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

Monday, 31 August 2009

The House Martin.

A visit to the Abbeystead area last Friday was rewarded in more ways than one but not least because it was discovered that one of the adult Spotted Flycatcher at Christ Church was still on territory. I think my surprise about this was fuelled by the weather which was more reminiscent of late October than late August and continues to be so as I write and is forecast to do so for the foreseeable future, and on Friday seeing the bird gave the distinct feeling I was observing a winter visitor rather than a summer one. I have well documented the demise of the House Martin's at the church in 2009 but early in the spring I had appreciated that birds had arrived back at their nest sites early in some areas, in a few cases in the first week of April but little did I know that the main arrival wasn't going to be until much later this year.
There was two distinct arrivals of the House Martin, birds that left wintering grounds in Africa early had the weather in their favour and in fact a pair in Scotland were reported nest building in the second week of April. But the good fortunes of the early-birds was short lived, and the main arrival of birds from mid-April to mid-May were held up in Southern Europe by bad weather but with an improvement in the weather the situation also improved for the House Martin's and the second wave of birds started to arrive of which - by the last week in May - the 'tail end' coincided with the 'mega' movement of Painted Lady butterflies also from Southern Europe and of which I personally counted up to 150 in the Clougha/Birk Bank area on Saturday 30 May.......But the House Martin's never did arrive at Christ Church in 2009 and end of year records will perhaps indicate the significance of this puzzling non event at Abbeystead.

Unfortunately to accompany this post I have no decent images of the House Martin but have found this stunning one of the Willow Warbler from David Cookson which is yet another species heading towards the 'Red List'. A decrease in numbers of which was commented on here as far back as 7 June 'Sunday Service' perhaps JC is going to be proved correct after all.

Sunday, 30 August 2009


......binoculors......River Lune......gull's.

Did it again by combining an agreement with KW to do the 'taxi run' to Sainsbury's and heading behind the store to 'sift' through the gulls on the river to find an adult Mediterranean Gull again as on 16 August and to confirm the bird is unringed.

Reed Warbler with thanks to David Cookson.

An interesting observation was made by David whilst trying to gain the best possible image of this bird - which I would suggest he certainly achieved - in that he watched as it attacked insects knocking them into the water before retrieving them - once they had succumbed and drowned - to feed its young.
Whilst on the subject of bird behaviour, one 'snatched' from my record book was of the amazing sight at Leighton Moss from the Griesdale Hide on 21 August 1998 of a Kingfisher perched in a small tree opposite the hide accompanied - on a branch not more than 10 mtrs above it - by a Sparrowhawk. Absolutely nothing came of this close encounter with death by the Kingfisher even when it decided to fly off.
And in order to fill this small gap in my birding on the blog ponder this......The world belongs to the courageous and if you often find yourself saying 'I cannot' then you're setting yourself limitations. Take the bumble-bee which weighs c.1.2 grammes and has a wingspan of c.0.7 cm. According to the well known laws of aerodynamics, it is not possible to fly in these circumstances but the bumble-bee doesn't know it flies!

Friday, 28 August 2009

August 28......

......more like October 28 where I was today.

When BT suggested we go into the Trough this morning I thought maybe he'd forgotten to take his medication, but that's a little unkind of me to say that, for one thing BT doesn't have a computer so cannot respond to such a comment......sorry BT!
It was actually a very good idea if only because one of the first birds we encountered was at Abbeystead where at Christ Church one of the adult Spotted Flycatcher was still there, also when driving away from here we observed an obvious Meadow Pipit movement and although the birds were difficult to count there was a few around. I don't need anyone to tell me I'm repeating myself here, but I must once more claim that NO House Martin's at the church in 2009 where 15 nest's from last and previous year's have been unoccupied appears to be a significant and worrying record.
At Marshaw the next surprise - not least given the weather conditions - was one of the adult Spotted Flycatcher at this site where I had seen a pair and three juvenile on 20 July, a Dunnock was also noted.
At Tower Lodge 10 Chaffinch and a Dunnock were feeding on spilt grain with game bird feeders having been recently put in place up the track. I have always recommended a walk up this track to go behind the plantation, and today the reward was two male and a female Redstart. Driving towards Langden Brook a Buzzard overhead was being mobbed by a Raven. A short walk up the path to the pump house at Langden proved absolutely nothing save 2 House Martin flying upstream.
Our leader and chauffeur then decided a visit to Conder Green would end the day nicely where we found the Ruff in company with 2 Spotted Redshank, 6 Greenshank, and c.280 Redshank, a Little Grebe and Kingfisher were also on here. I should end this post by adding a RBA pager message at 7.17pm reported the Wood Sandpiper at Conder Green opposite the pool at 5.45pm......well, what is there for me to say to that.
A bit sickening for me to post the Lesser - spotted Woodpecker pic as I often wonder if/when I will ever get to see one. Thanks go to David Cookson for allowing me to copy this excellent image on Birds2blog.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

The Plan......

