BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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CLOUGHA PIKE HEATHER CLAD. FORMER LANCASHIRE STONECHAT STRONGHOLD. PETE WOODRUFF

Friday, 30 March 2012

The Shilling is back....



....and it used to be worth five pence a few years ago, but this is another 'shilling'.

Its as good an excuse for a post as any....Landart artist Richard Shilling is back and I'm here to promote his new post....all non bird related but so what!


Annapurna-Leaf-Coloured-Discs. Richard Shilling. 

I've been worried and wondering where RS had got to for some time now - since late November actually - well now I know....he's been to Nepal. RS has been featured on Birds2blog before and I know lots of visitors like to be pointed in his direction. This fella lets you get inside his head and I strongly recommend if you want a good read you should go HERE


Cockersands Abbey. Peter Guy.

Continuing on the non-bird theme....If you like excellent scenery/landscape to accompany your birding then Cockersands can provide you with it. This is a pretty dramatic and stunning photograph of the old Abbey at Cockersands, where you'll be guaranteed a Wheatear on the masonry come the back end of the year, every year in my record book. 

Passing the light. Pete Woodruff.

Well you can tell its one of mine by the lack of quality in a photograph of the ship passing the lighthouse off Cockersands, another bit of brilliant scenery to add to your birding at an excellent location.

Short-eared Owl. David Cookson.

So there had to be a pic of a bird on a birding blog and they don't come any better than this one of the Short-eared Owl. And here's another guarantee....if it's excellent images of birds/wildlife you're after Here they are 

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Back to Clougha 2.



On Sunday I promised myself a visit to Clougha and managed to keep the promise on Monday. I received some encouraging news on Sunday evening of a pair of Stonechats on Clougha which made me keener than ever to get myself back up there to find out what the situation was and hopefully to find more than the one pair reported to me.  

Brown Hare David Cookson 

My last visit to Clougha was back in August last year when I gave up on the Stonechats - here and elsewhere - which had suffered at the hands of two successive harsh winter periods. This visit on Monday was to prove a disappointment in that there was indeed just one pair of Stonechat despite a five hour trawl, and on enquiring about those reported to me they were the very same pair seen the day before.  

A Brown Hare was soon seen as I left the car park on Rigg Lane, not sure I ever saw one here before. When I reached my highest point I saw a male Wheatear, not a bird to mess around the Wheatear and this one was already at 400m above sea level, at least 50 Meadow Pipit were either on territory or lingering here, and I counted up to 27 Red Grouse, 3 Mistle Thrush, and although I saw not a single one I heard at least 14 Wren, butterflies seen were 4 Small Tortoiseshell and a single Peacock.

Red Grouse Brian Rafferty

I also managed a visit to Harrisend where I found just 3 Stonechats, interestingly these were seen as a pair with a male hanging around just 50m away....unusual. I counted just 8 Meadow Pipit here, with 4 Red Grouse, a Buzzard was soaring high over Tarnbrook, and I heard a distant Green Woodpecker 'yaffle' four times. I didn't strictly count Peacock butterflies but must have seen at least 20.


Peregrine Falcon Tony Duckett 

With suppression becoming more and more a necessity - especially during the breeding season and in the case of raptors in the Bowland Fells - I think its time I played my part and for this reason I'm no longer prepared to report details about my sightings other than in today's case I had excellent views of a Peregrine Falcon at close quarters. The one in the pic above is about as dramatic as they come of a Peregrine Falcon patrolling the skies.


This one of the Kestrel is excellent photographically and gives the feeling of a bird on its last hunt of the day in fading light....or starve until the morning.


A Swift passed through Portland Bill today, possibly the first ever March Swift here, and earlier in the week an early House Martin was in Kendal, Cumbria.


It was good to be back on Clougha again on Monday. Thanks to everyone who keeps me posted re the Stonechats, and to DC/BR/TD/CT for today's excellent photographs....much appreciated.    

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Back to Clougha.....



....and a couple of 'crests'.

Goldcrest Warren Baker  


First the Goldcrest, one of the more difficult birds to photograph, ever-active during non-stop searches for food preferably in conifers. The smallest of European birds with a noticeable shortish tail, a bird I always note to have a remarkably plain face with dark beady eyes. WB's Goldcrest certainly doesn't look very active and gave him the opportunity to achieve this brilliant image.

