BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND.................................................................................NORTHERN MARSH ORCHID PETE WOODRUFF

Friday, 18 June 2021

Bog Bonanza.

Having enjoyed finding my share of the mega invasion to Birk Bank Bog to count at least 40 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, 9 Large Red Damselfly including two pairs coupled, and 4 Four-spotted ChaserI had a lucky break, and found a female Keeled Skimmer quietly ovipositing....Excellent dragonfly, shame about the pik.

Keeled Skimmer Birk Bank 17 June. Pete Woodruff. 

This is my fifth consecutive year to find Keeled Skimmer on the bog at Birk Bank, and an amazing coincidence, as it was on this very date I found a pair of Keeled Skimmer here last year on 17 June 2020.

Keeled Skimmer/Large Red Damselfly Birk Bank 17 June 2020. Pete Woodruff. 

Some more notes on a wander around the area, at least 28 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, a Garden Warbler, a Buzzard drifting over, and a Cuckoo made just two calls and went silent. Other insects were, 7 Small Heath, a Small Tortoiseshell, and a Green Tiger Beetle.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Lancaster Orchids.

Northern Marsh Orchid. Pete Woodruff.

A pleasant walk with KT to see the Lancaster Orchids was rewarded by finding a species not known by me to be seen in these parts, when an estimated 65 Northern Marsh Orchid were found.

Common Spotted Orchid. Pete Woodruff.

White Variant Common Spotted. Pete Woodruff.

More expected were 35 spikes of Common Spotted Orchid, seen as beautiful as any other orchid despite 'common' in the name. The variant white stands alone as it did in the very same place last year.

Mistle Thrush Fledgling. Pete Woodruff.

KT heard a Jay in the trees, then saw a young bird begging and being fed by a parent bird. I thought maybe I'd seen my first Jay fledgling, but in editing the image taken in the shadows of the tree, I discovered it was a Mistle Thrush. Also seen, a Chiffchaff, and two moths, the Silver-ground Carpet, and Nettle-tap

Silver-ground Carpet. Pete Woodruff.

Nettle-tap. Pete Woodruff.

The Nettle-tap is probably the most widespread and common micro-moth across Britain. 

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Start, Chaser, & Chats

A Redstart, and Four-spotted Chaser at Holme Wood, and Stonechats on Hawthornthwaite Fell, were the top trio for my little black book. But blink and you'll miss the male Redstart. Eyes right of centre where the video arrow points to the small branch on the tree....View Full Screen

Two young Redstart are now being fed at Holme Wood, but I found neither female or young on this latest visit.

Other good news from here was a Four-spotted Chasermy first dragonfly of the year, and the Cuckoo made itself know to be present calling a few times. Also of note, two pair of Dunnock with a juvenile seen, 4 Grey Wagtail on Grizedale Brook, with 4 Mistle Thrush, a Treecreeper, Willow Warbler, juvenile Goldfinch, and a Buzzard over. Butterflies seen were 12 Small Heath and 10 Large White.

A hike up Catshaw - well half way up - to look for Ring Ouzel reported to me complete with a detailed map, wasn't successful, but that's what makes birding what it is. But 15 Meadow Pipit, 3 Willow Warbler, 3 Large White, a Small Heath, and a Brown Hare came as compensation for the effort.

On Hawthornthwaite, I was well rewarded by finding 5 Stonechat, including the first breeding evidence here, with two young seen. A lone male Stonechat put on a display, when I first saw the bird c.100m in the air, I thought it was a Meadow Pipit in silhouette, hovering for a few seconds, then parachuting down before leveling off to make a direct flight for around 200m. Also here, a Grey Wagtail which is scarce on Catshaw Greave, I don't recall the last one seen here, 8 Sand Martin flying around, with no colony established that I'm aware of, and 5 Meadow Pipit. Butterflies, 7 Small Heath and 2 Small Copper.

Ignorance Is Bliss!

Clik The Pik

The notice kindly erected at Cam Brow by FOBMG and says....SAND MARTINS NESTING PLEASE KEEP AWAY TO AVOID DISTURBANCE.  

Conder News.

On 26 April Howards Stockdale took this photograph of a CanadaxGreylag on Conder Pool....Sometimes nicknamed 'Granada', this is a frequent hybrid combination.

On 7 June, Howard got another shot, this time there was a surprise - third young from left - with this Canada Goose family on Conder Pool. Also here, the first Common Tern chicks were seen this week.

This record shot shows breeding evidence of a Redshank with four young on Conder Pool.

