Weekend Birding….Who Me!!

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Saturday.

KT agreed we went on a twitch to Leighton Moss on Saturday, and, as opposed to the birder I heard telling another on the path to the Grisedale Hide, he'd had no sign of the bird in the time he spent in the hide, it was our lucky day as the Purple Heron came flying out of hiding within five minutes of our entering the hide, but within 60 seconds it became our unlucky day as a Grey Heron flew at the 'Purple One' which promptly flew back into the hiding from whence it came, never to be seen again....well not by us anyway.


Great White Egret Brian Rafferty

But we did have good views of a Great White Egret at the back of the pool, before paying a visit to the Allan Hide to see a Little Ringed Plover juvenile, a Common Sandpiper, 5 Black-tailed Godwit, and up to 550 Redshank.

Sunday.

I paid a brief visit to Heysham, but didn't have much in the way of rewards, with not a single Mediterranean Gull found on Red Nab or the outfalls, but a record count for me of up to 175 Cormorant on the old wooden jetty.

Butterflies on Buddleia in the Nature Park, 2 Painted Lady, 2 Red Admiral, 2 Peacockand 2 Small Tortoiseshell. On the pool, a male Black-tailed Skimmer, and a Gatekeeper nearby.

Tuesday. 

Back at Heysham again yesterday, I found 13 Mediterranean Gull on Red Nab, seen as 10 adult, 2 near adult, and a juvenile, the moulting Little Gull was on Stage Two outfall. 

Conder Pool produced a peak count of 11 Little Grebe, and it was also good to see the female and four young Tufted Duck surviving and still heading for the first successful breeding record of the species on Conder Pool. Two Common Sandpiper and a Grey Wagtail were in the creeks, and 6 Speckled Wood were on the coastal path.

The Usual Suspects.

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Little Grebe. Pete Woodruff.

There was the sum total of 26 birds on Conder Pool on Thursday, of which were 9 Little Grebe, 7 Cormorant, 2 Little Egret, a Grey Heron, and a Mallard. A closer look around the edges produced a Wheatear on the far bank, and in the creeks 2 Common Sandpiper

I was wrong to include all six Tufted Duck chicks in my list of twenty four presumed predated young birds on Conder Pool this year, despite four visits since I first saw them 8 August I had no further sightings until today when I saw the female accompanied by four of the initial six diving merrily, thus reducing my 'jumping the gun' figure to twenty two. 

On the last remaining mud on the Lune Estuary before the tide took over, c.450 Redshank, barely a double figure of Dunlin, a Greenshank by the Conder mouth, and an adult Mediterranean Gull on the far side. On Jeremy Lane, a Wheatear seen in a ploughed field.


Ringed Plover. Pete Woodruff.

The scenery had changed considerably at Plover Scar near high tide, with just 250 Dunlin and 6 Ringed Plover seen today. I hung around to see if anything else would turn up pushed off elsewhere by the tide, but to no avail. On fence posts running from Abbey Farm, 8 Wheatear and 3 Meadow Pipit were on the lookout.

Four Buzzard were soaring high together above Bowerham, Lancaster on Saturday morning.

Whooper Swans.

I've been watching two Whooper Swans all summer in the 'Lapland Bunting' field at Cockersand until 26 June, after which I only saw one bird until 4 August, since when it too has been nowhere to be found, just a lone Mute Swan and Greylag today.

But as I drove away from Cockersand along Moss Lane, I noticed a white mound in the field. Parking up I went into the field to have my suspicion proved right and found a dead Whooper Swan.

Wave Moth.


Satin Wave. Pete Woodruff.

Not a very good image, but one of the Satin Wave seen at Cockersand. A moth with markings no more obvious than the faint grey cross-lines, fairly common in the south of England, it becomes scarcer further north, but with four reported at Fairhaven dunes 20 August, this is at least a decent moth for Cockersand.

Thanks to Howard Stockdale for the excellent Leighton Moss Purple Heron header.  

The Rewind.

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I was back on Plover Scar an hour before the high tide on Tuesday, for a re-run of Mondays birding, and pleased to find the count looking more like 3,000 Dunlin today - though not pleased to find no hangers on with them - with up to 150 Ringed Plover, 5 Oystercatcher and 3 Grey Heron. On my way to the scar I saw 4 Wheatear.

The Sanderling.


