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

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Sanderling has it....

....and so does BR's photograph.

Juvenile Sanderling
Sanderling. Brian Rafferty 

I found a Sanderling on Plover Scar this afternoon with 'about' 60 Dunlin, 20 Ringed Plover, and 8 Knot, it was the 'Bird Of The Day' in my book being a scarce species anywhere in the recording area outside the migration periods of spring/autumn, obviously this bird fits the latter but at Cockersands it is a very uncommon bird. Also of note, an adult Mediterranean Gull was off Crook Cottage and a Ruff flew by with a 'few' Redshank, a Whimbrel seen, and 26 Eider were off Plover Scar.

Little Egret. David Cookson

A visit to Pilling Lane Ends at high tide went unrewarded though I should remember the Little Egret I saw no longer causes the mass invasion of birders it would have done not all that many years ago, c.35 Goldfinch were of note as were another 16 west of Fluke Hall from the coastal path with at least 10 Wheatear also along here. The effort of a walk to Cockers Dyke also went unrewarded save 7 Grey Plover one of which still retained its immaculate full summer plumage.

Mediterranean Gull. Pete Woodruff.

At Glasson Dock after the tide had ebbed by three hours I found a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper about two seconds before it did a disappearing act, an adult Mediterranean Gull, Redshank/Lapwing numbers were at the 1,000 mark, c.40 Dunlin, I made no notes on the Redshank but unremarkable numbers, up to 40 Goldfinch were of note.

As opposed to the usual start of the day, Conder Green took up the rear today with just time to find a Spotted Redshank and 2 Greenshank in the creeks, and look over Conder Pool to find a zero of interest save a nice man who innocently feeds the Mute Swans regularly anywhere he finds them, and was today waving two slices of bread at them through one of the viewing slits, to be kind to him I'd have to call him....'naughty but nice'.  

Monday, 29 August 2011

A day at the moss.

Well much better than a day at the shops in Preston/Blackpool....or anywhere else.

Curlew Sandpiper. Colin Bushell.

A few Curlew Sandpipers around now including some seen in a couple of areas I've slowly been getting acquainted with over the past 150 years, but this one CB found on the Solway yesterday. And....

Yellow-legged Gull. Permit Granted.

Here's another of those pics of the YLG you should take a close look at if you really want to claim the sighting of a bird probably going to spend the next few months in the Glasson area of the Lune Estuary.

It was good enough for me that KT agreed to pay a visit to one of the RSPB flagship reserves at Leighton Moss today. Parking the car we wandered along the road to go through what used to be called 'the blue gate' and on to the path towards the Lower Hide where we heard a Great-spotted Woodpecker and got a glimpse of a Bullfinch in flight. At the hide we were rewarded with good views of a lingering juvenile Marsh Harrier, to be honest there aren't all that many places/opportunities to observe one of these beautiful creatures like you can at LM. I noted a good number of uncounted Gadwall, 2 Great-crested Grebe, an easy three figure number of predominantly House Martins hawking with a few Sand Martins. The main interest here for me was the sight of a juvenile Little Grebe but I have it on good authority not at its natal site. 

At the Public Hide I reckoned 15 Greenshank on the island as we entered the hide, but a few had flown before I settled down to count them leaving ten in view, the two adult Greater Black-backed Gulls are still here I note. At Lillians Hide - not my most favourite of locations - little to note but it was interesting to see just one female Pochard and 2 Wigeon, with a 'good number' of Sand Martins.

Red Deer. Pete Woodruff.

At the Grisedale Hide at least I managed a couple of my half decent shots with two Red Deer sat quietly like a pair of bookends until suddenly for no apparent reason they stood to face each other and were soon....

Red Deer. Pete Woodruff.

....stood motionless with antlers interlocked for a few minutes before returning to their previous resting places like bookends once again....intriguing stuff. Four Little Egret and at least 24 Teal were noted with 2 Buzzard soaring over the woods.

Putting a smile into birding.

A message on the pager service this morning told of a Wryneck at Beachy Head, Sussex, in SHOOTERS BOTTOM....Ouch!! 

Saturday, 27 August 2011


....two raptors, and yet another of those irresistible Barn Owl images.

Andreas and Steve.

OK....I know this is supposed to be a birding blog and not a begging blog, but for many weeks now there has been a link in my sidebar to the 'Kilimanjaro Trek 2011' in which Steve on the right in the pic above and his brother-in-law Andreas on the left are aiming to conquer Kilimanjaro in the name of a charity committed to the cure for cancer. The last time I visited their website they were a few hundred pounds short of the target and I wondered if you could/would help. You can read all about this venture - or should that be adventure - by these two guys and make a donation if you wish HERE.

