BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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ISLAND MERE LEIGHTON MOSS RSPB. PETE WOODRUFF.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Sharing....


....some more images today as I started a project this morning 'thinking the weather would remain stinking' - good little rhyme - but this afternoon as I write up this post the sun is out and so should I be but life's a bitch at times and that's the way it goes.

Alice in Wonderland.

I haven't showcased any of David Cooksons images for some time now and David has a new website to add to his updated blog both of which I'd suggest are well worth a look at here and can always be linked to via my sidebar to find out why he has given the Barn Owl image above this curious title.


A quite amazing photograph of the Long-tailed Tit frozen in space which David titles Tora Tora Tora and you can see why if you link as above, an interesting little tale....Thanks for these stunning images David.


Nor have I shown any of Richard Shillings excellent Landart creations recently, not connected with the purpose of Birds2blog but these diversions are a necessity at times like this and Richards work is always interesting and much more creative than my brain would muster to think up.


Just to remind you that Richard doesn't carry any materials with him but collects them at or en route to the location of his creation which in my book makes them all the more inventive. Have a look at his artwork here to find out what these two works are called....Thanks for these two images of your latest work Richard.

Hairy-footed Flower Bee.

And finally....I'm putting this image on the main page, it was initially posted in the sidebar where I'm of the opinion that fair justice isn't given to the photograph in there because of it's macro format. My thanks to Mark Fellows for this.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Conder Pool.


Weather is the topic for conversation again as always seems to be the case in this country, but I set off this morning pretending it wasn't going to be quite as bad as forecast but soon found out I was living a dream. However I wouldn't have missed for anything the hour or so I managed to squeeze in before it got the better of me and I'd had enough.

When I drove around the corner towards Conder Pool I saw what I am claiming to be a first record, that of a thousand waders in the air searching for terra firma at high tide over the pool on which they soon settled down on the large island across from the viewing platform. I need to be excused for what appears to be a repetition of photographs of the same Black-tailed Godwits and Knot, but they are all different groups and one of them includes the colour ringed BTG seen by one or two birders doing its rounds over the past month's and was a bird marked in Iceland as Orange over Red on both legs above the tibia, but as I understand has no other history to it.


In all honesty though I reckon the record fell just short - and I mean just short - of the thousand but an impressive sight for such a humble location all the same and Conder Pool retained its reputation of being one of the best things to happen in our area in years, that of taking out the material to raise the road just a few hundred metres on from here as a sea defence against the 10m+ tides for the caravan park and leaving the 'left overs' to nature....excellent stuff, if you are 'local' and know this area just look back through the records for the place and see for yourself.


So after my excitement illustrated in the introduction the records on Conder Pool this morning at high tide are....c.460 Knot, c.360 Black-tailed Godwit, a Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 42 Oystercatcher, 2 Dunlin (but surely more amongst the mass) c. 120 Redshank, and 3 Goldeneye.


On Jeremy Lane the 12 Whooper Swans presumably of last Thursday 25 March are still there, and at Cockersands where I had really made the mistake of going to considering the worsening weather, I had time to note 18 Eider off the lighthouse before I did the u turn back to Lancaster.   

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Melt Down!


Well I rarely - if ever -  get to go birding over the weekend leaving it all to the stalwarts. Add to this weekends non-birding, the long range weather forecast appears to dictate I'll get out little this week either and everything birding related - including Birds2blog - is entering melt down. Thankfully I can fall back on to some excellent photographs to showcase with a superb trio including two from Mark Fellowes who has recently agreed to allow his work on to my blog. Please take a look at Mark's blog HERE and Paul Bakers Flickr photostream HERE they will both appreciate this as I will too.


This is the first - hopefully of many - of Mark Fellowes excellent wildlife images and is of the smart little Hooded Merganser at Radipole Lake in Dorset.

 

And the second is of the Laughing Gull which appropriately - as the bird is of American origin - Mark photographed on the lamp post outside the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in Reading, Berkshire. Nice one Mark and thanks again for these two introductions on my blog to your superb photography.


Paul Bakers image is an interesting one as Paul claims it to be a hybrid Red-shafted x Yellow-shafted Ficker. Another nice one Paul and thanks....very interesting indeed. 

Friday, 26 March 2010

The Marine Act.


I think we all need to take note of the information contained in the link below after which there are a couple of stories relating to the Bewick's Swan which contain much more joy than the marine article does which is no joy all.

Razorbill thanks to Ian Tallon.

RSPB: Marine Act will not protect seabirds

Its always good to see the 'yellowbills' back in this country each winter and more particularly to our area. It took me until 5 February to find sixteen Bewick's Swans on Jeremy Lane though I had seen three earlier on 19 January on Pilling Mash. Whooper Swans were - as always - easier to find and an excellent number of up to 260 were seen on 4 February from Fluke Hall Lane.

Two interesting and intriguing stories have emerged from Slimbridge when last winter a pair of Bewick's Swans - which had been paired for two years - each arrived on the scene separately with new partners, this is only the second ever record as the Bewick's Swans are famously loyal birds which almost invariably mate for life and the 'divorce' issue has only ever happened on one previous occasion in a 40 year study of 4,000 pairs of the species. The truth and the reasons behind this virtually unique event will never be known proving once more that birds are incredibly unpredictable creatures which carry with them their own secrets.

