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

Monday, 31 December 2012


I'm starting my 'Bowing Out Of 2012' post on a subject unrelated to birds with a photograph I recently found during one of my daily trawls.

Photograph Courtesy of Gary Jones.

This picture of these two creatures is by far the best wildlife image I've seen all year and well beyond that. My opinion - and how this picture struck me - is that it is a moment in time like all photographs, but this one speaks a thousands words. On seeing the pose of these lions I was immediately taken in by the affection shown by the simple act of this male placing its head on the forehead of what is surely its mate. There's a lot more to be said here, but little more needs to be said about this brilliant image created by the lions and through the camera of Gary Jones Thanks Gary....pure magic by these creatures and by your photography, looking forward to seeing your achievements in 2013.

And the final birds for 2012....

Wigeon Martin Jump

A couple of images of 'birds in a flap' which took my eye and offer a photograph with a difference. Thanks for the Wigeon Martin....Excellent, and hope you'll allow some more of your work on Birds2blog in 2013.

Blackcap Noushka Dufort

The 'flapping' Blackcap, and another photograph with a difference. Thanks for this Noushka....Brilliant as ever and thanks for allowing your work on Birds2blog in 2012.

And finally, a MEGA worth mentioning....

Red Fox Sparrow. Mike Ross.

A Red Fox Sparrow has been in Finland for several days now, an extremely rare American vagrant and only one Fox Sparrow recorded in 1961, Co Down, Ireland. There's some classification on status attached to this bird....but we'll leave that to the scientists!

Don't forget to 'clik the piks' they're as stunning as ever if you do.

A HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone who has ever looked in and supported Birds2blog these past four years, and to those who hopefully will look in and support it in 2013.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

What 2012?

On a personal level and from a birding perspective, with talk of 2012 being the wettest year since records began, and 'other things' overwhelming me to make my birding days at an absolute minimum, this year will go down in my history book as being by far the worst since the day I discovered the difference between a Wren and a Golden Eagle about 250 years ago and have been birding ever since. And so I have no particular interest in reviewing a year I'd rather sooner forget in birding terms.

But doing my daily trawl through the internet yesterday I came across several photographs which took my breath away, though nothing really new there as I find them all the time. It is for this reason I should look back at 2012, and instead of reviewing the birds I've barely had the chance to see/find, I should thank my lucky stars I found and got to know something like 24 excellent photographer/birders in the UK, America, Spain, and France who all willingly gave me permission to post their images on Birdsblog in order to enhance it no end. On ocassions I've been in touch with all of these people and they with me, some of whom have forwarded me stunning pictures unsolicited for which I'm truly grateful. But theres another side to this arrangement, and 'spyware' I have in place on my computer tells me that all these people in turn get some good numbers of visitors to their own websites by having had their photographs published on Birds2blog. So the set up here then is....we're all winners in the best possible way.

Red Kite. Ana Minguez.

One of the first images I found yesterday was of the Red Kite with thanks to Ana Minguez 

Golden Eagle. Antonio Puigg

So I decided to look for a couple more raptor images to put up on this 'gap in my birding' filler and found another stunner in this one of the magnificent Golden Eagle thanks this time to Antonio Puigg 

Marsh Harrier. Phillip Tomkinson.

And finally, the third of these magnificent three, the brilliant juvenile Marsh Harrier with another thanks going to Phillip Tomkinson 

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING....But the weather continues to have other ideas and I just have this feeling it could well be 2013 before I do. But one thing for sure, next year is going to be turn around year for me and its back to 'business as usual' as far as I'm concerned, I need the me!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Two Turtle Doves....

....and a Partridge in a pear tree.

Turtle Dove. Copy Permitted.

These two species of birds are once again telling us that some of our wildlife is in crisis, and that they are heading to become just two icons as memories in the 'Twelve Days Of Christmas' festive classic

Birds which are reliant on farmed landscapes are continuing to decline dramatically, and the Turtle Dove (TD) and Grey Partridge (GP) are displaying alarming reductions in their numbers. Once widespread particularly in southern Britain, the TD population is hanging on a thread in the UK, with almost 60% lost in the five years to 2010. The loss of six out of ten TD's, and three out of ten GP's over the same period is surely nothing short of a wildlife disaster. The TD is in serious danger of becoming a population of fewer than 1,000 pairs by the middle of the next decade, leading to the distinct possibility of complete extinction.

