BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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ALDCLIFFE MARSH HIGH TIDE. PETE WOODRUFF.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

This is a joke!



A serious matter with a joke tagged to it, and in drawing your attention to it a good excuse for me to post four more stunning photographs I keep being allowed to publish on Birds2blog.


So theres this serial egg collector who lives in London, he has become the first person in England to receive an Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) for crimes against nature. He is also believed to be the first person to receive an ASBO restricting him from visiting Scotland.


OK....so you've already seen the 'serious matter' and are now aware of the 'joke'....unless you can tell me how this ASBO is going to be policed. But this guy is a lunatic, and in the case of the birds and their eggs a dangerous lunatic, this bloke is currently serving his fourth prison sentence for egg collecting, and yes you guessed it, he holds the record in the UK for the person who spent the most time in prison for stealing eggs, and the ASBO he has now been awarded is because of the damage he wreaked on rare birds and the stealing of their eggs.

So who has the task of keeping an eye on this man, the ASBO lasts for the next ten years - the maximum term for these orders - and it is supposed to prevent him from travelling to Scotland during the breeding season because of his repeated stealing of Golden Eagle and Osprey eggs, furthermore, he is banned from all RSPB and Wildlife Trust land for the same period of ten years. Well....if you can't see the joke about all this I'm sorry to tell you your mind is failing you at a much faster rate than mine is. 

But of course something has to be done about these people with this kind of passion about our wildlife, and the good to come out of this is, if Mr Egg Collector is found breaching this order, instead of the maximum £5,000 fine and six months in prison, he can be handed out a fine of £20,000 and five years in prison, but....if he does go to Scotland let alone steal eggs, who is going to catch him.  

Now the good stuff, stunning photography with just a little waffle.... 


 Bearded Tit Marc Heath  


An impressive start with the Bearded Tit from Marc....

 Long-tailed Tit David Cookson

Followed by an equally impressive Long-tailed Tit from David....

 Redwing Tony Duckett


A brilliant Redwing from the Regents Park man Tony Duckett....apparently not many of this species or Fieldfare being seen in this country this winter....

Sparrowhawk Brian Rafferty


And last but certainly not least, the close encounter with the Sparrowhawk by Brian.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Filling the gap again!



Snowy Owl. Tim Kuhn.


I've recently been in touch with Tim Kuhn, a wildlife photographer who lives in Seattle, Washington, USA, and what better way to 'fill the gap' on Birdsblog than to post a couple of images of what must be the world most enigmatic owl the Snowy.

For those living in the northern parts of America, and the southern parts of Canada, they are enjoying the results of a Snowy Owl irruption brought about by a crash in Lemming numbers on which they depend as a food source. So for those who live in the outer limits of their migration they can enjoy observing the larger numbers than is usual which are moving further south than is usual in a none-irruptive year. 


Snowy Owl. Tim Kuhn.


Tim took full advantage of this movement of the Snowy Owls and the results are a 'feast for sore eyes' as the old saying goes. Please treat yourself to some stunning wildlife and landscape photography by Tim Kuhn....Thanks for keeping in touch Tim, much appreciated.

In relation to the Snowy Owl in Britain, it is a relatively rare vagrant, seldom acquiring more than one or two records in a year, though in northern Scotland there are well over 400 records, the earliest being of birds on Unst, Shetland in 1811. There is a famous breeding record on Fetlar, Shetland, ranging from 1967 - 1975, during which time an amazing 20 young where reared. One female survived here up to 1994, but remained lonely and breeding was made impossible through the lack of a male bird.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Fed Up!



OK....so you're fed up of hearing me going on about my 'no birding' life of late, but not as fed up as I am about living it. So here's a pic or two - all yours truly - of just a fraction of my birding paradises I'm looking forward to this coming spring/summer when the shackles are released more than I have ever done before.

Conder Green. 

This winter hasn't been remotely anything like the past two, and although this scene looks attractive I prefer the weather a little more friendly than it was when I took this pic at Conder Green last winter. I just can't wait to get myself giving this area a good going over to check out the bird life once again....

Plover Scar.

