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

Friday, 29 December 2017

Birdwatching Walks In Bowland!!


Ian had wanted to join me on Wednesday, not a birder but interested in what we might see and any questions he might have about them. So on my suggestion we went into Bowland and did the Langden Brook walk, from my point of view an opportunity to see if any Stonechat might be wintering up there. 

But on arrival at the car park, although not a soul in sight, with the type and number of vehicles parked up, it was blatantly obvious to me that a shoot was taking place up the valley. By the time we reached the pump house 10 minutes later, at least 30 shitheads were taking a slurp between shoots....I put on a pair of blinkers, looked ahead to avoid eye contact and save myself from becoming embroiled in abuse and violent disorder, and off we went on our walk.

All this triggered me to remember how outdated a book published in 2005 had become. On this walk, the book suggests lingering an hour or two at Langden Castle - nothing more than a barn with a pretentious-sounding name - to enjoy raptor watching....Now there's a joke, unintended, but a joke all the same, and although the book isn't pointing at the month of December when it makes the claim for enjoying a raptor watch, the time of year doesn't matter anymore in Bowland, the opportunity to see Merlin, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, and - wait for it - Hen Harrier, from this or any other watchpoint, simply doesn't exist anymore, and in the 5 hours Ian and I spent in Bowland today, we saw not a single raptor.

The birds seen on this particular walk in this stunning part of Bowland amounted to nine birds in 2.5 hours. In order of seeing, a Grey Heron, a Red Grouse, a Cormorant, and 5 Carrion Crow, all in flight, and a Mallard on Langden Brook....Depressing.

On the west side of Hawthornthwaite Fell, it was excellent to find 2 Stonechat, my seventh in 17 days since the two at Heysham on 10 December, makes good reading in my records, also here, a minimum of 40 Red Grouse including two flights of 15/8.


Peregrine Falcon trapped in a Pole Trap banned in the UK for over a century.

Make no mistake about it, this kind of wildlife crime has a link to the people I have highlighted in this post. 

My New Year wish is that the killing of protected birds of prey on Red Grouse moors is soon brought to an won't be....and that those responsible be brought to justice in the courts....they won't be.

So let's try to get all Driven Grouse Shooting banned - the RSPB won't - as I see it it's the only other road we can go down, our only other option.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The Final Scuttle.

I managed a final scuttle around the Lune Estuary last Friday before Christmas took it's hold, but I've been unable to find the time to get anywhere near my computer since. 

Stonechat. Ana Minguez.

The day had the best ending in my book that I could have hoped for when I found 2 Stonechat on the tide wrack on the edge of the marsh opposite the entrance to the Caravan Park at Cockerham Sands, they were a 1st winter male and female, also interesting here was a lone Twite which had latched on to 14 Goldfinch and moved around and fed with them. 

The down side of the visit to Cockersand was that I had no sign of the male Stonechat that had been around and seen three times since 11 December between the Lighthouse and Crook Cottage's, but I did see 22 Tree Sparrow at Crook Cottage.

Quite a spectacle was the sight of at least 900 Black-tailed Godwit which zoomed out of the fog to create a whoosh as they flew low over my head and out to sea before a U-turn back to land briefly on the headland. On Plover Scar, 45 Turnstone, with up to 550 Wigeon off here. In the field north of Bank Houses where I saw a Kestrel, 10 Stock Dove and 2 Skylark, a Dunnock in the hedgerow. There are probably still c.250 Whooper Swan over three fields down to Bank End, and a Merlin seen was concealing itself in a bush from Slack Lane.

It was pretty hopeless looking over Conder Pool through the fog, but when I returned an hour later it had lifted enough to reveal 115 wildfowl including 3 Goldeneye, otherwise predominantly Mallard, with Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Teal, and 2 Shelduck. A Greenshank was with Redshank, also a drake Goosander and a Snipe seen. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock, I just managed to pick Goldeneye drake out of the gloom.

I'm grateful to Ana@Naturanafotos for the 'Spanish' Stonechat images sent to me in a Christmas e-mail, including at the head of this post, the portrait of a brilliant male. 


Sunday, 24 December 2017






Saturday, 23 December 2017

Gorillas In The Mist!

Birds in the mist actually....Tuesday was hardly the best day for a murky trek along the coastal path to Glasson Dock, but that was the plan so off I went.

I found nothing to record on the River Lune between Skerton Bridge and Freeman's Pools, where 15 Wigeon, 5 Goldeneye, 5 Gadwall, and a Little Grebe were in view through the mist. 

