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

Friday, 31 August 2012

A Complete Blank!


This is not good, and I get no enjoyment from creating this post which is to report a week completely void of any birding, depressing stuff and I can't go on like this, things must change....and soon or else.

Floods have been the areas to check recently, though a flood anywhere anytime is always worth a check and if you live in the same area as I do one at Aldcliffe is as good as they come. But  three particular floods have been in the news in the past few days, and all have hosted some 'good birds'.


Wood Sandpiper Dave Appleton 

A flood viewed from Lancaster Road near to Lousanna Farm at Out Rawcliffe - which I know well and drove past many hundreds of times during my days delivering car parts - held a nice Wood Sandpiper this week along with a number of Ruff which reached a double figure in one report I saw. Another Wood Sandpiper was present during the week on another flood at Todderstaffe Hall on the Fylde. I can offer no accurate number but I recall going into the Allan Hide at Leighton Moss with John Leedal one day to find c.8 Wood Sandpiper together, a record I never equalled since....Thanks for the photograph Dave.   


Pectoral Sandpiper Colin Bushell

On yet another flood NW of Garstang and east of Lathwaite, a Pectoral Sandpiper was present this week too with another on Banks Marsh. The Pectoral Sandpiper is the most numerous Nearctic wader on this side of the Atlantic, in excess of 1,400 were noted between 1958-85 an average of over 50 birds a year. The one in the image above was in Manu, Peru 2010....Thanks for this Colin.

Lesser Snow Geese Geoff Gradwell  

I think the biggest 'Lancashire' surprise of all this week was the appearance of Lesser Snow Geese on the Fylde coast where the number peaked at thirteen at Cockers Dyke on Pressall Sands. The image above is of seven of these thirteen birds which were also over Rossall Point at Fleetwood...Thanks Geoff.

And finally....

Common Sandpiper Antonio Puigg

I wonder if the Common Sandpiper will winter again at Conder Green, this bird was photographed 'nodding off' recently in Spain....Many thanks Antonio.

And the MEGA news today was of a Yelkouan Shearwater past Whitburn Steel in Co.Durham.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING....NEXT WEEK OR ELSE!!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

In Brief....


....and no names.

Turtle Dove Antonio Puigg 


Its my intention to be brief here, but the escalation of bird persecution throughout the world dictates that I should draw attention to visitors to Birds2blog from around the same world to the intention of a couple of companies - one of which is close to my home town of Lancaster -  which are making arrangements to visit foreign parts for the purpose of engaging in the 'sport' of shooting Turtle Doves....I'll just repeat that in case you think I'm hitting the wrong keys on my keyboard....shooting Turtle Doves.

But there is a glimmer of hope here, in that having sent an e-mail to one of these companies expressing my concerns over these trips I received the following reply....

Many thanks for your email.

As a result of the Turtle Dove being put on a ‘red list’ status by the RSPB, we have recently removed these shooting trips from our website and itineraries.

If we can help in any other way, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Kind Regards

And the pics.... 


Tim Kuhn: Killdeer  Killdeer
Killdeer Tim Kuhn

I've recently been in touch with Tim to see if he keeps well, and to check if it is still OK that I use his images on Birds2blog. Thankfully Tim agreed it was and so I decided to post a couple of his images of two waders most of us are never likely to see, though it must be said, both have occurred in the UK and are probably likely to again in the future....who knows. 

The Killdeer is a rare vagrant to the UK the last record of which was of a bird in Co Wicklow, Ireland, in December 2009. 

Tim Kuhn: Least Sandpiper  Least Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper Tim Kuhn

The Least Sandpiper is an extremely rare vagrant to the UK and the last record was at Butt of Lewis, Isle of Lewis, Western Isles in October 2007.

Many thanks for these two excellent images which I appreciate very much Tim. Good to know you are well and keeping up the photography which - in the case of them being on Birds2blog -  are a much needed dash of colour and interest on an otherwise gloomy post for reasons not of my doing.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Spoonbill.


Its good to have a first record of Spoonbill on the Lune Estuary, moving around a little but spending a lot of its time at the mouth of the River Conder, the bird has been in the area for a 'few' weeks now.

Thorburns Birds.

An excellent example of the Spoonbill, Flamingo, Black Stork, and White Stork from the equally excellent book 'Thorburns Birds'.

