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

Monday, 30 June 2014

Mediterranean Gulls etc....

....and another prediction result.

Mediterranean Gull Simon Hawtin   

Another compromise yesterday when KT suggested we took a trip to Morecambe. I suggested - well insisted really - we first took a trip to Heysham to watch the tide push the birds ever nearer on Red Nab. The result being 7 Mediterranean Gull seen including one marked 2P96. This is a Heysham ringed bird following its release from being tangled in fishing line on the north harbour wall at Heysham Harbour.

Emperor Dragonfly. Stephen Burch.

A look in at the small pool we passed on our way to Red Nab was rewarded by excellent views of a male Emperor Dragonfly patrolling the pool, whilst we also had excellent views of two female Emperors ovipositing, the only Anax to do so without the male. Also on the pool, a female Broad-bodied Chaser, and a good number of Common Blue Damselflies.

Common Sandpipers at Conder Green.

Common Sandpiper Simon Hawtin

To follow the Spotted Redshank, another Conder Green prediction came to fruition when 15 Common Sandpiper were there yesterday, following comments in my Sunday post that....'The Common Sandpiper at Conder Green will also build to a double figure count over the coming weeks'....obviously should have read 'over the coming days'.

Thanks to Stephen and Simon for the images, always much appreciated.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

A chat, a shank, an orchid, and a warning.

Stonechat Ana Minguez 

Since the beginning of 2014 I've collected 69 individual Stonechat records of wintering, migrating, and some with evidence of breeding birds. Only 7 of the 69 are my own records, a clear indication that in the areas I cover the Stonechat has made little and in some cases no return at all since the harsh winters of 2009/10 and 2010/11, but it is good that these records show that something of the opposite has taken place elsewhere.

Some of these records I have collected from the various local websites, but the majority have been sent in to me all of which I am very grateful. The latest set of records I have recieved were sent to me by a contact who has collated an excellent 36 territories within our recording area and for which I must add my appreciation.

There's no doubt the two harsh winters brought considerable mortality to our resident Stonechats which would bring about the ascendency of the migrant population which will maintain and increase numbers until the sedentary population regains the advantage which usually happens within 3-4 years following prolonged severe spells, and according to the records I'm collecting we're seeing that this is happening now, the irony here being....not in my territory it isn't.

The Shank.

Spotted Redshank Arkive 

The Spotted Redshank I predicted in my last post would soon return to be with the Redshank I counted on Thursday at Conder Green had apparently arrived the following day Friday 27 June, having only been absent from here for a mere eight weeks, and will probably winter here until the end of next April. The Common Sandpiper at Conder Green will also build to a double figure count over the coming weeks too, an area only usually surpassed by the Shard Bridge area for the species count on autumn migration. 

The Orchid.

  Common-spotted Orchid. Pete Woodruff.

On a wander through our local Williamsons Park recently it was good to find a decent show of Common-spotted Orchid on Fenham Carr where a wild meadow has been planted out.

The Warning. 

You've seen my post The Disappearing Act and seen some of my band of excellent photographers images deleted from Birds2blog, so here's the warning. If you keep your pictures in and use Picasa, before you decide to clean up your computer and delete any of the pics you think you no longer need to keep in Google + Photosmake sure you read the following info....

Doing so will remove the album and its photos from all Google products, including Picasa Web Albums, Blogger and others.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Birds2blog With Pictures!!

A little sarcasm creeping in in the title.

Common Sandpiper Martin Jump 

The first sign for me of a returning bird yesterday at Conder Green when I found a Common Sandpiper in the Conder channel downstream from the old railway bridge, though I did see two birds here on 27 May which at the time posed the question....late arrivals or early returners. Also on an otherwise day of 'routine stuff', I noted c.150 Redshank in the creeks - there may be a black one here with them any time soon - 22 Lapwing sought peace and quiet on Conder Pool, with the two resident drake Wigeon, a 'few' Tufted Duck, and three healthy looking young Oystercatcher. A quiet circuit produced 3 Reed Bunting, some House Martin activity around the Cafe d' Lune where I still don't like the look of scaffolding with ladders pointing towards one nest, and a Little Egret on the marsh. 

