BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND.........................................................................................MIGRANT HAWKER PETE WOODRUFF

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Taking Stock.

More excellent birding experiences were on offer again this week, when I paid another visit to Bowland. This time I took stock taking a little more serious with the usual disappointments, but with a few memorable positives to more than compensate.

Marshaw - Tower Lodge - Trough Bridge.

The day got off to a pretty good start, when I found a female Redstart at Marshaw. 

Spotted Flycatcher Marshaw 27 May. Pete Woodruff.

Also at Marshaw, I found the first of 2 Spotted Flycatcher, this one on sentry duty by the Marshaw Wyre, the second was at Tower Lodge.

Two of 4 Pied Flycatcher seen, a pair were seen at one of the two remaining nest boxes in the compound at Tower Lodge. I understand a pair are using the other nest box, but I made no contact with these. Better still, a male was singing around a nest hole east of here, and further east a female was around the plantation at Trough Bridge. Despite me lingering at both these two sites, I saw no mate with these two birds.

Six Common Sandpiper were on the Marshaw Wyre, where I found just 5 Grey Wagtail

View Full Screen

The sight and sound of 7 Willow Warbler was down on the last visit, but this one was in good voice. At least 12 House Martin were busy around the lodge, there was no sign of these birds here on my last visit on 14 May. The Cuckoo was calling from the woodland strip above here. Also noted, 4 Mistle Thrush, and 2 Song Thrush.

Stoops Bridge.

View Full Screen

On my way back to Lancaster, I called in at Abbeystead to hear more birdsong, predominantly Mistle Thrush in this footage of the Marsh Marigold and Bluebells at Stoops Bridge. Also Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, and Willow Warbler.



The Redstart at Marshaw was my second on territory in a week in Bowland, and the first one to be found in the area around Tower Lodge since I found five here in June 2013. I don't recall seeing any reports of the Redstart from anyone/anywhere over this period, so looks like 8 years since the Redstart made an appearance here.

Grey Wagtail

Five seen today, follows two previous visits here when I found none on this two mile stretch of the Marshaw Wyre. This compares miserably with 12 Grey Wagtail all adult seen here on 29 May 2013. This may well be 8 years ago almost to the day, but unless these birds are evading me, this is a notable decline for the species at this location.

Spotted Flycatcher.

Two birds was a disappointing count this visit, considering the area is/was a stronghold in our recording area, with 12 Spotted Flycatcher seen 27 June 2018.


Notably, I've not yet seen a Dipper on the Marshaw Wyre at this location, despite recently spending up to a total of 12 hours here. 

Taking Stock....To be continued.

And Finally.

Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius. Pete Woodruff.

This distinctive bumblebee was seen on Cotoneaster in our garden recently. The Red-tailed Bumblebee is said to have a liking for yellow flowers - Common Ragwort and Bird's-foot Trefoil for example - but our individual seemed fond of pink. The Red-tailed Bumblebee is confusable only with the Red-shanked Carder-bee which has never been recorded in Lancashire. 

Wednesday, 26 May 2021


A few miscellaneous bits of interest....Well, hopefully of interest. 

With the Tawny Owl sighting in Holme Wood last week, I was reminded of the brilliant image featured in the header, which Martin Jump sent me recently.

Cam Brow.

Sand Martin Excavating Cam Brow. Howard Stockdale.

Three pairs of Sand Martin were observed excavating at Cam Brow recently, but an overhang above the bank collapsed, causing the birds to leave the area, to my knowledge have not yet returned. To make matters worse, the bank has since collapsed again before the overhang could be trimmed as planned, taking some nest holes with it. I understand the Sand Martins haven't returned to a regularly used bank elsewhere in Bowland.

Male Stonechat With Begging Young. Howard Stockdale.

This brilliant image accompanied the news, following no sign on 18 May, the Cam Brow Stonechat family were relocated three days later on Friday 21 May, when the parent birds were seen feeding three young.

Pied Flycatchers.

A pair of Pied Flycatcher are nesting in one of the boxes in the Tower Lodge area, and I'm reliably informed of two female seen recently in other 'new' areas here.

Conder Pool.

Great news that 5 pairs of Common Tern are now currently nesting on Conder Pool.

Garden Birds & Bees.

View Full Screen

The footage isn't world class, taken through the patio window, well that's my excuse anyway, but it was pure magic watching the young Dunnock in the garden again today.  

View Full Screen

There was in excess of 50 Tree Bumblebee Bombus hypnorum on the Cotoneaster in our garden yesterday.

I'd sooner be birding!

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Quality Birding....Quality Birds.

