BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Spotted Redshank.


It was no big surprise - though a pleasant one - to find the Spotted Redshank (SR) had returned to Conder Green yesterday 28 June for its 'umpteenth' year. Having checked my records over the past five years this species has only been absent from Conder Green for a few weeks - only four in 2009 - each year before making its return to winter in the area.

2007. Last seen on 24 April - 3 July return, 10 weeks absent.
2008. Last seen on 1 May - 20 June return, 7 weeks absent.
2009. Last seen on 18 May - 16 June return, 4 weeks absent.
2010. Last seen on 3 May - 28 June, 8 weeks absent.
2011. Last seen on 26 April - 15 June return, 8 weeks absent.

The breeding range of the SR stretches from northern Fennoscandia eastwards across northern Siberia to the Chukotskiy Peninsula. the female spends just a few weeks on the breeding grounds before departing leaving the male to continue incubation. The SR's wintering range extends from equatorial Africa through the Middle East, across southeast Asia to southeastern China, up to 200 are thought to winter in Britain.

In Oakes day in the first half of the 20th century there were no published records of SR in the County of Lancashire for 35 years between 1922 and 1957, but two years later in 1959 birds began to be recorded in the winter months in Lancashire. Outside this area in Norfolk a truly amazing record of 187 SR's were at Snettisham on 13 September 1977.

The SR has always been a bird to fascinate me in that it is unique in its transformation from a pale individual during the winter, to a wholly black one - with the exception of some fine white speckling above - in its summer breeding plumage which is how this bird presented itself at Conder Green yesterday to my pleasure. This same individual will now be seen here until a date sometime next year in April/May.

And this is my very first post on Birds2blog without a photograph in sight, but....there's one of a juvenile on the Fylde Bird Club website HERE and another of an adult in summer plumage HERE

Having been taken by surprise with six Stonechat from the Hawthornthwaite Fell track last Friday I intend to do a search of three areas hopefully tomorrow....but the weather will dictate whether or not I carry out the threat.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Shank Returns....


....and some other birds I noted today.

It was good that JB could get out with me today, and also good to see the Spotted Redshank - another bird on cue - had returned to Conder Green along with - the now increased from yesterdays four - at least 10 Common Sandpipers which have once again established CG to be the best location in our area to find these birds in number on their return journey, also of note here this morning was 4 Greenshank.

Lesser Black-backed Gull. Pete Woodruff.  

I reckon these two brutes have failed in their breeding attempt on Conder Pool, but another bird on here this morning which certainly didn't have me jumping up and down with delight was the Grey Heron, and there was little more than a split second glimpse of what 'could' have been an adult Little Ringed Plover. A brief call in at Cockersands resulted in a count of 45 Eider off Plover Scar.

A revisit to Bowland and the area between Marshaw and Trough Bridge produced 8 Spotted Flycatcher, void of any serious lengthy searches this number is another example of 'the best in our area' for a species, based on my observations since their arrival I'd suggest at least seven pairs here this year, and although ten birds are already on return at Conder Green at least one Common Sandpiper remains here several miles from a good fattening up location on the coast. Also good here today was 2 Lesser Redpoll one of which was a smart little male, 5 Redstart, 3 Nuthatch, and 3 Grey Wagtail. On the way home we found the Spotted Flycatcher again at Christ Church, Abbeystead.

Meadow Pipit. John Bateman.

This young Meadow Pipit was being fed by a parent bird at the summit of the Trough Road in Bowland. Thanks for the excellent photograph and another great days birding with you John.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Returning Sandpipers....


....and some other birds I noted in my four hour Monday stint....and hows that for a nice little pun!

Common Sandpiper. John Bateman.

