BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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PLOVER SCAR & COCKERSAND LIGHTHOUSE. PETE WOODRUFF.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Up And Down Again.

I was up to Bowland yesterday morning, and down to the coast in the afternoon....What a truly brilliant area we live in, upland birding in the morning, and coastal birding 30 minutes later in the afternoon.

I was off to a good start yesterday and was at Marshaw by 8.15am and collected some nice rewards for the four hours I put in between Marshaw and Trough Bridge.


Spotted Flycatcher. Copy Permitted.

The bird in the image above was at Bank End today, and it was good to find 5 Spotted Flycatcher had found their way back to the Tower Lodge area again this year....I probably missed another five. 


Pied Flycatcher Paul Foster

A singing male Pied Flycatcher was at Tower Lodge where I found two on 17 May, I've had no personal evidence of any females in the area. Also of note, a Cuckoo heard several times, 2 Redstart both singing males, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Dipper, 3 Treecreeper, 4 Mistle Thrush, 4 Willow Warbler, a male Siskin, and a healthy population of at least 12 Grey Wagtail including a young bird being fed. 

At Conder Green where I visited nowhere beyond the viewing platform and saw the female Scaup, a distant Common Sandpiper surprised me, viewed from the west end of the pool  and made me jump to attention for 2 seconds with the Temminck's Stint in mind, another surprise was a Little Ringed Plover, only my second sighting this year since my first two here on 2 April.

At Cockersands I had no time other than to check Plover Scar at high tide to count 455 Ringed Plover, and up to 100 Dunlin. I also checked Conder Pool and Cockersands today but little to add to yesterday with Plover Scar deserted to the extent that when a Peregrine Falcon flew over not a single wader came up off the scar. Nine Eider and a Whitethroat were to note.

Swallows.


Swallow. Pete Woodruff.

Of particular note at Cockersands today was the continuing late passage of Swallows with some House Martin in the mix. I reckon the Swallows were passing and heading north at the rate of 100 per hour in the three hours I was there today. I see this at best as 'very late, and not good'.   

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Spring Butterflies.

This year lots of butterflies emerged weeks later than they normally do due to the spring having the coldest start for a half century, the month of March was the second coldest since records began, with snow on the ground in some areas into April.


 Grizzled Skipper Butterfly Conservation  

The typical delay for the emergence of rare spring butterflies was of two weeks, beyond the typical was the case of the Grizzled Skipper which emerged four weeks later than last year.


Duke of Burgundy Marc Heath  

This beautiful butterfly the Duke of Burgundy didn't emerge until late April, about three weeks later than last year, the Wood White which was first seen on 10 April in 2012 wasn't seen until almost a month later this year. But the late spring wasn't necessarily a bad thing for the butterflies as the host plants they rely upon will also have been delayed.


Last year was a complete washout for UK butterflies and the worst year on record for them, the majority of species having suffered declines. As I see it, and according to the forecast I just saw, things don't appear to be going to get any better, the weather needs to improve drastically, the butterflies need to be flying, mating, and laying eggs, a successful breeding season is needed to start to rebuild their populations.

Conder Green. Peter Guy. 

I found a good excuse to post this excellent photograph of the creeks at Conder Green, host to many a good bird in the past and I'm always on the lookout for the next one. The excuse being, the red building on the right is River Winds, often mentioned on Birds2blog usually referring to the House Martins which nest here every year, and which I mentioned in a recent post to record up to around ten birds having returned here once again. 


Temminck's Stint. Conder Pool. Copy Permitted.

And by the way....The Temminck's Stint turned up on Conder Pool again yesterday at 6.12pm but not seen since.

Thanks to Butterfly Conservation, Marc Heath, Peter Guy, and Copy Permitted for these excellent images. 

Please 'clik the pik' if you want to see them as they really should be seen. 

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Rossall Sanderling.

 Sanderling. Geoff Gradwell.

An excellent in flight shot of the Sanderling at Rossall Point. I don't recall ever seeing one as good as this image of a Sanderling in flight.