As for the Merlin....

Merlin. Martin Jump     

My most favourite raptor, lightning fast and can lock on to its prey with Exocet precision. My two most memorable experience of this bird to date was the day I watched it in pursuit of a Meadow Pipit, this feathered creature followed every twist and turn of the passerine with unbelievable speed and accuracy. On a previous sighting the Merlin had become the prey of a Peregrine Falcon which I observed with dropped jaw one day on Jeremy Lane, a spectacle I'm not ever likely to forget and which lasted a few minutes before the Merlin did eventually escape and both birds went their separate ways....magical and memorable. Thanks for the photograph MJ.

Red Kite. Phillip Tomkinson

And the magnificent Red Kite with thanks to PT.

And as for the Barn Owl....

Barn Owl. David Cookson

Irresistible like I said, an incredible bird, and an incredible photograph....Thanks DC. 

Friday, 26 August 2011

Well, that was a good idea....again!

Thursday 25 August.

Clougha in Heather. Pete Woodruff.

With favourable weather yesterday and a pair of new boots to christen - well I certainly did that big time when I stood in a hidden bog covered in moss up to my ankles - I decided to give Clougha/Birk Bank a going over. The heather was just as nice today as in this pic which I took up there five years ago in August 2006.

I was encouraged to get on with the task in hand when I found a female Stonechat to the left of the track within five minutes of leaving the motor, but it was all false encouragement and - not surprisingly - I found not another one in a five hour search. But the area at and around the car park was buzzing with activity and I soon connected with a Redstart, Blackcap, a 'few' Willow Warblers, a Song Thrush, Coal Tit, and Dunnock.

Five hours later I had noted a Whinchat, 3 Wheatear, 14 Red Grouse, 4 Kestrel, c.80 Meadow Pipit were either over or grounded during the visit, and I noted 2 Wren at c.400m. A Peacock and 2 Red Admiral were the only butterflies seen - nothing new there then this year - and a Brown Hare.

Ruff. Conder Pool 17 August 2009. Pete Woodruff.

When I arrived back at the car on Rigg Lane at 1 o'clock I felt the magnetism of Conder Green pulling at me. Soon after finding 2 Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, and having noted 13 Teal, following an alert about a farmer spreading in a field on Hillam Lane I arrived to eventually count an amazing 14 Ruff in a field at Norbreck Farm with several hundred predominantly Black-headed Gulls. There is a record of sixteen in this field HERE understandably as they were hidden in the long grass for long periods and I obviously 'missed' two by not being the accomplished birder I like to think I am. Void of a 'history' search this could well be an all time record for the species in this area. Also in the same field 3 Mediterranean Gulls were, a juvenile, 1st winter, and 2nd winter. Having been grilling the field for twenty minutes this 'huge' flock of gulls took to the wing en mass at the appearance of a Peregrine Falcon which failed to take out one of the Ruff by inches. A Wheatear was on Cockerham Marsh.

Whilst on Clougha/Birk Bank again today I couldn't help but think....If I was to offer advice to someone thinking of some upland birding for the first time, I'd have to warn them of the need to have the ability to accommodate the lengthy periods of 'nothing' which inevitably I suffered again today as is always the case with upland birding in the 21st century. But I'll be doing it all over again sometime soon if only to find a little gem like the Whinchat as I did today....and of course never knowing whats around the corner.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Good Afternoon.

Any birding is 'good birding' to me, yesterday I managed an afternoon only slot....and an excellent 'Triple Rafferty' included in the post today too.

Jewel in the park

I caught a tantalising glimpse of the Kingfisher yesterday afternoon as it flashed out of sight as I approached the top step of the viewing platform at Conder Pool. This is my first sighting of Kingfisher at Conder Green in over six months on Tuesday 15 February. I gave the two drake Wigeon on the pool a little more time today as once again they were in close association with the Mute Swan, it was clear that - as suspected yesterday - it is a feeding strategy and they were surface feeding in the wake of the swan stirring something up every time its head went under water....but what? A Wheatear came on to one of the islands, at least 30 Swallow and 2 House Martin at any one time were hawking over the pool, a Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank were in the circuit today.

Great White. Fishing
Great White Egret

Well, not a Great White Egret, but a Little Egret was of note on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock as were 2 adult Mediterranean Gull and c.750 Golden Plover had changed the landscape since yesterdays visit.

