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

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Simply the best......

......Tina Turner, well no not this time. In fact its a Brian Rafferty image of a male Sparrowhawk and in my opinion this is simply the best photograph anyone could ever wish to achieve of this stunning hawk......Thanks BR keep 'em cumin.

Well this post is just an exercise to keep the blog from freezing up until I can get back to the real world and birding, and so for my next trick what about this 'unusual' Pied Wagtail courtesy of Warren Baker.
And finally......I had an hour to 'kill' in Morecambe this afternoon and if you're going to find yourself in situations like this and want to be called a 'birder' then you really have to be sure you always have your bino's with you. So I wandered down the Stone Jetty and pleased myself with a Rock Pipit - something of a rarity in the recording area - a Wheatear, 2 Bar - tailed Godwit, about 8 Turnstone - I'm sure there were more - and c.10 Eider and I'm sure there were more of those too. One hours birding since last Friday......Oh dear!

Monday, 28 September 2009

On The Up!

Being grounded until at least Thursday this week (bring out the antidepressants) for reasons way beyond my control I had to fill in some time available to post an article on the excellent news that fears over the breeding failures of Scotland's seabird colonies have been somewhat calmed having had their most productive year in almost a decade. Having had a serious rat eradication campaign Ailsa Craig has reported an increase in Gannet pairs to 30,000, 50 pairs of Puffin have also established themselves here.
The struggle to have any chicks fledged by these seabird colonies in recent years is squarely pinned on the decline of the Sand Eel, and what birds did manage to hatch their chicks were attempting to feed them on the nourishment-poor Pipefish which resulted in very little fledging. Because of an apparent plentiful supply of Sand Eel the Arctic Tern at North Hill in Orkney fledged at least 220 chicks this year as opposed to the nightmare of 2008 when the colony produced not a solitary one. However, whilst the obvious optimism is high its a little short lived when you consider the colony could fledge over 1,000 birds in the peak of the 1980's, but optimism grows once more when you hear that Fowlsheugh in Aberdeenshire, Mull of Galloway, and Dumfries and Galloway have also had an increase in their cliff-nesting species.

We keep having to return to the fact that several species are still severely depleted, but Guillemot, Razorbill and Kittiwake have all managed better breeding success this year. The reasons behind this turnaround are as yet unknown but could be the result of changes in sea surface temperature in late winter/early spring bringing about a much improved production of the Sand Eel. I don't think Birds2blog is the place to address political issues but there's a serious decline still indicated by long term trends and there is an underlying importance of controlling over-fishing, pollution, development and industry, and Britain's rich undersea wildlife is still in serious need of protection and lots of it.

The photographs in the post are all credited to David Cookson who - along with many other excellent photographers work I greatly admire - I appreciate allowing me to use them......Thanks David.

Friday, 25 September 2009

British Telecom?

With BT today you sometimes don't get very far and don't cover much ground with BT but its always good to be in the company of someone who generally knows what he's talking about when it comes to our wildlife and certainly helps me along the way to learning......I'm always up for learning. Today we got no further than Foulshaw Moss, OK this place like anywhere else has its qualities and on arriving here I immediately found 4 Stonechat before getting out of the car which I hoped had set us up for an interesting visit with more to come, but despite the lengthy time spent here these were the only ones seen. There was a good number of Black Darter showing despite the 'back end' weather, also the odd Common Darter seen too. One of those interesting mixed flocks at this time of the year was observed but unfortunately hadn't attracted a YBW to them but Willow Warbler, Long - tailed Tit, Blue Tit, and Chaffinch were all there, a Grey Wagtail was unringed I noted, a Reed Bunting, Great - spotted Woodpecker, and 3 Buzzard all went into the book.
Common Lizard at Foulshaw Moss.
On our way to Foulshaw Moss we called at High Foulshaw and found a frustrating distant mixed flock, the ones of which we could ID - but couldn't number - were, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, and at least one almost certain Redpoll, an estimated good number of 100+ Swallows were hawking insects attracted to a field of cattle.

Common Darter on the boardwalk at Foulshaw Moss.

