BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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PLOVER SCAR & COCKERSAND LIGHTHOUSE. PETE WOODRUFF.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Back In Business.

Hard to believe, apart from last Saturdays miserable - in terms of birding - walk in the Aldcliffe area I've not been out since a week ago Wednesday 21 November, so it was good to be back in business again yesterday.

Spotted Redshank Antonio Puigg 


I visited Conder Green but just took in Conder Pool as the tide was at its height and I forfeited a wander round. I found a Spotted Redshank, 3 Little Grebe, 3 Goosander, and 5 Snipe. Thanks to AP for the image of the adult and juvenile Spotted Redshank which is good for separation/comparison. 

At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary there appeared to be a slight increase in numbers with c,3,000 Golden Plover estimated, and 350 Dunlin, I noted at least 10 Bar-tailed Godwit, a solitary Black-tailed Godwit, and c.420 Wigeon. On the canal basin a 1st winter drake Goldeneye noted, and on Jeremy Lane c.55 Fieldfare and a single Redwing seen.

At Cockersands 53 Turnstone were on the edge of Plover Scar, and I saw a Peregrine Falcon over the lighthouse and followed it in my telescope until I lost it to view over Middleton Sands, I noted c.700 Wigeon at the point off Sunderland. A Rock Pipit is always a bonus bird, and when I got to the caravan park end 10 Whooper Swan were taking rest on the far bank of the Cocker Estuary. Also at this end, at least 2,000 Wigeon and a 'few' Pintail noted, with a Little Egret glimpsed as it disappeared into a ditch. Whilst scanning around I came across a brilliant mid-distance female/juvenile Merlin giving excellent views, c.12 Greenfinch flew up off the ground and when I checked them out in the tree they went to they were accompanied by a single Twite.


Cockersands. Pete Woodruff. 

Some more nice skies at Cockersands again on Wednesday late afternoon....fills your screen a bit more if you 'clik the pik'.

And a good time was had by all!

Interesting if sad....

The first two birds I saw at Cockersands yesterday afternoon were 2 Black-tailed Godwit. I was saddened to see both birds had a broken wing, not nice viewing, but I was intrigued that in the first place these two were in the company of each other, one with the left wing broken, the other the right wing, but how on earth did these two birds of the same species come to be together both having suffered the same injury at or around the same time....a sad and mysterious pair of book-ends I thought. They were feeding well together and otherwise appeared in good health, but a bird with a broken wing is to say the least not good.

And finally....


Cirl Bunting Ana Minguez

Another of those 'you won't be seeing one of these sometime soon in our area and beyond' pics....Thanks Ana, a little beauty.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Diverting the Duck!

I've moved a bit of a discussion on a local birding website to Birds2blog, the strategy not least of all being that on Birds2blog I can say what I think and pass my opinion without fear of censorship as on other websites, some of which are ruthless and whose administrators seem to let a little bit of authority go to their heads to perform their unfair judgements on peoples opinions and views concerning birds and birding and send comments to the dump at will. Another great advantage of the diversion to my website is that those involved in this 'discussion' about the recent Long-tailed Duck (LTD) on the River Lune in Lancaster won't transfer their comments to here so as to avoid establishing they visit Birds2blog, though I assure you they have visited, still do, and will certainly read this post. 

I apologise to the many visitors who will not have any idea what this is all about, however it's important for those who do know that I get out into the open this debate void of being accused of secrecy and the fear of the aforementioned censorship if I say something they 'think' I shouldn't have said.

The LTD on the River Lune in Lancaster - which I found on Thursday 8 November - as I saw it was a female/juvenile male. I need to make claim to having no experience of this scarce duck in our area, but have taken close notice of this bird in an excellent photograph I obtained from a Cumbrian birder, to add to the many pages of reference to the LTD which I have studied and arrived at this conclusion albeit not an absolute one.

