BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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COVER CROP COCKERSAND. PETE WOODRUFF

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Five Days Later.

On Thursday, five days since my last visit to Conder Green, it seems the juvenile Common Tern have already dispersed, the whole party of two adult and three juvenile were all present on my last visit on Friday 14 July, but I've not found young anywhere here or on the Lune Estuary from Glasson to Cockersand. 

Two Common Tern adult were on Conder Pool, with a count of up to 150 Lapwing noted. I saw just 2 Little Grebe on the pool today, with a drop in number to 8 Common Sandpiper in the creeks with 2 Greenshank and 5 Little Egret.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 3 Mediterranean Gull were seen as an adult and two 2nd summer, 2 Common Tern adult fishing here were probably the Conder birds. An estimated 350 Dunlin and 250 Redshank were feeding on the tideline from the bowling green to the Conder mouth, and I counted 17 Little Egret here.



At Cockersand, there was an interesting count of at least 90 House Sparrow, I don't recall the last time I saw anything like a flock of this size of the House Sparrow, they were feeding in a barley field north of Bank Houses where I saw a small group of Goldfinch five of which were juvenile, and a Whitethroat feeding a young bird, also a few Tree Sparrow seen. A Sparrowhawk was in flight below a hedgeline, with just one of the two summering Whooper Swan seen.

Thanks to Simon Hawtin for his brilliant GND header image.

Cover Crop.

The cover crop at Crook Farm Cockersand in the cross-column image below the header, is being maintained by this farming family who I respect and know well, and who I spoke with recently to be told of government subsidies having been withdrawn. 

Wildlife needs farmers like this, but not the people in government like this....The photograph was taken in August 2016.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Back Up the Hill!

The weather on Monday was perfect for another trip into Bowland, and an update on Hawthornthwaite Fell produced a whacking 10 Stonechat. Well it had to be 'whacking' as I don't find that many Stonechat anywhere these days, though with two broods from two pairs that I had seen a month ago on 18 June you obviously can, today's sighting was seen as a male, two female, and seven juvenile.

The next best sighting on Hawthornthwaite was a Peregrine Falcon which I appropriately reported. The bird was mobbed several times by one of two Kestrel in the air at the time, a Buzzard had been seen earlier, and a lone Raven was over. Also of note, 11 Meadow Pipit, 4 Wren, and 2 Grey Wagtail were on Hawthornthwaite Greave where at least 20 Sand Martin were flying up and down.

I found only 17 species in a four hour trawl between Marshaw and Trough Bridge. House Martin were active at nests at the farmhouse at Well Brook Farm, and there are also two active House Martin nests at Tower Lodge, 2 Spotted Flycatcher were seen in the area, and 12 Chaffinch were of note, 11 Grey Wagtail were along the length of the Marshaw Wyre, 6 Robin seen one of which was a juvenile, 5 Meadow Pipit, 4 Coal Tit were all young, 2 Goldfinch, a Willow Warbler, Wren, Blackbird, and a Great-spotted Woodpecker


The Peregrine Falcon.


Peregrine Falcon Brian Rafferty 

Up to 6 years ago the Peregrine Falcon was a common sight throughout the Forest of Bowland, and there were successful nesting pairs in most seasons. In 2010 numbers of pairs in Bowland began to decline drastically, the cause - as with the Hen Harrier - a campaign of relentless persecution. In 2016, 99% of territories were abandoned resulting from the unprecedented collapse of an entire regional Peregrine Falcon population. 

Hence my surprise and delight that I observed Monday's bird over Hawthornthwaite Fell, to be told first hand that it could well have been related to a successful breeding pair in Bowland this year, from which four young have fledged. Excellent news, only dampened by bearing in mind at least 16 territories of the 18 from the 99% decline, still remain unoccupied. 

The Short-eared Owl.


Short-eared Owl Martin Jump 

Having been a good vole year, it has been an equally good year for Short-eared Owl in Bowland according to a reliable informant. To be honest, I find this difficult to understand as the species comes under the same persecution regime as any other raptor on this estate and any other Red Grouse moorland. 

Thanks to Brian and Martin, who both know how much I appreciate being able to publish their excellent images on Birds2blog.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Green To Red.

Two hours on Friday at Conder Green/Glasson Dock, and another two at Heysham Red Nab, was mainly dominated by gulls. At Glasson Dock, I spoke to a birder from Gloucestershire and made the comment, looking without optics, you would get the impression that the Lune Estuary from this viewpoint was void of any birdlife, an area where thousands of waders can be seen in the winter months. 