....followed smartly by a wander around this brilliant area at Cockersands, host to Broad-billed Sandpiper, American Golden Plover, Long-billed Dowitcher, Kentish Plover and....I forgot the rest!

Clougha Pike.

Of course this has to be my biggest goal, to get back up Clougha/Birk Bank, although I gave up on this area last year, after the demise of the Stonechats following the big freeze I'll be back with a vengeance to keep tabs on the comeback of this delightful and complex little 'chat'.

View from Hawthornthwaite Fell.

Hawthornthwaite, another of my many favourite upland locations for the Stonechat and who knows what else might be lurking around in this area of natural beauty, the only upland area I found breeding Stonechats in 2011 - and I never thought I'd ever have to put that down in writing about the Stonechat ever again - with nine birds found here on 30 June including a pair with a full brood. 

Cross of Greet.

Another brilliant area of upland Bowland beauty complete with excellent records of Whinchat over the past two summers, with 10 found in May 2010, and seven in the same month 2011....can't wait to get back here mister! 

Abbeystead.

Well I suppose this post could be a mile long....but finally, Stoops Bridge at Abbeystead, home to the Pied Flycatcher hopefully again this year with the added bonus of nesting in a natural tree-hole as opposed to a 'box', with two pairs found here doing just that in 2010. 

If you've read through this and enjoyed it my efforts were worth while, if you didn't, I wasted my time!  

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Chats in the park....



....and theres more, but not Williamsons Park!

Stonechat. Tony Duckett. 


Since I recently found Tony Ducketts blog covering the Royal Parks Regent/Bushy in London I've discovered a dedication to patchwork worthy of commendation. And hey....in Bushy Park yesterday Tony found Stonechats. So, no Stonechats in our area in the North of England, but Stonechats in February in the metropolis.... who'd a thought!  

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Tony Duckett.  


But wait a minute....not just the Stonechat in the capital, but a stunning little Lesser-spotted Woodpecker on the very same day. 

I'm in disbelief, a species disappeared from our area and beyond since the big freeze of last winter - which thankfully may not be going to return this winter - and a species - the latter - a long time extinct in our recording area and beyond. Add to this the staying 'redhead' Smew and I think I'd better keep an eye on this man to see 'whats next' at his Central London location at Regents Park 


                               

Sorry about the large white void, its a video which I don't appear to have downloaded correctly and I can't get rid of it now either. Obviously not as computer literate as I had first thought!

Kestrel. Tim Crossley.


One or two of my contact/birding/photographer friends have been in touch recently and I've received several images including these two of the Kestrels on the verge of fledging last summer. Tim found this family in an old derelict warehouse in the centre of industrial Lancashire. 

Barn Owl. Ian Tallon.


And Ian sent me this excellent one of the Barn Owl. It was good to be in touch again Tim/Ian and many thanks for allowing me to share the photographs, much appreciated.

Monday, 20 February 2012

If in doubt....


....and you can't get out, post a pic or two!

Common Yellwowthroat Zac Hinchcliffe 


Starting with the Common Yellowthroat still showing a few miles west of Newport, Gwent, in Wales to the delight of Zac and fellow 'twitchers' whose motivation for such enthusiasm I clearly understand but have never been bitten by the bug as my passion for birds leads me down many other roads. Please take a look at Zacs blog where you can see his enthusiasm for the scarce/rare/mega birds along with the more common ones with which he is equally enthusiastic about the ringing aspects of birding.

 Siberian Rubythroat. Copy Permitted.

Well you wont have many chances in a lifetime to see one of these little gems, so....if an opportunity ever arises I'd jump sky high at it if I was you. A couple of points of interest are that the first record for Siberian Rubythroat in Britain wasn't until barely over 40 years ago in October 1971, Fair Isle, Shetland, the bird winters India to Southeast Asia and Philippines. 

 Hornemanns Arctic Redpoll. Copy Permitted.

And here's another you maybe won't get many chances to see either.The first British record of Arctic Redpoll C.h. hornemanni is of a bird shot at Whitburn, Tyne and Wear in 1855. Its pretty sad that thousands of so called 'humans' who still shoot birds in the 21st century, don't give the impression that they'll ever become at least a little more civilised and take up some other less violent and destructive pastime. But there you go....I digress.