The Spoonbill breeds at scattered sites in Europe, it bred in East Anglia, probably until the 17th century. But the Spoonbill was seemingly extinct as a breeding bird until the late 1990's.  Clifford Oakes mentions the first Lancashire record which is of a bird on the Ribble during 1840. More modern records show the first as being five birds at Ainsdale in 1958, with two birds in July 1963 at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve where almost half the 'modern' records have been, and where the Spoonbill has been seen virtually annually since 1970.

By the late 1990's despite there being an increasing number of summering birds in the country there had never been any breeding Spoonbills suspected in the country, but a major surprise came in 1999 when a pair raised two young on the marshes of the south Ribble representing the first successful breeding in Britain since the 17th century....unfortunately they have not returned in subsequent years.

It is pleasing that I - like many other people - have seen the Spoonbill on recent visits to Glasson Dock where the bird can be viewed from the bowling green....an excellent record for the area. 

Waving goodbye....


Swallow Martin Jump


We've started to wave the Swallows goodbye for another year. I watched several individuals and groups fly past me going south last Friday with a mammoth task ahead of them. I reckon when we eventually see the records for 2012 we'll find the year has been at best a poor breeding season for the Swallows. One of the most amazing things about this species is that if the perch we see this individual on in this image is anywhere near its natal site, this bird could  again be found on this very post next year....mind blowing facts.

Thanks Martin, a brilliant image of the young Swallow with a lot of flying to do and an unforgiving desert to cross to reach its wintering grounds in Africa. 

Brakes On  
Pink-footed Geese Brian Rafferty


And in a matter of a few weeks we'll be seeing the Pink-footed Geese dropping in in their thousands like these two to winter in areas like Pilling in the north Fylde.

And finally....


Peregrine Falcon Brian Rafferty

Yet another of those 'can't resist this one' images of an incredible Peregrine Falcon food pass with the adult above dropping prey to the juvenile below....Pretty impressive stuff Brian, thanks a lot for this and the PFG.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

This is overdosing!


I got out birding again on Friday, this represents a total of something like 18 hours in one week and is a bit of an overdose when compared to my birding availability over the past 10 months....God, how much longer is this going to go on!

If the weather would settle down a little more I'm desperate to get off up into the uplands somewhere but I'm not up for getting soaked in the middle of nowhere. In particular I need to satisfy myself about the situation regarding the Stonechats on Clougha and Birk Bank, though the last time I checked out the area on 26 March just one pair was found, and if they had any intention of breeding up there I doubt they will have had any success given the worst summer since....when.

Red Admiral. Pete Woodruff. 

So the magnet pulled me once again to Conder Green where I decided to give this Red Admiral the 'Gold Award' for the days efforts. I can count the number of this species seen this year on one hand and it was a delight to watch this little beauty today. The birds noted here, 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Greenshank, 4 Common Sandpiper, with a Little Grebe on Conder Pool. I heard this 'meuuw' overhead a couple of times before the penny dropped and I looked up to see the Buzzard....something to do with my 'sell by date'.


Spoonbill Colin Bushell


This Spoonbill was on Banks Marsh when it was photographed....thanks for this Colin. 

The Lune Estuary Spoonbill was seen again where I also took note of the Ruff found on Tuesday with c.500 Redshank again, also c.220 Golden Plover, and an adult Yellow-legged Gull gave excellent views across from the bowling green at Glasson Dock. By the way....one of Thursdays five Mediterranean Gulls here was ringed on the left leg, frustratingly the bird was far too far away to read the ring which appeared to be a pale blue or green....Arggggh!  

Sanderling Martin Jump 

On a relatively short visit to check out Plover Scar at Cockersands I found no Sanderling today - thanks for the photograph Martin - but noted estimates of 320 Oystercatcher, 60 Dunlin, 20 Ringed Plover, 3 Turnstone, and c.35 Linnet was a good count. I saw a single butterfly here, another species I could count on one hand this summer, a Peacock.

And finally....

Peregrine Falcon Martin Jump 

In the hope no pigeon fanciers see this (whoops), an excellent image of the juvenile Peregrine Falcon which appears to have soon 'learned the trade' with the pigeon held firmly in its talons....Thanks for the pics Martin, much appreciated.