......was to take advantage of what looked like being a half decent day and get myself up Clougha/Birk Bank to check out the bird-life there. But I was up with the Lark this morning and had ample time to look over some more bird-life first at Conder Green.
Ruff On Conder Pool this morning courtesy of Pete Woodruff.
The first four birds I clapped eyes on were 2 Little Egret, a Ruff, and Little Grebe on Conder Pool, the female Mallard still has her family of seven in tact on here despite a Grey Heron just leaving the pool as I arrived. In the Conder Green area, 3 Greenshank, 3 Common Sandpiper, a Kingfisher, the lone Black - tailed Godwit which appears to have taken a liking to the creeks, and 2 Snipe. A Wheatear was on the marsh below the old railway bridge. A visit to Glasson Dock to look over the Lune Estuary left me with just about time to 'sift' through the gull's to find an adult Mediterranean Gull before the dreaded Peregrine Falcon again came on the scene to reveal a 'few' thousand waders going up in synchronized panic.....I left, there was work to be done.
Birds noted on Clougha/Birk Bank were, 10 Stonechat five of which were juveniles to which - at this moment in time - I'm making no further comment, a Willow Warbler was interacting with a small family party of them as they're often found to do, a pretty good count of at least 35 Red Grouse prompts me to wonder if the guardians of the countryside are importing the poor things, or maybe the 'tic's' have died a death. I had just muttered to myself (I do it all the time) that a dozen Raven would be nice whilst up here, when a few seconds later five came over the ridge - so wishful thinking can work after all - a Wheatear, 2 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, around 12 Meadow Pipit, and a Coal Tit was to note. Butterflies seen, 20 Painted Lady, 5 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Peacock, and a Red Admiral, 2 Golden - ringed Dragonflies were over the bog.

A 3rd summer Yellow - legged Gull and LBBG courtesy of Stuart Piner.

So, if you've joined the 'thick birders club' like me, then its time to take another look at the bird above so as to begin to grasp what its going to look like when you come across it......OK!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Another Pic's Gallery.

Thanks to Chris Batty

Well for starters if you're as thick as I am when it comes to immature gulls then this pic of the juvenile Yellow - legged Gull is just up your street, so take a close look at it because the YLG's are around and you may as well be able to ID one as not if you're going to insist on being called a 'birder' as I would like to be.

Thanks to Brian Rafferty

This has to be as good a pic of the juvenile Ringed Plover as you could possibly hope for. One of the 'liveliest' of shorebirds and in terms of being a local breeder was first recorded inland on the River Lune at Caton in 1947, and 31 years later in 1978 there were 42 inland pairs. In 2007 only four pairs bred on the River Lune.
Thanks to Brian Rafferty.

Another excellent image this time the Dunlin, this is the bird used as a yardstick in the process of ID of suchlike species. The bird is known to be a difficult one to census on its breeding grounds and distribution maps are incomplete to an unknown degree, it is not unrealistic to place the Lancashire population at c.50 pairs......Wow!

Thanks to Paul Baker.

The Least Sandpiper, something of an extreme rarity in the UK - when did you last see one - and breeds in Alaska and N Canada, this pic was taken in British Columbia......Thanks Paul

Thanks to Paul Baker.

The Cooper's Hawk, a medium sized hawk native to the N American continent and found from Canada to Mexico is one of the bird-worlds most skillful flyer's......Thanks again for your excellent images Paul.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Another good 'tern' out......

Fifteen of the 170 Sandwich Tern's at Knott End this afternoon. Knott End where - having seen 2 adult Mediterranean Gull's - there was at least 170 Sandwich Tern's mid afternoon, later 56 were counted at Cockers Dyke where 12 Grey Plover were of note. A Peregrine Falcon was hunting Pilling Marsh.

But the day with JB started as ever at Conder Green where it was relatively quiet but in two visits here - one at the start and another at the end of the day - 9 Greenshank were seen, 3 Common Sandpiper, a single Black - tailed Godwit, and 2 Snipe. At Glasson Dock a Peregrine Falcon very soon followed by rain the size of fifty pence pieces put paid to any hopes of counting waders - though JB has some estimates here - but not before counting up to 400 Golden Plover and finding an adult Mediterranean Gull.
The heavy rain dried up by the time we reached Cockersands and were able to estimate some waders with no apologies for nice cosy round figures like......300 Redshank, 200 Dunlin, 120 Ringed Plover, and 3 Golden Plover, yet another hunting Peregrine Falcon put every bird in sight to the usual sheer panic. Up to 30 Tree Sparrow's were enjoying the harvest in a barley field near Bank Houses.
Ringing visitors to the blog (if there are any) may be interested to know I succeeded in reading two today at Knott End, they were attached to the legs of Herring Gull's and the readings were......WB5G/WC6W.

