Sunday, 19 August 2018

Winter Birding!

Friday seemed like winter birding was upon us, with a temperature drop, heavy clouds, some rain around, and windy too. I stuck my neck out and went to Heysham when it looked likely I might get a soaking, but in fact I got away with a dry shod visit to find 8 Mediterranean Gull, two adult on Red Nab, with four and two juvenile on No 2 outfall.

A small gull frustrated me, the only detail I got was a striking grey-black cap as I picked the bird up flying seaward down Heysham 2 outfall, but I was distracted by a tern, which I soon identified as a juvenile Arctic Tern. I then failed to pick up the small gull again, but have recorded it as the long stay adult Little Gull, though - as in the image of a 2nd winter bird above - my bird had a much bolder grey-black cap than I somehow felt the staying adult would have, apparently by now in winter plumage. 

On the beach at Half Moon Bay, I found 2 Rock Pipit, with 11 Ringed Plover on the shingle.

Common Tern Conder Pool 17 Aug 'clik the pikPete Woodruff 

On Conder Pool I found the fledged juvenile and one adult Common Tern

Common Tern Conder Pool 17 Aug 'clik the pik'  Ian Pinkerton

But I've yet to see the juvenile in flight, though IP did later in the day. 

Also 4 Greenshank, and a Common Sandpiper which I'm already beginning to think might be a/the wintering bird. Noted in the creeks, c.60 Redshank, 4 Dunlin, and a lone Black-tailed Godwit.

Thanks to Ian Mitchell for the excellent Sea Eagle header image, seen at Lochdon on the Isle of Mull.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

The Moment Of Truth.

I received what must have been something like my 100th text over the weeks from Ian 'Pinky' Pinkerton at Conder Pool yesterday 15 August at 2.18pm, and I was as chuffed as a kid with a new toy, to read it saying that the lone Common Tern young from the second pair had fledged.

The images below and credited to Ian Pinkerton, illustrate the minutes leading up to the moment of truth, from the bird begging to be fed attended by a parent bird, then joined by two more adult birds, one or both could be either friend or foe. But the sheep were not welcome, and were attacked by adult birds, but the invasion by the sheep, brought about the desired result and the young bird took to the wing for it's maiden flight....ALLELUIA.

Bigger and better....'clik the piks'  

The Long Watch.

Ian Pinkerton has dedicated no less than 18 weeks to the Common Tern cause on Conder Pool. I can't remember how many hours it all adds up to, but give or take some essential days off, it was nothing for him to spend 5 hours on duty at the viewing platform to observe and record the comings and goings of the breeding Common Terns.

Yesterday was just reward for dedication, to be there at precisely the right time to see the climax of this 24 day old bird having found out what life is like on the wing.

So is this the end for IP at Conder Green, I doubt it, I think he'll wait until he's convinced the bird/s have moved on, at which point I reckon he will be asking, what can we expect to see next on Conder Pool.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Before & After.

I paid a couple of extended visits to Conder Green on Monday four hours apart, two hours before the tide, and two after, producing some interest and a little quality, albeit the time for quality ratio was a bit unbalanced.

Before the tide.

Greenshank. Pete Woodruff.

Four of 6 Greenshank seen later were roosting on Conder Pool before the high tide, also 11 Little Grebe, a Little Egret, and a Stock Dove, 2 Common Sandpiper and Snipe were in the creeks. 

Greenshank/Little Egret Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff.

After the tide.

Ruff/Redshank Conder Creeks. Pete Woodruff.

Initially roosting with up to 80 Redshank on the marsh, a Ruff was nice as the tide dropped off the creeks, seen later feeding on the mud.

The Conder Common Terns. 

Common Tern Conder Pool 13 August. Pete Woodruff.

When I arrived at Conder Pool I eventually saw 8 Common Tern, all adult flying around chasing each other noisily with their rapid series of quarrelling calls. I haven't the faintest idea what all this was about, but it was prolonged and unceasing for several minutes. Perhaps this is common behaviour within a colony of Common Terns even in mid-August, though no reference to this found in BWP

Meanwhile it was a concern that there was no sign of the young bird, which seems to have been the case since last Friday. But then I spotted movement in a gap beneath the slab in the picture above top right, it was the young bird cowering beneath this huge piece of stone.

I had to wait until I returned later after the tide to be convinced the bird was alive, it was out from beneath the stone, and looking good at 22 days old when I was there on Monday.....24 as I write.


No human has had a hand in the growing of this plant. I watched a Coal Tit one day during the winter, taking Sunflower seeds from the feeders and burying them in this pot in our garden.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Bowland Lost And Found.

Hawthornthwaite Fell.

I made only three previous visits so far this year and found not one Stonechat, and to turn this into an even bigger disaster found none when I went again last week. This looks like it's going to be a record at the end of the year that I never really wanted to collect, that the Stonechat was never found on Hawthornthwaite in 2018, let alone bred there. 


