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

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The Teal Bay Goodie!

Gannet. Gary Jones.

If I can be excused for using some repetitive words on the blog, the excellent in flight Gannet photographed at Bass Rock by Gary Jones has absolutely nothing connected to the post but is a brilliant piece of work for which I thank Gary very much.

Searching through old records is an excellent pastime and one which is guaranteed to turn up something of interest. Arriving at the LDBWS Annual Report for 1994 I was delighted to come across a record of mine which from the moment I set eyes on the bird was going to be a 'first' for the area. As I recall I had hardly turned off the car motor on my arrival at Teal Bay on 19 November 1994 when I saw a Charadrius on the groyne, instantly it wasn't either Ringed, or - perhaps even less likely - Little Ringed Plover not least of all because it didn't even look like one but it also had black legs....KENTISH PLOVER....heck!!

OK, now these were the days before the mobile and I knew someone who'd be really interested to hear about this bird and off I shot to Heysham with the news. Now I'm not exactly sure about the finer details on my arrival at Heysham but am almost certain 'egg and bacon' comes into the story here....'a Charadrius with black legs at Teal Bay and all other characteristics to match has to be a Kentish Plover hasn't it'....I said, upon which I was followed the full length of Morecambe promenade and back to Teal Bay only to find some activity by windsurfers hadn't helped to keep the bird on the groyne and it had made its departure much sooner than either of us would have wished for.

Now the story about this little wader becomes an even more interesting one in that - what had to be - the very same bird was seen a 'couple' of hours later at Rossall Point, Fleetwood where this individual had returned to winter for its fourth consecutive year and was found with 50 Ringed Plovers in the high tide roost near the old coastguard station where it was subsequently often found by an admiring number of birders until at least 4 February 1995. This same individual eventually went on to complete its sixth winter in this area of Fleetwood but was noted to wander a little more this time on occasions and made visits to Knott End, it was last seen on 21 March 1997 and never returned to winter here again.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Not the plan!

Although it was never the plan I didn't get birding today and to make matters much worse won't do until later this week maybe on Friday. As far as today is concerned it left me staring at this monitor for long periods....not good for the mind, body, or soul I assure you, and not recommended. So that leaves me with the problem of finding some material to keep this blog up, running, and alive. Well today's solution was easy because all I had to do was to collect three images and 'Bobs your uncle' as they say.

So the credits for all three photographs go to David Cookson, and the first is of one of my most favourite small birds the Whinchat, a species becoming more and more difficult to find because of the falling number seen in the UK of this delightful chat. Having said that, as with the Spotted Flycatcher - which has the same unfortunate status - I have found an encouraging number again this year with 17 seen at five locations three of which were birds on passage in the spring and the best of which were 10 found in the Cross of Greet/White Greet/Bloe Greet area on territory 21 May. In our own recording area the Whinchat can claim to be no more than an uncommon and declining migrant breeder, we can only hope this doesn't fall any further down the ladder of declines.

Davids next image is of the Great-crested Grebe and could well carry the caption 'Going Down' as the bird appears to make short work of devouring the fish it just caught. The GCG is no more than a scarce breeder in our area with something like 10-15 pairs. When I watch birds like this which catch fish as a food source I'm often astounded at the sizes they can dispose of, the best example of this would have to be the Cormorant but I did watch a beautiful drake Smew a few years ago on Pine Lake eventually swallow a fish the size of which was unbelievable for such a small duck.

And finally....


The drake Eider - as with the other two images - brilliantly captured by David. The Eider can be seen offshore in our area for much - if not all - of the year and I have personally counted at least 150 off the promenade at Morecambe on 3 March this year, and 57 off Plover Scar at Cockersands on 12 April, I also recently observed a female with five chicks off Bodie Hill on Glasson Marsh on 13 June.

Many thanks for these excellent photographs David they are much appreciated.  

Monday, 28 June 2010


Set-aside at Cockersands. Pete Woodruff.

If you visit Cockersands you can't have helped but notice over the past year a curious 'wedge' shaped area having been developed in the field by the side of the road near the Lighthouse Cottage. I made some enquiries recently and it turns out to be what it's obviously looked like all along which is a set-aside. I still need more details on this but on the face of it it looks good and has currently turned a rapeseed yellow colour.

I managed a set-aside today too amounting to four hours for birding in a couple of areas the first being Conder Green where the Spotted Redshank gave good views, this bird rarely presents any difficulty in locating it and was accompanied by at least 160 Redshank and 3 Dunlin in the creeks here today, also noted were 5 Common Sandpiper, 3 Reed Bunting, and a Dunnock, House Martins were still active at River Winds but I made no attempt at counting them today, and 3 Wigeon are still on Conder Pool.