I was soon regretting not having my telescope with me when I arrived at the Wildfowlers Pools which is now a brilliant wetlands and was host to at least 450 Black-headed Gull and 150 Teal, also 3 drake Goldeneye, 2 drake Gadwall, and best in my book a drake Shoveler, seen as a bird in line with the Pochard in it's scarce resident breeding status at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve, and irregular at any other waterbodies in our area.

Bullfinch. Richard Peglar.

The best birds of the walk were seen along the upper track at Aldcliffe, when I came across a stunning male Bullfinch accompanied by two female. Notable along the route to Glasson, 43 Goldfinch were seen in two small flocks, and at least 32 Long-tailed Tit were also seen in two flocks in procession through the trees, 23 Blackbird, 8 Robin, and 3 Song ThrushAt Stodday, c.225 Carrion Crow were in a field with a few Rook and Jackdaw seen.

 Glasson Dock. Pete Woodruff.

I had enjoyed the birds and the walk as always, but by the time I got to Glasson Dock the weather had worsened, and the EEMS SPIRIT was tied up, unloading, and fogbound.

With thanks to Richard Pegler for his excellent Bullfinch images, and to Ana Minguez for the header image of the Blue Rock Thrush. An extremely rare vagrant to Britain, of which the last was of one found in Gloucestershire on 14 December 2016.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Monday's Notables.

Can't keep up with all this birding and blogging, though it hasn't completely taken over my life it's certainly closing in on it....The risk of divorce on the grounds of desertion creeps ever nearer!

Anyhow, better late than never, a quick look in on Conder Pool and the Lune Estuary at Glasson, as I wanted to spend some quality time around the tide at Cockersand, so here's Monday's notable birds.....

A Little Grebe and 26 Tufted Duck were just about the sum total on Conder Pool. With the south side still with it's head above the tide, the Lune Estuary held c.550 Golden Plover, 110 Curlew, 3 Snipe, 3 Goosander drake, and 2 Goldeneye drake. Around 40 Goldfinch were in flight, a Merlin perched on driftwood on Colloway Marsh couldn't possibly ever fail to excite, and c.350 Pink-footed Geese flying towards Aldcliffe Marsh I found odd, I wouldn't have expected any movement northwards into this area until Jan/Feb. In a field on Jeremy Lane, 125 Curlew, 92 Black-tailed Godwit, 80 Redshank, and a lone Golden Plover.

Grey Plover. Pete Woodruff.

At Crook Cottage, I noted a few Tree Sparrow with House Sparrow and 12 Greenfinch. I watched a total of 28 Snipe come off the marsh, and Plover Scar held c.350 Oystercatcher, 38 Turnstone, and 2 Grey Plover, with 450 Wigeon, 18 Eider, 3 Red-breasted Merganser off here.

At least 2 Twite were with up to 45 Linnet in the rough field behind Bank House Cottage, and in the field north of Bank Houses, 9 Stock Dove, also 12 Skylark which would have probably proved to have been more given some time and effort on my part, 10 Meadow Pipit were over Slack Lane.

Kestrel. Pete Woodruff.

Of 2 Kestrel seen, one was at Bank Houses, the other Lighthouse Cottage, both were female. 

On Tuesday I did the Lancaster - Glasson coastal path trek, but as is this post that one's running late, like the train I went to catch the other day.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Perfect Timing.

I had my third sighting of the Cockersand 11 December male Stonechat, still there on Monday.

1st winter male Stonechat. Crook Cottage 18 December. Pete Woodruff.

Talk about perfect timing....As I arrived at Crook Cottage the bird was flitting here and there, and promptly went atop of a fencepost by the cottage and obliged perfectly whilst I fumbled with my thirty quids worth of camera to achieve at least a second rate image of this stunning little bird....You can keep yer Siberian Rubythroat!

I had seen and spoken with AC on Moss Lane, and fifteen minutes later he contacted me to ask if I was near the Lighthouse Cottage, and could I see the Stonechat in the area. I was soon able to reply that the bird was in fact on the roof of Crook Cottage, to which AC was able to confirm that two male Stonechat were now present at Cockersand as he was looking at another 1st winter male on the shingle near the Caravan Park....Nice one AC.

To be continued....    

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Another Field Day.

Black-tailed Godwit. Mike Atkinson.

Not quite as impressive as 24 November, but at least 2,500 waders in the fields at Cockersand again on Friday, most notably c.1,500 Golden Plover, 275 Black-tailed Godwit, 150 Dunlin, and a similar 150 Curlew, with Redshank and Lapwing scattered all over the place. 

