BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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COVER CROP COCKERSAND. PETE WOODRUFF

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Ladies Day!

When I left the car on Rigg Lane today I could never have believed the spectacle I was about to witness for the next five hours whilst I was on Clougha/Birk Bank. 

At the head of my records today are the truly amazing 149 Painted Lady butterflies which flew by me at the rate of 30 per hour, an experience I shall never forget. Conversely I was equally amazed at not seeing a solitary Green Hairstreak up here today......Mmmmmmm!

Not quite up to the standard of the 'butterfly' excitement was finding 7 Stonechat, though in itself this was a bit of a surprise but the downside was the fact that for the second year running there are no juveniles at the end of May to show evidence of any first brood success's. However, the seven birds seen today tells me that it is reasonable to suggest five pairs of Stonechat here at the moment, though the three lone males can only suppose this as a 'possibility'. Incidentally, one Painted Lady reached the end of its journey in the bill of a male Stonechat which showed to good effect its ability to behave like a 'flycatcher'. Also to note was 21 Willow Warbler, 6 Red Grouse, at least 12 Meadow Pipit which were seen as nothing remarkable, 5 Wren, and a Mistle Thrush. A return five hours later to the bog (no not the toilet there are none here) to see if I could find Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary had me jumping up and down at what I thought was a Clouded Yellow butterfly but turned out to be a Brimstone Moth.

Thanks yet again to Brian Rafferty for the male Stonechat pic. With just a £60 camera these days I can't take them as good as this any more. With my sincere apologies to JC and his 'Birding Aldcliffe Blog' for unintentionally violating copyright laws and using the same title for my post today which was completed one hour and five minutes after his......Erhum!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Songs of Praise.

An excellent bird was found today and we are often reminded with requests to 'get the news out'. Well on this occasion the first thing I must do on behalf of every interested birder is to thank Jeff Butcher who was in the right place at the right time and who then promptly sent his wife Jenny off in the car to find somewhere she could receive a network for her mobile in order to alert us all to the find. I then have a personal thank you for calling back BT and myself who had given up the ghost on this one and were virtually out of sight of BA - sorry Bob my memory only serves me for a few hours these day's - when he called us back to say he had relocated the bird.

My day with JB/BT had taken off only minutes earlier when the trusted RBA pager alerted to inform me of a female Woodchat Shrike 2.5 miles east of Abbeystead behind Tower Lodge on the Trough Road by the plantation and off we went. A male and female Redstart gave excellent views whilst we scanned for the 'shrike', and also noted in the area a Buzzard and 3 Grey Wagtail. A brief visit to the Langden Intake produced a Cuckoo and singing male Blackcap and another Grey Wagtail to note.

Down to Abbeystead and Stoops Bridge rewarded us with excellent views of a Tawny Owlet which was roosting by the tree which is being used again this year by the Pied Flycatcher of which the male also gave excellent views as it peered into the nest hole to check if things were going to plan......great stuff this! The day ended on a perfect note when at Christ Church we found the House Martin's had arrived on a 'better late than never' theme and I counted up to ten bird's, the Spotted Flycatcher was also seen here again today.
The Woodchat Shrike is the fourth area record, the last one I remember well because John Leedal and I abandoned a Honey Buzzard watch in the Lakes to chase off to just west of the Allen Hide at Leighton Moss ten years ago on 28 August 1999 to see a juvenile there. 

Back to today and at least I got a half decent pic of the smart little Tawny Owlet at Abbeystead, and nothing like a half decent record shot of the Woodchat Shrike in the Trough of Bowland which I couldn't possibly put on here.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Breeding Season Protocol.

There has been a discussion on the LDBWS website regarding the title of my post today, if you've not seen it I strongly suggest you take a look at it and make your own decision about what has been said there on the subject.

