BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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PLOVER SCAR & COCKERSAND LIGHTHOUSE. PETE WOODRUFF.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Mother & Child Comp......


.....or more appropriate 'Natural Born Killers'. The Leighton Moss Greater Black - backed Gull adult and juvenile pictured above of which one of the adults killed an intruding bird of the same species last year when it foolishly landed on the island opposite the Public Hide which had been claimed as strictly their territory for the purposes of bringing up a family, and which decided to stay put and face the consequences the result of which resulted in its demise. Also on the island today were 5 Greenshank and 26 Redshank all of which made hasty departures on more than one occasion when any one of the three gull's made as much as a wing flap. A Buzzard and Marsh Harrier were noted as was a pair of Great - crested Grebe to which I must add, in all the years I visited LM I never yet observed this species with young......have they ever bred here I ask myself.

From the Griesdale Hide I noted 5 Little Egret, a male Marsh Harrier gave excellent views flying past the hide, and 3 Red Deer stag's seen. At the back of the pool along the hedgerow at the bottom of the field I watched c.60 'finches' which I never did get to grips with before they soon disappeared but were considered to have been Goldfinch in which case my third 50/60 flock in two days.

From the Eric M'cbe Hide birds to note were, 12 Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank, a Common Sandpiper, 4 Little Egret, no more than 6 Black - tailed Godwit, and a Little Gull (think there are still two here yet) the smallest gull in the world and staying on the EM Complex for an unprecedented period of time......Looks like the RSPB bug may have taken a hold of me just now but over the years this place has turned up so many scarce and rare birds for my records that I just enjoy a good 'rake' around and wonder what next and when.
Some editing required here and whilst I have no intention of covering up my error I'm truly grateful to my informant re this matter. In the brief headline story in this post apparently it was the intruding Greater Black - backed Gull which killed the resident male then nested. This makes the whole thing even more intriguing and interesting and is the perfect example of the complexities of bird behaviour of which I have a large number of examples in my records some of which I intend to bring to this blog at times.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

WoodRuff!

That must qualify for just about the most unoriginal title ever, but when I visited Conder Green this morning the first bird I found was Mondays Lune Estuary Ruff, it ran as an equal to the juvenile Mediterranean Gull which was on Conder Pool along with a Kingfisher and Little Grebe. In the creeks and channel 12 Common Sandpiper, 5 Black - tailed Godwit, c.160 Redshank and 6 Dunlin, about six House Martin are still around River Winds feeding young. The Lune estuary at Glasson Dock was a little depressing with similar numbers to Monday of c.1,000 Redshank, and 130 Dunlin, and little else of note. On Jeremy Lane a flock of c.50 Goldfinch and another flock seen later in the day brought thoughts of whether or not the same numbers would show again at Conder Green this year as in 2008 when c.400 were observed on Monday 22 September. Cockersands was about as depressing as Glasson Dock with a lone Whimbrel, up to 30 Eider off Plover Scar, and no more than c.120 Oystercatcher on the scar.

So after some consideration I made the 30 minute steady drive to Marshaw which amazingly transforms watching wader's to watching Hen Harrier's (but not today) in such a short space of time. The decision was all worth while if only to find two 'Red Listed' birds the Spotted Flycatcher, one in the small plantation just beyond the cattle grid and another later in the plantation behind Tower Lodge. Also here, a male Redstart, a Treecreeper, Buzzard, Grey Wagtail, and a flock of c.50 birds in the air which were initially too distant to hear and gave me quite a run around whilst imagining I was on to the best number of Redpoll I ever saw but turned out to be my second good number of Goldfinch.

On the way home I called in - probably for the last time this year - to check out the House Martin's at Christ Church at Abbeystead to conclusively confirm just one nest being attended to by a pair. At the risk of being a bore I have to once more record this is from c.15 nest's visible still at the church from previous years. There was no sign of the Spotted Flycatchers here today.


Unable to find a suitable pic of my own for this post - nothing new there then - this excellent one of a wing stretching Lapwing is thanks to Peter Guy.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Struggling On.