Tomorrow - especially with the weather being as it is at the moment and record levels of high temperatures are being recorded - the plan is to escape and get myself back on to Clougha and Birk Bank primarily to check out the Stonechat situation. I'm hoping to see some evidence of birds having returned here and being we are approaching the end of March egg laying may have commenced. 


An interesting point to note is that several instances of nest building by the female have been recorded taking place in the late afternoon, but indications are that she usually builds in the early morning. There is a remarkable record of a female Stonechat visiting an active Carrion Crow nest when the adults were absent and removing sheep's wool as lining for her own nest. The Stonechat never fails to intrigue me and is the mainstay of my passion for this complex bird. Other notes I have made regarding the female is that she usually chooses the nest site and does so alone with the male remaining at a discreet distance, though still following her about during her forays for nesting material.

Hopefully tomorrow I can also pay a visit to another stronghold of the Stonechat - until the past winter put an end to it - at Harrisend.

And to end with....


Firecrest Marc Heath


Similar in looks, the same in size, and non stop searching for food in the conifers the Firecrest is the other 'crest' difficult to photograph but MH has taken the opportunity with this individual to good effect. Unlike the Goldcrest the Firecrest has a distinct face pattern of bold white eyebrow and prominent black eye stripe. Thanks to Warren and Marc for allowing me to share these excellent photographs on Birds2blog.

And finally....

If you own an aircraft you need to get it fired up and head off to the Scilly Isles where on St Mary's at Port Hellick if your lucky you'll find a Scop's Owl, seen there at 8.10pm about twenty minutes before I posted this.

Friday, 23 March 2012

The hat-trick!



I got out birding yesterday for the third time in over five months - not good for the soul - and managed an excellent six hours in the Conder/Glasson/Cockersands area.


Scaup. Copy Permitted.


I had to be back in Lancaster by 1.00pm, so to get my six hours in I was at Conder Green by 6.30am....and that's what I call living. The very bird in the pic above was the first bird I recorded in my little black book today, the drake Scaup was on Conder Pool in the company of 14 Tufted Duck, also noted on the pool, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Wigeon, and 3 Little Grebe. A circuit produced 3 Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, and a Little Egret all in the creeks.


Viewing the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock it was interesting to note at least 250 Shelduck here, a similar number of Curlew were too distant for comfort as were c.160 'godwit' which I took to be Bar-tailed Godwit. The estuary was otherwise pretty quiet with barely a double figure of 'gulls' to be seen and not a Goldeneye in sight. 


Black-tailed Godwit David Cookson 


Off Bodie Hill I counted 45 Black-tailed Godwit and 65 Wigeon. Thanks to DC for the excellent image of the BTG.


So by now I've used up three of my six hours, the next three I spent at Cockersands, during which time took in one or two nooks/crannies and an enjoyable circuit. I think my best record here was the sight of 15 Grey Plover, a number unheard of in my book and a scarce species here though regular in low single figures, or have I been visiting Cockersands at the wrong time for all these years. Also of note on a quiet Plover Scar as the tide came in, as counts go these are pretty accurate, 45 Knot, 18 Turnstone, 12 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover, with Oystercatchers unchecked, 19 Eider were by the lighthouse.


Wheatear Phil Slade 

On the circuit, having found a Ruff on a flood, with my back to another field I had been thinking the field behind me is good for the species I was really 'out to get' today, and yes....2 Wheatear were excellent on my day of escapism, in another field up to 650 Golden Plover were resting quietly. I have no idea of the numbers in this area at the moment but I only saw 2 Tree Sparrows today. I know I'm not the recorders friend on this one but a 'few' Meadow Pipits were noted, as were Skylarks, about eight of the latter. Thanks to PS for the Wheatear.

And finally....

Lesser-spotted Woodpecker Tony Duckett  

Just to annoy the 'local' birders who won't have seen one in years in our recording area and beyond - if ever - another cracking little photograph of the cracking little Lesser-spotted Woodpecker....Thanks to TD and Regents Park Birds.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Clement is missing and worse....



....presumed dead.


