BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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CELEBRATING THE GLORIOUS TWELFTH....WELCOME TO THE ' REAL' FOREST OF BOWLAND

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Before The Larks.

Before my dash to Bank End to see the Shorelarks on Friday, I estimated 500 Whooper Swan seen at Cockersand, with the wintering herd still standing at around 450, and another 50 seen in Crook Farm fields with at least 3 Bewick's Swan. In and around Bank Houses horse paddock, 8 Tree Sparrow, 4 Blackbird, 4 Robin, 2 Dunnock, 2 Wood Pigeon, a Song Thrush, and a male Chaffinch. Also noted, 5 Skylark, and 4 Shoveler on a flood seen as two pairs and a good record here. 

At Conder Green at high tide, the Spotted Redshank was on the marsh, with a single Little Grebe on the tide. I was about to leave when I watched a huge cloud of up to 1,500 gulls come up off the fields on Jeremy Lane to fly towards the estuary, c.250 came down on to Conder Pool, checking them out they were mainly Black-headed Gull but included 28 Common Gull.

On the Lune Estuary, high tide roosters were, 1,750 Golden Plover, and 95 Black-tailed Godwit. I counted 22 Goldeneye, with 16 on the estuary, and 6 on the canal basin with a pair of Goosander noted.

The Brown Hare.


Brown Hare Martin Jump

Taking into account duplication risk, with some running around and moving from field to field, I counted at least 21 Brown Hare at Cockersand today.

Shorelark Marc Heath 

The Shorelarks were seen again on Saturday, and are still there this Sunday morning at 8.35am.

Thanks to Richard Pegler for the Bluethroat header, to Richard Shilling who is back on Birds2blog with his Dandelion Sun, to Martin Jump for his Brown Hares, and to Marc Heath for his 'Kentish' Shorelark.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Wora Lark!....Nice One AC.

There's been a five month gap since the last class bird was found in our area when SP found the brilliant American Golden Plover at Cockersand 29 September 2016....but yesterday closed the gap in style.

Merlin. Cockersand February 24. Pete Woodruff.

I was already excited by finding this female Merlin squat in a field at Cockersand, clearly a good example of how the Merlin and the Mistle Thrush are not immediately distinguishable at a distance and in a pose like this one, the Merlin differing in overall length with the Mistle Thrush by only 4cm, the bird eventually flew off to land on a distant fence post.

But now I was about to get even more excited, my mobile has a voice at the other end telling me of a couple of birds found on the marsh at Bank End....I'm on my way AC. I could tell by his actions that he had the bird's in his sights when I arrived on the scene, and I was soon looking at two Shorelark out on the marsh. 

Shorelark. Cockerham Marsh 24 February. Copy Permitted.

An excellent sighting and good if distant views of which SP got a decent shot given the distance between us and the bird's which were still there again today at 1.10pm SD442525

Nice one AC....and many thanks for your call. 

Friday, 24 February 2017

Urban Peregrine....Shot.

Whether on Red Grouse moors or in the urban environment, incidents of illegal killing of England’s protected birds of prey are increasing despite what PM Mrs May might be saying in Parliament. Conveniently she has overlooked - well probably never even looked at - the fact that the Hen Harrier didn't breed in 2016 on any grouse moor in England, and the Peregrine Falcon has already disappeared as a successful breeding species from most moorland in England where Red Grouse are shot, and since 2010 in the Forest of Bowland, as many as 18 Peregrine nesting territories are now abandoned. 

Lots of Fylde birders and locals too, will have been watching this Peregrine Falcon possibly for a few years now, it was the female of a breeding pair, these Fylde birders in particular will be gutted more than most to hear of this birds corpse found on 15 February, shot at a church in Lytham St Annes, the first of it's kind to have ever been shot in an urban area of Lancashire. 

As birders we have a duty to, at the very least, give this kind of persecution of birds maximum publicity, and I'd like to think I'm doing my bit here. As a side issue, take note of what Terry Pickford has to say about the governments 'puppet on a string' Natural England revoking his license to monitor in the Forest of Bowland.  


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Play It Again Sam!


Yesterday was almost a repeat of Monday, the weather certainly so, and in the short time birding the weather allowed me, the birds were pretty much the same too, with nothing significant to note. When I took this 'clik the pik' to see how bad it really was looking upstream on the Lune Estuaryby 1.00pm I was packing my bags once again and off back to Lancaster.

