BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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PLOVER SCAR & COCKERSAND LIGHTHOUSE. PETE WOODRUFF.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Home On The Range.


Spotted Redshank. Conder Pool 28 October. Pete Woodruff.


On Friday I started the day at Conder Green, and ended it back there six hours later, the combined visits turned up the Spotted Redshank on Conder Pool with a couple of it's common Redshank cousins, also on the pool, Common Sandpiper, 6 Snipe, 5 Little Grebe, and 32 Black-headed Gull accompanied by a Common Gull. In the creeks, a Green Sandpiper, a Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Goosander, and 6 Wigeon.

On the Lune Estuary, an adult Curlew Sandpiper obligingly dropped on to the mud reasonably close from the bowling green, from where I counted an excellent 75 Snipe which gave a splendid display at one point, in flight and circling to come back down onto the mud. Estimates of 250 Dunlin and 200 Golden Plover, also a single Black-tailed Godwit and Great-crested Grebe noted.

On the way to Cockersand, a Little Egret flew out of a ditch along Jeremy Lane, and a Jay seen on Moss Lane. On Plover Scar, 195 Oystercatcher, 16 Turnstone, 3 Redshank, 2 Grey Heron, and a Little Egret.

From Abbey Farm I could see last Mondays swans distant in the same field at Thursland Hill, but I managed a better count on Friday with at least 12 Whooper Swans in view with Mute Swans. It was otherwise all a bit thin at Cockersand, my only notes were of 2 Greenfinch, 2 Robin, and a Large White, probably being one of the last butterflies of the year for me I reckon.

Stars Of The Garden.

In the past two days our urban garden in Lancaster has hosted a Goldcrest seen as a first record on Friday, a flock of 8 Long-tailed Tit as very rare visitors, a Greenfinch and Wren both occasional visitors....Thanks to Mrs W for these excellent records. 

Friday, 28 October 2016

Bowland Birds....Well Sumovem!

The decent weather continued on Tuesday - though we've said goodbye to the best of it since - and I decided it was perfect for another peruse in Bowland to see if I could find any more Stonechat looking set to winter up there, also with a hope to see winter thrushes, and anything else I could find.

Autumn Beech. Pete Woodruff.

There are some brilliant trees on the stretch between Marshaw and beyond Trough Bridge, not least the Beech which are looking spectacular with their stunning autumn leaves.

On a wander through this area to the fringe of Winfold Fell, 8 Robin and a number of Chaffinch along the route were notable, a Dipper and Grey Wagtail were on the Marshaw Wyre. Up the track behind Tower Lodge, a Jay called, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit and a Song Thrush were seen, with a Sparrowhawk drifting overhead and 2 Buzzard  were together soaring and mewing. 

Brambling. Noushka Dufort @ 1000-Pattes

When I got back down to the Trough Road, I saw four birds go into a tree, when I got on to them briefly they were 4 Brambling which promptly flew out of the tree from the backside and I lost them.

As I went on to the track to Winfold Fell at least 120 Fieldfare came up out of the heather to drop back down further up the fell, 2 Red Grouse exploded out of the heather with their usual bouncing bark, and a Wren seen.

It was good to find 3 Stonechat at the lower end of Hawthornthwaite Fell, giving reason to suspect two pairs set to winter here. I had found 13 Red Grouse within the first 30 minutes on here, with 4 Wren seen one of which was seeing another off, 2 Raven were overhead. 

It didn't matter that the list only reached 20 species in a four hour Bowland trawl, there's nothing unusual about that, my notes read it was enjoyable and rewarding for the birds seen, whilst noting the birds I didn't see.

Thanks for the Brambling Noushka, much appreciated.  

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

At A Premium.

Birds were at a premium on Monday, though I suppose reading about my seeing over 1,200 Golden Plover might sound like something of a contradiction to that.


It was pure delight to be at Cockersand to walk along the headland on a calm sunny day when some of the autumn colours on the rounds were coming to their best.

