BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

.

.
CLOUGHA PIKE UNTIL RECENT YEARS THE BOWLAND STRONGHOLD FOR THE STONECHAT. PETE WOODRUFF.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

A Red Herring....

....and a Black bird.

On Friday 12 February my pager alerted me to a 'wholly unconfirmed report' of a Black Woodpecker in Cumbria and the following story eventually emerged which created a much welcome touch of humour into the occasionally too serious business of birding and 'roughly' went like this....A lady was descending the lower slopes of Ling Fell in Cumbria when she noticed a 'woodpecker' on a telegraph pole, there appears to be not too much else mentioned about the sighting though - upon questioning - this woman did state the bird never moved but that when she had done her research into what she had seen she was quite convinced after much study of books that the bird had been a Black Woodpecker. Well skip any other details about this story to move on to the conclusion which is that BT informed of the practice they had undertaken which was to place models of the Great Spotted Woodpecker on telegraph poles in this area to deter the real birds from damaging them....Mmmmm!


A couple of gems from Colin Bushells travels the first of which I would regard as a little gem. This is the Frilled Coquette, the smallest of the Brazilian hummingbirds.

 

....this one could only be regarded as a huge gem and is the Harpy Eagle. This bird is considered to be one of the worlds largest eagles and has a body length of up to 41 inches, a wingspan of 6.5 foot, can weigh up to 20 pounds, and has hind talons up to the size of a Grizzly Bears claws. The Harpy Eagles feed primarily on animals like monkeys, sloths, opposums, and some reptiles and birds. Colin was observing the bird in this image just 'a couple of weeks ago' in Venezuela. Please take a look at Colins website 'Ribble to Amazon!' which you can link to from my sidebar. 

Thanks for the pic's Colin which have gone towards keeping Birds2blog not just alive but interestlingly so  until I can get myself back on the birding road.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Stop The killing.

I really don't want Birds2blog to become a political/petition platform but here's another article all birders, anyone interested in birds, and visitors to my blog should read from the link below.


The RSPB: 200,000 say: Stop killing birds of prey!

Friday, 26 February 2010

Another lethal season looms


Sorry (not really) but we need to take another look at this as I don't think we can ever see enough reminders of this terrible situation in Malta and if I can play a part I'm going to do so on Birds2blog using the link below but be prepared to be shocked at the sight of the poor Hoopoe.

Another lethal season looms

Rain Stopped Play.


Not the most original title but the rain did stop play so lets take a look at a popular bird and a bit of its history.


Well this is one of my pics so definitely not the best in the world of the Little Owl seen one day at Cockersand Abbey Farm and not seen there before or since in my records book.

The Little Owl isn't a native of this country and has been introduced to England on more than one occasion mostly unsuccessfully. Suggestions are that most of today's birds are descendants from the ones brought over from the Netherlands by one Lord Lilford during the 1880-90 to which I am bound to comment....why didn't Lord Lilford leave the poor creatures alone in the Netherlands.

By around the 1950's just about all the areas in the country had been occupied by the Little Owl, though it remains scarce in Scotland and there are only four records from Ireland. There are suggestions that dispersal is modest both in Great Britain and on mainland Europe with very few beyond 40 miles and it seems first-time breeders are usually within a few miles of their birthplace. The lack of records from the Northern Isles supports the sedentary nature of the bird and interestingly there are more records of Scops Owl than Little Owl in Shetland. There are a few recoveries from ringing within Great Britain but none have left here, neither have any overseas birds been recovered within Great Britain.


I'm always excited by the sighting of a Little Owl and this is another of my moderate photographic efforts of the obliging Gulf Lane, Cockerham Moss bird. When I was a delivery driver for a car parts company I spent many hours over the years having my lunch break in company with a bird regularly on a small barn on a back road to Ingleton from Bentham....halcyon days and the perfect position to be in an employment which accommodated to perfection my then growing passion for the birds....and still growing.




Thursday, 25 February 2010

Dull and Grey....


....and not a good day to decide to do 'The Walk' but that's exactly what I did and got quite wet during an hour of rain on an otherwise dull and grey day.


I have no appropriate pics associated with today's birding but an Egyptian Goose is causing quite a stir at the moment, it is now at Cockerham Quarry SD461529 but is of Jeremy Lane fame at its first sighting and the image above is by kind permission of Phil Slade....Thanks Phil.

The leg work started at Skerton Bridge from where I could see 4 Little Grebe upstream towards the weir along with six Goosander, between here and Marsh Point I saw only 3 Goldeneye and checked a few hundred Black-headed Gulls to no avail otherwise. At the point were c.320 Black-tailed Godwit, and on Freeman's Pools the redhead Smew was soon found and I also noted just 2 Gadwall, 2 Goldeneye, 8 Tufted Duck, and a drake Wigeon, a Roe Deer was also seen here. On Aldcliffe Marsh, c.350 Pink-footed Geese and a Little Egret were seen, and a Green Sandpiper was on the flood viewed from Aldcliffe Hall Lane. At Stodday 52 Redshank had found a good food supply in the horse paddock by the water works.

Now I'm becoming depressed as the rain - which had been threatening all the time - finally set in and continued all the way to Conder Green....I'm mentally at my worst when out walking in the rain....deep breath, and count to fifty! 

