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

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Birds....what birds!

Its interesting that a comment made in the last post Back To The Lodge about my latest visit to the Forest of Bowland related to a subject I had said I would elaborate on about birds not seen as opposed to those seen. The comment made noted I had seen just 19 species of birds in a 5 hour - and as many miles - visit representing an account of little more than 100 birds. The comment has prompted me to write up this post much sooner than I had planned and said....'19 species sounds a bit low Pete, but I suppose it depends on the size of the area covered and the time spent out'. Well, the size of the area and time spent out has already been dealt with, but the comment about the number of species is spot on.

This is not some scientific paper on the state of the birds in the UK, but simply a brief account of my observations at one location over six lengthy periods recently, and what I see as a lack of bird numbers  perhaps more so than species numbers and is an issue which concerns me.

Welcome. Pete Woodruff.

You would be wrong to suppose this is all about raptor persecution because it isn't, but I would suggest this sign is removed from every road which leads to this AONB on the grounds that it is out of date, and an insult to the Hen Harrier which no longer has its place in these wild upland areas of England in which it is virtually extinct.

Upland Bowland. Peter Guy.

This photograph shows a mere fragment of the vast area known as the Forest of Bowland in the North of England which should be the breeding grounds for vast numbers of birds, and home to many others....but no longer is. The Forest of Bowland has extensive areas of blanket bog and heather moorland, purple-moor grass, and pastures on upland fringes. In valleys and cloughs it has Oak and Ash woodlands, and Conifer plantations. 

Marshaw Wyre. Pete Woodruff.

This photograph shows the Marshaw Wyre, another fragment of the Forest of Bowland area I visited for the sixth time this year and was taken during my visit to the Marshaw-Tower Lodge-Trough Bridge area. 

What appear to be rosy pictures painted about more species of birds being added to the Lancashire breeding list than have been lost, hides the fact that large numbers of common native species have suffered severe declines in recent decades, including just three I'll mention, Lapwing, Song Thrush, and Yellow Wagtail, the latter not related to the content of this post.

I think my figures for Tuesday 25 June speak for themselves in that, out of little more than 100 birds in the time and area covered only a half that number were passerines. I saw only one member of the 'tit' family being a Great Tit, one Song Thrush, only 5 Pied Wagtail, 5 Redstart, 3 Siskin, 3 Chaffinch, 3 Willow Warbler, and a Wren. In the six visits this summer over a total of something like 25 hours I found no other Siskin other than the three above, one Goldcrest, one Song Thrush, no Redpoll, Dunnock, Robin, and no 'woodpecker' species.

Incidentally, a nest box scheme is in place on private land in this area to which there is no access other than from viewpoints over a wall/fence. At no time since this scheme was set up a couple of years ago have I seen any activity at or around any of the boxes. The nest boxes I do have access to have had the disappointing result of just one pair of breeding Pied Flycatcher. So, in 2013 from in excess of 24 nest boxes at two locations in our recording area just one pair of birds have bred in them.   

Birds....what birds! 

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Back To The Lodge.

The Marshaw - Tower Lodge - Trough Bridge area actually, and my sixth visit on Tuesday since the first on 3 May. I couldn't think of anything I'd rather have done on a nice sunny day than to check out anything new since my last visit here on 5 June. I decided to note in my little black book every bird species seen this time - something I'm a little remiss in not always doing - and some not seen which I will elaborate upon at some other time. But two species to note now which I didn't see were the lone singing male Pied Flycatcher and the Cuckoo/s, both/all of which will have made their moves south no doubt.

The species count seen was 19....

Common Sandpiper
Mistle Thrush
Pied Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Spotted Flycatcher 
Willow warbler
Great Tit 
Wood Pigeon

Marshaw Wyre. Pete Woodruff.

If there's a success story on the Marshaw Wyre in this area its the 11 Grey Wagtail seen this visit with 12 seen 29 May, presumably good breeding numbers though Iv'e not lingered to confirm. The Oystercatcher are also breeding up here again this year with at least one young seen, 4 Common Sandpiper were seen as two pairs also breeding, 5 Mistle Thrush seen.    Five Redstart and 3 Siskin were excellent, though numbers hardly impress particularly with respect to the latter. I was here 1.5 hour before I heard my first Willow Warbler and heard only two more after this, 2 Nuthatch.