Tree Sparrow. Cockersand.

Off Crook Farm, c.280 Golden Plover seen with 2 Great-crested Grebe noted on the estuary. Around the area of cover crops, two small flocks seen were 25 Tree Sparrow, and 14 Linnet accompanied by 6 Greenfinch, also noted, a Reed Bunting and Dunnock. Four Whooper Swan with 50 Mute Swan were in a field some distance to the south of Clarkson's Farm where I had seen this herd on 13 October.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, c.900 Golden Plover, 4 Goosander, 2 Great-crested Grebe, and a solitary Black-tailed Godwit noted. Another solitary Black-tailed Godwit was at Conder Green in the creeks with a Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper, and 10 Snipe. A Kingfisher took me by surprise down the channel towards the Conder Estuary into where up to 90 Wigeon had drifted.


Linnet. Cockersand.

On Conder Pool, just 2 Little Grebe found, 4 Snipe were again on the dark side of the near island, and I saw 2 Meadow Pipit drop in at the back of the pool....The quiet lake. 

Sub-standard photography in this post is courtesy of your's truly.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Chat's And Fare's.

Stonechat Marc Heath  

The weather was too good to miss an opportunity on Saturday, and there was no way I could have resisted the temptation to get up Birk Bank for a circuit which turned out to be a brilliant idea 'cos I eventually found 6 Stonechat on the top, three of which were male and all six looking set to winter here, a future visit will hopefully confirm this.


Fieldfare. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery

After seeing at least 250 Fieldfare in the air just minutes after I left the car park on Rigg Lane, in the four hours I was in the area, I was regularly seeing flocks, some quite large, but impossible to know the total number in the area, but if not the initial marauding 250, several hundred were seen.

As I walked along the board-walk, I caught a glimpse of a dragonfly over the bog, Black Darter, one of two other dragonflies - the Common Darter and Migrant Hawker - which can be seen on the wing until the first frosts.

Having noted every bird seen over the four hours, 3 Wren, 2 Robin, 2 Coal Tit, a Mistle Thrush, and a 'few' corvids, the tally not including the winter thrushes - was no more than 25 birds of 8 species. Well....this is upland birding.

Red Grouse. Pete Woodruff.

This was one of only three Red Grouse seen, it was very confiding as it walked towards me along the gravel path and stood by me calling ocassionally with it's loud bouncing bark ending with a trill. I could have picked the bird up if I'd wanted to, it seemed otherwise healthy, made no attempt to fly, and was considerably smaller than the adult it appeared to be, I concluded this was a retarded bird. 

An all time record of 40 Goldfinch were in our garden on Friday afternoon.

Thanks to Marc and Martin for their excellent images.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Just The Two!

I was lucky to be able to squeeze a couple of hours birding into yesterday morning, barely enough time to get myself an update on the state of things at Conder Green and the Lune Estuary, where there was nothing to call new on offer and the excitement level was pretty low.

Looking more like a lake than a pool with the high tides, and with no muddy edges to attract the waders, Conder Pool was quiet, 6 Little Grebe were counted, 5 Snipe were on the 'dark side' of the island right of the viewing platform, and wildfowl noted were 34 Mallard, 14 Teal, and 2 Wigeon. Conder Star's - the Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper - were in the creeks, with 2 Little Grebe, 2 Goosander, 7 Snipe, and c.150 Teal seen. 


Coal Tit. Noushka Dufort @ 1000-Pattes

Along the coastal path, best bird was a Coal Titrare for me here, a Blackbird, Chaffinch, and House SparrowAt low tide, the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock held at least 900 Golden Plover and 50 Snipe, with a Spotted Redshank and Greenshank by the Conder mouth.

But some 'other things' were waiting to take on a more serious role than my birding - as if that was possible - and I was off back to Lancaster by 11.45am.