Still struggling with the birds in late July but a juvenile Ruff on the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock this morning was both excellent and a bit like finding a rarity these days for this species in the area, also to note were 10 Bar - tailed Godwit, the Redshank number here today I would estimate at around 1,000 birds with a red'ish Knot amongst one of the groups, c.130 Dunlin were also to note, I saw no evidence of any Lapwing or Curlew numbers of note. Earlier I had seen a 'record' number of 8 Greenshank on Conder Pool along with a roosting Spotted Redshank which has now almost assumed its winter plumage, a Little Grebe was also present on here today. In the Conder channel downstream from the old railway bridge c.250 Redshank and 22 Dunlin were noted, and in the creeks at least 11 Common Sandpiper continued to maintain this location as one of the best in the area for this early returning wader which have been showing here for over a month now.

With limited time on my hands today for birding I decided to do another one of those calorie burning exercises and legged it to Cockers Dyke from Fluke Hall - hoping to find 'something' on the way - to see 2 adult Mediterranean Gull, up to 650 Dunlin, and 65 Golden Plover. From the sea wall back to Fluke Hall I noted a single Small Tortoiseshell and 8 Painted Lady butterflies, and at Pilling Lane Ends butterfly life seen here consisted of 16 Gatekeeper and at least the same number of Painted Lady, 2 Common Blue - if my memory serves me right - were my first this summer.

The pic is courtesy of Peter Guy and is not only an excellent image of these birds but is also one of my favourite waders, the male of which must be regarded as one of our smartest in its fine breeding plumage. The Turnstone isn't a species found in large numbers in our area and my personal best ever count to date was on 3 December 2008 when I did a steady walk from Teal Bay to Broadway and counted 170 birds on the various groynes which they appear to have taken a liking to as opposed to the wooden jetty at Heysham Harbour where they used to roost in large numbers.

Friday, 24 July 2009

A Bit Thin!

When BT suggested to me that we start at LM today if I'd have thought I could have got away with it I would have jumped out of his car and run a mile, but with my respect for BT I readily agreed, a good idea......but oh dear two LM days in succession!

Interesting that there's no fear of becoming a bore and repeating yesterday's records because when we entered the Eric M'cbe Hide the place had changed with the overnight high tide from being the best location in the North West and beyond to just about the worst, as the complex was more reminiscent of Lake Windermere and not a wader in sight, not quite true actually as I found 6 Dunlin in the distance, 2 Little Egret were here as yesterday, as were 2 Little Gull, but the best had to be the female Ruddy Shelduck which I failed to find yesterday, though a bird not to be taken 'seriously'. A Raven went over, and from the path a Sedge Warbler and 2 Whitethroat all gave excellent views. At the Griesdale Hide I noted 2 Little Egret, a juvenile Marsh Harrier showed well, and 2 Red Deer one of which was a smart stag. At the Lillian Hide I counted 340 Coot and little if anything else whilst beginning to understand what the guy meant when he said to me yesterday as he departed from the Public Hide 'the excitement is becoming too much for me here'.

So now wer'e off to walk over Yealand Allotments to Gaitbarrows to search for butterflies which is precisely what it turned out to be 'a search'. Meadow Brown's were the most numerous, followed by much fewer Speckled Wood, 4 Painted Lady, and obviously by far the best find eventually were 4 High Brown Fritillary. Birds seen were a Buzzard and a mixed flock of 'tit's' which held at least 8 Coal Tit's.

I think maybe today's post title is a little untrue but there you go. As for the pic, well......despite yesterday's threat to keep him out in cold and off the blog BR has yet again won the day with a stunning image of a male Marsh Harrier at Leighton Moss......what else is there for me to say.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Owt about!

Having had enough of the weather yesterday I turned shy of risking the same experience again today - and in any case I was already in the North of the area - so where did I decide to go......Leighton Moss where at least I would have a roof over my head, but needn't have bothered as it turned into quite a nice day.
From the Public Hide I saw at least four of the Marsh Harriers which were all juveniles save an adult, stunning creatures which we should be pleased we have on our doorstep. Other raptors were 2 Buzzard, and a Sparrowhawk flew across the mere, a Greenshank was on the island, also flying across the mere were 3 Little Egret which brought about thoughts that just a few years ago my mobile would have been set on fire with calls about these three birds at Leighton Moss, how things change......Oh and by the way I saw three Little Egret too. Its also worth a mention that just a few minutes after I saw most if not all of these birds and wrote them in my notes, a man got up from his seat in the hide and as he walked past me said (in humour I assume but sounded sarcastic) quote....'the excitement is becoming too much for me here'.... unquote. I'm quite convinced this person saw none of the five species I've just recorded here nor some of the other species I've not noted in this post......how unfortunate for him. A brief visit to the Jackson Hide produced 6 Little Egret lingering over the Griesdale Hide which was closed for reed cutting, unfortunate as I think this is one of the best hides on the reserve and almost certainly holds a Green Sandpiper I was denied finding because of the closure.
At the Eric M'cbe Hide I saw another 2 Little Egret (so did I see eleven here today?) 2 Little Gull, 8 Greenshank, and an estimated 600 Black - tailed Godwit. The only butterflies seen today at LM were a Comma in the car park, and a Red Admiral from the path to the Eric M'cbe Hide.