Spotted Flycatcher
Spotted Flycatcher David Cookson

I had  hoped  for more but  only found 5 Spotted Flycatcher, with two seen as a pair the reality is of a possible four pairs this year. Brilliant image of a brilliant bird....Many Thanks David.

Small Heath - Reculver - 5/8/11
Small Heath Marc Heath 

Birds aside, 7 Small Heath butterflies were the obvious best sighting of the day....Another brilliant picture Marc.

And finally....Joining the 'Cull Club'.

If you are reading this and your'e a 'gull' on the Ribble Estuary, whatever you do steer clear of Warton Aerodrome as another license to cull you and a few hundred other relations has been issued to avoid the risk of air strikes by the aircraft in the area....YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!    

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Quiet Please!

But not as quiet as it was yesterday around Conder Green/Glasson Dock/Cockersands please.  Like the man sat in a hide at Leighton Moss who spoke those famous words to me as I entered the hide....'nowt about'....when moments later a Bittern and a Bearded Tit flew past the hide whilst he was gabbling to the person sat next to him who was actually reading a newspaper! 

At Conder Green, the immature drake Goldeneye remains on Conder Pool with 7 Tufted Duck, 3 Wigeon, 32 Redshank in the creeks was a hint that the summer is on its way out for them, four 'hyrundine species' were hawking over the pool included at least six House Martin nests being attended to at River Winds. And another Small Skipper seen here again....Alleluia.  

At Cockersands with nothing more than a visit to Plover Scar to note 4 Oystercatcher and a Wheatear. Also a singing Whitethroat, and Herring Gull R3RG seen for my fourth time. butterflies are my topic at the moment, I think this one has been featured previously on Birds2blog, but if it'rmind. 

Sylvain Azure Limenitis reducta Noushka Dufort 

The British White Admiral Limenitis camilla is of the family Nymphalidaethe largest family of butterflies with about 6,000 species distributed throughout most of the world. The Sylvain Azure and is a woodland species which literally glides along forest rides, flying from tree to forest floor and back up with only a few effortless wing beats. For this reason, some of its closest relatives on the continent are known as "gliders". When settled, the adults are unmistakable, with their black uppersides intersected by prominent white bars. Found in central and southern England, as well as in a few scattered colonies in the eastern counties of Wales, it is not found in Scotland, Ireland, or the Isle of Man. 

In the early 1900s the species had declined to the point that it was restricted to southern England. However, there seems to have been a reversal, with the butterfly reaching its former distribution that extends as far north as Lincolnshire. One explanation is that global warming has allowed the species to thrive at sites that had become too cool. Another is that the cessation of coppicing, that has been detrimental to so many woodland butterflies, has benefited this species which requires Honeysuckle growing in shady woodland for the successful development of its larvae. 

And finally....

Red-backed Shrike. Marc Heath.

Thanks for this Marc....Just reward, and congratulations. These two images are definitely brilliant 'clik the pik' candidates.

I'm not able to update the Birdwatch issue in my sidebar when I publish this post as the update isn't yet available, but the connection between that and the brilliant image of the Red-backed Shrike above can be found HERE 

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Butterflies....More Or Less!

There's a distinct possibility that fewer butterflies flew in British skies during the miserable summer of 2012 than ever before, leaving several species in danger of extinction from parts of the country when 300,000 fewer butterflies were recorded on the wing compared with 2011, and the way things are going 2013 is heading for more of the same.

Of 56 species of butterflies monitored last year 52 suffered declines including the High Brown Fritillary which was down 46%. This butterfly is now confined to a few sites in Britain including Arnside Knott which is where the video above was filmed. The Black Hairstreak is one of our most recently discovered butterflies and also one of the rarest, it has a very restricted distribution between Oxfordshire in the south-west and Cambridgeshire in the north-east, it suffered a staggering 98% decline.

