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

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Decent By Numbers.

Monday was a decent day on the numbers score, starting at Conder Pool where 11 Greenshank was the best ever count here at one sighting, also on the pool, 7 Little Grebe was the new high.

Two adult Common Tern accompanied the two fledged juveniles, which haven't yet convinced me that all is well, despite AC telling me that both had been seen in flight on Sunday, they've moved little on any of my sightings, and I've yet to see them fed by parent birds. Today they were hunkered belly down in the same place during the five hours I was in the Lune Estuary area.

In the creeks, 8 Avocet seen as the family of six, and two adult from the A588, also in the creeks 5 Common Sandpiper. There was around 20 House Martin around the River Winds and Cafe d' Lune where I saw one bird approach a nest but immediately flew off.

On the Lune Estuary, a Greenshankand Whimbrel, 6 Black-tailed Godwit, c.200 Redshank, and half that number of Dunlin. There was a small unidentified duck too distant to photograph, upstream and well beyond the Conder mouth, presumably a hybrid of sorts. 

   7 of 15 Painted Lady on Knapweed July 29. Pete Woodruff.

The decent numbers day kicked off again, and by the time I had done a circuit from Glasson Dock, along the canal tow-path to Conder Green and return, I got a good share of an influx when I had seen 55 Painted Lady including 15 together on Knapweed by the bowling green. 

Along the coastal path, 28 Gatekeeper, 7 Speckled Wood, 6 Meadow Brown, 3 Peacock, and 2 Red Admiral. On the canal tow-path, 9 Brown Hawker was my best ever count of this dragonfly, and 4 Emperor Dragonfly males were also seen.

Common Tern on Conder Pool....Breeding season late June/early July.

Guy McClelland (LDBWS) has noted seeing an adult Common Tern on Conder Pool yesterday, the bird was presenting another with a fish, a gesture of breeding behavior, which I myself also saw on Monday. Comments went on to rightly note the late date for breeding behavior by Common Terns adding when they first colonised Conder Pool and went on to breed for the first time here, was also a late date....Interesting.

In fact Common Terns were first seen on Conder Pool on 14 July 2014 and went on to successfully rear two young. 

Thanks to Marc Heath for the Brown Hawker header image.  

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Friday 26 July.

Setting aside the exciting events concerning the Common Tern fledglings, 5 adult Common Tern were in flight over Conder Pool in the afternoon, they were all noisily screeching in the area where the juveniles were and also over the pontoon, but nothing came of the commotion, and it eventually quietened down.

With a slow build up in number on Conder Pool, 6 Little Grebe were seen today, and a Greenshank and Stock Dove were of note. In the creeks, 7 Avocet were seen as two adults with four growing young, but I failed to find the single young with the other adult, this bird being the lone survivor of three chicks seen on Conder Pool 17 July, also in the creeks 10 Common Sandpiper.

On the Lune Estuary, 8 Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, up to 250 Redshank, no attempt to count, but probably c.100 Dunlin distant upstream beyond the Conder mouth, 26 Little Egret, and a Black Swan was probably the regular bird returned to the area

From the coastal path, 18 Gatekeeper and 2 Speckled Wood, also a small flock of 6 Long-tailed Tit.

The Greylag is Britain's only native breeding goose, and colour marking projects were undertaken to gain a better understanding of the movements of these birds.    

This Greylag was on Conder Pool a week ago, Orange collar marked SFY in June 2016, at Rayrigg Hall by Lake Windermere in Cumbria. It is always interesting to see the history of marked birds, and I'm grateful to Kane Brides for sending me this one. 

Ongoing computer problems mean I have no photographs appropriate for the blog, but the header is of the Speckled Wood on the coastal path at Conder Green on Friday.

Saturday, 27 July 2019


I was at Conder Green Thursday/Friday, and have been truly amazed both times. 

Following a horrific attack by Black-headed Gulls breeding on the pontoon, and a message on Monday saying two Common Tern young appeared to have been killed by them, when I arrived at Conder Pool on Thursday morning, all I saw was an adult Black-headed Gull with two young on the pontoon. 

 Wednesday 24 July Ian Pinkerton. Clik the pik

I was in disbelief, but remembering this image sent to me the day before, indicating that fledging was a possibility and sooner than I had imagined. Despite injuries looking pretty awful, the birds had fledged....Amazing. 

I had to make a search to find these birds to prove they really had escaped. I found them, they were out of sight from the viewing platform, and the day after on Friday afternoon I found them again in the very same place with both adults in attendance. From the distance I was viewing them from, I could see two young fledged Common Terns, and considering the injuries inflicted at the hands of the Black-headed Gull, they seemed in good condition whilst I watched them preening.

