BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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ISLAND MERE LEIGHTON MOSS RSPB. PETE WOODRUFF.

Monday, 28 February 2011

What Four!


Goldeneye. Brian Rafferty

Monday means four hours birding for me at the moment, well more than a moment as it may take a while for me to get the situation changed by negotiation. So I was at Conder Green this morning where I eventually found 2 Spotted Redshank and 2 Greenshank, followed by a singing male Reed Bunting, 42 Wigeon in the channel below the railway bridge, with another six Wigeon on Conder Pool where a Little Grebe was to note, also 3 Goldeneye and 45 Common Gull. At Glasson Dock on the canal basin I noted 2 Pochard drakes, 3 Goldeneye, 34 Tufted Duck, and a Great-crested Grebe

On the Lune Estuary the most notable thing here was the miserable count of 55 Wigeon, surely a minimum count of mega proportions in winter at this location, also of note were reasonable estimates of 650 Bar-tailed Godwit, 280 Golden Plover, 130 Dunlin, and 4 Goosander. On Colloway Marsh at least 2,000 Pink-footed Geese were distant. On Jeremy Lane, 3 Whooper Swans were an adult and two immature, and the Little Owl on view again.

The visit to Cockersands was almost a non-event but I had to note one of the locations traditional few wintering Grey Plovers, a Dunnock got into my records here, and I could count only 19 Linnet on what I now understand to be a small section of the field under the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme which obviously serves the same purpose as the - mistakenly named by me - set-aside. If you haven't already done so you may be interested in what a contributor to Birdsblog has said in a comment on my post 'Set-aside'. Although I hadn't set out to do a count today I found 14 Brown Hares in the Cockersands area without any difficulty.

And Finally....


It had to be yet another of those 'BR pics with a difference' showing the drake Teal on a virtual vertical take off, and at the top of the post a pair of Goldeneye engaged in display. Thanks for the two pics Brian....both helping Birds2blog to look more interesting.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Revolution and a couple of pics.


R + L. Richard Shilling.

If you've been following Birds2blog for any length of time, you'll know that I don't allow politics or controversy on to the blog....well not too much of it if I can help it though there's lots of both surrounding the birds.

Richard Shillings latest post is really good both with regard to his latest creation and the excellent write up below his illustration above. In any case I've not 'plugged' RS's website recently so he was overdue this one which - as always - I'd recommend you take a look at HERE

And the pics....

Great-crested Grebes. David Cookson

This photograph of the Great-crested Grebes engaged in courtship display is both beautiful and brilliant. Thanks DC....nature at its most breathtaking. 

Otter. Ian Tallon.

And a nice pic of the Otter recently discovered in the Lakes at Ambleside. Thanks for this, I liked it so much that I edited the post to put it up....nice one Ian.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING....and hopefully will be for a couple of hours tomorrow.


Saturday, 26 February 2011

Birds on the brink.


Please take a look at this interesting video on the Sociable Lapwing. It's four minutes long and mostly talk but I enjoyed what I heard and I think you will too.



This video also highlights some tracking studies being undertaken on the Sociable Lapwing. The species is one of around 200 critically endangered birds throughout the world. Fascinating stuff which we should all take an interest in albeit some methods in the high tech 21st century may have some of us wondering if we really should be interfering with nature to this extent.




If you use the link in my sidebar 'BirdLife International' you'll find plenty of interest with much more reading on the Sociable Lapwing including a record count for the country of at least 90 Sociable Lapwings found at Salalah in Oman on 25 December 2010, plus all manner of bird related things some subjects of which make for 'hard to take' reading. 

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....but won't be until Monday at the earliest.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Set-aside.

A few brief notes about the Linnet and how they - and many other farmland species - could be helped but don't seem to be. 

Linnets. John Bateman.

The Linnet - a widespread though declining species in Great Britain - is referred to in our area as fairly common but scarce in winter. In Oakes day in Lancashire he considered it to be a common and widespread resident, particularly abundant on the coastal plains both north and south of the Ribble. Today there are many aspects of the status of the Linnet which remain unclear including the breeding status since the 1970's. The bird is recorded in most of  GB but not in the Highlands of Scotland, Shetland, and large parts of the Hebrides. Many Linnets remain around the breeding sites throughout the winter, whilst others undertake extensive movements to winter as far south as Gibraltar.