On a wander through Holme Wood, Grizedale Valley and Harrisend, some quality on offer earlier this week.

Redstart. Pete Woodruff.

I saw 5 Meadow Pipit as I walked towards Holme Wood, where a pair of Redstart stole the show for me, followed by a few tasty warblers to make up a list of 17 bird species, 6 Willow Warbler, 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Garden Warbler, and 2 Blackcap. Thrushes seen were, Song Thrush, 3 Mistle Thrush, and 3 Blackbird. A single Grey Wagtail and Pied Wagtail were on the brook. They came in two's, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, and Long-tailed Tit. Making up the list were, 6 Robin and 3 Wren.

Tawny Owl.

A Tawny Owl flew across Grizedale Brook which runs through the woods, to perch briefly on a branch before promptly flying off, but not before I got a 30 second video of this beautiful bird. In the shadows, but nice....excellent even.

View Full Screen

There are lots of carpets of Bluebells in the woods where I found, 8 Orange Tip, 3 Green-veined White, and a Speckled Wood.


A couple of hours on Harrisend produced, 5 Stonechat, seen as a pair and three lone birds. I was two Stonechat down compared to my last visit here 30 April, seen 1/4 mile away from these five today, probably six breeding pairs here to date. Also noted, 6 Meadow Pipit, 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Wren, and a Reed Bunting. I saw 2 Kestrel in the air together with some interaction, later the Kestrel pair seen again were engaged in an aerial dispute with a Peregrine Falcon. Butterflies seen were 6 Peacock.

Garden Birds.

We were delighted to see our first juvenile Blackbird, and two fledgling Dunnock in the garden this week.

Picture Gallery.

Dandelion Clock. Pete Woodruff. 

Photographed in our garden....Everything has its own beauty.

And Finally

A couple of excellent photographs appropriately credited. Featured to show my appreciation for keeping in touch with news and images, and adding more quality to B2B.

Dipper Bowland 19 May. Martin Jump.

Woodcock Bowland 19 May. Howard Stockdale.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Briefly In Bowland!

My last visit to Hawthornthwaite didn't have the result I hoped for, but I did find 4 Stonechat that had evaded last time here 12 May. I heard a Cuckoo calling around the Catshaw plantation, and heard a second calling whilst watching a male Pied Flycatcher in the woodland at the bottom of Cam Brow, with a Buzzard over.

In the area east of Tower Lodge, walking alongside the Marshaw Wyre, meeting Martin Jump who reported four sightings of interest for me to look for. I called here to see if the Pied Flycatcher pair seen around a nest box 28 April, had taken to the box to breed.

Grey Wagtail. Howard Stockdale 

Three Grey Wagtail got my records off the ground, having previously failed to find any here this year, also a Common Sandpiper took the count to six in the area, eight if my bird wasn't one of Martin Jumps two seen earlier.

Conder News.

Avocet Conder Pool 17 May. Howard Stockdale.

Howard Stockdale forwarded me some good news, telling me there are nine chicks from three nests to date, with another five Avocet sitting. Thanks to Howard for the images, much appreciated.  

Thursday, 13 May 2021

RO's....The Mission.

For the past five years I've found Ring Ouzel on Hawthorthwaite, this year I'm hoping to make it six. I was in the area yesterday, which was two days earlier than last year, when I found a singing male Ring Ouzel 14 May, the same day I had 5 Cuckoo in the same area of Bowland.

View Full Screen

As I stood on the bridge over the Marshaw Wyre I saw 4 Mistle Thrush, at least one of which can be heard singing in this footage. I was heading to the track on the east side of Hawthornthwaite, perhaps it was a good idea to check out Black Clough for the Ring Ouzel.

As I set out on the track, a Common Sandpiper flew across ahead of me, whilst the song of a Willow Warbler rang in my ears, with the call of a Cuckoo probably in the area around Tower Lodge. I saw just 3 Meadow Pipit and a lone Red Grouse, but was rewarded by 3 Stonechat, seen as two female and a male.

An hour on the west side of the fell drew a blank on the Stonechat, but 4 Sand Martin were in the air, with 6 Meadow Pipit, 4 Wren, a Willow Warbler, and another lone Red Grouse seen. The Sand Martin colony at Cam Brow appears defunct, though I've yet to linger to be sure.

View Full Screen

At the foot of Cam Brow, I was chuffed to find a pair of Stonechat feeding young. In the woodland opposite, which is strictly private and difficult to access anyway, a pair of Redstart seen briefly. 

The mission continues... 

Sunday, 9 May 2021

7 Up....Again!

....and another pik in the amateur bracket by yours truly.

