the Curlew on this blog in order to help out with my diminishing stock of suitable pic's......stand by JB!
















Friday, 24 April 2009

Up and Down.

Well down and up actually but it doesn't quite sound the same, but JB and I went down to the coast, and then up to the Trough today.

At Conder Green 2 Whimbrel were seen on the estuary from the picnic area, also the Black Swan is still accompanying the Mute Swan's. On Conder Pool the 'black' Spotted Redshank and a single Little - ringed Plover seen, it was good to see a report of two here yesterday.

From Bodie Hill c.250 Bar - tailed Godwit were accompanied by the 'something white' seen by me with them recently and confirmed itself today to look like what appears to be an albino which is a first of this species for me and is quite some bird which I'd like to take a closer look at some time hopefully. Also at least 35 Eider of which thirty were drake's. On Jeremy Lane the Little Owl was on show today and a good job too as I was getting fed up to the back teeth looking for this bird every time I drove by and never finding it.

At Cockersands the tide was at its height but I must mention a smart male Linnet which was at the lighthouse end posing nicely but soon took to flight when it saw JB go for his camera. The Swallow's are back on territory at Bank Houses but as far as I'm concerned they generally remain pretty thin in numbers yet.

So enough of this high tide and windy conditions stuff on the coast we're off into the Trough of Bowland to see if any 'early birds' have arrived and showing. Well at Marshaw a pair of Common Sandpiper had arrived and were showing, they appeared to be on territory where they bred last year so this will be interesting to monitor over the coming weeks. Between here and Trough Bridge I heard about 6 Willow Warbler and noted Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, a Dipper, Grey Wagtail, and 3 Buzzard.

At Stoops Bridge I made the mistake of doing a wander away from JB and paid the price of missing male and female Pied Flycatcher which couldn't be found again, but which are here according to my records a day earlier than last year when they were seen on 25 April taking nesting material to a 'natural' tree hole which is always much better to see than an 'artificial' nest box. Meanwhile, I had to settle for a Dipper, a Grey Wagtail, and a Great - spotted Woodpecker overhead.
At 8.55 this evening no less than 11 Whiskered Tern's were at Willington Gravel Pit's in Derbyshire......WOW!

The Little Owl in the pic can often be seen from Gulf Lane and will pose nicely for you to take a pic of it whilst it glares at you probably thinking to itself 'whats that idiot got pointing at me'.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Yesterday.

By sheer coincidence the 22 April was the date I set foot in Barbondale to check out the 'early birds' here last year. If aesthetics are a part of your birdwatching make up then places like this fit the bill in bucket loads and I know and visit lots more which do the same. Though yesterday I entered just 31 species in my book - with 14 listed below - as the result of some very serious 'legwork' at least two of which are - in my book - exceptional. Some notable species 'missing' though in some cases still a little too early, Cuckoo, Spotted Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Grey Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, and Pied Flycatcher though I am reliably informed a male was seen here on Tuesday but not today by me or this same informant. As for the Common Sandpiper, void of searching my records I've not seen this bird here in a year or two but remember in the past being scolded by one obviously with a nest/young in the area I was in at the time.

The minute I got out of the car Willow Warbler was heard in numbers - well the bird never fails does it - I got the impression the Redstart came a close second, with males in song in fair number though I actually saw just three with a pair showing interest in a tree hole, I heard just one Tree Pipit, saw at least 12 Wheatear, a Green Woodpecker which gave excellent views 'yaffled' intermittently all day, I saw 3 Dipper including one feeding young at a nest which I watched being built when I visited here on 24 February, a healthy number of Meadow Pipit, a Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush, and 2 Treecreeper, something of a surprise was a Goosander flying upstream then returned downstream about thirty minutes later, a couple of Buzzard sightings were probably the same bird.

I think the best record of the day must be a pair of Whinchat, rapidly becoming one of the UK's scarcest summer visitor's the male of which I rate as one of the smartest you could wish to clap eye's on. And finally......8 Stonechat were excellent and I actually think I had sight of 10 birds but am coming down on caution with the risk of a pair being seen twice.