There are lots of birding bonuses, and I had one on Sunday 26 May at Rossall Point, Fleetwood, when I found one of my most favourite of waders the Sanderling bearing rings. But there's a challenge following a find like this, in that attempting to get an accurate reading from birds with rings is often impossible, usually because of the distance between you and the bird, but Sundays Sanderling was an easy one. 

Sanderling. Geoff Gradwell.

My bird wasn't quite as close as this one of which GG got an excellent shot, but once I got my binoculars onto it it was a pretty straight forward task to get the legs and sequence correct.

I duly got in touch with two contacts Chris over here, and Jeroen in The Netherlands - both of which co-operated and helped me with flying colours - and within 24 hours of the find I had recieved the history of this wonderful little creature which had been ringed - by an amazing coincidence - one day short on the day I found the bird exactly two years ago on 27 May 2011 at Sandgeroi in Iceland.

From the date of its first ringing this Sanderling was sighted on three occasions in 2011 at the same location of Sandgeroi, and twice in 2012 there, the last sighting on 19 May being a little over a year before I found this bird again on the beach at Rossall Point on Sunday 26 May 2013.

All this leaves you to wonder just how many miles this bird will have flown between its first ringing May 2011 in Iceland, to the find two years later May 2013 in Fleetwood, England.

Juvenile Sanderling. Jeroen Reneerkens.

Thanks to Jeroen at www.waderstudygroup.org for the image above, and to Geoff Gradwell for his two excellent images of the Sanderling.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Another Compromise....

Another compromise with KT on Sunday when it was suggested we paid a visit to Fleetwood to take a look round Freeport, but - said I - only if it also includes a look in on Rossall Point....and off we went. 

 Gannet David Cookson

Well, no birds at Freeport!....but when we got to Rossall Point a Gannet was soon seen far out to sea flying south, and a Whitethroat performed nicely for us around the bushes on the perimeter of the golf course.

 
Sanderling Brian Rafferty   


But the interest was on the beach at high tide when 14 Sanderling included the very interesting sight of one carrying rings, duly and appropriately submitted. The result of this could be quite exciting and the sort of thing which fires me up no end when it comes to my birds/birding. A call at Conder Green on the way home produced a female Scaup on Conder Pool. Hardly to be called a full days front line birding, but....good enough for me, and certainly much better than no birding at all.


Temminck's Stint. Copy Permitted.

This morning I responded to an alert of a Temminck's Stint at Conder Green, but an hour spent there searching didn't have a result. The bird had been seen around 8.10am and flew over Conder Pool, landed for 5 seconds on a mud bank in the creeks, then did a disappearing act. 

Thanks to DC/BR for the excellent photographs.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Unnatural England.

You may already be aware of this story once you have started to read it, if not, to be fully in the picture on what follows you might like to take a look at THIS first as this post is a follow on.

Buzzard. Gary Jones.

A historic precedent has been set by a government agency which has granted a license to secretly destroy the nests and eggs of Buzzards to protect a Pheasant shoot....No you've not just incorrectly read what I wroteRaptors gained legal protection decades ago and this is the first time such action has been licensed against any bird of prey to protect a shoot....often referred to by those who engage in this kind of activity as 'sport'. 

Buzzards are recovering from near extinction, and now number something like 40,000 breeding pairs, whilst 35 million Pheasants are bred each year for shoots. The wildlife minister whose family estate runs shoots - no you've not just incorrectly read what I wrote - cancelled plans last year to spend £375,000 on the same exercise after a public outcry. The license recently granted was of course made by that wonderful government agency Natural England who handed out the permit to destroy Buzzard nests and any eggs they held. 

A spokesman for Natural England said....'the law allows action to be taken against protected species to protect livestock, which includes any animal kept for the provision or improvement of shooting'....People like this and those who employ them put the shits up me, and cause me to have sleepless nights in the name of wildlife. 

As always, a post like this from me could go on and on, but I'll shut up now and leave anyone who might look in on Birds2blog to make up their own minds about this worrying u-turn by Mr Benyon the 'Wildlife Minister' who of course isn't alone in condoning this kind of persecution of our birds/wildlife. But I reckon the vast majority of the population of this country would prefer to see the Buzzard soaring overhead in the sky, rather than knock its nest and eggs out of a tree with a long pole.

