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

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Out For The Count Part 2....

....and a bit of a walkabout.

Black Tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit. Brian Rafferty.

For the second time in two weeks I estimated at least 650 Black-tailed Godwit on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock representing the highest count for the species anywhere in our recording area to the exclusion of the Eric Morecambe Complex at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve where the peak count in the spring of 2010 was in excess of 2,000 birds, and where at times most - if not all - the population moved to, including the coast between Hest Bank and Silverdale, or the floods at Warton.

There appears to be no obvious explanation for this increase in the numbers of Black-tailed Godwit in our area, though one view is that it is simply a shift of population from the Wyre and Ribble Estuaries, but both these areas have also seen similar increases in the species. Also, the breeding population of Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits islandica had a dramatic increase during the 1990's which has also seen a rise in breeding productivity.

And the walkabout....

Having had to go into Lancaster in the early afternoon yesterday, I went armed with my binoculars and later embarked on a walk from Skerton Bridge along the River Lune to Aldcliffe. 

Goosander. Brian Rafferty. 

From Skerton Bridge looking upstream I could just about count 18 Goosander towards the weir, the walk to Marsh Point produced 7 Goldeneye. On Freeman's Pools a Little Egret held the otherwise deserted fort. On Aldcliffe Marsh, 3 Little Egret, up to 3,000 Pink-footed Geese,  and with no telescope had me feeling like I was out without my pants on. A Goosander female was on the Wildfowlers Pool. On the flood at least 30 Pied Wagtail and a Song Thrush to note. On the steeple of St Peters Cathedral, on the last window before the point, a Peregrine Falcon must have had the entire City of Lancaster to the west, north, and south in view.

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for the Black-tailed Godwit and for the brilliant image of drake Goosander which bit off more than it could chew on this occasion according to Brian's account. It always amazes me the size of some of the catches these diving species can devour, I think we've all seen the Cormorant putting down fish the size of a dinner plate.  

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Off To A Good Start!

A Mediterranean Gull is a good a bird to start any days birding with, and if its on Conder Pool that's an even better start. But it isn't all that many years ago I would have overlooked the 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull on Conder Pool yesterday morning with just a pair of binoculars round my neck, but the instant my telescope panned onto this bird I knew it didn't quite add up to any age of Black-headed Gull, or Common Gull either, both species of which this individual was accompanying. 

Also noted at Conder Green, Common Sandpiper, 3 Spotted Redshank, and a Greenshank. Seven Little Grebe seen in creeks and pool, but I strongly suspect there are as many as ten still here. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock my estimate was up to 650 Black-tailed Godwit here today and a clear indication of more than the number (600) seen Wednesday 12 February, also noted 80 Goldeneye is a personal best count here this winter, 5 Bewick's Swan were off Bodie Hill. On the canal basin 3 Little Grebe and c.40 Tufted Duck, a drake Pochard on here is always something of a bonus.

The 'Moss Lane Swans' have moved even further away and have become even more inaccessible from the field they were initially found almost six weeks ago on 15 January, but my suggestion is that the number remains at up to 300 birds with 85 Whooper Swan and 11 Bewick's Swan - possibly/probably from this group - in the field to the south of the Caravan Park at Cockersands, also seen from here, c.2,500 Wigeon were in the Cocker channel, a Peregrine Falcon was on the hunt around here, and 80 Pink-footed Geese went over heading towards Pilling. Also to note on Plover Scar, 165 Knot, 80 Oystercatcher, 50 Turnstone, and 2 Grey Plover

I failed to find any appropriate images for the post, but here are three members of the 'tit' family, all excellent photographs of course, and helping to liven up and brighten up Birds2blog.

 Long-tailed Tit Martin Jump  

Like I said, an excellent image of the four Long-tailed Tit....Thanks Martin. 

Bearded Tit Marc Heath  

And excellent again, the Bearded Tit thanks to Marc. 

Blue Tit Isidro Ortiz

And the Blue Tit, with thanks to Isidro.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Out for The Count.