The pic which I have 'dug out' is the best I could do with the American Robin which was in Bingley, West Yorkshire when I 'twitched' it with JB/BT on 2 February 2007 followed on the same day by a Pacific Diver which was conveniently not that many miles away at Knaresborough.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Grey Day.

After the great one day wonder re the weather yesterday it was as you were again today with cloud and a cold wind throughout. Undeterred I was out and about with JB and where else would we start - until things change/improve - but Conder Green where we soon found a lone Little - ringed Plover - more about that later - followed by a Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank. On Conder Pool a single Wigeon and 1st summer drake Goldeneye, 2 Linnet were seen here again today, not a regular occurrence, also 2 Brown Hare here are unusual. On the Lune Estuary 7 Wigeon were truthfully the only birds of any note here today and clearly illustrated the changes in 'birdlife landscape' season by season.


At Cockersands, at least 50 Eider were as last Friday, a Little Egret was on Plover Scar, and 2 Wheatear on the headland. At the Caravan Park 10 Whimbrel were seen off here along with a solitary Black - tailed Godwit. On Pilling Marsh it was something of a surprise to see up to 2,000 Pink - footed Geese still on here, also a Jay was by the entrance to Lane Ends car park.


Things are really only happening slowly and I remain intrigued by the small numbers of Swallow's being seen. At well after 5.00pm this evening I had received just 36 pager messages in total for the day and three hours later it had increased by just twenty.


I've noted report's of just one LRP on Conder Pool recently and JB and I saw the same today which gives us two options, 1) There is just the one bird, 2) The other is sitting....I know which one I'm going for. As for the pic today, it shows the anti-social neighbour - the LBB Gull - the birds on Conder Pool are going to have to put up with over the coming weeks not least of all the important LRP chick/s....if there are going to be any!




Monday, 20 April 2009

Perfect Day....

....to check out the Clougha/Birk Bank area primarily for Stonechat which continued the poor show this species is making this year in all the area's I regularly visit with - for example - only two birds found in five hours on 2 April in the Cross of Greet/White Greet/Cross of Greet Bridge area's, just one bird in two hours on Harrisend 15 April, and none in two hours from the Hawthornthwaite track. Another disappointment up here today was the lack of any Tree Pipit sightings. However, a perfect day for the task/pleasure of some upland birding in your shirt sleeves for the first time.

Three Willow Warbler were singing in competition in the car park on Rigg Lane and a total of 25 were heard up here today. This little 'warbler' never ceases to amaze me with its apparent abundance. I found just 3 Stonechat and assume just two pair up here this summer as the lone male was definitely on guard duty, I observed the female of the other pair showing itself to be the perfect 'flycatcher' taking an insect on the wing with ease. A Cuckoo called about three times early on in the visit but never made another peep in four hours. A Song Thrush was in full throttle, 3 Wheatear, 6 Red Grouse, 6 Wren, and no more than 8 Meadow Pipit seen which represented yet another big disappointment in this area today. I counted 38 Green Hairstreak on the wing in the four hours, hardly a record count on an ideal day for this species to get out and about.

This place - and the extensive area of it which I cover - has puzzled me in excess of 10 years in that the Whinchat is rarely if ever seen here - well I do have c.3 records off passage - let alone breed here......why?

A Peregrine Falcon was reported to me on the South side of St Peters Cathedral steeple yesterday evening, and a Brimstone butterfly in the Story Institute garden on Saturday.


This smart sub adult Med Gull was on the Allan Pool at this time last year which has absolutely nothing to do with todays post....nothing new there then!

Friday, 17 April 2009

All quiet.


Well not all quiet but not much in the way of 'movement' yet and certainly not likely to be whilst the wind comes from were it did today.

With JB we saw 2 Buzzard from the A588 just after passing Pinewood Close on the road to Conder Green where a Greenshank was soon seen as was the Common Sandpiper, but can we still refer to this bird as 'the' as this species begins to move through, the drake Goldeneye was again on Conder Pool making you wonder when is it going to read the script, about 12 Meadow Pipit went over. At Glasson Dock on the estuary the place was almost void of birds other than 250+ Black - tailed Godwit to note.