Grey Partridge Geoff Gradwell

The UK population of Grey Partridge has been estimated at around 43,000 pairs, but this has also fallen by 30% over the same period as that of the TD. One farmer has claimed....with funding for wildlife-friendly farming, increases of Grey Partridge numbers have been noticed, but most noticeable this summer has been up to eight Turtle Doves compared to just one bird. But this farmer goes on to say....with species like the TD and GP in such rapid decline it is of concern that the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy may not ensure funding continues and is enhanced to help the farmer to help his farm wildlife.     

Grey Partridge Geoff Gradwell 

Nine juvenile Grey Partridge of the twelve along with two adults GG saw in July 2011. I can't help but feel these arrived in the UK in cages labelled 'imports' but I wish I could be proved wrong by someone.

Many thanks for the photographs Geoff....A rare sighting of a bird almost a rarity, and therefore rare and excellent images....

Iv'e never seen a Turtle Dove in my life....birding or not birding!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas To The Faithful.

It's important to me that I wish all the faithful followers of Birds2blog a Very Happy Christmas and Good Wishes for the New Year. Providing I can maintain the blog, I hope you will continue to follow it in 2013, and that you enjoy the birds as much as I do, in trying to find where they all are, what they are doing there, and when they are there, to build a picture of how they are faring and - in many cases - failing.

For my part this holiday week will put a dampener on the whole birding scene, though if the weather forecasters are anything to go by it looks like 'dampener' is going to be the operative word. So at the very earliest it will be Friday before I get any realistic chance, but worse still it could be more than a week away....who knows. Meanwhile, whether or not I can come up with any 'gap in my birding fillers' for Birds2blog remains to be seen.

But here are a couple of images to put us on for a few days until things get back to something like normal, but not birds your likely to be seeing soon in the UK I don't think....

Willet Tim Kuhn

The Willet is the largest of the N.American 'shanks' its closest relative being the Lesser Yellowlegs.

Clark's Grebe Tim Kuhn

Another N.American bird the Clark's Grebe, until the 1980's was thought to be a pale morph of the Western Grebe which it resembles in size, range, and behaviour. The bird is named in honour of John Henry Clark, a 19th century surveyor who was a naturalist.

And finally....

If you'd like your Christmas to begin with a smile I'd suggest you 'clik the pik' below....its much better if you have the sound on.

Merry Christmas

Click on Santa

for a Message to you from Santa.


Saturday, 22 December 2012

Plan B.

An appointment I had yesterday was cancelled at the last minute which meant only one thing, Plan B had to be put into effect....So it was Boots, Binos, Birds, and Bus, but was done in a higher gear this time and took just four hours today and not the usual five with less loitering and looking allowed.

David Cookson Images: November/December 2012  Goldeneye
Goldeneye David Cookson

On the River Lune between Greyhound Bridge and  Marsh Point I checked a  few hundred 'gulls' all  Black-headed and a few  'larger' ones and counted 7 Goldeneye and 2 Goosander, 2 Snipe flushed ahead of me on the embankment, another 2 Goldeneye on Freemans Pool  with  with  another  four  on  the  Wildfowlers Pool  along with  a pair  of Shoveler  to note, with  the  little  army  of  34  Moorhen   feeding  around  here. Aldcliffe,  Heaton,  and  Colloway  Marsh's were all void of geese save c.220 Canada Geese on the former.   

Goldcrest Marc Heath

On the way from Aldcliffe to Conder Green, I think it's as important to record birds not seen as much as those seen, and today I found only 32 Blackbird compared to the last visit ten days ago which saw 48 with the previous one seeing 52, I saw just 4 Robin today compared to 22 last week, and no Song Thrush today against 10 last week. Also noted was my 'Best Bird' of the day a Goldcrest, I don't recall my last, probably in excess of twelve months ago.The only other notes made were, 25 Goldfinch, 5 Chaffinch, and 5 Little Egret seen.

Black-tailed Godwit & Knot. Pete Woodruff.

By the time I reached Conder Green the light was fading at only 3.15pm, and Conder Pool was looking decidedly gloomy, but 3 Little Grebe and 10 Wigeon were noted. The pool is now a mini lake so much so that one of the larger islands - in the image above - is almost totally submerged and at least 120 Mallard have taken a liking to the pool, which now holds no attraction to waders at all. The photograph is only a part of both the island and the amazing 350 Black-tailed Godwit and 450 Knot I watched descend onto the now sunken island on Monday 29 March 2010, and represents the best wader spectacle Conder Pool has ever produced since it was developed. 