Wheatear on bracken

Nine Wheatear were at Cockersands including six together, an obvious sign of the time of year, you don't need a calender to have some idea of the date when you find the Wheatear in this number on the coast. Off Plover Scar I noted only 2 Eider, c.55 Mallard, 4 Wigeon, and 23 Mute Swan here were unusual. A Whimbrel and 4 Linnet brought up the rear.

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for the 'triple' of excellent photographs. 

Putting a smile into birding.    

As I grilled a few gulls on the River Lune in Lancaster yesterday morning to see if perhaps there was a Mediterranean amongst them, a young boy about 8 years old came up to me and asked me what I was looking for, to keep the answer simple I told him I was looking for a particular gull to which he replied he'd never heard of a Particular Gull....A new species....Mmmmm!!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Bottom of the League.

Well I will be at the rate my birding went today with few points scored on a day when I gave it my all but found it very heavy going, though the Ruff at Cockersands clawed a little back for me, few and far between in our area and I reckon its possibly the bird I saw in flight with 80 Redshank at Conder Green a week ago on 15 August. Today the bird was with estimates of 800 Dunlin, 630 Redshank, and 200 Ringed Plover. A Sparrowhawk and the 2 Wall Brown butterflies don't add up to a double figure count in my book for the entire summer.

Ladybirds. Pete Woodruff.

A circuit produced little save 2 Wheatear, up to 50 Swallow noted around Bank Houses, and these two 7-Spot Ladybirds appearing to be engaged in some multiplication activity, the 7-Spot is one of our commonest and is abundant in all kinds of habitat. There are 46 species in the UK of which only 26 are readily recognisable as Ladybirds. 

I had started the day at Conder Green where the pool was once again deserted save the 2 Wigeon drakes which - for the whole hour I spent in the area - remained in close company with a Mute Swan recently resident on here....presumably some feeding behaviour. Other notes here, up to 40 Mallard were on the River Conder between the road bridge and Bush House, a Grey Wagtail was of note, also at least 12 House Martin around River winds, and it was nice to find 2 Whitethroat still in the area.

Wheatear. David Cookson.

Not your average image of a Wheatear - but well above it - of which two were at Glasson Dock. The Lune Estuary here was unimpressive today and although Lapwing numbers remain at c.1,000 other wader numbers were low though I had no intention of having today as a wader counting one. A Greenshank and Little Egret were the only other notes. A birder  - unknown to me - who was already in position when I arrived pointed out a 'gull' he claimed to be the resident YLG....on this occasion I decided not to enlighten him of his error!

It was good to see AR/JR today at Glasson Dock and put a few things in the 'Birding World' to right. I know you look in on Birds2blog and hope to see you again soon, meanwhile....Kind Regards to you both.

And finally....

Sedge Warbler. David Cookson.  

This time, not your average Sedge Warbler image with its catch of a deceased Orthoptera. Two stunning photographs of which you can always see more HERE

Saturday, 20 August 2011

We have lift off....

....but didn't get to the moon having to abort at Fluke Hall!

But first....

Hummingbird Hawk Moth. Martin Jump

I reckon to call this a pretty impressive image of the Hummingbird Hawk Moth would be something of an understatement. I've not particularly ever viewed many images of the moth, but this is by far the best I ever saw. Great stuff, and all credit to an amateur photographer who can achieve this kind of result  and thanks for allowing it on to Birds2blog Martin.

With JB/BT 'lift off' was at 10 o'clock Friday morning when we proceeded to Aldcliffe to find a Green Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plover on the currently excellent condition flood. At Conder Green, we found the whole area generally quiet although JB's comprehensive records HERE will indicate otherwise, I noted my first autumn 4 Teal, 5 Common Sandpiper, and the Moorhen on Conder Pool now appear to only have two young from the initial three.

At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary - in the time allowed  - I noted a Greenshank, at least 1,000 Lapwing and a similar 1,000 Redshank, 6 Golden Plover, and a Peregrine Falcon on the edge of Colloway Marsh bidding its time to take off and cause mass panic wherever it goes.

At Cockersands the 1st summer male Marsh Harrier gave excellent views again today, here for its sixth week having been first seen on 7 July. At least 85 'finches' seen here today being estimates of 60 Goldfinch, and 25 Greenfinch.

Not for the first time on Friday the days birding seemed to fall flat on its face from here on. A detour round Gulf Lane drew a blank, and at Pilling Lane Ends, 15 Common Blue were mainly attributed to BT, whilst I noted a single Gatekeeper and Peacock. From Backsands Lane, c.230 Greylag was a good count in my book. Despite a run to Fluke Hall the end was nigh.