At Cockersands, at least 50 Eider was a decent count, 2 Wheatear were in the field by the derelict lookout and c.20 Tree Sparrow were pretending to be Snow Buntings on the shingle and some were collecting nesting material, 4 Swallow appeared to be lingering around Bank Houses looking like they may be considering setting up summer residence there. A Carrion Crow was seen to take a Lapwing egg from the nest, bad news for the Lapwing which suffers enough at the hands of 21st century agricultural practices at this time of the year. JB and I have seen at least six pairs breeding attempt 'bite the dust' in one field alone at Cockersands today and is a part of the darker side of birding unless you're going to pretend it doesn't happen.


On Pilling Marsh at least 12 Wheatear were to note. At Fluke Hall a Chiffchaff was heard in the wood here, a Little Egret was over fields flying towards the marsh and c.20 Swallow in almost an hour continues to be a poor show of passage though JB recorded a few more than this in my absence. Straying outside 'the' area on Bradshaw Lane 44 Corn Bunting made a pleasant change away from the feeding station.


At Scorton I walked a circular from the picnic area and heard 3 Blackcap and 3 Chiffchaff, a Song Thrush and a Peacock butterfly were also to note. I never did this walk in my life before and am never likely to ever do it again, the entire area is completely ruined by the noise of burning rubber from the M6 which is equal to the scourge of the dog brigade here.

To Stoops Bridge to check out for Pied Flycatcher proved negative but a Willow Warbler and Song Thrush were noted. Two Wheatear were seen from a moving car on Langthwaite Road.


Really struggling with pic's appropriate to my post's now but this Chough is a nice reminder that it was on - and in the area of - Knott End Golf Course from 17 August - 3 October 2005.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

A Bit Thin.


Yes the birds were a bit thin on my upland safari today not least of all because I chose the wrong day, well I'm quite good at that but the forecast I checked never mentioned the strong winds I experienced up there today. As for the Stonechat situation....well that's the whinge section over and done with.

At Harrisend the visit got off to a fine start when I found 2 Wheatear within minutes of leaving the car but unfortunately the excitement ended there and I saw just one male Stonechat, a Willow Warbler, 3 Blackbird, 8 Meadow Pipit, and heard 4 Wren.

At Hawthornthwaite 4 Sand Martin are presumably part of the small colony which nest in the Cam Brow area in a bank by the stream here. I saw a lone Red Grouse, and just 4 Meadow Pipit.

After a 'butty' and a ponder as to what on earth was I doing here today I decided to try to be positive and thought I may find an odd early summer visitor (didn't work) and headed for Marshaw Farm where I parked up by the cattle grid and walked to the fringe of Winfold Fell and back noting, a White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Dipper, Willow Warbler, and heard a Coal Tit.

As I approached Jubilee Tower in the car I saw two raptors which were almost certainly Peregrine Falcon. Meanwhile over Pilling Marsh from Pilling Lane Ends car park an Alpine Swift flew NE at 2.42pm....WOW!

As is often the case my pic doesn't connect with the days event's but is of Black - tailed Godwit's off Broadway at Morecambe on 3 December 2008 when I counted an impressive 500+ there, and an even more impressive 170 Turnstone between here and Teal Bay that same day.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

By way....

....of a change I was out with JB/BT today instead of Friday the problem there being, my brain is in such a state that I'll wonder why it isn't Saturday when I wake up tomorrow.

Its as well we wasn't pitted against DH/SW in a competition at Aldcliffe this morning as they would have buried us with some excellent birding results. Freemans Pools was quiet when we arrived there at 10.30 with not a Little - ringed Plover in sight. I noted just 3 Gadwall and 2 drake Shoveler on the pool with a singing male Blackcap heard, a Little Egret was near the wildfowlers pool. Our visit here also finished probably three hours sooner than the aforementioned did.

At Conder Green 3 Spotted Redshank are well on their way to attaining there unique transformation to black summer plumage, just one Little - ringed Plover was on the terrace at the rear of Conder Pool. On the estuary at Glasson Dock a Black Swan was drifting upstream with the Mute Swan's on the surge of an incoming tide. Also to note, c.500 Black - tailed Godwit, c.150 Bar - tailed Godwit, 2 Red - breasted Merganser, and the last remaining Goldeneye in this area - a drake - has transferred from the pool to the river. From Bodie Hill at least 30 Meadow Pipit were noted over going NE.

