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

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Holme Wood And Grizedale Brook

Holme Wood ranks as one of the best woodlands I have ever visited, and I made an escape there to gain more Bowland therapy. 

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It was quite hot on Thursday, but despite the early date, I first checked out the brook running from Grizedale Bridge into the woods for Golden-winged Dragonfly to no avail, but I found six here 16 July last year when I also found 3 Purple Hairstreak in the Oaks here. I think a week or two might put today's failure right.

A Brown Hare was running down the road as I walked towards Holme Wood from where I saw 5 Small HeathGoldfinch and Meadow Pipit with a nest close by, also a Pheasant with six chicks just out of the nest, later 3 Green-veined White seen. As I got close to entering the wood, a Nuthatch seen was feeding young in an Oak nest hole. 

Once in the woods, the place was full of bird song and I noted 16 species on a circular walk through this pleasant woodland, including in order of seeing, a pair of Great-spotted Woodpecker, plenty of Willow Warbler song, a Grey Wagtail on the brook, a Song Thrush, Great Tit, a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Goldcrest, 4 Blackcap heard as 3 singing male and a female which gave excellent views, a Chiffchaff, Treecreeper, Pied Wagtail, and a DunnockA Cuckoo was heard repeatedly somewhere down Grizedale Valley, and at least 4 Swallow were around the farm at Fell End as I returned back to the car. 

On Harrisend, it took me an hour to find a distant lone male Stonechat, with 10 Meadow Pipit, 4 Willow Warbler, 2 Mistle Thrush, and 2 Kestrel seen together. Butterflies seen, 9 Small Heath and a lone worn out Peacock.
Garden Frog.

It was good to find a Frog in our garden this Sunday morning. Initially in the pond and later hauled out on the pond side. 

Garden Frog 31 May 2020. Pete Woodruff.

A video and image of a bit of a mystery organism found in our pond. I have no idea what it is or where it came from, but the video shows one of the creatures swimming, the other dangling from a 'thread' on the garden mesh over the pond.

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And a grab shot of the same.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Do Not Disturb!

A post with good value for money, serving the purpose of sharing the less pleasant side of birding, and is published in agreement with the person in the spotlight on this issue. 

OK, so whats the problem there then?....Well there are lots of problems actually, but the most significant ones are, the person who covertly photographed someone he knew out on Plover Scar at Cockersand recently, yet surprisingly sent the photo in an e-mail to a second person and asked....'any idea who this %*:@ wit is?'....So this is already becoming offensive, and now the second person is sending another e-mail with five names copied into it including mine. This second person also knows who the one is on Plover Scar, and now we have seven people involved on the case, and this pathetic deceit begins to gather a pace.

What's going on here then?....Well these two people appear to refuse to take it upon themselves to contact the offender to tell him he's is out of order here, and shouldn't be out on Plover Scar just for the sake of getting a good pik of some birds. Instead, they pretend not to know the man, and decide to attract attention by sending out messages that are deceitful, to the five randomly chosen individualsof which out of all the other four, I'm the only one who knows 'who this %*:@ wit is'. Let's remember, both these two people know this, and I'm heavily involved here now 'cos I'm being used as some sort of scapegoat.

I've been in touch with both the authors of this issue, one of whom I politely pointed out that, whilst this is not defending anyone being out at a location like Plover Scar for the purpose of photography, the same disturbance - stress and injury to the birds too - is caused by cannon netting several hundred waders, for the purpose of clamping rings on legs, albeit for the more serious scientific benefits as opposed to those of a chance for a picture....But cannon netting is mass disturbance ....isn't it?

I respect the man on Plover Scar, when he denies disturbing the birds on this occasion, in an e-mail he tells me....'as you can see, images like these are not possible if the birds are distressed in any way, and as mentioned, my method of fieldcraft has provided for so many groups, charities, and associations with natural history imagery that has been published nationally over the years by organisations, including the RSPB, BTO, and many more in support of their ongoing projects'....I will continue to do what I enjoy for all those that appreciate the time and effort that I go to in capturing the beauty of all wild species in their natural environment, and adhere to the code of practice guidelines.

I read in an e-mail the case is now closed, but I have been asked to suggest, for any future issues in this regard, either or both of the two should communicate with the man in question direct.

I was grateful to Ian Mitchell for getting in touch and sending two excellent moths  in  his  on  Sunday.

Small Elephant Hawk Moth Ian Mitchell Clik the pik

This moth was a first for Ian's trap.