Scaup. Copy Permitted.

By the time I got to Glasson Dock I could just about pick out a female Scaup with Tufted Duck which curiously - and for no apparent reason - took off, circled, and flew towards the Lune Estuary.

I reckon Birds2blog is about to suffer at the hands of the Christmas period, this added to the lousy wet and windy weather is set to put birding and blogging in the back seat....back as soon as possible!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Simply the best....again.

And got some birding in too.

 Plover Scar and the Lighthouse. Pete Woodruff.

I don't ever recall Cockersands and its views ever looking as stunning as it did on Tuesday afternoon. I watched the 2.15pm ferry out of Heysham Harbour and the following hour and a half spent here until the sun started to disappear below the horizon was pure magic. You can see from the image above, the sea was flat calm with not a breeze and the whole feeling was of one to be experienced in spring with some good strong  warm sunlight to be enjoyed.

As the tide came in 130 Curlew, 60 Redshank, and 2 Snipe were slowly being pushed off the mud below Crook Farm, and at high tide most of the waders were seen feeding in fields, and a bird I awarded 'Best Of The Day' was a Ruff  with Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, and Lapwing. Five Red-breasted Merganser were off Plover Scar and a lone drake Eider seen, there are 'huge' numbers of Wigeon in the area this winter and I noted up to 5,000 recently. On Plover Scar I noted c.18 Turnstone with a single Grey Plover and c.20 Dunlin, c.170 Black-tailed Godwit went over and followed the River Lune upstream towards Glasson Dock.  

Dusk On The Red Stone. Pete Woodruff.

As the sun went down the red stone of the headland took on a richness in colour whilst the sea was like glass. I spotted 2 Little Egret by a ditch in an inland field, a Kestrel quietly perched in a bush, and the Peregrine Falcon was again perched on the lighthouse railings.  

Sundown. Pete Woodruff.

A typical sun setting in the west as seen from Cockersands....But I had started earlier in the day at Conder Green where I found 6 Little Grebe, 6 Snipe, 5 Goosander on Conder Pool. On the circuit I saw 2 Kingfisherup to 200 Teal, c.30 Goldfinch, a single Fieldfare and Reed Bunting, and a Sparrowhawk.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock I noted c.1,200 Golden Plover, c.90 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Goldeneye, and 4 Little Egret. On the canal basin - difficult to view against the sun - 2 Goldeneye and a drake Pochard.  

And finally....

Water Rail. Barry Dyson.

An image definitely not to be sniffed at, if only because here is a species regarded as secretive almost to the extreme and is one of the Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve residents noted for its elusive behaviour, but this Water Rail was out in the open off Pilling embankment and made itself available for photography on a rare ocassion. Thanks for this BD, taking this opportunity and using it to good effect. 

Did you 'clik the pik' ?

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


The dictionary definition for gobsmacked is....astounded/astonished and I was both today with some bird behaviour I never thought I'd see in my birding lifetime. 

David Cookson Images: November/December 2012  Kingfisher
Kingfisher David Cookson

At Conder Green - where my encounters for today will be posted later when time allows - I found a Kingfisher perched quietly on a branch and had excellent close views, though not close enough for my second rate photographic equipment unfortunately. As I took my eyes away from my binoculars I spotted a bird of prey on a fence post at about 100 mtrs in line with the Kingfisher. To get the ID of this bird I got my telescope on to it to discover as expected it was a Sparrowhawk. Just as I took my eyes off the hawk I saw a movement near it and putting my eye back to the scope found the Kingfisher had landed on the next post to the hawk barely one metre apart....I was gobsmacked number one.

Sparrowhawk Brian Rafferty

In the few minutes they perched together, neither bird took the slightest notice of each other until they took off together....oh dear the end of the Kingfisher is nigh I thought to myself....but the Kingfisher had flown away from the fence line, the Sparrowhawk flew down the fence line and out of sight, moments later the Kingfisher was back on the post it had left just seconds ago....gobsmacked number two.

Enter gobsmacked number three....bringing my telescope back to where I had found the Kingfisher in the first place perched on the branch, to my amazement its still there, well bloody hell there are two Kingfisher here after all and I was now looking at the two of them in the same view. Birds....they fascinate me in a million ways.

