BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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ALDCLIFFE MARSH HIGH TIDE. PETE WOODRUFF.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

The Common Sandpiper.


Common Sandpiper. Pete Woodruff.

I think there's always the likelihood that pics find their way back on to Birds2blog having been here before and this one of the Common Sandpiper is such a candidate. It was taken in the Forest of Bowland this summer and is a pleasant reminder of possibly four pairs found up here this year between Marshaw and Trough Bridge a couple of miles upstream with two pairs eventually seen with young.

We will be into August tomorrow and for more than five weeks now the Common Sandpiper has been recorded in good numbers at Conder Green which is the best location in the recording area for autumn passage birds and - since three seen on 24 June - the maximum count has been nineteen on 9 July , it is also worth noting that a bird has wintered here for the past two years which is an additional location to the already recorded sites for wintering Common Sandpipers in Lancashire. Interestingly before the established two winter records at Conder Green, I found one here on 1 November 1998 but not again after this date that winter.

I've found ringed individuals at Conder Green in previous years and this year another one was seen and I have noted the results of reading them in my post on 27 July 'Bits of Interest' just five days after finding the bird for which I thanked the three people who supplied me with the information.

In 1997-2000 the Lancashire Atlas estimated c.250 breeding pairs concentrated on the River's Lune and Ribble, and also in Bowland as I have already mentioned. The species suffered a 24% national decline between 1970-2001, whether this was due to changes in the quality of breeding areas or problems in their wintering area is not known, but sadly I have to say human disturbance was attributed to the decline in some of their breeding areas.

Outside our recording area the best location for autumn birds is in the Shard Bridge/Skippol Creek area of the Wyre Estuary with a peak count of 67 birds in July 2003. Good inland sites in autumn include Arkholme on the River Lune where 63 were counted along a little more than five mile length on the early date of 8 June 1996.

The two earliest spring birds on record are coincidentally both on the same date of 21 March in 1933 and 1966, but an even earlier one was that of a bird on 5 March, but this was presumed to have been an individual which had wintered.  

One or two notes of ringing interest are of three Lancashire recoveries all in late summer, of birds ringed in the Scottish borders in June/July, and also of one from Northhumberland which had been ringed in June. This apparently supports the south or south westerly movement in autumn proposed by BWP. The only long-distance recovery is of a local breeder which was ringed on 17 June 1968 and was found in Morocco almost seven years later on 18 April 1975.

It remains to be seen whether or not a Common Sandpiper chooses to winter for a third consecutive year at Conder Green but I must admit, watching last years bird feeding one day in the midst of the 'ice age' we experienced and with the banks of the River Conder white with ice was a little weird to say the least.   

Friday, 30 July 2010

Sluggish!


Today's birding with JB/BT was a sluggish affair to say the least and which also came to a close at an early stage due - as ever - to the beautiful summer weather we are currently experiencing.

Surf Scoters. David Baker.

But first....one of Davids photographs. David and his father Paul - both from British Columbia in Canada - have extensive photo libraries and having recently been in touch with Paul he welcomes the use of his photographs on Birds2blog and boy am I grateful for that....Thanks for this one David it is much appreciated and shows a species I'm not expecting to see in this country any time soon.

Well today's 'sluggish birding' began at Conder Green where we soon saw the female Ruff once again in the creeks where I counted 12 Common Sandpipers. On Conder Pool the Little Grebe seen again as were the three summering Wigeon, also a Goosander, and 88 Lapwing.

We left Conder Green but unknown to us all at the time the day then slowly began to grind to a halt, but we had decided to go to Knott End where the 'terns' would be beginning to congregate on the beach as they do annually around August and three figure counts are not unusual, but unfortunately the aforementioned weather had already begun to turn nasty but I did count 8 Sandwich Terns before we had to run for cover. On the way here we had driven along Gulf Lane, at one point yesterday two Marsh Harriers had been seen in this and the Sand Villa area but no sign today, but we did find at least 40 Tree Sparrows along here near Moss Edge Farm, I've seen them in the area before but a couple of years ago since I did, also along the lane more Green-veined White butterflies than I ever saw before in any one sighting with a count of forty being easy.

A call in at Cockersands would have found me struggling to find an answer to the question why, but I did note 14 Eider drifting by on the tide. And that was it, the end, all over, finished, throwing the towel in, good bye....Life - and the weather - can be so exciting at times karnit!

And finally....

    
Fox Sparrow. Paul Baker.

Not the most glamorous of birds the Fox Sparrow, but look at those 'arrowheads' brilliant aren't they. Thanks for this Paul.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Clougha Plod!


Heather on Clougha. Pete Woodruff.

