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

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Darters On The Bog!

Another pleasant spell at Birk Bank bog. Nothing overwhelming, but with plenty of interest to keep me happy for a couple of hours, not least because I witnessed my first copulating Common Carder-Bee's on the boardwalk....A pity the bees were in shadow.

Common Carder Bees. Pete Woodruff.
As always, view the videos Full Screen. 

When I came across this pair, it took a while to work out what was going on, but enquiries confirmed what was pretty obvious to me....I'm grateful to Ben Hargreaves for his expertise help on this one.

There was much activity on the bog, with at least 20 Common Darter seen, including pairing and ovipositing.

Black Darter Immature Male. Pete Woodruff.

Also seen, up to 6 Black Darter were all black males with the exception of an immature male. The best and biggest surprise was a Golden-ringed Dragonfly, probably the last one of the year for me. I'm not aware of any September records in Lancashire for the species.

This Common Lizard was one of four I saw on my last visit here on 12 August.

The trek to Cragg Wood in the hope of finding Purple Hairstreak around the oaks along the way, and Golden-ringed Dragonfly on the River Conder, was the road to nowhere. But I did find a female and juvenile Stonechat, also a Buzzard overhead, with Chiffchaff and Coal Tit seen.  

I noted just thirteen butterflies in four hours, 6 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Small Copper, 2 Speckled Wood, and a Peacock.

Some much appreciated quality and colour images for B2B. They were sent to me by Martin Jump and Ian Mitchell.

Brimstone. Martin Jump.

One of Martin's many extraordinary images, this one of the Brimstone butterfly coming in to land on Purple Loosestrife. 

Gold Spot. Ian Mitchell.

Fairly common throughout the whole of Britain, but takes nothing away from this attractive and colourful Gold Spot moth in Ian's trap recently. 

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

The Hairstreak Experience.

Brown Hairstreak.

The first confirmed record of the Brown Hairstreak in Lancashire, came from the Silverdale area in 2011, and was the result of an unauthorised release. The species is restricted to the south, the nearest colonies being in Worcestershire c.150 miles away from Silverdale. A colony has now been established at Gait Barrows, and is recorded annually for 4 years since 2017. However it is noted, the species is not fully protected, and unofficial releases are strongly discouraged by Butterfly Conservation.

Yesterday I was in the excellent company of Steve Graham, he had agreed to accompany me on a guided butterfly safari.

Brown Hairstreak Egg. Pete Woodruff.

The day started a little sluggish, but within the hour Steve was soon showing his skill to me, and finding an egg resembling Sea Urchin tucked away under a spur branch.

Brown Hairstreak Female. Pete Woodruff. 

From then on, the day turned into a Brown Hairstreak spectacular, we had six sightings of this elusive butterfly, three individuals around and in the tree tops, and three at lower ground level.

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Other butterflies seen continued the dearth, and were particularly worrying, with just singular Small Copper, Gatekeeper, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, with 6 Speckled Wood, 2 Brimstone, and a Sliver Y moth.

Common Darter Gait Barrows 24 August. Pete Woodruff.

Dragonflies seen, at least 6 Common Darter, a few sightings of Migrant Hawker, and a Brown Hawker

Birds sighting were, 2 Buzzard and a Raven overhead, a small flock of Long-tailed Tit in flight between trees, Bullfinch and Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Garden Birds.

Robin 25 August 2021. Pete Woodruff.

I managed to grab a shot of our young garden Robin this morning, 3 Buzzard were soaring together over Bowerham, and about 5 Long-tailed Tit looking interested in the feeders according to the Woodruff's.   

Sunday, 22 August 2021

The Greens Take Conder By Storm!

Someone stepped onto the viewing platform at Conder Green on Friday, and started a conversation by asking if there was anything interesting here. Obviously a visitor to the area, he went on to ask how long the pool had been in existence. I explained, the first mention in my records was in June 2003, when at the time of my first ever visit, I had thought perhaps it was a good idea to call it Conder Pool, a name that was adopted and has stuck for 18 years.

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I made an all time record high count of 19 Greenshank on Friday, ten are seen here in the video....It's a pity the busy A5290 runs parallel with Conder Pool.

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Some of the c.200 Redshank and Common Tern seen in this video, including a juvenile with a fish at which a Black-headed Gull makes an attempt to steal, but the tern flies off with its meal. Also in the clip, one of the 3 Black-tailed Godwit seen. I also counted 11 Little Grebe and 12 Tufted Duck, and a Kingfisher which gave good views perched at the back of the pool.

A circuit of Conder Green was rewarded by good views of a Reed Warbler in the reeds upstream of the road bridge, and up to 30 House Martin were around River Winds which usually has a decent colony of breeders annually. I made a count of 22 Small Tortoiseshell on the round.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson, at least 400 Redshank and 650 Lapwing seen, with 72 Curlew, an adult winter Mediterranean Gull, and an adult Common Tern fishing and occasionally plunge diving. Interesting that I saw not a single Dunlin here today. A Brown Hawker was the only sighting along the canal at Glasson Dock.