But as I came down of the fell, a bird hidden from my view took off out of the heather little more than 50m ahead of me and flew across the clough to perch, this is as good as it gets in Bowland, it was a stunning male MerlinThe only other birds seen were, 3 Meadow Pipit, 2 Red Grouse, and 3 Sand Martin flying around.

Harrisend Fell. 

I had made just two previous visits, to see a pair on 8 May, and on my last visit on 5 June I found a lone male, suspecting at the time there was a female somewhere around on a nest. But a much better result when I found 9 Stonechat there this time. 

Of 6 Buzzard seen, five were soaring overhead together, an impressive sight, 2 Kestrel represented the other raptors seen here. A good number of Swallow were feeding over the lower slopes, 3 Meadow Pipit, 2 Willow Warbler, and at least 5 Small Copper seen. 

It took me 2.5 hours to walk from Marshaw to 1/4 mile east of Trough Bridge and return, to at least enjoy finding a Spotted Flycatcher still up here, and House Martin visiting nests at Tower Lodge, otherwise....dire.

For the two excellent raptor images....Thanks to Brian for the Hobby, and to Noushka for the Merlin.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Next Best!

I had to postpone a visit to the Bowland Fells earlier this week....

Common Tern Conder Pool 9 August. Stephen Fairhurst. 

So it was best I went to check out Conder Pool to find 6 Common Tern including the young bird now back on Tern Island again, and as seen in the image above, getting the feel of it's wings with some exercise, which hopefully should have lifted it into the air by next weekend 18/19 August, when it will have fledged as the fourth Common Tern to be successfully bred on Conder Pool this year.  

Bird of the day was the Mediterranean Gull, a juvenile which honoured Conder Pool with a visit, albeit a brief one with Black-headed GullsAlso on the pool 12 Little Grebe eventually obliged by taking a rest, making the count an easy one. A Common Sandpiper was in the creeks with 3 Snipe, 3 Greenshank were down the channel with RedshankThough I saw no action at all around Cafe d' Lune, House Martin are still entering nests at River Winds.

With birds slowly returning to the Lune Estuary, things are looking a little more lively now, though gull numbers didn't reach three figures, but waders in view from the bowling green included, up to 350 Redshank, 150 Dunlin, and a lone Bar-tailed Godwit, with 24 Little Egret counted, 2 Common Tern were possibly of those seen earlier on Conder Pool. 

Thursday, 9 August 2018

The Ring Reading Problem.

Another ring reading problem has surfaced, this time with a bird seen to follow the Heysham Mediterranean Gull seen recently. 

Even though this excellent in flight image of the Bar-tailed Godwit was achieved, unfortunately what appears to be a yellow ring on the tibia of the birds right leg, is in fact thought to be a yellow flag with a three letter inscription to give the birds identity, but hidden from view on the blind side in this brief fly by.

The bird originates from the Norwegian Bar-tailed Godwit Ringing Project, and without the 'missing' details from this sighting, the bird cannot be identified as an individual from this project. How frustrating....better luck next time.


The Red Darvic ringed Mediterranean Gull seen at Heysham recently, was another good example of the problems of ring reading, which have to be complete and accurate, otherwise there's nothing conclusive gained in finding the bird in the first place.

The details of the BTG sighting went to Norway, and to Ireland.  I have already expressed my gratitude to those who helped me with details, but thanks again to everyone. 

Monday, 6 August 2018

Bogey Bird.

Believe it or not, despite birding for 150 years I'm still short on Hobby sightings, I think three is as good as it gets, all distant and short lived. So I was pleased that KT agreed we should go to Leighton Moss yesterday, to see if one of two being seen there - one as recent as the morning - would oblige us, but 3 hours between two luck.

Black-tailed Godwit/Mallard Grisedale Hide 5 August. Pete Woodruff.

Nine Black-tailed Godwit were see as two from the Grisedale Hide, and seven over towards the Eric Morecambe complex. Sightings between the two hides were of at least 6 Marsh Harrier, a male and five juvenile.

Red Deer Stag Grisedale Hide 5 August. Pete Woodruff.

Seven Red Deer from the Grisedale Hide were, two stag, four hind, and a fawn.

So the Hobby continues to be my birding nemesis, well one of them actually, but at least chasing this one has gone towards filling in a hole with a few bits and a couple of piks on Birds2blog!!

And Finally....

Large Rose Sawfly. Pete Woodruff.

Four Arge paganaknown as the 'Large Rose Sawfly', were egg laying on the stem of our Ballerina Rose in the garden yesterday.    

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Poached Egg On Toast Please!

The only thing promising about the weather yesterday, was that by mid-day it was going to be dull, damp, and murky, and by then it was just that. The plan was a look over Conder Green, then another trip to Heysham, but my enthusiasm waned rapidly as I sat around to see if this damp murky stuff was going to pass by, so off I went home for brunch and poached myself a couple of tasty eggs on toast....Isn't life great!