The LTD is notorious for its complex plumage at certain stages of its life, adult birds of both sexes in summer plumage might be one thing, but a first calendar year bird like this one is another. As I see this bird the scapulars and upper-wing coverts are juvenile feathers, and the lack of pink in this birds bill leans towards a female, but the question posed there is....will immature male birds have developed pink in their bills by mid-November, the problem is then complicated by....some possibly will, whilst some won't. I also suspect, if this bird had been seen in flight some more questions about ID could have been answered.

I hide no secrets about this birds identity, the only secret being just where and when I reveal them. I think its unfortunate that some - and those who support them - have to make such accusations of secrecy towards other birders by throwing bricks at them in public and thereby turning birding sour for us all. I also have no belief that anyone with a remote interest in the local birding scene hasn't already seen the photograph published on Birds2blog nine days ago on Sunday 18 November, but....


Long-tailed Duck. Graham Williams.   

....here it is again.

And finally, to loosen up and brighten up Birds2blog....


Whooper Swan Gary Jones

The Whooper Swan in all its glory, the result of a visit by GJ to Martin Mere with the camera. Thanks Gary....Exquisite.

Enjoy your birding/wildlife whatever form it takes. I do....and with me its a passion.

Monday, 26 November 2012

An Unusual Saturday....

....Unusual for me as I rarely - if ever - get to do any birding on Saturday, but walking around in a circle in our living room proved the only remedy - short of being 'taken away by people in white coats' - was to get out there and do it for a couple of hours.

Chaffinch Isidro Ortiz

I decided to do some nothing too serious legwork around the Aldcliffe area and looked in on Freeman's Pools to note 2 Goldeneye and a 'few' Gadwall hauled out on the island. As I approached a maze field - now harvested - I noticed some movement which turned out to be in excess of a highly mobile 150 Chaffinch with which at least one Brambling had joined, c.50 Fieldfare were in a nearby tree, and 2 Little Grebe were on the wildfowlers pool. As I walked up Aldcliffe Hall Lane I saw a Great-spotted Woodpecker flying between trees. This really hadn't been a very serious afternoons birding for me, more a breath of fresh air....if there is a such a thing with the pollutions of the 21st century.  

Snow Bunting Geoff Gradwell

I made yet another compromise again yesterday with KT, when I was asked if I would I like a ride to look around Freeport at Fleetwood. I immediately said yes at the same time two birds at Rossall Point came to mind and....off we went. The walk around the shops at Freeport was a bit of a drag, but I said absolutely nothing to KT in that regard smiling constantly, and we left. By 3.15pm after a little searching along the beach at Rossall Point we had 2 Snow Bunting in our sights which made up nicely for the previous couple of hours ordeal....though I did get a few Christmas bargains out of it.

And finally....

Waxwing Gary Jones 

Probably my last show of a Waxwing photograph - its getting a little out of hand - this one worthy of highlighting if only because the birds are well presented the picture in a tree without berries for a change, and yellow leaves, a brilliant study of the Waxwings in a slightly different environment.

Thanks to Isidro/Geoff/Gary for these brilliant pictures.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Time out!

This post was sidelined by other issues so a bit delayed, but - for what it's worth - its here now....

Last Wednesdays forecast was a good one, so I made absolutely sure I got some time out and got in some birding. To quote my old and much missed mentor John Leedal. ....'there are times in life when you have to be selfish'.

Robin. Pete Woodruff.

At Conder Green, even the Robin greeted me on to the coastal path and obliged whilst I took its pic. Also on the path, all uncounted - but none double figured - before they all flew off, a 'few' Redwing, Blackbird, and Goldfinch. Noted on Conder Pool, 58 Redshank, a single Bar-tailed Godwit4 Little Grebe, and 11 Wigeon


Song Thrush. Author Unknown.

The best bird by far here today was the Red Listed Song Thrush, it's some time since I saw my last. Early settlers took the Song Thrush to Australia to remind them of home, but the introduction didn't work out and the birds didn't thrive there, though today the Song Thrush is one of the most common garden birds in New Zealand....how strange.

