Monday, 19 March 2018

No Surprises There Then.

Friday was one of those 'couple of free hours in the afternoon' days, so I managed to squeeze a circuit of Aldcliffe into it, though it threw up no surprises.

Freeman's Pools was quiet, with little more than a dozen birds present, but of note were 4 Gadwall, 3 Goldeneye, and 3 Little Grebe. From the path to Marsh Point, a Goldcrest and Kestrel, 2 Black-tailed Godwit were on the river with a handful of Black-headed Gull.

The walk along the embankment was anything but pleasant in a strong cold wind, and was the road to nowhere. On the flood, as opposed to my last visit here 6 March when I saw it crawling with in excess of 800 birds, today 65 noted, 28 Redshank, 24 Teal, 11 Pied Wagtail, a lone Dunlin, and a Little Egret.

The Wildfowlers Pool was also much quieter, but a pair of Pintail were nice, with 5 Shoveler, four of which were drakes, 4 Little Grebe, and a pretty smart looking male Sparrowhawk over the pool, but surprisingly few of the wildfowl budged.

The Aldcliffe Snipe.

Snipe was hunkered down in a small shallow hollow out in the open on the Wildfowlers Pool, but left the hollow when a Moorhen approached it. The Snipe scuttled a few paces away from the Moorhen, whilst fanning it's tail and cocking it upright, similar to but not as exaggerated as in the excellent image captured by Antonio Puigg.

I found no reference (BWP) to this behaviour by the Snipe, which was taken to be one of aggression towards the Moorhen, though the Snipe made no move towards it, but rather moved away from it. When the Moorhen had moved off, the Snipe soon returned to the hollow from where it had been disturbed....Amazing and interesting.   

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Spring In The Air!

Skylark. Pete Woodruff.

Despite a cold and windy day and the threat of the return of the beast from the east, a Skylark was singing it's never ending flight song at Cockersand on Thursday, making it sound like spring if it didn't feel or even look like it.

Noted off Crook Farm, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 52 Curlew, one of the Crook Cottage garden Tree Sparrow was seen, with a Goldcrest also here in the conifers. A field off Slack Lane was quite lively, with at least 10 Skylark, 35 Meadow Pipit and a similar count of 35 Linnet seen.

A drastically reduced c.450 Golden Plover were initially in flight as seen on Tuesday, to eventually settle in the Abbey Farm field. The c.60 Twite were in the rough field behind Bank House Cottage, 2 Stock Dove were seen. On the flood 4 Shoveler were seen as two pair, and a Sparrowhawk flew out of a ditch ahead of me with small prey in it's talons.

Pochard Conder Pool 15 March Pete Woodruff.

A 2nd class image of the 1st class Pochard female on Conder Pool again, the bird appears to think it's one of the 11 Tufted Duck it accompanies, it dives, rests, and preens with them. Also 22 Wigeon, a Goldeneye, and Goosander drake hauled out. In the creeks, the Common Sandpiper and a lone Little Grebe.

The Corn Bunting.

Thanks to Simon Hawtin for his header image of the Corn Bunting, the status of which in our recording area is of an irregular summer visitor, and hangs on the edge of extinction here.

I found a Corn Bunting at Cockersand on 30 May 2015, it is the only one of the species I ever found in our recording area despite a 'few' years birding, unfortunately the record was missed and never published beyond Birds2blog.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Plover Days Again.

It was good to see the first bird on Conder Pool yesterday was a Pochard, but not just any Pochard, a female Pochard, a bird of almost rarity status here. Also of note, by way of a change the Common Sandpiper was on the pool, with 5 Snipe, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, a Goldeneye, and 16 Tufted Duck. In the creeks, a pair of Goosander, and a Kestrel overhead.

Stonechat Conder Green 13 March Pete Woodruff. 

Bird of the day was a male Stonechat around the scrub by The Stork car park, of which I managed a record grab shot.

Waders on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock were at a premium, but 45 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, and 120 Curlew were noted, with 4 Shoveler drake a good record, 15 Goldeneye5 Goosander, and 135 Wigeon, 2 Goldeneye were on the canal basin.

At Cockersand, at least 70 Meadow Pipit and 24 Skylark with 4 Linnet seen. Two drake and a female Shoveler were on the Moss/Slack Lane junction flood where a Sparrowhawk was over, and c.60 Twite were again in the rough field behind Bank House Cottage, and although I didn't set out to count them, I saw 15 Brown Hare here today.