I really should apologise for the photographic quality of today's pic's. I did try my best but being the first to criticise anyone else's photographs these can only at best be described as moderate.

Editing the post to add news of 500 - 600 Clouded Yellow (being a reasonable estimate) at Birling Gap in Sussex yesterday.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Good to be back......

......on the patch again. But first lets deal with the pic to accompany the post which is an excellent image of the Snipe by kind permission of David Cookson. Well my photographic contacts never produce anything other than excellence, thanks once again David.
With JB today starting at Conder Green where 2 Spotted Redshank today were last seen together on 4 September, a Greenshank and Common Sandpiper - is it too early to wonder if this/one is going to winter here again this year - up to 300 Goldfinch again, 45 Wigeon in the channel, 3 Jay over the pool isn't your average sighting here or elsewhere for that matter, and the 3 Little Grebe again on the pool. At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary 2 Greenshank, c.400 Redshank, single Red - breasted Merganser and Goosander, otherwise the area was pretty short on birds and unremarkable. From Bodie Hill 2 Little Egret were in the Bazil Point area, and on Jeremy Lane up to 30 Golden Plover were in a field with Lapwing. As we approached Gardners Farm on Moss Lane at least 30 House Sparrow were to note, and a 'few' Swallow are still around here with at least one young bird begging on the wires, conversely they seem to have departed Banks Houses and I recall only seeing a couple more all day, having said that I wouldn't like to have been a migrant bird in this neck of the woods - or probably any other - today. A brief visit to Cockersands produced two of the ever reliable Wheatear and c.28 Eider off Plover Scar.
On Pilling Marsh probably a few more Pink - footed Geese to add to last Thursdays 145 but some hidden in the channel, also a Little Egret to note. A run to Knott End had a worse result than my Monday visit in that the Eider count was down to c.35 today. Cockers Dyke showed an adult Mediterranean Gull.
An enjoyable days birding as ever but which just leaves you with the feeling that our West Coast is never going to be the East Coast.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Hide and Seek!

Well seek from the hide actually. Having taken the weather forecast too serious and it turning out to be quite wrong, I decided the best plan was to sneak off to Leighton Moss and maybe be able to dodge the rain between hides, as it turned out it was a pleasant day if a little windy, so away I went......
Just 15 mtrs through the gate to the Lower Hide from Silverdale Road a Tawny Owl flew out of a tree and soon disappeared out of view. At the hide I saw a 'large pipit' fly in front of the hide, I had decent views though the bird always remained half hidden but it really made me sit up, but the excitement soon faded away when I realised - after accounting for all the features I could see - it was a Skylark, however I do not recall ever seeing this species on the reserve before so at least I 'collected' a first even with the humble Skylark. There was little if anything else to enter my notes from the hide and I moved on to the Public Hide where there was 11 Greenshank on the island, a Little Egret flew over the mere as did a Bittern, I also noted c.50 Pochard, c.12 Gadwall, 3 female Pintail, and 2 Little Grebe. Quite a few Common Hawker were notable in front of the hide flying over the reeds all the time, do these creatures ever rest? Griesdale Hide was very quiet but another Little Egret was seen, a Raven 'honked' its way overhead and there was a 'few' Swallows still around and a Snipe in flight.
Greenshank from the Public Hide.

At the Eric Morecambe Hide the high tides have changed the scene and its birds and the recent Little Stints and Curlew Sandpiper's were nowhere to be seen, but 22 Little Egret - down on recent counts here - were a sight not personally seen before in such number......who would have thought just a few years ago! Also noted were 2 Spotted Redshank, and here it was surprising the difference in plumage for two adult birds one of which was in full winter plumage whilst the other still retained a little more of its summer appearance, c.30 Black - tailed Godwit and uncounted but small numbers of Pintail and Wigeon, a solitary Pink - footed Goose was to note, a lone early arrival or a bird having summered here?

The humble female Mallard walking the plank!
And finally......There was a quite humorous message came up on the pager today of a Little Auk at Bowness-on-Solway quote 'flying past the bus stop' unquote.

Monday, 21 September 2009


......and grey and that's not just the weather.