Poplar Hawk Ian Mitchell Clik the pik

This moth he gets 1-2 per year.

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Second Hand Birding!

Lets face it....The reality is, my birding is on it's arse, and the blog heading for liquidation. But welcome e-mails and excellent photographs are gratefully received, and are keeping me up to date on things in and around the area....Please clik the piks

Conder Green.

There has recently been up to 55 Bar-tailed Godwit at Conder Green, a high count for the time of year, and a bird at best irregular here, and even rare on Conder Pool, I've not searched my records yet to find the last if there ever was one. Also seen over Conder Pool,  sightings of Arctic Tern are a new species in my records since I first christened 'Conder Pool' 17 years ago in 2003.

Common Tern Conder Pool 20 May Howard Stockdale  

It was good news to hear the Common Terns had decided to leave the killer Black-headed Gulls - three breeding pairs - to the pontoon and set up home on the island....well Alleluia to that. No repetitions of last years horrific attack on the CT youngsters thank you very much.


I know three birders who have been to Bowland over the past few days, all have commented on the 'Stay Alert Stay Safe' hordes in the Tower Lodge area, with bumper to bumper parking in some spots, kids on the Marshaw Wyre throwing stones and building dams - well that's what kids do isn't it - but no good for the stream habitat of breeding Grey Wagtails, Common Sandpipers, and Dippers.

Sand Martin Cam Brow 20 May Martin Jump 

All three birders have made notes to me about the Sand Martin colony at Cam Brow, where there are in excess of 30 nest holes in the bank above the stream where picnickers congregate to cause more disturbance to the birds, and where all three birders have had verbal abuse when they've tried to explain what's happening here regarding breeding birds. 

Pied Flycatchers 22 May Howard Stockdale 

Great news that the Pied Flycatchers are breeding again at the nest box project, albeit just the one pair. This image is the first I've seen of the male at Tower Lodge this year, and having found a mate with obvious intentions to breed. I'm also hearing about a pair of Bowland Spotted Flycatchers nesting barely 2m up the trunk of a Beech, these birds nested in the same tree last year. Also, news of two confirmed Stonechat nests in Bowland was good, one in the trough and one at Abbeystead. 

Buff Tip.Ian Mitchell. 

Nearer to home....A Buff Tip found in Bowerham, with folded wings it resembles a twig from the Silver Birch. The moth is regular in Ian's trap, all the same, it was a spirit lifter for me.

I'm grateful to Martin, Andrew, Howard, Dan, and Ian, for their contributions to this post, without this it wouldn't have happened.

Not the same impression in the video, but when I looked at the front of the house, at least 50 Bombus hypnorum where bingeing on the Cotoneaster. Turn up the volume you might hear the buzz. 

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Second Hand Birding, but....


Sunday, 17 May 2020

Bowland Therapy....

....and another good idea.

Following the - short on clarity - advice by the Right Honorable Boris Johnson, to be able to go out in your car to wherever and whenever you wish whilst maintaining social distancing, the therapeutic value of a visit to Bowland for me was huge. I had a wander from Marshaw to Tower Lodge, on to Trough Bridge and towards Winfold Fell, then on to 'another good idea' at Hawthornthwaite Fell.

I heard 5 Cuckoo on the day and saw none, all separated by distance and time, and noted all as individuals. Three were heard over four hours, one at Marshaw, one above the plantation at Tower Lodge, and one in the area of Winfold Fell. Later in the day, one on the west side of Hawthornthwaite, and one heard from Stoops Bridge at Abbeystead.

Of 28 species noted, about the average for me at this location for four hours, I found 3 Spotted Flycatcher, a disappointing number considering I regard this location as traditionally the best for the species in our area previously seeing up to twelve on one visit. Also 3 Common Sandpiper seen, and 15 Grey Wagtail along the length of the Marshaw Wyre included young being fed. 

Grey Wagtail Young. Marshaw Wyre 14 May. Pete Woodruff.

The annual House Martin colony was at Marshaw Farm, with a good number of Sand Martin opposite the farm on the Marshaw Wyre where a Dipper seen. At least 4 House Martin were visiting nests at Tower Lodge, 8 Mistle Thrush, a Song Thrush, 4 Coal Tit, 2 Blackcap, 2 Wren, a Treecreeper and Nuthatch, uncounted but up to 12 Willow Warbler, and a Roe Deer ran across the road up from Trough Bridge. A Red Grouse was seen from the track to Winfold Fell.