On the entire route I saw just 4 Blackbirds in stark contrast to the 43 recorded on 31 December, also noted 2 Song Thrush (22 on 31 December) 2 Mistle Thrush, 6 Long-tailed Tits, a Dunnock, a Reed Bunting, and a Treecreeper. With what time I had left at Conder Green before catching the Lancaster bus at Glasson Dock, I noted a Greenshank in the channel, and also 3 Little Grebe. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock I noted a drake Goosander and a Goldeneye.

So five hours after leaving Skerton Bridge......my bus is here!!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

BTG's and a Kestrel.


On Wednesdays these days I only get to take a look at anything of interest in the bird world for a couple of hours along the promenade at Morecambe and today there was at least 560 Black-tailed Godwits off Broadway to note. So my records for the day taking up such a small space on the blog I thought to fill the gap the Kestrel below would be of interest.


Well if you thought this was a Common Kestrel then you're not quite as clever as you think because its an image of the Lesser Kestrel and was taken at Madrigalego in Spain and I'm grateful to Chris Batty for allowing it on to here, another photograph helping to make Birds2blog quite a lot more interesting....Thanks Chris.

Other than the adult male - the ID of which is pretty straightforward - other plumage's are a real nightmare to the extent that a bird in Cornwall in 1979 was eventually abandoned by the BBRC because the evaluation of several conflicting sets of descriptions. I think the image above clearly illustrates the difficulties of ID.

Unless I'm not quite up to date there are seventeen British records of the Lesser Kestrel. The very first record is that of a bird which had been flying around a farm for several days before being shot and subsequently identified as a 2nd year male in November 1867.

This species is an extremely rare vagrant very high on most twitchers 'wanted list' but is now even more less likely to become a 'tick' for these birders owing to a worrying decline in its breeding populations. For example in Spain where this photograph was taken, its decrease is thought by many to be perhaps from over 100,000 pairs to half that number over a ten year period by the 1970's and again perhaps to as low as 4,000 pairs by 1990....and that's dramatic don't you think, and in France from a possible 100 pairs to just 10 pairs in the 1980's makes this story become even more dramatic and worrying.

Well some of the human population of this planet still choose to shoot birds - making them no better than the man in 1867 - which are already under many other threats such as pesticides and habitat loss making them as vulnerable as ever to becoming extinct. How very sad that when we are looking at the picture above it is that of an endangered species. 


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

A Bleak Zero.


Wintering male Stonechat at Cockersands courtesy of Phil Slade.

Always willing to post a Stonechat pic but this isn't just any Stonechat pic this was the only surviving one - since this years return of the  ice-age - in our area and well beyond if the truth be known. You'll note the use of the word 'was' as I now have information on a Stonechat seen at Singleton on 17 February. But one thing for sure I saw not single bird again today in my four hour stint on Clougha/Birk Bank and there's a lot needs to be said about this if only in brief.

 

Bleak and empty up here today but what did I expect, this is Clougha and its February in the coldest winter in years. But the truth is that its the first January and February in more than ten years I've been coming up here and for the second consecutive visit have seen no Stonechats, but again the truth is I didn't really expect to.

In my view based on more than ten years observing and studying the Stonechat especially on Clougha - but elsewhere in many areas too - we are now back to pre 1999 and the upturn in the status of this species which was dramatic at first is now over.

The majority of our Stonechats remain to winter on or near to their breeding territories though some make longer movements within the UK.  A minority migrate to southern Europe and the coastal countries of North Africa, and during the mild winters we have been experiencing the population that remains have had the advantage over the migratory population in that they can commence breeding earlier. However, following this winters severe weather - when lets face it the resident population will no doubt have perished - the migrant population will have to take on the responsibility of getting the species back on track to build up the numbers to reach a situation whereby the sedentary part of the population regains the advantage of being in the position to start their breeding before the migrants return again which is precisely where the Stonechat has been for the past ten years at least until this winter of 2009/10. 

I think speculation was that global warming would allow the sedentary population to increase to such an extent that in the future the European Stonechat may become entirely resident in the UK. I'm no ornithological expert and don't think I need to be to hold the view that this winter has killed off that speculation and set it back at least five years....but what of next winter!

So the rewards for a four hour lonely trundle up Clougha/Birk Bank today were....15 Red Grouse, 2 Buzzard, and at least 80 Lapwings were noted in the fields off Rigg Lane.

   

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Four Hour Slot.


Sandwich Tern courtesy of Brian Rafferty.

Well a Sandwich Tern may seem a little out of season today but in five weeks time you may well be looking at one somewhere in the area.

Today I squeezed in four hours birding starting with a circuit of Conder Green which was all worth while if only for the excellent views of the male Merlin hunting over the marsh, but to be honest the area was pretty quiet with none of the CG specials showing including the Common Sandpiper which has gone missing again and hasn't been seen since 4 February. On Conder Pool I noted 19 Wigeon, 6 Pochard including a female by way of a change, and 75 Tufted Duck. counted no mre than 82 Teal in the channel. Of note on the Lune Estuary, c.2,000 Bar-tailed Godwit, no more than 40 Goldeneye seen today, 4 Bewick's Swans.