The second amazing tale is about another individual Bewick's Swan which was first seen as a young bird in company with the parent birds at Slimbridge in 1989, the bird returned to Slimbridge each winter for 9 years until 1998. This bird was a male and after 1998 he did a disappearing act and never returned to Slimbridge until this winter 12 years later. As with the last Bewick's Swan tale no one will ever know why this absence came about and the secret will always be with this Bewick's Swan. I personally think it is good that we can never really 'always' know all that there is to be known about birds and nature as a whole and that nature can and always will have secrets we as humans can never unravel. 

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Coming Soon!


No pic to accompany my post for today....nothing new there then, but my daily dip into Another Bird Blog here found me the very one I was looking for but didn't realise it until I saw it, this bird below falls into the category of 'Coming Soon' as far as I'm concerned as I have yet to see my first....Thanks Phil.

Swallow thanks to Phil Slade.

I paid two visits to Conder Green today the combined sightings of which were....2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, and a single Bar-tailed Godwit were all in the River Conder channels. On Conder Pool a Little Grebe, 5 Wigeon, 14 Tufted Duck, and 2 Snipe, a Reed Bunting and Dunnock were of note in the small bird section. On the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock an impressive 12,000 Knot at least, 8 Goosander, and 3 Goldeneye were all I noted but nothing else remotely significant was to record.

On Jeremy Lane some of the previous Moss Lane/Thursland Hill 12 Whooper Swans seen. At Cockersands it was a pleasure to find 9 Wheatear here at last, also of note a Little Egret on Plover Scar, a 'classic' White Wagtail was in the Bank Houses horse paddock before flying off, c.6 Tree Sparrows were also around the paddock, and in over two hours spent here I saw just 4 Meadow Pipits, 18 Brown Hare also found their way into my records.

I think a quick word - with one or two markers to look for - on the White Wagtails we may be seeing in the coming days/weeks is in order and if the ones I see are anything like the one seen today then life will be quite easy for me. I personally always try to get to grips with the clean flanks on the bird followed by noting that the black crown and bib are always obviously separated. Both sexes of this bird have a pale, clean-looking silvery-grey mantle which - unlike the Pied Wagtail - contrasts strongly with wings and black and white head, the clean flanks give the bird an overall clean-cut appearance....If anyone asks me if the bird I saw today was a male or female I'm gonna skreem!   

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The Adder.


I have been kindly sent some images of the Adder, two of which are posted below and credited accordingly. There's no mention of where the photographs were taken and I wouldn't expect there to have been and I am most grateful to PG for getting in touch with me once again and furnishing me with some more excellent photograph's to add interest to Birds2blog as yet another diversion from the birds is necessary.

Adult Adder with thanks to Peter Guy.

Its to be expected that Peter found the location to photograph the Adder as they emerge from their hibernation about this time of the year having gone down to sleep sometime in September. They are Britain's only venomous reptile and are widespread throughout mainland Britain, are the most northerly distributed snake, the only species found inside the Arctic Circle, and are one of the most widespread species of snake, they may be found in a variety of habitats including open woodland, moorland, mountains, sand dunes, riverbanks, and heathland. 

The Adder uses its venom to immobilise its prey such as small mammals, amphibians, lizards, and nestlings, they are usually able to avoid any struggles with their prey as after the strike they leave the venom to take its effect on the victim before following its scent to find the body....I think this is called economical hunting! 

A few points of interest regarding reproduction are that the Adder is one of the few snakes which give birth to live young and the female can produce anything between five and twenty in late August although the number is more likely to be up to ten. The female doesn't breed in consecutive years, a fact related to its inability to build up its fat reserves in order to breed from one season to the next.

Juvenile Adder with thanks to Peter Guy.

The adder isn't an aggressive snake and usually attacks only if it is threatened under harassment and although its venom poses little danger to a healthy adult human, the bite is very painful and requires urgent medical treatment so....be warned....but as a responsible lover of our wildlife you wouldn't want to interfere with the Adder anyway....would you!



Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Spring to it!



Well it wouldn't be right for me to claim there was no sign of spring to be seen anywhere today as my records will show that to some degree there was, but as far as the weather is concerned there certainly was no sign at all and as for the records, well they didn't take up too much pen and paper on the Clougha/Birk Bank trail, the lamb above however was a pleasant reminder of spring.

Well I took on a false hope today when just 30 minutes out of the motor and up the Clougha track I spotted a pair of Stonechats but sadly - and I use the word emphatically - they were the only two seen in the four and a half hours up here today and their number was exceeded by one when I found 3 Wheatear at above 400m which is precisely what happened up here last year four days earlier on 19 March when I saw two males at the same altitude. Also seen on the trek, 19 Red Grouse, a Meadow Pipit which I reckon was the palest individual of the species I ever saw, raptors were represented by 2 Buzzard and a Kestrel. I couldn't possibly say upland birding lacks 'any' excitement but sometimes it does lack it in buckets full.

The Stonechat situation is by no means a good one, we're almost at the end of March and these two birds today are the only ones seen in at least four upland locations I have visited this year so far and I've seen just three migrant birds on the coast in the past couple of weeks. The status of the Stonechat began to level out in 2005 following the upturn which started around 1999, and in the Clougha/Birk Bank area numbers have been falling since 2007 when the poor spring/summer weather we have been experiencing began to take a hold and breeding successes were poor. This winters ice-age weather will obviously have done nothing to improve the situation, more to the point it will have advanced the decline considerably. The following March records are clear evidence of the decline in the status of the Stonechats in the Clougha/Birk Bank area which I have been observing for over 12 years....

