BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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ISLAND MERE LEIGHTON MOSS RSPB. PETE WOODRUFF.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Hide & Seek!

I was overdue a look in at Leighton Moss, in any case there had been a 'goodie' there the day before....so on Thursday off I went.

Marsh Harrier. Pete Woodruff.

From the Causeway Hide, 2 Marsh Harrier seen, a female was perched in a distant tree, and a male hunted over the far side. There was easily a three figure number of Sand Martin hawking over the mere, and a small number of Swift, a Great-crested Grebe had a single juvenile, whilst 2 Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk soared high up, an Emperor Dragonfly was patrolling below the hide window.

At the Grisedale Hide, up to 160 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Little Egret, and a Black-tailed Skimmer seen. From the path here I saw 2 Nuthatch and heard one in the car park soon after.

At the Allen Hide, 6 Avocet included one sat on a nest in the midst of a Black-headed Gull colony....didn't seem a good idea to me. An Oystercatcher had one young, and the only other wader on the pool was a Redshank and a lone Shoveler. I heard a Chiffchaff from the path and heard another in the car park.

Spoonbill.

Spoonbill Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve 23 June. Pete Woodruff.

Two Spoonbill were on the pool from the Allen Hide, and some excellent news from the RSPB Reserve at Fairburn Ings in the Aire Valley, is that a pair of Spoonbill are breeding there as a first for Yorkshire and at any RSPB Reserve in England.

Caspian Tern. 

Caspian Tern. Chris Batty. 

A Caspian Tern was seen at Leighton Moss last Tuesday evening at 6.15pm and showed well all the following day until the evening when it apparently flew off into the sunset never to be seen again, it hadn't waited for me....well it wouldn't would it!

In over 50 years, Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve has a decent past record for the Caspian Tern with six now to it's credit....

25 July 1966
14 August 1966
2 August 1973
13 August 1979
16 July 2005
20 June 2017

Thanks to Chris for his photograph of the Caspian Tern at Knott End on the Fylde Coast 2 July 2007, and to Brian for the header Common Tern.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Down But Not Out....Quite.

After This amazing record of 20 Avocet on Conder Pool last Saturday,  my efforts three days later on Tuesday, turned up just five adult and only one young, that's a staggering fourteen birds - five adult and nine young - down on Saturdays count. But ne'er mind, lets be positive, they were probably all out of view in some hidden corner.


Avocet. Pete Woodruff.

The only young Avocet seen Tuesday, one of the 22 May birds, growing nicely and looking good....which is more than can be said for the photograph.

Common Tern Conder Pool 20 June. Pete Woodruff.

The Common Tern family were also looking good, with one of the young looking through the perspex like a kid at a bedroom window....excellent stuff.

A wander along the coastal path to Glasson Dock and return via the canal was rewarded by excellent views of a Sedge Warbler collecting insects for young, a Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, and Reed Bunting. Butterflies seen, 6 Red Admiral, 3 Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, and Speckled Wood


Emperor Dragonfly Marc Heath

Also along the canal, 2 Emperor Dragonflythese two patrolling males were easily recognised as a common and pretty conspicuous dragonfly of African origin, only recently colonising large parts of Northern Europe. It rarely settles, and is the only Anax in the UK of which the females oviposit without the male.

Thanks for the excellent image Marc.

A look in on the River Conder upstream from the A588 road bridge was well timed and lucky, as I briefly saw an Otter come out from underneath the riverbank to porpoise once before disappearing round the bend of the river. I pretty well knew I was wasting my time, but I went off in pursuit to see if I could get an advantage point to catch up with the Otter, but void of jumping over hedges and fences to trespass, the river wanders off into the unknown.    

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Digging For Gold.

Excellent day on Monday in the Cross of Greet/White Greet/Bloe Greet area, though the birds did'nt quite reach the 'excellent' mark. 


