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

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Cockersand Scores Again.

I gave in to the wet and windy weather again yesterday which was a blueprint of the day before, and was sat wasting my life away looking at a computer screen when, at 12.51pm my pager went 'ping-ping' to alert me to a text message. The instant I saw the name attached to the message I knew there was a 99% possibility I was going to be shooting off birding and probably to Cockersand. I was right, I was indeed off birding, and it was to Cockersand....I'm a liar....I'm a twitcher after all.

As I headed towards Cockerham Sands along Moss Lane, I could see no sign of anyone on the headland, I had expected to see a silhouette on the skyline, and thought I knew the whereabouts of this bird, pessimism kicked in, the bird has gone. 

But I was wrong again, as I got on the footpath, there was this figure way out on the shore with eyes to the scope. I went out to be immediately put on to a smart adult American Golden Plover settled down with a group of European Golden Plover excellent for detailed comparison.

American Golden Plover/European Golden Plover. Cockersand 28 Sept. Stuart Piner.

The bird stayed in this spot some time, but later flew north to be relocated on the appropriately named Plover Scar, home to many a good and rare bird. 

Past recent records of AGP at Cockersand....

19  Nov 2008
  4  Nov 2011
5/6 Sep 2012  An AGP was reported at 2.15pm on 6 Sept on the Lune Estuary at Glasson.

I was grateful to Stuart Piner for alerting me to this brilliant bird, and for the images he has since sent me.

And a few others yesterday.

I called in at Glasson Dock to look over the Lune Estuary, but it was back down to earth now, and things were pretty quiet here, with comparatively few gulls, and low numbers of waders which included 2 Greenshank

On Conder Pool, a single scan gave me a count of 11 Little Grebe, with 24 Teal noted, and at least 50 Swallow moving through and lingering over the pool. In the creeks, the Common Sandpiper, with a Red Admiral and Silver Y moth seen. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Birding....It's A Legal High!

After another five days off the road, I was keen to get out birding again on Tuesday, but not keen enough - sad not mad - to do so in the rain that came down until it cleared in the early afternoon, when it gave me time to at least check out Conder Green and the Lune Estuary.

Little Egret. Lune Estuary 27 September. Pete Woodruff.

Conder Pool created little enthusiasm being virtually deserted, though 15 Little Grebe were noted after the customary multi-counts. In the creeks, 32 Teal, similar Redshank, 3 Goosander, and 4 Little Egret, 'the' Common Sandpiper was down by the bridge, it appeared to have a couple of primaries missing, I saw 3 Red Admiral on the coastal path. 

Greenshank/Redshank. Lune Estuary 27 September. Pete Woodruff.

On the Lune Estuary from the bowling green, I enjoyed probing into the weed covered stony areas surrounded by pools at low tide where I found 6 Greenshank amongst the Redshank, Lapwing, and Curlew, with last Thursdays Avocet still here, initially at the mouth of the Conder with a single Bar-tailed Godwit and Snipe. The surprise was 2 Ringed Plover, at best irregular on the estuary here, a Goosander and 9 Little Egret noted, c.350 Common Gull were predominant in the gull count of no more than 400 in view across the river.  

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Shanks & Chats.

The Shanks.

There have been good numbers of Greenshank seen recently on the Eric Morecambe complex at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve, the best count being Sunday when 22 were reported, but there have been double figure counts there recently prior to this one. 

Greenshank. Brian Rafferty.

Brian took this shot of the Greenshank with the result of a successful strike in it's bill. When inspected closely whilst looking through his photographs of the day at Leighton Moss, Brian discovered the bird had taken what looked like a squid, it's small, so maybe a young squid. I was interested, not so much that the Greenshank had taken it as a food item, but what the item was and where it was found. 

I discovered that the squid is in fact found in the Irish Sea, one fishing expert says they can be found in the shrimping nets in Morecambe Bay. The fact that this mollusc had been found at Leighton Moss on the marsh pools was brought about by being stranded there having been taken in on the high 10m plus tides which flood the marshes here. 

The Chats.

Stonechat. Richard Pegler.