2007. 23 birds found representing 11 pairs and a lone male.
2008. 17 birds found representing 5 pairs and 7 lone birds.
2009. 8 birds representing 4 pairs.
2010. 2 birds seen as a pair.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Abandon Ship!


Well abandoned birding actually as will be seen below. But thankfully Brian Rafferty has been performing with his camera in the Forest of Bowland again with the resulting excellent images below. Thanks once again for allowing me to plug your skills and showcase a couple of your brilliant photographs Brian. Please do visit BR's website here to see some superb wildlife photography.




Well any right thinking birder would wish to see either or both these birds on any visit to the Forest of Bowland which is precisely the kind of good fortune Brian Rafferty had on his latest visit there. At the top is the superb Short-eared Owl which you have to say has been caught at a moment in time when it appeared to be looking at BR, you could add a dozen fitting captions to this picture, quite amazing split second stuff. And below is an image of another of Bowlands treasures the male Hen Harrier, both these species are probably up there to breed hopefully with success.

As for my hoped for four hour birding session today, well the weather once again waited for me to arrive at Conder Green before deciding to turn nasty and came on to rain quite heavy, but it did ease off a little and convincing myself I wouldn't drown I set off in the rain to do the 'nooks and crannies' circuit thing with the determination of someone with a mental disorder....but isn't that what birders are/do anyway? 

A Spotted Redshank was in the creeks, whether or not there are still two birds here this one was the paler of the two seen recently, 2 Greenshank were also in the creeks as was the solitary Black-tailed Godwit which obviously prefers its own company away from the flock, a Little Grebe was on Conder Pool which made me to ponder what happened to the other ten on here prior to the big freeze. From the west corner of the pool - with just my binoculars round my neck - I saw two very brief birds, a Sand Martin was disappearing out of sight at the far east end whilst another bird was also disappearing out of sight and was almost certainly a Common Sandpiper, a Raven was also over the pool going south....I threw in the towel at 12.30 quite dampened when the weather showed no indication it was going to change....and did'nt until late afternoon.

                                      

And finally a nice little image of a nice little bird the Dunnock thanks to one of my regular contributors Warren Baker in Kent....the Garden of England....Thanks Warren.
                                        
I hope to do the Clougha Stonechat - and anything else - survey tomorrow, if not on the next decent day hopefully before the end of the month, but tell you what....I have a prediction I'm keeping to myself until the end of April.  

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Fish No Chips.




A title with humour but a sad story, plus its one about fish by way of a change from birds.

This is the Blue Fin Tuna a fish which carries with it the same old sad story about over fishing which not only drives down the size of stocks but pushes up the price at the same time. High prices means those in the fishing industry will continue to fish and these are the people who claim there are plenty of fish in the sea....until they are all gone.

But these fish were not just present in exotic and far off places, I've just been looking at a photograph of some happy recreational fishermen off the coast of Scarborough in the 1930's with a boat full of Blue Fin Tuna caught with rods. Observations of this species in the North Sea dating back to the early 1900's when they were recorded feeding on small fish falling from the nets as they were hauled in by trawlers of the day. A sport fishery grew up in the 1930's catching up to 80 fish a year, but a commercial fishery - not British incidentally - grew to 200 boats landing over 10,000 tonnes a year during the 1950's and by the 60's the catches collapsed and the abundance to date is still too low to support either recreational or commercial fishing.

It never fails to be stupid this ability to 'hoover up' fish stocks to the point of extinction and its the fishing industry which needs the restraint for its own long term interests and the survival of the wildlife on which it crucially depends upon. We're really not treating this planet as though we mean to stay on it are we.

Fish2blog....maybe just this once!

I've edited this post as it has become blatantly obvious the title should have been....'Chips No Fish'  



Saturday, 20 March 2010

Great-crested Grebe.



Great-crested Grebe. Pete Woodruff.

I was asked a question about the Great-crested Grebe the other day on the post titled 'Facts and Figures' and thought it to be an interesting question worth addressing in a brief manner on the blog.

Well I won't linger on this aspect of the answer but it's a perfect example of my own personal shortcomings when it comes to recording/not recording the birds seen on my birding days to which I can only reply by claiming that, with regard to this bird I 'usually' do record it but perhaps not always, but I think the discussion on 'where is the cut off point when recording bird species' is for another time.

But the question went some thing like....not seeing the Great-crested Grebe reported very often, is this because the bird is common and therefore left out of records in general terms, or is the bird rare....Well certainly not the latter and I think the truth of the matter is the former.

The Great-crested Grebe is a bird which benefited from the creation of reservoirs and gravel pits in the 20th century, and is a bird of these larger waterbodies. Like lots of other birds it was heavily persecuted for is plumage in the days during the 19th century when - dare I say it - some of our human kind were a little less civilised and not long out of the trees....Ahhhh well you see I always react to this kind of subject in a violent manner for which I never offer apologies and in any case there are still many people who derive great pleasure out of persecuting birds/wildlife.