Well it wasn't exactly crawling today, and what birds were present were mainly camouflaged by the weed covered stones they were on at low tide, but by the time this birder came to talk to me, I had found 4 Mediterranean Gull in a group, distant and hunkered down on the weedy stones, all black hooded with 2 Black-headed Gull. Eventually two took to the wing to reveal both adult, the other two remained resting and were both 2nd summer/adult. I couldn't help but wonder if these were the same Saltcote Brow  four I'd seen on 10 July, a single Black-tailed Godwit was the only other note I made. 

The Common Tern family of five were present on Conder Pool, with a bump up in the number of 5 Little Grebe, these are early returning birds to Conder Pool this year, the first I saw here in 2016 were two on 25 July. In the creeks and channel,15 Common Sandpiper seen, and Greenshank calling in flight towards the estuary.

It's as well there was a decent gull roost on Red Nab at Heysham, as the outfalls held only c.150 Black-headed Gull at Stage 1, and 25 at Stage 2. I found 9 Mediterranean Gull, seen as 6 adult, two 2nd summer, and a 1st summer. These birds were found on my first visit to Red Nab three hours before high tide, on my second visit an hour before high tide, from a distance I saw the mutt brigade clearing out the gulls save maybe fifty left by the time I got there, one of which was a remaining adult Mediterranean Gull with a few Black-headed Gull.

Thanks to Peter Rhind for the excellent header image. His juvenile Wheatear had already found its way to Cockers Dyke on the Fylde coast on 11 July. The Wheatear has a prolonged autumn migration period, and can be seen until November in some years, the latest Lancashire record being 17 November 2011. 


WOT NO PIKS....AGAIN!  

Friday, 14 July 2017

Skimmers, Chats, And Some Others.

Perfect weather on Wednesday to take a look at the landscape on Birk Bank and Harrisend Fell on the fringes of Bowland....Of course I had a couple of targets. 

Keeled Skimmer . Birk Bank Bog 12 July. Pete Woodruff

I had an excellent hour on the board-walk at Birk Bank, during which time I connected with 3 male Keeled Skimmer around the bog, the perfect follow-on to my finding a male here on 22 July last year. The bog wasn't exactly alive with dragonflies, but I did also see 4 Four-spotted Chaser, at least one Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and a Meadow Brown.

Some searching across the top of Birk Bank was also well rewarded by my finding 6 Stonechat, they were seen as a pair, and a male with two juvenile on view, I'd like to think maybe three more young were keeping their heads down to make up a full brood, whilst I was watching these, another Stonechat flew in some distance behind them. A low count of 4 Meadow Pipit and a Willow Warbler in a Rowan were the only other birds noted.


Stonechat adult male/juvenile Gary Jones

On Harrisend, I was pleased to find 4 Stonechat, these were seen as two single males, a female, and further on the fell a lone juvenile, a particularly mobile individual that I saw five times on the outward and return walk, and moving considerable distances every time. The 12 Meadow Pipit seen were a better sample than the four seen on Birk Bank, 3 Redpoll flew off from the lone Hawthorn, Reed Bunting, a male Linnet, and a male Blackbird seen. Raptors were, a Buzzard and Kestrel, and the butterflies, 14 Large White and 2 Small Heath.

Thanks to Gary for the adult male and juvenile Stonechat images.

The Moth.


Elephant Hawkmoth. Julie Wareing.

Julie sent me this grab shot - albeit the underside - of the Elephant Hawkmoth which strayed into her house recently. An impressive and colourful moth, known to have a liking of visiting Honeysuckle at dusk, it's foodplants are Willowherbs and Bedstraws, and also garden Fuchsias. 

Interestingly, Julie has since told me in an e-mail....'All that you said about the certain plants they like are all in my garden'.         

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Butterfly Highlight.

Ringlet. Pete Woodruff.

Highlight for me on Monday was the Ringlet I found at Aldcliffe, very unexpected and probably a first for the area. The only other Ringlets I've ever seen aside from the one at Latterbarrow recently, have been at Witherslack were I saw twenty on 9 July 2015.

I had only gone to Aldcliffe for the last hour for a quick whizz round, and in the warm and sheltered cutting near Stodday I found a little selection of other butterflies, including 3 Comma, 2 Red Admiral, 2 Meadow Brown, and a Speckled Wood.

On a circuit along the high path and return via the lower, 4 Chiffchaff were heard, 2 Whitethroat seen, with a Sedge Warbler singing full throttle, a few Swift were over, but more notable was a movement probably of up to a three figure of House Martin. I counted 205 Greylag in a field, with two unreadable orange collared birds.

In the Glasson area I found 5 Mediterranean Gull, a visit to the Lune Estuary coincided with the near high tide, but I was rewarded with good views of a 2nd summer bird, and in the field at the junction by Saltcote Brow, 4 birds were all hunkered down in the grass, all except one were 2nd summer/adult with full black hoods, but the one seen as an all white-winged adult with 52 Black-headed Gull.


