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

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Stonechats In 2013.

A summary of Stonechat in 2013.

A bit early for writing up a review about the Stonechat in 2013 with three months still to go, but an excellent record of fourteen birds at one location recently posted HERE has prompted me to do so, though I would suggest the majority of these are passage birdsI'm personally obliged to Gary Sharples for getting in touch with me and for posting this record.

Many other birders/photographers have forwarded Stonechat records to me throughout this year for which I'm very grateful. I'm also grateful to Howard Stockdale for the excellent image of the young Stonechat below....What I would have given for a few more Stonechat in 2013, let alone young ones. 

Stonechat. Howard Stockdale. 

But the reality is, the Stonechat has shown little sign of its return to the uplands of the north of England according to my observations, though I have had news of young being seen at seven locations - not all in our recording area - Whitbarrow, Foulshaw, Bleasdale, Croasdale, Bradford Fell, Hareden and Whitendale, but these sightings of young have been in low number compared to the records pre two harsh winters.

I've visited several upland locations during this year and found only one with proof of breeding, that of a female with three young at White Greet on 5 July, evidence in my records that the Stonechat is still absent from every site I've been surveying for over 15 years, and that the Stonechat has been absent in 2013 at Birk Bank, Hawthornthwaite, Harrisend, Barbondale and Newby Moor, but a pair was seen on Clougha on 2 May and 7 August, this pair were seen at exactly the same area on both occasions in 2013 as indeed they had been in 2012, and I found no young on any of these visits.  

However, I have to say that documentation of Stonechat in Bowland forwarded to me earlier in the year appears to contradict my claim that the species 'hasn't generally returned to our uplands to breed' when it reads....'with pairs found in all the main valleys and side valleys appearing to do well and fledglings being noted in May'....void of any figures I have no idea what the true definition of 'appearing to do well' means in this case, but no doubt about it, this is in stark contrast to my findings.

Stonechat Ana Minguez 

I'm hoping all this will change for the better in 2014, and that the fortunes and status of breeding Stonechat will begin to improve once again. Brilliant portrait of a brilliant bird....Thank You Ana.

Friday, 27 September 2013

....and the Goldeneye is back.

Well blow me over....The Conder Pool Goldeneye is back, it spent the greater part of summer here, the last time I saw it was on 19 August, but it had a section of the creeks to itself when I found it where's the little bugger been to these past five weeks.

Kingfisher Marc Heath

Also of note at Conder Green yesterday, a Kingfisher flew the entire length of the pool moments after a Grey Wagtail had flown the breadth, I could only find 6 Little Grebe on Conder Pool, a Ruff, Little Egret and a Snipe. Fifteen Goldfinch noted, and c.50 Teal not one of which could have been turned into a Garganey seen here recently. The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was quiet again saved by at least 550 Golden Plover, a Mediterranean Gull, and a Little Egret, wader numbers were at an absolute minimum though the usual - uncounted - Lapwing were present in good number.

Little Stint Cockerham Sands. Copy Permitted.

At Cockersands an 8.00m tide saved the waders from being 'washed out' and large numbers fed on the Cocker Estuary tide line as viewed off Cockersands Caravan Park and included 3 Curlew Sandpiper and a Little Stint, a Mediterranean Gull gave excellent close views, and a single Bar-tailed Godwit and Little Egret were also noted. A Red Admiral and a 'few' Small Tortoiseshell seen. 

And finally....

Curlew Sandpiper/Redshank. Howard Stockdale.

An excellent image of the Curlew Sandpiper on a fly past with Redshank. A great photographic opportunity used to good effect Howard....Many Thanks. Also Many Thanks to Marc Heath for the excellent Kingfisher image. Like you said Marc, with a camera in your hands and a Kingfisher in just can't say no. 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


So off I went to Conder Green yesterday full of Mondays enthusiasm which lasted about 45 minutes to be ended by a phone call. But the enthusiasm didn't get me anywhere today and bird species and numbers were dire everywhere I went, but that's birding, some you win, some you lose....but enough of this. 

To add to Mondays notes for Conder Green, 10 Little Grebe was yet another increase for this species on Conder Pool and heading up nicely to the peak count of sixteen on 18 October 2010, also noted, 6 Snipe and 24 Canada Geese. A Grey Wagtail was upstream of the road bridge, and the Common Sandpiper was in the creeks again. The Lune Estuary carried forward the dire scene with c.450 Golden Plover, 2 Goosander, a Little Egret, and a Peregrine Falcon on a distant post on Colloway Marsh.