Sanderling with Dunlin on Plover Scar 22 August. Pete Woodruff.

Best bird on Plover Scar was the lone Sanderling. You can't find a Sanderling on Plover Scar and take it for granted, it's a uncommon passage migrant anywhere in our area in both spring and autumn, and another declining wader species at that, though a truly amazing 152 on the scar 17 April 2015 might appear to contradict that, but it's at best scarce here. 

You can get more out of the sight of one of these little gems as I do, if you consider this small shorebird is returning from the High Arctic, stopped off briefly on Plover Scar, to continue probably just a few miles down the coast, to winter on the Fylde....This bird made my day. 

A wander to Bank End from Cockerham Marsh was rewarded by 3 Yellow Wagtail juvenile with a slight risk of duplication on one of the sightings. The area is the best place to find them in autumn anywhere in our recording area and beyond as AC will testify.

Butterflies.


Red Admiral Cockersand 22 August. Pete Woodruff.

It was a good day for butterflies on Tuesday, if only that I found 44 Large White, but a more interesting 17 Red Admiral, with 6 Small Tortoiseshell, 2 Peacock, a Common Blue, and my eleventh Painted Lady.

Strangers in the night....Crept in, crept up, and crept out again.

Someone's been and taken the cork out of Conder Pool and drained off a few gallon of water to leave some nice muddy edges....what a good idea. But whether or not that's the sole purpose for this exercise is anybody's guess, I'd say probably not. 

Perhaps planning permission has been submitted for student accommodation to be built there!! 

No Title….

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....well that's pathetic.


Dunlin Plover Scar. Pete Woodruff.

Cloudy but dry yesterday until later in the afternoon, I was on Plover Scar just after high tide to find an impressive 2,500 Dunlin at least, with c.190 Ringed Plover, a single Whimbrel, a Knot, and 3 Grey Heron. When I returned to the Lighthouse Cottage 2 hours later, the Dunlin and other waders were strung out and feeding from Plover Scar to Crook Farm with nothing 'odd' with them.

There was a good movement of Swallow in my two hours in the Cockersand area, generally moving south, but some lingering over the fields, also a number of Sand Martin and a few House Martin, 10 Wheatear were close together on a line of 30 fence posts by Cockersand Abbey, and off the headland, just into double figures of Pied Wagtail and similar Meadow Pipit, a Common Sandpiper on the shingle off Bank Houses was the surprise of the day. 

Returning via the road, with the ditches cleared out and the hedgerows trimmed pretty, 45 Wood Pigeon and 15 Goldfinch noted. Two Mute Swan and a lone Greylag were in the field with no sign of the one left from the two long staying Whooper Swans, 2 Red Admiral were the only butterflies seen.

It was raining now, but 3 Mediterranean Gull adult and a Greenshank were picked out on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, but being the coward I am when it's raining and I'm out birding, I'm off home....you can suit yourself!

Briefly Birding!

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Think we may have had that title before, it sounds a little repetitive, and boring too, but Thursday's birding really was at the lower end of the excitement scale for me. But a couple of scans through at least 1,500 gulls on the Lune Estuary at Glasson uncovered 2 Mediterranean Gull, both adult, one moulting, one in winter plumage, wader numbers were at a low, but a distant Greenshank was good.

Conder Pool held 9 Little Grebe, my best count to date this autumn, by the same date last year - 17 August - 15 Little Grebe were present here. In the creeks, 4 Common Sandpiper, and along the coastal path I found 3 Whitethroat with a juvenile still being fed. A total of 7 Speckled Wood were seen along this path and on Jeremy Lane, where thirty minutes on foot found my tenth Painted Lady

The Purple Patch.

Purple Heron. Noushka @ 1000-Pattes 

A juvenile Purple Heron was found at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve yesterday afternoon, it was seen from the Griesdale Hide at 1.19pm.

Being the largest reed bed in Lancashire, it's not surprising that Leighton Moss dominates Purple Heron records, since the first in 1970 to the present day, it holds ten records, including one in 1974, which summered from mid-May to the end of July, but this current one stands out as the first juvenile bird, and certainly the first in August, all the others have been adult/1st summer birds, with all records being in May/June with the exception of the last one at Leighton Moss with turned up 21 years ago in April 1996.

