BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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ISLAND MERE LEIGHTON MOSS RSPB. PETE WOODRUFF.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

More Good Wishes!


To be honest this year has ended as a crap one for me. I've not had a days birding since my last one on 14 October and I won't get out - with the exception of at least a couple of 'escape days' which I'm looking forward to but are a long time coming - for several weeks yet....trust me I know what I'm talking about.

However, a bird like the Kentish Plover at Cockersands on Tuesday 3 May isn't likely to ever be forgotten and I'll need to do a search to nudge my memory on all the other birds found/seen in 2011 of which there are several, American Golden Plover and Lesser Yellowlegs have already sprung to mind. So all in all 2011 was about as opposite to 'crap' as is possible to be and good birding days were as endless as any other year for me.

So to add a bit of colour and interest to the blog on the last day of this year 2011, I'd like to take this opportunity to share and showcase six photographs which have blown my socks off and hopefully will yours. They have been randomly chosen by yours truly and in no way are to be seen as a selective bunch to be set apart from the many excellent/brilliant/amazing pics I find on other birders/photographers websites, all good friends of mine many of whom I have personally met and some I've had many an hours first rate birding with at equally first rate locations and all of who have given me the necessary permission to post their images on Birdsblog.

Cuckoo.

Actually - with the exception of the last photograph - they are in bird name alphabetical order, and all resist the temptation to repeatedly use words like stunning/brilliant/excellent/amazing. The picture of the Cuckoo is by Paul Foster who did well to capture this bird on the wing, not all that easy to find these days let alone achieve an image as good as this.

Great White Egret.

The 'Great' one as Reculver Birder Marc Heath called it when he visited Oare Marshes in Kent recently....a close encounter with the Great White Egret.

Herring Gull.

The Herring Gull doing what it does best which is to 'down' large sizes of food source in one gulp - and shown to good effect - by David Cookson ....impressive stuff by DC.

Little Owl.

The Little Owl giving its usual 'oh no not him again pointing his camera at me'. A nice one of this appropriately named bird by Brian Rafferty 

White-whiskered Puffbird.

This White-whiskered Puffbird was just one of many 'gems' for Colin Bushell when he visited Colombia recently.

Meerkats. 

And finally....the 'non bird' image of the Meerkats is from Gary Jones a very cool pic indeed.

Common Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper. David Cookson.

I see with interest the/a Common Sandpiper has been reported a couple of times recently at Conder Green again, if this is 'the' wintering bird then its been hiding from all comers for several weeks now.


If you're looking to while away some time you could do much worse than visit any one of the above to view some excellent photography, read some interesting accounts of birding days, and much more. Meanwhile....A HAPPY NEW YEAR and GOOD BIRDING and many thanks for 'sticking' with Birds2blog to see if and when it comes back to life. I'm still getting new first time visitors, like the average of 14 over the last 30 days including 20 yesterday....who'd a thunk it!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

With Best Wishes.


By way of a change from the birds, I've been looking back on 2011 with regard to butterflies and have discovered how the hot dry spring and the warmest autumn on record had many species appearing much earlier and much later than in a typical year with some on the wing from early March to December.

Black Hairstreak. Steven Cheshire. 

The endangered Black Hairstreak was recorded this spring in May, a month ahead of the norm for the species.... 

Lulworth Skipper. Copyright Steven Cheshire.

....and the Lulworth Skipper - which is restricted to the south in Dorset - was also seen on the wing several weeks earlier than is usual, as was the Pearl-bordered Fritillary.

Grizzled Skipper. Copyright Steven Cheshire.

And my personal favourite of the three is the Grizzled Skipper - a little beauty - also emerged weeks ahead of the normal date in the warm spring weather. Red Admirals were still being recorded on the wing in the mid-December run-up to Christmas, and a rare Marsh Fritillary was seen in mid-September almost two months after the butterfly should have disappeared for the year.

The warm autumn weather also saw a large influx of migrant moths from Southern Europe with species such as the Crimson Speckled and the Vestal being seen into October. Other moths - including one with the bizarre name for December of Spring Usher - have been recorded regularly since November, months earlier than you would expect to have them appear, and the Humming-bird Hawk Moth is thought to have had its best ever year in the UK with in excess of 9,000 records submitted beating the previous one of 6,500 in 2006....intriguing stuff! 

