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BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND..................................................................................................................SUNRISE PETE WOODRUFF

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Last Chance Saloon.

Today was a complete disaster for me, when the last chance for birding in 2020 was thwarted for more reasons than one. But here are some bits and pieces to fill the page....

I found a file buried beneath a mountain of other files, it contained a good number of black and white images that I submitted over a couple of years, to a photographic website appropriately named 'The World In Black & White'.

So I decided to feature one or two in some forthcoming posts on B2B. The first is in the header, not all that original in it's title I must confess. The pictures are only loosely connected with birds and birding, some not connected at all perhaps.

The occasional Wren visited our garden yesterday. I happened to be looking through the kitchen window when it appeared, and having my camera to hand managed a bit of footage of the delightful little creature offering us a moment of pleasure.

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I'm thinking of taking up a bit of birdwatching as a pastime next year. Meanwhile, to all B2B enthusiasts....

Conder Green. Pete Woodruff. View Full Screen 

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Tier 3....The Great Escape.

 

It was a full house at the car park on Rigg Lane on Tuesday. One family group told me they were just glad to be out of the house for a while. For me it was much the same, but with the added pleasure of finding 4 Stonechat at Birk Bank today, by coincidence the same count as my visit here on 16 October, though not necessarily being the same birds again.


Along the way I saw 8 Red Grouse, but this image is more to highlight the limestone structure than the bird, it's alcoves and why it stands alone puzzles me. The only other birds encountered, 2 Goldcrest and a Robin. A Buzzard gave me an excellent photo opportunity had I stopped the car, it was perched on a fencepost  as I drove approaching Quernmore.


The Silver Birch trees made attractive silhouette patterns in the late afternoon light....


....and spending a few minutes on the boardwalk around the bog gave the pleasure of reminding me of summer months, when I found the Keeled Skimmer at Birk Bank for my fourth year.

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Thanks to Howard Stockdale for sending me an appropriate seasonal image of the Sanderling, one of my most favourite waders for a Christmas header.

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Sunday, 20 December 2020

Birding Unplugged....

....well badly fractured anyway!

I had to taxi a family member to Dolphinholme on Tuesday, to be picked up again in three hours to return to Lancaster. The perfect opportunity for me to go a few miles up the road for a couple of hours to Hawthornthwaite, to prove that I had missed the Stonechats wintering here on my last visit 10 November.

The trip wasn't the success I had hoped for as I had made the effort to make a video of the visit, but when I got the sequences on my computer, I found the wind had drowned out most of the commentary, and three of the sequences ended up in the bin. However, I salvaged the three remaining sequences, and made a little sense of them.

Three species are mentioned in the footage, a pair of Stonechat, a Merlin, and a Hen Harrier. Two species not recorded, 12 Red Grouse, and a Wren.

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I note a Common Sandpiper reported at Conder Green Friday 18 December (LDBWS). This is the first Common Sandpiper to be recorded at Conder Green in winter since the last sighting of a long wintering bird of the species on 11 October 2019. Another wintering Common Sandpiper was found at Skerton Weir 25 November, was probably the same individual seen two days later from Carlisle Bridge 27 November.

An ID puzzle was these eight footprints found in the mud on the bank of the River Lune in Lancaster. I more or less immediately thought Otter, but me thinks too small....Perhaps Stoat?
 


A Little Success.

It was great to hear about the success of breeding Little Tern at Blakeney Point off the coast of Norfolk, where the terns had their most successful season in 2020, fledging in excess of 200 chicks, and being the best result for more than 25 years.

Little Tern. Martin Jump.

The Little Tern is one of the UK's rarest seabirds, and has been in serious decline nationally for up to 40 years since the 1980's, it's status in the country stands at less than 2,000 pairs, with up to 155 pairs nesting at Blakeney Point this year. 

This wonderful good news story is believed in part, to be the result of fewer homo sapiens visiting this location earlier in the breeding season during the first national lockdown, due to the terrible pandemic which is currently a world-wide scourge. Another contribution is that the Little Tern chose to nest at the far end of the point this year, further away from the mainland, with fewer visitors deciding not to go to the trouble of walking the distance. Added to this, is the fact that the birds nested in a tight group, with fewer predator's affecting the terns this year too, seeming to add credence to the strategy of 'safety in numbers'.