The recovery of the GCG has been well documented through a series of surveys since 1932 and although in doing this write up I'm not pretending to know all the facts and figures, a survey in 1994 suggested a further modest increase in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. As with the Little Grebe there is evidence of immigration into GB&NI and there are a few ringing recoveries that show exchange with the near-Continent but data are limited since so few birds have been ringed. In 2003 an estimate of the winter population in Britain stood at nearly 16,000 Great-crested Grebes.

I hope this is found to be of interest in particular to the subscriber who's name appears in the comments section and to whom I thank for his interest and comments. In short the answer to the question is that the bird is not 'always' recorded for whatever reason by the individual but in my case - and in my defence - I 'usually' do record the Great-crested Grebe as I find the bird a particularly attractive one especially in it's fine summer plumage as in the image above which incidentally was taken on the canal basin at Glasson Dock.  

Friday, 19 March 2010

Wot No Passage!


Stonechat thanks to John Bateman.

Well nearly no passage save the bird above  - thanks for capturing this little gem on film John - and six others almost at the end of the session, but we came quite close to another with a Wheatear apparently at Cockers Dyke on the Flyde about a mile west of where we were this afternoon, and a Willow Warbler on the Wirrall if I'm really going to stretch the mention of migrants.

At Aldcliffe with JB/BT today the highlight was excellent views of a Weasel which - us having frozen in front of the creature - came running towards us, something of a rarer sight than its relative the Stoat. At Conder Green 2 Spotted Redshanks, a Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, and 2 Little Grebe noted. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock with the tide having almost swallowed the place up, c.5,000 Knot were quite impressive, a marked reduction in the number of just c.400 Bar-tailed Godwit, also to note c.350 Black-tailed Godwit, 28 Goldeneye, 6 Goosander, and a drake Red-breasted Merganser

On Glasson Marsh a Barnacle Goose was with up to 80 Mute Swans and was almost certainly the same bird seen from the A588 at Wrampool Bridge on 2 March and is an apparent escapee, this bird certainly likes the company of the Mute Swans and takes off and lands again with them as it did today and on the previous sighting. From Moss Lane 11 Whooper Swans have moved to Thurland Hill and have 'lost' eight in their number of nineteen here for the past week or two.

On Pilling Marsh c.700 Pink-footed Geese with another c.3,000 seen from Fluke Hall Lane, in the same field the 2 Ruff of late in stubble here were found again. Between Pilling Marsh and Preesall Sands two large flocks totalled at least 7,000 Knot, also to note at Fluke Hall 6 Meadow Pipit and a male Stonechat which is only the third individual I've seen to date and others seen reported in our area total no more than another three so nothing to cheer about there then unless they're as late as the Wheatears.

At the Bradshaw Lane feeding station - not my type of birding but does present some good photographic opportunities of species you probably wouldn't connect with otherwise - 3 Yellowhammer, 2 Corn Bunting, a male Reed Bunting, 4 Grey Partridge, and 4 Stock Dove.


And a bit of colour to remind us all of things to come hopefully as the status of these Small Tortoiseshell butterflies are something of a worry these days too. 
    

Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Ramblers Club....

....I don't think so thank you very much, but I did do the Lancaster to Glasson Dock exercise again today.

Stoat thanks to Mike Watson.

And the accompanying pic for my post today shows the Stoat just coming out of its winter ermine coat and was seen recently at Kenibus....thanks for the pic Mike. I recorded eight Stoats in ermine over six years between February 2003 and my last in February 2009 which was on Newby Moor just over the border into North Yorkshire.

There was almost nothing to note on the River Lune from Skerton Bridge to Marsh Point but I did note a drake Goosander, and 2 Mistle Trush flew to land on the very tip of one of the uprights on the Millennium Bridge....must be great to have wings!

On Freeman's Pools the redhead Smew was soon found again, also Green Sandpiper, a Little Grebe in full breeding plumage, 10 Tufted Ducks, 2 Wigeon, and 2 Dunnock, the 'gull' numbers continue to increase with at least 95 on/around the island today mainly Black-headed Gulls but including some Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls accompanied by some Lapwings and Oystercatchers which will learn the error of their ways in due course if they do attempt/are attempting to breed on there.

The walk to Conder Green has to be regarded as 'dull' bird wise with absolutely nothing new on the scene at all and the only record I collected was of a drake Red-breasted Merganser on the river off Sodday, I saw just 8 Blackbirds this week of which five were at Glasson Dock, but on the way I did collect a record of one of our rarer species in 2 Greenfinch.  Conder Green produced 2 Spotted Redshank, and 2 Greenshank again, also a single Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit in the Conder channel both of which had detached themselves from the larger numbers seen here on the Lune estuary regularly during this winter in particular the former of which I noted up to 3,000 on 19 January. I found just one Common Sandpiper this afternoon by the old railway bridge but note one reported on the pager later on Conder Pool which unfortunately proves absolutely nothing in relation as to whether or not there are still two here again.

Little Egret seen today on Freeman's Pools, 2 on wildfowlers pool, and one on Colloway Marsh opposite Stodday.


I also happen to think - well to know actually - that this is a pretty impressive photograph of  two Oystercatchers in flight which is credited to Phil Slade....Thanks Phil. 

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Facts and Figures....


....well a few!

Thanks to John Bateman.