Painted Lady. Copyright Steven Cheshire.


On a personal note void of a records search I rate my self lucky to recall finding one Painted Lady this summer on 7 July at Cockersands and don't remember seeing more than a couple of records from other observers in our area in the entire year. Thanks to Steven Cheshire for four excellent butterfly images.




Well....I still can't get to see these views of Conder Green. These were taken at high tide one day during the freeze of last year as seen from the viewing platform at Conder Pool, a couple of photo efforts by yours truly. But don't worry, I know all about the influx of large numbers of White-Fronted Geese into the UK and a good many more Bean Geese than is the norm, and the comings and goings of all the rare and scarce birds both nationally and locally like the....

Glossy Ibis. Colin Bushell 

Glossy Ibis at Leighton Moss above - thanks for the image CB, much appreciated - and the Glaucous Gull, Snow Geese, Snow Buntings, Shore Larks, and Great White Egret to mention but a few.

Greater Yellowlegs. Gary Jenkinson

And the Greater Yellowlegs which GJ saw in Northhumberland last month is almost certainly the very same bird now present in the Highlands of Scotland, its wintering grounds being in the southern coastal areas of the USA. It's interesting that given both the Lesser Yellowlegs and Greater Yellowlegs  are long distance migrants the number of records in the UK are something in the order of up to 300 of the LY yet little more than c.30 of the GY. Incidentally, the first record for the Greater Yellowlegs in Britain was of a bird at Tresco on the Isles of Scilly in September 1906, and the Lesser Yellowlegs 52 years earlier in Nottinghamshire in 1854. Thanks for the image Gary, much appreciated.

Thanks for the comments in 'At it again!' they are much appreciated, and....I'd like to wish everyone who supports/visits Birds2blog and reads this post despite the continuing attempts to keep it afloat until normal service is resumed....A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS and many hours of excellent birding in 2012....I'm sure I will....eventually!

And finally....I'd like to pass on another Christmas Wish sent to me by one of my ardent supporters and good friend who - like so many others - obviously knows me well....

Sunday, 4 December 2011

At it again!


Updating that is....to keep the blog breathing, with only a little advance in the change of circumstances which - as you will already know if you follow Birds2blog - has brought my birding life to a grinding halt for the time being and also reduced the blog to a skeleton.

If your in the camp that gets fed up of hearing me going on about 'shooting birds for fun' or 'slaughtering them as pests' then perhaps you'd better move on. If you're staying there's some brilliant photographs and a little info on some of the birds which have recently advanced my passion for them a little further.  

The Blue-winged Teal breeds over much of North America and being a long distance migrant and 'summer duck' is very much the equivalent of the Garganey. The pattern of appearances in the British Isles is complicated by escapes, but a ringing recovery from New Brunswick in 1971 in Suffolk proved conclusive  that there are genuine vagrants, this individual was ringed as a juvenile in Canada. But there's a sting in the tail of this little piece about the species in that I recently read someone had cause to make the comment that it was a worry when people with guns can't identify birds. Sadly it looks like someone in Ireland lived up to this worry when a Blue-winged Teal was shot on 10 November at Upper Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh.

I throw my chances of the popular vote to the wind as I have no desire to gain popularity when it comes to the shooting fraternity, therefore I'm always ready to oppose and 'shout my mouth off' about those who shoot birds for fun, but this time I'll resist the temptation to launch into a vitriolic attack on them. Incidentally, there's a petition regarding the fight against raptor persecution and those who slaughter them as pests which I was going to put on Birds2blog but find it's on other blogs and websites for you to sign. There's a link to the petition and a small taste of discussion on the subject HERE 

On a lighter note there's a nice little video of the Blue-winged Teal HERE

Of course any post on Birds2blog wouldn't be complete without at least one or two excellent photographs so try these....

Buzzard. Gary Jones

The Buzzard was taken on one of Gary's many visits to the Lakes where he does some of his mountaineering and where others fear to tread judging by the dramatic photography he achieves whilst up there....visit his website and see for yourself....there's a good example of his latest 'adventure' in Wales HERE

Merlin. Paul Foster

My most favourite bird of prey the Merlin, taken by Paul on a Hebrides adventure he had earlier this year....please take a look at his blog.

