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

Thursday, 30 July 2020

The Little Brown Job!

I had two e-mails over the weekend, one included an image of a wader. I was amazed at how time flies when I discovered it was 6 years ago since I found a Wood Sandpiper on Conder Pool 10 August 2014.  

The second message was the reminder of a butterfly found 11 August 2018. The last time I had seen the author of the e-mail was at Glasson Dock when together we found 9 gulls all ringed, including 5 Common Gulls, a species I had never found ringed before. 

Brown Hairstreak at Gait Barrows.

Given that the Brown Hairstreak has a localised distribution almost entirely in Southern England, the South Midlands, and South Wales, with the nearest colonies in East Worcestershire some 150 miles away, the obvious question is; how did it get to Gait Barrows in Lancashire. There are three possible explanations: 1) This elusive and largely arboreal butterfly could have been ever present, but was simply overlooked or mistaken for the widespread Purple Hairstreak. 2) Brown Hairstreak eggs were inadvertently brought in by local landowners when Blackthorn from nurseries outside the area was planted in the vicinity. 3) An unauthorised release of a small number of adults, or late stage caterpillars. The latter option for the reappearance of Brown Hairstreak in North Lancashire was favoured by three experts in the field. 

Ref: Butterfly Conservation Lancashire Branch, Winnick, Dunbar, Sivell
I'm hoping to make a break to freedom tomorrow and I think I know where I'm going.

In the garden.

A Small White, Red Admiral, and Speckled Wood. It was also good to see a young Robin and Greenfinch in the garden. 

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Well At Least...

....I took three photographs of butterflies just about reaching my standard, including the well marked female Large White in our garden in the header pik.

But the weather on Friday wasn't quite as good as I had hoped for, and the hunt for dragonflies not a realistic prospect, though the weather did buck up later in the day. 

Ringlet Grisedale Bridge. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

At Grisedale Bridge 2 Buzzard soared together overhead, and the Ringlet seen here has proved this year to be excellent for the species. I've had seven so far,  put in the shade with records of 22 and 50 by two observers in our area this month.

Stonechat Juvenile. Howard Stockdale. Clik the pik

A visit to Hawthornthwaite to find proof of breeding when I found a pair of Stonechat and at least one juvenile here, a good enough excuse for another picture on B2B thanks to Howard. Also noted, 11 Meadow Pipit, 2 Wren, and a Buzzard soaring.

Meadow Brown Female Hawthornthwaite. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

Butterflies, a Meadow Brown and Peacock seen.

A lone Sand Martin seen over Catshaw Greave on Hawthornthwaite, appeared to indicate the colony had dispersed as was the case at Cam Brow. This seems an early date for the Sand Martin to desert two colonies, though at the latter site a family party were picnicking with kids in the stream building a dam below the nest holes!

A Meadow Brown in our garden was a first record here. 

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Bullseye Around Birk Bank.

An excellent day, when I had the company of Ian in the Birk Bank area on Tuesday, hitting the bullseye with three out of the four targets I had hoped for. A bit of an irony for me, as the one target missed was the Stonechat, but that was mainly because we didn't get on to the top of Birk Bank where they were guaranteed. 

I finally realised on Tuesday, the capacity for the car park at Rigg Lane is 40, and another 6 outside on the lane made 46 cars parked up to pay a visit to Clougha Pike....Lockdown unlocked!


We had only been out of the car a few minutes when the day got off to a good start, with the bonus of a Green Woodpecker we hadn't seen on the ground ahead took off to land in a tree, which in turn spooked a Jay that flew off. It's 3 years since my last Green Woodpecker which was at Latterbarrow in Cumbia.

Black-tailed Skimmer Birk Bank Bog. Pete Woodruff. 
We made two visits to Birk Bank bog, the first showed us a lone male Black-tailed Skimmer, but the second visit at the end of the circuit was rewarded with 3 Keeled Skimmer including a pair coupled.

Purple Hairstreak Ian Stephenson Clik the pik

We set off on the circuit, to soon arrive at a group of Oak's, and eventually found 4 Purple Hairstreak, seen characteristically with wings closed showing the silvery-grey underside. A butterfly easily overlooked as the adult are often in the top of the canopy where they seek honeydew, they can usually be seen more often in the evening of a warm summer's day. 