Whinchat Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery 

Like digging for gold, it took four hours to find a pair of Whinchat at Bloe Greet, seen as a scarce and declining migrant breeder in the Bowland Fells. But this interesting record in the 1983 LDBWS Annual Report...The Whinchat is seen to be loosing ground with only 8 pairs found this year in Bowland....doesn't seem to make things sound any better for the Whinchat even 34 years ago. You might see them on passage....but go try to find a pair breeding somewhere.


Stonechat. Howard Stockdale.

Six Stonechat were seen in as many hours as a distant female and two juvenile, or three juvenile above White Greet, a pair and a lone male were on Bloe Greet. Also here, an adult and five young Red Grouse flushed, I don't recall seeing this species anywhere in this area ever before, 2 Linnet over. Four Wheatear included a juvenile, 25 Meadow Pipitwith 2 Mistle Thrush and 2 Reed Bunting noted, 2 Raven were above White Greet. 

At Greet Bridge, a male Blackcap in song, Willow Warbler, Robin, and Wren, with a Grey Wagtail on the River Hodder. Butterflies seen, 12 Small Heath and 3 Red Admiral.

Twenty minutes at Marshaw on the way back to Lancaster saw the pines behind the plantation quite busy with birds, Coal Tit and Great Tit both with young, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Willow Warbler, Dunnock, and Song Thrush, with Grey Wagtail on the Marshaw Wyre.

Many thanks to Martin and Howard, brilliant images....brilliant chats.

A screaming party of 16 Swift were over Bowerham on Monday evening at 9.30pm. 

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Another Two Hour Job.

Just time to have a nosey into the situation on Conder Pool on Thursday where I found 4 Avocet adult, three young were seen as just one of the older two, and two golf ball chicks from the nest at the left edge of the island where one egg still remained.

Things will have changed by the time I get to Conder Green again probably not until Tuesday at the earliest, other reports will differ from mine and yesterday morning was the best example of this, when one report was of four adult Avocet and just one young, whilst another reads twenty Avocet, seen as ten adult and ten young, and goes on to suggest the possibility of five broods....Now the inside of my head is chaotic!!

Common Tern Chicks Conder Pool Pontoon 15 June. Pete Woodruff.

The three Common Tern chicks were active on occasions, but were left on their own a couple of times, and more surprisingly during the forty minutes I spent here no feeding activity was seen at all. One adult returned to the pontoon just once having the other adult and young all begging to no avail. 

Curlew Conder Pool 15 June. Pete Woodruff.

Two Curlew had returned to Conder Green, and I counted 47 Black-tailed Godwit still on the pool, with a few Redshank, 22 Black-headed Gull, and 6 Tufted Duck.

A wander along the coastal path to Glasson Dock produced, 4 Small Skipper, a Red Admiral, and Speckled Wood. The Lune Estuary was void of anything of note save 2 Avocet which were by the Conder mouth. 

Large Yellow Underwing. Pete Woodruff.


An abundant large moth, the Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronubahas a variation of colour and pattern. I caught a glimpse of the attractive yellow hindwings as it flew off. Thankfully I hadn't injured the creature as I disturbed it from beneath the undergrowth in our garden yesterday. 

KEEP BRITAIN TIDY.

Martin Jump spoke to me on the phone yesterday and told me of what appears to have been a disturbing criminal act at Preston Dock, where at least 50 spikes of Bee Orchid have been mowed down to leave the area like a bowling green. 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

There's Life In Bowland Still.

Interesting that a Cuckoo having arrived on 5 May has already left the UK and was at Orleans in the south of France 4 weeks later on 6 June on it's way back to Africa. 


Cuckoo Noushka  

Quite the opposite to the Cuckoo I found yesterday behind the plantation on the track to Hawthornthwaite, which was calling and moving around continuously whilst upsetting 4 Mistle Thrush and others in the process. As I set off up the track a second Cuckoo was in flight NE towards Tower Lodge with a Meadow Pipit in pursuit. When I came back down the Hawthornthwaite track 2 hours later the first Cuckoo was still calling and moving around, and another hour after this I heard a third Cuckoo calling midway between Marshaw and Tower Lodge, no knowing, but this bird was probably the second Marshaw bird seen flying off.