As a rapidly declining species, what a sight it must have been to see so many of these tiny seabirds fledging the nest as creatures still very much at risk in a year that has - and still is - a challenge to us all. 

Thanks to Martin Jump for his image of the Little Tern that made a brief appearance at Preston Dock in July 2018.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Diversion Ahead!

So there's going to have to be some diversions on B2B, 'cos I ain't getting out as much as I can and would like to. Monday's visit to Heysham was on a brilliant day weather-wise, wall to wall sunshine and a flat calm sea, but didn't bear much fruit. 


Great Tit. Martin Jump.

But I was thankful for small mercies, with a wander along the seawall and foreshore to Ocean Edge salt marsh. Bird of the day in my book was a Song Thrush, not seen daily by any means, and a bird the conservation status of which is in the Red. Other birds to note, DunnockWren, and Great Tit.

Peregrine Falcon showed perched high on the power station, which prompts a word of caution to birders tempted to poke a camera through the fence at anything within the grounds....DON'T!

Robin. Pete Woodruff.

By the time I got back to the car I'd seen 6 Robin, including this one that kept returning to see me by the car as I drank my coffee and biscuits.

The sunset at Heysham was stunning, as seen by the children's play area off Knowleys Road, creating a scene of peace and tranquility.

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Gold & Green.

A treat recently in our urban garden, was one of our regular Goldfinch feeding opposite a Greenfinch which is at best scarce and irregular. 

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Thanks to Martin for helping to salvage B2B with his header and Great Tit image.

Sunday, 6 December 2020

B2B Episode 2247.

Though the weather wasn't all that pleasant on Tuesday, having scrounged a lift to Galgate, I did have a enjoyable ramble along the canal from Galgate back to Lancaster, about 4 mile in as many hours at a snails pace.

Treecreeper. Martin Jump.

Along the way, it was a toss up for bird of the day, between the small mouse-like Treecreeperwith it's long miniature Curlew-like decurved bill, and doing what it does best as the tree-trunk and branch-climbing passerine, and the Goldcrest seen. Best in number was the count of at least 22 Blackbird, with 5 Robin seen, a Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit, and ChaffinchA Buzzard flew treetop height over the canal, and a Cormorant over south.

December 2019 Notes.

I've noted the Little Grebe have failed to return to winter on Conder Pool in anything like the numbers of previous years. I think the best count to date has been 8 Little Grebe, which compares to a personal peak count of 22 last year on Conder Pool 18 December.

Also failing to return to Conder Green this winter is a Common Sandpiper, one of which wintered for 11 consecutive years until last recorded here in 2018. But I've not seen a wintering Common Sandpiper, nor seen any reports from here since my last sighting on 11 October 2019.

Until 1,000 had been reported at Cockersand yesterday Saturday 5 December, the Golden Plover had so far been absent in number from the Lune Estuary to date, counts had only been at around 500. My last combined peak count was of c.3,350 Golden Plover at Glasson/Cockersand on 16 December 2019, probably representing the entire Lune Estuary population at the time. A notable comment on the LDBWS sightings page from one regular Lune Estuary birder last Sunday 29 October....'Didn't see a single Golden Plover'.

Fieldfare. Richard Pegler.

Another two interesting December records from 2019, was of at least 1,000 Fieldfare seen in the Conder Green/Cockersand area on 16 December. The following day, Fieldfare with Redwing were in view for the length of the walk Aldcliffe to Glasson on 17 December, amounting to 1,200 individuals by the time I got to Glasson Dock. Also seen on the walk 92 Blackbird...Impressive stuff. 

Video Issue.

The recent 'Videos won't play on B2B' issue has been fixed. I'd like to publicly thank Blogger for resolving this problem.

Thanks to Brian, Martin and Richard for some excellent images.

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Bleak In Bowland!

Definitely bleak in Bowland, and not much pen and paper used - non actually - in my latest trip there on Friday. In fact I was almost in despair when I realised I hadn't even taken the little black book out of my pocket for the entire 5 hours....I'm convinced this was a first in my 150 years of birding.

But the visit served it's purpose well, and I now know that Harrisend probably has two wintering pairs of Stonechat. With my 'now you see me, now you don't' theory, a pair seen, and a lone male with which I failed to locate it's mate. Otherwise, 8 Red Grouse seen/heard, and a Cormorant flew over the fell purposefully east....can't imagine what that was all about.

Red Grouse. Pete Woodruff.

