Birding The Lune Estuary The Forest Of Bowland And Beyond.............................................................................................................HIGH BROWN FRITILLARY STEVE GRAHAM

Friday, 30 October 2015

The Southern Edge And Beyond.

The southern end of our recording area and into the Fylde.

It was a good high 10.30m tide a few minutes after mid-day yesterday, so the best bet was to park up at Pilling Lane Ends and give a bit of decent coverage along the embankment to Fluke Hall, then on to Cockers Dyke along the coastal path....A good decision, and I managed to note 40 species of wader, wildfowl, and a few small land birds.

I made little attempt at counting, though I did put in some effort to estimate up to 300 Grey Plover, 500 Bar-tailed Godwit, and interestingly just one Black-tailed Godwit. Dunlin and Knot were impressive, with smaller numbers of Curlew all viewable from Fluke Hall, and the wildfowl on the sea, high figures of Pintail, Wigeon, Teal, and Shelduck

 Rock Pipit. Pete Woodruff.

The Skylarks were overhead all the way down to Fluke Hall where I found 3 Rock Pipitwith a Pale-bellied Brent Goose on the sea, a scarce visitor to our area which took the award for 'Bird of the Day'. A Little Grebe was on Broadfleet, and a Kestrel on a fence post in this area where I flushed a Snipe.

Pink-footed Geese. Pete Woodruff.

At Fluke Hall, at least 2,000 Pink-footed Geese were in the field behind the parking area at the end Of Fluke Hall Lane. I had nothing of note along the coastal path to Cockers Dyke, but by now had seen 15 Little Egret along the route, and when I arrived I was rewarded by up to 50 Twite with 8 Greenfinch seen.

Wren. Noushka Dufort @ 1000 Pattes 

Three Wren were seen along the path, in and out of the huge sea defence boulders, no one will ever know the number of these birds which have colonised these boulders, I've seen them over the years the entire length of the west coast which I have visited.

The Whooper Swan. 

Whooper Swan Gary Jones  

I made a count of 145 Whooper Swan today, 17 were on the sea off the embankment, 48 off Fluke Hall Lane, and 80 in a field at Fluke Hall.

Thanks to Noushka and Gary for their respective excellent images, they are much appreciated and even more so with a 'clik the pik' hopefully including the P.Woodruff efforts.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Not much life at Cockersands....

....but a gold rush on the Lune Estuary, and another bit of a buzz at Conder Green.

A comment was made to me in an e-mail about the birds of Plover Scar....'I spent two hours down there at high tide and got 6 Turnstone, with 19 Oystercatchers, no Dunlin, no Ringed Plover, no Golden Plover, no Redshank'.

Turnstone. Howard Stockdale.

I also know a birder who turned Cockersands inside out for several days during the migration period, and the 'dead' experience continued for me on Monday when I was on Plover Scar before and up to high tide which held little more than 320 waders, at least 250 of which were Oystercatcher, with 42 Turnstone, a solitary Ringed Plover, and just about a double figure of Redshank and CurlewOff Crook Farm I noted c.90 Dunlin and 14 Black-tailed Godwit.

Wader Mass Brian Rafferty 

Whilst I was on Plover Scar I noticed two separate huge distant 'clouds' of up to a total of 10,000 Knot and Dunlin in the air then down on to Middleton Sands. 

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, up to 2,500 Golden Plover glowed gold in keeping with their name on the opposite side of the river with bright sunlight on wet sands....a brilliant sight. I would never have dreamt not many years ago, that I would see 10 Little Egret together in one view in a low water pool on a river in Lancashire 2015....another brilliant sight. Also noted, a lower number than my last sighting here was of c.250 Common Gull and 2 Great-crested Grebe.

Another bit of a buzz at Conder Green, a Ruff was probably the fifth different individual I've seen here these past few weeks, Monday's bird was a large upright male. Also in the creeks, 24 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, Goosander, and a Rock Pipit. The count on Conder Pool was of 14 Little Grebe.

I saw 4 Red Admiral on the day, including one in our garden, and a small bat species was over and around Gardners Farm as I drove along Moss Lane, not my strong point, but I'd guess probably Pipistrelle.

