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

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Points Of View.

Attached is a draft sent to me by Ian Pinkerton a few weeks ago. Ian felt strongly about these issues, he knew what he was talking about, not least because of his long hours of dedication to the breeding Common Terns and Avocets, and to Conder Pool. 

I endorse everything Ian Pinkerton says here, they are not criticisms, just a point of view, and it is important for me to publish them. It is also very important to note his 'Thank You All' comments....diplomacy to the end, that was Ian Pinkerton.

Having enjoyed this hobby for 4+years I accept that I am still very much a novice as a bird 'watcher' (behavior) more so than a 'spotter'. Being unable to drive due to health issues, I spend long hours of my birding time observing at Conder Pool.

I comment on two issues. 

Water Level.

The 8 new islands need a lot of water to help define them as during their construction the water table was affected. This, plus the lack of ‘spring’ high tides (the last one 22/3/19) and the weather generally over the past months has caused a much lower level of water in the pool the extent that sheep (115 at the last count) have been able to easily wade across the shallow depths and tread on nests and eggs etc. My understanding from the RSPB was that following construction of the islands, the sheep would be prevented access until late July so as to allow nesting to take place and a sward of grass to establish itself to attract new habitants. To date, this unfortunate situation is very likely to have led to the loss of 4 Avocet nests, a Common Tern nest and those of several Black-headed Gulls all on the closest island behind the pontoon. If we now get a dry summer, further evaporation will take place. Hopefully, the forces of nature, to provide water, will eventually resolve the foregoing matters for next year. 

The Pontoon.

I’m sure that every good intention was meant and desired when the man made pontoon was initially placed in the pool. It certainly has attracted nesting birds (5 this year) plus their partners and any chicks. This very confined space has meant that the birds end up fighting each other for territory, food and killing of each other’s chicks (not predating). Due to the 2’ foot high perspex sides any chicks have nowhere to run to or hide when attacked, hence frequent corpses are seen. This is really hard to watch. I do think it’s time now for this man made construction to be removed.

May I stress that the foregoing are my own observations and personal opinions from having spent a considerable amount of time at this site each year. I would add that I am grateful to both the FBC & LDBWS, in conjunction with the RSPB and Environment Agency for their work, plus the provision and management of the pool area. 

Thank you all. 


Sunday, 25 August 2019

Green To Red.

On Fridays visit to Conder Green, the Greenshank of late - with a peak count of 14 on 19 August - had deserted Conder Pool, but 11 Little Grebe remained, with 8 Teal back on here, and up to 160 Lapwing seen. In the creeks, 3 Common Sandpiper and a Goosander, and at River Winds, House Martins showing interest in a nest where a bird could be seen inside.

Seen from the coastal path, a Sparrowhawk flew over and out on to the marsh, no doubt the culprit being the cause of everything on Conder Pool in the air a few minutes earlier. On the Lune Estuary, an adult Common Tern, a 2nd winter Mediterranean Gull, and 3 Greenshank, 4 Painted Lady were on Knapweed by the bowling green.

The plan was then to go to Heysham were I counted 28 Mediterranean Gull on Red Nab an hour before high tide. I reckon a few would have been missed, not easy to see, with some birds hunkered down, hidden amongst the rocks, and not close in on what was a 7.80m tide an hour after I left.

On the pond, a particularly stunning male Emperor Dragonfly and Common Darter, with 6 Painted Lady on Buddleia, a Peacock and Gatekeeper seen.

The header image taken on Conder Pool, is dedicated to the memory of Ian Pinkerton, whose funeral I attended at the Parish Church of All Saints at Wigan on Wednesday. The image is a classic of Ian's showing the adult and young Common Tern expressing disapproval of the sheep being on their territory. 

Holly Blue. Pete Woodruff.

It was nice to find a Holly Blue yesterday, not the best image of one, too much sunlight on the scene, and has wear showing in it's wings....But a nice Holly Blue in our garden all the same. 

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained.

On my latest visit to the Lune Estuary, 11 Greenshank remain faithful to Conder Pool, with 11 Little Grebe steady since the first week in August. Also, 3 Common Sandpiper on the pool, with 2 Stock Dove, and up to 160 Lapwing. Just as I was about to leave, an impressive at least 40 Swift were seen in a wide sweep of the skies above Conder Pool, the most Swift I ever saw in one sighting.

Ruff Conder Green. Stephen Dutton.

On the Lune Estuary, a Ruff was with barely a three figure of Redshank feeding close in, 6 Goosander were also noted. Over the canal basin, c.50 Sand Martin hawking, and on the canal by Christ Church, a Brown Hawker.