After my last two visits to Hawthornthwaite on 15 Oct/10 Nov, I found no Stonechat here again on Friday, but noted up to 10 Red Grouse.

Small Blue.


This signage still stands erected at Fenham Carr in Williamson Park and I took a pik of it again last week, it's been featured on B2B before. It is sheer nonsense and you wonder who commissioned it to illustrate the wildlife to be found in the park. It shows a Small Blue butterfly - top right of centre - which is not to be found anywhere near Williamson Park which couldn't grow the butterfly's food plant of Kidney Vetch if it tried.

Small Blue © Dave Miller

The nearest Small Blue colonies are more likely to be found on the Cumbrian coast around Whitehaven and Maryport.

Tern Attack.

I was quite pleased with the result of this video of the Common Tern attack on an Oystercatcher on Conder Pool in 2019. 

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It's been nominated for an Oscar for musical score!!  šŸ˜‹

Note....If the video doesn't work first time, hopefully it might on your next visit to the page.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Meanwhile....

OK, I've had enough of all this Covid malarkey, and whilst it's best if we all continue to go along with the advice 'Hands-Face-Space'....I'm off into Bowland again tomorrow.

Meanwhile....

Like this little bunch in my header, try as we may we'll never get through to some people, mutts and wildlife are never going to be compatible and are often a deadly mix. Though this time, I'm not going to let them spoil the beauty of the rainbow across Morecambe Bay on Sunday.

Beware....Your photography might let you down on occasions, and the quality of photography in this video clip of an adult male Kestrel fooled me initially. Though I have no idea what practical skills were lacking here. 

 
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The underparts look pale and void of showing any bold dense spotting, and the obtrusive small twig on the tree masks most of any detectable moustachial stripe. I verged on a little dreamland for a while, but in the end, it can't be turned into a Lesser Kestrel, 'cos it would have shown some underside small sparse spots, and definitely no facial moustache and some other subtle differences. 

Another Must Read....History Has Been Made

I'm resisting going down the road to controversy about in or out of the EU, but....The UK can't throw it's hat into the air on this one can it.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

A Redstarts Tale.

A decent weather forecast for Thursday saw me take off to Heysham for some therapeutic escapism. I decided to look in on the promenade off Knowleys Road as the Brent Geese had been reported back there on 11 November, be nice to see them there again this winter.

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The geese hadn't returned there, but  I saw 8 Little Egret foraging the pools, and 2 Whooper Swan flying across the bay heading south. Then I was off to Heysham Harbour to spend a couple of hours of nothing to note to be honest. But n'er mind, a quite enjoyable birding experience was about to unfold and fire up my passion.

Black Beauty.

Black Redstart Heysham. Malcolm Downham.

As I arrived at the seawall, I approached a birder looking over Red Nab. As a conversation piece, I asked 'any Meds about', he replied 'no but I saw a couple of Black Redstarts about an hour ago, they were flushed by dog walkers, and flew off '. I thought to myself, hopefully these birds will have gone to the area of rough ground or the scrub at the south wall of the harbour, or perish the thought, maybe onto the non-operational land within the power station....Whatever, no luck, they've disappeared.

I'd earlier seen Malcolm Downham along the seawall, he had also seen the birder who also reported the redstarts to him. Malcolm takes up 'A Redstarts Tale' here....

Black Redstart Heysham. Kevin Eaves.

Towards high water a visiting birder reported 2 female/immature Black Redstart on Red Nab, which had then been flushed along the wall by walkers. Myself (MD) and Pete Woodruff were in the area, we split up, and after an hour, relocated them just 30m from the original sighting, on the rocks east of Red Nab. They were very mobile and kept disappearing then reappearing, sometimes two together other times a single bird. By this time we had been joined by Kevin Eaves, and between us managed some record shots. Kevin had "both" birds together at Red Nab and looked over to me and Pete who were photographing another 100m away, there were three Black Redstarts.

Later we learned another had been found at Bank End, there was 4 Black Redstart in our recording area, same day, same time....Another first!

Vagrant Emperor.

I wanted to feature this excellent creature, discovered on the seawall at Heysham Harbour on 9 November. species primarily found in Africa and the Middle East, it is a highly migratory dragonfly, capable of traveling long distances, there are records from Iceland, and even the Caribbean. 

