BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND................................................................................DIPPER BOWLAND 21 MAY PETE WOODRUFF

Thursday 23 May 2024

The Up's And Down's of Bowland.

A fairly good day in Bowland on Tuesday, which produced some notable positives and a few negatives, including I have yet to find my first Spotted Flycatcher here.

The most positive news being, as I found 4 Pied Flycatcher in the Marshaw-Tower Lodge-Trough Bridge area - one of which was at a natural nest hole - my records now read, there is a distinct possibility that there are currently 10 breeding pairs of Pied Flycatcher at two Bowland sites, both of which I have visited twice....To be continued.

Dipper Marshaw 21 May

Having kept the Marshaw Wyre in my sights for most of the walk, other breeders here today were a Dipper up and down the stream with food in its bill.

Grey Wagtail Female Marshaw Wyre 21 May

I had a better result than my last visit on 9 May, when I found 9 Grey Wagtail today with food collecting individuals seen. On the downside, I connected with just one Common Sandpiper, but I'm convinced two pairs here this year. A Siskin was in the same view as the sandpiper on the Wyre at Marshaw, from where I heard a distant Cuckoo, probably the Tower Lodge bird which I never heard again throughout my 4 hours here.

More evidence was Curlew individuals calling, an indication of probably 6 breeding pairs. A singing male Blackcap was around the Tower Lodge area, with 2 Mistle Thrush as opposed to nine on my last visit, also 2 Treecreeper seen.

Stonechat Hawthornthwaite 21 May 

A relatively brief visit to Hawthorthwaite was rewarded by a nice pair of Stonechat, with at  least 14 Meadow Pipit and 3 Red Grouse to note.

Sand/House Martin.

My records were going to read none over and around Catshaw Greave on Hawthornthwaite today, but I did eventually see 3 Sand Martin as I arrived back at the car. But I've yet to see them this year at the Cam Brow site.

After two visits, the House Martin remains absent from Tower Lodge, and I note just one bird seen 25 May last year. I have seen none to date at River Winds and the Railway Crossing Cottage at Conder Green. 

Sunday 19 May 2024

The Breeding Pool!

It was my first visit to Conder Green in a month, and good to get my eyes in on Conder Pool again to find breeding activity on an industrial scale....At least 350 birds on here today.

It's difficult to priorities my observations, but with a personal count of 18 Avocet, a pair with three chicks little more than a day out of the nest took the prime spot, soon followed by a pair of Avocet mating, also noted 4 colour ringed birds.

My count was 15 Common Tern back on Conder Pool, with as many as 18 recorded recently including ringed birds, I also observed a mating pair. Five Little Ringed Plover seen, with more mating seen between these little beauties.

A 1st summer Mediterranean Gull, which was seen collecting nesting material, at one point I saw it with a twig up to a foot long in its bill. In the video, watch the Little Ringed Plover fly into the upper right of the frame.

There are at least 130 nests occupied by Black-headed Gull, a pair of Redshank were also added to the list of 5 species of mating pairs seen today. A lone Wigeon was worthy of note, a drake which appears to be going to summer on Conder Pool.

I've recently managed to get three videos of Mediterranean Gull on Conder Pool, including one on 12 April and two this visit, when 2 Little Ringed Plover came into view....Watch for this one in centre frame.

A wander around the area produced a Goosander with seven chicks which nearly escaped me as they swam upstream and out of view on the River Conder. A Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler were from the canal towpath, from where I saw 6 Large White and 5 Orange Tip.

Common Tern.

Some interesting data about four of the Common Terns currently on Conder Pool. 

One was ringed in Senegal in 2005 as an adult, this bird bred at Conder Green in 2023, and at Preston Dock before that. One was ringed as a chick at Shotton, Flintshire in 2017, and two were ringed as chicks in Teeside 2016 and 2021....Ian Hartley LDBWS

Canal Interest.

Banded Demoiselle Marc Heath

A short walk along the canal towpath at Barton yesterday produced 3 Banded Demoiselle, average first appearances in Lancashire 17 May, seen as 2 male and a female, also up to 20 Blue-tailed Damselfly, average first appearance noted to be 7 May, though in favourably warm springs they can emerge in late April, with one seen 24 April 2011.

Garden Interest.

14-Spot Ladybird. Pete Woodruff.

The Ladybird spectacularly named Propylea quattuordecimpunctata in the garden yesterday. The insect below left is presumed to be one of the leaf beetles of the family Chrysomelidae.

Sunday 12 May 2024

Back To Bowland.

My first visit of the year to the Marshaw-Tower Lodge-Trough Bridge trail, came with something of a surprise and a shock thrown in for good measure, and by the time I had completed my 5 hour mini-marathon, I had counted 14 nest boxes which have been erected over the length of c.2 miles between Marshaw and beyond Trough Bridge. 

