BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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PLOVER SCAR & COCKERSAND LIGHTHOUSE. PETE WOODRUFF.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

A Final Scurry.

My last birding day in 2016 on Thursday turned up some interest, not least of all that the Cockersand area swan herd had reached an unprecedented 600 individuals assembled in fields to the west of Thursland Hill, and were seen as.....

Thursland Hill: 550 Whooper Swan, 35 Mute Swan
Clarkson's Farm: 7 Bewick's Swan, 5 Whooper Swan
Slack Lane: 3 Whooper Swan

Twite. Jan Larsson @ Vingspann 

Up to 50 Twite were in the Bank Houses area though they were mobile, it was good to see 4 Song Thrush, and a lone Redwing and Fieldfare. On the round, 8 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding with Curlew in a field at Abbey Farm, 14 Linnet, 4 Robin, 2 Reed Bunting, and a Snipe in the air.

The Lune Estuary had been taken over by the tide, 2 Goldeneye, 2 Snipe, and 2 Shoveler were seen as a pair. Conder Green was also under water, but 6 Little Grebe were on Conder Pool, with a Song Thrush on the outlet dealing with a snail being removed from it's shell which was soon in bits, and I could see 8 Fieldfare from here on the bushes on the coastal path.

Looking forward to the birds of 2017.

It's always important to me that I express my appreciation for all the photographs shown on Birds2blog. Thanks to everyone for the images throughout 2016, and in this case to Jan for the Twite in the post, and to Howard for the Redwing in the header.  

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Caton Moor.

On a brilliant calm sunny day yesterday, Ian suggested a walk up Quarry Road from Brookhouse to the wind turbines on Caton Moor and return down by Kirkby Gill and past Claughton Hall into Claughton and back to Brookhouse, probably six miles....so off we went. 

No major discoveries, and certainly not overrun with birds, but it was good to be out birding again for the first time in eight days, and to get some fresh air - is there such a thing these days - into the lungs, and be surprised to find 7 Lapwing back up on the moors on the early date of 28 December, probably an all time earliest date for the species to be back on breeding grounds. Twelve Fieldfare and a single Redwing seen, 8 Rook were noted in a field, 3 Long-tailed Tit, with Blue Tit, Wren, and Robin noted. Two raptors seen on the day, a Kestrel and my second - 24 November - Hen Harrier in a month, both ringtail.

The Redstart.

Black Redstart. Richard O'meara.  

I was grateful to Richard for his enquiry about what the bird was in the photograph above which he attached to his e-mail to me, he had seen it by the slipway at Knott End mid-afternoon yesterday, it was an excellent picture of a female/1st winter male Black Redstart

Impressive stuff Richard....Keep 'em cumin!

Saturday, 24 December 2016

And Finally....

Well I had to pay a visit to Cockersand again on Tuesday morning, primarily to see if I could get some good daylight views of the Snow Bunting seen in the semi-dark of the day before. But an hour along the headland and two Cumbrian birders distant ahead of me, with three pairs of eyes there was no sign of the bird. There was little pleasant about the circuit with a quite a stiff cold wind, just 32 Pink-footed Geese over south, with 7 Fieldfare and a Brown Hare noted off Moss Mane.

By the time I reached the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock the tide was reaching it's height, but of note pushed on to the south side and easily viewed from the bowling green was a Spotted Redshank, 15 Snipe, and 12 Black-tailed Godwit, on the river, 3 Goldeneye and 3 Red-breasted Merganser.

On a choppy Conder Pool, I could find only one Little Grebe, but don't believe for a minute it was the only one at Conder Green, up to 40 Wigeon and 20 Curlew, whilst the Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper were on the marsh looking set to roost over the tide.

Garden Mega.

Grey Wagtail. Pete Woodruff.


Another mega first was in our urban garden on Thursday in the form of a Grey Wagtail

It was interesting to see the bird close up, this record shot through the kitchen window shows to good effect the birds yellow-green rump, and to watch the longest tail of all the wagtails, pumping so hard that the whole rear end of the bird rocked.  

This is the last round up before the Santa bloke takes over everything for a few days, including forcing my birding onto the back burner probably until the middle of next week, and Birds2blog out of business. But fear not, I'll be checking the birds out first opportunity when Christmas is reduced to but a memory and the barrel and bottles are empty, but for now it's goodbye from me.