Sand Martin and House Martin were over the Marshaw Wyre opposite Marshaw Farm where I saw 2 Common Sandpiper, and on the Hawthornthwaite track I was soon encouraged by finding a female Stonechat, but false encouragement as it was the only one seen. I heard 2 Snipe 'chipper-chipper', counted 18 Meadow Pipit, saw four pairs of Curlew in the air with their rippling trill, and flushed a pair of Red Grouse with six young all calling as they flew off.


Spotted Flycatcher Antonio Puigg

A pair of House Martin are nesting in the front of Tower Lodge, and Swallow at the rear where there was a singing male Blackcap. Between the lodge and Trough Bridge I found at least 10 Grey Wagtail on the Marshaw Wyre, 6 Spotted Flycatcher including one at a tree hole, 6 Willow Warbler, a Treecreeper, Song Thrush, and Coal TitOn the track towards Winfold Fell I found what was probably the female Stonechat I saw when I was up here on 18 May, which was the first one seen here in many visits over the years.

I noted 30 species on the 6 hour visit, and it was good to meet and share the Marshaw Cuckoo with Fylde birders Maurice, Frank, Barry and Glen who I met at the start of a rewarding day for me in Bowland.

Thanks to Antonio and Noushka for the images of just two of the excellent birds seen today.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Snatched Again!

It's looking like snatching a couple of hours birding might become a feature with me at the moment, so yesterday I went to check out the landscape around Conder Green and Plover Scar.

Common Tern.

Common Tern Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff. 

A Mistle Thrush was by the bowling green at Glasson Dock from where I watched a Common Tern fishing on the Lune Estuary. It was one of the Conder Pool birds, I drove there from here to see the bird coming off the pool to return to the estuary to fish again which it repeated three times until it changed places with it's mate which in turn went off to feed, with both birds returning each time to feed young in the nest. The young were exposed three times during my stay at Conder Pool during which I only saw two chicks there having seen three eggs in the nest 2 June, and three chicks hatched and reported on Sunday.

Also noted on Conder Pool, 3 Linnet, one a young bird being fed, and in the creeks, 45 Black-tailed Godwit with 3 Little Egret together. 

Avocet.

The tally of the Avocet on Conder Pool was seven adult and three young, the two original birds now three weeks old, are surviving and feeding well, and often appeared to be left unguarded, the third young bird appears to be from the nest at the pool side edge of the island with two eggs still remaining in the nest, but this bird sitting left the nest unattended several times in thirty minutes and for long periods on occasion.

Coastal Path.

On a section of the coastal path sheltered from the wind and with the sun out briefly, I saw my first 2 Small Skipper, a Red Admiral, Peacockand Speckled Wood butterflies, and saw a Whitethroat leaving a nest. 

Plover Scar.

Turnstone. Howard Stockdale.

It was good to find 36 Turnstone amongst c.70 waders at high tideincluding some stunning males in their fine summer dress, 4 Grey Plover showing well then catching sight of their black armpits as they flew off,  also 22 Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin.

Thanks for the image Howard, they don't come any smarter than the male Turnstone in breeding plumage.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Quiet Please!

All quiet in the west....well my west anyway.


The plan was to get to Plover Scar before the high tide on Friday, I was hoping maybe the last straggling Sanderling might put in an appearance as they head off north, but it didn't happen. I hung around for a half hour to no avail, the scar held no more than forty waders, 29 Ringed Plover, 7 Dunlin, 3 Oystercatcher, and a lone Turnstone which was presumably the same bird seen on here 26 May. 