It's a pity I didn't see these birds being fed, nor did I see them in flight, I'd have been even happier if I had. But this story may well have a happy ending after all....Unbelievable.

If you're wondering what this post is all about....You haven't read This one    

Thursday, 25 July 2019

The Birk Bank Round.

Clik the piks, they are bigger and better....well I think so! 

I made a return to Birk Bank on Tuesday, doing the walk in reverse of the one done last week and starting at the bog, where in three previous visits I found the four species of dragonflies seen today, giving the impression that these are the only ones present to date on the bog at Birk Bank. 

The male and female Keeled Skimmer were mating as I arrived, later the male chased the female around all the time which made occasional pauses to oviposit. Meanwhile a male Broad-bodied Chaser was pursued by the Keeled Skimmer.

Four-spotted Chaser Birk Bank 23 July. Pete Woodruff.

The only Four-spotted Chaser in my four visits here, has persisted in settling on this twig each time I've been here.

On the walk last Monday I had seen 5 Purple Hairstreak in three different Oaks along the way. I was determined to see if I could find more in the many Oaks in the area, but I failed....perhaps my determination wasn't the 100% it needed to be.

The Purple Hairstreak can be found wherever there are Oak trees, the problem is they remain high in the tree canopy causing them to be easily overlooked, their main food source is honeydew. Seeing this handsome butterfly is made easier if a visit is made to the location on a warm summer evening.

Oak Tree Birk Bank. Pete Woodruff.

The Oak ahead of me in the old quarry held at least 2 Purple Hairstreak seen in a 30 minute watch. When I went close up to the tree, I had good views of one butterfly on the lower branches....but do they ever open their wings at rest?

Golden-winged Dragonfly Birk Bank 23 July. Pete Woodruff.

When I arrived at the stream by Cragg Wood, I soon saw 2 Golden-winged Dragonflies, one of which kept returning to rest on the handrail on the small footbridge, having the same habit as the chaser on the twig at the bog.

I watched the dragonflies at the bog to the sound of a singing Willow Warbler, and a Buzzard soaring overhead. At Cragg Cottage, nesting House Martin and 2 Goldfinch noted.

Butterflies seen, uncounted but at least 30 Meadow Brown and 4 Painted Lady, of which I've seen 63 to date.

Albeit a repeat of the last Birk Bank Round on 15 July with nothing new to add, but an excellent day with excellent dragonflies and butterflies.

Monday, 22 July 2019

The No Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

The pik's need to be viewed Full Screen as I seem to have no control over the size for the moment. I've lost some of the editing tools on a new computer. 

The nice picture in the header belies the truth about Conder Pool and the fact that the Black-headed Gull has finally killed the two Common Tern chicks, the runt probably having already perished prior to the demise of it's siblings.

Image Ian Pinkerton

I get a little fed up about always being right most of the time, but this is something I have to live with, and this is a perfect example. Although not to the letter on this occasion - as I had predicted the outcome was going to be the reverse - that the prediction was, the Common Terns would kill the Black-headed Gulls, also that this outcome would have happened much sooner than it has. But the video I made of the attack on the Oystercatcher by the Common Tern - the chicks of which suffered a much earlier fate - seemed to make it clear that the terns would be the victors hands down....So that's 'right most of the time' coming in to play. 

The good news from Conder Green as the header shows, the Avocets and young are  surviving and thriving, and the returning pair of Common Terns produced two chicks which successfully fledged, and eventually departed Conder Pool, one of which was almost certainly one of the birds seen at Cockersand yesterday along with some adults, per Fylde Bird Club Sightings. 

 View Full Screen

Thanks to Ian Pinkerton for the header and harrowing video. Ian must have been screaming to have to watch the demise of these unfortunate creatures....I was.

Long live the pontoon, and the re-structuring of Conder Pool too, both great ideas gone badly wrong.


Clik the pik

Ian Pinkerton has returned to Conder Pool this evening to be amazed to find the young Common Terns alive, but not looking good. This bird has terrible injuries. and I'd be surprised if they survive this attack by the Black-headed Gulls.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Gold, Purple, And Some Others Part 2.

Bitten by the Golden bug, I drove up to Grizedale Bridge at SD535490 to find 6 Golden-ringed Dragonfly on a stretch of Grizedale Brook between the bridge and Holme Wood, where I stood a while on the board-walk, staring at the Oaks to eventually see up to 3 Purple HairstreakA short walk into Holme Wood for about 200m saw, 4 Grey Wagtail on the brook, a Song Thrush, and a juvenile Robin. As I came out of the wood, a 'mewing' Buzzard was overhead. 