Garden Stars.

A young Robin and Dunnock seen this week, also this morning, the Wren and Coal Tit put in an appearance.

Common Darter.

Female Common Darter Birk Bank 12 August

This photograph of a female Common Darter I found recently, initially puzzled me, I couldn't understand why the red on the abdomen. This is an old female, as they get older they turn olive brown. In a beautifully simple experiment a Japanese research team injected Vitamin C and oxidase enzyme into the cuticle of immature male darters and mature females and they all turned from yellow to red directly. 

There's a link to an abstract on how Redox alters yellow dragonflies into red, but if you have no interest in the science, you might want to give this a miss .... 

Thanks to Martin for the header pair of Azure Damselfly. 

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Shooting In Progress!

Until I reached the car park on Thursday, I hadn't realised it was 12 August. I had driven into Bowland to find the barrier down at Rigg Lane, and a notice saying 'ACCESS AREA CLOSED TODAY SHOOTING IN PROGRESS'. 

I decided to take a deep breath, went under the barrier in the hope nobody would come after me with a loaded gun, walked 1/4 mile to the bog below Birk Bank, to do some shooting myself. 

spent a pleasant and rewarding 2 hours, noting at least 24 dragonflies, taking 60 piks/videos, to salvage the ones below for the blog....All the piks and videos - View Full Screen - are Pete Woodruff's.

Common Darter

Pacing up and down on the boardwalk for 2 hours, it was virtually impossible to get any accuracy, but in the end I arrived at a count of at least 10 Common Darter female and 6 male....

....and this pair copulating.

The 4 Black Darter seen were all black males.

A Black Darter briefly joins a Common Darter

Keeled Skimmer

Stars of the show were 2 Keeled Skimmer males which made a few appearances during my stay, including this one briefly on the boardwalk. A close second best was the Golden-ringed Dragonfly that settled close by me on the boardwalk, but didn't stay long enough for a pik.

I also had sightings of 4 Common Lizard....

....and several sightings of the smart looking, but unpleasant Flesh Fly Sarcophaga sp.

The only bird noted, was a Raven over, with in its deep repeated 'korrp-korrp' call. And with the exception of several Large White, I saw no other butterflies.

Access Area Closed Shooting In Progress.

I'm making no other comments on the notice board at Rigg Lane, but my piece on the 'The Glorious Twelfth' in a previous post, is firmed up Here 

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Around The Lune Estuary.

A look in on Conder Pool yesterday produced the kind of interest you come to expect here. Thirteen Common Tern seen, heading toward the climax of their breeding season, with eight adult and five young seen, four of which have yet to fledge, though I'd be surprised if they didn't do so soon after I left, with wing flapping lifting the birds a metre off the pontoon at times. 

One of the adult Common Tern has a metal ring on the lower right leg, it is one of three around at the moment, and one having been read was ringed as a chick at Shotton, Flintshire in 2017.

Common Tern 10 Aug 2021
I'm grateful to Ian Hartley for his help regarding info about ringed Common Terns at Conder Green.

Conder Pool held a decent count of 11 Greenshank, with 3 Avocet seen as an adult with two juvenile. Also 3 Common Sandpiper, 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Little Grebe, and a Swift seen as it zoomed over the old iron railway bridge, might well be my last of the year. On a circuit to Glasson, an Emperor Dragonfly was on Saltcote Pond, with 2 Common Darter and Blue-tailed Damselfly, also a Sparrowhawk over. 

Common Blue Male & Female

On a walk along the marsh edge to Glasson Dock, the butterflies put on a bit of a show for me at last, all nectaring on Sea Lavender, with 12 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Common Blue, 2 Green-veined White, a GatekeeperComma, and Meadow Brown

In the last 15 minutes of exposed mud on the Lune Estuary as the tide flowed in, c.400 Redshank and 48 Dunlin, 18 Little Egret were on the southern tip of Colloway Marsh. Up to 30 Swallow and 2 Sand Martin were hawking over the canal basin.

Thanks to Howard for the Knot header image. Howard has news of up to 3,000 Knot arriving in the Netherlands, and is looking forward to a similar arrival here in the UK soon.     

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Hawthornthwaite West & East.

I was on the western side of Hawthornthwaite Fell during the week, and got to around 400m before finding the first of 4 Stonechat seen on the visit. It was a female, and was the highest Stonechat I ever found on this fell, before soon disappearing from view. Also to note, 6 Red Grouse, 8 Meadow Pipit, a Kestrel, and a lone Sand Martin over Catshaw Greave. Butterflies seen, 3 Peacock and a Small Heath. A check of the small pool by the nearby plantation at the foot of Catshaw Fell, a male Common Darter, a Blue-tailed Damselfly, and 3 Small Copper.