Hawthornthwaite Fell. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

I came across a first for me on Hawthornthwaite. Having only a handful of previous records to my credit for the species, I had no idea what I was hearing calling distantly in the treetop to the right of the track below the fell top centre of the pik above, and thought this was going to be the one that got away as I got closer, until I saw the bird atop of some dead branches on a tree ahead of me, it was a stunning male Ring Ouzel. I have previously found Ring Ouzel three times on this fell, including a stunning male on 20 April 2016, and two seen distant flying away from me 18 April 2018.

Also seen 3 Stonechat, a pair and male, all alarmed and clashing pebbles, probably two pairs, c.12 Sand Martin flying up and down Catshaw Greave, 12 Meadow Pipit, and 2 Reed Bunting.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

The Cuckoo & The Garden.

Dug out a notebook on bird behaviour I started 20 years ago in 2000. The first entry in the book was of a Common Cuckoo seen at Barbondale, it was published in the British Birds issue in January 2002.

The Call of the Common Cuckoo.

I watched a male Common Cuckoo through a telescope at Barbondale in Cumbria. The bird was calling continuously for several minutes before flying off. During my observations, I realised that the call was produced through the nasal, and that the bill appeared to remain closed throughout. Further observations of the Common Cuckoo 2 years later at the same location, confirmed to me, that the birds bill did indeed appear to remain closed, and this behaviour was new to me.

British Birds Editorial Comment.

The first syllable of the familiar advertising call of the male Common Cuckoo is delivered with the bill opened, whereas the second syllable is uttered with the bill closed. As demonstrated by the observations reported here, there appears to be some variation in the manner in which the call is delivered. BWP Vol.4

There was an interesting follow-on by Dr T.J.Roberts to the notes on 'Call of the Common Cuckoo' in the issue of British Birds November 2002.

The note by Pete Woodruff in British Birds January 2002, prompts me to add the following observations, based on 34 years living in Pakistan. In the Himalayan foothills, I was able to observe at close quarters the Common Cuckoo, the Oriental Cuckoo, and the much less common Lesser Cuckoo, at times calling from the same area. I noted that all three species of Cuckoo kept their bills closed when calling, while the gular pouch, or throat, ballooned out visibly with each call. I recorded these observations in detail in The Birds of Pakistan.

Red Admiral. Pete Woodruff.

Red Admiral was the first this year to our garden, and as an occasional visitor, it was good to see a Coal Tit in the garden this morning.

Iris. Pete Woodruff.

The Iris is looking good too.

Whinchat Newby Moor N.York's Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

One small example from the archives of what I'm missing....I'm becoming increasingly unhappy.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Shrike It Lucky....The Sequel.

I was grateful for an e-mail and photo attachment informing me of a quite amazing coincidence. Following on from my post about the Woodchat Shrike at Aldcliffe 8 May 2014, the message was to tell me of a Red Backed Shrike found yesterday again at Aldcliffe. 

Bank Pool From Dawson's Bank. Pete Woodruff.

Not only is this an amazing coincidence by location and date, but this bird sounds like it was probably in the very same Hawthorn as the one found 6 years ago in 2014.

Thanks to Dan for the heads up and header image.

Garden Highlights.

A male Blackbird seen feeding two young, also saw my first young House Sparrow with quivering wings and being fed by the parent bird. The Blue Tits are back and forth to the nest box, 3 Swift seen over Bowerham, and I saw a male Sparrowhawk take out a Starling. A Red Admiral was the first to be seen this year in the garden.

Juvenile Blackbird gets interrupted from it's apple a day by two Starlings.

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I'm kept entertained in our garden, though certainly not content....I'd Sooner Be Birding.  

Friday, 8 May 2020

Shrike It Lucky.

Sifting through the archives again, I found I'd had a lucky break during a two hour visit to Aldcliffe six years ago today on 8 May 2014. 

I had dealt with some business in Lancaster by 12.15pm, but had to return there by 2.30, so my best plan to get a bit of birding in was to give Aldcliffe a couple of hours, a walk along the embankment, check the flood, and return via the path back to the depot at Keyline. 

I began to make my notes having heard a Blackcap and Chiffchaff both singing, a Song Thrush always a nice bird to see, and at Marsh Point a Whitethroat, male Reed Bunting, a Dunnock, and a distant Common Sandpiper along the edge of one of the smaller pools. I turned south to do the embankment trundle, a nice little Whinchat off here would have been nice. But never mind that, I've just lifted my bino's to take a good look through the stubble field from Dawson's Bank and the hedgerow running along the edge of it when....