At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary, two species in similar number to my last visit here, c.2,500 Golden Plover and 250 Dunlin. Also noted, c.75 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Goosander, 2 Little Egret, and a Little Grebe.

Off Moss Lane a Whooper Swan was with c.26 Mute Swan, I couldn't help but wonder was this the 'August' bird found on the River Lune at Glasson Dock. At Cockersands, at least 80 Turnstone on Plover Scar was a good count, also a quite impressive count of c.240 Black-tailed Godwit three of which were marked birds which I read and appropriately reported to the ringers, the surprise wader here was a Ruff. The waders went into panic on one occasion when a Peregrine Falcon was overhead, an hour later I found one quietly perched up on the lighthouse off the scar and was there for up to an hour, 6 Greenfinch and a Sparrowhawk.  

Cockersands. Pete Woodruff.

I hung around at Cockersands to watch the sun set which wasn't particularly spectacular but impressive just the same, and the last hour of birding here - before and after the sun set - I have to personally refer to as magical.

I have to say the sunset above is quite impressive if you 'clik' on it. 

Friday, 23 November 2012

Save the Falcon.

Amur Falcon. Copyright Mikael Nord.

Nobody gets more annoyed and fed up than I do about cold callers, be it over the phone, at the front door, through the letterbox, or people stopping you in the town centre begging on behalf of charities, also people persistently banging on at the same subject repeatedly over and over again. However, with regard to the latter I'm afraid I offer no apology and intend to continue to highlight the subject of bird persecution and slaughter occasionally on Birds2blog.

But this time I'm not going to launch into a lengthy rant, but would ask you to take a look at the webpage linked here, but please be warned, the video is 3.5 minutes long, but its more important I warn you....if you're easily upset I'd suggest you just pass it by and enjoy the couple of photographs that follow. 

If it didn't know before the whole world knows about this now, and it must stop. The subject here is an attempt to Save The Amur Falcon ....PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION.

And the couple of photographs to follow....


Kestrel Warren Baker

A smart little falcon the Kestrel, this one a female. Thanks Warren....Excellent.


Merlin Paul Foster

And another smart little falcon, my most favourite the Merlin. I've watched these amazing birds lock on to prey in the air at every twist and turn at 60 mph with missile precision. Thanks Paul....Excellent.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING....but not until Monday I'm afraid.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

A Birthday Missed!

I missed the birthday of Birds2blog last Thursday, 4 years ago on 15 November 2008.


This is just the opportunity to congratulate myself on the determination to keep the blog afloat,  and to thank everyone who visits Birds2blog to encourage me to do so.  It's  hard to believe  I've published almost 1,000 post and had over 78,628 visitors as I write over these 4 years. This is  all very rewarding and I'll be trying to keep it up and running a little longer, but....who knows! 

When I decided to give blogging a go in 2008 I had just had an excellent run with the birds since the beginning of September, and which ends on 14 November 2008 with 19 Waxwings seen at Levens Village in Cumbria, for the sake of interest I have copied the records below.      

The four species  marked * were  all self  found and  are exciting  rewards, all of which added to my ever growing passion for the birds.

Black-necked Grebe on Conder Pool 1 Sept
Honey Buzzard over Birk Bank 19 Sept * 
Brent Goose on Pilling Marsh 6 Oct
Med Gulls three seen Cockers Dyke 9 Oct
Common Scoter on Conder Pool 27 Oct
Ross's Goose Cockers Dyke 28 Oct *
Scaup on Conder Pool 28 Oct
Whooper Swans an amazing 300+ in the Nateby area on Black Lane 28 Oct 
Hooded Crow over Birk Bank 29 Oct *
Pink-footed Geese an astounding c.30,000 on Pilling Marsh 12 Nov
Short-eared Owls three on Bradshaw Lane Head 12 Nov
Common Sandpiper still on Conder Pool 12 Nov
Waxwings 19 at Levens Village 14 Nov 



And the pics representing three of the birds in the list above....



