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

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Positive & Negative.

I managed three firsts on the migrant scene, all at Conder Green on Thursday, a lone Swift and a singing Whitethroat, with 2 Whimbrel on Conder Pool. 

Conder Pool was quite lively, showing 2 Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, a Black-tailed Godwit, 2 GoldeneyeTufted Duck, a drake Goosander, 28 Redshank, and a single Linnet

Turnstone was on the Lune Estuary, only seen here occasionally, it was with a small group of Redshank and Dunlin feeding close by off the bowling green. Ten Eider were all hauled out, with a pair of Red-breasted Merganser and a Great-crested Grebe noted. Around 20 Sand Martin were over the canal basin, and 2 Golden Plover were hunkered down in a field off Jeremy Lane.

It was pretty grim along the headland at Cockersand, cloudy, dull, with a howler, but at least 2,000 Dunlin and a few Ringed Plover seen feeding the length between Plover Scar and Crook Farm. Two flocks of c.30/90 Linnet seen at Bank Houses and Lighthouse Cottage areas, and a Buzzard over fields.

The Negative.

Where are all the Swallows?....I saw no more than 10 Swallow today, and have logged no more than 36 in total over the past four birding days/20 hours. On Friday Swallows were reported at Portland Bird Obs in their highest number so far this spring, including 800 over Chesil in 20 minutes, yesterday the Swallow got no mention in the Portland report.

The Mistle Thrush. 


Found last Monday 23 April, a Mistle Thrush on the nest in the fork of a Silver Birch and photographed 26 April.  


I was cut up when I viewed this shot on the computer. I had no idea at the time, that whilst I fumbled taking pictures, the male had visited the nest, and I had lost the opportunity of a pretty good image of both birds with what could well be a worm in the visitors bill just off centre top of image....with the birds head chopped off.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

D For Disaster.

Well, not really a disaster, that's just me being as dramatic as I can.  

I rarely gamble with the weather if I'm planning some birding, but on Tuesday I did just that and lost the gamble big time. Setting out on the coastal path route from Lancaster to Glasson Dock, only for it to be raining - and windy with it - within 30 minutes of the start at Aldcliffe, and was still doing so in the evening 8 hours later. 

As a result of all this, the birds stayed at home, which is what I should have done, but remarkably some birds did sing in the wet and windy gloom as I went on my way, and 6 Chiffchaff and 4 Blackcap did. The only bird I saw of any note on Freeman's Pools was a lone Goldeneye, 2 Jay were on the edge of Freeman's Wood, I don't recall the last time I saw two together if I ever did, and I counted 14 Blackbird along the way.

When I arrived at Glasson Dock, up to 40 Sand Martin were hawking over the canal basin as I clambered not a little soggy onto the bus for Lancaster.


Butterfly Revival 

I saw a butterfly on the wing on Tuesday, too brief to identify for certain, though I reckon a Peacock. If the weather continues at this time of the year and into the summer months as it did in 2017, the butterfly revival will again be in jeopardy.



The butterfly revival was dashed by wet and gloomy weather in 2017. Even though butterfly numbers were up on 2016, which was the fourth worst year on record, two declining species, the Grizzled Skipper and Grayling both had their worst ever year in 2017, recording their lowest numbers since records began. 


But it isn't just the butterflies....The once common Garden Tiger moth has seen it's number fall by a staggering 92% since the late 1960's, and many other moth species are struggling.

If your interest is such, you can read more results of a study of the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme Here 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Bakers Dozen....

....and a few dozen others.


Whinchat. Jan Larsson @ Vingspann 

Always a good idea for some footwork to take a closer look in the fields and on the fence posts along Jeremy Lane around this time of the year, and yesterday was definitely a good idea, and didn't take long for one bird to develop into 12 Wheatear in one field - the bakers dozen was made up with one at Cockersand later - but wait a minute, the bird further into the field isn't a Wheatear, it's a female Whinchat.

A Goldeneye is lingering on at Conder Pool, it thinks it's one of the 14 Tufted Duck it was diving with, a Greenshank was in company with 38 Redshank. The Common Sandpiper I saw again today is almost certainly the wintering bird, it was again in the very same area I found it in virtually every time I visited throughout the winter months and rarely on Conder Pool or even elsewhere in the creeks. Two House Martin were around the River Winds/Cafe d' Lune, and 4 Little Egret had the otherwise deserted Conder channel to themselves.