On the quiet Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 16 Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Little Egret. Geese were represented by 17 Canada Geese, 5 Greylag, and 5 Pink-footed Geese which took me by surprise as an unusual late June record.

Grey Plover Brian Rafferty 

With nothing to write home about at Cockersands, I was spurred on by thoughts of 'just got to keep on looking'. I found 3 Grey Plover as a pleasant surprise and seen as non breeding first year birds accompanied by up to 140 Oystercatcher. Three Great-crested Grebe were off Plover Scar, 4 Wigeon were of note in the Cocker Channel, a 'few ' Tree Sparrow and House Martin were around Bank Houses, a recently fledged Chaffinch came out of and fluttered itself along the hedgerow, at least one Skylark continues to flight song here, a Snipe by a ditch in the field, and 2 Whitethroat, one of which is almost certainly nesting in the lighthouse cottage garden, and several Swift moving south during the visit.

Meadow Brown Urban Butterfly Garden

Two female Meadow Brown were the only butterflies of note save the few reliable 'whites' seen.

Thanks to Martin/Brian/Urban Butterfly Garden for the images, excellent and much appreciated.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014






Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Tale Of The Flycatcher.

Spotted Flycatcher Brian Rafferty 

On my way home from a thoroughly enjoyable days birding in Bowland on Tuesday 17 June, the last call I made was at a church near Abbeystead. This country church must have one of the most breath taking views of any other church in the land, and from its door in the porch you can take in the beauty of the Bowland Fells around Hawthornthwaite and beyond.

Though not for a few years now, this church in the past had a thriving House Martin colony, I once counted up to sixteen nests around the church, built on both sides of the building. The church also has an almost guaranteed pair of Spotted Flycatcher breeding here annually, so whilst it wasn't much of a surprise for me to find them back here today, the sight of a bird in the trees by the bungalow associated with the church was no less exciting than ever for me....I love the Spotted Flycatcher, but little did I know the next surprise was waiting for me at the front of the church.

As I stood at the back of the graveyard to see if any House Martins were present here this year, I started to approach the porch and got within a few metres to glimpse a bird staring at me inside the porch which in an instant took to flight and into a tree close by. Putting my binoculars on to the tree I soon picked up the bird which to my surprise - amazement even - was a Spotted Flycatcher, this bird was nesting in a bowl at the top of a small pillar by the left of the church door inside this small porch. I had no intention of causing this bird anymore stress or disturbance and left immediately.

It was now a duty for me to alert the vicar of this church about my discovery, so that I could inform of the importance of trying to give this bird the protection it was entitled to particularly as a declining species so as to offer it the best chance of a successful conclusion to its choice of unusual breeding location in the small porch of a country church. I left a message for the vicar at the vicarage which is in another village, with a friendly being who was obviously interested in what I had to say, giving them my telephone number and e-mail address. I am to say the least rather disappointed one week later to have heard nothing from the vicar though I expected otherwise. 

I passed all this info on to a fellow birder who I knew would be interested, he duly visited the church a few days later to report to me that there was no sign of either the Spotted Flycatcher or the nest, though I understand some material was found on the floor which 'could' have been a part of the nest.

So in the end....positive thinking, we can only hope that the birds had fledged before my contact visited. But I'm left with a 'niggle' about never knowing what really did happen to the Spotted Flycatcher at this church, and I ponder....why would the House Martins abandon such a healthy breeding colony of sixteen nests at a quiet lonely little country church.

The Rutland Water Ospreys. 

Osprey. Richard Peglar.

Re the above image of the Osprey on the nest at Rutland Water which was posted on Birds2blog recently. Richard - who gives his time as a volunteer for the Osprey Watch at Rutland Water - quite rightly commented to me about the photograph, and it is only right I should post his comments here.... 

....'Please can I mention that the Osprey image was a screen-grab from the nest-cam that I took whilst on duty there. I'd hate anyone to think that I'd been anywhere near an Osprey on a nest, as it would not only be unacceptable but totally illegal too as this is a Schedule 1 protected bird which is one of the reasons that we closely monitor them round the clock when they're breeding'.   