Stonechat Birk Bank 5 May. Pete Woodruff.

Following on from the seven chats on Harrisend 30 April, I found another 7 Stonechat on my latest visit to Birk Bank, they were seen as three pair, the seventh bird a male I regarded as a lone individual independent from the six.

Also seen on this enjoyable if mostly cloudy and cold upland safari, 10 Willow Warbler were seen as an abundant, ever present, and most vocal of our summer warblers, 5 Wren, and 4 Meadow Pipit. Then they came in two's, Chiffchaff, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, and Red Grouse, one of which was a female, something of a scarcity in my records despite seeing numbers like 40+ males on visits around Clougha over the years. Raptors seen, 2 Kestrel together, and a Buzzard which showed off its ariel skills hanging and hovering on the wind. I also saw a single Green Hairstreak and a Brown Hare.

Conder Green.

Common Tern Conder Pool. Howard Stockdale.

The absence of livestock on Conder Pool seems to have greatly contributed to an excellent six breeding pairs of Avocet to date, with one nest set to hatch in the coming days, also a pair of Common Tern observed with pairing behaviour as the image above illustrates. A pair of Mediterranean Gull were also seen on the pool behaving in a similar manner, though these were immature birds.

View Full Screen

The Bar-tailed Godwits are at best irregular at Conder Green in my records.

I'm grateful to Howard Stockdale and Ian Hartley in sending me this info and records, and to Howard for the image and clip.  

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Brief But Brilliant.

A surprise at the snow on the Lakes mountains yesterday, quite a fall and not just a dusting....Was this really 5 May. But a bigger and better surprise was in store for me 4 hours after I took the header photograph. 

As I came off the grit track from the route up the east side of Clougha, a bird on a fence post some distance away caught my eye. As I walked to get closer, sods law, the bird took off went and out of view. Another one to get away me thinks, but luck was on my side, I picked it up again, but unfortunately just as far away as ever. This bird was giving me the run around, now it was atop of yet another tree even further away, and worst still, promptly decided to disappear, this time for good. A search in the disused quarry which is where I thought the bird had flown and was perfect habitat for the species, proved fruitless.

Back Redstart. Image Credit Greg Bradbury.

I'd have been elated to have had excellent views of my bird in the Birk Bank area yesterday like this one, but I did see enough of it to ID as a female Black Redstart, sooty brown and lacking white wing patch, though a 1st summer male also lacks this.

For me, this was a well overdue sighting with a bit of quality. The last being nearly 4 years since I found a Wood Sandpiper on Conder Pool 7 August 2017.

Monday, 3 May 2021

Fellside Fest.

Stonechat Harrisend. Pete Woodruff.

I found 7 Stonechat on Harrisend, on what turned out to be a bit of a fellside fest. The chats were seen as two pair and three male, I reckon possibly five breeding pairs on Harrisend now, but I'll be back for more clarity on this in the coming weeks. Also in a three hour spell on Harrisend, 9 Meadow Pipit, 5 Willow Warbler, 5 Raven, 4 Wren, a Buzzard and Kestrel.

View Full Screen

I never thought I'd have to wait until early May to find my first Wheatear of the year, not as a migrant on the coast, but on a fell in Bowland. Also 2 Cuckoo heard, one from a distance at the east end of Harrisend, the other as I returned to the motor, heard somewhere west in the Grizedale Valley area. Last year was a good year, when I found 9 Cuckoo, all in Bowland.  

A brief visit to Hawthornthwaite didn't seem to be going to serve much purpose in the time I was able to spend there, but I did find 2 male Stonechat, 2 Wheatear, and 2 Wren. There was 3 Sand Martin flying around Catshaw Grieve. I've no idea what these birds are doing here this year, there's no sign of any nesting activity here, nor at Cam Brow yet as I see it.

Williamson Park.

A little local interest at Williamson Park, where I found a Little Grebe on the old hospital reservoir at Fenham Carr. The grebe's were here last year, when they were seen as a family group of two adult and five young on 6 July. Also on the reservoir, a pair of Tufted Duck, seen as a first here.

Hawthorn Shield Bug. Pete Woodruff.

I found this Hawthorn Shieldbug on a bench in the woodland, difficult to separate from Birch Shieldbug in this image. The bug has something attached to its rear end which puzzles me. I couldn't make much out of it at the time, my best guess was a piece of grit off the track, but that somehow didn't seem feasible to me, and the pik isn't in focus and doesn't help.

And Finally....

I'm reliably informed of a pair of Mandarin Duck on the River Hindburn in Wray last week.