The purpose of this part of the post is to illustrate with the picture on the right which was taken recently whilst checking some nest boxes at a location I am involved in with John Wilson. I don't just think....I know the picture explains perfectly why - for the past two years - I have had no intention of disclosing publicly the location for these nest boxes, apart from this, anyone who is up to date on whats happening within the LDBWS area or anyone who needs to, will know very well where they are and I have now mentioned them for the very first and last time on this blog and am not likely to mention them again elsewhere. I don't really need/have to say this but I'm going to....the people who - unlike us - have no interest whatsoever in the wildlife we have around us obviously don't all go to Blackpool.

On a much more lighter and enjoyable note, following a recent telephone conversation with John Wilson I found myself today in the company of - and guiding - five excellent birders from the Emerald Isle, better known as 'The Dubliners'/'The Irish Contingent'/'Chris & Co'....take your pick. We were at Barbondale where these guys were hoping to see - in particular - Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler, as it turned out from that point of view I must reluctantly say the day was a failure. However, as I've said many times before - and as we all agreed today - birding wouldn't be the same if birds were seen to order and the observations we made including Redstart, Tree Pipit, Wheatear, Green Woodpecker, and Stonechat were enjoyed to the full. I wouldn't dream of listing all the birds as it would represent nothing more than the old record played all over again, but after the party had left me to go to see the Eagle Owl/s I spent another hour or so here and found my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year for Barbondale.

From Barbondale I went to visit the long overdue and neglected Newby Moor where I was a little more than disappointed to find just one pair of Stonechat with a single juvenile from a first brood. This is at a place where for the past ten years I've been watching a healthy population of this species go from strength to strength....well what was I expecting following the appalling spring we've had. At least 4 Sedge Warbler were seen, and I noted 5 Linnet, 2 Willow Warbler, no more than 6 Meadow Pipit and a Reed Bunting.

I reckon I had a poor result today for all the effort put into it but wouldn't want to sound ungrateful. The best title for this post should perhaps have been 'A Mixed Day'.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Free Again!

With JB today and thank goodness for that as my mentality was going downhill fast and I'd not been birding for three full days and was approaching the point of no return.


At Conder Green up to 20 Black - tailed Godwit were in the creeks and 6 House Martin were around 'River Winds'. A Starling was observed on the mud bank teaching its young to become a 'wader' which it had obviously done itself as it was probing for and feeding its young on the worms it took from the mud. On Conder Pool a Little - ringed - Plover obliged yet again. On the basin at Glasson Dock the Mute Swans have 7 cygnets and the only other bird of note was a Great - crested Grebe. The Lune Estuary was virtually void of bird life but 3 Eider and - a bird not often seen here - a Ringed Plover were to note.

At Cockersands - where the day was more reminiscent of the end of March rather than May - 3 Turnstone were in their amazing summer plumage, and a mix of c.40 Dunlin and Ringed Plover was about 20/20, 10 Eider flew downstream towards the lighthouse then did a 'u' turn back upstream, I reckon this is about as bleak as it can get at Cockersands. On Moss Lane we saw our first two young Lapwing.


As we drove towards the access track to Hawthornthwaite we saw a pair of Oystercatcher with a young bird. In the Marshaw/Tower Lodge/Trough Bridge area 4 Spotted Flycatcher were excellent finds, also 5 Grey Wagtail, 5 Mistle Thrush, a Jay was a little unexpected, a pair of Great Tit were observed feeding young at a nest site, also a Coal Tit seen to enter a nest hole, and a Brown Hare was noted as a first here for me.

Something interesting - if worrying - happened today in that a visit to Christ Church at Abbeystead where House Martin's have traditionally nested here for years was void of a single bird, but another Spotted Flycatcher here was a reward for the absence of the House Martin's.


The pic of the Lapwing is courtesy of Brian Rafferty.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Part Time Birding!