Just a little 'fun pic' today called 'Find the Spotty', not really difficult at rest on Conder Pool recently.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

BR Does It Again!




No not British Rail......Brian Rafferty has been doing the rounds at Leighton Moss once again and if you really want to see a Hobby or a Bittern you obviously could do much worse than follow this guy about. This blog isn't for singing the praises of - or advertising - BR and his excellent photography but if he's intent on being this successful in both seeing and photographing these birds then that's what I'm going to do. I've already told him about the hordes who travel miles to see the Bittern and Bearded Tit at LM to travel more miles to return from whence they came invariably empty handed. This BR bloke has been more than lucky of late and his image of the bird in flight may interest the ringing fraternity and LM staff as it clearly illustrates the Bamber Bridge bird in A1 condition and enjoying life at LM.

As for me......well, today is best forgotten as I spent more time sitting it out in the car wasting my life away hoping for Mr Sunshine - or at least some blue sky - to put in an appearance......no chance, and I ran out of antidepressant tablets too. I did manage to count at least 12 Common Sandpiper in the Conder channel, a pair of Moorhen on Conder Pool have so far had the good fortune to have seven surviving young in tow, and counted 155 Lapwing on here. A drive in desperation to the Cockersands lighthouse was to no avail due to the rain which made dents in the roof of my car, but I did manage to count c.30 Eider, and 2 Whimbrel obligingly came down on the shingle in front of me......roll on summer whilst I roll on back home!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Eel for Lunch


Eel for Lunch
Originally uploaded by e s c h e r
This is a short video made by a non-birder friend of mine who visited Leighton Moss recently and watched this Cormorant tussling with the Eel which once caught by this formidable underwater hunter was doomed to be a meal for the bird.

The video is best viewed on 'full screen' by clicking on the arrows at the bottom right hand.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Ladies Day.




Theres always a feel good factor to getting out of the car at somewhere like Harrisend and wandering off for a couple of hours, though there was nothing feel good about the weather today when the sun disappeared behind the clouds - as it did most of the day - it felt more like 20 April.

I found 9 Stonechat on Harrisend today, in order of sightings they were seen as a pair, a single juvenile, a female and four juvenile, and a single juvenile. The most exciting observation was seeing c.25 Starlings flying NW at about c.40 mph when a Peregrine Falcon came into view following them at c.140 mph catching up in seconds and achieving nothing more than scattering them, so the 'falcons' master of the hunt title went out the window on this occasion. Also to note 2 Buzzard, a Kestrel, 4 Red Grouse, a Song Thrush, just 7 Meadow Pipit, and 6 Painted Lady butterflies.

At Hawthornthwaite as expected I found not a single Stonechat. I saw just 2 Meadow Pipit, a Buzzard, and at least 7 Sand Martin were around the recently discovered colony. An excellent record here today was 22 Painted Lady.

At Marshaw it was a pleasure to find the Spotted Flycatcher's have three juvenile in the area around the small plantation just beyond the cattle grid with all five birds observed, also a juvenile Redstart was in this area but I could find no adults. From the Hawthornthwaite access track I found only 3 Stonechat today being a pair and single juvenile, 6 Meadow Pipit, 4 Kestrel included three in the air together, a Buzzard, and a Song Thrush noted, and another 7 Painted Lady seen.

Today's best positive record was the 35 Painted Lady butterflies seen at three locations, whilst in the negative just 15 Meadow Pipit's were seen at the same three locations in six hours......food for thought.

