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

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.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Cockersand Wader Festival.

Up to 3,000 waders were in the field looking more like a lake behind Lighthouse Cottage at Cockersand yesterday. The field held an absolute minimum of 1,800 Black-tailed Godwit and 900 Golden Plover, with a male Ruff, single Turnstone, and uncounted LapwingDunlin, Redshank, and Curlew, also seen in the field 10 Pied Wagtail and a Kestrel over Slack Lane. 

From the Lighthouse Cottage I saw a Peregrine Falcon clear out everything on Plover Scar, to leave it void of birds by the time I got there. Today's c.400 Whooper Swan herd had thinned out and spread out, mainly now in the Thursland Hill area, with 275 counted before they left the recently estimated 550 field by Bank Houses.

Conder Pool was pretty lively and included the first Goldeneye on here this winter, a decent count of 28 Tufted Duck, a Greenshank with 32 Redshank, 3 Snipe, and a drake GoosanderOf the 2 Common Sandpiper seen, one on the pool was feeding on small insects in their hundreds by the side and on the pool, Song Thrush was in the hedgerow. 

Up to 180 Teal were in the creeks and put to flight at the arrival of a Sparrowhawk zipping through, 3 Little Grebe seen, the other Common Sandpiper was down the channel, but a beady eye needs to be kept out here as I almost certainly saw a third Common Sandpiper as it disappeared on the bend towards the Conder mouth. The Kingfisher also put in an appearance briefly on the mud down the channel, and 62 Goldfinch were seen from the coastal path.

I found this dead Whooper Swan on the shingle below Cockersand Abbey last Friday, still there yesterday.

I get caught out at Cockersand more than anywhere else I go birding, not long after  I took this pic I was hot-footing it in the rain back to the motor....nowhere to hide.

Little Grebe. Conder Green 24 November. Pete Woodruff. 

For some unknown reason, the remaining Little Grebe's desert Conder Pool about this time every year, and take to the creeks. When the River Conder is in spate, they escape attention until you discover they hide and just sit below the marsh overhangs like this one did yesterday downstream from the A588 road bridge, Iv'e found five doing this recently.

This was an excellent day for me, the close on 2,000 Black-tailed Godwit and 900 Golden Plover at Cockersand where inspirational, and the male Ruff a brilliant bonus in my book.

Thanks to Noushka for the Crested Tit header....Confined to the Caledonian Pine Forest in Scotland if you ever want to see one in Britain.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Black-headed Gull.

On Friday last, I found a marked Black-headed Gull on the Lune Estuary at Glasson. The instant I read the ring it registered with me that I had not only seen this bird before, but that I had seen it at the same location on the Lune Estuary 3 years ago in September 2014.

Black-headed Gull. Pete Woodruff. 

The bird was marked with a white darvic ring and a three black alpha-numeric code on the right leg and a metal ring on the left, and has been re-sighted and read five times, three in Denmark, and two on the Lune Estuary in Lancashire. 

I'm grateful to Kjeld Tommy Pedersen for dealing with this record, and for forwarding the history of the bird to me.

Black-headed Gull 6CY.

Ringed as an adult male in Svanemøllebugten, København, Denmark on 21 March 2013, and re-sighted....

27 March 2013. 

DKHS Jesper Brinkmann Nielsen (DKC-749) White 6CY ØREGÅRDSPARKEN GENTOFTE 55.44N-012.34E Alive Colour ring read 8 81.

26 Sept 2014. 

GBLA Peter Woodruff White 6CY LUNE ESTUARY: GLASSON DOCK THURNHAM 54.00N 002.51W Alive Colour ring read 7 81.

28 March 2015. 

DKHS Kjeld Tommy Pedersen (DKC-404) White 6CY CHARLOTTENLUND FORT GENTOFTE 55.45N-012.35E Alive Colour ring read 8 81.

4 April 2015.

DKHS Eddie Bo Fritze (DKC-243) White 6CY CHARLOTTENLUND FORT GENTOFTE 55.45N-012.35E Alive Colour ring read 8 81.

17 Nov 2017.

GBLA Peter Woodruff White 6CY LUNE ESTUARY: GLASSON DOCK THURNHAM 54.00N-002.51W Alive Colour ring read 7 81.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The GP's Have It For Me.

