Birding The Lune Estuary The Forest Of Bowland And Beyond.............................................................................................................HIGH BROWN FRITILLARY STEVE GRAHAM

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Picture Post.

I had a conversation on the telephone with Martin Jump yesterday, very informative and much appreciated. Later in the day, two e-mails collided in my inbox, when some images sent by Martin, and some more sent by Howard Stockdale, arrived virtually at the same time....Please clik the piks.

Purple Heron Eagland Hill. Martin Jump.

Martins images where of the Purple Heron which had been at Eagland Hill recently, and still was yesterday.

Stonechat Cockersand. Howard Stockdale

Howards images where of the 'Lighthouse Stonechat' which he found yesterday in the set-aside on Slack Lane. This is great news, as I had not seen this bird despite two visits here, and it had not been seen since 22 December by Andrew Cornall.

Thanks to Martin and Howard for the excellent images.

Bring on the clowns.

In relation to my last post, a couple of piks I thought you might like to see, albeit for all the wrong reasons....You did watch the video I hope.

Unfortunately I gave my vote to put this clown in Westminster as our PM. Although I voted to remain in the EU, I was left with no choice, as any other vote would have made things even worse, as if that was possible. 

As for the ever grinning Farage. Here we see him shaking the hand of yet another illegitimate creep.

My point is this, you can't get above and beyond these idiots, the Fox - and don't forget the Hen Harrier - stands no chance of being protected against the bastards who kill for kicks, whilst the Westminster bunch make the rules, then tell everyone to ignore them.

Hopefully I'll be back soon, and Birds2blog will continue with the purpose it was created for, to record the birds I have a passion for.     

Friday, 27 December 2019

This Is A Merry Christmas!

I can't get out birding at the moment - I'm not up to it - and I can't think of a better way to fill the gap than this to spread the word.  

Seeing is believing....I used this expression in my post about seeing in excess of 1,000 Fieldfare and Redwing recently, and it's appropriate that it's used here again.

We have to stop these vile monsters who breathe the same air that we do on this planet.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

A Little Pre Christmas Routine.

Definitely not routine in a boring way, but a wander on Monday around the Lune Estuary before Christmas, started by finding Conder Pool having just five birds present, 2 Magpie, a Goosander, a Grey Heron, and the semi-resident Lesser Black-backed Gull. Oh yes, and a lone Redwing on the berries. In the creeks, 7 Little Grebe included five down the channel almost out of sight towards the Conder mouth, 82 Mallard and up to 120 Teal were also noted in the creeks.

At Glasson Dock, estimates on the Lune Estuary, 2,500 Golden Plover, 850 Black-tailed Godwit, 550 Common Gull, 350 Dunlin, 120 Redshank, 75 Curlew, and the lone Bar-tailed Godwit seen last Thursday.

The sole purpose of a brief visit to Cockersand on Monday, was to find the Stonechats either at the Caravan Park/Lighthouse Cottage or both, which unfortunately ended in failure, but it was interesting to see the report of a pair of Stonechat on Monday in the field by the church at Cockerham, per Fylde Bird Club.

At least 350 Curlew seen at the Cocker Estuary, and c.150 Whooper Swan in the field to the north behind the Caravan Park were seen as a number which looked reduced by something like 100 here for several weeks. At Clarkson's Farm, 3 Bewick's Swan were with 28 Whooper Swan.

Still at it at Cockersand, seven at a time. Clik the pik and see. 

Sunday, 22 December 2019


Not a lot, but good numbers of waders on the Lune Estuary at Glasson and Cockersand, but the day ended with disappointment on Thursday. 

Doing a circuit of Cockersand, by the time I reached Lighthouse Cottage to do the return along the headland, daylight was fading fast on a dull grey day, the telescope was a mile away in the motor at the Caravan Park, and a couple of thousand waders were on the shore between Plover Scar and Crook Farm and needed a good looking through....This wasn't me at the cutting edge of birding, just part-timing. 

But back to the beginning.....Hunkered down amongst the stones, 3 Snipe were on the small island on Conder Pool, with 52 Mallard the only other birds present, c.50 Fieldfare and at least 4 Redwing were along the hedgerow, and 2 Little Grebe were in the creeks.