Sunday, 22 June 2014

To The Hills....What Again!

On Friday I locked up the motor at Quernmore Village crossroads and returned 5.5 hours later having done my six miles birding hike on Clougha and Birk Bank. 

Despite lots of records being kindly sent in to me that the Stonechat is being found here there and sounds like everywhere, I've concluded that they have not yet returned to what was formerly a stronghold in our recording area in North Lancashire, and found not a single bird again today. Pretty sad that with regard to the Stonechat at least, there will be no purpose in my going up Clougha and Birk Bank for yet another year.

Walking up Rigg Lane on the way to Clougha, I spotted a Curlew stood on a wall and immediately thought there might be a young bird around, sure enough there was a well grown young Curlew, a pleasant sight. Later I collected another excellent record of 8 Red Grouse which were seen as a pair with two young, three young apparently unaccompanied, and later a lone adult, a juvenile Robin completed a trio of young birds seen on the day.

Another two interesting sightings were those of c.200 'corvids' in the air over Birk Bank, predominantly Rook but with Carrion Crow, and at least 20 Mistle Thrush also over and on Birk Bank, both these flocks were seen as post-breeding assemblies. Also to note, 16 Meadow Pipit, 3 Swift were over Clougha summit, 2 Kestrel, with a Willow Warbler and Blackcap in the car park.

Butterflies and Dragonflies. 

Small Copper Warren Baker 

I saw one Small Copper and 5 Small Heath butterflies today. Thank you for the pictures Warren.

Birk Bank Cotton-grass.Pete Woodruff.

The bog below Birk Bank was covered in Cotton-grass, possibly the best show I've ever seen here, and with the sun now at full strength I paid a return visit 4.5 hours after I had passed by on the way to Clougha, and found some dragonflies which were never came close, whizzing around, and were intent on never settling, all to make life difficult for me though I noted they all appeared to be of the same species.

Marc Heath Wildlife Photography: Chasers &emdash; Four Spotted Chaser - Highstead 
Four-spotted Chaser Marc Heath  

I took what notes I could in the circumstances, later studied the reference book, and - void of any chance of me seeing the spots - decided they were at least 20 Four-spotted Chasers. Thank you for the picture Marc.  

Friday, 20 June 2014

All Quiet....

....on the coastal front.

I was back at Conder Green yesterday to find Conder Pool not unexpectedly quiet, noting 23 Lapwing with at least three juvenile, and Oystercatchers with three young, and the 2 Wigeon drake. A Lesser Whitethroat was again skulking in the hedgerow west of the pool, and both River Winds and Cafe d' Lune have just two House Martin nests each this year, though worryingly the latter has scaffolding erected up to within a few metres of one of the nests since I was last here. The Lune Estuary was equally quiet with 4 Eider hauled out, and 3 Little Egret.

On Moss Lane a Whitethroat in song again and at Cockersands, 3 Little Egret were in the Cocker Channel, 3-4 House Martin were unusual around Bank Houses though not nesting at the farm to my knowledge, a 'few' Tree Sparrow were with 15 House Sparrow in a bush by Bank House Cottage, 4 Goldfinch noted, with a Skylark in flight song.

An altogether quiet few birding hours.

Small Skipper Phillip Tomkinson 

With the exception of two other brief butterflies elsewhere which escaped me, 2 Small Skipper at Conder Green were the only ones seen. Thanks to PT for the image.

The Foulshaw Ospreys.

Osprey Richard Pegler 

The Ospreys at Foulshaw Moss now have two chicks in the nest, an excellent piece of local news. 

Richard Pegler offers his services as a volunteer for the Osprey Watch at Rutland Water in the East Midlands. Great stuff Richard, and thank you for the image of Maya, one of the famous Rutland Water Ospreys 

Thursday, 19 June 2014


In general a decent day in Bowland on Tuesday, with my first visit to Harrisend Fell since 11 April. 

After two hours here I was beginning to think I was going to have another blank with the species again, but eventually I did find a pair of Stonechat which gave me the enthusiasm needed to continue the search, though a pity no evidence of breeding seen.