Eastern Black Redstart. Marc Heath

Marc recently encountered this Eastern Black Redstart at Margate in Kent, the bird represents the first confirmed record of this form in Britain. Below is a video of another one recently on Holy Island, Northumberland.



Desert Wheatear. Mike Watson

Here's another 'goodie' to have turned up in the country this autumn, the smart little male Desert Wheatear seen and photographed by Mike on his visit to Bempton Cliffs on Yorkshires east coast in November. Interesting that the species was once classed as a member of the Thrush family but is now more generally considered to be an Old World Flycatcher. The first Lancashire record of the species was of one found 20 years ago at Rossall Point, Fleetwood in November 1991. The first for Britain was 111 years earlier at Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland in November 1880. There was an interesting Desert Wheatear trapped at Landguard, Suffolk, in October 1987 which subsequently moved overnight c.270 miles south-west to Devon. This bird clearly illustrated that what might appear to be unrelated vagrants may involve the same birds moving around the country and appears to confirm the suspicion that autumn vagrants arriving on the east coast tend to filter south-westwards. It is also an indication of the kind of distances many migrants may fly in one night. 


Laughing Falcon. Colin Bushell

And another little beauty, this one seen by Colin on his visit to Colombia. The Laughing Falcon is also called the Snake Hawk, erroneously since its not a hawk at all, though it is a specialist snake eater. 


The video's good....though you do need your speakers plugged in to get the full effect and hear the bird laughing.


Thanks to Garry, Mark, Paul, Mike, and Colin for these brilliant images, and many thanks to all those visitors to Birds2blog - old and new - who still look in despite the 'bare bones' about it at the moment....I really appreciate you. Also a special thanks to all those who took time to comment on 'Closing Down' and later on 'Delighted with my failure'....these were some welcome comments which I noted and much appreciated.

There's a lot going on in the birding world both here and afar but didn't want to 'overload' the post....perhaps later.

I'D SOONER BE REPORTING ON THE BIRDS I'VE ENCOUNTERED!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Delighted with my failure!


Black Redstart. Marc Heath

Well its a bit odd being delighted with anything which turns out to be a failure in life, but I'm a little more than delighted on this occasion in that at least I failed to close down Birds2blog which I'm updating to give it the breath of life it needs to keep it ticking over whilst not quite closing it down after all. However things have changed little and the prospects of my doing any birding still remains pretty remote. That said, I reckon its going to be essential in order to save my sanity that I set up a 'great escape' for at least one day as soon as possible, someone - it'll be me sooner or later - has to do some upland wanderings to find out if there are any Stonechats anywhere out there/up there ready to face the worst of the winter weather what ever that might be, and are any of them going to spend the winter months on the coast in our area.

It was good to see three Spotted Redshank reported at Conder Green on Sunday 6 November, also I note the number of Little Grebe on Conder Pool has increased to ten, but I also note no mention recently of the wintering Common Sandpiper nor any Greenshanks here


Another reason for bursting back on the scene is that minus the break of one month Birds2blog is 3 years old tomorrow November 15 2008, and I reckon it was going to be a great pity for me not to have celebrated this if only for my own benefit. So, here I am wishing my own blog a Very Happy Birthday....three years.... who'da thunk it!


So I decided to take the time and effort to update the sidebar on the blog, put up a new and brilliant header in the form of a stunning little gem of a male Stonechat with thanks to Simon Hawtin.

Long-eared Owl. Christian Thompson

Christian Thompson made a comment in 'Closing Down' expressing an ambition to have one of his photographs published on Birds2blog - I'm honoured - and I reckon this one of the in flight Long-eared Owl is a good introduction to that ambition....Thanks Christian.

Black-goggled Tanager. Colin Bushell

And also to showcase five more images that can only be described as excellent with thanks to Marc, David, Brian, Christian, and Colin whose photograph above shows a bird most visitors to Birds2blog will never see in a lifetime but which he saw in Brazil during a visit there in September.

And finally....

I'd really like to publicly thank the sender of the e-mail who told me four weeks ago that I shouldn't and couldn't pack in my birding because....'I needed the birds more than they needed me'....just about said it all I thought, though I did have to 'pack in' my birding and ease down - maybe not quite close down - on my blogging for a while yet I'm afraid....very afraid.

What next....The Great Escape....watch this space!