Ringed Plover. Pete Woodruff.

There was little more than 85 waders on Plover Scar at high tide, c.50 Golden Plover, 25 Dunlin, and 10 Ringed Plover, with 15 Linnet dropping in. Butterflies seen, 6 Small Tortoiseshell, and 2 Meadow Brown

Looks like the Ringed Plover image escaped the quality control check!!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Notes From Conder Green.

Common Tern Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff.

Interesting and coincidentally, I took this photograph of these three juvenile Common Tern twelve months ago to the day, on 11 July 2016.

There was a little extra interest at Conder Green yesterday, and it was good to see all three juvenile Common Tern which have soon learned the skills of fishing for themselves, and were hovering and dipping to take small fry out of Conder Pool. 

There was some interesting behaviour between two adult Common Tern, whilst one of the young had gone back into the pontoon which was guarded by an adult, another adult came in and dropped into the pontoon and was soon joined inside by the guarding bird which was obviously one of the parent birds, some serious loud and aggressive vocals, with necks stretched, heads up and drooped wings were on display when the visitor was violently stabbed at twice putting the bird to the wing and away, I reckon this bird was an intruder and not one of the Conder Pool family.

There was a huge and unprecedented raft of at least 550 adult and various aged immature gulls on Conder Pool yesterday, predominantly Lesser Black-backed Gull, with Herring Gull.

Also 2 Little Grebe on Conder Pool....is this an early start to the winter build up on here. Also, although the number didn't reach the peak of last Fridays 26, I counted 19 Common Sandpiper on the circuit yesterday.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Putting The Record Straight.

Erratum.

I need to correct the records I published in my last post with regard to the Lancashire Keeled Skimmers. It was an oversight that a record of this dragonfly in 2015 was missed off the list I drew up in the post.


Keeled Skimmer. Birk Bank 22 July 2016. Pete Woodruff.


Starting with the first Lancashire record, the corrected list....

Grindleton Ponds/Levi Well 8 August 2013
Birkdale Dunes 3 July 2015
Birk Bank Bog 12 August 2015
Birk Bank Bog 22 July 2016
Birk Bank Bog 6 July 2017

As I've previously expressed, the Birk Bank Keeled Skimmer records are excellent news for our area having now been found there for three consecutive years. That said, my reporting of ovipositing being seen can only be accepted with caution with no photographic evidence available. 


Four-Spotted Chaser. Steve Graham.  

I'm grateful to Steve for sending me the images of the dragonflies he saw at Birk Bank Bog last Thursday, including this FSC....

Large Red Damselfly. Steve Graham.

....and the LRD....Thanks Steve. 

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Terns, Sandpipers, Skimmers, & Butterflies.

Yesterday was one of those....'just had time to nip out and take stock at Conder Green'....days, and it was good to see all three young Common Tern now out of 'the box' with one presented with a large fish on Tern Island by an adult which needed some effort to down, one of these young birds was able to take off with ease from middle of the pool, don't take long to learn do they. 

The 26 Common Sandpiper I found at Conder Green yesterday, is by far the best ever autumn count here, 15 were in the creeks, with the other 11 in the channel downstream from the iron bridge. A few Swift were noted over, and a Kestrel was hovering over the marsh.

Come in No 4 your times up!

The first record of a Comma in our garden this morning, also a Red Admiral was good.

Keeled Skimmer.

Excellent news that the Keeled Skimmer has been found again on Birk Bank Bog in 2017. 


Keeled Skimmer. Birk Bank Bog 6 July. Steve Graham.

I've had a couple of e-mails over the past week to tell me of the Keeled Skimmer being found on the bog at Birk Bank again this year, and I am grateful to Steve Graham for his image of the male he saw here on Thursday. I'm not sure yet of numbers involved in all of these sightings, but one was of four individuals with ovipositing observed. 

Lancashire's first Keeled Skimmer was found by Allen Holmes on Grindleton Forest Pond in August 2013, the second record of the species was when Steve Graham found two possibly three on Birk Bank Bog in August 2015, and the following year on 22 July 2016 I found a male here as the third Lancashire record. 

Thanks to Antonio for the Stone Curlew header image....Chances of seeing one of these anywhere in the area are at best remote.  

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Rise And Fall Of Conder Pool.

With a peak count of 20 adult/young birds on 17 June according to one report, it's pretty sad that the Avocet have had a 100% failure on Conder Pool this year, even more unfortunate that the surviving young bird - just a few days short of fledging - has also bit the dust, predated like the rest no doubt, and Conder Pool was void of Avocet yesterday, though two adults were on the Lune Estuary later in the afternoon. 