Reed Bunting. Howard Stockdale. 

Also of the 13 species noted on Harrisend, a pair of Reed Bunting, 13 Meadow Pipit, 6 Willow Warbler, 2 Goldfinch on thistle seeds, with 2 Swift and a Buzzard over.

A couple of hours on Hawthornthwaite Fell produced another pair of Stonechat, almost certainly the same pair seen here 12 March and 11 April, although as at Harrisend no evidence of any breeding.

Sand Martin Colony. Pete Woodruff.  

Although a 'few' Sand Martin were in the air, in the time I allowed myself here I had no evidence of any approaching this small bank which I was surprised to find about 5 years ago off the track up Hawthornthwaite which they had colonised, there are twelve nest holes - some old - to be seen but not obvious in the photograph.

Eleven species here, notable being, 14 Meadow Pipit, and 4 Wren, one of which appeared to be nest site hunting and moving around with a feather in its bill the size of itself, 3 Buzzard were soaring together overhead.

Calling in at Stoops Bridge in Abbeystead on the way back to Lancaster I heard a singing Garden Warbler, this bird was singing in the same area when I came here on 6 May. Also noted, a Grey Wagtail and a Song Thrush. A little further up the road, the reward of visiting Christ Church was that of 2 Spotted Flycatcher, one at the church, and one at the bungalow, also of note a Mistle Thrush.

Small Heath Warren Baker 

The only butterfly species of the day was 4 Small Heath on Harrisend, with one seen on Hawthornthwaite.

Marc Heath Wildlife Photography: Golden ringed Dragonfly &emdash; Golden ringed Dragonfly - Sissinghurst
Golden-ringed Dragonfly Marc Heath  

And the only dragonfly of the day was the large Golden-ringed Dragonfly on Hawthornthwaite, my first dragon this year.

 Speckled Wood. C.Woodruff (Mobile).

This Speckled Wood visited our garden recently and took a liking to the African Daisy osteospermum.

Thanks to Warren and Marc for the butterfly/dragonfly photographs, and to Howard for the Reed Buntings at Jeremy Lane on 31 May obviously feeding young in the nest....All excellent images and much appreciated.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

The Final.

No....not the World Cup Final, in any case I have it on good authority the return flight to England has already been booked to follow the next match.

Pied Flycatcher Brian Rafferty

But yesterday was probably 'The Final' visit to Barbondale for me this year, primarily to see the result of the breeding season for the Pied Flycatcher, of which there was four pairs which produced 23 young, only four of which have yet to fledge to have 2014 as the best year yet at Barbondale.

Redstart Antonio Puigg  

I also found two active Redstart nests, both of which were 12ft up a tree and were from sightings of six birds. Six Willow Warbler were quite vocal, a Dipper and up to 6 Grey Wagtail were on Barbon Beck, and a Buzzard soared above. 

Noticeably, despite spending 5 hours in the area I found no Spotted Flycatcher, Wheatear, or Tree Pipit.

Thanks to BR/AP for the images, 'clik the pik' and see how good they really are.   

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Petition.

I just took a look in on the progress of the petition to 'Ban Driven Grouse Shooting In England' and was pretty disappointed to find only 4,152 have already signed. 

OK this petition runs for twelve months, but I asked myself....where are all the one million plus RSPB members who I presume are all 'bird lovers' and are surely all aware of the issues surrounding illegal bird persecution which is now completely out of control on our grouse moors. I'm quite sure a fair percentage of these RSPB members are not in the least concerned about most of the activities in and around the shooting industry, and don't actually oppose the 'sport', but surely all of them are not prepared to tolorate the killing any longer in the name of protection of a gamebird and those who shoot how come such a shortfall in signatures.   

Grouse shooters would have you believe such utter nonsense that the uplands would be concreted over if the money from grouse shooting went away. In England, almost every grouse moor is designated for its nature conservation interest, and there are lots of things you just cannot do on such land, they include planting conifers all over the moors, putting wind turbines all over, and overgrazing. 