Orange Tip Geoff Gradwell

Based on all this, its not difficult to believe, that having spent over 17 hours and covered areas over 15 miles on foot in the countryside over three average sunny and warm June days last week, I found just seven individual butterflies of seven species. At Barbondale I found just two of these, being a solitary Orange Tip and a Small Heath

Common Blue Warren Baker 

The following day between Conder Green and Cockersands I found another three species, being singles of Common Blue, Small Tortoiseshell, and Peacock, no other butterflies were see in the five hours I searched this area. On Friday to make up the seven species I found a single Speckled Wood and a Small Skipper.  

Washout 2012 was the worst year on record for UK butterflies....Welcome to the butterflies of 2013! 

On a lighter note....I've got the bug!

Hawthorn Shield Bug Laurence Counter

On last Tuesdays walk I took a closer look at a Hawthorn bush to discover a pretty smart Hawthorn Shield Bug on one of its leaves. Shield Bugs are also known as 'stink bugs' because of their ability to produce an acrid discharge. There are over 4,700 different species of these insects, many of which are vividly coloured, whilst this makes them stand out to potential predators, it is a stark visual warning that they contain unpalatable chemicals which is ejected as a foul-smelling liquid which usually deters a would be attacker.

I was really pleased to find my first Hawthorn Shield Bug, and thanks to Laurence Counter for allowing me to post his excellent image on Birds2blog. Also thanks to GG and WB for their respective butterfly photographs.  

Friday, 21 June 2013

Turned Out Nice Again.

But it took until mid-afternoon today to turn out nice. It was dull, damp, and grey all morning/early afternoon, but it began to improve later and was eventually very pleasant, sunny and warm.

Small Skipper - East Blean Wood - 22/6/11
Small Skipper Marc Heath 

I managed to add two new butterflies to my miserable 2013 list with a Small Skipper and Speckled Wood en-route to Conder Green where I walked to from Aldcliffe. Thanks for the Small Skipper Marc.

Birds finding their way into the book were a pair of Mute Swan with three cygnet on Freeman's Pools with 6 House Martin noted over, and 14 Lapwing loafing around on the island. I found 8 Whitethroat including good views of young being fed, a pleasing sight, 3 Chiffchaff and a Jay were good, also 8 Wren and 17 Blackbird were decent counts, with c.12 Goldfinch, and a Song Thrush seen....its always good to see a Song Thrush. Thanks for the Jay Antonio.

Local Eider.

Following on from my comments about the status of breeding Eider in Lancashire, I note counts of 111 ducklings from Cockersands, Sunderland Point, and Morecambe over recent days. Obviously some duplication risk here, particularly the Cockersands/Sunderland Point counts, but at least 56 of these counts are individuals. Interesting, in that not long ago the Eider was regarded as a difficult bird to come by in our recording area during mid-summer let alone in excess of 50 - and possibly up to 100 - duckling.    

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Read All About It!

A nice June day weatherwise on Tuesday, I decided to walk from Conder Green to Cockersands and return, it was nine miles and took me six hours at a dawdle....Good to be alive.

Peregrine Falcon Martin Jump  

Having first done a circuit of Conder Green, I hadn't been on the coastal path long when I noticed a mass panic of waders on the Lune Estuary. I reckon more than 50% of the time this is seen you can't find the culprit, but this time I picked up a Peregrine Falcon very soon followed by a second bird, so the spectacle which ensued was a fantastic double aerial display of these masters of the air. A chase which lasted several minutes left me realising you can never really say a bird pursued by these falcons doesn't stand a chance, these two as a team singled out about three birds all of which actually out-manoeuvred them to escape with their lives, but inevitably a Redshank eventually became the victim of one of these feathered missiles. Iv'e witnessed all this before, but it never fails to excite and often feels like it was more spectacular than the last time. Thanks for the image Martin....brilliant.

Nothing spectacular about the walk but an enjoyable exercise on a beautiful day noting, an immature male Goldeneye on Conder Pool, a Raven over, a singing Reed Bunting, 2 Whitethroat, a good number of Swift around, and at least 130 Mute Swan on the Lune Estuary. 