I managed to pick out c.550 Golden Plover through the murk from the bowling green, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, the lone Bar-tailed Godwit again, a Snipe, and 7 Goldeneye

Goosander Warren Baker

Main interest of the day was that earlier I had made another double figure count of 10 Little Grebe at Conder Green, save the one on Conder Pool, nine were in the creeks where I found the Common Sandpiper lurking again. Also of note on Conder Pool, 20 Wigeon, a female Goosander, and 2 Canada Geese which came down on to the pool around 11.30am. 

I saw the report of two Canada Geese departing SE from Middleton NR late morning, and reckon these two arriving on the pool at Conder Green just a few minutes later were the very same two birds.

A circuit around Conder Green achieved little other than 2 Reed Bunting and 3 Blue Tit along the coastal path. 

Nice to think that spring and the first Wheatear is but a few weeks away.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Keeping Up The Pressure.

If I was going to keep up the pressure on the Lune Estuary, yesterday wasn't the day to do it, visibility in the murky, damp, and drizzle conditions was poor to say the least, but if I said there were a few thousand waders here as illustrated when they went into the air probably due to a raptor attack, at least 4,000 were Lapwing. Most interesting because of their irregular appearances here were 3 Knototherwise I found no more than 250 Golden Plover which were difficult to see on the weed covered stones, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, a single Bar-tailed Godwit,  and saw just 4 Goldeneye today.

Of note on Conder Pool, 25 Oystercatcher had taken up here, with 20 Curlew and 9 Redshank in the wader camp, and a female Goosander and 10 Tufted Duck representing the diving ducks. In the creeks, 5 Little Grebe seen, with the Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper downstream towards the iron bridge.

Lapwing. Courtesy of Noushka @ 1000-Pattes         

I was about to throw in the towel, my enthusiasm had gone below the red pointer, but I was grateful for the text which alerted me to a Todd's Canada Goose (form interior) which had apparently been roaming around Norfolk before being seen on the Fylde, then found on Sunday with Pink-footed Geese at Aldcliffe Marsh. I decided to contradict my claim of not being a 'twitcher', climbed into the motor, and set off for the said marsh, only to turn coward half way there in the miserable misty damp and drizzle, aborted and pointed the bonnet towards home....I threw in the towel after all! 

Garden Birds.

We had a male Siskin in the garden on Saturday....Excellent, along with a BTO metal ringed Starling and female Chaffinch.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Ducks And Others.

I noted 20 species in the time I was on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock yesterday, and ducks were worthy headliners, if only because 48 Goldeneye were the new peak count here surpassing 42 seen 1 February. Also on the estuary, a female Scaup was with 7 Goldeneye at the Cocker mouth, c.150 Black-tailed Godwit were difficult to count well scattered, with c.1,200 Golden Plover and 6 Snipe of note.


Great White Egret. Pete Woodruff. 

The Great White Egret was on the southern end of Colloway Marsh, this picture taken at Conder Pool 20 January.

A drake Pochard was on the canal basin with a Great-crested Grebe noted. Ten Tufted Duck had turned up again on Conder Pool where the drake Goosander was seen again, 5 Little Grebe, the Spotted Redshank, and a lone Black-tailed Godwit were in the creeks. In a field at the junction of Jeremy and School Lane, 2 Whooper Swan were with 42 Mute Swan.

In a shortened version of a visit to Cockersand, Whooper Swans here were seen as, 22 in a field behind Crook Cottage, and the herd of at least 400 were now mainly at Bank End. Off Slack Lane, 20 Bewick's Swan, and at high tide Plover Scar, 455 Oystercatcher, up to 50 Lapwing, 26 Turnstone seen, with c.1,500 Wigeon off the scar and to the south.


Snipe. Pete Woodruff.

I did well to spot the Snipe in the pik above, they were hunkered down in the field by Abbey Farm. One on the left can be picked out, two heads centre and right not so easily, but there are four Snipe there....honest! 

Thanks to Peter Rhind for his Goldfinch header, and to Peter Guy for the Conder Green cross column image....Much appreciated.

Other Notes.

Another first for our garden was 3 Robin together on Thursday, and a peruse through my records uncovered a Peacock on the wing seen on Clougha 11 February 2004, from memory my only winter butterfly record. 

News of a Peregrine Falcon shot and killed at St Thomas church at Lytham St Annes Here 

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Uplands And Lowlands.

Stonechat Martin Jump

Based on my last experience with the Stonechat at Clougha on my last visit there on 5 January when I found ten birds, most of which were in an area not covered before, I was really looking forward to a return visit yesterday in the hope I could replicate, but it didn't happen, the wind was much stronger than expected once up there, and certainly not conducive to finding what I was looking for, though in a sheltered area at the start of the visit before I reached the top of Birk Bank I did find a pair of Stonechat which spurred me on, though to no avail. But whilst up here, it was good to see 2 Raven, count 22 Red Grouse, 4 Wren, and 2 Snipe flushed.