It was pretty hard work again today and the 'star' bird
was an adult Mediterranean Gull again at Cockersands from the caravan park end for the third consecutive visit here. Also noted, a Little Egret flew over Plover Scar where there was 5 Turnstone, a single Grey Plover, c.20 Eider, 2 Wheatear and 5 Linnet of note. Earlier Conder Green was unbelievably quiet and the only time I got out my notebook was when I saw the adult Spotted Redshank in the creeks and the three now apparently resident Little Grebe on Conder Pool, but unfortunately I had no time to do the customary circular today and so my visit wasn't fully justified and was only done in part time birder fashion......not my style!
I'm pretty good at mis-timing things and the tide was almost at its height by the time I arrived at Knott End (some people never seem to learn) and I could only muster at least 80 Eider difficult to count in a heavy swell. Cockers Dyke was also almost a washout but I managed to 'grab' c.30 Golden Plover and a Little Egret before they also took to the wing to find some terra firma to sit out the tide.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock to note were four Little Egret between Waterloo Cottage and the Conder Estuary, 22 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Greenshank, and 2 Goosander, common wader numbers were unremarkable here today.
All in all a bit of a 'dead duck' if I can be excused such weak pun, but just imagine I could have been railroaded into some painting and decorating - I don't think so - by someone I know very well. Thanks to David Cookson for the excellent image of a male Linnet to put a little colour on the blog.

And thanks also to Chris Batty for his photograph of Saturdays short stay Long- billed Dowitcher at Jamieson Road Landfill Site at Fleetwood.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Some pic's......

......and some WeBS counting today the bonus's of which were a juvenile Peregrine Falcon over Glasson Marsh from Bodie Hill which went away empty handed and obviously a bit to learn about hunting for survival. At Pilling Marsh 3 Wheatear and a Little Egret which will be something of a guarantee here for several months now I would suggest.
A nice little trio of Sanderling thanks to Phil Slade. I'd hazard a guess at being taken at Rossall Point though I did forget to note where on Phil's blog.

A juvenile Curlew Sandpiper at Cockers Dyke thanks to Chris Batty. Always worth an invasion here into Fylde territory with Med Gull's regular and lately Little Stint and Green Sandpiper of particular note, and I'll give RBA pager service a 'plug' here because all these sightings are always reported by them and 'pronto' at that.
And a Savannah Sparrow thanks to my contact Paul Baker from over the pond......thanks Paul. I could well be out of date on this one but my claim - until I'm challenged otherwise - is that only two records exist in Britain (and Europe) the first of which was a male at Portland Bill in Dorset on 11-16 April 1982, and the second was found at the opposite end of the country and in a different season, a 1st winter bird was on Fair Isle, Shetland on 30 September and 1 October 1987. A very interesting species 'split' here......perhaps another time!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Shearings Coach Holidays!

Well it was more like one than a birding day, sorry
BT no offence as I enjoyed the run into the Yorkshire Dales and The Forest of Bowland with one or two birds of note on the circular.
BT had decided we should head off to see if we could find (but didn't) the Marsh Gentian at a location I know about but which I feel I should remain silent about on the blog as the rare species is/should be a protected one. Hence the Grand Tour commenced and on Littledale Road I thought we had found our first Fieldfare of the winter but they turned out to be at least 12 Mistle Thrush, a Great - spotted Woodpecker was close by chipping away at a fence post.
On the Hornby Road above Lower Salter we came across a Little Owl sat on a boulder quite close to the road but despite my almost shouting the order to look at me it refused point blank to do so as can be seen in the decent pic I managed to achieve, also a Wheatear here along with a mix of c.40 Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit. Above Keasden on the road to Stocks Reservoir we saw at least 90 Meadow Pipit 'milling' around, and another Wheatear was seen on Bowland Knotts. We saw another c.30 more Meadow Pipit later over Champion Moor, by now a notable Meadow Pipit movement was obvious today.
Last call of the day was to Tower Lodge and a search up and behind the plantation to find a Spotted Flycatcher still here and beginning to look decidedly late now we are past mid September, 2 Buzzard were noted overhead.
I thanked the driver when I was dropped off back in Lancaster but decided not to tip him in case he thought he'd pull another one off like this on me again. Merely jesting BT and thanks as always for your excellent company.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

You just have to......

