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

Wednesday, 30 June 2021


I had arranged to meet Steve Graham at Birk Bank yesterday, the plan was to check out the dragonflies and butterflies on and around the bog, and to arrange a butterfly field trip at a later date. I enjoyed the meet and conversation with Steve, during which we agreed, if the sun broke through the clouds, the dragonflies would get the power they need to be more active.

Steve had to leave and left me to it after about an hour, and sure enough the sun then broke through, and eventually produced 2 Keeled Skimmer males, they were seen as a species I've found at Birk Bank for the fifth consecutive year since the Keeled Skimmer was first found here by Steve Graham in August 2015. Also seen, 10 Large Red Damselfly, and 6 Four-spotted Chaser. Butterflies seen, at least 12 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, 4 Small Tortoiseshell, a Ringlet, and Large Skipper

Oak Eggar. Pete Woodruff.

Common Lizard was also on the boardwalk, as was this Oak Eggar caterpillar.

A walk as far as Ottergear Bridge was now about to turn into something special. A Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, and 6 Willow Warbler, were the birds of note.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly 29 June. Pete Woodruff.

On the return walk, a few metres from the east side of Ottergear Bridge, a dragonfly ahead of me, obligingly settled to reveal itself as a smart Golden-ringed Dragonfly, a species seen on acidic streams, but often found on open moors and heaths. 

But now, as I stepped off the west side of Ottergear Bridge, things were about to get better, another dragonfly was patrolling a boggy area and was soon joined by a second, they were another 2 Keeled Skimmer males, known to be found in runnels in boggy areas, but there was nothing going to quell the elation I had at finding four Keeled Skimmer in one day.

Birk Bank Rules....Again! 

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Hareden/Tarnbrook & Garden.

On the ELOC website last year, I found records of an impressive 25 Stonechat seen on and around Hareden Fell on 28 May 2020. 

Like anywhere with Bowland included in its place name, I have a particular liking for Hareden, and lets face it, when you take in the panoramic view of this bracken carpeted valley and moorland, it's the perfect habitat for the Stonechat. In reality you should be able to find dozens of breeding pairs of Stonechat at places like Hareden in the Forest of Bowland.

As I walked up the road towards the start of the route up Hareden, I had good views of 2 Blackcap, and a Dipper and Grey Wagtail on Hareden Brook. I had no sooner got on to the grit track, when a Merlin flew out of the undergrowth and out of view over the ridge, seconds later, a dread of c.20 Meadow Pipit joined 2 Swallow in the air over the ridge. 

On this visit, it took me 2 hours to find the first of 6 Stonechat eventually seen, including a pair with two young. Whilst watching this family group, the female with one young was joined by a Willow Warbler, soon followed by a stunning male Redpoll, all in the same small tree, a good three species pik but too far away. Other notes were made of 3 Wren, 2 Reed Bunting, and a Dunnock.

A Peregrine Falcon was heard harsh and persistent, alarm or contact calling to another one heard, a kestrel was also seen later. Butterflies, 16 Small Heath, and a lone Red Admiral.

On my way home, I called in above Trough Bridge, to find the 15 June Pied Flycatcher pair busy as ever again, and another female further down the road and still feeding young in a nest box. Later, I caught the glimpse of a Jay flying off, and a Grey Wagtail was on the Marshaw Wyre. At the plantation at Marshaw, I finally found a Spotted Flycatcher, if this bird has a mate, they would be only the second of two pairs in the area this year. I also heard a singing male Blackcap here, and 3 Song Thrush seen. 

And got another pik of the metal ringed Common Sandpiper at Marshaw.

Tarnbrook Stonechats.

I was grateful for the news and map of 6 Stonechat seen on a circuit on Tarnbrook yesterday. This is an area I've yet to explore, but I reckon this is about to change soon.
Garden Events.

This Tree Bumblebee initially appeared to be on its last legs, but as seen in the pik to be taking a drink of honey we offered it, it eventually flew off.