Thanks for the Coal Tit Noushka, and to Richard for the GWE header, apparently I missed one at Cockersand on 8 October. 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Birdwatching.

You can tell I was struggling for a title....couldn't you!


Little Grebe. Peter Rhind.

The count was better than of late when I found 11 Little Grebe at Conder Green yesterday, with seven seen on Conder Pool and four in the creeks where I also saw the Common Sandpiper, 12 Snipe, 6 Goosander, and up to 100 Teal. It was good to see Peter and Sue Rhind again yesterday, with a nice shot of one of the Little Grebe's on Conder Pool. 

A late Swallow was over Conder Pool, thankfully for it's sake it was flying in the right direction south and the weather forecast is looking favourable for the bird too. Also on the pool, 4 Snipe, the lone Black-tailed Godwit, 46 Black-headed Gull, a Buzzard soared overhead, and c.60 Curlew dropped in as I left. I didn't get to the Lune Estuary until the tide had drowned the area, but 42 Snipe counted and a Red Admiral few by.

It was good to see 26 Whooper Swan had arrived off Pilling Lane Ends, with least 50 Pintail, 6 Snipe, and 2 Rock Pipit of note, another 21 Whooper Swan in flight over in the Bank End area seen from here.


Mediterranean Gull. Cockers Dyke. Pete Woodruff.

Along the coastal path from Fluke Hall to Cockers Dyke, 2 adult Mediterranean Gull seen, one off Ridge Farm with another at Cockers Dyke where I saw 78 Golden Plover, also another 20 Whooper Swan seen to the west on Preesall Sands, with my second Red Admiral of the day, c.60 Pink-footed Geese in a field at Fluke Hall were the only geese I saw on the visit.


Golden Plover. Cockers Dyke. Pete Woodruff.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

East Is East....

I met a birder from Norfolk on Sunday whilst looking over Heysham Head, a brief conversation with him soon confirmed - as if it was needed - that east is east and west is west when it comes down to birds/birding. Nuff said....and now for my birding in the west yesterday.  

Wheatear. Pete Woodruff.

Some interest at Cockersand was in a Wheatear still here, in 2015 my last was here on 3 November, a Rock Pipit was seen off the headland. Also noted at the height of the 10m+ tide, Plover Scar had disappeared beneath the waves save an area just enough to hold 18 Turnstone clinging on, with another 12 on the shingle at the caravan park end, 9 Snipe took to flight off the marsh, up to 400 Curlew were in fields, with c.1,500 Golden Plover in a field further inland, 3 Pink-footed Geese were unusual, 6 Meadow Pipit were around Abbey Farm, and a mixed flock of up to 90 finches were in/around the cover crops off Slack Lane, predominantly Linnet with Greenfinch.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock produced my best count for many a year of 4 Great-crested Grebe, also of note 18 Snipe, with at least 300 Dunlin on the north side of the river. The creeks at Conder Green were a little busy with 4 Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank, and Common Sandpiper, 2 Little Grebe were also in the creeks which is where some tend to move to off the pool around this time though I have no idea why they choose to do this. 

Conder Pool is again a lake with the high 10m+ tides flooding in, 4 Little Grebe, 3 Snipe, and a single Black-tailed Godwit were noted.


Whooper Swan Brian Rafferty 


It was interesting that I found no Whooper Swans in the Thurnham/Cockersand area yesterday, and although I saw eight on Jeremy Lane on the early date of 30 September, I've seen no mention of swans anywhere on the Fylde, 49 were at Pilling on 18 October in 2015, and there has been no influx of the Whooper Swan at Martin Mere WWT yet, in 2015 a count of 137 was made there on today's date of 18 October.


Thanks to BR for his image of the Whooper Swans with Greylag Geese at Martin Mere WWT last year.    

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Rock On!