......keep trying said the Swallow to itself as it approach three quarters of the way across the Sahara Desert, and I had to say the same to myself today as I gazed across Conder Pool to see little to stir me into anything remotely like excited and in desperation I noted everything (well nearly) I saw just to convince myself I should really keep trying. The three Little Grebe showed again which incidentally I will take a closer look at next time as two are in summer plumage yet and the third is either a juvenile or in winter plumage......Mmmmm. Also a Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher, 3 Linnet, and c.50 Goldfinch (breakaway group from Mondays 300?) and the female Mallard which initially had seven ducklings on 24 August now has just four well grown young which will stand a better chance of survival than the three which obviously didn't at the cruel hands of nature.
Because of the state of the tide I decided on a run to Knott End but only managed to record at least 75 Eider off the esplanade. On Pilling Marsh I found my first arrivals of the winter in c.145 Pink - footed Geese, also a Merlin, and Little Egret seen. At Cockersands c.350 Redshank had spread themselves from Crook Farm to Plover Scar, and at the caravan park end I found an adult Mediterranean Gull (not Mondays bird) and circa 250 Golden Plover, and 150 Wigeon. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock I found another adult Mediterranean Gull and noted 11 Bar-tailed Godwit one of which was in full breeding plumage, c.180 Golden Plover, a Greenshank, and a solitary Goosander.
Today's small picture gallery is courtesy of Mike Watson and is of his (Spotted) Red over Green images......Thanks Mike.
I know you're reading this John and it was good to meet you again today at Fluke Hall, thanks for your kind words and for the return of the book, look forward to seeing you again soon.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Well that's more like it!

On Clougha/Birk Bank today - with no time to search my records - for the first time in something like 5 years I had the distinct feeling the Stonechat was everywhere......Well that's more like it!......and in fact in the 5 hours on here I found 23 birds which represents the highest count here since finding 24 on 20 August 2007. So obviously some success's in last breeding attempts in 2009, but take it from me any success's earlier in the season were minimal - if any at all in most cases - and I'm not just talking this area either as many of the upland areas I observe have suffered the same fate due to yet another appalling summer in terms of weather, and in one case - Hawthornthwaite - I threw in the towel here having found just one bird this year on my visit of 16 March and none at all on subsequent visits.

Well you don't create a New Year style list on upland birding and today I collected just seven species with 9 off passage Wheatear, at least 31 Red Grouse, a Dunnock - which I reckon is my first on here - 7 Wren, and a kestrel, just 7 Meadow Pipit were seen today and a non birding person I often see up here made a comment to me that he had noted low numbers this year to which I readily agreed was the case in general based on my experience's of this bird this summer though I'm sure the 15 September on Clougha wouldn't be the ideal time/place to pass judgement on this issue. Butterflies noted were a miserable 3 Painted Lady and 2 Small Tortoiseshell.

And if you're not already bored by all the above then try this......Not for the first time the pic above is absolutely nothing concerning this post but is a pleasant image taken at Knott End by Phil Slade, the purpose being that at least it will make him happy to see it on Birds2blog if it doesn't you......Thanks Phil.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Signs of Winter.

