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

Monday, 29 April 2013

Where are all the Chiffchaffs?

With apologies for stealing someone else's title, there has been some interesting comments made based on Bryan Yorke's question 'Where are all the Chiffchaffs'.

Bryan is one of the most dedicated birder/recorder I know and keeps his notes as faithful to the religion as is possible. He is also very passionate about his life and the wildlife around him in his area and beyond and makes this statement to lay down his claim....

'Since coming to live up here, its been like being on holiday everyday, will I ever get back to reality, its just like a beautiful dream which I want to go on forever'....Sounds like a man after my own heart.

Some of his latest notes have been concerned with the lack of Chiffchaff sightings this spring within his 'parish' around Burton-in-Kendal which he has been monitoring for 3 years. According  to Bryan's records, this year the Chiffchaff has returned later than the norm by almost 3 weeks and he decided to go to the nation on a forum to ascertain if others had been having the same experience in this regard....The result was interesting with responses from Devon, Derwent Valley, Highlands, New Forest, London, and Northern Ireland all appearing to make it quite clear that there could have been a problem for the Chiffchaff during the onset or part way through their migration with some disastrous consequences. You can read about it all HERE  

Chiffchaff. Brian Nixon. BTO Migration  

I highlighted this image above at the beginning of the month, it clearly illustrates a desperate bird in trouble. As you can see this Chiffchaff is a wild bird feeding on insects on someone's  boot in Plymouth early April.

Today the weather continues to be poor and the forecast doesn't appear to show much improvement, unless it does I think we may well be entering into a year of disastrous consequences and poor breeding results and it won't just be the Chiffchaff were talking about.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....It isn't today, but tomorrow I've guaranteed myself to doing so.  

Saturday, 27 April 2013

No Escape!

There's really no escape from birds for me, and a visit this week to London - which was certainly in no way connected to birds/birding - had me with an hour to kill before catching a train back to Lancaster from Euston and time to spend in Hyde Park which I have since discovered has a quite impressive bird list to its name over the years. The morning was perfectly still and sunny, and knowing absolutely nothing about the birdlife in Hyde Park my big surprise was seeing a good double figure number of Ring-necked Parakeet (RNP) also known as the Rose-ringed Parakeet. OK, perhaps I shouldn't have been too surprised, but I know little about the RNP or where it can be found, more to the point I've never seen one, so this was a double for me.

Ring-necked Parakeet. Copy Permitted.

There has never been any conclusive evidence of breeding RNP in Lancashire/N.Merseyside, language like 'almost certainly' and 'it is likely' has been used in the past, in particular regarding a small population in Liverpool around 1970 until the mid 1980's when they died off, there has also never been any evidence of juveniles being seen at any time.

The RNP may have been in GB for over a 100 years but birds were not seen regularly until 1970 with breeding confirmed in 1971. Fifteen years later the population had spread to most counties in SE England and elsewhere. The numbers of individual RNP is difficult to assess, but there are at least several thousand, a roost in Surrey regularly holds up to 2,000 birds. The rapid increase and spread of the species is ascribed to breeding at a young age, longevity, and the lack of any competition.

Please have a listen to this....   

Kestrel Geoff Gradwell

Other birds casually noted in the heart of London included a Magpie carrying nesting material consisting of a twig the length of itself onto a ledge on a tower of the Parliament Buildings, a Sparrowhawk backward and forward off the top of Nelsons Column in Trafalgar Square, and a Kestrel above the concourse of Euston Station....a captive bird and pigeon deterant presumably!

Thanks for the brilliant Kestrel GG much appreciated.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....Monday with luck.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Dotterel....

....and the Plover.

Dotterel Portrait
Dotterel. Brian Rafferty.

Cockersands has thrown up one or two extra surprises and rewards for me recently, not least the early and somewhat misplaced Dotterel found here on Tuesday 16 April.