On the eastern side of Hawthornthwaite, I found 7 Stonechat, these were seen as a distant pair, both scolding and almost certainly with skulking young, another pair were seen with 3 young. The low numbers of pipits seen on the uplands of Bowland recently, continued with just 3 Meadow Pipit here today, a single Red Grouse, Buzzard and Kestrel. When I got back to the motor at Marshaw, a Grey Wagtail was on the Marshaw Wyre.

As a contradiction to the claim of the dearth of butterflies seen this year, I probably saw at least 150 Large White on the day, with a few Small Whiteand 4 Green-veined White identifiable at close range.

On the moorland edge, I found a container hidden in the long grass, the container held a moth. Thinking to myself, maybe this is a decent discovery, lost by a lepidopterist, and might turn out to be something rare.

But the excitement soon faded when the moth arrived on the computer, and became apparent it was The Rivulet. Perhaps this person thought he had found a White-banded Carpet.

The Glorious Twelfth.

If you're a Red Grouse rejoice, I have excellent news for you. 

Red Grouse. Pete Woodruff.

If you are living in the fear of soon being driven by the beaters, and then blasted out of the skies, you can take comfort from knowing it isn't going to happen this year. That's because there isn't going to be any shoots anywhere in the country in 2021. 

Fear not, and take it from me, it's official....The Glorious Twelfth Is Cancelled.

The header image serves the purpose of some successful resizing, and is appropriate for the subject of my post. Brilliant shot of the Stonechat Martin, much appreciated.   

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Olympic Gold!....

....No, this is Bowland Gold.

Grizedale Bridge-Holme Wood

I stood by Grizedale Brook for almost two hours yesterday, relocating four times between Grizedale Bridge and Holme Wood, during which I had sightings of 13 Golden-ringed Dragonfly. The sight of these brilliant creatures flying past me up and downstream, was a magical and relaxing experience.

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I think it was maybe a little over zealous of me to regard five of the sightings as duplicated, but the record now has to read8 Golden-ringed Dragonflies seen. This record brings the total to fourteen at four locations, found in our recording area in one month

Common Hawker. Pete Woodruff.

A Common Hawker came to rest on the opposite side of the stream. Four Raven were overhead, and a Peregrine Falcon was in hunting mode. Butterflies of note, 4 Green-veined White, with numbers of Large White on the day.

Harrisend Fell.

A couple of hours on Harrisend resulted in my finding 18 Stonechat, including 9 young seen, with one female feeding a begging young. This record has evidence of at least three breeding pairs, but I reckon I failed to find more young, with skulking and a lot of movement evident. 

With the exception of one recent major surprise in 2020*, todays record represents the highest count of Stonechat at any one location in our recording area since the status of the species declined following the two severe winters of 2009/10/11. 

Some records I traced to back up this claim....

2006 June: 27 Stonechat Cross of Greet 

2006 Aug: 19 Stonechat Barbondale

2008 June: 19 Stonechat Harrisend

2008 Oct: 22 Stonechat Harrisend

2020 Aug: 18 Stonechat Caton Moor *

Also seen, a Kestrel and Buzzard showing off its hanging on the wing capabilities to the full, also 6 Meadow Pipit and 2 Willow Warbler noted.

Small Copper Harrisend 2 August. Pete Woodruff.

Butterfly records continue to be sparse with today being no exception, but it was pleasing to find my first Painted Lady, being just one of a handful of reports I've seen this year. Also, 3 Small Copper, 2 Small Heath, 2 Meadow Brown, and a Peacock

Sunday, 1 August 2021


Not something I've ever looked for, but no birding, and no blogging for me this week, you cannot be serious!....I've entered the record for inclusion in the Guinness Book Of Records.

But I did get something conclusive about a couple of puzzles I needed to solve.

Four-spotted Chaser

Four-spotted Chaser. Pete Woodruff.

Both these Four-spotted Chasers were found on the bog at Birk Bank on two different dates. But in the bottom image we see a male which shows all the right characteristics except it's abdomen that I would call olive green. I think this result is down to a combination of some photographic inaccuracy, but more likely the age of the dragonfly....I'm grateful to Graham and Roland for help in establishing these details.

Red-tailed Bumblebee.

Red-tailed Bumblebee. Pete Woodruff.

I made some further enquiries regarding this Red-tailed Bumblebee, which confused me with two bands across the body in the bottom image. They were established to be the result of a photo inaccuracy, in a photo artefact....I'm grateful to Ben Hargreaves for help in resolving what was a mystery to me.

Pellucid Fly.

Pellucid Fly. Pete Woodruff.

With its striking ivory-white band across its middle, and large dark spots on the wings, the Pellucid Fly is one of the largest flies in Britain.

Community....It Matters!

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Something wrong with the header image, I'm working on it....again.