A couple of today's sightings are a clear sign that winter is on
the way with wildfowl and a coastal raptor in the records book.
At Conder Green this morning the best record in the book was the amazing sight of up to 300 Goldfinch which are eight days ahead of last years c.400 on 22 September. Three Kingfisher ran a close second to that record with a bird on Conder Pool and two having a real 'ding dong' about something, up and down the creeks for ten minutes that I know of. A Spotted Redshank was seen again, and the Little Grebe count went to three today, 3 Red - breasted Merganser and 4 Long - tailed Tit were all to note.
On the Lune estuary at Glasson Dock an adult Mediterranean Gull, 3 Greenshank, c.320 Golden Plover, and the 5 Wigeon I saw were today's first sign of winter. At Cockersands another c.70 Wigeon were off Plover Scar with 4 Eider, last Wednesdays 11 Linnet were still round, and the first record of a coastal winter Merlin was perched on the gate post in the top picture above, and thirty minutes later on my return from Plover Scar plucking at the result of a successful strike. I should really add that these are the best results I could get from my improvised photographic equipment these days. At the caravan park end of Cockersands I found another adult Mediterranean Gull which still retained a decent - albeit moulting - hood. The Mallard number seemed so large that I decided a count would be a good idea (I worry about myself sometimes) and I found them to total at least 400 with no apologies for nice 'round' figures, c.450 Curlew were also to note, 4 Goosander (unusual here) and 2 Little Egret were the last to come into view before I left.
By now I was running out of time so I applied Plan B and did a circuit of Aldcliffe where I found absolutely nil until I walked back to Aldcliffe Hall Lane along the bank and saw 3 Little Egret on the marsh, 4 Wheatear which were not as big a surprise as the Kingfisher stood on a nearby piece of driftwood to them and appeared a little out of context I thought. I found the Green Sandpiper difficult to assess in number today as I had three sightings all on the wildfowlers pool about 30 minutes apart, or three?
With seven hours excellent local birding under my belt I could have found absolutely nothing better to do with my life today.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Four Shillings!

My old grandma used to say....'a change is as good as a rest' as a diversion from birds - just for now - what better could we do than take a look at four of Richard Shillings 'Landart' creations.
The top creation is titled 'Scarlet Oak Ball On Leaves' and at some point during its making Richard was asked by a passer by what the inside was filled with 'was it polystyrene'......No I only use natural materials which I gather beforehand or during my work, adding that the whole thing is stitched together using thorns......WOW says me! Beneath is 'Maple Vein Squares' using Maple and Black Poplar leaves, and in an introduction to this work of art Richard comments at the end that as he does the write up he looks out of the window to see a beautiful Sparrowhawk in his you see there is a 'bird' connection to the post after all.
On the left is Richards 'Cherry Leaf Curtain' and I just don't know how long some of these artworks take to complete but but one thing for sure its not in a matter of minutes. And on the right is 'Leaf Lightning' using an array of Maple leaf colours.

This man impresses me no end and I have great admiration for his ingenious creations. His website can be linked in the left hand column of this blog and you could do a lot worse than take a look at it for a few minutes at least to get a better idea of how good and inventive this guy really is.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Two Options!

There was two options for today's post both of which are appropriate......'Faith Restored' and 'The Good, The Bad, and The (not quite) Ugly'.

The good weather continues as forecast and I was well overdue a visit to Newby Moor having only been there twice this year all down to the appalling summer we've had. Well the 'Faith Restored' and 'The Good' came into being here today when I found another Whinchat. OK that's just another Whinchat but these sightings definitely restore my faith in the species to some small degree - and I certainly haven't forgotten the Cross of Greet area this breeding season either - and there was more to come today but first other notes here were, 2 Stonechat which unfortunately brings in 'The Bad' as this isn't good news from the location where ten years ago in 1999 I had begun to realise the Stonechat was putting in more appearances and was the beginning of the upturn in the status of the species in and out of the LDBWS recording area, but enough of this as I intend to do an article on 'Ten Years of the Stonechat' when I get round to it. I found c.70 'finches' feeding on thistle heads which turned out to be approximately 50 Linnet and 20 Goldfinch, a 'few' Meadow Pipit were noted including 15 resting up on the wires. I noted just two Painted Lady, a single Small Tortoiseshell, and a Stoat.
Barbondale looking SW from the Bull Pot track.

When Barbondale is seen from this angle you realise that it's just a narrow strip of ancient woodland which broadens out towards the far end, but plays host to a good healthy number of bird species in the summer months. Where the woodland becomes dense in the distance this is the plantation which - by comparison - is both very unattractive and unproductive. The visit here today was all the worth while when I found two more 1st winter Whinchat, 9 Stonechat, at least 14 Meadow Pipit, 2 Reed Bunting, a Dipper, Buzzard and a Kestrel. At one point c.250 'corvids' went up into the air on the fell-side and were eventually found to be predominantly Rook with 'some' Carrion Crow and Jackdaw.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Mr Blue Sky......

