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

Monday, 29 February 2016

Home On The Range....

....well something like that!

Lesser Black-backed Gull. Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff.

The water level has begun to fall on Conder Pool and the nest boxes can now be seen resting on the island again, ready and waiting for the Common Terns to arrive again this year, though this LBBG and it's mate always seem to show an interest in the island and its boxes, but they never seem to produce any results.

Conder Pool was fairly quiet on Friday, though to contradict that comment, 56 Curlew and 26 Wigeon were of note, with 4 Little Grebe seen. A Spotted Redshank was on the marsh with Redshank escaping the high tide. The Lune Estuary held two excellent counts, with up to 1,000 Black-tailed Godwit and 800 Knot present, 52 Goldeneye were also counted.

At Cockersands, the Whooper Swan herd are still around, and whilst trying to get a reasonable accurate count from a viewpoint behind Lower Bank House, 2 Barn Owl were hunting together again, and in Bank Houses horse paddock I counted 15 Blackbird. As I walked along the headland the Turnstones were all along the stony shore as the tide dropped, and 18 Eider off Plover Scar were the first I've seen here since I saw six almost five months ago on 8 October 2015.

Off Crook Farm, I estimated up to 1,250 waders feeding, broken down to 630 Black-tailed Godwit, 450 Knot, 170 Dunlin, a Grey Plover not unusual as a single, and a Golden Plover most unusual as a single

The Grey Partridge. 

Grey Partridge Geoff Gradwell

It was good to meet Maurice and Barry on Friday, and during the conversation I was asked when I last saw Grey Partridge, a species on the Red List, and declining nationally. I wasn't able to say at the time, but having now searched my records I note the last time I saw GP was 13 May 2014 when I had two birds at Cockersands. I'm not holding my breath for my next sighting.

And finally....

I was pleased to see a Little Stint had been found - Ian Hartley - yesterday, seen on the Lune Estuary from the car park at Conder Green with Dunlin and presumed to be the same bird found in the Cocker channel downstream from the railway bridge Monday 18 January....I'll second that presumption.

Thanks for the Grey Partridge Geoff....excellent. 

Saturday, 27 February 2016

On The Up!

A brilliant calm sunny day on Thursday had me off to Bowland for a better day than my last visit here just over a month ago on 20 January when all I chalked up was a measly seven bird species in 4.5 hours - yes, seven species in 4.5 hours - on the very same trundle as today when I took notes of a slightly better 18 species, this time in 5 hours. So, if you have a good memory, you don't really need pen and paper to write down your sightings on a birding trip to Bowland. 

But my day on Thursday started off in fine style when, as I got to the access track to Hawthornthwaite, a bird whizzed across my path to perch on a fence post, it was a smart male Stonechat about two minutes into my day. As I wandered of up the track I was muttering to myself about wanting to find another one, and about three quarters to the summit, another smart male Stonechatso two winter Stonechat on Hawthornthwaite....nice. 

Pheasant. Noushka Dufort @ 1000-Pattes  

Three Red Grouse and a Pheasant were the only other birds I saw on Hawthornthwaite to add to the list of 18 for the day. 

As I started off from Marshaw to Tower Lodge, one of the two Song Thrush I saw was in excellent voice, the brilliant songster can just be seen as a dot atop of this tall tree and was a delight to hear. The Lapwings are on territory in fields by Marshaw Farm, and a Buzzard was overhead, 6 Mistle Thrush were seen along the way, and 18 Fieldfare were a pleasant surprise. Up the track from Tower Lodge, as seen, a Nuthatch, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldcrest, and a Robin.

But the day went downhill from here, on the weather scene the day went cloudy and dull, and on the bird scene a wander north from Tower Lodge to Trough Bridge and on towards the track to Winfold Fell unbelievably produced not a single bird in two hours save 6 Red Grouse seen at a distance on the fell.

Bringing up the rear for the 18 species on the day....Chaffinch, Starling, and Wood Pigeon, with 6 Mallard on the Marshaw Wyre. Like I pen and paper needed on upland birding.

Thanks for the Pheasant Noushka, and to Warren for the Song Thrush header, both excellent and much appreciated.  

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Here And There....

....but I can't be everywhere!

I was grateful for a text I recieved on Tuesday morning telling me of geese in the Thurnham area. Though I put in my best efforts I did'nt get there until around 11.00am just as they were disturbed to fly off south and out of sight. I returned about four hours later at 3.00pm to find the area deserted. Not my lucky day, there had been 2 White-fronted Geese, and 7 Barnacle Geese with c.4,000 Pink-footed Geese....Pooh! 