Colours of nature. Pete Woodruff.

The visit to Pilling Lane Ends was all the worth while if only to see the stunning array of colour still on show in the flowers there....colour you could eat and a credit to all concerned in the village of Pilling.

Next week an attempt at MARS....that'll probably be of the chocolate bar kind - not the planet - the one that helps you work, rest, and play!!  

And finally....

Crescent-chested Puffbird. Colin Bushell.

You won't have to hold your breath until you find one of these on your patch in the UK....

Marbled Duck. Colin Bushell.

Or one of these either. Both species no doubt on CB's list again when he visits Regua in Brazil anytime soon. You can find lots more where these came from on Colin's website HERE  

Thursday, 18 August 2011


....couldn't think of one!

Small Heath. Marc Heath

On a good day weather-wise, save a few 'whites' I saw just four butterflies today, a Small Heath and 3 Red Admiral, all four seen on Harrisend where I found 3 Whinchat, an annual event here if you chose to be there on the right day/s. Also of note, 2 Whitethroat took me by surprise in the lone Hawthorn by the track where a Willow Warbler came within a couple of mtrs as I stood motionless, c.15 Meadow Pipit, a Dunnock, and a Buzzard. From the track to Lane Head I saw 2 Redstart, and at least 20 Mistle Thrush exploded out of one of the brilliant old Oak trees down this track, a Coal Tit also noted.

At Conder Green void of a circuit today, 5 Common Sandpiper, the two drake site-faithful Wigeon were on Conder Pool with little else, c.35 Goldfinch in flight. At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary an adult Mediterranean Gull, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, and in excess of 1,000 Redshank today. I noted the absence of any Bar-tailed Godwit here.

At Cockersands, a small variety of c.1000 waders on Plover Scar consisted of, 5 Whimbrel, up to 100 Ringed Plover, 750 Oystercatcher, 130 Dunlin, 6 Golden Plover, 9 Knot, and 5 Turnstone. Off here were 33 Eider, and 3 Linnet noted on the headland. As I walked towards Bank End to check out the high tide gull roost - which resulted in a nil of interest - an Osprey went over going south west.

The Glorious Twelfth.  

Having been in Red Grouse country this morning I was reminded of the shock and disbelief I had when reading a comment regarding the then forthcoming 'Glorious Twelfth' - a day celebrated by the so called 'Guardians of the Countryside' - from a high profile professional with a dedication to wildlife, which said quote....'Its not a sport I take part in but accept that the Red Grouse we see on the moors are only there because of it'....unquote.....Perhaps you'd like to read through that once again, just to be sure you got it right. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Sandwich Tern.

Sandwich Tern. Phil Slade

The first British record of Sandwich Tern (ST) goes back as far as 1784 at Sandwich in Kent, the bird was then collected by a William Boys, the bird was sometimes then called Boys Tern....Thanks for the photograph PS. 

The ST is an annual visitor to Preesall Sands during its migration journey to West Africa in mainly late July-late August, though earlier and later records can be found. I visited Knott End on 29 July specifically to see if the ST had started to gather yet and was a little surprised to count at least 230 birds there, a lovely sight of a bird which makes an equally lovely sound.

Oakes reported ST's nesting with Common Terns on the Ainsdale/Formby coast in 1910, 1912, and 1916, as I understand it there have been no attempts since. The ST is always the first 'tern' to be seen in the spring, the average date being the last few days in March, though the earliest date was recorded at Heysham on 13 March 1990, this same site also has the claim of a late record, that of a bird seen on 7 November 1991, but another record during the winter months was of an individual seen off Blackpool in December 1994.

I've not made many notes on ringing statistics and recoveries, but a notable recovery is that of a nestling S.s.acuflavidus - which breed along Atlantic and Gulf coasts - ringed in North Carolina, and was found dead in its first winter in southwest England, another also ringed in North Carolina was found in the Netherlands.

It's a sad fact that trapping is carried out - mainly by children - in West Africa, they use dead fish as bait in a noose trap and in the 21st century this so called 'tradition' still remains widespread. In years when the Sardine is abundant the trapping becomes even more prevalent. It is painfully obvious that there is the need for a high profile in the education of the people of parts of the world where this kind of attitude towards wildlife - in this case the ST - which brings them to trap and kill with no justification. Such an education would not only benefit the birds and their populations, but would also benefit the local fisherman as the very birds they are killing are those which are used as markers of fish concentrations in their seas.

And finally....