Little Egret came out of a ditch again on Jeremy Lane, this bird has take a distinct liking to this area of late. On Moss Lane 19 Whooper Swan counted, and at Cockersands the circuit was quiet but I noted just 8 Eider by the lighthouse, and at the Caravan Park end the male Stonechat, 2 Song Thrush, 3 Greenfinch which has become a scarcity, and on the return via the road many Lapwings are on territory despite the cold weather, and I counted 21 Brown Hare in the best area I know for this creature.


I reckon this is the same Buzzard I saw on a fence post opposite the western end of Gulf Lane off the A588 this afternoon as seen and photographed earlier in the day by Phil Slade another one of those nice friendly Fylde birders I keep bumping into on my rounds....thanks for the pic Phil. I was more than a little disappointed in my visit here if only because I had just 30 minutes to grill up to 10,000 Pink-footed Geese before having to head off back to Lancaster but despite going through them twice as best I could I could find nothing accompanying them, 2 Little Egrets in flight below the embankment brought my short day to a close.

 
Savannah Sparrow courtesy of David Baker in BC Canada.

Paul Baker refers to this bird as the harbinger of spring....felt a long way off again today over here Paul....thanks for the pic David.

Notes.

Apparently the Black-tailed Godwit pictured in the post last Friday 'Good Birds/Poor Pics' was marked in Iceland otherwise no other details but this info is much appreciated and is an encouragement to keep looking.

I have it on good authority that no Stonechats have been seen in any of the areas - and lots of them - checked in Bowland since before Christmas. Well I hope to get up Clougha/Birk Bank tomorrow and to hell with it.....another day talking to myself! 

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Diversion.


Always willing to make a diversion from the birds if I can get a hold of excellent photographs to post like these three I recently acquired.


Not quite a diversion from birds with this first image of the Red-billed Tropicbird over Raso, Cape Verde Islands for which I have to thank Chris Batty for giving me permission to copy. This - and some more excellent images - can currently be seen on the Fylde Bird Club website which can be found here http://www.fyldebirdclub.org/  the photographs are currently linked from their website in the right hand sidebar of the homepage....Thanks Chris.


This stunning landscape is the work of Peter Guy who kindly forwarded me some of his images recently. This one is a truly impressive shot of Ingleborough taken by him on a recent visit to this beautiful and dramatic area of Yorkshire. From a photographic point of view take note of the professional way the two trees have been placed in the composition of this picture. If I know anything at all about photography this qualifies for top marks....Thanks Peter.
      

And its certainly time I showed another one of those amazing Landart creations of Richard Shilling's. This one he calls 'Endless Knot' and he describes it as one of the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism. Richard has an interesting write up about this - and all his other creation's - on his website here http://jrlandart.blogspot.com/ ....Excellent as ever Richard and thank you very much for letting me post this image which is as creative as the art itself.      


  
                                          

Friday, 19 February 2010

Birdwatch - Arctic Tern migration revealed

Bearing in mind my post on 13 February re the Arctic Tern take a look at this in the link below.


Birdwatch - Arctic Tern migration revealed

Good Birds/Poor Pic's.



With JB/BT today 'cos its Friday and there was some good bird's around. Very unusual to have poor pic's on Birds2blog with the excellent contact's I have providing me with equally excellent photograph's, but this is my latest attempt at obtaining a decent pic of the Freeman's Pools redhead Smew which was seen this morning again and which was a little closer to us, also noted on the pools, 8 Gadwall, 2 Goldeneye, and a Little Egret.

At Conder Green I counted 110 Teal in the channels, on Conder Pool I noted a Spotted Redshank, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 20 Wigeon, c.60 Tufted Duck, and 6 Pochard which included a female today by way of a change from the species seen always being drake's. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 3 Bewick's Swans, c.90 Black-tailed Godwit, c.1,700 Bar-tailed Godwit, 115 Golden Plover, and at least 165 Goldeneye. From Bodie Hill, 10 Whooper Swans, 5 Goldeneye, and a Merlin put panic into everything in sight and eventually flew close by us. On Jeremy Lane, 5 Whooper Swans, and c.260 Common Gull were of note. From Moss Lane, 5 Whooper Swans comprised of two adult and three juvenile, and in another field further up Moss Lane with poor views and no access c.6.500 Pink Footed Geese.

  

At Cockersands 17 Black-tailed Godwits included the ringed bird in the poor quality/little value record shot above in which the rings are not readable but be assured were....Orange over Red on both leg's above the tibia. Also noted here, 9 Eider, and a curious little flotilla of tightly grouped birds off Plover Scar consisted of, 8 Shelduck, 8 Mallard, 4 Wigeon, and a drake Pintail....'join the club'. The male Stonechat was again on the tide wrack at the Caravan Park end. 

From Gulf Lane a least 7,000 Pink-footed Geese were in a field in the area behind Sand Villa, and a Little Egret was seen to go into a ditch near Wrampool House. And on Pilling Marsh 96 Whooper Swans counted but distant and partially hidden for 100% accuracy, also 2 Little Egret.

An excellent day on which 116 Whooper Swans and 3 Bewick's Swans were seen along with an absolute minimum total of 13,500/14,000 Pink-footed Geese of which few were given the justified thorough grilling they deserved.




Thursday, 18 February 2010

New Blog Title!


The view to the left and right of the River Conder from the platform overlooking Conder Pool. I can assure you it is well worth a circuit of Conder Green on foot at low tide to check out all the nooks and crannies including the channel downstream from the old railway bridge....recommended birding.  