On cue around this date in June was 4 Common Sandpiper at Conder Green this morning, also noted, 3 Whitethroat, a singing male Reed Bunting, 2 Linnet, and at least 6 Swift were around Conder Green Farm and kept approaching the gutter for a reason not clear to me, 30 Redshank were in the Conder Channel below the rail bridge as was a female Eider hauled out on to the bank, 3 Wigeon drake  - long time no see - were on Conder Pool where the big disappointment was once again no sign of any Little Ringed Plover/s, though I note two reported on Sunday HERE though no mention of any chicks, five Small Skipper were also seen. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, up to 300 Bar-tailed Godwit here today, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Eider, and 8 Goosander noted.  

Wheatear. Pete Woodruff.

At Cockersands a Wheatear - not the one in the pic - took me by surprise and prompted the question....whats this doing here....not breeding thats for sure, a species which can be seen in our area for at least seven months in the year. Off Plover Scar were at least 25 Eider, and on the circuit, c.20 Tree Sparrow, 3 Sedge Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, and 2 Skylark


As I got back to the lighthouse cottage I noted the notice on the fence post explaining the need for 'Wild Bird Cover Crops' as a winter seed area for birds like the Grey Partridge and....

 Yellowhammer. Phil Slade  

....the Yellowhammer. The notice goes on to explain, 'they are particularly important areas where traditional food sources such as weedy stubble's are no longer available' and adds 'This farm is doing its bit for farmland birds'.

OK, so I'm not prepared to go too far down this road on Birds2blog but....why is it this scheme isn't applied anywhere else within miles of this one at Cockersands that I'm aware of....in fact where is the next one?

Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Birds of Lancashire....

....in the first half of the 20th century from a book by Clifford Oakes. But first....

Shag. Philip Tomkinson.

Two extremely good photographs from PT's equally extremely good library, the first of which is the best image of its kind of a Shag you're ever likely to see, take a good look at how the bird has folded its wing/s over its breast, I've personally never witnessed this behaviour before, and....

Fulmar. Philip Tomkinson.

Another excellent image of the in flight Fulmar. PT's Website is always worth a look....I do regularly.

Browsing through Clifford Oakes book Birds of Lancashire published in 1953, I picked out one or two interesting notes on these four species.

Northern Golden Plover. In his notes on this species Oakes published two records of ringing recoveries even noting the numbers/letters of the rings, being....

Mark. X3298.
Ringed. Myvatn in Iceland on 26 July 1929.
Recovered. Hornby near Lancaster.
Date. 6 January 1930.

Mark. Sk A7396.
Ringed. Husavik Iceland.
Date. 27 July 1931.
Recovered. Formby N.Merseyside.
Date. 24 February 1933.

It is also interesting that Oakes only mentions one sighting of  a Little Ringed Plover and goes on to say not enough evidence was collected to support the sighting at Worsley - now being in Greater Manchester - on 9 May 1946.

He also only mentions one Kentish Plover being that of the first record of the species for Lancashire at Bury Reservoir on 20 August 1947. Bury is now within Greater Manchester and is therefore no longer in the County of Lancashire. The first record of a Kentish Plover in Lancashire now stands with a bird at Lytham on the Fylde coast on 19 August 1963.

Sociable Plover. Oakes records the first British specimen which was shot whilst with Lapwings at St Michael's on Wyre in the autumn of 1860. Whilst this bird is referred to/called Sociable Plover by Oakes it is now known as the Sociable Lapwing.

Clement. Courtesy of BTO.

Clement is still in the south of France, east of Toulon. The Cuckoos tracking systems are due an update and if you're interested when they are it will be HERE

Friday, 24 June 2011

Collecting the Nectar Points!!


In excess of 1,000 Nectar points today but had to wait a while to collect them!

Tawny Owl. Phil Slade 

With an excellent photograph of the Tawny Owl to start with. The last time I was at Barbondale on Tuesday 14 June I flushed four Tawny Owls, obviously a family party all sleeping the day off until I appeared on the scene to disturb them....accidentally and unfortunately.

With JB/BT we first called at Freeman's Pools to find a pair of Little Grebe, with Oystercatchers and a single young, and 9 Lapwing on the island, a Reed Bunting was on the perimeter fence. On the Wildfowlers Pool I could just see a Green Sandpiper through a gap in the hedge. At Conder Green the big disappointment of the day was not being able to locate the Little Ringed Plover/s, but a Common Sandpiper, single Black-tailed Godwit, a Reed Bunting, and 3 Small Skipper were of note.