The Linnet is a bird with the need  for shrubby vegetation to provide safe communal roosting sites and for seeds which can be collected either in low-growing shrubs, herbaceous vegetation, or on the ground. The dependence of the Linnet on seeds has left them vulnerable to the effects of intensive agricultural intensification. But there is a great deal of confusion in the reasons behind the decline of the Linnet population and one of many suggestions is that hedgerow management - how tidy they all are when trimmed down to size - could play a large part in that nests are much less concealed and therefore more prone to predation.

Set-aside at Cockersands. Pete Woodruff. 

One thing for sure is that the almost tiny set-aside at Cockersands developed last summer - when I took the photograph above - has proved beyond doubt the importance of this kind of exercise. This small area of winter seed was initially taken up by Greenfinch and Linnet in mid October 2010 and a count of in excess of 100 birds was made by me on 15 November since which at least 70 Linnets have remained to this day whilst curiously the Greenfinch deserted the area completely.

So, can we have some more set-aside please, more to the point....why haven't we!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Two ones and a two!


Red-throated Pipit. Phil Slade   

This RTP is currently in my sidebar where it doesn't get the justice it deserves neither for the bird or the photograph. It's another of PS's fresh from Egypt, a smart bird and thanks Phil....I gave Conder Green an hour followed by the same at Glasson Dock, followed by a couple along the promenade at Morecambe from Teal Bay to the Stone Jetty.

Conder Green remains quiet again today although three of the 'specials' showed well with 2 Spotted Redshank and a Greenhank in the creeks, also noted were c.120 Teal and the traditional Grey Plover. On Conder Pool - which is now a lake following the recent 10m+ tides - just 4 Goldeneye of note, from here I saw c.250 Pink-footed Geese over Jeremy Lane. The Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock produced nothing to add to my sightings on Tuesday but I noted at least 420 Golden Plover, 300 Dunlin, 350 Common Gull, 2 Goldeneye, and 3 Goosander.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Pete Woodruff.

Well you can tell by the quality its one of my photographic achievements of the seven 'Lesser Yellowlegs' on the groyne at the Stone Jetty this afternoon, and between here and Teal Bay I noted, 32 Eider, 21 Goldeneye, 9 Great-crested Grebe, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, and 3 Scaup one a drake.  

So when I look at the results from some serious five hours birding its not all that impressive if your out to 'collect some targets' and birds to make you jump up and down with glee and the need to 'get the news out', but thats not the be all and end all of my birding, and Morecambe Bay is never going to be the birding hotspot of the UK, so I'll settle for the achievements of what I saw which are all recorded here.   

Crocus. Warren Baker

ITS SPRING!!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Pics2blog....

But first another interesting  - if sad and tragic - read about the ever suffering Hen Harrier

Kestrel Young. Phil Slade

I came across - well searched for them actually - some more excellent photographs amongst which I found these two young little beauties which will one day become....

Kestrel. Phil Slade

Two smart little raptors like this male Kestrel.

Sparrowhawk. Warren Baker

Now this bird with the staring eyes you wouldn't want staring at you if you was a small bird, was the very same individual photographed a few days later in the garden of a birder in Kent - whose website I follow daily - and which was observed to take out another bird regular to the feeders in the same garden which was a....

Sparrowhawk/Great-spotted Woodpecker. Warren Baker

Great-spotted Woodpecker....Not a nice sight but nature at its rawest and the price to pay by the bird for visiting the feeder, and the price to pay by us for putting out the feeders. 

And a couple of 'gulls' I'm not likely to misidentify if/when I come across them....

Iceland Gull. Colin Bushell.

Yet another smart bird, an adult Iceland Gull on the Isle of Islay where Colin visited this very month. Thanks for this Colin....nice one.

And finally....

Slender-billed Gull. Phil Slade

I think I'm going to know this bird if I ever find one. I missed a Slender-billed Gull in Norfolk for one day on 5 May 2000, I arrived at Cley the following day. Another one of PS's Egypt specials on his recent visit there....Excellent photographs as ever Phil and many thanks.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Persistence.


