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

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

A Whooper First.

Little to inspire on the Lune Estuary at Glasson or at Conder Green yesterday, with 25 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, and c.350 Wigeon to note. A Peregrine Falcon was on Colloway Marsh where there was 150 Pink-footed Geese at the south end, and another 325 over flying south, and at Conder Green, despite the usual good coverage, 4 Little Grebe in the creeks was as good as it got.

Whooper Swan Brian Rafferty

A Whooper First.

In excess of 1,000 Whooper Swan in the Thurnham/Cockersand/Bank End area, a record peak count first for this area of North Lancashire, counted in a wind chill of -6c from the east, and broken down as, 260 off Jeremy Lane, 435 in fields off Moss Lane, and 310 in fields NW of Bank End Farm, 7 Bewick's Swan were with the Clarkson's Farm herd.

The Cockerham Sands female Stonechat was again down at the east end of the caravan park where I had found it once before on 18 January, I also picked up a Merlin here as it zipped out of sight below the marsh and over the Cocker Estuary.

Stock Dove Richard Pegler

Field birds seen, 6 Stock Dove, 8 Skylark, 54 Dunlin were around a flood at Abbey Farm, and the Shoveler pair were again on the flood by Slack Lane/Moss Lane junction with c.60 Teal noted here, and 5 Snipe flushed out of the ditches, 2 Kestrel seen were at Bank Houses and Bambers Farm. Walking towards Crook Cottage, 4 Pied Wagtail, 4 Greenfinch, 2 Chaffinch, and a Wren seen. 

Cockersand Lighthouse. Pete Woodruff.


Saturday, 24 February 2018

A Wader Moment In Bowland.

Though it was a good sunny and windless day on Wednesday, it was a generally dull day for me in Bowland, not least because I found no Stonechat on my first venture of 2018 on to Hawthornthwaite Fell, though I reckon the two seen on my last visit on 27 December and previously 15 November, were keeping their heads down and in hiding from me this time.

Red Grouse Richard Pegler 

On the way up to the summit, the sum total of birds seen on this visit were 20 Red Grouse and 2 WrenDriving away from here I saw a single Fieldfare in flight at Cam Browand a Kestrel perched was the only raptor seen all day

In three and a half hours between Marshaw and the foot of Whinfold Fell where I saw 8 Red Grouse, I found just 11 species, including a Dipper and Grey Wagtail on the Marshaw Wyre.

The other seven....

Coal Tit

The Woodcock.

Woodcock. Noushka @ 1000-Pattes 

At Marshaw a moment of excitement came when a bird flushed just a few metres away from me, then just 30 seconds later a second bird also flushed and flew away....they were 2 Woodcock in a small damp woodland clearing.  As a bird of crepuscular habits, I was lucky to see these two daylight birds, but I recall going to Birk Bank with John Ledall one early evening before dusk many years ago to watch the Woodcock roding over the treetops.

By coincidence my last Woodcock seen was also two birds, and also in the same area of Bowland, one in the plantation at Marshaw, and later another in the plantation behind Tower Lodge 3 years ago on 18 March 2015.

Thanks to Richard and Noushka for their respective images.

Friday 23 February.

I escaped yesterday, but had only got to Conder Green before a call back home to attend a problem ended the day for me, but I had seen 6 Little Grebe, a Goosander, and the Common Sandpiper in the creeks, with a Kestrel hovering overhead. 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The Godwits Are Coming.

The Black-tailed Godwit.

Whilst I was at Conder Green yesterday, up to 500 Black-tailed Godwit flew over Conder Pool from the south and dropped out of sight on to the Lune Estuary where they had obviously joined ranks with birds already feeding on the incoming tide, upstream from the Conder Estuary to form an impressive conservative estimate of 3,750 Black-tailed Godwit

You would have to go outside Lancashire, to Marshside in North Merseyside, to exceed this number of BTG's, peak counts there were 5,000 in January, 3,000 in February....The Birds of Lancashire and North Merseyside 2016.