Spotted Flycatcher. John Bateman.

We then headed off towards Bowland, first calling in at Christ Church at Abbeystead to find a Spotted Flycatcher had returned here after all despite this being my fourth/fifth visit here for it to have evaded me, also of note was five active House Martin nests and 2 Greenfinch.

Unknown to me just yet was that I was now off to collect my 1,000 Nectar Points from the Hawthornthwaite Fell track were I found 6 Stonechats, being a male and three juveniles, and a pair. This is my first visit here since 7 April and - having 'given up' on the Stonechats just about everywhere - have not been since, as it turns out....bigger fool me! Also here a Merlin mobbed a Buzzard at a considerable height, 6 Raven sky-danced for at least 30 minutes, and the small Sand Martin colony discovered here about two years ago held six active nests with five young looking out and c.20 adults flying around, there was also still activity at the small Cam Brow colony.

Swallow young. John Bateman.

At Marshaw, a Spotted Flycatcher and Common Sandpiper seen. And up the track behind Tower Lodge by the plantation 10 species found in less than 15 minutes, being a single Lesser Redpoll, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 6 Redstart, a Nuthatch, Willow Warbler, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin, and 2 Great Tits. A Common Sandpiper was on the stream below Tower Lodge. 

Thanks for the pics Phil and John....Excellent pics....excellent birding....excellent company.... excellent results!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

No Apologies!




I make no apologies whatsoever in posting the following article as a 'gap filler' for Birds2blog. It is by far the best article on the subject I've read in ages - for all the wrong reasons - it is quite long but a must read for anyone with a gram of interest in wildlife and in particular the birds in this tragic story of a tragic country. If we'd like people to call us birders in all its aspects, and in the true sense of the word, then to read this article is almost by order. The starting point for Gavin's story about one mans experience in the 'Theatre of Tragedy'  is HERE

On a much lighter note and still in the real world....

Kittiwake. Gary Jones.

A couple of examples of what I call real and excellent bird photography, with the Kittiwake at its nest and three chicks, and....

Puffin. Gary Jones.

Puffins on the Farnes. Thanks for these, carry on enjoying, and keep up the good work GJ 

I've not been birding since Monday....'other things' again....NOT GOOD, but hopefully tomorrow in the company of JB/BT.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The Dainty Damselfly.....

....an interesting diversion from birds.

Banded Demoiselle. Linda Gilhespy. 

The delicate Dainty Damselfly (DD) was found on Monday at a site in Kent. The species was washed away from its single pond in East Anglia during the severe floods in the winter of 1952/3. It is believed these insects were blown on the wind from France or Belgium where they have become more common, thought to be relate to climate change. The DD has been documented in the Netherlands for the first time, and specimens have also been found in Jersey.

There are 17 species of Damselflies in the UK, one - the Red-eyed Damselfly - first appeared in 1999 and now breeds across tracts of south-east England, but experts said last year 'whether the DD can form a stable breeding population once again is as yet unclear, they may be able to breed from egg through to adult in one year', this has been the case and the DD has once again been found to have emerged at the site in Kent and creating some excellent insect news.

No photographs found of the Dainty Damselfly which wouldn't violate the copyright laws, but an excellent one of the Banded Demoiselle is at the top of the post with thanks to Linda Gilhespy  

If you have found an interest in the satellite tagged Cuckoos an Update is here.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Cuckoo Clement.

Although my interest is in all the five satellite tagged Cuckoos, I decided to follow and sponsor Clement who has turned out to have been the bird to spring the biggest surprise on everyone by not only having left the UK at least one month sooner than anybody would have expected him to do, but hes also already near the southern tip of the south of France at the latest reading from his tag.