Thanks to Howard for the Turnstones, a brilliant little wader well up my favourites list, and to Brian for his wader mass seen on one of his many visits to Southport.

Sunday, 25 October 2015


I watched the murky drizzle from the window all day last Wednesday in the hope it might move on for me to get out a didn't. 

Checking out the stats, I discovered the petition to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting is well on it's way to failure with just 12 more weeks to run, having collected a little over a miserable 23,000 signatures out of the minimum requirement of 100,000 needed for the government to consider a debate, and that's seriously worryingSo I did some searching to find out about last years shoots on the English grouse moors.

I've no idea about this years 'sports news', but I did discover in 2014 the tweed brigade found much excitement in realising the numbers of Red Grouse - particularly in Bowland - were judged to be higher than at any time since the 1990's, and the shooting season began with over 800 birds shot in a single beat on a single day on one estate on the 'Glorious Twelfth', this same estate has the distinction of shooting a massive 5,000 Red Grouse in just it's first few shoot days in 2014....yes that's 5,000 Red Grouse shot on one estate

Mark Avery who's quest to save the Hen Harrier had him start the petition to Ban Driven Grouse Shooting, actually doesn't mind grouse shooting and has no opposition to the sport....well he did work for the RSPB. So as I see it, Mr Avery wants to dictate to the shooting fraternity, not to stop shooting Red Grouse, but where, when, and how to do it....there's a joke somewhere there isn't there.

So the summary is....

Mr Avery doesn't mind people getting kicks out of shooting other wild birds, but wants them to stop shooting birds of prey like the Hen Harrier because he thinks they are such brilliant and majestic creatures and - unlike the Red Grouse -  there's not many of them left to stir emotions....Well, there's another joke there too isn't there. 

These 'sportsmen' including their American friends who spend thousands of pounds to come to 'shoot in the best place on earth' as one of them put it recently, won't have any of this dictatorship, and as a result raptor persecution will continue to be the side salad in this whole warped industry.

I signed The Petition ages ago....did you/will you?

For the 'coming in to land' header of the family party of two adult and two immature Whooper Swans....Excellent, and many thanks Gary.

Red Sky On The Black Isle. 

If you have another 12 minutes to spare, you might like to watch and listen to this excellent video on the same subject of raptor persecution.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Birding The Birdless.

River Lune at Glasson Dock 22 October. Pete Woodruff.

I have to say the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock yesterday was a little less than inspiring and comparatively birdless. I was struggling to find just about a four figure number of Lapwing, 150 Golden Plover, 100 Redshank. OK, that might sound like a contradiction to the claim of an estuary that was 'almost birdless', but this is the Lune Estuary, where several thousand winter waders would normally be revealed if a Peregrine Falcon put in an appearance. Yesterday the best bird was the lone Greenshank, I also noted a build up in number of up to 200 Wigeon, the numbers have previously been notably low here this early winter.

Wigeon Martin Jump 

I called back at Glasson Dock an hour later as the tide rushed in and gave it another hour to no avail. Meanwhile at Conder Green, a Spotted Redshank, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, and a Snipe were in the creeks, and a Ruff was with Redshank in the Conder channel from the old railway bridge. Just two swoops of Conder Pool revealed 10 Little Grebe, and c.40 House Sparrow together in the hedges were of note.

                                                             Dunlin Brian Rafferty 

Not a single Dunlin in sight on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock yesterday....where are all the Dunlin. 

Thanks to Martin for the excellent 'we have lift off' Wigeon at an icy Newton Marsh at the beginning of the year in January, and to Brian for his 'bird in a flap' Dunlin. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015


Autumn. Pete Woodruff.

With some stunning autumn colours to be seen from the coastal path yesterday, I set off to leg it from Conder Green to Glasson Dock, and though it was just the one bird, it was my first winter thrush of 2015 which I found as I was watching 5 Long-tailed Tit in a Sycamore, there was this lone Redwing atop of this tall tree before promptly flying off over the marsh.

On the Lune Estuary, up to 350 Common Gull were of note, c.500 Golden Plover were the odd ones out of an otherwise poor show of waders here today, save notably a Greenshank and 3 Snipe, also 4 Goosander, with 2 Great-crested Grebe something of a peak count of this declining offshore species.

