BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND..................................LITTLE GULLS KNOTT END BARRY DYSON

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Estuary Notes Weds 25 Oct.

When I met Andrew and Michael at Conder Green, there was a couple of surprises in store for us all. Just when we thought we'd seen the last of the hirundines for 2019 save the odd straggler, the skies over the picnic area seen from Conder Pool, held in excess of 100 House Martin, widely spread and milling around. Prior to the martins, c.50 Swallow had been over Conder Green, and c.120 Goldfinch were flighty over the marsh and feeding on Sea Aster seeds.

This was followed by the surprise of 2 Pintail female on Conder Pool, and was another first for the pool, I can find none in my book in 16 years of watching here. Also on the pool, 106 Black-headed Gull18 Little Grebe, a Meadow Pipit, Kingfisher, and a Common Sandpiper, with a second bird seen in the creeks.


Mediterranean Gull. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

On the Lune Estuary, the recently ever changing number was of 550 Golden Plover today, 18 Snipe, 7 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Greenshank, and 4 Mediterranean Gull being two adult and two 1st winter, a Black Swan was in the company of a juvenile Mute SwanA short distance on the canal, between the basin and Christ Church, 5 Migrant Hawker seen. 


Black-necked Grebe juvenile Len Blumin@Flickr.com 

Although pretty laborious, especially now the number can reach a peak of twenty on occasions, the exercise of always counting the Little Grebe on Conder Pool, serves the purpose of checking individuals to find an odd one out amongst them again one day. I found a juvenile Black-necked Grebe here 11 years ago on 1 October 2008, it stayed for 17 days.     

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

....And More On The Hawker.

You would have been forgiven for using the word 'dead' to describe the scene on Conder Pool when you stepped onto the viewing platform yesterday, but 18 Little Grebe and a Greenshank there made it alive....just!

In the creeks, a Common Sandpiper made it another day nearer to being the wintering bird, 42 Teal noted, and 24 Goldfinch were flighty over the marsh. It was noticeable that no Swallow were around Conder Green Farm, and no House Martin at River Winds.

On the Lune Estuary at low tide, with numbers fluctuating each visit, my best estimate today was of 750 Golden Plover. Other notes included 142 Curlew, 17 Snipe, 11 Greenshank, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Ringed Ploveran adult Spotted Redshank, adult Mediterranean Gull, and a Great-crested Grebe.

Thanks to Richard for the Guillemot header image, seen on the Wyre Estuary last Thursday.

Greenshank & Redshank feeding in a low tide channel on the Lune Estuary.

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The Migrant Hawker. 

The Migrant Hawker was first recorded in Lancashire as recent as just over 30 years ago in 1988 at Heysham/Middleton and Mere Sands Wood, then no more were seen until 6 years later when two were seen on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal at Aintree in 1994. It was another 2 years before the earliest indication of breeding was of a female ovipositing at Mere Sands Wood in 1996.  

The Migrant Hawker is an essentially late summer/early autumn species, records peak in the first half of September, double-figure counts are frequently made, the largest being 13 years ago when there was 67 at Middleton NR in September 2006.

So my double-figure count on Thursday 19 September 2019 wasn't all that significant after all, but it remains in my records book as the second largest count, 54 individuals in a mile long stretch of the Lancaster Canal in under a one hour period, and something I thought I was imagining. 

Ref: Steve White and Philip H. Smith. (2015). The Dragonflies of Lancashire and North Merseyside. 

Saturday, 21 September 2019

The Hawker Mile.

I walked the canal towpath yesterday, a little in excess of a mile, from the basin at Glasson Dock to The Mill at Conder Green, and recorded at least 54 Migrant Hawker, including six coupled pairs, recorded as 'at least' because I probably missed more out of view behind the tall reeds along some sections of the canal, presumably this years adults, combining with migrants to cause a late summer surge in numbers, also 4 Brown Hawker, seen as two pair coupled.

Conder Pool held 3 Greenshank, 20 Little Grebe, and a Snipe, in the creeks, 2 Common Sandpiper. Two House Martin were still around River Winds, and Swallow seen around Conder Green Farm.

On the Lune Estuary, 11 Greenshank, c.960 Golden Plover, there was similar numbers of c.350 Redshank and Lapwing, and c.50 Curlew, Dunlin, and 2 Black-tailed Godwit.

Ten Long-tailed Tit worked their way through our garden this morning.


Black-eared Wheatear Oenanthe hispanica Antonio Puigg. Clik the pik

No piks for the post, but wouldn't Antonio's male Black-eared Wheatear have added a little more colour to Fluke Hall recently! 

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

LRP Needs To Read The Script!

Two visits to Conder Pool yesterday - nothing new there then - the first three hours before high tide, the second at high tide when 11 Greenshank had taken to the pool to roost over the tide. Despite multi attempts at counting, I found only 8 Little Grebe today, with a Wheatear, Common Sandpiper, and at least 20 Meadow Pipit.