The Cuckoo is one of the UK's fastest declining migrants. Over 50% of the birds migrating between Europe and Africa have disappeared over the past 25 years. Knowledge about what the Cuckoo does once it leaves the UK  is extremely poor, and not even basic information is known about the routes they take, hopefully this project will answer a few if not may of the questions about this enigmatic bird, the harbinger of spring, and the creature even the man in the street - who doesn't know a Robin from a Blackbird - can identify....the amazing parasitic Cuckoo.

 Clement. Courtesy of BTO.

On a personal level, to date I've heard just four Cuckoos this summer, one on Birk Bank, one from Harrisend, and two in Bowland, on the negative side, despite five visits to Barbondale two reported there have escaped my attentions....but  I'm intrigued to see what 'My Cuckoo' does next by following Clements Blog 

Monday, 20 June 2011

June is bursting out all over....

....but after a more like summers day today is set to disappear again soon if not tomorrow.

Common Tern. Geoff Gradwell.

I was quite impressed by this image of the Common Tern at Preston Docks which appears to have bitten off more than it can chew. You do have to ask yourself what is going on here, has it not realised yet that this fish is really too large for it to down, can it actually swallow a fish this size, or is this bird really taking this catch....

Common Tern. Geoff Gradwell. 

....to feed to young chicks like these....Thanks for the pics GG

I was delighted to find a pair of Little Ringed Plover on Conder Pool this morning with at least one young chick. These birds have clearly illustrated again this year just how elusive they can be on a small complex like Conder Pool with its many hiding places. Despite in excess of twelve visits here since their arrival - many of which showed no sign of any birds - it took me until seven days ago to find the female sitting. Fingers crossed for a while now bearing in mind there are a pair of Lesser Back-backed Gulls nesting here and all manner of danger around, later today at Cockersands I watched a Magpie take a Lapwing chick only to drop the poor creature as it flew off with it. A Common Sandpiper was also on Conder Pool, with 7 Black-tailed Godwit in the creeks, I also saw my first Meadow Brown of the year here.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock c.220 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Greenshank of note. And at Cockersands equally as quiet as Glasson Dock, I noted 7 Eider, Shelduck with eight young. Small birds on the circuit included c.12 Tree Sparrows widely scattered and surely many more in the area, 6 Sedge Warbler, 4 Skylark, a Reed Bunting, and a Blackbird in good song.

I've created a link in my sidebar to follow the journey if five Cuckoos back to Africa. You will see how amazed everyone involved in the study is that one of these birds is already on the southern tip of the south of France and had left this country a good month before anyone ever expected it to have done. Follow this incredible journey of Clement, Chris, Kasper, Lyster, and Martin here with Tracking Cuckoos

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Siskin.


Female Siskin. David Cookson.

A visit to Bowland in the Marshaw/Tower Lodge area on Thursday last produced excellent if brief views of Crossbills and better views of Lesser Redpolls later, both species of which are not very easy birds to find in our area and are always a delight when I do. But another bird which is equally difficult to connect with is the Siskin, a bird primarily of conifer forests/plantations of the north and west.

Male Siskin. Phil Slade.

The Siskins is more widespread during the winter months in the UK as it is joined by birds from continental Europe in large but varying numbers and distribution from year to year, the Siskin then becomes a more commonly know bird particularly as one which visits garden feeders like the one in the photograph above.

Breeding Siskins typically start nesting in early April, in Mitchells time he published just one breeding record when six pairs summered and raised young in the Lancaster area in 1836 after several hundred had wintered here. In the early 1990's a figure of up to 360,000 pairs of Siskin would have been in the record books, but the picture is now much reversed and there has been a decline of up to 40% in England and Scotland. In our own area of North Lancashire the bird is a scarce but resident breeder in suitable conifer stands in S.E. Cumbria and Bowland, but void of doing a search through my records I don't recall the last time I saw a Siskin but certainly in excess of twelve months ago at the latter location.

Juvenile Siskin. Phil Slade.

There are two interesting ringing recoveries made on the continent involving a bird ringed in the UK in March 1989 and controlled later that year in Belgium in October, another bird ringed in April 1995 was found dead in Norway in June 1998.