Common Tern. Gary Jones.

At Cockersands a Common Tern fishing off Plover Scar was almost certainly the Lune Estuary bird seen from Glasson Dock on 24 June, also the guardians of Plover Scar were a similar number as on my last visit here being c.60 Oystercatcher. Birds noted from the road on the circuit, c.12 Tree Sparrow was a higher number count than of late, 2 Sedge Warbler are still vocal, 2 Skylark, 3 Linnet and the same number of Greenfinch, the surprise bird of the day was a singing Whitethroat in the Hawthorns just to the north of Lighthouse Cottage, the bird was also performing its characteristic song flight occasionally, I don't recall this species seen here by me before. The only butterflies seen were a Small Skipper, c.20 Small Tortoiseshell and 8 Meadow Brown.

The photograph of the Common Tern 'scooping' water at Preston Docks is thanks to Gary Jones, an excellent shot of this behavior which I personally don't recall ever seeing before....thanks Gary. I'd also like to thank the visitor from New Zealand who gave Birds2blog it's 55th flag, many thanks....I hope you enjoyed what you saw and that you come back for more!   

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Filling the gap....again!

Curlew. Brian Rafferty.

Filling the gap on Birds2blog gives me the opportunity to plug a couple of excellent blogs I follow religiously, that of Brian Rafferty who produces some stunning photographs, and Mike Watson who visits some exotic places around the world and draws up some fully comprehensive accounts accompanied by images of birds people like me can only dream of seeing.

Ring Ouzel. Brian Rafferty.

BR's most recent trip was to the Northern Pennines, and the photograph at the top is of the Curlew chick, and the one above of a juvenile Ring Ouzel, incidentally I found nine of these little beauties one summers day at the top of Cross of Greet, one of my greater birding moments. Brian puts a lot of effort into achieving his goal of excellent images of  birds and other wildlife and I strongly recommend you take a look at his website HERE 

Newell's Shearwater. Mike Watson.

Mikes most recent trip was to Hawaii and I've read his account of this truly fascinating birding/wildlife experience whilst - I have no hesitation of confessing - progressively turning green with envy. It reads like a book and is almost as long as one and is accompanied by some stunning photographs of some equally stunning birds none of which I can ever hope to see.

Pacific Golden Plover. Mike Watson.

The top image of Mikes is of the Newell's Shearwater about which he adds some interesting words in the account of his visit to Hawaii, and below the Pacific Golden Plover which in fact - if ever my luck is in one day - I could actually see in the UK, so here's hoping. Take my word for it a visit HERE is definitely worth your it now!

Thanks once more to Brian and Mike for allowing me to use their photographs. 

Saturday, 26 June 2010

The Nightingale.

White-legged Damselfly. Warren Baker.

Regular visitors to Birds2blog won't be at all surprised to find the photograph above is totally unrelated to today's subject, but a good picture always gets the post off to a good start. The White-legged Damselfly is uncommon but can be locally abundant on rivers and canals in the south and a few sites in Wales....Thanks for the photograph Warren.

I've found up to twenty Spotted Flycatchers this year at five locations, an excellent result for a bird in serious decline and one I'm particularly fond of and always a pleasure to find and see. The SF joins a number of migrants to this country which are the subject of mounting concern through their - often referred to as dramatic - decrease in populations, three other examples being the Turtle Dove, Cuckoo, and Nightingale.

Nightingale numbers have seen a fall of more than 90% in the past forty years and is the biggest fall since records began of any bird still breeding in the UK to the exclusion of the Tree Sparrow whose numbers have been decimated by intense agricultural practices. So if you were born in 1970, for every ten Nightingales singing in Britain then, now that you're forty there's just one today and that makes for pretty unpleasant reading. We're talking here about one of the worlds most popular songbirds, famous for it's powerful singing in the dark and celebrated by many poet's down the years.

According to research one major cause of the Nightingales decline in Britain is brought about by the population explosion of deer, the browsing of which is destroying woodland undergrowth which the bird nests in. But there are also problems in the wintering grounds as other British species which winter in the same areas of West Africa are also in trouble, including the Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, and Cuckoo, the former of which I myself have experienced smaller numbers in the areas visited this summer.

All very sad that we are entering an age where many people may not ever have the chance to hear the once familiar sound of the delightful song of this equally delightful songbird. The so called Red List is updated every five years and the Nightingale will appear on that update.   

Friday, 25 June 2010

Good....start to finish.

Excellent actually....start to finish, the start being confirmation that the Little Ringed Plover pair on Conder Pool are 'having a go' at a second breeding attempt, that's assuming they already 'had a go' at a first, so watch this space, or keep an eye on them for yourself. Also to add to my records of yesterday, the Spotted Redshank seen again with c.80 Redshank, and 2 Common Sandpiper.