On the Lune Estuary, waders to note, up to 1,900 Golden Plover350 Redshank325 Black-tailed Godwit, 280 Dunlin, 145 Curlew, and a lone Bar-tailed Godwit. Also probably 4,000 Lapwing in view, with 4 Goldeneye, a drake Goosander, and a Little Grebe.

At Cockersand, c.300 Fieldfare still around, 450 Curlew in fields, and 3 Kestrel sightings may have only been two birds. Off Plover Scar, with no telescope, a large raft of at least 2,000 Wigeon.

It's a while since we had a 'piks with a difference' to put a smile - but not for the crab - into birding.

Gull with crab. Howard Stockdale.

Howard sent me this image, he said the shot was of 'a gull talking to a shore crab', but I somehow don't think it was wishing it a Merry Christmas!....Thanks for this Howard.

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Seeing Is Believing.

Well I thought I'd seen it all on Monday with the unprecedented numbers of winter thrushes to be seen around the Lune Estuary. But Tuesday was to be a repeat and more when I decided to do the 5 mile trek from Lancaster to Glasson Dock, and by the time I reached there I had recorded in excess of Mondays total of 1,000 winter thrushes.

Fieldfare @Pegler Birding 

Starting with the birds seen at Aldcliffe, where - by the time I reached Aldcliffe Hall Lane from Freeman's Wood - I had seen at least 200 Fieldfare and probably half that number of Redwing, a similar ratio of which continued for three hours until I reached Glasson Dock to repeat Mondays conservative total of 1,000 Fieldfare which included at least 50 seen at Conder Green. Added to this, I recorded 105 Blackbird and 2 Song Thrush along the way.

This was one of those unbelievable experiences, including the Blackbirds. I had Fieldfare and Redwing in my sights virtually all the time, seeing it was believing it. 

Back to the start, with the exception of up to 40 Teal, Freeman's Pools was quiet, a pair of Gadwall and Wigeon. I watched a Buzzard leave a tree to fly across the pool to land in a tree opposite. As I was 3/4 of the way along the top track at Aldcliffe, a Sparrowhawk flew towards me, went over my head and flew the full length of the path at little more than a metre off the ground.

Along the way, a flock of 42 Chaffinch, 25 Greenfinch, 18 Long-tailed Tit in three groups, and 12 Robin. On the canal basin at Glasson Dock, 4 Goldeneye and 3 Goosander....The bus is coming!    

Tuesday, 17 December 2019


I made two conservative estimates yesterday, the most impressive one being at least 2,500 Golden Plover in fields at Cockersand. If I assume the 820 seen earlier at Glasson hadn't joined these, I reckon I probably saw the entire Lune Estuary population of up to 3,350 Golden Plover on the day.

Redwing Moss Lane. Copyright Howard Stockdale. Clik the pik

Also impressive, I estimated up to 1,000 Fieldfare and good numbers of Redwing in a 5 hour stint around Conder Green, Glasson Dock, and the Cockersand area. A few hundred seen at and around Conder Pool and along the coastal path, and when I looked to the skies midway through the circuit at Conder Green, I probably saw 400 thrush over at one view. I was wrong to suggest the Fieldfare/Redwing had finally departed the Cockersand area in my post for last Fridays birding, birds were all over the place yesterday, and seen along Moss Lane, Slack Lane, and along the coastal path towards Bank End.

Back to the beginning, and 3 Goosander were my only notes for Conder Pool. A lone Little Grebe was in the creeks, and a Song Thrush along the coastal path was a nice relief from the winter thrushes. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 13 Goldeneye, c.820 Golden Plover, 135 Curlew, 6 Goosander, and 2 Red-breasted Merganser. On the canal basin, 4 Goldeneye and 2 Little Grebe to note.

At Cockersand, the Whooper Swan herd remain distant and uncooperative, but 4 Bewick's Swan were with 12 Whooper Swan off Slack Lane, c.350 Oystercatcher on Plover Scar at high tide, 365 Curlew was my count in fields, but large numbers of distant waders I could see inland towards Thursland Hill, means this was almost certainly an incomplete Curlew count. Ten Turnstone remain site faithful to the shingle in front of Bank Houses where I noted a Dunnock and Wren. Two Kestrel seen, and 2 Twite were off the Caravan Park entrance where I found last Fridays male Stonechat again.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

The Cockersand Stonechats.