Two of the Conder residents were on show, the Spotted Redshank and Common Sandpiper, with 23 Black-tailed Godwit, a Ruff and a Snipe in the creeks where 6 Linnet came down to drink briefly. On Conder Pool, the best of a few attempts to count was 14 Little Grebe, with 4 Wigeon drakes noted. 

Two Wheatear appear to refuse to leave Cockersands where 205 Turnstone on Plover Scar at high tide was an even healthier count than last Fridays 150, with 62 Oystercatcher, 17 Redshank, and 15 Curlew, 26 Shelduck were my only notes offshore.

Autumn. Pete Woodruff. 


Sunday, 18 October 2015

A Flurry At The Green.

Birding on Friday started with a bit of a flurry at Conder Green, within the first 15 minutes I had seen a Green Sandpiper, the wintering Common Sandpiper, a juvenile Ruff, and 12 Black-tailed Godwit all in the creeks, then counted my peak of 18 Little Grebe on Conder Pool, with 4 Wigeon noted.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, although the tide had virtually washed everything away I found the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, it was feeding with c.250 Redshank and 120 Dunlin all hanging on to what little mud was left on the south bank. Barely reaching a double figure for both species, Black-tailed Godwit and Bar-tailed Godwit were distant beyond mouth of the River Conder. On Jeremy Lane, 42 Golden Plover were in a field with up to 200 Lapwing.

Buzzard. Pete Woodruff.

At Cockersands, Mondays Buzzard seen again, and I was able to have a play with my camera trained on it again, it was in the same tree when I returned 2 hours later, having occasionally been seen to fly into the stubble field in which I saw 5 Stock Dove, to return to its perch in the tree. Plover Scar at high tide held just one species of wader apart from a few Redshankwhich was a healthy count of at least 150 Turnstone. I saw 8 Greenfinch on Slack Lane, 2 Wheatear are still around off the headland where I saw just one Silver Y in the cloudy, dull, and cold breezy conditions.

I saw up to 950 Golden Plover over three hours at Cockersands in three groups of around 200/250/500, two groups were seen in flight and coming down into inland fields, the third on the shore below the abbey, but I have no way of being able claim I actually saw 950 individuals.

The Conder Green Sandpiper. 

Green Sandpiper Jan Larsson  

The Green Sandpiper seen at Conder Green on Friday was probably the one first found here 2 months ago on 17 August, and again a month later on 18 September, I've also seen one reported here at least once since that date. Looks like we could be going to have a Green Sandpiper to join it's Common relative to winter on the Lune Estuary at Conder Green.

Thanks to Jan for the Green Sandpipers, and to Bob for the header Redwing, some of which will be heading your way soon - if they have'nt got there already - looking for berries. 

Thursday, 15 October 2015

But First....

....a run south down the A588.

Whooper Swans Brian Rafferty

I saw my first 26 Whooper Swans of the winter yesterday, twenty four off Fluke Hall Lane and two on the marsh off Pilling Lane Ends, c.250 Pink-footed Geese were also on the marsh with vast numbers of distant hazy waders and wildfowl. A spectacle at Fluke Hall was when a Merlin was seen chasing a large number of Dunlin flying at the speed of light low over the sea, 2 Kestrel also seen here, with 3 Red Admiral and a small number of Silver Y. A Buzzard was on a fence post close to Sand Villa.

Little Egret. Pete Woodruff.

This Little Egret was on Conder Pool where I counted 15 Little Grebe, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Ruff and 2 Snipe were in the creeks.

A juvenile Curlew Sandpiper was still on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, with a Spotted Redshank, 72 Black-tailed Godwit, and 7 Snipe seen. On the canal basin I noted a Little Grebe and 16 Tufted Duck.

Greenfinch Warren Baker 

A pair of Greenfinch in our garden on Monday are something of a rarity for us.

Thanks to Brian and Warren for their excellent 'clik the pik' quality photographs.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Keeping The Faith.

Late off the mark again yesterday, I went directly to Cockersands for the high tide to find Plover Scar deserted and immediately recalled 30 minutes earlier I had been advised to 'keep the faith' when I had said Cockersands had fallen flat on it's face for birdlife, including migrant birdlife....sound advice from a sound birder which I've taken. 