I was with JB/BT today and went off into the hill's from Conder Green where - from the Hawthornthwaite track - a Buzzard, a solitary Small Heath, and Golden-ringed Dragonfly were noted in the few minutes spent here.

Sand Martin. Peter Guy.

At Cam Brow at least 30 Sand Martins included juveniles from up to ten active nests this year, and at Wellbrook Farm an attempt to count House Martins here today resulted in an estimate of 10 pairs at nests at the house, also a healthy number of Swallows make this one of the best farms I know of anywhere in our area. Many thanks for the pic Peter.

Sand Martins. John Bateman.

John did an excellent job of freezing the action of these birds at Cam Brow today where c.30 birds were fully active with some juveniles taking their first flights....thanks for the pic John. 

In the area between Marshaw and east of Tower Lodge 3 Common Sandpiper, 3 Grey Wagtail, male and female Redstart, 4 Goldfinch, a Coal Tit, Mistle Thrush, and 3 Spotted Flycatcher including birds still attending two nests. BT claims to have seen a pair of Bullfinch from the track behind Tower Lodge in which case I personally don't recall recording them in this area before. A brief stop off at Stoops Bridge gave a pair of Grey Wagtails.

And the grand finale was finding the Spotted Flycatcher back at Christ Church after all, though I do recall JB claiming to have seen one here earlier in the month or perhaps late May, also 2 active House Martin nests at the church and one at the bungalow here.

I really must end by noting just one butterfly (Small Heath) seen in five hours in the countryside today....Mmmmm!    

Thursday, 24 June 2010


A click on the 'translate' button wouldn't bring you a result with today's title so if by chance you're struggling with my English it means 'are there any birds around'....Well there wasn't too much around today but on the principal 'you never know with the birds' off I went.

Redshank. Phil Slade.

It's never very difficult at all to find excellent photographs and a quick daily trawl through the Fylde Bird Club website had me viewing a couple of nice ones to brighten up Birds2blog including this Redshank calling in flight which can be found along with many other excellent photographs and interesting reading at Another Bird Blog ....thanks for this Phil, keep 'em cumin!

This is another one of my photographic masterpieces taken today on Conder Pool and shows three birds on the near island to the viewing platform two of which are obvious, the other not so.

Well, 3 Common Sandpiper at Conder Green this morning think it's autumn and are already on the move, also a Spotted Redshank was on the marsh roosting with c.15 Redshank at high tide. On Conder Pool 2 Grey Partridge were almost certainly the same as seen here on 14 June, 4 Wigeon drakes are another increase of one, and 11 Tufted Duck noted, Oystercatcher and two young were also on one of the islands. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock 2 Great-crested Grebe appear to have failed in an attempt to breed for some reason or other. The Lune Estuary - as viewed from the Vic Hotel - has its late June emptiness about it though it was good to see a Common Tern showing off it's skill at plunge diving, and a pair of Shelducks had a remarkable 30 young in tow.

Robin. Stuart Piner.

And the other excellent photograph I came across was this one of the young Robin....thanks for this Stuart you can keep 'em cumin too please.

At Cockersands even the c.60 Oystercatchers were about as low a count as you'd ever see here, 10 Eider were off Plover Scar, and on the circuit back via the road I heard one Sedge Warbler still in song, saw 3 Skylarks, and in the time it took me to do the circuit I counted at least 45 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies however, having recorded those the question is....where are all the butterflies this year?

And finally....

Long-eared Owl. Brian Rafferty.

Another of those stunning LEO photographs of which you can see more and many other excellent photographs HERE ....thanks for this Brian.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Bridled Tern.

Common Tern. Gary Jones.

Well certainly not an image of a Bridled Tern but one of the Common Tern....thanks for this Gary. In fact you can see an image of the Bridled Tern on the Birguides website HERE and click on 'species search', as far as I'm aware this is the only one in existence of the bird which caused quite a stir on Monday 21 June when it was reported to be at East Chevington in Northhumberland, but the excitement was short lived and the bird has not been seen since.

The Bridled Tern occurs throughout the tropics, the nearest breeding population being in the Caribbean, the bird is about the size of the Arctic Tern and is confusable with the much rarer Sooty Tern but isn't as big and robust as the Sooty Tern but with which it shares its occurrence in the tropics.

The first record of Bridled Tern in Britain was that of a corpse found inland from Dungeness, Kent in November 1931. A bird found in September 1875 eventually failed to be recorded as the first because of some serious inconsistencies. The first live bird recorded in Britain wasn't until August 1979, it was an immature bird observed feeding outside the entrance to Stromness Harbour, Orkney, the bird was seen the next day by the same observer and was the first Scottish record.