Clougha didn't quite look like this today but in a few days time it certainly will with its splendid carpet of Heather. I spent an excellent five hours up here and on Birk Bank today, excellent not because of the weather - it was a bit like the last couple of days in October rather than July with heavy grey cloud and quite a cool breeze - or the birds, though they were excellent as ever but not in abundance as they never really are in the uplands and its never much of  a task to note everything seen and here they are....

It started of very good with 14 Redpoll silently and unknown to me in the car park area until they 'burst' out of a tree, from then on they were very mobile for a few minutes until they departed the area. I ended the visit here today having found 8 Stonechat but nothing particularly remarkable about that being four juvenile together, a solitary male, and a pair with a single juvenile despite my hanging around them for quite a while to see more, so supposing the lone male had a mate lurking around somewhere there are no more than three pairs on here in 2010.

To make up the twelve species seen today I recorded 8 Wheatear, a Jay which I heard only, 12 Meadow Pipits including a young bird, 2 Willow Warbler, 6 Curlew, a Kestrel, Buzzard, Grey Heron, c.180 Carrion Crows, and 4 Red Grouse which I didn't see until I'd been here four hours and was looking like I was going to enter a blank for the visit which would have been a first in more than twelve years.

There was a serious altercation between the four Stonechat juveniles I found, a Willow Warbler, and Meadow Pipits which included the young bird. It was difficult to pin point the aggressors but I'd suggest the Stonechats as they don't tolerate other birds very well or very much if at all.

I paid particular attention to the fact I never heard - let alone saw - a single Wren today, a bird normally seen in number on all visits here. 

And finally....

    
View from Clougha. Pete Woodruff.

Neither of these photographs are from today's visit, the top one was taken one August day a few years ago as was the one above on a winters day, if you try hard enough you can see the faint rainbow which didn't develop into much as rainbows go, and if you keep trying you can also see the church at Quernmore to the left of the rainbow....but I'm struggling to impress now I know!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Short List.


I just about managed to squeeze in a couple of hours birding today which didn't amount to anything like exciting, but any birding time is good time.

Gannets. David Cookson.

But first a photograph of the Gannets on Bass Rock with my thanks to David who is currently posting his account and pictures of the visit HERE and is recommended reading/viewing.

I didn't get to Conder Green until 10.45 this morning and was surrounded in just about every direction by some pretty heavy rain showers but actually escaped all of them which made a pleasant change for me avoiding my 'staring out the windscreen at the rain' routine. I made the best of a circuit here and noted most of the birds on offer which amounted to very little, but I'm beginning to sound like the 'anything about' man who often turns up in the hides I'm in at places like Leighton Moss.

On Conder Pool Mondays four Greenshank were again in hiding behind one of the islands, the juvenile Great-crested Grebe and 3 Wigeon were all the pool had to offer save a Brown Hare which made a cautionary walk through some shallow water, by the way....can these creatures swim? A Spotted Redshank and 10 Common Sandpiper were in the creeks, and at least 34 Swift went over going south.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock which was by now well taken over by the tide but which had conveniently pushed c.950 Dunlin in close and which I grilled in the hope of the 'odd one out' along with c.650 Redshank, so the return of the waders continues. And so ended my brief birding day and my 'short list' was complete....better things to come surely! 

At least 30 Swift over my house as I end my write-up at 8.50 pm.  

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Bits of Interest.


Large White. Pete Woodruff.

Well for starters a butterfly came to our humble little garden this evening, a reasonably regular event under normal circumstances but this summer hasn't been 'normal circumstances' to date and butterflies have been few and far between in my book though three Painted Ladies I found earlier in the summer appear to have been excellent records . I quickly grabbed my second rate photographic equipment and just had the opportunity to catch this image before the Large White departed resulting in this barely acceptable picture.

Marsh Harrier. Gary Jones.

I decided to contact Gary about this photograph to ask if he would mind if  I posted it on Birds2blog, thankfully Gary agreed that I could. It is the result of some creative editing I did of two of Garys images of a juvenile Marsh Harrier taken at Leighton Moss....Thanks for this Gary, I think it looks good and hope you do too.

And finally, well for pictures anyway....

Grey Seals. Paul Foster.

A nice shot of the Grey Seals which Paul encountered on a recent visit to the Farne Islands....Thanks for this Paul it is much appreciated.

Common Sandpiper.

On Thursday 22 July - amongst the many Common Sandpipers always present at Conder Green each year at migration time - I found a ringed individual and am please to have received the following feedback....

Rings: White above the tibia/Yellow below the tibia and carried the number NV33816.
Ringing Location: Conder Green. 
Date ringed: 3 August 2003.
Age: 3 years.
Wing: 111mm
Weight: 56g
Previous sightings: Nil
Another Common Sandpiper also aged 3 years and ringed on the same date at the same location  was subsequently seen on 17-21 July 2004.

