BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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CLOUGHA PIKE UNTIL RECENT YEARS THE BOWLAND STRONGHOLD FOR THE STONECHAT. PETE WOODRUFF.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Stars Of The Green.

The Conder Pool Avocet appear - not too surprisingly - to have lost another chick, they started out with four first reported (LDBWS) 19 June, I saw only three a week ago, and only two yesterday in two visits I made there over 40 minutes.

The Common Tern on the pool have two growing young and I saw them with the parent birds yesterday with fish taken in on one occasion. Interestingly three young Common Tern were reported (FBC) 22 June but not since, in which case they also appear to have lost a chick.


Common Tern. Martin Lofgren @  Wild Bird Gallery 

I also saw an adult Common Tern over the canal basin at Glasson Dock, and minutes later one on the Lune Estuary, seen from the bowling green and which both sightings could have been the same bird from Conder Pool, the only other note on the estuary was 5 Eider.

Also of note during my brief birding spell at Conder Green, more or less returning here on time were 6 Common Sandpiper, and on Conder Pool, c.150 Redshank and a similar 150 Lapwing with 2 Swift over.

The Conder Green Avocets.   

I was quite surprised at some behaviour by the Avocet yesterday when I watched both adults several metres apart both sleeping and with both chicks several more metres away and out of sight of the adults.



Avocet Attack Brian Rafferty

Avocets are well known to be excellent and feisty parent birds, I've observed them taking to flight to attack Carrion Crows almost the length of the pool away at times, and Brian Rafferty's images show the full force of their protective behaviour towards their young against something as big as a Canada Goose.

Many thanks for the consistently excellent images Martin/Brian. 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Better Late Than Never....Again.

I gave Heysham a couple of hours up to high tide on Wednesday, to check both outfalls prior to the tide coming in, check the harbour, and watch a ferry coming in to dock, to find nothing of note, but being mobbed repeatedly by a Herring Gull as I got towards the south wall, dive bombing whilst calling it's repeated and loud 'kyow' and distinctive 'gag-ag-ag' and intent on making contact with my head but didn't quite actually do so....a pretty unpleasant experience.


Mediterranean Gull. Stuart Piner.

I eventually found 2 Mediterranean Gull, an adult and 1st summer on Red Nab, and aAtlantic Grey Seal seen between the outfalls. Noted coming back through the nature park, a Chiffchaff, Linnet and Common Blue butterfly.


Stonechat. Paul A Walk On The Wild Side Foster

So....not over-rewarded by my visit to Heysham, I was off up to the fringe of Bowland and over the top of Birk Bank with a decent little variety of birds to be found, not least of which were 9 Stonechat seen as two pairs, and a family of five birds too distant to sex/age but certainly no adult male seen with them, so five juvenile or maybe a female and four. Of particular note were 16 Willow Warbler seen/heard, of which up to ten were in the car park at Rigg Lane and included young being fed, and where a Garden Warbler was singing again as it was 24 May when I was there.

I noted a large number of Carrion Crow in the air over Birk Bank, with a single Raven, at least 7 Swift over, and a hovering Kestrel was the only raptor seen. I found young of Great Tit, Coal Tit, and Long-tailed Tit, and flushed a pair of Red Grouse with two young from the undergrowth, but that wasn't as spectacular as the pair with ten young flushed on 24 May on Clougha.

Other birds in an enjoyable three hours up here, 4 Meadow Pipit, 3 Wren, 2 Blackcap, 2 Curlew on a wall probably had young, a Mistle Thrush and a single Siskin flying distant away from me towards Gibson Wood and out of view. Though it was cloudy, 3 Four-spotted Chaser were over the bog with more ovipositing seen.

Definitely a better day up the hill than down it, and there had to be another Stonechat pic....didn't there!!   

Thanks to Stuart and Paul for their excellent images, and to Noushka for the Black Tern header, a brilliant bird in a brilliant image. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Conder Pool's Got Talent.

Difficult to pick a winner yesterday on Britain's Conder Pool's Got Talent, it was a four way split, so I'll put it to the public vote.

