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

Monday, 30 August 2010

LM with KT!

That's actually about five hours at Leighton Moss with KT, but first....

Cuckoo. David Cookson.

OK so this photograph was posted on Birds2blog on 12 August 'The Cuckoo Season' and here it is again but this time with congratulations to David Cookson who was awarded POTW by the Birdguides team and rightly so as it represents a truly brilliant image by David of this very obliging bird which stayed around for several days at Cockers Dyke and obliged every visitor showing its skill at taking caterpillars at a 100% success rate.

Grey Heron. Pete Woodruff.

Well I don't claim to make any attempt at competing with the likes of David Cookson and many other excellent photographers I know, but this Grey Heron obliged this afternoon from the Grisedale Hide at Leighton Moss where KT and I decided to have a wander round on a pleasant day

On the circuit from the path to the Lower Hide - void of any counting - I noted, Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff  heard, Long-tailed Tits, a brief Great-spotted Woodpecker, a good number of Swallows with House Martin and Sand Martin noted, and best bird for me from the path was the Marsh Tit. At the hide 2 Little Egret, and a male Marsh Harrier which apparently is regarded as a visitor as no males have been seen here since the summer residents departed, a 'few' Gadwall were noted, also at least one Brown Hawker seen. About 4 Speckled Wood were the only butterflies seen all afternoon.

From the Public Hide where the waders were mainly on the backside of the island and difficult to assess, c.10 Greenshank, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, and 40 Redshank noted. From the Lillian Hide, 2 Marsh Harrier juveniles, and with the 'large' numbers of Mallard and Coot, single figures of Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail and Pochard, and a Buzzard over the woods.

From the Grisedale Hide, 10 Greenshank came in from a NW direction - the Public Hide birds? - also 14 Black-tailed Godwit came from the same direction followed by a female Marsh Harrier, 3 Buzzard and a Peregrine Falcon were soaring high, and 3 Wigeon were of note.

A record 80 Little Egrets to roost at Leighton Moss this evening per LDBWS website. 

And a good time was had by all!  

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Bad News.

Sounds a bit depressing and is, but birding, birdwatching, twitching, life listing, ringing - I'm just a birder with a passion and the only 'list' I have is the one I return home with every birding day - call your interest what you like, isn't all good and enjoyable, now and again we have to address the negatives some of which are devastating, a couple have come to my notice recently being the Zino's Petrel, and closer to home the Greenfinch.

Roosters. Brian Rafferty.

Definitely no pics of the Zino's Petrel nor Greenfinch for that matter, but do have these of Knot, Sanderling, and Dunlin roosting on the beaches at Southport....Thanks Brian.


Well if you already took a look at yesterdays brief post and clicked the link then I'm about to briefly become a bore, if you didn't then here is a quick run down on the subject of the forest fire on the island of Madeira which has killed several adults and a massive 65% of the already endangered Zino's Petrel chicks which - if successful - would have added to the numbers of Europe's rarest seabird and one of the rarest birds in the world. Once on the edge of extinction but through intensive conservation action of the past 20 years the population of this species has risen to almost 80 pairs....and how close does that still sound to extinction.

Efforts are now focused on helping the remaining 13 fledglings from this devastating fire to survive and keep to a minimum further risk of soil erosion on the breeding ledges. There is confirmation that these thirteen young are still being fed by parent birds and that they appear to be in a healthy condition.

Please take a look at a more detailed account of this tragedy in my post 'Forest Fire' yesterday. If we so wish we can all help with a donation towards carrying out urgent conservation work before the winter sets in HERE 


I've noticed the mention of the problems facing the Greenfinch a couple of times recently and my own records show for some considerable time now that sightings of this finch are few and far between and - void of a search through my records - counts reaching a double figure have been non existent for a long time.

Since its emergence in 2005 outbreaks of the disease have continued to occur every year. The cause of the disease trichomonas gallinae is a protozoan parasite - not a virus - and has been the cause of falling numbers in the Greenfinch - and other British finches - populations with most birds affected dying in the summer and autumn months, it is well known as a cause of disease in Pigeons and Doves, and as a consequence the birds of prey which feed on them. The spread is caused by the saliva of an infected individual coming into contact with a non-infected bird especially in the situation were birds are feeding one another with regurgitated food during the breeding season.

The Greenfinch is a bird often associated with garden feeders and I'm asking myself....are my bird feeding habits clean and healthy! 


Friday, 27 August 2010

Forest Fire.

No birding today and also out of time to do a post for Birds2blog....whats the world coming to.

But I'd ask you to please take a look at the link below which contains news of something far more important than me or anyone else birding or writing up a post for a blog.

I'll be back tomorrow, not birding but hopefully with something of interest for the blog.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Probably the best....

....lager in the world!

Clougha Pike From Little Fell Lane. Pete Woodruff.

Not connected with lager at all but probably the best visit to Clougha in the ten years plus I've been observing birds on here, including a first record here for me when, just ten minutes away from the motor I found 2 adult Spotted Flycatchers in trees twenty paces short of the bog - no lavatory jokes please - and twenty minutes later found 2 Whinchat. I need to address the negative side of the visit which came with just a single young Stonechat in the five hours spent here today, this was an even more worrying sight as I'm not acquainted with young Stonechats seen on their own but despite a search of the area I found it in I could see no other bird/s accompanying this fledgling of no more than a week....strange.