Oakes made notes about the Dotterel stating that the birds tameness was its downfall, particularly during a period of 40 years between 1880 and 1920, when hundreds of these attractive birds were shot on the Fylde and Lancashire plains. This slaughter of the Dotterel proceeded on a similar scale elsewhere in Great Britain, the result of which at the time dwindling numbers seen on migration became painfully apparent.

The Dotterel today is an uncommon though regular passage migrant in our area, en route to its breeding grounds mainly in Scotland where they are restricted to the summits of some of the highest and most remote hills. Ringing recoveries of Scottish birds indicate that they winter in NW Africa and some birds pass through the Scottish hills in spring on their way to Scandinavia. I have no access to any 2012 records, but in 2011 only one Dotterel was recorded in our area, that of a bird on Whit Moor, Wray on 11 May. The mean date for arrivals of Dotterel in Lancashire is 25 April, the earliest date is of a bird found at the end of March in 1989. But historically there is an exceptionally early record of a Dotterel found 133 years ago at Pilling on 12 March 1880. 

Juvenile Ringed Plover
Juvenile Ringed Plover. Brian Rafferty. 

On the same day the Dotterel was found I had earlier seen a 'plover' on Plover Scar which didn't appear to be a Ringed Plover - not in adult plumage as would be expected in April - but it flew off before I could get anything definite on it.... deja-vu! 

Determined to look for this bird again I visited Cockersands the following day to be in luck and find it in the high tide roost with a mix of about 400 waders, Turnstone, Dunlin, and Ringed Plover. It was soon apparent I was seeing my first retarded Ringed Plover which - in the main - retained its juvenile plumage, but it had made me initially jump to attention....learning something every day.     

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for the photographs of the Dotterel and Ringed Plover.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Off The Road.

I have an unavoidable and enforced 'off the road' period which started last Friday and will last for at least a week, its unlikely I'll get in any birding until Monday 29 April at the earliest, as for blogging, perhaps a couple of 'gap fillers' who knows....woe is me!! 

Golden Plovers. 

The last two visits to Cockersands have presented me with excellent views of Golden Plover in the Abbey Farm fields with around 275 seen on Tuesday 16 April, and a better count of 355 the following day.

Northern Race Golden Plover Joe Pender  

Some of the birds I have seen on these two occasions have been of the northern race and are particularly stunning birds to see. Intermediates of the southern and northern race Golden Plover in breeding plumage are not identifiable in the field, and are not separable in winter plumage. But having acquired breeding plumage some birds can be found in increasing number showing characteristics of northern Europe and Icelandic breeders, with face to belly completely black, they have a broad white supercilium with the white broadening on the sides of the breast, down the flanks to the vent. Southern birds are more mottled on the face and throat, the black only extending in the centre of the belly, resulting with the white on the sides of neck and breast being more extensive, a marked difference between the two races.

I've not looked for any up to date ringing data, but Oakes noted two northern Golden Plover - both ringed in Iceland - one was ringed in July 1929 and was controlled in Hornby, Lancashire 6 months later in January 1930. The other was ringed in July 1931, and was controlled in Formby, Merseyside a year and 7 months later in February 1933.

The Whinchats are here....

Whinchat. Copy Permitted.

And this little beauty was in the Glasson area on Saturday. I've not seen my first one this year yet, but hopefully I soon will and can't wait until I do. I've actually noted a good number of Whinchat reports both nationally and locally, these numbers appear to be healthy this spring and are encouraging for a species in trouble.  

Sunday, 21 April 2013


On Friday I had my car hijacked by KT and daughter No 2, therefore the only thing for me to do was to leg it to Glasson Dock via Aldcliffe which took me a very pleasant six hours in good birding country. Old railway routes are always good birding country....I know one in Cumbria which in summer can/could turn up multi numbers of Wood Warbler along a lengthy route. 

I started with a circuit of Aldcliffe where I found 3 Little Ringed Plover, one on the flood and two on the wildfowlers pool where I saw the only 2 Little Egret in the entire six hours. I also saw my first 2 House Martin overhead here. A male and female Blackcap together were excellent along the path by Freeman's Pools, and at least one pair of Goldfinch and Greenfinch are almost certainly breeding along here. 