I had a repeat of the 1st winter male Stonechat close to Crook Cottage again, 15 Greenfinch were seen as ten at Bank Houses and five at Lighthouse Cottage, and a flock of c.60 finches, distant, fidgety, and very uncooperative, but predominantly Twite with Linnet seen in the rough field behind Bank House Cottage again. A Buzzard on Moss Laneand a Kestrel at Bank Houses were both scanning the landscape from fence posts, and seen distant in fields at Bank End Farm, probably up to 150 Whooper Swan.

The best of Conder Pool was 5 Snipe, a Little Grebe, and 9 Tufted Duck. In the creeks, 3 Little Grebe and a drake Goosander seen, and from the coastal path, up to 30 Goldfinch and 6 Blackbird

I've made no contact with the Conder Green Common Sandpiper/s on my last two visits since 5 December.

Thanks to Mike for his Black-tailed Godwit, and to Noushka for the Brambling header. 

Thursday, 14 December 2017


I had some thoroughly enjoyable birding around the Lune Estuary on Monday, it was pure delight along the headland at Cockersand, brilliant sunshine and barely a breeze, a scarce combination here. 

1st Winter Male Stonechat. Brian Rafferty.

I was almost back at the motor and was walking along the road to Crook Farm, and had noted 22 Greenfinch and 2 Chaffinch flying up off the tide wrack, soon followed by a Stoat disappearing into the marsh, then back in to view before disappearing again. A bird caught my eye ahead, it was the best bird of the day and had took me five hours to find, a stunning 1st winter male Stonechat.

Twite. Pete Woodruff.

In the rough field behind Bank House Cottage, at least 25 Twite, and in the field beyond Bank Houses horse paddock, c.450 Common Gull and 4 Stock Dove. Along the way from here, and by the time I reached Lighthouse Cottage, a total of at least 40 Snipe had flushed with their scratchy 'ca-atch' take off call from almost every ditch in the fields I passed. Fewer waders in the fields today, but 375 Golden Plover and 75 Curlew were noted, 25 Black-tailed Godwit and a Sparrowhawk went over, and 12 Blackbird, 4 Robin, 2 Song Thrush, and a Mistle Thrush seen.

Difficult  to count, but I estimate 240 Whooper Swan present over two fields, one distant and down towards Bank End Farm.

The Lune Estuary at low tide was pretty deserted, with probably no more than 50 gulls seen, 10 Snipe were hard to see hunkered down on the weed covered stones, a Greenshank was amongst the small number of common waders, and a drake Goosander noted.

Conder Pool was frozen over save a small area at the west end where a Little Grebe was with 12 Tufted Duck and a Snipe on an island, later I saw a Grey Wagtail and 4 Meadow Pipit feeding by the poolside. In the creeks, 4 Little Grebe with a female Goosander, up to 180 Teal, and in the channel a Greenshank and drake Goosander.

Along the coastal path, a few Fieldfare, 2 Redwing, 6 Blackbird, 22 Goldfinch, 2 Song Thrush, and a Dunnock.


The Stonechat is all it takes to spell quality for me, and with the two found at Heysham on Sunday, I've seen three on two consecutive days. When this bird is no longer seen by me as the little gem it is, I'll cease my birding and take up stamp collecting.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Chats & Swans.

The Chats.

Stonechat Half Moon Bay 10 December. Pete Woodruff.

As it turned out yesterday, it was a smart idea that I decided to take a look over Heysham Head, to then find 2 Stonechat down on the shore at Half Moon Bay. Also noted here, 5 Greenfinch, 2 Robin, 2 Pied Wagtail, and a Meadow Pipit

An hours birding on a Sunday afternoon doesn't come much better than this for me, and the fact I failed to find the long staying Chough anywhere, turned into an irrelevance after seeing two Stonechat instead. 

The Swans.

Whooper Swan Brian Rafferty  

I found two more marked Whooper Swan at Cockersand 17 November, both are Martin Mere birds.

YCC ringed as an adult female in February 2013.

YCB ringed as an adult male in February 2015.

Though the history of all three Whooper Swans I've seen so far this winter aren't particularly exciting in that none of the three has been reported outside Lancashire and certainly not in Iceland, with the exception of YCC which ventured north to Ankerville Corner, Easter Ross, Scotland and was seen there in November 2015, having been previously reported at Woodmoss Lane, Scarisbrick, West Lancashire in December 2014, and again in January 2016, all other sightings of both these swans were made at Martin Mere WWT. 

The bird marked YYG which was the first Whooper Swan I found at Cockersand on 8 November was seen five days later on 13 November back at Martin Mere.