I don't recall ever having had the opportunity to photograph the underwing of a Painted Lady as good as I had today giving me the chance to study this beautiful creatures markings in detail.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Heres Hoping.





I hope to get out tomorrow to check out the two H's, Harrisend and Hawthornthwaite though with regard to the latter I expect to see no Stonechat's from the Scorton Road access track. Despite four visits here already this year I found just one female on 16 March, so any found on my next visit will be something of a revelation. The Marshaw access track to Hawthornthwaite will be a different story hopefully as I found five birds on my last visit here on 8 June including three juveniles.

Meanwhile three more pic's from three more of my suppliers of photographic excellence to my blog. My sincere thanks go to anyone who gives me permission to use their pic's, and in the case of these three photographs, in my opinion there can be no way any of them can be improved upon and in my book can only be referred to as 'stunning'.

The Willow Warbler is credited to David Cookson and in photographic terms is sharp enough to cut your finger on. Excellent David and thanks very much.

The Golden Plover is credited to Peter Guy and is the ultimate shot of this or any other bird. Thanks Peter and for all the images you sent me recently.

The stunning male Stonechat is credited to Colin Bushell. Any photograph of a Stonechat is good enough for me and this one is much better than good enough. Thanks Colin.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Part Time Birding......




......and some more raptor pic's.

I could only allow myself a couple of hours today, in itself something of a change as I rarely - if ever - get out on Saturday leading a life with important matters to deal with other than birds. I established many years ago that there would never be a day when birding could be a seven day a week 'thing' for me......I wish......lucky the man who can!

At Conder Green c.250 Redshank were in the Conder channel, whilst I found just 3 Common Sandpiper here today, 2 Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank were seen, and 3 Linnet were to note on the edge of Conder Pool.. I paid two visits to the pool whilst out, one at the start and one at the finish of my couple of hours and despite viewing the pool from the only three viewpoints available void of trespass there was no sign of any LRP's. At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary a 2s Mediterranean Gull was excellent, and a Whimbrel was of note, at least 220 Greylag were on Colloway Marsh but others I reckon were hidden from view. I barely had time to visit Cockersands to do the place any justice but just about noticed c.14 Eider off Plover Scar when I had to leave.

I posed the question 'where are the Common Blue's' on my post yesterday and a contact has been in touch with me and informs me that he knew where some of them were on 12 June when he had counted 154 at Fleetwood Nature Park......excellent.

BR has been out and about at LM again and has achieved some more excellent images, this time of the Marsh Harrier. Well, if he's going to keep getting results like these two posted here today and allowing me to put them up on here that's exactly what I intend doing. These are two stunning images of a juvenile bird - one of fourteen this year - and the 'head on' shot of this beautiful dark brown bird with golden crown, throat, and speckled forewing is particularly brilliant. Thanks for lending some 'sparkle' to Birds2blog with your amazing photography BR.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A Change of Day.

Apparently based on Fridays weather forecast the JB/BT/PW weekly birding day was brought forward to today, as a result such is the condition of my brain cells these days that all day tomorrow I'll be wondering why its not Saturday, anyway this was the result......
As ever BT's car yet again appeared to make its own way to Aldcliffe only to stand at the gate at the bottom of Aldcliffe Hall Lane a few minutes before we leave (not a criticism but a fact) where the only records I achieved were a Small Tortoiseshell - in itself an excellent record - and a Comma. At Conder Green 14 Common Sandpiper again illustrated the importance of the place for this early returning wader, also 2 Spotted Redshank were again on the pool with a solitary Black - tailed Godwit, a Reed Warbler was in song upstream from the road bridge, and at least 120 Redshank were on the pool and on the Conder. At the interesting looking pond entering Glasson Dock by the mini roundabout we saw 'lots' of male and female Common Blue Damselfly and 4 Small Skipper.

On the canal basin two pairs of Great - crested Grebe seen today had one and two young, and a female Tufted Duck had a single young. The Lune Estuary is still rather 'quiet' but at least 500 Redshank and the first returning c.80 Dunlin were noted, and c.6 Long - tailed Tit were in trees by the Vic Hotel. From Bodie Hill 2 Little Egret were seen by Bazil Point and a Brown Hare was on Glasson Marsh. At Cockersands were I decided to walk from the lighthouse to the Caravan Park - and I'm not sure why - I noted a Whimbrel calling on Plover Scar, a 'few' Tree Sparrow around Bank Houses, and saw a smart male Greenfinch a species which is still on the way to becoming a 'mega', and a Sedge Warbler heard from the car on Moss Lane.