The Netherlands were flooded with large numbers of Vagrant Emperors in 2019. The influx was unique for more than one reason, the number of Vagrant Emperors was higher than all previous sightings combined, and it was the first time a real influx was seen before summer. Mating and ovipositing was observed at many Dutch locations, and for the first time in history the Vagrant Emperor emerged in The Netherlands, in August 2019.  

Vagrant Emperor Heysham 9 November. Kevin Eaves.

A mega for Heysham, and congratulations to Kevin. 

Malcolm's header image though small, shows how startling the birds rusty-red tail is when taking to flight. Many thanks to Malcolm and Kevin for their images, they are much appreciated.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Birding Magic '94.

The date and record sits proudly up there at the top of the list of goodies found over the years, this one in the days when dinosaurs ruled the world....Well, let's say just after!

Saturday 19 November 1994.

At 10.30am, I was at a location at Hest Bank locally known as Teal Bay and situated at the north east end of Morecambe Promenade. As I was looking through the waders assembled on the groyne at the high tide roost, I came across a plover that was instantly recognised as not a Ringed Plover if only because it had black legs. Bloody Hell....it's a Kentish Plover.

There was quite a remarkable claim connected to the Teal Bay bird, in that it was presumed to have been the same individual that returned to Rossall Point on the Fylde Coast at Fleetwood on the same day some 3 hours later.

Kentish Plover. Courtesy Fylde Bird Club.

I remember well, driving to Heysham in a state of elation, to alert the recorder at the time, to tell him of the discovery of a first record in our area, whose account in the Birds of Lancaster & District 1994 reads (abbreviated)....

Kentish Plover

Status: A new species for the area.

'The wintering Rossall bird was intercepted on return passage by P. Woodruff at Hest Bank, before disturbance by a windsurfer saw it's perhaps premature departure. Thanks to PW for driving to Heysham to inform me....pity about the windsurfer!'

All this was in my early days of birding, and was one of the starting points of what was to become a passion for me....Birding Magic.

The image is of my second Kentish Plover found on Plover Scar at Cockersand on 3 May 2011. This bird has the distinction of being only the second record this century, the last being at Marshside in June 2004.

The header image of the delightful Grey Wagtail seen on Aldcliffe Marsh on Monday's high tide was much appreciated and sent to me following some communication about a record query. Thanks Dan.


Sunday, 15 November 2020

Seek And Ye Shall Find....But Not This Time.

Since the beginning of September, I have personally found or lifted 143 Stonechat records off Lancaster/Fylde bird club websites to date, they include 16 Stonechat seen in our recording area of South Cumbria during Sept/Oct. Thanks to Garry Sharples for being in touch with me regarding details of these sixteen records.

Stonechat Birk Bank 9 Nov 2020. Pete Woodruff.

In my quest to locate any wintering Stonechats, I managed a couple of follow-on visits to Bowland again this week, one to Birk Bank, and the following day to Hawthornthwaite Fell. These visits brought about a disappointing result, with a solitary male Stonechat found on Birk Bank being the only bird seen, with none found on Hawthornthwaite. Seek and ye shall find....I don't think so.

But on the east and west side of Hawthornthwaite, I found at least 60 Red Grouse. Simon Hawtin tells me of at least 100 Red Grouse, seen between Lee and Tarnbrook Fell in one session recently. These numbers added to my 78 Red Grouse on 5 October are unprecedented in my records, and I'm reliably informed Bowland shoot days have been much reduced in 2020, with possibly no more than four taking place.

Red Grouse. Pete Woodruff.

I managed some more piks of Red Grouse, and this short video clip has the bird obliging with it's characteristic 'bouncing bark' at the end....Pump up the volume.

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Fungi Diversion.

After the Stonechat negatives, it was my lucky day when I bumped into Ross who knows a thing or two about fungi, and obligingly showed me a specimen he found. 

Boletus erythropus Scarletina Bolete. Pete Woodruff.

Ross decided to give me a demonstration, he cut the fungi out and sliced it in half to show when the flesh is damaged the Scarletina Bolete oxidises and turns blue very quickly. 

After Ross left, I decided to abandon the Stonechats, and felt inspired to divert my attention to eventually find two more to fungi to identify.

Russula atropurpurea Purple Brittlegill (the remains of). Pete Woodruff.

Clavulina rugosa Wrinkled Club. Pete Woodruff. 

And Finally.

