BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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ALDCLIFFE MARSH HIGH TIDE. PETE WOODRUFF.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Wallcreeper.

Wallcreeper Antonio Puigg 


When I saw this excellent photograph of the Wallcreeper I imagined the bird had appeared to have clamped itself to the red rocks of the headland below the ancient abbey at Cockersands, and wondered if I could hold my nerve on finding one of these birds here sometime in the future....dream on!

The distribution of the Wallcreeper extends from Central-southern Eurasia, discontinuously from the Pyrenees to China, it is an extremely rare vagrant to Britain with records just about reaching  two figures and is a bird with an interesting history in this country.

The Wallcreeper was first described in Britain by a respected observer of natural history, and his accurate description of such a distinctive bird found in Norfolk in 1792 meant that the record was accepted, but not until almost 100 years later, the record actually relegated another Wallcreeper which until then held the distinction of being the first for Britain, that of a bird at Sabden below Pendle Hill, Lancashire in 1872. As described by  F.S.Mitchell, this bird had initially been seen by mill-hands at a cotton mill, attention had been drawn to them by its crimson-banded wings.

But the most famous Wallcreeper of all was a bird found in a quarry in Somerset in the winter of 1976/77 to return to the same quarry the following winter of 1977/78. But the news of this bird during the first winter was suppressed, but the twitchers got to know about it in the second winter and the bird was seen by hundreds of birders who were allowed access to a balcony high above the quarry floor thanks to the tolerance of the quarry employees. On one occasion 50 birders crammed into the balcony only to be shouted at from below to tell them that the balcony was regarded to safely hold only 10 people at any one time. The mad scramble to get of the balcony as quickly as possible was described at the time as equally comical as it was hair-raising. 

Interestingly and amazingly the Somerset bird isn't the only case of a Wallcreeper returning to the same site in successive winters, another famous individual wintered at a University in Amsterdam in the winter of 1989/90 and returned in the winter of 1990/91. The Wallcreeper is one of the most wanted species on the British List. 

And....


Least Sandpiper Tim Kuhn    


A quick look at one more excellent photograph of another extremely rare vagrant to Britain the Least Sandpiper, the nearest one to be found in our area is of a bird at Old Moore RSPB Reserve in Yorkshire on 26 May 2011. Perhaps one day I'll find one on the shingle at Plover Scar at Cockersands below a Wallcreeper clinging to the headland face....now that would be ridiculous, and now I'm dreaming a lot more! 

Many thanks to Antonio and Tim for the usual excellence of photography I'm allowed to put up on Birds2blog.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Not A Good Idea.

I went out with my optimistic hat on today - against my better judgement as it turned out - and I may as well have left my realistic one on as I had to retreat back to Lancaster in under a couple of hours, but not until I got drenched by being out in the open on the headland at Cockersands, not a good place to be caught out in the wind and rain, and not a happy little birder having been done so....but I think I can claim my 'determined birder' badge for the effort. 


Bewick's Swans Colin Bushell  

The plan was to take a look in at Conder Pool an hour before high tide to find 2 Spotted Redshank, 4 Little Grebe, and a Goldeneye of note there, before making my way to Cockersands. On the way I pulled in to take stock of the 'swans' in a field on Jeremy Lane to find 16 Bewick's Swan and 3 Whooper Swan with the uncounted Mute Swans, these Bewick's Swans appear to be the ones from Moss Lane of late, arriving at the field on Moss Lane I counted at least 220 Whooper Swan and could see no Bewick's with them in the poor weather conditions by now. Thanks for the Bewick's Swans Colin. 


Cockersands Light Christian Thompson  

When I parked up at Cockersands I acted very uncharacteristically by starting my visit here leaving the car when it was already raining, but remembering there was every likelihood a bird found here sixteen days ago on Sunday 13 January was still going to be around I was determined to get to Plover Scar to find out if this was the case and was rewarded by a brief view of the female Snow Bunting before it flew off south. As I got back to the car 6 Snipe went up from below Crook Cottage....I'm going home now quietly screaming at the weather for ruining what could have been a good visit to Cockersands. Thanks for the Cockersands Light Christian, it didn't look anything like as impressive today as it does in your photograph with the Oystercatchers in flight.