It would have been good to have been able to add the Siskin to my records of Crossbill and Lesser Redpoll last Thursday in the Trough of Bowland and I'm looking forward to finding my next, but it certainly won't be tomorrow and I'm not holding my breath for Tuesday either.

Thanks to DC and PS for the photographs....much appreciated.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Return to Bowland....again!


And what a good idea that was too, you just have to keep on plugging away at these locations to come up with the sightings/records and maybe find the ones you missed the last time around. 

Broad-bodied Chaser. Brian Rafferty

No appropriate photographs of birds but an excellent one for the top of the post of the female Broad-bodied Chaser thanks to BR, plus an excellent butterfly below and moth further down thanks to LG....all helps to add a little colour to Birds2blog.

Green Hairstreak. Linda Gilhespy.

I gave another 4.5 hours between Marshaw - Trough Bridge again today and started in fine style with 6 Crossbills over which came on to a conifer staying long enough for me to find two of them to be juveniles before they were off again. I found only 7 Spotted Flycatchers today but remain convinced of at least ten - I reckon more - in the area this year. One of today's sightings was that of a bird I could see clearly sitting on the nest, a pleasurable sight bearing in mind this is a species in serious decline. This observation didn't actually take the prize today, that was awarded to the male Pied Flycatcher feeding a recently fledged young bird. I also found a female Pied Flycatcher a quarter of a mile from the Oak tree in which the pair nested and am confident this bird was the female from that site on a wander. It was good to find 2 Lesser Redpoll, the only disappointment being they were both singletons. Another excellent record was that of 6 Redstart and 8 Grey Wagtail seen. I saw just 6 Willow Warblers which was a reminder of just how much harder this species is to find once they've 'shut up'. Also noted, a Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, and just one Common Sandpiper.

Common Heath. Linda Gilhespy   

I called in at Stoops Bridge in Abbeystead on the way home to find it very still and very silent save a Chiffchaff heard.

I have an uncomfortable feeling it may be next Monday before I get out birding again....Oh Dear!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Another Bad News Day.


OK....so its another 'Bad News' day on Birds2blog with some 'good' at the end.


British Ladybirds are in serious decline, they are being wiped out by a foreign invader that devours the eggs of its native relation in the UK of which at least ten species have declined dramatically in the past few years.

Well....for starters its not strictly a foreign invader at all, though there's little doubt it has found it's way into the UK via fruit packages etc, but it was also aided by yet more human interference with the natural world by introduction to the South-East in 2004 of the Asian Harlequin Ladybird as a pest controller which has spread across the country at an alarming rate. This aggressive creature breeds quickly and following behind the seven spot is then the most common of the Ladybirds. Other 'man made' problems have hit our Ladybirds, those of climate change, and changes of farming and gardening over the years which have triggered these problems.

So....there are contrasting fortunes for the different Ladybird species, and those on the increase include Harlequin, Pine, and Orange. Whilst on the decrease the species include the10/11/14/22 spots.

There's bad news with a little good news about this next one, about which I'll not make the kind of comments I would if you struck up a conversation with me in a bar about the subject, but I do need to say one or two things about this man and what he was found to be engaging in.

In the first place I think he got a least some just 'reward' for what he was engaged in, but a couple of things leave me - to say the least - uncomfortable....1) why was this mans gun license not revoked and, 2) why wasn't his employer - the landowner - not fined the same amount as this left-over from the Dark Ages. 

I feel it my duty as a birder and lover of wildlife to ask you to please read THIS

Now the good news.

Pied Flycatcher. Peter Guy.

I've ended the first half of 2011 on a high note, not least because Barbondale has produced the best ever record of Pied Flycatcher and with a little luck up to 35 will wing their way from here back to their wintering grounds mainly in western Africa. Thanks to PG for the photograph which incidentally shows another of those 'brown' 1st summer males....its the bird on the left. 