I appreciated the record of 11 Stonechat being sent in to me, seen at Bloe Greet in Bowland on Sunday....Great stuff, excellent sighting, many thanks JW. 

Thanks to BR for the Greenshank, and to RP for the Stonechat....I'm grateful for both, they add some required gloss to Birds2blog.  

Monday, 26 September 2016

Land Management!

Fluke Hall-Knott End Coastal Path

When I got to Fluke Hall last Monday I was disappointed to find the inland side of the coastal path had been cut down presumably all the way to Knott End c.3 miles away, bad enough it had been cut, but the big question is....when and how long ago? 

This is excellent butterfly habitat, personal past records include 12 Clouded Yellow in 30 minutes on this very path on 7 August 2006, and more recently, 9 species of butterflies with at least 200 individuals seen in 1.5 miles along this coastal path to Cockers Dyke on 12 August last year.

OK, we're  talking late September here, and the records above were in August, and the Clouded Yellow record 10 years ago, but that's not the point, there are still plenty of butterflies around this year, and provided the weather and nectar sources last they can be around until October and maybe longer if the weather remains favourable.

Wall Brown. Pete Woodruff.

This coastal path was also a stronghold for the Wall Brown, a butterfly species I've not seen since my last sighting 5 years ago, this one at another butterfly hotspot at Pilling Lane Ends on 2 September 2011.

In some cases it seems councils are too keen to put the 'Keep Britain Tidy' plan into action and have verges and paths mown far too soon. But in the positive, I'm aware of a local issue where a site meeting was arranged, the result being that mowing is now in place on a twice a year instead of the previous multi-mow regime, and in excess of 100 spikes of Common-spotted Orchid are now a testament to the success of this change in mowing practices.

Many thanks to Nigel Jones for his Pectoral Sandpiper header, seen at Brigsteer on 11 September. Much appreciated Nigel, and good to meet you recently at Glasson Dock.

Friday, 23 September 2016

The Estuary & The Harbour.

The Lune Estuary, Heysham outfalls, and Red Nab yesterday to be precise.

Didn't really expect the first bird seen on the Lune Estuary to be an Avocet, a good example of 'what next' when yer birdin', it was sweeping side to side with 5 Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank close by, an adult Mediterranean Gull bore rings on it's left leg, I got the colours but no chance of reading any marks. At least 500 Golden Plover came down onto the weed covered stones mid-river at low tide, 27 Greylag and 14 Wigeon also noted.

I called in at Conder Green to check over Conder Pool and saw 13 Little Grebe in a single scan, and 6 Snipe

Adult Little Gull. Red Nab 22 September. Pete Woodruff.

I was at Heysham 3 hours before high tide, checked Red Nab, went through the outfalls to the harbour and returned to Red Nab an hour before the high tide at around 4.00pm. I found three adult Mediterranean Gull on Red Nab both visits - 11 reported low tide Here - and an adult Little Gull obligingly came close on Red Nab as the tide rose, and I took note of 4 Wigeon here.

1st Winter Mediterranean Gull. Heysham 22 September. Pete Woodruff.

A 1st winter Mediterranean Gull was on the railings at Stage 2 outfall. 

Thirty Goldfinch were seen twice on our garden feeders yesterday.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Going South.

Pink-footed Geese Brian Rafferty  

A run south down the A588 yesterday had me see my first c.350 Pink-footed Geese off Pilling Lane Ends, distant in the haze on the marsh but big enough to estimate the number, as were the large number of c.250 Shelduck drifting way out on the incoming tide, with Wigeon also noted present, 4 Great-crested Grebe together were my best count of the species for a considerable time. 

At Cockers Dyke where the tide was at it's height, an adult Mediterranean Gull was with c.900 gulls, with a few Redshank and Dunlin dropping in to feed as the tide receded. From the coastal path on the way down here, 2 Wheatear, 10 Goldfinch, and 4 Linnet seen, during the four hours in the area between Pilling Marsh and Cockers Dyke, I saw at least 25 Little Egret.