At this rate the blog will need to be renamed. When I looked out this morning the snow flakes were coming down the size of fifty pence pieces and were still doing so when I decided to take on another non-birding related task after which I'm now sat staring at the dreaded computer screen once again....Oh dear!

But lets cheer up and take a look through last years Portland Bill website to discover in nine days time in 2009 they were looking at the arrival of up to 30 Stonechats and I take note of some very interesting comments made regarding their suspicions about the presence of Continental birds amongst the British breeders - rubicola as opposed to hibernans -  'and a couple of males both looked to be good rubicola candidates as they were conspicuously whiter-bellied and whiter-rumped than hibernans' and other underpart colouration was noted. Unfortunately there's a rather blurred boundary between these forms and so in the 'is it or isn't it' stakes they can't really be elevated above the good candidate level. 

So I'm already looking forward to the beginning of March when I start to look for my first returning Stonechat probably - but not necessarily - at Fluke Hall.

Blue Tit courtesy of Peter Guy.

I came across an interesting behaviour note whilst rummaging through my files, the title was 'Resurrection of an adult Blue Tit' and read something like this....

On 1 February 2005 near Clapham Railway Station I found an adult Blue Tit on its back on a grass verge, for all intents and purposes the bird appeared to me to be dead. However, on taking a closer look I noticed its legs and tail were twitching and thinking a little human intervention may help I slid my hand underneath it to pick it up and hold it cupped in my hands hopefully as an aid to recovery. As I did so it alarmed me by taking to flight for a short distance before colliding with a wall, I now assumed the bird had been stunned when I first found it and as I approached it once more it took to flight again only to collide with the wall a second time. During this time I had seen nor heard any other bird's but from behind me another Blue Tit flew directly towards it and I couldn't help but notice made bodily contact with the bird on the ground and in an instant both flew off together.

It could well be claimed that I had merely witnessed a stunned bird making a rather quick recovery, but the question here was, had the second Blue Tit been observing what was going on before it made what was obviously the determined move to rescue this bird in trouble......another example of bird behavior not seen by me before.    

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

RSPB: It's time for Malta to stop slaughtering Europe's birds

Please take a minute to read this article by clicking on the link below.

Thanks Pete Woodruff.

RSPB: It's time for Malta to stop slaughtering Europe's birds

The Picture Gallery.

Its Wednesday and my birding is restricted to a couple of hours at Morecambe on Wednesday each week at the moment. It was a brilliant day for a check of the birds around the high tide the highlight of which was an adult Mediterranean Gull found off Teal Bay mid afternoon, also probably up to 200 Eider between here and Broadway of which 125 were at the end of the groyne NE of the yacht club slipway with 3 Goldeneye to note. I have it on good and reliable authority of a Green Sandpiper seen from the Lancaster Canal on 11 January c.1.5 miles south of deep cutting bridge on a beck running into the canal.


Brian Rafferty has been out and about with his camera recently which is good news for me and Birds2blog as I can fill my birding gaps with some more excellent photographs the likes of which we see in the one above of the Barn Owl. Photographically I think the composition of this image is spot on with the drooping barbed wire and broken down fence post's with the grasses growing up them to complete the perfect picture....Thanks BR full marks as ever.  


This is another of those Mike Watson's White-tailed Eagle images from his trip to Hungary when he visited the Hortobagy National Park. This bird is something else as is Mikes photograph of it....Thanks MW.

 

And again, another one of those Paul Baker's Ring-billed Gull images in British Columbia, Canada. Some smart gull this one, and some smart image of it too....Thanks PB.


Running up the rear is Colin Bushell's amazing Gretna Green Starling roost which Colin claims is one of the UK's most amazing spectacles and I'm not about to deny that....Thanks CB.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Tricked Out Of It!


To begin with a nice image of a juvenile Cedar Waxwing which has to be credited to Paul Bakers son David over there in British Columbia in Canada....thanks David.

Well the weather tricked and made a complete fool of me today but if it had turned nasty 10 minutes sooner than it did it really wouldn't have happened at all. By the time I got to Conder Green - well where else - there was an unpleasant shower of sleet which over the next 15 minutes or so turned decidedly worse. So here I am sat once more in the car looking like some idiot with nothing better to do until 30 minutes later I decided nothing was going to change and in fact it was worsening with the sky turning blacker by the minute and I did have enough intelligence to work out that the best thing was to return from whence I came and I was back home again an hour after leaving.

So, considering how bleak the weather had been, what were the 'highlight' gains from my birding in January....

Well, I proved that the wisest Stonechat in the country was still at Cockersands at the end of the month feeding on plenty in the tide wrack. The four 'suspect' Snow Geese were still on Aldcliffe Marsh having relocated from Carnforth Marsh and in due course returned there, at one point in the month they were accompanied by a Dark-bellied Brent Goose and other dates 3 Barnacle Geese, I found 2 Green Sandpiper on Freeman's Pools one day. Conder Green continued to host at least one each of wintering Spotted Redshank and Greenshank, and a male Stonechat seen one day here but not since, 24 Twite were north of the picnic area are something of a rarity this winter in the area though I found another four behind the toilet block at Glasson Dock one day and the view of the River Lune from here produced an excellent count of at least 3,000 Bar-tailed Godwits towards the end of the month. The Whooper Swans had by now turned up on Jeremy Lane with the maximum count being six one day and a good count of 105 were on Pilling Marsh with 3 Bewick's Swans which I think were my first of the winter. Talking of maximum counts an amazing at least 300 Mute Swans were seen in field's from Jeremy Lane one day in the month. 