Spotted Flycatcher. David Cookson

I've also established the Marshaw/Tower Lodge area to be once again the best in our area for Spotted Flycatcher with the last count standing at 10 birds. All this is not to mention the Kentish Plover at Cockersands on 3 May, plus many other excellent records on many other birding days. I'm now looking forward to part two of 2011.  

Monday, 13 June 2011

The Short List.


I actually started my four hour Monday at Cockersands doing the traditional circuit including the nooks and crannies. If anyone had seen me on the headland today and asked what I was hoping to achieve there I'd have been posed a problem to come up with an intelligent answer. So I start with my 'weather whinge' which goes something like....I could have been fooled into thinking today was the 13 March whilst also thinking 'shouldn't I be doing something more useful in life than wandering around this place getting blown about in a force I don't know what westerly'.

Oystercatcher. David Cookson  

On the estuary the high tide didn't help and the waders were almost non existent, even the guardians of Plover Scar were reduced to no more than 25 Oystercatchers. From the road 5 Sedge Warbler were all in song as was a Skylark, and I saw a single Whitethroat....Flaming June!

But it was all worth while - as any birding is - when I arrived at Conder Green to find c.220 Bar-tailed Godwit in the creeks again with at least 20 Knot in their company, c.12 Swift were over, and I noted a male Reed Bunting. But the best came when I gave Conder Pool a serious grilling and after doing so for the past nine weeks found the Little Ringed Plover sitting - faint hearted me - but a few more weeks and a  fair measure of good fortune for this bird and any results from the breeding attempt before we can sing our Alleluias on seeing any fledged young.

Arctic Tern. Gary Jones  

At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary I watched a graceful Arctic Tern fishing opposite Waterloo Cottage though little else, but did count 7 Eider hauled out on to the shore.

Landart. Richard Shilling.

If you've been visiting Birds2blog for a while now you'll know RS, but whether you do or not he's the man with a keen eye, an inventive and creative mind, and a pair of hands to go with all this. You can find out the background to the artwork above HERE and some of his work is to be shown at this Exhibition....you may like to go and see it.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Old Books....Good Books!


I've mentioned before on Birds2blog about the book stall often on Market Street in Lancaster where KT finds some good second-hand books and occasionally buys them on my behalf.


This 'Wild Birds of the Americas' is now one of the latest additions to my library thanks to the stall and KT.

According to the introduction in the book published in 1977, Terence Michael Shortt is claimed to have probably seen and sketched from life more species of the worlds birds than any other person alive. Well I'm not too sure about such a claim, but thats not the purpose of this post. I chose a couple of colour plates from the book, the first of which is the Blue-footed Booby.

Blue-footed Booby. Terence Michael Shortt.

There are a couple of reasons why I chose this illustration, the first of which is because of the explanation why this species is so called. They suffer the maligning appellation of booby, 'a silly dull-witted fool' because the guileless birds often alighted on the deck or rigging of ships allowing themselves to be added to the ships larder, the implication being that any animal that has no fear of man is stupid....a sorry indictment of the human race I'd say.

The second reason I chose the 'booby' is because it reminded me of a rather large one which befell someone somewhere today when a Brown Booby was reported this morning to be later claimed as a being a Gannet. Take heart all ye who hath fallen into the trap of mis-id, a club I'm man enough to admit being a member of....are you!! 

    Peregrine Falcon. Terence Michael Shortt.

There are a number of excellent colour plates by this man and the Peregrine Falcon is another example.

Peregrine Falcon. Brian Rafferty.

But BR has achieved some excellent images of the Peregrine Falcons nesting on a church in Preston.

Peregrine Falcon. Brian Rafferty.

I think this is a brilliant photograph of the juvenile which appears to be looking skywards to its parent and wondering if the next meal is on its way. You can see more of these stunning birds on BR's website HERE  

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Return to Bowland.


Yesterdays birding was in subdued mode as is often the case with BT....but thats not a complaint you understand, in any case the weather held us up at one point. BT suggested a visit to Bowland which meant a return for me having been there the day before....but thats not a complaint either you understand!

