Sunday, 9 August 2020

Bike & Bino's.

Come Friday, it will be 17 years since I found a nice little job on the Lune Estuary on 14 August 2003. It was a bike and bino's day - well there's a novelty - my car being out on hire. I decided to take the ex railway track, now the coastal path from Lancaster - Glasson Dock.

It had got to around 4.00pm when I arrived at the old iron bridge over the River Conder. No sooner had I come to a halt on the bike, when I glimpsed a distant bird over the River Lune at the edge of the salt marsh. Apart from being hampered with views directly into the sun, the bird was already appearing to be intent in doing a disappearing act, it was flying downstream and out of sight. By now the best it got was that I had seen a black Marsh Tern, but things were about to get much worse.

The down side, was that I had to return to Lancaster to keep an appointment, the up side was, after the appointment I could then collect the motor and arm myself with some optics and get myself back to the Lune Estuary and hopefully relocate the bird seen two hours earlier.

                    White-winged Black Tern 14 August 2003. Phillip Tomkinson. 

It was my lucky day, the light was more favourable and the bird was soon found much closer now and hawking for insects over the marsh. I had found two desperate hours ago, a moulting adult White-winged Black Tern.

The bird stayed in the area for 10 days, visiting Conder Pool, where it was seen bathing one day.

Conder Pool.

Avocet Conder Pool 7 August. Howard Stockdale.

It was good news when I heard via Howard Stockdale, the two Avocet had fledged at 36 days and were freely flying around, seen as the second successive breeding at Conder Pool. Thanks for the news and image Howard, much appreciated.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

The Common Terns Champion.

It's a year ago today 5 August, since I last saw Ian Pinkerton as he drove away from Conder Pool to go home to Wigan for the weekend with Yvonne. Ian asked if I would keep an eye on the Avocet family which he was hoping to see fledge soon, he made the comment that he hoped they would wait until his return to Conder Green the following weekend.

This is the last photograph Ian took of the Avocets. If I remember correctly, he was concerned that only three of the young with an adult were seen, but in fact all four fledged successfully on 11 August 2019. These are the young that a couple of weeks earlier at barely one week old, the adults took over the bank off Conder Pool, down the bank on the other side, across the busy B5290, and into the creeks....Truly amazing stuff.

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I remember the day Ian nearly exploded with excitement when I drew his attention to this adult and 3cy Mediterranean Gull arriving on Conder Pool.

But for the past 4 years Ian's main passion was with the Common Terns, though some of his last encounters with the Conder Pool birds verged on disastrous. On 22 July I received a message from Ian to say he had just watched a Black-headed Gull kill two of the young Common Tern. The gulls were breeding on the pontoon with the terns, not a compatible situation with three pairs of seabirds in such cramped conditions, war was always on the cards in these circumstances.

Though the birds looked wrecked, and the injuries looked likely to have been fatal, it transpired that thankfully Ian was wrong, and that the young had miraculously escaped with their lives.

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I made a short video when I found even more amazing three days later, these two birds had fledged and had flown onto a near island, with the injury still obvious.    

This is one of the same birds taken 12 August by Howard Stockdale. When you look at this photograph it's hard to believe barely three weeks earlier, a Black-headed Gull had made a near successful attempt to kill it. This Common Tern wasn't seen on Conder Pool again.

Ian spent hours at a time, days and weeks over the years, monitoring the terns on Conder Pool after he had given up his previous life as a golfer to become passionate about birds....'it's all your fault'....he repeatedly said to me, and I was delighted to be told that. Ian even managed to secure having a roof over the viewing platform at Conder Pool via negotiations and good efforts of the committee and birders at Fylde Bird Club.

Ian (Pinky) Pinkerton is deserving of this post which I have dedicated to his memory on this coming Monday 10 August....Conder Pool will never be the same again.

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Can't Win'em All!

Limestone Pavement Gait Barrows. Pete Woodruff.

The landscape at Gait Barrows has been shaped over years, large areas of the reserve lies on Carboniferous limestone laid down millions of years ago. 

I have only ever once been to Gait Barrows, and that was probably up to 30 years ago and I know next to nothing about the place. My visit here on Friday turned out to have been little more than a recce than anything else, with little of the Flora and Fauna noted. The main purpose being to find the butterflies, perhaps Duke of Burgundy, High Brown Fritillary, Pearl-bordered Fritillary and others, but in particular the Brown Hairstreak which had been seen and photographed here in August 2015.

Brown Hairstreak back in Kent....I found this news on the internet yesterday.

The first Brown Hairstreak of the season - a good three weeks earlier than in 2019 - was seen at a location in Kent. A search of the bridleway in Keston during a brief spell of sunshine, encouraged a female into the warmth. Settled, the butterfly posed beautifully for 15 minutes or more and then was gone.

Ahhhh well....Can't Win'em All!

Brimstone on Betony. Pete Woodruff.

A Brimstone was butterfly of the day at Gait Barrows, with 15 Meadow Brown being the most abundant, Peacocka Speckled Woodand Comma. The only dragonfly seen on the day were 6 Brown Hawker. A female Blackcap was a nice alternative to the usual males being seen, and 2 Coal Tit, with a Buzzard and Sparrowhawk seen.

Scarlet Pimpernel. Pete Woodruff.

Though the Scarlet Pimpernel is known by many names including Shepherd's Weather Glass, and is widespread and common, it took my eye for its colour.

Peacock. Pete Woodruff.

This Peacock in pristine condition was on the Elecampane in the garden when I got home.

Found in Tomatoes on a vine, a product of Kent according to the package. I reckon a moth spinning a cocoon?