Large Skipper. Pete Woodruff.

Butterflies seen, at least 40 Meadow Brown, 8 Small Skipper, 6 Painted Lady, 6 Small Heath, a Large Skipper, and a Peacock.

I paid a token visit to the bottom end of Hawthornthwaite, apart from the expected few Meadow Pipit, around 6 Sand Martin were seen, a Raven was 'honking' overhead, and a Red Admiral to note.

It was another day not overwhelmed by number, but another excellent day for a bit of quality in the book. 

This post is dedicated to Peter and 'a great spot by Dot', that's what the man said in the e-mail Dot.....Excellent stuff.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Conder Pool....Swings & Roundabouts.

All was revealed at Conder Green on my latest visit.

The Avocets.

When I arrived, the first birds I saw were two adult Avocet on the marsh at high tide, previous reports had indicated these birds had taken four chicks from the pool and into the creeks, so I assumed they were in the long grass until the tide dropped off, when all four appeared and were seen feeding. Meanwhile, surprise, surprise, two more adults accompanied three more chicks below the viewing screen. So both pairs of breeding Avocets have had success on the two small islands which have surfaced at the west end due to the water having fallen to such a low level. There was two more Avocet at the back of Conder Pool, one of which was a well grown juvenile

The Common Terns.

The pontoon Common Tern seen were, two adult and three young including the runt which still causes me concern, and an adult sitting on the back-side of the small island. I had no sign of the two fledged Common Tern, a report on last Sunday was that of two juvenile being fed by adults on the Lune Estuary, indicating these birds have now moved off Conder Pool. 

Conder Pool Records.

Six adult Avocet, seven chicks, 4 adult Common Tern including one sitting on the small island, and three young on the pontoon. A Black-headed Gull with two young also on the pontoon. There was at least 150 Redshank in the high tide roost, also 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, 3 Little Grebe, and 10 Greylag including a collar marked bird.

The video is of two adult Avocet with three chicks on Conder Pool. 

View Full Screen

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Gold, Purple, And Some Others.

On Monday I was reminded of the days when I was accompanied on most of my birding days by my mentor John Leedal. A fern is a fern, and heather is heather, well it is if you're as ignorant as me. But I was out and about with Barry Dyson today. I learned quite a few things I didn't know about, and some of my ignorance was turned into a bit more knowledge.

We sauntered along Rigg Lane, and up Littledale Road, to arrive at the early beginnings of the River Conder by Cragg Wood, to find 3 Golden-ringed Dragonfly patrolling a section of the stream. This dragonfly is unique, in that its breeding habitat is entirely confined to acidic upland streams in areas of blanket bog and moorland heath, little wonder you can find them in this area like we did today. A Small Skipper was seen from the path away from here. 

Purple Hairstreak. Barry Dyson.

We found at least 5 Purple Hairstreak, three were seen in the Oaks around Ottergear Bridge, and by the time we reached the bog at Birk Bank, singletons were seen in two other Oaks along the way. 

At the bog, another Golden-winged Dragonfly, male Keeled Skimmer, 2 Four-spotted Chaser, and an Azure Damselfly.

Butterflies seen, uncounted but at least 30 Meadow Brown, a Red Admiral, and a Green-veined White. I made notes of only three bird species, Willow Warbler were seen along Rigg Lane, a movement of 8 Mistle Thrush, and a Buzzard soaring and 'mewing' overhead Birk Bank.

I had a privileged feeling when this Golden-ringed Dragonfly came to rest on the leg of my tripod, with the young River Conder flowing by over the ford.  

Not overwhelmed by numbers, but an excellent day in excellent company, with quality making up for lack of quantity....Thanks Barry.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Keepin' The Faith!

Conder Update.

I've decided to leave my post exactly as I had drafted it yesterday, it reflects the sightings as seen by me on Friday. However, a report I read this Sunday morning (Fylde Bird Club) claims 2 adult Avocet with 4 chicks at Conder Green hiding in the grass on the marsh, and being defended from intruder all comers by the parent birds. But my original post reads that the Avocet chicks had obviously escaped my attention....

Having received an e-mail Friday morning, of an adult Avocet in the creeks with chicks being harassed by a Lesser Black-backed Gull, it was no surprise to find the two west end small islands deserted having been occupied by two sitting birds for the past few weeks. The only 2 Avocet seen at Conder Green were in the creeks, creating another 'no surprise' with not a chick in sight. 