From here on just one bird made it into my book when a Little Grebe was heard on the West Pool at Pilling Lane Ends and where butterflies noted were, at least as good count as Tuesday with at least 14 Gatekeeper seen again , 4 Small Skipper, a Green - veined White, and a Painted Lady which for the umpteenth time this summer poses the question......where are the Common Blues ?


I managed another couple of pics for the blog again today of a Gatekeeper and Green - veined White both at Pilling Lane Ends.






Wednesday, 15 July 2009

HBF......


......better known as High Brown Fritillary.

An excellent image taken at the reserve on Hale Moss - the name of which I have yet to establish - and which is posted here thanks to JB who got the pic last Friday when we visited in the company of BT. John posted a picture of the HBF on the LDBWS website and received an excellent reply from Mike Watson which he kindly illustrated with three of the characteristics to make life easier in the ID of this creature, if you haven't seen it and are interested I suggest you go here http://lancasterbirdwatching.org.uk/ and look up the insect section.

A brief summary of the status of the High Brown Fritillary is that it is one of the UK's rarest butterflies and its numbers are down by 80% compared to figures of the early 1980's and its rate of decline is claimed to be accelerating and has suffered the biggest drop in numbers of all the UK's butterflies in recent years. The area on the Morecambe Bay limestone's is its last remaining stronghold an area which also has the unfortunate claim of holding another endangered species in the Duke of Burgundy. Some good news has to be a Conservation Project to halt the decline of the High Brown Fritillary......lets hope this project is in time regarded as a success.






Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Coasting.




A bit of a struggle with JB again today but easy to remind ourselves its still only mid July and having taken that into account it turned out to be not just a pleasant day weather-wise but bird/butterfly wise too.

Even Conder Green took on the feel of the time of year with just the Spotted Redshank obliging on Conder Pool and at least 11 Common Sandpiper in the creek's. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock the Mute Swan's appear to have 'lost' one of their young as they only had six in attendance today from the initial seven in May, a pair of Great - crested Grebe have a single young on here. On the estuary c.550 Redshank and c.250 Lapwing were of note and at least 150 Greylag were difficult to count on Colloway Marsh. On Jeremy Lane a single Grey Partridge was in the field by the sub-station, and at Cockersands I was only able to note 50 Eider off Plover Scar, butterflies were a Painted Lady, and 9 Small Tortoiseshell which were exceptional by recent standards.

At Pilling Lane Ends a count of at least 12 Gatekeeper is an all time personal record for this species in the space of ten minutes. At Fluke Hall a Whitethroat with grubs in its bill is feeding young somewhere close by, another 2 Gatekeeper and a Painted Lady seen. And finally......at Knott End an adult Mediterranean Gull off the esplanade early afternoon was apparently joined by a juvenile by 3.45 according to the excellent RBA pager service.

A couple of my own attempts at photography on this post with Black - headed Gull's at rest at Knott End and four Gatekeeper - even though they all have wings closed - on one food plant, not an everyday occurrence......to me anyhow.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Chatting on Clougha....

....and Birk Bank where there was a few surprises today.

It was looking like the 8 Wheatear I found were going to take first place in the numbers game here today but as it happens it finished a draw with 8 Stonechat also seen. In the former it was good to find eight birds of which six were juvenile. Conversely the latter were a big disappointment including just one juvenile seen. However, some salvation was in two pairs which were scolding/alarmed whilst I was around indicating young keeping their heads down so numbers perhaps could have been as many as 16 had I have seen these young birds. The biggest surprise here was from the top of Birk Bank where I observed up to 50 Mistle Thrush making a post - breeding movement South, 7 Wren seen included four adult birds in an altercation lasting several minutes and which intrigued and left me wondering what it was all about. I found just 6 Meadow Pipit up here today which seems to fit the pattern of things with this species at most upland sites I've visited this summer, Meadow Pipit numbers down nationally? Two Willow Warbler gave good views flitting through the branches of a tree and were the only two I saw. Other notes of interest were negative ones as I saw no Buzzard, Raven, or Red Grouse here in five hours......Mmmmm!