Many Thanks to BR/DC for the brilliant photographs.

Today's Mega.  

Rose-breasted Grosbeak Copyright Ashley Fisher

At St Mary's on the Scilly Isles a 1st winter male Rose-breasted Grosbeak to follow the last one seen also on the Scillies at St Agnus in October 2007. Not quite as stunning as the adult in the video below, but a 'WOW' record all the same, an extremely rare vagrant to the UK.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Looking Back.

Merlin. Copy Permitted.

I've had a couple of recent encounters with the Merlin my favourite of all the raptors, and both these sightings have been at Cockersands. I had suspected a Merlin here on Thursday 15 November when I caught a glimpse of a small bird of prey, but not seen enough to be convinced of the ID before it disappeared from view. But two weeks later one came into view as I scanned from the caravan park at Cockersands, the bird was perched on a post at mid distance giving great views, the kind of sight that cannot possibly fail to excite me, even more so when it appears as you pan your telescope and unexpectedly 'bingo' a Merlin. A special moment and possibly the bird I'd seen two weeks earlier, but whatever, at least one Merlin wintering here in the Cockersands area and possibly two....excellent.

Eleven days later - again at Cockersands - on Monday 10 December I found another Merlin, this one was an even better surprise than the last one as I was only giving a final glance over the area around Plover Scar as I got back to my car to go home when I saw this small bird through my binoculars perched on the rail around the lighthouse, with the telescope it was a Merlin and reasonable to suggest the same bird seen on my previous visit here. 

As I watched this smallest of our falcons, a bird which - given certain circumstances of viewing - can be mistaken for a Mistle Thrush, it being the same size - 26cm in length - though slightly bigger in body, I couldn't help but think what a lonely and detached life from everything else this bird lives. As a youngster once its ties with the parents are severed, with the exception of a short breeding season in its years it leads a life alone with no association's with any other birds save the ones it hunts as prey in order to survive. This bird certainly looked very alone in the world perched out there on a small lighthouse in the Lune Estuary going dark on a bitterly cold evening at dusk. 

So these two Merlin sightings represented to me the ultimate in the excitement of never knowing what you'll see next, and in the case of the latter of these two for me, a better way to end a days local birding I can't imagine....the sleek, swift, and silent killer the Merlin.

I did a little more on the Merlin in a previous post, if you think it might interest you and you've not seen it before, its HERE 

Friday, 14 December 2012


....and a good excuse for a couple of pics - four actually - randomly chosen and just the one tagged on at the end connected with birds.


If you view the comments section on Birds2blog you will have noticed I've had a few 'Anonymous' ones recently, I seem to have escaped them until now. Presumably all are from people with small poorly formed brains which are unable convey anything sensible to the unfortunate victims hands and on to the keyboard because of a mental disorder.

Fortunately the spam detector works brilliantly and is able to intercept most of these before they reach the comments section, but if you are one of the rare but genuine contributors under 'Anonymous' I'm afraid you'll need an ID to make any comments which I would welcome. The ones which do find their way into the comments section - which you will have noticed deleted - are obviously from the disabled people described above.

And the four pics....

Bat. Pete Woodruff.

The only bat photograph I ever took. If I recall correctly it was daytime flying around Dockacres many years ago. I'm not clever when it comes to bats and cannot remember what someone told me it was....Help!

Summertime. Pete Woodruff.

A reminder of  what summer  can look  like if  it really  tries. A show of wild flowers in the Pilling Lane Ends area in mid-August 2011.

Tiger Gary Jones  

'Clik this pik' of the Tiger and you'll see more clearly why I suggest it should be titled 'The Hen Party'....Thanks Gary, I hope you don't mind the humour I've attached to this serious and brilliant example of your photography and the Tiger at lunch time.

And finally....

A Raven flew south over our Lancaster house this morning, and 7 Blackbirds were together in our small garden. 


Thursday, 13 December 2012

Thrush Steals The Show.

Song Thrush Sharon Whitley 

I collected three excellent counts on Tuesday on the walk from Lancaster to Glasson Dock, the best of which had to be 10 Song Thrush....

Robin/Blackbird Noushka Dufort 

....closely followed by 22 Robin and 48 Blackbird, I think the latter already being established as an influx into the UK this early winter.