Cockersands was quiet with a solitary dark Eider and Red - breasted Merganser, c.70 Ringed Plover seen again as last Friday with a similar number of Dunlin. I had to note a pair of Linnet on the headland to fill the empty space in my book. The only bird of note on Pilling Marsh being void of any 'geese' was a Little Egret.

The highlight of the day was at least 22 Wheatear on the sea defences behind Fluke Hall Wood and is a number of this species I never saw together before and was some spectacle. Also noted here 5 Stock Dove, and c.40 Meadow Pipit over going East. JB will record the sightings at Bradhaw Lane - and indeed the entire day's - much more comprehensive than me, but a Weasel running down the track away from us soon returned running back towards us complete with a vole which it has obviously killed the instant its jaws sunk into the unfortunate creature. A few Swallow were seen at various places today but in my view numbers so far this year have been low and my highest count remains at no more than five together.

The pic of the Black Swan is a bird not included on the British List but has a colony at Dawlish in Devon which is so well associated with the town that it has been its emblem for something like 40 years.






Sunday, 12 April 2009

Birds2blog....Mmmmm!

More like Wildflowers2blog today as I was 'tide up' (excuse the pun) with WeBS counting and with commitments either side of the survey. However there was - or I reckon was - a bonus to this as I caught sight from Bodie Hill at Glasson Dock of a 'large' bird with laborious wing beats only moments before it became too distant and difficult to track. One thing for sure it wasn't a 'gull' and as been entered in my records book as a 'probable' Osprey flying north. The only other non WeBS record in my book today was 2,000+ Pink - footed Geese at the western end of Pilling Marsh.
As for the flower....I was delighted to see Snake's Head Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris - the only species of fritillary native to Britain - at a site I prefer not to name on here. None of the other members of the fritillaria genus can match this native wildflower for the bizarre colouring of its bell - shaped flower which always has a pronounced checked pattern all over. Due to changing land use it is now quite rare in the wild.

Unfortunately - sadly even - I no longer have JL to guide me towards the rarer flowers of our land but will never forget the excitement of finding the rare Marsh Gentian with him many years ago just over the border and into his native Yorkshire.




Friday, 10 April 2009

Doing the Rounds.


A change of plan for today based on ignoring the weatherman who seems to be quite good at often getting it wrong. So rather than next Tuesday before I got to 'bird' again it was today....Alleluia!

At Conder Green it was good to see the new birds 2 Little - ringed Plover on here again, and the old ones 2 Greenshank and 3 Spotted Redshank but no sign of the Common Sandpiper, a drake Goldeneye was the only one seen today, and 5 Wigeon still on here. At Glasson Dock at least 5 Swallow over the basin now represents my highest count so far this year, there were others at one or two other ports of call I made today but numbers appear low as I see it to date. On the estuary the tide was well up but c.50 Black - tailed Godwit, 'very few' Bar - tailed Godwit, 3 Eider and 2 Red - breasted Merganser were noted.

At Cockersands where by now the estuary was entirely 'water' but c.70 Ringed Plover hung on to the remains of Plover Scar and was a good count for the species with a single Grey Plover, 5 Red - breasted Merganser were on the estuary. Also to note on the circular, 5 Wheatear, 6 Meadow Pipit, c.80 Linnet, 3 Willow Warbler were in a hedgerow and 28 Golden Plover were on the flood as was a Ruff an overdue bird here or anywhere else for that matter. At least 20 Brown Hare seen here again today and I'm hoping in due course to get documentation to prove this to be an outstanding area for this creature.

At Fluke Hall 4 White Wagtail were below the slipway and a superb 12 Wheatear together were behind the wood on the marsh/sea wall. The Wheatear is a smart looking bird and I almost had all twelve in view through my bino's at one point....excellent stuff! From the coastal path towards Cockers Dyke 2 Willow Warbler were in the gorse, 3 Little Egret on the marsh and c.550 Pink - footed Geese were in a field near Ridge Farm.