We can end on at least a piece of good news, that of the Freedom Of Information Act which is what was responsible for this news finding its way into the public domain following a successful application for it....Long live the Freedom Of Information Act. 

Thanks to Gary Jones for the image of the Buzzard, soaring over his head the day he took this photograph. Long may the Buzzard reign to soar over all our heads, and long may people like Gary reign too to take brilliant shots of birds/wildlife like this one. Also thanks to Noushka Dufort for the brilliant new header. 

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING....But probably won't until Tuesday next at the earliest. There's more to life than birds, said the man with a mental problem!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

You Have To Work At It!

I think the pager service I was tuned into yesterday - as I am every day - said all that needed to be said about 'what's about' when, during the 16 hours mine was switched on, just three Lancashire messages were broadcast. 

But birding is OK, though you have to work at it....Well I work at it all the time, but if the birds aren't there no amount of 'work' is going to produce them, but yesterdays birding for me was OK! 

I decided to go to Cockersands first, apart from anything else I need to establish whether or not the Sanderling are going to turn up here this year en-route to their breeding grounds. Birds from both the Siberian and Nearctic breeding populations migrate through Britain, and 6 years ago on 31 May 2007 I observed an excellent number of 130 Sanderling on Plover Scar. This has never anything like happened since, but if it is ever going to happen here again, I want to be there when it does....but it didn't yesterday.

Whitethroat Phillip Tomkinson   

It was actually a bit thin a Cockersands with just 23 Ringed Plover and 7 Dunlin on Plover Scar, with 2 Eider off here. Five Whimbrel were at the caravan park end, and 3 Wheatear, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Tree Sparrow, and a Dunnock were of note. 

Little Ringed Plover Antonio Puigg

I then went on a mission to check out the River Lune upstream from Bull Beck to find 5 Little Ringed Plover....EXCELLENT....3 Common Sandpiper, and a Grey Wagtail.

Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher Astland Photography  


I then went to Hornby to walk the River Wenning downstream, then upstream on the River Lune to Lloyne Bridge where I found my first Spotted Flycatcher of the year. I also heard 3 Blackcap males in good voice, 3 Common Sandpiper, a Goosander, Skylark. In excess of 100 Swift were over and around both rivers, with a 'few' Swallow, Sand Martin, and House Martin noted.

The weather whinge.   

I've left my weather whinge until the end, but on the headland at Cockersands yesterday the howler made it more like March than May, and there's little improvement today....Pathetic.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

B is for Blackpool!

One of John Leedals excellent quotes was thrown at me one day at a lonely upland location which we had to ourselves and I made a comment about the tranquillity of places like this when he proclaimed in the name of solitude....'Thank Goodness For Blackpool'.


Redstart with food
Redstart Brian Rafferty  

But yesterdays B was for Barbondale - something of a birding hotspot - where I made my second visit this year primarily to keep a check on the Pied Flycatcher. But the result was a little disappointing as I connected with just three birds - two pairs on 30 April - with a female evading me today and only two pairs nesting here which accounts for the disappointment as I had hoped for an increase on the visit three weeks ago.

Brilliant Redstart image Brian, Thank You.  

Cuckoo Marc Heath

A Cuckoo here was excellent and my first this year. Brilliant Cuckoo image Marc, Thank You. 


Green Woodpecker. Andrei Stroe.

A Green Woodpecker gave excellent views with at least 8 Redstart, 9 Meadow Pipit, 2 Tree Pipit, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Reed Bunting, and 2 Kestrel. I saw/heard only about 8 Willow Warbler, and just two butterflies both being Peacock

Not the most rewarding of visits here, and just as important to record birds not seen - though expected to be - as it is those seen. I was amazed that given I spent 6 hours here yesterday covering a large surrounding area, I saw not one Wheatear which is often seen in double figures here, no Whinchat, Stonechat, Spotted Flycatcher, or even a Dipper or Common Sandpiper on Barbon Beck.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Yes....It's Another Re-run.

