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

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Brent Adventure.

It was a bit of an adventure with the geese on Tuesday, not least because I had to turn my back on the birds for while, to avoid being hit in the face with hailstones during a heavy shower with a howler behind them coming in off the sea.

I was determined to keep up to date with the invasion, and paid a follow-up to Mondays visit to Heysham to see if I could add to the 72 and arrived at a count of 88 Brent Geese including at least one Dark-bellied Brent Goose, MD had recorded two earlier in the day.

Clik the pik....there's more to see if you do.

The path from the promenade climbs up towards Knowley's Road, from where I waited then watched the geese fly off south at 11.30am. I sent MD a text to tell him about the movement, to get a reply later to say he had seen 10 Brent Geese at Red Nab, but they soon flew off heading down the coast towards Potts Corner.

A brief look in on the shore at Half Moon Bay saw 2 Rock Pipit

The Brent Goose.

Brent Geese Heysham 27 January. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

Two distinct populations of Pale-bellied Brent Geese winter in Britain and Ireland, those from Svalbard on Lindisfarne, and those from high Arctic Canada around Strangford Lough.

Enquiries about the unprecedented numbers of Pale-bellied Brent Geese currently at Heysham - including two Canadian ringed birds - lead me to understand, that these birds are from Walney Island in Cumbria - 170 there on Tuesday. On the other hand, British wintering Dark-bellied Brent Geese all originate from the central Siberian Arctic, mostly around the Taimyr Peninsula.

I must say I really enjoyed the exercise on Tuesday despite the less than poor - pretty awful - weather conditions. It was surreal to see this number of Brent Geese at Heysham. 

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Chasing The Brents.

The birds made a return to Heysham 14 days ago, when 26 Brent Geese made an appearance there on 13 January, since then numbers have fluctuated slightly. But yesterday saw an all time peak number at Heysham.

When I pulled up on Knowleys Road at Heysham yesterday morning, the birds I was looking for were immediately seen from the car. I shot off down to the promenade for excellent views from the children's play area on a fine clear morning, to find an all time peak count of 72 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, including two Canadian ringed birds.


At 10.50 the geese took off and flew south. Taking a guess they would follow a pattern and go to Red Nab, I followed them, but no sign when I arrived there. The next guess was the bay at Ocean Edge, and that turned out to be correct, it had been the pattern for them previously, they were still there when I left at 12.00pm.

Stonechat Ocean Edge 27 January. Malcolm Downham. 

There was a bonus bird present at Ocean Edge, with a 1st winter male Stonechat seen. Thanks for the image Malcolm, I never refuse a Stonechat on Birds2blog.

I decided to take a look at Cockersand, and calling in at Conder Green on the way, I noted 3 Goosander on the pool, and a lone Little Grebe holding the fort at high tide over the creeks. There are currently in excess of 300 Whooper Swan at Cockersand, 2 Black Swan were with the bulk of the herd in the field behind the Caravan Park, with two smaller groups in fields by Slack Lane and Moss Lane.

Lower numbers of waders than of late seen in fields were, 250 Golden Plover165 Black-tailed Godwit, and 155 Curlew, 15 Meadow Pipit dropped and disappeared into the grass, and c.450 Pink-footed Geese seen in the air from here were over Glasson Dock.  

Sunday, 26 January 2020

The Stalker.

I note the Purple Heron is still at Eagland Hill this Sunday morning, though to be honest I was fearing the worst for this bird. Having seen some literature indicating some unrest about it's presence there by the natives, and the 'twitchers' becoming an increasing nuisance for this quiet but very busy and extensive farming community. This culminating in a report of the bird having an injured and bleeding leg on 20 January....Mmmmm!  

Birding is a serious business, but it doesn't always have to be that way, so here's something of a lighter look at it....

Two videos I made of the Purple Heron at Eagland Hill, stitched together with sound added. This is a way around the limit of 100mb for uploading films on to Birds2blog. Link to The Stalker 


Perhaps the link above doesn't work without the inconvenience of applying for permission. This 50 second video is shorter and is within the 100mb limit for uploading.


I was pleased - delighted even - to hear from Howard to tell me of two pairs of Stonechat he had seen on Abbeystead Lane on Thursday, when he chose to return home from a trip into Lancashire via the scenic route through Bowland....a good choice with an excellent result. 

Stonechat Abbeystead Lane 23 January. Howard Stockdale.

I'm hoping normal service birding will be resumed tomorrow Monday....But who knows!

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Another Day Around The River.

I was rewarded by excellent views of the wintering male Stonechat at Cockersand yesterday, it was on the marsh edge opposite the CP, first time since 8 January. Other interest here was 8 Bewick's Swan with 180 Whooper Swan in fields off Slack Lane, the rest of the Cockersand herd were in fields south of Moss Lane, up to 100 there in total.

The video is a pretty hopeless attempt by me. I only had bino's round my neck, but with a little effort and the pause button, you should pick out four of the eight Bewick's Swans if you view Full's good fun anyway.