Short-eared Owl Geoff Gradwell

By  coincidence  the Short-eared Owls  are once  again  currently  'performing'  in  the Rawcliffe  area as they were in the same month of November 2008 when  I saw  three of them  just as GG has recently not many miles away from mine on Bradshaw Lane. Thanks for this GG....brilliant bird, brilliant photograph. 



Hooded Crow © Photo by Szabolcs Kókay

The Hooded Crow was a great reward as I came down off Clougha on 29 October 2008 during one of my monthly 5 hour foot slogs looking for Stonechats.



Mediterranean Gull. Pete Woodruff.

This adult Mediterranean Gull frequented off Broadway at Morecambe where I took this photograph on 3 February 2010.                                  

And finally, to note....

In my post of last Thursday 15 November when I visited Cockersands I had noted a 'few' Skylark there and suggested a number were probably still in this area in stubble fields. I was  right, but it turned out to be a bit of an understatement, in excess of 100 were reported there on Sunday. Also worthy of note....In excess of 200 Little Egret at Burton Mere Wetlands yesterday, also a Whinchat seen here.  

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Time On My Hands.

With a little time on my hands yesterday afternoon I went off to Aldcliffe to see if I could find the long staying American wader which has actually been here for a month to the day having been found here on October 21.

A downpour had just passed over and the light was beginning to fade, though what was left of the sun shone into my face, very nice but didn't help the chances of getting good views of this bird even if I found it.

Tim Kuhn: Yellowlegs  Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs Tim Kuhn

But with a little persistence I did come across a bird semi-silhouetted looking suspiciously like it wasn't a Redshank, and wait a minute, there's another bird next to it now and this is definitely not a Redshank 'cos it's too small. So now its my lucky day and I've got a Lesser Yellowlegs, and a Wood Sandpiper 'rubbing shoulders'....isn't birding great! 

Wood Sandpiper Antonio Puigg

This is my sixth Lesser Yellowlegs, and I've had one or two Wood Sandpipers, my best record was on 7 October 1999 when I saw seven together on the Eric Morecambe pools. This Wood Sandpiper at Aldcliffe is regarded as being 'late' and wintering records are very rare, though I spoke to a birder from Cheshire yesterday who told me he'd seen Wood Sandpiper in Norfolk one year in January. There is one breeding record in England, a nest with eggs and an adult seen in Northhumberland in 1874, there are other claims which are less well authenticated.

As for the Lesser Yellowlegs - which as become a regular visitor to the County of Lancashire - the first record for the north of the county didn't come until 1995 when I found one on the Eric Morecambe pools at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve. But an amazing record of two birds which moved around - both together and independently - between Banks, Marshside, and Martin Mere during a twenty month stay in the area had them registering as 'possibly breeding' during their lengthy stay from October 1997 to May 1999.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The LTD.

Mitchell and Oakes both described the Long-tailed Duck (LTD) as rare in Lancashire and little has changed very much since, though by the end of the 1960's birds were being seen annually, most of which were off Morecambe with records of three or more each winter, but this is certainly not the case today.

The LTD found on the River Lune in Lancaster on 8 November is an exceptionally good record of a bird far removed from its wintering areas off Eastern Scotland and the Northern Isles which renders the species rare in Lancashire. The birds preference for deep sea - which is more than that of most other sea-ducks - means that many are missed by shore based sea-watchers. Above average influxes do occur occasionally along the Lancashire and North Merseyside coasts, the largest being in the winter of 1991 when c.40 were seen between Morecambe and Formby Point.  

The first mention of LTD in Britain was described in a letter in 1762 after two had been seen feeding together on a river in Co Durham, a male and female were originally thought to be two separate species of duck both being described as 'Swallow-tailed Sheldrakes. The LTD had clearly gone unnoticed, today it is a common winter visitor averaging c.20,000 individuals, a figure which pales into insignificance in comparison with populations elsewhere in Europe, with half a million birds in N.Norway and the Baltic.