There's an interesting story attached to a Sooty Tern found in Northhamptonshire in May 1980, the bird was picked up exhausted and take into care, quite amazingly the creature lived for another five months before dying amidst a sea of mindless bureaucracy regarding its return to a more hospitable very sad.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


But first....

Spotted Flycatcher. John Bateman.

Thanks to John for the nice image of one of the Tower Lodge Spotted Flycatchers seen recently, undoubtably one of the best areas for this species and not for the first time I may add, this year there are at least five pairs present with two active nests found.

Meadow Pipit. Pete Woodruff.

Yes, another Alleluia day when I found 9 Stonechats on Birk Bank in a five hour dawdle, they were seen as three pairs, two juveniles, and a female with which I could see no male despite my 'hanging around ' a while. So there's a distinct possibility of five pairs of Stonechat on Birk Bank at the moment but notably none to be found on Clougha this year. Also noted was an interesting movement of at least 35 Meadow Pipits and 15 Mistle Thrush, also noted 9 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackbird, 2 Wren, and a lone male Linnet. I also saw a lone Red Grouse in the entire visit here today representing an all time low count here of this moorland bird. I watched 4 Raven at a distance in an enthralling ariel display, these birds are masters of aerobatics and are a treat to observe, they also gave a Kestrel a hard time mobbing it for several minutes, the size comparison was interesting in that they made the raptor appear no bigger than a Swift. Non bird sightings were 5 Small Heath, 2 Small Tortoiseshell and a Golden-ringed Dragonfly.

Cotton-Grass. Pete Woodruff.

As can be seen I managed to find a little time to get to work with my improvised photographic equipment today and managed a half decent shot of the Meadow Pipit and the attractive Cotton-Grass, characteristic of boggy ground and fluttering in the breeze on the bog which will soon no longer be a bog if the dry spell continues. I also visited here twice today five hours apart but found no sign of any Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterflies.

And finally....


Well, whats all this then, the trees have been torched and are and gone forever....controlled upland land-management, uncontrolled upland land-management, or pure raw vandalism, either way - small area though it may be - this is a Forest of Bowland tragedy in my view. 

Monday, 21 June 2010

The Penultimate Visit.

I'll probably visit Barbondale just once more this summer as its one of many places I get drawn to rather easily. I'll immediately record having see no Stonechats here again today and I'll be keeping a beady eye on the websites to see if anyone else can unearth one here or anywhere else for that matter, but....

Stonechat. Richard Shilling.  

I do have a decent photograph of a male Stonechat taken by Richard who's 'Landart' I often take pleasure in showcasing on Birds2blog and will be doing so again soon. This photograph is actually a part of the confirmation of just two pair on Birk Bank with none seen so far on Clougha this year. Thanks for this Richard....nice one!

I gave Barbondale a good six hours again today - nothing new there then - and did achieve a good part of why I went there in finding another one of our 'mega' summer visitors a male Whinchat to add to the pair seen again from the path towards the plantation, though this male bird is the one found on 20 May which I'd suggest is singing on hopefully to attract a female but I'd say its luck was out. Another good achievement today was to confirm the female Pied Flycatcher feeding young at the nest with no sign of the male, also noted 2 Spotted Flycatcher seen as a pair, 4 Redstart seen as two pair, three pair is the total I've seen here this year, 9 Wheatear, 16 Meadow Pipit, 7 Pied Wagtail, 8 Willow Warbler, 2 Wren, 3 Reed Bunting, 2 Tree Pipit, 2 Robin, 3 Common Sandpiper, a Green Woodpecker heard, and....ALELLUIA a family party of at least eight Blue Tits to which I must add a noticeable absence of 'tits' at Barbondale this year. Non bird interest was fourteen butterflies being, 12 Small Heath, and 2 Common Blue, also 2 Golden-ringed Dragonflies seen. I noticeably didn't see Dipper or Grey Wagtail here today.

And finally....

Stonechat. Peter Guy.  

Another decent photograph of the female Stonechat....thanks for this Peter. 

Sunday, 20 June 2010

N. American Birds.

White-crowned Sparrow. Paul Baker.

With visitors to Birds2blog from the US approaching 200 I thought a couple of birds of North America would be a good idea to fill in until tomorrow when I hope to be back birding in an as yet undecided area.

White-crowned Sparrow nest with four eggs. Paul Baker.

Thanks to Paul in BC Canada we have an excellent image of the White-crowned Sparrow, the benefit of knowing Paul is that we also have an interesting shot of the nest with four eggs.

The first of this species found in the UK was of a bird on Fair Isle, Shetland on 15 May 1977. Having been observed feeding with House Sparrows it was still present the following day. 