So, although I spent four hours on Clougha and across the top of Birk Bank, I abandoned upland birding earlier than was planned - I was hoping to get at least six hours in - and went off to the lowlands and Conder Green for a couple of hours, though even this idea was a badly timed one as the tide was at it's height and if it was waders I was after it wasn't looking good. Ne'r mind, the Spotted Redshank was waiting to show itself to me, and 2 Little Grebe were also in the creeks.


2nd Winter Mediterranean Gull/Black-headed Gull Jan Larsson  

When I got to Glasson Dock I soon found what turned out to be my 'Bird of the Day' in a 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull on the Lune Estuary. At least 2,500 Golden Plover and c.350 Black-tailed Godwit were below Colloway Marsh, and 10 Goldeneye drifting on the river. On the canal basin, a drake Goosander and Great-crested Grebe were of note.

Not quite the day I had hoped for, but a good excuse for posting an excellent Stonechat and Mediterranean Gull image, with thanks and much appreciation to Martin and Jan. 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Late On Duty....Again!

Slow off the block again on Friday, and wanting to be at Cockersand for the high tide, I first called at Conder Green to find the Great White Egret back on Conder Pool again and posing on Tern Island. Interesting to note 75 Lapwing, 32 Curlew, and a few Redshank in the east corner, with 3 Goosander seen off and on since 9 January.

As on 30 January, there was huge numbers of waders in the fields again on Friday at Cockersand including an estimated absolute minimum of 4,000 Golden Plover with Lapwing and Dunlin next in the line of uncounted. Later in the afternoon, a Peregrine Falcon bombed through the area to reveal a clearer picture of just how many thousand waders were really in the fields at Cockersand today.


Pink-footed Geese Brian Rafferty    

As I watched large raft of up to 3,500 Wigeon drifting on the ebbing tide out of the Cocker channel, I saw c.3,000 Pink-footed Geese come up out of a field to the south of Crook Farm do do some lingering before flying off south, unfortunate for me as I could have got close to these birds, and enjoyed a good sift through them if they had stayed put

The flock of c.80 Twite were around Bank House Cottage again with a few Linnet in the mix, 6 Blackbird, a Song Thrush, and a Wren were in and around Bank Houses horse paddock, and 34 Teal were noted in the large ditch to the north of here. 

At Clarkson's Farm I counted 10 Bewick's Swan, with the herd of c.400 Whooper Swan still in tact to the south of here and towards Bank End. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock I took note of c.450 Black-tailed Godwit and a count of 15 Goldeneye including one which had found it's way up the Cocker channel. Paying a second visit to Conder Green on my way back to Lancaster I achieved another double figure count of 10 Little Grebe - 14 on 27 January - all in the creeks save one on Conder Pool.

Many thanks to Mike for the header image of the Nuthatch, and to Brian for his Pink-footed Geese. Snowdrops Pete Woodruff.

Thought for the day.

The Hen Harrier Recovery Farce....I wonder if the RSPB have any plans to go to court to challenge moves to do Hen Harrier brood meddling in England this year??

Friday, 10 February 2017

Heads Or Tails!

It was a bit like the toss of a coin on Wednesday between some uplanding, or for legging it along the coastal path, in the end I decided on the coastal path and off I went on the trek from Lancaster to Glasson Dock. Nothing too serious, no searching, no lingering, no telescope, just binoculars round my neck, and to be honest that's only half-birding, but enjoyable half-birding all the same. 

Forty species noted along the six miles and four hours dawdle, including Goosander on the River Lune by Carlisle Bridge, soon followed by a female Goldeneye flying upriver. A scan across Freeman's Pools had me note 3 Goldeneye and little else of note other than a few Teal, Tufted Duck, and Coot.

On Aldcliffe Marsh, up to 450 Pink-footed Geese, and possibly the first time I ever saw the flood deserted. Notable along the route was a decent count of 22 Blackbird, with 7 Robin, 8 Chaffinch, 3 Song Thrush, 3 Great Tit, a Mistle Thrush, and 12 Little Egret.

As I whizzed through Conder Green, the star residents, Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper and 4 Little Grebe were all seen in the creeks. When I got to Glasson Dock, with little more than a glance on the Lune Estuary had me see Black-tailed Godwit and Golden Plover, both barely reaching three figures....But I have to go....me bus is cumin!