The LTD found on the River Lune in Lancaster, Lanc's on 8 November was still present 12 days later in the same area of the river yesterday, I have at the time of writting not seen any reports of the bird today.

Well I never did want to overdo the Waxwing thing, but like I've said before....

Waxwing Gary Jones

If I'm going to keep on coming across photographs of Waxwings like this one then they're sure to keep cropping up on Birds2blog. 

Buzzard Gary Jones

And for the GJ double, a Buzzard....Thanks Gary, not just photographs of a Waxwing and a Buzzard, but brilliant ones.

Birding opportunities for me are not looking all that good again at the moment, but leave the worrying about that to me.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Out For A Duck!

Some post titles on blogs and website are - on ocassions - positively unoriginal and mine today is no exception....but It'll do, as I did go out today to look for a duck....and some Waxwing too actually.

 Long-tailed Duck. Graham Williams.

Last Thursday it was good to meet three birders on St Georges Quay in Lancaster who were looking for the Long-tailed Duck. It was their good luck that I had just found the bird again on the River Lune just below Greyhound Bridge. I passed this info on to the three, suggesting they parked at Sainsburys and went through the underpass to hopefully soon locate the duck which is what they did to get excellent views and the photograph above for which I'm truly grateful to Graham for forwarding on to me via Ian. This is the first and only image of this bird that I'm aware of. 

This is an excellent record for our area and in particular the location this bird has arrived and stayed at, it was present again today for its eleventh day and I found it midway between the Greyhound and Skerton Bridges this afternoon. Thanks Graham, Ian, and the other unknown one....sorry, hope to bump into you all again soon.


Waxwing. Barrow. Lancs
Waxwing  Brian Rafferty

I did a compromise with KT yesterday when a shopping trip was on the cards and I suggested if I did the 'taxi job' to the supermarket we later went to White Lund Industrial Estate in Morecambe which we eventually did to see at least 80 Waxwing outside Bookers Wholesale. I made another suggestion this afternoon and we took a walk to see 15 Waxwing by the Boot and Shoe Hotel. Twitching.... what's twitching!

I don't like the look of the weather forecast for tomorrow Monday!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Seeing Is Believing.

The post title should really read 'Seeing Would Be Believing'.

Aldcliffe Marsh. Pete Woodruff.

Weatherwise Thursday was a brilliant day, sunny, mild, and not a breeze. Perfect for the excellent walk from Lancaster to Glasson Dock along the old railway track - now the coastal path - which follows the River Lune to the start of its estuary at Glasson Dock and out to the Irish Sea. Brilliant all round habitat for waders and passerines alike....but, you either don't find the birds, or there are none anyway, and after all this is the west coast not the east. The picture above shows Aldcliffe Marsh just surfacing one hour after a 10m plus tide.

 
I started in Lancaster on the River Lune by the Greyhound Bridge, soon to find the Long-tailed Duck here for its eighth day, but I found nothing more of note on the river to Freeman's Pools which was quiet, I saw 3 Goldeneye and 4 Gadwall hauled out onto the island, a solitary Redwing was on the fringe of Freeman's Wood. Birds noted between here and Conder Green were....26 Blackbird, a Reed Bunting, single Fieldfare, a Little Grebe, 2 Goldeneye, and 4 Little Egret.   

North of Conder Green. Pete Woodruff.

In terms of birding, if this photograph - taken just north of Conder Green and a section of the old railway track - had been taken somewhere along the east coast, what a difference to this one taken by me today on a walk on the west coast.

At Conder Green, Conder Pool now resembles a lake and was almost void of birds today at 3.30pm, I could find only one Little Grebe and saw 2 Spotted Redshank and a Goosander in the creeks. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock a female Scaup still here, and....my bus is coming!

I was birding on this coastal path for six hours today, a brilliant six hours....birds or no birds.

And....going to the pictures.


Waxwing David Cookson

Well, if the Waxwings are going to be found all over the place as they are right now, and I'm going to keep finding brilliant photographs of them, then they're going to keep popping up on Birds2blog. Great stuff DC....Thanks. 