Unbelievably dire at Cockersands saved by 2 Mediterranean Gull in a field with c.320 Black-headed Gull taking advantage of the farmer complete with tractor and plough. But waders were in short supply, with no more than 180 Redshank between Crook Farm and Plover Scar where there was just 15 waders at high tide, 9 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, and 3 Turnstone. I noted 4 Wheatear and c.150 Wood Pigeon were put to flight en-mass out of a hedgerow by something....Like I said....dire. 

Apart from a few 'whites' the only butterfly species I saw was a decent c.40 Small Tortoiseshell.

 Mega Vagrants.  

Thanks to RBA we had news of two vagrants found in Ireland. The Eastern Kingbird was found yesterday in Inishbofin, Co Galway.... 

Wilson's Warbler Arkive 

....and the Wilson's Warbler which was found last Friday 20 September at Dursey Island, Co Cork, and was still there the following day, but not seen since. A little North American gem which winters in southern Texas, south to Panama, and a very rare vagrant with only one previous record, that of a bird found at Rame Head, Cornwall in 1985. This individual was seen by only a few local birders briefly for a few minutes and was never seen again. 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Well....That was Fun!

I left home this morning overflowing with enthusiasm for my days birding in the hope I could get a good six hours in. I arrived at Conder Green - the car drives me there automatically these days - to find yet another increase on Conder Pool with 9 Little Grebe there today, the all time peak count of Little Grebe on Conder Pool is of 16 found there on 18 October 2010. Another increase on the pool was of 6 Wigeon seen, the two drakes on here all summer having been joined by four relatives here for the winter. Eight Snipe and a Little Egret were also to note. Just one bird of note in the creeks was a Common Sandpiper, reasonable to suggest this is a/the wintering Conder Green bird. But hey....Iv'e only been at it for 45 minutes and I get a telephone message which dictates I have to abort the birding and head off back to Lancaster with no other options. 

Well that was fun....I threw my mobile into the River Conder in a rage!! 

Bonaparte's Gull at Heysham.

A visit to Heysham a couple of hours before high tide yesterday drew a blank with regard to the hope of seeing the long staying Bonaparte's Gull, but good views of a 2nd winter Little Gull and a 'good number' of Mediterranean Gull, at least eight seen with 1st winter, 2nd winter, and adult birds present on Red Nab including the Green ringed AKUR seen again, I first saw this individual on 17 July.

Bird Behaviour.

Snipe Antonio Puigg 

An amazing image of the Snipe in a behavioural pose. This is new to me, the first time I ever saw such behaviour by the Snipe. Brilliant Antonio....I'm intrigued.

And finally....You may not remember Mr Gonshaw - 'clik the pik' and you can read the ad much better - who was also featured on Birds2blog, but he's going to be on 'The One Show' BBC One at 7.00pm this evening. Most visitors to Birds2blog will probably see this post too late to view the film, but if you do read this in there.  

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Harbour And Honeypot!

With BT yesterday I was asked where should we go, having run through the 'what's about' routine for him he suggested we go to look for the Bonaparte's Gull at Heysham, then on to Leighton Moss to do some 'honey-potting' to see if any of the recent 'goodies' were still around. Why not was my reply thinking to myself....well after all its birding so what the hell! 

Although the aforementioned Bonaparte's Gull and Little Gull were both reported on Red Nab, we experienced a 'dip' even though I sifted through the birds present on Red Nab two hours before the high tide at least six times. There was of course a result with 12 Mediterranean Gull seen, of which I noted juvenile, 2nd winter, and adult birds, also 2 Sandwich Tern being an adult and juvenile, a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit, and at least 2,500 Oystercatcher, 32 Pink-footed Geese went over south.

Cormorant Ana Minguez 

On the old wooden jetty, 61 Cormorant counted, c.150 Turnstone, and a 'few' Redshank noted. Many thanks for the Cormorant image Ana, they actually have a certain glamour about them in your photograph. 

Avocets in flight
Avocet. Astland Photography.

At the Eric Morecambe Hide at Leighton Moss, 2 Avocet still lingering here, with a long distance Curlew Sandpiper and 5 Greenshank seen, also c.700 Black-tailed Godwit were a little behind the peak count of 850 seen recently here. Also of note, 8 Ringed Plover were also long range birds and the likelyhood of claiming a Little Ringed Plover with them wasn't possible at the distance, 2 Pintail and uncounted Wigeon, Gadwall, and Shoveler....And a good time was had by all!