I'm not know as a dedicated bird counter but I've had four excellent - if not extraordinary - counts of four species recently, and I think all of them deserve some notes....this is one of them. 

Black-tailed Godwit. Pete Woodruff.

There are also some Knot in the photograph above which you can tell is one of mine by the lack of quality, it's essential to 'clik the pik' to see this one at least a little better than it looks above.

On Wednesday 13 February on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock I estimated up to 620 Black-tailed Godwit (BTG) a figure which I doubt has ever been exceeded here before. Clifford Oakes gives a good account of the species and begins by referring to the bird as a regular visitor, recorded in every month of the year. But the records he notes never get above the low double figures going back to dates in 1922 when two flocks of 12 and 20 were seen on Formby Moss, but 26 years later he quotes the best count for the county of Lancashire in Lytham 1948 as being a flock of 145 birds. Eleven years after Oakes record in 1948, the BTG in the LDBWS recording area was being described in 1959 as an uncommon passage migrant in spring and autumn, with just one bird reported to be wintering in the area.

In fact from Oakes first mention of the species in 1922 right up until 78 years later in 2000 the BTG remained little more than an uncommon passage migrant. But then a dramatic change was about to take place and an increase in the numbers of BTG in the LDBWS recording area continued into 2011 when counts were of a little in excess of 2,500 in spring, and in excess of 2,000 in autumn, both records on the Eric Morecambe Pools at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve which is where the BTG flocks were mainly to be found.

So my recent count of 620 Black-tailed Godwit at Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary appears to be an indication that the increase in numbers of the BTG in our area shows no sign of levelling off just yet, and may well still be on the increase. 

Common Gull. Copy Permitted.

I also estimated a count of up to 1,500 Common Gull which was also made on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock on the same date as the 620 Black-tailed Godwit on 13 February, unprecedented as far as I can see. 

And finally a nice little one minute video of a singing Thekla Lark sent to me by the very kind and talented - excellent with words, and with photography - Ana Minguez.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING....Hopefully tomorrow. 

Friday, 22 February 2013

Its gotta be dun!

The wind chill on Wednesday was grim, but I felt it important for me to plug away and do a repeat run of Monday to note the following changes since then.

At Conder Green I found just 2 Little Grebe and noted 18 Tufted Duck on Conder Pool, 2 Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank obliged in the creeks, the latter being down towards the Conder Estuary. Three Little Grebe were on the canal basin at Glasson Dock, and three more Little Grebe were on the Lune Estuary, with estimates of 135 Black-tailed Godwit and 65 Goldeneye, a Little Egret and a pair of Red-breasted Merganser.

Driving down Moss Lane I saw the Whooper Swans and presumably Bewick's Swans had moved to a further inland field and less accessible, but without stopping their numbers appeared the same as Monday. 

Blackbird. Richard Pegler.

The weather and birds at Cockersands were dire, and as it turned out little purpose in my being there with a bitterly cold wind into the bargain, but I did note 13 Blackbird and 2 Song Thrush in the horse paddock at Bank Houses....God, birding can be bloody difficult at times! 

Coming Soon....

Northern Wheatear
Wheatear. David Cookson.

Whilst the weather and the birds at Cockersands were dire on Wednesday, in four weeks time I may well have found my first Wheatear of the year here, and....

Waxwing. David Cookson.

....will probably have waved, or will be waving goodbye to our last Waxwing of the winter. Thanks to Richard Pegler for the Blackbird, and to David Cookson for the Wheatear and Waxwing....all excellent images again.

And of those irresistables.

Lighting Up Time Martin Jump

Don't know how you achieved this one Martin but an amazing photograph....BRILLIANT. Hope you don't mind my caption!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Back To Bowland.

A taste of spring on Tuesday with wall to wall sunshine and not a breeze. Although it was likely to be the road to nowhere bird-wise I had to get myself back to Bowland to get the feeling of what it will be like up here in a couple of months time. The result for Tuesdays visit is....more pics than birds, but as usual 'clik the piks' and they are a little more impressive even if five of them are mine.