On to Jeremy Lane then Moss Lane to Cockersands, birds to note, a Sedge Warbler, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Jay, 6 Skylark, 6 Wren heard, and a Kestrel. Notable were c.18 'hirundines' distant - but not Swift - purposefully flying south, 6 Tree Sparrow of which 2 were seen out of context on the shingle below the headland, and 14 Eider counted off Plover Scar on the lowest of low tides I ever saw, looking out to sea was more like looking out over desert sands. 

Kestrel Noushka Dufort   

Having seen a Kestrel yesterday and in the search for a decent photograph, it wasn't possible for me to ignore this stunning one of the female and five young in the nest on a narrow window ledge in France. Noushka....Another brilliant photograph which looks even more brilliant - as does the Peregrine Falcon - if you 'clik the pik'.   

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


This is going to be brief....

A bit of blackmail directed towards KT saw me agreeing to help with the shopping if we went to Leighton Moss in the hope of seeing a Hobby....what a good idea that turned out to be.

We gave the Public Hide a couple of hours noting an absolute minimum of 300 Swift feeding, some at considerable height, 2 Buzzard, at least one Marsh Harrier, the Great-crested Grebe with two young, and the Greater Black-backed Gulls have two young on the island....No Hobby. 

Osprey in flight
Osprey Astland Photography  

At 6.50pm I picked up an Osprey overhead, the bird was accompanied by the usual attacking mob and disappeared twice, the second time it came back into view it had taken a fish and promptly disappeared to the NW. It's interesting an Osprey had been seen at Arnside yesterday, and is reported HERE where I have suggested this is the same bird seen at Leighton Moss this evening. I have a distinct feeling this bird may be seen regularly in the area for a while now.

Thanks to Peter and Susan for this brilliant Osprey image.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Bigger Picture.

Though I only gave Barbondale four hours yesterday on my fourth visit of the year, to get the bigger picture of Barbondale I spread out a little more and did some standing around ending up with 24 species in the little black book, notable of which follow....

Pied Flycatcher Ana Minguez

A disappointing day/year for the Pied Flycatcher at Barbondale of which I saw just one female, the bird was feeding young, the only breeding record there this year. Also a Spotted Flycatcher, three male Redstart, 4 Wheatear included a young being fed, four sightings of Great-spotted Woodpecker I reckon were two individuals seen twice, a Green Woodpecker 'yaffled' once in the four hours, at least 4 Grey Wagtail, a Dipper, 3 Tree Pipit, 2 Kestrel, and a Buzzard.

Nuthatch Ana Minguez

Three Nuthatch all gave excellent views, as did a Tawny Owl after it revealed itself by changing its roost from one tree to the next. Apart from several 'white' butterflies I saw just two other species, an Orange Tip and a Small Heath

With an hour on my hands I took a look upstream on the River Lune from Bull Beck and found 5 Little Ringed Plover of which two are sitting, 5 Common Sandpiper one of which was agitated at my presence presumably with young. I made no attempt to count Sand Martin but found a bank with around ten nest holes, and heard a Song Thrush in good voice. Six adult Greylag were accompanied by 14 goslings.

Little Ringed Plover Behaviour.

It was a little worrying when I saw the 6 Greylag and 14 young resting up on a shingle bank at precisely the same spot I had seen a Little Ringed Plover obviously sitting on two recent visits I've made here, with the LRP nowhere to be seen. But in a few minutes it came into view, looking anxiously at the Greylag whilst slowly approaching them, it began to fain injury and spread its wings with body horizontal, its expression appeared to be vocal but I was too distant to hear it. The Greylag all got up and moved off, I think they got the message that they were on the LRP's territory.

Thank you for the excellent photographs Ana, they are much appreciated.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Eider.

I've left this post in tact as I had finished it as a draft last night and have decided to post it unedited. However, it appears there are some interesting developments regarding the Eider in our area and I have seen two excellent records including ducklings, one of which was off Morecambe Promenade, but by far the best is this one HERE  

Eider David Cookson  

A photograph with class of the Eider....Many thanks DC.