Thanks to Peter and Susan Wilson at Astland Photography for the excellent 'coming in to land' image of the Avocets. 

The Cafe First.  

I claimed a first record for myself yesterday on leaving the Eric Morecambe hide, when I took up the invitation to visit the cafe at Leighton Moss for the first time in my life, with good company in the form of six Leighton Moss'ers and some excellent birding banter. Thanks guys, enjoyed it very much and quite a new experience for me. 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Armed And Dangerous.

A direct copy with no edits by me, this is an article by a top man in the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, he is a dangerous man with a dangerous mission if you are a Goshawk. The ignorance here is staggering, but he has many mates who will take note of what he has said and will act upon it with relentless persecution, not just of the Goshawk but other birds of prey and wildlife which they see as unacceptable pests to be eradicated.

Read on and make your own mind up about what you read. I have decided to keep any other comments I have about this dangerous crap too myself. 

'My local newspaper has just published an article on ringing chicks at a Goshawk nest on forestry commission ground. In the article, gamekeepers are criticised for persecuting Goshawks, without any attempts at providing proof, journalistic balance or an attempt to look at the history of the goshawk in Scotland. For the past 35 years I have lived with Goshawks on my doorstep. I strongly believe the Goshawk never was indigenous to the United Kingdom and there is absolutely no hard evidence to suggest otherwise. Those that illegally released this species into the British Isles could legitimately be charged, therefore, with a wildlife crime. These nests in the article are in commercial forestry where there is nothing whatsoever for the poor chicks to eat. What happens then? The young make their way out onto keepered ground, managed at significant cost and time to create a richness in biodiversity. Our local Red Squirrel population is now under severe threat and much of this can be put down to predation by the Goshawk. Most raptors will eat what they kill. The Goshawk will kill over and over again. The largest number of pheasant poults I lost on a stubble in one strike was 35. God knows what this could mean for our poor Curlews and Lapwings, teetering on the brink. Balance must surely be considered before we lose more precious species'.

Want to relax from all this this 43 second video of Balearic Shearwaters passing Portland Bill yesterday 19 September. 

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Think Pink!

Legs Down
Pink-footed Geese Brian Rafferty 

The Pink-footed Geese are back, though my sightings yesterday didn't reflect other claims of 'a massive movement' elsewhere. My records were of 160 on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock with 80 over here going south, and 60 going the same direction over Cockersands.

I got to Cockersands about an hour before high tide, though places like Plover Scar are not the best to be caught in a downpour and I had to spend the next 1.5 hours in the car waiting to see if the constant showers would pass over. By the time I got to Plover Scar the high tide was heading up to an hour past, but the waders - reduced in number - were staying put and I found 3 Curlew Sandpiper still here with a solitary Sanderling, in excess of 100 Turnstone, and 4 Black-tailed Godwit to note, with c.60 Dunlin and Ringed Plover noted as 'a few' by comparison to recent visits here. Six Eider were bobbing up and down like corks off Plover Scar, a single Wheatear seen, and a Little Egret passing the scar fought against the howler blowing today and eventually flew over the end of Sunderland Point towards Middleton. 

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was relatively quiet, though c.200 Redshank and no more than 20 Dunlin were feeding close by, a single Bar-tailed Godwit, just 4 Wigeon, a Little Egret, and a Red-breasted Merganser appearing to nearly choke itself on a large fish it caught, I'm often amazed at the size of the catch these divers make and manage to down.

A quick look in on Conder Pool on my way back to Lancaster revealed another increase of two with 8 Little Grebe seen, a Little Egret was the only other note I made. 

The Pelagic.

 Manx Shearwater. Paul Foster.

On a nice day in August, with clear skies and a light wind, Paul went on a pelagic trip out of Liverpool. I couldn't resist posting two of his photographic results, this one of the Manx Shearwater....

Great Skua. Paul Foster.

....and this of the Great Skua. Paul's account and images of the day are HERE  

Thanks for allowing me to put your day on Birds2blog Paul, much appreciated.      

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Off The Road....And Poisoned.

Unfortunately for me 'other things' have taken over from my birding once more which don't create material suitable for Birds2blog. So an opportunity to take a look at another issue in the real world concerning and affecting the birds in a lethal way.

Lead....A highly toxic metal.