P.S.

I reckon the Birdwatch Magazine offer is pretty good, that bundle would normally cost you £50.40 for the year....Go for it!

A Very Happy Christmas To Everyone

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Snowed In!

Snow Bunting Marc Heath 

Along the embankment just to the north of Plover Scar at Cockersand, there's a section of large boulder sea defence, as I walked along here on Monday I watched a Wren go down amongst the boulders. As I approached this area an hour later on my return, I saw a movement on the boulders and muttered to myself 'that's the Wren again', but by now it was almost 4.00pm and getting dark, the bird made a move and came into view to reveal itself as a Snow Bunting, but it flew off a short distance, I caught up with it and got another glimpse as it flew off yet again. Despite spending 20 minutes along the embankment I never saw the bird again, though thankful for small mercies this was another one that got away....well nearly.

On Plover Scar at high tide, 108 Turnstone, and c.350 Oystercatcher, with 75 Wigeon and 5 Teal off here. In the field by Bank Houses Cottage, 65 Curlew seen, and a Buzzard was on the lookout from an Abbey Farm rooftop. The swan herd was still at Thursland Hill and almost certainly holds the c.340 Whooper Swan counted on 5 December, but the field on Moss Lane which held last Friday's 7 Bewick's Swans had cleared out to leave just 2 Whooper Swan - an adult and juvenile - with 2 Mute Swan.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 'the' Little Stint again gave good mid-distance views, a Spotted Redshank, 20 Black-tailed Godwit, a single Bar-tailed Godwit, 25 Snipe, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, and a Goosander, a Little Grebe was at the Conder mouth. Five Goldeneye on the canal basin brought a new peak count of ten on the Lune Estuary, also noted on the basin, c.60 Coot and 20 Tufted Duck.

Redwing. Pete Woodruff.

Along the coastal path to Conder Green, a few Redwing around, at least 10 Blackbird, 3 Reed Bunting, 3 Robin, 3 Wren, Great Tit, Blue Tit, and a Dunnock. On Conder Pool, always good to see 7 Black-tailed Godwit on here, 19 Curlew, 2 Snipe, and 4 Little Grebe, the faithful Spotted Redshank was in the creeks and was evidence of two on the estuary now.

Thanks for the Snow Bunting Marc, excellent and much appreciated, I needed a torch to see my bird. 

TO ALL MY FOLLOWERS OF BIRDS2BLOG. 

BE IT REGULAR OR OCCASIONAL, I APPRECIATE YOUR SUPPORT WHICH GIVES ME THE INCENTIVE TO TRY TO KEEP IT ALL GOING.

A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE.  

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Rock On!

Rock Pipit. Pete Woodruff.

There was a decent count of at least 10 Rock Pipit at Pilling Lane Ends on Friday, some obligingly coming to perch on the fence post giving me the chance to achieve some of my usual 2nd rate pictures. Also eventually dropping on to the fence posts were a flighty 7 TwiteA lone Whooper Swan was on the sea towards Fluke Hall, numbers of wildfowl were unremarkable, though several hundred Shelduck were spread out the length from Fluke Hall to Bank End, and it's always good to see the Pintail here. Fifteen Pink-footed Geese were on the sea, then drifted in to start grazing on the embankment.

At Wrampool, up to 200 Linnet were flighty and eventually flew off, a Snipe came abruptly up out of the set-aside with it's characteristic scraping 'catch' call. I've driven past the flood at Braides recently, but calling in today I noted Wigeon and Teal present, but most notable was 5 Shoveler.

Grey Wagtail was at Bamber's Farm as I drove down Moss Lane to find 110 swans in a field just west of the A588, amongst which I found 7 Bewick's Swan, with 10 Whooper Swan and 93 Mute Swan, all being disturbed by activities in the field when I called back there later in the day to see if anything had changed....necessary farming activities you understand.


Curlew. Pete Woodruff.

On the canal basin at Glasson Dock, 6 Goldeneye were there again as Monday, and on Conder Pool, I could find only 3 Little Grebe, 23 Curlew, and the Common Sandpiper which flew in off the marsh. I note I've had no sign of the faithful Spotted Redshank at Conder Green since 5 December.