White-throated Hummingbird. Colin Bushell

A bit of exotica from a previous trip to Regua in Brazil, the bird is an Atlantic Forest endemic....Thanks CB.

And whilst I'm certainly not good on insects, I reckon images like this one from amateur photographers deserve a lot of credit....Thanks GG.

I'm afraid you have to ignore the video above, apparently there was an error whilst downloading it and I've no idea how to get rid of the thing, in any case it doesn't work anyway.....A Birds2blog boob!!

Monday, 15 August 2011

The Usual Suspects.

Well a few of them anyway.

I've also accumulated quite a number of brilliant images from some birder/photographers I know, the first of today's is....

Merlin. Colin Bushell

My favourite raptor the smart little Merlin which Colin found at Hesketh Out Marsh recently, the caption read 'Magnificent Merlin'....I'll second that.

White-throated Robin. Gary Jenkins

Gary joined the hordes at Hartlepool, Durham in June to see and photograph this little gem which caused quite a stir during its stay there. As for me....I managed to get some time in today but despite some considerable effort uncovered nothing other than a few of the usual suspects in the Conder/Glasson/Cockersands/Bank End area.

At Conder Green it took me thirty seconds to establish Conder Pool to be deserted save two lonesome drake Wigeon. On the circuit I noted 6 Common Sandpiper, at least 80 Redshank with which - when they took to flight - I saw briefly with them a same size wader definitely not a Redshank. I reckon if you're planning a visit here sometime soon you may find a Ruff which I'm refusing to record having lost the bird to view and didn't find again despite trying to. Also noted, 4 Swift over, maybe my last of 2011, and House Martins are still visiting nest at River Winds.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock which I mistimed - I'm pretty good at mistiming - 'cos the tide was well up but had driven at least 900 Redshank to closer quarters than usual, c.250 Dunlin, 320 Golden Plover, a Greenshank, and 55 Bar-tailed Godwit are a remnant of what they've been during most of the summer here, up to 90 Canada Geese were noted on Colloway Marsh.

The waders at Cockersands were confined to Plover Scar on the high tide and I noted 2 Whimbrel, c.20 Ringed Plover, 10 Dunlin, and a solitary Turnstone, a passing Peregrine Falcon soon changed the landscape....but shouldn't that be waderscape! Eleven Eider seen included two adults and two young, these birds have been seen here on two recent visits 28 July/3 August and have always been in the same area separated from the rest and were three young then, a Wheatear also seen, and a brief raptor in flight and soon over the hedge was Merlin/Sparrowhawk of which I'll plump for the latter. One of the most notable records of the day in my book was that of 18 Greenfinch here.

On Hillam Lane at least 40 Tree Sparrow seen from a moving car. And at Bank End I noted a Common Sandpiper, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, and c.15 distant Linnet on the marsh.

And finally....

Stonechat. Warren Baker

A nice image of the juvenile Stonechat from my man in Kent, the most dedicated patchworker I none.

Whinchat/ Wheatear. Warren Baker

And....whats the odds on this happening again....a pretty amazing photograph.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Along came the spider.

The Ladybird Spider (LS) was for many years thought to be extinct in the UK, but in the 1980's a colony was discovered still clinging on. It is a truly amazing creature not only because of its bright red body and four black spots giving rise to its name of LS, but also because it is a creature which leads a fascinating life, not least because they spend most of the time underground where they create silk canopies decorated with the remains of other spiders, ants, and beetles they have previously eaten.

Today conservationists are giving the LS a helping hand by releasing some into one of the most diverse insect and spider habitats in the country at Arne RSPB Reserve in Dorset. These creatures will be yet another addition to a reserve which already plays host to a number of rare insect and spider species which includes....

Silver-studded Blue. Steven Cheshire

The threatened Silver-studded Blue butterfly, and....

Roesel's Bush cricket
Roesel's Bush Cricket. Nick Gadenne 

The Roesel's Bush Cricket which was only discovered at Arne last year, it is quite rare and formerly found only in coastal areas of the south east.

The most interesting and intriguing aspect of all this is the method being used to transfer the LS's which is in empty plastic mineral water bottles, they are apparently the right shape and size for the spiders to make their nests in, they were captured in the heather and moss filled bottles, and having settled in and made their webs, they will be buried in holes in the ground at their new home at Arne.

Being the heathland specialist it is, the LS - along with birds like the Dartford Warbler and Nightjar - has suffered over the years from the loss of its heathland habitat through destruction. More than 90% of lowland heathland has been lost to such things as commercial forestry, development, and agriculture.