I am extremely grateful to John Wilson, Phil Holland and Richard du Feu for looking into and forwarding this information to me and did so in the space of five days....many thanks to you all.  


Monday, 26 July 2010

Four Minus Two!


Shaded Broad-bar. Pete Woodruff.

I had - the now customary - four hours to spare for birding today but as it turned out the English summer weather changed all that and reduced it to two, but I did have an opportunity to take a photograph of the moth above which as ever remains unidentified as I write, I'm hoping its new to the area but reckon quite the reverse will be the case being common and widespread.

I gave Conder Green a good 1.5 hours this late morning and found at least 11 Common Sandpiper and the female Ruff still here as is the summer plumage Little Grebe on the pool along with the juvenile Great-crested Grebe, 10 Lapwing, 20 Redshank, 2 Oystercatcher, and 4 Greenshank, the latter I found from the west end viewpoint and wouldn't have done so from the east end, the perfect example of birds hidden from view on Conder Pool behind the islands. The only small birds noted were 4 Goldfinch and a Whitethroat about which I learned something today being, given the views I had of this bird - which wasn't an adult male - the ageing/sexing was difficult if not impossible and I was unable to separate it from 1st summer male/female/autumn immature. From the old railway bridge I picked out an adult Mediterranean Gull on the far bank of the River Lune with just c. 40 Black-headed Gull.

By now it was looking decidedly grey and misty and my four hours birding was about to be reduced to two, against my better judgement I drove to Bank End in the hope of a decent 'gull' roost, but as things turned out the number was very few - though I did check them out - and the mist and heavy drizzle dominated the weather and by the time I'd spent another of those periods staring out the windscreen to see if things would change my four hours was over and I'd spent two of them on a short drive from Conder Green and a long wait at Bank End....Come in number four yer time's up!

And finally....

     
Gannet. Gary Jones.

One of Gary's many excellent Gannet shots taken on his recent visit to Bass Rock, this one taken with precision as the bird hits the water as it plunge dives for fish. Thanks for this Gary....much appreciated.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

A Gallery & Notes.


Common Blue. Warren Baker.

First picture in the gallery is a smart one of the Common Blue butterfly in flight. I personally find this photograph quite clever and not a subject to succeed with very easily but Warren has handled this one in true photographic style. Thanks for this Warren.

Barn Owl. Phil Slade.

Well we've had one or two Barn Owl pics on Birds2blog before but the truth is you can't see too many of this enigmatic bird and we'll sure be having more. This bird eventually took as prey what looked like a Rat in Phil's set of photographs of the bird on his website and a good meal for its awaiting young. Thanks for this one Phil.

Anna's Hummingbird. David Baker. BC Canada.

Well I don't know about you but this one - a female Anna's Hummingbird - I'm not likely to ever see and was taken at Crescent Beach in British Columbia, Canada. I know you look in on Birds2blog David and I've been in touch with Paul recently via e-mail to thank you both for allowing me to post your images on my blog.

Marsh Harrier. Peter Guy.

And finally, a superb photograph of three Marsh Harrier chicks taken under license by Peter Guy. This photograph is not only amazing for its subject but also for the way these three have posed for the shot as if they had been told to stand up straight and in a line. The picture is also amazing in that it clearly illustrates a pecking order and you really have to wonder if the one in the centre actually survived after obviously being 'last in the queue'. Thanks for this Peter.

Notes.

It's not looking good again for my chances of birding this week with just four hours spare time tomorrow and no possibility of any on Tuesday or Wednesday. I've also not had any opportunity to do my July birding on Clougha/Birk Bank with time running out this week....so I may have to fight off some fits of withdrawal symptoms.

Please keep in touch with the 24 links in my sidebar to which I just added the North Lancashire Ringing Group website brought about mainly through my interest in the Sand Martins which in turn was brought about by the c.70 seen at Cockersands recently which I eventually realised was an indication of the start of the autumn migration season which I am reminded of by the sighting of at least 30 Swifts from my bedroom window as I write and is something I'll probably not be seeing many more times this year.

When the twilight is gone and no songbirds are singing....The first line of a poem 'The Prayer' by Roy Orbison....thanks PS! 








Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Sand Martin.


Red Squirrel. Brian Rafferty.

But first lets start with another of those excellent images BR keeps producing, he shows a set of five on his website which he traveled to Widdale in N. York's to see and photograph. Please take a look for yourself at his short account of the encounter with this delightful creature HERE

On Monday 12 July I found at least seventy Sand Martins loafing around and resting on a fence line which runs out to the estuary at Cockersands. At the time I was a little surprised at the sighting until I realised this was around the time autumn migration begins to show with birds on the coast as in this case. The Sand Martin - as with many bird species - has much to be said about it but there follows just a few brief general and interesting notes.... 