By the end of the month I had found clear evidence that the upland Stonechats were no more at the location's I had visited and further news from a reliable source was that non have been found at other upland sites since the big freeze. I don't think anyone will be too surprised about this since we've had the coldest winter for many years with snow and frost being the cause of very serious problems for the bird's and we will have to see what the spring brings with it. I feel bound to go up Clougha/Birk Bank in this month of February but feel in reality something of a futile exercise having already discovered a complete absence from here, Harrisend and Hawthornthwaite's west and east access point's.

I'm very much looking forward to finding my first Wheatear probably at Cockersands/Fluke Hall from the past experience's of a 'year or two' and the first exciting bird of 2010 in the late winter/early spring and possibly only four weeks away.     



Monday, 15 February 2010

Hard Work!


Thanks to John Bateman - who has been/is out and about once again - who took this picture of the PFG on Moss Lane last Friday. There was at least 4,000 Pink-footed Geese on Jeremy Lane this afternoon with more coming in on occasion's, also a tundra Bean Goose , thanks for this Tom I know you're reading this and it was good to see you and have a chat again today including your kind words about Birds2blog. In the field on the opposite side of the lane were 6 Bewick's Swans and 10 Whooper Swans, these swans keep changing their combination/numbers presumably hidden in dips/behind hedges in the landscape on my previous visit's and those of other birder's. Previous to Jeremy Lane I had been to Conder Green but got a little fed up dodging the shower's but did manage to assess the 140 Goldeneye on the river and 5 Bewick's Swans across on the Colloway Marsh side with 3 Little Egret on the marsh there. Other bird's noted at CG before I really got fed up of the heavy shower's and departed, 3 Little Grebe and c.25 Black-tailed Godwit.

I was running out of time now as I had other commitments today but was able to check out at Cockersands the male Stonechat, c.32 Turnstone, 2 Grey Partridge, and it was good to see at least 450 Golden Plover back in the field's here with c.250 Curlew noted.

I have it on good authority that no Stonechats have been found at more upland location's than the ones I have checked since the 'ice-age' arrived and thankfully has since departed, useful and welcome information if depressing.

A little short on words today but I had just four hours birding in before some business to attend to but did spend quite some time at Conder Green picnic area overlooking the marsh for chance of the American Wigeon still being around, and also a good period grilling the Jeremy Lane PFG.       

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Arctic Tern.



I recently had a reason to look up my Arctic Tern records which reminded me of some of the mind boggling facts - briefly outlined here - surrounding this incredible bird which moves on a gigantic global scale, a 10,000 mile one way journey appears to mean nothing to this truly amazing bird weighing little more than 100g (3.5oz when I last did my exams at school). Another of the many distinction's the Arctic Tern holds is that it experiences more daylight than any other living organism on the planet, just two impressive examples of the capacity of birds.

The distribution of the Arctic Tern means that neither ring-recoveries nor observation's will reveal the full extent of its movements much of which occur in small groups and at high altitude across open oceans. In Britain its breeding stronghold is in Shetland and Orkney and after fledging the main post-breeding movement appears to be similar to that of the adults, southwards along the West African coast. Its not known to what extent the American-breeding Arctic Terns might occur in Britain on passage, Nearctic breeders migrate south along the west coast of Europe, and Siberian breeders may pass Britain as well, at least during the autumn.

There are many gaps in the understanding of the movements of this species and perhaps there are some safeguards for the future of the bird in that its wintering grounds are largely uninhabited and its breeding grounds are sparsely populated, in my view excellent news for any bird species in an age where persecution and wilful disturbance are still alive and thriving in some areas.




Friday, 12 February 2010

Friday Again!


Photography first, and this superb image comes with the title 'Marshaw Beech' and with my many thanks to Peter Guy. I was in this area yesterday but wasn't in possession of this picture then so it is quite appropriate I add it to this post today. When I see this kind of work I find it difficult to believe I gave up my photography to pursue my passion for the birds....but there you go! Thanks again Peter, this is simply stunning.

Well, it's Friday and I was in the company of JB/BT but don't be tempted to compare my records with JB's on the LDBWS website http://www.lancasterbirdwatching.org.uk/ as they come nowhere close to being as comprehensive as his but I'm quite happy to transfer on to Birds2blog what I personally regard  as worthy of note and not as a scientific report. 

At Conder Green the first record I collected was of an excellent 230+ Goldeneye on the River Lune which represents something like 200 more than can be seen anywhere else within the recording area at any one location, also on the river c.2,000 Bar-tailed Godwit. On Conder Pool and in the channel at least 70 Common Gull of note, a Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, and 2 Little Grebe. On Jeremy Lane the same number as on 5 February of  16 Bewick's Swans with 3 Whooper Swans. At Cockersands I noted c.60 Black-tailed Godwit at the lighthouse end, and at the Caravan Park the male Stonechat happily foraging the tide wrack again. Off Moss Lane up to 7,000 Pink-footed Geese were in three fields.