The Tree Bumblebee and Red-tailed Bumblebee, were found dead on the front lawn. The Red-tailed had what appears to be a sticky shiny substance on its side and leg. On a forum I was asked....'are there are any Lime trees in the area? as some non-native Tilias can be toxic to bumblebees'....There are Lime trees at the University of Cumbria, but whether they are non-native toxic I wouldn't know. 

The Nettle-tap micro-moth above left in our garden, can only be regarded as 'similar' to the one on the right which I saw recently elsewhere....Why the variation?

A stunning male Greenfinch was in the garden yesterday, but a Jay was even more remarkable here the day before. We also have two 'new' juvenile Blackbirds.

Thanks to Howard Stockdale for the image of the Spotted Flycatcher, only one of three this year to my knowledge, a look through my records revealed 12 Spotted Flycatcher in this area in June 2018.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Taking Stock....Part 2.

I was off to Bowland again during the week, hoping to get something conclusive, in the main about flycatchers, sandpipers, and wagtails, in the area Marshaw-Tower Lodge-Trough Bridge.

Common Sandpiper.

Once again it started well, with 7 Common Sandpiper seen, two pairs were at Marshaw on the Marshaw Wyre, one upstream from the bridge to the Hawthornthwaite track, and one downstream. Both pairs had a bird alarm calling with their drawn-out whistling note 'heeeep'...View the videos Full Screen.

This was the upstream bird....

This was the downstream bird - also in the header image - which bore a metal ring on its right leg, and was accompanied by a chick below it in the long grass. In the plantation behind this Common Sandpiper, I had found a female Redstart on 27 May, today I found evidence of breeding here when I saw a juvenile Redstart, initially perched on the perimeter fence post, then flew into the plantation.

Pied Flycatcher.

Five Pied Flycatcher seen, a pair in the woodlands on the west side of Tower Lodge are feeding young in the nest box. A female was seen constantly in and out of the branded FOBMG nest box at Trough Bridge, with no male seen in thirty minutes here. I watched a pair moving on a circuit through the trees in a 45 minute stakeout east above Trough Bridge at the track to Winfold Fell, I had a feeling they had young around, but saw none despite the super mobility of these two birds.

Spotted Flycatcher.

To my knowledge there's just one pair of Spotted Flycatcher this year per Howard Stockdale. This is grim news for an area previously known as a stronghold for the species.

Grey Wagtail.

A better result than previous, when I found 8 Grey Wagtail on the Marshaw Wyre, but no evidence of breeding with no young seen.


I've yet to find a Dipper this year in this area.

House Martin.

I counted 8 House Martin nests this visit at Tower Lodge, all seemingly occupied.

Wot No Orange Birds!

Friday, 18 June 2021

Bog Bonanza.

Having enjoyed finding my share of the mega invasion to Birk Bank Bog to count at least 40 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, 9 Large Red Damselfly including two pairs coupled, and 4 Four-spotted ChaserI had a lucky break, and found a female Keeled Skimmer quietly ovipositing....Excellent dragonfly, shame about the pik.

Keeled Skimmer Birk Bank 17 June. Pete Woodruff. 

This is my fifth consecutive year to find Keeled Skimmer on the bog at Birk Bank, and an amazing coincidence, as it was on this very date I found a pair of Keeled Skimmer here last year on 17 June 2020.

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

Some more notes on a wander around the area, at least 28 Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, a Garden Warbler, a Buzzard drifting over, and a Cuckoo made just two calls and went silent. Other insects were, 7 Small Heath, a Small Tortoiseshell, and a Green Tiger Beetle.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Lancaster Orchids.

Northern Marsh Orchid. Pete Woodruff.

A pleasant walk with KT to see the Lancaster Orchids was rewarded by finding a species not known by me to be seen in these parts, when an estimated 65 Northern Marsh Orchid were found.