Things didn't go as planned today on account of the weather....so whats new there. At one o'clock I left Cockersands for Harrisend being due to check the area out. Unfortunately the section of my brain which should tell me to act sensibly had obviously broken down and I could see I was heading towards poor weather but just kept on driving and in fact when I arrived here the misty heavy drizzle was upon me and I sat in the car hoping it would pass over but no such luck and forty minutes later I pointed the bonnet towards Lancaster with the usual sulky expression on my face when these things happen and cut short some excellent birding opportunities....Ah well!

On Conder Pool things were very quiet and I was compelled to note every bird I saw. One of the Little - ringed Plovers obliged and I noted 15 Black - tailed Godwit with not a single bird having two legs to stand on, a female Teal was of particular note, 7 Tufted Duck, 3 Mallard, 3 Redshank, 4 Oystercatcher,and a Lapwing were the full complement on here today. On Glasson Basin c.20 Swift were a joy to watch as they hawked for insects in their masterly life on the wing. I never fail to be amazed to think the young from this years breeding will spend something like the first two years of their lives on the wing without ever touching terra firma....mind boggling stuff. From Bodie Hill I counted 19 Eider and again saw what appears to be the pair of resident Grey Partridge here for the fourth consecutive visit.

At Cockersands 2 Common Tern were at rest on the red number 8 buoy, the waders were reduced to 12 Dunlin and 39 Ringed Plover, the Eider were also reduced to just a single drake, a Wheatear, 2 Skylark, and only 4 Sedge Warbler heard along Moss Lane today and from here on it all went downhill.

Well at least I got a pic out of the days efforts and although I didn't realise at the time of taking the picture it clearly separates the male from the female Ringed Plover.




Thursday, 21 May 2009

Hail......


......summer is here.

I had to shelter under the trees from not one but two hail showers the second of which lasted for several minutes and was quite heavy....and I thought it was 21 May!

It was important for me to revisit Barbondale again to check out the birdlife and see what was/wasn't present here, it's also as important to note the birds 'missing' as those seen. A significant absentee was the Spotted Flycatcher closely followed by the Cuckoo. Other birds not seen today included the Wood Warbler and the Dipper which was something of a surprise as I had the stream in view most of the five hours I was here.


Pied Flycatcher. Brian Rafferty.

The good news from Barbondale again this year is the presence of the Pied Flycatcher albeit I only found a female at one location and a singing male up to a quarter of a mile away at another, maybe two pairs, or a pair with the singing male trying to attract a second mate being that the male Pied Flycatcher is notorious for its behaviour in which it will acquire a distant territory in order to deceive the second female about his first one.

Sightings worthy of note today other than the obvious 'prescriptive' birds, a Common Sandpiper, at least 4 Grey Wagtail, I saw only one male Wheatear, heard only one Tree Pipit, and noted 3 Stonechatthe best bird had to be the male Whinchat seen as one of our summer visiting gems, hopefully a female may be sitting. The other bird of note was the Green Woodpecker which was again 'yaffling' on and off for the entire duration of my visit as it has been for my two previous ones here.

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for his Pied Flycatcher.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

And the winner is......

......ten lines below.

With JB today we found the birds a bit of a struggle but it wouldn't be the same if you knew what you were going to see/not going to see would it. As always JB's records will mention many more birds than mine do here though today was a little more quiet than I would like to think the norm is.
At Conder Green at least 10 Black - tailed Godwit were in the creeks again but the day got off to a poor start with the Conder Pool Little - ringed Plovers keeping their heads down and out of sight. At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary an Arctic Tern salvaged the visit here from a zero with excellent views of the bird fishing. On Jeremy Lane the winning bird of the day was a female Whinchat and I'm grateful to John for letting me use his photograph of this bird. In fact the day for me was a roaring success if only for seeing this excellent bird, and a roaring success for John if only for photographing it. Up to 4 Sedge Warbler were also noted along the lane.
At Cockersands the net result of our efforts was 26 Eider off Plover Scar, c.100 'waders' were a mix of approx 60 Ringed Plover and 40 Dunlin with a solitary Turnstone accompanying them. The struggle to find the birds today ended at Fluke Hall Wood were we saw a Spotted Flycatcher with the other 11 (16 May and a superb record) nowhere to be seen.