Meanwhile, you may like to try your ID skills on the excellent Phillip Tomkinson photograph below...don't worry nobody will ever know if you couldn't clinch it!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Closing Down....

....with no sale I'm afraid....nothing to sell anyway!

This is going to be brief.

Having many visitors to Birds2blog which have built up over nearly three years - and lots of them on a daily basis - I reckon its only fair to make a blogging announcement that I'm 'closing down'. More to the point and a much more seriously drastic move on my part is that I'm taking a step out of birding altogether for a while....probably a long while.  The world wide web is by far too big a place to offer reasons, in any case it's all very personal and I'm not sharing any anyway. 

OK....now I realise nobody's life is going to be changed by all this, I'm just another birder who decided to have a go at keeping a blog and....surprise....surprise, I nearly made it to the three year birthday, who'da thought.

Nobody has got into and enjoyed birding more than me, the list of achievements is by far too long to put up here, but I did find one or two of my own 'goodies' along the way, got involved with a nest box scheme which is attracting Pied Flycatchers to an area where they were absent, but the list goes on. On the subject of PF's I found a 'first' breeding site this very year in the Trough of Bowland and eventually observed an adult feeding one of the young, not an easy event to catch up with I can assure you, I also established over a year or two that the Spotted Flycatcher is to be found in greater number in the same area of the Trough of Bowland than anywhere else in the LDBWS recording area....like I said the list is just too long to go on.

I also made very good friends with some very good birders who know how and where to look for birds, and have the knowledge to ID what they found when they did so, I maintained a respect and admired these people who know what real birding is about and who subscribed greatly to my learning curve.

A pity really as I have a library full of brilliant images of birds, collected from people who have kindly given me the permission and privilege of posting their work on Birds2blog for the pleasure of us all to see. I was going to put a couple of final ones in this post but decided that it would have looked like favouritism directed to just one of the many brilliant birder/photographers I've come to know over the years....so no pics.

I could go on, but I did say this was 'going to be brief'....I'D SOONER BE BIRDING !

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Friday Sortie.


Sparrowhawk. Warren Baker

With JB/BT yesterday we saw 3 Sparrowhawks with one over the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock being mobbed by a couple of Black-headed Gulls, one on Gulf Lane gliding below a hedge-line above a ditch, and another being mobbed by c.50 Meadow Pipits over Broadfleet, Pilling.

The day started by standing at the gate overlooking Aldcliffe Marsh, a Greenshank seen, Little Egret, and c.600 'geese' were estimated as 350 Canada Geese and 250 Greylag. At Conder Green stood on the old railway bridge I observed a personal first regarding numbers when a wisp of 35 Snipe flew off the marsh before soon returning back on to the banks of the River Lune. Seven Goosander were noted on the River Conder, and on Conder Pool 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 7 Little Grebe, and 32 Tufted Duck probably displaced from the canal basin at Glasson Dock. On the Lune Estuary I noted a Spotted Redshank, estimates of up to 5,000 Lapwing, 2,500 Golden Plover, 250 Redshank, 300 Curlew, and 150 Bar-tailed Godwit.

Off Bodie Hill another c.2,500 Lapwing, c.250 Golden Plover, and a Little Egret, 450 Wigeon were on the river. Driving not much more than a half mile from Bodie Hill to Jeremy Lane up to 20 Magpies were of note in this short distance. At Cockersands where I walked the headland from the lighthouse to the caravan park to meet up again with JB/BT, 5 Wheatear were seen and 22 Eider were off the abbey.  

Little Owls. Marc Heath

A detour along Gulf Lane gave us 2 Golden Plover looking quite lost stood in the centre of a large field of short grass, but we failed to find the resident Little Owls here. The photograph above of the two in Kent is my kind of picture in that it illustrates the birds in their natural surroundings....great stuff Marc.

Little Owl. Mike Watson

In this photograph the Little Owl shows how adept it is at catching insects like this unfortunate cricket....another great picture Mike.

On Pilling Marsh - from where we had seen large numbers flying inland as we drove towards here - I estimated at least 2,000 Pink-footed Geese still on the marsh when we arrived, 3 Little Egret were also seen. At Fluke Hall another Little Egret and a Wheatear seen.  

And finally....



I want to share these two photographs with you. They were taken yesterday on the shore at Fluke Hall and are two more of my - maybe soon to become famous - 'Human Remains' pictures illustrating the kind of people with who we have no choice but to share this fragile planet of ours.