On Conder Pool, 17 Little Grebe counted again, 4 Snipe, and 9 Greylag dropped in. The adult Spotted Redshank was in the creeks with around 12 Redshank, and a Red Admiral flew by.

Garden Goldfinch.  

Goldfinch Warren Baker

The Goldfinch appears to have had a good breeding season in our area at least, with 24 counted on the feeders this morning, although I've done no ratio count, good numbers of juveniles are appearing with adults on the sunflower seeds and hearts on a daily basis, we can rarely look out the widow all day long and not see Goldfinch on the feeders. I can't begin to imagine how many bird's there are in total, they cost a fortune to keep up with

Thanks to Brian/Warren for their images.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Wot No Exotica!

Little and Large. Pete Woodruff.

First bird seen at Conder Green yesterday was the Spotted Redshank alongside and dwarfed by the Grey Heron, soon after 2 Greenshank gave themselves away flying over the creeks with their powerful triple 'tyew-tyew-tyew' call, 2 Common Sandpiper were seen today, and the result of more persistence on the count was 17 Little Grebe on Conder Pool, 16 Redshank, 3 Snipe, and 4 Teal noted. I watched a House Martin enter a nest again at Cafe d' Lune, and 18 Greylag were on the marsh including one of the two recently seen birds collar marked SDN.

Little of note on the Lune Estuary, but up to 550 Golden Plover were in the mix of a horde of Lapwing. On Jeremy Lane, a Buzzard and Wheatear seen.

At Cockersand, the area between Lighthouse Cottage and Plover Scar is littered with plant and machinery, vans, wagons, and scaffolding is beginning to appear around the lighthouse....

Wheatear. Cockersand 19 September. Pete Woodruff.

....but beyond here 4 Wheatear  were seen, with 23 Dunlin and 12 Ringed Plover seeking refuge from the 10.23m tide on the headland below the abbey. Around Bank Houses, a few uncounted Tree Sparrow, Goldfinch, and Linnet, with good numbers of Swallow flighting and on the wires.

I legged it from here to Bank End to find a Common Sandpiper amongst probably c.2,000 waders, Oystercatcher/Redshank/Dunlin/Curlew, with 25 Golden Plover flying inland and over c.200 Curlew in a field, and a Sparrowhawk on the prowl.  

Saturday, 17 September 2016

The SR Returns.

Spotted Redshank. Pete Woodruff.

As photographs go, this one of the Spotted Redshank at Conder Green on Wednesday, fits nicely into the 'dodgy' category, but never mind, it's a record shot of an adult back again, no doubt to spend the winter here. The Common Sandpiper was also seen as another 'no doubt' for the winter here, with 15 Little Grebe and 5 Wigeon on Conder Pool bringing up the rear.

On the Lune Estuary, waders here were remarkably low in number, but a figure probably in excess of 2,500 gulls - predominantly Black-headed Gull - included 2 adult Mediterranean Gull, I'd suggest surely more amongst this lot, 18 Black-tailed Godwit and a Goosander.

A couple of hours at Cockersand provided little of note save 2 Wheatear, c.70 Linnet on the rooftops at Abbey Farm, and up to 35 Small Tortoiseshell seen.

Swallows. Pete Woodruff.

Fewer Swallows seen moving through Cockersand today than of late, but some were on and off the wires by Lighthouse Cottage.

Early Birds.

Whooper Swans. Fluke Hall 14 September. Peter Rhind. 

Interesting to see a report of 13 Whooper Swan flying south across Morecambe Bay on the early date of Wednesday 14 September, 8 Barnacle Geese flying west past Knott End yesterday Friday 16 September, with Pink-footed Geese back in the area too.

Thanks for the photograph Peter and to Brian for the header BTG's, both much appreciated.

The down side of all this, is that my birding has been derailed once again and I've not been out since Wednesday, and doesn't look like I will again until Monday at the earliest....Pass the anti-depressants please!!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Let's Twitch Again!

I got myself into twitching mode yesterday, it's not habitual for me to go after other peoples birds, but there was some nice ones just over the border into Cumbria, so it was time I got myself off to take a look.