Monday, 24 August 2009

WoodRuff !

Can't recommend the grub in the Stork from experience but the car park is always full when open and if their attention to the food is half as good as it is to their hanging basket's then I'd suggest going for it as the floral display must be second none. As for the title of this post, still not the former but two of the latter, one of which was a nice surprise but that's coming up.
At Conder Green the pool was rather quiet but a Little Egret would have caused my mobile to overload not all that many years ago and a Ruff showed well, a female Mallard was noted in charge of seven young, also Kingfisher seen on here, 2 Spotted Redshank were in the creeks as were 2 Greenshank, just 4 Common Sandpiper made me to think perhaps some 'moving on' has taken place but more to come I would suggest, a single Black - tailed Godwit noted, and at least one House Martin nest is still active at River Winds.
At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary, by recent standards the wader numbers were well down but at least 300 Golden Plover were the highest returning number to date, and 2 Greenshank were also to note, 2 adult Mediterranean Gull's are always a nice find. On Moss Lane a Ruff with c.500 mainly Black - headed Gull's in a field gave that 'you never know whats next' feeling. At Cockersands a Peregrine Falcon put every wader in sight to panic but the numbers were relatively small with circa 320 Oystercatcher, 160 Redshank, 140 Dunlin, 4 Knot, 3 Ringed Plover and just 2 Eider on the estuary. The best bird here today was a solitary Sanderling and I'm not convinced everyone appreciates just how scarce this species is at Cockersands.
I hot footed it (if that's possible in a car) to Pilling Lane Ends where I was committed to doing a deferred WeBS count (peeing down yesterday) which as it turns out took me just a few minutes, its surprising even on an almost 10 mtr tide just how unbelievably low the number of birds present at a location like this can be in late August, added to my own notes was another Peregrine Falcon which seemed content to 'sit' on the marsh for the duration of my visit, I also noted a 'large' number of Swallows hawking over the marsh, if I was to put a figure to them I would go for a minimum of 300.
Off Fluke Hall I estimated 30 Sandwich Tern's and 40 Grey Plover 'at rest' on the marsh though there was probably more of the latter hidden from view, also 2 Little Egret which are appearing up and down the coast again now and slowly building up to winter numbers, and the last bird of the day was a Whitethroat in the hedgerow......Isn't birding great!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Another Diversion.

Another diversion from what the blog is really supposed to be about, but I thought some images of Sapsuckers and a Woodpecker from across the Atlantic would go to keep the blog ticking over and a change from our UK species. The two images above are of the male (left) and female Red - naped Sapsucker and was taken in Manning Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.
This is the Red - breasted Sapsucker and was taken on Mount Seymour, North Vancouver, Canada.

And an excellent portrait of a female Downy Woodpecker the smallest Woodpecker in North America which breeds in mainly deciduous forested areas in North to Central America.
The photographs are credited to Paul Baker who has given me permission to use them on Bird2blog for which I am most grateful......Thanks Paul.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Wood you believe it!

First time out since Monday and if it matters you missed a bird found somewhere you had been two hours earlier then you got your timing wrong. Well at around 11.40 this morning I was with JB/BT at Conder Green and counted twelve of the fifteen Greenshank seen on Conder Pool yesterday, at least 5 Common Sandpiper, a Kingfisher, and a Sparrowhawk pushed c.800 Lapwing off Jeremy Lane and over the pool. A single Black - tailed Godwit was noted in the channel below the old railway bridge and the first 2 Little Egret of the autumn were on the marsh. So now for the 'bit' were we got the timing wrong when at 1.38 pm the RBA pager told us a juvenile Wood Sandpiper had been on Conder Pool briefly......I just think someones out to wind me up!

But before all this......we had been to Aldcliffe (remember BT's car goes into auto pilot about 10.00 every Friday morning and ends up here) and were rewarded by 2 Green Sandpiper, c.50 Swallow over the wildfowlers pool, and 4 Snipe on the flood.

At Glasson Dock birding was in ruins if only because by now almost 10 mtrs of tide covered the Lune Estuary and marshes but the Black Swan - having been absent since 9 June - was here again with the Mute Swan's, where does this bird keep disappearing to as it was also seen on a date prior to 9 June. As a sort of religious act we have a 'buttie and cuppa' on Bodie Hill each and every Friday we 'do' this coastal area, from where a Peregrine Falcon was seen over the marsh.