Common Spotted Orchid. Pete Woodruff.

White Variant Common Spotted. Pete Woodruff.

More expected were 35 spikes of Common Spotted Orchid, seen as beautiful as any other orchid despite 'common' in the name. The variant white stands alone as it did in the very same place last year.

Mistle Thrush Fledgling. Pete Woodruff.

KT heard a Jay in the trees, then saw a young bird begging and being fed by a parent bird. I thought maybe I'd seen my first Jay fledgling, but in editing the image taken in the shadows of the tree, I discovered it was a Mistle Thrush. Also seen, a Chiffchaff, and two moths, the Silver-ground Carpet, and Nettle-tap

Silver-ground Carpet. Pete Woodruff.

Nettle-tap. Pete Woodruff.

The Nettle-tap is probably the most widespread and common micro-moth across Britain. 

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Start, Chaser, & Chats

A Redstart, and Four-spotted Chaser at Holme Wood, and Stonechats on Hawthornthwaite Fell, were the top trio for my little black book. But blink and you'll miss the male Redstart. Eyes right of centre where the video arrow points to the small branch on the tree....View Full Screen

Two young Redstart are now being fed at Holme Wood, but I found neither female or young on this latest visit.

Other good news from here was a Four-spotted Chasermy first dragonfly of the year, and the Cuckoo made itself know to be present calling a few times. Also of note, two pair of Dunnock with a juvenile seen, 4 Grey Wagtail on Grizedale Brook, with 4 Mistle Thrush, a Treecreeper, Willow Warbler, juvenile Goldfinch, and a Buzzard over. Butterflies seen were 12 Small Heath and 10 Large White.

A hike up Catshaw - well half way up - to look for Ring Ouzel reported to me complete with a detailed map, wasn't successful, but that's what makes birding what it is. But 15 Meadow Pipit, 3 Willow Warbler, 3 Large White, a Small Heath, and a Brown Hare came as compensation for the effort.

On Hawthornthwaite, I was well rewarded by finding 5 Stonechat, including the first breeding evidence here, with two young seen. A lone male Stonechat put on a display, when I first saw the bird c.100m in the air, I thought it was a Meadow Pipit in silhouette, hovering for a few seconds, then parachuting down before leveling off to make a direct flight for around 200m. Also here, a Grey Wagtail which is scarce on Catshaw Greave, I don't recall the last one seen here, 8 Sand Martin flying around, with no colony established that I'm aware of, and 5 Meadow Pipit. Butterflies, 7 Small Heath and 2 Small Copper.

Ignorance Is Bliss!

Clik The Pik

The notice kindly erected at Cam Brow by FOBMG and says....SAND MARTINS NESTING PLEASE KEEP AWAY TO AVOID DISTURBANCE.  

Conder News.

On 26 April Howards Stockdale took this photograph of a CanadaxGreylag on Conder Pool....Sometimes nicknamed 'Granada', this is a frequent hybrid combination.

On 7 June, Howard got another shot, this time there was a surprise - third young from left - with this Canada Goose family on Conder Pool. Also here, the first Common Tern chicks were seen this week.

This record shot shows breeding evidence of a Redshank with four young on Conder Pool.

Thanks to HS for keeping in touch with info and images. 

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Turned Out Nice Again!

A pleasant stroll along the Glasson Arm of the canal to Galgate resulted in a disappointment at not seeing a single dragonfly. So no points scored in this department this year as yet, but I was compensated by seeing - and photographing some - large numbers of Blue-tailed Damselfly, and a male Large Red Damselfly along the length of this nice stretch of the canal.

The taxonomy of the Blue-tailed Damselfly is quite complex, making life too difficult for my liking. Some variation was found, this example is of an immature female of the form Rufescens.

An immature male Blue-tailed Damselfly....

....and a teneral male Blue-tailed Damselfly.