So why are waterbirds still suffering from lead poisoning (LP), well because they're ingesting lead shot, and these are the unlucky ones because if the shot had been a direct hit, death would have been more instant than the lingering one the LP will cause. If you ever had the misfortune to find a bird suffering from LP, they become emaciated, have convulsions, diarrhoea, and the inability to walk, all very distressing sights to see in a poisoned bird.

The use of lead shot has been banned since the early - mid 1990's in The Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark, and there are restrictions on its use in the UK, it is banned for shooting over the foreshore and specified SSSI, and for hunting wildfowl in all areas. But despite these restrictions lead is shown to kill waterbirds in Britain, and the vast majority of shot fired from shotguns falls into the environment and is never retrieved. There is no safe level of lead, and once ingested and absorbed into the blood stream it affects all body systems.

The Whooper and Bewick's Swans will be arriving anytime soon to spend the winter months on our shores and these are particularly susceptible to LP because they commonly forage on agricultural land where game birds are gunned down with lead shot which takes tens - if not hundreds - of years to breakdown leaving it accessible to feeding waterbirds all this time.

Compliance with the restrictions in England is claimed to be poor - nothing new there then within the shooting fraternity is there - with nearly three quarters of almost 500 ducks - including Teal, Mallard, and Wigeon - sold by game suppliers being illegally shot with lead. 

Which brings my piece on lead shot nicely to an end with a reminder that the question about the suppliers of Red Grouse to M and S hasn't gone away I can assure you.

Thanks to RBA and the weather being favourable for such happenings, I was kept informed all day yesterday of the movement of Leach's Petrel particular from the Wirral and the River Mersey, and a repeat today with in excess of 100 Leach's Petrel past Hilbre Island by late morning.... 

Leach's Petrel. Copy Permitted.

....but this little beauty was much closer to home yesterday, and came close in at Knott End in the afternoon. No need to be on a pelagic for this one the image of which easily qualifies for the 'BRILLIANT' tag.

Curlew Sandpiper. John Darbyshire.

Still lots of Curlew Sandpiper around too. Thanks for this JD and for being in touch again, much appreciated. 

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....With luck maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

If In Doubt....

....brew up, or in my case do some birding and start at Conder Green!

There was actually little in the creeks again on Friday save a Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, and Little Egret. On Conder Pool, I managed to find 6 Little Grebe again, also 6 Snipe, with up to 85 Teal and 40 Mallard noted. On the circuit, 3 Reed Bunting and c.50 Goldfinch

Whitethroat Richard Pegler

The result of checking out why the branches were quivering in a bush on the coastal path at Conder Green was a Whitethroat which gave good views. Excellent Whitethroat Richard, Thank You. There was little of note to add to my two previous visits this week on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, but an adult Mediterranean Gull, c.300 Golden Plover and 2 Little Egret were of note

At Cockersands where there was a huge number of gulls both in the fields and on the shore, and 2 Mediterranean Gull amongst them were both adult. Off Plover Scar, at least 700 Wigeon - and it felt like winter here too - 4 Eider, and 2 Pintail. From Plover Scar to Crook Farm whilst looking for 'something of interest' amongst the waders, I'd suggest figures of 450 Redshank, 80 Dunlin, and a 'few' Ringed Plover, with OystercatcherLapwingCurlew, and a solitary Black-tailed Godwit all present. Along the headland, 4 Wheatear and a Sparrowhawk seen.  

And finally....not related to Fridays birding.

Spotted Crake Marc Heath

Here's one I couldn't resist, and not a bird to be seen very often let alone achieve an image anything like this one of the Spotted Crake....Cool Marc and much appreciated.

Grayling Martin Jump

And here's another one, this one not just a Grayling, but one with its wings open. Not a butterfly to be found anytime anywhere, and certainly not a butterfly to be found anytime anywhere with its wings open either. An good double here Martin, a treble actually if we count the excellent 'clik the pik' photograph.

Friday, 13 September 2013

The Stilt Sandpiper.

On Saturday 31 August a Stilt Sandpiper was found on Neumanns Flash in Cheshire where it stayed until Monday when it was spooked by a Sparrowhawk and flew off to Sandbach Flashes staying there until it was last seen on 7 September eight days after it was first found.