The pic is the best I could do with two of the three Spotted Redshank, a Redshank and a Curlew at Conder Green this morning.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

A Dull Day....

....in more ways than one.

Well the car cost me another £100+ today with two new tyres required. So whilst the man at the tyre centre fit them and made the bill out I walked from Greyhound Bridge to the Aqueduct Bridge not taking any serious note at the weir other than an obvious drake Goosander and 2 Dunnock. Just after the Aqueduct I had excellent views of a singing male Blackcap and heard up to 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Buzzard were also overhead, and 3 Swallow passed over and are the highest count of the species for me so far this year.

I went to collect the car - new tyres and all - and after cringing whilst handing out the 'dosh' decided its perhaps time I paid a visit to the 'honeypot' by way of a change. Well I'm aware of the risk of loss of 'birding' credit at such an undertaking but its good to live life dangerously once in a while. However, I'm not sure why I'm going on like this because I saw absolutely nothing from the Eric M'cbe Hide which hasn't already been well documented by JW who I had a pleasant chat with whilst there.

Well that's it really, hardly worth a post to the blog and probably put anyone and everyone off every visiting it again. And on a personal level my last days birding until next Tuesday if I can deal with the withdrawal symptoms until then!

As for the pic, well I really was compelled to post it as it saddened and sickened me in equal measure just a much as it would have done the man who is credited with the picture of the Kingfisher and many more images up and down the River Lune on the Millenium Walk. Nothing more needs to be said about it is there.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Complex Birding/Birds.

Housebound again today so an opportunity to put forward a few very brief personal point's/view's on the complexities of 'spring' alba wagtail's. But first I insist on making it perfectly clear I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination in any field of ornithology and will never achieve such a title.

I always think if you find a 'classic' White Wagtail in spring nothing could be more straight forward for ID than this bird, trouble is the 'classic' bird isn't always the one you come across and none of the six I saw yesterday west of Fluke Hall were this. However, as I mentioned in the previous post the first clue I go for is a toss up between noting the birds clean flanks and the fact its black crown and bib are notably separated. I reckon the truth is, if you're going to try to separate male/female Pied's you have a bigger challenge on your hands than separating Pied from White. Both sexes of the White have a clean pale ash - grey mantle which produces a smart clean - cut appearance. Sexing the White adult in spring is usually possible by taking a close look at the crown, on the female the black'ish cap fades into the grey mantle whereas on the male the black cap is clearly cut off from the mantle. On first - summer females (and some males I understand) the black is reduced or even lacking on some.


I just wish 'birding' was easy all the time but it doesn't work that way. As for the complexities of the Yellow Wagtail....I'll leave that one for another life I think!


The two LBB Gull's I photographed at Glasson Dock yesterday, I think were practising in the bottom pic for the next round of Strictly Come Dancing, but in the top pic the bird on the right looks as though it may well be a future contestant singing in The X Factor. By the way, I have to say I wouldn't waste my eyesight on either programme.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

A Whiter Shade of Pale.

Straight into the highlight of the day (with JB) which was at least six White Wagtails in company of a similar number of Pied Wagtails in the second ploughed field west of the slipway at Fluke Hall. Confusion always sets in with this bird but without getting bogged down with headache inciting details I usually try to get to grips with two characteristics of the race as a starter to ID 1) The black crown and bib are always separated in the White whereas in Pied the black is always continuous from crown to bib. 2) The other most notable difference between the two is that in the White the flanks are always 'clean' and pure white. There are other details which lead to the ID of this bird but now its becoming bloody boring so......back to the beginning.

At Conder Green looking towards the Lune Estuary from the picnic area, similar numbers to yesterday of Bar/Black - tailed Godwit driven in quite close on the high tide giving excellent views (recommended birdwatching), also noted were c.12 Turnstone a species I'm really not aquainted with at this location, just a couple of Grey and Golden Plover's, and there were far fewer in number of Redshank and Knot and very few Dunlin to be seen. A Little Grebe and 2 Red - breasted Merganser were also to note.