A stake out by the ford over the stream that is the River Conder flowing out of Cragg Wood, was rewarded by brief views of a Migrant Hawker whizzing upstream, and later by a Golden-ringed Dragonfly flying downstream, both quickly disappearing out of sight. There was a substantial movement of hirundines seen over the fields off Littledale Road, up to 100 Swallow, a few House Martin and single Swift.

Bird sightings were sparse, but a Song Thrush which came to bathe in the ford by Cragg Wood, took top spot behind the woodpecker in my book. Otherwise, singles of Red Grouse, Willow Warbler, Meadow Pipit, and Wren.

Butterflies seen, 6 Small Copper were over the bog, and on the circuit, 8 Meadow Brown, 3 Red Admiral, 3 Small Tortoiseshell, and a Speckled Wood.

Common Tern Juvenile Conder Pool 19 July Howard Stockdale Clik the pik  

Thanks to Howard Stockdale who continues to keep me posted re Conder Pool. The Avocet young in the header image are now three weeks old. 

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Thin End Of The Wedge!

I'm getting closer by the day to the thin end of the wedge with this lockdown thing. But not wanting to labour that one, onward christian soldiers an'all that....

Imm Female Common Darter. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

Lancaster Cemetery on the city outskirts is by far the best and biggest for wildlife, a huge expanse with trees and bushes in its excellent natural layout. KT and myself went off to find 4 Ringlet there again, with the bonus of an immature female Common Darter on a gravestone, and 4 singing male Blackcap heard on the way round.

Soldier Beetle. Martin Jump. Clik the pik 

Returning from the cemetery via the lanes, around 20 Soldier Beetle were seen on Wild Carrot, they were all in pairs apparently doing what they do best. A Buzzard was soaring over Grab Lane and 11 Meadow Brown seen. 

Digging into a bit of recent history, the Ringlet seen on two recent visits to the cemetery, were in the same area that I had found an excellent bonus of 5 Bullfinch on 30 October 2014, a bird more noted for its presence in south-east Cumbria, though it is a regular autumn migrant seen at Heysham. I reckon I'd be hard pushed to find the last previous record of the Bullfinch in Lancaster Cemetery.

In the garden. 

We have visits to the feeding station through the night, but were delighted to see 2 Hedgehog on the lawn at 10.30pm on Thursday, also we now have 2 Frog mostly seen when they have heads above the water in the pond, and we've had a total of six young Blackbird this year, and a stunning male Greenfinch put in an appearance on the feeders yesterday.

Speckled Wood on Elecampane. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik 

A couple of butterflies seen in the garden this week, a Speckled Wood and Red Admiral.

Conder Pool Summary. 

Avocet Conder Pool 19 July. Howard Stockdale. Clik the pik 

Two young from three Avocet are now both ringed, with the third dead. The Common Tern runt is also confirmed dead.

I'm grateful to Howard for the info and images he sends me, and to Andrew who continues to keep me informed on Conder Pool and Stonechats in Bowland in particular. Also, thanks to Martin for his over-sexed Soldier Beetle image.

In the header image of the Small Tortoiseshell, I hadn't noticed the Mint moth until I got the picture onto my computer. 

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Lockdown Miscellany.

I was grateful to David for sending me the Bar-tailed Godwit image as my new header. 

David is a visitor to the area and wouldn't have realised at the time, the significance of the Bar-tailed Godwit at Conder Green, seen as an unprecedented number and a first record summering on Conder Pool. All roosting non-breeders, but one in the centre in breeding plumage adds a little more interest. 

Despite the Bar-tailed Godwit being recorded as a species summering in small numbers around the Lune Estuary, the monthly WeBS counts in 2018 didn't reflect this when, just two birds aside, none were recorded on the Lune Estuary for four months May - September.


A walk with KT through Williamson Park and on to Lancaster Cemetery wasn't without a little interest. 

Little Grebe.

On the old Moor Hospital reservoir at Fenham Carr, it was good to find 7 Little Grebe, seen as two adult and five young, with one adult and three young being fed 100m apart from the other adult feeding two young on the opposite side. These are almost certainly the nesting pair seen on 31 March.