Stilt Sandpiper Martin Lofgren 

The Stilt Sandpiper (SS) is a North American wader that breeds in northern Alaska and Canada, and winters in South America, it is a very rare vagrant to the UK, the first of which was recorded in East Yorkshire in 1954. This bird was first seen by two schoolboy birders who were staying at the Spurn Bird Observatory, they found a wader on a marsh which they didn't recognise, but they saw the bird again the following day whilst accompanied by a third party, they alerted more people to the birds presence and by the time it had disappeared several observers had seen it. Along the way it had been suggested that the bird could have been a 'tattler', but a visit was made to the British Museum of Natural History in London where skins were examined, it was concluded that it was an adult SS in full breeding plumage, in due course the record was accepted as the first British occurrence of a Stilt Sandpiper.

It is quite interesting that a SS was found in Cheshire in 1984 - the very same county as this latest one 29 years later - this bird holds the record for the longest staying SS in the UK, it remained in Cheshire for six months. The only record of SS in Lancashire is of a bird at Hundred End on the Ribble in 1967.

The image above of the Stilt Sandpiper was taken at Jamaica Bay, Queens, New York, USA. Many thanks for this Martin it is much appreciated.    

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Same Again Please.

' essential ingredient for inner satisfaction and well-being'....Pete Woodruff Thursday 12 September 2013.  

I was back at Conder Green on Tuesday morning for the same again, raring to go and see if there was anything new around. It was actually pretty quiet, though Conder Pool saw some activity due mainly to 2 Raven juvenile accompanied by c.50 Jackdaw which for some reason were chasing a Black-headed Gull around for several minutes and in the process upsetting a good number of Lapwing, a few Redshank, and everything else on the pool. All of a sudden it all calmed down and they were gone....Excellent Raven Martin, Many Thanks.

Little Grebe Richard Pegler  

Five Little Grebe were on the pool, the sixth bird which joined them on 4 and 5 September seems to have disappeared. I've closely watched these grebes which seem to have an excellent food supply in the pool, they appear to easily catch and feed on lots of small fry. Also noted 5 Snipe, 2 Wigeon, and 8 Teal, a Greenshank and Little Egret were all that could be seen in the creeks with much fresh water still flooding down the Conder....Lovely image of the Little Grebe Richard, Many Thanks.

An increase in number on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock with c.650 Golden Plover, also to note, an adult Mediterranean Gull, estimates of 5,000 Lapwing and 400 Redshank, 4 Wigeon, 2 Goosander, and a Little Egret.

At Cockersands high tide, Plover Scar held a possibly slightly higher number of Dunlin and Ringed Plover than of my last three visits, with 5 Curlew Sandpiper present here today and 4 Turnstone. Two Little Egret flew by me off the headland, 4 Wheatear and c.25 Linnet were noted. An adult Mediterranean Gull was in a freshly slurried field with up to 400 Black-headed Gull and several Common Gull.    

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Birding....Just A Thought!

I don't think KT thought it funny when I suggested, by way of a change I thought I'd get out and do a spot of birding. I was reminded, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit....ah well. I didn't think it funny either as I took my own suggestion very serious and off I went. 

I think this is called birding your patch....

At Conder Green where the River Conder was in spate, much more than I expected, an adult Spotted Redshank and a Greenshank were in the creeks, with 3 Common Sandpiper. On Conder Pool I could only locate 5 Little Grebe which is one down on the two previous visits, 2 Little Egret, 2 Wigeon and a Dunnock noted.

Golden Plover Richard Pegler

Of note on the Lune Estuary a Glasson Dock, 3 Mediterranean Gull were all adult, a Common Sandpiper, c.450 Golden Plover is my best count so far this year, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, and a Little Egret.

I got myself to Plover Scar at Cockersands about 1.5 hours before high tide to find 3 Curlew Sandpiper, a single Sanderling, 4 Turnstone, a Whimbrel, and estimated similar numbers as the previous visit on last Thursday, with at least 350 Dunlin and 250 Ringed Plover. A movement of 20 Wheatear was obvious with three groups of 9/6/5 found in three fields, also noted were 14 Goldfinch, with 8 Tree Sparrow around Bank Houses, 3 Brown Hare seen. 

Turnstone David Cookson 

Whilst watching one of the most appropriately named waders - the Turnstone - I was quite amazed at the size/weight of some of the stones these birds can actually turn, I've never made this observation before at such close range, by the high tide these 600 plus waders were within a few metres of me.

Thanks for the Golden Plover Richard, and for the Turnstone David. 

I never fail to be impressed by photographic skills, and Birds2blog features several photographers who have loads of it, not least of them Noushka Dufort .... 

