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

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

The New Header And Some Other Stuff!

I now have a header to fit the page again on B2B. The image is appropriately of a Golden-ringed Dragonfly, of which I found twelve in three weeks all in Bowland....Thanks to Richard Pegler for his image and the suggestion to rectify the header problem. 

Brown Hawker. Martin Jump.

I had a pleasant stroll along the canal on Sunday with KT, along the way we saw our first 6 Brown Hawker of the year, and a male Emperor Dragonfly. We were surprised to see a little gathering of hirundines, with up to 50 House Martin and Sand Martinthey were accompanied by a few Swallow all feeding and taking a drink over the canal, pity there wasn't a couple of Swift with them to make it a full house, also 2 Buzzard were soaring and mewing overhead.

Thanks to Martin for his Brown Hawker ovipositing in Haslam Park NR.

Plenty to go at for the Small Tortoiseshell which spent some time on the Elecampane in the garden.

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The Glorious Twelfth.

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One of the many hundreds of Red Grouse I've seen over the years in Bowland.

OK, so being off the birding road for a few days, I'm struggling for material at the moment, and with The Glorious Twelfth coming up, you'd be forgiven for thinking I'm going to fill the gap on the blog, to get political and start using foul language, who me....Naaaah! But let's face it, there's a tragic story behind my 30 sec video of the Red Grouse, isn't there?

Sunday, 25 July 2021

A Closer Look.

Some recent encounters I've had, have warranted a closer look and some expert opinion sought. 

Golden-ringed Dragonfly.  

A murderous crop, but quite clearly shows a dragonfly eating what appears to be a beetle for lunch on the boardwalk at Birk Bank on Wednesday 23 July.

Alder-leaf Beetle.

I had an interesting response from an invite to hazard a guess at what the Golden-ringed Dragonfly was having for lunch at Birk Bank. If you've seen the video in my previous post, something blue falls from the dragonfly's mouth, and given the beetles colour is a deep metallic blue with a violet reflection, I would say the reliable suggestion fits what we see in the video.

With no records between 1946 and 2003, the Alder-leaf Beetle was considered extinct in Britain. But in 2004 larvae and adults were found in Manchester, probably arriving with plant imports. Now widespread in north-west England and spread into north Wales. It was discovered in Hampshire in 2014, and is now widespread in the south-east.

Keeled Skimmer.

This is a rubbish video which I binned, then retrieved it when I noticed some behaviour which puzzled me, in that the Keeled Skimmer dips and touches the stone with the tip of its abdomen. On the day, the temperature was something like 28 degrees, how this skimmer settled and stayed a while on the stone is beyond me.

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I was doubly pleased about the Dipper on the Marshaw Wyre. Although I was correct in the claim that, despite lengthy searches over many hours, I had seen no Dipper in the area this year. Howard Stockdale found a pair breeding in the Tower Lodge area, and eventually got an excellent video of a juvenile at the location. Thanks for this Howard.

Red-tailed Bumblebee.

A very distinctive bumblebee, being entirely black with a red tail. I identified this as a Red-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lapidarius. But this one has two pale bands across its body, which - according to two experts - are tricks of sun and shade in the resulting photograph. I remain baffled, but....Red-tailed Bumblebee it is then! 

Oak Eggar.

I was grateful for the image of the Oak Eggar sent to me by Ian Mitchell. 

Black-tailed Godwit.

Black-tailed Godwit. Martin Jump.

How's this for studying finer details of the breeding plumage of a Black-tailed Godwit.

Thanks to Ian and Martin for these excellent images, adding some much needed quality and colour to B2B.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Another Good Idea....

 ....but where does it all end! 

To be honest it was too hot to be lingering at a bog and wandering around Birk Bank looking for dragonflies, but it's what I like to do, and luvit.

I found 8 Keeled Skimmer, seen as three male and two female all at the bog, and three male as I approached Ottergear Bridge from the west. These three - 2-1 - were around boggy areas on the track, obviously seen as runnels, that are regarded to be part of their known habitat, but I still find it an odd place to find these dragonflies, here for three weeks now, and showing expansion of the species in our area.

There was interesting behavior at the bog, when a male Keeled Skimmer 'picked' a dragonfly off the bog, much as a bird of prey would take prey in its talons, I couldn't ID the victim to be a female KS, it being a darker individual. The dragonfly soon broke free, but the male approached it again and actually came to land broadside across the 'female' wing tip to wing tip. I picked up the female again, now it was ovipositing....All very bizarre!

Also on the bog, another female Keeled Skimmer seen middle-distance3 Golden-ringed Dragonfly2 Black-tailed Skimmer, and 5 Large Red DamselflyOn a wander to Cragg Wood, a Golden-ringed Dragonfly was patrolling the River Conder either side of the ford, and making the effort for me to get there well worth the trundle. 