Sand Martins populations are subject to periodic increases and declines mainly attributed to the levels of rainfall in their wintering areas. In our area in Lancashire 2010 has been a successful one with good colonies, good numbers, and a good 'ringing' season with the figure of 1,798 captures being recorded at two large colonies on the River Lune with no end of season figures published yet. The River Lune is by far the most important breeding site for the Sand Martin and is an area which has been monitored since the late 1970's. In the Arkholme area - even though it is afflicted by periodic flooding- in 1996 it held almost half the entire Lune total with 1,200 nests, this being a colony which declined to less than 750 pairs the year before in 1995.

Going back to my sighting at Cockersands and related events there are some truly amazing peak counts to be encountered at some locations in August including Leighton Moss where they can reach up to 5,000 birds as in 1973, but a roost - exceptional in late date and number - was of the one of 15,000 on 12 September 1989, and on the late date issue three birds at Scarisbrick Hall near Southport on 29 October 1972 is the latest date ever recorded in Lancashire. And on the subject of early/late records the one which remains the earliest ever is of a bird in Blackpool on 5 March in 1918. 

On the ringing issue there are some interesting recoveries of birds ringed in Lancashire including single figure numbers in France, Spain, and Senegal, with singles in Malta and Norway. Of the birds recovered in Senegal two had been ringed in Churchtown, Fylde and were controlled in Djoudj National Park, another two were ringed at Caton, Lancashire and were also recovered in Djoudj. There have also been recoveries on the River Lune including a bird from Belgium, two from France, and a 1st winter bird ringed in Djoudj in February 1993 was controlled five months later at Caton on 11 July.

When the twilight is gone and the songbird stops singing....

As I reached the last line of this post for some strange reason the line of this old song I used to like ran through my mind, but the song/singer I would have to research to put any names to....there's no explaining some things is there!            

Friday, 23 July 2010

The Mystery Tour.


Well not quite a 'tour' but if I was supposed to know the plan for today with JB/BT I didn't.

Ruff. Ian Tallon.

Not for the first time Ian saved the day with a pic of the female Ruff currently at Conder Green, and just to prove him wrong - just like I am very often - here it is for the whole world to see but about which he said to me that he doubted I'd use it..Thanks Ian, I've said it before but here it is again....keep 'em cumin!

We started at Conder Green this morning where a nice surprise was a Little Grebe back on Conder Pool in it's brilliant summer plumage, but the bird NOT still in it's summer plumage is the Spotted Redshank and blending in more each day with the c.50 Redshanks so beware the casual eye. Also of note, a Ruff seen again as in the photograph above, 3 Common Sandpiper, and on the pool the juvenile Great-crested Grebe still, and a solitary Wigeon.

Now came the 'mystery tour' when BT announced we should go to Cross of Greet to which I would'nt have ever disagreed and in fact I was well overdue to revisit myself. I was dropped of at the top and would walk down to Greet Bridge at a leisurely pace which would take me an hour. I wouldn't take my telescope but - not for the first time -  soon regretted that decision as it's a bit like going out without your pants on. However, despite some distance between us I recorded 8 Whinchat seen as 2x4 juveniles between the top and the middle cattle grid where I saw 4 Stonechat being a female and three juveniles, I counted at least 38 Meadow Pipits, 14 Wheatear, a Willow Warbler, and a male Reed Bunting, a Kestrel was the only raptor seen on the visit here today, and 3 Red Grouse were seen enroute in the Burn Moor area. In the plantation at Greet Bridge, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, and a brief male Siskin. Butterflies on the walk down were disappointing with just 6 Small Heath, a Large Skipper, and a Small Tortoiseshell seen. Dropping down from Merrybent Hill c.20 Goldfinch were of note, and a call in at Marshaw on the way home produced excellent views of a Peregrine Falcon in the midst of a hunt which put all the Swallows in the area on full alert and screeching loudly. 

And finally....

    

I photographed this daytime moth at Greet Bridge but amongst many other things 'I am not' one of them is a 'moth-man' so ID would be much appreciated.

A couple of notes.

1) It's nineteen months since I saw a Grey Wagtail at Conder Green.

2) The duck in yesterdays post is - with my thanks to a man I know very well on the Fylde - a domestic variety of Mallard known as a Cayuga. If you so wish you can learn more about this bird on Wikipedia but I can tell you it's claim to fame is far from glamorous.


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Better Late Than Never.


Masked Shrike. Colin Bushell.

But first a smart pic of a smart bird the Masked Shrike, just one of a truly splendid list of birds seen by Colin Bushell on his trip in April this year to Lesvos which I strongly recommend you take a look at and see the list for yourself HERE ....Thanks for the photograph Colin it is excellent and so is the bird. 

