Thursday, 31 December 2020
Thursday, 24 December 2020
Sunday, 20 December 2020
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
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.
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, Dunnock, Wren, and Great Tit.
A 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.
Sunday, 6 December 2020
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.
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'.
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.
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
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.
Thursday, 26 November 2020
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.
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 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.
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.
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....
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!
I wanted to feature this excellent creature, discovered on the seawall at Heysham Harbour on 9 November. A 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Wednesday, 4 November 2020
Sunday, 1 November 2020
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.
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.
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
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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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.
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Sunday, 18 October 2020
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.