In a nutshell....
Shooting is a ‘sport’ - in this case grouse shooting - that is mostly available to the rich with nothing better to do than to kill wild animals for fun. It’s a minority interest, and for me personally isn't acceptable under any circumstances. Sadly this view is not shared by everyone, and that includes some people who share the same interest - passion even - in birds as me. But these 'Guardians of the Countryside' are intent on getting rid of anything by any means that gets in the way of their interests, and eliminating the Hen Harrier in England has almost been successful for them.

Give a little thought to signing This Petition....but if you are a regular follower of Birds2blog, my bet is that you've already done so. 

I'd sooner be birding!....and have some to do this week hopefully.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Out For The Count.

Out in the Marshaw-Tower Lodge-Trough Bridge area yesterday, well past the time I should take a look at what's going on or not going on here.

Pied Flycatcher. Brian Rafferty.

Nothing excellent to report, but some half decent records collected with 25 species seen, including 3 Pied Flycatcher, with a pair attending a nest, and a lone female seen 10 minutes later, unless they wander further than I thought they did on food sorties in which case possibly the female of the breeding pair.

Spotted Flycatcher. Brian Rafferty. 

Also 5 Spotted Flycatcher seen as two pair attending nests and a lone bird. An average number of the species over the past couple of years in this area, but ten found in 2011. Two Common Sandpiper one of which I thought came off a nest though I failed to find one, 4 Willow Warbler, up to 12 Grey Wagtail, a Dipper, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, 6 Mistle Thrush, 5 Wren, 4 House Martin, 3 Robin two of which were young, and 2 Coal Tit

I got a distinct feeling the Redstart is in short supply in this area this year, short enough for me to have found not a single bird on my visit here yesterday. 

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for the brilliant Pied and Spotted Flycatcher images, both must see with 'clik the pik'.

And finally, I thought you may be interested in this from Greenpeace....

Hi Pete

Great news, Jewson the builders’ merchant has cleared its stores of Amazon timber!

Most logging in the Amazon rainforest is illegal, yet they were selling garden decking made from rare Amazon trees. But Jewson’s top managers came to Greenpeace HQ to meet us. We presented the 81,345 signature petition along with our dossier of evidence. Faced with this, they agreed to freeze all sales of Amazon timber.

But we’re not quite out of the woods yet because Jewson says that if its investigation clears its suppliers, they might keep on using Amazon rainforest trees to make posh decking. But we know that shouldn't happen, because Jewson is buying its decking from real crooks.

Jewson’s suppliers have £2 million in fines for illegal logging and forest destruction and one trashed a massive chunk of national park. Both have multiple convictions for faking papers, the very papers Jewson said proved its timber was legitimate.

With so many of us up in arms about its links to criminal loggers, Jewson had no choice but to stop selling this suspect timber while it works out what it has got itself into.

There’s no way that we’re going to let Jewson start selling dodgy decking again. So let’s keep up the pressure on them, and on other timber companies that are gambling with the Amazon’s future.  

Thursday, 12 June 2014

A Rake Around The Green....

....and a look in at Glasson Dock and Cockersands.

Little Grebe Phillip Tomkinson 

Something of a surprise on Conder Pool on Tuesday when a few minutes after I arrived there, from behind the island up pops a brilliant summer plumage Little Grebe. I don't recall seeing a Little Grebe on Conder Pool before during the breeding season, but must check my records on that claim. The pool was otherwise very quiet, the two summering Wigeon, and 8 Redshank roosting, with another Redshank in the creeks displaying to a female, and an Oystercatcher close by with one young. A Lesser Whitethroat was working its way along the hedgerow between the viewing platform and the west end of the pool. The Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, and Dunnock were all in the same area that I saw them last Tuesday when they were all singing in the same bush, I reckon these three are all breeding close by. The Lune Estuary was unsurprisingly quiet with the number now down to 14 Bar-tailed Godwit, and 5 Eider noted.

Whitethroat. Howard Stockdale.