An e-mail from AC on Wednesday, told me of a male Stonechat in the rough field between Lower Bank House and the CP. I was unable to get there until Friday, but found the bird on my second call there. I had thought a third bird now at Cockersand - maybe a second pair - but I failed to find the 'lighthouse' pair despite a thorough search.

I was off the road during the winter of 2018, but there was some corresponding Stonechat dates in 2017 at Cockersand around the present date. On 11 Dec, I found a male at Crook Cottage, this was the same date as a male found this year by AC at the Caravan Park. The male at Crook Cottage in 2017 was still around the area on 18 Dec, on the same day AC found another male at the Caravan Park, and I found a pair there four days later on 22 Dec....Eyes down, look in!

Plover Scar on Friday at high tide, c.150 Oystercatcher, 55 Dunlin, and 25 Turnstone. At least 270 Curlew in fields here again, with no more than 120 Golden Plover. A lone Grey Plover was with 6 Turnstone on the shingle. I saw 22 Greenfinch and a Dunnock, around Bank Houses, 2 Kestrel were seen hovering 1/4 mile apart. The Fieldfare appear to have finally moved on from the area, with just one seen in flight on Slack Lane, a lone Redwing on Jeremy Lane was also in flight. 

A brief look in on Conder Pool, saw 4 Snipe, 25 Mallard, 7 Black-headed Gull, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Gurney's Pitta....A gripping but tragic story of one of earth's rarest bird species.

Gurney's Pitta is evaluated as Critically Endangered as the current very rapid estimated rate decline in population is projected to increase further over the following 13 years, due to the lack of legal protection of the remaining small areas of flat lowland forest suitable for the species. There is a high risk of rapid conversion of virtually all remaining habitat to plantations, which could plausibly take place over just a few years.

Gurney's Pitta. Copyright HBW.

For over 30 years, the Gurney's Pitta was thought to be extinct, until 1986, when it was spotted in Thailand in five separate locations. But soon after, their numbers fell flat, and with a mere 9 pairs it was deemed to be one of earth's rarest species. 

Hope was renewed yet again in 2003, when thousands of breeding pairs were discovered in Myanmar. But unfortunately, the roller-coaster saga continues still, the habitat of the Gurney's Pitta is now in danger of imminent destruction, and the bird is now Critically Endangered. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

A Window Of Opportunity.

On a wall to wall sunny Monday, it was good to get back to the estuary for a look around. But, Conder Pool is dead....Long Live Conder Pool. 

Seven Little Grebe were in the creeks, they had deserted Conder Pool like everything else it seemed, the only two species and 26 birds, was 12 Black-headed Gull and 14 Mallard which were hauled out on the near island, also in the creeks, up to 160 Teal noted. On the circuit, a Kingfisher seen, also two small flock of very mobile 30 Fieldfare and 18 Redwing.

There was little action on the River Lune at Glasson Dock, 120 Golden Plover was a low count here, as was 12 Black-tailed Godwit and 42 Curlew, but 550 Wigeon was my best count to date here, and 5 Goosander seen. On the canal basin, 32 Tufted Duck and 5 Goosander.

There are good numbers of Fieldfare still around in the Cockersand area, you get the feeling they're everywhere, also up to 290 Curlew in fields and shore, and 12 Black-tailed Godwit, with c.30 Meadow Pipit either hidden in the grass or flighty, also 10 Greenfinch, and a Mistle Thrush was bird of the day on status for me, I don't recall the last one seen here.

Stonechat Cockersand 9 December. Pete Woodruff.

My last five visits to Cockersand have all ended with a grand finale near dusk, four with chats and one with Twite. This time, I arrived back at Lighthouse Cottage and found the pair of Stonechat, they were busy foraging between the bulrushes, in the grasses below the fence posts on Slack Lane, and in the set aside opposite. This was as near as I got to the male Stonechat for a pik, it bears all the hallmarks of a typical attempt by me to master the art of photography with the equipment available.

My day ended at Cockersand at dusk looking to Clougha Pike in Bowland. Clik the's bigger if not better. 

Thanks to BR for the Fieldfare header image, much appreciated Brian.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Saturday Birds.

Redwing. Howard Stockdale.

I was grateful for some images from Howard. He decided to add a seasonal message to the Redwing he saw in the frosted grass on Moss Lane recently. Clik the pik, it's bigger and better if you do.