It was a real pleasure to find sixteen downy Eider off and eventually on Plover Scar at Cockersands last Monday 9 June, an exceptional record because the Eider as a breeder in Lancashire is an unknown quantity, the first breeding attempt was at Banks Marsh in 1984 when a female was seen incubating.

In the Lancaster and District recording area two broods were recorded - void of numbers - on the Lune Estuary in 2011. Pairs noted in the Sunderland Point area since the 1990's may appear to suggest breeding but this area has no suitable habitat and it has never been proved. Breeding did finally become established in 2000 when a pair nested successfully on Carnforth Marsh, but today the Eider goes nowhere beyond being a scarce breeder in the County of Lancashire, though the Second Breeding Alas produced c.31,000 pairs in GB making the Eider our second commonest breeding duck after the Mallard.

Historically the Eider was a rare vagrant prior to the colonisation of Walney Island in 1949 which was then in the County of Lancashire, now Cumbria. Prior to this their rare occurrence was linked to storms and Oakes noted only two records of single birds both on the Alt Estuary in September 1938 and 1939.  


This year so far doesn't look like being any improvement on the disastrous year of 2012 for the butterfly. I've personally seen nothing yet of any note other than the 'whites', and the weather forecast I just saw doesn't hold much hope for the next few days. But I know a man in the south of the country who's been out on the hunt in Kent.

Heath Fritillary Marc Heath

Marc went in search of one of our rarest butterflies the Heath Fritillary but even with much determination only found it at the caterpillar stage, but the count of caterpillars was an excellent 100+....Looks like Heath Fritillary butterflies in good number in Kent soon.

Duke of Burgundy Marc Heath  

But Duke of Burgundy butterflies already seen by this butterfly hunter. Three excellent images Marc....Many Thanks.

And, apologies for the poor picture quality, but does it give any clues anyone please....

Taken on the causeway to the Public Hide at Leighton Moss last Sunday.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING....But haven't been since last Monday unfortunately, but hopefully will be tomorrow.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Bird Atlas 2007-2011.

Time is running out to order your copy of the new Bird Atlas 2007-2011 at the special pre-publication price and save 35% on the RRP. 

To whet your appetite a few opening pages of chapter 4 are being revealed, plus more species accounts including Gannet and Black-headed Gull. Many of the species are now finished and the chapters that talk about the big patterns - and how they reflect some of the ways we may be changing our countryside - are well on their way. 

You can view these sample pages below to get the feel of what this book is all about and how the layout of the publication looks. Note....if you click on each page it magnifies.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Meadow Pipit.

Meadow Pipit with grub
Meadow Pipit Astland Photography  

It's interesting that whilst I claimed the Meadow Pipit (MP) is more abundant than any other upland bird several times over in This Post, the species is one of our least studied and understood birds, whilst it is a common winter visitor, a very conspicuous and abundant visible migrant, and one of Lancashire's most numerous breeding birds. 

The English population of MP declined by 40% during 1979-2003. This decline has been shown to continue since 1994 and is an Amber listed species because of the breeding population decline linked to a deterioration on Iberian wintering grounds - which is where ringing has shown that many birds from GB winter, the MP's also pass through from Iceland and Scandinavia in the autumn - but is also likely to be due to the loss of marginal land on farmland and the conversion of grassland to arable. 

My comment about the abundance in the Cross of Greet area recently - where I saw a Meadow Pipit every 7.2 minutes over a six hour period - was reflected in Scotland and Wales where the MP is widespread and has bred in almost every 10km square as it did in Lancashire during a survey period 1997-2000.

Clifford Oakes makes an intriguing claim when he says....'many MP nests are deserted due to disturbance by the Cuckoo's which pester them so much during their attempts to parasitise their nests'....he goes on to say....'in years when Cuckoo's are plentiful there can appear to be more of them than the MP on certain nesting grounds'....I'm not sure that is likely to be ever again, in any case, this from Oakes sounds like something of an exaggeration.

Cuckoo with Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler/Cuckoo Astland Photography  

A brilliant image of the young Cuckoo being fed by its host bird the Reed Warbler. I'm grateful for this and the Meadow Pipit image by Peter and Susan Wilson with their permission. 

Juvenile Cuckoo. Pete Woodruff.