At Pilling Lane Ends BT noted at least 20 Common Blue, 2 Painted Lady, and 2 Wall Brown butterflies, whilst I noted no birds of any significance here. And finally......a visit to Cockers Dyke produced an adult Mediterranean Gull and an adult and juvenile Sandwich Tern.

The Wood Sandpiper above is most certainly not todays Conder Pool bird but was at Marshside recently when BR was visiting armed as ever with his camera.....Thanks again Brian.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

This is......

......even more serious as I now have to wait until Friday to get out birding. So in the hope this isn't all becoming too monotonous - and with my thanks to Paul Baker - here's another trio from across the pond all three of which would get the lot of us (well a lot of us) diving into our cars to tear off down the road somewhere to 'twitch'.
The Baird's Sandpiper breeds in the high Arctic of N Canada and Alaska as well as the far NE Siberia and NW Greenland and is a truly long - distant migrant which winters in S America, S of the equator. When/where was the last one you saw?

Wilson's Phalarope breeds in the middle latitudes of N America extending east to S Ontario and winters in S America, mainly on the Argentinian pampas.

The breeding range of the Killdeer is quite variable and includes N and C America, the W Indies and S America from Peru to N Chile. Northerly breeders winter in the coastal and southern US, and Killdeers from the Great Lakes and NE Canada are known to winter in mainly south - eastern USA.
I've never seen any of these birds about you.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

This is serious!

This is becoming serious as I've not been birding since Monday and tomorrow is looking decidedly doubtful......I can only live in hope!
Meanwhile a couple of images from a contact in the US the top one of which is of my most favourite 'American' the Lesser Yellowlegs......I know the bird well. And the butterfly is the Western Tiger Swallowtail which would brighten up any page on any blog. Thanks for the pic's Paul and for allowing me to post them here, I hope to be able to show others in the future and can't think of a better way of filling the gaps in the post's.
Curlew Sandpiper, Hobby, and Marsh Harrier today, all in an area I know well and not to mention an amazing 14 Greenshank (JS) on Conder Pool......WOW! Would anybody like to challenge me on the claim this is an all time record at Conder Green.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Hobby Disturbance......

.....and a whinge about litter louts in the Trough of Bowland which I'll address first as the pic's to the right are the evidence found in the ever popular area around Tower Lodge. With regard to the remnants of some unacceptable activity and associated litter left in the area, the fire is one problem which needs to be eradicated, but with regard to this particular incident this 'party' was held within a very few metres from where a few days earlier I had staked out to observe a pair of Spotted Flycatcher's visiting a nest hole in a tree obviously feeding young. I'm pretty sure we can all agree this sort of activity does absolutely nothing for the welfare of these birds, more to the point in all probability it almost certainly put them in at least some danger if not critically so, bearing in mind to make matters worse the species in question is on the 'red list'. Despite signs in the area clearly indicating 'no fires' it is a classic example of a law being in place but nobody ever around or prepared to tackle those responsible.
There's nothing much to say about the other pic which illustrates another 'party' who had enjoyed a meal from a popular outlet but sadly couldn't be bothered to take their litter home. I've been in touch with the outlet in question to ask if an education programme on the packaging might be a good idea......I don't think any of us should hold our breath.
Like many other people I have recently received an e-mail telling me of the problems of so called birders/photographers who - despite the site of a successful breeding pair of Hobby in East Lanc's being rightly suppressed - have found out about the location and have been visiting it. Although the young from this nest are now fledged they are still around the nest-site and are still fully dependant on the parent birds for food. It doesn't really need someone like me to prattle on about the consequences of these people who I assume like to be referred to as 'birders/photographers' but these particular ones who are wilfully disturbing this Schedule 1 species and preventing the adults from feeding the young I personally want no association with them. Furthermore a recent incident regarding a rare bird to the Trough of Bowland brought about a call from a high profile (I prefer to call him but am not at liberty to name) birder to 'name and shame' these characters when they step out of line for their own satisfaction of achieving better than anyone else. Well I for one willing second this motion of 'naming and shaming' and the sooner the better.
The whinging stops here......well for now anyway!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Grim if not Gruesome.

By way of a change I'll credit the excellent pic of a Red - throated Diver first which goes to Peter Guy. Once again not at all connected to the content of the post other than my visit to the coastal areas but what's new there, an excellent image of the bird exercising its wings......thanks Peter.

Well I readily call today grim if not gruesome, but birding continues to be bloody hard work at times yet and today was no exception. Bird of the day went to the Ruff on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock this late morning and 'appeared' to be the 27 July juvenile seen here and three days later in the channel at Conder Green. My timing was out today with the tide still quite high on the River Lune as viewed from Glasson Dock and the only other birds of note were just 3 Black - tailed Godwit, otherwise absolutely nothing new to add to recent visits. At Conder Green the adult Spotted Redshank now stands out from the Redshanks in its winter plumage even at a distance without optics, also 4 Greenshank, 7 Common Sandpiper, and in the channel below the old railway bridge c.150 Redshank, and 50 Dunlin. At Cockersands I struggled to find anything of note save just 8 Golden Plover, 10 Ringed Plover, and 2 Turnstone, a 'few' Redshank and even fewer Dunlin went uncounted.