Thanks to MJ et al - when I met them on Moss Lane - for telling me the Common Sandpiper which had evaded me at Conder Green, had been seen by them earlier in the morning.

And finally, a couple of brilliant Bowland images....


Tarnbrook Wyre. Peter Guy.

A photograph of Tarnbrook Wyre up on Tarnbrook Fell in the Forest of Bowland last Tuesday.

Shooters Hut. Peter Guy.

The abandoned shooters hut in the dramatic and angry sky over the wild Bowland landscape. Thanks Peter....Brilliant on both counts and can't wait to get back up there, sometime soon hopefully.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

We Wildlife Lovers!

Other than the photographers/birders whose names and images I'm permitted to use on Birds2blog, I'll stick with the practice of not naming people on here as I think its the best policy, although in this case I reckon I'd have had no backlash in doing so. But please take a good look at this brilliant account to which have been added some 'My Take' comments which are equally brilliant, and one of which echoes one of my own....conservationists my arse

If you're regular on Birds2blog  - and I appreciate that very much - you'll know my opinions about the subject, and you'll see who its publisher is and what the issues are when you get THERE

And we can't have a post without some excellent photography being highlighted....


Cormorant David Cookson

Like this one of the Cormorant mentioned in the above which I hope you've read by now, and another of those brilliant 'pics with a difference' from DC with thanks and appreciation.

Buzzard Paul Foster

And another one mentioned in the above, the stunning Buzzard. How tragic that you arrived on this planet as a bird regarded as a problem and a pest by a few - but too many of them - idiots still living in the Dark Ages. Thanks PF, you're image is much appreciated. 

And finally, the non-bird picture....

Carneddau Ponies Gary Jones  

The Carneddau Ponies....how much harder can life be in the winter months in the UK, than that of these delightful creatures scrapping for food below the snow on the Welsh mountains. Thanks Gary, a brilliant image.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Quiet Walk.

A quiet walk on Thursday in more ways than one, but when the sun found its way from behind the clouds it was very pleasant and some respite from the very cold days of late, but it didn't last and by mid-afternoon it was back to square one....clouded over and very cold again.


Goldeneye Martin Jump

Between Skerton Weir in Lancaster and downstream on the River Lune to Marsh Point I counted a quite impressive 46 Goldeneye. If it could have been established the Glasson Dock birds - c.30 here is my best count here to date  - were still present it would have been even more likely that the number of Goldeneye in our recording area 'could' reach 100 this winter, also noted 20 Goosander.

Walking along the embankment on Aldcliffe Marsh, a relatively small number of no more than 150 Greylag, with 2 Little Egret seen. The flood here is in prime condition again and would be hard to beat by another anywhere in our area and beyond as c.40 Redshank seemed to think today.


Lapwing Ana Minguez

Though I was walking in a higher gear today which lessened my intensity and lingering, even the 12 Blackbird seen between Aldcliffe and Conder Green was a dramatic reduction of late, and 6 Long-tailed Tit were the only other birds to enter my little black book. But I did note that the Lapwing have started to stand about in many fields today, and when I reached Conder Green at least 55 Lapwing were on Conder Pool with 7 Little Grebe, 24 Wigeon, and a Snipe also to note. Thanks Martin/Ana for the impressive Goldeneye and Lapwing images. 

And a belated thank you to the Fylde birder who was kind enough to leave a note on my windscreen when I returned to the motor last time I was at Cockersands which said 'HAPPY NEW YEAR PETE' strengthening my long time attitude even more that....'Fylde birders are not just good birders, but friendly birders too'. 

Now the good news.


The RSPB has welcomed the Home Office and Defra agreement on 23rd January to fund the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) for another year, beginning on 1st April 2013. The Home Office and Defra have each committed £136,000 for the next financial year, securing the future of the unit. The current funding arrangement was due to run out at the end of March. No decisions have been taken for funding the unit beyond 31st March 2014....


You can read more about this, and see a brilliant image of a stunning male Hen Harrier....HERE 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Another Afternoon Job!