Afraid it was a late start for me again today, so if it's not the weather restricting me it's other tasks to perform which have to take precedence over birding....don't they? So by the time I arrived at Conder Green it was 12.45pm but as I got on to the platform overlooking Conder Pool it was a pretty depressing sight made even more so by the sky which was by now looking quite threatening and the dark grey clouds were reflecting in the water making things look even more gloomy,  for once I was able - and willing - to record every single bird on the pool, being a Grey Heron, two adult and two - now quiet large - young Oystercatchers, and the Great-crested Grebe still here which JB assures me has been present on Conder Pool before but rarely just the same I would add, hard to believe but these were the only birds to be seen on the pool. But things looked up as I did the circuit and a Ruff was in the creeks, also 9 Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, 5 Dunlin, c.40 Redshank, and 2 Goosander, 2 Wigeon were noted on the marsh, and a singing male Reed Bunting.

On the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock an adult Mediterranean Gull with moulting hood was distant, and a calling Whimbrel went over south, I noted wader numbers on the increase again including probably up to 3,000 Lapwing. Cockersands was hard work today though I note a good report from here yesterday which can been seen on the Fylde Bird Club website HERE but I could only muster a Little Egret and few small birds, with c. 30 Tree Sparrow, 16 Linnet, 5 Goldfinch, and a male Reed Bunting, a Stoat put in an appearance and I saw my very first Red Admiral of the year and about 6 Small Tortoiseshell.

And finally....


A few of these ducks were on a small pool at Holker Hall yesterday where I had volunteered to drive some elderly people from a local Care Home for their day out, I haven't the faintest idea what they are and I don't recall ever seeing the species before....the ducks I mean!! 

  

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Another Futile Attempt.


Room Car with a view. Pete Woodruff.

I made another of those futile attempts to get some birding in again today, it lasted no more than a half hour and ended up with my spending another of those 'wasted life' periods whilst I sat in the car in the hope things would improve weather-wise but didn't and I could only tolerate a view through my windscreen like the one above across the canal basin at Glasson Dock for a very limited time before throwing the towel in.

I actually made a special visit to Conder Green on Saturday evening specifically to see if the Little Ringed Plover was still sitting it out, it was but by then I was convinced that the next visit I made - if the weather didn't improve - this bird was on a loser, as far as I can see today's visit proved this to be correct. Also on Saturday evening I counted 12 Common Sandpiper ten of which were stood together in a group on the edge of Conder Pool, also Spotted Redshank, and a Sparrowhawk over the pool spooked everything in sight. At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary a brief visit in fading light, 3 Little Egret and up to 65 House Sparrow were in and out of the bushes by the bowling green.

Little Ringed Plover. Peter Guy.

OK, so Birds2blog has already had one or two LRP pics posted over the past few months but this one is appropriate if only to accompany my personal disappointment in the Conder Pool bird which I've watched sat tight on a nest on several visits over more than three weeks only to end up with failure due to appalling wet weather.

Notes on the half hour today at Conder Green before getting my spirits quite dampend included, 7 Common Sandpiper, 2 Goldfinch, a Dunnock, and on Conder Pool up to 350 Lapwing, and something of a surprise in a Great-crested Grebe being most unusual on here, in fact I'll need to do a search to see if this is a first or not. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock an adult Arctic Tern and 4 Goosander were noted. I also noted a build up of waders returning here but by now my telescope needed a wiper blade sweeping over it to keep off the rain and I submitted to defeat by the elements.

 
Yellow-legged Gull. Stuart Piner.

I had a text from a 'top of the range' birder yesterday to tell me of an adult Yellow-legged Gull on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock which I hoped to find today but in the short time spent there I didn't....Birding's great isn't it but would be greater if the bloody weather would buck up.

I thought this post should be edited on account of a Marsh Dagger moth at Pagham Harbour LNR today. Believed to be extinct in Britain and not recorded here since 1933 except a single migrant in East Sussex in 1996. 



  

Monday, 19 July 2010

Stupid Printer....


For starters and as a light relief from birds and birding of which I had neither again today - and this is getting serious - I'm posting this positively brilliant video of the cat trying to get the printer to function. It doesn't matter whether or not you like cats, I do and think they are quite amazing creatures but you have to know them and have one to understand a statement that cats are amazing....see what you think and make your own mind up whether this video is funny - hilarious even - or not, I hope its not the latter as you may have problems you haven't recognised if it is. But please resist the temptation to tell me cats are responsible for the killing of thousands of birds....won't you!