The Runners Up.

Oystercatcher
Redshank
Curlew
Lapwing
Cormorant
Black-headed Gull
Herring Gull
LBB Gull
Canada Goose
Shelduck
Greylag
Mallard
Wigeon
Magpie
Carrion Crow
Wood Pigeon
Feral Pigeon
Pied Wagtail
Blue Tit
House Sparrow
Mute Swan
Moorhen

Garden Birds.

Together at one time in our garden yesterday 9 Blackbird, an all time best record for us, also the Grey Wagtail in our garden 22 December is still visiting regularly.


Blue Tit. Martin Jump.

And on the subject of garden birds. Martin sent me some brilliant images recently from his Allotment Reflection Pool Project  including this one of the Blue Tit reflected in the pond on his allotment....Pik's with a difference....luv 'em. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Thankful For Small Mercies.

I got roped into an emergency taxi job to Dolphinholme yesterday, a family car broken down, well you forsake your birding and do these kind of things for family....don't you! 


But I had a couple of hours before the return journey and I made sure a visit to the Lune Estuary was on the cards which turned out a good idea if only because I found a nice adult Mediterranean Gull with a black hood developing well. The bird is above, in one of my worst photograph's of all time, but they were a good 500 metres away and you'll need to view it with a 'clik the pik' to find it.

Also of note, was a count of up to 2,500 Golden Plover, with at least twice that number of 5,000 Lapwing, and a few hundred Dunlin, with smaller numbers of Redshank and Curlew, and a few Knot, and 9 Snipe. The Black-tailed Godwit had moved on with only one or two around today, also just 2 Goldeneye seen and c.400 Wigeon

A quick look into the creeks at Conder Green produced 5 Little Grebe, Spotted Redshank, and a Snipe.

Two hours birding between the taxi job instead of none, and thankful for small mercies. 

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Good Quality Geese....

....and 406+ good quality swans too.

Pink-footed Geese Brian Rafferty  

As I drove along Moss Lane yesterday, the geese were in fields at Thurnham and I pulled in to get good views which got better from an advantage point later off the A588 during which time c.2,000 went into the air north of Hillam Lane to make a total of at least 5,000 Pink-footed Geese which were accompanied by 3 White-fronted Geese and a Pale-bellied Brent Goose....See these geese - 'clik the pik' - as they really should be seen. Thanks Brian.

It was a biting wind to stand in and count geese, so I drove to Cockersand to thaw out, and saw 6 Bewick's Swan at Clarkson's Farm, with the herd of c.400 Whooper Swan noted again.  From here I went to check out the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, where I reckon there was initially in excess of last Friday's 550 Black-tailed Godwit, but which took off in a dread as I arrived, some of which flew south and inland towards Jeremy Lane. Also of note, up to 100 Golden Plover, and 8 Goldeneye which were both low counts, in the case of the GP's extremely so. On the canal basin I saw 3 Goosander

On the way to Conder Green I heard the Song Thrush singing again around Saltcote Cottage. At Conder Green, the Spotted Redshank and 2 Little Grebe were in the creeks, and the Common Sandpiper was again seen towards the iron bridge....if your looking for a guarantee to see this bird, I recommend starting here.

White-fronted Geese.

Greenland or Russian....A pretty good short video - best seen Full Screen - for White-fronted Geese ID, albeit windy and not ideal conditions, though that's what the situation often is when your trying your best to get to grips with ID.


Sunday, 5 February 2017

The Godwits Have Landed.

After all my shouting about the missing godwits, up to 550 Black-tailed Godwit had landed on Friday, they must have heard about my complaining that they had been absent from the Lune Estuary. I checked as many pair of legs I could see on these birds to find not one a marked individual.


Black-tailed Godwit/Spotted Redshank. Jan Larsson @ Vingspann

It was good to find the Little Stint on the Lune Estuary again, always distant towards the Conder mouth, but good to see all the same, also good to find a Spotted Redshank here again too, it was aside the stint at one point....wish I could have got a pik. Up to 220 Dunlin fed on the tideline close in from the bowling green, 32 Snipe seen, and 34 Goldeneye was a reduction of eight from Wednesday's peak count of forty two.  

At Conder Green, Conder Pool was a virtual void, but the Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper, and 4 Little Grebe were all in the creeks, a Snipe came up off the marsh.