Good numbers of Meadow Pipits were lingering and I easily counted 85 birds during the visit, a count of 25 Red Grouse was also a good record, conversations with gamekeepers in Bowland indicate no shooting of RG taking place again this year. Another good record was that of 14 Wheatear, and to make up the nine species seen on Clougha/Birk Bank today, a Blackbird and just two raptors, a Buzzard and Kestrel.

Butterflies seen were only my seconds of Wall Brown and Red Admiral this year, 2 Small Skipper, 7 Small Tortoiseshell, and 3 Peacock


Spotted Flycatchers and Whinchats are two species on the 'going down' list and it pleases me no end to find them. With regard to the Spotted Flycatcher - void of searching through my records - I've found up to 20 this year, and the Whinchat 23, so for birds heading for scarcity status that's excellent. As for the Stonechat, my maximum August counts over ten years on Clougha/Birk Bank were 27 birds on 26 August 2004 which is 26 birds up on todays result to add to the number of locations I visit were the species has virtually been lost. It was also notable that in the entire five hours up here today I saw not a solitary 'corvid'.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Squeeze!

But first....

I'm looking for South American Moth experts to ID this moth which was photographed in the Santa Marta Mountains of Colombia.

I actually managed to squeeze in one of those 'couple of hours' birding periods yesterday (Tuesday) when the weather decided to buck up and I was able to relieve myself of other worldly matters. Well there's only one thing to do in a situation like this and that's to give Conder Green a look over. Conder Pool was so quiet I was able to devote a couple of minutes to note everything on there which comprised of just twelve birds being, 4 Oystercatcher, 2 Teal, the 'all summer' site faithful 3 Wigeon, and most interesting the return of 3 Little Grebe to the pool. The circuit provided the best of Conder Green with 2 Spotted Redshank juveniles, at least 6 Greenshank with the distinct possibility of there being eight, but they were pretty mobile today hence the err on caution, 2 Ruff, 2 Common Sandpiper, and up to 300 Redshank were in the channel below the old railway bridge with a lone Black-tailed Godwit and 3 Dunlin, 6 House Martins are still visiting three nests under the eaves of River Winds.

I just had time to have a quick check - quick checks and - generally speaking - birding from cars are not recommended - of the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock to find an adult Mediterranean Gull and to note the estuary otherwise unimpressive wader-wise save c.900 viewable Redshank of note.

And finally....


Another one for the SA moth experts. Thanks to Colin Bushell for the photographs....they intrigue me Colin.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

This is serious!

More to the point....very serious. I'm not going to 'get out' again today and staring at this monitor is definitely not good for the mind or soul but that's what I'm doing right now. So to help combat the ill effects all this is having on me I did the following research with my thanks to John Wilson who allowed me access to the LDBWS Annual Reports from the societies birth in 1959....

I did some 'digging' into the archives and as always came up with some interesting results from the 1990 LDBWS Annual Report. I also decided to give Lamberts (Lancaster) Ltd a plug with the front and back cover of the report from 20 years ago.

The year was noted in the report as an interesting one which included a Night Heron, Serin, and singing Marsh Warbler all at Heysham. Other notable records included a mass arrival of 95 Black Terns at Leighton Moss on 2 May which represented the largest number recorded in the area but which was a fraction of the in excess of 1,000 recorded in North-West England as a whole.

There was two attempts of breeding by the same pair of Mediterranean Gulls both of which ended in failure. Other negative news for 1990 was the no breeding success of 'terns' or Bowland raptors the latter which thankfully has now changed for the better  in 2010. Another record which had a particular interest for me was that of a Black Stork which many observers saw soaring over Leighton Moss. Five years later this is a species which I myself had the good fortune to find in flight over Little Fell Lane east of Lancaster on 24 April 1995. More interesting records appeared in this report with up to four Black Grouse recorded on Beatrix Fell, and two pairs near Hollins. This was the year my birding friend JB had the the good fortune of finding a White-winged Black Tern at Leighton Moss and then earned himself some honour in pursuing the bird to Dockacres, and then went on to Heysham to alert fellow birders who were there out of 'telephone' circulation which resulted in a large number of people having cause to be grateful to John for his efforts regarding this sighting and getting the news out. Of course I take particular note that no breeding records of Stonechat were discovered in 1990. It was noted in this report that a Subalpine Warbler found in Freeman's Wood in Lancaster in 1989 had been accepted by BBRC. 

To end, I note my name is absent from this report as of course it will be, a clear indication of my 'late' arrival on the birding scene....How I will always wish I'd have taken an interest in birds many years sooner than I did. 


Monday, 23 August 2010

Mountain Gorilla.

No birding for me again today but there's always something to be found like this plea and a petition to sign, this is another one from WWF....please take a look at the link below whilst I go to check out the weather forecast for tomorrow!

Mountain Gorilla. The video is good....short....and to the it needs to be.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

A Plover, a Grouse, and a chat.

Semipalmated Plover. Paul Baker.

Paul Baker is one of the most prolific wildlife photographers I know. Paul posts his photographs on his Flickr photostream on a near daily basis and I'm very lucky to have found him there and having contacted him he agreed to allow me to put his pictures on Birds2blog.