On Conder Pool 2 Little - ringed Plover, 3 Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, and 3 Goldeneye appear to be the only ones left in the entire area. At Cockersands which by now was entirely water, c.20 Eider was half the number seen here yesterday and the only other record produced here today was a Sparrowhawk staring me in the face from the tree where I had expected to see the Little Owl behind Lower Bank House.

A visit to Bradshaw Lane produced 2 Wheater, and a quick look in at Bodie Hill gave a Little Egret on Glasson Marsh.

Well I do keep saying I'm running out of bird pics so heres one of the Wall Brown butterfly another reminder of things to come.









Monday, 6 April 2009

Spring....not quite.

The weather forecast wasn't good for today so I thought an early start might be a good idea. As it turned out the day wasn't all that bad with even a little hazy sun on occasions. Well I don't think 8.30am can really be regarded as 'early' certainly not were my days as a milkman are concerned when I was out and about by 4.30am hail, rain, wind, or shine, smoking the weeds but still fit as the proverbial fiddle......enough of this and to bird's.
At Aldcliffe a White Wagtail (the pics not all that brilliant but at least shows the bird for what it is) was immediately found on the flood soon followed by a Little Egret flying off the wildfowlers pool. At Freemans Pools the pair of Little - ringed Plover were a delight to watch and were eventually actually pairing. They may well need some luck to be successful though, see http://birdingaldcliffe.blogspot.com/ to read about some unwanted visitors here. Also noted on the pools, I lost count of the Gadwall with the excitement of the LRP's but at least six seen, otherwise it was quiet with just a Goldeneye to add. On the marsh just 3 Pink - footed Geese sat around made this the most accurate count of mine of this species all winter.

At Conder Green the tide was well up which made my visit here confined to the pool where the Little - ringed Plover pair showed well along with the resident Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, Spotted Redhank, and 5 Goldeneye. The biggest surprise on here was in fact a male Linnet and incidentally, I had a report from a reliable birder that another reliable birder had seen four LRP's on Conder Pool on Sunday but as yet have not seen any mention of this record anywhere else. On the Lune estuary at Glasson Dock I noted - with more circa records - up to 1,000 Redshank, 350 Bar - tailed Godwit, 500 Black - tailed Godwit, 600 Knot, and a Goosander with not a single Goldeneye in sight.

At Cockersands for my notes, at least 40 Eider was a good count here, I don't know my best count of this species here until I check the records. Two Red - breasted Merganser were noted, a Wheatear, a male Reed Bunting, 2 Swallow went through, a couple of Skylark in song, and the 130 Linnet seen again. I made no attempt to count the Brown Hare here today but saw at least 20 again making this area one of the best I know for this creature.

On Pilling Marsh a 1w European White - fronted Goose was with c.650 Pink - footed Geese. And at Fluke Hall 5 Wheatear, 3 Dunnock, and 2 more Swallow through. At 3.50pm I made a dash for my car when the rain finally reached here and pointed the bonnet towards Lancaster perhaps a little sooner than planned.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Ross's Gull.


The recent report of a Ross's Gull at Lytham St Annes on Sunday 22 March prompted me to recall the bird in 2008 which first presented itself at Marton Mere on 31 March and was found at Lytham St Annes on 18 April and continued to make many a birder happy until it was found dead on Friday 16 May. I have recently made enquiries about this birds demise but really don't feel qualified to make too many comments on the results other than to say it was noted by one expert to be regarded as unwell mainly because it had failed to show any sign of advancing summer plumage and also that a close approach was allowed by the bird. I myself enjoyed excellent views of this beautiful and enigmatic creature including some good photo opportunities which my second rate photographic equipment failed to deal with very well resulting in the images shown above having a 'bleached' effect resulting in the lack of plumage detail and falsely showing the bird to be a 'white' individual....Ahhhh well, can't win them all.

In the 70's when my photographic interests were at their peak and my birding was in its early days I joined a group called Postal Portfolios and the chance of a lifetime presented itself to me in the form of a direct descendant of James Clark Ross who I eventually met at a rally in Kent the date of which escapes me. I don't think it right and proper to name names on a blog without permission apart from the fact I sadly lost contact with this person along with the winding up of my photo interests but am currently trying to re-establish the friendship.