Friday, 24 August 2012

This is becoming regular!


Managed a five hour slot again yesterday covering CG/GD and C'sands....it's gotta be dun!


At Conder Green the count was down again to 3 Common Sandpiper, another noticeable was up to 15 House Martin around River Winds where I counted four still active nests. On Conder Pool, 3 Greenshank, 2 Little Grebe, a Snipe, and 2 Grey Partridge with no sign of the young reported by birders recently, and a 'long time no see' Kingfisher was excellent.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 5 Mediterranean Gull were all adult. I must admit to have three of these beauties in your sights all at once is the kind if thing which makes birding 'great' and went a long way to increasing my passion. Also noted, a Greenshank, the 'seemingly' resident  Spoonbill, and the adult Whooper Swan which had separated itself a little distance from the 110 Mute Swans counted.

On Moss Lane, at least 300 Sand Martin were something of a surprise and spectacle in the air and taking advantage - along with a few hundred gulls - of Mr Farmer in his tractor turning a field and obviously putting vast numbers of insect life to the wing. At Cockersands, c.30 Goldfinch were feeding on Thistle, and a Sparrowhawk over. I managed to give Plover Scar a half hour at high tide to find 3 Sanderling, the numbers appeared similar to Tuesdays count of 225 Dunlin and 125 Ringed Plover. And that was it....come in No.4 your times up!

And the pics....


Migrant Hawker. Marc Heath.

Ruddy Darter. Marc Heath. 

Well if we can't find the butterflies and dragonflies this summer we can at least see some pretty impressive images of a couple of the latter from a man in Kent who certainly knows the meaning of 'up with the lark'. Treat yourself to some excellent photography of birds and other wildlife with a look in on Reculver Birder....Thanks Marc, I really appreciate this.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Taking a closer look.


On my birding days I often come across birds which I need to take a closer look at in that I wonder and question at the time of the sighting, how come this bird is here, where has it been, and where is it going. On Tuesday I found three such birds the most interesting of which had to be the adult Whooper Swan on the Lune Estuary as viewed from Glasson Dock. Taking into account the date in August I did some research about the Whooper Swan and had to consider the following....

The Whooper Swan breeds on lakes in the boreal forests from N. Scandinavia to far-eastern Siberia, with an isolated population in Iceland. So, what's a Whooper Swan doing on a river in North Lancashire on 21 August you have to ask yourself. There are not many options here, perhaps its a sick or injured bird, or a summering bird from Martin Mere where the species has in the past, in fact during the late 1970's early 1980's a free-flying flock of 15 birds were present. The only other explanation is that this bird has entered the books as the earliest Whooper Swan to arrive in this country to its wintering quarters....We may never know.

Whilst viewing the Lune Estuary I also found a juvenile Ruff with around 500 Redshank which posed more questions. This bird was probably from Fennoscandia or Russia, a ringing recovery in that regard was of a Ruff ringed in Cheshire in August 1978, was found the following year in February 1979 in N.W.Russia probably on its breeding grounds. My Ruff a Glasson Dock could well be on its way to Africa where most winter, a recovery reflecting this is of a bird at Marshside in N.Merseyside in April 1985 which had been marked in Senegal two months earlier in February. Last year I saw 14 Ruff off Hillam Lane in a field at Norbreck Farm, a record which may take me some time to equal.  

The third bird to cause me to ponder was the Sanderling which I found on Plover Scar at Cockersands. There's a lot to yet be discovered about the movements of the Sanderling, but some thin evidence suggests that many of our passage birds winter in Africa, though some do winter here. One thing for sure, I was both delighted and surprised to find this solitary creature on Tuesday, in our recording area the Sanderling is regarded as an annual spring passage migrant and a 'scarce' autumn passage migrant. 

Also on the same days birding it was interesting to find the second wave of Common Sandpiper to arrive at Conder Green, with a fall in numbers down  to low single figures since 21 birds seen on 23 July, 14 were seen today Tuesday 21 August.

And some unrelated pics to add a little colour to Birds2blog....all from España this time.


Black-winged Stilt Antonio Puigg

A brilliant image with a difference, of the Black-winged Stilt. I reckon this photograph would have puzzled lots of us as to what it was, how about you?....Thanks Antonio. 