Thanks to WB for the Sparrowhawk, and to MH/MW for the Little Owl photographs. As with all photographs on Birds2blog....EXCELLENT.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Doing it again!

A re-run of Tuesday, plus a trip 'down the road'....and a couple of  'Cookies Feeders'.

Swallows. David Cookson.

The first of which is a brilliant photograph of the young Swallow being fed by the parent bird and reminder that I saw a late one this afternoon at Cockersands. The second 'feeder pic' bears no relationship to today's birding but is another DC picture with the brilliant tag.

Great-spotted Woodpecker. David Cookson. 

The young GSW being fed by the parent bird, with thanks to DC for these two photographs. If it's excellent photographs you're after there's loads of 'em HERE   

I first checked out Conder Pool this morning but could only find 6 Little Grebe and nothing else of note. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, a Curlew Sandpiper was distant by the Conder Estuary, 3 Spotted Redshank, an adult and 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull, 4 Goosander and 8 Snipe were of note, and an increase in numbers of estimated 2,500 Golden Plover, and 150 Bar-tailed Godwit. From Jeremy Lane, a lengthy sift through another field full of several hundred Black-headed Gulls - and a farmer in a tractor pulling a slurry tank - were accompanied by 2 adult Mediterranean Gulls.

At Cockersands a Dark-bellied Brent Goose was off Plover Scar - which itself was disappointingly void of birds - was initially in the company of 9 Eider but took off to fly south, a Rock Pipit also soon took off west and high out to sea before doing a u-turn to fly high inland north east. Also of note, 4 Wheatear, a 'few' uncounted Tree Sparrow, just 8 Linnet in the set -aside with a single Greenfinch, and a lone Swallow heading south.

On Pilling Marsh c.4,500 Pink-footed Geese were accompanied by at least 7 Barnacle Geese, frustratingly distant with PFG with neck collars seen. A smart little female/juvenile Merlin moved from place to place on the marsh showing its characteristic threatening glare and bobbing head. At Fluke Hall I saw 2 Wheatear, 3 Little Egret, and another 30 Pink-footed Geese joined several hundred others flying inland off the marsh. On the day I counted 14 Red Admiral with probably at least the same number seen but unidentified at a distance.

And finally....











Yesterday this adult pale morph Pomerine Skua was 'hanging around' at Fleetwood Golf Course before being relocated on Cleveleys Beach. By all accounts it was an approachable individual on the beach. I have been given permission by the author to post these photograhs.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Moth Migration.


Crimson Speckled. Copyright John Wilson.

Following a recent spell of September warm weather, hundreds of rare moths have turned up in the UK resulting in the best migration for years, the largest influx of all has been that of the Flame Brocade which have flocked here in greater numbers than any for the past 130 years and experts believe it has now formed a colony at a site in the south of England. This moth is normally found in France and Spain, and there are usually only single figures each autumn in the UK but the discovery of the brilliant purplish-brown moth that has a distinct white wing flash has led to the suspicion that a colony is a possibility. The moth was resident in Sussex for at least 50 years from about the mid-19th century but then became a scarce migrant but has been making attempts to re-colonise probably as a result of more favourable weather conditions through climate change.

Vestal. Copyright Helen Bantock.  

Other moths drawn by the late summer weather have been the Death's-head Hawk-moth the largest moth to appear in Britain and has a wing span of 12 to 13cm, which has a skull like pattern on the thorax and has been seen in Dorset and Devon.  The beautiful Crimson Speckled pictured at the top, and the delicate Vestal moth above have also been seen in good numbers on the southwest and southeast coast and also in Gwynedd, both of these are normally found in the Mediterranean. The extremely rare tropical species Spoladea recurvalis has been recorded in the south, on the Isle of Man, in Ireland, and very close to 'home' in Cumbria.

Despite these excellent records from afar, it has been a relatively poor year for some of our rare native moth species, having struggled as a result of the record breaking dry spring.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Early Birds....


....well, early'ish, with one or two other interesting birds found. And a couple of excellent photographs if its plumage detail you're after.

Turnstone. Brian Rafferty.