The Semipalmated Plover seen in this photograph is taken at Mud Bay, Delta, British Columbia, Canada in non-breeding plumage, in its breeding plumage it is very difficult to separate from our own Eurasian Ringed Plover. The species breeds in Canada and Alaska, and winters in the coastal areas of the USA to Patagonia. Many thanks for this Paul it is much appreciated.

Sooty Grouse. David Baker.

Paul's son David also takes excellent photographs on a regular basis and this one is of the Sooty Grouse taken at Mount Seymour, Deep Cove, British Columbia.  The Sooty Grouse is a forest dwelling bird which is so closely related to the Dusky Grouse that until recently there was serious debate as to whether or not they were a separate species. Thanks also to you for this David, much appreciated. 

Whinchat. Courtesy of Jorg Hempel. 

Nearer to home Phil Slade found a Whinchat today at Pilling Water and I recommend you visit Phil's website HERE to read about what he thought when he found this scarce if not rare summer visitor en-route to its wintering quarters in Central and Southern Africa. Even this late in the summer I still hope to find one or two of this smart little 'chat' as I did last year - all mid-September - with one seen from the Hawthornthwaite Fell access track starting at Marshaw, one on Newby Moor in N.Yorkshire, and one at Barbondale, all these birds were 1st winter birds.


Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Spotted Flycatcher.

Spotted Flycacher. Pete Woodruff.

Well the Spotted Flycatcher (SF) pic has almost certainly had a slot on Birds2blog before, if it has I'm in no way worried about that as it is here again for four good reasons....1) It ranks as probably the best 'bird' pic I ever took to date, not only that but it is, 2) One of my most favourite summer visitors, 3) Its numbers are decreasing and, 4) I was both delighted and interested that I found and observed eight birds together on Thursday of this week during a visit to Marshaw in the Forest of Bowland.

In the past two years at least I have found the area - between the cattle grid beyond Marshaw Farm and Trough Bridge - excellent for SF's and void of quoting accurate figures from my records for the sake of this post I'd claim the possibility of seven pairs present during last year and probably that number again this year.

The SF is amongst the latest arrival of summer visitors to the UK and the first to leave in autumn, though one I observed in the plantation behind Tower Lodge on 18 September 2009 seems to contradict that claim, however, very few are seen/recorded in the month of October.

In Britain there has been a collapse of the SF with a decrease something in the order of 90% and with the breeding situation in Lancashire over the past ten years having deteriorated dramatically. Problems are thought to lie in the birds wintering grounds or passage areas, with some suggestions that post-breeding food shortages on breeding grounds may also be involved. It seems clear that the once common SF in Lancashire  is now in a perilous state as a breeding species in the county which brings me to the opinion that the area I'm talking about with regards to my observations in Bowland is one of  - if not the best - in the LDBWS recording area and beyond. An interesting ringing note....there has only ever been one recovery of SF from Lancashire, that of a juvenile ringed at Hightown in August 1976 and was found dead almost three years later in June 1979 in Belfast, N. Ireland. 

The photograph above was taken a couple of years ago in the very area I talk about here. The SF is very tolerant of human presence and I was able to observe and photograph this bird 'flycatching' with skill and perfection. Last year a pair nested in a climbing plant on the wall of Tower Lodge, if you look at the same wall this year you'll find the plant has been removed from the lodge albeit unwittingly to the loss of the birds but a clear example of how we can contributed to or hinder the progress of our birds.  

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Egg Man!

I'm a bit late with this one but if you've not seen this news yet I thought you may like to read about the 'very nice' Mr Jeffrey Lendrum via the link below. Personally I think a year for every ten thousand pound he was going to make from this exercise would have been far more appropriate, and the Peregrine Falcon and many other species of wildlife would have become much safer with this mans 'change of address' for a few years. The Egg Man

This year looks set to become one of the worst ones with regard to our butterflies and it will be interesting to see the Annual Report in due course.

Painted Lady.

I've only found three Painted Lady butterflies this summer so far, two at Cockersands on 7 June, and one in the churchyard at Christ Church, Abbeystead. I've also and only seen one other report on the LDBWS website.


I've only found one Gatekeeper at Fluke Hall on 10 August, and my first Small Copper on Hawthornthwaite Fell yesterday 19 August. 

Small Tortoiseshell.

And not had all that many sightings of the Small Tortoiseshell....All the pics are credited to yours truly none of which is a photograph of this years butterflies.

An amazing record of at least 73 Little Egrets was achieved at Leighton Moss on the evening of 17 August, this number topples the previous record of 63 which didn't occur until October in 2009. I've long claimed something in excess of 100 Little Egrets along the coastline from Knott End to Leighton Moss, Grange-over-Sands. I reckon today the number is probably more like 200 birds.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Surprise, Surprise.... excellent record actually, but that's later.

The photograph is of the desolation  - though beautiful - which faces you as you walk up the Hawthornthwaite access track. In the two hours up here today I was very fortunate not to have recorded a blank on the one species I was 'after' but I saw a distant bird which immediately took off to fly to the other side of the fell, but my luck was in when I picked out the bird across the deep gully soon joined by its mate to make a pair of Stonechat. I've found only one other bird up here in three visits this year being a female on 13 April, and with today's two apparently unaccompanied birds the result is a no breeding record on this west side of Hawthornthwaite Fell in the area I cover, or indeed on the east side which was to follow.