Thanks to HS for keeping in touch with info and images. 

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Turned Out Nice Again!

A pleasant stroll along the Glasson Arm of the canal to Galgate resulted in a disappointment at not seeing a single dragonfly. So no points scored in this department this year as yet, but I was compensated by seeing - and photographing some - large numbers of Blue-tailed Damselfly, and a male Large Red Damselfly along the length of this nice stretch of the canal.

The taxonomy of the Blue-tailed Damselfly is quite complex, making life too difficult for my liking. Some variation was found, this example is of an immature female of the form Rufescens.

An immature male Blue-tailed Damselfly....

....and a teneral male Blue-tailed Damselfly.

All these damselfly records are up for debate, and the one above has already attracted a comment regarding the complexities of the Blue-tailed Damselfly, and which offers the opinion that 'this is a mature female of the rufescens obsoleta form which is what the pink 'rufescens' ones mature into'....Now I'm even more confused!

Common Blue. Pete Woodruff.

Butterflies were scarce too, with 8 Large White, 2 Orange Tip, a Common BlueSmall Tortoiseshell, and Speckled Wood seen. 

I started the walk at Saltcote ponds where I saw a male Azure DamselflyRaven came to ground and hung around the lock at The Mill at Conder Green, also a Buzzard seen overhead. Along the stretch of the canal, 5 Sedge Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, a pair of Reed Bunting, a lone House MartinReed Warbler, and Song Thrush. Three pairs of Mute Swan had 4-5-6 cygnets.

Tadpoles Early June.

I'm told I didn't need to be so surprised to see tadpoles in the canal first week in June....But they did have a kind of calming effect, and the singing Chiffchaff in the background added to that.

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Conder Update.

Avocets Conder Green 8 June. Howard Stockdale.

Not for the first time, 13 Avocet young have crossed the busy B5290 to go into the creeks on the River Conder. The bad news is, that one has been recorded 'lost', it being one of the five ringed birds. 

Thanks to Howard for the news and image, gratefully received.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

The Mixed Bag.

A bit of this and that in this post....The main purpose for a visit to Birk Bank was to find my first odonata of 2021, well I've been late finding just about everything else this year, so why not dragonflies! 

The boardwalk was in need of repair, several sections of it were collapsed and had left dodgy wide gaps. The guys were doing a good job, and whilst there could be no evidence of disturbance, Radio One and Jay-Z with a Hip-Hop mix at a large amplitude certainly wasn't a good combination for the area and couldn't possibly have contributed to finding dragonflies. But anyhow, lets move on to see what else was on offer here today....

Three Cuckoo were heard calling, including one with a notably high pitched first syllable. From Rigg Lane, I timed a Cuckoo calling almost continuously for 15 minutes, during which time it clocked 540 calls at 36 per minute. At least 21 Willow Warbler mainly heard only, but good views of two, 5 Blackcap, 5 Meadow Pipit, 4 Mistle Thrush, with one obviously feeding young somewhere, a Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, and a Buzzard overhead. Six House Martin were over Cragg Cottage, but I saw none approaching the property at any time.

Cragg Wood. Pete Woodruff. 

The River Conder - and sometimes the Golden-ringed Dragonfly - flows delightfully through the equally delightful Cragg Wood from where I glimpsed a Roe Deer

On the day, I counted 9 Large White, and with the exception of a Speckled Wood, surprisingly I saw no others in 5 hours and perfect weather....But the Painted Lady has arrived!

Cream Wave. Pete Woodruff.

Confusable this one, but I'm sticking to this being a Cream Wave moth until someone corrects me, it compensated me perfectly for the dearth of butterflies.

Bowland/Conder Pool.

I've had good news passed on to me by AC in Bowland, where he found 6 Spotted Flycatcher, also a pair of Pied Flycatcher feeding young at the tree nest hole I recently found, plus a male with the female seen last week at Trough Bridge.

From HS, as at Thursday last, 15 Avocet young and 6 Common Tern nests at Conder Pool. The bad news here being, the date for the re-intro of livestock is 16 June, when there will still be unfledged young and eggs in and around the nests. 

Redstart Holme Wood. Howard Stockdale.

The Holme Wood Redstarts are due to have young fledge in the next few days. I reckon Howard Stockdale will be the first to know when that happens.

Thanks again to Martin and Howard for news and images, as always much appreciated. 

And Finally....

Juvenile Dunnock. Pete Woodruff.