The Bewick's Swan.  



I was made up when I found the first Bewick's Swans in our area this winter off Moss Lane on Friday, and only the second record in Lancashire with two at Hundred End in West Lancashire on 23 November. 

I'm not up to date on the current status of Bewick's Swans in the UK, but in early November there was only c.400 at the Ouse Washes and at Slimbridge, whilst at that time c.4,000 were in Holland, which is actually just under 400 short of the total population in Britain and Ireland in 2015.

Many thanks to Ana for the Woodlark header.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Lancashire Coastal Way.

The last time I did the Lancaster - Glasson Dock hike was two months ago in October, so time to get on down there and do it again on Tuesday. This length of the Lancashire Coastal Way is excellent for birds/birding, defunct railway routes that I know of always are. 

At the start of the walk, 2 Goosander drake could be seen distant from Skerton Bridge up river towards Skerton Weir, a drake Goldeneye was on the River Lune just downstream from Carlisle Bridge. Freeman's Pools were on the verge of deserted, but another drake Goldeneye was on here, with a lone drake Wigeon, a pair of Tufted Duck, and several Coot. Not a goose or swan in sight on Aldcliffe Marsh....unbelievable.


Blackbird Antonio Puigg 

The most significant feature of today's walk was an absolute minimum of 50 Blackbird seen along the way, also a substantial but uncounted number of Fieldfare and Redwing at Aldcliffe along the berry laden Hawthorns by the flood and beyond, a similar number to Monday's Fieldfare and Redwing were also seen again in the Conder/Glasson area. My other notes were of 7 RobinWren, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, and a Reed Bunting

It turned a bit damp at one point later in the afternoon, and I got a bit of a dousing for around thirty minutes, but it then brightened up with some brilliant sunshine. I probably saw up to 300 thrushes on this route today....nice. 

Looking Towards Clougha/Harrisend. Pete Woodruff.

The view from Glasson Dock, 30 minutes earlier I was getting a soaking in a heavy drizzle.

Barn Owl.

Barn Owl Brian Rafferty

A Barn Owl was reported to me yesterday, seen flying out of a ditch near Bamber's Farm on Moss Lane. I expressed my gratitude for this valuable record. 

Thank you for the Blackbird Antonio, and for the Barn Owl Brian, they are much appreciated.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Back To Work.

A full week since my last visit to the Lune Estuary, not recommended, you just can't neglect the birds like that....So it was back to work on Monday.

 Fieldfare Simon Hawtin  

There was a noticeable thrush presence around the east end of Conder Pool when I got there, with a mix of at least 120 Fieldfare and Redwing on and flying around the berries. The pool was quiet, though 62 Black-headed Gull were noted, with 2 Wigeon and 8 Curlew. Of the 8 Little Grebe seen, three were on the pool and five in the creeks with 6 Wigeon.

Eight Goldeneye were my best count so far this winter, with six on the canal basin at Glasson Dock, and two on the Lune Estuary. I've seen few reports of Goldeneye anywhere in our recording area, and fourteen on Freeman's Pools on 30 November is by far the best count I've seen anywhere to date. Also noted on the estuary, a healthy looking up to 4,000 Lapwing, 2,500 Golden Plover, with 200 Redshank and slightly fewer Dunlin, 25 Black-tailed Godwit, a single Snipe, up to 400 Wigeon, and a Great-crested Grebe was to note, a Peregrine Falcon was surveying the landscape on Colloway Marsh.


Redwing Bob Bushell 

It wasn't looking good by around 1.30pm and cars were already with sidelights on, but I decided to leg it along the coastal path from Glasson Dock and ended up as far down the path towards Waterloo, birds noted were at least 18 Blackbird, more Fieldfare and Redwing, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Mistle Thrush, and 2 Robin, a flock of 12 Chaffinch, 3 Great Tit, a Wren and a Kestrel.

Thanks once again to Simon and Bob for their respective thrush images, much appreciated.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The Greylag Goose.

Greylag. Grampian Ringing Group


This Greylag is an example of a collar marked Greylag, it was seen in Grampian twice as well as on the Icelandic breeding grounds the previous year. 