I had six Buzzard sightings but with just two seen together at one point I gained no hard evidence of more than these two seen. Probably 60 Meadow Pipits over with c.30 showing distaste to a Buzzards soaring presence. I found my first Small Copper of the year, a butterfly which flies for eight months in the year March-October and we're eight and a half months into 2010 before my first, also a single Peacock....Alleluia!

As I went through the gate at the access track from Marshaw to Hawthornthwaite Fell I went to the back side of the small plantation to find a bit of bird movement and counted 4 Coal Tit, 2 Willow Warbler, and a Nuthatch, but the best was to come when I found what was at least fifteen very mobile birds the majority of the number was made up of 8 Spotted Flycatchers including young being excellent record and I never thought I would ever be 'surrounded' by Spotted Flycatchers. Two hours spent in the area from the track with a few diversion was a bit of an anti-climax as I found no Stonechats, saw a Buzzard, just 2 Meadow Pipits, and a Peacock butterfly.


Over a ten year period the peak count of Stonechats on Hawthornthwaite Fell from the west side access track was of 13 birds on 22 August 2007, and from the east side access track a count of 14 birds on 4 July 2008. So a total of 27 Stonechats on this fell alone in these two counts compared to just two birds seen today is conclusive evidence of the virtual 'loss' of the Stonechat on Hawthornthwaite Fell.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Marsh Harrier.

Marsh Harrier. Gary Jones.

It could never fail to excite any birder to see a Marsh Harrier heading your way as I did on Tuesday, the bird was flying over Cockerham Marsh and went north over Bank End Farm. It is the largest of the British species of harrier and some of them winter in this country, others move to S Europe, NW Africa, or south of the Sahara, with such a wide wintering range its not surprising that this adaptable and opportunistic bird has increased in number both in Britain and abroad though this hasn't always been the case for the species. By the end of the 19th century it was no more than an accidental visitor having probably been a species which bred in lowland Lancashire prior to the draining of meres and mosses in the 17/18th centuries.

From virtual extinction at the turn of the 20th century and helped by the banning of agricultural pesticides and the benefits of conservation measures the Marsh Harrier entered a period of expansion which continues to the present day with an estimated 200 females nesting. In our own area at Leighton Moss two or three birds were being recorded annually by the mid 1960's, and the rate of occurrences then increased throughout the 70's, but breeding success didn't come until 1987 when a pair fledged three young and the Marsh Harrier has nested there ever since.

Of interest, there has only ever once been a ringing recovery of Marsh Harrier - which turned out to have been a not very informative one - that of a bird ringed in 1991 at Martin Mere and recovered just a few miles away at Southport a month later.


I received an e-mail from WWT yesterday asking me to remind/ask as many people as possible to sign the petition  - if you haven't already done so - to Save The Tiger. Would you please consider linking to the petition from my sidebar and help this vital cause. In particular I'm thinking of a country like the USA from where I receive many visitors, a vast country with vast numbers of people who could contribute and pass on the news on a large scale....PLEASE.  

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Here and There.

Mediterranean Gull. Pete Woodruff.

Starting with another example of one of my stunning photographs - I use the words loosely - of the adult Mediterranean Gull with c.320 Black-headed Gulls and 4 Common Gulls on Conder Pool this morning. Also on the pool, a Kingfisher, the resident 3 Wigeon, and a Little Egret. On the circuit here I noted 2 Spotted Redshank, 3 Greenshank, 4 Common Sandpiper, and c.180 Redshank in the Conder channel below the old railway bridge.

On a bit of a 'where should I go next' day I decided to see if the Yellow Wagtail would show at Bank End, it didn't after sifting through 25 Pied Wagtails, but it was a good decision to come here if only for the female Marsh Harrier which flew towards me going north and over Bank House Farm.

Another rewarding decision was to give Aldcliffe a go and do the circuit. With the trees in full leaf during the summer months there are very few places along the track to Marsh Point  where you can view the Freeman's Pools but having looked it over from the gate there was little to note save 3 Grey Herons roosting on the island like folded umbrellas, and a pair of Moorhen had a successful brood of six small young which will need at least four more weeks good luck to steer clear of predation. The return via the embankment was the reward with my first coastal returning Wheatear, 3 Green Sandpiper and a Greenshank were on the wildfowlers pool, and a Snipe was on the flood where a Green Sandpiper had been 1.5 hours earlier but had presumably gone to make up the three on the pool, otherwise the possibility of four GS here today.

On my return on the embankment I realised how big the maize field is - it really is BIG - and couldn't help but wonder how many Lapwings had paid the price of choosing this field to breed this year.

And finally....

Solitary Sandpiper. Paul Baker.

Well I didn't find one of these today, the Nearctic counterpart of the Green Sandpipers I saw at Aldcliffe this afternoon, with similar habitat preferences it breeds in Alaska and much of Canada, and is one of the rarest North American waders in Britain, so if I think I'm watching a Green Sandpiper in September and it flies off showing a dark rump and tail I reckon I may just shout Tringa solitaria.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Full of confidence....