Butterflies seen in my time around the Lune Estuary, 90 Painted Lady (405), 11 Common Blue, 6 Small Tortoiseshell, and a Speckled Wood.

I'm grateful to Stephen Dutton for sending me the image of a Ruff in the creeks at Conder Green last weekend. I also made a video of the Ruff on Conder Pool, though not very successful as it was made looking into the sun, rendering the Ruff and three Redshank a semi silhouette.

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Tuesday, 20 August 2019

It's The Little Things!

It takes just a little to fire me up, doesn't need a MEGA, just the odd wagtail, one or two waders, a seriously impressive falcon, and some good counts on Conder Pool.

AC was instrumental in where I started a decent days birding yesterday, when I responded to a text from him and went to Bank End to see a Yellow Wagtail. OK, this is just one bird, but one with no regular breeding site in our area that I'm aware of, and only regular on autumn passage at coastal north Fylde, and good enough to get me off to a start with a spell of birding with a buzz.

After the visit to Bank End, Conder Pool kept me occupied for a while, when I found one, then two, then three Ruff. Seen as another bird with a scarce tag in winter, no better than an uncommon spring passage migrant, but does improve slightly in it's rankings, to become a fairly common autumn passage migrant, as indicated today on Conder Pool.

Common Sandpiper Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

The count of 14 Greenshank is an all time high in my book for Conder Pool, with 11 Little Grebe seen. There was 5 Common Sandpiper roosting at high tide, and 150 waders dropped in from the estuary to join another 150 already present to make up c.300 Redshank, and 6 Greylag noted.

There was a commotion over the creeks, when I looked round, a Peregrine Falcon was bombing through, it singled out a Lapwing which escaped with a lucky manoeuvre, and the falcon was lost to view. Ten minutes later it returned to rocket through Conder Pool, clearing out the entire area and disappeared over the canal.

On the way back to Lancaster, I called in at Aldcliffe to find 2 Green Sandpiper on the flood, a Little Grebe with 9 Teal and 13 Mallard on the Wildfowlers Pool. Butterflies seen, 3 Speckled Wood and 16 Painted Lady brought my tally to 315 this summer.

On Sunday it was good to find 5 Little Grebe on the old Moor Hospital reservoir at Fenham Carr, seen as two adult and three juvenile. I found the first Little Grebe here 18 November 2013, but despite several visits to Williamson Park since, I never saw it there again until today.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Saturday Birding.

The count on Conder Pool was the same as my visit last Monday, being 12 Greenshank and 11 Little Grebe. In the creeks, 3 Avocet seen were two juvenile and an adult, though the family was all present and correct earlier in the day, thanks to AC for the info,  also in the creeks, 2 Goosander. Four Common Sandpiper and up to 250 Redshank were down the channel, and 18 Goldfinch dropped onto the marsh, 3 Swift over, always the possibility of being my last this year being mid-August now. At least 25 House Martin were around River Winds.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, a Ruff and 7 Black-tailed Godwit were the odd ones out, with c.250 Redshank and a 'few' Dunlinall about to be driven off by the rising tide, and a Goosander seen. On Jeremy Lane, 2 Mediterranean Gull with c.100 Black-headed Gull, and 6 Tree Sparrow in the hedgerow. Around the Lune Estuary today saw 21 Painted Lady.  

Having lost all c.400 of my images during the removal of my old computer, and the installation of the new one, I'm struggling to put pictures to my post until the issue is resolved. Alternatively,  I need to build up a library of new piks, if I can have a bit more success with my new digital camera....!! 

For the sake of having a new header, I've put up one of my artistic efforts - there's a joke there somewhere - with a picture of the head-on Four-spotted Chaser at Birk Bank in July. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Fledged And Flown.

Juvenile Common Tern Conder Pool. Howard Stockdale.

Many thanks to Howard for what is probably the last image of this juvenile before it's obvious departure from Conder Pool by the time I arrived there on Monday. Who could have imagined this bird would survive, let alone look so good, after what had happened to it a little more than two weeks ago. 

With no sightings in two visits to Conder Pool, the Common Tern have departed 18 days after the two young birds had escaped death by Black-headed Gulls, and fledged two days later. The 5 Avocet family were seen at the east end of the creeks, the young are now fledged, first reported to have done so on Sunday.

On Conder Pool, another peak of 12 Greenshank, with 11 Little Grebe and a Goosander of note. A Kingfisher was hiding below the hedgerow at the west end of the pool before flying off across the pool and on to the canal. Eight Common Sandpiper were seen as five in the creeks and three down the channel. I watched a House Martin enter a nest at Cafe d' Lune, the breeding season prolonged into autumn, with double sometimes trebled-brooded.