Butterflies numbers as I see it continue to be sparse, though 15 species in a couple of hours at a managed local hotspot would appear to contradict this, but doesn't succeed in doing so in my experience in the wider countryside this year so far.

Meadow Brown Female. Pete Woodruff.

My records for this visit, 14 Large White, 6 Meadow Brown, a Small Heath and Large Skipper.

Golden-ringed Dragonfly.

This GRD on the fence by the boardwalk at Birk Bank bog, was feeding on an insect. Watch closely for the small 'beetle blue wing case?' then something falling from the mouth....View Full Screen.


Sunday, 18 July 2021

A Really Good Idea In The End!

On what may be my last visit of the summer to the area, I was well pleased with the results of a saunter Marshaw-Tower Lodge-Trough Bridge on Friday. It was a toss up which event won the prize, but the flycatchers and sandpipers were in a neck and neck finish, and I reckon it was a dead heat!

Spotted Flycatchers.

Spotted Flycatcher. Howard Stockdale.

In the trees behind Tower Lodge, over a 15 minute watch, I got my second helping of 4 Spotted Flycatcher, including excellent views of a young bird begging with flickering wings. Equally rewarding was the sight of another Spotted Flycatcher, found in the mid-distance on the opposite side of the Marshaw Wyre. I've drawn the conclusion, probably three pairs of Spotted Flycatcher have bred in the area, despite my previous claim that just one pair have bred here this year, with one also found around the plantation at Marshaw on 22 June and subsequently seen again as recently as 13 July by Andrew Cornall.

Thanks to Howard Stockdale for his Spotted Flycatcher young in the nest. Howard had to apply for and was granted a permit to photograph these birds.

Common Sandpiper.

I was very pleased to find 8 Common Sandpiper today on the Marshaw Wyre. Hearing the call presumably to young out of sight, I soon had views of a bird flying off downstream, eventually followed by four more, seen as a family of 5 Common Sandpiper, the other three were seen later enroute to Trough Bridge.

Finding 6 Grey Wagtail has continued the poor show in the area this year, and I've yet to find a Dipper here. A Great-spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch seen whilst watching the flycatchers, and later a Kestrel were the only other birds in the book. Butterflies were sparse, 4 Meadow Brown, 3 Small Heath, 3 Large White, and a Small Tortoiseshell.

On my way back to Lancaster, I decided to look in on the bog at Birk Bank, where I had a few sightings of a male Keeled Skimmer, but was never able to say more than one seen. I also had a Black-tailed Skimmer, Four-spotted Chaser, and a Large Red Damselfly. After about 45 minutes and was about to leave, another dragonfly came into view, it was soon joined by another to give me excellent views of 2 Golden-ringed Dragonfly in an aerial confrontation. 

So 8 Golden-ringed Dragonflies in 17 days at 4 locations....That'll do nicely!

Garden Notes.

We had a first ever Small Skipper in the garden, and 2 Buzzard soared together  yesterday.

Thanks to Paul who tells me this is a mirid bug, and given the poor image quality, might be Deraeocoris flaviliea in the garden recently.

Friday, 16 July 2021

Beside The Seaside.

A lovely day to chill out and sit on the sea wall at Heysham and check out a decent gull roost up to high tide. 

I panned through the c.200 gulls half a dozen times, the best count that came up was 16 Mediterranean Gull, many - but not all - hunkered down in the distance on Red Nab and identified only by the magnificent full black hood, and just one seen as a sub-adult bird with small black primary markings. But some showed their unmistakable all-white flight-feathers, large black hood, and scarlet bill, including the green ringed bird, probably the one ringed ANLT in Germany as a nestling 9 years ago in June 2012 and a visitor to Heysham every year since 2017....Beautiful creatures.

Ringlet Heysham NR. Pete Woodruff.

At Heysham NR, birds heard, 2 Chiffchaff and a Blackcap. Butterflies noted, 18 Ringlet, 14 Small Skipper, 8 Meadow Brown, 4 Large White, and 2 Gatekeeper. The large and conspicuous male Emperor Dragonfly patrolled the pool which it had to itself.

Small Skipper Heysham NR. Pete Woodruff.

Six Spot Burnet Heysham NR. Pete Woodruff.

The Burnets appeared to be joined at the hip.

Udea lutealis Heysham NR. Pete Woodruff.

If I keep at it, one day I'll find a moth with a bit of class!

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Owt About In Bowland.

Time flies by, and it was last week when the little black book says the weather was cloudy with a little sun, and I took a look in on Hawthornthwaite Fell.