Looking forward to this happening all over again this year at Marshaw where you took this photograph in 2009 John, and that you and I can observe these great birds and others in this and the many other areas we both visit each year.

Two species of birds have been seen on Conder Pool this week which have been interesting and have caused me to pause for thought.

Two Common Sandpiper were found on the pool yesterday Tuesday 16 March and my immediate reaction is that this date is too early for returning birds and to add to the confusion one has wintered here for the second year in succession. In 2008 the first spring bird was found on 14 April at Aldcliffe Marsh in the LDBWS recording area, and on 10 April at Mythop in the Fylde recording area and the median date is 11 April. General consensus will have it that neither of the birds on Conder Pool yesterday were returning birds because of the date, other than this view/opinion the truth is we just don't know and in any case there are many strange and unusual things happening in the bird world today what with global warming and all which makes this claim even  less conclusive. To add even more confusion you may ask yourself has there been two birds wintering here or in the area, well if that was the case the second bird is pretty adept at playing the hiding game, or has been in an area where all birders fear to tread. So we end up taking the obvious option that two Common Sandpiper on Conder Pool on Tuesday 16 April 2010 were both wintering birds.

In conclusion, what a coincidence that the last country to visit Birds2blog has added the flag of Morocco to my counter the very country where the only long-distance recovery of a Common Sandpiper has ever been made and was of a bird locally bred and ringed on 17 June 1968 and was found in Morocco  nearly seven years later on 18 April 1975. 

The other bird on Conder Pool this week was a Kingfisher seen by me on Monday, this bird in my opinion poses an equal mystery as that of the Common Sandpiper in that you have to wonder where this bird could possibly have been during the worst winter in years and have been able to feed in still clear waters throughout the long period of freezing conditions. However, to give this bird the potential for a rapid recovery it has the ability to have three broods in a year with at least four and up to six young per brood....eighteen young in 2010, I don't think so somehow but....Good Luck to the Kingfisher.


On a change of subject but still with the birds, how about this beauty the Black-faced Hawk which Colin Bushell captured on film near Las Claritas in Venezuela in February this very year....Thanks for the pic Colin some bird this one.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

2 X 2 !



A pair of these Lesser Black-backed Gull brutes are back on Conder Pool again today, bad news for just about everything else on there this breeding season if they decide to make it their home for a while. Picture is thanks to my sterling efforts in photography today. It was good for me to be able to get JB out of the house and birding once more to relieve the boredom of being housebound for him, so if it's comprehensive records you're looking for I'd suggest the LDBWS website linked from my sidebar.

 
Photograph courtesy of John Bateman.

Well they came 2 X 2 today on Conder Pool with 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 2 Little Grebe, and 2 Common Sandpiper, the latter were found on the second visit here which confirms once again my view that a second visit to any location can often be a good idea, also noted on the pool were 10 Wigeon.

The tide was 'wrong' for a visit to the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock so we decided to go to Knott End and work in reverse as it were, not the most brilliant of ideas as we noted just 9 Eider on a relatively flat sea. So now we're at Fluke Hall and a walk by me a few hundred metres west along the coastal path produced 12 Skylark, 2 Twite, and a Reed Bunting. At Pilling Lane Ends a pair of Goldeneye were noted on the east pool, and a run down Gulf Lane gave us the trusted Little Owl staring at us rather angrily as it does, also a solitary Grey Partridge seen is a bird always a pleasure to find. From Moss Lane the 19 Whooper Swans are still feeding up for the 'flight'.

At Cockersands c. 2,500 Knot were on Plover Scar and 2 Grey Plover were noted off the lighthouse car park, it's quite amazing that as many visits as you wish to make here and at Conder Green will never give you a double figure of this species in any winter month of any year at these locations combined. Off Bodie Hill c.160 Black-tailed Godwit, c.60 Wigeon, and 28 Goldeneye noted. Single Little Egrets seen today at....Fluke Hall, Bank End, and Glasson Marsh. Of note a Swallow was seen today at Fewston Reservoir in North Yorkshire.

And finally, the Yellowhammer below stands next to another species - the Corn Bunting - which I'm offering the wager of your choice that you never see either in the LDBWS recording area this year and probably never again....and that's a tragedy. The photograph is with my thanks to Phil Slade....thanks Phil.


And I know you are reading this BD and it was good to see you again this afternoon along with HD....is that High Definition by the way?

Monday, 15 March 2010

A Mundane....




....four hours allotted to my birding but Alleluia, the Kingfisher gave me an excellent if brief view this morning which I would have missed had I not turned at the precise moment I did to see it fly past the outlet/inlet to the right of the viewing platform at Conder Pool. So where did this bird find some still clear water sheltered from the frost from which to feed during the ice-age, 2 Greenshank and 2 Little Grebe were also to note on the pool which was otherwise pretty deserted, a solitary Black-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover were on what was left of the marsh at high tide.

On Moss Lane the 19 Whooper Swans remain and have been accompanied by an immature Mute Swan for the period of several days they have been in this field. At Cockersands a walk along the headland in a bloody cold stiff wind at high tide produced just 9 Eider, and at least 32 Turnstone which are always worthy of note, the Little Egret was again in the channel/ditch just north of the smartly renovated farm building.

And that was my lot on a day which never developed into anything serious mainly due to lack of time but also was never going to produce my first Wheatear anyway....or my first anything else for that matter.