Five Common Tern on Conder Pool included the island chick, 10 Little Grebe seen again, with up to 200 Lapwing, 5 Curlew, and 2 Stock Dove6 Common Sandpiper were seen as two in the creeks, and four down the channel, also 2 Swift were my first autumn migrants purposefully south over the pool. 

The Conder Common Terns.

In the 4 hours IP spent at Conder Pool on Thursday, he had no sighting of the now 12 day old island chick, it had 'disappeared' and if your name had been Pete Woodruff you would have said it had fallen victim to predation. But hey....thankfully this time, wrong again, I found the bird on the near island looking south from the viewing screen, having swam there for whatever reason, it was being attended by both parent birds, but spending most of the time out of view at the back side of the island.

Thanks again to IP for the new header pik - yes it's another CT shot - this one being 'Pik of the Year' for me, even if it is only August. Yet another excellent image of - at the risk of repeating myself - the only breeding Common Terns in North Lancashire for many a year....More great stuff for the LDBWS records and the excellent Conder Pool.

Garden Visitors.

Holly Blue 2 August. Pete Woodruff.

A 'damaged' Holly Blue was on our Elecampane yesterday, you could spend the day and not get a pik with open wings at rest. Recently a juvenile and better still yesterday, a smart male Siskin visited the garden feeders.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Mainly Gulls & Terns.

A pleasant and enjoyable 2.5 hours at Heysham yesterday, sifting through the gulls between bouts of human disturbance. Interesting that my meager count of 26 Mediterranean Gull, was just a reversal of the number, when later in the day I find the report of an amazing 62 seen in the a.m. of the same morning.

Mediterranean Gull Red Nab Heysham 31 July. Pete Woodruff.

This was the result of my best opportunity of a pik, with 20 birds found on Red Nab, 4 on the south side of No 2 outfall, and 2 on the north. Also, the adult Little Gull barely beginning to moult out of summer plumage, 2 Whimbrel, and last Thursdays at least 1,000 Dunlin seen again.

Having not been to Conder Green since Thursday last, I was keen to see what the picture was there, to find 5 Common Tern, seen as the pontoon adults, and the island pair with the chick still surviving. It was good to find a new peak of 10 Little Grebe, 5 Common Sandpiper, a lone Black-tailed Godwit and Snipe, c.150 Redshank and similar Lapwing, and 9 Greylag dropped in on Conder Pool as they had whilst I was there 23 July.


I'm grateful to PJM and the ringers in Poland for dealing with this Red Darvic Mediterranean Gull which I found on Red Nab at Heysham last Thursday, when eventually it obliged by coming closer as the tide ran in. Although the blow up doesn't help, the difficulties of ring reading are clearly illustrated in this photograph, when the bottom digit on this bird couldn't be separated 4 from A through my telescope. But life was made easier when we find that the code is made up of three letters and a number, so the letter A was eliminated. 

Hence PKR4 had been found on 26 July on Red Nab at Heysham in Lancashire, England, 1518km WNW of Wisla, Mazowleckie, Poland, where it had been ringed 2 months earlier to the day on 26 May 2018 as a breeding 3cy female. Interestingly, the metal ring on the birds right leg was apparently already in place on this bird at the time of ringing. 

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Seeing Red!

Iv'e had no opportunities for birding or blogging since Thursday when I was up at 6.30am, that's very rare for me since the day I threw in the towel with the milk round when 4.00am was routine for me seven days a week, not just when I fancied an early birding start....So, like the trains often are, this post is running late. 

Mediterranean Gulls. Noushka@1000-Pattes

I was at Heysham by 8.30am and thoroughly enjoyed sifting through the gulls for a couple of hours or so, concentrating mainly on Red Nab as the tide came in. The end result was 16 Mediterranean Gull, mostly adult but a 3cy and two juvenile were noted. Of four ringed birds seen, two Green and one White were all too distant for reading the marks, very frustrating, as together with looking for these brilliant gulls, the main aim was to clinch some ring details, but I did have success with one bird which came closer as the tide came in, it had a Red darvic ring duly reported. 

There was an early date invasion at one point, when at least 1,000 Dunlin came on to Red Nab, with c.170 Curlew also present, a Jay was in the nature reserve as I left for Conder Green where, of 6 Common Sandpiper seen, two flew upstream round the bend and out of sight, they probably bred somewhere up there this year, as no doubt did the Kingfisher also seen here again, also 3 Snipe and a Sedge Warbler in full song here again, 2 Black-tailed Godwit were in the creeks with up to 100 Redshank. Eight Little Grebe seen on Conder Pool where 3 Raven went over, calling with their deep 'kor-kor' and drifting north.

Four Common Tern on Conder Pool included the island chick, the only bird from two breeding attempts by this years second pair of Common Tern at Conder Green. The two pairs here being the only breeding Common Terns in North Lancashire, brings the total number bred to twelve over five years, including this one yet to fledge.

Thanks to IP for the header image of the island Common Tern chick with parent birds, taken on the day of it's hatching 22 July, and to Noushka for the Mediterranean Gulls. I took several photographs on Thursday, but none to compete with the quality shown here.