Disappointingly the route to Conder Green wasn't exactly ringing with bird song, nor was it heaving with birds, but noted were, 5 Wheatear, 6 Chiffchaff, 6 Willow Warbler, another singing male Blackcap, 5 Wren, 4 Song Thrush, 2 Long-tailed Tita White Wagtail in the horse paddock at Stodday, and a Goldcrest....For six hours and as many miles, I don't call that ringing with bird song, or heaving with them either. Four Small Tortoiseshell, and a Brown Hare were the non-bird interest. 

A quick whiz round Conder Green produced a Spotted Redshank well into its transformation from winter to summer plumage. And at Glasson Dock, c.30 Swallow and a single Sand Martin were hawking over the canal basin. I counted 22 Blackbird along the way today, a Sparrowhawk was over the Pointer roundabout in Lancaster, and the Siskin - male and female Friday - continue to visit our garden feeders.

And three of those 'can't resist these' pics.... 

Chiffchaff Christian Thompson

I rate this one of the Chiffchaff - having just caught an insect in mid-air - as brilliant, the light on this image is perfect as the result illustrates....simply brilliant.

Long-tailed Tit Martin Jump  

Heres another one qualifying for the brilliant rating, the Long-tailed Tit frozen in time. A truly wonderful photograph. 

Stonechat Isidro Ortiz  

And this one was always going to be brilliant....'cos its a Stonechat.

Thanks Christian/Martin/Isidro, like I said - three times - Brilliant.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Oh No Not Cockersands Again!

Well it was still howling again on the headland at Cockersands on Wednesday, but I had to get back there. It's simple really, it's just got to be done. 

I had been watching and listening for the pager to say the Dotterel at Cockersands was still present and showing well, or that there was no news of the said bird....but nothing either way was forthcoming. So, I'm off to look for myself, and in any case there was a 'plover' I had seen briefly on Plover Scar on Tuesday that didn't appear to be a Ringed Plover and I needed to get to the bottom of what this bird really was.

As with Tuesdays birding my availability was limited to a couple of hours and some of this time needed to be spent checking the waders on Plover Scar at high tide. But wait a minute, the Golden Plover are still in the same Abbey Farm field and there's more of them too, my luck is in and I'm already confident the Dotterel is also still here. Thirty minutes and at least six complete scans with some birds out of sight at times in a dip in the field revealed 355 Golden Plover and no Dotterel in sight. 

By now the tide was at it's height, but Plover Scar was out of the question as a couple of 'fishermen' - note how polite I can be if I really try - had decided to have an afternoons But the roosting waders had taken to a stony area close by and I had excellent views of a similar number to Mondays 400 Ringed Plover, Turnstone, and Dunlin, and yes I found my mystery 'plover' which - after careful study - could only have been a retarded Ringed Plover which appeared to be in plumage similar to that of a juvenile/1st summer April!! Mystery solved, and my first ever retarded Ringed Plover seen....learning something new every day.

Other birds of note on a couple of hours mainly taken up by Dotterel hunting and the mystery 'plover' were, a Wheatear, a Whimbrel, 2 Stock Dove, and 6 Brown Hare. A whistle stop at Conder Green showed me a Spotted RedshankCommon Sandpiper, a Little Grebe, and a pair of Goosander

Little Grebe. Conder Pool. Howard Stockdale.

The Little Grebe on Conder Pool - present in good number during the winter months - appear to be reduced to the one now as noted on my last few visits here. Thanks to Howard for the excellent image.  

And the pics....   

 Broad-billed Sandpiper. Copyright In The Image

A couple of reminders of past rarities to be found at Cockersands. With the Broad-billed Sandpiper found coming up to 7 years ago on 15 May 2006.

Kentish Plover. Copy Permitted.