Other wader counts on the Lune Estuary at Glasson, 1,900 Golden Plover, 1,250 Dunlin, and 425 Curlew, also rans were 24 Goldeneye

Excitement was limited on Conder Pool, with a drake Goldeneye and 17 Tufted Duck holding the fort. In the creeks, the trusted and reliable Common Sandpiper was down by the iron bridge again, also 6 Little Grebe still holding on in the creeks.

Reed Bunting. Pete Woodruff.

The female Stonechat played hard to get again at Cockersand, I had to make three visits opposite Cockerham Sands CP to find the bird, today it had the company of a Reed Bunting

A Barn Owl was hunting over the rough land behind Lower Bank House, from where I saw 1,125 Pink-footed Geese in a field on the north side of the caravan park. One of 2 Kestrel seen was in this area, with the other over Slack Lane, at the junction of which I counted, 17 Pied Wagtail, 12 Meadow Pipit, and 4 Skylark in the 'Lapland Bunting' field. A pair of Shoveler had taken to the flood in this field again as they had on 1 February 2017, when they increased to five birds one day over the following weeks.

Twite. Richard O'Meara.

At least 70 Twite were again in the rough field behind Bank House Cottage, and 14 Eider were off Plover Scar. A few Fieldfare in flight caught my eye as I drove away from Cockersand along Moss Lane.

I'm off now, to see if I can find any Stonechats in Bowland....Back soon.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Wading In!

Waders were back in the fields at Cockersand in their thousands again on Friday. On the day I saw up to 4,500 Golden Plover, c.3,000 here and 1,500 at Glasson. An estimated 2,500 Dunlin were with the Golden Plover, and the uncounted Lapwing, Curlew, and Redshank created an impressive total of c.7,000 waders in the Cockersand fields today. 

There was also an exceptional count of at least 90 Meadow Pipit in one field today, with an absolute minimum of 8,000 Starling, and to add to the wader spectacle, the 5,000 Wigeon count of 5 February were again strung out along the tide between the lighthouse at Cockersand and Bank End. 

On Plover Scar, 550 Oystercatcher, 82 Turnstone and 3 Redshankwith 11 Eider seen off here, 3 Red-breasted Merganser drake were seen as one south past the lighthouse, then 30 minutes later two north.

I had to do a triple take of the area, but the female Stonechat eventually put in an appearance on the tide wrack at the CP, and at least 70 Twite were in the rough field behind Bank House Cottage again, with the Kestrel around too. I saw just 8 Skylark today, but somehow feel I probably missed seeing many more.

On Conder Pool, 2 Goldeneye, 5 Tufted Duck, 2 Greylag, and 8 Oystercatcher probably prospecting for breeding accommodation. In the creeks, Common Sandpiper, 3 Little Grebe, and a Kestrel hovering....long time no see a Kestrel at Conder Green.

The canal basin at Glasson Dock, 4 Goldeneye and a Great-crested Grebe noted, and on the Lune Estuary, 1,500 Golden Plover made up the days 4,500 total, last Monday's 1,500 Black-tailed Godwit again, 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 45 Teal, 7 Goldeneye, and a Great-crested Grebe, 52 Pink-footed Geese went over south.

The Meadow Pipit.

Meadow Pipit Antonio Puigg

Though the estimate of 90 Meadow Pipit at Cockersand today was exceptional, weather dependent, the birds may return to the moors in early February, conversely, if the weather is severe this may not be until mid-March. Movement of Meadow Pipit on a small scale on the coast can begin around today's date, but 90 birds seen on 16 February can hardly be called 'small scale'.

The Wheatear.

The earliest migrant Wheatear seen in Lancashire was on 26 February 2003. I'm hoping to have found my first by this time next month....Nice thought. 

By the way....The header Wheatear photograph was taken 6 September last year.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Up With The Lark.

Following a damp start, by mid-day on Monday the day came good with wall to wall sun, though the wind took the edge off it and was strong and very cold along the headland at Cockersand. 

Seen as at least a decent count, up to 65 Skylark were in the field to the north of Bank Houses........

Skylark Eagland Hill. Barry Dyson.