On Pilling Marsh distant and partially hidden - and could only be presumed - up to 95 Whooper Swans and 3 Little Egrets. At the feeding station on Bradshaw Lane - not my most favourite location - 10 Yellowhammer, 10 Corn Bunting, 12 Tree Sparrow, 12 Chaffinch, a Dunnock, 2 Reed Bunting, and 2 Brown Hare. On New Lane c.20 Tree Sparrows  to note.


And me being a succour for good photography here's another Peter Guy gem, this of the River Hodder at Whitewell. I'm just going to have to thank you once more Peter, I know what I'm talking about when it comes to passing judgement on a photograph and this is great composition, stunning and very atmospheric.

   

Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Road To Nowhere....

....Talking Heads and a great track, but it was me on the road to nowhere today I'm afraid.

                            Look at me when I talk to you.                That's better. 

Well there's always room for a little humour isn't there....There was good numbers of these creatures on the uplands I visited today but in the six hours I spent in three areas I found not a single Stonechat, so thanks to the return of the ice-age recently were looking at first records for in excess of ten years since the upturn in the status of this species of no wintering Stonechats in several moorland locations I've been to recently most of which are always reported on here. But at least I added to the bigger picture of the current status of the birds of the area being that records of no birds are of the same importance as records of sightings to achieve a more accurate result.

I last visited Harrisend on 25 January but not easily convinced I decide to go again today but drew a blank on the Stonechats and recorded just 4 Red Grouse, a solitary Wren, a Snipe, and 22 Greylag >NE, surprisingly I also found the flightless Carrion Crow of 26 January again so perhaps one or two dead sheep around.

On Hawthornthwaite where I found six Stonechats two months ago on 10 December....deserted. I saw 2 Raven, 2 Red Grouse, a Snipe, Kestrel, 3 Buzzard soaring together, and 7 Lapwing went over flying purposefully west. I spent two hours on the east side of Hawthornthwaite Fell and saw just two birds in the form of Red Grouse....almost like birding without purpose. 

  

This image even makes the Starling look a smart bird. Taken at Steveston Wharf, BC, Canada with thanks to Paul Baker.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Filling The Gap Again....

....and that doesn't mean punching someone in the mouth, it means I didn't get any birding in again today save seeing a pleasing c.320 Back-tailed Godwits feeding on the beach below the Clock Tower at Morecambe this afternoon. So one or two of the usual excellent pic's I'm fortunate to have access to which is good news for me in situations like this.


Stuart Piner did all the hard work - nothing new there - on this American Wigeon including finding the bird in the first place. I reckon he achieved this image on the River Lune from Conder Green....thanks for letting me have this picture Stuart, excellent birding as ever.
  

The bird with the fancy name is the Black-billed Shrike-tyrant - I must learn more about this creature - and is an image returned from North Peru in 2006 by Colin Bushell....Thanks for this Colin I really like this bird that little bit extra, a sort of Spotted Flycatcher lookalike perhaps slightly bigger and a longer bill....don't you think? 


A superb in flight shot of the Short-eared Owl taken by Mike Watson on Crutchenber Fell in Bowland....


....and yet another superb image of the stag Sika Deer in the Gisburn Forest in Bowland by Mike Watson.

Thanks for these Mike, all three of you have contributed to keeping Birds2blog ticking over until tomorrow when I hope to check out Harrisend and Hawthornthwaite Fell's for Stonechat which will cause me some apprehension given that so far I have found not a single bird in the upland habitat's since the ice-age departed.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Doing the Circuit's.


The Smew redhead was present again this late afternoon when I had decided to give the last two daylight hours to Aldcliffe doing the circuit from Railway Crossing Lane - Freeman's Pools and return via the embankment. As can be seen from the photograph above the bird still hasn't succumbed to having its pic taken and the black marks across my effort are those of branches I had to focus through from the footpath....any excuse is a good excuse! Also noted on the pools, 11 Gadwall, four Shoveler, and 2 Goldeneye. Also noted a Reed Bunting, Little Egret, 18 Moorhen in the same view was the highest count I ever recall of this species in one group feeding within a few metres of each other, a Green Sandpiper was on the flood.  

At Conder Green - which has gained considerable popularity the past couple of days - a few 'AW tickers' were evident and it was unfortunate a single birder who I spoke to referred to three of them as 'unfriendly'....how sad! My birding here today was a bit of a non event I'm afraid but on the circuit I noted 3 Little Grebe, single Grey Plover and Back-tailed Godwit, 62 Wigeon came down on the channel below the railway bridge none of which had any white/green in appropriate places. Conder Pool had the rare distinction of not being worthy of a mention today as did the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock save last Fridays c.2,300 Bar-tailed Godwits still here and of note.

 

I've never understood the meaning of the lower half of this sign on the approach road to the lighthouse parking area, perhaps just a deterrent for putting people off the visit there....in some instances maybe a good idea after all!