This one on Friday was a re-run of the previous Fridays birding with BT in Bowland. 

Not enough time is spent in these areas with BT - a fact rather than a complaint you understand - but my intention is to give this area a good going over come some decent weather, hopefully the Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Crossbill, Redpoll, and Siskin can be found here....areas like this should be alive with these and other bird species....but aren't.


One More Pied Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher Brian Rafferty

The experience was worryingly quiet, but 2 Pied Flycatcher both male at Tower Lodge moved the day up a notch. 

Goldcrest
Goldcrest David Cookson   

Otherwise the area was thin on birds, though 2 Willow Warbler, a Song Thrush, Chaffinch, and Robin were all in good voice, with 2 Mistle Thrush and a Goldcrest seen, all up the track from Tower Lodge. 

Bowland Conifer Plantation. Pete Woodruff.


I have no idea what the problem is with the plantation which runs north behind Tower Lodge, but as this close up.... 

Bowland Conifer Plantation. Pete Woodruff.


....and this long shot shows, the conifers are dying/dead. In previous years I've made it essential that I took a close look at this plantation along its front and rear edge to find Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart along the wall and fenceposts in the image above.


Dipper Geoff Gradwell  

A drive through the Trough of Bowland road to Langden Brook and walk to the pumping station and back produced a Dipper, Common Sandpiper, Song Thrush, and a Peregrine Falcon over. House Martin were noted to have returned here to Sykes Farm.

Four Buzzard were soaring high over our house in south Lancaster this morning.

Thanks to BR/DC/GG for brilliant photographs as always, to add some much needed colour to Birds2blog.

Friday, 17 May 2013

The Re-run.

Yesterday saw me doing a re-run of Tuesdays birding, though this time I managed to be on the job 1.5 hours earlier than Tuesday but had to terminate the day an hour earlier than I did then so little gained time wise.

I had a quick word with the man at River Winds in Conder Green and made it my business to thank him for allowing his house to accommodate the House Martin - which have arrived there again this year - whilst some others are quick to put up nets and boarding underneath their eaves to stop them nesting there. I could have shown him an example not a million miles away from his house which I strongly suspect put a long pole through the underside of a House Martin nest last year, whatever, there is a huge hole through the bottom of the said nest, very sad....and illegal I would suggest.


Little Egret Antonio Puigg   

Otherwise little to report from Conder Green yesterday save good views of a silent foraging Lesser WhitethroatAt Glasson Dock, numbers are on the increase and at least 20 Eider on the River Lune here with 15 seen 1 May, 2 Little Egret also of note, otherwise....all away breeding! 


Dunlin. Howard Stockdale.

At Cockersands, things didn't quite go to plan as I wanted to check Plover Scar at high tide but had to leave earlier. Ten Eider here were seen as three off Plover Scar, and seven in the Cocker channel where estimates of 400 Dunlin and 100 Ringed Plover were pushed close in by the incoming tide. Two Sedge Warbler, 8 Linnet, 2 Skylark were noted, with 3 Brown Hare.

And finally....

Some more records I thought we should all take note of, albeit from over the border.... 


Hen Harrier Paul Foster  

The conviction rate for raptor persecution crime in Scotland is a shocking 7.3%.
Confirmed incidents of poisoning, shooting, trapping, nest destruction 2003-2011 = 450.
Successful prosecutions 2003-2012 = 33.
Number of unsolved persecution crimes 2003-2011 = 417.

Say nothing....do nothing....and the Devils Advocate stands triumphant. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

JB....A Farewell.

At his funeral today I bid farewell to John Bateman.

John is the second of two of my best birding friends I've lost. John Leedal - who was my mentor and good friend - died in April 2005, with John Bateman dying in the same month of April 2013, and both having the same forename is something of a coincidence. It was also something of a coincidence and a sad fact that both of these men ended their days virtually unable to get out of the car on account of their poor health on their birding days with me to pursue the birds they loved.  In the case of John Bateman the worst case of his inability to 'get about' came the day he waited in the car until I wandered off to check out Plover Scar at Cockersands for me to find a Kentish Plover on 3 May 2011. In the case of John Leedal the same situation arose when I went off and found a Black Redstart at Fluke Hall on 24 March 2005. All very sad, but both of them have left me with many memories almost all of which carry birds with them. 