....But an even more exceptional count was made on 7 February, when BD achieved an amazing 470 Skylark at two locations in the Eagland Hill area, making my count at Cockersand look paltry by comparison, but a grand total of at least 470 Skylark is an inspiring sight, even seeing 65 in my case at Cockersand, and the perfect example of 'right place right time' to see a gathering of large scale cold weather movement of a bird like the Skylark. 

The female Stonechat was around it's chosen area of tide wrack by the CP with an endless supply of grubs keeping this bird here since 18 December, it had the company of a Reed BuntingA Kestrel was at Bank Houses with 6 Linnet seen. 

I pulled in on Moss Lane to check out a group of 210 of the c.500 Whooper Swan still in the area which have remained fragmented far and wide more than any other winter spent here, another small group seen later were accompanied by 13 GreylagApproaching the junction of the A588 from Moss Lane, at least 2,500 Pink-footed Geese were in fields, but despite 30 minutes, I found nothing 'odd' amongst them. 

As I stood by the bowling green overlooking the Lune Estuary at Glasson, a flock of waders created a loud whoosh as they flew full throttle low overhead, they went down onto the bank upstream of the Conder mouth and counted as 1,250 Black-tailed Godwit. Also of note, 550 Wigeon, 6 Goldeneye, and a Great-crested Grebe. The two drake Pochard were notable in their absence again on the canal basin.

Common Sandpiper. Conder Estuary  12 February. Pete Woodruff.

At Conder Green, the Common Sandpiper was down the channel seen from the iron bridge, and 6 Little Grebe were in the creeks.

Cormorant. Pete Woodruff.

Apart from this Cormorant taking a liking to the pontoon on Conder Pool - as a pair of Oystercatcher weighing up the accommodation, and a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gull have done recently - 82 Curlew were the only other birds present.

My birding has been at zero since Monday, as has Birds2blog'ing, and doesn't look good for any change as I see it at the moment....This is not good for my morale.

Monday, 12 February 2018

The Wildfowl Have It....Again.

I decided to give Cockersand and the howling cold wind a miss on Friday, instead I cut the estuary visit short and got my nose in on the parish of Aldcliffe for a couple of hours where wildfowl was the main feature.

With 3 Goldeneye and a Red-breasted Merganser all there was to note on Conder Pool, up to 450 Black-headed Gull dropped in, presumably a fragment of the couple of thousand seen off Jeremy Lane in the large recently sprayed field, on their way back to the Lune Estuary.

I legged it along the coastal path from Conder Green to Glasson Dock to find the low tide estuary pretty much the same as Wednesday, with just 75 Black-tailed Godwit and 5 Goldeneye of any significant note. On the canal basin, 9 Goldeneye, 2 Goosander drake, and a Great-crested Grebe, with the two drake Pochard 'missing'. A mooch along Jeremy Lane had me find 22 Whooper Swan in a field, split down the middle adult/juvenile.

Shoveler. Bob Bushell 

On Freeman's Pools, 56 Wigeon, 10 Gadwall, 8 Goldeneye, and 2 Little Grebe. A wander in a straight line with no detours along the road as far as Aldcliffe Hall Lane, found the Wildfowler's Pools like a series of lakes, 2 Goldeneye seen, with 10 Shoveler a notable count. A loud croaking Carrion Crow overhead, drew my attention to the Buzzard it was mobbing.

The Pintail.

Pintail. Bob Bushell  

I'm not all that well versed with the history of Aldcliffe, and had thought the drake Pintail I saw on the Wildfowlers' Pools was something of a scarcity there, but have since noted it on the Aldcliffe List for 2016/17, and my seeing six 2 years ago on Tuesday 15 March 2016, but I've no doubt it ever rises above occasional here, as the thirteen seen last Wednesday off Plover Scar.

Grey Partridge.

A bird with Red List status seen at Aldcliffe was the lone Grey Partridge which I watched heading away from me below the hedgerow in a stubble field. 

Grey Partridge. Geoff Gradwell.

The last Grey Partridge I saw was almost 2 years ago on 13 March 2016, and by quite a coincidence my record then reads....'seen below a hedgerow in a stubble field at Aldcliffe'. My previous record to this one was 4 years ago, when there was two birds seen at Cockersand on 13 May 2014.