Rock Pipit. Jan Larsson @ Vingspann  

It was good to find 3 Rock Pipit at Cockersand on Thursday - I'd seen one here on 4 October - at one point they were in the same view as a Meadow Pipit and a Wheatear obviously with no intention in mid October to continue it's long migration haul into Africa, though the latest report in 2015 was of three Wheatear on Withnell Moor, Chorley on 4 November, and the latest Lancashire record is of one at Jubilee Tower in Bowland on 27 November 2011, hard to believe this individual ever returned to it's winter quarters in Africa.

On the way to Cockersand, 4 Whooper Swan were off Moss Lane in a field with c.50 Mute Swan at Clarkson's Farm.

Snipe. Pete Woodruff.


The Lune Estuary was relatively quiet, 28 Snipe were hunkered down and cryptic amongst the weed covered stones, c.250 Golden Plover and an unremarkable number of Lapwing were on the Colloway side, low numbers of Redshank and Dunlin were feeding as seen from the bowling green, and a Red-breasted Merganser and Great-crested Grebe were noted, a Peregrine Falcon was distant on Colloway Marsh.

I legged it along the coastal path to Conder Green to see just a couple of dozen birds, 18 Goldfinch, 3 Robin, a Wren and Blue Tit. On Conder Pool, as on my last visit here I found only 5 Little Grebe, with 12 Curlew, 4 Snipe, and 2 Meadow Pipit. The faithful Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper were with 4 Little Egret in the creeks.

The Meadow Pipit in the header posed nicely for me at Cockersand on Thursday with a slightly better photographic result than my usual half decent or worse efforts, though a little fuzzy, and not as sharp as it should be to be claimed anything like a winner....Note the longer and straighter hind claw compared to that of the shorter and more arched Tree Pipit.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

By The Left....Quick March.

Well it wasn't a quick march at all, and I did'nt have the time to loiter and stand around as much as I would have liked, and was needed to do justice to my birding, but this was the hike on Tuesday to Glasson Dock from Lancaster Greyhound Bridge, with a moderate 39 species notched up.

Notable was the lone Ruff which had the flood at Aldcliffe entirely to itself. On the Wildfowlers Pool a Green Sandpiper was seen with a few uncounted Teal, a Little Grebe, and a Snipe. On Freeman's Pools, up to 90 Wigeon, a Raven was mobbed by a Carrion Crow at Stodday, and my second sighting in two days was of a Green Woodpecker around Nansbuck Cottage.

Other notes along the coastal path, 12 Little Egret on the marsh, 11 Robin, 5 BlackbirdLong-tailed Tita Goldcrest, and a Mistle Thrush. At Conder Green where I had no time to check out Conder Pool, I saw a Greenshank down the channel, and c.250 Golden Plover came off the Lune Estuary to fly south inland....but the bus to Lancaster is coming!

Pied Crow. Pete Woodruff.


What's this then....I'd describe it as a partially leucistic Carrion Crow, but maybe the Pied Crow Corvus motley seen at Lancaster Green Ayre on Tuesday 11 October, is a first for Britain!!

The Little Egret.


Little Egret. Bob Bushell

On Friday evening 7 October, 159 went to roost at Ashton Hall Lake, on the same evening 119 went to roost at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve....that's an amazing 278 Little Egret at just two locations in North Lancashire. 

The Little Egret wasn't seen in the UK in significant numbers until 1989, they bred for the first time 20 years ago on Brownsea Island, Dorset in 1996. The first breeding record of Little Egret in Lancashire was in 2014 when up to six nests were occupied at Ashton Hall Lake, at the time the only breeding site in the county.

Thanks for the Little Egrets Bob....Excellent. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Big Mooch.

Not the plan when I left home, but I ended up mooching around Conder Green and the Glasson area for a full six hours yesterday, turning every tree, bush, and hedgerow upside down in the process....Should have gone to Shetland!!


Spotted Redshank. Pete Woodruff.

The first bird seen at Conder Green was the Spotted Redshank in the creeks with up to 100 Teal here, 2 Grey Wagtail were seen with one below the road bridge and one upstream.