The Cockersand swans were spread out over inaccessible fields again, but including 75 counted off Jeremy Lane they stand at c.325 Whooper Swan.

My day ended as last Friday did, as I drove along Moss Lane I watched a Barn Owl hunting the ditches at Bamber's Farm, and the Stonechat I'd seen 6 hours earlier at Conder Green was still around as I drove past on my way back to Lancaster.

The Cockersand Golden Plovers.

The Lune Estuary plovers have consistently spent their time in fields mainly in the Abbey Farm area for several weeks now, and at least 3,000 Golden Plover were there again yesterday, initially seen in the air, but eventually settled in the field by Abbey Farm.

Golden Plover. Pete Woodruff. 'Clik the pik'

This photograph was taken at Cockersand in April. In a mix of GP's, there are at least five classic individuals of the Northern form, completely black from face to belly, but with a broad white supercilium which extends down the sides of the neck, to broaden on sides of the breast and down the flanks. I was looking through the Golden Plovers at Cockersand when I found the lone Dotterel with them here in April 2013.     

Sunday, 11 March 2018

....And A Close Encounter In The End.

I had a bit of an extended search around Conder Green and Glasson on Friday, but didn't accumulate the points I had hoped for for my efforts. I legged it along the coastal path to Glasson, to return along the marsh edge to around 1/4 mile north of the picnic area at Conder Green....If I'm honest I was out looking for Stonechats today.

The only birds of note on Conder Pool, a pair of Shoveler are at best occasional here. The Common Sandpiper was again down by the iron bridge, and the rest of the birds on the trek were, 3 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Wren, a Dunnock, 86 Curlew in a sheep field, a Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.

With some dispersal from Cockersand apparent, of the 625 seen last Monday, up to 400 Whooper Swan remain in three fields, seen off Jeremy Lane, the east end of Moss Lane, and the junction of Moss/Slack Lane, from where I saw 2 Buzzard soaring overhead, a Snipe rose out of the ditch, and a marauding c.6,000 Starling were seen again. 

The wintering female Stonechat moved ever nearer to Bank End today, with all the other six passage birds I saw last Monday moved on, the perfect example of right place right time, or you miss'em 'cos they've been and gone. The 60 Twite flock were again in the Bank Houses area, though highly mobile today, 5 Tree Sparrow also seen here. 

With just 19 Dunlin seen on a flood at Abbey Farm, I had thought these were the only field waders at Cockersand, until I found an impressive 3,200 Golden Plover later in an adjacent field. As the tide came up there were few waders to be seen, but 2 Knot noted with a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit looking smart in it's advancing breeding plumage, were feeding on the tideline, 21 Eider were off Long Tongue. 

The Barn Owl.

Barn Owl. Cockersand 9 March. Pete Woodruff.

The day ended on a high for me, as I rounded the corner at Bank Houses, a Barn Owl was on and moving along the fence posts, and for a moment appeared not to care that I was pointing a camera at it.


More good news on Friday, when another 7 Stonechat were in the Cockers Dyke area on the Fylde, five male and two female, all adult....Thanks for these AC.

Thanks to Noushka @ 1000-Pattes for some African exotica at the head of Birds2blog this week. The golden beauty appropriately named Yellow - throated Longclaw.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

On With The Show.


With 3 Stonechat seen Tuesday on the tide wrack at Aldcliffe Marsh, a male from the embankment behind the Wildfowlers Pools, and a male and female in the Snipe Bog area, they continue to show nicely for me, with a total of 14 Stonechat seen on three consecutive days this week looking good in my records....Bring 'em on!

I gave Aldcliffe - Stodday a four hour going over on Tuesday, making a start at Freeman's Pools as far as the back side of Ashton Golf Club before doing a U turn back to Freeman's Pools, where I had earlier noted, 14 Goldeneye, 5 Gadwall, and 4 Little GrebeAlso of note on Aldcliffe Marsh, 142 Golden Plover.

I'd have to refer to the condition of the flood at the bottom of Aldcliffe Hall Lane, as the best I've ever seen it, now covering almost a quarter of the field, it was crawling with up to 550 Dunlin feeding frantically with 138 Black-tailed Godwit, also 10 Snipe, 5 Pintail, and 120 Black-headed Gull

Snipe. Pete Woodruff.

On the Wildfowlers Pools, 2 Ringed Plover scarce here, 4 Snipe, 11 Shoveler, 4 Goldeneye, and 4 Little Grebe. I made no count of the Teal and Wigeon here, though the latter were few. From a distance I saw up to 650 Pink-footed Geese come up off the Frog Pond field, but I was distracted as to what happened next and I never saw them again.

