Dragonfly Pond & Stags Lodge – Cuerden Valley Park – 14th June 2014

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With Emperor Dragonflies being reported I decided to head up to the dragonfly pond to see if they were flying locally. I counted 3 including a female oviposting,  20 four spotted chaser as well as blue tailed and azure damselfly. A single Buzzard showed overhead briefly and a Chiffchaff called near by. I only managed one butterfly in the form of a Large Skipper but picked up 1 Meadow at Wigan Lane car park and 2 Speckled Wood on Stags Lodge. A little disappointing for butterflies locally with numbers being very low (a walk around Stags Lodge tonight - 17th brought a single Meadow Brown)
A walk back through Stags Lodge brought a Greater Spotted Woodpecker near to a previous found nest site. It seemed to be excavating a fresh nest, not sure if they have a second brood but I'll be sure to keep an eye out. Another Chiffchaff (no Willow Warbler at Stags this year) and 4 Whitethroat were the only wablers and 4 young Coot on the pond, not bad since they started with seven (I did see a Grey Heron on the pond quite a bit when they first appeared). A small number of Banded Demoiselle, Male and Female were on the River Lostock as well as a young Wren by the bridge no sign of the Dipper though

 Above & below four spotted chaser


 Above Blue tailed Damselfly

Above male Emperor Dragonfly below female

 Above young Coot below Common Spotted Orchid



 Above & below Greater Spotted Woodpecker


 Above & below Large Skipper



 Above Meadow Brown below Speckled Wood




Above young Wren

Great Skua (Bonxie) – Preston Docks – 15th June 2014

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About half 9 I read a Facebook post suggesting there was a Great Skua lingering about Preston Docks so with the decision made not to wash the car (my usual Sunday morning chore) I headed out. On first arrival in the car park near to Morrison's there was no sign of the bird and I was going to give up on what would be a tick but with a further trawl through Facebook I decided to head out for a further look and the word soon went out it was at the bottom end of the docks. 
The bird though looked in reasonable health was clearly not in a good way as it struggled unsuccessfully to get in to the air. As it neared to the side of the dock I noticed it was ringed and it eventually settled on some steps enabling better views of the ring - Left leg Red NZ, right leg possibly 50C with a definite ending 460 with Norway also stamped. If I get any further news I will update this post. The bird was picked up by the RSPCA at lunch time after a phone call from local birder Colin Bushell














 Above the front end of the metal ring possibly 50C, below the obvious KZ ring and the rear 460 and Norway on the metal ring

 For those interested the car was washed and polished this evening by my own fair hands

Buzzards – Cuerden Valley Park – May 2014

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It wasn't long ago these large raptors were scarce across Lancashire but are now seen regularly especially around the Stags Lodge area of Cuerden Valley Park. I have seen singles in recent years but recently I have seen up to 4 both over my home and at Stags Lodge. The local area is a perfect habitat with woodland and meadow fields which contains rabbits and other small mammals which is their favoured food.

 Above a Buzzard being mobbed by a Carrion Crow Below a pair over Stags Lodge, Cuerden Valley Park





New patch tick at Stags Lodge, Cuerden Valley Park – May 2014

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I was wandering back home through Stags Lodge after a few hours out with the camera last month when I stood on the bridge over the River Lostock and thought 'what a great site for a Dipper' but not having seen one on this stretch (I have seen a breeding pair further up the Lostock in CVP grounds) I put the thought to bed and continued my trek home following the Lostock down stream. Having a quick stop to see if there were any Banded Demoiselle about I came across a preening Dipper! I stopped and watched it for about 10 minutes taking a few poor photos (still getting to grips with the new camera) in the light and shade. The Dipper moved down stream and I've subsequently seen it in 4 locations along the stretch of the Lostock between Church Walk Woods (Bamber Bridge) and Stags Lodge. I believe there is only a single bird and I've seen it on at least 4 visits in the past month so I think it is settled in the area for now.

 Above & below taken on the River Lostock, Stags Lodge

 Below feeding in the River Lostock taken on the stretch in Church Walk Woods

Dragonfly Fest – Cuerden Valley Park – 31st May 2014

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Its that time of year when a trip up to the Dragonfly pond at Cuerden Valley Park starts to produce results with my favourite and probably the most photogenic Dragonfly starts to fly.
I have been up a few times of late when we've had a little sun but today was the most productive with at least 6 4 spotted chasers on the wing, and with a little care I was able to get within 300mm of one at rest near to the pond.



 Above a record shot of a pair of mating 4 spotted chaser

Though no other dragonflies were on the wing on my visit there were plenty of damselflies including Large Red, Common Blue and Azure.

 Above 2 male and a female Azure Damselfly below a Large Red Damselfly

Stags Lodge Is also a good place to see Damselflies with Azure, Common Blue and Blue tailed around the Pond (Mainly at the side near the reeds, approach from the top meadow) and Banded Demoiselle along the River Lostock

 Above female Azure Damselfly (Blue Form) below male Blue-tailed Damselfly


 Above male Blue-tailed Damselfly Below immature Azure Damselfly


 Above male Banded Demoiselle below female


The blue form of the female Azure Damselfly only occurs in 10% of the population as was a nice find. I have only ever had one other species at the Dragonfly Pond, that being the Emperor and with some being reported on the wing I'm hoping it will feature in future blog posts 

A few sightings from the past week at Stags Lodge CVP

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Buzzards can be seen quite frequently flying across the patch often being chased by a corvid or 3. A good place to see them is perched on the dead tree at the top of Stags Lodge.