The Avocet pair were on guard duties in charge of three young, the bad news being one chick lost already having started off as four. The Common Tern had two young out of the nest and being fed decent sized fish. Next on the scene was the first returning Common Sandpiper, soon followed by the surprise of the day, an adult Little Ringed Plover....Next please!

Also noted on Conder Pool, c.80 Lapwing and 65 Redshank, 3 Wigeon, being two nice drake and a female, a Great-crested Grebe, and a Swift over.  

At high tide Cockersands, on Plover Scar, up to 110 Knot including two 'reddish' birds, 5 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, and two people who took an instant dislike to me - oh dear - when I asked them, if they intended to go out on to the scar again in the coming few weeks, to please be aware of a breeding bird on a nest with four eggs in it, the breeding bird being a Ringed Plover.....The 'please' appeared to fall on stoney ground. 

At Bank End to note, c.1,500 Oystercatcher, 8 Eider, small number of Sand Martin and House Martin around, with a Swift over. 

Butterflies seen between Cockersands and Bank End, at least 55 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Painted Lady, and a 'blue' which escaped ID, and at Conder Green, Large Skipper and a Speckled Wood. 

The Picture Gallery.  


Adult Common Tern with chick. Conder Pool 21 June. Pete Woodruff. 


Avocet chicks. Conder Pool 21 June. Pete Woodruff. 

Common Sandpiper. Conder Pool 21 June. Pete Woodruff. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Derailed....Again!

Depending on a phone call I might recieve in the next hour, I may or may not get off birding later today. Otherwise I've been derailed once again, meaning no birding and hard to keep Birds2blog afloat....not at all good for my mental state.

Avocet Simon Hawtin

But I was pretty chuffed when I got an e-mail with this brilliant image attached of the equally brilliant Conder Pool Avocet and four chicks on Sunday morning. Your'e too kind Simon, thanks.

Incidentally, a record I'd forgotten was of 2 Avocet on Conder Pool 3 June 2014....well blow me over!


Common Sandpiper Noushka Dufort 

I've been checking my records and noted some dates for Conder Green on a couple of species we're about to find there hopefully in the coming days. Last year the Common Sandpiper had returned to Conder Green three days ago on 18 June, Iv'e yet to see or hear of any back there this year yet. 

Thanks to Noushka for the Common Sandpiper, a superb photograph of this bird showing underwing to excellent effect.

 Spotted Redshank Antonio Puigg  

Last year the Spotted Redshank didn't return until the late date of 7 September, in 2014 it was back 10 days from now on 1 July....all very interesting and has me looking forward to the good times.

Thanks to Antonio for the excellent juvenile Spotted Redshank.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

This, That, And The Other.

With a little time on my hands on Friday I shot off to Conder Green, keen to get my eyes on any offspring's out of the nest on Conder Pool.

The pair of Avocet were still in situ, as were the Common Tern, with one sitting, and the other on guard duty with not a youngster in sight. Also noted, 12 Redshank, a Great-crested Grebe, and the local Kestrel overhead.

A wander around took me on a short stretch of the canal tow-path again, west of Thurnham Mill, where I found at least 20 Large Skipper, 7 Small Tortoiseshell, and 5 Speckled Wood, with a Whitethroat, a male Reed Bunting, and a Common Tern patrolling the canal was presumably a Conder Pool bird....But still no sighting for me of Tuesday's reported juvenile Common Tern on Conder Pool.

The Cockersands Cuckoo.

I was grateful for a text on Wednesday afternoon telling me of a Cuckoo showing well by the entrance track to Tomlinson's Farm at Cockersands. This is obviously a bird starting it's journey south to join another Cuckoo which was tagged in Wales in 2015 which has also left it's breeding grounds earlier than it did last year and is now west of Winchester in Hampshire....I wonder where the Cockersands Cuckoo is now.

The Bowland Grey Wagtail. 