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As I came off Hawthornthwaite Fell, I saw an airliner high and flying west, as I attempted to make a video, at 20secs on the timer, a strange phenomenon occurred which I'm unable to explain....See what you think happened here.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

A Bowland Double.

There's a bit of hesitation with my words in this video, and a little humour in there too. I think to have a script might be a good bet until I get used to the idea of commentary. 

Meanwhile, a little introduction to Fridays visit to Bowland. View the videos Full Screen.


A Bowland double today, when I found a couple of goodies up the track from Tower Lodge. I saw a bird flitting around in the trees, and although my views were brief before it disappeared from view it was clearly a Marsh Tit. Not 10 minutes later up the track, I spotted a cracking male Bullfinch soon followed by a female.

Marsh Tit Jan Larsson 

I've never seen either of these species in our recording area in the Forest of Bowland, and I'm not aware of any records here in recent years if ever. The Marsh Tit is an uncommon localised breeder in our area, restricted to the limestone woodlands of Arnside, Silverdale, and the Wray area. The Bullfinch is more of a common breeder in similar areas to the Marsh Tit....But these two records are in autumn in the Forest of Bowland.

I was a bit too busy having fun with the camera today, and noted just 14 species of birds in the hours spent in the Marshaw-Tower Lodge-Trough Bridge area. But this Grey Wagtail gave me a little therapeutic moment....


The other eleven....a Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Great Tit, 6 Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch, and Robin. About 8 Mallard were on the Marshaw Wyre, and 4 Red Grouse from the track to Winfold Fell, with Buzzard and Kestrel seen.


I noted an excellent record of 10 Stonechat on Lytham Moss yesterday per F. Bird at Fylde Bird Club.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Must Watch!

Most of us have probably seen this, but if you haven't, this is a must watch film. It's 7 mins 35 secs long, but hang on in there. It is brilliant, and deals with the tragic subject of too many lunatics under the umbrella of 'Guardians of the Countryside'....The perfect gap filler for B2B.

Dragon's Government's Den. 

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Egrets & Scilly Stonechats.

On a lighter and much more enjoyable note....As ever, I was grateful to Howard Stockdale for the video of the Cattle Egret at Cockersand. 

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Prompted by a comment in my last post about Stonechats seen on the Scillies, and having no idea of the status there. I was interested in whether or not they bred there. I made contact and received a reply with this brief information.... 

The Stonechat is recorded in the Annual Review and described as: Uncommon to common, a breeding resident, spring and autumn migrant, and winter visitor. The Stonechat breeds in reasonable numbers, and with a little effort can be seen most days. This autumn saw a very rare Siberian Stonechat, and the Scillies have also recorded Caspian Stonechat.

 
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My birding is often full of gratitude, and on this occasion the gratitude goes to Alan Hannington at Scilly Birding 

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Winter Chats And A Nice One At Heysham.

Since reading an article I've had since 2015 on observations of the Stonechat,  I've been able to add more interesting facts to my learning about this enigmatic little gem.

Juvenile Stonechat. Ana Minguez.

The Stonechat is unique among passerines, in that they generally winter in establish territories, often in pairs. There seems no obvious explanation as to why any pair bonds are maintained in winter, other than two birds rather than one, are able to defend a territory. Data has shown that the winter pair bond appears strong, and birds seldom seen more than 20m apart, seems to suggest that extra vigilance in upland winter habitats - which is open and with limited cover - is a distinct advantage.

Interesting colour-ringed sightings confirm that some adults, and some 1st winter birds, overwinter in upland areas. Records of colour-ringed chicks from upland sites show that they have wintered within 2km of their natal site, others that have moved to the coast, and some which have migrated to continental Europe. Such is the variation in the Stonechat migratory behaviour, evidence has also shown that an individual retains a pattern for life.

In a personal quest to find wintering Stonechat, I'm now seeing fewer birds than I saw during September at the five locations visited in Bowland. The flocking behaviour - my best early example being 18 Caton Moor 26 August - has ceased, the birds have dispersed, sometimes into the winter territories that I'm looking for, or to migrate to the Mediterranean.

Up to 5 Stonechat have already been seen at Cockersand through Sept/Oct, and records passed on to me or collected from Lanc's/Fylde websites during this period amount to 20 records of 39 Stonechat.

All that I need now, is for the weather to buck up, so I can get on with the business in hand.