Common Tern seen on Conder Pool, three chicks from the second pair on the pontoon, though the runt gave cause for concern, being only half the size of it's two siblings, one of which downed a large fish in a couple of gulps. The two fledged CT's of a week ago were looking good, and a pair of CT are almost certainly nesting on the back-side of an island, in which case Conder Pool will have had three breeding pairs in 2019. The two Black- headed Gull young are hanging on in there, and 2 Little Grebe and 12 Greylag were noted.

In the creeks, 5 Common Sandpiper and a Greenshank seen. From the coastal path, 9 Gatekeeper, and a wander along the canal tow-path saw, 3 Emperor Dragonfly, 2 Brown Hawker, 5 Meadow Brown, 3 Painted Lady, a Red Admiral, and a Small Tortoiseshell.  

The Conder Green Swift.

I had seen a Swift on Monday at Conder Green Farm, and made the comment in my previous post, that I had seen Swift at the farm around this time last year, and went on to say, at both sightings I had observed the bird flying head on toward the gutter before veering away at the last minute.

On Friday I was watching the Swift again, this time I eventually saw it enter the underneath of the guttering. Going in to the farmyard, I spoke with three people there, to explain what I was up to hovering around their property and what I had seen, giving them the news that the Swift was almost certainly breeding at their farmhouse, the first time it had done so at the farm that I was aware of in many years birding the area.

No piks in the post, but a short half decent video of the Spotted Redshank at Conder Green early May (Best Full Screen)

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Red Nab Therapy.

It was never planned, it just happened to be a couple of hours at Heysham Red Nab on Sunday which proved to have excellent therapeutic value. It was good to sit quietly and watch the gulls slowly pushed closer by the incoming tide....recommended if you want your head clearing out. 

Five Mediterranean Gull, and 4 Whimbrel seen. Over the pool on Heysham NR, a male Emperor Dragonfly chased a female around, which was eventually seen ovipositing, also a male Broad-bodied Chaser, a Painted Lady and Small Skipper

On Monday, a check of Conder Pool showed harmony to prevail on the pontoon, though a period of flying around, with screeching gulls and terns, and dive bombing at the pontoon, eventually calmed down.

Common Tern adult with juvenile. Conder Pool 8 July. Pete Woodruff. 

Three young are out of the second Common Tern nest, the two fledged CT's are enjoying their freedom and independence, as are the two fledged Black-headed Gull young. The second BHG now has two chicks out of the nest, and one of the Avocet also has day old chicks out of the nest, whilst the other Avocet continues to be sitting.

Two Little Grebe were seen again, and the Little Ringed Plover put in another brief appearance, with no evidence of breeding seen to date. In the creeks 12 Common Sandpiper, and on a wander, a Whitethroat, a Painted Lady and Cinnabar moth seen.

Swift at Conder Green.

Swift was seen around Conder Green Farm, and by something of a coincidence was only two days adrift of one seen here on 6 July 2018, when it showed the same behaviour as this 8 July bird, in that it having been flying low around the farm, twice appeared to be going head-on under the guttering of the farm-house before sharply veering away. 

The Swift has never nested here to my knowledge, so it's hard to understand exactly what this behaviour is all about, though I read an interesting comment recently....'now is when patient watching reveals active nests and boxes can attract non-breeders searching for future sites'....perhaps I'd better be more vigilant next year. 

Cabbage Moth. Lynn Woodruff.

Thanks to Lynn for the Cabbage Moth found in her garden recently. A common moth which resembles a few other species, and has the unfortunate distinction of being a serious pest, mainly due to its liking for the cabbage as it's name indicates. 

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Third Time Lucky.

Clik The Piks in this post....they are bigger, and hopefully much better.

 Keeled Skimmer Birk Bank 5 July. Pete Woodruff.

It was third time lucky for me at Birk Bank on Friday. I had been there three times recently and failed to hit the target, but it changed for the better this time. 

Keeled Skimmer mating pair Birk Bank 5 July. Pete Woodruff.

The bog wasn't excactly alive with activity, in fact the peak count was four dragonflies seen at the same time, but the male Keeled Skimmer behaved impeccably most of the time including coupling with the female, evidence they are attempting to keep the colony going, the only one in Lancashire as far as I know, the next one north being in Cumbria. A Four-spotted Chaser and a male Broad-bodied Chaser were the other two seen today. 