Two Mediterranean Gull with Black-headed Gull. Pete Woodruff.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, after a spell of hard labour, 2 Mediterranean Gull found were both adult, and 3 Ringed Plover were seen as at best irregular here. A few Sand Martin were with Swallows over the canal basin. I saw 12 Painted Lady in my time around the area.

Another brief visit to Aldcliffe was made all the worth while with 5 Green Sandpiper on the flood, and a Little Grebe on the Wildfowler's Pool with 32 Mallard and little if anything else  on there. Butterflies seen, 19 Painted Lady, 4 Gatekeeper, a Peacock, and Meadow Brown. I also came across 3 Common Darter and a Blue-tailed Damselfly.

Monday, 12 August 2019

Keeping Up Appearances!

Like the train now arriving on Platform 2, this post is running late, but here we go....

My plans for Thursday didn't include any birding, but it was almost as if it was a duty for me, that I went to Conder Green for a couple of hours in the afternoon, if only to check out the Avocets and Common Terns.

Common Tern 8 August Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff. Clik The Pik

The 6 Common Tern which have been seen on Conder Pool consistently since 25 July, included two young, one of which was fed large fish. The current peak of 11 Little Grebe made life easy by being at rest, floating on the surface and making the count a doddle.

The 4 Avocet young seem to have taken up permanently at the east end of the creeks to be viewed from the A588, but today I could only find one adult bird, also in the creeks, 5 Common Sandpiper.

Banded Demoiselle Conder Green 4 June 2018. Pete Woodruff.

Conditions being perfect, and despite several previous attempts in the past few weeks, upstream from the road bridge, I found 2 Banded Demoiselle at the same location as 7 seen on 4 June last year. A Kingfisher flew downstream whilst watching the damselflies. 

Butterflies seen, 39 Painted Lady (247 to date), 4 Gatekeeper, and 2 Speckled Wood. On my return home, 7 Swift were over our house in Lancaster.

Piks with a difference.

Silver Y. Lynn Woodruff. Clik the pik

It's a while since we had a 'Pik's with a difference' on Birds2blog. This one of the Alien in Lynn's garden fills the gap nicely.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Ian Pinkerton.

I have just received a phone call to give me some personally devastating news that Ian (Pinky) Pinkerton has died suddenly.

Ian met and made many friends at Conder Green where he became the all conquering hero when it came to monitoring the ups and downs in the lives of the Common Terns which have bred on Conder Pool these past six years since July 2014, then got hooked on the Avocets which later followed suit to finally and successfully breed there too, with four young set to fledge imminently. Ian had watched these birds from hatching, and told me he was hoping they wouldn't fledge whilst he paid a visit to his home in Wigan, until he returned to Conder Green this very day Saturday 10 August....but this wasn't to be.

I will miss Ian very much, he was the man who always kept telling me, he was a golfer until the day he met me, and having seen and kept in touch with birds on Birds2blog, he never touched a golf club ever again, but rather spent hours on end keeping tabs on the birds he came to love on Conder Pool.

It's all your fault....Ian repeatedly spoke to me over the time he knew me, these words will ring in my ears for evermore....Conder Pool will never be the same again.

Thoughts and prayers for his dear wife Yvonne and their family. 

This is the last of hundreds of photographs Ian Pinkerton sent to me over the years, of the Avocets and Common Terns he monitored diligently....Clik the pik it really is good.

Thursday, 8 August 2019


I think we can all look forward to three excellent breeding records to come off Conder Pool this year. With one pair of Common Tern already having fledged two birds and departed, and another pair with two fledged young, having survived a near fatal attack by gulls, and well on their way to a hopefully full recovery. And a pair of Avocet which took four day old chicks over the bank from Conder Pool, across the busy B5290, and into the creeks, to survive to within a few days of feldging. Nature....truly amazing.

On Conder Pool, six Common Tern including two young, one of which was fed a large sized fish. Also on the pool, 2 Greenshank and 11 Little Grebe. The two fledged Black-headed Gull were loafing on the small island right of the viewing platform. Six Avocet including the four young, looking good and all set to fledge before the week is out, 4 Common Sandpiper also in the creeks.

The man at River Winds tells me in a conversation, of seven House Martin nests this year, at least 30 birds were milling over and around with one seen to enter a nest. Down the channel, up to 120 Redshank noted.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 2 juvenile Common Tern were a big surprise, they were on the tide-line below the south end of Colloway Marsh, the only other bird was a Bar-tailed Godwit.

Common Darter on canal tow-path. Pete Woodruff.