Stonechat Marc Heath

A while since we had a Stonechat pic on Birds2blog - can't tolorate that - so this one puts that right. I'm inclined to title this one 'Long Lost friend'. Great stuff MH....Thanks.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Trampling The Ground....

....at Cockersands again.


Merlin. Pete Woodruff.

I gave Cockersands another 2.5 hours trampling again on Tuesday on a mild, cloudy day with an annoying stiff wind from the south on the headland. I strongly suspect a Merlin wintering in this area, frustratingly I had to move my scope to allow a tractor past me just as I got on to a small raptor on a distant fence post, the consequences of which it became the one that got away....next time! The bird in the pic above was photographed at Cockersands on 14 September 2009, an early date for a Merlin to be on the coast. 


Black-tailed Godwit Martin Jump

The tide was at its height and the waders had taken to the fields, there was in excess of 1,000 Curlew with 750 in one of the Abbey Farm fields, best count was of 210 Black-tailed Godwit, with a single Grey Plover, 7 Eider were off Plover Scar, and on the Cocker Estuary at least 2,000 Wigeon with a 'few' Pintail noted. I gained little from returning to the lighthouse via the road save c.50 Fieldfare, a Buzzard, and 4 Skylark, I'd suggest a number of Skylark are still in stubble fields in this area.


 Golden Plover. Dave Appleton.

At Glasson Dock, c.2,500 Golden Plover were a lovely sight, c.250 Dunlin seems exceptional these days in this and the Cockersands area at least, 32 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, and 2 Little Egret. On the canal basin I saw a Little Grebe, and counted 52 Tufted Duck.

Of note at Conder Green, all on Conder Pool, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, 5 Snipe, 8 Goosander, 4 Wigeon, a Little Egret, and I could find only 2 Little Grebe in fading light. 

If you've never had the good fortune to witness the spectacle of thousands of Pink-footed Geese arriving at or leaving the roost, do yourself a favour and take a look at this two minute video with the volume turned up....Thanks to Colin Bushell 


Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Oh No....Not Waxwings Again!

Yes Waxwings again, and there are thousands of them in the UK right now, the very bird which gets all of us very excited....doesn't it!

Waxwing Gary Jones

Gary Jones got some excellent shots of these stunning birds when he visited Barrow near Clitheroe on Sunday, the one above I especially like, and if you was going to add a little humour to the pic the title would have to be 'Hey you down/up there'. 

Waxwing Gary Jones
This one is special for its timing, just as the bird takes a berry and either flaps its wings to keep balance, or is just about to take off....Excellent Gary, and thanks.

The Waxwing breeds in forests and wet woods from Scandinavia to Russia. Although numbers vary markedly from year to year it is a regular visitor to Britain. They usually arrive along the east coasts with rapid movement inland, with ringing recoveries clearly illustrating just how rapid they do move across Britain. A bird ringed at the end of October one year in Scotland was found in Barrow near Clitheroe 4 weeks later in early December, with another ringed in Scotland found in Exeter 12 weeks later.

Waxwing numbers in Britain fluctuate, with irruption years being mainly driven by food availability in their normal wintering areas. Oakes referred to the Waxwing as a sporadic winter visitor. By far the most important visitation to Britain which far exceeded any other record of immigration into the country at the time, took place during the winter of 1946-47 when the highest number in our recording area was of 200 birds at Carnforth in December 1946. There has never been a record of breeding Waxwing in Great Britain, but a record noted by Mitchell was of one in a garden at St Michael's on Wyre during the first week of July 1933, though interestingly this record was discounted by others 40 years later in 1973....took a long time to throw that one out then!

The first record of Bohemian Waxwing - to give the bird its full name - in Britain was mentioned in a letter in which the author wrote of one or two being shot at York in 1680 and referred to them in the letter as 'Silk-tails'. Of course historically they shot birds in their thousands, but we can end these short notes on the Waxwing with an even better and uplifting figure than that of thousands shot historically when we note....during the winter of 1995-96 an estimated 10,000 Waxwings arrived in the UK.         

