BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND. GREENSHANK CONDER POOL PETE WOODRUFF

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

This Isn't Birding!

On the last two visits I made to Cockersand I've made life easier and travelled light on foot, leaving my telescope behind in the boot with just a pair of binoculars round my neck. Every time I do this I vow never to again, fearing I might find - and sometimes do - some distant small thing unable to get to grips with what it really is I'm looking at. 

Yesterday was a repeat of the trip to Cockersand last Wednesday, when I decided then, that the fields here really are in serious need of a good thrashing, with waders all over the place. Two fields in particular are now excellent stubble holding a fair amount of water, one of these yesterday produced a RuffGrey Ploverand a good number of the c.300 Curlew I found at Cockersand today, also 450 Golden Plover and 54 Black-tailed Godwit, with Redshank, Lapwing, and at least 12 Skylark.

Other notes from the Cockersand circuit, c.50 House Sparrow and a few Tree Sparrow in the Bank Houses area, 7 Greenfinch, and 4 Goldfinch. The last birds I saw here today was Chaffinch male and a Reed Bunting in the Slack Lane Willows.   

Low tide and low counts on the Lune Estuary at Glasson held up to 120 Curlew and similar Dunlin, with 38 Black-tailed Godwit, 28 Golden Plover, and 5 Bar-tailed Godwit. Two drake Pintail were the pick of the wildfowl, 60 Wigeon being a bit of an increase, with 2 Great-crested Grebe and a Goosander the runners up.


Long-tailed Tit. Noushka @ 1000-Pattes 

Along the coastal path, 16 Long-tailed Tit were in procession through the bushes, and 2 RobinAt Christ Church, Great Tit, Blue Tit, a few Long-tailed Tit, 2 Chaffinch male, and a Goldfinch was as good as it got there. 

Conder Pool was down to 4 Little Grebe, with 8 Wigeon having taken up here, the Common Sandpiper was down the creeks by the bridge which is having a face lift, being grit blasted, painted, and a new footpath across it I understand....should look good when it's finished I reckon.

The fields at Cockersand are still in need of a good thrash, and I reckon I've probably missed another Lapland Bunting or something better....This kind of behaviour by me isn't birding for real, it's only pretending to and I've downgraded myself

Saturday, 28 October 2017

A Little On The Thin Side!

At Cockersand, a Kestrel was the first bird I saw, as I drove along Slack Lane it was flying ahead of me just a few metres above and the full length of the lane before landing atop a telegraph post, I saw 14 Linnet by the cover crop. As I set off to walk towards Plover Scar, a Merlin was perched on a post in the field behind lighthouse cottage, 32 Tree Sparrow were at Bank Houses, at least 4,000 Starling were mobile over the fields, and 4 Little Egret were in a field.

The Goldeneye was still on the canal basin, and on the Lune Estuary, another adult Mediterranean Gull seen, 2 Greenshank were at the Conder mouth then flew up the channel, also 2 Snipe, 2 Great-crested Grebe, and a drake Red-breasted Merganser noted. 

On Conder Pool, I managed a count of 10 Little Grebe and 42 Mallard, with the Common Sandpiper and a Goosander in the creeks.

The Curlew.


Curlew. Pete Woodruff. 

Birds were a little on the thin side for me on Wednesday, but 'thin' couldn't be applied to finding at least 430 Curlew as a species in serious decline, with 155 noted on the Lune Estuary at Glasson, and 275 in a field at Cockersand with 245 Black-tailed Godwit

It's easy to be fooled into thinking waders are booming in terms of status when you hear that the Curlew is an abundant winter and breeding bird in Lancashire. OK, 430 Curlew isn't massive, though it's always encouraging to see a decent number like this, and the 245 Black-tailed Godwit made for good reading in my records book too. 

But the Curlew is in serious trouble, it is one of our most rapidly declining breeding birds, numbers are claimed to be down by up to 50% across the UK, and it is a species globally near threatened, making it a priority on the Red List of Birds of Conservation Concern, though the monthly peak counts in our area on the Lune Estuary last year, show the estuary to continue to hold the largest population of Curlew throughout the year with Morecambe Bay at the forefront of holding internationally important numbers, the only other site being the Solway Estuary.