Burns Day. Pete Woodruff.

Meanwhile the blowtorches were out in force today with the 'Guardians of the Countryside' doing one of their many land management tasks. With panoramic views this is just one of about four burns I could see from my viewpoint on Hawthornthwaite Fell.  

Spotted Flycatcher Country. Pete Woodruff.  

But Tuesday was an opportunity to soak up the beauty of an area like the one around Marshaw/Tower Lodge and Trough Bridge, and to remind myself that this is prime Spotted Flycatcher country and best location for finding them in our recording area with a double figure count hoped for again this summer, plus breeding Redstart, Common Sandpiper, and hopefully Pied Flycatcher again this year.

Autumn Beech. Pete Woodruff.

I was more than a little concerned why this magnificent Beech - photographed in autumn 2011 near Tower Lodge, had ended up....

Beech. Pete Woodruff. this under eighteen months later.

Human Remains. Pete Woodruff.

You can never fail to find human remains in this area which attracts some of the less desirable element on ocassions. Here are the left-overs from an obvious Halloween Party which could easily have been a mid-summer party below trees with breeding birds and 'NO FIRES PLEASE' signs a waste of time erecting for these people.

Siskin Antonio Puigg

Thanks for the Siskin Antonio, one of a few species I had hoped to encounter on Tuesday....but didn't.

Earlier in the day I had been up the west side of Hawthornthwaite Fell for a couple of hours to find 9 Red Grouse and flush a female Merlin which had been on the ground within a few metres of me unnoticed. I also noted Lapwing and a solitary Curlew back up here from the coast, and hopefully the Sand Martins will be back here again at two small colonies in the area in a couple of months or so. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

My Best Shot!

I gave Conder Green and the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock - if not my best shot - at least a good shot yesterday, but could only give Cockersands a short visit....not enough hours in some of my days.

At Conder Green 54 Wigeon is my best count on Conder Pool this winter, also 4 Tufted Duck and 7 Little Grebe noted, 2 Goosander went over and towards the estuary, and a Dunnock seen.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock I counted 80 Goldeneye, but I note the report of an excellent all time best this winter of 122 seen here late afternoon. Also of note, c.300 Black-tailed Godwit were only a half the number seen here Wednesday 12 February, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Greenshank, Little Egret, and 3 Little Grebe, a Merlin attacked the waders twice 15 minutes apart and came close to causing the end for a Dunlin on the second run. From Bodie Hill 11 Bewick's Swan seen. 

Whooper Swan Gary Jones

On Moss Lane numbers have increased yet again and yesterday's count was of 290 Whooper Swan and at least 8 Bewick's Swan, some of these birds have been in this field for over a month now when I found 32 Whooper Swan and 16 Bewick's Swan on 15 January. I think Gary's Whooper Swan may have featured on Birds2blog before but not too worried about that if it has. Thanks Gary.....Brilliant image.

If the Snow Bunting was still present at Cockersands for its 36th day it evaded me, but I noted 43 Black-tailed Godwit and 87 Dunlin being pushed in ever closer by the incoming tide.... 

Stoat In Ermine Norse and Viking

....and saw a Stoat just beginning to come out of its winter ermine.  I have no records to hand of Stoat in winter ermine, but reckon I've seen around 16 over the years mostly in our area.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Compromise.

Another of those compromises again with KT today. When it was suggested we took a ride to Fleetwood and paid a visit to Freeport, my insistence was that the trip included an hour or so at Rossall Point bino's and all....what a good idea that turned out to be.

Snow Bunting Martin Jump

We had only been on the promenade near to Rossall Point for a few minutes when a bird movement caught my eye, it turned out to be a Snow Bunting. I'm presuming one of the two birds there for some time but not mentioned recently to my knowledge and the visit here was already worth while. A small flock of birds came down on to the golf course perimeter fence and were found to be 12 Linnet....Thanks for the Snow Bunting Martin. 