I had an interesting conversation with Martin Jump when he telephoned me on Friday evening to tell me he had seen at least 20 Grey Wagtail on the Marshaw Wyre between Tower Lodge and Trough Bridge. This brings Martins figure added to mine made on two recent visits to Bowland to a combined total of 42 Grey Wagtail from five locations on three birding days.

The Conder Pool Avocet.


Avocet Brian Rafferty  

Three Avocet chicks were out of the nest on Saturday morning Here....Seen as Conder Pool's equally excellent and best record to date with the Common Terns.

Thanks to Martin for the brilliant header image of the Starlings, and to Brian for his excellent Avocet and chick.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Aye Aye Skipper!

Having seen the report of a young Common Tern on Conder Pool on Tuesday, I decided to go take a look for myself on Wednesday afternoon. 

 Large Skipper Male/Female. Pete Woodruff.


But first I took to the canal tow-path at Thurnham Mill and walked to go under the A588 road bridge, at the far side of which I eventually counted 14 Large Skipper all basking on the vegetation with outstretched wings, at which point it started to rain. Lucky for me I was able to take shelter under the bridge where I had to sit out a violent storm which lasted almost an hour with some serious heavy rain, thunder and lightening. 


Large Skipper Male. Pete Woodruff.

After the storm it was no surprise only one of the fourteen Large Skipper could be found, and equally no surprise it was no longer basking with outstretched wings, but gave me a good opportunity to study the underwing markings of a male. 

The storm having passed through, and having escaped the confines of the bridge, I went to look over Conder Pool and saw both adult Common Tern one chasing the other in flight around the island, I've no idea what this was about, but there was no sign of any young. The Avocet were both present and were seeing off an Oystercatcher which had gone too close to the nest, also a pair of Teal were of note on the pool, as was a drake Gadwall, 2 Wigeon, a Great-crested Grebe, and c.40 Lapwing

So no evidence for me of any young Common Tern, not seen there yesterday, and I've seen no other mention of the bird to date, but hope to see reports of a result from the Avocet in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Keeping In Touch.

Eight days since I was last on the Lune Estuary....time I got my hand back in there yesterday. 

The day eventually turned decent, and with the sun breaking through, a circuit around Conder Green, a visit to Glasson Dock to look over the river, and a circuit around Cockersands was all quite enjoyable. 

The Avocet and Common Tern on Conder Pool are quietly going about their business of attempting to have a successful breeding programme, though the presence of the semi resident Lesser Black-backed Gull pair, and the sheep now able to trample on and around the islands with the water level considerably fallen, doesn't bode well. 

Also noted on the pool, several Oystercatcher included a pair on the near island which now have two well grown young, 2 Wigeon, a Great-crested Grebe, a Little Egret, male Reed Bunting, 2 Linnet, a Swift over, and the hovering Kestrel seen again.

The Lune Estuary from the bowling green at Glasson Dock is beginning to look a little livelier with c.150 Lapwing back here, 5 Teal, 16 Eider, a Shelduck with 14 young in tow, and uncounted but probably 6 Little Egret seen.

Cockersands at low tide was void of any visible waders, 2 Sedge Warbler and a Whitethroat were the warbler representatives, with 8 Tree Sparrow, 3 Goldfinch, a Great Tit and a Chaffinch around Bank Houses horse paddock.


Large Skipper. Pete Woodruff. 


I was much more impressed with the butterflies than the birds at Cockersands, with at least 50 Large White, 13 Small Tortoiseshell, 6 Large Skipper, and 4 Painted Lady seen.

News from Conder Pool.

According to a report on the Fylde Bird Club website, a young Common Tern seen yesterday, with an adult bird seen to bring in a small fish. Hopefully, Avocet chick/s should be seen here by this weekend.

Tuesday's Negative.



I took this photograph through my telescope from the bowling green at Glasson Dock, these people were distant across at Conder Green with a least 12 hounds. 

There are two issues here....In the first, I picked up one of these minders through my telescope with one of the dogs off the leash at the end of a Mute Swan attack, so unfortunately I saw little of the attack and can't truthfully say whether or not the bird was injured in any way, but the dog was within inches of the bird when the minder called it off, as far as I could see the bird couldn't take off from the water. 

