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BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND...........................................................................................................................AVOCET MARTIN JUMP

Sunday, 11 April 2021

April Chats And The Blue Nailed Hawker.

Searching through my records of April Stonechats since 2006. I found little has changed over 15 years, although 10 Stonechat on Hawthornthwaite 10 April 2006, on Harrisend 5 April 2007, and 8 on Clougha/Birk Bank 21 April 2008 were decent peak spring counts. Thereafter, numbers only reached counts of no more than four birds in the month of April in the two years 2007/9. Two years of severe winter weather then saw the decline of a decade of growth in upland breeding and wintering Stonechats, from which - according to my records - they never recovered.

My latest visit to Harrisend had me finding 5 Stonechat, probably three pairs on territory to date. Also to note, at least 28 Meadow Pipit, 3 Wren, 2 Red Grouse, 2 Raven were foraging on the ridge, a Kestrel, and a Brown Hare. As I got back to the car, 2 Greylag were overhead loudly cackling before doing a U turn.

As I arrived at Hawthornthwaite, 2 Greylag flew east, when I got back to the car again two hours later, 2 Greylag flew west, all a little coincidental. I found a pair of Stonechat here, 5 Meadow Pipit, 2 Red Grouse, a Buzzard, Kestrel, a Curlew presumably on territory, and a Skylark which I don't recall ever seeing here before.

On the way back to Lancaster, I called in at Street Bridge for a brief look for the Pied Billed Grebe, with no luck, but did hear my first Chiffchaff, and a Song Thrush was nice. On Sunday, 4 Swallow over and around the canal in the Deep Cutting area, were the first of the year for KT and myself.

The Blue Nailed Hawker.     

I'm looking forward to the season getting underway. Maybe if I get myself off to somewhere like Birk Bank, I might find an early April Large Red Damselfly over the bog to confirm it's already underway.

 Female Migrant Hawker. Pete Woodruff.

Coming across my record of 54 Migrant Hawker seen in little more than one hour along the canal between Glasson Dock and Conder Green on 19 September 2019. I subsequently found this photograph of a female Migrant Hawker taken in August 2020. Although not the best of images, it clearly shows a distinctive 'blue nail' on S2.

Field Guide Reference 

I was puzzled by my 'blue nail' photograph, the mark should be a distinctive yellow. So, off it went for expert analysis which came up with some interesting explanations, 1) because this was an immature female, the yellow isn't very bold yet, 2) field guides can't illustrate at every colour stage, 3) colours can change with temperature. Mmmm....Learning something every day!

Tawny Mining Bee Andrena fulva. Pete Woodruff.

Smart little bee on Euphorbia in the garden yesterday.

Unconnected to the post, but an excellent and much appreciated image of the Avocet by Martin Jump.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Godwit Headline Conder Pool....Again.

Although it was a pleasant sunny day, to be honest Conder Pool was a bit dull when I arrived there, but things were about to change for the better....much better. Unknown to me I was about to experience another of those excellent birding moments that crop up now and again if you keep at it.

All of a sudden, a couple of hundred godwits flew over the pool, escaping the Lune Estuary from the incoming tide. They wheeled around for a few minutes, before settling on the island where they were soon joined by others to form a flock of up to 1,000 Black-tailed Godwit.

Black-tailed Godwit Conder Pool 13 March. Courtesy of Howard Stockdale.

I was delighted to see these stunning elegant waders on Conder Pool, which added to two other recent impressive counts of BTG, one report of 4,100 seen on the Lune Estuary at the Conder mouth 27 February, another 1,000 seen a little later further downstream, made the possibility of making this record an all time peak count of in excess of 5,000 birds. Worth noting, the Lune Estuary peak count in February 2019 was of 2,620 BTG. The second record which included a ringed bird, was of yet another peak count of 2,500 BTG on Conder Pool 13 March....Magic birding moments for me, and for all concerned in these sightings I would imagine.  

The godwits were accompanied by 6 Dunlin and at least one Knot. Also on the pool, 2 Avocet, 15 Tufted Duck and 10 Teal to note. 

 
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I probably saw up to 100 Meadow Pipit flighting and in the fields at Cockersand, a White Wagtail stood out amongst the Pied Wagtail, a lone Reed Bunting and 2 Stock Dove. In the air, at least 10 Sand Martin through, a distant Raven flew out over the sea, cronking at another lone corvid harassing it, c.500 Pink-footed Geese flew south, 20 Golden Plover were flighty over fields, and off Cockerham Sands CP, 15 Eider

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It was good to watch c.60 Dunlin with Ringed Plover on the flood, whilst listening to the joy of a Skylark in full throttle.

The circuit of Cockersand ended with a bit of a disappointment as I failed to find my first Wheatear. But ne'r mind eh!....who needs a Wheatear when you can see nearly 1,000 Black-tailed Godwit on Conder Pool.