Of c.650 Black-tailed Godwit seen, 500 were in the field south of the abbey, and 150 were feeding on Cockerham Sands off the CP. Other waders in fields, c.450 Golden Plover and 140 Curlew. There are still up to 95 Fieldfare still around at Cockersand, surprising since we're heading to the end of January now, 2 Kestrel seen at Bank Houses and Slack Lane, and the wintering Merlin was on a roadside fence post as I drove away from Cockersand, it was on virtually the same post as seen 8 November.   

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, there was at least 1,300 godwit in one tight flock and loose groups making life difficult in the murky conditions, they were seen as c.850 Bar-tailed Godwit and 450 Black-tailed Godwit, also 625 Golden Plover and 320 Dunlin. Up to 350 Wigeon were all hauled out, 2 Goosander and a lone Goldeneye noted, also of note c.300 Common Gull. On Colloway Marsh, c.300 Pink-footed Geese through the murk and distant.

On Conder Pool, 9 Goosander, 28 Wigeon, 25 Tufted Duck, and 32 Curlew. In the creeks, 3 Little Grebe. 

Monday, 20 January 2020

Long Time No See!

With little birding of late for me, comes little blogging, and with little blogging eventually comes a hole in which Birds2blog finds itself in. But n'er's a little tale to entertain and help dig it out of the hole. 

It's about a bird I found at Heysham last Wednesday after I had seen 6 Brent Geese off Knowleys Road, and a Mediterranean Gull in the field by the children's play area, where I also found a ringed Black-headed Gull.

Copyright laws and all that, mean I'm not at liberty to post details about this sighting, but something of a mystery developed, in that when I received the lifelist of this bird there were no previous records shown on the list until it was sighted at Heysham, Lancashire, observer Pete Woodruff.

Well there's no real mystery at all about all this, but it did make me scratch my head when I considered, a Black-headed Gull had been ringed in Europe in 2017, and had avoided detection for 3 years until it was first seen in the UK in January 2020....Possible Guinness Book of Records material in the 'long time no see' category I'd suggest. 

Video with sound of the Little Ringed Plover on Conder Pool 2 July last summer, showing in part the birds feeding behaviour of foot patting to bring insects to the surface. 


Thursday, 16 January 2020

Brent Return.

The Brent Geese made a return to Heysham on 7 January when the first sighting was of 17 seen off Knowleys Road, they were feeding in an area they have returned to for a third winter. By Monday the number had risen to 26 Brent Geese at Heysham....Clik the piks.

Brent Geese Red Nab Heysham 13 Jan Malcolm Downham

I was keen to see if the birds were still present yesterday, and as I was in the area I decided to go to Knowleys Road to find 6 Brent Geese on the incoming tide off the children's play area.

Mediterranean Gull 15 January. Pete Woodruff. 

A Mediterranean Gull was also seen from this viewpoint, initially on the shore, then went on a nearby inland field.

Thanks to Malcolm for the use of his image of the Brent Geese, much appreciated. 

Sunday, 12 January 2020

A Twitching Double.

A text to AC on Friday morning to ask if there was any news on an Iceland Gull seen on Thursday at Knott End was negative, but resulted in a good day for both of us when he suggested I met him at Eagland Hill.


The weather was perfect with calm sunny conditions, and a Purple Heron was out in the open in a field opposite Birk's Farm and giving excellent views with the bonus of a Barn Owl flying over the herons head, to return complete with a vole in it's talons. Also, up to 30 Corn Bunting close by, they were up and down on to the telephone wires in varying numbers.

On to the sewage plant on Backsands Lane at Pilling, and more excellent views, this time of a Siberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis, with the advantage of the bird being accompanied by a 'yellow' collybita, as opposed to our bird being overall much paler. Also seen, a Grey Wagtail and Pied Wagtail on the beds. In the field opposite the works, c.350 Pink-footed Geese and 230 CurlewAt Fluke Hall, up to 900 Pink-footed Geese, also noted 7 Blackbird in 50m of hedgerow, and a lone Tree Sparrow

Over our house on Friday, at least 450 Jackdaw at 4.05pm flew NW towards Aldcliffe. This is a daily occurrence, but I'm struggling to work out where exactly they go to roost. When we lived elsewhere in Lancaster 8 years ago, we saw the Jackdaws gather nightly towards dusk on the  top of the tower block at the then called St Martins Collage - now the University of Cumbria - when they would fly off towards Ashton Hall, where 900 Jackdaws were recorded going to roost on 15 December.

The Purple Heron.

The Purple Heron has the reputation of an over-shooting spring visitor with some even through to October. It breeds as close as France and Spain, but many records are linked to breeding colonies in the Netherlands. I reckon this bird should really be wintering in sub-Saharan Africa, and certainly not in a field at Eagland Hill on the Fylde in January.