I decided to spread my wings a little when I eventually got out yesterday afternoon and did an invasion into Fylde territory....though the report won't take you long to read, this is one example of what birding is and means to me.


Mediterranean Gull/Black-headed Gull Colin Bushell 

Following a healthy trek from Fluke Hall to Cockers Dyke - and after sifting through a few hundred gulls for an hour - I was eventually rewarded by finding two brilliant adult Mediterranean Gull one of which was advancing to breeding plumage with a very obvious black hood developing. Also of note here, c.255 Pink-footed Geese, 2 Little Egret, a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit, and a Snipe. I watched 7 Twite at close range but saw c.35 almost certainly this species in flight, lost to view and unable to locate them despite chasing after them.

From Fluke Hall I counted 10 Whooper Swan in a mid-distance field, and down the road from here another 24 Whooper Swan were seen from Fluke Hall Lane, and a little more down the road 2 Little Egret where in the middle of a field.


Snipe Antonio Puigg   

Never able to ignore Conder Green if I'm in the area, I called in on the way back to Lancaster to give it enough time to find 9 Little Grebe, a Spotted Redshank, a Snipe, and a Little Egret

Song Thrush Warren Baker    


I didn't find any Song Thrush yesterday but have had a couple of excellent records of this Red Listed bird recently, one of which was of ten individuals on a walk between Aldcliffe and Glasson Dock on 11 December last year. This full frame photograph is enhanced by the light given off the snow, and from my knowledge of photography I rate this one as technically excellent....and take a close look at those brilliant arrowheads.  

Thanks for the photographs Colin/Antonio/Warren. These are three excellent images, even  more so if you 'clik the pik'....Brilliant stuff.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Running Late!

Being a cold blooded creature - I sometimes get hot blooded though, words like Hen Harrier and gamekeeper have a particular effect on me - I was a bit sluggish this morning and it was 10.45am when I arrived at Conder Green where I found 3 Little Grebe on Conder Pool, along with 32 Wigeon, and 2 Snipe. The circuit produced a Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank, a Reed Bunting was to note, and c.120 Wigeon were down the channel towards the Conder Estuary.

I truly don't recall the last time the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was as deserted by the birds as it was today, and I could bring myself to note nothing other than c.300 Wigeon here and a Little Egret out on Colloway Marsh. On the canal basin 2 Little Grebe were of note. Off Jeremy Lane I counted 165 Mute Swan in a field, and off Moss Lane 16 Bewick's Swan and up to 175 Whooper Swan were in the same field as seen on 15 January though the Whooper Swan number had increased by 143 in my records.

Snow Bunting. Richard Pegler.

At Cockersands I soon picked up the Snow Bunting, obliging as they are and below the path on Plover Scar. You'll need some luck to find the Snow Bunting at Cockersands numbering anything like the twelve in the photograph above....

Snow Bunting. Richard Pegler. 

....and if you find one at Cockersands looking anything like this, and carrying food to feed young, would you think of me first before you ring anyone else....please! 

I don't ever easily refer to birding as a waste of time, but today to be realistic, that's just what it was, and I struggled to note 9 Reed Bunting as a good record - I don't recall the last time I saw this number together - a Song Thrush is also a good record these days, and a Little Egret was in the same field as it was on my last visit here 15 January.

Thanks to Richard Pegler for the excellent images of the Snow Buntings....much appreciated Richard. 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Doodling!

I found myself killing time so couldn't resist drawing your attention to this....

Anyone like to bet that  THESE TWO  get fined £5,000, or go to jail for 6 months when they get sentenced later this month....my bet is they won't get either.

And a couple of simply brilliant images....


Oystercatcher/Med Gull David Cookson 

This brilliant image shows a 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull in the act of trying to steal food - though it may not look that way - from the Oystercatcher, unsuccessfully according to DC. A photograph probably qualifying for the 'unique' category....Thanks David, brilliant.

And....

Marsh/Blue Tit Noushka Dufort

Surely another image for the 'unique' category with the Marsh Tit shouting at the Blue Tit 'give it to me or I come up there and sort you out'. Thanks Noushka, another brilliant photograph, will the brilliance ever end....no never! 