I'm quite convinced this blog is not the place for a history lesson but briefly....The bird was one of the great ornithological mysteries until 1905 when the Russian explorer Alexandrovitch Buterlin discovered the main breeding area only just within the Arctic Circle on the Kolyma River delta of Eastern Siberia. If JCR had still been alive it is unlikely that anyone would have been more surprised than he who undoubtedly associated the bird only with ice and snow.

One of the most intriguing facts I learned about JCR is....Around 1830 during the 4 year Arctic voyage he obtained three specimens of the - then unknown - White - billed Diver. Unfortunately Edward Sabine - who was with him on the voyage - persuaded JCR that these birds were only very old males of the Great Northern Diver. The species wasn't rediscovered until 20 years later when Adams found it in Alaska, hence its latin name Gavia adamsii....but really should have been Ross's Diver....never mind there is a Ross's Seal.






Friday, 3 April 2009

Out for a Duck.

Well too early in the day for two ducks actually at Aldcliffe where Garganey turned up in the afternoon on Freemans Pools, but with JB/BT in the morning I noted at least 5 Gadwall, 3 Little Grebe, and a Snipe. JB spotted a LRP on the island briefly whilst we were separated from him.

At Conder Green the two Little Ringed Plover seen, also to note a Spotted Redshank, Little Grebe, 5 Goldeneye, and a Swallow performed its scooping water in flight act then flew off, also a Raven over. With BT 5 Snipe were flushed off the marsh here BT claiming one to have been a Jack Snipe.


On the Lune at Glasson Dock c.120 Bar - tailed Godwit and c.150 Black - tailed Godwit were noted, and from Bodie Hill another c.60 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Grey Partridge seen here again as Monday. At Cockersands I noted just 2 Wheatear here and a 'few' Tree Sparrow on a feeder.

On Pilling Marsh the sight of in excess of 3,500 Pink - footed Geese surprised me a little and were accompanied by a Pale - bellied Brent Goose, a Wheatear was also on the marsh. On Fluke Hall Lane a Buzzard was on a post quite close to the road, and at Fluke Hall 2 Little Egret seen.

An end of the day session at Bradshaw Lane feeding station gave us 2 Grey Partridge as a less likely species here, also more likely were just 12 Tree Sparrow, a single Corn Bunting, 2 male Reed Bunting, 3 Yellowhammer, and a Dunnock. Three Brown Hare were in the field.

I thought the pic of the Painted Lady butterfly would be a pleasant reminder of one of the many things to come in the summer months......hopefully!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

The Short List.

Well it is a short list with little ink used for today's achievements. It was an ideal day for a visit to the Cross of Greet area primarily for checking out the Stonechat status on 2 April 2009. As it turned out the results for 5.5 hours of 'legwork' here was disappointing to say the least and the unpredictability of birds continues to amaze me. When I searched my records I discovered that I had found 12 birds here on 12 February last year and in fact found 23 Stonechats on this same date at two locations.

It has to be said, it took me almost four hours to find just two Stonechats the only consolation of which was to observe the male pursuing and displaying including song flight - which requires a certain amount of good luck to observe - to a female with as much determination as it took me to find them. Also noted 4 Red Grouse which were all at the top cattle grid, I don't ever recall seeing this bird any further down from here, 5 Buzzard sightings I reckon represented three birds, 3 male Reed Bunting, 7 Wheatear, I heard just 2 Wren, saw a single Pied Wagtail, and a Canada Goose, I see a pair of this species here every year, Meadow Pipit were well represented with at least 42 seen.

I decided on my arrival here that I would count the traffic (how sad is that) in both directions today just to give some idea of the amount of use this road to Slaidburn is put to and was quite surprised to find 62 cars/m'bikes had passed me in the 5.5 hours I was here and that seemed a lot of local traffic......or did the sun get the tourists/day trippers out ?

Well I did say I was running out of pic's and what a Laughing Gull at Marton Mere on 12 April 2006 has to do with the Forest of Bowland is beyond me!