I decided on going south to see if I could find any Fylde Fayre that might excite me, and called at Wrampool for my second showing of the male Stonechat there for three months now since 22 November, the bird appeared to be feeding well in the set-aside whilst I was there. By comparison to the usual high numbers seen here recently, little more than 8 Linnet seen today, with a Reed Bunting noted.

Twite. Fluke Hall. Pete Woodruff.

It took a while to find them - I'd been looking in the wrong area - but eventually up to 60 Twite were in the field and hedgerow behind the car park at Fluke Hall, at least 8 Skylark were in the same field, and in the hedge 2 Linnet, a Reed Bunting, Great Tit, and Goldfinch seen.

At high tide wader numbers by usual standards weren't all that impressive off Pilling Lane Ends, though good numbers of 17 species were noted, most notable but uncounted were, Grey Plover, and 2 Snipe, with a few Skylark and Rock Pipit. I scanned c.2,000 Pink-footed Geese a couple of times to find nothing odd amongst them, and heard a Little Grebe whinnying somewhere on the west pool.

A look in on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock on the way back to Lancaster had me note, c.600 Golden Plover, 450 Curlew, 45 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, and 12 Goldeneye.

The Bar-tailed Godwit.

Bar-tailed Godwit Brian Rafferty

The Bar-tailed Godwits have disappeared from the Lune Estuary and beyond. Albeit I made an exceptional count of up to 2,000 two weeks ago on 10 February and two other records made at Glasson Dock barely reaching 100 this winter, I've seen just two birds here on 18 and 23 February, and a single bird at Cockerham Sands 21 February, I don't recall seeing any other reports anywhere....Where are all the Bar-tailed Godwits?

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Nice Work If You Can Get It!

I paid two visits to Conder Green yesterday, the first was at high tide, but the waders were absent from the pool this time, though there was at least 50 Redshank foraging on what was above water on the marsh, they were accompanied by a Spotted Redshank. Conder Pool was playing host to 5 Goosander, a pair of which were mating with the drake 'ducking the duck' as they do, almost to the point of drowning in the process. Also noted, 8 Shelduck7 Tufted Duck5 Wigeon5 Snipe, and 4 Little Grebe. I found the Common Sandpiper in the creeks on my second visit five hours after the firstwith a Kestrel seen.

Redshank. Pete Woodruff.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was unimpressive and wader numbers were unusually low, though c.400 Redshank were close in from the bowling green, and up to 350 Curlew and 95 Black-tailed Godwit were of note. A Merlin and 2 Peregrine Falcon were in quite close proximity to each other on Colloway Marsh, interesting in that the Peregrine will take out the Merlin given the opportunity, c.125 Pink-footed Geese were distant on the marsh. 

In fields off Jeremy and Moss Lane, at least 500 Common Gull, and the herd of c.350 Whooper Swan are still scattered from Moss Lane to Bank End. 

Cockersands was on a 'hard work little pay' day and the cold NW wind was still howling on the exposed headland, but an excellent count on the Cocker Estuary again was of at least 2,500 Curlew on the mud, and 3,500 Wigeon in the channel, with a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit feeding below 15 Cormorant in a line on the bank. I saw 4 Stock Dove, a Kestrel, and the Barn Owl showed once again hunting the rough ground behind Bank Houses.

Black-tailed Godwit.

Black-tailed Godwit. Howard Stockdale.

I found my first marked Black-tailed Godwit this winter at Cockersands last Thursday, they were in a field feeding but unfortunately flew off before I could get much detail. However, I managed to note enough on one leg to tell me the bird had been ringed in Iceland and the team involved, but not enough colour combination on the other leg to identify the individual....better luck next time! 

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Thursday's Notes.

Not much of anything new on Thursday, but was another enjoyable wander around the Lune Estuary.

Most notable on Conder Pool was the count of 52 Wigeon, with just one Little Grebe, 4 Snipe, a Goosander, and a Little Egret. Notes from a circuit were sparse, but the Common Sandpiper was again on the Conder downstream from the railway bridge, and 2 Dunnock seen one of which was in full song. 