Brian Rafferty published an excellent post on his blog on Sunday, excellent for more than one reason but in particular because I'm pleased he found the Spotted Flycatcher obviously breeding and feeding young at Christ Church near Abbeystead as the photograph below illustrates. JB/BT and I had found the Spotted Flycatcher back here again this year a while back and a visit here recently had the bonus of Redstarts with juveniles too, so a good result at this location in 2010 especially the flycatcher, being a bird in serious decline it is always an excellent reward to find this species.

Spotted Flycatcher. Brian Rafferty.

Christ Church is a classic example of an English country church, and I would suggest has one of the best views from its churchyard anywhere in the north of England if not in the UK. Please take a look at BR's website HERE and see for yourself the landscape photograph in his post which shows the impressive Hawthornthwaite Fell which is just a fraction of the full panoramic view afforded from this splendid location.

And finally.... 

Turnstones. Geoff Gradwell. 

Looking in on Geoff Gradwells website HERE I found this brilliant photograph of one of my favourite waders the Turnstone which he took at Knott End. Thanks for this Geoff it is much appreciated, and also to Brian for the Spotted Flycatcher. 


Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Swift.

Swift Simon Hawtin

I became even more interested than I already was in the Swift when I saw the report of almost 21,000 past Spurn on 4 July, another interesting record I found is that of an early bird seen in Skelmersdale on 1 April 2004.

As elsewhere in Britain there is very little detailed knowledge of the Swift in our area particularly of populations, 10 years ago the breeding population was estimated at 2,000 pairs with urban regeneration and housing modernisation continuing to take its toll, another example is the demolition of the East Lancashire cotton mills in the last quarter of the 20th century.

The Swift has some interesting and often mind boggling behaviour not least being that it spends a large amount of its life on the wing and is unique in this country in that non-breeders don't come to ground during the whole of the summer, and furthermore it is even possible that most Swifts spend the whole winter in Africa south of the Sahara on the wing. Autumn migration from Britain begins soon after young have left the nest, but at the other end of the migration period there is the record of a bird remaining early into November when it then died. After leaving the nest the young receive no parental care and observations have shown that in fact they leave whilst the adults are absent though the adults themselves continue to roost in the nest for up to four days after the young have left. In one interesting case a study found that a young bird which left the nest on 31 July was found dead four days later 1,300km south in Madrid, the same study revealed that the parent birds were still roosting in the nest on the day the young bird had been found in Spain, the study further discovered that this had been the the fastest movement of a fledgling Swift from its nest site.

The Swifts dependence on aerial insects means that in bad weather non-breeders make long movements in Europe and at such times may be quite frequent, and - dependant on the severity of the weather - be for up to 2,000km. However, breeding birds tend to return to the nest at least three times a day even in bad weather conditions.

It is a know fact that the Swift cannot be sexed even in the hand, therefore nothing is known about any differences in timing and extent of migration between the sexes, but suggestions are that the sequence of leaving is failed breeders, followed by breeders, in turn followed by non-breeders.

The species is a hard bird to census and little is known about their status, but some reports indicate a decline not only by the earlier mentioned regeneration and housing modernisation but also that some aerial plankton on which they are dependant may be becoming less plentiful with a study showing that 15 major groups of prey have declined by an average of almost 50% representing serious problems for the Swift especially if the decline continues.

Meanwhile, whilst the weather stays like it is today in our area with persistent rain and being much colder, my personal concerns for the Little Ringed Plovers at Conder Green - which are trying their hardest to start a family - are become increasingly more intense, but it was still on the nest when I especially called there last evening in anything but ideal conditions.  

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Double Trouble!


I have two problems today, in the first place its Saturday and - like it or not - I never get birding on Saturday, and secondly I have little time for blogging. However, I do have time to post three pictures and its always a pleasure to put up some good photographs from good photographers.

Beautiful Golden Y. Katie Fuller. 

All the photographs are of common and widespread species including this smart Beautiful Golden Y moth. I always like to have links to the people who's images I use and Katie can be found HERE where you can see some excellent shots of some moths Katie has been trapping recently along with other subjects in her posts on her website.

Blue Dasher. Paul Baker.

Well, common and widespread or not, this is one I'm not likely ever to see, the stunning male Blue Dasher, and is to be found throughout the US along with....

California Darner. Paul Baker.

The California Darner which is also common and widespread from California north through British Columbia. We don't have dashers and darners in the UK but with some reading up on this particular species I discovered it can be easily confused by the casual eye with the Blue-eyed Darner. Thanks to Katie and Paul for these excellent images they are much appreciated and have helped me to 'fill the gap' once more.

I reckon the Hobby seen this afternoon flying west over Cockerham Marsh as viewed from Bank End, is the very same bird as seen twice by PS on July 2/14 over Pilling Marsh, I also reckon it is reasonable to suggest this bird has been in the area all summer, and more to the point is breeding in the area too.