The Purple Heron breeds as close as France and Spain, but it occurred in Britain so frequently that by the end of 1982 it was removed from the BBRC Rarities List, and became tipped as a potential colonist, a tip that came good when a pair bred at the RSPB Dungeness Reserve in Kent June 2010.

The current Purple Heron at Leighton Moss is still present today to at least 11.15am. 

Thanks to Noushka for the excellent in flight adult Purple Heron and Cattle Egret header.

Nowt Much!

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I can't really say nothing much to report, perhaps nothing much to impress is a little more appropriate, though in excess of 1,500 waders on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock was good, with estimates of 650 Redshank, 450 Lapwing, 180 Curlew, 150 Dunlin, 28 Black-tailed Godwit, and 4 Ringed Plover were all in view along the mud to the Conder mouth.

In the creeks at Conder Green, 8 Teal were the first returns I've seen here, with 4 Common Sandpiper seen. Up to 40 Swallow were at/around Conder Green Farm, and House Martin are still active at some of the five nests at River Winds, with birds attending a nest at Cafe d' Lune, the House Martin can have up to three broods. A Long-tailed Tit with a young was along the coastal path, with a Robin the only other bird seen here. 

Conder Pool was quiet on Tuesday, with 6 Little Grebe, a few Redshank and Lapwing the only other birdlife of note.

Conder Pool. 

The pool has an excellent history including a decent list of scarce/rare birds found there, the best of which has to be the White-winged Black Tern in 2003, but also includes Temmink's Stint, Pectoral Sandpiper, Black-necked Grebe, and Wood Sandpiper, any others I'd have to search for to remember.


Grey Heron Conder Pool 15 Aug Pete Woodruff


But this Grey Heron on Tuesday was a reminder of just one of the many predator species including Mink recently reported - always around to threaten ground nesting birds in the breeding season, and that all these excellent records mask the darker side of Conder Pool. 

Since finding a female Tufted Duck with 7 ducklings on 25 July, and more recently another female with 6 ducklings on 8 August, none of the 13 have ever been seen since, add to these one report of 10 young Avocet in June but not since, and the Mallard duckling I saw being carried off in the bill of a Carrion Crow, all amounts to 24 known young birds perished over a few weeks at the hands of predation on a grand scale, made even worse by the lone long surviving young Avocet which was within days of fledging also predated, a totally disastrous result for this small pool.

But thankfully, back on the lighter side of Conder Pool, the Common Tern have now had four successful breeding seasons in succession with all young fledged, and this year had some added security of nesting on the pontoon....brilliant records.

This video is brilliant, even more so full screen with sound if possible.


Butterflies, Bird’s, and a Gull.

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Some leisure time on Sunday at Heysham had KT with me on Heysham Barrows for an hour or so to find 4 Meadow Brown, 2 Small Copper, 2 Common Blue, 2 Gatekeeper, and a Small Tortoiseshell. The only birds seen were 2 Whitethroat, with a Blackbird, Linnets and Goldfinch in flight. 

It was good to see a Holly Blue on Cotoneaster in our garden yesterday afternoon. 

Little Gull.


Little Gull. Heysham Red Nab 9 August. Pete Woodruff.

I was pleased to have found a Little Gull on Heysham Red Nab last Wednesday which I recorded as a 1st summer bird. But on closer viewing the moderate photograph of the bird, it was thought that, what I regarded as the dark wing tips of the bird, could well have been a deceptive view of the rocks on Red Nab appearing to look like the tail end of the bird giving the impression that it was the blackish primary marks of the then named 1st summer Little Gull.

Little Gull. Heysham Red Nab 9 August. Pete Woodruff.

However, since I viewed this murderously cropped image of the bird, I've had to change my views as it now appears more clearly to be the rocks joining the tail end which initially gave the impression it was an immature bird, but now looks more like a moulting adult Little Gull.

Up The Wall!

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On Thursday, I attended the funeral of a good friend at the Catholic Church of Ss Thomas & Elizabeth at Thurnham. After the service on a nice sunny day, there was going to be nothing more uplifting for me than a walk along the coastal path from Fluke Hall to Cockers Dyke, and at 1.30pm I was within a few miles of getting there from Thurnham down the A588.


Wall Brown. Pete Woodruff.

