Saturday, 16 October 2010

Piper and Fare!

Purple Sandpiper. David Cookson.

I've seen Purple Sandpiper (PS) at only three locations in Lancashire in my entire birding days and even at these sites have personally never seen more than one/two birds at Heysham Harbour, roosting on the groyne by the Stone Jetty at Morecambe, and at Rossall Point near Fleetwood.. So you've gathered the PS is a rare bird in Lancashire and that's by no means an overstatement, though I am aware of other locations in Lancashire holding past records of the PS but none of which I've visited, for example Lytham/Fairhaven, Blackpool, Freckleton, and Seaforth but I don't pretend to know the situation in 2010 without doing some more reading.

In Oakes days he considered it to be a scarce and infrequent bird on the Lune Estuary and Morecambe Bay. Today one or two can still be seen on occasions at Heysham Harbour and one bird on - or in the area of  - the groyne near the Stone Jetty at Morecambe, but overall recent decades have seen a decline in numbers of the PS.

There's no doubt Heysham Harbour in the past was always the most reliable county site for the PS and records can be found of up to 20 birds recorded in both March 1974 and November 1980 after which time the numbers began to decline, and by 2000 'regular' wintering at Heysham Harbour had ceased. Rossall Point and Knott End at the mouth of the River Wyre were also regular wintering sites but I'm not aware of any birds here since the very late 1990's/2000.

I found both of the only Lancashire ringed PS recoveries, those of a bird ringed at Seaforth in March 1978 and was on Hilbre Island on 22 September of the same year, and that of one ringed at Heysham in April 1977 which returned there every winter until 1989 and actually stayed the summer in 1987.

So....if you're lucky enough to see a PS this winter you may well be the only person to do so if you don't report it!

Fieldfare. David Cookson.    

I've not found my first Fieldfare this year yet but reckon I probably will do this week, possibly along Moss Lane on the way to Cockersands to find a Merlin, Twite, Stonechat perhaps, with the odd Lapland Bunting thrown in for good measure!! 

Thanks for the pic's David....'Coming in to land' and 'An apple a day'....excellent as ever.


Pete Marsh said...

Pete - hopefully not pushing my luck saying this with respect to the coming winter, but 'back from the brink' as a winterer at Heysham with 2-3 in each of last three winters. One very early passage bird already this autumn



Colin Bushell said...

Flock of 25 Fieldfare on the Ribble Marshes today Pete. Where are the Redwings?
Didn't Cockersands used to be THE place to look for Lap' Bunt's on the Fylde?

Pete Woodruff said...

Hopefully not pushing your luck as you say Pete....thanks for looking in.

I saw one briefly many years ago now Colin and my only LB to date with good friend and mentor John Leedal. It was in a Cockersands Abbey Farm field and I had barely enough time to pick out its reddish-brown wing panel before it was gone for good as far as I was concerned.