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, a distant Spotted Redshank, c.475 Black-tailed Godwit, and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit were the only waders to stand out, with just 40 Goldeneye seen today, a drake Goosander, female Red-breasted Merganser, the most notable wildfowl was a drake Shovelerunusual here, hauled out and resting with the Wigeon.

Off Moss Lane, 7 Bewick's Swan were still in a field by Clarkson's Farm, and the huge estimated 350 Whooper Swan herd was still spread out far and wide all the way towards Bank End. The Barn Owl was out hunting again, initially behind Lower Bank House and then went off in the direction of Abbey Farm hunting the ditches as it went. Up to 900 Black-tailed Godwit were on the shoreline opposite Crook Farm off the point at Sunderland. 

In Abbey Farm fields, up to 700 Golden Plover and 400 Dunlin were with lesser numbers of Redshank and Lapwing, the latter of which are now looking to hold territory in some of the fields, not a good idea at Cockersands....but the Lapwing never seems to learn.

Pink-footed Geese Brian Rafferty  

Off the headland, I saw the spectacle of at least 9,000 probably up to 10,000 Pink-footed Geese in the air over the Cockerham Moss area....I wish I could have heard them, an amazing sight and sound.

The Curlew.  

Curlew Noushka Dufort  

In excess of 2,500 Curlew were in the Cockersand area again on Thursday, with birds seen as at least 900 on Cockerham Sands, 1,300 on the flood and field by Bank End Farm, 200 in fields around Abbey Farm, and 100 seen off Crook Farm.


Bufflehead. Copy Permitted.

A drake Bufflehead was reported - RBA - Saturday morning on the River Wyre near Hambleton. The bird was with Goldeneye, it breeds in North America and is rare to Britain, most records of which are regarded as genuine vagrants.

Thanks to Gary, and to Brian and Noushka for their excellent photographs, they are much appreciated. 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Fylde Fayre.

The Wrampool Stonechat.

Stonechat . Sharon Whitley The Rambling Artist

Any birding day which includes finding a Stonechat is always going to be a good day for me, and Tuesday started well with some nice Fylde bird variety found, including a smart male Stonechat seen at Wrampool. This bird has been here almost three months now, found with a female on 22 November and seen here until 2 January, since when - the female having disappeared - just the male has been frequently seen. AC kindly passed these records on to me, and I note a female found at Winmarleigh Moss quite close to Wrampool last Friday 12 February....the Wrampool female is my bet.

Lesser Redpoll. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery

Also at Wrampool, a flock of flighty finches appeared to all be up to 80 Linnet in and around a set-aside field. At Fluke Hall a Lesser Redpoll was with at least 80 Twite, also 40 Tree Sparrow, 15 Skylark, and 2 Chaffinch in the area. The Twite have been around for several weeks now and I recorded c.130 here on 29 December.

I legged it along the coastal path to Cockers Dyke to find 180 Black-headed Gull, 32 Common Gull, and 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull. Along the way here I had seen Pilling Sands crawling with at least 1,500 Dunlin a good length of the way, also 2 Wren and a Dunnock noted on the sea defences. 

Back on home territory, at Conder Green the resident Spotted Redshank was in the creeks, with 54 Curlew on Conder Pool, accompanied by a single Black-tailed Godwit presumed to be the very same individual I keep locating at Conder Green.

Legging it again from Conder Green to Glasson Dock, I found the Lune Estuary hosting another increase and peak count of 73 Goldeneye, otherwise the area was notably quiet, with c.130 Curlew, and just 45 Black-tailed Godwit of wader note, with a single Red-breasted Merganser seen. The canal basin produced the good record of a male and female Pochard.

Walking back to Conder Green, a Barn Owl flew towards me along the inner edge of the marsh below the footpath, did a u-turn to patrol the rough ground opposite the Caravan Park, then went on to the marsh at Conder Green, to then fly the length of Conder Pool at the back edge, then lost to view....I just hope this bird keeps clear of the very busy A588 and the equally busy B5290 to Glasson Dock which it obviously frequents on its hunting sorties.  

Thanks to Sharon for her painting of the Stonechat, and to Martin for his image of the Redpoll, excellent on both counts.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Mr Blue Sky.

A beautiful day yesterday with barely a cloud in the sky most of the time, cold but brilliant to be about and checkin'em out .