Savannah Sparrow. Paul Baker.

Savannah Sparrow nest with four eggs. 

Two more images from Paul are of the Savannah Sparrow and nest of four eggs. The first of this species to be found in the UK was of a bird at Portland Bill in Dorset on 11 April 1982, it remained until 16 April and actually established a small territory where it was watched by hundreds of observers, two American ornithologists established the bird to be of the race P.s princeps known as the Ipswich Sparrow.

Many thanks for these four photographs Paul they are very interesting.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

A Piece of the Action.

Well three pieces actually.

Long-eared Owl. Brian Rafferty.

Another one of those irresistible Brian Rafferty Long-eared Owl shots showing to perfection the action of this bird diving to ground at prey, whether or not the bird scored on this attempt I wouldn't know but these birds make plunges like this many times without success, a hard life when the table isn't set every time you're feeling hungry or have a family to feed. BR's website is HERE please take a look.  A brilliant image as ever Brian and many thanks.

Osprey. Gary Jones.

A long distance shot of the Osprey coming in to land at the nest site in the Lakes. Opportunities for this level of photographic success don't come very often but Gary took advantage of this location at Bassenthwaite where facilities are in place to view these magnificent birds. Gary's website is HERE and well worth a look to see his wildlife and wanderings on the mountains. Thanks for the pic Gary which helps to fill the gaps on Birds2blog between my birding day's.

House Martin. Stuart Piner.

This is as good a photograph of the House Martin in flight as I've seen in many a year. I'd hazard a guess the bird had just taken off having taken a bath as the water droplets appear to be flying left, right, and centre. A pretty cool pic Stuart and many thanks for letting me show it here on the blog.

I'd sooner be birding....but unfortunately won't be until Monday at the earliest.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Bowland Rewind!

Dipper. David Cookson.

With JB/BT today we first visited Conder Green - well where else would you go to first - and found 2 Spotted Redshank seen yesterday still here again, also Greenshank here still, a Little Ringed Plover flew out of the River Conder just downstream from the A588 road bridge and on to Conder Pool.

We had already decided earlier we should now head off into the Bowland area which turned out to be a 'Bowland Revisited' day for me, but not a problem as it had some better results for us than I had yesterday and today's efforts didn't include a fraction of yesterday's legwork. On the way we stopped off at Street Bridge and noted a Grey Wagtail on the river here. From the Hawthornthwaite track I again checked out the small colony but saw just 3 Sand Martins with no activity around the nest holes, I think it's quite conclusive no breeding here this year, a pair of Red Grouse were interesting in that when they took to flight they took with them a single fledged young bird, a Kestrel was noted hunting here.

Approaching Wellbrook Farm it was BT's turn to be the 'hawkeye birder' as he spotted what turned out to be a pair of Common Sandpiper with a single young bird, an excellent record, there are a 'few' House Martins around this farmhouse and I intend counting them on my next visit to this area. At Marshaw three young Oystercatchers seen today with at least six pairs in this area, a juvenile Dipper was another excellent record with a male Redstart also seen.

It was in the Tower Lodge area the day became much more interesting when 5 Spotted Flycatchers were found which included two pairs both seen attending young at the nest hole, another male Redstart seen, a Treecreeper, and a Nuthatch as far as I can recall is the very first of the species I have seen in this area, a Grey Wagtail was the only one see here today. Calling in at Christ Church just outside Abbeystead only one House Martin nest active here this year.

An interesting conversation with a member of the estate staff revealed no let up in the 'Red Grouse Problem' with 84 birds found dead in a 'relatively small area' along with 'some' Curlews falling victim to the same 'tic' problem, but as the conversation progressed a change in sheep dipping strategy may hopefully bring about some change it seems.

Thanks for the Dipper photograph David, it is much appreciated.    

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Poorly Paid!

Male Merlin. Peter Guy.

The excellent image of the male Merlin is appropriate because I gave the uplands - where these birds breed - eight solid hours today and did up to 9 miles legwork in the process, the result was a bit like doing a job worth £120 and being paid just £20, really difficult 'stuff'.

I had an e-mail from a Fylde birder telling me of a walk done yesterday Tarnbrook-Brown Syke-Wolfdale Crag-Whitendale Hanging Stones-Millers House-White Moor-Tarnbrook - more legwork than mine today I may add - and not a solitary Stonechat, Whinchat, or Wheatear....for want of a better expression I'd say that's grim.

Well I went on the access track up Hawthornthwaite this morning and saw not a solitary Stonechat either but noted 5 Raven over, counted 12 Meadow Pipits, saw 2 Sand Martin in the area of the small six hole colony but noted no activity around the nest holes, 2 Wrens, a Pied Wagtail, and - thankful for small mercy - a Golden - ringed Dragonfly, and a Large Heath and Small Copper being the only butterflies in nine hours....something wrong there!