We were delighted to find two fledged Dunnock in our garden this year, a first and probably nested in our neighbours garden, and are now about three weeks old.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Taking Stock.

More excellent birding experiences were on offer again this week, when I paid another visit to Bowland. This time I took stock taking a little more serious with the usual disappointments, but with a few memorable positives to more than compensate.

Marshaw - Tower Lodge - Trough Bridge.

The day got off to a pretty good start, when I found a female Redstart at Marshaw. 

Spotted Flycatcher Marshaw 27 May. Pete Woodruff.

Also at Marshaw, I found the first of 2 Spotted Flycatcher, this one on sentry duty by the Marshaw Wyre, the second was at Tower Lodge.

Two of 4 Pied Flycatcher seen, a pair were seen at one of the two remaining nest boxes in the compound at Tower Lodge. I understand a pair are using the other nest box, but I made no contact with these. Better still, a male was singing around a nest hole east of here, and further east a female was around the plantation at Trough Bridge. Despite me lingering at both these two sites, I saw no mate with these two birds.

Six Common Sandpiper were on the Marshaw Wyre, where I found just 5 Grey Wagtail

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The sight and sound of 7 Willow Warbler was down on the last visit, but this one was in good voice. At least 12 House Martin were busy around the lodge, there was no sign of these birds here on my last visit on 14 May. The Cuckoo was calling from the woodland strip above here. Also noted, 4 Mistle Thrush, and 2 Song Thrush.

Stoops Bridge.

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On my way back to Lancaster, I called in at Abbeystead to hear more birdsong, predominantly Mistle Thrush in this footage of the Marsh Marigold and Bluebells at Stoops Bridge. Also Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, and Willow Warbler.



The Redstart at Marshaw was my second on territory in a week in Bowland, and the first one to be found in the area around Tower Lodge since I found five here in June 2013. I don't recall seeing any reports of the Redstart from anyone/anywhere over this period, so looks like 8 years since the Redstart made an appearance here.

Grey Wagtail

Five seen today, follows two previous visits here when I found none on this two mile stretch of the Marshaw Wyre. This compares miserably with 12 Grey Wagtail all adult seen here on 29 May 2013. This may well be 8 years ago almost to the day, but unless these birds are evading me, this is a notable decline for the species at this location.

Spotted Flycatcher.

Two birds was a disappointing count this visit, considering the area is/was a stronghold in our recording area, with 12 Spotted Flycatcher seen 27 June 2018.


Notably, I've not yet seen a Dipper on the Marshaw Wyre at this location, despite recently spending up to a total of 12 hours here. 

Taking Stock....To be continued.

And Finally.

Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius. Pete Woodruff.

This distinctive bumblebee was seen on Cotoneaster in our garden recently. The Red-tailed Bumblebee is said to have a liking for yellow flowers - Common Ragwort and Bird's-foot Trefoil for example - but our individual seemed fond of pink. The Red-tailed Bumblebee is confusable only with the Red-shanked Carder-bee which has never been recorded in Lancashire. 

Wednesday, 26 May 2021


A few miscellaneous bits of interest....Well, hopefully of interest. 

With the Tawny Owl sighting in Holme Wood last week, I was reminded of the brilliant image featured in the header, which Martin Jump sent me recently.

Cam Brow.

Sand Martin Excavating Cam Brow. Howard Stockdale.

Three pairs of Sand Martin were observed excavating at Cam Brow recently, but an overhang above the bank collapsed, causing the birds to leave the area, to my knowledge have not yet returned. To make matters worse, the bank has since collapsed again before the overhang could be trimmed as planned, taking some nest holes with it. I understand the Sand Martins haven't returned to a regularly used bank elsewhere in Bowland.

Male Stonechat With Begging Young. Howard Stockdale.

This brilliant image accompanied the news, following no sign on 18 May, the Cam Brow Stonechat family were relocated three days later on Friday 21 May, when the parent birds were seen feeding three young.

Pied Flycatchers.

A pair of Pied Flycatcher are nesting in one of the boxes in the Tower Lodge area, and I'm reliably informed of two female seen recently in other 'new' areas here.

Conder Pool.

Great news that 5 pairs of Common Tern are now currently nesting on Conder Pool.

Garden Birds & Bees.

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The footage isn't world class, taken through the patio window, well that's my excuse anyway, but it was pure magic watching the young Dunnock in the garden again today.  

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There was in excess of 50 Tree Bumblebee Bombus hypnorum on the Cotoneaster in our garden yesterday.

I'd sooner be birding!