Whooper Swans Brian Rafferty

I'd only been at Conder Green a few minutes when 2 Whooper Swan dropped in on Conder Pool. Although the star birds - SR and CS - were nowhere to be seen, of note on the pool, 4 Little Grebe, 8 Wigeon, a Snipe, 27 Black-headed Gull and 3 Common Gullsprinkling of Redshank, Curlew, and Teal were in the creeks. Thanks for the picture Brian, could have been my two dropping in on Conder Pool....Wonderful stuff.

I legged it to Glasson Dock via the coastal path where a Sparrowhawk flew across ahead of me and on over the marsh. It was low tide with some birds on the Lune Estuary close in from the bowling green, most notably up to 300 Black-tailed Godwit with a few uncounted Bar-tailed Godwit. My count of 47 Goldeneye was down on the last two visits here, but c.600 Wigeon was probably a peak in my records for this section of the river this winter, a Great-crested Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser noted.

From Moss Lane, 7 Bewick's Swan in a field by Clarkson's Farm still, the Whooper Swans were still scattered far and wide from Moss Lane towards Bank End.

Barn Owl. Howard Stockdale.

By way of a change I parked by Cockerham Sands Country Park which turned out a good idea as a Barn Owl was again hunting over the rough field behind Lower Bank House. 

In and around Bank Houses horse paddock, 15 Blackbird, 6 Tree Sparrow, 3 Robin, and a Song Thrush. In the fields beyond the paddock, at least 650 Curlew, and c.25 Twite were very flighty around Cockersand Abbey and Abbey Farm.

Thanks to Howard for the much appreciated and excellent image of the Barn Owl. 

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Same Again Please!

Back doing the rounds again on Friday, for once I tried for some accuracy with gull numbers on Conder Pool and came up with a total of 239 birds, 172 Common Gull, 65 Black-headed Gull, and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull. Also noted on the pool, 3 Goosander and 3 Little Grebe, a Spotted Redshank was in the creeks. On the Lune Estuary, a good count of at least 850 Black-tailed Godwit, and the 56 Goldeneye here today was an increase of two on Wednesdays 54 peak count.

Off Moss Lane, 7 Bewick's Swans were in a field by Clarkson's Farm, the c.350 Whooper Swans had spread out once again, from here all the way south towards Bank End, but I have no reason to suggest they numbered any less than Wednesdays count, a Sparrowhawk was over Slack Lane.

Plover Scar. Cockersand. Pete Woodruff.

By the time I reached Plover Scar c.480 waders were estimated at 200 Oystercatcher, 180 Turnstone, and 120 Knot. But the photograph above a half hour later, shows the Oystercatcher and most of the Knot had departed leaving the Turnstone and a few Knot to move ever closer landward as Plover Scar disappears under the incoming tide. 

Turnstone/Knot. Pete Woodruff.

In the thirty minutes I was on the path towards Bank End 8 Snipe came up off the marsh one of which was a Jack Snipe, 3 Reed Bunting also came off the marsh. Up to 800 Curlew were again on and around the flood north of Bank End Farm, with 4 Little Egret present.

As I came back along the headland, a single Grey Plover was on the shoreline, and the local Buzzard was again in 'the' tree. I had no idea the Buzzard was so persistent in its habits, this bird has been perched in the same tree and even on the same branch on at least six of my visits to Cockersands over recent weeks.

Barn Owl. Gary Jones @  Walksnwildlife

I had the pleasure of watching two Barn Owl hunting together today at Cockersands.

Thanks to Jan for the header Black-tailed Godwits and Spotted Redshank, and to Gary - also on Facebook - for the Barn Owl, much appreciated.     

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Long Time No Birding.

A week out of birding is a long time for me, so it was good to be out again yesterday for the first time since last Wednesday, to take a closer look around the Lune Estuary. I didn't spend too much time at Conder Green and moved no further than the viewing platform at the pool, I wanted to get to Glasson Dock before the tide took over.

On Conder Pool, 6 Little Grebe, 4 Snipe, 2 Goosander, and a few Oystercatcher which were making a commotion piping loudly like spring was here. I called back to Conder Green five hours later to find the Spotted Redshank in the creeks and to have excellent views of a Barn Owl quartering the marsh.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, an impressive c.1,500 Bar-tailed Godwit with a similar number of at least 1,500 Knot. The best count this winter was of 52 Goldeneye which upgraded the count of 34 made on Tuesday 2 February, also 2 Red-breasted Merganser. A Merlin and Peregrine Falcon were hunting the area whilst I was here, and up to 1,250 Pink-footed Geese were on Colloway Marsh. A Great-crested Grebe and 22 Tufted Duck were noted on the canal basin.