And finally....If you haven't seen my post of yesterday 'Cuts to come!' please take a look at it and consider signing the letter via the link.     



  

  

Friday, 16 July 2010

Cuts to come!


Lapwing. Brian Rafferty.

Suffering as much as any other farmland breeder - and more than most - the Lapwing may be subject to an even greater threat and decline if government cuts go ahead. Please read on....

No birding today but an excellent opportunity - void of it becoming a political platform - to draw attention to visitors of Birds2blog of the fact that the government of this country are busy sharpening their scissors in order to make cuts to many areas including ones which will affect the future of our wildlife leaving our children and future generations without the benefits and joys of what we have today including mine and your main interest the birds.

Please consider taking a look at the message from the RSPB which explains everything using the link below and signing the petition. At the foot of the first page you see and read you'll see a yellow 'What can I do' box, clicking on the box you will then see another blue box at the top right hand side of the page as a link to ask you to sign the letter.

If you are reading this then I really do appreciate your interest in Birds2blog which I am desperately trying to keep up to date. I hope you will continue to keep looking in and thank you for that, also many thanks to BR for the photograph of the Lapwing. 

The RSPB: Don't cut the countryside!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Part Time Birding!


I was never going to be able to go birding today but circumstances changed and I managed one of those four hour jobs in the afternoon. I know a man who may be able to contradict this but until he does....Conder Pool held another two first records today with....


not one....


not two....


but three Little Egrets, and - in relation to its size as a small reserve - it lived up to its good name by also holding a record 520 Redshank. A Little Ringed Plover is still sat on a nest, but I'm becoming increasingly worried for it not least for the weather we are having at the moment and eggs about to hatch, also 2 Spotted Redshank, and 2 Greenshank, a Kingfisher flew across the pool and was my first sighting since 15 March but hopefully this should be regular now for a few months until the onset of winter when it will be seen less frequently. 


On the circuit I counted at least 13 Common Sandpiper, found another c.125 Redshank and c.135 Dunlin in the Conder channel downstream from the old railway bridge, and 5 Black-tailed Godwit - three in the picture above - were in the creek.

In about an hours time there would be an almost 10m tide at its height and everywhere awash, driving down Jeremy Lane whilst deciding what next I saw the Little Owl on the old farm building as I had done on Tuesday but forgot to record it. I headed to Knott End with a negative result, but on the way had called in at Cockers Dyke to find one of those smart adult Mediterranean Gulls.

Today's moderate photographic efforts during some part time birding are by yours truly. Tomorrow I'm definitely unable to go birding....so life's not all that great after all!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Mainly Pictures.


Collage. Pete Woodruff.

I came across these four pics during one of my regular rummages through things bird connected and put them together the result being to make this pretty awful collage, but never mind they are three interesting birds and a nice summer visitor the Wheatear at the bottom right. I didn't think it important enough to dig out dates but the bird at the top left is the Green-winged Teal which took up residence at Marshside a year or two ago. The bird top right is the Night Heron which did a bit of roaming around some years ago and at one point turned up on the small lake at Lancaster University. And the interesting partial albino bird is an Oystercatcher I found one day at Fluke Hall, I initially saw the bird in flight over the high tide here and for a moment thought I was looking at an immature Little Gull with the birds odd black and white markings and not yet noted the bill, it soon came down in the field where I got this photograph.

Kestrel. Phil Slade.

I'm a sucker for excellent photographs and couldn't resist this brilliant one of the hovering Kestrel from Phil. I'm also always up for plugging a good blog to view and THIS is definitely one.

Marsh Harrier. Gary Jones.

Still the sucker, and here's another one from Gary who recently achieved this excellent image of the juvenile Marsh Harrier on a visit to Leighton Moss, and also....

Tawny Owl. Gary Jones.

....got this one of the Tawny Owl which Gary regarded as a bonus to his visit and he has to be right on that one being an excellent bonus. Please consider giving Gary's website a visit HERE

And finally....I got a text message by a man I know from the Fylde who told me of the return of the Hobby (seen 2 July) at Pilling Marsh this afternoon but unfortunately couldn't respond to the call but consider this....On Friday 9 July a week after Phil's sighting of the Hobby I included in my post the necessity  of a stake out here when I found in excess of 300 Swallows over the field and at rest on the fence posts adjacent to Fluke Hall Wood, I reckon this bird has discovered a food source and probably returns here on a regular basis....Mmmmm!



Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Breakfast in America.


But first Harrisend, but even before that, the tree....


Oak Tree. Pete Woodruff.

I had to take a shot today of this beautiful large English Oak on farmland I'm not about to name, but the reason being not only for the beauty of this tree but the disgusting piles of rubble surrounding it. I just don't think this kind of inconsiderate attitude to our outstanding countryside should go unchecked. One day perhaps someone in authority will come across this sort of abuse and bring the culprit to account....now for some birding.