Oystercatcher. Peter Guy.

At Marshaw 3 Oystercatcher pairs have a young each with a 'vile' Grey Heron on patrol close by, the big surprise of the day here was when a Redshank flew over the road into the adjoining field. I then 'got stuck into' the access track from here and did in fact find a pair of Stonechat to my eternal delight four hours into my birding day, 14 Meadow Pipit, 2 Willow Warbler, and - although I was some distance away from them - 3 Snipe flushed from a nice boggy area they had found.

The walk - at a stop/start snails pace - from Marshaw to Trough Bridge and return was disappointingly poor but 5 Common Sandpiper were seen again though no young have been found with these reasonably obvious three pairs, 5 Willow Warbler, 4 Coal Tit being a family group, a female Mallard in the stream with just five ducklings, 5 Grey Wagtail, a Buzzard over, and another disappointment in only seeing 3 Spotted Flycatcher up here today one of which was a 'new one' in the area above Trough Bridge and although I've no concrete evidence yet there's the possibility of six pairs here this year.  On the road home just before reaching Jubilee Tower 2 Redshank were on the fence line posts, so a double surprise here to the one at Marshaw earlier.

Though the day had some disappointments - and was bloody hard work - it was an enjoyable exercise, and when I got out of the motor at the access track to Hawthornthwaite this morning I couldn't help but note the total silence away from earshot of the M6 and other worldly distractions and pollutions....excellent stuff.

Thanks for the photographs Peter, much appreciated. 

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

No Sign!

Marmora's Warbler. Mike Watson.

As I write there's no sign of the Marmora's Warbler present in Gwent since Thursday 3 June. Many thanks to Mike Watson for the use of his image about which and an interesting account of the visit to Gwent by Mike can be found HERE

The bird has an interesting story attached to it regarding who it is named after. This person has a quite distinguishing sounding name being, Alberto Ferrero Della Marmora (1789-1863) who - in addition to being a naturalist - was an Italian general involved in the Napoleonic wars and was indeed decorated by Napoleon 1 and was later employed by the King of Sardinia where Marmora also has a mountain named after him, he is also credited with naming Eleonora's Falcon. But this man had a very dark side to his life in that he stood accused of having massacred those who revolted against the reign of the Savoys in Genoa with his newly formed uniformed soldiers, who were all carrying a 'carbine' which he had invented.

Incidentally the Marmora's Warbler was described by Coenraad Jacob Temminck who's only one species I personally recognise is the Temminck's Stint of which there was quite a few in the UK recently and of which I observed no less than nine together at Cley in Norfolk in early May 2000. Temminck has a total of seventeen birds named after him.

With regard to the Eleonora's Falcon we now go back further in time to around 1350-1404 when Eleonora of Arborea was the warrior-princess of Sardinia who passed legislation to protect birds of prey. She apparently died 'during an epidemic of the plague' in 1404. The falcon was first observed in Sardinia in 1830 and Marmora named the bird in her honour.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

....with LEO at the end!

Large Skipper. Pete Woodruff.

With JB today we got off to a good start at Conder Green where a Spotted Redshank in the channel was a pleasant surprise still in its glorious 'black as the devils waistcoat' breeding plumage as my old dear and departed friend John Leedal use to say. JB and I gave Conder Green a reasonably good going over and it took me almost an hour to find 2 Little Ringed Plovers still here seen from the west end, and I'm now taking any bets they have a breeding programme still in place, also a Common Sandpiper on the pool, a Little Egret, Kestrel, and the 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls still hanging around but showing no attempts to breed. Non bird interest was a Stoat within two feet of me on the viewing platform but disappeared in an instant when it saw me, and the Large Skipper in the pic above which just about achieves my level of photographic expertise these days.

We decided a visit into the hills next was the best plan and found a healthy colony at Cam Brow which consists of up to ten nest holes being attended by up to 20 Sand Martins, this represents the highest number of nests at this small bank above the stream here. At Marshaw 4 Common Sandpipers seen as two pairs didn't appear to have any young that could be seen, another bird was at Tower Lodge where 5 Spotted Flycatchers were seen two of which were as a pair and fair to suggest five pairs at least in this area this year with another seen previously but not today and with more yet to be found I'd wager, a Grey Wagtail also of note, 2 Coal Tit and 2 Long-tailed Tit also noted.

At Christ Church at Abbeystead just 2 House Martin seen along with a Painted Lady which is my third this week, and a Buzzard over. And finally....

Long-eared Owl. Brian Rafferty.

