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

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Windy Wanderings.

Conder Pool holds more water now than it ever has in it's history, the marker showed above 9.0 with the tip of the post almost dipping below the surface. A Kingfisher added a little colour as it zipped across the pool, also noted, 38 Wigeon, 37 Teal, and 27 Greylag, 3 Little Grebe were in the creeks.

On the Lune Estuary, my best estimates of the distant godwits upstream from the Conder Estuary, stands at a mix of c.3,000 Black-tailed Godwit and Bar-tailed Godwit, with a 75/25 ratio. Also noted c.350 Wigeon were mostly hauled out on the mud, and a lone Goosander. On the canal basin, 14 Goldeneye, 8 Goosander, and a Great-crested Grebe.

At Cockersand, the bitter westerly howler took away the possibility of any pleasure in birding, particularly along the headland. A few thousand waders were in and over the fields taking refuge from the high tide and gale force wind, including a combine of up to 2,000 Golden Plover and Dunlinwith uncounted Lapwing in the field east of Abbey Farm. A pair of Shoveler on a flood were of note, 5 Skylark, raptors seen were a Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. The estimate of 400 Whooper Swan remain spread over fields in the area down towards Bank End, and included a few Whoopers accompanied by 5 Bewick's Swan off Slack Lane.

The Cormorant.

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I made this video on the canal basin at Glasson Dock, quality and low light doesn't help with  finer detail, but I concluded that this is a continental sinensis Cormorant.

But how's this for something of a coincidence....

A day short of 9 years ago on 28 February 2011, I found a Continental Cormorant sinensis on the canal basin at Glasson Dock, the very same location as yesterdays bird was seen. The best single character to ID these Cormorants is the angle of the gular patch which is well illustrated in the images here. The top being the race sinensis, the carbo the bottom.

It's worth noting, older British Cormorants may be very white-headed, and are not separable from continental birds on this feature alone.

Many thanks to Stuart Piner for the images.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Moonbird B95

Knot. Howard Stockdale. Clik the pik

This Knot was one of Howards birds seen at Hest Bank 2 February. The bird was ringed in the East Dutch area of the Wadden Sea in November 2018, and was the first sighting since then.

Howards amazing encounter with the Knot at Heysham recently, has prompted me to be reminded of Moonbird who has featured on Birds2blog before. If you'd like to be reminded, or maybe never heard of him as the toughest 4 ounces on the planet, please read Here 

Courtesy of Patricia Maria Gonzalez View Full Screen

This is the last known sighting of Moonbird, it was made along the Delaware Bay on 28 May 2014 at Reeds Beach, New Jersey, USA. Unfortunately, I haven't succeeded in getting any more up to date on this.

Recommended reading....MOONBIRD. A YEAR ON THE WIND WITH THE GREAT SURVIVOR B95. Phillip Hoose.

Thanks to Barry for his excellent header image of the Little Gulls seen at Knott End 11 February, displaced by the recent storms Ciara and Dennis....Stand by for Storm Ella, coming to and area near you soon!....And I'm still not back into the birding scene yet.  

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Pik & Mix!

The image sent to me of the Knot at the high tide roost at Heysham was an absolute must for the new header on Birds2blog. Howard told me about 6 hours of pleasure he spent photographing these birds, amongst which he said he found a mix of no less than 18 Icelandic and Merseyside ringed birds, including one Dutch ringed bird at Hest Bank.

It's rare that 6 hours birding can be anything other than a pleasure for me, and I can identify with Howard when he said he spent that amount of time over two visits with these birds at Heysham, suggesting an estimate of 10,000 Knot on the day.

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I'm grateful for the excellent array of images Howard sent me, and for the video.

Whooper Swan 12 February Cockersand. Martin Jump. Clik the pik

Ringed as an adult female at Cearlaverock February 2017, from where it has been sighted just once in December 2019, and recorded six times, all in the Thurnham/Cockersand area. Interesting that this swan came from it's last sighting at Caerlaverock on 19 December, to Cockersand where it was seen 12 days later on Slack Lane on 31 December, then seen again on Slack Lane 12 February.

Thanks to Kane Brides and Steve Heaven at WWT for dealing with the record for me, and forwarding the history of the bird, and to Martin Jump for the image of ZXL.