A Whitethroat was in song along Moss Lane on the way to Cockersands which turned out to be something of a 'damp squid' and I was rewarded with little for my efforts. Mr Mutt was out on Plover Scar with his unleashed half a dozen charges, though the tide was out this guy and hounds would have disturbed anything and everything. Though I went through my traditional routine, the best I achieved was 2 Sedge Warbler, 3 Linnet, 3 Tree Sparrow - one of which was a fledged young - and a Skylark.

Two more excellent images on Birds2blog, thanks to Phillip for the Little Grebe, and to Howard for the young Whitethroat, which I reckon is a fledged offspring of the very bird I saw singing atop of a bush on Moss Lane today.

And finally, some interesting news....

One of this years Cuckoos tagged in the New Forest has already departed the country on its return journey to Africa and was in northern France by 8 June.....

And some even more interesting news, is that of three active Hen Harrier nests in England two of which are in Bowland....ALLELUIA.

And the Osprey is nesting at Foulshaw Moss.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Pipit And The Chats.

A few notes based on my observations in the Forest of Bowland last Friday 6 June and earlier on the Hareden/Langden circuit on 21 May.

The Meadow Pipit.

Meadow Pipit Martin Lofgren

In Clifford Oakes book The Birds of Lancashire first published in 1953, a comment he makes regarding the Meadow Pipit and the Cuckoo is....'The species is a favourite dupe of the Cuckoo, and is so pestered by it in some areas, that in seasons when the Cuckoo is plentiful, there appears to be as many of them as there are Meadow Pipits' amazing claim about Cuckoo numbers made a little over 60 years ago. 

Last Friday in the Cross of Greet area I counted 62 Meadow Pipit. Whilst trying to account for duplicate counting and quite a few I overlooked adding to my list, plus quite a few more which undoubtedly missed my attention, I probably should have recorded 120 which represented at least one Meadow Pipit in my sights for the entire walk over two hours from the top of the drop down to Greet Bridge.

The Meadow Pipit is the most common pipit in western Europe, and as my observations showed last week it is a familiar sight in the uplands during the breeding season. There has been little overall change in the number of occupied 10-km squares since the 1968-72 Breeding Atlas, but since the 1970's there has been a steady population decline in the UK, a decline consistent with a decrease across Europe since 1980, being linked to a deterioration of conditions on the Iberian wintering grounds where many birds from GB winter, but last Fridays experience didn't indicate any decline to me on this occasion at least.

The Whinchat. 

Whinchat David Cookson

In Oakes book again, this time he makes another amazing comment regarding the Whinchat in which he claims it to be....'much more common than the Stonechat'. But today's account of the Whinchat makes for pretty depressing reading as was a personal account following my own experience last week in Bowland.

Whinchat numbers in Britain more than halved between 1995 and 2008, and inorthern England the Whinchat is increasingly confined to the upland margins, and densities are much lower here than anywhere else in Britain. A survey focusing on Whinchat populations found a 95% decline in abundance, and losses of the Whinchat have already been recorded in central and south east England, with further losses in the lowland and upland fringes, little wonder I found none in a seven hour serious search for them in the Cross of Greet/Bloe Greet area last week, and none in the same length of time in Hareden/Langden on 21 May. 

An interesting record of 31 years ago in the 1983 LDBWS Annual Report - which doesn't seem to make things sound much better for the Whinchat even then - and reads....The Whinchat is seen to be loosing ground with only 8 pairs found this year in Bowland. 

Stonechat. Howard Stockdale.

These two visits to Bowland produced an excellent 18 Stonechat which included evidence of five breeding successes, and represents a comeback to the uplands of Bowland for the species in the areas I observe.

Thanks to Martin and David for the excellent Meadow Pipit and Whinchat images, and to Howard for the brilliant Stonechat youngster, all much appreciated. 

Sunday, 8 June 2014


Stonechat. Howard Stockdale.

Seven hours in Bowland on Friday, exactly one year since my last visit to the Cross of Greet/White Greet/Bloe Greet area where I was more than a little pleased to find 9 Stonechat, with evidence of three breeding successes, including three juvenile with a male at White Greet on the wall running down from the cattle grid. It is interesting to note, that of the multitude of Stonechat sightings Iv'e had over the years at upland locations in Bowland, this one is a particular area noted in my records as more consistent than any other. Another interesting observation today was of two juvenile Stonechat together seen chasing a dragonfly.