Greenshank. Conder Pool Friday 17 November. Pete Woodruff.

A snoozing Greenshank on Conder Pool was good enough to get me off to a nice start on Friday morning, 17 Wigeon were also of note here, and the 180 Teal at Conder Green were split between the pool and creeks, where I found 7 Little Grebe and the Common Sandpiper which was down by the now finished and newly painted bridge....must have cost a fortune.

The Lune Estuary was quiet wader wise, apart from the presence of the usual several hundred Lapwing, 320 Dunlin and 7 Snipe, with c.350 Wigeon seen.

The Cockersand at least 500 Whooper Swan were initially in the field by Bank Houses as seen from the headland, but by the time I got there they had been disturbed and were eventually scattered over five fields. On Plover Scar, c.450 Oystercatcher, and little more than a two handed number of Turnstone, Redshank, and Dunlin. A Mistle Thrush and single Fieldfare again, seen by the cover crop on Slack Lane.

When the tide had dropped, 22 Black-tailed Godwit and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit were feeding off Crook Farm.

A Goldcrest was in our garden Saturday morning.

The Grey Plover.

Grey Plover. Brian Rafferty.

At high tide on Friday, Plover Scar held a quite decent count of 14 Grey Plover, almost certainly my best ever count at any time of the year at Cockersand.

The Grey Plover had it for me today, a wader that breeds in the high Arctic regions of Russia, from where they migrate to winter in areas throughout the world including Britain, making it one of the most globally widespread of all the wader species, though none of our Lancashire estuaries currently supports internationally important numbers of Grey Plover.

Thanks to Bob for his Greenshank header image, and to Brian for his Grey Plovers, excellent and much appreciated.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Uphill Struggle.

Hawthornthwaite Fell.

It was an uphill struggle to find the birds in more ways than one on Wednesday, but literally so on Hawthornthwaite. Apart from the fact the Stonechat isn't as easy to find as it was during it's upturn in status which peaked during the early 2000's, I'd got 3/4 of the climb to the peak before I found a distant pair of Stonechat, the only two seen on my visit, and at a higher elevation than Iv'e ever seen them here before. But ne'r mind....mission accomplished. 

Wren. Martin Jump. 

Four Wren on Hawthornthwaite seems to indicate a good colony, I had six seen here on 18 October, also 10 Red Grouse

Marshaw - Tower Lodge - Trough Bridge.

A Dipper was seen on the Marshaw Wyre with a juicy aquatic invertebrate in it's bill, but it was disappointing not to find any Grey Wagtail here today. Behind Tower Lodge, Goldcrest and 2 Treecreeper seen, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit and Great Tit, and by the time I got to Trough Bridge, 2 Nuthatch, a MistleThrush, and a Kestrel noted, 4 Red Grouse were seen from the track towards Winfold Fell. 

The last bird I expected to see as I arrived back at Marshaw was a Cormorant flying north over Marshaw Farm. On the way back to Lancaster, up to 220 Common Gull in a field at Quernmore, with a Kestrel seen on a roadside fence post.

Autumn Bowland. Pete Woodruff. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

....And The Cockersand Whooper.

Monday's birding didn't fail me again even if it was a little lower down the scale in the quality department.

The number has increased to around 550 Whooper Swan in the field adjacent to Bank Houses at Cockersand SD432534. It was a treat to hear them all bugling away, standing erect and necks stretched to the limit at the sight of someone watching them from the lane. In the same field, 48 Redshank 2 Snipeand several hundred Starlingthere was also quite an impressive count of at least 1,500 Wigeon in the Cocker channel. From Slack Lane, 120 Golden Plover in fields, and my first albeit a solitary Fieldfare gave me good views in the Willows.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson, 450 Common Gull were of note, 24 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Goosander, and singles of Bar-tailed Godwit and the no better than scarce here Turnstone

At Conder Green, of the 5 Little Grebe seen, two were on Conder Pool where I saw 65 Teal, 17 Wigeon, 3 Tufted Duck, and 2 Snipe. The other 3 Little Grebe were in the creeks where I found the Common Sandpiper, and from the coastal path, the only birds seen were 2 Robin and a Wren.

And The Cockersand Whooper Swan.