And finally....

Bewick's Swan. Copy Permitted.

One of the Bewick's Swans I found on Moss Lane last Wednesday, still there with the numbers of these and the Whooper Swans increased since then.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING....tomorrow hopefully.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Every little helps....

Any birding is good birding to me even if its only to be had in a little birding time....every little helps. 

KT and I went for a walk on Wednesday afternoon if only to get out of the house and into some fresh - if very cold - air....Is there such a thing as 'fresh air' in the pollution of the 21st century I ask myself!

Balancing Act
Jay David Cookson  

In the Hala Carr area of Lancaster 2 Jay were a surprise and a little unexpected. 


Siskin
Siskin David Cookson 

Further down the road on the path behind Collingham Park up to 15 Siskin were excellent, and in the woodland around Lancaster University a good number of 'tits' seen as a flock included Coal Tit and Long-tailed Tit, also a Nuthatch was calling and eventually seen. One or two nice rewards for a short walk on a very cold, grey day in mid January....I love it. 

Ten Blackbird together in our small garden yesterday morning, also a bird on the Red List  the Song Thrush has visited us twice in two days, excellent records.


Long-tailed Tit Noushka Dufort

Thank you to David and Noushka for the brilliant images, they are much appreciated.

And, yes its Stonechats again....



Stonechat Gary Jones  


By previous arrangement GJ has sent me this brilliant 'record shot' of a Stonechat seen recently on one of his mountaineering ventures in Wales. Gary - and Sharon -  promised to let me have any records of the Stonechat they collected on their walks, obviously a man of his word and the record of this little beauty is most welcome....thanks once more Gary, star man.

On the subject of the Stonechat, many thanks for the comments made on Fridays post 'Not just one....but two' for my find of the Stonechats on Friday at Freeman's Pools they are much appreciated. 

By the way....

A comment seen elsewhere referred to Saturday 19 January at Freeman's Pools and read....'keeping an eye out for Stonechat today, seemed a good day for one'....Mmmmm!!

Anyone know why yesterday - as opposed to any other cold mid-winter day -  should have been a good day to find a Stonechat anywhere?    

Friday, 18 January 2013

Not just one....but two.

Stonechat Ana Minguez

I use the word brilliant quite freely to enter into the records my finding 2 Stonechat today, they were on the western perimeter of Freeman's Pools. I had seen a bird fly from the bank of the River Lune and had identified it as a Stonechat in flight before it immediately went out of sight below the bank towards Freeman's Pools. I wanted more on this bird - after all it now has the rarity label attached to it in my book - and I needed to know the sex/age of this beauty. So I make no apology for 'chasing' this bird on out of bounds territory, and as far as I'm concerned the right decision too as I was to discover not one but two Stonechats, both 1st winter male/female qualifying them as 'Bird of 2013' and it's only mid-January too....but that's just me getting excited!


Grey Wagtail Geoff Gradwell

I only intended to get as far as Stodday from Greyhound Bridge before the trek home as it was mid-morning when I got started. The first bird of note just off the Millennium Bridge was another little beauty the Grey Wagtail, just downstream from Carlisle Bridge was 15 Goosander and 20 Goldeneye which has me wondering if there is perhaps a three figure number in our recording area this winter after all. That said, I've little evidence of many others elsewhere in the area, but reckon my records now show up to sixty on the River Lune between Skerton Bridge and Glasson Dock.


Lift Off
Pink-footed Geese Brian Rafferty

On Aldcliffe Marsh 'goose' numbers probably totalled in excess of 3,500 with reasonable estimates of 3,000 Pink-footed Geese, 300 Canada Geese and Greylag Geese. Three Little Egret were also on the marsh, and from here to Stodday I noted another good record of 4 Song Thrush, at least 15 Blackbird, 12 Goldfinch, and at least 50 Golden Plover in a field with Lapwing.    

Thank you for the Stonechat Ana, Grey Wagtail Geoff, and Pink-footed Geese Brian, they are all excellent and much appreciated.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Nice day....nice birding!