155927_428217333894273_1635060996_n
Waxwing  Sharon Whitley

I just wish I could draw/paint half as good as this. Thanks Sharon....BRILLIANT.

And finally....Did you sign the 'Free Morgan Petition' please.


"The Free Morgan Foundation saw that during the hearing much attention was devoted to Morgan's well-being. The judges listened carefully to our experts who flew in from various parts of the world especially for the trial. We were very happy about the questions that the court asked. The judges seemed to be very interested and we hope for the positive outcome in 4 weeks!" -- Dr Lara Pozzato, Free Morgan Foundation.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Wilde About Wildlife.

I think its a good idea we all take a look at this young man setting out in the world to pursue his dreams in order to turn them into reality. From what I know about Findlay Wilde since he recently came on the blogging scene to announce his presence via his trips into the great outdoors, he is well on his way to becoming an ornithologist.

We need young people like this fella who will grow in the knowledge that wildlife above all else needs to be protected in a world that largely doesn't really know - and in lots of cases doesn't want to know - or care about it enough to value how much it matters that it exists and needs to exist in order that we humans can too.


Congratulations on this article Findlay, please be assured I - and many others I'm sure - am right behind you on your chosen interest, also be assured that the birds will become an addiction to you as they have with me, my passion for them grows by the day, if you think I can help in any way please get in touch. Meanwhile, I'd like to think you'll be paying a visit to my neck of the woods sometime soon, in which case I do hope we can meet, I think it would be a pleasure for us both. But please note....my knowledge about the birds is relatively little and I have more to learn about them than I will be able to learn in my lifetime, its worth remembering, you can learn something new about this subject on a daily basis....I do.

Please read for yourself about Findlay Wilde in the Cheshire Life Magazine. 

We'd better end with a couple of pics I reckon. And look....No Waxwings!


Kestrel David Cookson

But two 'pics with a difference'....like this one of the Kestrel which I'd hazard a guess has pounced onto something from a height judging by its pose in the long grass, on the other hand it may have pounced and missed the target, either way this bird isn't where it is for the fun of it. Thanks David, your usual high standard of photography on display here again.

Wigeon Martin Jump  

And this brilliant one of the Wigeon showing its reflection in the perfectly still clear water, a beautiful drake, and a beautiful image. Thanks Martin, sorry to repeat myself but....another image showing your usual high standard of photography.   

Friday, 9 November 2012

The Mini Marathon.

It soon turned out to have been a good idea to do the 'Dock Marathon' again yesterday....not really a marathon but a fairly lengthy walk, depending on what your definition of a fairly lengthy walk is.


 Long-tailed Duck. Copy Permitted.

It was a good idea to start the walk from Greyhound Bridge on the River Lune in Lancaster to Glasson Dock about six miles downstream, if only because soon after I got on to St Georges Quay I could see a diving duck a little distance off which immediately wasn't either Goldeneye or Goosander both of which I had already recorded upstream from Skerton Bridge. So I shifted my legs into a higher gear and soon discovered I'd found a Long-tailed Duck, nice record, nice start to the walk, though the excitement of finding this bird - which gave rise to encouragement and incentive - was short lived and the numbers and quality of birds didn't materialise....The Long-tailed Duck was still on the River Lune in the same section 4.5 hours later at 4.00pm.

Checking out the various groups of gulls along the quay I found nothing of note. At Freeman's Pools I noted just 2 Goldeneye, and 6 Gadwall. On the Wildfowlers Pool a Little Grebe noted with 3 Snipe and another lone Goldeneye.

Noted between Aldcliffe and Glasson Dock, I came across just a couple of Fieldfare and Redwing, at least 24 Blackbird, and 5 Little Egret. An estimate opposite Nansbuck Cottage reached c.550 Golden Plover. I had little time left to do Conder Green anything like justice today and noted just 2 Little Grebe on Conder Pool which has been taken over by at least 120 Mallard, and just as on 15 October when I last did this walk....my bus was coming....again.  