I'm grateful to John Callion for corresponding with me, and for allowing me to make some references to his article Observations of breeding European Stonechats in Cumbria. British Birds 2015.

Heysham 'Golden Oldie'.

OK, so this record is now ancient, but this Thursday 5 November, sees 15 years since I found a nice little job at Heysham where I had decided to pay one of my occasional visits.


Grey Phalarope. Martin Lofgren.

Arriving at the power station Stage 2 outfall, I had excellent views of an adult Little Gull. At Stage 1, another adult Little Gull was accompanied by a juvenile Arctic Tern which found itself in the records book as being the latest one ever in Lancashire, where it remained at Heysham until 12 November. As I walked away from the outfall toward the south harbour wall, I saw a bird between the outfall and the old wooden jetty, for a moment I thought it was another Little Gull, but soon realised it was a 1st winter Grey Phalarope behaving in it's typical spinning habit whilst feeding....Nice.

Some brilliant autumn gold around now, as in the header, taken in Bowland in a previous life!

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Picture Gallery.

The header image is a 22 year old from my file labeled 'Golden Oldie Birds'. The Long-billed Dowitcher at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve in October 1998, courtesy of the late John Leedal. 

Whilst I plan my next bid for freedom, I selected a few piks taken over the years, but don't expect any world beating images, they only just got past quality control.

1.   Snow Bunting Plover Scar

2.   Whinchat Newby Moor N.York's

3.   Spotted Flycatcher Bowland

4.   Wheatear Bowland

5.   Black Redstart Fluke Hall

6.   Eastern Black Eared Wheatear Fluke Hall

7.   Skylark Fluke Hall

8.   Blackbird Home Garden

9.   Little Ringed Plover Conder Pool

10. Turnstone Plover Scar

11. Snipe Conder Pool

12. Brent Geese Heysham

13. Little Owl Roeburndale

14. Purple Heron Eagland Hill

    

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Stonechats.

My records to date now stands at 95 Stonechat since I found 18 on Caton Moor 2 months ago on 26 August, mostly in Bowland, with some records taken from local websites. This is a good indication that the species has had a good breeding season in 2020, though I tried twice without success to contact the RSPB, to find out what their records - if any - showed to get a handle on numbers in Bowland.

Black-tailed Godwits. 

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I was grateful to Howard Stockdale for the video of the Black-tailed Godwits, including this one ringed OL-RZ, Arnessysla, Austurey, Iceland, 4 July 2012. The bird has collected 58 sightings, none of which were in our area until this one at Cockersand Wednesday 20 October. Otherwise it favoured Essex and Merseyside, and was seen twice back in Iceland in June 2013 and August 2018.

Conservation.

Below is an excellent post I copied from a website which touched on one of my favourite subjects on conservation and farming practices. I'm also aware of some ongoing local and bigger conservation issues which I intend to follow. 

'34 Fieldfare were a welcome sight this morning, these Scandinavian travelers on their annual visit to forage on the winter berries, however the dreaded hedge munching machine had other ideas and has now destroyed all the food that was lying in wait to keep our visiting Fieldfare well fed along with many others that would have foraged on same, no need to look very hard for the demise of wildlife when this goes on country wide, modern farming practices indeed' 

Sunday, 18 October 2020

More Moorland Ventures.

I had another venture to Bowland again this week, a very enjoyable venture, they always are.

If I'm doing revisits of the five moorland locations of Caton Moor/Harrisend/Catlow/Hawthornthwaite/and Birk Bank, the 75 Bowland Stonechat record now has to stand, but I need to visit again to establish the number of wintering birds.

On Thursday Harrisend produced 5 Stonechat, ten short of the count on 1 September. Also a decent count of 8 Reed Bunting, a Blackbird and Robin were the only other birds noted. Later on Hawthornthwaite Fell, I found no Stonechat despite a count of nine on 5 October, but noted 9 Red Grouse

At Birk Bank on Friday, 4 Stonechat compared to 14 seen on 21 September. Also noted, 5 Red Grouse, and a Raven and Buzzard overhead. Off Rigg Lane, a mix of c.40 Fieldfare and Redwing seen.

The Preston Willow Tit.


I reckon Martin Jump was well pleased to find a smart Willow Tit on the feeders on his allotment at Haslam Park in his home town of Preston last Monday 12 October....Beat that for a garden allotment tick! 