It's just not possible for me to resist an excellent image of this stunning bird superbly photographed by Brian Rafferty. Thanks for allowing it on to Birds2blog Brian and....WOW!  


Monday, 14 June 2010

Beside the Seaside!

Cormorant. David Cookson.

Despite being in the coastal area four hours today I actually didn't see a Cormorant at all but thanks for the excellent photograph of this one in flight....brilliant I'd say David.

I managed a couple of circuits today both of which as expected were pretty quiet, however,  I did manage to collect a first record for Conder Pool with 2 Grey Partridge in the greenery there, otherwise nothing at all of note on here save a Brown Hare, the Greenshank was in the channel again and the Reed Warbler upstream from the road bridge was in song again, and 7 Swift over.

At Cockersands where the high tide didn't help I saw just 2 Eider today, a Red-breasted Merganser and Great-crested Grebe were noted, and c.180 Oystercatchers were as ever the guardians of Plover Scar, 6 Tree Sparrows three of which seemed to think they were shorebirds and were down on the shingle, I saw just 2 Skylark and 7 Linnet included a family party of five, today's MEGA sighting was that of 2 Greenfinch.

And finally....

Black-tailed Godwit. Gary Jones.

Another photograph with 'excellent' attached to it, the Black-tailed Godwit....Thanks for this Gary it is much appreciated.

Apparently the proposed introduction of the White-tailed Eagle to Suffolk looks set to be thrown out the window. I watched a pig farmer on the television at tea time singing the praises of those who opposed the idea and claimed he can now get on with running his business happy in the fact no 'large birds' can upset his sows into panic which then run the danger of suffocating or trampling the piglets to death....I think this guy had been prescribed the wrong tablets by his doctor!

Please note, I'm not suggesting either my support or opposition to this scheme in adding this subject to my post.  


Sunday, 13 June 2010

Quickie Filler!

Eider. Stuart Piner.

Well the Eider photograph is very appropriate for today's quick and short filler and in my view is a very good photograph of the species which are nearly always in the water when ever I come across them, so its good to see them just about on dry land if heading to the sea which is where they always appear to be at their best....Thanks for the pic Stuart.

The reason why they are so appropriate for the post is because not only did I count 46 Eider today on Glasson Marsh off Bodie Hill at high tide but an excellent inclusion was that of five ducklings with one of the females. My brief birding 'spell' today also produced an excellent Greenshank at Conder Green, I also saw this bird here on Monday 7 June....good grief is the return passage underway already or has this bird been nowhere to return from!

And the excellent pic of a female Emperor Dragonfly is thanks to Katie Fuller who hails from Cambridgeshire and who takes some pretty cool pics. Please take a look at Katies blog which can be found HERE.

Hoping to get a couple of hours 'local' birding in tomorrow. 

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Conder Pool.

Little Ringed Plover. Peter Guy.

I don't think there is a bird more appropriate than the Little Ringed Plover for this post about Conder Pool at Conder Green simply because the LRP has graced this excellent pool each and every summer since its creation in 2003, though if my memory serves me correct the area which became the pool was being created in 2002 when material was extracted from here to raise the road a few metres from here as a barrier from the ever rising water levels along our coastline and in this case to protect the caravan site behind the road at this point.

My recently updated header photograph is one I took on 29 March this year and is of a small number of the  c.1,000 waders I was confronted with on this memorable morning when I turned the corner on the A588 at the Stork Hotel to see this amazing sight in the air over Conder Pool. When I walked on to the viewing platform I discovered all the birds had settled down on the various islands and areas of the pool and was quite amazed to count what I wrote in my notes as 'up to 350 Black-tailed Godwit and 450 Knot' the figure of c.1,000 waders was then made up of various species including Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Redshank and Dunlin etc, and was quite a spectacular sight for such a small pool.

Over the eight years of its existence Conder Pool has been visited by some quite exciting birds creating some equally exciting records, of course the best of these has to be the White-winged Black Tern which I was fortunate to find over the marsh on 14 August 2003, this bird very soon created Conder Pools claim to fame when it visited there at least on one occasion during its stay of ten days on the Lune Estuary. Other 'goodies' void of any dates have been, two Pectoral Sandpipers, a Wood Sandpiper, and another of my finds a juvenile Back-necked Grebe present there when I visited on the morning of 1 September 2008. All these good records are also joined over the years by Little Egret, Avocet, Scaup, and Ruff to name a few.

So, back to the beginning and the Little Ringed Plover which, although it has been present on the pool every year it has often been difficult to confirm breeding successes of which it has had at least three with fledged young observed, but this place has many hidden areas which in some respects is an advantage to the birds and offers them some undisturbed life from the human form at least. The birds have always arrived by early April but there are many of my visits which go without any sightings of either male or female LRP's to such an extent at times that you begin to think they are no longer present, well this is what makes birding what it is and it would be a little boring if every time you went to Conder Pool there was the LRP waiting for you to confirm it is still there.