Butterflies seen in the Conder/Glasson and Saltcote Pool area, at least 70 Painted Lady, 11 Gatekeeper, 2 Common Blue, a Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell and Meadow Brown. Also on Saltcote Pool, a singing Willow Warbler, and 2 Brown Hawker, and on the canal tow-path, an Emperor Dragonfly and Common Darter

In the video, the two young Conder Pool Common Tern Wednesday 7 August, preening and looking good.

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Wednesday, 7 August 2019

On With The Show!

There was 6 Common Tern on Conder Pool Monday, including the two young birds seen flying around. I got the best views to date of these two birds since they fledged, which are looking better by the day. Double figures of 11 Greenshank and 10 Little Grebe, with at least 280 RedshankOne of the Black-headed Gull young has fledged leaving it's sibling behind on the pontoon.

Avocet Conder Green. Howard Stockdale. Clik the pik

Despite 2 hours at Conder Green, I saw only two young Avocet from four, but Howard's excellent image shows them almost ready to fledge any time soon. I failed to find any of the other Avocet, though two birders present told me they had seen the 'east end' chick whilst I was off on a wander to find 4 Common Sandpiper in the creeks.

Up to 40 House Martin were swirling over and around Cafe d' Lune, 2 Gatekeeper and a Speckled Wood were seen from the coastal path. Six Painted Lady were by the bowling green at Glasson Dock, and 6 Golden Plover were my first returners on the Lune Estuary.

In a one hour circuit of Aldcliffe, the only birds of note were, a Willow Warbler in striking fresh autumn lemon-yellow, and a 1st winter Whitethroat. Butterflies seen, 15 Painted Lady, 12 Meadow Brown, 9 Speckled Wood, 7 Gatekeeper, a Red Admiral, and a Silver Y.

In the header image, one of the young Common Terns. All things considered, looking good.

I've seen 208 Painted Lady to date this year, this one was on Buddleia near the Lifeboat Station at Morecambe on Sunday.

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Sunday, 4 August 2019

Dock And Green Day.

On Friday, with little activity on the outfall, I gave a couple of hours to Red Nab, to sit and watch the gulls and anything else that might be around, being pushed ever closer by the incoming tide. In the end, I noted 16 Mediterranean Gull and 5 Whimbrel.

On the pond returning from Red Nab, a Brown Hawker seen ovipositing, also a male and female Common Darter in tandem were seen in flight, constantly pausing to oviposit. Butterflies seen in 45 minutes at the south end of the reserve, 34 Painted Lady, at least 30 Gatekeeper, 18 Meadow Brown, 5 Common Blue, and 4 Peacock.

By now the Conder Green magnet had got a hold on me, and there I was. It was good to see 6 Common Tern, which included the two young birds seen in flight together. A peak count reached a double figure when I found 10 Little Grebe on Conder Pool today, also 7 Greenshank, 5 Dunlin and c.150 Redshank, I never did get around to counting them....too much Common Tern/Avocet distraction!

In the creeks, more sightings of the Avocet family of six, with two adult birds at the east end of the creeks, one of which was squat on the stony area, possibly brooding a chick I thought, also seen Common Sandpiper. Butterflies, 4 Speckled Wood, 2 Painted Lady, and 2 Gatekeeper.

The video of the juvenile Common Tern on Conder Pool 2 August, has had to be trimmed. I can't download more than 100mb to Birds2blog...Blogger restrictions.


There's no telling if any lasting physical or mental damage has been inflicted on this bird during the violent attack by the Black-headed Gull, but things appear to be going well for it. AMAZING....there, I said it again.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

A Rake Around The Estuary....Again!

A nice day for another rake around the Lune Estuary on Thursday, and positive news from Conder Green, where at least 9 Avocet were seen as two adult with four young set to fledge later next week, also another pair have one young from three still surviving.

Common Tern juvenile Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

Also good news, when 6 Common Tern included the two young which look to continue to recover and survive the gull attack on the pontoon. When I look at this image, it's hard to believe what happened to this bird eleven days ago.  More good news and a bonus, was of an adult Common Tern found bearing a ring on Conder Pool. 

Also on Conder Pool, 9 Greenshank and 9 Little Grebe, and in the creeks, 5 Common Sandpiper. A circuit Conder Green to Glasson and return via the canal tow-path, produced 9 Brown Hawker, and 3 Emperor Dragonflies including a female ovipositing on Water Lilies. Butterflies seen, 32 Painted Lady, 8 Meadow Brown, 5 Gatekeeper, and 4 Speckled Wood, a Buzzard was over the A588.

Thanks to Ian Pinkerton for the excellent header image of the four Avocet young at Conder Green.