Aliens on earth!  

Conehead Mantis. Noushka Dufort.

Snouted Grasshopper. Noushka Dufort.

Weird and Wonderful Wildlife....Wonderful Photography. Whatever you do, for the ultimate photographic experience, 'clik the pik'.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

High Noon Birding.

No appropriate photographs for the days birding, but we can start with some colour in the form of....

Ward's Trogon. John Darbyshire.

The Wards' Trogon which J and K saw on their visit to Bhutan, a species to join the seemingly endless list of birds endangered around the world, in this case by habitat loss.  

I managed to escape at lunch time on Thursday and found myself on Plover Scar an hour before high tide. I eventually estimated 600 Dunlin/Ringed Plover at a ratio of 350/250 respectfully, it was good to find 3 Curlew Sandpiper and 3 Sanderling, with 5 Eider off here, also 8 Wheatear and c.35 Goldfinch noted.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was unimpressive though c.180 Golden Plover were of note with 2 Wigeon being the first winter arrivals here and a Little Egret seen. At Conder Green, 3 Spotted Redshank were seen as two adult and a juvenile down the Conder channel again with 2 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, and a solitary Black-tailed Godwit. A Ruff was in the creeks, and on Conder Pool 6 Little Grebe, a Little Egret, and a Snipe. I could see only one of the drake Wigeon on here today, and a Kingfisher was upstream from the road bridge again.

And finally....

Collared Kingfisher. John Darbyshire. 

The Collared Kingfisher seen in Oman, an excellent birding destination. Many thanks for these images from your birding world travels John, they are much appreciated and add some much needed colour to Birds2blog. 

The bird in song is here....

Friday, 6 September 2013

Another Anti Raptor Brigade.

From the point of view....publish far and wide....I was pleased to see this image and some accompanying comments/opinions on a fellow birders blog recently. It's a sticker inside the rear window of a vehicle seen on occasions parked up at the bottom of Aldcliffe Hall Lane by someone either a member of the RPRA (Royal Racing Pigeon Association) or a supporter.

Jon Carter passes similar comments and opinions as I would have done had this been my sighting and subsequent posting on Birds2blog, for that reason there's little need for me to add anything to what has already been said about such misinformed and dangerous anti raptor propaganda. The wording on the poster oozes nonsense and is hilarious whilst worrying, and illustrates how dangerous such people and their mindset really are. Please take a look at one persons view on all of this, hopefully reflecting yours HERE  

A couple of images portraying raptors in the light they should be portrayed in, much more so than the one in the back of 'our friends' vehicle above.

Sparrowhawk Portraits Of Nature 

The brilliant male Sparrowhawk kills to survive....we don't have to. Thanks for this Gary, excellent as always and much appreciated.

Hen Harrier Simon Hawtin 

And the stunning male Hen Harrier which also has to kill to that a problem. Thanks for this Simon - sorry to repeat myself - excellent as always and much appreciated.

By the way....

The Red Grouse/M and S issue hasn't gone away or died a death, trading standards are checking them - and their silence - this space.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Big Bash.

I gave Cockersands a good five hour bashing yesterday giving the area two hours before the tide and three after, including a bit of a wander inland on a lovely calm, sunny, and warm day. 

The results of all this are....

Curlew Sandpiper Brian Rafferty

The first bird I saw was a Peregrine Falcon which had again perched on the railings round the lighthouse, 3 juvenile Curlew Sandpiper were eventually driven close in by the tide and were below the headland just south of Cockersands Abbey with estimates of 200 Dunlin and 250 Ringed Plover, also 2 Whimbrel, and a Sanderling, with 3 Wheatear seen, just 4 Eider were off Plover Scar, and up to 50 Wigeon were a sign of the approaching winter. Thanks for the CS's Brian.

Lesser Whitethroat Arkive

In the fields, hedges and bushes around Bank House Cottage, a Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Whitethroat, a 'few' Tree Sparrow and Goldfinch, 6 Great Tit, 2 Robin, a Wren, 15 Curlew, a Stock Dove, up to 200 Swallow hawking, and 8 Teal in the broad ditch.

At Conder Green I found 2 Spotted Redshank downstream from the old railway bridge with a Greenshank, a Ruff was in the creeks, 6 Little Grebe were an increase on the pool, also a Common Sandpiper and 6 Snipe, the two site faithful drake Wigeon on here have some relatives arrived at Cockersands now. I probably saw 50 Small Tortoiseshell on the day, with 3 Speckled Wood seen at Conder Green.