I actually wrote 'Stonechat' in my notes before I even got out of the car at Harrisend this morning full of confidence. I always did write it in the book in advance of my birding in Stonechat territory and still do but not with anything like the confidence I used to and often have to delete it now, something I never thought would happen again and was a thing of the past.

But first....

Knot. Brian Rafferty.

Brian has been doing some high tide wader photography, I reckon there are probably 200 Knot in this photograph which is a mere fraction of the actual flock. Please visit Brian's blog HERE to see some excellent images and his account of where he took these pictures.

My confidence in the Stonechat gained some momentum again today when I found ten birds on Harrisend this morning eight of which were very distant and dificult to sex/age, thought the number indicates some juveniles and the possibility of two breeding pairs in the area I was viewing them, the other two were an obvious pair with both birds scolding all the time I was in their territory, a sound I have come to miss hearing since they lost ground after the freeze last winter, the scolding Stonechat has become a thing of the past at least in the many areas I survey.

Four Buzzards soon gave me the feeling of where I was in the North of England uplands when they were giving their distinctive 'mewing' call whilst circling above me, a lovely sound. Also noted, I saw just one lone Red Grouse today, and a lone Wren, 2 Willow Warbler, and 34 Meadow Pipits which were flying around showing concern for a Kestrel above them.

It was Monday and my time was limited, but I had the time to prove yet again the diversity of areas we have for birds and birding when within fifteen minutes - which was the time it took to drive from Harrisend to Conder Green - from watching Buzzards in the uplands I was watching waders on the coast, and could in the space of another fifteen minutes have been observing the best farmland habitat you could have anywhere in the country, though in this case the farmland birds we should have are no longer....and that's nothing less than tragic but we'll leave that one for now.

A quick check over Conder Green produced 2 Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, a Ruff, and 2 Common Sandpiper, a species who's peak passage has passed. I paid a visit to Glasson Dock to look over the Lune Estuary but by the time I'd grilled c.500 'gulls' - most of which were too distant for comfort - I just had the time to note a Greenshank, and Little Grebe.

And finally....

Sanderling. Brian Rafferty.

The Sanderling is one of my favourite waders which run along the beach like clockwork toys. Thanks for the pics Brian....excellent as ever.


Saturday, 14 August 2010

14 August 2003.

If I can be excused the pun, how time flies away....Its seven years to the day since I found a White-winged Black Tern over the marsh on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock/Conder Green, the bird eventually adorned the cover of the Fylde Report which had an excellent illustration credited to Tony Disley. This bird stayed in the area for ten days until 24 August, during its stay it was noticeably observed taking butterflies, in particular the Small Tortoiseshell by one observer who contacted me to ask if I had noted this fact.

Some brief notes about the WWBT about which the first record in Britain was at Horsey Mere in Norfolk in May 1853 and the species is now regarded as an annual migrant. It breeds in Eastern Europe and east to China, wintering inland in Africa and in the Far East, from Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia through Indonesia to Northern Australia.

With regard to our area of Lancashire and North Merseyside the first record was of a bird at Crossens Marsh in August 1968 with another one almost to the day a year later at Leighton Moss in August 1969. In total there are nineteen records of the WWBT since the first on in 1968 until the last one five years ago at Seaforth/Crosby Marine Park in September 2005. As far as Conder Green is concerned the 2003 bird had been preceded by one there in July 1973.


I never did expect to find a Swallow the victim of a road kill so finding one yesterday was a first record I never wanted to collect. The bird was spotted in the roadside at Pilling, I got out of the car to find it was a juvenile - perhaps the explanation for the accident - I noted the bird was still warm and, other than the obvious recent collision the bird was otherwise unmarked/injured. By now my feelings for the birds I have a passion for kicked in and I thought the bird - which had come through the trials of egg to fledging - had been relieved of the hazzards of flying off to South Africa and one of the first major undertakings of its young life, but being killed by a car was too large a price to pay for that.   

Friday, 13 August 2010

A bit of a plod!

But first....

Southern Hawker. Ian Tallon.

Thanks to Ian Tallon for the image of the Southern Hawker at Foulshaw Moss....a good bit of timing once again Ian which helped to add interest and brighten up the blog.

Accompanied by JB/BT it was a bit of a plod somehow today and things started with Conder Green/Pool being much quieter than it had been on Tuesday, birds noted were, 2 Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, Ruff, 4 Common Sandpiper, and a Stoat was seen to scuttle across the road.

Its quite amazing how bird numbers can fluctuate wildly and are more noticeable when you visit an area regularly, the Lune Estuary from Glasson Dock was also very quiet today with just c.250 Redshank noted and a Little Egret distant on Colloway Marsh. The 'gull' number was also low and birds present on the estuary were distant and with my scope in a brisk wind shaking like a jelly on a plate life was a little difficult.....I'd never be gifted as a sea watcher in these conditions let alone in gale force winds.

I reckon the best record/sighting of the day had to be the pair of Grey Partridge with six young in a field off Jeremy Lane, not an everyday sight any more and sadly another farmland species slowly 'biting the dust' when we should be tripping up over them in a more wildlife friendly world, the Little Owl also showed itself to me for a change perched on the old derelict farm building. A drive to the caravan park at Cockersands was a little futile as the 10m plus tide was well on its way but the horse paddock and surrounding area at Bank Houses was checked for possible Yellow Wagtail but at least 18 Pied Wagtails were counted. 