 Common Sandpiper. John Bateman.

One of these memories came back to me last Tuesday when I had a days birding in the Forest of Bowland, but like any other location I will visit in the future John will surely have visited with me a dozen times and more. When I arrived at Marshaw to find the Common Sandpiper back here again this summer there would have been no way I could have avoided remembering the times John and I had encountered this wader up here, and when I found this years birds again it was a time to remember. Johns photograph above is of a Common Sandpiper at the very location I'm talking about here at Marshaw. I don't know whether this bird has just landed, is about to take off, or is just exercising its wings, but John caught and froze it on film for all time.

Wheatear. John Bateman.


Its quite interesting really, that I can clearly remember the Common Sandpiper at Marshaw, yet where John took this one of the Wheatear I have no idea. John was never known as the best photographer in the world and he would never have claimed to be, but he gained a great deal of enjoyment from it. He accumulated hundreds of pictures over the years, all as records and memories of the day. This particular example of Johns photography I probably played around with in 'Picasa' a photo-shop on my computer - sorry John - and I actually like the way it ended up looking like a pretty good watercolour.


Snipe. John Bateman.

I had forgotten I still had this image and was pleased to find it again. This is probably the best image John ever gave me, and I think this sighting was one of the best of its kind for us both, we were fortunate to stumble on these two very young Snipe. Again we were in Bowland and we came across these two tiny creatures with no adult in sight, and I remember John took a quick shot and we left so as to cause no unnecessary disturbance to them in the hope a parent bird would return to them soon. The memories attached to this image of up to ten years ago are so vivid that today I could point to the precise spot we found them....Halcyon days.  

Till we meet again John....Farewell.   

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Another Afternoon Job.

 Wigeon Martin Jump  


I didn't make it on to the birding scene today until 1.00pm at Conder Green where 115 Mute Swan have taken over Conder Pool, accompanied by 3 Wigeon, 14 Tufted Duck, and a Goosander. In the creeks 2 Black-tailed Godwit one in full breeding plumage, 3 Dunlin, long time no see Dunlin in the creeks at Conder Green. On the circuit, just into a double figure of House Martin at River Winds this year again, with a similar double figure of Swift over the area. Also noted, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting, and a dead Grey Heron. Thanks for the Wigeon Martin, another excellent 'pic with a difference'.


Reed Bunting. Howard Stockdale.

At Cockersands, if you'd have been walking a dog you would have been forgiven for thinking Plover Scar was void of birds as viewed off the headland at high tide today, but following a close look I spent the best part of an hour grilling c.3,500 Dunlin, in excess of 200 Ringed Plover, a Whimbrel, and a solitary Turnstone with its back to me and its head deeply embedded into it, and which - for 1.5 seconds - had me jump to attention. Three Eider and a drake Red-breasted Merganser were off the scar, and 4 Wheatear, 4 Linnet and a Skylark noted. A Peregrine Falcon put up the entire c.4,000 aforementioned grilled waders and a Dunlin singled itself from the mass but escaped the falcons talons. I just don't understand how this small wader got away with its life from an attack by this accomplished aerial predator, but this individual killer and small wader proved a point....they don't win them all. Thanks for the Reed Bunting Howard. 


Turtle Dove. Copy Permitted.    

This Turtle Dove was found yesterday in a field 1 mile SE of St Michaels-on -Wyre but not seen since....Certainly a very big 'WOW' bird for our area and beyond. 

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Better Late Than Never.

For one reason or another I'm heading towards another week away from birding come Tuesday, so here I am again filling the gap....the end of the world is nigh!