   Marmora's Warbler. Copy Permitted.

Bringing up the rear of four little gems is the Marmora's Warbler, and yes, yet another of those you probably won't ever see in your lifetime. The first record of this species was collected a little nearer to home only 30 years ago in 1982 at Langsett on the Pennines in Yorkshire where it stayed for seven weeks. It was found in the month of May when it was in full song, rising into the air in display not unlike a Whitethroat, the bird was also actually observed carrying nesting material. This record was claimed to have been over 2,000km north of its previously known range.

Birds fascinate me in a thousand ways.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A Commercial Break....



.... and a couple of pics of 'southern birds'. 



I don't know Tony Duckett and had no idea anyone was 'covering' Regents Park in London like he does, but I intend to take a closer regular look at his blog in the future to find out just how long he has been engaged in recording the birds of this interesting area.

The picture - which pleased me no end as you can imagine - of the annual report in the blog links you to the full content of the report which covers comprehensively the birds seen during the year. I was duly impressed by the coverage Tony gives the birds in this brilliant park in London which I walked through myself on a recent visit to London in 2010.


Please take a look via the link below at this interesting and sometimes amazing park and the birds it hosts as residents, along with the many surprising visitors it has over a year long period. I was very surprised to find the Check List holds an astonishing 210 species including a currently present for 13 days 'redhead' Smew. Regents Park Birds 


And whilst we're in the south....


Song Thrush Warren Baker 

Thanks to the Kentish Mr Baker - a regular contributor to Birds2blog - for the excellent image of the Song Thrush.

Jack Snipe Marc Heath

Thanks to the - also Kentish - Mr Heath for the excellent Jack Snipe image, surely one of the more difficult birds to photograph. A passage migrant and winter visitor to Britain, the origins of which is unclear, though recoveries of birds ringed in Scandinavia indicate Fennoscandia as a likely source.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Not at all common!



Anyone who needs to know will have already heard about the Common Yellowthroat reported in Newport, Gwent today though apparently been present for at least three days. Definitely not common here but abundant in the North American swamps and marshes.

It is interesting that three North American species made up a trio in 1989 when a Common Yellowthroat in Kent was joined not many miles away by a Golden-winged Warbler which in turn was in Britain at the same time as a Baltimore Oriole in Pembrokeshire which made up the threesome of over-wintering North American passerines.

The first Common Yellowthroat in Britain was found on Lundy, Devon in 1954, but the identity of the bird remained uncertain until specimen feather samples were sent to the British Museum following which confirmation was made though it was not possible to ascribe this individual to any particular race of this species of which there are twelve. Four years later in 1958 the first acceptable record of Baltimore Oriole for Britain was found, this bird was also on Lundy, Devon. A much earlier record of this species was of a bird found at Balta Sound, Shetland in 1889 but this record was eventually rejected, not surprising as the taxidermist George Bristow was involved, a man at the centre of the Hastings Rarities Affair.

The Golden-winged Warbler has the most interesting 'finders' story attached to it in that, in Kent in February 1989 a bird photographer on his way to post a letter glimpsed a small bird seen to come out of a Cotoneaster bush, he soon realised he was being treated to stunning views of an adult male Golden-winged Warbler. A crowd of 'twitchers' present during the first Saturday after its discovery was estimated at up to 3,000. This is a scarce species in the USA with a restricted breeding range and is considered an unlikely vagrant to Britain, as far as I am aware it remains the only Western Palearctic record.  


American Bittern Mike Watson 


No permissible photographs of any of the North American birds, but an excellent one of the American Bittern at Merritt Island NWR....much appreciated Mike. 

Monday, 13 February 2012

Second post in two days!


No credit needed for this image of the Hawfinch, a bird lots of us go mad to see let alone to find, but not in someones mitt like this unfortunate individual. Please read on....

OK....so this a big surprise, two posts in two days on the partially closed down Birds2blog from a birder who isn't a birder at all at the moment....well a lot more than a moment I'm afraid. 