And the female Kentish Plover which was found coming up to 2 years ago at Cockersands on 3 May 2011. Cockersands rules, especially in May, be there....OK!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


I know lots of records from my birding days of late don't appear on Birds2blog until at least the day after, this is related to the 'other things' that take over which I also have to deal with. So here's another of those belated reports which is a continuation of the 'Tuesday Dotterel Day' at Cockersands where my time slot was three hours. 

Dotterel. Cockersands 16 April 2013. Chris Batty.

I had initially ignored Plover Scar with the intention of returning at high tide when the waders would be close in and accessible, but finding the Dotterel sidelined all that and I never got to check Plover Scar at all having given the circuit 1.5 hours and the Dotterel the rest of my availability soaking up the rewards of finding and observing this brilliant little wader.

Whimbrel Simon Hawtin  

Two Whimbrel came up off Plover Scar as I passed by, and 3 Wheatear were together in the abbey field. It's quite amazing really, that I did the circuit here thinking to myself anything could be lurking in the fields and hedgerows - I won't attempt to list the birds I thought could be around now that the migration period was at least getting under way - but the result of the circuit was quite the opposite with the 'Cockersands' Little Egret, a Skylark singing away in the air and 2 Brown Hare all that I noted. But....having found 275 Golden Plover in one of the Abbey Farm fields all my recent birding 'blanks' were about to get a kick in the teeth....and the rest is history.

Spotted Redshank & Greenshank
Spotted Redshank/Greenshank Astland Photography  

Unable to ever drive past Conder Green I called in on my way back to Lancaster to see 3 Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank in the creeks just so that I could say I didn't drive past on Tuesday either.

Thanks to Chris for the Dotterel, Simon for the Whimbrel, and to Peter and Susan for the Spotted Redshank and Greenshank, three excellent images as is usual on Birds2blog.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Cockersands....Where's Cockersands?

Cockersands is by far one of the best coastal location I know for waders, a look at recent past records void of a search or dates is all that is needed to prop up this claim, these are five records I can remember....please feel free to remind of any I forgot. 

American Golden Plover x 2
Long Billed Dowitcher
Broad Billed Sandpiper
Kentish Plover

Not to mention the endless other scarce and common migrants which turn up here annually....

Dotterel. Cockersands. 16 April 2013. Stuart Piner.

Today yet another 'goodie' has to be added to the impressive list this area has already accumulated when I found a smart Dotterel which had detached itself from 275 Golden Plover amongst which there was some stunning 'Northern' males with their complete face to belly black compared to their 'Southern' relations.

In our recording area the Dotterel is a scarce but almost annual spring and autumn passage migrant to the Bowland area....but not exclusively to the Bowland area this spring!

I appreciate Stuart allowing me to use his image of the Dotterel at Cockersands today. Given the distance and a howling gale to deal with, an excellent photograph of an excellent bird we were both able to admire together.

....And A Light Breeze In Dorset!!

This video is worth a look at, and better still if you view it full screen and your computer has sound....I wonder how many migrants didn't make it through this lot.

Bright and breezy yesterday in our area and beyond....or more to the point sunny and windy.  

At Conder Green a Chiffchaff was nice - and was calling - on the coastal path, a Common Sandpiper, Greenshank and 2 Spotted Redshank in the creeks. A Little Grebe, 2 Goosander, a Snipe, and 26 Redshank were noted on  Conder Pool.  

At Glasson Dock on the Lune Estuary, 6 Goldeneye and c.120 Black-tailed Godwit were to note, the majority of the latter now appear to have returned to the Eric Morecambe complex at Leighton Moss to add to - and make up - the c.1,800 which were recorded there yesterday.

At Cockersands, 28 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding below Crook Cottage, close in and on the only small strip of mud left by the incoming tide. I managed to get up close to around 400 waders on Plover Scar at high tide and with some difficulty managed to estimate 180 Ringed Plover, 120 Turnstone, 90 Dunlin, 3 Grey Plover, and a Whimbrel. Probably 50 Swallow in total over my head at some point during the day at different locations, and the Siskin visited our garden feeders again yesterday, with a male Blackcap putting in an appearance this morning.