Monday, 18 May 2009

Late on Duty.

With a bucket full of enthusiasm for some birding today I looked out the window this morning and my enthusiasm died an instant death with no explanation necessary as to why. But by the time I'd had some breakfast it was looking decidedly improved and off I went albeit by now it was 11.00am, but at 10.15 a Curlew Sandpiper was reported at Cockersands and this is where I decided to head as to be perfectly honest I'm getting fed up of getting reports of 'things' at Glasson Dock and Cockersands in my absence.
As I walked along the headland at Cockersands in the direction of the Caravan Park and having reached the second kissing gate, I lifted my binoculars to check a 'gull' over the field by the restored old farm building to find a Fulmar had been slightly blown off the sea. The bird gave excellent views as it lingered around the headland and eventually in the area of the lighthouse. So Cockersands has thrown up one or two birds of interest recently and with this birding game......whats next you ask yourself. Also noted here on the circular, at least 40 Eider were around the lighthouse area and from the road on the return 4 Stock Dove were seen today, 2 Skylark were in song like it was 18 May but really felt like 18 March, and 9 Sedge Warbler in song is a clear indication of a good number here this year.

From Bodie Hill 2 Grey Partridge were seen here again and are presumably the same two seen on 30 March/3 April, also a Wheatear on the marsh. At Conder Green a single Little - ringed Plover was on Conder Pool, but a bigger surprise was a Spotted Redshank in the creek, this bird wasn't as advanced into summer plumage as the long staying bird/s which haven't been seen recently and is obviously a 'new' bird. Also in the creeks were c.24 Black - tailed Godwit, 2 Reed Bunting, and a singing Reed Warbler was in the reeds upstream from the A588 road bridge.

I think the Mallard in the pic at Conder Green thought it was a Grey Partridge!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Ringed Plover.


On Thursday of this week I counted up to 350 Ringed Plover (RP) on Plover Scar at Cockersands which is by far the highest personal count of the species anywhere in the recording area of LDBWS, but some subsequent searching through the various annual reports has turned up some interesting figures.


The WeBS count for May 2000 on the Ribble indicated the importance of the estuary as a feeding ground for passage birds including the RP, and in this year the count recorded 5,432 RP. However, from this year up to and including 2007 there was some quite interesting figures from the Ribble Estuary varying from the high count in 2000 to a low of 356 RP in 2002 and the nearest count to compete with 5,432 RP was in 2003 when 4,300 RP were recorded.


Nearer to home and in terms of available LDBWS reports up to 2007, I searched back for just 5 years and the most notable spring passage in 2003 was at Fluke Hall where 82 RP were recorded on 1 May. By contrast just 38 RP was the figure recorded for the May WeBS count. In 2004 the count was 67 RP and in 2005 the spring passage was referred to in the LDBWS Annual Report as 'again a non event' and the WeBS count was once more as low as 48 RP. In 2006 I found an interesting figure in that by something of a coincidence a count of 450 RP at Cockersands on 14 May - the same date/place as my 350 RP this week - was referred to as 'an exceptional count' and the WeBS count in this year was 479 RP. So through a little 'quickie' research I concluded it was no surprise my count of 350 this week was a personal best - in the LDBWS recording area - for the RP.


On 3 December 2008 I counted 170 Turnstone between Teal Bay and Broadway and referred to this in my notes as an excellent number for the species between these two points......I'm off to read some more Annual Reports now!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Three Circulars.

As it stands today we are having the third year in a row void of anything like spring weather and today followed the same pattern of late though the wind had eased somewhat.


On the first of the days circulars at Aldcliffe this morning I struggled to discover anything of note and in fact it took me the best part of two hours to find a Whitethroat soon followed by a brief Lesser Whitethroat which I heard only. A Little Egret was on the marsh and Freemans Pools held just a pair of Gadwall, a pair of Little Grebe, and I was fortunate to just about make out the head of a Little - ringed Plover on the far side of the island. A Green - veined White and Orange Tip were the only butterflies - other than a few 'whites' - seen in the entire day....no surprise there.