Mistle Thrush @ Pegler Birding

I found a breeding Mistle Thrush on my rounds yesterday, but the bird is living dangerously and has built the nest no more than 2 metres off the ground in the fork of a Silver Birch.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson was virtually deserted, but 9 Eider and 2 Great-crested Grebe were of note. At Cockersand, a Wheatear on Plover Scar, 3 Eider were off here, and close by, c.170 Dunlin and up to 30 Ringed Plover were feeding on the shore. The circuit produced little, but 2 Stock Dove, the drake Shoveler on the flood, and a flock of c.60 Linnet were flighty.

No sign of any Yellow Wagtail at Braides, but at least 15 White Wagtail picked out in the long grass. I saw no more than a dozen Swallow on the day again.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Deja Vu.

As on Monday, the last birds of the day for me on Friday came via yet another text from 'THE RAC' - The Reliable AC - to alert me to his claim of at least 5 Yellow Wagtail at Braides and probably more in poor light looking into the sun and long grass, of which I found three. Also here,  5 White Wagtail seen in a quick scan before I had to scoot off back to Lancaster.


Black-tailed Godwit Lune Estuary. Pete Woodruff.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson, 26 Black-tailed Godwit and 14 Eider noted, and at Christ Church, a singing male Blackcap gave excellent views. Along the canal tow path to Conder Green, a Sedge Warbler, a Buzzard was over fields behind Aspley Farm, and a Cormorant fishing the canal. Three Wheatear were at the water treatment plant at the entrance to The Mill at Conder Green, and a Common Sandpiper was at Conder Green 


Dunlin Plover Scar. Pete Woodruff.

At Cockersand, at least 900 Dunlin were on Plover Scar, with a few Ringed Plover and a Wheatear. Seen in four seperate flocks, the total was probably equal to Monday's 140 Linnet, a Willow Warbler was appropriately singing in the willows on Slack Lane, the Shoveler pair were on the flood with a Little EgretI saw just 6 Swallow in six hours today, with 3 Peacock and a Small Tortoiseshell seen.

My first single House Martin was high over our house yesterday....But were are all the Swallows?

Thanks to Noushka for the header image.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained.

The weather on Wednesday morning was cloudy, grey, windy, and nothing like what the forecast had been. Hardly to be called suitable for a visit to Bowland, but it turned out decent in the afternoon. In any case I had a man to meet for a survey of Hawthornthwaite Fell, but not until I'd been presented with a brilliant mounted photograph of a female Stonechat complete with a bill full of insects, including a Latticed Heath moth.

There's quality loss from the original in the copy of this excellent photograph, but there's some improvement with a 'clik the pik'. 


Stonechat. Martin Jump.

No Stonechat found on the west side of Hawthornthwaite, but 2 Ring Ouzel gave distant in flight views, before soon disappearing up Catshaw Greave. This sighting came two days earlier than a previous male Ring Ouzel I found here on 20 April 2016.  

Also excellent views of 2 Raven, with 19 Meadow Pipit, 9 Red Grouse, 4 Wren, a BuzzardKestrel, and 4 Sand Martin back here and flying up and down the bottom end of Catshaw Greave.



 Upland Bowland. Pete Woodruff.

From Marshaw along and up the east side of Hawthornthwaite, I eventually found a pair of Stonechat, heard my first 4 Willow Warbler, and saw 11 Red Grouse, 12 Meadow Pipit, heard the distant 'chipper-chipper' of 4 Snipe, 3 Mistle Thrush, and a Reed Bunting.

I ended the day with a brief look in at the Tower Lodge area, to note a Grey Wagtail on the Marshaw Wyre, and a Sparrowhawk disappearing into the trees.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Migration What Migration....Part 2.

Conder Pool.

The Avocet seem to be coming and going since their arrival on Conder Pool 28 March, now you see me, now you don't, with no sign on Monday, but a Greenshank was nice, with a drake Goosander and 11 Tufted Duck seen.

Lune Estuary.

Goldeneye Cliff Raby

I was a little surprised to find 7 Goldeneye still here, with the exception of a lone bird flying downstream on 8 April, there was no birds here in 2017 after 4 seen on 21 March, and no Goldeneye were reported on the Lune Estuary in April in any of the 2015 or 2016 Lancashire Annual Reports. Hard to believe that you could count up to 200 Goldeneye on the Lune Estuary at Glasson in 2009, since then there has been a decline, and the last three figure count was 5 years ago when 122 were seen in February 2013. Void of accuracy, this winters peak count didn't exceed more than the mid-twenties. 

Other notes on the Lune Estuary, 26 Black-tailed Godwit, a lone Ringed Plover putting one of it's occasional visits here, and a pair of EiderThanks to Cliff for his image of the Goldeneye. 