Noted on the Lune Estuary, up to 650 Golden Plover again as last Friday, a Greenshank, 11 Snipe, a  lone Black-tailed Godwit, a Wheatear, and a Sparrowhawk cruising overhead. 


Migrant Hawker. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

On the canal between the basin and just beyond Christ Church, 8 Migrant Hawker, and by Saltcote Pond, a Brown Hawker and Common Darter seen.

A short circuit around Aldcliffe included a juvenile Little Ringed Plover on the flood, perhaps this bird needs to read the script. Also on the flood, a Ruff, 4 Snipe, and a Green Sandpiper was the marked bird seen recently with an orange ring on it's left leg, and a green one on the right, unidentifiable as an individual without the digits being read, but ringed at Woolston Eyes in Cheshire. Butterflies seen, 4 Speckled Wood, a Comma, Red Admiral, and a Migrant Hawker.

Five Little Grebe seen 18 August on the old hospital reservoir at Fenham Carr, seen again Sunday.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

More Red Nab Therapy.

I got to Heysham nearly four hours before high tide on Friday, to do a quick check of the gull roost on Red Nab before setting off to walk along the sea wall to the harbour. There was few gains in that exercise, though it was good to see an adult Little Gull on the outfall, presumably the regular seen here, though I did note a left wing primary feather missing on this bird. Also of note, c.150 Turnstone on the old wooden jetty.

Back at Red Nab to watch the tide coming in, a new and first experience for me, was to eventually arrive at a count of at least 40 Mediterranean Gull by 11.30am, they were seen as 28 x adult, 6 x 2cy, and 6 x 1cy. 

Rehbach Gravel Pit Leipzig Sachsen Germany. Image Courtesy of Team Leipzig Clik the pik

They included 2 marked birds, one ringed as a chick on 11 June in Germany, and reported seen again Friday 13 September at Heysham, when I was joined by Malcolm Downham to jointly agree after some difficulty on Yellow AZTZ. The other bird read as Green ASKL, was apparently misread, though the colour and code are available but not yet in use.

I'm grateful to Pete Marsh at Heysham, and Andreas in Germany for dealing with these readings for me, it is much appreciated.

At Conder Pool, 13 Greenshank and 15 Little Grebe, with 2 Common Sandpiper seen in the creeks. On the Lune Estuary, 6 Mediterranean Gull including a White ringed bird too distant to read, also 7 Greenshankpresumably Tuesdays juvenile Spotted Redshank seen again, c.650 Golden Plover, a single Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Snipe, 4 Goosander, and 2 Great-crested Grebe. A Peregrine Falcon came on the scene a couple of times causing mass panic.

There are a least 6 Mediterranean Gulls in this short video of a small section of the roost on Red Nab Friday 13 September.

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Thursday, 12 September 2019

After The Twitch.

Avocet Conder Green Ian Pinkerton Clik the pik

Returning from Fluke Hall on Tuesday, I called in on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock to find 2 Avocet at the Conder mouth, they were seen as an adult pair, and at one point were hoovering up accompanied by a juvenile Spotted Redshank new to the estuary. Also 7 Greenshank, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, up to 250 Golden Plover, a Snipe, and 2 Goosander.

On Conder Pool, 20 Little Grebe were counted again as seen five days ago, also 5 Greenshank, and 2 Meadow Pipit. A circuit proved little, but a Common Sandpiper was down the channel and had me thinking perhaps a bird set to winter again at Conder Green now we are heading to mid-September.

I had no piks for the post, so being I had the pleasant surprise of the two Avocet on the Lune Estuary today, I thought another of Ian Pinkerton's images of the successful breeders at Conder Green on 1 August was the perfect substitute. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

The Wheatear.

I got off down the A588 to Fluke Hall to see what was until today, thought to be a Pied or Black-eared Wheatear, the bird has been there since it was first seen by co-finders Paul Ellis and Paul Slade on 1 September. 

Adult Female Eastern Black-eared Wheatear Fluke Hall Sept 10 Pete Woodruff Clik the pik 


I was there for 20 minutes, before the bird finally showed, initially with 3 Wheatear, to give excellent views whilst ranging about 100m up and down the sea defences to pause obligingly for periods. 

After a 152 post's discussion on Birdforum, confirmation of the birds identity today, has it as an adult female Eastern Black-eared Wheatear. There are many excellent images of the bird, including one showing finer plumage detail by Paul Ellis, which led to, probably clinching the ID. I recommend taking a look at this one Here

Monday, 9 September 2019

Limited....Again!

I was otherwise occupied over the weekend, and my birding time limited yet again. But I was determined to keep an eye on the Lune Estuary, only managing a couple of hours to do so.

On Conder Pool, three attempts to count resulted in 15 Little Grebe, with 8 Greenshank present. In the creeks, 3 Common Sandpiper were seen together and 3 Goosander. On the Lune Estuary, an adult Mediterranean Gull, 3 Greenshank, and 120 Curlew. The noticeably large bulk of an adult Peregrine Falcon was on a huge washed up tree trunk on Colloway Marsh surveying the landscape.