This was definitely a good idea, if only because I found my first Wall Brown butterfly in 6 years which was seen at Pilling Lane Ends on 2 September 2011. The irony being, today's butterfly was on one of the only three Ragwort stems left at the foot of the inland bank from the recent grass cut here on 25 July. Other butterflies taking an interest in the Ragwort and elsewhere along the path were, Large WhiteCommon Blue, 6 Small Copper, 5 Gatekeeper, and 3 Meadow Brown.

Along the path, I saw a young Wheatear still sporting some downy feathering, and on Pilling Sands at Cockers Dyke saw up to 2,500 Dunlin, 350 Grey Plover, 45 Knot retaining some of their red breeding plumage, and 3 Sanderling, 6 Linnet  were on the marsh.

The Brown Hairstreak. 


Brown Hairstreak. Gait Barrows 9 August. Steve Graham.

I was grateful to Steve Graham for passing on to me both the news and image of a pristine male Brown Hairstreak found on Wednesday at Gait Barrows Nature Reserve in Silverdale, along with 14 other species of butterfly.

The jury is still out on whether this is an introduction, or a small relic population that has been previously overlooked as it is a former resident at Gait Barrows. The nearest colonies of Brown Hairstreak are in Lincolnshire and Worcestershire so well north of these, but so is Silver-washed Fritillary.

Thanks again for this Steve, it added nicely to my own Wall Brown find after a 6 year wait. 

Thanks also to Simon for the Hen Harrier header.

A Little Reward.

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On a visit to Heysham on Wednesday I found just 5 Mediterranean Gull, three were in the roost on Red Nab with 3 Whimbrel, and at the Stage 2 outfall, another two were seen as a 2nd summer and a juvenile. At least 120 Turnstone were on the old wooden jetty, and a Grey Seal was between the outfalls. 

Little Gull. Heysham Red Nab 9 August. Pete Woodruff.

On the return along the sea wall an hour later, lots of the gulls had been pushed off Red Nab, but I was rewarded by finding a lovely 1st summer Little Gull which also soon departed the nab as the tide pushed in, it follows another 1st summer Little Gull I saw  here last year on 8 July 2016.

On the pool at the nature trail, out in the sun was an Emperor Dragonfly, a Brown Hawker, and at least 2 Common Darter. Butterflies seen, 2 Red Admiral, a Gatekeeper, Common Blue and a Peacock

Redshank. Conder Pool. Pete Woodruff.

On Conder Pool 60 Redshank were roosting over the tide, with no doubt more behind the island. On the Lune Estuary, c.450 Golden Plover and 2 Black-tailed Godwit were to note. At Cockersand, 3 Wheatear seen, with 2 Whimbrel, and up to 450 Dunlin feeding on the mud between Plover Scar and Lighthouse Cottage. 

Did you know....Birding can seriously damage your health!!

Until The Rains Came!

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Star bird for me on the Lune Estuary at the moment has to be the drake Scaup, yesterday it was tucked away and out of sight until I found it at the west end of the pool with 5 Little Grebe close by. A second female Tufted Duck has six ducklings, hope it has better luck than the first one with seven ducklings on 25 July and not seen since, no surprise there it has to be said, 92 Lapwing were also present, and the Kingfisher put in an appearance, first time for me on Conder Pool in over three months since 29 April.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, an adult Common Tern, estimates of waders in view, 1,500 Lapwing, 800 Redshank250 Dunlin, and 190 Curlew, with 14 Little Egret and 2 Great-crested Grebe noted. A call here on the way back to Lancaster at 4.30pm had the drake Scaup now on the canal basin, also a juvenile Great-crested Grebe was of note....You was right about the duck John!! 


Whimbrel. Plover Scar 8 August. Pete Woodruff.

At Cockersand, on Plover Scar up to high tide, 750 Dunlin, 45 Ringed Plover, 14 Redshank, 2 Turnstone and a Whimbrel. On the walk to Plover Scar, 2 Wheatear, 4 Linnet, a Peacock and Common Blue were seen in anything but ideal conditions if your'e a butterfly. 

The plan now was down the A588 to Fluke Hall, but a detour via Gulf Lane had me finding an adult Mediterranean Gull in a field of predominantly 1,250 Black-headed Gull, before a 15 minute deluge with more to come, had me doing a U turn back to Lancaster and....The End! 


Can't Be Birdin'....Won't Be Birdin'.....

Not in this yesterday afternoon anyway.