In an e-mail, AC reminded me that we had found a male Stonechat at Cockersand 12 months ago on 15 February 2019, the bird turned out to be the vanguard of an exceptionally early spring passage, and in fact over the following 6 days I made notes of 18 Stonechat at 9 locations into our area by 21 February.

I stitched two short videos together of the Mediterranean Gulls on Conder Pool on 24 June 2019. I decided to leave the sound on because we hear the sadly missed Ian (The Common Terns Champion) Pinkerton making a couple of comments to me in the 57 sec film.  

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There was a bonus in this already excellent record of two Mediterranean Gulls on Conder Pool, in that the 2nd summer bird was ringed as a chick in Senov, Volensky Fish Pond, in the Ostrava District of the Czech Rebublic, on 8 June 2017. It was first reported at Kilkieran Harbour, Galaway, Ireland, on 9 January 2019, and subsequently seen on three dates in June 2019 at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve, Lancashire, before my sighting on Conder Pool on the Lune Estuary 2019. 

I'm out of the birding scene at the moment, hence filling  the gap with 'Pik & Mix'.

Friday, 14 February 2020

After Ciara....

And....Great birds in great places.

Clik the piks

Storm Ciara combined with a high tide was responsible for some serious damage to a couple of sections of the sea wall at Cockersand. It's my understanding that Natural England takes no responsibility of maintaining this sea defence any longer....So what's new about Natural England then! 

It was a great pleasure to watch 28 Whooper Swan dropping in to grace Conder Pool yesterday morning, 21 Mute Swan were already present, with 52 Greylag, 64 Teal, 8 Wigeon, 4 Tufted Duck, and 3 Snipe also noted.

On the Lune Estuary, with higher numbers than last Friday, at least 3,500 godwit were making life hard again, mingling above and below the Conder Estuary, 2,500 Black-tailed Godwit, and 1,000 Bar-tailed Godwit were my final estimates. Also noted, 3 Goldeneye, 5 Goosander, and 550 Wigeon. On the canal basin, 14 Goldeneye and Black-headed Gull 6CY seen here again for my fourth sighting since the first on 26 September 2014, all on the Lune Estuary.

At Cockersand, the male Stonechat showed briefly in the rough field behind Lower Bank House, 5 Rock Pipit were pushed off the marsh by the tide, with 3 Reed Bunting seen. In the field behind Lighthouse Cottage, up to 40 Twite were flighty, with at least 15 Pied Wagtail. From Slack Lane I saw a flight of c.900 Golden Plover undecided where to make landfall. Off Plover Scar, 10 Eider follows 8 seen here on 3 September 2019, and was only my second record off the scar at Cockersand since 3 on 18 May 2019.

Two Kestrel seen, one at Bank Houses, and one at Slack Lane, where I think this one had just reduced the Twite number to 39, a few minutes earlier it had been surveying the landscape from the telephone wires above the field.

The Lune Estuary Whooper Swans.

There are currently in excess of 400 birds in the Thurnham/Cockersand area. In addition to the 28 on Conder Pool. On Jeremy Lane, 45 Whooper Swan were accompanied by 8 Bewick's Swan and 132 Mute Swan, and Whooper Swans were strung out in fields between Thursland Hill and through towards Bank End. 

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Excellent Day At The Office!

I was quite surprised to find in my records, it is over 7 months since I last visited Harrisend on 27 June last year when I found 5 Stonechat, and that it was over 3 months since I checked out Hawthornthwaite, and found 3 possibly 4 Stonechat there on 24 October.

1st Winter Male Stonechat. Steve Gantlett. Clik the pik

Having missed out Thursday on a good calm and sunny day for some winter Stonechat'ing in Bowland, I was determined to get out on Friday on another good day, and succeeded in finding 4 Stonechat on Harrisend, they were seen as a pair, an adult male, and a 1st winter male. Also noted, 4 Meadow Pipit, a Wren, and a Red Grouse.

On Hawthornthwaite I found a pair of Stonechat, with a possible third bird briefly in flight but not relocated, also 10 Red Grouse, and a Grey Heron seen in flight skirting the lower slope of the fell.

Of interest, I have noted January records of 18 Stonechat wintering on the Fylde, including 8 seen at one sighting as an excellent record at Lytham Moss on 18 January. Also the report of a Stonechat at Roeburndale 4 January, and a pair reported at Kent Estuary 12 January. 