I can only record butterfly sightings as 'miserable' with, single Small Pearl - bordered Fritillary, single Painted Lady, 2 Red Admiral, and three Small Heath.

Well I certainly did not see the male Merlin today in the image above which is credited to Peter Guy and is both stunning and exceptional......many thanks PG.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Hobby......Second Helping!




Some more of BR's superb pic's of the Hobby he encountered at Leighton Moss recently and which will go towards keeping the blog 'ticking over' until I get out again hopefully tomorrow.

I think Brian Rafferty has got to grips by now with how fortunate he was to achieve not only excellent views of this magnificent creature but also excellent images which I would chance my arm and claim are probably unique in that they were taken at Leighton Moss and which he has kindly shared with us all and given me permission to copy on to this blog hopefully that they will be shared with an even bigger audience......thanks a bundle Brian.

Just one or two records for today. Whilst in the area I did a calorie burning exercise and walked along the sea wall from Fluke Hall to Cockers Dyke to be rewarded by two superb adult summer plumage Mediterranean Gull's having seen a Whitethroat on the way, also a Little Egret flew East and dropped on to Pilling Marsh. Earlier I had made a brief visit - never a good idea brief visits and not recommended - to Conder Green and found the two Spotted Redshank on Conder Pool which by now are well past their best regarding their 'black' summer plumage, and eight Common Sandpiper without even trying at all.

Friday, 10 July 2009

A Change....

....is as good as a rest my old grandma used to say. Where do we go today then - was the question BT asked JB/PW - should we try Foulshaw Moss and maybe butterflies at Witherslack was the reply and off we went. But first we called in at Hale Moss to a reserve managed by a group who at this moment in time I know not but understand has a Cumbria connection. We saw more butterflies in an hour here than I've seen in the past two (poor) years, though not in species numbers - and I did commit the sin of not counting - we did find at least 80 Small Skipper, probably an equal number of Meadow Brown, a 'few' Speckled Wood, two Painted Lady one pristine and the other almost extinct, and a single Small Tortoiseshell which appear to be in short supply if not in serious trouble. This place wasn't alive with Dragonflies but an Emperor Dragonfly and a Four- spotted Chaser were of note. Two Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk were over head during the visit. So now we call in on Marsh Lane to see if we can connect with Yellow Wagtail which JB and I have tried on one previous occasion this year but failed miserably as we did today mainly due to a large pipe laying operation taking place here, so I have no idea of the YW situation in 2009 at this location though I have seen the bird/s reported on the LDBWS website recently.


On arrival at Foulshaw Moss - and ignoring an 'opening times' notice attached to the gate - we drove to the car park area were we was greeted by a contractor who politely pointed out the work being carried out here whilst advising us that the place was out of bounds......we promptly left and potential visitors please take note. So our day was already taking on one of mixed fortunes because now we are on our way to see butterflies like the beautiful Silver - washed Fritillary at Witherslack but the sun has 'done a runner' and it is decidedly cooler......no chance and after almost an hour here we left empty handed and now its becoming a bit depressing!


Last port of call and we are now at Latterbarrow were the knowledgeable BT points out the various wildflowers which I fail to write down - aren't I clever - but did note a pristine Comma butterfly and a Small Pearl - bordered Fritillary......Now we're on our way home thankful in the knowledge that we are surrounded by beautiful places to visit all of which have beautiful creatures to see......but the conditions often have to be right for some of them.


The pic is of Common Mallow at Latterbarrow.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

The Short List.

First days birding in eight days for JB and I was beginning to feel sorry for him. Today was a bit of a struggle, after all its still only early July and things haven't quite got going yet but although it was hard work at times I would call it enjoyable hard work.
We arrived at Conder Green this morning and didn't take long to count at least 10 Common Sandpiper - well JB did anyway - Little - ringed Plover had already been seen in the creeks but eventually four were seen to fly on to the pool and frustratingly disappeared out of view behind one of the islands but its reasonable to assume they would have been seen as two adults with their offspring accompanied by the older juvenile which has been seen more than once on here recently. Also 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 162 Redshank were counted on here today, and c.6 Long - tailed Tit were at the corner of the Caravan Park at the far end of the pool. Two visits to Glasson Dock either side of the tide were largely unproductive because of the height of water, it is worth noting that up to three hours either side of the high tide is necessary for 'ideal' birding conditions here. However, 9 Bar - tailed Godwit and c.500 Redshank were to note. On the far side of Bodie Hill in the roadside gutter was an adult Red - legged Partridge with a downy young which was a first for me, the birds were fortunate enough to have had the sense to go back through the hedge and into the field moments before a wagon rounded the corner and which would have almost certainly have flattened the pair of them.