Counts along the way, 24 Blackbird and 5 Robin, with a lone Long-tailed Tit, and a small mixed flock was of 8 Reed Bunting with Goldfinch. I watched a Kestrel drop into a field behind the hedge, then saw it flying low over the field to rise into the air with a vole in it's talons. 

Little Grebe.

The Little Grebe's on Freeman's Pools were very vocal, and I was treated to a chorus of resounding whinnying for long periods....Magic.


It was good to be sent news from the ever reliable AC, that he'd found seven Stonechat yesterday, with six on the Fylde, and the Cockerham Sands female seen again. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

7 Up.

A refreshing Lime & Lemon drink, but not as refreshing as the birds I saw yesterday, and yes, another Stonechat image, thanks to Richard O'Meara....Thanks also to Richard Peglar for his Jack Snipe. 

Stonechat. Richard O'Meara.

The Stonechats.

Seven Stonechat seen were, two male and two female at Conder Green, and two male and a female seen at Cockersand, presumably the female being the wintering bird here since 22 December. 

The Whooper Swans. 

All assembled in one field at Clarkson's Farm, with only a few out of sight, an assessment of the number was made easier for the first time this winter and stood at 625 Whooper Swan, with just one Bewick's Swan seen.  

Jack Snipe @  Pegler Birding 

The Supporting Cast.

Around the high tide, a Jack Snipe came rising off the marsh, with it's characteristic silent, direct and short escape flight, 4 Snipe also seen. Off Plover Scar, 24 Eider and 2 Great-crested Grebe, a lone Grey Plover was with Turnstones feeding as the tide dropped, c.650 Pink-footed Geese were heading SW over Cockerham Sands. Up to 60 Twite were again in the rough field behind Bank End Cottage, quite mobile, and at one point went on to the cottage roof to be counted, 65 Golden Plover were the only field waders at Cockersand today, 3 Song Thrush and 3 Meadow Pipit, a Jay flew across Moss Lane as I drove away.

At Conder Green, 2 Goldeneye, 4 Tufted Duck and 3 Greylag were of note on Conder Pool. In the creeks, 6 Little Grebe, a drake Goosander, and 2 Black-tailed Godwit. Along the coastal path to Glasson Dock, a Song Thrush, 4 Reed Bunting, 2 Dunnock, and 2 WrenI counted at least 150 Redshank feeding close in on the marsh as the tide rose. 

Monday, 5 March 2018

A Little Short, A Little Sweet.

Not least because of the weather, a break of six unwelcome days from birding hit the buffers with a brief spell yesterday afternoon.

Once again I talked KT into a walk, this time at Heysham to find 4 Stonechat, one of which was the wintering female again at Half Moon Bay, where we also saw the Chough in flight. The other three were two smart males and a female at the south corner of Ocean Edge saltmarsh, presumably three of the five reported to me on Friday.

Well, the man did say....Short and Sweet.

I'm also aware of at least six more Stonechat in two more areas I'm fast becoming aquainted with, and I'm off right now to find these and hopefully add some more to the list.

Thanks to Simon Hawtin for the Purple Sandpiper header. A rare and irregular winter visitor and spring passage migrant, of which I have no idea of it's 2017 status in our area, but just three records in 2016, all off Heysham Harbour North Wall, and all within 8 days in April.  

Friday, 2 March 2018

Weather Or Not!

I had reason to pay a visit to Lancaster University yesterday, and decided to do it on foot from Bowerham, via Hala Carr and Bailrigg Lane. Complete with bino's round my neck, to note, 7 Blackbird, 3 Meadow Pipit, 2 Robin, and a lone Long-tailed Tit.

Catching a bus at the University back to Lancaster, I paid a visit to Lancaster Cemetery - now there's a thought - via Williamson Park, which apparently has at least 131 nest boxes until I got fed up of counting....The ultimate of an ambitious and optimistic project it seems. 

Rewards in the cemetery were, a Great spotted Woodpecker, Jay, and Grey Wagtail, also 11 Blackbird, 5 Robin, 2 Blue Tit, a Coal Tit, Great Tit, and a KestrelOn a short cut home through the University of Cumbria campus I found up to 10 Long-tailed Tit.

The Jay and the Magpie.

Jay. Simon Hawtin.