Mediterranean Gull. Pete Woodruff.

Another drive, this one to Knott End where by now there was just about enough beach left for an adult Mediterranean Gull - moderate pic above - and 7 Sandwich Terns to be found prior to them being washed off. At Cockers Dyke the juvenile Cuckoo was still drawing three birders and a photographer to it - six birders when we arrived - and still appears to be consuming caterpillars at the rate of at least one per minute, if this bird is merely fattening up it'll be off in no time. A call in at Fluke Hall and Lane Ends produced a Little Egret at both, being ten short of the count made by a Fylde birder here earlier in the day.

Like I said....A bit of a plod today but with a varying degree of reward as always on any birding day.    

Thursday, 12 August 2010

New to Science.

Visitors to Birds2blog - in particular those with an interest in moths - will be a little more than interested in THIS although it's a bit out of date so 'late news' but certainly news to me.

The Cuckoo Season.

Cuckoo. David Cookson.

There's a Cuckoo season upon us and thank goodness we can see and enjoy one of the many birds world wide which are cause for concern regarding falling numbers and why. I have no intention of ever stopping singing the praises of some stunning photographs I'm given access to from the many people who know how to use a camera. The photograph of the Cuckoo currently in residence at Cockers Dyke on the Fylde Coast is illustrated to brilliant effect by David who sent me this image void of any request to do so. The shot shows this bird diving which it can do from around 40 ft up on a telegraph wire to take a caterpillar ten dives out of ten.

There is another amazing photograph of a Cuckoo in our area on the LDBWS website. This particular picture is - in my opinion - unique and I strongly recommend you take a look HERE click on 'Bird News' then  'Photos' and 'That's My Baby' to make up your own mind just how amazing it really is.  

Marsh Harriers. Peter Guy.

And on the subject of excellent photographs, here's another of those  - under license- pictures of the young Marsh Harriers in the nest....Thanks very much for this Peter.

Arctic Tern. Gary Jones.

This one is another example of some creative 'fixing' I did of Gary's Arctic Terns. Thanks for this Gary, I know you like it because you said so when I showed you the preview.

And finally....

Blackpool Air Show. Gary Jones.

As a little relief from the birds we are more used to on Birds2blog here's two real live people  - well four actually if you include the pilots - who took part in a particularly brilliant air show at Blackpool last Sunday which was apparently attended by 100,000 people at what must be the best seaside resort of its kind anywhere in Europe and probably beyond in my opinion. Thanks Gary, this was a thrilling hour watching thrilling people in thrilling flying machines, Lancaster Bomber, Spitfire, Hurricane, and the famous Red Arrows to mention just some.


Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Save The Tiger.

No birding today so I can only hope to be forgiven for this diversion from bird related matters to highlight the campaign by WWF to save the Tiger from disappearing from the face of the earth at the hands of - well what else - our human kind. Please take a look at the video which contains nothing of an unpleasant nature just some nice pictures of this beautiful creature and the danger it is in, and if you haven't already done so please would you consider signing the petition  - which can be linked via my sidebar on the left - to lend your voice to the campaign aimed at making a change to the plight of the Tiger.

Back to birds, and the photograph below is of a Yellow Wagtail which was found at Cockersands on Saturday 7 August and represents a bird I'm desperate to find on passage let alone on territory, and which I have missed at Cockersands in both spring and autumn this year, but nothing new there as it is a bird I have yet to see in these circumstances despite a 'year or two' of birding this one being at one of my many favourite birding haunts. 

Yellow Wagtail. Stuart Piner.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Its all white!

Thought I'd settle for a couple of my own photographic efforts today, the first of which is a Bee which I unfortunately cannot identify but a reasonable try at macro work.

I spent one of the best two hours at Conder Green this morning that I can recall and must immediately make note of a bird which took my breath away when one - sorry I didn't get your name - of four birders who accompanied me on the platform at Conder Pool called 'small white bird with the Swallows' which was instantly identified as a pure white albino Swallow which gave us an excellent opportunity to watch as it passed by at a leisurely speed heading south, something of a chance in a lifetime event.

With the tide reaching its height everything in the area was on the pool which included 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Ruff, 6 Greenshank, 9 Common Sandpiper, a juvenile Little Ringed Plover which certainly was not at its natal site, and was only pipped as best bird by the albino Swallow - 2 Little Egret, a Kingfisher, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Snipe, and the 3 Wigeon summer residents. In the two hours here at least 300 Swallow and 45 Swift went through south with a 'few' House Martin, also a Kestrel noted.

I decided to give Knott End 'a go' and found 38 Sandwich Terns and 2 Whimbrel of note. I then gave the excellent Cockers Dyke a look over and although the 'gull' numbers were low by usual standards a nice adult Mediterranean Gull was amongst them, also noted were 7 Sandwich Terns, c.250 Dunlin, 4 Knot having almost lost their red underparts, a solitary Ringed Plover, and 16 Golden Plover. The juvenile Cuckoo looks set to linger here to fatten up which it should do pretty quickly judging by the rate it can collect caterpillars at something like at least one a minute from my observations.