I was fortunate to witness this amazing fostering behaviour between a Meadow Pipit and young Cuckoo at Birk Bank on 6 July 2006. The Cuckoo is in the image above but I never did manage one of the bird being fed by the Meadow Pipit. I have a feeling this may well be one of those 'once in a lifetime' occasions I had the pleasure of observing, never to be repeated.

With regard to personal records of the Cuckoo this year to date, I've seen five....

Barbondale 20 May (1)
Tower Lodge 29 May (1) 5 June (2)
Cross of Greet Bridge 7 June (2)    

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Licensed To Bird!

I had my license to bird renewed again yesterday and promptly set off for Conder Green where I found 2 drake Pochard  and a Great-crested Grebe on Conder Pool, both species very unusual on here, also noted 3 drake Wigeon and 12 Tufted Duck. The only gain on the circuit was a singing Reed Bunting and the good number of House Martin nesting at River Winds.

Grey Plover Geoff Gradwell

On to Cockersands at high tide where Plover Scar was host to just 104 birds of which I was pleased to find were 8 Sanderling at variable plumage stages. Another good record was that of 7 Grey Plover, anything approaching a double figure count of Grey Plover here is good if not exceptional. GG's images of the bird are excellent, the top one illustrating the birds diagnostic black axilleries perfectly. The rest of the count was made up of 23 Ringed Plover, 12 Dunlin, 6 Oystercatcher, a single Knot and Lapwing, 10 Mallard were also on the scar. 

Eider ARKive  

Three good records a Cockersands today, the third being 36 Eider of which 16 were downy young. 

A wander around produced a 'few' Tree Sparrow and a singing Skylark. I also found my first young well grown Lapwing having survived the agricultural intensity where most of the fields in the area have now become bowling greens with one currently being sprayed and Lapwing sitting around looking bewildered.  

On Sunday at Leighton Moss with KT, a sit in the Public Hide for an hour or so - primarily in the hope of seeing a recently reported Hobby - gave us at least 2 Marsh Harrier, a Buzzard, and a Great-crested Grebe giving two young a piggyback, the Greater Black-backed Gulls appear to have at least one large downy chick on the island....No Hobby.

And finally....

Wheatear Isidro Ortiz  

Looking for another one of those pics with a difference, I looked no further when I found this one of the Wheatear on the sign post to Puerto De Candeleda. Thanks Isidro....Excellent. 

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Cockersands Sanderling....

....and a speed merchant!

Sanderling. Howard Stockdale.

Probably without realising it Howard Stockdale has done me a favour this year regarding the Cockersands Sanderling. I had wanted to keep an eye on things here to see if any numbers passed through at the end of May/early June but got sidelined by other things. However, Howard paid several visits and achieved a peak count of fourteen Sanderling on 5 June on Plover Scar, unfortunately nothing like the excellent count of 130 there on 31 May 2007, but an excellent record just the same....Sanderlings at Cockersands always are.  

 Sanderling. Howard Stockdale.

Thanks for the many records and images you sent me Howard, they are very much appreciated. 
The Speed Merchant.

A Sanderling, with a departure weight of just over a hundred grams flew the 6,000 kilometres from Norway to Ghana in less than five days. The bird was photographed on 11 August 2009 in chilly, damp South Norway, and on 16 August a Ghanaian biologist spotted him under the coconut palms on Esiama beach. 

Never before has this tiny wader been seen to cross such a huge distance in such a short time, says research coordinator Dr Jeroen Reneerkens of the University of Groningen. A Sanderling weighs less than 100 grams, this bird flew so fast that it’s impossible for him to have gone around Africa, he must have flown straight across the Sahara and that’s remarkable for a typical coastal bird.

Thanks to International Wader Study Group and Dr Jeroen Reneerkens for this abbreviated story about this remarkable Sanderling.

Saturday, 8 June 2013


I was at the top of Cross of Greet yesterday morning at 9.00am and legged it at a 'stop-start' snails pace with some detours down to Greet Bridge to cover a section of the bottom half of Bloe Greet and returned by the same route to arrive back at the motor six hours later at 3.00pm. 