At Conder Green two pair of House Martin are nest building at River Winds, c.30 Black - tailed Godwit were in the creeks again, and just one Little - ringed Plover was seen on Conder Pool. Things were so desperate on the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock that I counted the Mute Swan's and found there was 175 of them, as I was about to throw in the towel here I spotted 4 Eider almost out of sight beyond Waterloo Cottage.


At Cockersands from the lighthouse car park I thoroughly grilled c.620 Dunlin for 30 minutes or more and every single bird was black bellied. I reasonably estimated 350 Ringed Plover here today which represents by far the highest count of the species I ever encountered anywhere within the LDBWS recording area, two 'terns' were far too distant for my skills to ID and have reluctantly gone into my records book as Commic Tern's, 9 Whimbrel were also seen from here. On the road section of the circuit I saw/heard 4 Sedge Warbler, noted 6 Swift over, and heard one Skylark in song......well as far as the weather was concerned I certainly didn't feel like singing today.
The Little Egret was on Aldcliffe Marsh today pictured along with the backside (it does go under a few other descriptions) of a sheep.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Well Spotted......

......Flycatcher that is but more on this later.

With JB today and no guesses where we started though things will change if only the weather would. The wind continued today were it left off yesterday for me, if anything it was both stronger, colder, and a bloody curse.

Conder Green was very quiet though it was a joy to see the Little - ringed Plover pair on Conder Pool with at least 40 Black - tailed Godwit in the creeks. Glasson basin was even quieter with 3 Great Crested Grebe the only birds to qualify for my records and actually if I included the ones which didn't qualify I think the total was a coot.The Lune Estuary wasn't much much better and I only recorded c.10 distant Bar - tailed Godwit. From Bodie Hill 20 Eider were counted which interestingly were all drake's.

At Cockersands another 5 Eider seen, c.420 Dunlin were on Plover Scar, and a Wheatear was at the caravan park end. So now we did the famous 35 minute drive to change the landscape and change the birds from watching waders on the coast to watching upland birds and finding the first Spotted Flycatcher for 2009 in the LDBWS recording area up the path behind Tower Lodge, a Buzzard was noted from here, and a little up the road towards Trough Bridge a female Redstart and a Grey Wagtail were seen.

A call at Stoops Bridge in Abbeystead to check out the Pied Flycatchers resulted in a blank but I did see a Kingfisher, and noted a Green - veined White butterfly. Another call on the way home at the little church of Christ the King - the church with the best view in the North of England - resulted in not a single House Martin present. This church holds a good colony of the species annually with 15 nest's counted today from previous years still intact......Mmmm, House Martin problems, or is 12 May too early?

Monday, 11 May 2009

The Works!

Well that's what I gave Barbondale and the surrounding area today, and if you're going to try to get to the bottom of things its the only way. I managed 26 species in spending eight full hours in the area the most notable of which were......

I'm prepared to give the Pied Flycatcher precedence over the Stonechat perhaps just this once and today I found a pair and a singing male which was no more than 60mtrs away, hopefully this may indicate two pair here as last year, so its looking a little slow in the build up of numbers at Barbondale again......I wonder why. As on my last visit on 22 April I found 8 Stonechat and remain convinced there are at least five pairs here this year. Despite a thorough search I could find only one pair of Whinchat again. The next in line for excellent news is that I found the nest site of the Green Woodpecker which 'yaffles' on and off - as it did last visit - all day long. Next in line for the awards was a Wood Warbler which gave me excellent views near the gate into the plantation as always. A pair of Common Sandpiper were upstream from the bridge, I saw just 2 Redstart but heard more, 5 Wheatear, heard only one Tree Pipit briefly, counted at least 25 Meadow Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtail, 4 Reed Bunting, 3 Mistle Thrush, a Treecreeper, a Dunnock, 2 Kestrel, and a Sparrowhawk. Apart from a few 'white' butterflies I saw just one Small Tortoiseshell and an Orange Tip in a quite strong and cold wind from the east which took the edge off an otherwise beautiful May day. The disappointments here today were the absence of Cuckoo, Spotted Flycatcher, and Dipper, though in this latter more a matter of not seeing rather than 'missing' as in the case of the other two.