OK....for starters these short 'gap filling' posts are becoming quite ridicules, but theres some interesting reading about this bird that revealed something unknown about the return migration routes to Africa amongst other things. And I'm not some butch macho type who wouldn't dream of admitting I'm pretty cut up with this news about Clement who I sponsored, all a bit sad if you ask me. Find out more about the end of the story of Clement HERE

And by the way....I got six excellent hours birding in today  - Alleluia - but no time to report 'till a later date.  

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Today's Quickie!



Another of those short posts today to help keep the old blog up and running along with a couple - well three actually - of those excellent 'customary' pictures which hopefully will interest you. 


You may have noticed I've put a link to the Portland Bill Observatory in my sidebar, an excellent site for keeping in touch with whats arrived and what hasn't as in the case of the Stonechat. A 'run' through the month of March on the website will uncover the virtual absence of any Stonechat arrivals, virtual save a solitary bird noted as an assumed continental bird on 12 March....this is serious. An e-mail from Martin at the obs confirms my/the general view that the Stonechat was amongst the worst to suffer at the hands of the two winters prior to 2011/12 and there appears to be no sign of any migrants to talk about arriving in the country....time will tell. The good news is that the obs does have a pair of resident Stonechats around.

And the three customary's....

Montagu's Harrier. Mike Watson.

The stunning Montagu's Harrier taken by MW on his recent travels to places far away....See Here

Hawfinch Colin Bushell   

If you need some guarantee of finding the Hawfinch, apparently you need to get yourself off to Sizergh Castle near Kendal in Cumbria where they appear on an almost daily basis, and they are actually inclined to 'come to you' in the car park, even better than armchair birding....car seat birding!

Collared Dove Warren Baker

And finally the Collared Dove....An excellent image of a largely neglected bird, and a good looking bird too!

Thanks to Mike/Colin/ Warren for the pictures, much appreciated. 

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Red Grouse.



Its difficult for me to have a favourite upland bird - following on from the Stonechat that is - but the Red Grouse (RG) stands well up the list for me. 

The RG has a range restricted to areas of blanket bog and upland shrub heath. I hate to relate to this but....for well over two hundred years many areas of heather have been managed to produce the RG for shooting, in fact grouse shooting is one of the major land uses of the uplands and as become an important source of income for many estates.


There is no need to point any fingers at anyone, any area, or some areas of wildlife when it comes to how and why numbers of raptors in upland areas have declined as it is all to painfully obvious to us all. Estate management are never happy to see any increases in  - for example - foxes, crows, and raptors, and it seems likely that predation pressure by both mammals and predatory birds has increased on many moors according to the shooting fraternity and estate owners.

But hey....nature has itself has a hand in the decline of the RG too and around one third of grouse moors carry louping ill, a viral disease transmitted between host animal and ticks, an 'upland person' once told me it needs just one chick to acquire just one tick and every other bird in the nest dies too. The presence of louping ill causes serious levels of reduction in chick survival, and in the North of England in an area we all know well shooting was put on hold for many years, and the last time I had a conversation with any gamekeepers a couple of years ago here the 'hold' was still in place....but I don't pretend to be bang up to date in 2012 on that one. 


Its only two years ago I counted up to forty RG on Clougha - a stronghold for the grouse - so if that was in a bad year for the species, goodness knows what the number would have been in a good one. The RG lives....long live the Red Grouse!


And now the customary stuff.... 


Marsh Harrier Phillip Tomkinson


An excellent 'reflection' image of the juvenile Marsh Harrier....

Smew Tony Duckett


....and the equally excellent shot of the Smew in flight from our man in the park!

And thanks to DC at David Cookson Images for the other excellent shot of the Red Grouse in the new header.


I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....and the time is getting nearer that I will be but....not yet.

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Greenshank.



I was reminded I had this book by seeing its mention on another birders blog when he said he was settling down to start reading this excellent book published in 1979.

Desmond Nethersole Thompson had been studying the Greenshank since May 1932. This book was in fact the second on the species, his first The Greenshank - which was published in 1951 -  had told the story of his early research much of which was in Spey Valley, Inverness, the book is now a collectors item having become a classic.  

This second edition illustrates an obsession the whole Thompson family had with the Greenshank, a family eight strong, with two daughters, and four sons who went on to work as a team in the north-west Highlands of Scotland. The book concentrates on the birds displays and breeding, food and feeding behaviour, and its remarkable voice. 


