Birding The Lune Estuary The Forest Of Bowland And Beyond......................................................................MED GULLS - 2 OF 4 - CONDER POOL 23 SEPT PETE WOODRUFF

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Around The Estuary.

When I found 4 Mediterranean Gull on Thursday, I was singing the praises of Conder Pool again as it continues to collect impressive records and Nectar Points for me. These records now include 32 Little Grebe, found yesterday 25 September (Ian Hartley LDBWS).

Four Med Gull Conder Pool 23 Sept 2021 

After doing the rounds, I had called back there on my way back to Lancaster to see if I had missed anything first time round, something of a custom if mine which often pays dividends as it did today. 

Adult & 2nd Summer Med Gull Conder Pool June 2019

Thursdays four gulls joined three previous records on Conder Pool, including these two beauties. The 2nd summer bird was ringed 2 years earlier in the Czech Republic 2017 Red ZHF3

The gulls were accompanied by a decent line-up, with a juvenile Ruff, 6 Greenshank, 9 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Snipe, 12 Redshank, 22 Black-headed Gull, a Goosander, and 18 Little Grebe.

Five of the six Greenshank, all but the one legged one decided to depart as I got the camera on to them.


Greenshank Conder Pool 23 Sept 2021

Noted on the Lune Estuary at Glasson, rounded figures of waders, 2,000 Lapwing, 450 Redshank, 50 Dunlin, and 80 Wigeon, also 10 Greenshank and 22 Little Egret counted, a drake Red-Breasted Merganser, 2 Eider, and a Raven overhead honking as it went.

A circuit of Cockersand was a bit like a trip into the void, including Plover Scar deserted at high tide. But as I approached the Lighthouse Cottage, I saw at least 300 Wood Pigeon take flight out of the field, and watched 32 Skylark do the same. I hoped the pigeons had changed fields, but it was deserted when I got there, and was a good example of the void I had experienced at Cockersand today....But the return visit to Conder Pool buried all this. 

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Excellent Hawker Haul Part 2.

Another excellent count of 47 Migrant Hawker along the canal towpath Conder Green - Galgate on Monday. I came within seconds of getting a picture of a pair coupled in the reeds, but they flew off. This brings the total to 90 Migrant Hawker in two visits along two sections of the canal for 3.5 miles.

Migrant Hawker Female. Pete Woodruff.

Also seen on the walk, 13 Common Darter including pairs, 9 Brown Hawker, and an Emperor Dragonfly male.

Brown Hawker. Pete Woodruff.

Not known for settling readily, this Brown Hawker did so for me, but for whatever reason, looked worn out, and with wing damage.

Birds seen along the way, 3 Grey Wagtail, a Jay and Nuthatch, up to 12 Long-tailed Tit working through the trees, a Buzzard mewing overhead, and a Little Egret came out of a ditch and flew off. Butterflies, 11 Speckled Wood and 2 Red Admiral.

Around dusk yesterday evening, a moth was on the Verbena as seen from our patio window. I dashed outside to find it was a Silver Y, and had my first attempt at night time photography with my Sony DSC-HX90V, and was reasonably pleased with some half decent results....

Coming to land

Taking nectar

We have lift off
And Finally....

I couldn't fail to note a new all time highest count of 27 Little Grebe on Conder Pool 19 September (FBC). 

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Excellent Hawker Haul.

Any days birding is a good day, but not for the first time, this one developed into excellent.

I was in the good company of Steve again, and a visit to the Lune Estuary started with a look in on Conder Pool where I counted 18 Little Grebe. I know of nowhere in or out of our area, where the species can be found in such number. I note 25 Little Grebe reported 8 September (LDBWS), a number seen as an all time peak count on Conder Pool.

Also seen on Conder Pool, one of 2 Kingfisher - the second seen upstream of the A588 road bridge - and a Goosander hauled out on the far bank. In the creeks, half dozen Redshank flew in accompanied by a Ruff, also a Greenshank and Snipe. Later, a Sparrowhawk was seen attacking a passerine over the marsh. 

Noting the last one reported on 7 October 2019, at least 2 House Martin, one of which appeared to approach a nest at River Winds....Presumably a practice run for 2022, though the breeding season is often prolonged through autumn, and I recorded a movement of up to 150 House Martin with Swallows at Conder Green on 25 September 2019.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson, an Avocet in a low tide pool by the Conder mouth, 4 Greenshank, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, and 12 Wigeon were seen as an early sign of the approaching winter.

Videos best viewed Full Screen. 

Along the canal from Glasson Dock - Conder Green, this was the first of 43 Migrant Hawker seen in 1.5 mile along the towpath. The record is eleven less than my count of 54 Migrant Hawker along the same canal towpath 19 September 2019.