A Buzzard soared mewing overhead, and a female Blackcap and 2 Robin juveniles seen. Butterflies seen, 4 Painted Lady and a Small Tortoiseshell.

At Conder Green, the first two Common Tern young have fledged, the second bird doing so at 2.08pm was a pleasurable sight, particularly for the dedicated and determined Common Tern champion Ian Pinkerton. The second Common Tern continues to tend to it's three young in the right hand corner of the pontoon.

There was at least 10 Common Sandpiper on the small island at high tide, 2 Little Grebe seen today, 2 Greenshank, and the Little Ringed Plover put in an appearance.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

The Ringlets Have It.

On Thursday, a couple of hours at Heysham 10.15 - 12.15 produced 12 Mediterranean Gull, 8 on Red Nab, 3 on No2 Outfall, and 1 on No1 Outfall. I'm reliably informed of up to 30 birds on the early incoming tide that morning, but soon flew south, which accounts for my only finding twelve.

Rock Pipit Heysham Harbour 4 July. Pete Woodruff.

The breeding Rock Pipit seen carrying food for young, was by the lighthouse on the south wall.

Ringlet Heysham NR 4 July. Pete Woodruff.

Thirty minutes in the southern half of Heysham NR showed me an amazing 52 Ringlet, 16 Small Skipper, 6 Painted Lady, a Gatekeeper, a Six-spot Burnet, and 2 Chiffchaff

Mediterranean Gulls Conder Pool 24 June

Thanks to Ian Pinkerton for sending me his video of the two Mediterranean Gull, showing the black wing-tip markings of the ringed 2nd summer bird ZHF3, separating it from the all-white adult bird....As always, Full Screen is best.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Pontoon Harmony.

It was all very harmonious on the pontoon on Tuesday, and Conder Pool was quite busy, with plenty to entertain for a couple of hours.

Nine Common Tern were seen as two pairs with five young, the second pair having three young in the nest. The Black-headed Gull young are progressing well to get beyond the prey stage and hopefully to fledge, 4 Avocet remain with two sitting, one of which has three eggs. Also to note, a Greenshank, Little Ringed Plover, the Little Grebe seen again, and a Stock Dove.

I watched 12 Common Sandpiper explode into the air and scatter from the backside of the near right hand small island, I decided not to count the four seen later in the creeks on the circuit to eliminate duplication....16 Common Sandpiper?

A Lesser Whitethroat gave excellent views in the hedgerow, later a Whitethroat seen. Butterflies seen, 4 Painted Lady, a Red Admiral, and a Meadow Brown. Two Swift were over the canal basin at Glasson Dock.

Watch the video 'Full Screen' and see the characteristic foot-trembling behaviour on soft mud by the Little Ringed Plover to unearth it's food of insects and worms.....Fascinating stuff.

Little Ringed Plover Conder Pool 2 July. Pete Woodruff

Thanks to Ian Mitchell for his excellent header image of the Keeled Skimmer at Birk Bank yesterday, the bog is currently a carpet of yellow with Bog Asphodel.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Harrisend And Lady's Day.

It's over nine weeks since I went on Harrisend Fell 22 April to find no Stonechat. Prior to the April visit I had been on Harrisend on 9 August last year, since when my upland birding has been drastically curtailed for reasons beyond my control. But never mind all that....  

On my latest visit last week, I had just stepped on to the track when I heard two distant clicking pebbles, and soon locked on to a nice male Stonechat. It was a sign of things to come, if only because four more birds followed later, not a remarkable result for three hours, but....mustn't grumble.

I didn't make a count, but at least 30 Meadow Pipit seen, also Willow WarblerBlackbird3 Mistle Thrush, and a Buzzard. Butterflies seen, 14 Painted Lady and 9 Small Heath.

Broad-bodied Chaser Birk Bank. Pete Woodruff.

The plan now was to go to Hawthornthwaite, but a road closure put an end to that idea, so off I went to Birk Bank on a dragonfly hunt....Not a roaring success, but almost one hour staring at the bog - no jokes please - had at least one Broad-bodied Chaser, and a Four-spotted Chaser. Birds seen, a singing male and a female Blackcap, 3 Willow Warbler, a Song Thrush, and juvenile Robin. Butterflies seen, 4 Painted Lady and a Red Admiral, and by a coincidence later in our garden, the same number of 4 Painted Lady and a Red Admiral.

Painted Lady. Cheryl Woodruff.

My tally to date stands at 34 Painted Lady butterflies since the first one seen on 16 June, the influx gathers pace. No apologies for the third image in a row, this one on our garden Hebe....Thanks Cheryl.