In a bit of reading up, I found only two ringing recoveries, indicating that the Lancashire Little Grebe might be a regular long-distance migrant. One ringed in Essex in 1956, was found dead in Liverpool 2 years later in 1958, but more interesting was of a bird ringed in Latvia 1983, and was found dead at Pilling on the Fylde coast 2 years later in 1985.


In Lancaster Cemetery, 6 Ringlet seen in the grasses and feeding at bramble blossom. The Ringlets status is common, but despite increases in distribution and population, not known as abundant in Lancashire. 

Ringlet Aldcliffe 10 July 2017. Pete Woodruff.

I only have 5 Ringlet records to my name, three of which were in Cumbria. The two records found in our recording area are very interesting in that the single one I found at Aldcliffe on 10 July 2017, resulted in my being unsuccessful in tracing the previous record of this butterfly at Aldcliffe. My second record was of 52 Ringlet seen at Heysham NR on 4 July 2019.

News From Conder Pool.

Arctic Tern Conder Pool 10 July. Howard Stockdale.

Howard found this 1st summer Arctic Tern on Conder Pool on Friday, seen as another excellent first record for the site....Did the 2cy Arctic Tern at Heysham since Thursday, have a day-trip to the Lune Estuary on Friday?

Howard also observed the three ringed juvenile Common Tern developing their flying skills on Friday, and the three young week old Avocet are still doing well.

And Finally....

Little Owl. Green Lane 10 July. SD515659    

Grab shot of a Little Owl on Green Lane before flying off.

Thanks to all who contributed to this post, much appreciated. 

Sunday, 5 July 2020

The Keeled Skimmer.

Keeled Skimmer populations are found in North Wales and Cumbria, so it is a little surprising that the species wasn't recorded earlier than it was in Lancashire, being a county well-endowed with suitable habitat for the Keeled Skimmer which is a species of bogs and mires in western areas where it is found on moorland heaths and bogs, often in areas frequented by the Golden-ringed Dragonfly.

The first Keeled Skimmer in Lancashire was found and photographed by Allen Holmes 7 years ago at Grindleton Forest Pond on 8 August 2013, unfortunately it was a one day wonder and had disappeared the following day. The second Lancashire record came from Birkdale Dunes, it was a male found by Pete Kinsella on 3 July 2015.

Keeled Skimmer At Birk Bank Bog.

I've found the Keeled Skimmer at Birk Bank, Quernmore, on the outskirts of Lancaster for four years following my first here in 2016, but the first record at Birk Bank, was of two - possibly three - male Keeled Skimmer seen on the bog by Steve Graham on 12 August 2015. 

Keeled Skimmer Birk Bank 22 July 2016 Pete Woodruff Clik the piks

The next and fourth Lancashire record of Keeled Skimmer was of a male seen at Birk Bank on 22 July 2016 (PW), followed by the species seen again at Birk Bank by Steve Graham on 6 July 2017, then three males there six days later on 12 July (PW).

Keeled Skimmer Pairing Birk Bank Bog 22 June 2018. Pete Woodruff.

Five Keeled Skimmer were found on 22 June 2018 (PW) and included a pair seen pairing. A pair were seen at Birk Bank Bog on 5 July 2019, with a male seen here on 15 July, followed by a pair 23 July (PW).

 Keeled Skimmer/Large Red Damselfly Birk Bank Bog 17 June 2020. Pete Woodruff.

This year, there was a bit of dragonfly magic for me when I visited Birk Bank on 17 June to find my first Keeled Skimmer of 2020, a male with a female seen later ovipositing. 

Southern Migrant Hawker Female Marc Heath 

Dragonflies In 2015.

More remarkable than the Lancashire Keeled Skimmer records, was that of a female Southern Migrant Hawker, found at Birkdale by Chris Storey on 10 July 2015. 

This was another first record for Lancashire and North Merseyside, and at the time believed to be the most northerly British record of the species. Even more remarkable, was that it was a female, made remarkable because it is almost always the male of all species of dragonflies that are prone to wander.

Many thanks to Martin Jump for his excellent header image of the Tawny Owl which was achieved following an invitation to a private photo shoot. Thanks also to Marc Heath for his consistently excellent images.