Buzzard. Pete Woodruff. 

I saw 2 Buzzard from Cockersands Abbey, one on a spoils heap by Abbey Farm, and one high and soaring distant over Cockerham. On the abbey roof 8 Linnet, a Wren, and one of the 2 Wheatear I saw, a few Meadow Pipit were in a stubble field, with Reed Bunting and Tree Sparrow noted. What 'bush bashing' I did produced nil, and I know of one birder who would'nt disagree with me that autumn 2015 at Cockersands has been a poor one to say the least.    

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 2 Curlew Sandpiper still here, as are c.250 Black-tailed Godwit, with a Spotted Redshank and up to 320 Golden PloverI counted 14 Little Egret here again, a species which bred for the first time in our recording area in 2012, and little surprise they bred at two private sites in 2014, one of which is related to the large numbers now being seen on the Lune Estuary, and which had a peak roost of 43 last year.

A Merlin was seen on Jeremy Lane, and at Conder Green, the latest count on Conder Pool was 14 Little Grebe. I noted 5 Little Egret in the creeks, and saw 2 Ruff with Redshank in the Conder channel downstream from the iron bridge.

The Moth.

Angle Shades. Pete Woodruff.

I found this Angle Shades Phlogophora meticulosa in Lancaster on Sunday. An unmistakable moth, though you would be forgiven for not finding one, having mistaken it at rest with wings folded for a dead leaf. 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Briefly Birding.

Curlew Sandpiper Martin Lofgren  

A juvenile Curlew Sandpiper was feeding alongside a small number of Dunlin and Redshank on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock yesterday, also of note, an adult Mediterranean Gullup to 500 Golden Plover again, Wednesday's c.200 Black-tailed Godwitand the usual large number of Lapwing. A Peregrine Falcon was on Colloway Marsh quietly surveying the larder stock.

Ruff. Howard Stockdale.

At Conder Green, 2 Ruff, an adult Spotted Redshank, a Common Sandpiper, and a Snipe were in the creeks. My count of 16 Little Grebe was back on the mark on Conder Pool where a Kingfisher flew across the width, a drake Wigeon was on the pool, assuming it was the summering bird, was the first time noted since I last saw it on 14 September. A Sparrowhawk was flap-flap-gliding overhead, and a Grey Wagtail was upstream from the A588 road bridge. From the coastal path c.80 Goldfinch and 9 Long-tailed Tit seen.

The Wheatear.

Wheatear Ana Minguez

The Wheatear is one of the first summer visitors we can see on the coast every year, and probably one of the last seen leaving, it is also an easy bird to find, and with little searching required it makes the birders life an easy one, my visits to Cockersands in early spring and late autumn guarantee a Wheatear 'coming and going' every year. 

On my last visit to Cockersands I saw 6 Wheatear still lingering here, though last year a late bird was seen on 10 November at Pilling Lane Ends, but a Wheatear seen at Jubilee Tower in Bowland on 11 November 2011 has the distinction of being the latest Wheatear to be found in Lancashire, a bird obviously not having read the script, and you have to wonder if late individuals like this ever get back to their African winter grounds.

Thanks to Martin, Howard, and Ana for their excellent photographs, and to Antonio for the Bluethroat header. I've only ever seen one Bluethroat, it was found by Dan Haywood 7 years ago at the southern end of Aldcliffe Marsh on 8 April 2008, it was a stunning male of the southern/central European white spotted race cyanecula.   

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Back On The Rails!

Black-tailed Godwit. Noushka Dufort @ 1000-Pattes

It was good to see at least 200 Black-tailed Godwit back on the River Lune at Glasson Dock yesterday, too far off to see and check any markings, but plenty of opportunities in the coming months. Also here, 3 Greenshank, 2 Spotted Redshank, up to 450 Golden Plover, and 2 Great-crested Grebe which were something of a good count here of this offshore declining species.

Void of a circuit at Conder Green, 2 Ruff, a Greenshank, 4 Snipe, and 5 Little Egret all noted in the creeks Despite a few attempts, today's count didn't get beyond 13 Little Grebe on Conder Pool.

Meadow Pipit. Pete Woodruff.