......and shirt sleeve birding......who'da thought.

August Heather on Clougha.

An excellent day for taking to the fells to check out the bird-life there, a great place to be, vast areas impossible to cover and with nothing like 'vast' numbers of birds. On Harrisend I found 10 Stonechat and also noted two 1st winter Whitethroat, 10 Meadow Pipit, 3 Wren, 2 Buzzard, a Kestrel, and a single Red Grouse. Butterflies on here mainly came into view either too distant or too brief to ID but I noted 3 Red Admiral and a Painted Lady.

The Oak Tree on Lane Head footpath off Harrisend.

This Oak tree is very old. I'm not well up on ancient trees but I reckon this certainly is one, it's girth is huge and much more so than this photograph suggests.

Berry laden trees off Harrisend.

I decided the next best area to check out was off the Hawthornthwaite access track from Marshaw, a very wise decision as it turned out if only because I found one of our 'scarce' summer visitors in the form of a Whinchat. I tried desperately hard to find a male and better still some juveniles without success but......has this bird bred here this summer, well despite at least three previous visits here I never found a single one but I reckon that tells nobody nothing, on the other hand this bird could have been on passage, the truth is we'll never know. Also noted here, 7 Stonechat, another 1st winter Whitethroat, 8 Meadow Pipit, a Reed Bunting, 3 Buzzard, and a Kestrel. Butterflies seen were, 3 Red Admiral, 3 Peacock, and a single Painted Lady.

Grey Wagtails. Updated 31 August 2016.

Please could you all look out for colour-ringed Grey Wagtails on e.g. the rivers and tributaries running into Morecambe Bay from the south lakes. Even part-reads will be of considerable interest, especially if on territory in the breeding season, when there is a chance to check it out for more detail. Please contact or text 07532433043 as soon as possible after the sighting. Thanks 

They will have a combination of red (2014) or pink (2015) and BTO metal (please note which way round) on the left leg and a variety of two-colour combinations on the right leg which allows them to be individually identified. There may be some older birds with white or pale blue rings accompanying the metal BTO ring on the left leg (e.g. currently wintering at Crook of Lune) 

More detail in the right hand sidebar at Heysham Observatory

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Half Day Closing......

......and two excellent - but unrelated to the posting - pic's with thanks to David and Peter.

Bullfinch with thanks to David Cookson.
Having to be back in Lancaster at 1.00pm today I was quick off the mark this morning, not as quick as in the 'milkman' days when I was out of the pit by 4.00am hail, rain, or thank you very much. Conder Pool very nearly collected an unwelcome first this morning in that, save for 2 Little Grebe and a Kingfisher as I turned to leave the viewing platform, it would have had its first total blank in bird life......perish the thought. The creeks held a Common Sandpiper, 4 Snipe, and 12 Redshank. I was encouraged to see at least 12 House Martin's still around River Winds and still appearing to be visiting a couple of nests, a Dunnock was the only other bird noted on the hour it took me to do the circuit and search the nooks and crannies of the area. If I'd have been asked by someone to find the birds of Conder Green today I'd have demanded £20 an hour for the effort.
On the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock 'something' put the waders to flight revealing c.3,000 Lapwing, when they settled again estimates in view were, 450 Redshank, 360 Golden Plover, 25 Dunlin, and 4 Black - tailed Godwit, 25 Snipe were in flight again today (Mondays birds?) and a solitary Ringed Plover is something of a rarity here along with the Turnstone if/when seen.
At Cockersands another nook's/crannies/fields/and bushes circuit was a bit thin and with Plover Scar being completely ruined by yet another 'numpty' with two large hounds which covered the scar inch by inch whilst he appeared to be intent on actually trying to enter the lighthouse, he certainly stood literally below the building which surely can't be done many times in a year with tides so low. Back to the purpose of the posting......I managed to record just three species on the circular, 3 Wheatear 'still' in Kellets field, c.25 Tree Sparrow, and 11 Linnet. On the morning I managed 5 Small Tortoiseshell.
As a matter of interest a year ago today a Black - necked Grebe was on Conder Pool in contrast to this mornings poor show, and later in the month I recorded an amazing up to 400 Goldfinch in the Conder Green area on 22 September.
Siskin with thanks to Peter Guy.
A brief look in at Broadway in Morecambe at high tide revealed 2 Little Egret on the groyne here.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Swans are coming......