A man in the cemetery came up to ask me what I was looking at, I told him....'an attractive and colourful bird called the Jay' which he said....'oh they're all over the place in here'....I reckon he'd confused the Jay with Magpie of which there was a few in the cemetery.  I'm finding Magpies in good number at various locations, no less so in the Glasson/Thurnham/Cockersand area, where John Bateman often commented their presence here was always in large number, in fact I got a parliament of 15 there recently.

Spring Is Here....

Wheatear. Simon Hawtin

.....but not in the air, and definitely not on the ground. 

A Wheatear was reported Wednesday in sand dunes by Fleetwood Marine Lakes, only two days later than the earliest ever spring record of Wheatear in Lancashire 15 years ago on 26 February 2003, the mean arrival date being 10 March....I reckon being caught up with the Beast from the East and Storm Emma, this bird will be thinking it read the wrong script!

Stonechat. Mike Atkinson.

A text to tell me of 5 Stonechat - four new birds - at Ocean Edge saltmarsh this morning was very much appreciated, and an excellent excuse for yet another image of these little gems....Thanks Mike.

Thanks also to Simon Hawtin for his Jay and Wheatear images.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

A Whooper First.

Little to inspire on the Lune Estuary at Glasson or at Conder Green yesterday, with 25 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, and c.350 Wigeon to note. A Peregrine Falcon was on Colloway Marsh where there was 150 Pink-footed Geese at the south end, and another 325 over flying south, and at Conder Green, despite the usual good coverage, 4 Little Grebe in the creeks was as good as it got.

Whooper Swan Brian Rafferty

A Whooper First.

In excess of 1,000 Whooper Swan in the Thurnham/Cockersand/Bank End area, a record peak count first for this area of North Lancashire, counted in a wind chill of -6c from the east, and broken down as, 260 off Jeremy Lane, 435 in fields off Moss Lane, and 310 in fields NW of Bank End Farm, 7 Bewick's Swan were with the Clarkson's Farm herd.

The Cockerham Sands female Stonechat was again down at the east end of the caravan park where I had found it once before on 18 January, I also picked up a Merlin here as it zipped out of sight below the marsh and over the Cocker Estuary.

Stock Dove Richard Pegler

Field birds seen, 6 Stock Dove, 8 Skylark, 54 Dunlin were around a flood at Abbey Farm, and the Shoveler pair were again on the flood by Slack Lane/Moss Lane junction with c.60 Teal noted here, and 5 Snipe flushed out of the ditches, 2 Kestrel seen were at Bank Houses and Bambers Farm. Walking towards Crook Cottage, 4 Pied Wagtail, 4 Greenfinch, 2 Chaffinch, and a Wren seen. 

Cockersand Lighthouse. Pete Woodruff.


Saturday, 24 February 2018

A Wader Moment In Bowland.

Though it was a good sunny and windless day on Wednesday, it was a generally dull day for me in Bowland, not least because I found no Stonechat on my first venture of 2018 on to Hawthornthwaite Fell, though I reckon the two seen on my last visit on 27 December and previously 15 November, were keeping their heads down and in hiding from me this time.

Red Grouse Richard Pegler 

On the way up to the summit, the sum total of birds seen on this visit were 20 Red Grouse and 2 WrenDriving away from here I saw a single Fieldfare in flight at Cam Browand a Kestrel perched was the only raptor seen all day

In three and a half hours between Marshaw and the foot of Whinfold Fell where I saw 8 Red Grouse, I found just 11 species, including a Dipper and Grey Wagtail on the Marshaw Wyre.

The other seven....

Coal Tit

The Woodcock.

Woodcock. Noushka @ 1000-Pattes 

At Marshaw a moment of excitement came when a bird flushed just a few metres away from me, then just 30 seconds later a second bird also flushed and flew away....they were 2 Woodcock in a small damp woodland clearing.  As a bird of crepuscular habits, I was lucky to see these two daylight birds, but I recall going to Birk Bank with John Ledall one early evening before dusk many years ago to watch the Woodcock roding over the treetops.

By coincidence my last Woodcock seen was also two birds, and also in the same area of Bowland, one in the plantation at Marshaw, and later another in the plantation behind Tower Lodge 3 years ago on 18 March 2015.

Thanks to Richard and Noushka for their respective images.

Friday 23 February.

I escaped yesterday, but had only got to Conder Green before a call back home to attend a problem ended the day for me, but I had seen 6 Little Grebe, a Goosander, and the Common Sandpiper in the creeks, with a Kestrel hovering overhead.