Approaching Cockersands Light. Pete Woodruff.

I reckon this is as big as they come into Glasson Dock and this one set sail from there passing the Cockersands Light just after 3.00pm yesterday.

Coming Soon....maybe they're here!

Yellow Wagtail.Marc Heath.

But if your birding is in our recording area you'll need to know where to look and you'll need some more look luck to find one. A very scarce and declining migrant breeder....try the Lune flood plain, a big area to search, but where a pair 'might' breed again this year.

Blue-headed Wagtail. Marc Heath. 

And the Blue-headed Wagtail, well....Good Luck.

Thanks to Marc Heath for the brilliant images - even more brilliant if you 'clik the pik' - and much appreciated Marc.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Paying The Price.

On Friday I was birding on foot for five hours and six miles, not something I ever relish doing whilst carrying half a ton of optics and often don't do as was the case on Friday, but not for the first time I paid the price for not having my telescope with me and....'going out without my pants on'.

Having walked the length from Lancaster to Conder Green I arrived at Conder Pool to find four birders already on the viewing platform. On joining them one soon asked another what he thought about the bird in his 'scope which he'd found some distance off on the marsh below the large house 'River Winds'. 

The situation soon became a little excited and thoughts of what had been found began to be thrown around. Meanwhile I'm there without the necessary equipment needed to get to grips with the bird, though of course I was kindly invited to take a look by both the other birders with telescopes but never had the time to study in a way essential to positively ID what I was looking at. I call this being 'frustrated to hell' and to make matters worse, about ten minutes later and with no other options I quietly departed.

Water Pipit. Copy Permitted.

Later at my computer whilst doing my daily check of the various websites I found a summer plumage Water Pipit had been reported at Conder Green, and subsequently again on Saturday. I congratulate the birder who first found this bird and recognised it as 'something different' and to those who in due course secured the ID. 

As a consequence of the report of this bird at Conder Green, the bird has also found its way into my records based on what I could make of it in the few minutes I was looking through someone else's telescope and the subsequent ID by others.  The most striking feature if this distant bird - in the short time I looked at it through a telescope - was the supercilium which is variable - with some individuals less endowed than others - but can sometimes extend from the bill, over the eyes, and tapers towards the nape, though at the distance and in the circumstances at Conder Green on Friday this wouldn't have been easy to achieve, another feature I got to grips with was the suggestion of the summer plumage pale pink flush.

I really would have liked very much to have had 'good views' of this brilliant bird, but what I did see of it - and the subsequent report - qualifies my little black book to read....Water Pipit, Conder Green, Friday 12 April 2013.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING....with luck tomorrow Monday.   

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Balmy Even!

On recent standards by mid-afternoon yesterday was pleasantly sunny and warm and I had decided it was a good day to do the Lancaster - Glasson Dock stretch. Starting at Skerton Bridge I noted 4 Goosander on the river, but from there on I had to wait to arrive at Freeman's Pools to start taking notes with a Little Egret and Little Grebe seen. Robin, Chaffinch, and Great Tit were all singing and gave the feeling....perhaps it is spring after all. 

Goldfinch/Greenfinch Noushka Dufort

It was good to note two pair of Goldfinch and a pair of Greenfinch almost certainly nesting in the trees along the path to Marsh Point, the Greenfinch with nesting material in its bill I was particularly pleased about. On the wildfowlers pool a Green Sandpiper and another Little Egret seen, on the flood 4 Little Ringed Plover.  

From Aldcliffe Hall Lane to Conder Green a 'little' action at long last was in evidence with 4 Chiffchaff and 7 Wheatear seen. Also of note a Buzzard soaring, 2 Dunnock, 2 Mistle Thrush, a Kestrel, 12 Blackbird, and my first Small Tortoiseshell of the year. Approaching Conder Green I saw c.10 Redwing as seen 8 March and 3 April in the same area.