In my opinion 14 nest boxes is one thing, but some placed in locations like the one illustrated above in one of the many lay-by's along this stretch is another thing.

But I reminded myself that this is the kind of crap I photographed in this AONB which I'm almost certain to find again during the summer months....Here's hoping it isn't under a tree with a nest box nailed to it.  

I found 4 Pied Flycatcher, three male all singing around nest boxes, and a female. Eight Mistle Thrush, a surprisingly low count of only 6 Willow Warbler, at least 8 Siskin were moving restlessly through the tree examining the cones.

Breeding Mistle Thrush At Marshaw. Howard Stockdale.

With 16 Mistle Thrush seen in three visits to Bowland recently, this one with obvious evidence of breeding, I am getting the feeling they are doing well here this year. 

Common Sandpiper Marshaw Wyre. Howard Stockdale.

On the Marshaw Wyre, 4 Common Sandpiper were seen as two pairs, a Dipper flew upstream, and 4 Grey Wagtail.

There was no sign of any House Martin having returned to Tower Lodge as yet, but as I walked up the track from the lodge to the moors, a Cuckoo was heard along the treeline beyond the plantation. 

The days five star award goes to the Woodcock, stood quietly on the wall behind the lodge, giving me another chance in a million to follow Tuesdays thrush duo.

When I arrived back home, our first 3 Swift of the summer were over the house. Thanks to KT for this excellent record. I also have a report that a healthy number of Swift have arrived, with some around nest boxes at property in Fairfield thanks to a member of the Woodruff clan. 


Stonechat Hawthornthwaite. Ian Mitchell.

Really pleased to have received some much appreciated Bowland records on 10 May....

Trough Bridge area, a pair and male Stonechat per Andrew Cornall
Hawthornthwaite Fell, 7 Stonechat per Simon Hawtin.

Thanks to Howard Stockdale for his images of Mistle Thrush and Common Sandpiper at Marshaw, and to Ian Mitchell for the Hawthornthwaite Stonechat.

Thursday 9 May 2024

The Birk Bank Circuit.

Tuesday was the anniversary when Steve Graham accompanied me on a circuit of Birk Bank in May 2023. Primarily the reason that day, was to locate a Wood Warbler which had been found a few days earlier in a private woodland. But the hopes of visually finding this locally rare warbler soon died a death, though we did here the distinctive call which is often likened to a spinning coin on a marble slab.

Todays circuit with Steve was a 4 hour experience of some excellent birding which produced 7 Garden Warbler, one up on last years tally of six. Also enjoyed was 5 Cuckoo records which were represented by two audible and three visual, one of which was a female heard to call, then viewed atop of a tree with a Meadow Pipit in attendance and mobbing at times. Six Mistle Thrush seen, including one in flight carrying food into Cragg Wood.

I reckon the odds against the sighting of a Song Thrush singing in the branch below a Mistle Thrush, is a million to one chance....Pump up the volume. Two singing Blackcap, Linnet, Greenfinch, and Redpoll over, and Kestrel.

Common Heath. Ian Mitchell.

To say butterflies and bees were sparse would be an understatement, with only singles of Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, and Small White, but the Common Heath moth was out in force.

I found my first Large Red Damselflies of the year, when a f. melanotum was basking on the boardwalk at Birk Bank bog, and at least 12 teneral drying out and warming up amongst the bilberries along the path and away from the bog....interesting.   

Sunday 5 May 2024

More Probable/Possible in Bowland!

Ring Ouzel Bowland. Ian Mitchell.

A bit of double checking in Bowland again this week, when amongst other things, I managed a trek half way up Hawthornthwaite Fell with scant reward, to assemble a bit more of a comprehensive list to exceed what is usually the norm for me.

The number of waders presumably there to breed was pitiful, with no more than six birds seen in 2 hours, 4 Lapwing, a single Curlew and an Oystercatcher. There was a build up of 6 Sand Martin around the bank on Catshaw Greave, and Wheatear were seen, one of which was taking a wash and brush up in Cam Brook.

There was a better count of 18 Meadow Pipit compared to eight on my last visit 24 April, 2 Wren, a pair of Mistle Thrush were something of a surprise, 3 Red Grouse, male Reed Bunting, and a Wood Pigeon, 2 Kestrel and a BuzzardI saw just one male Stonechat, almost certainly one of the two 24 April birds, and I never really expect my first House Martin of the year was going to be seen flying east over a fell in Bowland. 

Grey Wagtail Bowland. Howard Stockdale.