Bank Pool From Dawson's Bank. Pete Woodruff.

....atop of this tree was a stunning male Woodchat Shrike waiting to be spotted and to send my passion for the birds through the roof once again.

The first Woodchat Shrike for Britain was shrouded in a bit of mystery, when two brothers named Paget recorded a bird in the village of Bradwell in Norfolk April 1829. A farmer reportedly had shot the bird and had preserved it, though no trace of the specimen was ever found. Prior to this first record, there had been an unacceptable report of an immature bird in County Durham, September 1824.

More up to date and 149 years later, the first for Lancashire was found in the grounds of Rossall School in June 1978. The second also in the Fylde, was found on the dunes at Fairhaven Lake August 1987, then a year later an adult at Heysham Power Station April 1988, and 11 years later a juvenile at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve August 1999.

Today the Woodchat Shrike is an annual spring and autumn visitor to Britain, those in the spring are regarded to be overshooting adults and 1st year birds, and occur mostly from mid-April to early June, dates which fit nicely with my adult bird at Aldcliffe which was my second Woodchat Shrike, the first being a juvenile, and my records read....Watching Honey Buzzard in the Rusland Valley, John Leedal and myself were alerted to a bird at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve 28 August 1999. We shot off to LM to have good if distant views of my first Woodchat Shrike which was a juvenile.

Interestingly, the Woodchat Shrike was taken off the BBRC Rarities List in 1981, but the species as not become noticeably more common in Lancashire since then.

My first 2 Swift over Bowerham yesterday, three days earlier than last year 10 May. We have two young Blackbird in our garden, and a pair of Blue Tits are nesting in the nest box, presumably this is the pair which performed well at the bird table, with one bird feeding the other. I can find no literature which makes any mention of this behaviour of one adult  Blue Tit feeding another, other than the male feeds the female at the nest whilst incubating.

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Sunday, 3 May 2020

The Merry Month.

I always remember my mentor John Leedal saying to me, May was the best month of the year. Well, from the single point of view that this month sees the return of the Common Tern to Conder Green, he was obviously spot on there. I was confident the Common Tern would keep to form and return to Conder Pool by Tuesday or Friday at the latest as the dates below predict, but the birds have beaten me to it and put in their first appearance 3 days earlier yesterday 2 May (LDBWS/FBC) 

It is interesting to note, the first year the Common Tern came to Conder Pool was on the late date of 2 July 2014, but they went on to breed and to successfully fledge 2 young to be last seen on 14 September at Cockersand. The following year 2015, the birds were first seen on 22 May, had 3 young to fledge, and were last seen on the Lune Estuary as a family party of 5 on 28 July. 

For the next 4 years the Common Tern arrived on Conder Pool between the dates of 5 - 8 May....

2016: 6 May, fledging 2 young, last seen on 12 July.

2017: 8 May, fledging 3 young, last seen on 14 July.

2018: 7 May, fledging 3 young, last seen on 13 July. A second pair of Common Tern which arrived before the original pair had hatched chicks, appeared to be having a second breeding attempt, seemingly having abandoned the first. A chick was eventually seen, and fledged on 15 August and was last seen on 23 August.

2019: The year was quite eventful for the Common Tern on Conder Pool, the first pair arrived on 5 May, they were followed the next day by a second pair. Both pairs hatched 2 chicks followed by a runt for one of the pair, it was later killed by the Black-headed Gulls which were breeding on the pontoon, the second pair of Common Tern also had both their young attacked by the gulls but amazingly escaped with their lives, even more amazing they fledged 3 days later to be last seen on Conder Pool on 8 August.


From the archive 9 years ago today 3 May 2011.

Dawn Chorus Day.

I was in the garden at 4.30am this morning to experience the Dawn Chorus. The air was alive with birdsong, the Blackbirds were particularly outstanding. Then the sunrise gave cause to realise that Covid-19 can never end that, nor silence the birds.

Allium. Pete Woodruff.

I had a wander around the garden, and got a half decent pik of the Allium....

Aquilegia. Pete Woodruff. Clik the piks 

 ....and did an indoors portrait job with the Aquilegia which I thought turned out quite good.

The Merry Month of May....Not too sure about that this time around.

I'd Sooner Be Birding!