I'm again grateful to Kane Brides at WWT for dealing with my submission and forwarding me the history....always worth waiting for. Thanks also to Brian Rafferty for the 'pik with a difference' of the bathing Whooper Swan.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Buses, Boots, & Birds.

First Snow On Clougha Pike. Pete Woodruff.

Perfect yesterday for the plod along the coastal path from Lancaster to Glasson Dock from where I took this shot of the first snows on Clougha Pike with the Cafe 'd Lune and the newly painted old railway bridge over the River Conder in the foreground. 

On the River Lune off St Georges Quay, a pair of Goosander and Grey Wagtail seen. On Freemans Pools, a Goldeneye was close by, but any wildfowl on here were all at the far west end, amongst which a few uncounted Teal and Gadwall. In the field by Frog Pond, 15 Greylag and 10 Curlew were of note, and the Wildfowlers Pool which would currently be more appropriately called 'Wildfowlers Lake', held 4 Goldeneye three of which were smart drakes. There was probably up to 200 Canada Geese on Aldcliffe Marsh, but I didn't linger to count.

One or two notable counts from Aldcliffe to Glasson, 32 Blackbird, 11 Robin, 10 Pied Wagtail, 5 Dunnock, and Song Thrush which I saw as an excellent count in any birders book. Of the 10 Little Egret I noted, eight were together in a field at Stodday. A few Fieldfare were mobile at Conder Green, but I'm in top gear now....the bus back to Lancaster is coming.

Egyptian Geese. Warren Baker.

Highlight of the day was 2 Egyptian Geese by the flood at Aldcliffe Hall Lane, though not a bird to be taken seriously, it was introduced to Britain 400 years ago in the seventeenth century. The Egyptian Goose has never become widespread in Lancashire, the largest flock ever recorded was eight seen on the inner Ribble marshes in January 1977.

A small population has become established in Greater Manchester, which may be the source of some records in Lancashire, but I reckon mine were probably off some collectors pond - the garden pond a Grange-over-Sands came to mind - and were at the lower end of my highlight scale.

Thanks to Warren for the excellent trio of geese, and to Richard for the equally excellent Knott End Twite header. 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Against The Odds.

Around the Lune Estuary yesterday, on a day that was against the odds and anything but ideal for birding, especially along the headland at Cockersand, where there was a mini westerly howler on a cold, dull, and damp day. I ended with an hour at Glasson and Conder Green, as the day progressed it wasn't until then that birding livened up if only a little.

Curlew. Richard O'Meara. 

I'd got it into my head, that the 10.32m high tide might be best at Cockersand, when the fields would hopefully hold a few thousand waders again, but unpredictable as they are, in the main the birds were elsewhere, though notable were estimates of 150 Curlew, 120 Turnstone, and a similar number of Dunlin, barely 50 Golden Plover, with Redshank and Lapwing present. Two Kestrel seen were one hovering at Lighthouse Cottage and one at Bank Houses. Spread about over three fields, some distant and difficult to account for, but at least 275 Whooper Swan seen.

Linnet. Pete Woodruff.

On Bodie Hill at Glasson, c.60 flighty Linnet, and on the canal basin, 2 Goldeneye drake and a Great-crested Grebe noted. On Conder Pool, a drake Goosander and 24 Tufted Duck. In the creeks, a female Goosander and a Grey Wagtaila Little Grebe was the only one seen today, with 2 Goldeneye drake down the channel towards the Conder mouth. From the coastal path, 18 Fieldfare briefly with at least one Redwing, 25 Long-tailed Tit, 42 Goldfinch, and a Song Thrush.

Common Sandpiper. Bob Bushell.

Two Common Sandpiper at Conder Green yesterday, didn't need me to see them together five times since 6 October as more confirmation they are both wintering here this year.

And finally....

Chough. Noushka. 

With the long staying bird at Heysham in mind and still there today, I couldn't resist this brilliant image of the six in France....There's an excellent set of more Chough Here....Many thanks Noushka.

Thanks also to Richard for his Curlew, to Bob for his Common Sandpiper, and to yours truly for the not so excellent Linnets!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

A Ruff Passage.

This year has seen an exceptional autumn Ruff passage in our area, since I found 2 at Cockersand on 4 September, to date I've seen 50 Ruff, the best being 14 on the shore off Lighthouse Cottage at Cockersand on 26 September, and 18 on the Lune Estuary at Glasson on 6 October. 