Always keen to take a look at Cockers Dyke and Knott End especially around this time of year, I drove to both locations to find them almost totally void of birds by which time I was now well and truly 'peed off' and decided to go to check out the bird-life on Harrisend where it took me 1.5 hours to find a family party of 5 Stonechat being a female and four juveniles. Also to note here, 4 Red Grouse had escaped the attention of any 'sportsmen' who may have been out since the twelfth, 2 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, and just 4 Meadow Pipit.

Now I don't wish to labour the 'grim' issue but in comparing what birding can really be like at its best......what else can I say.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

A Gull & More Yesteryear.

TIP OF THE DAY......If you're railroaded into going shopping at Sainsbury's in Lancaster and you profess to being a birder then you really must make sure you take at least your binoculars with you, I always do and today - not for the first time - I was rewarded by an adult Mediterranean Gull just upstream from Greyhound Bridge. As a bonus I was able to get a half decent pic of the bird above. So as you go out the front door of the house you ask yourself two questions the most difficult one am I going to tell the wife I'm going to do some birding whilst she gets the shopping?......and......have I got my binoculars in the car?

Along with the British Birds magazines I mentioned in the last post on the blog I also found some old Bird Notes magazines, not quite as old as the BB's but 44 years old all the same and the pic of the one above is the January 1965 issue and has on the cover - as do all six copies I acquired - a picture from a painting by C. F. Tunnicliffe. I'm not too well up on the history of this magazine but it is obviously a RSPB publication. The magazine cost two shillings then and in this issue on page 33 is a section under the heading 'Notes from the Reserves' and these are a few extracts from the one called Leighton Moss, Silverdale, Lanc's, with some comments from me in brackets.
A public hide has been erected on the causeway giving good views over one of the meres on the reserve. A clearance has been directed into improving the Grasshopper Warbler habitat where the willow scrub was advancing very quickly. Duck numbers reached a peak of around 1,000 in late September, mainly Mallard, Teal, and Shoveler, with smaller numbers of Gadwall, Wigeon, Pintail, Tufted Duck, and Pochard. A Marsh Harrier was seen on 21 September (well I'd say that was interesting) Black Tern's were present until 12 October (and that sounds interesting too) and Redpoll and Goldfinch were abundant this autumn (and so does that).
Some fascinating reading in these old books and I must keep my eyes open for more.
Oh dear the gaps there again!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Yesteryear & Today.

I was recently very fortunate in discovering 14 copies of British Birds Magazine's in a charity shop in Lancaster dating as far back as 1943 - the oldest cover of which is pictured above - and I regard myself as pretty lucky to have done so.
British Birds was first established in 1907 and at the time incorporated The Zoologist which was established in 1843. Today the monthly magazine is the creme de la creme of ornithological literature, the only 'personal' opinion I would make of it is that it is maximum in its scientific content which, if you don't particularly want or have the need for science in your 'birding' interest then forget it. I decided to cease subscribing to the magazine when I became saturated with the aforementioned science some of which - never being one to shy away from the truth about myself - was a little too much for me to take in at times.
Sixty six years ago the magazine cost £1 for 12 monthly copies, the last I heard it was in excess of £60 per things change. It was printed on newspaper and was just 20 pages long and one particular section of these old magazines are the 'Notes' and this section continues today and was the most interesting aspect of the publication for me and I was fortunate enough to have two of my own 'Notes' published over the years I subscribed to the magazine. One example in this 1943 issue is that of an observer recording what the magazine claims to be the first ever Redwing in full song in Britain and was seen/heard off the west coast of Ross-shire on 13 April 1943 on the Isle of Tanera. As you can imagine there is some fascinating reading in these by now rather ancient issues.
And is the 6th anniversary of the 6th White- winged Black Tern to be recorded in the LDBWS area and was present over the salt marshes in the Conder Green/Glasson Dock area including occasional visits to the now 'famous' Conder Pool. The bird - a superb moulting adult - was frequently observed feeding on flying insects and was found to be particularly adept at catching Small Tortoiseshell butterflies to which I must claim......if it had turned up here this year it would certainly not have fed on this species of butterfly today or any other day in 2009. The only other August record of WWBT in the LDBWS previous to this one was of a juvenile at Leighton Moss in 1969, but a long staying adult was frequently seen on the Lune Estuary on 22 June - 9 July 1973, with one - presumed the same bird in moult - seen on 27 July 1973.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Med Up......Not Fed Up.