 Green Woodpecker Ana Minguez 

Not many opportunities to photograph a Green Woodpecker in areas were I live, this is an excellent one of the juvenile....Thanks Ana.

Woodchat Shrike Isidro Ortiz

And even more definitely not many opportunities at all to see - let alone photograph - the Woodchat Shrike in this country never mind the areas where I live....Thanks Isidro.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

At it again!


Something of a repeat of last Tuesdays birding with another seven hours given over to Conder Green/Glasson Dock/Cockersands/Bank End with some better rewards this time to be honest.

At Conder Green, another build up of numbers after a fall in recent days with at least 14 Common Sandpipers found today, also of note a Spotted Redshank and Greenshank, with 2 Little Grebe in their summer finery on Conder Pool, and a Peregrine Falcon putting the wind up a few waders in the creeks.


Temper, temper....
Whooper Swan David Cookson


OK....you don't expect a Whooper Swan on the River Lune at Glasson Dock in August, but an adult was with a group of Mute Swans at the mouth of the River Conder late morning. Also a Ruff with up to 500 Redshank and a solitary Black-tailed Godwit, a Spotted Redshank and Greenshank, c.150 Golden Plover, and the Spoonbill asleep at the south end of Colloway Marsh. 

Sanderling David Cookson

On a 'mutt free' Plover Scar at Cockersands it was a delight to observe something like 350 waders at close range quietly roosting at high tide and an excellent opportunity to find the next 'mega' here. But a single Sanderling was likened to a mega for me, a scarce species here and a joy to find. Also an estimated 225 Dunlin and 125 Ringed Plover, 2 Turnstone, a Whimbrel,18 Snipe, and 3 Wheatear.

Curlew
Curlew Brian Rafferty


I legged it down to Bank End to find the gull roost a minor event today with few in number, but noted up to 1,000 Curlew opposite here and on Cockerham Marsh as far as my eyes would take me. A Sparrowhawk was overhead on my way back from here, and on the day a 'large' number of Swallow noted, some lingering, some south. 


Common Blue Warren Baker 

A few 'whites', 3 Small Tortoiseshell, and a Common Blue were the only butterflies seen today.  

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Bird Behaviour.


Female Peregrine in flight
Peregrine Falcon Brian Rafferty

There is a brief account and photographs of a Peregrine Falcon behaving in an unbelievable way. I doubt if there could ever be a rational explanation for what we SEE HERE but mine is that it is an escaped captive bird and a hungry one at that.

I keep a book of personal records containing some remarkable bird behaviour seen on my travels, one of them is an account of a Spotted Redshank (SR) seen from the Eric Morecambe Hide at Leighton Moss in 1998 which I observed feeding alongside some Teal, the SR was noted to be upending immersing its head and neck, the Teal was obviously stirring up a food source and the SR was opportunistically taking advantage of this. I later found this behaviour of SR was known though I had never seen it myself before and not since.


Swallow David Cookson   

I'm quite sure much more will be known about the Swallow today than was the case when one was ringed as a nestling on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border at Low Bentham in August 1918. This individual was picked up dead in South Africa six months later in February 1919 and the aluminium ring was found to have the markings J.M.53 and an address in London, at the time this was the fourth Swallow to have been ringed in Great Britain and later found in South Africa. There is an interesting tale attached to this bird in that, the finding of it dead on a farm in South Africa had the natives all thinking the bird boded ill-luck for the farmer, and considered it to be a clear case of witchcraft for a bird to appear from nowhere with a ring round its leg and to alight on the farm. 

But theres always a record which stands out from all the rest and the one about a Manx Shearwater is one of them, it was the most remarkable 'homing experiment' of all at the time and probably still is.  


Manx Shearwater Dave Appleton  

An adult Manx Shearwater was taken from its burrow on Skokholm off Pembrokeshire, Wales, and conveyed to an airport, into the hold of a trans-atlantic aircraft, and on to Boston, USA were it was released. This truly amazing creature navigated across the featureless Atlantic Ocean in twelve days and was recorded as actually arriving back at the burrow on Skokholm before details of its release reached the island.


Eastern Olivaceous Warbler www.arkive.org

Bringing a smile to birding. 

An Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - a MEGA in any birders books - was reported yesterday morning in Fife, Scotland. No doubt the 'twitchers' were filling their tanks for the journey up to Scotland....but by the evening the bird had been re-identified as a Chiffchaff....Mmmmm!   