On Friday I found an adult male Ruff at Cockersand for the third time in a week, this time it was in the field beyond Bank Houses horse paddock with Stock Dove and a few RedshankIn other fields, 550 Golden Plover and 150 Curlew. Seven Snipe came up off the marsh opposite the caravan park, up to 20 Twite were were mobile, initially in the rough field behind Bank House Cottage from where I watched a Merlin single out a Starling from the mass before being lost to view to see a result of the attack.

Fieldfare. Richard Pegler@ Peglerbirding  

In the Willows and by the cover crop on Slack Lane, 45 Fieldfare, 14 Chaffinch, 5 Greenfinch, and a Skylark heard.

The Lune Estuary at Glasson was uninspiring, but the first Goldeneye on here this winter was a drake, with 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Great-crested Grebe were my only other notes.

Of the 7 Little Grebe seen at Conder Green, two were on Conder Pool with five in the creeks. Also on the pool, up to 150 Teal, 24 Tufted Duck and 19 Wigeon. The Common Sandpiper was again downstream by the bridge, and along the coastal path, 12 Blackbird, 12 Fieldfare, 6 Redwing, and 2 Mistle Thrush over.

Birding till dusk. Cockersand Abbey & Farm. Pete Woodruff.

Thanks to Richard for the Fieldfare, and to Antonio for the header image of the Chough.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

And Finally....The Owl.

I took note of all 80 birds on Conder Pool on Tuesday, 36 Mallard, 33 Tufted Duck, 6 Teal, last Fridays Goldeneye, a drake Goosander, 2 Mute Swan, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. In the creeks, 2 Little GrebeGrey Wagtail, and 2 Mistle Thrush over, a Common Sandpiper was again down the channel, and from the coastal path 8 Fieldfare and 44 Goldfinch.

On the Lune Estuary, c.300 Golden Plover, 450 Wigeon, and 5 Goosander were of note. On the canal basin, my first drake Goldeneye seen, and in a flooded field off Jeremy Lane, an adult Mediterranean Gull was with a pretty even mix of c.600 Common Gull/Black-headed Gull

Mixed fortunes at Cockersand, included on the negative side, a shock clear out of the 550, leaving just 8 Whooper Swan in a mid-distance inland field. In the positive, at least 2,000 Golden Plover seen, with in excess of 50% in the field by Abbey Farm, and the other in flight off the estuary south over Lighthouse Cottage, from where 4 Bar-tailed Godwit were seen on the shore. Also in the Abbey Farm field, 390 Curlew2 Ruff, and another mass clear out of last Fridays 1,800 to leave just 45 Black-tailed Godwit. On a circuit of the area, 12 Blackbird, 9 Stock Dove, 4 Chaffinch, 2 Greenfinch, a Reed Bunting, and a patrolling low flight Buzzard.

Sunset From Lighthouse Cottage. Pete Woodruff. 

I saw 10 Brown Hare in the three hours I was at Cockersand today, and as I left approaching Gardners Farm at dusk, Barn Owl flew across Moss Lane....A birding day doesn't end much better than a Barn Owl. 

Barn Owl. Brian Rafferty.

It was good to see Brian Rafferty at Cockersand on Tuesday, and many thanks for his excellent image. My bird wasn't seen in good light like this one, but great stuff for me all the same. 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Red Pochard.

The Pochard.

The Pochard is listed as Vulnerable on the European Red List and the wintering population of Pochard continues to fall sharply with no sign of recovery. I actually saw a sighting in our area recently, refered to as a 'Mega' and last year was the first on record that the bird failed to achieve a three figure count anywhere in Lancashire where the main wintering sites are at Dockacres/Pine Lake and Seaforth on Merseyside, the flocks of which dropped by almost 50% on 2015 numbers.

The loss of wintering distribution of the Pochard is most prominent in Ireland where there was a loss of almost 50% of 10km squares occupied, and driven by a large scale decline at the key wintering site of Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake anywhere in the British Isles with a surface area of 392 square kilometres, which has lost up to 20,000 Pochard over recent years.

A small number of c.500 pairs of Pochard breed in Britain which is much more important as a winter habitat hosting 25% of the NW European population, with around 60,000 in Britain.

Personal sightings of the Pochard over the past 3 years have only amounted to six records, by far the best one was a drake 06 Feb 2015 on Conder Pool....

14 Nov  2016 Blea Tarn Reservoir two drake
19 Jan  2016 Canal Basin Glasson a drake
16 Feb 2016 Canal Basin a pair
03 Jan  2017 Canal Basin a female
17 Feb 2017 Canal Basin a drake, being the only Pochard I've seen this year. 

I was prompted to dig out a post about the Pochard on Birds2blog in February 2016 last year, it makes some interesting reading Here

Birding!....Who me....what birding....when....where.