Wheatear David Cookson  

After significant delays for some of the earlier arriving migrants many of them have now flooded back, though later arriving species like the Spotted Flycatcher may well have made landfall at Portland Bill in Dorset but I've seen no reports of them yet in our area of the north of England, and as I see it the Swift is only present in the UK in small numbers and if the weather outside my house at present is anything to go by any build up in numbers of them are going to be slow if happening at all. But one species I've seen reported in good number this spring both locally and nationally is the Whinchat, and I'd say a big alleluia to that....Thanks for the Wheatear David, could be Portland Bill but isn't.


Red-rumped Swallow Antonio Puigg  

One of any of these three species would have been a welcome sight to us up here in the north, 10 Hoopoe - one locally recently - which have been seen from the Scillies to the Outer Hebrides, 8 Bee Eater in Norfolk, and 4 Red-rumped Swallow....Thanks Antonio.

I have too many locations to mention that I want to get to in the coming weeks....but not in weather the likes of which still prevail.


Greenfinch Noushka Dufort  

Our garden claimed another first yesterday when a Greenfinch visited the feeders....Thanks Noushka.

And finally....This video is a pleasant one to pass on a few minutes, and with some nice music too....Thank You Ana.



I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....but not looking all that good.

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Burn.

 The Burn.Pete Woodruff.

Shooting is an important part of upland economy which is estimated to put £190 million into the purse every year. As a result of this reliance on the shooting of - in particular - Red Grouse, and the keeping of the land in good condition for this end, the wildlife of our moorlands are slowly being eroded away one way or another.

Older Red Grouse prefer to shelter in tall heather, whilst the young feed on fresh shoots. So as to accommodate these kind of needs, landowners routinely burn patches of vegetation to create a mosaic of habitats to suit the young and old of this game bird. But burning these patches causes many problems, not least of which is that the ecosystem of upland streams are altered by an influx of material which affects water quality in them, which in turn affects their biodiversity. In streams where burning has taken place nearby, the decline of stoneflies and mayflies and some other macro-invertebrate species - which are an important part of the freshwater community - is associated and affected by these burns. In burnt catchments higher levels of material are washed into the streams which not only damages stream ecosystems, but also has an effect on the birds which come to feed on invertebrates in the waters.  

In the photograph above which I took on a fell on Tuesday, is an example of what the after-affects are following a burn. I never fail to feel sickened by this act of countryside vandalism which serves the purpose of only making good the land to ultimately feed the appetite of the shooting industry....and for no other purpose at all.     

Bowlands M6. Pete Woodruff.

In another photograph I took on Tuesday, this one illustrates what the 'Guardians of the Countryside' are doing to places like the Forest of Bowland, by building 'roads' like this one which takes the shooters - saving them the long uphill walk - to the very summit of this fell in the top right hand of the image. 

This is no longer the beautiful upland fell it once was, and no longer the habitat of lots of species and numbers of birds, but has now become an 'industrial estate' with a good quality road through its heart and not much chance - if any - of a raptor of any description being found anywhere within its boundaries. I spent in excess of six hours in this - and other areas - in the Forest of Bowland this week and saw just one female Kestrel.

And, as if to brighten up and liven up Birds2blog....


 Orange Tip Marc Heath

Hopefully we should be seeing butterflies soon, and macro shots of them don't come any more stunning than this one, showing the colour and pattern on the underwing of an Orange Tip butterfly. 

Thanks Marc, like I said....Stunning.
   
Seeing Red. Pete Woodruff.


And....I wonder if the flowers will look as good in 2013 at Pilling Lane Ends which is where I took this photograph in August 2011. 

Did you 'clik the pik'....you're missing a treat if you don't.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Big Dip....

....twitching jargon for not seeing a bird you travelled 200 miles on yer bike to see only to find its done a runner when you got there never to be seen again....crippling! But I wasn't on a twitch yesterday when I went uplands again primarily to check out the Stonechat scene at a couple of areas in the Forest of Bowland to find out if they'd made a comeback yet. But hear this....

I read in a report I was kindly forwarded - but am not at liberty to publish on here - re the Stonechats in areas of the Forest of Bowland in 2012....'but with pairs in all the main valleys and side valleys appearing to do well with fledglings being noted in May'....This surprised and amazed me.