......and if you're a marked bird hunter like me - in the first five weeks of winter 2006 - I had the good fortune to find and read 15 Whooper Swan's with ring's - then this winter there is an added interest in that 40 birds - 50% at Martin Mere - were fitted with solar-powered satellite-tags during the winter of 2008/09 to determine their spring migration routes 34 of which were known to have flown from Britain to Iceland resulting in high quality data on routes taken and summer quarters in Iceland.
Several initiatives have been set out by the UK government to tackle climate change including current and proposed wind turbines, and as a result the WWT have set out on a funded project using this latest satellite-tracking technology to describe the Whooper Swans migration routes in relation to offshore turbines along the British coastline.
Obviously the main concern is of the potential impact wind turbines have on a bird the size of the Whooper Swan which renders them much less manoeuvrable than smaller birds which in turn increases the risk of collision, another one of which is the fact these birds flying a low altitude on migration also increases the collision risk.
The tracking of birds from reserves like Martin Mere is hoped to also provide detailed information on routes taken to the southern parts of their migratory range and more transmitters are being/have been fitted in Iceland during this summer which will provide data on autumn migration in 2009 for birds known - through ring re-sightings - to winter at locations like Martin Mere.
So......the Swans are coming, and of the 20 tagged at Martin Mere I reckon with any luck we should see at least the odd bird or two during the coming months and I am very much looking forward to seeing my first of the winter soon. My first in 2008 were found on 2 October when I observed four birds at - what I intend to call today - Braides Scrapes which are SW of Cockerham from the A588.
In the pic above the birds are of course Bewick's Swan's and is a copy of a photograph John Leedal gave me of four birds found on Jeremy Lane on 4 March 2004 and on the back of the picture he epitomised himself with the words......'Bewick's Swan's are beautiful creatures, the knowledge that they share their life between Lancashire and Siberia enhances the wonder'......
......Bring on the Swan's.