Another invasion for me this week into Fylde territory produced 2 adult Mediterranean Gull at Cockers Dyke, and at Pilling Lane Ends entrance to the picnic area 2 Jay posed out in the open on a fence post giving JB an opportunity to get a good shot of the pair of them but unfortunately the birds thought differently and promptly left the perch moments after a Kestrel had joined them on a post just a few metres away.
An unfortunate incident was observed from Glasson Dock this afternoon which was a black mark against dog owners who allow their animals to roam free and unattended. About 100 Mute Swan were at rest on the marsh at the mouth of the Conder Estuary when they took to the water en masse as fast as they could - Mute Swan's are big birds and cannot move with speed - we were soon to discover a black Labrador was after the birds and moving far too fast for them, however they were lucky enough to get into the river too deep for the dog to swim at any pace but the last bird in was very lucky to escape from this rampant dog which would certainly have killed this Mute Swan with no doubt in my mind. In keeping with my policy of steering clear of controversy on this blog I'll make no further comment but could easily be persuaded to do so.

If there are any 'insect' experts viewing my blog I would be more than obliged if they could ID the beetle (?) in the pic above taken today at Fluke Hall.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Photography.





Only a few minutes after I published yesterdays post 'M'cbe & 'Mossing' on the blog I discovered that Brian Rafferty had been to Leighton Moss the day before and by being 'at the right place at the right' time had excellent views of the 'daily' visiting Hobby which he says perched obligingly quite close to the Lower Hide at one point, not only that he was also able to achieve some superb images of the equally superb bird.


I've always had an admiration for good photography and good photographers and continue to enjoy viewing other peoples work in particular the work of the non-professional which is a description sounding much better than 'amateur' but really only means you don't get paid for your efforts. Brian has given me permission to post his photographs on my blog and putting up these three of the Hobby gives me an enormous buzz......thanks Brian.
Lots of visitors to LM won't have a clue as to the importance of a Hobby on the reserve, not only present here but visiting - it seems - on a daily basis to hunt. I'd go as far as to say if you could claim to have visited here for 50 years or more your Hobby records probably wouldn't amount to very much at all though I don't claim to have the local history of this bird to hand but do know in terms of status the Hobby is a 'mega' at Leighton Moss and anywhere within the recording area for that matter though breeding does occur but is kept 'quiet' and quite rightly so.

I can only sum up my feelings about Brian Rafferty's 'Surprise Hobby' at http://brianraffertywildlifephotographer.blogspot.com at Leighton Moss with just three words in humour......YOU JAMMY BUGGER!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

M'cbe & 'Mossing'.

Much as I would have loved to have gone to the 'uplands' today the weather told me not to bother. I see no fun in getting to the far upper reaches of Harrisend/Hawthornthwaite and Whinfold Fell's for things to turn nasty and buckets full of water rained down on you......I'm not that weird. So the plan was to check out the 'gulls' from Broadway to Teal Bay and then to head off to the 'moss' where at least you have a chance of dodging the showers between hides and in any case what about the Bairds Sandpiper everyone else has missed. Having confessed my sins last week I can only hope to be forgiven just one more time for venturing once again to LM.

Well the 'gull's' at Morecambe didn't take much effort but at Teal Bay at least 50 Eider were seen and a Whimbrel was of note. It was notable and interesting that all the Eider were female/juvenile with the exception of one moulting male. Now I'm at LM and nothing of great interest was seen until I reached the Public Hide were 20 minutes earlier - whilst I was in the Lower Hide - according to the pager service the Hobby was still over Island Mere, well it wasn't when I arrived there and wasn't when I left 40 minutes later......ahhh well can't win 'em all. A Bittern was seen briefly in flight and dropping into the reeds, 5 juvenile Marsh Harrier put on a good display whilst harrying a male with prey in its talon's, a Reed Warbler gave excellent views in the reeds close to the hide, not an every day occurrence to see this bird as good as this, and 5 Fallow Deer seen from the hide were in a field off Silverdale Road.
At Eric M'cbe Hide where the water level has dropped considerably leaving the complex in good condition for visiting waders. I noted 5 Little Gull, 7 Greenshank, 2 Spotted Redshank, a juvenile Little - ringed Plover, 3 Avocet, c.320 Black - tailed Godwit, and 2 young unfledged Redshank were also of note. I also had a 'play' with my improvised photographic equipment during the visit and managed a second rate shot of a Cormorant 'drying out'.