Not at all connected to this post but an excellent image of a male Grey Wagtail courtesy of Peter Guy.
An excellent day with JB if only because six Mediterranean Gull's were found, all adults two on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, one in a field off Jeremy Lane, and three on Preesall Sands at Cockers Dyke where I had to sift through c.550 mainly Black - headed Gull's, also two smart Grey Plover in breeding plumage were of note. Earlier at Knott End the only bird record was of a Whimbrel heard going over, otherwise whilst having a 'buttie' we watched modern technology in action in the form of the sign which lights up the speed you are traveling at as you approach it in your car, not one of which exceeded 28mph but probably one or two accelerated to 60mph soon after in the same 30mph speed limit zone......

......talking of which, if you think these two were playing at being 'coppers' you'd have been in for a shock and a few quid less in your bank account if you'd have driven towards them at 31mph today at Glasson Dock 'cos one of 'ems armed with a speed sensor......and the 'Moggie's' for real too though parked illegally on the pavement I would have thought.
At Conder Green the Common Sandpiper number seems to have fallen as just four were seen today, also 3 Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank, and 6 Black - tailed Godwit were to note. At Fluke Hall 3 Wheatear were the only birds to note, butterflies seen were, 6 Wall Brown, 3 Painted Lady, a Gatekeeper, and 3 Common Blue of which I don't think I've seen more than six all summer......something wrong there surely.
Yesterday I had a little time on my hands between a 'taxi' job and spent it at Teal Bay as the tide came in noting a solitary Black - tailed Godwit, 4 Whimbrel, and a hunting Peregrine Falcon which appeared to make one or two weak attempts at taking prey but failed miserably before flying off over the golf course. I often feel unable to understand the behaviour of these birds of prey in particular the Peregrine as this one here today in my view could easily have taken a lone Dunlin in the air and appeared to be going to do so but the Dunlin seemed to manoeuvre itself from certain death with little effort.
Not a long list of birds gathered today but every birding day is a day well spent in my book......roll on the next one!
I have no idea why the 'posted by' line below is as long as your arm away from this one but I'm obviously doing something wrong somewhere sometimes.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Nothing...... write home about, but JB and I had a good look along the coastal strip from Conder Green to knott End but there's no getting away from it birding days do have ratings and this one didn't do all that well in them. Despite scanning - I mean seriously scanning - three excellent 'gull' roosts I could find not a solitary Med Gull let alone an Ivory Gull.

Conder Green stood up well again today with 7 Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank, 7 Common Sandpiper, a Kingfisher, and a Snipe. The Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock played host to a big disappointment for me in that despite another one of today's serious scans through c.2,700 close range waders - not all mentioned here - the Curlew Sandpiper - here since last Friday - was not seen, but noted were circa numbers of 800 Redshank, 1,500 Lapwing, and 100 Dunlin. Now I launch into another whinge because, when we arrive at Cockersands two numpties in a microlight fly about 2 mtrs above water the full length from Crook Farm to out of sight heading towards Bank End achieving nothing on our account save to prove that on Plover Scar were c.230 Oystercatcher and 50 Dunlin all now heading towards Sunderland Point, but what about the Bairds Sandpiper that flew off with them, I would'nt have minded if the Sparrowhawk - which actually took the very same fight path - had flushed the waders but......I give in......again!

A run to Knott End to find the first of the days gull roost's achieved little other than 3 Sandwich Terns with them and a Med Gull at high tide (RBA) but this was after we left at the sight of two more numpties with two dogs putting the gulls to could'nt make it up could you! At Cockers Dyke another excellent gull roost didn't produce anything and I confess to failing miserably at taking notes on anything else here. At Fluke Hall 2 Wheatear, always a smart bird to feast your eyes on and probably the first and last summer visitor to enter any birders note's. And at Bank End the third roost of the day again produced nothing other than c.250 Black - headed Gull's, but 2 Greenshank ended the day on a high'ish note.

Footnote. I've often thought, if the first Wheatear to arrive in the UK on a very early date was the last to leave the UK on a very late date it could have been in the country at least 8 month's.
I think JB's image of the Wheatear is excellent in that it has turned out to appear to be an oil painting for some strange reason which would grace any wall in your house......Thanks John.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Clear Out!

As I was yet again disabled from birding (don't know how much more of this I can cope with) I decided a clear out of my bureau would be a good idea. Well if anything good comes out of such a mundane exercise it's that you're sure to find something of interest in the process. But in keeping a blog up and running there's always the danger of doing a repeat post and if this is the case here and someone spots it then I'd really appreciate you telling me so.