Monday, 7 September 2009


Whether you're new to birding or not - but especially if you
are - you really do have to get used to the idea that the birds will often desert you as they did me at Conder Pool today. When I arrived there this morning at 9.45 I counted nineteen birds in total on here fifteen of which were Mallard with 2 Oystercatcher and 2 Little Grebe......exciting stuff! Four Common Sandpiper were in the creeks and when I checked the channel below the old railway bridge I found a Greenshank with no more than about six birds in here too. In the hour it took me to do the circular walk here I doubt if I saw many more than 'a couple of dozen' birds.
On the canal basin at Glasson Dock I noted another pair of Great - crested Grebe have a single young with them, also Kingfisher seen. On the Lune Estuary I make no apologies for doing no counts today but noted an adult Mediterranean Gull which retained a quite strong moulting hood, a Ruff, 4 Black - tailed Godwit, and c.25 Snipe were in flight looking for somewhere to land in cover on the marsh, and a Sparrowhawk was over.
At Cockersands which is a place I find sometimes 'has' but often hasn't much going for it. Today noted 2 Turnstone a species seen as something of a 'mega' in most locations in the LDBWS recording area, also on Plover Scar, estimates of 550 Oystercatcher, 75 Dunlin, and 50 Ringed Plover, 3 Eider and 3 Red - breasted Merganser were on the estuary, and 3 Wheatear in Kellets field.
At Fluke Hall I did a 'wander' east along the marsh minus my telescope - something I often do and usually end up regretting - and found a 'good' number of Grey Plover roosting at high tide but I reckon lots were out of view, I'd estimate up to 100 birds. A walk west to Cockers Dyke produced 7 Wheatear and a Little Egret on the way, at the dyke waders counted were, 525 Dunlin, 50 Knot, 75 Grey Plover, 15 Golden Plover, 12 Black - tailed Godwit, 2 Bar - tailed Godwit, and I had noted 3 Sandwich Tern's before a Peregrine Falcon entered the arena and put the usual panic into c,1,500 waders, always my best excuse for claiming this is where I abandoned any further attempt at counting birds. On the day I saw just 5 Small Tortoiseshell, a Peacock, and a Silver Y moth.
Two notes I made today were 1)......I've never been able to understand the hunting strategy of the Peregrine Falcon, today's bird at Cockers Dyke behaved just as I've seen them do many times before in that it came on the scene at 150 mph with the choice of any one of 1,500 waders as lunch, attacked two loose Dunlin, failing on both occasions, and promptly did a u-turn and headed off towards Knott End......2) The Wheatear pic is of the same bird - different poses - and must be the easiest of all our summer visitors to connect with in both spring and autumn and on its breeding grounds. It is a bird I love to see the first of in spring, and the last in autumn with its strong, powerful, and direct flight with a purpose.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Out and about with BT...... not British Telecom!
Enter the smart machine which creates a scrape at a stroke - well almost - and as can be seen in the pic above throws the waste up into the air and out of the way, it was opposite the road to Braides off the A588 at 2.45 this afternoon when BT and I called there in response to a pager message telling us of a Curlew Sandpiper, a juvenile Ruff on scrapes, and c.100 'early' Pink - footed Geese over but when we arrived there at 3.15 a male Merlin in the field and this monster muncher at work at the same time put paid to any hope of anything being anywhere near the place. However, it didn't take long for the birds to find the 'new' scrapes did it and this is already looking good.
At Knott End the two Sandwich Terns above are of the only three here early afternoon, also noted here were c.20 Eider impossible to count on the choppy sea, and 12 Sanderling. A visit to Cockers Dyke produced a decent variety of waders which proved frustrating as the birds were all crouched on the marsh area's either side of the dyke sheltering from the quite strong wind and made both counting and ID difficult if not impossible but I would suggest the following estimate's of 120 Dunlin, 40 Sanderling, a similar number of Knot, 15 Golden Plover, and 25 Grey Plover. When we left here I couldn't help but feel this was the classic situation where something could certainly have been missed. At Fluke Hall 2 Wheatear noted before we bolted for the aforementioned 'new scrapes'.
At Conder Green 'the' Wood Sandpiper was finally nailed when it was on Conder Pool with Redshanks compared to which its smaller size was made obvious, 2 Spotted Redshank, 6 Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, and 2 Little Grebe were also on the pool.
Having read through this posting I find that it is often really hard to put into words the enjoyment of a days birding but today was certainly that, as - in my book - they all are.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Dodging the showers......

......whilst the birds dodged me today I'm afraid, but that's birding and that's all that matters to me.

Conder Green produced 2 Spotted Redshank again which poses the one, or both of these birds really going to spend the winter here again, its quite possible one of these birds seen today was only absent from Conder Green for four weeks between 18 May and 16 June this year....resident birds! Also noted, 6 Greenshank, 4 Common Sandpiper, 4 Snipe, 2 Little Grebe and a Kingfisher. Whilst driving to Bank End - which drew a 100% blank - I noted 4 Wheatear and a 'few' Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit on Cockerham Marsh.

At Fluke Hall 5 Wheatear, and c.60 'finches' in flight then down in the long grass appeared to be an even 50/50 Linnet and Goldfinch flock. Even the Cockers Dyke Med Gulls had deserted me today and the only bird noted here was a Wheatear. There was a similar result at Knott End where the 'gull sifting' drew yet another blank (three adult Med Gull's earlier RBA) the Sandwich Tern status here was down to one individual, c.4 Sanderling noted, and 2 drake Common Scoter were on the sea. On the way home to Lancaster I called in briefly (never a recommended practice) at Cockersands to note circa numbers of 100 Dunlin and Ringed Plover.

Today's pic to accompany the post is of a nice sunset off the slipway at Knott End courtesy of Phil Slade on the's always best to keep well in with the Fylde lot as you never know when you may need 'em......Thanks Phil.