At Conder Green 2 Spotted Redshank with a third sighting wasn't proved to be other than one of the two seen a few minutes before, but possibly three birds seen. Also Common Sandpiper and 2 Snipe on Conder Pool. At Glasson Dock I had spent five hours walking south and not seen a single Swallow, but one flew by me over the canal basin, minutes later 2 Sand Martin were hawking over the basin, my first this year.

The Black Poplar.

Black Poplar. Pete Woodruff.

I always admire this brilliant Black Poplar tree by the path running alongside Freeman's Pools to Marsh Point, it is a rare tree which is threatened by its cultivated relations. There are so few wild Black Poplars left that it is unlikely that they will pollinate each other, instead the large numbers of cultivated trees will pollinate them. This means that there are hardly ever any new truly wild Black Poplars. The number of Black Polar is thought to stand at 8,000 today, with only 400 female of which this Lancaster tree is one.

The Black Poplar was a well-known and much-loved feature of Sunderland Point - historically known there as the Cotton Tree - and familiar to generations of villagers and visitors alike. It finally and sadly toppled over on 1st January 1998, the victim of old age and the fierce gales that struck the area a few days earlier on Christmas Eve 1997, it was estimated to have been up to 250 years old. 

It isn't so with this tree, but the bark of the Black Poplar often appears black due to the deep craggy fissures and burrs which are clearly apparent here. An amazing tree with quite a lot of folklore surrounding it, a small sample of which tells us that the bright red fallen catkins are called Devil's Fingers and bring bad luck if picked up. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Jack The Snipe....

....and some other birds.

Jack Snipe. Conder Pool. Copy Permitted.

One week later I found the Conder Pool Jack Snipe again on Wednesday. It gave excellent views as it fed and displayed its constant full body bobbing, a behaviour which fascinates me about this bird, you have to ask yourself....why on earth does it do this. 

Greenshank Antonio Puigg

Also at Conder Green, 2 Spotted Redshank, and a Greenshank were in the creeks, with 2 Snipe and a drake Goosander on the pool, a Dunnock was by the viewing platform. But the best bird of the day put in a brief appearance in the form of my first Swallow of the year which went quickly through.  

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was again absent of anything of note save 16 Black-tailed Godwit and 12 Goldeneye, 3 Eider here are not particularly regular on this section of the river. 

At Cockersands....I'll spare you a launch into one of my tirades about bird disturbance, but Plover Scar was void of birds due to human activity at the best time of the day on the high tide, 3 Eider off here were all there was to note. A Wheatear was present on the abbey ruins, a sight I'm more acquainted with on autumn passage. I saw just 5 Tree Sparrow and am at a loss as to the current status of the species at Cockersands these days. A Reed Bunting, Dunnock, and at least 3 Skylark in full flight song, 35 Golden Plover were in an Abbey Farm field, and 13 Black-tailed Godwit flew by Crook Cottage in search of terra firma on the ebbing tide and landed on the marsh. The 'Cockersands' Little Egret was again by an inland ditch, and I saw one Brown Hare.

The lives of the breeding Lapwing at Cockersands are already in shreds once again this year as three large fields have been 'turned over' since my last visit here and several birds looking lost in the wilderness of soil. 

In 1.5 hours on the coastal path between Fluke Hall and Cockers Dyke at least 300 Meadow Pipit went north-east following the coastline. 

Coming Soon.      

Whinchat David Cookson  

Hopefully coming soon....The bird which runs a close second to my favourite of all birds the Stonechat, is its cousin the Whinchat. I know at least one area in Bowland where I can find a double figure of adult Whinchat and sincerely hope this is going to be the case again in 2013. Sadly there aren't enough places where double figures of Whinchat can be found today, but here's hoping. 

One on a post 
Spotted Flycatcher Brian Rafferty  

Another summer visitor I'm looking forward to seeing is the Spotted Flycatcher, but - like the Whinchat - to find it in number might also be a challenge, but here's hoping.

Pied Flycatcher Ana Minguez  

And definitely looking forward to seeing the Pied Flycatcher again....Mouth watering stuff!