Off Plover Scar I noted 6 Eider and at least 1,000 Wigeon. Along the headland I saw a Merlin, Sparrowhawk, a Mistle Thrush, 2 Grey Partridge, and 3 Brown Hare. At the Caravan Park end I noted 2 Meadow Pipits and the male Stonechat could easily have evaded me if I hadn't have decided to head towards Bank End as it had moved several mtrs SE of the Caravan Park. From the road back c.500 Pink-footed Geese were in one of Cockersands Abbey Farm fields, they had tolerated a couple of cars driving past the gate but as soon as they saw me took to the wing and away. When I arrived back at the lighthouse it was at this point I decided on the visit to Aldcliffe which is where this post began.


Ian Tallon sent me this brilliant image if the Great Skua which he took on a trip to Handa Island in Scotland last May....really appreciate this Ian and many thanks for making Birds2blog a lot more interesting in using it.   

Monday, 8 February 2010

Bewick's Swans.


A moderate pic of four Bewick's Swans on Jeremy Lane in March 2004, but as my excuse it is the copy of a print given to me at the time by my good friend and mentor John Leedal (deceased) who wrote the following words expressing his feeling's about this special creature....'Bewick's Swans are beautiful, the knowledge that they share their life between Lancashire and Siberia enhances the wonder'....thanks John, my sentiments too. I've just realised this picture and the comments quoted on the reverse are a repeat on Birds2blog ('The Swans Are Coming' Tuesday 8 Sept 2009) so for those who have already noted and seen this....my apologies.

My best and most exciting observation of the Bewick's Swan - which I doubt will ever be exceeded - was on 5 January 2002 when I saw two bird's on Pilling Sands which had blue neck collars attached. Subsequent research uncovered the birds to have been marked as 807P and 809P on 12 August 1996 in Sedui Nos, Korovinskaya Bay, Russia.

From the date of being marked it is interesting to note that for over three year's these two birds were never reported as being seen together until 21 November 1999 when they were recorded at Welney WWT in Norfolk. Meanwhile, the wanderings of 807P over the three years apart are roughly outlined here....

Netherlands (two sightings) Ribble Estuary, Martin Mere, Marton Mere, Ludham, Norfolk, and Frecleton. Whilst the wanderings of 809P were....Skipsea, N York's, North Slobs Co Wexford, and Nene Washes, Camb's.

When the bird's were eventually seen together at Welney WWT on 21 November 1999 they were subsequently recorded thirteen times over a three year period at the following outline of location's....Martin Mere, Marton Mere, Oude Bildtdijk, Netherlands, Mistertor Carrs, Nott's, Saltcotes, Lytham, Preesall Sands, Hy Fly Hatcheries, Fluke Hall, Lanc's, and Smallwood Hey.

I have made no enquiries about these two birds since 2007 - I probably will do soon - but do know that following the last sighting noted above at Smallwood Hey in Pilling on 29 November 2002 the bird marked 807P had never been seen since unless/until present day enquiries are made to prove otherwise. Meanwhile, 809P was reported seventeen times since 2002 and was back at Wroot in Lincolnshire on 7 January 2007 leaving us to marvel and be truly amazed at the thought of how many thousand miles this bird will have flow throughout its ten and a half year life since being marked in August 1996. 

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Final Snippet's of 2009....

....but first a couple of images from the archives.


One from the archives of Mike Watson who is here http://mikewatsonsdiary.blogspot.com/ as well as permanently in my sidebar.  

I regularly visit his blog and think you should too for some various birding trips both here and abroad with excellent commentary to accompany some equally excellent bird's. This image is of the Pechora Pipit which Mike describes as having made a tortuous journey to reach the location in November 2007 at Goodwick Common in Pembrokeshire....Thanks for this Mike but as well nobody relied on me to identify this smart little pipit.

  

And one from Colin Bushell's archive, this from his visit to Costa Rica in 2006 and is the Black & White Owl. This is another blog I visit regularly as Colin also records his birding trips both here and abroad with excellent images of some exotic birds with good commentary. Please take a look at his blog which can be linked from my sidebar and here http://www.ribbletoamazon.com/.... Thanks for this Colin. 

NOVEMBER.
3rd  Slavonian Grebe Pine Lake.
6th  Twelve Little Grebe was the maximum count on Conder Pool this year.
9th  Stonechat a male at Conder Green and also at Cockersands where I found a 1st winter/female Black Redstart.
17th Four Jack Snipe seen at Conder Green and two adult Mediterranean Gulls found on Preesall Sands.
27th Four adult Snow Geese seen with Greylag Geese on Aldcliffe Marsh were the ex Leighton Moss birds.

DECEMBER.
8th    Adult Mediterranean Gull at Cockers Dyke and one Fluke Hall Lane.
11th  Male and female Stonechat found on Dalton Craggs. 
28th  Male Stonechat at the Caravan Park end at Cockersands, in my opinion was the bird seen at the lighthouse end on 23 November and is still present here today.
31st.  An amazing 22 Song Thrush seen between Stodday and Conder Green from the coastal path.

A quiet month due to birding restrictions because of the snow and the big freeze. 



Friday, 5 February 2010

Even More....



....'A Bit More Like It' today with JB/BT and at least by way of a change we attacked Aldcliffe from a different angle as this time we went via the town route and along the quay. The Smew redhead gave good views on Freeman's Pools but still hasn't succumbed to having its pic taken, also to note on here, 12 Gadwall, and 3 Shoveler. In the area a male Bullfinch, 3 Greenfinch, and 2 Fieldfare were of note.