Redshank. John Bateman.

Lots of birds have become at least scarce - if not rare - in the uplands and the juvenile Redshank above is certainly one of them but was a welcome sight today with one of its parents feeding in a field near Marshaw. In the same field JB/BT and I were able to witness at first hand the dangers faced by young birds when a 'large' gull swooped down on a Lapwing chick, took the small creature in its gaping bill and consumed the unfortunate bird in less than five seconds....raw nature.

Sand Martin. Gary Jones

The Sand Martin colony at Cam Brow this year appears to consist of about four occupied nest holes in the small bank where they return to each year, a Mistle Thrush was noted here. Plenty of activity in the photograph at GJ's colony which is elsewhere I must add.

At Marshaw I established what I suspected in a particular area during recent visits here, that the Common Sandpipers have bred and one today was accompanied by a young bird. During the visit to the Tower Lodge area I added another two birds to Thursdays count which now stands at 10 Spotted Flycatcher. The pair of Pied Flycatchers seen Thursday were seen feeding young again. A brief visit to Langden produced a Dipper, 3 Grey Wagtail, a Common Sandpiper, and at least 4 House Martin hawking the beck.

Common Spotted Orchid. Pete Woodruff. 

At Blea Tarn Reservoir a Little Ringed Plover flew along the east side of the reservoir before banking to head over the fields towards Langthwaite Reservoir. There appears to be a healthy number of Common Spotted Orchids at the Wyresdale Road location this year with a 'large' number of spikes found and where in some seasons the Bee Orchid may also be seen.

It is interesting a Little Ringed Plover was reported at Conder Green on Thursday on the Fylde Bird Club website, not seen here by me since in flight on 6 May. There's never any telling whats going on in the world of LRP's on Conder Pool year on year and this one is no exception, they may yet surprise us all by bringing young into view one day soon, but somehow this year I'm not feeling confident....but its happened before! 

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Flycatchers Have It.


I gave Marshaw-Tower Lodge-Trough Bridge a good going over today and it took me 4.5 hours legwork to do so on a day more like 9 April than June....but what results!

Pied Flycatcher. Peter Guy.

The Flycatchers get the Gold Award for today, not least for the first record for the area of 3 Pied Flycatchers two of which were a pair feeding young 10 mtrs up an Oak Tree, the other was a female which I encountered briefly but couldn't find thereafter despite a 15 minute 'stand'.

Spotted Flycatcher. Brian Rafferty. 

Today this location established itself once again as the best in our area - and beyond - for the species when the final tally was of 8 Spotted Flycatcher suggesting the strong possibility of five pairs based on my observations. 

Redstart. Brian Rafferty.

Also noted on this excellent visit to this equally excellent area of Bowland, 2 Cuckoo were heard, one somewhere distant behind Tower Lodge, the other in the Trough Bridge area, 2 Redstart, 4 Common Sandpiper, 5 Grey Wagtail, 2 Dipper, 6 Mistle Thrush, a Song Thrush, 4 Nuthatch, 2 Red Grouse, and a Buzzard.

I gave a look in on Stoops Bridge at Abbeystead to find no activity at the Pied Flycatchers nest hole in a fifteen minute 'stand'. A Garden Warbler and 2 Blackcaps all sang half heartedly, not surprising given the positively lousy weather, the sight of a Nuthatch feeding a begging young bird was a delight and ended a day which can be best described in my book as one of many perfect examples of what I think birding is about. Having found a species in an area for the first time - being the Pied Flycatcher - possibly five pairs of a species in serious decline - being the Spotted Flycatcher - and hearing another species in serious decline, being the two Cuckoos.

    Christ Church Abbeystead. Pete Woodruff.

I couldn't resist putting up another pic of Christ Church at Abbeystead, home to at least 16 House Martin nests occupied in years past but not a bird in sight today, and few - if any - bred here in 2010....Mmmmm!

Thanks to Peter Guy and Brian Rafferty for the photographs. 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Bad Decision!