Many thanks to Marc for the header, and to Bob and Geoff for their Pintail/Partridge images, all excellent, and all much appreciated.

Friday, 9 February 2018


Following Mondays spectacle, there was another on Wednesday, when I walked the length of coastline from Crook Farm to Bank End by which time I'd estimated at least 5,500 Wigeon stretching the entire length in some impressive rafts drifting in on the tide and including 13 Pintail and 12 Shoveler.

Stonechat Cockerham Sands 7 February. Pete Woodruff.

On the way to Bank End I saw the Cockerham Sands female Stonechat again. In the field NW of Bank End Farm, 245 Whooper Swan were accompanied by 2 Bewick's Swan. Returning from here, Greenfinch seen, and 35 Twite were in the rough field behind Bank House Cottage.

At Conder Green I found 8 Little Grebe, my best count here in up to 3 months, probably dispersed from some frozen pool somewhere, six of these were in the creeks and two on Conder Pool which was almost frozen over save a small area where the grebe's had taken advantage with a Mute Swan which I reckon was responsible for the ice free patch. Also in the creeks, a Goosander noted, and the Common Sandpiper was down the River Conder from the iron bridge, and had the entire channel to itself.

The canal basin was also frozen over except for an area at the SW corner where the two Pochard drake were with a lone Moorhen, 46 Coot were mainly stood on the ice

Low Tide Lune Estuary Glasson. Pete Woodruff.

Birds were all over the place on the low tide estuary at Glasson Dock, but there was no decent counts to be seen, the best example I could find was little more than 175 Golden Plover, 45 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Goldeneye, a Greenshank, and a Red-breasted Mergansera Merlin was distant on Colloway Marsh.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Wigeon Spectacular....And More.

Seen at Cockersand a month ago on 8 January, there was another spectacular sight of at least 4,500 Wigeon again at Cockersand on Monday, on a flat calm sea, a huge raft stretching from the lighthouse, drifting in on the tide towards the Cocker Estuary. As a bonus, 19 Eider, 15 Teal - surely more given time to search - and 4 Shoveler. On Plover Scar, 72 Turnstone, 8 Knot, and 2 Grey Plover. A lone Pink-footed Goose was off Plover Scar, the bird looked healthy, but drifting on the water I wondered if it could fly. 

I watched at least 100 Black-tailed Godwit drop into the field by the abbey including one individual in near breeding plumage, with c.200 Curlew in surrounding fields, 15 Twite went over my head and SW out to sea towards Pilling, also a skein of c.150 Pink-footed Geese flew south 2 hours after I had seen the same number flying north over Glasson. Star of the show was the female Stonechat seen again on the tide wrack opposite the caravan park.

Goldeneye Brian Rafferty

Of 14 Goldeneye seen, eight were on the canal basin and six on the Lune Estuary, interesting that the species here this winter have been predominantly drake. Also on the basin, 2 Pochard drake and a Great-crested Grebe of note, and on the estuary, at least 200 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, and a Goosander drake.

When I arrived at Conder Green, a nice welcoming party of 75 Black-tailed Godwit were in the creeks with 2 Little Grebe and a Goosander drake, the Common Sandpiper was down by the iron bridge, and 16 Goldfinch were on the marsh below the coastal path. On Conder Pool, 12 Curlew and a Little Grebe, with a pair of Oystercatcher appearing to be intent on their breeding programme here. 

Thanks to Brian Rafferty for the excellent image of Goldeneye on the canal basin at Glasson Dock, including two males displaying.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

In The Picture.

You may have seen in the comments section of my last post - 'Third Time Lucky' - on Birds2blog, take a look at it Here

In fact I did indeed take this shot of an Iceland Gull through the fence at Heysham Power Station. Rather remiss of me I must say, though at the time I was unconscious to the security breach I was committing.

I think as a responsible birder, it's a duty that I come clean on this mistake and use it as an opportunity to draw attention to the fact that it's pretty irresponsible to point a camera to take photographs at a highly secured Nuclear Power Station, as a warning to other birder/photographers, some of which are no more than self centred pricks, intent on getting a better pik than anyone else, which they always fail to do anyhow.