As always there are a good number of locations I'd like to have gone to yesterday but I've got into this routine of always going to Conder Green to start my day seeing of there's 'owt about' on and around the Lune Estuary, and today presented me with one or two nice rewards.

At Conder Green two trusted Spotted Redshank were feeding under the old railway bridge, in the creeks I found 6 Little Grebe with two more on Conder Pool where I noted a Little Egret, a Goldeneye, 3 Snipe, 12 Wigeon, and up to 55 Common Gull, c.35 Black-tailed Godwit flew over the pool to land for 10 seconds before taking off again to disappear in the direction of Jeremy Lane.

I wanted to get to Cockersands and the tide was coming in at the speed of a race horse, so having noted 14 Goldeneye and a drake Red-breasted Merganser on the River Lune at Glasson Dock I made a hasty retreat. On Moss Lane I noted swans in a field which I counted and made notes, they were still there at dusk and - with an increase in number since I saw them three hours earlier - there was 16 Bewick's Swan and 32 Whooper Swan.

Turnstone/Knot. Plover Scar Cockersands. Pete Woodruff.

At Cockersands I did the stretch from Crook Farm to Bank End Farm. From my starting point I saw the foggy 9 January c.255 Black-tailed Godwit again, this time accompanied by up to 550 Curlew. By the time I got to Plover Scar you will appreciate I was pleased to find Sundays Snow Bunting there again, also a good count of c.65 Turnstone, 50 Knot, 9 Oystercatcher, and 2 Ringed Plover, as I was about to leave a Rock Pipit flew down on to the scar. On the return leg something spooked several hundred birds from the fields including at least 85 Skylark, I also noted 8 Reed Bunting and a Little Egret by a ditch in an inland field.


Photo Pete Woodruff.

About 50 mtrs short of Crook Farm an interesting find was that of a dead Porpoise on the shingle, but as can be seen in the photograph only the skull - its in shadow, clik the pik - on the head remains, and no fins can be seen....Washed up from far away, or a good live record in the area missed! 


Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff.   

When having been in the area on the day I rarely fail to call back in on Conder Pool on my way home, this evening it looked particularly attractive in the light of the setting sun.

And finally....

Black Wheatear Antonio Puigg  

Its hard to believe, in about eight weeks time I'll be thinking I might find a Wheatear maybe at Cockersands....one thing for sure I won't be thinking it'll be a Black Wheatear. Thanks Antonio, a brilliant bird.

John and Ann....I know you will be reading this and it was good to see you and have an interesting chat and some comments from you re Birds2blog which were much appreciated. Thanks for the info on the young Salmon you saw at Cockersands. When it comes to fish I'm lost I'm afraid, so why it was there and dying I have no idea, I should have asked you for your opinion. Hope to see you again soon, and there's always a good chance of that if your'e at Cockersands. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Moving On.

In late October/early November huge numbers of Fieldfare, Redwing, and Blackbird made landfall on our east coast, in the case of the latter I observed a figure of up to 60 Blackbird on a walk in our area on 29 November. My observations of the Redwing in each winter appear to indicate fewer in number than those of its cousin the Fieldfare. These arrivals on the east coast quickly move on inland and spread themselves out across the country, and a walk in the countryside around our area today would make it clear with fewer sightings that they have moved on even further south in search of food in a suitable wintering area, most likely to be in France and northern Iberia.

The Waxwing also arrived in the UK in 2012 and eventually there was an estimate of c.5,000 birds, the figure now stands at more like 1,500 and in recent weeks some have been seen leaving the south coast. If we get a prolonged spell of harsh icy weather there will be difficulties for more bird species to find food which becomes hidden and locked under frozen water and Herons and Kingfishers which aren't already on the coast will move to get there where the saline waters remain largely ice-free. A couple more examples of bird movement in these icy conditions are those of the Skylark and Wood Pigeon which will also leave the country if forced to and in spectacular numbers too. 


Smew. Copy Permitted.
  