In the second issue, this activity needs to be controlled in areas like this, as can be seen in the pic above they are at the edge of the marsh and onto the mud and in my view shouldn't be there, they can and often do disturb the birds, and in this case today seriously so with the possibility of injury to a Mute Swan.

But the good news, is that I'm aware of a move afoot at last to at least address this problem.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

A Little Action At The End.

Harrisend Fell.

There was a little action on Harrisend on Thursday, no sooner I went on to the track I found a lone female Stonechat which promptly dropped down into the undergrowth, no doubt to a nest. I moved on to find a pair of Stonechat in the lone Hawthorn, the 24 May pair with two young then, but none seen today. Also in the Hawthorn, 4 Lesser Redpoll, and one of the 2 Willow Warbler I saw here today, just below this tree on the gorse, a pair of Linnet and one of the 4 Reed Bunting seen on the visit, 21 Meadow Pipit noted, 4 Mistle Thrush, 2 Blackbird, and a Kestrel. I was seeing Swallow most of the time spent on Harrisend Fell probably reaching a double figure by the time I left. I also saw a decent count of 19 Small Heath, 3 Small Copper, 2 Painted Lady, and 2 Common Blue Damselflies in a drying out run-off ditch. 

Birk Bank. 


Birk Bank Bog. Pete Woodruff.

I made a detour to Birk Bank on the way back to Lancaster, and spent an hour staring at the bog to find at least some of what I had thought I might see. 

Four-spotted Chaser. Pete Woodruff.

As it happened the timing was perfect, the cloud broke as I reached the car park on Rigg Lane, it was humid as I looked over the bog, and in the hour I spent there the sun brought out up to 10 Four - spotted Chaser including some which repeatedly hovered and dipped the tips of their abdomens into water to release eggs to settle below the surface. Also seen, 6 Small Pearl - bordered Fritillary, and 2 Painted Lady butterflies.


Cotton-grass. Pete woodruff.

So, at least I got a little action to start with on Harrisend, and a little more to end with on the bog at Birk Bank where the Cotton-grass looks splendid this year.

Many thanks to Marc for his excellent header of the stunning in flight White-faced Darter which to see he had to travel the long distance from Kent to Shropshire. I recommend you visit Marc's website to see the brilliant results he achieved from this trip and some of his other recent stunning odonata work Here 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Keeping The Faith In Bowland.

Doing my best to keep the faith in Bowland, I was off up the west side of Hawthornthwaite on Wednesday to find 3 Stonechat which I saw as a pair, further on a juvenile bird which looked completely out of context atop of a lone tall Hawthorn half way up the fell, but this bird had soon developed into a wise one as it was fly-catching with ease off this tree. Also noted, up to 20 Sand Martin were flying up and down the clough, 14 Meadow Pipit, 2 Wren, a Mistle Thrush, male Reed Bunting, and a Grey Wagtail. Three Redshank were on a wall by the roadside as I got back to the motor, all calling and probably with young.


Lesser Redpoll Warren Baker

At Marshaw and on to the Hawthornthwaite east side, a Lesser Redpoll, 5 Robin, and 4 Grey Wagtail, were all seen before I reached the fell track. A couple of hours up here produced, 15 Meadow Pipit, and 3 Willow Warbler, a distant single female/juvenile Stonechat was a disappointing result. Butterflies seen, 2 Painted Lady and 3 Small Heath

In the Tower Lodge area, from nine species noted, 6 Grey Wagtail, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Blackcap, a Nuthatch, and a Mistle Thrush

Lancaster Birds.


According to KT, at least 20 Swift were high over Bowerham on Wednesday morning, and a family party of 2 adult and 5 young Great Tit were in our garden that morning. 

The Grey Wagtail.


Grey Wagtail Simon Hawtin  

From my last two visits to Bowland 3 - 8 June, I found 22 Grey Wagtail at four locations, Langden (5) Hareden (6) Hawthornthwaite (1) Marshaw Wyre (10).