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The New Header Pic.


As can be seen by the new header pic, Conder Pool in the right conditions can look quite brilliant. When I took this photograph last Tuesday the pool was void of birds but looked stunning with the bright blue sky - for a change - and some excellent cloud reflections.

Like any location the desertion of birds can sometimes be the case, but Conder Pool has had its moments and I'm not going to create the list just now. Having said how brilliant this small pool can be with its show of the odd rare/scarce birds over the years, it is in need of management, a scrape perhaps, and an area of shingle for the likes of the Little Ringed Plover to be attracted to breed for starters. Also as can be seen from the photograph its a bit too much like Lake Windermere at the moment....to much water and no muddy edge to attract the forthcoming passage waders. Still, like I say....looking rather nice Ehh!


Collared Pratincole Antonio Puigg    

Who knows....perhaps one of these staring at you next time you pay a visit to Conder Pool!

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Little Dash....


....follows a Big Bash!

I managed to sneak off for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon, for my liking it represented an all too short a visit to Bank End, Glasson Dock, and Conder Green. Like Tuesdays birding which lasted seven hours for similar coverage, today I just had a fraction of the time on my hands, still....owts better than nowt! 

Mediterranean Gull. Copy Permitted.

At Bank End where birding in the afternoon is pretty hopeless on a sunny day when it's in your face, but if the gulls choose to roost here at high tide it's an excellent place and this was the case today, but most of the birds too distant, and a haze to contend with. However, an adult Mediterranean Gull was the reward for a bit of determination and a Little Egret for the bonus.


Mediterranean Gull.Copy Permitted. 

If you'd find the photograph of a juvenile MG useful this one is just what you need.

At Glasson Dock another adult Mediterranean Gull obliged, and I also noted a Spotted Redshank and c.320 Golden Plover, 2 Wigeon were a surprise though two were summering on Conder Pool but not seen since Tuesday 22 May, reasonable to assume these are the two.

At Conder Green another adult Spotted Redshank, and 2 Common Sandpiper. On Conder Pool a Greenshank, and a Snipe roosting beside a Teal was an unusual sight. I noted a House Martin visiting a nest at the rear side of Cafe d' Lune, but another nest above the window of the house here had a large gaping hole in the side which caused me some concern. 

Swallows in Kent.


Swallows Warren Baker 


Warren achieved some excellent shots of this adult Swallow feeding one of its youngsters preparing it for the long haul to Africa. Thanks Warren, these are brilliant.


Little Gulls in East Yorkshire.


Little Gull www.arkive.org 

At Hornsea Mere in East Yorkshire a spectacular event takes place around this time in August when Little Gulls gather, on Wednesday evening at 9.00pm 7,200 Little Gulls were recorded, a truly wonderful sight. 

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Big Bash!


I gave Conder Green/Glasson Dock/Cockersands a good seven hour bashing yesterday. As the weather turned out it would have been ideal for an overdue visit to the uplands, but too much of a risk of running into the 'Rambo Brigade' and having my ear drums burst with the sound of gunshot with these lot on double barrels until the novelty of the new season wears off and they start to spend more time setting up more traps to maintain their land management exercises.

By the way....


If you're planning some birding at the end of the month and it involves travelling south beyond Conder Green on the A588....you'd best take note of the pic above.

At Conder Green a Spotted Redshank was soon seen, also a Common Sandpiper appeared to be alone, the House Martin activity seems to have fallen off at River Winds but I noted a Swallow obviously visiting a nest site here today. The best bird at Conder Green was on the pool and was a Little Grebe in full breeding plumage....must check my dates for this species here on today's date as this one could be a first record of Little Grebe in breeding plumage on Conder Pool.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, the Spoonbill found here again, the bird appears to like the area around the mouth of the River Conder which is where I saw it last time on 23 July. Also to note, 2 Mediterranean Gull were both adult, 2 Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, and c.250 Golden Plover.

At Cockersands the 'hard labour' kicked in but I noted a Whimbrel and estimates of 200 Golden Plover, 85 Curlew, and 25 Dunlin, 9 Eider were off Plover Scar. The circuit resulted in little more than a healthy exercise, plus 12 Tree Sparrow, and 2 Greenfinch.