The creation of Conder Pool and leaving it to nature - and in particular the birds - is the best thing to have happened in our area in recent times, conversely the 'loss' of the old gavel pits of Dockacres to a fishing lake was the crime of the century in my opinion. However, Lancaster and its surrounding areas are by far the best and most diverse of anywhere I know, how many the times I've said 'waders' on the coast, and 'harriers' on the moors forty minutes later....beat that.

Thanks to Peter Guy for the LRP pic, and to John Bateman who often accompanies me on my birding days and who supplied me with some of the records relating to Conder Pool in this post.

Friday, 11 June 2010

A Change of Scenery.

Round-leaved Sundew Drosera rotundifolia. Pete Woodruff.

The change of scenery came from a visit to three mosses today when - with JB/BT - we visited Hale Moss on a day not at all appropriate for such a visit as it was cloudy and cool resulting in no butterflies or dragonflies to be seen. The few birds here were, a male Reed Bunting, a young Robin, with both Garden Warbler and Blackcap heard in song, and 4 House Martin and 2 Swift over.

At Halforth a 'few' Tree Sparrows, 2 Linnet, 4 Goldfinch, 5 Skylark, a good number of Sand Martin were hawking over the high tide, I presume these are birds from a colony somewhere in the Sampool area, and a Kestrel.

On to Foulshaw Moss where conditions were still not at all perfect for the chance of butterflies and dragonflies, though a 'few' Four-spotted Chasers were around the various pools and ditches, 4 Buzzard, a Kestrel, and a solitary Long-tailed Tit were the sum total of birds seen. Despite scanning the entire viewable area of the moss I can confidently claim there to be not a single Stonechat 'to be seen' here today, and probably more to the point no Stonechat at Foulshaw Moss this summer.

And lastly Meathop Moss which produced a Tree Pipit (probably a pair) a Buzzard, and a Raven over, the only butterfly seen were 2 Large Heath. The photograph at the head of the post is of the Sundew on this moss, a plant which is listed as one which should be protected, the pic is in no way a classic image of the plant but it's a record of my sighting.

And finally....

The Phaon Crescent, a stunning butterfly which you can find in Mike Watsons Diary HERE. The range of this beautiful creature is Guatemala, Cuba and Mexico to southern California, east through southern Texas and Florida to coastal South Carolina. It also strays to east Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. Mikes latest post is an excellent account and photograph of his encounter with the Marmora's Warbler which is still singing its little head off in Gwent. Many thanks for the photograph of the Phaon Crescent Mike.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Birding Mid-March....

....Well that's what it was like today where I was with JB when we went to check out the mid-breeding season birds at Barbondale, dark heavy clouds and a cold quite strong wind and not a place I would have come to had I known how unpleasant it was....end of weather whinge!

Male Pied Flycatcher Peter Guy.

It was actually quite calm and sheltered from the wind once I entered the path through the first gate soon to discover 'the' pair of Pied Flycatchers are obviously still engaged in a breeding programme here. Other notables in order of finding were, excellent views of a female Green Woodpecker, 6 Willow Warbler mainly heard, a Grey Wagtail, 7 Redstarts which - with the exception of a pair - were three male and two female individuals, a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Dipper, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Buzzard, and a single Wren heard in song. I've been taking particular note of 'tits' at Barbondale this year and have noted their near absence from here, today I saw not a single one and in three previous visits this year so far I have had a total of just eleven sightings which - it goes without saying - doesn't mean eleven birds.

Female Pied Flycatcher. Peter Guy.

We decided my having found two - possibly three - Spotted Flycatchers around the River Wenning below Clapham Station on 20 May that we would go to see if there was any sign of them again today but found just one obliging individual perched and flycatching by the bridge, also noted at least 6 House Martins around the cottage, 4 Grey Wagtails, 3 Goldfinch, and 2 Treecreeper. A Kestrel was noted as we drove over Newby Moor.

Thanks to Peter Guy for two excellent images of two equally excellent Pied Flycatchers.

And finally....

Blackburnian Warbler. Mike Watson.

Another look at this stunning bird not just because of how stunning it really is, but did you know the bird was named after a Mrs Blackburn (1740-1793) who was a botanist and owned a museum at Fairfield in Lancashire, England. She had a brother, Ashton Blackburn, who collected a specimen of the warbler. This woman was never married and had a preference to be called Mrs Blackburn as she thought it gave her more standing and authority....well, you learn something every day don't you!  


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Out of time!

Well this is going to look like a plot to get visitors to view my other blog but I promise you it is not, so please take a look HERE