From Moss Lane, 7 Bewick's Swan were in a field west of Gardners Farm at SD441543, and c.350 Whooper Swan were more obliging than of late grouped in fields south of Moss Lane, another 5 Whooper Swan were in the field and around the flood south of the Caravan Park, where at least 750 Curlew were seen again, with a single Bar-tailed Godwit, a few uncounted Redshank, 3 Little Egret and a Brown Hare. I could see up to 250 Curlew at Bank End from here roosting over the high tide.

Rock Pipit. Pete Woodruff.

Two Rock Pipit were on the tide wrack, and in and around Bank Houses horse paddock, 7 Blackbird, 6 Tree Sparrow, 2 Greenfinch, 2 Reed Bunting, a Robin, and a Sparrowhawk seen.

Turnstone. Pete Woodruff. 

On the headland, 65 Turnstone, with 2 Knot and a Dunlin had assembled here over the high tide. 

It was good to be back to see the birds of the Lune Estuary again today, with the excellent variety it has to offer, along with some impressive wader counts, and the peak of 52 Goldeneye.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Curlew.

Curlew. Brian Rafferty.

I'm lucky enough to be amongst those who have heard the bubbling call of the Curlew when I've been on the moorlands of Bowland and beyond, a call which stays with you forever once heard. In the Curlews Latin name Numenius arquataNumenius means crescent moon which is the shape of the birds distinctive downturned bill. 

During the winter months, the Curlew can be seen feeding and roosting in large groups in nearby fields and the marshlands of coastal areas, and I got a phone call on Saturday to tell me my notes had been seen on Birds2blog about the numbers of Curlew seen recently in the Cockerham Sands area, with large numbers between 500 - 800 in three visits on and around the flood in the field immediately to the south of Cockerham Sands Country Park. But an impressive count was of at least 2,000 on the mudflats by the Cocker Channel which Brian Rafferty had seen and photographed for himself. 

Curlew. Cocker Channel. 2 Feb. Brian Rafferty.

A 'clik the pik' gives a bigger and better idea of the numbers in the image above, a clear indicator of how the wintering Curlew uses esturine and farmland habitats. 

But this example of the number of birds seen in our area on the Cocker Channel belies the fact that the Curlew is one of our most seriously declining breeding birds which has shown a 46% fall across the UK since the mid-1990's - 2010. The UK holds in excess of a quarter of the European breeding population, but the decline of the species has it listed as globally near-threatened, being one of the few British species on this list, but also on the UK conservation Red List. 

One of the possible reasons listed for this decline is changes in farming practices which has reduced habitat quality....well there's a surprise! But what must also be taken into account, is the amount of disturbance humans like the Commercial Mutt Minder I saw again at Cockersands last week, a mile or more out on to the sands with a dozen mutts unleashed and running wild, disturbing numbers of wildfowl and waders wintering as they do here. This person and his hounds all add to the problems on esturine ecosystems which are under ever increasing pressure from human activities, such as agricultural intensification and developments, another example of which is mechanised cockle dredging in some areas where the Curlew has responded with declines.

The BTO are planning a ground-breaking programme for research to try to understand what conservation actions are needed to help the Curlew recover from the decline. They recently sent me a begging letter for money to fund this programme. I felt an obligation to subscribe, so coughed some up.

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for his images of the Curlews, much appreciated Brian.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Cockersands Fulmar.

A chance meeting with a stranger on Wednesday soon developed into having Cockersands proved to be still securely on the map as one of the prime locations for birds ranging from common to rare quality.

In a conversation struck up with Mike Atkinson I was told of a bird he had seen a couple of hours previous his ID of which he wasn't entirely satisfied. Having explained the circumstances surrounding his find, I asked him to give me some idea where the bird had been seen, and having asked if he would send me a copy of any photographs he had taken of the bird I was off to see what I could find.

Image. Pete Woodruff.

My luck was in and it didn't take too long to locate the bird which - from the distance of the coastal path - appeared to look like a gull squat on the beach beyond the line of shingle. I went down on to the beach, stalked ever closer and started to try my hand at getting a half decent picture which I achieved and is shown above. The bird didn't look at all lively, and had been in this position at least two hours to my knowledge, and made no attempt to move whilst I was present. 