A call in at Fluke Hall had a good result if only to discover a major rarity in my book this summer so far with my first Gatekeeper, a single Wall Brown and Small Tortoiseshell, and 4 Common Blue. The only birds seen here in the brief visit were 22 Tree Sparrows.

And another bit of - not so clever - macro work of mine, showing the under-wing of a Common Blue butterfly....but I do have some stunning photographs - none of them mine - to post on Birds2blog in the coming days.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Patience is a Virtue....

....but I was assisted by 'something' putting everything on Conder Pool into panic mode, then later putting up to 2,500 Lapwings to flight from a field on Jeremy Lane as viewed from the pool platform. However, I did prove yet again that giving an area time is one of the secrets of really getting to grips with whats around and I did spend the best part of an hour viewing Conder Pool this morning to discover what at first appeared to be a virtually deserted pool but in fact held 15 species of birds....

Common Sandpiper. Pete Woodruff.

Including 6 Common Sandpiper one of which came quite close but managed to be partially hidden behind a stone in the pic above....but at least I tried. Also on the pool 'eventually revealed by something', a Spotted Redshank, a female and juvenile Ruff, a Little Egret, and the Kingfisher put in an appearance which, if you'd like to see this bird on here I'd strongly suggest you don't forget to check the terrace which runs the length of the back of the pool. The other ten species were, 26 Redshank a few of which were juveniles which will fool you into thinking they are something else if you let them, the 3 Wigeon will be joined by their wintering relations sooner than we think, c.125 Black-headed Gulls, 25 Common Gulls, 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 6 Pied Wagtails, 2 Linnet, and c.50 Swallows, a Snipe went over, and the aforementioned c.2,500 Lapwings over.

There was a very frustrating moment at one point when a small wader flew rapidly across the pool to land on a far tiny piece of exposed area on the pool for two seconds before flying off unidentified, but I seriously thought Pectoral Sandpiper but that's as far as it goes I'm afraid....'thought'....and another one that got away!

A visit to Cockersands resulted in the above pic about which I have nothing more to say other than, from the right hand side of the windscreen to the wall on the left was a line of 'gulls' on the far bank of the estuary which went the length towards Bank End, plus at least another 250 in a field at the far end of the caravan park all crying out for a Med Gull - or better - with them, but I had to hot foot it back to the motor even before I'd checked a fraction of them. I sat in the car for more than an hour waiting for an improvement in the weather whilst gradually getting that depressed feeling I get in these situations.

I was on my way back to Lancaster with other tasks to perform but I did note from the car in the Bank Houses area a mixed flock of c.50 Tree Sparrow and House Sparrow of which I'd suggest were a 50/50 mix. At least 10 Swift were over Bowerham in Lancaster yesterday evening.

And finally....

Stoat. Phil Slade.

All the photographs I post on Birds2blog are 'excellent' photographs - excluding any which carry my name - and this one is no exception. Phil also keeps an excellent blog - nearly as good as this one - please take a look now and again HERE....Thanks for the pic Phil, much appreciated.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Mega Birds and a Cuckoo.

Crested Lark. Colin Bushell.

Here's another seriously superb photograph which has been on Birds2blog before, in fact its still in my sidebar and will remain there until it 'falls off' at the bottom as I replace it with new ones. But this image is well worth placing in this post, not just because it is appropriate but it is also of a bird seen in Lesvos on Colin's trip there in April this year. You can keep up to date with Colins comings and goings both here and abroad HERE 

At the end of April 2009 I did some notes on two 'mega's' in the UK at the time and I came across the paper during one of my regular searches through old records and notes. Finding the paper - and the picture in my sidebar - I thought it would be interesting to post the notes today editing them to read as an up to date post.

Two birds were in the country on the 29 April 2009 which created some interest for me in that one of them was the subject of the 'Hastings Rarities Affair' - a long story -  and both of them have quite old first records in the UK though the second one mentioned here was removed following the Hastings Affair. The first one is the Crested Lark and was found at Dungeness in Kent drawing birders from far and wide to see this mega in the UK. The earliest record in this country was obtained in West Sussex c.1845. The bird of course had been shot which was a practice rife in those days but thank goodness in this regard we have by now become more civilised though there is still room for much improvement in hunting and persecution areas, but its hard to believe that so called birdwatchers of the day were trapping larks and pipits for pies and puddings, whilst finches and buntings were being sold into the cage bird trade. 

It is quite surprising - for a bird which breeds such a short distance away across the English Channel and little change in its occurrence since the 1800's - that the Crested Lark remains a seriously rare bird in the UK the latest one being found in Wiltshire on 27 November 2009.

The other bird in the UK at the same time was the Collared Flycatcher and is one of the many species involved in the 'Hastings Rarities Affair' a scandal which stretches the imagination a little too far in that some of the birds in the list included several records of several species, an example of which is five Collared Flycatchers. Following the dismissal of records of the Hastings birds which had been claimed as seen in the years 1911/16/22, the first acceptable one in the UK was of a bird at Whalsay, Shetland in 1947, but the bird present at the same time in this country as the Crested Lark was found in Southwell, Portland, Dorset in April 2009 and by a coincidence was the 22nd record which was at the time just one more than the Crested Lark. The latest record of Collared Flycatcher is of a bird on Lewis, Outer Hebrides on 1 June 2010.