And finally, AC was in touch to say he'd seen the Cockersand male Stonechat yesterday. Iv'e not seen this bird since 21 January, despite two visits here.  

I was in touch with Steve Gantlett, and was grateful for the use of his Stonechat at Cley in Norfolk, and for his Caspian Gull at Sheringham in Norfolk. I'm not known as a gull birder, but thought I'd break the mould with this one as the new header. Steve currently has some brilliant images of a species many a birder would give his right arm to see....The stunning Goshawk Here 

Friday, 7 February 2020

After The Break.

After a break from the Lune Estuary - 10 days actually - I was back on parade there yesterday. But since 15 January, Heysham has been the location for me, being I saw 6 Brent Geese, after which I got hooked on the unprecedented numbers of the birds there which culminated with a peak count of 88 Brent Geese on 28 January. Still there, with MD seeing 65 yesterday.

The 50 sec video is another one of the Brent Geese with Wigeon and Oystercatcher at Red Nab 30 January. The wind is annoying, I'd suggest turning off the sound. 


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It's a pity these videos on Blogger aren't viewed as clear as elsewhere on the computer.

On Conder Pool yesterday, 32 Wigeon, 20 Curlew, and a drake Goosander. In the creeks, 7 Little Grebe was a count equal to 26 December.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, I just wish the c.2,500 godwits would stay apart and didn't mingle like today, they were either side of the Conder mouth making life difficult, but the estimates I came away with were, at least 1,600 Black-tailed Godwit and 900 Bar-tailed Godwit. Other waders of note, 350 Dunlin, 325 Golden Plover, and 120 Curlew. Up to 450 Common Gull noted, also 8 Goosander, 4 Goldeneye, 35 Greylag, and a Merlin which was distant on Colloway Marsh. 

At Cockersand, the herd of c.300 Whooper Swan and 2 Black Swan were seen over four fields including some on Jeremy Lane, and 5 Bewick's Swan were with 2 Mute Swan off Slack Lane. The low tides don't push the waders into the fields, but c.250 Curlew were by Abbey Farm, and at least 10 Pied Wagtail were around a flood at the junction of Moss/Slack Lane.

Garden Birds.

A pair of Greenfinch, the male showing resplendent yellow-green underparts, seen as a species nudging at mega status in our garden this morning.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

The Heysham Brents.

Keen as mustard, I was off to Heysham on Thursday to keep myself up to date on the phenomenon that is 'The Heysham Brents'.

I was at Heysham a good three hours before high tide, to find 60 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and a single Dark-bellied Brent Goose feeding on the exposed skears as viewed from the promenade by the children's play area. Watching the geese as the tide flowed in, their food source eventually became submerged and the geese drifted on the tide towards Heysham Head before lifting off the sea at 12.50pm to fly south.

Dark-bellied Brent Goose Heysham 30 Jan Pete Woodruff 

Underexposed and looks darker than it really is. A record shot of the DBBG....Clik the pik  

Sending MD a text to tell him they were on their way, I got a reply a little later to say he was at Red Nab watching the geese in the hope two birds ringed in Canada would reveal their marks, and to tell me the earlier 61 birds had been joined by two more. We enjoyed excellent close views of the geese at Red Nab until they all took off at 1.40pm and flew further south, presumably to Potts Corner were they had gone on Tuesday.

The video is of the Brent Geese at Red Nab. One of the Canadian ringed birds can be seen coming into view near the end of the video, it's the second of two birds seen standing on a rock before going left into the sea.

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There's a more up to date website for the Heysham Brents Here 

We are only at the start of a new year, but I reckon the three visits to see the Heysham Brents are going to be hard to beat as the most interesting and inspiring birding experiences for me in 2020.

Hardly a huge leap towards eradicating wildlife crime, but it's a starter in the right direction, and calls for a loud ALLELUIA from everyone.

The Leadhills Estate in Lanarkshire has lost its appeal against a General Licence restriction, imposed on the estate last November, after 'clear evidence of wildlife crimes' was found on the grouse moor here. The alleged offences of shot or trapped included, 3 Hen Harrier, 2 Buzzard, and a Short-eared Owl. 

Photo Ruth Tingay

This male Hen Harrier was found with its leg almost severed in a trap set at the nest, and despite valiant attempts by a top wildlife surgeon the bird died.