Thanks to AP/DC/BR/AM for the images....brilliant once again.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


The RSPB in Scotland is hosting its popular Scottish Birdfair next month at Hopetoun House near Edinburgh. There are strong connections between Hopetoun House and a large grouse-shooting estate in Lanarkshire which has repeatedly been linked to wildlife crimes, and estate gamekeepers have been convicted for laying poisoned bait and shooting an Owl, last year a Golden Eagle was found shot close to the estates border. The estate has a long term lease to a 'sporting company' registered in the USA....surprise, surprise!

If I was in a more suitable position I'd be calling for a boycott of this RSPB fair who seem to have a blatant disregard for their members....of whom I am one. This shooting estate is a black hole for birds of prey which has been well documented over the years.

How truly amazing that the RSPB - which is supposed to campaign to end the slaughter of our birds of prey - should choose a location like this one for a Birdfair. I would advocate that potential visitors to this fair should make an informed decision as to whether or not to attend, and whilst I'm on the subject of informed decisions....are you planning a holiday in Malta this year?    

Here are a trio of brilliant images to cheer us all up, all from Richard Pegler  as it happens....

Little Owl. Richard Pegler.

A brilliant shot of the Little Owl hiding away in its tree hole.

Tawny Owl. Richard Pegler.

And the Tawny Owl, another brilliant image from Richard showing the bird to good effect in its natural environment. 

Cormorant. Richard Pegler.

I've been saving this one of the Cormorant for a while now I think its superb. Thanks for these Richard I really do appreciate them.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Easily Pleased!

I probably stand to be accused of being easily pleased when I'm finding my birds, but yesterday I braved the icy easterly howler again at Cockersands and - having walked the headland to at least get my mug frozen stiff - I found a nice male Wheatear in the Bank Houses horse paddock again, the bird made my day and the trundle to find it all worth the effort.

Reed Bunting Antonio Puigg  

Because of the high tide I decided first to go to Cockersands to find things a little quiet on Plover Scar noting not even sixty birds present, with 55 Oystercatcher, 2 Ringed Plover, and a solitary Grey Plover

Chiffchaff Geoff Gradwell

Chiffchaff was seen briefly in a tree behind Bank Houses before flying off, also noted, Reed Bunting, and Snipe which which came out of a ditch as I approached. When I got back to Crook Cottage up to 350 Black-tailed Godwit were feeding on the mud flats on the ebbing tide with some stunning red showing on some of these birds amazing sight.

Stock Dove. Copy Permitted.

I also saw 5 Stock Dove in a field at Cockersands, not an easy bird to find in our area and scarce in winter, though its status in our recording area is that of a 'fairly common resident breeder'. Until the late nineteenth century Stock Doves were often confused with Feral Pigeons which played its part in little being known of their status in Lancashire until the last quarter of the century. Before this time the Stock Dove seems to have been a coastal bird with some outposts in Lancashire where rabbit burrows were used as an important nesting site. Today in the 21st century the Stock Dove is an Amber species in the list of conservation importance. 

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock failed to impress and was very quiet, c.80 Back-tailed Godwit were a massive 'clear out' since the c.850 seen here on 19 March, also another 'clear out' here resulted in just 8 Goldeneye seen

At Conder Green, a Common Sandpiper and single Little Grebe were on Conder Pool, with 2 Spotted Redshank in the creeks.   

Meadow Pipit with grub
Meadow Pipit Astland Photography   

Lots of Meadow Pipit passing through everywhere I went yesterday, with in excess of 3,000 at Rossall Point in a watch on Sunday by the Fylde birders. But for me an all round quiet day yesterday, with lots of winter birds gone and few summer birds arriving....but when the weather changes for the better the flood gates will open.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Driving Me On.

A favourite motto of mine regarding my attitude to birds/birding is....