Other notes on this excellent walk following the River Lune downstream to Glasson Dock on a brilliant if very cold sunny day, a reasonable count of 10 Goldeneye seen between Skerton Bridge and Marsh Point. I'm not seeing many Goldeneye reports, and of those I do few reach a double figure, another excellent sight was that of a Kingfisher flying across the river just upstream from Marsh Point. Other sightings to this point of the river, a Goosander, 8 Grey Heron, a Kestrel, 8 Goldfinch, and 2 Sparrowhawk perched on fence posts within 15 mtrs of each other. On the now seriously flooded and frozen Wildfowlers Pools I counted at least 30 Moorhen feeding as a group, I personally know of no other location where this number can be seen together. Most of the geese were on the far side of the river on Heaton Marsh and out of range for detail through binoculars, the ones in range from the embankment on Aldcliffe Marsh were all c.250 Canada Geese

Other notes made from Aldcliffe to Conder Green, good numbers of Lapwing and Redshank were feeding in the fields joined in one by 2 Golden Plover, also seen, 2 Dunnock, 3 Linnet, 12 Long-tailed Tit, and a Raven heard out of view, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser were seen off Nansbuck Cottage.

I could afford little time at Conder Green but noted a 'few' Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, and 6 Long-tailed Tit. On Conder Pool - by which time I had to keep my eye on my watch - I saw just 5 Little Grebe, 5 Snipe, and yes you guessed bus is coming.   

Thanks to Sharon for the excellent painting of the Song Thrush, and to Noushka for the equally excellent photographs of the Robin and Blackbird. 

Well go on then, just one more pic....

Waxwing. Marc Heath.

....and another waxwing too, this one from Marc Heath ....Don't forget to 'clik the piks' they really are bigger and better. Thanks Marc, brilliant.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012 fire!

Well there was a little fire but nothing too hot....Oh my gawd this is terrible, and if you're a recorder/counter enthusiast there's some figures lacking in detail and of no value to you coming up.

Robin Isidro Ortiz

I wonder how many Robins will drop in through our letterboxes as Christmas cards over the next few days. 

Yesterday I shared six hours between Cockersands, Glasson Dock, and Conder Green where it was good to find the Common Sandpiper again, first time in my book since almost five weeks ago. Also of note 2 Spotted Redshank and 2 Goosander in the creeks. On Conder Pool, Little Grebe, 4 Snipe, 8 Wigeon, and c.50 Curlew overhead. On the circuit, c.14 Goldfinch, and up to 20 Fieldfare one of which thought it was a wader and accompanied Redshank on the mud in the creeks, and no more than a couple of Redwing.

The Lune Estuary was on a quiet day with Golden Plover barely reaching three figures, and Lapwing numbers barely reaching four figures, c.250 Dunlin were of note, with c.500 Wigeon viewable from the bowling green, as were 6 Goldeneye, a Little Egret was on Colloway Marsh. On the canal basin 8 Goldeneye, 2 Little Grebe, and a drake Pochard. From Bodie Hill I counted 120 Black-tailed Godwit below Overton.

I gave Cockersands three hours today and make no apology for the mention yet again that the first sighting on my arrival here was that of 'Madam 12 Mutts' out on Plover Scar again....OK, so I had a buttie and coffee until she had buggered off 30 minutes later. 

Back to birding, the results of which - considering almost three hours here - were scant, but up to 5,000 Wigeon were some distance to the south of Sunderland Point, also a single drake Goldeneye off Plover Scar. Most of the waders in the area were in the fields in small groups of Redshank, Curlew, and Dunlin, with a single Bar-tailed Godwit seen, a Little Egret was in a ditch. Small birds were represented by 25 Greenfinch, the best count of the species since I don't remember when, 15 Tree Sparrow, at least 10 Blackbird, and 4 Reed Bunting.

As I got back into the car, I put my binoculars on the lighthouse before I drove off to find the smart little Merlin perched up on the railing, in my book one of the best ways to end a days birding on the coast.

And finally....

Bearded Vulture Antonio Puigg

Hail Brutus....Bearded Vulture, sometimes known as the Lammergeier....the bone crusher.

Thanks for the excellent 'little and large' photographs Isidro/Antonio, much appreciated.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

A Bit of a Mix!