One of my favourite waders the Turnstone showing some excellent plumage detail. At Cockersand today I counted with great difficulty amongst the stones on Plover Scar - try it sometime - at least 40 Turnstones. I was pushed for time today and noted nothing else of any significance on the scar other than a solitary Grey Plover with 13 Eider off here, but I did note 4 Wheatear along the headland which should be thinking of reading the script by now.

The circuit at Cockersands was rewarded by c.450 Wigeon at the caravan park end with 32 Pink-footed Geese over going south. From the road I counted at least 45 Tree Sparrow minus one taken out by a Sparrowhawk....no garden bird atrocities being committed by this female then. In a field containing an estimate of 3,500 Black-headed Gulls, an adult Mediterranean Gull, a Ruff, a solitary Black-tailed Godwit, and c.120 Curlew. Forty 'finches' in the set-aside were predominantly Linnet with only about 4 Greenfinch.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, a Curlew Sandpiper, 4 Spotted Redshank, and an adult Mediterranean Gull. I had little time left for any waders assessments but reckon c.650 Golden Plover are still present here. Three Goldeneye on Conder Pool surprised me being a little early in my records, though I'm sure not the earliest ever in the recording area, I counted 8 Little Grebe again on the pool today.

Dunlin. Brian Rafferty.

The Dunlin image also shows some good plumage detail, useful for the study of. With many thanks for todays photographs to Brian Rafferty 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Red-backed Shrike.


Red-backed Shrike. Marc Heath.

The Red-backed Shrike (RBS) once extinct in the UK has bred for the second year in succession on Dartmoor in Devon. Sadly there is a negative side to these brilliant events in that a 24 hour watch was needed to be set up to guard against egg thieves which still roam around the world. But hey....two breeding successes this year of these 'butcher' birds fledged a total of seven young and a hope now exists that the RBS will recolonise parts of the country once again.  

Red-backed Shrike. Marc Heath.

The RBS earned the tag of  'butcher bird' because of their habit of impaling some of their prey on thorns and wire fences as a larder for later eating. They are a small bird - not much bigger than a Bullfinch - and are accomplished hunters prone to catching small birds as well as small insects, lizard, mice, and vole. They winter in east Africa to move north to breed in Europe. The UK population declined in the 1930's, and it last bred in Devon in 1970, it was eventually lost as a breeder in this country in the 1990's. Egg collecting - illegal since the 1950's - played its part in accelerating that decline and remains a real threat to this day obviously including these breeding records in Devon, hence the massive 24 hour protection they needed and were given by the volunteers on Dartmoor....a big up to all volunteers in Devon regarding the RBS's in 2010 and 2011.

By the early 1950's Clifford Oakes recorded the RBS as 'formerly a regular nester', in fact to read Mitchell's earlier accounts of the species is like something out of another world, there appears no doubt that the species was quite numerous in the first half of the 19th century and beyond. Mitchell goes on to record ample evidence that it was a regular breeder and quotes Knott End - which is a few miles from my home in Lancaster - amongst other locations where it bred regularly. However, by the closing years of the 19th century the breeding sites had been forsaken and the species had become almost extinct even as a passage bird. Over a period of almost 30 years since 1909 Oakes mentioned only two records of the RBS in Lancashire, the last was of a bird reported near Chat Moss - now in Greater Manchester - in July 1938.

On a personal level the only RBS I ever caught up with was a 1st winter bird at/around Rossall School on the Fylde which I saw on Thursday 18 September 2008.

Thanks to 'Reculver Birder' Marc Heath for the excellent photographs of the juvenile Red-backed Shrike at Herne Bay in Kent recently.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Round the bay and back for tea!


Curlews. Pete Woodruff.

With JB/BT the visit to Aldcliffe paid off today with the reward of an adult Mediterranean Gull seen below Heaton Marsh at a location known by the 'Aldcliffe Brigade' as Gull Bank. Also noted here as viewed from the gate at Railway Crossing Lane was a - unsurprising these days - Little Egret, and estimates of 600 Lapwing and 220 Greylag. If its greater detail and more birds you're after, then JB has them as always on the LDBWS website HERE

At Conder Green the creeks were illuminated today with the presence of 2 Spotted Redshank and 'the' Common Sandpiper, 8 Little Grebe were on Conder Pool - looks more like a lake at the moment - and I noted 4 Swallows battling the wind south, 3 Red Admiral can't have felt anything like healthy today either.