At Conder Green a Merlin was soon found on the marsh as was a Rock Pipit and 2 Meadow Pipits. In the channels a Grey Plover and Little Grebe, and I let JB do the rest of the counts here today as I found nothing else to add to my records of yesterday. On the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock counts of circa 2,300 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1,875 Lapwing, 100 Dunlin, 50 Golden Plover, and a count of 25 Goldeneye and a Grey Plover. From Bodie Hill another 52 Goldeneye and c.60 Black-tailed Godwit seen. And on Jeremy Lane a count of 16 Bewick's Swans and 4 Whooper Swans was excellent. At Cockersands whilst I walked along the headland from the lighthouse to the Caravan Park I let JB do the record honours once again via the road with BT.

On Pilling Marsh an excellent c.300 Whooper Swans....would be well worth enquiring how many were at Martin Mere at 3.55 this afternoon. And the day ended well with the drive to Fluke Hall rewarded with 2 Ruff in the same field as the Lapwings pictured - in the excuse for a photograph by me - above....nice letterbox format though!



I'd seen this Little Egret yesterday on Jeremy Lane, it had come out of a ditch as it had done for Phil Slade who managed this excellent image of the bird. Please visit his blog here http://anotherbirdblog.blogspot.com/ and also linked from my sidebar for some good photoghraphs and equally good commentary on his birding day's....Thanks for this Phil. 

Little Egrets seen today at....Aldcliffe, Conder Green, Glasson Marsh, Cockersands, and Pilling Marsh.     

Thursday, 4 February 2010

A Bit More Like It.



Well five hours today was a bit more like a day's birding than yesterday's two. The female Scaup were off Broadway yesterday and for the benefit of my US visitors that's Broadway at Morecambe in NW England not New York City.

At Conder Green it was a pleasure to find the wintering Common Sandpiper once again, also a Greenshank was downstream from the railway bridge, 4 Grey Plover today is more than the average on a winters day at CG but there's always at least one each and every year. On Conder Pool 56 Tufted Duck, 11 Wigeon, and 26 Common Gull were all to note. I must make note here that it was a pleasure to see and have a few words with  PS of Fylde Birding fame....they're such a friendly bunch these birders from the south! 

I was a little surprised to find the canal basin at Glasson Dock 60% frozen again yet Conder Pool ice free....Mmmmm! I noted just 15 Tufted Duck and 4 Pochard drakes on here. On the Lune Estuary circa's 1,500 Bar-tailed Godwit and 140 Black-tailed Godwit, up to 90 Goldeneye, c.300 Wigeon, and a Little Grebe, otherwise there was a noticeable virtual absence of any other wader species particularly Golden Plover and Lapwing.

At Cockersands Caravan Park although very mobile I counted at least 6 Rock Pipits and watched something like 300+ Wigeon float by in good view on the incoming tide and of course hoped the AW was going to be with them, several hundred were offshore at considerable distance and in rubbish light, also to note were 12+ Pintail. With rain threatening a brief visit to the lighthouse end didn't allow me to give the area any justice but I did count a nice 37 Turnstones and 4 Red-breasted Mergansers before I swiftly left. 

On a flood in stubble on Fluke Hall Lane I counted a quite amazing at least 260 Whooper Swans and 2 Bewick's Swans. From Fluke Hall slipway I noted circa 45 Grey Plover and 1,500 Dunlin, 25 Pink-footed Geese flew south at a distance accompanied by at least 2 Barnacle Geese. A walk east below the sea defences gave me excellent views of Merlin and Peregrine Falcon both hunting with the usual mass panic of a four figure number of wader's. In the field behind the parking area 250 Pink-footed Geese were accompanied by 22 Stock Doves. Little Egrets were seen today at Jeremy Lane, Cockersands, and two from Fluke Hall Lane.

You can't help but have noticed I've used my usual terminology for the count figures in my post again, circa/up to/at least, one day I'll give an account of my accuracy for counts meanwhile, I'm never able to bring myself to believe in a count of 3,981 Dunlin (for example) by anyone.  

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Spare Time!

Mediterranean Gull off Broadway Morecambe.

If you're going to have a couple of hours to spare at Morecambe and you want to be called a birder then you need to be sure you have some optics on you. I decided to cover as much of the promenade as I could in this two hour spare time and noted the following over the tide and even managing a half decent pic into the bargain.

At Teal Bay I counted at least 125 Black-tailed Godwit on the groyne and 7 Wigeon were of note as they don't appear here in the same numbers as yesteryear. Off Broadway an adult Mediterranean Gull and 2 Scaup female were excellent, also seen from here were at least 12 Great-crested Grebe, and in the area between here and the Town Hall slipway 160 Eider, 7 Goldeneye, and 5 Red-breasted Merganser.


Green-backed Kingfisher. Indonesia 2006.

And a couple of 'Golden Oldie Images' from Mike Watson above, and from Colin Bushell below. Thanks Mike and Colin.

 
 Plumbeous Kite. Peru 2006.

I have it on good and reliable authority that the wintering Common Sandpiper at Conder Green was seen there again on Monday, and 2 Song Thrush are still visiting our humble walled garden in Lancaster, an excellent record I assure you.

I sincerely hope all the visitors to Birds2blog have/are going to Sign The Petition linked from the top of the sidebar in the name of the birds we are all passionate about.