By now I reckoned I was seeing a bird moribund, and not one I ever expected to see at Cockersands. Some factors had now come into play as far as anyone else seeing this bird in daylight today, at 4.15pm the light was fading, the bird could not get to it's feet, and needed at best to try to recover from the storm that had driven it here, I had no intention of disturbing this bird.

Blue Fulmar. Mike Atkinson.

Having looked through my images at home on the computer, I sent off a copy which was then forwarded by the first recipient to two other experienced birders, all of which brought about confirmation of what I had seen, and by now having also seen the excellent and conclusive image from Mike Atkinson, it was blatantly obvious a Blue Fulmar had found itself storm blown and beached at Cockersands in Lancashire on Wednesday 3 February 2016. 

Thanks to Mike for the Fulmar image, and to Barry for the header Little Gull off Cleveleys Promenade.  

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Latest.

Another not very original title!

Didn't look too good at one point on Tuesday, and the 50 mph westerly howler at Cockersands did nothing to make birding an enjoyable experience which was very limited particularly off the headland. The c.600 waders in the Abbey Farm field were impossible to breakdown into numbers, but up to 320 Black-tailed Godwit were good, also Golden Plover, Redshank, Dunlin, and Lapwing present. The c.250 Whooper Swan were still in groups widespread across the fields from Moss Lane through to Bank End, one group had a single Pink-footed Goose accompanying them. An excellent count of up to 2,500 Curlew were on the marsh off the Caravan Park, and in a field off Jeremy Lane, 10 Pink-footed Geese seen.

Wigeon. Pete Woodruff.

No more than c.150 Wigeon were seen from the bowling green at Glasson Dock, with numbers down this winter here I reckon, but 34 Goldeneye is my best count on the Lune Estuary this winter, also noted, 250 Redshank, 50 Dunlin, and 2 Red-breasted Merganser. On the canal basin, only one Goldeneye and the resident Great-crested Grebe of note. 

At Conder Green, 4 Goosander, 6 Little Grebe and 8 Redshank, on Conder Pool, with 15 Lapwing quietly squat on the near island. Quiet in the creeks, with a Spotted Redshank, 10 Redshank, and 4 Curlew.

The Bullfinch.

Bullfinch Geoff Gradwell  

I've had two reports sent to me about a Bullfinch in gardens recently, one from a friend, the other a relation. Both male birds, and both good records, seen in Bowerham, Lancaster, and at Brookhouse, Caton. Thanks for the excellent image Geoff.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Pochard.

Today the Pochard is on the European Red List of Vulnerable Birds, in our recording area it's status is no better than uncommon, and its decline in Lancashire shows no sign of stopping. 

Drake Pochard. Jan Larsson @ Vingspann 

My only records of the Pochard in 2015 were a drake found on Conder Pool - much to my surprise - on 6 February, and two drakes on Blea Tarn Reservoir on 4 November. My best record on the canal basin at Glasson Dock, was of four drakes on 20 January 2014 where winter Pochard could often be seen, but according to my records not since, until I found a drake recently on Monday 18 January. 

I remember making a comment a few years ago to John Bateman, that the Pochard we see in winter always seem to be biased towards the drake, and certainly were with the canal basin birds at Glasson Dock when we saw them there. 

Female Pochard. Kane Brides. 

It is well known that many wintering duck flocks exhibit considerable differences in overall sex ratio, that the male is dominant over the female, and that a greater proportion of the males are found further north. There is an ongoing national decline of the Pochard, and an assessment is being undertaken to collect ratio data which can provide useful information on the population structure of ducks.

Records like the 615 Pochard seen at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve 20 years ago in October 1995, and the 460 Pochard seen at Dockacres in Lancashire 10 years later in October 2005 have been consigned to the history books.

Interesting that 10 Pochard were on Fairhaven Lake, Lytham St Annes yesterday 1 February, were all drakes.

Talking of excellent past records....

Red-breasted Merganser Phil Woollen

Whilst searching through my records for the Pochard, I found one of 50 Red-breasted Merganser which I saw off Sandylands at Morecambe 24 years ago on 21 January 1992, and another of 120 Great-crested Grebe seen off the Stone Jetty also at Morecambe on 14 November 1992. An example of a peak count of the Great-crested Grebe in our recording area today was in a monthly WeBs count of 26 in November 2014. On the excellent records theme, 10 Blackbird were together in our small urban garden in Lancaster last week. 

Thanks to Jan for the drake Pochard, to Kane for the female, and to Phil for the Red-breasted Mergansers....Excellent on all counts.