Wood Sandpiper Antonio Puigg

First stop was at a flood on College Green farmland at Heversham SD488837 where I found 2 Wood Sandpiper, one of which was notably lame, also on the flood were at least 9 Snipe, more perhaps if I'd have tried harder and found them in areas of long grass.

Pectoral Sandpiper Jan Larsson 

Next stop was actually just around the corner at SD488832 where eventually a Pectoral Sandpiper put in excellent views to clearly show it to be a juvenile, also seen were 22 Ruff, a Green Sandpiper, and at least 18 Snipe.

A drive out to the Brigsteer area SD470892 where a Pectoral Sandpiper was found on 10 September, proved to be a 'twitchers dip' though the bird was reported back here again at 4.30pm two hours after I left, when I had seen 4 Ringed Plover and a solitary Dunlin, with a Buzzard over.

Another short list, and a bit like a day at the zoo to be honest, but with some birds of substance this time.

Thanks to Antonio and Jan for their excellent and much appreciated images.  

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

This Is Not Portland Bill....

....but it was good to see up to 70 Black-tailed Godwit back on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock yesterday, other early winter arrivals here were 14 Wigeon, with 4 Shoveler presumably the recent Conder Pool birds, seen as unusual on the estuary as they were at Conder Green.

A look in at Cockersand was the road to nowhere, with c.350 Curlew on Cockerham Sands, and a Wheatear on the headland the only notes I made here. 

Just two attempts at counting came up with 13 Little Grebe on Conder Pool yesterday, also noted were 4 Wigeon and 2 Little Egret. Another 'good to see returned' was a Spotted Redshank in the creeks, also a Common SandpiperGreenshank, 3 Snipe, 4 Goosanderwith 5 Greylag and 4 Canada Geese a little less expected.

Not a question of 'where are all the migrants' more like 'where are all the birds'....Should have gone to Specsavers Portland Bill though even there it was disappointing yesterday 12 September.

The Spider, The Lighthouse, and The Roadworks.

This appropriately named Garden Spider Araneus diadematus was in our garden yesterday morning in the centre of it's large dew covered web.

The Lighthouse.   

The lighthouse at Cockersand as it stands yesterday - does'nt look well after the collision does it - with little having been done to it's repair since the arrival on site of the crew last week, although on close inspection it does appear to have been fitted with some ironwork at the base.

And The Roadworks.

If by chance like me you've been driving along this half mile section of the B5290 at Conder Green - as the worst bit of highway in the north of England for the past twelve months - whilst wrecking your suspension and wheel alignment in the process, you'll be pleased to hear they are about to relay it later this month. 

Pictures by your's truly. 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Notes From The Estuary.

On Friday I managed to get a couple of hours in on the Lune Estuary and thereabouts. I made some notes, though nothing new - even some of the old were missing - and certainly nowt spektakler, but interesting all the same....birding always is.

On a very quiet Conder Pool, 2 Snipe, and 14 Little Grebe was my best count from about six, a Sparrowhawk flew along the far side of the pool. Fifteen Greylag were on the marsh, two of which were collar marked, a Common Sandpiper was again in the creeks and I'm beginning to think this is maybe the bird set to winter here again this year. A Kingfisher put on a good show in the creeks, seen flying around, then returning later to perch on a large boulder in the creeks to soon fly off again.

Of note on the Lune Estuary from the bowling green, a juvenile Mediterranean Gull, a Greenshank, 4 Black-tailed Godwit, and a Snipe. A Buzzard was over Jeremy Lane, and although the birding was never going to be lengthy today, it came on a misty damp drizzle, which was the decider that the game was over for me.

Greylag Geese. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery  

I had a prompt response to my submission of the two collar marked Greylag at Conder Green. The birds are a male and female and suspected could be a pair which were marked at Ambleside in Cumbria earlier this year on 25 June....Thanks to Kane Brides at WWT for the speed at which he responded with the details, I'm impressed and they were appreciated, thanks also to Martin Lofgren for his image of the Greylag Geese, also appreciated.