Common Tern Conder Pool 5 July. Pete Woodruff.

But it was good to see two of the young Common Tern had fledged when I arrived at Conder Pool yesterday morning, with the runt still on the pontoon wing flapping with the adult bird on guard, until it went up to join the Swallows mobbing a circling Sparrowhawk, at least one Swift was also in the air, and up to 50 Redshank dropped in on the pool as I was leaving.

As predicted, a double figure count of 18 Common Sandpiper has arrived at Conder Green, they were scattered in the creeks and down the channel, and as I walked by Cafe d' Lune I noted a House Martin was still enter a nest.  

On the Lune Estuary, 2 adult Mediterranean Gull, 2 adult Avocet, a Greenshank, 3 Black-tailed Godwit all in stunning summer plumage, 3 Eider female, and 12 Little EgretNumbers of Redshank and Lapwing here are building up to around the hundred mark, and a Mistle Thrush was by the bowling green. 


Common Blue Damselfly. Pete Woodruff

A Meadow Brown was the only butterfly seen, and a female Emperor Dragonfly briefly ovipositing on the canal where there is a good number of Common Blue Damselfly along the bank.

Immature Common Tern.

It was interesting to note the variation in plumage detail of the three same age young Common Tern on Conder Pool today. In the image above, the bird on the right is more advanced than the one on the left including having a well developed black hood, whilst the runt unfledged and remaining on the pontoon, still has some downy feathering.    

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Flora & Fauna In Cumbria.

Well a little Flora and Fauna in Cumbria.

An enjoyable few hours yesterday, with visit's to Foulshaw Moss and Latterbarrow but sightings at both reserves were a little sparse to be honest....I think maybe I blinked too many times! 

The one Osprey seen in the nest at Foulshaw a mile away in the haze from the viewing platform was hardly riveting stuff. But a walk along the newly erected board-walk at the north end of the reserve, proved to be a good idea as it produced good views of a male Stonechat and four juvenile. Five Raven and a lone Swift were over, a Willow Warbler heard, with Long-tailed Tits and juvenile Coal/Great/Blue Tits were on the feeders, and bird sightings couldn't have been much more sparse than that.


Common Lizard. Pete Woodruff.

A few Common Lizard mostly scuttled below the board-walks as they were approached, but this one was a rather obliging individual. 


Immature Black Darter. Pete Woodruff.

Just two species of dragonfly noted, an immature Black Darter and a female Four-spotted Chaser, but an Odonata expert I spoke to assured me there would be thousands of dragonflies around in a couple of week time. With the exception of a few Large White, the only other three butterflies seen were a Large Heath, Gatekeeper, and Small Tortoiseshell

At Latterbarrow, 2 Chiffchaff, a singing male Blackcap, and a Bullfinch were all heard, a Green Woodpecker heard calling was then seen to fly across the reserve. Butterflies were, a few Meadow Brown, 4 Comma, a Ringlet, Red Admiral, and Small Skipper.  


Barred Straw. Pete Woodruff.

A Barred Straw moth with only a moderate result in photographing, was the only moth seen all day, identified by its unique resting posture with the forewings held extended.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Nabbing The Meds.

I managed to carry out my plan to get to Heysham a couple of hours before high tide yesterday, in fact I got there three hours before, which went against the degree I have in usually getting the timing wrong.

There was an eventual total of 14 Mediterranean Gull on Red Nab at 4.00pm, an hour before high tide, they were seen as, 9 x adult, 4 x 2cy, and 1 x 3cy, one bird was marked with a white darvic ring, unreadable unfortunately. 


Sandwich Tern Richard Pegler 

Earlier I had found a lone Sandwich Tern on the shore by No 1 outfall accompanied by Black-headed Gull, of which there was up to 250 around the outfall.

Conder Pool.

As I stepped on to the viewing platform, what I'd have preferred not to have seen was a Carrion Crow flying off with a Mallard chick in it's bill and the female running in pursuit.

Conder Pool appears to have 2 Avocet adult, and the lone grown young bird which seems to have spent most of it's life so far in the long grass. The 3 Common Tern young are surviving and thriving, these three and the young Avocet will all hopefully have fledged by this time next week. Also noted on the pool, c.30 Redshank in view, with more out of sight I reckon, up to 50 Lapwing, and 2 House Martin over the pool. Scattered around the creeks was 8 Common Sandpiper, and a movement of at least 50 Swift were also in the area and as far as the eye could see beyond Jeremy Lane.

Large Skipper. Pete Woodruff.

A Large Skipper by Conder Pool was the only butterfly seen, no surprise given the weather.

Many thanks to Richard for his excellent image of the Sandwich Tern.