The first record of a Purple Heron in Britain was at Middlesex in 1722, but although today it is regarded as an annual vagrant to Britain, the next record didn't come until 88 years later in 1810. Since 1983 the species ceased to be considered by the BBRC, by which time over 700 records had been accepted.    

Thursday, 9 January 2020


....all my troubles seemed so far away. Not sure about that, but I got some birding in and noted the notables around the Lune Estuary.

I've been seeing good numbers of Goosander recently, and found 12 on the River Lune at Glasson Dock on 18 November, I don't recall seeing a double figure of the species on the estuary before, and on Conder Pool yesterday, a good count of 9 Goosander was a personal best here, 21 Wigeon and 15 Curlew also seen, and a lone Redwing was in the hedgerow. In the creeks, 3 Little Grebe and 82 Teal was a low count. I saw 14 Blackbird at Conder Green including 10 along a 100m length of the coastal path. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson, 10 Goldeneye, and on the canal basin 2 Goosander.

It was good to find the male Stonechat at Cockersand, it was in the rough field behind Lower Bank House again. Up to 160 Fieldfare are still around, with 140 Curlew in fields, and 120 Black-tailed Godwit were off Lighthouse Cottage, also 12 Greenfinch seen.

Black-headed Gull 6CY Lune Estuary 26 Sept 2014. Pete Woodruff.  

I found the ringed Black-headed Gull on the canal basin at Glasson Dock yesterday, and is my third sighting of this bird. Seen each sighting on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock 26 September 2014, 17 November 2017, and 8 January 2020.

Ringed 6CY at Gentofte in Denmark on 21 March 2013 as a 3 year old male. It has had 10 recoveries, 6 of which have all been on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, and has returned to Gentofte in Denmark 3 times on 28 March 2015, 4 April 2015, and 14 March 2016.  

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Thursday Rewind!

The new header is appropriate enough to remind us that the summer days are on their way. 

It didn't take long to check out Conder Green, still a little on the quiet side, until the geese went over later, 15 Curlew were on Conder Pool until a Grey Heron flew in and sent them packing, also a Little Egret, and a female Goosander which thought it was one of the 38 Wigeon it was in company with. In the creeks, c.150 Teal seems to be an average count lately, 18 Redshank and 2 Little Grebe one of which was down the channel towards the Conder mouth. 

As I was about to leave Conder Green, I could hear geese calling, eventually up to 2,500 Pink-footed Geese appeared from the east and arced over Conder Pool south toward Jeremy Lane. On the canal basin, the male Pochard seen again but no sign of Mondays female.

On the Lune Estuary at low tide, there was large numbers of waders, wildfowl and gulls. Most notable was a similar number of at least Mondays 2,000 godwit, probably looking more like 1,875 Black-tailed Godwit, and 625 Bar-tailed Godwit today, also up to 2,000 Golden Plover, with a large proportion on the south side of the river, unusual as they invariably stick to the north shore here, c.50 Knotwith Dunlin and Redshank, 3 Goldeneye and 4 Goosander also noted. 

No Stonechat found at the Lighthouse Cottage or Caravan Park at Cockersand, but c.95 Fieldfare seen in the field to the south of the abbey. 

In our garden this Sunday morning, a Goldcrest, the last one here was 18 November 2017.  

With a Blogger limit of 100mb for downloading videos, here is a trimmed 50 sec taste of a fraction of the c.2,000 Golden Plover & Co on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock.


Wednesday, 1 January 2020

The Stonechat At Last!

Conder Pool has been pretty hard work on recent visits, not helped by the departure of the Little Grebe, they have generally left Conder Pool by early December, though an exceptional count for the date at Conder Green was of 15 on 3 December, not one of which was on the pool. Yesterday 62 Curlew were accompanied by a lone Black-tailed Godwit, a Snipe was on the small island, and a drake Goosander brought up the rear.

Black-tailed Godwit Brian Rafferty Clik the pik

On the Lune Estuary, an impressive mix of up to 2,000 Black-tailed Godwit and Bar-tailed Godwit were estimated at 75/25 respectfully, 26 Goldeneye was this winters peak count here to date. 

On the canal basin, it was good to find a pair of Pochard, seen as a declining winter visitor to Leighton Moss RSPB and Pine Lake, and at best irregular elsewhere, the last one on the canal basin at Glasson Dock was a drake on 26 November. Also seen, 2 Goosander and 27 Tufted Duck.

At Cockersand, the male Stonechat seen opposite the Caravan Park, and was virtually my last bird of 2019. AC tells me the bird has found an ample food source of caterpillars on the marsh edge. Up to 95 Fieldfare were accompanied by a Mistle Thrush in a field adjacent to c.350 Curlew, also a Reed Bunting and Kestrel noted.

On a wander through Williamson Park yesterday with KT, a Little Grebe was on the old reservoir at Fenham Carr, good to see at least one remaining after they bred there this year with five found 18 August. Also noted, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Jay, NuthatchSong Thrush, and Long-tailed Tits.