The Header

The Wheatear in the header is one of four I saw on Plover Scar last Tuesday 6 September, and is one of eleven I saw on the day at Cockersand. The Wheatear is well up the list of favourite passerines for me, and heralds the spring as one of the first migrants we see usually in March, it's an easy bird to identify with it's brilliant white rump as it fly's directly and with a purpose, at speed along the shore at Cockersand with barely a wing beat to be seen.

The Wheatear can spend on average up to 8 months - March to October - in this country, the earliest spring record for the species in Lancashire is 26 February 2003, and the latest autumn record is 27 November 2011.

When I was on Plover Scar with the Wheatear last Tuesday, I echo what Ana Minguez Corella has said in her comment....'a pleasure to spend moments with these beautiful creatures'. 

Friday, 9 September 2016

Fellside Fare.

The perfect sunny and warm day on Wednesday - probably the last this year - to check out a couple of fells.

Stonechat. Ana Minguez.

First to Harrisend where there was still a few boggy areas to negotiate, and a couple of run-off ditches to leap across, I found 10 Stonechat, two less than my last visit on 14 July when I saw 12 birds with evidence of four breeding pairs here this year, a claim which remains the same today.

Also seen on Harrisend, at least 20 Meadow Pipit, a single Reed Bunting which made an attack on a Stonechat, the same Stonechat then made an attack on a Meadow Pipit. A lone Red Grouse, a Buzzard and Kestrel. Butterflies seen were 12 Red Admiral all south, and a single Small Tortoiseshell.  

I gave the west side of Hawthornthwaite just an hour on the lower slopes, with only three birds seen in the hour, thankfully two of them were Stonechat which were seen as a pair, the same as my last visit up here on 8 June when they were accompanied by a lone juvenile, the other bird seen was a Meadow Pipit. Butterflies were, 6 Small Tortoiseshell and a Red Admiral.

A short cut back to Lancaster from here through Doeholme had a Wheatear on a roadside fence post. 

The Bug.

Common Green Capsid. Pete Woodruff.

Small though it was, I couldn't miss seeing this bright green creature flying across our kitchen to land on the washer. The Common Green Capsid Lygocoris pabulinus, is a species of the bug family Miridae, and is a garden pest which damages leaves and fruits, it probably got into the house via a bag of apples given to us by a neighbour, or worse still it was off our plum tree.

My thanks to Ana Naturanafotos for the excellent Stonechat images.

With luck I may just get a little time to check out around the Lune Estuary later's hoping.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Re-run.

Yesterday I did a re-run of Monday's birding.

On Conder Pool, the site-faithful Green Sandpiper showed for my fourth consecutive visit here, and showed well at that, opposite the viewing platform. The day's count was of 12 Little Grebe, and up to 50 Goldfinch were in the area again. A Sparrowhawk put up several hundred waders/gulls off Jeremy Lane as seen from Conder Green, and included Black-headed Gull, a hundred or so of which came down onto the pool, the hawk zoomed across the pool and down the creek.  

A Common Sandpiper flew down the creeks and under the iron bridge to be found a few minutes later down the channel. I watched a House Martin visiting a nest at Cafe d' Lune, I was initially puzzled by this being the end of the first week in September, but the House Martin's breeding season can be prolonged until autumn, and they can be double, even treble-brooded. 

Ruff Jan Larsson   

On the Lune Estuary, waders in view from the bowling green included 2 Ruff, 2 Greenshank, c.120 Redshank and a solitary Dunlin, up to 3,000 Lapwing were on both sides of the river. A Kingfisher flew from the canal basin and over the lock at Glasson to cross the dock and disappear behind a boat.

Cockersand Lighthouse. 6 September. Pete Woodruff. 

At Cockersand - where work on the lighthouse has yet to start - I stood on Plover Scar 45 minutes to see if anything came in towards high tide, but gained nothing more than 4 Ringed Plover, and singles of Turnstone and Dunlin, but of the 11 Wheatear I found, four were on the scar, along the headland, 14 Snipe came up off the shore.

Thanks to Jan Larsson for his image of the Ruff, much appreciated.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Turned Out Nice Again!