Migrant Hawker. Pete Woodruff. 

Also seen, 10 Brown Hawker, 5 Common Darter, and 2 Common Blue Damselflies.

Butterflies seen around the Lune Estuary, 4 Small Tortoiseshell, 5 Speckled Wood, 2 Small White, 2 Comma, 2 Red Admiral, and a Common Blue.

Enroute back to Caton to drop off Steve, we called in at Birk Bank, to find the bog near deserted, save 3 Black Darter, and 2 Common Darter.

Garden Happenings.

Entirely black, with its light red tail, a smart Red-tailed Bumblebee was on the Verbena in our garden yesterday. The queens and workers are marked identically, but there is a large size difference. The queens are amongst the largest of British species, they are also unique in any British species, overwintering in north-facing banks, often in woodlands or woodland edge. The bee is said to have a fondness for yellow flowers, but not today in the garden.

These two young sibling Woodpigeons also put in an appearance as a first for our garden.

I'm grateful to Steve for the header image of the increasingly rare High Brown Fritillary taken near Hutton Roof.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

The Sunday Post!

I had another pleasant visit to the Birk Bank area this week before the weather broke. The wandering wasn't without at least a couple of surprises.

Up to 22 Common Darter were over the bog, with four pairs copulating and ovipositing, also 3 Black Darter were all males, I've yet to find a female here.

It's quite amazing to see the behaviour of these small darters. I don't have the equipment for close up stuff, but I managed to keep these two in the centre of the frame most of the time, though it's a bit hard work keeping up with'em.

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Black Darter Male. Pete Woodruff.

Gaining a bit of elevation off the track to Ottergear Bridge, I was able to look down and see 5 Stonechat amongst and atop of the bracken east of the car park at Rigg Lane, they were seen as a family party of two adults and three juveniles, also a Willow Warbler and later a Chiffchaff seen.

Toad Ottergear Bridge 7 Sept. Pete Woodruff.

I nearly trod on the Toad on the track just west of Ottergear Bridge.

Whenever I arrive at this spot at Birk Bank, I'm often reminded of the only young Cuckoo I ever saw 15 years ago in 2006 - I've never seen one since - it was on the wall being fed by a Meadow Pipit which was dwarfed by the size of the monster Cuckoo. 

Juvenile Cuckoo Birk Bank July 2006. Pete Woodruff.

As I paused at the ford by Cragg Wood, a dragonfly was flighting around for a few minutes refusing to settle, but hovered momentarily, long enough to be identified as a Common Hawker. Approaching the car park off Rigg Lane, 4 Spotted Flycatcher were off passage and flycatching. These four birds follow my first ever seen at this location, 11 years ago 26 August 2010.

Butterflies seen over 4 hours, flat calm and in 24 degrees, the miserable result was 16 Large White, 4 Speckled Wood, 2 Red Admiral, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, and a Small Copper

Fungus Finds....

The Blusher Amanita rubescens was found in Lord's Lot woods.

Fly Agaric Amanita muscaria found off Rigg Lane.

I've recently found these two Amanita specimens, both of which have unknown quantities of the poison muscarine in them. The Panther Cap is a close relation and is another Amanita, easily confused with others of the same genus, and is on the list of the UK's most deadliest fungi.

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I was pleased to hear from Steve Graham, to say he had paid another visit to Gait Barrows on Tuesday, and found a female Brown Hairstreak laying eggs. Steve told me of his surprise to make this find, he had considered the short flight season for the species had ended, this one is beginning to fade on the underwing. He was also surprised about this record, in that it was found at the southern end of the reserve away from the core area in the north.

Thanks to Steve for the header image of the Brown Hairstreak, and for the egg laying video.

Monday, 6 September 2021

More Gripping Stuff.

It was a new experience for me to see at least 20 Grey Wagtail on Wednesday last week, obviously some autumn movement on the River Lune at Halton...Gripping stuff! 

The videos are best viewed Full Screen....Hopefully.

This is a particularly beautifully section of the river, and on Friday I made the effort to get back there, but I found a reduction in numbers today, with 10 Grey Wagtail being half of the twenty seen on Wednesday.

Of 3 Kingfisher seen, two sightings were the same male seen each time in this video, obligingly it returned to the boulders on the opposite side and gave good views, including on one occasion ejecting a pellet before flying off, then giving a small fish a bash against the rocks before swallowing it head first. 

I enjoyed myself with the camera today, and the Goosander entertained me snorkeling and diving for small fry, and later preening.


The Grey Stalker.