I'll be finding a lot more Curlew than 430 on and around the Lune Estuary in the coming winter months....I look forward to that.

Thanks to Ana for the stunning and much appreciated male Black Redstart header.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

A Chat In The Soup.

I was only half way round the circuit of Cockersand on Monday and the weather had turned nasty, by mid-afternoon it was pea soup and drizzle, but a bird flying across the field ahead had me 'if it moves check it out', the bird landed on the reeds in the ditch and with the naked eye I'd called it a Reed Bunting, but hey....wrong again it was a cracking migrant male Stonechat.


Eider. Cockersand. Pete Woodruff.

Also at Cockersand, a decent count of at least 150 Turnstone on Plover Scar, and 45 Oystercatcher, with 6 Eider off here. In fields by Abbey Farm, c.550 Golden Plover, 95 Curlew and 25 Black-tailed Godwit. At Bank Houses, 25 Tree Sparrow, and by Slack Lane cover crop 2 Greenfinch.

In a field off Jeremy Lane, an adult Mediterranean Gull was with 152 Common Gull and 26 Black-headed Gull. On the canal basin at Glasson, a female Scaup and my first lone Goldeneye. Three wader species noted on the Lune Estuary, a new wave of 44 Snipe and up to 150 Dunlin with fewer uncounted Redshank

On Conder Pool, another 10 Snipe, 3 Goosander, 9 Little Grebe, and in the creeks, it looks like we might be back to one Common Sandpiper again at Conder Green.



Recently deceased Guillemot on the tide wrack off Bank Houses, Cockersand.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Estuary Notes.

It was good to find another of those smart adult Mediterranean Gulls on the Lune Estuary at Glasson on Friday, this was a bird not seen here before this autumn, it had the darkest mask I've seen on the species in October. Also of note, up to 750 Golden Plover, 80 Curlew, 38 Black-tailed Godwit, 46 Wigeon, and 2 Great-crested Grebe.


Peregrine Falcon. Pete Woodruff.

This Peregrine Falcon perched by the Conder mouth, soon took off and locked on to a lone wader climbing into the sky, but soon gave up the chase to disappear from view over Colloway Marsh. Fifteen minutes later the falcon returned to the same perch and was still there on the lookout when I left to go to Conder Green. I reckon this was the very same bird which appeared another fifteen minutes later over Conder Green to be attacked by a Sparrowhawk before flying over Conder Pool to disappear once again over the Jeremy Lane area.

A Common Sandpiper was on Conder Pool with 14 Little Grebe and a Snipe, 110 Teal were in the creeks.

At Cockersand, 5 Whooper Swan were three adult and two juvenile, with 7 Mute Swan in the field by Lighthouse Cottage. Around the cover crop, 12 Linnet, 3 Greenfinch, a Reed Bunting, and a Kestrel in the area. On Plover Scar, 25 Turnstone were the only waders around the high tide, but on the inland edge 22 Twite, a Wheatear, and a lone Meadow Pipit, off the headland, 4 Rock PipitAt Bank Houses, 15 Tree Sparrow and 2 Blackbird

Star bird off Crook Farm was a Curlew Sandpiper, with counts of up to 240 Dunlin, 100 Redshank, 8 Grey Plover was an exceptional count for Cockersand, and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit.

Black + White.


Black  - and - White Warbler. Martin Lofgren Wild Bird Gallery


An extremely rare vagrant to Britain, a North American Black - and - White Warbler was found dead on a cargo ship docked at Liverpool on Friday 20 October. 


Thanks to Richard for the excellent header image of Friday's Knott End Snow Bunting, and to Martin for the Black - and - White Warbler, with apologies for my terrible shot of the Peregrine Falcon at Glasson, but I had to publish this image as the bird had excited me in three sightings over little more than 25 minutes, and when you see this winged missile in an attack at full throttle....that's something else.

Friday, 20 October 2017

17 for 5.

After the passing of Ophelia, it was a brilliant morning on Wednesday and I was keen to get off into Bowland to check out the early winter status of any birds to be found wherever I decided to go up there. One thing for sure, despite it now being mid-October, it was guaranteed I wouldn't be seeing many if any raptors, at least two species of which I certainly wouldn't be seeing, and at least a couple more I wasn't likely to, in the end I found just one....Imagine that, one raptor for 5 hours in Bowland in the 21st century.