 Warblers are a common visitor to the patch with up to 5 Chiffchaff (top) calling across the patch. Blackcap (below male) are a little harder to come across though I have seen up to 4 at any one time and mainly frequent the wooded area across the river lostock. I have only seen the Reed Warbler (bottom) twice on the patch with this one arriving on the 3rd July and hopefully staying longer than the week one stopped last year. It is very elusive but can be heard calling in the left reedbed next to the bench at the pond.
 The Reed Bunting (below) is a rare visitor to the patch with this male being only the second one I've seen here. I first saw it in the trees at the side of the pond and later in the reedbeds.

 Dragonflies etc are a rare visitor to Stags with only a handfull of sightings throughout the year so when I came across these Banded Demoiselle (female above male below)  hawking flies over the river lostock I was glad I had my camera with me. It's only the first time I've seen them on the patch though they may breed along the river somewhere as there are several sites suitable that are close to where I saw them.
 Butterflies have been low in numbers across the patch with numbers only reaching a handfull on any of my recent vists. The Orange Tip is currently the most common sighting (female top and below) with the much larger and stronger flying Peacock (bottom) seen in ones or twos.

Stags Lodge – 5/6th May 2012

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With the sun being out I decided to take my camera out on both of the early morning dog walks at the local patch. There was nothing like the patch tick of my last post but a year patch tick of a Swallow (though only passing through) was nice and the male Whitethroat that I’d heard back earlier in the week finally made an appearance on Saturday and a female and a second male were around on the Sunday. I’m pleased to see them back as they have bred successfully that I know over the past 2 years and hopefully that success will continue this year.
ABOVE MALE WHITETHROAT BELOW SONG THRUSH
Other species around on both days was a singing Song Thrush, one of several on the patch, at least 5 Chiffchaff and 2 Willow Warbler. Magpie and Blackbirds could be seen regularly feeding on the meadows as well as Chaffinch  and Greenfinch calling throughout the woodland. On the pond 4 Coot chicks as well as two adults, a single Moorhen and 3 Mallards which had bred with 8 chicks seen several weeks ago but those numbers dwindled down over a week or so and now I haven’t seen any for a while. As I was leaving the patch via the tunnel under the A6 a Jay flew out of the woods at speed swiftly followed by a female Sparrowhawk, the Jay managed to escape as the Sparrowhawk alighted briefly in one of the trees.
*An update for Sunday evenings visit included 2 Greater-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Male & 1 Female Blackcap, Wren, Robin, Dunnock and an Oystercatcher over the patch.

Stags Lodge (Cuerden Valley Park) & On The Feeders – 14th April 2012

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The sun was out so I decided to grab the camera when heading out with thedogs with the hope of getting a few photos of the current warblers on the localpatch. I heard a newly returned Willow Warbler on the edge of Church Walk Woodsand managed a few shots as it intermittently called and preened amongst the topbranches.



 ABOVE AND BELLOW WILLOW WARBLER
Heading around Stags Lodge I heard up to 5 calling Chiffchaff and 2 WillowWarblers the first of which I’d heard on Wednesday evening. What I didn’texpect was this Northern Wheatear at the top of the meadows which was soonflushed by one of the many dog walkers making the most of the great weather. Itwas easily relocated and I kept my own 2 away as I photographed it feeding upbefore it moved on. For the hour I was there it relocated several times to thetrees surrounding the meadows, a great patch tick and maybe a first for CuerdenValley Park.





 ABOVE AND BELOW NORTHERN WHEATEAR

Back at home the feeders seem to be very busy at the moment with bothGoldfinch and Greenfinch eating me out of house and home. Collard Dove andWoodpigeon are also regular visitors along with the local Blackbirds, Dunock,Robin, House Sparrow, Blue Tit and Coal Tit (the only place locally that I seeCoal Tits!)
 ABOVE MALE GREENFINCH BELOW FEMALE

 ABOVE GOLDFINCH BELOW COLLARD DOVE
 BELOW COAL TIT

Meresands Wood Bittern – 20th February 2012

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I’ve taken quite a few visits up to Meresands Woods with the hope of photographing at least one of the 2 Bittern that are showing very well (at least for Bittern) from the Rufford Hide. Both were on show during my 2 hour visit though one only briefly and very hard to pick out in the reed bed. The second bird was very obliging throughout and I doubt I’ll ever get a chance to photograph a Bittern at such close quarters again.





Red Kites, Tetsworth, Oxon – 13th January 2012

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TheM40 corridor north between Beaconsfield and Oxford is renowned for its largepopulation of Red Kites and I often marvel at their sight whenever I travelalong the route. On several occasions I’ve pulled off the M40 and travelled upthe A40 giving me chance to pull over and observe them at closer quarters.
 
Afterpulling in a layby on the way down from Aston Rowant NNR and observing 2 atdistance as well as a small flock of travelling Long-tailed Tit I decided tocontinue north to Tetsworth, Oxon where I’ve watched small numbers of RedKites over the village green and also gives good opportunities to photographthem.
 
Afterpulling up in a layby opposite the green I watched 10 Red Kite circling overthe roof tops and 2 over the green. Numbers for the day must have been aroundthe 100 mark with 3 Buzzard, 2 Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk adding to the raptornumbers along the stretch.
 Above Red KIte below one of a small group of travelling Long-tailed Tit