Knot at Cockersand.


Knot Plover Scar 4 September. Howard Stockdale. Clik the pik

Howard Stockdale was in touch to tell me he recorded up to 1,000 Knot on Plover Scar at high tide at Cockersand last Wednesday, an exceptional number here, and on the same day as my lone bird at Glasson Dock, with the same irregular if not scarce status at these locations on the estuary. 

The last monthly peak count for the Lune Estuary in September that I could find was of just 114 Knot, though the Lune Estuary holds the bulk of the population, it has shown a continuing decline over recent years.....Thanks for the excellent images Howard including the header - there's actually a Turnstone amongst the Knot if anyone likes a little challenge - much appreciated.   

Friday, 6 September 2019

Rain Stopped Play!

My Thursday birding had a scrappy feel about it, never seemed to get into gear, and I nearly called off the second half whilst sitting out a lengthy downpour.

But I eventually went for it and got myself to Heysham to find 13 Mediterranean Gulls on Red Nab up to high tide, 9 adult, a 2nd summer, and 3 juvenile. It was a frustrating affair, in that I found two ringed birds, one green too distant to read, the other white flew off before I could get to grips.

An adult Arctic Tern was on Stage 2 outfall, and I had an hour by the light on the south wall fantasising about seeing Storm Petrels passing the harbour mouth....dream on. A Painted Lady by the entrance to HNR brought my total to 416 since the influx began.


Little Grebe. Bob Bushell.

Earlier on Conder Pool, the count reached 20 Little Grebe today, with 4 Greenshank, 2 Meadow Pipit, 2 Stock Dove, and the Kingfisher showed again. Wednesdays Spotted Redshank gave good views in the creeks. I gave in on the Lune Estuary to escape the downpour, but not before I'd found a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull with a metal ring on its left leg, c.90 Golden Plover flew south overhead.

There's at least one Mediterranean Gull in the header picture....honest. A fraction of the gull roost on Red Nab which gives an idea how searching for these birds isn't at all straight forward. 

Thanks to Bob Bushell for the excellent Little Grebe. Clik the pik, it's bigger and better. 

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Mini Birding!

Yesterday a Monday mini re-run to visit Conder Pool at high tide, where 17 Greenshank included three down the channel, the fourteen pool birds were accompanied by a Spotted Redshank....nice, with 2 Common Sandpiper and up to 220 Lapwing. The best of four attempts resulted in 15 Little Grebe on Conder Pool today. 


Knot. Lune Estuary 4 Sept. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

On the Lune Estuary, a single Knot isn't alone in being at best an irregular wader here, scarce even, like the Sanderling. There was little more than fifty gulls present, and no more than 200 Redshank and similar Lapwing, with only 6 Dunlin seen, all in all, dull is the word. Over the canal basin, c.150 Sand Martin and 17 Tufted Duck, with 2 Swift over the canal opposite Christ Church.

It was good to see David from Wigan at Conder Green today. You are spot on when you say Ian Pinkerton was a nice man David, he met and made many friends at Conder Green during his mammoth hours monitoring Common Terns and eventually Avocets, everyone of whom would agree with you. Thanks for your kind words and for your support for B2B, much appreciated. Twelve months later, Cheryl still has your mobile number apparently, and is going to pass it on to me....I'll be in touch David.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Back To Work!

Sidelined for nine days, it was good to get back for a rake around the Lune Estuary yesterday to find two new peak counts. 

On the first of two visits to check out Conder Pool it was virtually deserted, though a peak of 19 Little Grebe seems to contradict this. In the creeks, 3 Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, and Kingfisher.

On the Lune Estuary, 7 Mediterranean Gull, 2 Greenshank, and 8 Snipe, with up to 2,500 Lapwing and 450 Redshank, a Goosander, and Great-crested Grebe. Two Peregrine Falcon hunting as a pair were probably juveniles in silhouette and changed the scene on the estuary completely. On the canal basin, c.60 Sand Martin were with a few Swallow and at least one House Martin, also 12 Tufted Duck. I mistimed my visit to Cockersand nothing new there then - for the waders on Plover Scar but found my first autumn Wheatear, 8 Eider were off the scar. 


2nd winter Med Gull Conder Pool 2 Sept. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

Back at Conder Green where the 10.12mtr tide had by now flooded the road in places, amongst a raft of c.120 Black-headed Gull was 7 Mediterranean Gull, five of which were probably of the ones seen two hours earlier at Glasson, but two on Conder Pool were a 2nd winter and 1st winter not previously seen on the estuary. Also on the pool, another peak of 16 Greenshank, at least 500 Redshank, and a Stock Dove to note.

Thanks to Howard Stockdale for the new header of the Swallows at Conder Green, assembled and preparing ready for the off southbound....Spot the Sand Martin.