Sunday 3 December 2023
Wednesday 29 November 2023
At Cockersand yesterday, the amazing record of a Little Owl. Amazing because this is the first record of Little Owl at Cockersand as far as I am aware since I last saw one 9 years ago.
Two Snow Bunting were seen off Lighthouse Cottage. Thanks to John for news and image.
Sunday 26 November 2023
....and a raptor to finish with on the sweet menu!
What a lovely sunny if cold day on Friday to find 7 Stonechat, with two found on Conder Pool, two foraging along the marsh by Cockersand Caravan Park, one on roadside fence posts Moss Lane, and two along the bulrushes behind Lighthouse Cottage. AC found the mate of my loner on Moss Lane, so proof of four pairs wintering in the Lune Estuary area.
Also noted on Conder Pool, 20 Tufted Duck, 5 Goosander, and 9 Little Grebe.
Ian Mitchell caught on camera conclusive proof the Little Grebe catch Sticklebacks like there's no tomorrow, and play with them until they can swallow head first so the spines don't snag on the throat.
On the Lune at Glasson, up to 650 Golden Plover and 620 Black-tailed Godwit which was up to half the number seen on my last visit here last Tuesday. A Raven was overhead at close range.
As I approached Cockersand along Moss Lane, a Buzzard was close by in a tree, but took offence to me and flew off as I pulled up to grab a pik. My records read, the circuit was a huge success, if only because I found 5 Stonechat here. Otherwise, just 3 Wren, 2 Meadow Pipit, and a lone Greenfinch got into my little black book.
But hey, the visit ended with a bang....As I watched a Stonechat pair foraging the marsh edge, a Hen Harrier ringtail burst onto the scene, it quartered low over the marsh 50 metres out for several minutes before I eventually lost it to view heading to Cockerham Marsh....Heck!
Thanks to Simon Hawtin for his stunning Hen Harrier header image.
Wednesday 22 November 2023
When I finally got out yesterday, it had been 11 days since I'd had a wander around the estuary, and in my book the day started well with the sight of a Stonechat in the east corner of Conder Pool. This looks like a bird from a possible 4 pairs set to winter in the area around the Lune Estuary....time will tell. A lone Tree Sparrow was in the hedgerow by the viewing screen.
Sunday 12 November 2023
Sunday 5 November 2023
Well that was exciting....I made two attempts at birding during the week, both of which soon became what can only be referred to as scrappy botched affairs.
Conder Pool still resembles a lake, with the new platform partially sunk again adding to the whole vista currently looking not at all pretty. But a Ruff was with up to 90 Redshank, with a similar number of Teal noted, also two Snipe and 4 Goosander.
On the Lune at Glasson, early winter days, but at least 1,500 Lapwing is my best count to date, also 220 Curlew were below Colloway Marsh waiting to escape the high tide as it rushed in.
As I drove along Moss Lane to avoid Wednesdays downpour, 4 Cattle Egret - presumably my 25 October birds - were in fields west of Gardners Farm, and brought to end my double botched birding attempts for the week.
I think the Turnstone is one of the most obliging waders to have a close encounter with. These had no care that I was within a few metres of them.
Thanks to Howard for the Cattle Egret, and to Martin for the header reminder of pleasant summer odonata days....The images are much appreciated.
Ian Mitchell sent me a short video of the beautiful Whooper Swans having returned to winter at Cockersand....Thank You Ian.
In years with a 'forward' warm spring, some Stonechats may have three nesting attempts. A notable example was at Sale Fell, Wythop in 1999, when 19 chicks from broods of 6/7/6 were fledged.
In early April this year, John Callion discovered a territorial pair of Stonechat south of Silloth Dock. Ten further visits to the territory during the summer, had John witnessing seamless timing between clutches which didn't allow for any pair-bond breakdown and replacement of an adult, a behaviour consistent with loyal pairs of breeding Stonechats.
Nest 1. On 17 April, a nest contained 5 eggs which hatched 12 days later on 29 April. The nestlings were colour-ringed on 9 May and fledged 10 days later on 19 May.
Nest 2. On 7 June, John discovered a second nest about 30 metres from the first. This nest contained 6 eggs, of which 5 had hatched 12 days later on 19 June and were duly colour-ringed. These had fledged and were close to the parent birds and nest 10 days later on 29 June.
Nest 3. This third nest was discovered between the two previous nests, and only 15 metres from the first. On 10 July it had 5 eggs, of which 4 hatched and were subsequently colour-ringed 20 days later on 30 July, and had fledged by 6 August.
This extract from John Callion's summary....
Excluding pairing and nest-building, the pair studied had either eggs or young between 11 April and 20 August, by which date the final brood became independent. They were therefore in the breeding process for a total of 132 days. If the time to pair-bond and nest-build is added, it seems likely that these and other Stonechats can potentially be in breeding condition for more than 5 months....Ref: John Callion in Lakeland Naturalist
This article was an education for me, and the summary that the Stonechat can potentially be in breeding condition for in excess of 5 months is a revelation. I am grateful to John Callion for allowing me to publish extracts from his article in Lakeland Naturalist.
Sunday 29 October 2023
The highlights of another spell of pleasant birding around the Lune Estuary, which started well when I found 2 Stonechat in the tall rough at the east end of Conder Pool, they were very busy, and I had feelings of three birds, but it didn't develop any further than that. Five Goosander were the only other birds to highlight here, but I did see a dragonfly too distant to ID, but a Migrant Hawker to record towards the end of October would be my bet against that of a Southern Hawker.
Wednesday 25 October 2023
Ian Mitchell's sighting of a Merlin on Slack Lane 16 October, is the epitome of 'right place, right time' to take full advantage of what was being seen, and to achieve footage of a bird not only grounded in a winter stubble field, but then seen taking a bath, and then on a fence post. The result of this amazing spectacle is a well deserved ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ video by Ian Mitchell.
Copyright Ian Mitchell
The Show Goes On.