And the bird at the top of the post is a Chickadee....but you already knew that didn't you! My thanks for the photograph goes to Paul Baker over there in BC Canada....thanks Paul.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Briefly!


With no birding since Friday and little spare time on my hands for the blog its time once again to dig out some more of those brilliant images I keep finding on other peoples blogs who - having applied to them - give me permission to use on Birds2blog and which in the past have been the saviour of many a blank day on the blog until I got myself out and about on the birding scene, so on this occasion with thanks to Paul Foster and Brian Rafferty how about these for more excellent photograph's and saviour's of  a blank day....


Paul Foster had seen this Black Kite at Gigrin Farm in Wales and made comments about how boisterous the bird was when entering into the competition for a meal at feeding time at this location. I'm personally not up to date on the 'farm' or this bird but apparently there's some debate about it's origin's for some reason or another. However, none of this takes anything at all away from the fact that this is a superb image of a superb bird. Please do visit Paul's website here.... http://www.paulifos.blogspot.com/  

 

Well if your looking for excellent photography I can point you in several directions one of which would have to be towards Brian Rafferty's website here... http://brianraffertywildlifephotographer.blogspot.com/ ... and this image of the Short-eared Owl is another example of what you can expect when you arrive there.
   

And here's another of BR's little beauties the Tawny Owl....what else do I need to say.



Friday, 12 March 2010

Hello!


Sandhill Crane courtesy of Paul Baker.

Well titles don't come much more original than 'Hello' and the pic - which carries the usual Birds2blog excellence....thanks Paul - has nothing connected with me or with today's birding which went as follows....

I decide to check if yesterdays c.3,500 Pink-footed Geese were still on Aldcliffe Marsh. Today I had the telescope and yesterday it was frustrating not to be able to look through the geese with just binoculars on the walk and the birds too distant, they were there today but despite running through them a couple of times there were no hangers on that I could see. A Green Sandpiper was on the wildfowlers pool again and 2 Little Egrets were seen but its difficult to avoid them now even if you wanted too.

Conder Pool was a depressing sight with just 2 Little Grebes of any note. But Conder Green itself gave up five of its 'star' birds today with 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, and the Common Sandpiper all showing well, though I did have to search for the latter which was eventually found in the channel at the right hand bend in the road by the caravan park on the left.

At Glasson Dock the Lune Estuary was unimpressive but I noted circa 1,500 Bar-tailed Godwit and 350 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Goosander and just 2 Goldeneye seen here today, and on Moss Lane 19 Whooper Swans still in the field. From Fluke Hall Lane 2 Ruff were still in the stubble field opposite Wheel Lane. 

Well still too early for any arrivals and if you're going to find your own birds its still a bit of a struggle....but an enjoyable and rewarding struggle despite the often 'emptiness' that is experienced. Interesting that I just read a Kent birders report on his blog which claimed....not a sniff of a Wheatear or Sand Martin anywhere to be seen....Mmmmm! 

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Foot Patrol.


Drake American Wigeon courtesy of Mike Watson.

An excellent image of the drake American Wigeon currently present at Caerlaverock WWT Dumfries and Galloway to get today's post up and running.

Though it clouded over in the early afternoon it was great day to get on my feet and check out the bird life between Skerton Bridge and Glasson Dock and although its still a little too soon for anything other than 'an early' I did end up disappointed at not seeing some more Stonechats 'up from the south'....I'd seen twelve by this date last year.

Until I got to Freeman's Pools it had been a quiet but enjoyable walk checking the usual good number of gulls to find them all/mainly Black-headed and noting a drake Goosander and Red-breasted Merganser. At the pools the redhead Smew soon showed itself as did a Green Sandpiper and a calling Little Grebe, the 72 Black-headed Gull number showing interest in the island and the area has risen from my count of 60 last week, 8 Tufted Duck, a drake Wigeon, and 10 Lapwing made up the numbers on and around here today.

On Aldcliffe Marsh, c.3,500 Pink-footed Geese and 3 Little Egret. On the wildfowlers pool another Green Sandpiper seen and a Snipe noted on the flood. Between Aldcliffe and Conder Green I noted 18 Blackbirds, 3 Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, 6 Goldfinch, a Dunnock, and a Reed Bunting, a male Merlin on a fence post out on the marsh added some excitement to the day....hope you're still looking in on Birds2blog Tim (Crossley) to read about this bird you're 'after'....c.250 Curlew were in a field as I approached Conder Green picnic area, and a Brown Hare was seen en route. Two Little Egret were seen distant on Colloway Marsh from Stodday. At Conder Green I just had the time to find two of the areas 'star birds' in the form of Spotted Redshank and Greenshank.

I note with interest of a probable Mew Gull of the form brachyrhynchus at a location in Leicestershire up to 5.00pm then flew west.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Back Again!


Buzzard courtesy of David Cookson.

First to get the business of the photograph having nothing connected to the post out of the way, but an excellent image of the Buzzard which I appreciate having the permission to use....Thanks David.

Birds are truly amazing creatures in many different ways and I'm particularly intrigued by the way they have the ability to return - year after year in some cases - not only to the same country but virtually to the same spot and I suppose the Swallow has to be the perfect example of this as it returns to the same garage at the same house to nest under the same roof as it did last year.