Skylark David Cookson  

Another bird flew down on to the golf course and revealed itself to be a Skylark as it flew up into the air in flight song like it was the first day of spring....Thanks David.

Stonechat Martin Jump  

But ten minutes later two birds - which I knew were always a possibility here today - were seen a little distance off but were instantly recognisable as two silhouetted 'eggs on legs' and were a pair of Stonechat....definitely worth the visit to Rossall Point I reckon....Thanks once again Martin.


Thekla Lark Ana Minguez   

How about this for a Skylark lookalike. Thanks for the Thekla Lark Ana....I don't think its going to be a good idea that I hold my breath until I see one of these in the UK, and if I do - or have already done - I'll probably have recorded it as a Skylark....unless it sings!  

Friday, 15 February 2013

Empty Spaces.

It got to mid-day today before I was able to get off down to Skerton Bridge to join the coastal path for the walk to Glasson Dock on a day like the first of spring, with some good sunny spells, little wind, and a distinct rise in the temperature. But there are often lots of empty spaces to fill on a days birding and for me today was no exception, but the walk to Glasson Dock produced a couple of surprises.

Pied Wagtail
Pied Wagtail. David Cookson.

In three separate groups I counted a total of 39 Pied Wagtails....

Meadow Pipit. David Cookson.

....accompanied by 36 Meadow Pipits all feeding the spring passage underway.

From Skerton Bridge I could make out 9 Goosander up towards the Skerton Weir, and on the river from here to Marsh Point I counted only 6 Goldeneye today compared to twenty last Friday, and saw a Grey Wagtail.

At Freeman's Pools I noted 'man with digger' had claimed the area virtually to himself presumably doing some necessary management work which caused the inevitable disturbance. Easily overlooked at the distance I noted 5 Snipe at rest by the wildfowlers pool, and between Aldcliffe and Conder Green I counted 18 Blackbird eleven of which were together in a field below the hedgerow, a Dunnock, and a Song Thrush always a nice record for me. I had to forfeit any time at Conder Green though a calling Spotted Redshank drew my attention to the bird. It was a bit of a whiz through today but an enjoyable whiz all the same.

Thanks to DC for the Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit, the latter of which was voted Birdguides Photo of the Year 2012 Runner Up, with a judges comment....

MT: "David Cookson's Meadow Pipit delivers a striking portrait of a bird that is all too readily dismissed as a "little brown job", capturing the subtle tonal differences and revealing characters central to pipit identification. With the aid of good lighting, David's Meadow Pipit displays a lemon yellow tinge to the supercilium and a warm buff to the chest. With light in the eye and a head held just above the horizontal this bird is alert and is brought to life."

And finally....I thought I'd pop these two photographs in the post, they've probably been here before. 

Spotted Flycatcher. Pete Woodruff.

The Spotted Flycatcher I hope to see in decent number sometime this year probably in the Trough of Bowland.

The other I just couldn't resist....

Tawny Owlet. Pete Woodruff.

The Tawny Owlet I found at Abbeystead a couple of years ago.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Better late than never....

....but it didn't hamper a good days birding for me yesterday, though someone else's definition of 'a good days birding' for six hours may not be the same as mine. Please 'clik the piks' they really are excellent. 

The tide was well up when I got to Conder Green and there was just a little of the marsh with its head above water, so I left the circuit for another time. On Conder Pool, 3 Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, 6 Little Grebe, a Little Egret, Goldeneye, and c.50 Common Gull, c.25 Black-tailed Godwit went over in the direction of Jeremy Lane. 

At Glasson Dock, 7 Goldeneye were to note on the canal basin. I paid two visits to view the Lune Estuary, on this first one I saw the recently reported Spoonbill distantly towards the southern end of Colloway Marsh, and made my best count this winter of 54 Goldeneye, so with the basin birds and one on Conder Pool, a total of 62. On Jeremy Lane, a Little Egret flew out of a ditch as I approached. On Moss Lane I counted 245 Whooper Swan and 10 Bewick's Swan. These winter swans have been in the field almost a month now, according to my records since 15 January, but this is the peak count to date.