I'm desperate, and I think Birds2blog may be beginning to fall apart, mainly due to the lack of birding opportunities for me. This post may well fall below the quality of the last one which in itself was pretty moderate to say the least, but goes with a bit of a mixed bag. 

Blackcap Warren Baker 

I think these two images of the female Blackcap are brilliant for their quality and originality, and if you wanted a humorous slant to them they would have to be titled - top to bottom - 'This looks good' - 'Anybody looking'. What a stunning little bird, I really do think these are excellent and thanks for letting me share them Warren.

Male Hen Harrier.

There was two interesting reports yesterday evening/dusk from two locations, one in the east and one in the west involving an excellent number of 12 Hen Harriers, being six seen at Blacktoft Sands in East Yorkshire - three of which were male - and six at Parkgate Marsh in Cheshire. I get a great deal of pleasure seeing any records of the Hen Harrier, but twelve all seen at one time in two locations is exceptional. A bird on the road to extinction at the hands of the slaves of the rich and sometimes famous 'moorland owners'.  

Tim Kuhn: Bighorn Sheep  Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep Tim Kuhn 

The Bighorn sheep originally crossed to North America over the Bering land bridge from Siberia. An ancient land bridge which connected Asia with North America during the Pleistocene ice ages which spanned from about 2.5 million to 12,000 years ago. The horn of this sheep can weigh up to 14kg, whilst the sheep can weigh up to 140kg. Thanks Tim for this brilliant portrait of the amazing Bighorn.

I have to say the prospects of some birding tomorrow verge on being a certainty. I can feel the excitement coming on....WOW!

Friday, 7 December 2012

A Diversion Too Far.

To be honest I really think this 'gap filler' between my birding is taking things a little too far, but at least its clean and funny....well I thought so.

An elderly man was stopped by the police at 2.00am, they asked him where he was going.

The man replied....I'm on my way to a lecture about the effects of alcohol abuse, smoking, and staying out late.

The officer said....And who will be giving the lecture at this time of night.

The man replied....My wife.

But these stunning threesome are a diversion back to birds....

Crested Tit Ana Minguez  

Unless you live in Scotland its necessary to travel up there to see this delightful bird which is to be found in the ancient Caledonian pine forests and Scots pine plantations. The Crested Tit of the family Paridae, was first recorded in Britain in 1648. 

Firecrest Marc Heath

Another little beauty is the Firecrest, a species I only ever had a glimpse of several years ago at Marton Mere in Blackpool when two birds were suspected and subsequently proved correct. I look forward to having views half as good as these in this image. As opposed to the Crested Tit this species has never bred in Scotland and the first record from here wasn't until one found on the Isle of May in 1959.

Black Redstart Noushka Dufort

A brilliant image of a brilliant bird the Black Redstart. I was never more pleased than the days I found two of these birds over the years, one at Fluke Hall, the other at Cockersands where I convinced myself you've just got to keep on plugging away at an area to reap the rewards.

Thanks alphabetically to, Ana/Marc/Noushka for three brilliant photographs of three brilliant birds....'clik the pik' to be really impressed.   


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Raring To Go!

I was raring to go this morning and set off for Hawthornthwaite Fell with a 'birding buzz' about me, but it was all a mistake. I should have shown a little more intelligence and realised the roads into the Trough of Bowland would be bad - rain yesterday and freezing ever since - and in fact proved worse than bad but treacherous in places and to make matters even worse the results for my efforts four hours later when I abandoned the exercise were abysmal. Of course the visit to Hawthornthwaite was to fulfil a hope that I'd find at least one Stonechat up there....pure fantasy.

The pull - a bit like walking up a house side in places - to the top of the fell produced at least 11 Red Grouse and a Kestrel flying purposefully. 

Beyond Trough Bridge. Peter Guy.

I decided I'd got this far into the Trough so went on to Marshaw with at least four species in mind, and set off to cover as far as Tower Lodge and on beyond Trough Bridge, but it soon became obvious it wasn't to be today and my notes read, c.45 Fieldfare, a single Redwing, 6 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Blackbird, a Wren, Blue TitGreat Tit, Coal Tit, a Buzzard, and c.120 Wood Pigeon, that's just ten species, and just 59 birds not including the Wood Pigeons....not good. It was still below freezing and the roads if anything would be getting worse, so I left. Thanks Peter, for the brilliant early morning sun and mist in this area of outstanding beauty.

Behind Tower Lodge. Pete Woodruff.