From a personal point of view there is nothing more delightful than hearing a Greenshank flying in from the Lune Estuary to come in to land in front of you on Conder Pool. 
And the pics in the post....


Stonechat. Colin Bushell.

Well....I couldn't resist this one of the brilliant male Stonechat on the wires at Hesketh Out Marsh, on his way to meet up with a nice little female hopefully to help pump up the population in the UK for the next year or two to get the numbers on the increase once again.

Long-tailed Duck. Colin Bushell.

And this one from CB of the Long-tailed Ducks at Burghead, Moray, Scotland. Thanks to Colin at ribbletoamazon.com for the photographs, much appreciated and helping to keep Birds2blog head above the water 'till I get back to normal....whatever that is!


And we have that curious white background once again....can't work out how come. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Vagrant Bunting....


....a missing Cuckoo, and the customary pic's.

Rustic Bunting Marc Heath

No idea what the record represents other than it is of 'mega' proportions in this area at least, and one glimpsed at Heysham this morning for 60 seconds. I know little about the Rustic Bunting, save I've never seen one, and reckon the likelihood is....neither have you! It's status is that of a rare vagrant and Marc Heath saw the individual in the photograph above in Kent April 2010. 

Clement the satellite tagged Cuckoo has gone off the radar and his tag has produced no signal since 22 February. Not the first time there has been a gap in transmission, but a concern all the same. He was the second bird to leave the Congo heading west to Cameroon, fingers crossed this is a problem with technology and not with Clement.


The summer migrants are moving in a little nearer to us with - as I write - a Little Ringed Plover at Longridge, Wheatear at Marshside, and White Wagtail at Hilbre Island. Another excellent record is that of a drake Scaup on Conder Pool this afternoon, where you should be watching out for the Little Ringed Plover back on here again soon.


Bean Goose. Copy Permitted.

An excellent mug shot showing the bill markings of a Tundra Bean Goose to good effect, giving people like me the opportunity to study the image so I'll maybe be able to ID one without having the benefit of seeing its leg colour.....well could you! 

Treecreeper Tony Duckett   

A smart little pic of the smart little Treecreeper....

Green Woodpecker Marc Heath

....and an excellent image of the Green Woodpecker, not a bird your likely to encounter on every venture out into the world of birding. 

Monday, 12 March 2012

Black & White.


White Wagtail. Pete Woodruff.

You can always tell a photograph of mine by the lack of quality!....

The White Wagtails (WW) have arrived in the south as have the Wheatear, but you'll probably have to wait a few days to find one if you live in the same area as I do. The one in the pic above I found at Conder Pool 6 April 2009, in the past two years my firsts have been at Cockersands 25 March in 2010, and at Aldcliffe 21 March 2011. Although I've not done a search for dates, Cockersands has produced double figures of the WW given I had visited on the right day at the right time, often the case with birding.

The WW are pretty straight forward to ID in the spring - but a different story in the autumn - although my pic doesn't show a particularly clean flank, it is one of the characteristics of the species which make for the ID along with the black bib and head which never meet as can be seen in the picture above, these features and the clean-looking ash-grey mantle make it all the more easy for identification. Sexing the spring WW is mainly possible with reference to the crown, on the male the black is clearly demarcated from the mantle, on the female this is less clear-cut, sometimes with grey mixed in.

Northern WW's are long distance migrants which winter mostly in Africa, and often south of the Sahara. On passage today void of doing research I'm not well up on facts and figures regarding numbers, but some good examples of the past have been, up to 50 on the Keer Estuary in April 1962, and 60 roosting with Yellow Wagtails at Sunderland Point at the end of the same month in 1965...well I'd like to have witnessed that one for sure but I'm not sure any of us are ever likely to see that again.     

Pied Wagtail. John Bateman.

In JB's photograph the distinction between the Pied Wagtail and White Wagtail is obvious, in simple terms this is a clear back and white bird with 'dirty' flanks. 

Mediterranean Gull. Copy Permitted.

This adult Mediterranean Gull found at St Michael's on Wyre has acquired its summer black hood to join the Black and White brigade. 