Turnstone Martin Jump

At Cockersands, the Snow Bunting was again on Plover Scar for its 30th day, also noted here, 5 Grey Plover were something of a good count, 55 Knot, 20 Oystercatcher,16 Turnstone, and a Rock Pipit, a Little Egret was a little further to the south, and a Little Egret was also in inland fields again. From the Caravan Park end I estimated at least 3,000 Wigeon and 16 Pintail in/around the Cocker channel. Thanks for the Turnstone Martin. 

Knots Take Off
Knot Brian Rafferty  

On my second visit to Glasson Dock and the Lune Estuary I noted at least 1,200 Golden Plover, 800 Dunlin, 620 Black-tailed Godwit, and c.1,500 Common Gull were to note, this appears to me to be a high count though perhaps I'm not observant of gulls in general enough to have noted good figures of this species in the past, a Little Egret also seen. Thanks for the Knot Brian. 

And....two photographs that screamed out excellent to me....

Female Mallard Ana Minguez  

An excellent image of the resting female Mallard. Thank you Ana.

Long-tailed Tit Warren Baker 

And another excellent image, this one of the diminutive Long-tailed Tit, head on and filling the frame....well nearly. Thank you Warren.

And finally....

Paloma Faith. 

I've never used Birds2blog to advertise my music tastes before - which are very wide and varied - but there's a first time for everything, and tonight KT and I are looking forward to a concert in Blackpool Paloma Faith....Picking Up The Pieces....and much more.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Three in a row.

I got in three days birding in a row last week - what's the world coming to I ask myself - and probably walked 15 miles into the bargain.

It was a decent day on Friday, decent enough to get myself on the coastal path at Skerton Bridge in Lancaster, and walk to Conder Green. Nothing particularly significant found but its always good to see and note the changes over the weeks, and of note on Friday it was interesting to find the numbers of one species diminishing since I counted 48 Blackbirds on the same route 8 weeks ago on 11 December 2012, the numbers fell on each of 5 walks since and today I counted 16 Blackbirds, even more significant were the 10 Song Thrush seen on the same day of 11 December compared to none seen on the 5 following walks until today when I found two Song Thrush, always an excellent record these days.

Goosander Brian Rafferty  

Between Skerton Bridge and Marsh Point I counted 20 Goldeneye, the River Lune from here to the estuary at Glasson Dock being the only location this species can be found in double figures though I did see a record of 14 at Dockacres last Friday. Also of note on this section of the River Lune was 2 Goosander....

Redshank David Cookson  

....and a good number of at least 150 Redshank finding their way upstream. Freeman's Pools oddly held not a single diving duck but 3 Gadwall and a Little Egret were of note. The flood at Aldcliffe held 75 Dunlin, and 24 RedshankFrom Aldcliffe to Conder Green in addition to the Blackbirds and Song Thrushes mentioned earlier I noted just 10 Pied Wagtail feeding together, and a Mistle Thrush

I had barely a minute to spare when I arrived at Conder Green, yes you guessed bus was coming. Thanks for the drake Goosander Brian, and for the Redshank David, both excellent photographs with a difference as always.

I do hope you saw all six parts of the 'Africa' series on BBC television which ended last week, and which concluded with David Attenborough making his views known on the future of a continent and its wildlife which could fit the US, Japan, China, India, UK, and most of the rest of Europe into its boundaries. He put on a brave face and spoke some positive words and some negative ones, including a comment on the rainforest which has been earmarked to have 50% of its area removed for its timber....his views had many more positives than those of mine on the future of this vast country called Africa and its amazing array of wildlife.

I think the video below was an excellent trailer for the series and is a minute well spent to watch it. 

Saturday, 9 February 2013

....and a bonus bird too!

I got a couple of hours in on Thursday and collected a nice bonus into the bargain.