Converse to all this movement, if these kind of conditions are prolonged on the continent wader and waterfowl numbers may see an increase and species like the Smew and Goldeneye may well move to our estuaries as a lifeline. In the case of the Smew a bird long overdue, and the Goldeneye, January is the peak period for this one.

And talking of the Waxwings....


Waxwing Martin Jump

Yet another waxwing image, and yet another brilliant one with a difference. I don't know this as a fact, but I reckon this bird is launching into a dive to retrieve this berry it had but lost. Excellent stuff as always Martin.

And some more exotica....

Ring-necked Parakeet Brian Rafferty 


The Ring-necked Parakeet which BR saw at Lytham recently. I've yet to see my first one of this species, the UK's only naturalised Parrot, in flight it has pointed wings, a long tail, and a very steady direct flight. Nice one Brian, and thank you. 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

3B Birding!

Boots, Bins, and Buses.

With some 'other things' sorted and enough light left in the skies at 11.30am to last another few hours it was boots on, bin's round my neck, and I headed off to walk from Lancaster (Greyhound Bridge) to Glasson Dock once again on Friday.

Snow Bunting
Snow Bunting. David Cookson.

Not at all related to my day on Friday but a brilliant image of the Snow Bunting, with my sincere thanks to DC ....One found today (Sunday) on Plover Scar, Cockersands thanks to my reliable informant. 

And an hour later....


Lesser Snow Goose Alvan Buckley

A Lesser Snow Goose blue morph found SW of Cockerham.

But back to Friday....

I counted up to 12 Goosander upstream beyond Skerton Bridge on the River Lune before setting off downstream to count 15 Goldeneye to Marsh Point. I decided I had no time to walk down the path to check out Freeman's Pools but did see a female Sparrowhawk 'flap-flap-glide' across the pool. Along the embankment Aldcliffe Marsh was void of birds but held a 'lady' - note my politeness - complete with her charge of four unleashed mutts, who walked - they charged, excuse the pun - the entire length of the marsh, I just wish people with mutts wouldn't do this....note my politeness again. 


Redwing. Copy Permitted.

On the flood at Aldcliffe I counted 25 Redshank and a solitary Black-tailed Godwit feeding along the edges, and of note from here to Conder Green, 5 Little Egret, 18 Blackbird, a Song Thrush, 2 Redwing, 12 Goldfinch, 2 Robin, and as always in the winter months 'a thousand or two' Lapwing

It was a bit of a rush job today and by the time I reached Conder Green my bus back to Lancaster was on its way and I barely had the time to note 11 Little Grebe, the ratio being the same as Wednesday which was seven in the creeks and four on Conder Pool where I noted a Little Egret appearing to have settled for the night amongst a small group of Teal.    


Barn Owl Brian Rafferty 

And another unrelated to my birding today, a brilliant collage of the Barn Owl....Many thanks to BR.

And finally....There's a sad 'raptor' story with a good ending - though not good enough in my opinion - which  you might like read HERE 

Friday, 11 January 2013

The Black Stork.

Ciconia nigra
Black Stork. Copyright Oliveira Pires.


When I applied for a job as a car parts delivery driver and was eventually successful in getting the job, I had no idea I was about to become the luckiest birder in the UK. The job took me into areas covering many miles, south to Preston, to Blackpool in the west, Hellifield in the east, and Kendal in the north. As you can imagine the job - though very demanding - took me through prime birding country all points on the map, and quite periods over the years had me spending many hours birding and getting to know the birds on a daily basis and was the means whereby I first discovered the upturn in the status of the Stonechat in 1999 when I noticed them seen with more and more regularity on Newby Moor near Clapham, an area which was to become a stronghold for the species and where I found twelve birds on a cold winters day in November 2000, not anymore....But the rest of this 'car parts delivery' story I'll leave for another time.


Black Stork. Copyright Bury Antoine.

My day at work on 24 April 1995 was going to be one to remember and I'll always recall being on a road to be honest I really shouldn't have been on, more to the point I was supposed to be back at base loading up for my next run. But wait a minute....this large bird in the air flying parallel to the road I'm driving along and about to duck below all powerful electric cables suspended from pylons, is unmistakable as being a Black Stork (BS) and I saw it precisely as the bird looks in the photograph above. The only disappointment is that I can't linger here very long at the peril of loosing my job, but I'm on the phone now to get the news out about this excellent find.