Snow Bunting. Pete Woodruff.

A bit of persistence in birding nearly always pays off and a bit of it did do today at Cockersands where I located the 1st winter male Snow Bunting again, pity it had its back to me for the pic before flying off.

Rock Pipit. Geoff Gradwell 

Also 5 Rock Pipits two of which accompanied the Snow Bunting on the inland edge of Plover Scar. Other birds of note, 28 Turnstone, 5 Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Goldeneye, 3 Eider, 12 Blackbirds in the horse paddock at Bank Houses, 4 Whooper Swans were seen from the headland in a field some distance inland. A Redshank 'screaming' as it flew past me had a Peregrine Falcon in pursuit and luckily got away with its life on this occasion. At least 70 Linnet were at the set-aside again.

On Jeremy Lane I could only find 2 Whooper Swans today an adult and immature, the Little Owl was perched quietly on one of the beams in the old farm building. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock, 8 Goldeneye and 2 Pochard drakes were of note. On the Lune Estuary I noted estimates of 220 Black-tailed Godwit, 50 Bar-tailed Godwit, and 200 Golden Plover, 3 Goosander, and 4 Goldeneye were also of note.

At Conder Green a crawl round the circuit revealed absolutely zero of note save a Spotted Redshank in the creeks, and on Conder Pool 5 Goldeneye, just 2 Wigeon drakes, 10 Tufted Duck, and 2 Canada Geese

And finally....


A nice little pic of the nice little Twite on the railings at Knott End. I know you will view the blog sooner or later Geoff and it was good to see you this afternoon to put a face to the name....Hope you like the pics and many thanks for them.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Crossbills at Helsington Barrows.


Crossbill. Simon Hawtin

In the late-spring to mid-summer period of 1997 there was an exceptional influx of Crossbills in the North West Regions of Wales/Cheshire/Lancashire/Cumbria and including the Isle of Man, and a total of 1,340 birds were seen at 43 different sites. During this period some long staying Crossbills - 50 on one visit  made - were at Helsington Barrows near Kendal in Cumbria and John Leedal and I visited the area on a few occasions. John took several photographs over the visits and some of the results developed into something of much interest to us. Eventually I was in touch with an authority and made some comments in an initial letter which read something like....

'Through his photographs John Leedal and I have realised the presence of a male individual which displays it's odd distinctly yellowish feathers. In one picture this bird is perched next to a female Crossbill which gives the opportunity to compare and appreciate the greyish-green upperparts of this male, but the main features noted were the distinct yellow crown and mantle, the vent was also distinctly yellow and notably lacking in notches'.

Although 1st winter males are variable in plumage detail this Crossbill was in due course featured in an annual report in which it was referred to as a possible xanthachroistic male seen on five visits to Helsington Barrows showing yellow feathering around the body, with some hint of red, with the exception of the mantle, back and upperwings which are coloured as female.  

Over the years I've come to appreciate some adult males can resemble females as opposed to being mainly reddish, whilst others appear distinctly orange in tone. Even 14 years on this Crossbill at Helsington Barrows in 1997 remains intriguing to me.

Many thanks for the pic Simon....long time no see.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....and hopefully will tomorrow at least for a couple of hours.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Running Late!


I was 'railroaded' into attending a family birthday party last night....managed to keep my 'pop' intake to an absolute minimum and kept my mouth firmly shut all evening on the politics of the day. But enough of this rubbish, my post is a day late.

Ruff. John Bateman.

With JB/BT yesterday we first paid a visit to Conder Green where the 10m tide was quickly submerging the entire area, but we noted 4 Little Grebe in the channel and Conder Pool holding just 4 Wigeon, 16 Black-headed Gull - they're brown-headed actually - and 19 Common Gull.

Away from here we pulled in off the A588 at Sand Villa where I counted at least seventy 'swans' - more distant than they had been when I called here on Tuesday - and found 19 Bewick's Swan's here again and at least 51 Whooper Swans. At Knott End c.70 Twite were very mobile off the esplanade. At Cockers Dyke c.45 Grey Plover and 650 Dunlin were of note. Off Backsands Lane 2 Ruff  - thanks for the picture John - appeared to be the two seen by me on Tuesday when one was here and the other off Fluke Hall Lane. On Pilling Marsh, more distant 'swans' were 15 Whooper Swans and a minimum of 4,000 Knot were spectacularly swirling around. 