On Harrisend for three hours this morning with both eyes 'peeled' I found 7 Stonechats being two adult males and five juveniles making the sum total of breeding birds here this summer to two pairs. Well this is upland birding and not really at the heart of it all at that, so other notes were not exactly riveting stuff but I did record, 22 Meadow Pipits, 4 Willow Warblers one of which gave me excellent views with grubs in its bill, 7 Mistle Thrush, a Song Thrush, 8 Blackbirds including a juvenile, singles of Wren and Reed Bunting, and a juvenile Robin, at least 40 Wood Pigeons were unusual here coming up of  the moor in ones and twos all the time I was here. I saw just one Small Heath and maybe 6 Meadow Brown in the three hours on Harrisend.

At Conder Green where by now the weather was threatening to turn nasty but didn't until I'd found 2 Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, at least 15 Common Sandpiper, and a Little Ringed Plover.

I moved on to Glasson Dock where - whilst deciding my next move - I enjoyed a half hour of a recording I made too many years ago to mention....Supertramp 'Paris' a live recording and my personal all time best ever vinyl and more to the point the best ever album of all time by anyone....Breakfast in America, etc, etc, etc, and all this whilst watching eight masters of the air the Swift over the canal basin hawking for insects. The next move was a drive home in the now steady rain.

So there you have it, I started with a beautiful Oak Tree, ended with Supertramp, and some birding in between....isn't life great!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Trio to start and finish.


Tufted Ducks. Pete Woodruff.

This trio came at the start of my short birding period of four hours today and were found on the canal basin at Glasson Dock and were a pleasant surprise. But there was a 'before this' at Conder Green where after some effort both Little Ringed Plovers were found on the pool today with the female keeping things at the right temperature, 2 Spotted Redshank were present in the Conder channel here today along with c.130 Redshank, just 5 Common Sandpiper seen but the tide was well up and presumably causing them to scatter here and there, 3 Dunlin and 16 Lapwing were noted. At Bodie Hill a Peregrine Falcon was on  Glasson Marsh surveying all around before taking off to reveal all here which in fact represented little though at least 12 Eider bobbed up and down on the high tide line.

 
Sand Martins. Pete Woodruff.

I then went to the caravan park end at Cockersands in the hope a few butterflies would be seen along the path towards Bank End but found just 6 Small Tortoiseshell. The surprise here was c.70 Sand Martins on a fence line, a bit of a puzzle as to what they were up to and where they come from ran through my mind, I also noted a singing Whitethroat along here. The trio at the finish of my birding day were at Bank End when sifting through a decent medium size gull roost I eventually ended up with 3 Mediterranean Gulls being two adult and a second summer bird.

As can be seen I was able to practise my photographic skills with the 'not so excellent' results on display above. And finally....

Green Sandpiper. Peter Guy.

One of my favourite waders is the Green Sandpiper, I'll swear these birds can actually smell a human being and take to flight the instant they 'smell you' often before you even see them yourself. Thanks for the photograph Peter....excellent stuff.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

WTP On Tour....


Short-eared Owl. Geoff Gradwell.

....but first, an excellent image of the Short-eared Owl and my way of thanking Geoff for allowing me to use his photograph on Birds2blog and becoming another photographic contact for me. Geoff hasn't been blogging long and your support would be most welcome HERE ....Thanks for the photograph Geoff. 

There's currently a White-tailed Plover on tour in this country and in 2007 there was another tour of the same species when a one was found at Caerlaverock in Dumfries and Galloway on 6 June 2007, then four days later at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve in Lancashire on 10 June. The next sighting of a WTP is three years later in May 2010 when another is found at Seaforth on Merseyside, then two months later and four days ago on Rainham Marshes in London on 7 July, the bird then decides to make a move and is found two days later at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire on 9 July and 'blow me down' the bird is on the move again and now is present at Dungeness in Kent. A bird in County Durham in May 1984 was regarded as 'conceivably' the same one in Shropshire later the same month.

The first record of a WTP concerned a bird in Warwickshire in July 1975 and was then a totally unexpected addition to the British List. However, records show that there had been eight other sightings in Europe during the same year of 1975 including two birds in Austria. This movement appears to be linked to a severe drought in southern Kazakhstan - one of the birds breeding regions as well as in Iraq - in 1974-5. At the time of the 1975 individual the record seemed to have been a one-off occurrence, but surprisingly there have been more subsequent records including this up to date bird in Kent.

Nearer to home - well actually outside mine in Bowerham, Lancaster - 40 House Sparrows is an unprecedented record for me from our kitchen window yesterday Saturday 10 July.