It transpired that a farmer had seen this bird in one of his fields the day before my sighting and described it as looking like 'an Oystercatcher on steroids'....well that might have seemed funny to him, but right now this was a serious and exciting business to me. The bird flew on and up the Quernmore Valley and a second hand rumour had it that it was seen on the Lune floodplain later that day. The following day - April 25 - a BS was seen in Ennerdale in Cumbria and was thought to have been the same bird, another day later - April 26 - a BS was reported in the Bolton Abbey area and was presumed to be the same Quernmore/Ennerdale bird once again. Two months later there was another report of a BS flying east over the south of Lancaster on 30 June but no description or documentation was forthcoming on this one and so was lost to history.

The BS has been recorded in the UK something like 150 times since the first record of one seen in Somerset in May 1814. Most of the records in the UK are of birds seen April-September generally in the south and east, many of these birds have remained for only one day, but some stay longer or wander around the country, the best example of which was an individual seen in Aberdeenshire, Northhumberland, and Suffolk between July and September 1998. 

I REALLY WOULD SOONER BE BIRDING! 

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Thick Fog....Thin Birds.

Unusually for me when it comes to the weather, I set off this morning full of optimism for some serious birding to get to grips with what's about in the Lune Estuary area, but arriving at Conder Green it was apparent my weather pessimism would have been more fitting. I was intent on giving this area a good six hours justifiable birding and that's what I was going to do, but.... 

Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff. 

This was the welcoming sight looking south over Conder Pool....

Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff.

And this was the welcoming sight looking west, and for the following six hours little changed and I recorded just seven species....I call that rough justice.

But things actually started well in the gloom of Conder Green because the first two birds I found were a Greenshank and Spotted Redshank together, these were to be the first of two more excellent finds today and a perfect photographic opportunity for anyone so inclined. 

Cockersands. Pete Woodruff.

Having discovered as expected Glasson Dock was no different I went off to Cockersands full of hope the fog would lift eventually, but it was just a dream and there was no change four hours later having walked from Crook Farm to Bank End Farm....

Black-tailed Godwit Paul Foster 

....but on the return through the murk I could see what I thought was a field with a good number of Curlew, but putting the telescope on to them I found them to be a count of at least 255 Black-tailed Godwit....excellent find No 2. When I got back to Glasson Dock the fog had lifted but only slightly and I could pick out 8 Goldeneye on the canal basin. The Lune Estuary from here wasn't a wash-out, it was a fog-out. 

Thanks for the Black-tailed Godwits Paul, much brighter birds in their summer finery than mine today in their foggy winter finery. 

By now with the time 3.15pm, not only was it foggy but the light was fading fast so I made a hasty return to where I had started at Conder Green six hours ago and where excellent find No 3  was waiting to be discovered. Eleven Little Grebe were here, with four on Conder Pool and seven together in the creeks where the Common Sandpiper presented itself for me once again. 

Waxwing David Cookson

A quick look on the coastal path just beyond the old railway bridge and the roaming birds present in the area a day or two now were sat quietly in a bush in the form of 8 Waxwing....Excellent find No 3.

Thanks for the Waxwing David....Brilliant.

And a good days birding was had after all despite the thick and thin of it!....Did you 'clik the piks'?   

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Squeeze!

I managed to squeeze in two hours yesterday between all the other needs for the day, but as it turned out I'd probably have headed off back home by lunch time as guess what....it rained.

Conder Green didn't turn up anything you'd call a surprise but it was good to find the Common Sandpiper once again lurking in the hidden corners of the creeks, this bird often needs to be looked for, it is a small unobtrusive bird which blends in with the muddy banks and often flies off like a little rocket with its rapid wing beats. Also noted on the quiet Conder Pool, 3 Little Grebe, 16 Wigeon, and a pair of Tufted Duck, a Little Egret was seen on the marsh opposite the viewing platform before disappearing into a channel.