I was intrigued by the behaviour of a female Stonechat which in all the years I've had an interest and observed the species I never associated it with water and fast running water at that. Today I watched this one behaving like - and thinking it was - a Grey Wagtail in that in flitted and hopped from stone to stone for quite some time and distance collecting insects as it went......another first for me.


The pic is yet another excellent Pied Flycatcher image 'nicked' (by permit) from Brian Rafferty.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Opening Soon.


Actually the Cafe d' Lune by the iron railway bridge at Conder Green picnic area may now be opened but I didn't have time to check this out today, but in any case......any time now.

As a regular visitor to Conder Green I've been able to watch this excellent looking new cafe being developed along with the house which also looks much better following its 'face lift' over the past few months. I also have much admiration both for the building work undertaken by the various tradesmen in this venture and for the commitment shown by these two people towards what is obviously hoped will be a successful business. Although I haven't yet acquired the names of the people involved here I have spoken to both members of the partnership and wished them every success and my best wishes for the future at the Cafe d' Lune. I have also approached them about the possibility of placing a logbook in the cafe to log the birds seen by (hopefully) visiting birders, and to inform anyone visiting the cafe - prior to doing some birding - of 'whats about' at Conder Green and beyond. I thought it a good idea as recent history of the area has proved it to be an excellent one for birds having produced White - winged Black Tern, Pectoral Sandpiper, Black - necked Grebe, Avocet, and - to come up to date - a Cattle Egret at Sand Villa to mention but a few of the 'goodies' Conder Green and the surrounding area has had, so regarding the log book......watch this space!

Some bonus birds to add to a WeBS count today were, on Pilling Marsh a Whimbrel and Peregrine Falcon, presumably this and another one gave an excellent aerial display of attacking each other over Cockerham Moss for several minutes, c.500 Pink - footed Geese are also still on the marsh. On Glasson Marsh 33 Eider and 2 Wheatear were to note, and on Conder Pool at least 28 Black - tailed Godwit.

Friday, 8 May 2009

I Confess.


BT called to collect me this morning and we made plans for the day and proceeded on our way but ten minutes later it was - well to be polite - 'peeing down' and we soon decided to scrap the plans and on BT's suggestion we, a) Go home, b) Go to Leighton Moss. OK, well I'm fully aware this is some sort of mortal sin if you're going to expect to be referred to by others as a 'proper birder' but its good to live dangerously now and again so in the hope BT wouldn't hear me I quietly said....Leighton Moss.

We saw absolutely nothing unexpected from the Lillian Hide though one of the male Marsh Harriers gave excellent views a couple of times, and 'good' numbers of Swift were around, but I did note a pair of Great - crested Grebe on here and make the claim that in all the years I have visited LM I've never personally seen evidence of this species breeding on here.

From the path to the Griesdale Hide Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler heard, and a Whitethroat seen. At the hide a drake Garganey was just found in time before it disappeared into some dark corner at the back of the pool. A Common Sandpiper, c.300 Black - tailed Godwit, and a Little Egret were to note.

At the car park a Garden Warbler was heard, and on the feeder (oh dear I'm reduced to viewing feeders now) a Nuthatch, male Bullfinch, Coal Tit, and a Marsh Tit for which its too much of an embarrassment for me to admit how long ago it is since I saw one of these.

At the Eric M'cbe Hide up to 30 Avocet were counted whilst I noted not a solitary bird was on a nest as far as I could observe and rightly or wrongly I've drawn my on conclusion on that one. In a further hour in this hide and a thorough search I found nothing else of note.