At Cockersands, a wander from Crook Farm - where c.275 Lapwing and 38 Golden Plover were on the shore - along the headland to the Caravan Park produced a few Skylark in the air with probably many dozens in the stubble fields, 6 Wheatear, two of which were with a single Meadow Pipit on the abbey ruins, with at least 150 Linnet flighty around here and Abbey Farm. 

Turnstone. High Tide Plover Scar 5 August. Pete Woodruff.

Way out on Plover Scar at low tide, from the footpath I picked out 18 Turnstone and 9 Knot, with 7 Eider off here, and around the Cocker channel, c.1,500 Lapwing and 7 Little Egret noted.

To Noushka for the BTG image....Many Thanks.

Monday, 5 October 2015


After last Friday's couple of hours freedom, birding and blogging prospects for me look like they've been derailed for a few days. 

Little Grebe Warren Baker

It was early afternoon on Friday when I got out leaving me little time to check out Conder Green where I managed to get my peak count to date of 16 Little Grebe on Conder Pool, also the Common Sandpiper was again on the pool, and in the creeks, 2 Ruff were both juvenile, with 4 Snipe and 5 Little Egret noted.

I'm not acquainted with Bank End at high tide, but I had good reason to go there on Friday where I connected with nothing more than a few RedshankDunlinKnot, and Oystercatcher, probably little more than 500 waders viewable in total.

That's pitifully little birding, and pitifully few birds....but much better than no birding at all.

The Hummingbird-Hawk Moth.
Hummingbird-Hawk moth. Pete Woodruff.

Legging it back to Cockersands from Bank End, this Hummingbird-Hawk moth flew ahead of me, then took rest in the sun on the wall. By coincidence it was in the same area and on the same wall to sun itself as the one I saw here on 18 August last year. I had forgotten that I photographed that individual too, but today's was in better condition than last years as that one had a damaged wing. The Hummingbird-Hawk moth isn't the most attractive of moths particularly when it is at rest, but it's orange-brown hindwings evident in flight add some colour to it.

Thanks to Howard for the header image of the highly underrated Jackdaw, and to Warren for the Little Grebe....much appreciated.

And Finally.

I met this disgruntled up and coming birder one day last week at Cockersands, he had a good old whinge about being told Cockersands was the best place to find a Yellow-browed Warbler and was a bit miffed he hadn't done after several days on the hunt, you can tell he wasn't happy by the photograph of him....I told him he'd been mislead and should make haste to the Heysham/Sunderland area where YBW finders abound!! 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Migrants....What Migrants!

Seek and ye shall find....Didn't work for me yesterday.

I reckoned a walk along the coastal path to Glasson Dock was as good a bet as any for a Yellow -browed Warbler, it took me two hours to crawl along, and crawl back to Conder Green....dream on. But along the way I saw a decent flock of c.80 Goldfinch, a Great TitBlue Tit, and a Robin.

In view from the bowling green along the south side of the estuary, 2 Spotted Redshank were at the Conder mouth, 8 Snipe on the tideline, and Tuesday's c.560 Golden Plover were over on the north side, with well into a four figure number of scattered Lapwing.

Common Sandpiper Antonio Puigg 

At Conder Green, the now probably wintering Common Sandpiper was close to the Conder Pool viewing platform and feeding along the waterline of what is now a lake again following the two recent 10.40m super tides. I counted 13 Little Grebe again, diving and gobbling up the small fry like there was no tomorrow, with 52 Mute Swan having also taken a liking to the pool. In the creeks, a juvenile Ruff, a Snipe, c.70 Teal, and 4 Little Egret.

I also reckoned some scratching under the surface at Cockersands was a good idea for a migrant hunt, the tally says it all....4 Wheatear and a Rock Pipit were along the headland, 3 Swallow were flying around without purpose, a Stock Dove and the local female Kestrel seen again, with another Kestrel over Jeremy Lane.

Migrants....what migrants!  

Garden Spider. Pete Woodruff.

Though I failed to get a decent photograph of it, this Garden Spider Araneus diadematus, which is one of the commonest and largest British spider, has spun a beautiful orb web on the outside of our front room window. The female Garden Spider can grow up to 15mm, they can be found during June - November when the first frosts kill them off.