I just wanted to do a circuit of Cockersand, but it was a bit of a non-starter, but no good me calling it a birdless session as I would immediately contradict that by saying, from entering Jeremy Lane, through Moss Lane, Slack Lane, all the way to Bank Houses and on the coastal path to Bank End, there was in excess of 300 Fieldfare, in flocks of between 50-100. There are Redwing with these birds, but I've yet to actually see them to ID them as such.

There are also Bewick's Swans - three yesterday north of Moss Lane (LDBWS) - with the c.250 Whooper Swan I saw again yesterday, always too distant and inaccessible, though a herd by Moss Lane were close by. I met a birder said he was up from Wigan, was targeting the Bewick's Swan, and asked if he could get nearer to the Whoopers to find any other than a trespass through the fields.

Good numbers of waders in the fields at Cockersand again, though nothing like the thousands seen of late and no sign of any Golden Plover, but 180 Black-tailed Godwit and at least 120 Curlew noted. No sign of the Black-necked Grebe, nor the Stonechat pair seen on three previous visits, but good to see the female reported here (LDBWS).

Like I said....a bit of a non-starter, but you can't win'em all, and what was I doing birding on Saturday anyway, who me! 

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

The Grebes Have It.

But first....

The Conder Green wintering Common Sandpiper, not seen for 2 months now since 3 October, is almost certainly the bird seen upstream on the River Lune at Golden Ball/Marsh Point on 16 November and 1 December.

A couple of 'grebe' peak counts, and a Goldeneye one yesterday, and a smart little thing to end the day. 

At Conder Green, 15 Little Grebe was the best count here since 18 seen on 11 October, they were seen as 5 in the creeks, 6 down the channel including 4 almost at the Conder mouth, and 4 on Conder Pool, where I noted 10 Curlew, 7 Wigeon and a Little Egret. On the coastal path, 10 Long-tailed Tit were in procession through the bushes, 62 Pink-footed Geese and 2 Raven went over south.

On the Lune Estuary, 12 Goldeneye was the best count to date here this winter. Two low counts were, 12 Black-tailed Godwit and 42 Golden Plover, with 350 Wigeon similar to my last visit here, and 3 GoosanderI reckon up to 250 Fieldfare at least are still along the length of Moss Lane towards Cockersand, where I had a better chance today of assessing 250 Whooper Swan in view.

Walking along the sea-wall to Crook Farm with a purpose, 6 Great-crested Grebe and 5 Red-breasted Merganser were on the river, c.250 Black-tailed Godwit were on the shore, and across at Sunderland Point, up to 1,520 Bar-tailed Godwit and 50 Knot.

When I arrived at Crook Farm, I walked down on to the shingle and north c.100m to SD430553 to have excellent views of a Black-necked Grebe found here (Ian Harley) on Sunday. Thanks to PE for pointing me in the right direction on this.

View The Video Full Screen   

Black-necked Grebe C'sand 3 Dec Pete Woodruff 

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Third Time Lucky.

At Conder Green, 9 Little Grebe seen as six in the creeks and three on Conder Pool were there was 14 Wigeon and little else. On the coastal path 6 Chaffinch were of note.

There was good numbers of Fieldfare in the berry laden hedges along Moss Lane to Cockersand, including at least fifty along the length of one close to Bank Houses....Clik the pik it's a bit more 'berry laden' impressive.

Up to 200 Whooper Swan remain in inland fields despite much farming/tractor activities in the area. Also in fields, 268 Black-tailed Godwit, 125 Curlew, and at Cockerham Sands, a Rock Pipit, 10 Greenfinch, and 2 Reed Bunting.

On Plover Scar at high tide, 55 Turnstone, 25 Knot, and 12 Oystercatcher. From Slack Lane, at least 50 Meadow Pipit were flighty, and on the wires appeared unaffected by a Kestrel perched alongside them at one point.

There had been no sign of the Stonechats seen at Cockerham Sands on 21 November, and again from Slack Lane on the bulrushes 26 November, I had checked both locations and all points in between. But a hunch they might be along the sea-wall between Lighthouse and Crook Cottages paid off handsomely when I found the pair in fading light at dusk, they were midway between the two cottages....Third time lucky.

Female Stonechat  Martin Jump@Flickr

My birding had ended as well as it could have done, after all these were a pair of Stonechat, with no apologies for yet another pik.