Little Owl. David Cookson

On Gulf Lane 2 Little Owl seen today presumably a pair looking to the breeding season, also at least 4,500 Pink-footed Geese seen in fields here. Thanks for the pic DC.

Linnet. Ian Tallon. 

A brief look in at Cockesands gave c.70 Linnet at the set-aside, and on Jeremy Lane 3 Whooper Swans included the staying immature here. Thanks for the pic IT.

And finally....

Nuthatch. Brian Rafferty 

I was tempted yet again to show BR's excellent photographs of the Nuthatch including the brilliant one about to catch the airborne seed....Great stuff BR and thanks a bundle.

Some notes.    

The Slaty-backed Gull is still putting in appearances here and there and is/was at Pitsea Landfill Site in Essex. The Rufous Turtle Dove of the form orientalis is still at Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire....collecting the cash at £5 per person for a five minute gaze at the bird!

And I hear the planned Badger cull has been put on hold on the basis that fewer TB cases in cattle have been found in a recent study of the problem. As you were Mr and Mrs Badger....getting to live another day!

Now I'm off to make arrangements for a Siberian Rubythroat to visit my garden for a couple of weeks at £10 a time through the kitchen window!!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The climbdown....


....and some old records of interest.

The government have done a u-turn on the 'woodlands and forests issue' and there's nothing more needs to be said about that except....Alleluia. Lets hope the paperwork re the proposed sell off has been put down the toilet where it should have been. But first the traditional pic followed by another two excellent ones I couldn't resist....again!

Pintails. Brian Rafferty 

Another one of those 'pics with a difference' with thanks to BR. The drake shows off well the origins of its name. 

For some reason I couldn't summon up any enthusiasm for birding today, this is a worry and maybe perhaps I should consider psychiatric help. So I spent a positively idle morning raking through the 'old stuff' again with some interesting reminders including some which help to form my opinion about the old Dockacres Gravel Pits mentioned in yesterdays post when I hinted the preservation of an excellent wildlife reserve should have been the road taken instead of the plans to turn it into a fishing complex....Balls!

So I put a mere six Dockacres records up first from the dozens assembled over the years.

Red-crested Pochard 17 December 1994
Ruff 20 birds seen together 21 September 1994
Lesser Scaup 30 December 1994 
Snow Goose 4 March 1995
Yellow-legged Gull 20 March 1995
Pied-billed Grebe 28 May 1997

Red-breasted Merganser 50 seen together off Sandylands at Morecambe 21 January 1992....WOW!
Black Tern 40 together on Eric Morecambe flood 14 May 1992....WOW!
Great-crested Grebe 120 seen off Stone Jetty Morecambe 14 November 1992....WOW!
Smew drake on the River Lune off Golden Ball 21 December 1992 
Smew. Drake I found on Blea Tarn Reservoir 5 March 1993
Little Bittern Leighton Moss 30 April 1993
Curlew Sandpiper. 12 came down together in a fog on to the Allen Pool at Leighton Moss 29 August 1993
Little Bunting Fleetwood 16 January 1994....yes I do 'twitch' from time to time!
Kentish Plover Teal Bay 19 November 1994
Black Stork Quernmore 24 April 1995

And finally....

Water Rail. Cliff Raby  

One of the best Water Rail images I ever saw....a photographic opportunity well taken.

Snow Bunting. Ian Tallon.

Another photograph of the elusive Snow Bunting recently of Cockersands fame....Thanks for the pics CR/IT.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Smew....


....and some pics.

Smew. Cliff Raby

It was always good to find the returning drake Smew on the old Dockacres Gravel Pits in the 1990's and although I'm not making accurate claims with dates here I recall my visiting one day in November to find it had done just that. Unfortunately this is all a thing of the past not least because the DGP's are - and have been for some years - now developed into a fishing lake, something which should never have happened in my opinion, but we'll leave the politics there for now. The bird is now regarded to be nationally in decline and in our recording area sightings are certainly few.

Smew. Pete Woodruff.