I struggled to find 3 Stonechat, two seen as a distant pair far up on Catshaw, and a lone bird heard scolding. Also noted, 12 Meadow Pipit and 2 Wren, a Grey Wagtail was on Catshaw Grieve, with 8 Sand Martin, a Buzzard overhead, and 8 Small Heath butterflies seen.  

The most interesting aspect of the visit, was the sight of bumblebees, seen for around 100m along the grit track on the lower slopes of the fell nectaring on the nettles.

White-tailed Bumblebee Bombus lucorum. Pete Woodruff.

The taxonomy of the White-tailed Bumblebee is complex, and as I'm not a scientist, I'm going to avoid to much of it here. 

The Bombus lucorum label has been used to include two other species, B.magnus and B.cryptarum. I've recorded the ones I saw last week as 60 White-tailed Bumblebee, probably B.cryptarum which is to be found more commonly in the uplands, with Bombus lucorum regarded to dominate the lowlands.

I'm grateful to Dave Bickerton and Ben Hargreaves, for their help and contributions on this subject.

I was really chuffed to finally locate the Spotted Flycatchers at Tower Lodge, with excellent views of two adult and at least one juvenile seen. These are the only pair in this are this year, though I did find a lone bird 22 June at the plantation at Marshaw. The House Martins are still visiting the nests at Tower Lodge.

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A wander along the Marshaw Wyre to Trough Bridge. Along the way, I found the FOBMG nest box to be deserted and birds moved on. The female Pied Flycatcher seemed to have endless energy to and fro the nest box feeding young, with never a male in sight on every visit I made here

A welcome surprise was a Common Sandpiper still well upstream, also 3 Grey Wagtail. The only disappointment today was, I've still to find my first Dipper of 2021 in this area.

Sunday, 11 July 2021

Better The Dragons Than The Birds.

Wednesday was a dragonfly day for me, which was the real purpose of my visit to Birk Bank and the surrounding area. 

It's difficult to say Birk Bank bog was disappointing, but despite two visits I saw just 2 Keeled Skimmer males briefly, and 4 Large Red Damselflies. Birds of note to and returning from Cragg Wood, 3 Blackcap, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Jay, a Kestrel showing off its hovering skills, and a Buzzard mewing as it soared overhead, at least one pair of House Martin have a nest at Cragg Cottage.

River Conder Looking West. Pete Woodruff.

At the River Conder by Cragg Wood, as I sat munching cheese biscuits and a swig of orange juice, the first of what turned out to be my sixth Golden-ringed Dragonfly in a week flew downstream and over the ford.

 River Conder Looking East. Pete Woodruff.

It was soon followed by three more individuals downstream, to add to one seen on the east side of Ottergear Bridge 29 July, and one on Grizedale Brook 1 July.

Ottergear Bridge West Side. Pete Woodruff.

As I returned from Cragg Wood, just off the west side of Ottergear Bridge I saw 2 Keeled Skimmer males over the boggy area as I had on 29 June

In four hours around Birk Bank, I saw just five butterflies, 3 Meadow Brown, a Red Admiral and Small Heath.

Lizard & Moth.

Common Lizard. Pete Woodruff.

The Common Lizard was on the boardwalk at Birk Bank bog. 

Northern Spinach. Pete Woodruff.

Also seen, a Northern Spinach which had a damaged left wing tip. 

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Gold Digging....Again.

Grizedale Brook.

I watched a Golden-ringed Dragonfly flying towards me from this watchpoint on Thursday.

An hour earlier, I had failed to find anything here, but the return paid off and the dragonfly flew by me and continued upstream and out of sight.  

I walked back upstream to see the/another dragonfly flying back under Grizedale Bridge. Grizedale Brook is a good example of the perfect habitat for the Golden-ringed Dragonfly, it being unique in its breeding habit which is confined to acidic upland streams.

Also seen here, 6 Large Red Damselfly, and 7 Small Heath, 3 Meadow Brown, a Red Admiral and Speckled Wood.

Harrisend Fell.

Three hours on Harrisend had me find 12 Stonechat, evidence of four breeding pairs, including four juvenile. Also seen, 6 Mistle Thrush, 5 Meadow Pipit and at least as many heard, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Linnet, with a few singing Willow Warbler heard, and 8 Small Heath butterflies.

Common Blue Damselfly Female. Pete Woodruff.

I was a little surprised to find this Common Blue Damselfly on the moorland of Harrisend Fell, with not a waterbody in sight.

Conder Pool.

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This 10 second video clip of two fledged Common Tern, also shows a Little Ringed Plover as a bonus. 

Common Tern Conder Pool 2 July 2021. Howard Stockdale.

Many thanks to Howard Stockdale for the video and image, both of which represent the eighth year for successful breeding of the Common Tern on the ever brilliant Conder Pool.