Meadow Brown. Pete Woodruff.   

Apart from a few 'whites' I saw just three butterflies today and that is serious, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, and the male Meadow Brown pictured above which I hadn't realised was in such poor condition until I saw it on the computer.

And finally, well almost....



Geoff took full advantage of the photo opportunity of the Common Tern youngster in the company of a Common Sandpiper at Preston Dock....Nice one and thanks GG.

No time in this post to address the subject of a cull of Canada Geese taking place just north of Carnforth at Pine Lake, but if you happen to be interested in this latest 'local' criminal act against wildlife perhaps you should watch this space.   

Monday, 13 August 2012

Fair Game!



I've just read an interesting post on a blog. 

Cock Pheasant
Pheasant. Brian Rafferty.


Of course its no coincidence that I read this particular post today, though it does coincide with the Glorious 12th which of course was yesterday, but assuming the country gents do in fact abide by the rules, they cannot shoot on Sundays so the tradition started today. 

There's this gamekeeper who has recently visited a game fair and met up with many friends old and new, lots of them were asking this fella how were his Pheasant poults doing, at this point he covers up the main issue slightly by relating to the bad weather in addition to Buzzard predation.

I have no idea what the definition of 'the first week' is in this context but during this first week he 'lost a good few poults to Tawny Owl'....so now the Tawny Owl is a problem, well maybe it always has been for all I know. He goes on to say....'and Sparrowhawks and then the Buzzards, we loose one a day from each pen'....so these birds select a different pen each day to equal out the loss to the gamekeeper....Mmmmm!!

At this point he tells us....'as well as these losses from predation, my poults once again are on the verge of leaving me because of the onslaught'....does he mean they're walking out on him?

He mentions someone else in the post now, who is 'astonished at the death and destruction these Buzzards are meting out, not only to the poults but the other wild birds we have on the estate'....So do we assume the 'other wild birds' are all vegetarians or seed eaters then!    

Red Legged Partridge 1
Red-legged Partridge. Brian Rafferty.


I could go on but can't be bothered to be honest, instead here are two more birds, one of which lives its life in fear of being shot by someone still living in the dark ages, and is reared by the thousands - like the Pheasant - solely for that purpose.

Black Grouse 1
Black Grouse. Brian Rafferty.

The other....well, not many of these left to shoot anyhow and are the subject of re-introduction programmes to many areas from where they disappeared.  


Thanks for the trio of game birds BR personally I rate them as stunning photographs.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING...AND TOMORROW WILL BE COME HELL OR HIGH WATER!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Hover-Fly.


One day last week I discovered what I eventually learned was a hover-fly on a flower in our garden. Dashing off to get my camera I was fortunate enough to get some pretty good pics - by my standards - of this individual. 
 
Helophilus pendulus  Pete Woodruff

The photograph above was featured at the foot of my previous post The Dunlin and two others with the request for anyone who could help identify it and I was grateful for the correspondent who gave me his answer to the ID. 

Helophilus trivittatus/pendulus 

In the photograph above the two hover-flies are shown as Helophilus trivittatus at the top, and Hpendulus at the bottom. The result of my always liking to get to the bottom of any given ID challenge and some research brought me to discover that following a study of the two images and comparing them with the individual in the garden the hover-fly was in fact the more common of the two the Helophilus pendulus.

The hover-flies include some of our most colourful and spectacular flies. There are about 250 species in the British Isles and, as well as their remarkable ability to hover, most of them display a swift, darting flight. Many hover-flies are excellent mimics of bees and wasps, although they are easily distinguished by the much shorter, drooping antennae. The larvae are extremely varied in both appearance and behaviour and include carnivores, vegetarians and scavengers, whilst the adult feeds on nectar....Learning something new every day.  

As for the butterflies - which we're not seeing many of this summer - here's a couple you won't be seeing anyway if you live in the same area that I do, and both are Priority Species for conservation due to loss of habitat resulting in the fall in population.


  Heath Fritillary Marc Heath 

The Heath Fritillary can be found in the south including Kent, Essex, Cornwall, and Devon where 130 Heath Fritillary butterflies were released in 2007 in order to re-establish a colony lost at a site in the county.

Small Blue Marc Heath

And the Small Blue which has the distinction of being the smallest native British butterfly .