In 2009 just one bird was at Leighton Moss for two days in February, and in 2010 I recall only seeing one record on Freeman's Pools for a period, and the picture above is of this 'redhead' individual.

The Smew is a relatively short distance migrant with a breeding range extending from N.Sweden and Finland through Siberia to Kamchatka. The majority of the breeding population is to be found predominantly in European Russia with an estimated up to 15,000 pairs. N.W.Europe is thought to hold a wintering population of 15,000 pairs with up to 10,000 of these in the Netherlands. Only small numbers reach Britain during the winter, most of which occur in Southeast England and East Anglia, the bird is scarce in Wales and Scotland, and very scarce in Ireland. Adult male Smews are far outnumbered by female and 1st winter birds known as 'redheads' which make up more than 70% of all records.

And finally....

Greenfinch. David Cookson 

I can't resist this image of the Greenfinch, a bird seriously declined over the past couple of years. One day I'm going to 'dig out' my record to give a precise date of c.200 seen in the Silverdale area with my old friend and mentor John Leedal probably something like 25 years ago. Today you can claim an excellent record if you find a double figure flock.

Brambling. David Cookson

Nor could I resisit this image of the Brambling, a winter visitor to our area in variable numbers. Thanks for these DC, and to CR for his photograph of the smart drake Smew at the top of this post. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Can't bird from a car!

Well you can't bird from a car but in fact I found some decent birds today from one. But first, here's a little beauty from Egypt....

Greater Sand Plover. Phil Slade

A smart little wader photographed by PS who thought he'd go there to help rid the country of its leader but found he wasn't required so had a holiday instead. 

Conder Green remains quiet but 2 Spotted Redshank, and 4 Little Grebe were in the channel and 5 Goldeneye on Conder Pool, a Kingfisher was a pleasant surprise flying off down the channel which has produced the Common Sandpiper recently. The first Kingfisher since 'the big freeze' and makes you wonder how these birds cope and survive in such conditions, remembering they have the need to fish in still - or at least quiet running - clear waters....amazing!

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock offered nothing to add to yesterdays birds save a larger number of 'gulls' amongst which I found a smart adult Mediterranean Gull. On Jeremy Lane 3 Whooper Swans were with c.24 Mute Swans. From here the rest of my birding for today was indeed done from a car and seeing a large group of 'swans' from the A588 opposite Sand Villa I pulled in to a gateway to find 19 Bewick's Swans and 8 Whooper Swans, an excellent record for the former.

Pilling Marsh was pretty well deserted but I did see a Little Egret distantly in flight. From Backsands Lane a Ruff was with a miserable count of 9 Golden Plover and a 'good number' of Lapwing. From Fluke Hall Lane another Ruff found in the stubble field currently in excellent condition....well, excellent for birds. At Fluke Hall my day ended nicely with a male Stonechat for company through the windscreen whilst I had a 'cuppa'. 

And finally....

Striated Heron. Phil Slade

Another Egypt special with thanks to PS for allowing them on to Birds2blog.

Monday, 14 February 2011

T for two!


The titles get worse.

I had just two hours to give to my birding today - isn't life exciting at times - and managed to give CG and GD as good a going over as possible in the time allotted. But to add a little colour and interest to the blog I first have to post a pic....


And I'm fortunate to have access to many excellent ones like this female Pintail showing some brilliant plumage detail.

Well the visit to Conder Green got off to a sluggish start when I had to sit out a heavy shower on my arrival with thoughts of 'Oh no not again' going through my head, but it cleared and the first bird found was last Thursdays male Stonechat, soon followed by the Common Sandpiper which - if you'd really like to see this bird - you'll need to look around for it as it gets about some, my last three visits have found it in the channel as you approach the right hand bend by the Caravan Park. The Conder channels were again void of any waders and in fact the circuit was void of anything of note. Conder Pool held 3 Goldeneye and 12 Wigeon to note. From here I saw c.250 Pink-footed Geese in the air over Jeremy Lane.  

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock I first checked the small group of 'swans' which turned out to hold 2 Bewick's Swans, a Spotted Redshank was soon found and the other 'estimated' wader counts went.... 5,000 Lapwings which I saw on Tuesday 8 February, 650 Redshank, 350 Golden Plover, 265 Dunlin, 245 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Goldeneye, 2 Little Grebe, and 3 Goosander.