I've found four collar marked Greylag Geese recently, the latest on Aldcliffe Marsh 2 December when two individuals were with up to 300 Greylag Geese, I think if I'd put a little more time into it I would have found more, the other two were at Conder Green on 9 September when fifteen bird's were present.

These four bird's were all collar marked on 25 June this year at Ambleside in Cumbria, the Aldcliffe bird's have previously been sighted at The Snab in the Lune Valley in August, and at Aldcliffe Marsh in October and November. 

Each year the flight and tail feathers of Greylag Geese are shed simultaneously, rendering the birds flightless for a few weeks of the year (between June-July). Being flightless during this time the birds are quite vulnerable so during the moulting period the birds withdraw at this critical time to safe areas, usually secluded lakes and meres. If these areas are not met within the immediate vicinity, the birds make a pre-moult shift to areas further away. This has in some cases resulted in a mass transfer of individuals in a fixed direction towards localised moulting places.

The aim of this marking project is to increase the understanding of goose moult migrations both within and outside of Cumbria, to help determine...
  • The extent to which geese moulting in Cumbria are the same individuals that breed in the area.
  • To get a better understanding of where birds moulting in Cumbria are originating from outside of the moulting season.
  • The extent to which the same individuals return to the same areas to breed and moult each year.
In order to achieve this, a sample of Greylag Geese have been fitted with uniquely coded plastic neck collars during the moulting period. Neck collars are a safe marking method for large geese and have been used widely in previous studies on species such as the migratory Pink-footed Goose and White-fronted Goose, allowing individuals to be identified when on water as well as on land.

I'm grateful to Kane Brides at WWT for his usual obliging and quick response to my submission of these records, and he ask's if we see any of these marked Greylag that we would forward them to him at Kane.Brides@wwt.org.uk   

Stonechat Gary Jones  


It was good to hear of a female Stonechat with the Wrampool Linnets yesterday, record much appreciated and sent to me by AC. The perfect excuse for another image on Birds2blog of this little beauty from Gary Jones. Thanks also to Noushka Dufort for the new header.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Monday's Conder/Glasson Bird's.

Better late than never. 

The first bird I saw when I pulled into the lay-by at Conder Green on Monday was the ever faithful Spotted Redshank, it was in the creeks where I also saw a Grey Wagtail, the Common Sandpiper is rarely as predictable, but it was found where it often is, just downstream from the iron bridge in the Conder channel. 

Conder Pool was virtually deserted, but 3 Little Grebe were seen, have they finally moved on, I don't think so, I just didn't find the rest of 'em. Along the coastal path to Glasson Dock, I saw at least 20 Blackbird, 2 Song Thrush were excellent in their scarcity, 4 Redwing, 3 Goldfinch, 3 Meadow Pipit were on the marsh, 3 Blue Tit, 3 Reed Bunting, 2 Robin, a Fieldfare, Dunnock, and Wren.

Snipe. Pete Woodruff.

On the Lune Estuary from the bowling green, of the 33 Snipe seen, this was the best of a poor set of pics of a group with two Redshank. I had decent mid-distance views of the long stay Little Stint, 4 Goldeneye were all drake and almost certainly the same four birds which were my first this winter here on 4 November, and not seen since. Wader numbers were at a low with a few Redshank and Dunlin feeding on the tide line, 2 Black-tailed Godwit and a lone Bar-tailed Godwit were the only others of note, 2 Red-breasted Merganser drakes completed the short list.  

Cockersand Lighthouse.


There's little left of the Cockersand Lighthouse, with barely a few feet left standing at the edge of Plover Scar. I reckon the job of dismantling and rebuilding of this structure has turned out an even bigger one than was initially assessed.


As I understood it, the plan was to dismantle the structure down to the base, but the darker 50 stones now lying on Plover Scar with the lighter ones in this picture, appear to be from the upper part of the base of the lighthouse. 


Hopefully early next year it'll look as grand as this once again....Pictures your's truly.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Meanwhile At Cockersand.

I managed an enjoyable session yesterday at Conder/Glasson/Cockersand. Meanwhile....

At Cockersand, on a circuit I saw 7 Blackbird, 8 Meadow Pipit came up out of a field as did at least 13 Snipe here and there, 7 Reed Bunting were seen together as a small flock, there was an altercation between 2 Wren on Slack Lane where I saw Linnet in the cover crop, a Sparrowhawk and 3 Brown Hare seen.