I just managed to get back to the car from the Eric M'cbe Hide when the heavens opened up and I drove home in some typical English summer weather with windscreen wipers working overtime......wonderful stuff!






Monday, 6 July 2009

Grounded Again!


First days birding since last Thursday but made up with some excellent records in and out of the LDBWS area which is irrelevant anyway. Today's plan was to first visit the excellent Conder Pool where I was to discover the young Little - ringed Plover has fledged so brilliant news to start the day, the bird was seen in addition to an adult, 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, and a Little Grebe has returned to the pool, 2 Sand Martin were of note over the pool as was a Kestrel, and a Moorhen had three downy young in tow. The Kingfisher was seen again today and I noted a male Reed Bunting a bird I'm always pleased to see. In the creeks there was at least 16 Common Sandpiper, and in the channel below the railway bridge 5 Dunlin, and c.150 Redshank seen. Butterflies here were 4 Small Skipper in close company. The big disappointment - indeed worry - on the pool today was that I didn't see the female Tufted Duck of last Thursday with its four young. At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary 10 Bar - tailed Godwit, a Whimbrel, and the Redshank were making their return noted with around 300 here today.

I wanted to be at Cockers Dyke and Knott End today around the high tide time and the decision was a good one as at the former were 4 adult Mediterranean Gull's, and at the latter an adult Little Gull was roosting with Black - headed Gull's......excellent stuff on both counts.

The excitement eased off a little from here on and a brief visit - by comparison to usual ones - to Fluke Hall produced a Whitethroat and c.30 Tree Sparrow's. Another brief visit this time on account of a rather ominous mass of blackness and some flashes in the sky now and again all heading in my direction, plus two beings who decided a walk on to Plover Scar was a good idea but the birds didn't, resulted in my noting just c.40 Golden Plover returning to the area (summer doesn't last long really does it) 4 Linnet, and 5 Painted Lady.
The Small Skipper pic courtesy of Pete Woodruff......well that's a novelty.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Another First.

Long live Conder Pool which produced another first today when 15 Tufted Duck seen on here were accompanied by a female with four chick's......excellent stuff. Also the Little - ringed Plover's on here continue to tease with four birds seen today as, two adult, an almost fledged young, and a juvenile presumed to be the one I saw on Monday 22 June, and I'm still not totally convinced there isn't another young bird keeping itself out of sight. Also seen here today were 2 Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank, 7 Common Sandpiper, a solitary Black - tailed Godwit, another Lapwing has 3 downy young, the 3 Oystercatcher young on the near shingle island are still in tact, at least 130 Redshank were in the area, there are five active House Martin nests in the eaves at River Winds, and a 'few' Teal have started to arrive back at Conder Green. I saw a Kingfisher here today - long time no see - which prompted me to check my records to find some notes from the days when I monitored these birds here much more seriously than I do these days, to find I noted that the Kingfisher was rarely seen after sightings on any date in November until any date in July the next year, so today's bird was pretty well bang on cue.


At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary little of note save a single Bar - tailed Godwit with two Black - tailed Godwit which brings me to review my records here on Tuesday when I noted 3 'distant' Bar - tailed Godwit......Mmmmmmm!


At Cockersands 3 Common Tern were resting on Red Buoy No 8, otherwise on a 'long hot walk' along the headland and return via the road produced only 2 Sedge Warbler, a single Meadow Pipit and male Reed Bunting. Butterflies here were at least a little 'mixed' bunch if not in quantity, 6 Painted Lady included one so worn out I found it amazing still to be on the wing, 2 Red Admiral, 8 Meadow Brown, a Small Tortoiseshell, and something of a surprise in a Small Skipper.


Thanks yet again to David Cookson for his excellent pic of the LRP, but not at Conder Pool I should add.