Grey Wagtail on Cam Brook, and at Cam Brow I heard a Cuckoo to the east which soon flew over the road to the woodlands west of here, also a Willow Warbler in song, and a Red Admiral.

Dipper Bowland. Martin Jump.

Calling in at Abbeystead, a Dipper was seen flying upstream on the Marshaw Wyre, and 2 Orange Tip butterflies seen. But the excellent news is, that I gathered more evidence to add to my previous claim which now reads, the probability of 5 Pied Flycatcher breeding pairs. 

A brief look in on the bog at Birk Bank hopefully for a Large Red Damselfly was fruitless despite the warm sunny May day, but a single Green Hairstreak and a small colony of Ashy Mining Bee were of note. A Cuckoo heard distant was probably around the Ottergear Bridge area.

My take on these two Ashy Mining Bees, is that they were a mating pair until the male dislodged!....Other theories welcome.

I'm grateful to Ian, Howard, and Martin, who by coincidence sent me images on the same day, and all taken in Bowland....They are much appreciated.  

Sunday 28 April 2024

Probably/Possibly In Bowland!

Grisedale Bridge.

Birds in and around Holme Wood, Willow Warbler atop of gorse by Grisedale Brook, Treecreeper seen in the woods, with Nuthatch and Song Thrush in good voice, Grey Wagtail on the stream, and Sparrowhawk and Raven over Barnacre Reservoir. As I arrived back at the car, a pair of Stonechat on the roadside wall.


Stonechat Harrisend 24 April. Martin Jump.

With some of my birding - especially in the uplands - seriously curtailed, it was my first visit this year on to Harrisend Fell. So it was particularly pleasing that I found 6 Stonechat here, which has my records to read, three breeding pairs highly probable. Otherwise not particularly riveting here with just 9 Meadow Pipit seen as a low count, but maybe I should note this is only the end of April, 6 Linnet and a Buzzard was over the ridge.

Bombus lapidarius Pete Woodruff.

A Red-tailed Bumblebee queen was looking rather lethargic on Harrisend, and an Orange Tip was my first of the year, and the only butterfly seen on the day.


On to Hawthornthwaite Fell, where 2 Stonechat seen were both male, but with females likely on the nest, again my records read two breeding pairs highly probable. 

I have to say, otherwise not particularly riveting here, although up to 10 Willow Warbler were all unseen and singing, 8 Meadow Pipit was another low count, a single Red Grouse and male Reed Bunting seen, with 2 Wheatear and just 3 Sand Martin indicating the colony has not yet arrived, which appeared to be the case in a drive-by at Cam Brow.

There was a little disappointment at Hawthornthwaite, when a female Emperor Moth passed in a rapid fly-by.

The decision to call in to Stoops Bridge at Abbeystead on my way back to Lancaster was an excellent idea as I found 5 Pied Flycatcher there. So according to these observations, a distinct possibility in my book, of four pairs of Pied Flycatcher here this year. A male Blackcap also gave me excellent views.


Avocet Newton Marsh 24 April. Martin Jump.

Martin found and photographed the marked Avocet. Hopefully I may soon get some details about this sighting.

Common Tern.

A Common Tern arrived at Conder Pool this early a.m. Sunday 28 April, 6 days later than 2023. I am grateful to Howard Stockdale for this excellent news. Also good to hear from a contact, a double figure of Common Tern are now present at Preston Dock this morning. 

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Some Good, Some Bad....Very Bad.

With my birding driven into a cul-de-sac for the time being, looking through my records I note the Common Terns have passed their anniversary for arrival at Conder Pool being the first show last year was Saturday 22 April.

The list of dates below show the first ever Common Terns to Conder Pool were very late in the season. Despite this late arrival date, they successfully bred at what is now a well established and renowned location in our recording area....

02 July 2014

22 May 2015 

06 May 2016 

08 May 2017

07 May 2018

05 May 2019

02 May 2020

24 April 2021

24 April 2022

22 April 2023

Like myself and other interested birders, I know a small group of people in particular who will be waiting in anticipation for the arrival of these beautiful birds.

The Good The Bad And The Ugly.

Thanks to a contact the good news is, I have the report of a pair of Ring Ouzel in Bowland. This and the sight of a few Stonechat, is the cause of enthusiasm for me to be there before this week is out.

The bad news is, I am aware of tree felling in the area around the bog at Birk Bank. The 'management work' involves not only taking out trees, but machinery being driven across the bog.

This during the breeding season especially for birds, and also damage to the bog which is the location for dragonflies including the rare Keeled Skimmer which only in recent years has colonised Birk Bank Bog, the first being found 9 years ago.

I'm making slow progress with enquiries, but best I leave it to see if the conversation moves forward before I add anything....Watch this space. 