It actually made a decent afternoon yesterday after a murky drizzle start, but it needed a bit of work to get a hold of a few birds of note....With more quality photography by your's truly!!

Green Sandpiper. Conder Pool 5 September. 

After a bit of digging out, I found a Green Sandpiper on Conder Pool again which eventually came out of hiding and gave me the chance to get a slightly better result from my photographic efforts than last Thursday's attempt. Also on the pool, after the customary multi counts I arrived at 15 Little Grebe here again, with 4 Wigeon, 4 Snipe, and up to 50 Goldfinch in the area, but the Common Sandpiper was notably missing in my book. 

On the Lune Estuary from the bowling green at Glasson Dock, a juvenile Little Stint was as distant as it/one had been last Thursday, as was a Greenshank, and 38 Black-tailed Godwit, with at least 20 Snipe scattered here and there.

Turnstone. Plover Scar 5 September.

At Cockersands, on Plover Scar up to high tide, similar estimates of 95 Turnstone and Dunlin, with 42 Ringed Plover present. On a circuit, pretty hard going with just 30 Linnet and 15 Goldfinch of note, c.200 Golden Plover were in an Abbey Farm field with 2 Brown Hare seen, one notably paler than the other. Good numbers of Swallow moving through in the three hours spent here, with a few Meadow Pipit also obviously on the move. 

Wheatear. Cockersand 5 September.

Four of the 6 Wheatear seen today were on Plover Scar. 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Birdless On Plover Scar.

If like me you regard Cockersand and it's surroundings to be one of the best of local birding locations, or maybe a man with a dog, or even just a leisure seeker, I'm sorry to say you're about to find some serious disruption to your birding, dog exercising, or leisure time on and around Plover Scar.

Passing The Cockersand Light. Pete Woodruff.

Following the collision by a ship with the Cockersand lighthouse earlier this year, the structure is about to be dismantled any time soon, stone by stone and rebuilt again....No mean feat, and a few quid involved here, which may well take more than the 14 weeks estimate, not least related to inclement weather those performing the task will have to endure. 

Soon we'll be seeing a compound in the car parking area, to accommodate plant and machinery, with cranes, scaffolding, and all manner of materials needed for the task. To this end Slack Lane will be closed at the junction of Moss Lane to all but local residents, in any case there will be nowhere to park or turning space anyway.

Plover Scar Roosters. Pete Woodruff. 

So....I reckon it's goodbye to birding Plover Scar until next year, and certainly no Snow Bunting, or better still Shore Lark on Plover Scar until the year is out, and at this rate I'm never going to find the Baird's Sandpiper I've been looking for here for the past 150 years!!

I'd sooner be birding....Hopefully tomorrow, but not on Plover Scar I suspect, though no-one's clocked on to start work there yet.

Thanks for the header of the 'showy' Little Stint seen recently at Reculver in Kent....Excellent as ever Marc, many thanks.  

Friday, 2 September 2016

Short Day, Short List....

....but with a little icing on the cake, and some moderate photographic efforts by yours truly.

Green Sandpiper. Conder Pool. 1 September.

It was good to find 2 Green Sandpiper at Conder Green yesterday, the one in the picture above was on Conder Pool, another was in the creeks. It was also good to count 13 Little Grebe on the pool again, with Tuesday's 3 Shoveler seen again. A single Common Sandpiper and 14 Teal were in the creeks.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, a juvenile Little Stint was excellent, and another juvenile, this one a Mediterranean Gull, took to flight and went off inland to the south and out of view. Also to note, 2 Greenshank and 2 Snipe.

Cover Crops. Cockersand.

The visit to Cockersand was a trip into the void, a Wheatear was seen on the way to Plover Scar where I saw 12 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin....but the cover crops on Slack Lane are looking good!

Having no plan to do any circuits at Cockersand, I intended to have a second helping of the floods at Crimbles, but the police had different idea's and put paid to that idea with a road block at Cockerham, apparently due to an accident down the A588....I decided to reject the lengthy detour, did a u-turn and headed back to Lancaster.