Not what you will see
But rather what you might
The element of surprise
Never fails to delight

A decision to do the walk to follow the River Lune from Lancaster - Glasson Dock was a wise one on Wednesday last week and turned out to be the epitome of my motto when I found six Little Ringed Plover (LRP) on the flood at Aldcliffe a record which - until I find out or am told otherwise - is an all time best count of the species in this area and certainly on this excellent flood. However, I note in a search through my records that the Aldcliffe six pail into insignificance regarding numbers of this species of wader seen together in a sighting when I find a visit to the Kent Estuary at Halforth in July 2006 produced an amazing sixteen LRP's. The surprises and unpredictability of birds never fails to intrigue me, these are the kind of experiences which drive me on every time I leave home for a days birding....And then there was the Jack Snipe on Conder Pool last Wednesday too....nice one!!

The migrants are coming.     

Yesterday I received the news that snow had been falling on Friday in the south of Toulouse in France, the first time it ever has done here as late as early April according to my correspondent. But the weather has improved over here in the past two days and now perhaps we should hopefully see some northbound migration in the country and into our area.

Garden Birds.

Siskin. Richard Pegler. 

Visits to our garden feeders have increased once again with 6 Siskin seen here on Friday last week.

Brambling/Redpoll. Richard Pegler.

Richard has had some excellent visitors to his suburban garden, last year he collected the record of 32 species, a much better tally than we hope to ever achieve in our garden. Thanks for the excellent photographs of the male and female Siskin, the Lesser Redpoll and Brambling, they are much appreciated Richard   

The Mega.

Tim Kuhn: Killdeer &emdash; Killdeer
Killdeer Tim Kuhn  

A Killdeer was at Alston Reservoir at Longridge this morning at 10.10am. The bird was on Alston Wetlands and stayed until 11.00am when it flew off NW, it returned at 11.22am and stayed until 11.50am when it flew off once again, this time NE never to be seen again. The Killdeer breeds in North and Central America, South America from Peru to northern Chile, and the West Indies. 

Whilst here I noted 2 Little Ringed Plover and a Raven over. 

Friday, 5 April 2013

A Cautionary Tale!

On the face of it you would think this has absolutely no connection to birds/birding, but you would be equally absolutely wrong. I thought it essential to post this cautionary tale to the advantage of all who visit Birds2blog with an obvious interest in birds/wildlife and to share my passion as my friends....some of you could be on the hit list. 

What follows is an e-mail I received recently. On viewing my inbox the message subject appeared quite genuine but I soon discovered otherwise, but to be honest only a fool could have been taken in by the content of the message, although a pretty convincing and accurate postal address is included in it, though to the 'hawk eyed' there is a discrepancy in the e-mail address for replies attached to the message. 

So....someone is out to take some money off me - and many others - on the pretence that the e-mail is sent from Mr Somebodyelse, but meanwhile....

I'm off to find a tree with a branch I can swing from whilst I eat my next banana!!


Good morning,

I hope you get this on time, I made a trip to Manila (Philippines) and had my bag stolen from me with my passport and personal effects therein. The embassy has just issued me a temporary passport but I have to pay for a ticket and settle my hotel bills with the Manager.

I have made contact with my bank but it would take me 3-5 working days to access funds in my account, the bad news is my flight will be leaving very soon but I am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let me leave until I settle the bills, I need your help/loan financially and I promise to make the refund once I get back home, you are my last resort and hope.

Please let me know if I can count on you and I need you to keep checking your email because it's the only way I can reach you.


And finally....

Chiffchaff. Brian Nixon. BTO Migration  

The image above clearly illustrates the desperation the migrants are in. This Chiffchaff is one of fifteen feeding on flies at the foot of someone's boots in Plymouth and the weather in the UK has now become a serious issue with birds needing to move forward on their migratory journeys.


Chris has made a successful crossing of the Sahara Desert and has reached the northern end. He is the first Cuckoo to have done so on his return journey to the UK. Lets hope that the weather soon turns good for these Cuckoos and many other countless migratory birds caught up by the appalling weather we have suffered over the past weeks.

Get up to date on the mind boggling achievements of these amazing four satellite tagged Cuckoos HERE