And another pic....

Shoveler. Brian Rafferty

The drake Shoveler also shows some excellent plumage detail and I'm grateful once again to BR for allowing the photographs on Birds2blog.

MEGA NEWS.

A Rufous Turtle Dove (form orientalis) has been found today at Chipping Norton - it's been here before - in Oxfordshire. The bird is apparently in the garden at an address I don't think I'm entitled to publish here, but the instructions are not to park at the address but in the town centre and walk to it, you're allowed 5 minutes for viewing at this location at the cost of £5 per person and a queuing system is in operation, and if you go to see the bird on Wednesday and Thursday you'll be out of luck as there will be no access....Mmmmm!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Great Auk.


The Great Auk is shown in the brilliant artwork of Thorburn, centre bottom in the plate below. 

Auks. Archibald Thorburn.

The Great Auk was a flightless North Atlantic sea bird, ancient remains of which have been found to prove it occurred  in the North Atlantic and Northern Britain for a considerable period of time. The bones of three adult birds were found below Viking level at the Jarlshof settlement, Mainland Shetland. In 1549 it was mentioned as being found on the Western Isles, and 240 years later in 1789 a Great Auk was said to have visited St Kilda. Bones found in old sea caves at Whitburn proved that it frequented the British coast, but by the mid 19th century it was on the verge of extinction which eventually came about through the activities of human hunting and persecution....The story of its last sighting gave me a distinct feeling of nausea.


Five men  - which I can only describe as idiots - came across a sleeping Great Auk on Stack-an-Armin, St Kilda in July c.1840. One of these men  - who were completely immersed in the beliefs and superstitions of the time - grabbed the bird by the neck and proceeded to confine the creature in a *bothy for three days. The bird was suspected of being a master of wind and weather and was blamed for causing a violent storm, it was cruelly clubbed to death with a large stone in a prolonged attack....executed as a witch! It was the last Great Auk to be seen alive in Britain. 

*A small hut or cottage for use as a mountain refuge.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Hunting With Eagles.


It may be three days before I get out birding again so meanwhile, please take a look at these two 'whats this got to do with birding' videos. I personally have some reservations about this first one, but who am I to want to see an end to age old traditions but....shouldn't the Eagle be Wild and Free.



This one is a short sneaky look at the new Madagascar series, the music might annoy you....it did me!



I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Hard at times!


It was a bit hard at times today and if the fog had been forecast I didn't know it had been, it played a major part in disrupting my efforts for a couple of hours at Conder/Glasson, followed by more than a couple at Morecambe around the tide again....but I did my best. Be warned there are three 'so whats this got to do with birds then' photographs to follow the one below, all credited to yours truly. 

Wood Pigeons. Logging off at Conder Green! 

Although it was hard work at times because of the fog my day was already made up ten minutes out of the car at Conder Green when I found a male Stonechat in the horse paddock on the left just past the Stork Hotel, almost certainly SP's 29 January bird. The place was virtually void of any waders today and the circuit produced just 4 Goldfinch, 2 Reed Bunting, and a Song Thrush heard in good song only. On Conder Pool, the Jeremy Lane of late  immature Whooper Swan was with 8 Mute Swans, also 4 Goldeneye noted. 

On the canal basin at Glasson Dock, 10 Goldeneye and a Great-crested Grebe. The Lune Estuary was almost blocked out by the fog but I managed to filter through it to find a Spotted Redshank, counted at least 100 Golden Plover, and 3 Goosander drakes through the murk. At Bodie Hill the fog lifted temporarily to see Tuesdays 120 Black-tailed Godwit and - surprise,surprise - a Little Egret on Glasson Marsh....long time no see here! On Jeremy Lane the Little Owl seen.

At Morecambe by 1.30pm I was confident the day had improved to become sunny but I was proved wrong and the fog banks kept coming and blotted out anything offshore rendering the birding a bit of a half hearted affair. But at Teal Bay where the tide was pushing the birds out of the fog and into view I noted 720 Lapwing 650 Curlew, 96 Bar-tailed Godwit, 75 Wigeon, 24 Eider, 6 Goldeneye, and 3 Great-crested Grebe, a Peregrine Falcon passed by at least twice.