Bewick's Swan. Bob Bushell @ Birdsfod  

Pulling in at the entrance to Clarkson's Farm I counted 9 Bewick's Swan, and from a gate opposite looking into fields to the south, at least 400 Whooper Swan are still present here and towards Bank End, a Sparrowhawk went over. As I approached the path along the embankment at Cockersand 253 Black-tailed Godwit were seen as 235 in two groups flying south, and 18 on a flood at Abbey Farm. 

On Plover Scar, the wader number was 680, broken down to, 360 Oystercatcher, 240 Dunlin, 75 Turnstone, 3 Knot, and 2 Snipe. Off the scar, at least 300 Wigeon and a pair of Red-breasted Merganser, and on the shingle from Bank Houses a Rock Pipit

Thanks to Jan and Bob for their respective excellent images, and to Geoff for his brilliant Bullfinch composite header. 

Friday, 3 February 2017

Anything Interesting?

People often stop and ask 'anything interesting' and it's always good to see how keen they are to listen to what you have to tell them. But there was nobody around to tell and show them the Great White Egret on Wednesday. I had found the bird out on the marsh from the coastal path as I walked from Conder Green to Glasson Dock, from where I saw 3 Blue Tit, a Great Tit, 2 Robin, a Dunnock, and a Blackbirdit was good to hear a Song Thrush singing by Saltcote Cottage.

On the Lune Estuary, the godwits had finally arrived with a half decent count of 350 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit were over the other side of the river. Also of interest was my latest count of 42 Goldeneye, being an increase of five since the last peak count of 37 on 16 January, 25 Snipe and a drake Red-breasted Merganser seen.     

Shoveler. Noushka @ 1000-Pattes  

A Shoveler pair stole the show for me on the estuary, seen as a scarce breeder at Leighton Moss, irregular elsewhere and certainly so here where they were good to see today. 

There was another count of interest on Conder Pool where 37 Tufted Duck were showing, 7 Snipe, 5 Little Grebe, and a drake Goosander were also of note, and the Spotted Redshank was seen in the creeks again.

Dunlin/Turnstone. Pete Woodruff.

At Cockersand, the Plover Scar high tide roost consisted of up to 335 waders and two corvid, 250 Dunlin, 70 Turnstone, 15 Oystercatcher, and 2 Carrion Crow rummaging. A Sparrowhawk flushed 4 Snipe then perched close on the marsh on a large driftwood, at least 80 Twite were still in the field by Bank House Cottage and were accompanied by a lone Greenfinch, c.120 Curlew were in the same field, 6 Tree Sparrow were at Bank Houses, up to 22 Skylark came down into a field, I reckon entering this field might have flushed more. On Slack Lane I saw a Reed Bunting, and the Whooper Swan herd have now moved south to Bank End, distant and uncounted today.

Golden Plover on the Lune Estuary. 

Notable after the huge numbers in fields at Cockersand on Monday including 3,000 in one field alone, in five hours on the Lune Estuary on Wednesday around Conder/Glasson/Cockersand, I found not a solitary Golden Plover.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Feeding Of The Five Thousand....

....and the rest.

The fields around Cockersand held an impressive several thousand waders on Monday, in particular the field behind and to the north of Abbey Farm which had a carpet of at least 3,000 Golden Plover, together with an impressive 2,000 Dunlin, in the midst of which I found a Ruff, with good numbers of TurnstoneRedshank, Lapwingand Curlew in this and surrounding fields, also in the fields south from Moss Lane to Bank End, the swan herd stood at up to 450 Whooper Swan and 9 Bewick's Swan

High Tide Plover Scar. Pete Woodruff.
Oystercatcher Plover Scar. Pete Woodruff.

Plover Scar had been taken over by a combination of dismantled lighthouse stonework and a high tide and held 300 Oystercatcher roosting with 16 Turnstone. On Slack Lane, 18 Linnet were in and around the winter cover crops.

On the Lune Estuary from the bowling green at Glasson Dock, in view to the Cocker mouth, 110 Dunlin, 8 Snipe, 4 Red-breasted Merganser, and 11 Goldeneye. Godwit numbers on the estuary here remain low, with just 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, and 2 Black-tailed Godwit seen today, but I learn they roost a Middleton, and apparently do especially on the lower high tides, but they're not congregating at low or high tide anywhere on the Lune Estuary this winter to date.

Little of note at Conder Green, with a single Little Grebe and a Goosander drake on Conder Pool, and the pair of faithful winterer's, the Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper in the creeks.

Coming Soon!

Wheatear Richard Pegler 

If I'm going to find an early Wheatear - probably at Cockersand where I usually do - I may well have done so in six weeks time, a nice thought....Thanks for the image Richard.