Twite Geoff Gradwell  

The walk from Fluke Hall to Cockers Dyke was worth the effort if only to find 55 Twite there. This area is usually excellent particularly for observing gulls but they had deserted here today and my only other notes were of a single Bar-tailed Godwit and single Knot a little unusual on both counts, a Little Egret was also here. Thanks for the Twite on the railings at knott End Geoff.

Now the bonus bird was about to appear....

Chiffchaff Ana Minguez

Back at Fluke Hall I went behind the car park area hedgerow and immediately noticed half a dozen birds, amongst them a Dunnock, Robin, and Blackbird, but wait a minute what's this....its a 'warbler'. The bird gave me the run-around for 45 minutes during which time - although it was a flighty thing - I did get some good views and in the end I decided it was a Chiffchaff, though to be honest I tried a couple of times to make it something otherwise. Thanks for the Chiffchaff Ana. 

I didn't really have much time on my hands today, but couldn't resist calling in at Cockersands for a half hour or so but only managed a Little Egret on Plover Scar, and a solitary Fieldfare on the wires near the Lighthouse Cottage, and the Whooper Swans were still in the field off Moss Lane as I drove past. 

Ex Seal. Pete Woodruff.

On Wednesday I found another corpse at Cockersands, last time a Porpoise, this time a Seal. Until someone wants to correct me if necessary, I see this as a young headless Grey Seal

Starling Warren Baker  

I reckon this excellent photograph of the humble Starling makes the bird a much more attractive creature than we really give it credit for, the light reflected off the snow enhances this birds plumage to good effect. Thanks Warren.

And the non-bird pic for this post....

Who Dares Wins Gary Jones  

GJ's excellent image of the Tiger getting its teeth into lunch watched by this super brave Robin. Thanks Gary, I hope you don't mind my caption which I thought quite appropriate.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

....and a little twitch!

I don't think it's an all time record, but I was at Conder Green yesterday at 8.00am....early for me. The first bird to greet me here was a Greenshank in the creeks, followed during the circuit by 3 Spotted Redshank, the Common Sandpiper had found its way down the Conder channel again. I found 10 Little Grebe here again seven of which were in the creeks and three on Conder Pool where I noted at least 75 Lapwing and 12 Curlew.

At Glasson Dock on the canal basin, 9 Goldeneye, 3 Little Grebe, and a Great-crested Grebe. On the Lune Estuary I noted up to 700 Bar-tailed Godwit, c.250 Dunlin, and 37 Goldeneye which  - added to the canal basin birds - is the best count of 46 at Glasson Dock this winter. In the field off Moss Lane today's count totalled 252 Whooper Swans.

I must admit I never yet came birding to Cockersands and didn't enjoy the experience, but I must say yesterday was pretty void and the cold Arctic wind was pretty thin to say the least, but the hardy Snow Bunting was scratching away like a mouse in a cheese factory on Plover Scar for its 24th day, otherwise the only birds to qualify for the black book were 3 Greenfinch, and a Peregrine Falcon rocketing through and making a dive at something I didn't identify before continuing on its way.

So now I'm on my way to a do a little twitch and see somebody else's bird by way of a change at Freeman's Pools to find the 'redhead' Smew being floodlit by the blinding sun and giving excellent views. Also of note, a single drake Goldeneye, 3 Little Egret, 4 Little Grebe, c.30 Goldfinch,13 Pied Wagtail and 3 Meadow Pipit were feeding together, and up to 150 Dunlin and a similar uncounted number of Redshank were on the flood. 

Out on Plover Scar. Pete Woodruff. 

I was definitely not at all happy to see this thing out on the scar today and will be making enquiries to find out if any laws were being broken by it being there, it looks bigger and even worse if you 'clik the pik'. I was left wondering if perhaps Mrs Mutt was a better sight on there than this bloody machine, by the way she was there with 15 hounds unleashed recently.

Sorry there are no 'and finally' pics but I'm out of time here. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Stonechats Again....Yes Stonechats.