Martins record was soon followed four days later, when Malcolm Evans found another Willow Tit at Carr House Green Common on 16 October, as the crow flies about six miles away from Haslam Park.

Only the Turtle Dove is more imperiled than the Willow Tit as Britain's fastest declining passerine. The RSPB launched a national survey that is currently at the midway point. At this point the survey has revealed that the breeding population of the Willow Tit in Lancashire is similar to that of 10 years ago, bucking the national steep downward decline. Ref:Steve White/Lancashire Bird Report 2019

Thanks to the late Geoff Gradwell for his image of the Willow Tit.

Fungi. Pete Woodruff.

This fungi caught my eye in damp moss on Harrisend Fell on Thursday. It was unable to be specifically identified without seeing the gills, but assuming some colouration in the gills, the suggestion is that it is possibly either Mycena epipterygia or Galerina paludosa

Thanks to Pat O'Reilly MBE at for the invaluable fungi help First Nature 

There's no relationship between my header image and the current post, but it's just a nice one of the Black-tailed Godwits on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock in April 2016.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Mid-Week Crisis!....

....well, sort of.

I was grateful to Howard Stockdale for sharing this video with me, it shows the horde on and around the heliport at Heysham at high tideThe first in a series of planned short videos to promote the birdlife of Morecambe Bay during the winter monthsInterestingly, Howard found a colour ringed Knot amongst the mass, marked this year in August at Ainsdale, North Merseyside.

The videos are best viewed full screen.


I enjoyed editing this short video of the gull roost on Red Nab at Heysham. I counted 7 Mediterranean Gulls as I panned through the film. Have a bit of fun and count them for yourself....Go on, do it!

 

The Turnstones living up to their name and turning over the pebbles at Cockersand. 

Sunday, 11 October 2020

The Weeks Moorland Venture.

I gave Catshaw Fell a couple of hours during the week, one of a few areas I've previously neglected in Bowland. 

The visit was quite interesting, and started soon after I had put the plantation behind me and set off on the track where I met Rob Foster coming off Catshaw Fell, Rob's post at the Grosvenor Estate is in conservation. We had an interesting conversation which of course me being Pete Woodruff, soon turned to the subject of the Stonechat. Rob gave me a list of birds he had noted, but it didn't include any Stonechat, this numbed my enthusiasm for continuing the climb, but I did it anyway. 

As I reached the summit of Catshaw Fell, through my binoculars I could see Rob on the top of Hawthornthwaite, presumably doing the same check for Red Grouse. Meanwhile, Catshaw produced just the one Stonechat which took me an hour to find when I was coming back down later. Other birds of note, 4 Raven overhead, 38 Red Grouse, 11 Meadow Pipit, a Buzzard, and a Peregrine Falcon which I didn't see until I had almost got back to the car by the plantation.

Hawthornthwaite Fell produced three good records, the first of which was another excellent count of 9 Stonechat, pumping up the tally to 75 Stonechat seen in a little over five weeks in Bowland. The second record came with a Ring Ouzel seen distant in flight which soon went to ground.

Red Grouse Hawthornthwaite. Pete Woodruff.
 
The third record came when I counted 40 Red Grouse, 35 of which were seen together in a flight across the moorland, the highest number I've ever seen at any one time, and brings the total number on Catshaw/H'thwaite to 78 Red Grouse seen on the day. 

The Ring Ouzel. 

This is my fourth consecutive year for records of Ring Ouzel on Hawthornthwaite, and includes a male singing atop of a tree earlier this year on 17 May. I'm becoming convinced the Ring Ouzel breeds on Hawthornthwaite, next year I plan to attempt to find the evidence. 

The Ring Ouzel can be seen on moorlands well into October, with four records in 2019, the latest one being on 19 October at Winter Hill. The mean date is 4 November, but the latest ever Ring Ouzel in Lancashire was of one seen over Darwen Moor on 11 December 2000. These records are sourced from the annually best and most comprehensive report available Lancashire Bird Report 2019

The therapeutic value for this visit to Bowland was huge once again for me, in particular when I came to the water falling down Catshaw Greave with a little autumn gold showing on the 'Ouzel' Oak in the background.

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And finally....

Morecambe Stone Jetty. Pete Woodruff. 

A view of the Stone Jetty at Morecambe last week, with the stunning backdrop of the mountains in the Lake District.