If you're birding during the summer months in this area around the Tower Lodge its a good idea to go up this path making sure you take the first right midway up the track to check the area above and below the rear of the plantation for Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher. The pic not today by the way, but a few weeks earlier last year.

I decided to look in on Conder Green before my enthusiasm was lost altogether and on the drive there called in on the canal on the Cockerham Road to find a Kingfisher, also 2 Buzzard overhead being mobbed by corvids. At Conder Green I noted just 3 Little Grebe, and a Little Egret on Conder Pool, and c.150 Teal in the creeks before my passion had deserted me....hopefully just for the day. 

And finally....

Waxwing Martin Jump

I found another excellent image with a difference. This one is a brilliant composition of the Waxwings void of green leaves and red berries....Nice one Martin and thanks a lot.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Out For The Count.

Peregrine Falcon Phillip Tomkinson 

An encounter with a Peregrine Falcon the last time I was at Glasson Dock, illustrated something which has me always asking questions about counting birds and how the results can add up to anything resembling accuracy.

On this visit I had decided - by way of a change - to try to get some figures regarding species and numbers on the Lune Estuary from the viewpoint by the bowling green. I've spent endless hours here over the years and today was no exception. I had gathered what I thought were some interesting and conclusive records following something like an hours observations during which I had reckoned up to 6,000 waders were present on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, when I picked up a distant raptor identified by the birds flight and speed, by the time this bird had reached the sights of the waders I had meticulously counted, the inevitably panic set in and, surprise, surprise, another half the number of birds I had thought were viewable in this area had taken to the wing en mass and up to 9,000 were now in the air turning my reasonably  'accurate' count into a complete nonsense, no matter how much longer I had spent here I would have never been able to see another 3,000 birds hidden from view....until a Peregrine Falcon came on the scene.

On the subject of counting birds, I recently saw a report of 18,981 Pink-footed Geese somewhere in the country at present. Now Pink-footed Geese are big birds so maybe no question of missing the odd one or two, but take another look at the figure 18,981....Have I taken serious someone having a joke!! 

And the pic....

Barn Owl Christian Thompson 

Photographically this image of the Barn Owl is brilliant, composition is excellent, the eye follows the fence in the bottom left half of the frame diagonally towards the bird in the top right half of the frame, and the subject isn't posing for the photograph taking on a natural look as it looks backwards in its search for prey....Great stuff Christian, and thanks. 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Six In Five!

Brilliant  weather on Thursday....enough  for me to  drop everything  and do  the  six miles  in five hours birding Lancaster - Glasson Dock, always with the 'you never know' principal in mind.

Gadwall Antonio Puigg  

Having  checked out  the gulls  which 'hang around' on the River  Lune between  Greyhound and Skerton Bridges I headed south to soon note 25 Redshank high  tide roosting  on the  far bank opposite St Georges Quay, 6 Goldeneye where the only other  birds of note on the river before I diverted  to look over  Freeman's Pools  to find  another  6 Goldeneye making twelve my best count of the species so far this winter with no numbers  found downstream at Glasson Dock yet. Also noted, 8 Wigeon, 6 Teal, and 10 Gadwall....Thanks for the lovely drake Gadwall Antonio.

There was a good number of Chaffinch again in the stubble field, almost certainly the same as last Thursdays 150 but not as mobile so difficult to assess and no Brambling found this week, a  'few' Fieldfare seen. Noted en route to Conder Green, 14 Long-tailed Tit, a Mistle Thrush,  6 Robin, a Kestrel, and an excellent count of 52 Blackbird, 2 Goosander were floating downstream opposite Stodday.

Little Grebe Noushka Dufort

At Conder Green I counted 12 Little Grebe,  five on Conder Pool and seven in the creeks were I saw  a Spotted Redshank.  I'm beginning  to suspect  the  Common  Sandpiper is  no longer present here for whatever reason,  not seen since 5 November,  but its sure to  be  found lurking somewhere now I said this. Thanks for the brilliant Little Grebe Noushka. 

By the time I reached Glasson Dock the light was almost gone and my bus is coming....Nothing riveting, but a brilliant walk on a brilliant day.


Richard Shilling Landart. 

I've caught up with RS again and hey....he's got a calendar published for 2013. Richard has been highlighted on Birds2blog many times before, but if you've not heard about him yet or would like some info on the calendar....have a look HERE