Lapwing Noushka Dufort

Give yourself a little counting test and take a glance at the picture of the Lapwings before you actually count them.

Having taken note of the numbers of waders on the Lune Estuary from the old railway bridge at Conder Green, I arrived at Glasson Dock to view from the bowling green where those birds are out of view round the bend in the river, I soon reckoned up to 10,000 waders present here today which included estimates - round figures again - of 7,000 Lapwing, 2,000 Golden Plover, 500 Dunlin, 30 Bar-tailed Godwit, and 3 Black-tailed Godwit. I also took note of 12 Goldeneye and 2 Little EgretOn the canal basin 5 Goldeneye and 2 Little Grebe were of note, and its raining now, in any case I needed to be back in Lancaster by 12.30pm.  

Albeit a dull and dreary morning it was good to escape routine for a couple of hours to look for and check out the birds of the Lune Estuary at Conder Green and Glasson Dock.

Now these two are an absolute must....



This photograph has to be amongst the top ten of 'pics with a difference' and is an out and out winner in my book....Brilliant.

Stonechat Sharon Whitley

And hey....this is Birds2blog, this is Pete Woodruff, and this is a picture of a Stonechat. But not just a picture, a painting, and here's that word again....Brilliant.

Thanks Noushka, Martin, and Sharon, you helped add some interest and put Birds2blog on the map again!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Not So Happy New Year Has Arrived....

....Well at least the first bit of bad news for 2013 has come to my attention, and in using Birds2blog as my platform I'd like to share it with you just in case you didn't already know.

But please note this is going to be brief, and several hundred words shorter than it could be. I also have no intention of naming names, or slagging off political parties....not this time anyway!


Hen Harrier. Copy Permitted.

By the end of March funding for the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) may well come to an end, but to be positive about this 'people power' has won the day before and can hopefully do so again if we all protest to this withdrawal of a paltry £136,000 to help the law to protect our birds/wildlife. I've written to an MP about this to ask if he has signed the Early Day Motion (EDM) on this issue and I'll post negative replies on here if I get any. 

I've always strived for, and wanted to be referred to as a birder in the true sense of the word, and I wondered if you - most visitors to Birds2blog are birders, though I appreciate not all are - would follow me and contact your MP to ask if he/she has also signed this EDM. If you have a tendency to follow and support the policies of the Conservatives I think you'll find he/she hasn't signed it, the last time I looked just three had done so, a bad start to the campaign to stop this funding to the NWCU but....check it out  HERE 


I did say at the top of this post that I wouldn't be slagging any political parties off or naming names, but in a polite and diplomatic tone I'll have to break that promise and the truth of the matter here is that D.Cameron and Co are not known to be a bunch of countryside lovers in the full sense, probably more akin to some of the other 'Guardians of the Countryside' I'd say and who will be rubbing their hands at the sound of all this funding withdrawal giving them an even freer hand to slaughter birds and other wildlife which gets in the way of their 'trade'.

Well, I did say I'd be brief, and at least I've kept that promise, so here endeth the first lesson. But do please try to help by making your voice known. Lack of action on wildlife persecution will become even more lacking, and crimes against it will become even more undetected, prosecuted, and punished for the sake of a mere share of £136,00 funding....Our wildlife/birds need us. 


Robin Isidro Ortiz  


A Robin sings regularly in our garden - it is also on the verge of feeding out of the hand - last night it sang full song in the dark at 4.45pm. I recall John Leedal once telling me the Robin sings the whole year round, but yesterday I also heard a Coal Tit singing....Lots to learn about birds yet, and learning something new every day. Thanks for your 'Spanish' Robin Isidro....Excellent and much appreciated.


Siberian Chiffchaff. Chris Batty.

This Siberian Chiffchaff represents the second excellent record to be collected recently, it was in the same garden the Pallas's Warbler took up residence in mid-October last year, another Siberian Chiffchaff and a Little Bunting are also to be added to this list in the same garden....Some garden, some 'on the ball' observations, numerous birds like this must go unnoticed in the UK annually.    

Thanks to CB for allowing all this on Birds2blog.