So....lots of fingers crossed at this project and the attempt to save the LS.

Last week will go down in my book as the worst for some time and for one reason or another I've done no birding since the exceptionally good and rewarding day I had last Tuesday in the Marshaw/Tower Lodge area in Bowland. I have a feeling if I continue to have these spells of no birding - five days now - and follow the trend of non-bird related posts, there's going to be the need to change the title of Birds2blog to maybe....Wildlife2blog!!

Friday, 12 August 2011

No Go....

....and the Ross's Gull.

For one reason or another the traditional Friday JB/BT/PW jaunt was called off today. I'm housebound and taking antidepressants by the dozen, whilst KT continues to insist its not the end of the world, well....we're all entitled to our opinions.

Ross's Gull. Pete Woodruff. 

So I've been sifting through my photographs and came across a reminder about a gem of a gull which I went to see at Lytham St Annes in April 2008. My resulting photograph may well look initially good, but the camera didn't handle the bright light and the bird appears to be a pure white individual with its plumage detail bleached, in fact the birds upperparts are essentially a soft grey. This unfortunate individual was found dead in the area in May.

For nearly a hundred years one of the great ornithological mysteries of the Arctic was the location of the breeding grounds of the Ross's Gull (RG). The bird had been seen only amongst the pack-ice of the far north and seemed likely to breed only in the high Arctic. In 1905 the Russian explorer Alexandrovitch Buturlin discovered the main breeding area only just within the Arctic Circle, on the Kolyma River delta of eastern Siberia. Subsequent records showed that the RG bred further south often in association with Arctic Tern, Spotted Redshank, Snipe, and Ruff in well-vegetated marshy areas. Had he been alive, it is unlikely that anyone would have been more surprised than James Clark Ross, the man who collected the first specimen of the gull and who undoubtedly associated the bird only with ice and snow. Today it is well established that the RG breeds in north-eastern Siberia, western Greenland, and in northern Canada, the most famous site being at Churchill, Manitoba.  

Although formerly a great rarity in Britain, the RG has been much more regular since 1974 and the first record for Lancashire was that of an adult found on Birkdale shore in January 1983. There was a RG which created an excellent record in 1995 in that it was seen briefly at Fleetwood in January, relocated six days later at Seaforth, and then became the longest staying RG in the country being seen at Seaforth until the last sighting in March almost two months after first being seen in Fleetwood. I myself remember this bird well, it was reported as being seen on the reserve fairly regularly during the day usually only for short periods before flying off inland to feed. The bird would then reappear at dusk to roost, in itself an unusual behaviour in that Seaforth was at the time - and presumably still so today - rarely used as an overnight gull roost, therefore, in relation to all other gulls, this bird had the entire reserve to itself for its overnight stay. I clearly remember a friendly 'Mersey Birder' telling John Leedal and myself all this interesting detail as we waited in anticipation for this gem of a gull to return for one of its predictable 'short periods' during its long record breaking stay did eventually return to our great pleasure and delight.

Birds....they fascinate me in a thousand ways!    

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Out of time....again!

With the weather set to be similar again tomorrow things not looking all that exciting birding wise at the moment, but always an opportunity to have another sift through history to find some random records.

Swallow on the wire. Geoff Gradwell 

Twelve months ago today I watched c.300 Swallows lingering a few minutes at Conder Green which included a jaw dropping pure white albino type. I can't help wondering if this was a once in a lifetime observation for the species. 

One or two other records of interest noted during the search....

chimney sweep moth
Chimney Sweep. Aileen Urquhart.

The only Chimney Sweep I ever saw was on Hutton Roof on 24 June 2003. A daytime flying moth found in areas of limestone and is completely black save the tips of its forewing, it is local throughout Britain. I noted c.300 Small Tortoiseshell at Cockersands on 10 July in the same year.

On 14 June 2004 I found 9 juvenile Ring Ouzel together at a location in the Forest of Bowland. In the same year, 2 Pectoral Sandpipers were on Conder Pool. On 5 November 2005 I found a Grey Phalarope at Heysham Harbour, and on 11 July at Halforth I saw an amazing 16 Little Ringed Plover, and 12 Clouded Yellow butterflies were seen along the coastal path towards Cockers Dyke from Fluke Hall on 7 August.

Painted Lady. Phillip Tomkinson

An amazing 149 Painted Lady butterflies were found on Clougha/Birk Bank on 30 May 2009. And 2 Wood Sandpiper were on Conder Pool on 4 September 2009.


Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Well, that was a good idea!