Every time I've visited Conder Green again this winter I haven't failed to be amazed to find the Common Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, and Greenshank all back here again this year. Great Grey Shrikes - Dalton Crag today - are another example of a bird which has the habit of turning up in successive winters at the same location and you could go on about this kind of example.

This winter has been a particularly hard one across most of Europe and its not surprising that birds have found it necessary to move to find sufficient food and you would have expected the Waxwing to have been a species seen regularly this winter in the UK but apart from a very few sightings they didn't begin to appear here until February and in relatively small numbers even then. But winter 2010 has turned out to be an exciting and truly surprising winter after all for one village in Scotland all because a Waxwing returned having been ringed as an immature female the previous February in Kintore near Aberdeen.

This bird is only one of three confirmed records of a Waxwing returning to the UK in a subsequent winter from c.4,500 ringed birds and although there are many re-sightings and recoveries of dead birds, once the Waxwings leave their remote breeding grounds very few are ever heard of again.

But how about this....Another truly startling recovery was of a bird ringed as an adult male in Aberdeen in 2005, unfortunately and sadly this individual was killed by a cat twelve months later in Russia in a village east of the Ural Mountains almost 4,000 km north-east of Aberdeen where it was ringed the previous year.

I estimated in excess of 600 Black-tailed Godwits from the Clock Tower at Morecambe this mid-afternoon.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Birds2blog!


Water Pipit courtesy of Chris Batty.

Couldn't think of a title for the post today but certainly didn't have any problems selecting three great pic's all taken locally. The Water Pipit, smart bird, smart pic and not a species to be found just anywhere but if you can find your way to The Heads on the Fylde you may just be lucky but I'll tell you what....for a start it needs to be on a high tide, and for seconds you may need to be blessed with a good amount of patience and searching. Watch out for the next suitable tides and....good luck!

Twite courtesy of Phil Slade.

Well you've had ample time to see the Twite at Knott End for a few weeks now and it's where this pic was taken today....another smart bird, another smart pic.

Something of a repeat of yesterday for me with BT today and we first called in at Conder Green but must confess didn't move from the pool viewing platform where I noted yesterdays 18 Wigeon and just one Little Grebe. On Moss Lane yesterdays 19 Whooper Swans remain, and a brief visit to Cockersands produced the female Stonechat again, about 8 Tree Sparrows were noted around the horse paddock at Bank Houses. 

In the Pilling area at least 2,000 Pink-footed Geese were seen from Back Lane, and at Fluke Hall c.75 Twite were in the same field as yesterday when I noted c.50, also in the field today at least 25 Skylarks, a Great -spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming in the woods, and a Ruff was in the stubble field again. A Little Egret flew over the A588 as we turned into the west end of Gulf Lane where the resident Little Owl starred at us as we pulled up to view, I reckon every time it sees birders do this it thinks to itself something like....Oh no not another of those idiots come to gloat at me/us! 

Pretty routine stuff today but that's birding and any birding to me is good birding.

  
Rock Pipit courtesy of Phil Slade.

I reckon this is as good a pic as you could hope for of the Rock Pipit....razor sharp. Thanks for these three images Chris/Phil.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Another day....


Corn Bunting courtesy of Phil Slade.

....nearer to spring and another Stonechat 'up from the south' and the pic above which has absolutely nothing connected with today's proceedings but is an excellent image of a Corn Bunting one of which I'm prepared to take bets you won't see in the LDBWS recording area this year and possibly/probably never again....sad thought and hope I'm proved wrong one day....Thanks for the pic Phil.

At Conder Green the traditional circuit with eyes peeled and peering into every nook and cranny revealed the Common Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, and Greenshank. On Conder Pool  3 Little Grebe - and one upstream from the road bridge - 18 Wigeon, 22 Tufted Duck, and 26 Common Gull. For the second consecutive visit to the area I decided to skip Glasson Dock preferring to go Jeremy Lane where the swans have deserted the area but 19 Whooper Swans were seen from Moss Lane.

At Cockersands my second returning Stonechat was a female foraging the tide wrack and had taken over from the wintering male which was last seen in the same area on 22 February. Also on a quiet headland only visit I noted 7 Eider by the lighthouse, a single Skylark, and a Stoat. A relatively short visit to Fluke Hall produced c.50 Twite in the field just west of the slipway, also c.1,500 Pink-footed Geese, and 2 Ruff were in the stubble field opposite the Wheel Lane/Fluke Hall Lane junction.

American Wigeon/Whooper Swan courtesy of Angie Bushell.

And hows this picture for long odds on achieving a drake American Wigeon and Whooper Swan in the same frame at Dumfries and Galloway Friday 5 February....excellent and many thanks Mrs B! 


Saturday, 6 March 2010

Golden Eagle.



No not a Golden Eagle but there is a link with the White-tailed Eagle in the story below, this one Mike Watson saw and photographed at Hortobagy National Park in Hungary 2007....Thanks for the pic Mike.  This news is something we should never tire of hearing about although you'd be hard pressed to know what we as individuals can actually do about this tragic situation in the 21st century.