Thanks Warren/Simon, we appreciate your excellent photographs very much.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Birds And Boats.

The Birds.

Last Friday in Bowland as I was approaching Langden, I noticed a good number of House Martin around Sykes Farm, nothing too surprising about that, as the birds are always to be seen here each year, in fact one year I made a decent count of nests at this farm.

I decided to take a closer look at the House Martins today, but first made it my business to see the farmer to ask permission to look round the rear of this property attached to the farm. I had an interesting conversation with the farmer who told me he willingly accommodated the House Martins and Swallows on his farm, and that it was OK for me to take a look round....I suspected his farm may well be holding a record number of nesting House Martins.

I was right, and discovered that Sykes Farm has the biggest House Martin nesting colony I've seen and held up to 50 nests, the majority of which appeared to be active.

The Boats.

A little shipping interest at Cockersands on Monday. 


Passing The Cockersands Light. Pete Woodruff. 

For such a small port, albeit just three vessels, it was a record number to pass the lighthouse in little over thirty minutes, two left Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary and out to sea, whilst one headed in to harbour. First out and past the lighthouse was the large cargo ship Celtic Endeavour, soon followed by the smaller Silver River, which is a coastal vessel plying to and from the Isle of Man on a weekly basis, whilst - as in the pic above - the Magdalena headed up the estuary escorted by the yellow/black pilot boat towards Glasson Dock.


The Magdalena was interesting as it flew a flag on the stern I was unable to identify, so I took a shot as it passed the lighthouse to look it up later.

Flag of Antigua and Barbuda.svg

I discovered the ship was flying the flag of Antigua and Barbuda, the twin islands of the Americas between the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, it was registered at the islands capital city of St John's.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Then There Were Four!

An excellent sighting yesterday at Conder Green was of 4 Avocet, two still on Conder Pool, and two in the creeks, seen from between the Stork and hump backed bridge on the A588.

The same number four featured yesterday when I found 4 Painted Lady butterflies, one flew across the car park at the Stork in Conder Green, one at Conder Pool, and two at Cockersands, one of which flew across my path and out south west low over the sea.

Other notes from Conder Green, one of the Common Tern was bathing in the pool before returning to the island nest site, a Kestrel was hovering over the pool, 3 Little Egret were in the creeks, and a Shelduck was with eight young down the Conder Channel. 

Eider. Pete Woodruff. 



At Cockersands, as I arrived 23 Canada Geese took off from around Plover Scar and flew out of sight towards Glasson Dock, 13 Eider were close in. On Plover Scar at high tide little more than 30 waders, with 16 Ringed Plover, 12 Dunlin, and a lone Knot. The predictable Tree Sparrow and Goldfinch were around Bank Houses, 3 Whitethroat and 3 Skylark noted on the circuit, with good numbers of Swallow and Sand Martin in the area, two of which landed on the road and were seen to take insects.

Other butterflies today, all seen at Cockersands, a pair of Common Blue, a Red Admiral and Peacock.  
Magpie. Pete Woodruff. 


This fledged young Magpie was screaming and flapping it's wings on the top of the hedge at Cockersands, for some reason it made no attempt to escape my attentions and was still there when I left.

Avocet and Common Tern at Conder Green. 

By my reckoning, the young Common Terns which swim soon out of the nest, could be seen before the end of next week 18 June, and the Avocet chick should be putting in an appearance similarly by 18 June. 

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Another Bowland Safari.

On Friday I was off to Bowland again to walk up the Langden Valley and return via the top track by Holdren Castle.

Langden Valley viewed from Holdren Castle. Pete Woodruff. 


Well worth the effort for me, if only that I found a pair of Stonechat and three young, not the number I was hoping for to be found up here, but thankful for small mercies. A Common Sandpiper was on Langden Brook, as were 5 Grey Wagtail, with Oystercatcher breeding including a pair with a well grown young, House Martins were hawking over and around the brook. Other birds noted, 6 Wren, 5 Meadow Pipit, 4 Willow Warbler, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Curlew, BlackcapGoldcrestDunnock, and a kestrel the only raptor seen.