I only managed half of my plan today as I got quite carried away with my observations in Bowland between Marshaw and Trough Bridge on a visit which turned out to be 'a good idea' and very rewarding. But first one of my - now becoming - regular pics showing the respect some of the natives have for our countryside....

Human Remains in the Forest of Bowland. Pete Woodruff.

It was good to find 10 Spotted Flycatcher still very active between the two aforementioned points, also good to find 8 Redstart including two juveniles, 7 Siskin including good views of a young bird, and 7 Grey Wagtail were along the length of the stream.  

Spotted Flycatcher - East Kent - 18/6/11
Spotted Flycatcher Marc Heath

Also noted, 4 Nuthatch, 10 Coal Tit, 2 Goldcrest, 8 Meadow Pipit, 2 Mistle Thrush, a Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, 2 Red Grouse, a Kestrel, and a Stoat, an excellent 3.5 hours in an equally excellent part of the world....A coffee and buttie and I was off to Hawthornthwaite.

View from Hawthornthwaite Fell. Pete Woodruff.

Well being a pic of mine not the best result in the world, of the view over the inner Morecambe Bay to the distant and hazy Lakeland Mountains. I was at least a little satisfied to find a pair of Stonechat up here today, though my last visit on 30 June produced nine, being a pair with five young and a pair. Also seen today, 2 Wheatear, and at least 12 Sand Martin in the air and around the c.15 nest hole colony - not all of which have been active - but which has had some obvious success with two young seen with heads at the hole this afternoon. Two Kestrel were the only other birds seen up here, and I saw only six butterflies in as many hours, three of which were too distant and escaped ID, the other three being 2 Green-veined White, and a Peacock.

View from Hawthornthwaite Fell. Pete Woodruff.

A slightly better result from Hawthornthwaite Fell. By the way, the other was taken through my binoculars.

Please take a look at Marc Heaths blog, he currently has some stunning images of the rare Willow Emerald Damselfly.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

More on the Adder.


Although I've actually never been on the hunt for Adders I've been lucky over the years to have found them on occasions. I'm not about to advertise where on Birds2blog as I've decided to adhere to a request made to me some time ago not to do so. That said, I do strongly object - with rare exclusions like this one - to people taking on the role of dictator having any part in birding. There are of course always those who necessitate the need to dictate in order to attempt to control their objectionable attitude in being non-conformists causing unnecessary disturbance - and often much worse - to wildlife.

The Adder is the only venomous snake native to Britain though it has the most highly developed injecting mechanism of all snakes, but it is not an aggressive creature if treated with respect. They are relatively common in areas of rough open countryside and are best seen in early spring when they emerge from hibernation. By mid April - if you're lucky - you might see the males wrestling for supremacy for the females whilst writhing around each other at times covering the ground at great speed in combat....

 ARKive video - Adder males determining dominance

Births take place around this time of the year in August and early September, but unlike most reptiles the Adder doesn't lay eggs but gives birth to young, quite small but perfect miniatures of the adult. Young Adders tend to hibernate in the area where they were born, their survival throughout the winter following their birth is dependant on the severity of the weather.

Adders usually eat small rodents but can go for long periods without feeding, in fact an adult can survive on eating the equivalent of only nine voles in a year. If the opportunity arises they will also take young from the nests of ground nesting birds. They strike swiftly, injecting a lethal dose of venom, then wait until the prey is dead before eating the victim whole as all snakes do. The Adder itself has its own predators including birds of prey like the Buzzard, the young Adder is also at risk with adult snakes. It is protected by law against being killed or injured by human activity, but as we all know these protection laws are pretty flimsy when it comes to protection from those less inclined than you and I to respect the countryside and its wildlife around us.

There's a cautionary tale about the Adder towards the end of a posting which I'd suggest is a good idea to heed....Look for the pic of the Adder and start to read just above it in Butterflies and A+E

Friday, 5 August 2011

Around and about.

The Fridays around and about with JB/BT.

Purple Loosestrife. Pete Woodruff.

You guessed it....we first went to check out the Freeman's Pools where we found 6 Little Grebe saw 2 Jay in flight and 10 Swift over, Moorhens included six young, and a Little Ringed Plover was on the Aldcliffe flood. At Conder Green 6 Greenshank seen were four in the Conder Channel and two on Conder Pool where 2 Little Egret were seen, also on the pool an adult Spotted Redshank, and 6 Common Sandpiper in the creeks.