But it was good to see 3 Stonechat on Hawthornthwaite Fell, distant and together, I'd suggest a female and two juveniles, with no adult male present. The count with the most interest was of 6 Wren, with 13 Red Grouse and 2 Meadow Pipit bringing up the rear.

Of the 17 species found, 14 were between Marshaw - Tower Lodge - Winfold Fell where I notched up 4 Coal Tit, 3 Treecreeper, 2 Robin2 Wood Pigeon2 Mallard and singles of Nuthatch, Mistle Thrush, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, and a Kestrel.


On the Marshaw Wyre I saw just one Grey Wagtail, and it was two hours before I found a Dipper. Two Red Grouse were seen from the track to Winfold Fell, when I was up here a month ago I had found at least 30 Red Grouse covering the same ground in the same time....Thanks for the Speyside Dipper Richard, much appreciated.   

Beech in Bowland. Pete Woodruff.

This magnificent Beech in the Tower Lodge area, doesn't yet look quite as autumnal as it did when I took this photograph of the same tree in early November 2010. 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Always The Chance.

With the tail end of Ophelia still lashing through yesterday, it was never going to be a good idea to walk along the headland at Cockersand, but it might have been a better one to stake out for a couple of hours sheltered from the howler in the motor and see if the odd sea-bird was going to be blown off course and pushed by me.

Well it might have been a good idea, but it bore no fruit, but as the tide fell the waders dropped in to feed on the exposed shore. Nothing remarkable, but descending in number, Dunlin, Redshank, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, with 3 Eider off Plover Scar. In a field by Abbey Farm, c.350 Golden Plover and 25 Black-tailed Godwit were seeking refuge from the high tide and wind, and 15 Linnet were around the cover crop on Slack Lane. 

The Lune Estuary at Glasson was off the boil, but it's always good to find a Mediterranean Gull, with 2 Great-crested Grebe, seen as a scarce resident breeder at only four known local locations last year, with offshore numbers declined, seeming to have recently taken a liking to the estuary at Glasson with four seen last Monday.

On Conder Pool, 14 Little Grebe counted, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Goosander eclipse drake, and the lone Pink-footed Goose.


Cormorant. Jan Larsson @ Vingspann  

I watched 2 Cormorant fishing on Conder Pool yesterday, I timed them on three feeding sessions, they both dived up to 10 times in 60 seconds, taking small fry like there was no tomorrow, which is excactly what the Little Grebe are capable of doing here.

Wednesday 18 October, a beautiful sunny morning....The calm after the storm.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Nectar Points!

I got no further than Conder Green and Glasson last Thursday, and haven't had the time for Birds2blog since. Not enough hours in a day, and too much other stuff to deal with....I can't go on like this, I'm like a fish out of water!

The 2 Common Sandpiper found on Conder Pool 6 October when the resident bird was seeing off the intruder, appear to have become friends, they were in the creeks and were feeding amiably a few metres apart, a Goosander was also noted. On Conder Pool, 15 Little Grebe, and the lone Pink-footed Goose was grazing along the rear terrace, but the single Wigeon of late had another for company, 40 Goldfinch were flighty, and a Comma butterfly with wings folded in the bushes, couldn't possibly have been happy in the weather conditions.

Notes from the Lune Estuary, an adult Mediterranean Gull, 180 Curlew, a solitary Knot and Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Great-crested Grebe, and a Peregrine Falcon on Colloway Marsh.

Around Christ Church, singles of Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Goldfinch, and Blackbird

No Nectar Points there then!

Spotted Redshank.

Spotted Redshank. Conder Green. Pete Woodruff.

The Spotted Redshank has as yet failed to return to Conder Green, last year it did so a month ago on 14 September when I photographed it with the Grey Heron.

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Day Off!

With the motor ill in hospital on Tuesday, birding options were limited, so I opted to do the Lancaster - Glasson walk following the coastal path. An excellent birding location which was to be honest quite pathetic....the birds were having a day off.

I set out from Skerton Bridge where I saw around 50 gulls on the river, mainly Black-headed Gull, with a few Herring/Common/LBB and a GBB, then - 2 Robin aside - I'd seen not another small bird by the time I got to the flood at Aldcliffe which now has to be renamed Aldcliffe Lake, no muddy edges and not a bird in sight, the Wildfowler's Pools likewise.