All these damselfly records are up for debate, and the one above has already attracted a comment regarding the complexities of the Blue-tailed Damselfly, and which offers the opinion that 'this is a mature female of the rufescens obsoleta form which is what the pink 'rufescens' ones mature into'....Now I'm even more confused!

Common Blue. Pete Woodruff.

Butterflies were scarce too, with 8 Large White, 2 Orange Tip, a Common BlueSmall Tortoiseshell, and Speckled Wood seen. 

I started the walk at Saltcote ponds where I saw a male Azure DamselflyRaven came to ground and hung around the lock at The Mill at Conder Green, also a Buzzard seen overhead. Along the stretch of the canal, 5 Sedge Warbler, 2 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, a pair of Reed Bunting, a lone House MartinReed Warbler, and Song Thrush. Three pairs of Mute Swan had 4-5-6 cygnets.

Tadpoles Early June.

I'm told I didn't need to be so surprised to see tadpoles in the canal first week in June....But they did have a kind of calming effect, and the singing Chiffchaff in the background added to that.

View Full Screen

Conder Update.

Avocets Conder Green 8 June. Howard Stockdale.

Not for the first time, 13 Avocet young have crossed the busy B5290 to go into the creeks on the River Conder. The bad news is, that one has been recorded 'lost', it being one of the five ringed birds. 

Thanks to Howard for the news and image, gratefully received.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

The Mixed Bag.

A bit of this and that in this post....The main purpose for a visit to Birk Bank was to find my first odonata of 2021, well I've been late finding just about everything else this year, so why not dragonflies! 

The boardwalk was in need of repair, several sections of it were collapsed and had left dodgy wide gaps. The guys were doing a good job, and whilst there could be no evidence of disturbance, Radio One and Jay-Z with a Hip-Hop mix at a large amplitude certainly wasn't a good combination for the area and couldn't possibly have contributed to finding dragonflies. But anyhow, lets move on to see what else was on offer here today....

Three Cuckoo were heard calling, including one with a notably high pitched first syllable. From Rigg Lane, I timed a Cuckoo calling almost continuously for 15 minutes, during which time it clocked 540 calls at 36 per minute. At least 21 Willow Warbler mainly heard only, but good views of two, 5 Blackcap, 5 Meadow Pipit, 4 Mistle Thrush, with one obviously feeding young somewhere, a Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, and a Buzzard overhead. Six House Martin were over Cragg Cottage, but I saw none approaching the property at any time.

Cragg Wood. Pete Woodruff. 

The River Conder - and sometimes the Golden-ringed Dragonfly - flows delightfully through the equally delightful Cragg Wood from where I glimpsed a Roe Deer

On the day, I counted 9 Large White, and with the exception of a Speckled Wood, surprisingly I saw no others in 5 hours and perfect weather....But the Painted Lady has arrived!

Cream Wave. Pete Woodruff.

Confusable this one, but I'm sticking to this being a Cream Wave moth until someone corrects me, it compensated me perfectly for the dearth of butterflies.

Bowland/Conder Pool.

I've had good news passed on to me by AC in Bowland, where he found 6 Spotted Flycatcher, also a pair of Pied Flycatcher feeding young at the tree nest hole I recently found, plus a male with the female seen last week at Trough Bridge.

From HS, as at Thursday last, 15 Avocet young and 6 Common Tern nests at Conder Pool. The bad news here being, the date for the re-intro of livestock is 16 June, when there will still be unfledged young and eggs in and around the nests. 

Redstart Holme Wood. Howard Stockdale.

The Holme Wood Redstarts are due to have young fledge in the next few days. I reckon Howard Stockdale will be the first to know when that happens.

Thanks again to Martin and Howard for news and images, as always much appreciated. 

And Finally....

Juvenile Dunnock. Pete Woodruff.

We were delighted to find two fledged Dunnock in our garden this year, a first and probably nested in our neighbours garden, and are now about three weeks old.