Comma Warren Baker 

And the Comma butterfly was found by my man in Kent....another nice sign of the approaching spring of 2012. I get rather depressed when I think I'll be going to miss seeing the arrival of the first summer visitors....but I'd better not go any further down that road again!  

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Cuckoos are coming.

Cuckoo. Copyright Edmund Fellowes.


The 'Red Listed' Cuckoo is one of the UK's fastest declining migrants and also one of the least known about birds once they leave the UK. 

It was fascinating to see different routes taken by the five satellite tracked Cuckoos on their migration back to wintering grounds in Africa last summer, in fact one bird chose to cross the North Sea to the Netherlands, two went off in a south easterly direction to Belgium, whilst the other two went south across the English Channel and into France. One bird Clement - who I sponsored - went on to prove that some cuckoos migrate by day and night and in fact on one occasion he moved 210 miles in the extreme heat of the desert. 

Now, having successfully spent their winter in Africa all eyes will be on the moves these birds now make with regards to their spring migration back to the UK. From the latest readings of 8 March from the tags on these five Cuckoos, three have made their first moves and are now in West Africa having flown west to reach Ghana. This provides new information and evidence that as previously thought Cuckoos don't always leave for North Africa or Europe via the long flight  direct from their wintering locations. So interest mounts about where these birds prepare for their spring desert crossing, and hopefully to seeing what determines how many Cuckoos make it back to Britain each spring, and why they arrive early or late.


Here's another bird we can only hope makes it back to the UK in good numbers this year....

Whinchat Marc Heath 

The Whinchat is an 'Amber Listed' bird according to the RSPB and BTO available statistics, lets hope many will return to this country to successfully breed. I'm looking forward very much to being able to visit several location where this brilliant little 'chat' can be found, one of which may well produce reasonably high numbers for this species again ts summer.

If you followed the Cuckoo story since last summer you'll know all about the above....if you didn't the story so far plus a complete up-date can be found HERE 


Saturday, 10 March 2012

New Header....

....and an excellent 'mega' bird for our recording area.


OK guys....probably the briefest post I'm ever likely to publish on Birds2blog and with no photographs this time - now there's a first - but a new header illustrating a truly excellent image of a truly excellent bird which you should have had the opportunity to see in your/the LDBWS recording area but didn't....I wonder why!!

Possibly more to follow on this intriguing subject, and Birds2blog is moving into controversy mode by way of a change - well if I can't get out birding - and breaking the rules of the blog. But lets make it perfectly clear, I'm not a twitcher, year lister, ticker, just a pure passionate birder with principals.  

Friday, 9 March 2012

Another one of those....



....amazing coincidence posts.

Being that the previous post took on the thorny subject of 'how come we didn't hear about this one then'. David Cookson has a post today and by the aforementioned amazing coincidence it relates to the very same species of bird the Dartford Warbler. It is an interesting short article, and as far as DC is concerned has an excellent result. Please take a look at Coals to Newcastle

By the way, I didn't get out birding on Tuesday despite my prediction on Monday evening that there was a 99.9% chance I would do. Unfortunately....nay tragically, plans had to be changed and I was forced to continue with my 'hard labour' project which runs, and runs, and runs, and runs. So I still have to have only my third outing since the last one on 14 October 2011 and that's rather grim I have to tell you. 

Well, however short 'and hopefully sweet' my posts are there's always going to have to be at least one photograph to display in them, so here's two....

                                                                  Bittern. Brian Rafferty.

Thousand of people over the years flock to places like the RSPB Reserve at Leighton Moss, just to hopefully get a glimpse of the Bittern many of who go home disappointed. But on a recent visit to Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve BR took full advantage of this bird behaving remarkably confiding and achieved some brilliant shots of this very elusive bird. 


                                                               Water Rail. Brian Rafferty.

It was BR's lucky day as he also had excellent views of another elusive bird the Water Rail as this brilliant photograph illustrates. Not many can lay claim to seeing both the Bittern and Water Rail on the same day let alone achieve such excellent photographs too.


Please take a look at some more images of these two birds and more HERE 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Practice run for 1 April!


Dartford Warbler. David Cookson. 

The intention was that I did a post this evening on the Dartford Warbler until I realised I had already done one which - if you're interested and haven't seen it before - is HERE the photograph has also had pride of place on Birds2blog before, but it's such a brilliant example of the bird and the photographer that its here again.