I'd now covered over 2 miles, but from here no improvement. I saw nothing until I reached the railway cutting where I found 6 Blackbird, then unbelievably saw just 3 Greenfinch before I got beyond the old red bricked bridge over the railway behind Waterloo where I found my first and only Blue Tit of the day, but did see 5 Great Tit.

The rest of the way to Glasson proved to be the reality of a birding session in this area in October. Maybe it is a good example of the status of birds not being as good as we'd like to think and say it is, and as much about numbers as the low species count.

Little Egret. Pete Woodruff.

But there was a few positives on the walk along this excellent old railway route, with a count of 31 Little Egret made, nothing too surprising about that given that probably in excess of 100 will be roosting at Ashton Hall, with 159 there on 8 October last year. Two Gadwall were the only birds of note on Freeman's Pools, a Little Grebe took the honours on the Wildfowler's Pools, 3 Greenfinch at Stodday are a species not to be taken for granted these days, with 5 Red Admiral seen here, and 10 Long-tailed Tit as I approached Conder Green where I saw the Common Sandpiper at high tide, a flock of around 40 Goldfinch, and the lone Pink-footed Goose still on Conder Pool.

Goldcrest initially made me jump to attention at Christ Church in Glasson, with a Dunnock seen, and a Migrant Hawker on the canal path, 6 Blackbird and 5 Robin were also noted along the route today.

Glad I wasn't on a 'cash for birds' scheme today!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Next Please!

Yesterday at Conder Green, there wasn't much to put enthusiasm into orbit for a bit of birding, though a lone Pink-footed Goose was a novel first for Conder Pool, it was accompanied by the lone Wigeon I saw last week, a Common Sandpiper was in the creeks, and 35 Goldfinch were seen from the coastal path.


Juvenile Peregrine Falcon. Jan Larsson @ Vingspann

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson, a few thousand waders went into the air en-mass, this time I got lucky and locked on to the culprit, a Peregrine Falcon which gave an excellent aerial display for several minutes, during which time it picked out three loose waders and made a strike with none of them, but easily touched 80 mph on the three short spectacular dives.

Last Fridays c.1,000 Golden Plover were present here again, and a good peak count for my book was 4 Great-crested Grebe. Along with the Redshank and Lapwing 'locals' I saw just 8 Snipe and 5 Dunlin, 4 Goosander were hauled out below Colloway Marsh where I saw the Merlin again, this time giving good views perched up at the south end of the marsh. A screeching gull flying towards me was a Black-headed Gull in pursuit of a Sparrowhawk.

At Cockersand, Plover Scar was void of waders, though up to 250 Dunlin flew south past here, ignoring the refuge there from the high tide, but 9 Twite livened up the inner edge of the scar with a Wheatear and Meadow Pipit seen. 

Rock Pipit Cockersand 9 October. Pete Woodruff.

On the shingle north west of the caravan park, 3 Rock Pipit, with a few Tree Sparrow and a Reed Bunting around Bank Houses, and 75 Curlew in a field off Slack Lane. An adult Mediterranean Gull was with at least 2,500 Black-headed Gull off Moss Lane.

What keeps birding buzzin' is that you never know where or when the next surprise is going to be....Next Please.




On the shingle at Cockersand yesterday. A Harbour Porpoise, Europe's smallest cetacean.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Two For The Price Of One!

Having counted 14 Little Grebe, 11 Redshank, 3 Snipe, and a CurlewI briefly saw two birds whizzing across the back side of Conder Pool yesterday, to disappear into the far west corner, at the same time a Kingfisher appeared out of the same corner, and promptly landed on the recently placed depth marker for three seconds before flying off and away. 

So there's me thinking I'd seen two Kingfisher, one of which was still at the west end out of sight. But hey, 2 Common Sandpiper flew out of the corner, one chasing the other around the pool, so the wintering bird now has an unwanted visitor to it's territory....well it did have!


Wheatear Plover Scar. Pete Woodruff.