There's a good little pond as you drive into Glasson Dock by the mini roundabout and the countryside is awash with beautiful colour as the Purple Loosestrife above shows. This pool looks good for Dragonflies as last year proved, but only one Brown Hawker showed today with 2 Red Admiral, a Peacock, and Green-veined White. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, an adult Mediterranean Gull was distant, and at least 650 Redshank seen, otherwise the place was almost deserted.

The day became pretty bird-less from here on with a feeling of non-commitment about it. At Cockersands a Comma and Common Blue was all that found its way into my little black book, and a detour round Gulf Lane was totally fruitless. At Pilling Lane Ends, I saw 10 Gatekeeper, and a Peacock, the excellent count of at least 55 Common Blue were in the main found by BT who walked in the opposite direction to me.

At Fluke Hall, this creature caught my eye though I know not what, 4 Linnet were the only birds seen on a typical Friday brief visit and we were on our way home....I'm becoming depressed, but....

....some more of that aforementioned 'countryside awash with beautiful colour' was to be seen at Pilling Lane Ends and looks even better than it did when I photographed it last Friday and is enough to lift anyones spirits....including mine!! 

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Polygamist.

Pied Flycatcher. The Cheat. David Cookson

The Pied Flycatcher (PF) is a bird I've become more familiar with over the past three years, in particular at Barbondale where there has been an upturn in its status and where this year has seen the best breeding season I know of, though the species at this location I'm not fully historically in tune with.

With the successes came the failures at Barbondale and its the latter I'm just as interested in as the former. There are rarely any definitive answers as to why a nest should fail, bad weather, food shortage, nest predation of many kinds including adults taken by predators. But one puzzle to the mystery interests me more than any other, that of the males engagement in polygamy.

The male PF is something of a love rat, handsome yet devious in his ways, he takes up a territory, sings his song to attract a mate who soon takes him on as a suitable partner for the family to be. Before you know it eggs are laid and the female begins to incubate whilst he keeps busy bringing in periodic food offerings to keep her strength up. But its all a sham, he's stopped singing and bringing in the food, and shes looking around to see where he is, but its all fruitless, hes gone and she's left to take on the exhaustive task of being a single parent.

The male PF has been known to have up to three females in a breeding season, and certainly  - though it may only be a small element of the males - regularly have two. But the PF's are not alone in this two-timing behaviour, a couple of other well known examples are those of the Dunnock and Swallow whose engagement in this behaviour is an open secret carried out within a commune or colony, but with the PF male, his second partner is probably in some other far corner of the wood, whilst the first one is carrying on the struggle to bring up the young single handed as will his second one in due course.

Female Pied Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher. The Cheated. Brian Rafferty

So whilst the male PF will always be seen as a smart bird, smart in appearance whilst smart at being a devious two-timing cheat who leaves the female to get on with bringing up the young on her own - failing to do so on occasions - making him a major contributor to nest failure of which  - as claimed at the top of the post - there were some at Barbondale this year. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Coastal Birds....

....and nooks and crannies.

Eider. Pete Woodruff.

I gave Conder Green/Glasson Dock/Cockersands a good six hours today and not a stone unturned....well I thought not!

At Conder Green I was greeted by a Little Egret on Conder Pool with a Spotted Redshank, c.40 Redshank, c.75 Lapwing, and the Moorhen family seen last Thursday with three young still in tact. In the creeks 3 Black-tailed Godwit, and 11 Common Sandpiper. River Winds appears to have had a good season this year with at least 25 House Martins around obviously including fully fledged young, a singing Willow Warbler heard. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson dock I noted c.300 Bar-tailed Godwit once more, with c.150 Knot, 4 Greenshank, and a Goosander. I was otherwise distracted by two birders who wanted to talk about this and that, not wanting my 'anti social' mode to kick in I joined in but thereafter my momentum had disappeared and I left. Along Jeremy Lane 3 Tree Sparrow noted.

1st Summer male Marsh Harrier at Cockersands. Copy Permitted. 

At Cockersands, the 1st summer male Marsh Harrier - first seen here on 7 July - gave excellent views quartering fields behind Abbey Farm, and a more detailed count - than that of 120 on 27 July - resulted in up to 200 Tree Sparrows flocking here today, with 6 Linnet noted. On a quiet Plover Scar, at least 4 Whimbrel, 10 Dunlin, a single Golden Plover, and a single adult Ringed Plover prompted me to wonder just what may have become of the chicks seen here on 28 July. Off Plover Scar, 33 Eider included three young which I saw on 28 July. 

Kestrel. Pete Woodruff.     

This young Kestrel posed nicely for me this afternoon at Bank End.