At Glasson Dock an adult Mediterranean Gull wasn't all that easy at the distance, waders of note were c.650 Golden Plover, 220 Redshank, 160 Bar-tailed Godwit was a build up on recent numbers, 30 Dunlin, the Knot went uncounted when the entire bird population of the estuary birds went into the air en masse, and c.80 Pink-footed Geese went over south. On Gulf Lane the Little Owl was in its tree today following several visits void of seeing it.    

Brutus and friends. Pete Woodruff. 

From the A588 opposite Sand Villa 6 Whooper Swans were with a 'few' Mute Swans, and c.320 Curlew were at rest in a field off Backsands Lane where I took two of my 'classic photographs' of Brutus and his mates above, and the Curlews at the top of the page.

Barnacle Geese. Colin Bushell  

On Pilling Marsh by something of a coincidence I found the same number of 7 Barnacle Geese as CB had photographed on the Solway recently, they were with c.550 Pink-footed Geese, also noted was a Little Egret and a Peregrine Falcon. Three Swallows were flying around the Golden Ball in Pilling.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Sandhill Crane.


This post is in particular favour of visitors from the USA - of which I've currently had 728 - from where this bird 'possibly' originates though proof cannot ever be one hundred percent, but if it does then this is an epic journey for such a large bird and a remarkable achievement if it really has crossed the Atlantic.

Sandhill Crane. Mike Watson.

A Sandhill Crane is currently at Boyton Marshes in Suffolk. This same bird was first seen at Loch of Strathbeg in Aberdeenshire, Scotland on 22 September and stayed there for four days, it was then seen in in flight over Northhumberland, North Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, Norfolk, finally arriving in Suffolk on Sunday 2 October where it still remains.

 The Sandhill Crane (SC) breeds from north-east Siberia across North America and south into the prairies and the western Great Lakes. It winters in the southern USA and Mexico. The first Irish record of a SC is of a bird shot in Co Cork in 1905 and was the first to be reported from the Western Palearctic, but because it was thought to have escaped captivity wasn't admitted on to the Irish List until 1961, the combined British and Irish List added the bird 10 years later in 1971.

The first record for Britain was of a SC in 1981 Shetland, Fair Isle. But another 10 years later in 1991 was of a SC with a remarkable tale attached to it. This bird flew in off the sea near Sumburgh, Shetland in September and fed on potatoes nearby until it left 10 days later. It turned up in the Netherlands the following day having flown a little in excess of 500 miles, it left the Netherlands location 2 days later never to be seen again. 

Sandhill Crane. Mike Watson.

Thanks to Mike Watson who recently made the journey to Suffolk to see this Sandhill Crane and came home with an enjoyable account of his experience and some excellent images of the bird which I recommend you take a look at HERE  



Tuesday, 4 October 2011

....and another sting in the tail!


Common Sandpiper. David Cookson  

It was good that JB could get out with me today and making a start at Conder Green we soon found the Common Sandpiper in the creeks, surely now going to winter here. Conder Pool will now have be renamed Conder Lake which is what it now resembles until the level drops to create some edges to become more attractive to the birds. I'm going to become the self appointed management of this place if someone doesn't make a move before me by the start of 2012. I could only count 6 Little Grebe today along with 6 Teal, otherwise Conder Green is generally quiet of late.

On the Lune Estuary the green ringed adult Mediterranean Gull seen for the third time today but still not in range to take any readings. Also noted from an unimpressive wader presence, estimates of 2,000 Lapwing, 120 Redshank, a poor show of  just 25 Golden Plover, and 14 Bar-tailed Godwit.

Little Stint. Dave Appleton 

At Cockersands from the lighthouse car park, 2 Little Stint, 3 Grey Plover, c.30 Dunlin, 4 Turnstone, and c.120 Redshank, 13 Greenfinch were around the set-aside field which apparently isn't a set-aside field at all. On Hillam Lane a single Whooper Swan was with c.30 Mute Swans, and on Pilling Marsh a Barnacle Goose was again with c.2,000 Pink-footed Geese with 5 Little Egret noted.

Grey Plover. John Bateman.

The sting in the tail....

The Lesser Yellowlegs - present in the area for its tenth day - apparently put in a brief appearence in the creeks at Conder Green at 2.20pm today....well thats not on is it!