It's either a bit weird....something of a coincidence....or there is a direct connection but....five visitors to Birds2blog today have accessed the above linked post about the Dartford Warbler and, well wait for it....one reported this afternoon on the RBA pager service as being at Arnside Park which is in Cumbria though inside the LDBWS recording area.

A couple of points to make here....You will have noted at pole position in my sidebar the RBA link with the 'Getting The News Out' caption, and there are one or two who cry out for this idea of letting everyone know about 'whats about' as soon as you've found whatever it is you found, and lets face it that's what RBA are all about, and that's why I subscribe to it. But the cry didn't get through to whoever found this little 'stray' and he/she certainly didn't get the news out 'cos it was broadcast at 3.19pm when the bird had been found at this location almost six hours earlier at 9.30am. No doubt there's an explanation for all this, and no doubt the gunfire is heading my way right this minute with regard to this subject, but I reckon this could be someone having a practice run for April Fools day!  


And whilst we're looking at DC's Dartford Warbler once again, here are two more 'Cookies Crackers'....  


Black-necked Grebe. David Cookson.

The stunning little Black-necked Grebe....

Wren. David Cookson. 

And the delightful little Wren. Always lots of excellent photographs to view on DC's website, so please treat yourself from time to time HERE 


And finally....


Apparently a Common Sandpiper at Jubilee Tower on the Trough of Bowland road today.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Pics2blog!



Well, you might suppose it would be as well to turn my attentions to photographs or maybe a bit of my birding history and change the name of the blog, but heyup....there's a pretty good 99.9% chance of a days birding tomorrow - Tuesday - so if you happen to bump into some oddball who's grinning from one side of his mug to the other its PW doing the rounds and boy will I be in serious birding mode, watch this space....if you're interested that is.

By the way I've seen another Stonechat record from Barbondale today, now there's a thought, and another kindly passed on to me from Foulshaw Moss, now there's another thought. Also the first record for 2012 of a Sand Martin at Cockermouth, Cumbria this morning. And here's a laugh....my spell checker has just suggested correcting Cockermouth to 'Blabbermouth'....well I know one or two of those!

So, here are the pics - with waffle from me kept to an absolute minimum - from four of the many birder/photographers I know well, and who kindly allow me to share their brilliant images to liven up the posts on Birds2blog....

Great Grey Shrike Colin Bushell 


Butcher bird the Great Grey Shrike which CB saw over the borders in Scotland recently....

Nuthatch Phillip Tomkinson


One of PT's brilliant images from his library of the Nuthatch....

Frogs David Cookson
 
And as no doubt everyone will have appreciated DC's frog picture yesterday, here are two more....frogs.


Duke of Burgundy Marc Heath 


And as MH commented on this excellent image of the Duke of Burgundy butterfly, 'it won't be long now'.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Return.


Stonechat. Copy Permitted.

The birder who took it, and the bird itself, will never know what it really meant to me when I found this photograph, not just a photograph, but one of a female Stonechat, and not just a Stonechat, but one at Cockersands. March is the time to find the species on return passage, but where has this bird been you have to wonder, my suppose would be southern Europe or perhaps further south in the coastal countries of northern Africa. With two harsh winters behind us these migratory populations of the Stonechat will take up the ascendancy over the resident population which is now at a low with considerable mortality over the past winters. So its down to the migratory population and their offspring to maintain and increase the numbers of Stonechats in the UK until the sedentary population regains the advantage probably over 3-4 years.    

Spotted Redshank. Copy Permitted.

An excellent collage of the Spotted Redshank. This bird is at Conder Green, and if other years are anything to go by it will only be absent from here for up to six weeks in the year. In 2011 I recorded the Spotted Redshank at Conder Green all year round save it moving off after my sighting on 3 May until - according to my records - it/one returned here on 30 June, void of a records search the same would no doubt have been the case in 2010. 


And....


Goosanders/Smew Colin Bushell 


Thanks to CB for the photograph of the 'redhead' Smew which thinks it is a Goosander....

Frog David Cookson


And to DC for the excellent photograph of the Frog.


Out of Africa....


I've edited the post to note a Swallow reported in Somerset today.