And finally....

Cuckoo. John Bateman.

Many thanks to John for the excellent photograph of the juvenile Cockoo which is still giving good views to all who choose to visit Cockers Dyke off Pilling Lane where we observed the birds ability to take caterpillar prey from a 40ft dive from telephone wires at a 100% success rate.


Friday, 6 August 2010

The Mediterranean Gull.

Mediterranean Gull. Pete Woodruff.

Well, this photograph has definitely been on Birds2blog before but I'm not too worried about that as it happens to be one of my better efforts of taking a decent pic and illustrates the bird seen regularly last year off Boadway at Morecambe. I don't like birds being given abbreviated names, but for the sake of these notes I'll do that here.

I'm not really interested in accurate statistics at the moment and often aren't, but something like 14 Med Gulls have already been found in the past few days in our area - and just beyond - seven of which I found. All birds to me are brilliant but I must confess are so in varying degrees, but the Med Gull is well up the list of truly smart birds and its always a great pleasure to find one turning up in view through your telescope, in adult breeding plumage I have to refer to this bird as immaculate in its appearance.

The Med Gull has seen a significant range expansion through the 1960's and birds were present at a site in Hampshire in 1966/67 and breeding was proved in 1968. Numbers rose to almost 500 pairs at 34 sites by 2006 although the vast majority were at just three sites on the south coast of England. The Med Gull was a very rare bird in this country prior to the 1950's but is now regarded as widespread, especially along the coast of SE England, but can be regularly found in small numbers at inland gull roosts, and three-figure numbers are regular reported at Folkestone in Kent and from the Isle of White. Interesting that as I write, the RBA pager service alerts me to 5 adult Med Gulls at Walton Park in Liverpool whilst at the same time there has been NO Lancashire birds reported by this service at all today and the time now being 4.45pm, so things not picking up yet in the world of birds in Lancashire at least. 


I recently acquired the book above to add to my ever increasing reference library, I strongly recommend this one to you if you have an interest in keeping abreast of the status of our birds.

And finally....

Another one of those 'excellent' photographs I keep coming across during my trawling of the Internet and one definitely not taken by me but with no credit required. This image was taken recently at Cockersands and shows a female Marsh Harrier about to pounce on a Brown Hare of which this area has good numbers and counts in excess of 20 individuals are not unusual with my personal maximum being of 30 plus on one visit to the area. However, I'm told by the observer/photographer of this event that on this occasion the creature got away with its life.

I may well be trying my damnedest to keep a blog alive and enjoying it in the process but....I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Todays Birds and....

Raven. Paul Baker.

Four excellent photographs the first of which is the best 'mug shot' of a Raven I ever saw, and all the way from British Columbia in Canada at that. Thanks for this Paul....I luv it!

Gannet. Gary Jones.

Thanks to Gary for this shot of the Gannet putting on the brakes as it touches down. This is excellent and is as good a photograph of a Gannet coming in to land that you could ever wish to achieve. Good on yer Gary its a superb piece of photography....and look at those tail feathers. 

With JB today in which case its not usually difficult to guess where we started. At Conder Green I first checked the Conder channel below the old railway bridge to find 4 Greenshank, for a while I had my 'recorders' hat on whilst viewing this area and counted 45 Redshank and 4 Dunlin. In the creeks I saw 5 Common Sandpiper, 2 Spotted Redshank, and 2 Ruff being a female and a juvenile, the latter on Conder Pool as it had been yesterday.

At Glasson Dock circa of 380 Dunlin and 100 Redshank, 3 Little Egret, and 2 Mediterranean Gulls were both adult and distant. We decided to take a trip down the road and into Fylde territory at Cockers Dyke not least because a juvenile Cuckoo was giving excellent views and was a rare opportunity to observe a bird which is never easy to connect with and is certainly becoming more difficult to in the days of its decrease. The only butterflies seen were a single Common Blue and Gatekeeper.

Cuckoo Behaviour. 

Some interesting behaviour/strategy was observed for thirty minutes in that this bird perched on telegraph wires, flew to ground in excess of thirty times and not once did it return to the same perch without a caterpillar in its bill. The conclusions here were, this bird could locate small prey from 40ft with a 100% success rate, the alternative of random plunging to ground wouldn't have had the same success. It was also noted that on returning to the perch with prey it then held the item in its bill for something like thirty seconds each time before swallowing it.

And the third pic....

Black Redstart. Zac Hinchcliffe. of two Black Redstarts currently at Preston in Lancashire and I'm grateful to Zac for allowing these two beauties on to Birds2blog. Zac commented 'if two Black Redstarts are reported in your own town you simply cannot ignore them'....I don't think anyone would disagree with that.

Breeding Successes.

For the first time ever in the UK the Purple Heron has bred successfully at Dungeness RSPB Reserve in Kent.

And for only the second time in Britain the Little Bittern has also bred successfully at Ham Wall RSPB Reserve in Somerset.

Nearer to home a conversation with a Fylde birder this afternoon revealed that the Cetti's Warbler has also bred successfully at Marton Mere Reserve in Blackpool.