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Quality Birding....Quality Birds.

On a wander through Holme Wood, Grizedale Valley and Harrisend, some quality on offer earlier this week.

Redstart. Pete Woodruff.

I saw 5 Meadow Pipit as I walked towards Holme Wood, where a pair of Redstart stole the show for me, followed by a few tasty warblers to make up a list of 17 bird species, 6 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Garden Warbler, and 2 Blackcap. Thrushes seen were, Song Thrush, 3 Mistle Thrush, and 3 Blackbird. A single Grey Wagtail and Pied Wagtail were on the brook. They came in two's, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, and Long-tailed Tit. Making up the list were, 6 Robin and 3 Wren.

Tawny Owl.

A Tawny Owl flew across Grizedale Brook which runs through the woods, to perch briefly on a branch before promptly flying off, but not before I got a 30 second video of this beautiful bird. In the shadows, but nice....excellent even.

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There are lots of carpets of Bluebells in the woods where I found, 8 Orange Tip, 3 Green-veined White, and a Speckled Wood.


A couple of hours on Harrisend produced, 5 Stonechat, seen as a pair and three lone birds. I was two Stonechat down compared to my last visit here 30 April, seen 1/4 mile away from these five today, probably six breeding pairs here to date. Also noted, 6 Meadow Pipit, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Wren, and a Reed Bunting. I saw 2 Kestrel in the air together with some interaction, later the Kestrel pair seen again were engaged in an aerial dispute with a Peregrine Falcon. Butterflies seen were 6 Peacock.

Garden Birds.

We were delighted to see our first juvenile Blackbird, and two fledgling Dunnock in the garden this week.

Picture Gallery.

Dandelion Clock. Pete Woodruff. 

Photographed in our garden....Everything has its own beauty.

And Finally

A couple of excellent photographs appropriately credited. Featured to show my appreciation for keeping in touch with news and images, and adding more quality to B2B.

Dipper Bowland 19 May. Martin Jump.

Woodcock Bowland 19 May. Howard Stockdale.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Briefly In Bowland!

My last visit to Hawthornthwaite didn't have the result I hoped for, but I did find 4 Stonechat that had evaded last time here 12 May. I heard a Cuckoo calling around the Catshaw plantation, and heard a second calling whilst watching a male Pied Flycatcher in the woodland at the bottom of Cam Brow, with a Buzzard over.

In the area east of Tower Lodge, walking alongside the Marshaw Wyre, meeting Martin Jump who reported four sightings of interest for me to look for. I called here to see if the Pied Flycatcher pair seen around a nest box 28 April, had taken to the box to breed.

Grey Wagtail. Howard Stockdale 

Three Grey Wagtail got my records off the ground, having previously failed to find any here this year, also a Common Sandpiper took the count to six in the area, eight if my bird wasn't one of Martin Jumps two seen earlier.

Conder News.

Avocet Conder Pool 17 May. Howard Stockdale.

Howard Stockdale forwarded me some good news, telling me there are nine chicks from three nests to date, with another five Avocet sitting. Thanks to Howard for the images, much appreciated.  

Thursday, 13 May 2021

RO's....The Mission.

For the past five years I've found Ring Ouzel on Hawthorthwaite, this year I'm hoping to make it six. I was in the area yesterday, which was two days earlier than last year, when I found a singing male Ring Ouzel 14 May, the same day I had 5 Cuckoo in the same area of Bowland.

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As I stood on the bridge over the Marshaw Wyre I saw 4 Mistle Thrush, at least one of which can be heard singing in this footage. I was heading to the track on the east side of Hawthornthwaite, perhaps it was a good idea to check out Black Clough for the Ring Ouzel.

As I set out on the track, a Common Sandpiper flew across ahead of me, whilst the song of a Willow Warbler rang in my ears, with the call of a Cuckoo probably in the area around Tower Lodge. I saw just 3 Meadow Pipit and a lone Red Grouse, but was rewarded by 3 Stonechat, seen as two female and a male.

An hour on the west side of the fell drew a blank on the Stonechat, but 4 Sand Martin were in the air, with 6 Meadow Pipit, 4 Wren, a Willow Warbler, and another lone Red Grouse seen. The Sand Martin colony at Cam Brow appears defunct, though I've yet to linger to be sure.

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At the foot of Cam Brow, I was chuffed to find a pair of Stonechat feeding young. In the woodland opposite, which is strictly private and difficult to access anyway, a pair of Redstart seen briefly. 

The mission continues...