Meadow Pipit Simon Hawtin  

I counted an abundance of at least 62 Meadow Pipit on the three mile drop down from the top cattle grid to Greet Bridge and the skirting of Bloe Greet. 

Spotted Flycatcher. Warren Baker.

At the plantation at Greet Bridge whilst looking for a Cuckoo which I heard close by I found a Spotted Flycatchersaw 3 Willow Warblerand heard a Song Thrush.

Also on the day, a disappointing low count of 4 Wheatear, also 3 Reed Bunting were all male, 2 Skylark, and 2 Greylag on a mission flew high and purposefully north. A Buzzard over was the only raptor I saw all day.


On The Rocks. Pete Woodruff.

More sheep than birds in Bowland today, but take a look at the habitat in the picture above, perfect for Whinchat, but not a one to be found in seven hours and as many miles of searching. Compare this to past Whinchat records I've collected in the same area as today....15 including 4 young on 29 June 2009, 10 on 21 May 2010.

Thanks to Howard/Simon/Warren, brilliant birds, brilliant photography....To see 'em big time 'clik the pik'.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

License To Kill.

The Buzzard is a fully protected bird of prey, and whilst it is now on the Green List and regarded as the most common and widespread of all our raptors, it is still recovering from sustained historical persecution, which saw the bird lose much of its UK population and range.  Yet Natural England as the UK Government's nature conservation agency, is again considering a licence application to trap and shoot Buzzards to protect young Pheasants.   

A new application has been made to cage-trap and shoot Buzzards across four sites to prevent 'serious damage' to Pheasant poults. The same applicant is known to have sought licences to control Buzzards in previous years even though they have - and there is - no convincing evidence to justify issuing licences for the control of Buzzards in the name of protection for game-birds. 

But surely there are a variety of ways to prevent young Pheasants being killed by anything. Can't these people create cover for the gamebirds, or install other safe deterrents to keep predators away. Defra should be called upon to give clear guidance to Natural England to reject all licences to control Buzzards by a means that can only be described as wildlife crime....Are Natural England really considering granting a license for that. 

Last year Natural England granted licences to control Buzzards at a chicken farm, and at a Pheasant shoot, the first time such licences had been issued....'Unnatural England' as far as I'm concerned. But I hope they are going to reject this application to play their part in the protection of our birds of prey as opposed to granting permission to kill them.

The RSPB are well aware of this application and the sites involved, perhaps they should publish this to give birders like you and me a clear understanding of where these people are actively operating within the shooting business so that we can at least be alert to the dangers of illegal activities including killing wild and protected birds.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Squeeze.

I managed to squeeze in couple of hours birding yesterday before undertaking the return trip back to Lancaster from the airport in the afternoon. 

Avocet David Cookson

I collected three excellent records at Conder Green, the first was on Conder Pool which was hosting a first record of 2 Avocet, but they soon decided to depart and flew off towards Glasson Dock and the Lune Estuary, but I couldn't find them when I visited there around a half hour later where I noted just 12 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Little Egret.

Dunnock Bob Bushell  

The second good sighting was of a Whitethroat, a Sedge Warbler, and a Dunnock, all singing in the same bush within a few metres of each other.    

Redshank Martin Jump 

But by far the best and most interesting of the three sightings was that of a pair of Redshank seen shepherding four young across a section of the Conder creeks only to be turned back by two aggressive Oystercatchers with loud vocals from all four adult birds. But a pleasing sight to see the success so far of breeding Redshank at Conder Green, I'm hoping they can reach to fledging.

With just an hour to spare I checked out Plover Scar at Cockersands up to high tide, but found no more than c.100 waders, being 60 Dunlin and 40 Ringed Plover. A Whitethroat was in song around Lighthouse Cottage.

Thanks to DC for the Avocet image with a difference, to BB for the excellent Dunnock, and to MJ for the brilliant young Redshank.