With most of the fields at Cockersand resembling bowling greens, I saw one Skylark singing it's seemingly endless flight song, 2 Whitethroat were seen as one with a tasty caterpillar which landed on scrub to bring a second bird out to fly off whilst the other disappeared into the scrub with lunch for nestlings. The 2 Whooper Swan were seen in the junction field though the long staying Shovelers have moved on, a single House Martin was over, and Sedge Warbler was on Slack Lane as I drove away. A Stoat ran across the road ahead of me, and butterflies noted were, 2 Painted Lady and a Small Tortoiseshell.

In the thirty minutes I was viewing Conder Pool only the sitting Common Tern was present on the pontoon, until just before I left the other bird came in to take it's turn to brood whilst it's mate flew off. Also on the pool, the Little Grebe, 45 Black-tailed Godwit, 22 Redshank, and 17 Black-headed Gull. I noted just one well grown young Oystercatcher with the previously seen two smaller young nowhere to be seen.

An update of the Avocet on Conder Pool. 

Seven adult seen on Friday, with the first two young having avoided all manner of predation and still feeding contentedly. There are two birds sitting, with the fourth pair appearing to be just hanging around and not going to nest on the front edge of the island as I had initially thought.

The Mole.


The most unexpected sight today was that of a Mole scurrying by the roadside at Cockersand, but soon disappearing into the hedgerow. My first ever of a creature that spends almost it's entire life underground, though they do occasionally emerge following long periods of dry weather when there may be a shortage of food.
WOT NO PIKS

Friday, 9 June 2017

Not So Flaming June.

Being in the area on Wednesday morning, it seemed a good idea I went to Heysham where, apart from the fact the howler was too much of a howler for my liking, it turned out not to be a good idea at all. 

Having checked the outfalls to find nothing beyond a 100 mix of Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed, and Herring Gull at No 1, and a lesser number mix at No 2, I did think I'd got some compensation in finding a Mediterranean Gull on Red Nab, only to see in zoomed views, I'd done nothing of the sort....

Leucistic Black-headed Gull. Luke Geraty. 

....it was a leucistic Black-headed Gull. So if you're going to check the gulls at Heysham!!

Thanks to Luke Geraty for the image, Luke is here on Twitter 

So I drove to Conder Green to see 4 Avocet and two young on Conder Pool, which as far as I'm concerned are the surviving two from the only hatched birds to date which I found on 22 May, three other adults were still sitting on Wednesday. Some confusion here though as I've seen one report on 30 May claiming a young bird bigger than the other two from a different nest, odd, being only one nest has hatched from four. A few Swift and 2 Sand Martin were over, and in the creeks 115 Black-tailed Godwit seen.

To be honest I was at a loss where to go now, it was high tide on the Lune Estuary which is deserted anyway at this time of the year, and Cockersand was a bit of a no go with the howler still strong, so I decided to visit Mr and Mrs G at Crook Cottage to see how they both were, and got their permission to stake out in the garden, where I was pleasantly surprised to find 5 Tree Sparrow with two young being fed, House Sparrow with at least two young being fed, Goldfinch with a juvenile, and a juvenile Robin, all being excellent breeding records from the garden at this delightful cottage at Cockersand.

Not so flaming June, but it's dried up and a bit of sun though still windy again today, so I'm off for a couple of hours around the Lune Estuary again. 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Part Time Birding....Again!

Not enough hours in a day for me at times, and last Friday I was again restricted to just a couple of hours to get my birding fix - though I've no idea when I'll get my next one - and was limited to getting myself an update on the Conder Pool birds, a wander along the coastal path to Glasson Dock, and return via the canal to Conder Green.

The Conder Avocet.

 Guard Duty. 

There was still six adult Avocet on Conder Pool, with two sitting, a pair obviously considering nesting on the edge of the boxed island opposite the viewing screen which is what they were doing last Wednesday, one on guard duty, and the other generally loafing around.

The Oystercatcher and the Avocet....Charge!