Common Sandpiper. Pete Woodruff.

The Common Sandpiper was on Conder Pool where I could only find 5 Little Grebe today. In the picnic area, a Goldcrest, at least 2 Robin heard/seen, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, and Blue Tit, with 2 Buzzard soaring overhead.

I paid two visits to the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, the first around mid-day, the second at 4.45pm, birds noted were my first big count this winter of at least 1,500 Golden Plover, followed by another first decent count of the returning 295 Black-tailed Godwit. Also of note, a Ruff took 'Best Estuary Bird' award, followed by 3 Greenshank, 23 Snipe, 16 Turnstone which were seen as irregular if not scarce here, a single Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Great-crested Grebe and a Red-breasted Merganser, low numbers of gulls were dominated by c.250 Common Gull.

A Kestrel was the only bird noted on Jeremy Lane, but it was one more bird seen there than I took note of in an hour around the Glasson Grain/Yatch Club area. In the dock I counted 5 Tufted Duck, with another 25 on the canal basin and probably twice that number of Coot.

I watched a Pied Wagtail take an unidentified butterfly in it's bill on the roof of Christ Church, the bird lost it's grip on the butterfly which flew off to escape with it's life....amazing.


Green Woodpecker. Ana Minguez @ Naturanafotos

Surprise bird of the day was a Green Woodpecker, a local wanderer seen flying east over the marsh from Glasson Dock towards Conder Green. Come 3 November it will be a year ago since I saw my last when I had the bonus of two birds together off Rigg Lane at Birk Bank. 

Thanks for the Green Woodpecker Ana, you can see the wood flying off the tree as the bird pecks away at it, excellent and very much appreciated. 

As for my own poor quality and repetitive species photographs....I just keep trying!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

A Little Hard Going.

A bright but windy day on Thursday, it was little hard going at times with a few blank spells, but n'er mind....onward Christian soldiers and all that!

Little Grebe. Pete Woodruff.

Conder Pool was virtually deserted, though I counted 11 Little Grebe including these six together bobbing up and down on the choppy pool. Up to 70 Teal were in the creeks, and c.60 Goldfinch were flighty over the marsh.

Plover Scar at high tide held little more than 900 waders, estimated as 450 Oystercatcher, 350 Dunlin, 90 Turnstone, 5 Ringed Plover, 4 Redshank, 2 Knot, and a solitary Golden Plover. Five Snipe came off the marsh as I walked between Crook Cottage and Lighthouse Cottage, 3 Wheatear seen, with 35 Linnet around the cover crops off Slack Lane, and 10 Meadow Pipit in Bank Houses horse paddock.


Wigeon. Pete Woodruff.

I saw up to 300 Wigeon off the headland, and as an all year round vegetarian, they began to come to the shore as the tide dropped and started to feed.

Thanks to Marc Heath for the header of the Reculver Baird's Sandpiper....Brilliant image of a brilliant bird Marc.

Butterflies seen at Cockersand, a Painted Lady, 4 Red Admiral, and 2 Silver Y moths.

 
Red Admiral. Pete Woodruff.

Not easy photographing anything on a glaring white background, but I was pleased with the outcome in this shot of the Red Admiral and it's shadow basking on the whitewashed wall at Lighthouse Cottage.

Cockersand Lighthouse. 



Following the damage in a collision in March this year by a passing cargo ship with a gross tonnage of 674 tons, the task of dismantling then rebuilding of Cockersand Lighthouse is in full swing.


It's strange seeing the top section having been lifted off and now on dry land, and being able to see up close something which has stood out in the Lune Estuary for almost 170 years.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

A Proper Birder!

Truth is, if I'm not currently out looking to find my own Yellow-browed Warbler, then I can't expect anyone to refer to me as a 'proper birder'....as if they ever would! 