Over the years I managed a couple of 'Notes' in the very upmarket British Birds magazine, one of which was regarding a Cuckoo I had observed at Barbondale. Watching the bird through my telescope for several minutes I had concluded that it had been calling whilst its bill remained closed throughout. I actually had the same opportunity two years later at the same location which confirmed this and I decided to do a note on what I had witnessed and sent it off to BB for their consideration, in due course they took up the account and published it in the January 2002 issue. However, a look into the BWP book will tell you that in fact the Cuckoo and its advertising - call does appear to have a variation in the manner it is delivered, for interest I'd recommend looking this up.

This article generated some more interest in that 10 months later in the November 2002 issue a correspondent had a note published which followed on from his having seen my article in January regarding the Cuckoo. This person from the UK had apparently spent over 30 years living in Pakistan, and in the outer Himalayan foothills had observed the Common Cuckoo, Oriental Cuckoo, and Lesser Cuckoo at times calling from the same area (lucky man) and had noted all three species had kept their bills closed when calling, whilst the gular pouch - or throat - ballooned out visibly with each call......Bird behaviour and characteristics of which there are endless examples to intrigue us.

I've filled the pic space today with a rather nice image of the Greenshank courtesy of Mike Watson......thanks Mike.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Halcyon Days.

Searching through my past records - a time consuming affair - I realised - as I always do - that I can't do so without regularly coming across the name John Leedal my very good friend and mentor of yesteryear. I could create an entire blog to record the comings and goings, the ups and downs, the positives and negatives all experienced with this man who - amongst his other lifetime achievements - found a Fungi somewhere in our area which turned out to have been new to science and which - if my memory serves me well - was eventually named after him. However, if my memory isn't serving me well then he was certainly asked if his wish was that this should be the case, so perhaps an err on caution is the best way forward on that.

The first of the three records which jumped out at me during this search of my document's was that of the 16 June over 14 years ago in 1995 when, after a day driving around the North Lancashire countryside delivering car parts JL and I headed off down the M6 to Wigan and Scotsmans Flash to have excellent views of a River Warbler which had been present here since Sunday of the same week. This bird was the 13th record for the county and carries with it the abiding memory of my encounter with a sweet little guy no more than six years old but who was obviously up to date with what was going on near his house and when I arrived back at the car asked me......'have you been to see the River Wibler mister'......nice one and something I'll never forget.

The second record began at Rusland in Cumbria 10 years ago on 28 August 1999 where JL and I spent many hours on many visits observing Honey Buzzard which were breeding at the time in the area at an undisclosed location. We spent many 'empty' hours here but on occasions did see males displaying and on one visit I was fortunate to be able to record a bird calling, not an everyday occurrence so really fortunate here. The day turned even more exciting when a visiting birder gave us the news that a Woodchat Shrike was at Leighton Moss in the Allen Pool area and off we went to have good views of a juvenile which represented a 1st record for LM and followed on from the first for the LDBWS area with one in the spring of 1988. I was reminded of this event with the 'Tower Lodge' bird on Friday 29 May which - almost ten years later - becomes the third record for the area.

And the third record to recall started by coincidence at the very same Rusland location to follow up a phone call JL had recieved tipping him off that Bee Eater's were in the area. This phone call with its details of the location resulted in a memorable encounter with four of these enigmatic birds including observations as close as 50 mtrs on occasions and of one bird offering another one an insect, and birds in the air calling at times......another excellent birding experience and one never to be forgotten......Halcyon Day's.

I've certainly no pic's of River Warbler, Honey Buzzard, Woodchat Shrike, or Bee Beater, so not to leave an empty space I think this one of the Coot - thanks BR - is excellent and is full of humour with the expression of the bird appearing to say......can I really hope to walk on water!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Cry Freedom!

I reckon this was the cry from JB who had been unavoidably absent from his birding for three weeks and was glad to have his freedom back and be out once again.
Conder Green was quiet today when we arrived, it is always satisfying to know birds are never going to be predictable which is exactly what makes birding as interesting as it is, but Conder Green continued to make its claim to be as good as anywhere when it comes to returning Common Sandpiper and 14 were found today with little if any effort, also 2 Greenshank were on the pool. I must say I was rendered dump struck on the viewing platform by the comments from some visiting birders to our area when one of them claimed there had been 'lots of' Curlew Sandpiper on the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock yesterday......Mmmmmmm!
A visit to Glasson Dock in the afternoon after the tide had fallen, JB will do the full run down on wader numbers on the LDBWS website whilst I noted 2 Greenshank which could well have been the two seen in the morning on Conder Pool, 2 Black - tailed Godwit, 3 Bar - tailed Godwit and a Whimbrel. A brief visit to Cockersands - where day trippers were out on Plover Scar - produced a Wheatear and 4 Whimbrel.
Gatekeeper at Fluke Hall