The adult on guard duty was attacking anything that moved within sight of the only chick I saw which was feeding contentedly on the grass whilst thinking it was one of the many sheep around.

It's going to be impossible to keep tabs on numbers of hatched young, too many out of sight areas, and not knowing dates of hatching or how many, we'll just hope we can see the total of fledglings in due course.

The Conder Tern.

The Common Tern are going to be easy to monitor as they are nesting on the pontoon, and on Friday I was able to zoom in when the bird got up to stretch its legs and could clearly see three eggs in the nest, albeit well camouflaged on the stones. We will be able to note the dates of hatching and fledging, all very interesting.

The Wander.

I counted 126 Back-tailed Godwit in the creeks, upstream I heard a singing Sedge Warbler, but better still had excellent views of a Reed Warbler as it clambered up the reeds, a male Reed Bunting also seen.

Painted Lady 2 June. Pete Woodruff.

Sixteen Eider on the Lune Estuary were seen from the coastal path before I returned to Conder Green along the canal where I saw my second Painted Lady which allowed me some photographs, also seen, a Red Admiral, and a Silver Y moth.

The Shearwater.


Sooty Shearwater. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery 


A Sooty Shearwater flew west past Knott End this morning at 10.28am, 12 minutes later it was reported west past Rossall Point at 10.40am....RBA 

An excellent record of this species, even more excellent at this time of year as very rare in British and Irish waters in spring. This powerful flyer is one of the great ocean wanderers which nest mainly on remote islands in the southern oceans, and migrate to winter in the North Atlantic and North Pacific during our summer. The perfect example of....what's a bird like the Sooty Shearwater doing off the Fylde Coast in Lancashire in early June.

Many thanks to Martin Lofgren for the use of his excellent image, much appreciated Martin. 

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Langden Valley.

The perfect calm and sunny day on Wednesday for a wander up the Langden Valley to Sykes Fell.

Langden Brook Towards Sykes Fell. Pete Woodruff.

As I got out of the car, a Siskin obliged by briefly coming onto the branch of a conifer, a Common Sandpiper was soon seen on Langden Brook. Along the loop of this 4 hour walk I noted, a disappointing lone male Stonechat, a moderate count of just 12 Meadow Pipit, 4 Willow Warbler3 Sand Martin2 Reed Bunting, 2 Wren, 2 Grey Wagtail, and a Mistle Thrush


Male Ring Ouzel. Jan Larson @ Vingspann
  
A buzz for me kicked in when I saw a distant male Ring Ouzel perched on a post on a ridge above me, the male flew off soon to see a female on the same post, some interaction took place out of my view below the back side of the ridge, with the birds alternating perching on the post, I was observing some behaviour at a nest site.

Insects of note, a Painted Lady was my first this year, 2 Small Heath, the beautiful plain orange upper of which is rarely seen at rest, and a Green Tiger Beetle, a vicious little winged predator which can move at speed up to 60cm per second on bare ground, they build a burrow and ambush ground-living insects such as ants. 

The Sykes Farm House Martin. 

On Friday 3 June 2016, I counted up to 50 House Martin nests at Sykes Farm in Bowland.


Sykes Farm Bowland. Pete Woodruff. 

On Wednesday I paid a return visit to the farm, spoke to the farmer Mr Robinson to remind him of our meeting last year and the nests in the property at the farm, he kindly renewed permission for me to look around. Again I found the House Martin nests and established at least 30 House Martin at 12-15 nests occupied this year, though despite visiting the rear of the building I saw no activity at around 10 nests there.  

On my way back to Lancaster I called in at Stoops Bridge in Abbeystead to find a pair of Spotted Flycatcher, the birds were active with breeding territory behaviour and I took note of the nest hole at the top of a dead tree. Other birds noted, 2 Robin, a BlackbirdCoal Tit, and Blue Tit

Many thanks Jan Larsson for the Ring Ouzel, and to Paul Foster for the Wood Warbler header seen recently Moor Piece Nature Reserve