Like any self respecting visiting birder to LM we ended the day with views of the Peregrine Falcon at Warton Crag.

The pic of the Red Deer was taken from the Griesdale Hide.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Up to lunch time.


Had yet another one of those enforced early finish days again today so, though I would have liked to have got out at daybreak I actually didn't make it to Conder Green until 8.30, too lazy or too old......take your pick.

Conder Pool appeared a little void of 'interesting' activity so by way of a change I began to note everything in view, 4 Greylag, 2 Canada Geese, 4 Tufted Duck, and at least 10 Oystercatcher and just as I was about to leave a Little - ringed Plover came into view. There was a worrying sight on here this morning in that a dead Mute Swan was at the back of the pool below the bank. The bird was bloodied which led my suspicions to a Fox, perhaps another alternative may have been human related, something I'd rather not contemplate. I'm sorry to confess I left without alerting anyone to the incident....but who? In the creeks a Common Sandpiper was seen briefly 'buzzing' upstream, also 4 Black - tailed Godwit and a solitary Dunlin.

Surprise of the morning was three birds bobbing on the sea 50 mtrs north of the lighthouse which turned out to be a pale and two dark morph Arctic Skua, I won't be taking bets on when that's likely to occur here again. In the bay by Crook Cottage c.55 Shelduck aren't a regular feature here, a Red - breasted Merganser, a single 'Red' Knot on Plover Scar was interesting, a few 'small' mobile groups of Dunlin and Ringed Plover, a Wheatear, the Little Owl was in its usual area again, 2 Stock Dove were probably the same as 28 April, 3 Skylark heard, 3 Sedge Warbler also heard, and I counted 12 Brown Hare, not as easy to see now the grasses have grown in the fields. There was another unfortunate sight in one of the fields where I saw a Lapwing which initially I thought was feigning injury to distract me from a nest/young but soon realised it too was injured and bloodied, nothing I could do there but I don't ignore this sort of thing easily. A return to Conder Green at the picnic area produced 7 Whimbrel on the marsh at high tide and 2 House Martin.

I was away from the car - parked at Cockersands lighthouse - for almost two hours, had the surfboarders been in full sail when I had arrived two hours earlier as they were on my return, I doubt if there would have been any Arctic Skua's on view then.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Twitchable.

There are/have been two birds in the South of England in the past few days which have created some interest to me other than the 'twitchable' aspect of them, not least of all because one of the birds was found at Dungeness in Kent which is in the area famed for the so called Hastings Rarities Affair, which at the time was a scandal that damaged the credibility of the British List. The bird in question is a Crested Lark which drew 'twitcher's' from far and wide and I know of at least one 'local' who made the journey to see this bird which represents the 21st record of the species found in the UK.

The Crested Larks distribution ranges from Continental Europe south from the Baltic, South Asia, Northwest and upland Equatorial Africa. The earliest record of the species to be found in the UK was obtained in Littlehampton in West Sussex around 1845 and was in the collection of a compulsive egg collector and specimen hunter of the time....deplorable people I may add. It is difficult to believe in the 21st century that so called birdwatchers in those days were still trapping larks and pipits for puddings and pies, whilst finches were being sold into the bird cage trade. Thank goodness we have become more civilised today in our attitude towards wildlife and in our case the birds, well at least in part though there is still much to be done in the uphill struggle to achieve total protection for them.

The second rarity which is/was in the UK is the Collared Flycatcher and this bird creates a little more interest for me than the Crested Lark in that - as opposed to that species - this bird is actually mentioned by name in the Hastings Rarities affair and forms part of the scandal which stretches the imagination a little too far as some of the species in the list include multiple records of the same species, an example of which is no less than five Collared Flycatchers.