This was what turned out to be the last fog bank to pass through Morecambe as seen from Broadway where I counted 120 Turnstone on the groyne, an excellent count for the species.


By the time I reached the Stone Jetty it had become a spring like late afternoon, thought the birding had fallen flat on its face unfortunately, but....


LR66 was looking good again in the brilliant sunlight and flat calm sea.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

One or two bits!


A bit late this evening for posting and not having got any birding in today, nothing to report. However, you may have seen in my post on the Wheatear and my commenting the males will have already left their wintering quarters in Africa and that birds could be seen on the south coast by late February....a bit of an understatement if the report I got this afternoon can be found to be genuine when two Wheatears were seen today near Halton Lea Gate, Midgeholme, Cumbria.

Swallows. Cliff Raby

Well the Weatears in Cumbria may well be early but the sign of things to come like the Swallows above will need a little more time before we can witness this kind of amazing spectacle....Pretty impressive stuff Cliff and thanks a bundle for allowing them on to Birds2blog for us all to enjoy.

Blackpool Storm. Peter Guy.

So whats this got to do with birds then, obviously nothing it's just a brilliant piece of photography taken last week at Cleveleys with my thanks to PG.

And finally, I just watched David Attenborough's new three part series 'Madagascar'....if you missed it thats unfortunate and I strongly recommend you try to catch up with it if you can as it is excellent, and if you can receive it in HD....WOW!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Satisfaction Guaranteed.


Well there's never really any guarantee but always a satisfaction to any birding as far as I'm concerned and today I had the company of JB, a birder who sees birding and wildlife in very much the same light as I do which makes our association all the more interesting.

Short-eared Owl. Pete Woodruff.

I only once had the opportunity to get a pic of the SEO with the sort of third rate photographic equipment I have today and this is the result from a couple of years ago. JB and I had excellent views of one of these brilliant creatures today quartering a field, the bird has been seen previously by us on 21 January.

Conder Green was a little on the quiet side this morning with nothing more than a single Goldeneye in the Conder channel below the railway bridge with another four on Conder Pool where I decided to become a recorder extraordinaire - well not quite -  for a few minutes and noted everything in sight, 5 Tufted Duck, 16 Wigeon, 32 Mallard, and 12 Mute Swans, in the creeks at least 80 Teal. A return visit on the way home produced a Greenshank and a Grey Plover.

I kept my recorders hat on at Glasson Dock and on the Lune Estuary noted estimates of, 5,000 Lapwing, 400 Redshank, 450 Dunlin, 465 Golden Plover, 45 Curlew, 36 Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, a Spotted Redshank, 325 Wigeon, 29 Shelduck, and 3 Goosander drakes. Off Bodie Hill I noted c.120 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Goldeneye drakes.

At Cockersands on my second attempt I finally caught up with the1st winter male Snow Bunting which - thanks to me freezing still when I found it - came within touching distance below the embankment overlooking Plover Scar. Also noted here, 2 Goldeneye drakes, and at least 90 Linnet at the set-aside.

On Pilling Marsh, 10 Whooper Swans, c.300 Pink-footed Geese (PFG), a Little Egret, and a distant Peregrine Falcon. At Fluke Hall, myself and about a half dozen other birders made no contact with anything amongst the c.1,500 PFG. Off Lancaster Road another c.4,000 PFG and 45 Whooper Swans seen, and a trip down Union Lane produced just 5 Corn Buntings.  

And finally....

Great-crested Grebe. Cliff Raby

Another reminder of the season to come. Thanks for this Cliff....excellent and much appreciated.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Coming Soon!


Wheatear. Pete Woodruff.

No other bird heralds the spring for me more than the Wheatear and I look forward to finding my first one of 2011 in early March when I start looking seriously at places like Cockersands where I've found most of my first Wheatears in the past.

The spring migration of this bird is quite a protracted affair and the first migrants of oenanthe will by now have already left their wintering grounds with the males on average leaving a week or two before the females, in exceptional cases some of these male birds could be found on the south coast by the end of this month. Incidentally, birds of the 'Greenland' race leucorhoa undergo what is probably the longest transoceanic migration of any other passerine.