Whooper Swan. Martin Lofgren.

On Wednesday 8 November with the 265 Whooper Swan in the field NE of Bank Houses at Cockersand I found a bird ringed Orange YYG. It was marked as an adult female in February 2016 at Martin Mere WWT Reserve and hasn't yet been recorded as re-sighted outside the UK, having four records seen at Martin Mere, and three recently at Cockersand.

I'm grateful for the usual reliable help of Kane Brides at WWT in sending me the details, and to Martin Lofgren Wild Bird Gallery for his image of the Whooper Swans. 

Monday, 13 November 2017

Williamson Birdlife.

Nice day on Saturday, and with no birding since Wednesday I was off for a walk through Williamson Park and on to Lancaster Cemetery . 

Not excactly a birding Mecca our park in Lancaster, but between here and the cemetery I noted, 16 Blackbird, at least the same number of Magpie and 3 RobinIn the cemetery, it was good to find my first 50 Redwing with small flocks very mobile from tree top to tree top, also an excellent count of 7 Nuthatch including three close together calling loudly in an excited call, a Goldcrest and 6 Long-tailed Tit were in trees by the cemetery entrance.

The Bullfinch.

Bullfinch. Geoff Gradwell.

Whilst in the cemetery on Saturday I recalled seeing my first ever 5 Bullfinch here 3 years ago on 30 October 2014, never before and not since. Always the chance I might connect with some again today which didn't happen, but checking through my records I noted another interesting sighting in 2004, when I made the following comments....'The most interesting Bullfinch I ever found was of four seen at Birk Bank car park on Rigg Lane 1 November 2004. I saw four here again three weeks later on 22 November when my records read that they were all male, almost a month later I made a third visit to Birk Bank on 18 December to find 8 Bullfinch and made my claim to have heard the distinctive 'toy trumpet' call of the Northern Bullfinch'.

I don't  recall ever seeing Bullfinch in our area of Bowland before, but it is interesting to note that 2004 was the year of a massive invasion of continental Bullfinch into Britain around mid-October when exceptional numbers were reported mainly in Scotland and along the east coast of England around mid-October.

Thanks to Geoff for his excellent Bullfinch composites, and to Richard for his equally excellent Redwing header.

There's a problem with the text background colour in this post which I have yet to rectify, but will have disappeared by the next post.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Whoopers Abound.

Whooper Swan. Brian Rafferty.

I'm reliably told of a total count of 1,350 Whooper Swan at locations in the Fylde, and I saw some Whooper Swan movement into and around Cockersand on Wednesday, with two flights of 25/20 S over Lighthouse Cottage, and later flights of 55/20 from the SW over the Cocker Estuary where birds were also seen on the sea. 

Whooper Swan. Brian Rafferty. 

When I got to estimate them in the field NE of Bank Houses where there had been c.265 on Monday, today there was up to 300 Whooper Swan.

Two Rock Pipit were always moving ahead of me on the tide wrack as I walked from Crook Cottage to Plover Scar around the high tide where there was a decent count of 112 Turnstone, 450 Oystercatcher, 52 Dunlin, and a lone Grey Plover, with 5 Eider off here. Of note on the circuit, 8 Blackbird seen, and up by at least 40 on Mondays count, 65 Collared Dove were in trees by Bank Houses horse paddock, 16 Greenfinch and a Reed Bunting on Slack Lane. 

Of note on the Lune Estuary at Glasson, c.420 Golden Plover, 225 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Snipe and 4 Goosander. And my third consecutive brief look in on Conder Pool - it's been going dark every time - a Common Sandpiper, 5 Wigeon grazing along the terrace at the rear of the pool, 2 Little Grebe were in the creeks, and c.30 Goldfinch were flight over the marsh.

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for his Whooper Swan images.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017


When I arrived at Cockersand yesterday it was soon apparent that the fields needed a little closer attention again with waders all over the place. In fields around Abbey Farm and Lighthouse Cottage, 550 Golden Plover, 105 Black-tailed Godwit, 75 Curlew, and at least 50 Turnstonewith Redshank and Lapwing, 8 Skylark went into the air, and there was no effort required in finding at least 265 Whooper Swan in a field to the north east of Bank Houses. 