Cockersand.

On Plover Scar at high tide, up to 220 Dunlin and 32 Ringed Plover. Also seen, at least 140 Linnet in the field behind Lighthouse Cottage, 2 Wheatear, Skylark seen/heard, 3 Stock Dove, a Shoveler pair still on the flood, a Kestrel, and a Sparrowhawk which came out of the hedge bottom with small prey in it's talons, flew a meter above the road, to soon disappear again into the hedge. A Small Tortoiseshell came out with the sun, but can't possibly have been the happiest butterfly in the land on a mainly cloudy, cold, and windy day.

Braides.

Yellow Wagtail Marc Heath 

Another text on Monday from the ever reliable AC, had me off to Braides to see a stunning male Yellow Wagtail in the field by the flood where I noted 4 ShovelerThanks to Marc for this image....Stunning bird, stunning photograph. 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

A Murky Short List.

The damp murky weather did nothing to enthuse me on Friday, but undaunted off I went to find 2 Avocet on Conder Pool loafing at the left edge of the island, one preening the other dozing. Otherwise 13 Tufted Duck, 7 Black-headed Gulla few Redshankand noisy Oystercatcher with their resounding shrill calls, a Greenshank was in the creeks.

At Cockersand, at least 1,000 Golden Plover seen from the road, in flight over the abbey and appeared to go down onto the shore, Five White Wagtail were on a flood, 35 Linnet seen, c.30 Meadow Pipit, 2 Dunnock, a Stock Dove, Skylark seen/heard, and a pair of Shoveler still on the flood. A casual count resulted in at least 20 Brown Hare seen today.



I called in at Glasson Dock to find just 5 Eider of note on the Lune Estuary, and to find birds of the day which were my first c.50 Swallow hawking and drinking over the canal basin.

Local Goodie.

No permit for the photograph on Birds2blog, but a Black-headed Wagtail on Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve found yesterday, still there this morning....Here

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Migration....What Migration!

When I read....'no more than a small flurry' and 'a day to forget in a hurry'....on a website like Portland Bird Obs, it came as no big surprise that it took me three hours birding to see just a lone Sand Martin heading north at Cockersand on Monday. 


Also at Cockersand, a Wheatear was on the embankment by Plover Scar, 4 White Wagtail were with similar Pied Wagtail, a Shoveler pair were also on the flood, not seen here since 22 March, a few barely double figure Meadow Pipit and Skylark seen, and a Reed Bunting.

I made no attempt at assessing the all distant swans today, but if the Mute Swan stand at the same number as my last count, I'd suggest there was no more than 50 Whooper Swan remaining at Cockersand on Monday.  

On the Lune Estuary, 7 Eider, 5 Goldeneye, a Greenshank, and a Goosander. By Christ Church, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Dunnock, and a stunning male Greenfinch seen, Great-crested Grebe was noted on the canal basin. 

Being it was now 9 April, there's no knowing whether or not the Common Sandpiper I saw at Conder Green, was a migrant or my wintering friend, but if where I found the bird was anything to go by, it was the latter. 

Butterflies seen, 10 Small Tortoiseshell and a Green-veined White.

Black Redstart.


I was grateful for two text alerts I received about the female/1st winter Black Redstart at Bank Houses, Cockerham Sands on Tuesday. Interesting that a Black Redstart I found on 9 November 2009 at Cockerham Sands, double interesting in that it was also at Bank Houses on the rooftop, this bird stayed around for six days.

A migration update yesterday 11 April....'plenty of birds get moving'....at Portland Bird Obs 

Monday, 9 April 2018

Cockersand Gold Again.

I was at the end of my visit to Cockersand on Thursday heading back to the Lighthouse Cottage, but I had an underlying feeling the day was going to end well with what I was hoping to find in the field SW of Crook Cottage. The field has been favoured by the GP's for several weeks in the second half of this winter, though recent numbers have fallen and fluctuated, at least 3,000 Golden Plover again today was pretty impressive.

In the field at my back on Slack Lane while I was watching the GP's, I reckon up to 120 Meadow Pipit with a few Skylark and Linnet seen, also in another field close by, 3 White Wagtail were with 7 Pied WagtailThe 252 Whooper Swan here today represents a closer and more accessible group for once, with a little more effort to count on my part.

The Cockersand Twite. 


Twite Jan Larsson

I was a little surprised to see c.30 Twite come off the shingle and fly over their recently favoured rough field behind Bank House Cottage, not seen since 15 March I had been thinking they had left the area, having arrived here at the early date of 9 October when I found nine on the inner edge of Plover Scar. 