Spotted Redshank at Conder Green. 

The two Spotted Redshank I saw at Conder Green yesterday were both juvenile, the two birds that have been present in recent weeks have both been adult and with another adult I saw on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock on 30 August five Spotted Redshank are/have been present in the area.

And finally....putting a smile into birding!

Bully Boy and a small group of his large harem were looking a bit menacing as I walked by them on the shingle below. He's a great guy really, I actually think he's brilliant, when you walk by him chilled out on the ground chewing his cud surrounded by cows he just glares at you.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Another Short List....Very Short.

I could use several words to describe yesterdays birding with big effort and little reward, disappointing would be a polite one. To a certain extent it was my fault as I missed both good sides of the tide - coming in and going out - especially in the case of my visit to Cockersands, but here are the results....

I first visited Cockersands in the hope the birds wouldn't have moved to far off on the ebbing tide, but hopes were dashed and there was no more than a 'few' Dunlin and Ringed Plover on the mudflats and a 'few' Turnstones on Plover Scar with 3 Eider off here. Most interest was with c.200 Golden Plover also on Plover Scar, but with camouflage to blend in perfectly with the landscape and something of a howler blowing the optics about like jelly on a plate, anything like an accurate count was beyond my capability. I went nowhere beyond the scar and otherwise noted 3 Wheatear.

Mediterranean Gull Noushka Dufort  

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, the area was almost deserted - just not my day - with 'gulls' barely reaching 100, and hardly a Dunlin, Lapwing, Curlew in sight, and certainly not a Golden Plover to be seen. An adult Mediterranean Gull lifted the gloom, with c.350 Redshank noted. Thanks for the Mediterranean Gull Noushka, much smarter and much closer than mine was today.

At Conder Green, it needed a circuit to find 2 adult Spotted Redshank downstream from the old railway bridge almost round the bend out of sight to the Conder Estuary where there was also a single Common Sandpiper, the redeeming feature about the visit to Conder Green was that Conder Pool now has an increase with 5 Little Grebe.

Adonis Blue Marc Heath  

I saw one butterfly today being a pristine Red Admiral. Thanks to MH for the Adonis Blue, a species of chalk downland - go south young man - I may never see one....excellent as ever Marc. 

Curlew Sandpiper.

Curlew Sandpiper Cockerham Sands 31 August. Copy Permitted.

The autumn influx of Curlew Sandpiper into our area and beyond appears to continue with reports of a peak of 34 seen at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve on 31 August, with double figure counts elsewhere in Lancashire.

Sunday, 1 September 2013


Knot. Jan van de Kam.

The bird in the photograph above is one truly amazing creature, it is one of six sub-species of Knot the rufa which breed in the tundras of Greenland, Europe, and Russia. This species is well known for its lengthy migratory journey which can stretch from the bays of Tierra Del Fuego to the Canadian Arctic where they breed. They attempt this incredible journey in large sections sometimes flying for days without eating or sleeping for up to 5,000 miles in a single stage but do have stopover points where they gorge themselves on local prey. These stopover sites have to be teeming with food or the birds won't be able to pile on enough fat to produce the energy needed for the next leg of their flight.

This bird is one of a group of Knot numbering 850 individuals which were banded at Tierra Del Fuego in 1995 in the hope of discovering why these birds flew so far each year, and in this group a bird was marked as B95, he already was in adult plumage making him at least 3 years old. He was captured 6 years later in 2001, sighted in 2003, and re-captured again in 2007, the last time I heard of him was in May 2012. 

The 4 ounce marathoner B95 has become the most famous shorebird in the world. This bird has been blessed with a string of extraordinary characteristics, those of physical toughness, navigational skills, judgement, and good luck. In his almost 20 years of life 80% of the Knot population has disappeared, but not only has B95 survived, he has flown more than 325,000 miles - the distance to the moon and half way back from it - which earns him the most fitting of nicknames....Moonbird.

Moonbird Phillip Hoose

'B95 can feel it: a stirring in his bones and feathers. It’s time, today is the day he will once again cast himself into the air, spiral upward into the clouds, and bank into the wind'.

There are 117 species of shorebirds native to the Western Hemisphere, some of these shorebirds - including the Knot - are amongst the greatest migratory animals on the planet, worryingly, not a single North American shorebird species is included in the list of 'Not at Risk'.