There's some sound advice and a warning about the consequences of photography at this location Here  

Whatever you do....Enjoy your birding.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Third Time Lucky.

I managed to talk KT into a walk along the seawall at Heysham this Sunday afternoon with the sole intention of seeing if we could find any of the celebrities available here over the past days. 

Iceland Gull Heysham Harbour 4 February. Pete Woodruff.

The Iceland Gull was picked up in flight across the harbour, and was quite mobile over the waterfall area before eventually disappearing into the south corner of the power station, it then flew over the Fisher rooftops and went down out of view behind a crane on the south quay, it made a brief appearance out in the open here from where I got a shot, acceptable by my standards....Third time lucky.

Chough Half Moon Bay 4 February. Mike Atkinson.

An earlier visit to Half Moon Bay gave me another chance at the long stay Chough, surrounded by hordes of 'walkies' and 'snappers'.

Stonechat Half Moon Bay 4 February. Mike Atkinson.

The long stay female Stonechat gave excellent views here again, also having tolerated the daily parade of dogs. 

Thanks to Mike for sending me the excellent images of these two equally excellent birds which he saw for himself this week.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Thursday 1 February.

By the time I got to Conder Green the 10.19m tide was lapping by the roadside, and a few birds had taken refuge on Conder Pool including, 2 Greenshank110 Redshank, 3 Snipe, 3 Goosander, 26 Curlew, a Goldeneye, and 120 Common Gull. The 2 Rock Pipit and 2 Red-breasted Merganser on Conder Pool I don't ever recall seeing there before, certainly not the latter. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock, 16 Goldeneye, a drake Pochard, Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe

At Cockersand, waders today were concentrated in Abbey Farm fields down to Lighthouse Cottage, where there was probably 5,000 birds, including most notably 2,000 Dunlin and 2,500 Golden Plover. When I went to Glasson 30 minutes later I found another 1,500 Golden Plover, in which case my records read....'at least 4,000 Golden Plover on the Lune Estuary Thursday 1 February'.

I found the female Stonechat again on the tide wrack at the caravan park, with 2 Reed Bunting, and singles of Wren, Goldfinch, and Pied Wagtail. In the field to the north of Bank Houses horse paddock, 3 Stock Dove, and 13 Skylark.

Whooper Swans.

Whooper Swans Brian Rafferty

Having my best chance to date to get close to the birds, I counted a total of 550 Whooper Swan in the Cockersand/Thurnham area. 

When I got to the field NW of Bank End Farm, the majority of Whooper Swan were pitched up there with a few further inland, in total I counted 315 birds. Later I took to a public footpath through the fields off Jeremy Lane, to get close and count another 235 Whooper Swan.

Thanks to BR for his excellent Whooper Swans, and to MA for his Starling header, a stunning bird photographed in perfect light showing it's iridescent plumage to perfection.  

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Hunt The Celeb's.

There's little purpose in this post, other than to point out a failure to find the birds. 

Against my better judgement, I decided on a 'Hunt The Celeb's' on two dates, there having been a selection in the Heysham Harbour area recently, with a list including....

Glaucous Gull
Iceland Gull
Little Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Brent Geese

Wednesday 24 January was my first failure date. The session started in good style and an encouragement to move on to my hunt at Heysham Harbour, when I soon found the Chough and Stonechat at Half Moon Bay. But 2 hours later, and in pretty difficult windy conditions and a gust almost blowing me off the south wall and into the sea at one point....I found bugger-all.

The hunt on Tuesday 30 January for a repeat 2 hours at Heysham, also had the same miserable 100% failure rate when again I found bugger-all. Imagine, not one bird from seven possibles, despite constantly grilling, including in excess of 300 mainly Black-headed/Herring Gulls at Red Nab/Outfalls/Harbour. Ironically, this day ended as the first attempt had started on 24 January, when I went to see the Chough and Stonechat, and found them both again within 15 minutes of arriving at Half Moon Bay.

Wot No Birds & No Piks

Most of lifes rewards can be found in birding....that's my take on it anyway.