With an hour of free time left, on the way back to Lancaster I called in at Bull Beck to take a look upstream on the River Lune to find 4 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper, uncounted Sand Martin, and a young Robin.

A Bit Of Class In Bowland. Pete Woodruff. 

Some nice machines passed me in the afternoon in the Cross of Greet area when about 12 vintage motors like this one were heading towards Slaidburn. Only around 30 cars drove over this brilliant remote pass in the entire six hours I spent in this area of outstanding natural beauty.

I counted an absolute minimum of 50 Meadow Pipit, an abundant species which outnumbers all other upland birds several times over. Conversely I saw just 5 Wheatear compared to good double figure numbers in previous years here, 2 Reed Bunting, and 5 Black-headed Gull were noted heading towards Stocks Reservoir. At and around Bloe Greet, 4 Whinchat, a solitary male Stonechat, and the rewarding sight of 2 Cuckoo which passed me in flight, about two hours later I heard one of them - or a third bird - calling from the old quarry. At the plantation, a Great-spotted Woodpecker and 3 Robin noted. I was also rewarded by the brief view of an Adder, a young individual which disappeared in a matter of seconds at the same speed it had appeared before me.

Curlew Brian Rafferty  

A pair of Curlew were flying around calling and agitated all the time I was on Bloe Greet, presumably with young like the one in BR's brilliant image for which I am grateful.

The Young River Hodder. Pete Woodruff.

The abundant clear running waters of the River Hodder and its tributaries were just what the thirsty towns along the Fylde coast were in need of a century ago, and these emote uplands were eyed up by the city fathers of Blackpool for something other than their natural beauty, and this land was among nearly 3,750 hectares of water-gathering land bought up by the then Fylde Water Board to create the nearby Stocks Reservoir. Some 105 million litres of Stocks water goes cascading through pipes to places like Blackpool and Fleetwood every day.

Not a thousand birds seen again today, but in this stunning area which - along with the birds I did see - took my breath away once more.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Oh No Not Tower Lodge Again!

My third visit here in under three weeks, but you just have to keep plugging away, in birding you have to remember the 'you never know' principal and keep in touch with these excellent areas, in any case I had an appointment to meet up at 8.30am at Tower Lodge with a front line/high profile Fylde birder and I don't make appointments with anyone which I can't keep.

Leaving Tower Lodge we walked east to beyond Trough Bridge to take the back side of the woodlands on the south side of the Trough Road west to Marshaw to take a track north with Sawpit and Pennington Woods on our left, then east again to take the back side of Tower Plantation which is to the north above Tower Lodge, before turning west to the plantation strip behind Tower Lodge to return to our cars....A full eight hours and five miles of footwork.

Spotted Flycatcher Marc Heath  

Brief views of 2 Cuckoo in flight, with good views of one later perched and calling, and a suspicion that there are three in the area with a bird/birds calling on and off for the full eight hours, alternatively two birds very mobile and very far ranging. A pair of Curlew with a young bird was an excellent sight, 7 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Redstart, 5 Mistle Thrush, a Common Sandpiper and Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Song Thrush....

....and a smart male Siskin gave brief views taking a drink in the stream. Raptors were represented by 2 Buzzard, a Peregrine Falcon, and a Kestrel.

Pied Flycatcher. Howard Stockdale.

A male Pied Flycatcher still sings to itself - as far as I can see - in the small wooded area to the west of Tower Lodge and looks set to depart the area with a no score before the month is out.

Notable that no good numbers of birds or species seen here today, and again some species expected were not found. Surely an area like this holds - or should hold - good numbers of Redpoll and Siskin for example. But I've spent at least 16 hours in this area in my three recent visits here and according to my observations these birds are not to be found, and 15 Crossbill reported on 21 May have almost certainly moved on. Nevertheless well worth the effort and something I'll be doing all over again the first chance I get....its good to be alive and birding!

It was also good to see Martin and Andy this afternoon, and sorry about the 'Bluebirds' BD but you're just going to have to get used to them I'm afraid!

Thanks again to Marc/Noushka/Howard for the excellent photography....Even my map looks good if you 'clik the pik'.