At Cockersand, as I arrived I saw up to 160 Jackdaw come up off Plover Scar, a clear sign there would be no waders there today. But a Wheatear put in an appearance before I set off on the circuit to find c.50 Tree Sparrow, 4 Skylark - probably more if I'd have tried harder - 2 Reed Bunting, and a Kestrel hovering over Bank Houses. At least 550 Herring Gull were lounging in a field off Slack Lane, with 3 Pink-footed Geese, and 4 Stock Dove noted.

When I got back to the Lighthouse Cottage, the tide had dropped enough for waders to return to feed. There was a good count of 14 Ruff, with 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Turnstone, and good numbers of uncounted Redshank and Lapwing. Also off here, an adult Mediterranean Gull, 3 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Eider, and I found a dead juvenile Gannet amongst the driftwood.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson, up to 1,000 Golden Plover were across the river below Colloway Marsh, where I saw my first 4 Whooper Swan. Also noted, 450 Redshank, 110 Curlew, 85 Snipe, and 3 Ruff. From the thirty I saw on Tuesday I found only 10 Shoveler and 4 Wigeon, 8 Little Egret and 6 Grey Heron were in a group, with a Great-crested Grebe seen. 

Come in No 4 you're times up!!

Garden Birds.

Long-tailed Tit. Warren Baker.

A flock of 15 Long-tailed Tit came through our garden this morning.

The Savick Park Willow Tit.

Thanks to GG for the Willow Tit header. A species that gets no better than a rare visitor in Geoff's recording area on the Flyde, and long time extinct in North Lancashire and beyond, but this one comes to his garden.

Great stuff Geoff....Nice one.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

CP Rules....OK.

Much appreciated the text received on Monday at 5.13pm, and was chuffed to hear that Conder Pool had struck again, this time a brilliant juvenile Black Tern....Top of the league, the list goes on.

Juvenile Black Tern. Conder Pool 2 October. Stuart Piner.

No such high quality found yesterday anywhere on and around the Lune Estuary despite considerable effort, but some increased numbers included 18 Little Grebe with three of these in the creeks. A lone Wigeon was the first of the winter on Conder Pool, with the Common Sandpiper around the muddy edge below the viewing platform where I saw a Dunnock.

On the Lune Estuary, as the tide ebbed the birds started to drop in in small numbers, including 35 Golden Plover, 30 Shoveler have steadily increased to this over my last three visits, 21 Wigeon is my best count so far, and another good count was 16 Little Egret, 14 of which were seen together. A lone Bar-tailed Godwit was on the mud below Colloway Marsh where 2 Goosander were hauled out, and a distant Merlin was on the marsh.


Pink-footed Geese. Brian Rafferty

A few small skeins went south over the afternoon amounting to at least 300 Pink-footed Geese. Not quite as impressive as this, but I'm sure I missed many more. 

Thanks to SP for the text and image re the Conder BT, and to BR for the PFG.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Estuary Stock Taking....Again.

On a ridiculously sunny, windless and warm day compared to the summer we've had, the Lune Estuary won't look anything like as nice again this year as it did on Thursday, with blue skies reflecting in a calm river like glass.   

Yet another new peak of 16 Little Grebe on Conder Pool, with the Common Sandpiper along the back terrace, 4 Snipe hunkered down on an island, and 33 Mute Swan dropping in.

On the Lune Estuary, I found 2 Mediterranean Gull adult, the number of gulls was large and near equal that of waders today, c.550 Golden Plover was down at least 400 on Tuesdays count, but the 25 Shoveler was up by 7.  A Ruff, 7 Greenshank, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, 32 Snipe, 8 Wigeon, a Goosanderand 22 Greylag were noted. 


Chiffchaff. Warren Baker. 

A wander in and around the churchyard and area at Christ Church, a Chiffchaff was a very olive individual, characteristically making frenzied movements through the branches and tail flicking as it fed, also 4 BlackbirdRobin3 Great Tit, and a Blue Tit


Migrant Hawker Marc Heath

Further along the canal I saw 6 Migrant Hawker males patrolling along the reedy bankside and frequently hovering.

Garden Birds.

Our garden was pretty lively on Thursday morning, with a Goldcrest seen, up to 18 Goldfinch, 3 Blue Tit, a Great Tit, 2 Dunnock, a Robin, and a Red Admiral.

Thanks to Warren and Marc for their images, and to Bob for his header Ruff.