It was quiet along the headland, c.70 Wigeon were off Plover Scar and a small group of Turnstone and Golden Plover were in the field by the abbey. A Buzzard was on a fence post unseen by me until I got within a few metres of the bird. 

I'd seen the swans in the fields by Thursland Hill as I drove along Moss Lane and again from the headland at Cockersand, the herd looks to be up to 400 strong and obvious at least 340 Whooper Swan seen 29 November are still there.


Looking West. Pete Woodruff.

As always, Cockersand was a good place to be birding yesterday, and was even more impressive as the sun went down at 3.40pm when I took this photograph looking west and out to sea off Cockersand Abbey.

Back with yesterdays Conder/Glasson birds soon.  

Monday, 5 December 2016

Then There Was Nine!

Stonechat. Ana Minguez Naturanafotos  

It might have taken me a couple of hours, but it was good to eventually find 4 Stonechat on Harrisend, the result being nine pairs of Stonechat now on record wintering at four locations I've visited recently in Bowland. Hardly numbers to get ecstatic about, but thankful for small mercies on a species which has yet to return to anything like pre 2009 status.

Harrisend is a giant sponge in the boggy areas where the water drains off the fell, as I got out of the car, the drainage into one roadside ditch could be heard gushing, quite amazing the amount of water considering the dry spell of late. At least 11 Red Grouse seen, and my second recent upland Jack Snipe went into the air ahead of me, with a Common Snipe seen, a Buzzard was the only raptor on the visit.

I decided to come back down to Lancaster and do a circuit of Aldcliffe before the daylight began to fade, during which time I saw 15 Blackbird. No surprises, and definitely no exotica, with a Little Egret on the flood, 13 Moorhen, and a few hundred Black-headed Gull in the fields where the farmer was spreading, along the hedgerow bordering the flood, a good number of Fieldfare and Redwing seen. Drying up after the flood, the area and Wildfowlers Pool had a few Redshank and 3 Snipe feeding out in the open. 

Freeman's Pools had 2 Goldeneye and 2 Gadwall of note on a quick scan, and on the marsh, an estimated even mix totaling 600 Canada Geese and Greylag of which two were collar marked - probably more given a bit more time - and duly reported, c.800 Pink-footed Geese were in the air over in the west somewhere between Heaton and the Heysham bypass.

Thanks for your excellent and much appreciated 'Spanish' male Stonechat image Ana. 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Another Of Those Short And Sweet Jobs.

I just had to grab what birding time I could on Thursday, covering as best and as much as I could.


Spotted Redshank & Co. Pete Woodruff.


The Spotted Redshank was roosting on the marsh when I arrived at Conder Green, a female Teal was snoozing next to it, with a Snipe crouched in the background. On Conder Pool, 8 Tufted Duck were probably here having been displaced from the mainly frozen canal basin at Glasson Dock, 9 Little Grebe and 3 Snipe were noted.

As I drove along Moss Lane a good number of Fieldfare were seen, Jay flying off with them showing it's distinctive white rump. At Cockersand, a single Grey Plover was on Plover Scar along with a few uncounted Turnstone and c.250 Oystercatcher, c.175 Black-tailed Godwit were on the shore between Plover Scar and Long Tongue. Good numbers of Snipe were again in the fields, some in company with Curlew at Abbey Farm. 

Song Thrush Bob Bushell

The line of Willows along Slack Lane were interesting in that a Chiffchaff was seen briefly before disappearing along the backside of the trees before I could turn it into a 'little brown job' rarity, a thirty minute search changed nothing, also 2 Song Thrush, and around the cover crops up to 60 Linnet, 6 Greenfinch, and a Reed Bunting   

Thanks for the Song Thrush Bob, nice one....Keep on keeping on Bob.

And hey....


Waxwing Simon Hawtin

On the way back home from a retail therapy session with KT, taking advantage of the pager message about a report in Lancaster, we parked up on Heaton Road to catch sight of 9 Waxwing which promptly took off to fly purposefully north and out of view. Would you believe it....a five second Waxtwitch!

Thanks for the Waxwing image Simon, and to Richard for his Rock Pipit header, much appreciated on both counts.