Grey Wagtail Brian Rafferty  

Three hours on the Hareden track was equally rewarded, again if only that I found 4 Stonechat up here, seen as a pair with a single young, and a lone male, probably with the female on the nest. The days tally totalled 11 Grey Wagtail seen, with six on Hareden Brook to add to the Langden five. In the Hareden Farm and surrounding area, a few House Martin around the farm, 2 Blackcap, 2 Blackbird, Goldfinch, and Wren. Once on the moor, I found only a total of 7 Meadow Pipit on the day with just two up Hareden, also a stunning male Lesser Redpoll took me by surprise as it landed on a fence post ahead of me. I saw 2 Curlew and later 2 Buzzard soaring overhead as I reached the limit of my walk, on my way back
 a Dipper seen on the brook. Four Small Heath on Hareden were the only butterflies seen all day. 


Green Tiger Beetle. Pete Woodruff.

The Green Tiger Beetle is a common ground beetle of moorland which I usually find up here in bright sunny conditions during the summer. It's a fast and agile hunter, running across the ground to catch its invertebrate prey, it is well equipped to tackle its prey with a ferocious set of jaws - not visible in my pic - and long legs that give it an impressive turn of speed to be one of our fastest insects, they also have the advantage of being able to fly. 

Thanks to Richard and to Brian for their excellent Yellow and Grey Wagtail images, much appreciated.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Demoiselle Has It.

The Banded Demoiselle did it for me on Tuesday, albeit seen briefly on the canal SE of Glasson Dock, fluttering behind the bank-side vegetation by the footpath, I hung around a while but unfortunately it made no reappearance. 

A Photographic Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Kent: Banded Demoiselle &emdash; Male, Westbere Lakes, May 2014
Banded Demoiselle Marc Heath


My last Banded Demoiselle was 2 years ago at Conder Green on 29 July 2014, where it afforded me excellent views fluttering like a butterfly, back and forth on the River Conder just upstream from the A588 road-bridge.

The Avocet were seen as one on Conder Pool, the other feeding in the creeks, seen from the A588 between the Stork Hotel and the road bridge. A Common Tern was on guard duty, with the female hidden, no doubt sitting in the tray on Tern Island.




A smart drake Wigeon was also on the pool, a new bird for me on here this summer, but where's the female disappeared to. A Kestrel was hovering over the pool, and 2 Swift were also overhead. A wander along the coastal path to Glasson Dock to return to Conder Green via the canal was uninspiring, with a Whitethroat and Blackcap both in song, and an Orange Tip noted.

I decided on a visit to Aldcliffe - Stodday to count 20 species....What's wrong with me these days, I've taken to counting species!....But out of the twenty only 9 Blackbird, 2 Chiffchaff, a Little Egret, and a Coot with two red-headed young on 'Darter Pool' are the only one's to have found their way on to Birds2blog, but at least I saw a first this year in a Common Blue, with a Speckled Wood, another Orange Tip and Small Tortoiseshell seen.

Thanks to Marc and Noushka for their excellent images.


The Conder Green House Martins. 

From a post - 'Spring Is In The Air' - on Birds2blog 4 May....

House Martins were not surprisingly nest building at a property in Conder Green yesterday. I approached the owner/s to see if they were aware of this and had good reason to ask if they were prepared to accommodate these breeding birds. Our conversation was in confidence and I'm not prepared to detail it on a blog on the internet, but I was made confident the House Martins would be OK this year. I once called on a property elsewhere in this area on the same subject, on that ocassion they told me they would be doing all they could to deter the House Martins from nesting on their property, 'they make a mess and are a nuisance'....nice one!!

On Tuesday I noted four House Martin nests were being/had been built at River Winds with birds seen entering and leaving the nests. I know the owner of this house and speak to him often as I pass by, it's a well established fact that he willingly accommodates the birds on an annual basis. However, the House Martins at Cafe d' Lune were nowhere to be seen on Tuesday, I get the feeling they have for some reason deserted the property, I wonder why....watch this space!