A very bad decision yesterday actually as I took too much notice of the weather man who got it badly wrong today and having planned to go 'uplanding' I decided that the showers - that never were - would be no good to me and stayed home and behaved like a couch potato all day, add to this no birding again today....not good for me, body, mind, or soul!

And to make matters worse I'm about to post an article unrelated to birds on a bird blog about some beetles found in Spain.

Photo Credit: SINC-Ignacio Ribera.

Two new endemic beetles have been discovered in the Iberian Peninsula.

With Spanish participation a European research team has described two new beetles measuring little more than 2.2 millimetres in length. The beetles were found in streams in the Pyrenees in the Sierra de la Demanda Mountains. Some experts had previously thought they had belonged to another European species.

One of the two new beetles species  - Hydraena diazi - was found in the Montseny National Park in Barcelona, it measured no more than 2.4 mm in length, the insect also inhabits the Pyrenees. The other new beetle - Hydraena fosterorum - was discovered in the Sierra de la Demanda 

An expert explained that they most probably originated in the same geographical regions that the are now found in, meaning we can use them to reconstruct their history and biogeography. Research has also suggested that all the species in the in this particular Hydraena group - including these two new ones - result from the splitting of a common ancestor which spread throughout the Iberian Peninsula half a million years ago. Today they still remain in their original distribution areas.

Puffin. Gary Jones. 

Shag. Gary Jones.

Gary kept his promise and posted some excellent photographs of the enigmatic Puffin and Shag seen on his recent visit to the Farne Islands....You'll find them HERE

Eyed-Hawk Moth. Brian Rafferty

Brian found this brilliant moth which I'd loved to have seen for myself.

And....
Large Skipper. Linda Gilhespy  

Linda got an excellent photograph of this smart little moth. Thanks to GJ/BR/LG for the excellent images....Many Thanks. 

Hopefully tomorrow, some serious birding somewhere in the Forest of Bowland perhaps! 

Monday, 6 June 2011

A pretty smart Robin!


ARKive photo - Female white-throated robin
'Click the pik'

I did get an hour or so birding today, but to be honest this bird created much more excitement for many a birder who has been  - or is going to be - burning the rubber on many a motorway whilst speeding off to Hartlepool Headland in Cleveland to see the female White-throated Robin as in the pic via the link above, the male is as usual a more attractive creature. 

ARKive photo - Male white-throated robin, side view
'Click the pik'

The White-throated Robin  breeds from Turkey eastwards to Kirghizia, and winters in East Africa. There are only two previous records, a male on the Isle of Man in 1983, and a female in Pembrokeshire in 1990. It is interesting that both records are of birds on the west coast, pretty surprising that given this birds apparent north-south orientation of its migration route it is quite amazing that the species has ever occurred here at all.

Three people were involved in the finding of the first record in Britain, that of the bird above on the Isle of Man in 1983. The bird caught the eye of one of these three when he described it as a Wheatear-like bird, but all three noted the bird showed no white rump as it flew off. The bird re-appeared on a wall and they agreed the possibility of it being a White-throated Robin, but it soon flew off once again and out of sight and despite further searches it was never seen again.

As for my four hour birding stint today....

I did a circuit of Conder Green to find 2 Whitethroat, 2 Reed Bunting, a single Black-tailed Godwit was surely the bird I saw on 31 May as it dropped in on Conder Pool where the pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls are nesting, a Sand Martin over was a little unexpected. The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was as expected pretty quiet though it was rewarding to find the c.300 Bar-tailed Godwit here - recently they had graced the Conder creeks on a couple of my visits - a pair of Eider and 2 Shelduck with 17 young noted.

At Cockersands I can assure you the recent Quail is no more as every field in sight has been made to look like a 'Bowls Tournament' is about to take place any time soon. I noted c.20 Eider, the rest I found on a circuit, at least 15 Tree Sparrow, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Skylark, a Dunnock, 3 Sedge Warbler one of which gave me excellent views and was one of the best songsters I've heard in years, 2 Red Admiral also seen.