Three Dipper seen Wednesday failed to show this time, but it was another pleasant couple of hours, spent in equally pleasant surroundings and an itchy video finger!

Pyrausta purpuralis. Pete Woodruff.

I'm sticking with Pyrausta purpuralis on this moth, although it can be confused with P.aurata, it was in the garden yesterday, the species has now visited us four times over the past year or two.

The header image of the Kingfisher is a frame saved from a video, it came close to being rejected by the quality control department, but despite its 'fuzziness' it just scraped through.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Riverine Bonanza.

The day started with Steve guiding me to one of his favourite haunts in Halton, to view the River Lune below Forgebank where we enjoyed stunning scenery and marvel at an extraordinary riverine bonanza. 

In the space of 45 minutes and in no more than 100 metres along the riverside from one viewpoint, we saw up to 20 Grey Wagtail, 4 Kingfisher, and 3 Dipper. Also 3 Grey Heron, a Goosander, and a juvenile Shelduck which seemed a little out of context to us both. 

It was always going to be a shot in the dark when we paid a visit to Lord's Lot, and it certainly did end up 'in the dark'. But it was at least to be a recce for future reference for where the bog is here. During our search at Lord's Lot Wood, we recorded at least 12 Speckled Wood, 2 Nuthatch, and a Buzzard and Raven overhead.

So now, it's back to the drawing board in our quest to find Lord's Lot Bog.....Meanwhile, on my way back to Lancaster, I decided to take a look in at another bog, perhaps I might get lucky and find a September Golden-ringed Dragonfly at Birk Bank....Wishful thinking!

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But there was a bit of activity on the bog again, which resulted in one of my now becoming repetitive dragonfly video's, with up to 14 Common Darter, including pairs coupled and ovipositing, also 2 Black Darter seen. Bringing up the rear, a Common Lizard, a Jay, and a flock of around 20 Goldfinch in flight between the treetops.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Darters On The Bog!

Another pleasant spell at Birk Bank bog. Nothing overwhelming, but with plenty of interest to keep me happy for a couple of hours, not least because I witnessed my first copulating Common Carder-Bee's on the boardwalk....A pity the bees were in shadow.

Common Carder Bees. Pete Woodruff.
As always, view the videos Full Screen. 

When I came across this pair, it took a while to work out what was going on, but enquiries confirmed what was pretty obvious to me....I'm grateful to Ben Hargreaves for his expertise help on this one.

There was much activity on the bog, with at least 20 Common Darter seen, including pairing and ovipositing.

Black Darter Immature Male. Pete Woodruff.

Also seen, up to 6 Black Darter were all black males with the exception of an immature male. The best and biggest surprise was a Golden-ringed Dragonfly, probably the last one of the year for me. I'm not aware of any September records in Lancashire for the species.

This Common Lizard was one of four I saw on my last visit here on 12 August.

The trek to Cragg Wood in the hope of finding Purple Hairstreak around the oaks along the way, and Golden-ringed Dragonfly on the River Conder, was the road to nowhere. But I did find a female and juvenile Stonechat, also a Buzzard overhead, with Chiffchaff and Coal Tit seen.  

I noted just thirteen butterflies in four hours, 6 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Small Copper, 2 Speckled Wood, and a Peacock.

Some much appreciated quality and colour images for B2B. They were sent to me by Martin Jump and Ian Mitchell.

Brimstone. Martin Jump.

One of Martin's many extraordinary images, this one of the Brimstone butterfly coming in to land on Purple Loosestrife. 

Gold Spot. Ian Mitchell.

Fairly common throughout the whole of Britain, but takes nothing away from this attractive and colourful Gold Spot moth in Ian's trap recently. 

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

The Hairstreak Experience.

Brown Hairstreak.

The first confirmed record of the Brown Hairstreak in Lancashire, came from the Silverdale area in 2011, and was the result of an unauthorised release. The species is restricted to the south, the nearest colonies being in Worcestershire c.150 miles away from Silverdale. A colony has now been established at Gait Barrows, and is recorded annually for 4 years since 2017. However it is noted, the species is not fully protected, and unofficial releases are strongly discouraged by Butterfly Conservation.

Yesterday I was in the excellent company of Steve Graham, he had agreed to accompany me on a guided butterfly safari.

Brown Hairstreak Egg. Pete Woodruff.

The day started a little sluggish, but within the hour Steve was soon showing his skill to me, and finding an egg resembling Sea Urchin tucked away under a spur branch.

Brown Hairstreak Female. Pete Woodruff. 

From then on, the day turned into a Brown Hairstreak spectacular, we had six sightings of this elusive butterfly, three individuals around and in the tree tops, and three at lower ground level.