Little Stint Noushka Dufort

So yesterday I bashed the bushes along the coastal path from Conder Green to Glasson Dock, and later did the same at several likely spots at Cockersand, all to no avail. But my notes from the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock included good if distant views of a Little Stint and Spotted Redshank towards the Conder mouth, with c.180 Curlew and 5 Snipe of note....Many thanks for your LS image Noushka.

I counted just 9 Little Grebe on Conder Pool, with waders represented by 2 Greenshank, 6 Snipe, and 4 Curlew dropped in, the Common Sandpiper was lurking on the back side of the near island when I went down to the fence at the west end to look over the pool, where I saw 5 Wigeon, up to 100 Goldfinch and a Red Admiral.

A Sparrowhawk was seen along Jeremy Lane on my way to Cockersand to check out Plover Scar at high tide where I estimated, 250 Dunlin, 90 Turnstone, 6 Redshank, 3 Knot, and 2 Ringed Plover, along the headland I saw 3 Wheatear

I decided to retrace my steps along the headland as the tide ebbed which turned out to be a good idea, up to 800 Golden Plover had assembled on the shore close in and with a brilliant sunlight on them....I began to think about last Wednesday and the AGP. 

Rock Pipit. Cockersand 4 October. Pete Woodruff. 

Bathing in a tidal pool I found 2 Curlew Sandpiper, both adult in winter plumage, further along the shore a Rock Pipit was in company with 4 Meadow Pipit, 9 Linnet were around the cover crop field, and another Red Admiral seen here.

What's proper birding anyway....and is there such a thing as improper birding?   

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

All Gulls....Well Nearly.

I could only salvage a few hours a.m birding out of yesterday, so decided to go for my share of some of the Heysham gulls.

Sabine's Gull Juvenile. Heysham 3 October. Pete Woodruff.

I had excellent views of the juvenile Sabine's Gull on Stage 2 outfall where I came close to getting a half decent shot with my little pocket digi-camera, it was accompanied on the outfall by an adult Little GullThree Mediterranean Gull seen were a 1st winter on the outfall, and two adult on Red Nab.  


Pale-bellied Brent Goose. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery

The surprise of the visit was 7 Pale-bellied Brent Geese around Red Nab. Thanks to Martin for his image of the Brent Goose.

This has to be my shortest post ever on Birds2blog, but I'm hoping today changes all that....Yellow-browed Warbler....what's a Yellow-browed Warbler!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Early Birds.

Whooper Swan. Pete Woodruff.

An early date, but it was good to find the winter swans had returned on Friday when I found my first 8 Whooper Swan on Jeremy Lane. My photographic efforts above are worse than ever this time, but a 'clik the pik' brings up the original which is a slight improvement, also a Sparrowhawk flew off a fence post and across the field.


If your going to bird at Conder Green, you have to count the LG's on Conder Pool, why would you not want to, 14 Little Grebe was my count on Friday, also counted were at least 120 Teal on the pool, with 3 Snipe noted, another decent count was of up to 150 Goldfinch over and on the marsh, seen as the kind of numbers and maybe more to be expected of this finch here around now, the Common Sandpiper and 3 Goosander were in the creeks. 

I wasn't able to be at Cockersand before, or to stay much after the high tide on Friday, but I was hoping the plovers might be either on Plover Scar, or gathered in one of the Abbey Farm fields escaping the tide, either way they might be accompanied by Wednesdays AGP to give me a second bite at the bird, it didn't happen unfortunately....but thanks to SP for the new header of this brilliant bird.

Grey Plover. Pete Woodruff.

But a good rake around produced, off the headland, 2 Grey Plover seeking refuge from the tide, with c.60 Turnstone flying past south, and 2 Wheatear seen. I saw up to 80 Skylark over the fields, 2 Snipe took to flight out of a ditch, a few small skeins totalling c.300 Pink-footed Geese went over, some high up in the clouds, and all heading to the Fylde goose fields, small trickles of Swallow were heading south whilst I was here, and my records were rounded off by 2 Brown Hare.