The distribution of this flycatcher is Central and southeast Europe, and west Russia, and winters in Africa. The first acceptable record following the dismissal of the Hastings birds was only a matter of 62 years ago in 1947 at Whalsay, Shetland, and by something of a coincidence the current bird found in Southwell, Portland in Dorset is being claimed as the 22nd record in the UK which is just one more than the Crested Lark records. Only one female has ever been found, just 33 years ago on the Out Skerries, Shetland, on 25 May 1976.

I have an uncomfortable feeling the pic above has been on the blog before but this time its here for another purpose. I'm hoping the Sanderlings turn up at Cockersands sometime later this month and better still exceed the record of c.130 which just sneaked into May on the 31st in 2007 but didn't come here - as far as I know - in 2008.


Saturday, 2 May 2009

Photography.


I always liked photography and especially seeing other peoples work, and would never have believed that I would desert my photographic interest one day for anything, that is until I found the magic of birding which rapidly became a passion for me and still gathers momentum today. Lots of people would claim the two go hand in hand, I don't happen to subscribe to that view but its far too boring to discuss here and is just a personal opinion anyway.

I have decided to create another blog dedicated to some of my - mainly - past images when I was really 'into' photography. I really hope some of you who visit my Birds2blog - that's if any of you do - will take a look and maybe comment on what you see. Even if you have no interest in the art, well......you could still have a nosey here http://pics2blog.blogspot.com/

Thanks to John Bateman who's pic above of the Willow Warbler at Birk Bank was taken yesterday before we ran for home from the rain much earlier than we would have done had the weather have been more kindly to us......Thanks again John.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Into the Trough!


Friday means JB/BT/PW day and with a clear blue sky and brilliant sun shining on us all off we went towards the Trough of Bowland but it was all false hope and by noon we were considering an abortion......if you see what I mean. But before the early finish......

We called at Blea Tarn reservoir - I'd guess a little watched site - but with the exception of a single Redshank, one or two pair's of Oystercatcher, and about 5 Shelduck, the only record's to enter my book was a nesting pair of Great - crested Grebe and male and female Orange Tip butterflies. BT suggested a call in at Birk Bank the result of which was brief calls from a Cuckoo. As ever the constant song of the delightful little Willow Warbler was all around and I never fail to be amazed by this birds abundance. We probably saw only 3 Green Hairstreak, a Brown Hare was unusual and I'm trying hard to remember the last one I saw here. The visit could hardly have been called either prolonged or intense but its all interesting stuff isn't it.

Past the Jubilee Tower and on to Abbeystead Lane we were excited to find 10 Golden Plover and scanned through them to find a Dotterel but it soon turned out to have been wishful thinking. Further down the lane 3 Greenfinch and a Song Thrush were noted and at Stoops Bridge another 2 Song Thrush were heard, a House Martin was around the estate office, also here a Garden Warbler as heard in full song and eventually showed briefly, a Buzzard was heard to 'mew' a couple of times, but best here was 2 Pied Flycatcher male's one of which is almost certainly showing interest in last years nest hole. A butty and coffee was followed by a hesitant drive - in the now steady rain - towards Trough Bridge at which point I distinctly heard BT suggest the aforementioned abortion but not being a man to throw in the towel as quickly as I'm known to he did a 'u' turn and drove to Conder Green to see if the Avocet's were still 'around' at which point I began to think 'is this man leaning towards becoming a twitcher'. The reward for doing so produced a Spotted Redshank, at least 12 Black - tailed Godwit, and a Whimbrel over.

It's interesting that whilst we were at Conder Green and watching the Spotted Redshank JB commented on the fact that in the not too distant past this species was never expected to be seen in summer plumage, yet in 2008/9 this bird has spent the entire winter - including the coldest December for 30 years - at Conder Green and has now taken on its full summer plumage, and in fact - void of checking my records - the bird was only absent from this location a matter of a few weeks in the summer months in 2008 before it returned.
The pic illustrates just one example of the beauty of our landscape and shows the view today from Birk Bank looking towards Askew Hill.