Throughout last year I've been sent several records of Stonechat (St) in and out of our area and it goes without saying how much I appreciate this. These records together with some more recent birds seen add up to something like twenty locations and a rough estimate of 26 birds seen in 2012 being a mere fraction of birds that could have been seen just 4 years ago 

I just wanted to make note of a record kindly forwarded to me second hand a couple of years ago, of St in mid-winter which had been reported as heard only. So as to avoid sounding like some authority on the St, I have to say these records have me scratching my head.

There are two aspects about the St voice which should be noted, in the first place they are far less vocal at times outside the breeding season, and are rarely - if ever - heard during the winter. Having started to sing at the start of the breeding season the male might continue to do so throughout the breeding cycle, he is the only one to sing, the female has no song. The male can be heard in song from around late February and the peak period is March and April, after which it virtually ceases until early July after which it generally ceases altogether.

At the risk of repeating myself you will no doubt have heard me say what a complex species the  St is, and here is one example of the complexity of this bird. At the beginning of the breeding season the song of most species is usually associated with attracting a mate, but with the St many males don't start to sing - if they sing at all - until after they are already paired. From personal records, despite my interest in the St for 'a few years' I only ever heard the song on two occasions, both of which were of the male in song flight, this is an elaborate display which has him holding his body at an angle with trailing legs and toes pointed backwards, tail fanned and depressed, the white neck patches, rump, and wings are all prominently displayed. He may periodically hover, and sometimes rises and falls as if on elastic....a truly spectacular display by this delightful favourite of mine, but not at all an easy sight to come across and witness I assure you. 

And finally....I never heard a St singing or calling in winter, and to be honest....never expect to.

Perhaps I should spare you all from any more Stonechat pics, well this time....


Instead a couple of in flight record shots of the Smew found on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock last Friday 1 February. With my thanks to the reliable contact who alerted me to this little beauty.


These images give some useful upper and underwing in flight detail and are both 'Copy Permitted' with my thanks.    

Tuesday, 5 February 2013





Over the past 10 years three of the UK's moth species, Orange Upperwing, Brighton Wainscot, and Bordered Gothic have all become extinct, they follow on from another 62 moth species to have become extinct during the 20th century, and two thirds of common and widespread larger species have declined in the last 40 years.

Double Dart. Ian Kimber.

The Double Dart....

Dusky Thorn. Ian Kimber.

....and the Dusky Thorn have both suffered a 98% decrease in terms of abundance, and ongoing habit loss and the deteriorating condition of the countryside are being blamed as the major factors. But these declines are apparently much greater in the south than of those in the north, the reasons behind this disparity between the north and south is likely to be the benefits of climate warming on some moths in the north, whilst in the south higher levels of habitat loss are to blame. When we hear claims that....severe declines of once common garden moths and the overall decrease in moth abundance are a damning indictment of how human activity has devastated our native makes for pretty depressing reading and leaves man with a lot to answer for. 

Blair's Shoulder Knot. Ian Kimber.

But whilst the Double Dart and Dusky Thorn are two examples on the losing side, two moths on the winners side are the Blair's Shoulder Knot....

Treble Brown Spot. Ian Kimber.

...and the Treble Brown Spot, both of which have seen at least some increase in abundance figures.

I would like to thank Ian Kimber and UK MOTHS for allowing me to publish his excellent images of these four moth species.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING....Hopefully tomorrow, the forecast looks good.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Your Signature Please!

I'm talking wildlife-friendly farming here....

I really don't have the time to write up a post this evening, but I'd like you to take a look at the link which follows and consider signing the petition - by Tuesday at the latest - to our honourable prime minister....THE LINK IS HERE

Of course I do have the time to post three excellent photographs, all with a Spanish origin....Don't  forget to 'clik the pik' they really are quite brilliant.

 Cormorant Ana Minguez 

Thanks for the Cormorant Ana.

Lesser Kestrel Antonio Puigg

Thanks for the Lesser Kestrel Antonio.

Great Tit Isidro Ortiz  

And thanks for the Great Tit Isidro, they all help to brighten up a pretty boring little post though one with an important subject for us all to address by signing to let our government know we care about our wildlife and its time they did too.