But wait a minute, I'm going to come across as a big mouth with a big shout - well at times I can be - but can I ask you to put away your optics, your twitching gear, your tick book and pencil, and your birding ego for a while and take time to keep up to date on all the negative things happening on a daily basis in many parts of the world to our wildlife and in our case especially the birds.


Please take a look at some people who actively do something to try to stem if not stop the slaughter of birds....Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) HERE


Well this is Birds2blog, so to brighten things up, how about these three brilliant wader images....


Purple Sandpiper David Cookson 

Greenshank Brian Rafferty

Bar-tailed Godwit Marc Heath


Thanks to DC/BR/MH for the usual and consistent excellent photographs I'm allowed to share on Birds2blog.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

The Black Redstart.

  
A few notes about the Black Redstart to fill my birding/blogging gap. 


Too big a gap if you ask me, and I think Birds2blog may well have to be renamed 'The Weekly Post'....I'm rapidly becoming a broken man you understand!

Black Redstart Geoff Gradwell

Today the Black Redstart (BR) is regarded as a scarce but annual passage migrant in our recording area. I can recall three BR in/around our area over the past few weeks, the most recent one being at Cockersands where - void of any accurate details - this area has a good record for the species, one of which I found myself here on 9 November 2009, this bird stayed for a week which is as long as the current one here actually.

Going back in time to the mid-late 1800's, Mitchell regarded the BR as a rare winter visitor, Oakes noted a bird in our recording area at Hornby in October 1940, and recorded a male in song for a month during the summer of 1949 in Liverpool which has been regarded as 'perhaps the first breeding record' for Lancashire and North Merseyside. In fact the first confirmed record of breeding was made in Liverpool in 1977. The first record of BR in Britain was in London 1829.

The BR's distribution is widespread across S Europe, Middle East, and from Caucasus through Iran to E Tibet. It has long been a scarce breeding bird in England, but the number of pairs rose steadily for 50 years from 1940 until 1990 reaching a peak of around 120 pairs. A dedicated survey in 1977 reported just over 100 territory holding males with 60 pairs proven to breed. Large industrial complexes such as power stations - one was at Heysham in April last year -  are known to be popular with the BR as breeding sites, though it goes without saying these sites are prone to high disturbance and in fact several areas have established Black Redstart Action Plans in attempts to improve the nesting environment for the species. 


There is an interesting record of BR in a secluded cloister in Westminster Abbey in 1940, they were first seen by a lady visiting London from Windermere in Cumberland, now Cumbria. Further investigations regarding these two birds found two BR's around the old Abbey Gardens, on one occasion they were observed hawking flies like a pair of Spotted Flycatchers. Even more interesting was the fact that one of the birds was found to have been a juvenile whilst the other was a parent female, proof of breeding was therefore achieved.


The Black Redstart in song....





And finally....well nearly!

Wheatear. Pete Woodruff.

With the days becoming longer its hard to believe its within reason that you could find your first Wheatear of the year in four weeks time, one of the first signs that spring on its way.

Corn Bunting Simon Hawtin

I see an amazing record of 241 Corn Buntings at Rawcliffe Moss on Saturday, a record not beaten here since 2004. The record can be found HERE 

Barn Owl Brian Rafferty  

And definitely finally....

Couldn't close without another one of those 'can't resist this one' photographs showing the Barn Owl with its latest meal. Don't forget to take advantage of the link to BR's website....you won't regret it.


I have no idea why this post has a mainly white background, nor at this point do I have any idea how to get rid of it. What I do know is....I don't like it!

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Great Escape....



....with two Mexican and a couple of other birds!

I managed my second days birding in three and a half months last Wednesday having broken free from the shackles of a heavy work load which - in relation to my life as a birder - to be really truthful is becoming quite painful for me but is set to continue I'm afraid, very afraid....but enough of this.