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Other butterflies seen continued the dearth, and were particularly worrying, with just singular Small Copper, Gatekeeper, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, with 6 Speckled Wood, 2 Brimstone, and a Sliver Y moth.

Common Darter Gait Barrows 24 August. Pete Woodruff.

Dragonflies seen, at least 6 Common Darter, a few sightings of Migrant Hawker, and a Brown Hawker

Birds sighting were, 2 Buzzard and a Raven overhead, a small flock of Long-tailed Tit in flight between trees, Bullfinch and Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Garden Birds.

Robin 25 August 2021. Pete Woodruff.

I managed to grab a shot of our young garden Robin this morning, 3 Buzzard were soaring together over Bowerham, and about 5 Long-tailed Tit looking interested in the feeders according to the Woodruff's.   

Sunday, 22 August 2021

The Greens Take Conder By Storm!

Someone stepped onto the viewing platform at Conder Green on Friday, and started a conversation by asking if there was anything interesting here. Obviously a visitor to the area, he went on to ask how long the pool had been in existence. I explained, the first mention in my records was in June 2003, when at the time of my first ever visit, I had thought perhaps it was a good idea to call it Conder Pool, a name that was adopted and has stuck for 18 years.

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I made an all time record high count of 19 Greenshank on Friday, ten are seen here in the video....It's a pity the busy A5290 runs parallel with Conder Pool.

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Some of the c.200 Redshank and Common Tern seen in this video, including a juvenile with a fish at which a Black-headed Gull makes an attempt to steal, but the tern flies off with its meal. Also in the clip, one of the 3 Black-tailed Godwit seen. I also counted 11 Little Grebe and 12 Tufted Duck, and a Kingfisher which gave good views perched at the back of the pool.

A circuit of Conder Green was rewarded by good views of a Reed Warbler in the reeds upstream of the road bridge, and up to 30 House Martin were around River Winds which usually has a decent colony of breeders annually. I made a count of 22 Small Tortoiseshell on the round.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson, at least 400 Redshank and 650 Lapwing seen, with 72 Curlew, an adult winter Mediterranean Gull, and an adult Common Tern fishing and occasionally plunge diving. Interesting that I saw not a single Dunlin here today. A Brown Hawker was the only sighting along the canal at Glasson Dock.

Garden Stars.

A young Robin and Dunnock seen this week, also this morning, the Wren and Coal Tit put in an appearance.

Common Darter.

Female Common Darter Birk Bank 12 August

This photograph of a female Common Darter I found recently, initially puzzled me, I couldn't understand why the red on the abdomen. This is an old female, as they get older they turn olive brown. In a beautifully simple experiment a Japanese research team injected Vitamin C and oxidase enzyme into the cuticle of immature male darters and mature females and they all turned from yellow to red directly. 

There's a link to an abstract on how Redox alters yellow dragonflies into red, but if you have no interest in the science, you might want to give this a miss .... 

Thanks to Martin for the header pair of Azure Damselfly. 

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Shooting In Progress!

Until I reached the car park on Thursday, I hadn't realised it was 12 August. I had driven into Bowland to find the barrier down at Rigg Lane, and a notice saying 'ACCESS AREA CLOSED TODAY SHOOTING IN PROGRESS'. 

I decided to take a deep breath, went under the barrier in the hope nobody would come after me with a loaded gun, walked 1/4 mile to the bog below Birk Bank, to do some shooting myself. 

spent a pleasant and rewarding 2 hours, noting at least 24 dragonflies, taking 60 piks/videos, to salvage the ones below for the blog....All the piks and videos - View Full Screen - are Pete Woodruff's.

Common Darter

Pacing up and down on the boardwalk for 2 hours, it was virtually impossible to get any accuracy, but in the end I arrived at a count of at least 10 Common Darter female and 6 male....

....and this pair copulating.

The 4 Black Darter seen were all black males.

A Black Darter briefly joins a Common Darter

Keeled Skimmer

Stars of the show were 2 Keeled Skimmer males which made a few appearances during my stay, including this one briefly on the boardwalk. A close second best was the Golden-ringed Dragonfly that settled close by me on the boardwalk, but didn't stay long enough for a pik.

I also had sightings of 4 Common Lizard....

....and several sightings of the smart looking, but unpleasant Flesh Fly Sarcophaga sp.

The only bird noted, was a Raven over, with in its deep repeated 'korrp-korrp' call. And with the exception of several Large White, I saw no other butterflies.

Access Area Closed Shooting In Progress.

I'm making no other comments on the notice board at Rigg Lane, but my piece on the 'The Glorious Twelfth' in a previous post, is firmed up Here