Stonechat Marc Heath  

Given that I have already checked Clougha/Birk Bank and Barbondale, and yesterday Harrisend and Hawthornthwaite with some serious time and effort totalling 15 hours over three birding days searching for Stonechats to find just one pair on Clougha Thursday 2 May. Having seen the above report for 2012, the conclusion seems to be....that it appears the Stonechats have made their comeback in most areas other than those I choose to cover in the uplands of the Forest of Bowland, one of which was the LDBWS stronghold for the species and which has now reverted back to the pre 1999 status of the Stonechat. 

The six hours spent yesterday on Harrisend and Hawthornthwaite was - to say the least - a disappointing days birding for me....I worry about the lack of birdlife on the uplands of the Forest of Bowland. That said, I think we all know the species of birds we're never likely to see very much of up there ever again, but we won't go down that road again just now. But over the period mentioned above in which I've been observing upland birds, it isn't just the raptors 'missing' on our moorlands but other bird species/numbers too, and my records below clearly show this. 


Red Grouse

On Harrisend, I noted at least 20 Meadow Pipit, 7 Curlew, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Wren, 2 Linnet, a Reed Bunting, and a Red Grouse. And on Hawthornthwaite, 10 Meadow Pipit, 4 Lapwing, a Red Grouse, Wren, and a Kestrel which was the only raptor I saw the whole day. On the east side of Hawthornthwaite from Marshaw, 9 Meadow Pipit, 7 Red Grouse, 6 Sand Martin2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Snipea Wheatear, and a Mistle Thrush.    

And finally....


Little Owl Richard Pegler  

Another of those 'can't resist this one' images of the Little Owl. This tree which dwarf's the bird is in Leicestershire but I know for a fact this is a huge old Oak tree. Excellent Richard and thanks for sharing it. Also thanks to Marc for the Stonechat, and Peter and Susan for the Red Grouse.   

Monday, 6 May 2013

A Day With BT.

No not British Telecom, Brian Townson. But I must have a weather whinge first....




In the top pic....This was the view from the car as we arrived at Stoops Bridge in Abbeystead on Friday last, it looked and felt like March 3 and certainly not May 3, the trees appeared to be as bare as they had been all winter, and not a Bluebell in sight. In the bottom pic....This was the scene at Stoops Bridge 2 years ago on precisely the same date of 3 May 2011. Quite remarkable I think you will agree and clearly illustrates how far behind we are this year. 

Blackcap Noushka Dufort  

But despite the gloomy scene at Abbeystead on Friday , a singing male Blackcap gave hope for better things to come, a Great Spotted Woodpecker seen, and a Robin disturbed accidentally from its nest in a near ground level tree hole, this/another Robin was in the same hole last year, a Buzzard was overhead.

A pull in at Jubilee Tower produced a Raven over, a Skylark singing overhead, and 4 Red Grouse. Down Abbeystead Lane we checked the number of Lapwing always present and breeding in the fields here and saw 2 Wheatear whilst doing so. Calling in at Tower Lodge we couldn't help but feel a couple of weeks should make all the difference to the bird scene here....and elsewhere hopefully. Meanwhile, in the time spent here it was dire with a Jay, Coal Tit, and Willow Warbler the sum total of our visit.


Reed Bunting Geoff Gradwell  

At Langden Brook to the pump house, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Raven, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Reed Bunting males, and a Peregrine Falcon high up and soaring. A good number of Chaffinch were notable here and were taking more advantage of the Pheasant feeders than the Pheasants were.


Blackbird. Pete Woodruff.

This Blackbird has had the good fortune to reach fledging in our garden, obviously having steered clear of the cats, lets hope it can continue to do so in the future.  

Thanks to Noushka for the excellent male Blackcap, to Geoff for the excellent male Reed Bunting.

And finally....

Blue-headed Wagtail. Copy Permitted.

This brilliant Blue-headed Wagtail was in a field in Thurnham yesterday morning and I was grateful for the alert about it....'not what you know but often who you know'....EXCELLENT