A young Golden Eagle has been found poisoned at Truskmore Mountain on the Sligo/Leitrim border in Ireland, the bird was 10 month old and had been reared in an eyrie in Donegal last year. This bird had been tracked and found using a sophisticated satellite tracking device fitted to the birds back and the corpse was recovered on 18 February. A post mortem was carried out and revealed the young male to be in excellent condition prior to its death, subsequent tests proved the bird had been poisoned by Nitroxynil poured over the fleece of a dead newborn lamb.

Last year another satellite-tagged Golden Eagle was found poisoned with Paraquat just a day later than this years discovery on 19 February 2009 in West Donegal. In total 9 White-tailed Eagles, Golden Eagles and Red Kites have been confirmed poisoned in Ireland over the last two and a half years and recent monitoring by the Golden Eagle Trust proves that up to four different poisons have been used illegally in four different areas in Ireland but the same trust believes that over 95% of landowners in Ireland do not use poison. Its a case of the 'old story' of the Irish Government who - like some other governments who are members of the EU - are failing in the need to implement legislation protecting these rare scavenging birds of prey.  

Tragically much good work in educating farmers has been undone by the publication in an Irish farming journal which advised sheep farmers that....'Alphachloralose is mixed with mincemeat and fat placed alongside a fresh stillborn lamb'....this appalling advice on a reckless use of a poison appears to indicate a total disregard for regulations and from a voice of Irish farming no less.

Birdwatch Ireland have commented that it can only be hoped that public anger over this sad event will ensure that the barbaric practice of leaving out meat-based poisons by a tiny minority of farmers can be a major contribution to finally eliminating this unacceptable behaviour.

            

On a lighter note Ian Tallon sent me this excellent image of a Waxwing he saw this week at Dalton-in Furness in Cumbria....once Lancashire! Thanks for this Ian and for your interest in Birds2blog, it is much appreciated. And even more good news to end with is that of a Little-ringed Plover on Frodsham Marsh in Cheshire today, not many more miles as the LRP flies and it could have been on Conder Pool. 



Friday, 5 March 2010

On Cue!



With the last bird I found today in mind as far as I'm concerned its spring and the pic I took last year - in a private wood I was kindly given access to - is worth a reminder of whats around the corner. It was bloody cold still today and the aforementioned bird and the pic will help put us on for a while yet.

At Conder Green 2 Spotted Redshank today, a Greenshank, the Common Sandpiper - how much longer will we be able to call this bird 'the' - on Conder Pool 2 Little Grebe, 16 Wigeon, and a Snipe to note, and no more than 50 Teal in the creeks seems to bear out the opinion that numbers have been/are down here this winter. I had set a programme and decided to skip Glasson Dock and went on to Jeremy Lane where there was 12 Whooper Swans and 2 Bewick's Swans, on Moss Lane another 9 Whooper Swans and a Little Egret having a change of scenery from Jeremy Lane. I did the circuit at Cockersands but ended up wondering why, the tide was well up by now so the place was void of waders of significance and I finished up with just 4 Goldeneye and a Red-breasted Merganser noted for my efforts.

At Fluke Hall I found a flock of at least 60 Linnet which - void of a records search - represents the best number of the species for me in a long time. Bird of the day - and right on cue with the date - was the male Stonechat returning from 'the south' and hopefully the first of many, this was the very bird I had gone to Fluke Hall for and my hunch turned out to be the right hunch....next bird up will be the Wheatear unless the Sand Martin beats them to it.

I met three people today who - in the case of two of them - informed me of a Stoat just coming out of ermine on the far bank of Conder Pool, and in the case of the other of a Grey Wagtail seen here early in the morning, the significance of this being that I've not seen a GW at Conder Green in something like 9 months.  


Thursday, 4 March 2010

'The Walk'



Two definite things about the pic....its definitely one I took and its definitely been on Birds2blog once before but I deleted it accidentally probably before anyone got to see it so its here again, its title is 'Coming to Bread'.

I did the walk from Skerton Bridge to Conder Green again, it was a brilliant day and its a brilliant walk and will be even more so in the coming weeks when it'll be alive with birds, today not quite so but here goes....

Despite checking through several hundred 'gulls' all the way to Conder Green I could locate not a single Med Gull. I counted 6 Goldeneye distant and all upstream from Skerton Bridge toward the weir but the rest of the way to Freeman's Pools resulted in a nothing of significance. At the pools the Smew was soon seen but with my lingering limited I noted just 3 Goldeneye, 2 Gadwall, a drake Shoveler, and a Little Egret. Up to 60 Black-headed Gulls with Lapwings and Oystercatchers were all showing interest in the island perhaps as a breeding ground....Mmmmm!

On Aldcliffe Marsh 2 Little Egrets to note, and something put c.3,000 Pink-footed Geese up off Colloway Marsh, and I noted 26 Moorhen around the main wildfowlers pool. From the path to Conder Green, 15 Blackbirds, 4 Song Thrush included one in full song at CG, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Robins, a single Wren, and c.180 Curlews were noted in a field close to the picnic area at CG.

Green Sandpiper courtesy of Brian Rafferty.

At Conder Green on a much more brief visit than is my norm produced the Common Sandpiper, 2 Grey Plover, 3 Snipe, and singles of Back-tailed Godwit, Goldeneye, and Little Grebe. The last - and best - bird of the day five hours after leaving Lancaster was initially thought - briefly at a distance - to have been the Common Sandpiper until it flew to show the white rump of a Green Sandpiper.