White-fronted Geese. Phil Slade  

My day did have its disappointments and one was that despite a multitude of White-fronted and Bean Geese having made the move to our shores this winter I found not a single bird on Wednesday. But having been up with the lark I first headed off to Conder Green - well where else - to note 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Little Grebe, a drake Goosander, 8 Wigeon, c.30 Shelduck, and a similar number of Common Gull all on Conder Pool. The circuit was - as is usual - worth the effort if only to find 3 Spotted Redshank feeding quietly under the old railway bridge, and up to 80 Teal in the creeks. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock a drake Red-breasted Merganser was unusual on here, a Little Grebe and 5 Pochard were also of note. On the Lune Estuary I noted c.120 Black-tailed Godwit and a drake Goosander. But my ploy of return visits on the same day to the same location paid off once again with a staggering 172 Goldeneye counted at high tide and in fading light compared to the 'few' seen six hours earlier in the day. On Colloway Marsh c.2,000 Pink-footed Geese were too distant to turn into anything otherwise. 

Golden-cheeked Woodpecker.

American Avocet.

I've slipped in a couple of smart Mexican beauties here to brighten up the post. You can always find more than a few exotic birds with a much traveled birder/tour leader who has recently been to Mexico on Ribble to Amazon.....recommended.

At Cockersands I decided to do it light void of lugging the telescope - proper birders don't do this kind of thing - and wandered along the headland as far as Bank End where I found up to 60 'swans' rather distant in an inland field. Not all of these were obvious Mute Swans so I went off back to the car at the lighthouse and drove back to get a better look at them through the optics to find 4 Bewick's Swan two of which were juvenile, and at least 18 Whooper Swans, so a worthwhile effort was well rewarded. On Moss Lane what I initially took all to be Curlew turned out to be something like 350 Black-tailed Godwit and 100 Curlew

In a field opposite Sand Villa I saw an estimated 2,500 Pink-footed Geese and uncounted Whooper Swans but on a fast road and a convoy behind me I drove on....proper birders don't do this kind of thing! 

I wanted to get to Cockers Dyke with the return to Glasson Dock planned, but the dyke proved to be another of the days disappointments in that the ever present Iceland Gull of late didn't appear to be there despite about an hour and around seven full scans of the area. But an adult Mediterranean Gull compensated with a Little Egret, and a mixed flock of c.50 Twite/Linnet which I failed to ratio before they departed. 

Raven. Copy Permitted. 

I think this silhouette of the Raven is excellent....photographs with a difference. 

Bringing a smile into birding  life.

Some claim that sound travels faster than the speed of light. I know some people who appear to be both fast and bright....until they speak!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Going Public!



There's an issue about wildfowling which is going to get out of hand as far as I'm concerned and I have decided to make use of Birds2blog as the platform for me to clear it all up from my own perspective before it does. However - if you are still interested - to fully understand what this is all about. It is essential - if you haven't already done so - that you read my recent post Something of a coincidence followed by THIS 


I think the contribution by this person on the LDBWS website is to be applauded regarding this appalling act on Glasson Marsh, the people - and their kind - referred to should get all the publicity possible and thanks should go to him for highlighting and reporting such behavior.  

I have been asked to provide my opinion as to whether I think this incident on Tuesday 31 January and those involved could be connected with those mentioned in 'Something of a coincidence' the reply to which is....I would err on the side that the two seen on Glasson Marsh on Sunday 15 January as far as I could see were 'real deal' wildfowlers and that I had no other reason to suspect otherwise in the short time I spent at the location on that date, but.....the truth is, how on earth would I know void of any other evidence.

The case is now closed as far as I am concerned and my decision to terminate my WeBS counts stands. It goes without my saying, I can only hope there can be some success in tracking down the perpetrators of this disgusting act towards our wildlife.

Goldeneye. Dave Appleton.

Yesterday I counted a staggering absolute minimum of 172 Goldeneye on the River Lune at Glasson Dock. Unfortunately most were distant and the light was fading at 4.30pm, but I'm firmly convinced these two factors and the birds constantly diving made the count of up to 200 individuals here an impossibility....but - given half a chance - I'll be back to try again sometime soon and provide the evidence that the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock held up to/in excess of 200 Goldeneye in 2012.

Goldeneye. Dave Appleton.

More on my second 'Great Escape' when I can find the time to draw up my next post.

Many thanks to DA images of the Goldeneyes, much appreciated Dave.