Five Goldeneye were on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, with 7 Wigeon hangers on, and a drake Goosander. There was some arial interaction between 2 Kestrel at Conder Green, and a  Buzzard soaring high, 25 Tufted Duck were noted on Conder Pool. I saw my first Small Tortoiseshell butterflies today, one at Glasson Dock, the other at Cockersand.

As can often be the case - amongst the last to score most years for me - I've yet to see my first hirundinidae of 2018, though a part of the reason is that I've not been birding since last Thursday, and no blogging time since Friday....But all that's about to change in the next few minutes.

Putting a smile into birding.


Short-eared Owl Brian Rafferty

Found on a website....The Short-eared Owls have got so fed up of having long lenses shoved up their a***s all winter that they've taken to sneaking around on foot to avoid the circus.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Avocets & Chats.

When I arrived at Conder Green at around 11.00am yesterday, I was pleased to have found a pair of Avocet on Conder Pool this time....But there was better news to follow.

Avocet Conder Pool 5 April. Ian Pinkerton.


It was excellent that Ian Pinkerton sent me photographs of the Avocet yesterday, and good to see there are now four birds on Conder Pool.

Avocet Conder Pool 5 April. Ian Pinkerton.


It obviously didn't take long for the decision for one pair to get the breeding programme underway.

Stonechats.

It was also good that JW sent me some much appreciated Stonechat records he had collected, over the past week he reports pairs at....

Longridge (OOA) 
Marshaw
Harrisend
Whitendale
Langden

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Tuesdays Top Ten.

I don't do braving the elements any more, I used to have to brave all elements thrown at me when I was delivering milk for a living at four in the morning, but I got paid for it then. So my birding was on hold Tuesday, until the rain stopped, the weather picked up and off I went for a couple of hours - four actually - around Aldcliffe, where I enjoyed seeing three migrant species had arrived.

The walk along the embankment wasn't excactly the equal of the East Bank at Cley in Norfolk, but it rewarded me with my first Chiffchaff, a silent bird giving great views as it flit amongst the bare branches. Of 6 Wheatear seen, five were in the flooded field at the bottom of Aldcliffe Hall Lane which included three male, and another male opposite Snipe Bog.


Little Ringed Plover Antonio Puigg 

Around the Wildfowlers Pools, a Little Ringed Plover, with 4 Ringed Plover being more interesting and probably the rarer record of the two for Aldcliffe, also 3 Pintail were seen as a drake and two female, and a Little Grebe, the pools were otherwise near deserted. In the field by the Frog Pond, 62 Black-tailed Godwit which included two stunner's in near full islandica rufous summer plumage, and on Freeman's Pools I noted 7 Gadwall, 6 Goldeneye, and 4 Shoveler. 

It doesn't take much to make birding good birding for me, and this afternoon was good.

Lune Estuary Avocet.

I note an Avocet reported yesterday at the Conder mouth on the Lune Estuary, where it/one was seen on 28 March, having been seen earlier on Conder Pool until evicted to the estuary by a Black-headed Gull. 

Monday, 2 April 2018

GP's Still Rule Cockersand.

Golden Plover. Jan Larsson @ Vingspann

The numbers were up again at Cockersand on Friday, with at least 1,400 Golden Plover seen in three groups, 450 on Plover Scar, 750 on the weed covered shore off the headland, and 200 in the field off Slack Lane, where up to 90 Meadow Pipit were grounded, 3 Stock Dove and 2 Reed Bunting seen.

It was a little after high tide when I got to Conder Green, life on Conder Pool consisted of, 17 Oystercatcher, 12 Tufted Duck, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Shelduck, 5 Goosander, 4 Snipe, a drake Wigeonand a Kestrel over. Of note on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Wigeon left overs, a lone Goldeneye, and a drake Goosander.

The main purpose of this birding session was to check out the field off Slack Lane at Cockersand SD432542 which has looked interesting for the best part of this year so far, and which I have checked regularly, looking perfect for a goodie, two past examples being....


American Buff-bellied Pipit
American Buff-bellied Pipit 4 May 2014 (SP) Image Stuart Piner .


Lapland Bunting 24 March 2017 (PW) Image Chris Batty.


Otherwise....


Little happening on the migrant front, with Portland Bird Obs reporting a 'glimmer of quality' with an Osprey over the Bill, the first dozen Swallow, 2 House Martin and other minor flurries. 

Hopefully I'm back in business tomorrow.