Saturday, 11 September 2010

A Gull, a Woodpecker, and a Bunting.

Yellow-legged Gull. Chris Batty.

Not remotely connected to the post but another of those excellent pics of the Yellow-legged Gull, this one a 1st winter bird to help you on your way to identifying this difficult subject of immature gulls. This individual appears on occasions in the Knott End/Cockers Dyke area if you're that way anytime....Thanks for this Chris, a great picture of a great bird.

I note with interest good numbers of Wryneck and Lapland Buntings into the country at the moment with one individual Wryneck having been at Cley in Norfolk for most - if not all - of the week in the area around the East Bank which brings me to recommend you getting your hands on a copy of the book above, about an amazing man and an equally amazing place, both of which I couldn't agree more, the East Bank has some good memories for me. The books author Moss Taylor - who was a GP - came under Richard. A. Richardson's spell on his early birding trips to Cley and in time became a member of the medical team who nursed Richard in Kelling Hospital near Holt in August 1977 during the last few weeks of his life.

So some brief notes on these two 'desirable birds to see' species....

The Wryneck.

Its hard to believe the Wryneck - a rare passage migrant from continental Europe -  was once a common breeder in Lancashire but even as far back as the 1850's the bird was already in decline, and by the beginning of the 20th century it was scarce if not rare, a nest found at Winmarleigh in 1883 is the last 'published' breeding record in Lancashire. I once read of a Wryneck turning up in a garage basement in 1973, an extreme example of a species regarded to be likely to 'turn up almost anywhere' though they do have a strong affinity to coastal watch-points with up to five at Heysham being a good example of this. I reckon Cockersands to be as good a place as any to search for the Wryneck and is the very location for a record of the species nearly 15 years ago on 19 October 1995.

The Lapland Bunting.

The Lapland Bunting is an uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor from Fennoscandia - and possibly from Greenland - is also currently appearing in the country in notable large numbers, in terms of 'locally' I have seen a report today of one bird on the sea wall at Hesketh Out Marsh. However, this area is no stranger to the Lapland Bunting and nearby Crossens held a flock of 31 birds in January 1980, and again nearby six were at Marshside in 1986, all these three areas are excellent coastal birding hot-spots. Cockersands also comes into the reckoning with this species as with the Wryneck and wintering birds have been recorded in the past on the saltmarshes and coastal grasslands of coastal Lancashire and North Merseyside, so I'll certainly be doing some 'circuits' here if and when I can in the coming days/weeks.


Warren Baker said...

You noted good numbers of Lapland Bunting in 1980 and 1986. Both had quite cold winters, an influx of laplands again this year , could it be another cold winter ?

Pete Woodruff said...

Interesting point - and one I didn't realise - about the cold winters of 1980/86 Warren....time will tell.

Anonymous said...

I would suggest that a majority of records in this area in recent years have been from Greenland, they have coincided with the western Irish etc birds more than the (slightly later) east coast ones.............with some exceptions e.g. the one found in early Nov after easterlies in ?1990whilst seeing if the Heysham Richard's Pipit (which flew south mid-morning) had pitched in along the north Fylde coast

The other point that in this area they appear to be autumn passage migrants which move on, albeit after some lengthy off-passage stays

Best chance is on the vis mig - see posting re-tomorrows NW winds.

Thanks for flagging this species up for people