Almost certainly the same bird seen here 25 October was a male Merlin obligingly on a fence post seen from Slack Lane where I saw a flock of 30 'finches' around the cover crop, 22 Linnet, 6 Greenfinch and 2 Chaffinch.

Off Lighthouse Cottage at high tide, 2 Rock Pipit were on the shingle and a Snipe came up off the marsh. When I returned to this area three hours later when the tide had dropped off, 12 Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Grey Plover were noted, with 2 Red-breasted Merganser seen off Plover Scar.

On the canal basin at Glasson, 33 Tufted Duck, a Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe. And the second successive brief look in on Conder Pool gave me a Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher, and a drake Goosander, 5 Little Grebe were in the creeks seen from the viewing platform in the half light.

Kestrel. Cockersand 6 November. Pete Woodruff.

The Kestrel was perched up by Bank Houses horse paddock posing nicely for me whilst I practiced my second rate photographic skills to achieve this 'hazy' shot as proof I'm not making much progress, also of note here was a good count of 25 Collared Dove loafing in a tree.

And a good time was had by all....again.    

Saturday, 4 November 2017

A Southerly Direction.

A trip south along the A588 on Thursday, had me down Crimbles to find 2 Ruff on the flood, with 82 Lapwingand a few Redshank and Curlew. A Barnacle Goose was with up to 450 Pink-footed Geese on Cockerham Moss, and along Gulf Lane at least 450 Whooper Swan including just 27 juvenile in a flooded corn field opposite Cockerham Moss Edge Farm, c.30 Tree Sparrow were in the area.

Pink-footed Geese Brian Rafferty     

I drove on to the viewpoint at Pilling Lane Ends to see several thousand Pink-footed Geese  distant and way out on Pilling Sands, no attempt to count, but probably at least 30,000. Along Fluke Hall Lane, 95 Whooper Swan, and at Fluke Hall 8 Long-tailed Tit in the hedgerow. Forty five minutes at Cockers Dyke sifting through at least predominantly 900 Black-headed Gull, had me find an adult Mediterranean Gull

On the way back to Lancaster, little more than a glance over Conder Pool showed 7 Goosander, and quick notes on the Lune Estuary in fading light, another adult Mediterranean Gull, a Greenshank, and a Peregrine Falcon squat on the weedy stones planning the next attack at low tide.

The Hawfinch.

As a scarce breeding bird in Britain, there is an unprecedented influx of Hawfinch taking place the true origin of which is not known. Although a small number of migrant Hawfinch are seen annually in autumn, but from early October this year single birds and even flocks have been seen at coastal watchpoints away from traditional breeding sites. Observations have also been made in other European countries and noted to have been higher than average counts of the Hawfinch.

Thanks to Antonio for the new header, and to Brian for the PFG....Brilliant images, brilliant birds.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Out And About....Again.

There was 2 Common Sandpiper at Conder Green again yesterday, one in the creeks and one down the channel towards the Conder Estuary. Four of the 5 Little Grebe seen were also in the creeks with just one on Conder Pool where there was a roosting Greenshank, 6 Curlew, and 3 Goosander.

Pink-footed Geese. Pete Woodruff.

From the coastal path, 73 Pink-footed Geese were over >south, 10 Long-tailed Tit and a similar number of Goldfinch.

An impressive sight in excess of 2,000 Golden Plover were on the Lune Estuary, with 82 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Great-crested Grebe and a Goosander noted. On the canal basin, 38 Tufted Duck seen, beware of the female with the white blaze, never as extensive as the Scaup, and this one has an obvious small tuft if you get close enough to it.

Lesser Black-backed Gull. Pete Woodruff.

At Cockersand, 25 Black-tailed Godwit and 10 Bar-tailed Godwit were of Crook Farm, with 25 Collared Dove and up to 40 Tree Sparrow around Bank Houses. Up to 350 Curlew were scattered through the fields here today.

Great-Grey Shrike....AC strikes again!

Great Grey Shrike. Preesall Flashes 1 November. Chris Batty.

I was grateful for the call at 2.50pm to tell me of a Great Grey Shrike at Preesall Flashes, though not seen again by dusk....But there again this morning at 9.05am.

My sincere thanks to AC for the call, and to CB for the image.