Thanks for the butterflies Marc....Excellent.

Friday, 10 August 2012

The Dunlin and two others!


Having been in touch with GG, with his permission I'm able to post these photographs of three wader species at Rossall Point, all showing excellent plumage detail for study. 

I decided to single out the Dunlin to make a few comments.

Adult Dunlin.

The Dunlin is a well known bird in North America and Europe. The classic features of the species are its black bill, noticeably drooped at the tip, and black legs, breeding plumage shows a solid black belly-patch. The Dunlin - of which there are six races - is a variable species particularly in bill length and body size. It is an abundant small wader which I use as a yardstick when trying to identify similar species, not being yer average 'clever dick' it often causes me problems when trying to familiarise myself with its various plumage's. The bill length varies, birds of the race arctica have shorter bills than those of the race schinzii and the longer-billed is of the race alpina.

Juvenile Dunlin.

As can be seen in this excellent photograph, the juvenile has upperpart feathering of buff/chestnut edging, with - not all that obvious in this photograph - a lightly streaked breast and belly. The juvenile Dunlin is distinct until around the end of October by which time it is only possible to age in the hand by some retained juvenile feathers. Virtually all one year old birds acquire full breeding plumage.

In 2010 there was no evidence of breeding on the fells within our recording area. Interesting is that Clifford Oakes makes no mention of breeding Dunlin in Lancashire referring to schinzii as a summer visitor and passage migrant, and alpina as a winter visitor and passage migrant, further claiming that the two races cannot be distinguished in the field with certainty, he records a bird ringed in Norway in September 1938, and was recovered on the Ribble Estuary in February 1939.  

 Sanderling.

Another of GG's excellent photographs is that of the Sanderling showing equally excellent plumage detail. The species is seen in our recording area as a spring passage migrant, scarce as an autumn one, and a very rare winter visitor. 

Turnstone.

And another of my favourite waders, the long distance migrant Turnstone with more excellent detail in plumage.

Thanks to Geoff Gradwell for these I really appreciate them, all excellent close detail images.

And finally....


Unidentified. Pete Woodruff.


I found this interesting creature in the garden recently, as can be seen as yet unidentified, the same goes for the flower....anyone?

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Hard Labour....


....but I wouldn't mind being able to do it on a daily basis.


Birding was a bit hard going yesterday, and to make matters worse the first three hours were spent back and forth to the motor to shelter from some heavy showers and I was beginning to get that - 'shouldn't I be doing something more useful with my life' - feeling. 


Wheatear.

The day eventually turned into something a little more like early August by the time I got to Cockersands where I continued the hard labour but found and noted a Whimbrel, 4 Wheatear, 5 Linnet and 9 Eider


Oystercatcher.

The guardians of Plover Scar were the only birds seen on here with c.130 Oystercatcher counted. I also found a Common Blue butterfly at Cockersands today....so there's a great ALLELUIA to that one.


Little Owl. 

On my way to Cockersands the 'Jeremy Lane' Little Owl was half hidden on the beam in the corner of the loft in the old derelict farm building....obviously not the one in the pic.

But I had started at Conder Green - well  where else - noting 2 Spotted Redshank adults, the 3 Greenshank on Conder Pool I only found as a result of a search from the fence at the west end of the pool and were well out of sight from the viewing platform, one of the three was an adult noticeably still retaining full breeding plumage. 


Common Sandpiper.

Three Common Sandpiper and 3 Goosander were in the creeks, and at least 16 House Martin were around River Winds.

At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary....surprise, surprise, 6 Ringed Plover were a remarkable coincidence, finding them just a few days after 'shouting my mouth off' they are never seen here on the Lune Estuary in This Post....so that'll teach me to run a blog making false claims, but that said, my comments in the post remain accurate at the time of writing according to my records and these six were a first here for me. Also noted, an adult Mediterranean Gull, and a Little Egret, wader numbers here were as low and unimpressive as my birding achievements today.

And finally....

Well its entered in my little black book so it might as well be reported on Birds2blog....Seen from the Caravan Park at Cockersands, Mrs Mutt was on the marsh at high tide with 12 - yes twelve - of her charges which were running amok....well there's a surprise!

Thanks to PW for today's four pics....you can tell they're his by the quality!