The Header.

I'm grateful to Howard Stockdale for the header image of the Spotted Redshank at Conder Green. This bird is close to achieving the transformation from winter to summer plumage through 4 weeks....Amazing.    

Sunday 21 April 2024

Short List Short On Inspiration.

A tour around the estuary on Friday produce a short list lacking in inspiration, not least of which was obvious on my visit to Conder Pool. But there's never anything at all lacking about the sight of 2 Little Ringed Plover on a near island. Also present on the pool, 4 Avocet, a Greenshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Knot were roosting with 45 Redshank, and 34 Oystercatcher which was a good count here for the little black book.

Little Ringed Plover.

Not know as a gregarious bird, outside the breeding season they are mostly found in singles or in small flocks rarely exceeding ten. But Ian Mitchell observed and filmed some territorial behavior between four birds on Conder Pool, which ended with a serious altercation between two of them....Excellent stuff Ian, thank you.

At Cockersand, a Barn Owl showed hunting a field on the north side of Bank Houses, but it was soon lost to view. Three Shoveler were seen as two drake and a female in the large ditches at the junction of Moss and Sack Lane, they all soon took off. In the stubble field off Slack Lane, I noted 16 Shelduck, and during my circuit 3 Swallow in singles flew north, and a Wheatear was on the shore opposite the abbey.

Wheatear Cockersand. Pete Woodruff.

The power of storms combined with high tides, has caused this large section of the headland at Cockersand to collapse. There are another three sections to the south which have also collapsed onto the shore. The sea must have been within inches of breaching here this time.

Wednesday 17 April 2024

The Nuthatch, Tits, And Hedgehog.

I was really pleased to have found this local Nuthatch again this week. According to my records, these are breeding for the third consecutive year.   

The bonus for this years sighting was, as I got into a position out of sight and hidden under a tree to record the bird, a male Nuthatch was in song close by. After listening to the serenade, the female continued plastering to reduce the crevices as protection against the elements and possible predators....Fascinating stuff!

In the spilt second I stopped filming, the Nuthatch was entering the nest hole.

Garden Wildlife.

We get occasional visits by the Long-tailed Tits, and it was a pleasure to have three in the garden yesterday.

It was also pleasing to see the Hedgehog roaming through the 'long grass' of our lawn. Although always a little worrying to see out in daylight, visually it appeared fit and well.

Sunday 14 April 2024

Spotty In The Spotlight!

It took me about an hour to find the Spotted Redshank in the creeks at Conder Green, finding this bird again was the culmination of a decent haul at Conder Pool on Friday. In the two weeks since I last saw the Spotted Redshank, it has transformed into breeding plumage by half, at this rate it will be in full summer dress in under three weeks. 

Whilst recording some footage of a 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull, I had a lucky break to find when I opened the film on the computer, unknown to me, 2 Little Ringed Plover had come on the scene to make a pleasing little threesome video.

Two Cattle Egret were present but soon flew off, they appeared to have some orange tone, particularly to the crown. Also present were 8 Avocet, a Common Sandpiper and Greenshank, 3 Back-tailed Godwit, up to 250 Redshank, 200 Knot and 2 Stock DoveSeen from the viewing platform, at least 8 Swallow were flighting around Conder Green Farm, and eventually came over Conder Pool.

A check of the canal basin at Glasson Dock proved little of interest, but a walk to the churchyard at Christ Church found 2 Chiffchaff, one giving good views in the wooded area here.

At Cockersand, 8 Wheatear were in the field by Cockersand Abbey, the same 120 Linnet as seen 26 March were in the field by Lighthouse Cottage, 8 Eider were off Plover Scar, 22 Whooper Swan were the only winter remnants seen lingering distant in fields behind Bank End Farm. I saw just one Small Tortoiseshell on Slack Lane.

Garden Birds.


On Friday we had the pleasure of a visit to our garden feeders by a stunning male Siskin, but its rating was reduced to second place by the brief appearance of a Chiffchaff the following day, but it made a return visit 2 hours later to give good views. This is the second garden record, the first being seen Tuesday 20 September 2022. I hadn't realised these bird was found in the garden at opposing ends of the year. 

Good News.

To lift us out of the depression of wet and windy weather we have been enduring....

The first Common Tern of 2024 returned to Heysham Harbour on Friday. An area which has the benefit of being comprehensively monitored....Heysham Bird Observatory

Large Red Damselfly Teneral Female Phil Larkin

The first dragon for North Lancashire was at Brockholes on Thursday, Large Red Damselfly.

Common Carder Bee. Pete Woodruff.

And I have been finding my first bees, with this Bombus pascuorum on Thursday at Cockersand.