We decided a visit to Knott End was on the cards as August can be and was 'good' for 215 Sandwich Terns with at least 2 Common Tern, and 6 drake Common Scoter close in on the sea. A search for two Med Gulls known to be here at the time of our visit was completely ruined by yet another dog excerciser about which I refuse on this occasion to comment further. If you are in the Knott End area then a visit to Cockers Dyke is a must as it is excellent for Mediterranean Gull but not today, 2 Sandwich Tern an adult and juvenile were here, and 2 smart Grey Plover still in their brilliant breeding plumage, and I made the following reasonably accurate estimates of 3,000 Dunlin, 350 Lapwing, 125 Oystercatcher, and 10 Knot still showing some breeding plumage, and 4 Great - crested Grebe on the sea.

Wall Brown at Fluke Hall

At Fluke Hall 2 Wheatear made up my first three returning Autumn birds one a female and the other a first winter. Butterflies here were, 11 Painted Lady, 3 Wall Brown, 2 Common Blue, 2 Small Tortoiseshell, and a Gatekeeper.
With my thanks to Mike Watson I appear to have taken note of his computer tuition and learned from him the know how to place my pic's in between the text on the blog......Hope for me still!
By the way, todays pic's are credited to Pete definitely still hope for me!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Picture Gallery.

With my birding availability unavoidably in doubt at the moment I thought a Picture Gallery of some quiet amazing images from some of my ever increasing contributors of photographs to my blog would be a good idea. With apologies for the 'in a straight line' presentation, but until I find the method of formatting the pictures between the text we will have to put up with this.

The images I have required recently have become much more amazing and impressive and the one of the Treecreeper is with thanks and credited to David Cookson. I personally find this photograph simply quite stunning and shows the bird gathering nesting material whilst clearly illustrating its ability to not only walk up a tree but also to walk upside-down on one as we will all have observed on many occasions......Brilliant David.

The Little Egret is one of my own I thought I'd squeeze in and was taken at the Eric M'cbe Complex at Leighton Moss recently.

The image of the 'shrike' was taken by Mike Watson at Alston Moor in Cumbria. The bird was found here recently and was at first suggested to be a 'possible' Steppe Grey Shrike but Mikes efforts through his photography and a short video on his blog - which can be linked through this one - are commendable with his explanations of the birds characteristics which lean towards it being a Great Grey Shrike. Great stuff Mike. I'm not sure where the debate on this stands right now so I'd best shut up!

The last image of the stunning juvenile Marsh Harrier down in the reeds at Leighton Moss I think I could quite safely say is 'obviously' credited to Brian Rafferty. BR has been incredibly fortunate of late at LM with Hobby, Bittern, and now this brilliant Marsh Harrier 'under his belt'. Keep it up Brian and thanks for letting me use your pic's everyone.

Monday, 3 August 2009

D Day......

......equals Disaster day in more ways than one but perhaps with just a little overuse of the word.

I was a bit late off the block this morning so had to put Plan B in place and when I arrived at Conder Pool I was confronted by some lunatic on one of the islands complete with camera, I just could not believe my eyes. Rather than appear arrogant (well would I) by shouting at this person I locked up the car and proceeded on foot via the road to the gate on the right hand side of the Cockerham Road with the view to asking this person - diplomatically if possible - if he could give me some indication that he had a genuine reason for his actions, but in the few minutes it took me to get there the aforementioned lunatic had melted away with no sign of him in either direction on the canal path. I'm being really kind about the tag I'm giving this inconsiderate, irresponsible idiot but I just don't believe these people think they have the right to behave in this way. Needless to say the pool was void of a single bird save two Swallows over. In the creeks I managed to find a Spotted Redshank, 4 Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, and a Black - tailed Godwit. Numbers of waders on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock are building up with circa numbers of 3,000 Lapwing, 2,250 Redshank, 525 Dunlin, 200 Curlew. At Cockersands, in truth the only bird that qualified for my notes was a Whimbrel. And at Fluke Hall, by now I had thrown in the towel for ever finding anything in the bird world today but did note large numbers of 'white' butterflies, 6 Painted Lady, 2 Peacock, a Gatekeeper, a Small Copper, and perhaps best of all 8 Small Tortoiseshell with one pictured above.

When I called in at Pilling Lane Ends to check the excellent bank for butterflies to the left of the car park I viewed in horror at the scene in the picture above. This action by the council workers happened at more or less the precise date last year when I contacted the local council and told them about the conservation issue and the premature cutting operation here. A few days ago I had seen a man trimming the edges here and all but approached him to ask if he thought the council would be planning 'the cut' any time soon but didn't bother......I wish.

So ends D Day!