This is a pleasant all level walk following the River Lune to Glasson Dock along the old railway line. Today I had taken particular note of the Lapwing along the entire length of this river for about six miles, at no time could I look across the river and not see these birds. By the time I reached Glasson Dock I couldn't help but wonder....how many thousand Lapwings have I walked past, and how many would I have counted if I'd have even attempted to do, just how many Lapwing does this section of the River Lune actually hold. 

And finally....


Waxwing Geoff Gradwell   

We all seem to go overboard when the Waxwings arrive, and there now appears to be large numbers of them in the UK. GG went to Euston Street in Preston yesterday where there was in excess of a hundred in the afternoon.This shot shows the lengths bird will go to to get a meal. Thanks Geoff, another picture with a difference, a Waxwing hanging upside-down chomping on berries.

Today 150 Waxwing on Euston Street in Preston at 9.05am. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Birds and Bees.

The Birds....

Chris, the only remaining tagged English Cuckoo, is still in Congo, close to the Likouala aux Herbes and the Ubangi river. He is just slightly further south (around 50km or 30 miles) than the same area in which he wintered last year. He is the only Cuckoo that the BTO have tracking data on for 2011 and 2012 and so this is the first information they have about site fidelity between years in the Cuckoos.


It also allows the BTO to look at the timings of his journey through Africa in both years. Chris arrived in Chad one week earlier in 2012 than in 2011 and spent about 9 weeks here, compared to 10 weeks last year. In both years, however, he has spent seven days in the Central African Republic before travelling to Congo, this year arriving just over two weeks earlier than the previous year. 



It has been fascinating to note that although he has migrated mostly on a very similar trajectory to last year, he has not used the same stop-over sites. It will be even more interesting to see whether he travels into the Democratic Republic of Congo again, as he did for around 3 weeks last December, before heading back to Congo.  



The underlying story about these 14 satellite tagged Cuckoos is a pretty sad one as there are now just 5 birds left from the initial 14. Tags have failed along the way at varying dates and stages of migration since the first tagging of 4 Cuckoos in England in the summer of 2011, the other 10 were tagged in Wales and Scotland during this summer of 2012. If I've been following and reading accurately all the data sent back via these tags, in general once the tags fail to transmit it starts the process that something is amiss, though in the first place the weather is taken into account, then there is the fact that the tag also records the birds body temperature which indicates the bird is in trouble, in due course this leads to such readings that the bird is obviously no more.

The Bees.... 

Below is a copy from part of an e-mail I received recently, it saves me the trouble of any explaining to be done. I would also like to assure visitors to Birds2blog that I have no intention whatsoever to create it into a platform for daily rants by me, and petitions to 'Save the planet and its wildlife'....However it does all need to be addressed and I'd like to think I can play some small part once more in trying to save it. 

So here's another 'I Wonder'....would you consider signing yet another petition against this lethal act by these 'chemists' with the power to poison all and any wildlife they care to. 

And the e-mail.

The battle that is currently taking place at the European level can be critical to the survival of bees - and all our futures. 

Agro-chemical lobbies are about to impose three types of neonicotinoid pesticides known to be harmful to bees in all European countries. The only way to block them is that hundreds of thousands of citizens are mobilizing throughout Europe to force MEPs to intervene. 

Help us save the bees! Now sign the petition to MEPs in HERE . 


And, carrying on the tradition of a pic or two in every post on Birds2blog....


Snow Bunting. Geoff Gradwell.

Geoff recently visited Rossall Point at Fleetwood and got some excellent shots of the Snow Bunting, my personal favourite of which is this one.

Hen Harrier. Geoff Gradwell. 

He also visited Pilling Moss to achieve this record shot of the stunning male Hen Harrier in fading evening light. Record shot or not its good enough for me, as is any photograph of this raptor tragically on the road to extinction from our uplands, its downfall being that it has a liking for the odd Red Grouse as food for its survival....Much appreciated GG