Today breeding in the UK is chiefly on altitudes above 300m in Scotland, northwestern and southwesten  England, Wales, and western Ireland, but Oakes described the Wheatear as a mossland breeder, claiming them to be holding their own on several mosses into the mid-twentieth century, he eventually blamed increasing urbanisation for a decrease on the Fylde and Sefton coasts where none nested on the latter dunes after 1955 and with no reported breeding on the mosslands in more than 25 years. The Carnforth slag tips - which have laid claim to fame with a Shorelark there recently - was a long-established colony with nearly a double figure of Wheatear pairs breeding there in the 1980's which had declined to two during 1998-2004.

The last sighting of Wheatear has usually been made by the end of October, but records of birds in late November are frequent and include one seen at Sunderland Point on 24 November 1985, a sighting only surpassed by one seen at Rossall Point three days later in the same year on 27 November. I'll be on the lookout in a few weeks time, though if 2010 is anything to go by it will be 23 March when I found three birds on Clougha at over 300m....perhaps birds already on territory by then.

And finally, an excellent pic and a couple of notes....

Snow Bunting. David Cookson

I keep coming across 'photographs with a difference' lately and this one of the Snow Bunting is no exception....Brilliant David and many thanks. 

MEGA NEWS.

The Slaty-backed Gull had turned up again yesterday at Hanningfield Reservoir in Essex but not seen since. Today a Belted Kingfisher - a common waterside bird throughout North America - was found at Co. Derry, 10 miles SE of Londonderry.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Ready made gap fillers!


There's always some excellent 'gap filler' material on the Internet when I look for it between my birding days, and it's also often easy to find local and quite appropriate stuff for Birds2blog as the link which follows illustrates. If you'd like to see some pretty amazing....stunning....and excellent photography - including the familiar name of David Cookson - all you need to do is click Photo of the Year 

Although a little further afield this one created some interest for me and if you're a Dragonfly enthusiast it'll interest you too.

And some birds from even further afield can be seen here in....

Friday, 4 February 2011

Mr Parker....fully charged!


Plus a 'chat' an 'owl' and a 'duck'.

But first I think you should take a look at this about the very nice Mr Parker, bearing in mind there are of course no convictions yet and being acquainted with the law of this land of ours who knows what'll happen, but as far as the story goes so far You'll like it ....well you should do!

Stonechat Conder Pool
Stonechat. Copyright Granted.

Another fine image of a male Stonechat which escaped from Conder Green without my knowing it had ever been there on 29 January.

The Short-eared Owl (SEO) in our area of Lancashire is a scarce upland breeding bird and winter visitor which finds itself on the Amber List as a Species of European Conservation Concern. I get the impression they are a little thin this winter but I was lucky enough to find one in the mist and murk of 21 January in the Rawcliffe area.

This bird breeds chiefly on heather moorland from Staffordshire to the Pennines and north to Scotland where it is absent from the highest parts of the north and west. It breeds in the Outer Hebrides on the Uists - but not on Lewis or Harris - and Orkney, but not on Shetland. The SEO has a need for short vegetation which is rich in small mammals with which the populations of the bird fluctuate with vole cycles, therefore the more abundant the voles, the more successful the owls. In Oakes time they were regular breeders in areas in Bowland and he names Ward Stone amongst them, he refers to the bird as 'a very scarce and local resident, though formerly known as a breeder on coastal mosses including Cockerham and Winmarleigh'.

As is often the case - very nearly always in my view - if you read about the histories of birds of prey you will come across the causes of highs and lows in their fortunes being attributed to humans, in particular the lows which are usually connected with persecution. How little things have changed over the years - though once again in my view - have done so for the worse in many respects which brings us nicely back to the lovely Mr Parker who - if you don't mind my reminding you - is not just a gamekeeper....but the bloody head one.

There are no ringing recoveries outside the UK but known data indicates that  large numbers of SEO's come to GB during the winter many of which are from Fennoscandia and eastern Europe as far as Russia.

And finally....


Yet another of those 'out of the ordinary' pics with the drake Wigeon coming in to land....really appreciate this Brian.