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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.

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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.

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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!!

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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.

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A Scaup In The Scope!

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Drake Scaup. Conder Pool 4 August. Pete Woodruff.

In Lancashire, no better than an uncommon winter visitor to the coast, it was a surprise to find my first ever summer Scaup, a drake on Conder Pool Friday afternoon.

Also on the pool, 5 Little Grebe were seen, in the creeks and downstream channel, 6 Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank was with 320 Redshank and 5 Goosander noted, with butterflies on the coastal path, a Red Admiral and GatekeeperThe Lune Estuary was big on water and little on birds, but 2 Common Tern adult and 2 Whimbrel were seen.


Wheatear Plover Scar. Pete Woodruff.

Plover Scar was almost deserted, but did provide me with my first autumn Wheatear. Long Tongue held c.250 Oystercatcher, a few Golden Plover and Turnstone. Later from Plover Scar north to Crook Farm, probably in excess of 1,500 Dunlin and 150 Ringed Plover were strung out and feeding along the shoreline, with a Whimbrel seen, and a Great-crested Grebe off here. A Meadow Brown was on Slack Lane with a Kestrel hovering over, and the lone Whooper Swan appears to be on friendly terms with a Mute Swan, the only two birds in the field.

Garden bird and a LRP.

I was chuffed to see a juvenile Robin in our garden on Friday morning, and was also chuffed to see an e-mail telling me of a juvenile Little Ringed Plover on Conder Pool yesterday afternoon....Thanks AC. 

Many thanks for the Robin header image Geoff....Nice, and puts my terrible Scaup pik to shame.

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B For Butterflies.

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Painted Lady. Brian Rafferty. 

A visit to Aldcliffe and on to Stodday, turned out to make Tuesday a better butterfly day than a bird day for me, with another three figure count made, including a Painted Lady, up to 75 Large White, 13 Speckled Wood, 9 Gatekeeper, and 4 Meadow Brown

In the main the birds have fallen silent now, making life a little more difficult for a birding dude like me, but a Willow Warbler gave itself away with it's 'hweet' call, 32 Canada Geese, a Little Egret and Grey Heron were all around the Frog Pond. Freeman's Pools yielded 6 Little Grebe, and a pair of Coot at the far end with two young.

On a very quiet Conder Pool to join with Freeman's Pools, 55 Lapwing, 7 Cormorant, 6 Little Grebe, and 6 Tufted Duck. In the creeks and downstream channel, 8 Common Sandpiper, and toward the estuary, 2 Greenshank were with 50 RedshankA Red Admiral and Speckled Wood were seen along the coastal path, and a Painted Lady here was my ninth this year since I saw my first at Langden Brook in Bowland on 31 May, 


Turnstone. Howard Stockdale.

On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, a couple on the 'odd one out' list, a stunning male Turnstone in breeding plumage, and a Ringed Plover, neither of which go beyond occasional here. I picked out c.250 Redshank, 30 Dunlin, and 5 Black-tailed Godwit, and a Greenshank emerging from the Conder mouth was probably one of the two seen earlier in the channel from Conder Green. 

Thanks to Howard for his stunning breeding plumage male Turnstone, and to Brian for his equally stunning Painted Lady....Please take a look at Brian's recent trip on the Liverpool Bay Pelagic with action packed Gannet images.

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Birding The Fast Lane!

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I could only allow myself three hours birding time on Friday which would be taken up around the Lune Estuary, at Conder Green, Glasson Dock, and Cockersand, where the sole purpose was to be on Plover Scar an hour before the high tide. But in the end I only needed a couple of hours, as I arrived at the car park at Lighthouse Cottage I could see a mutt-lover and his two hounds out on the scar which thwarted my birding plans for Cockersand....Mutt-bound and birdless! 

Conder Pool saw 65 Redshank, 5 Little Grebe, and 3 Cormorant, all of which did a disappearing act at the sight of a patrolling Sparrowhawk. On the circuit, 8 Common Sandpiper were in the creeks and down the channel, the House Martins are still around Cafe d' Lune and River Winds with nests still active. A Red Admiral and Gatekeeper were seen on the coastal path.

On the Lune Estuary, 3 Common Tern adult and Whimbrel, with c.450 Redshank and 3 Dunlin feeding on the tideline to the Conder mouth, and Great-crested Grebe noted.

Common Tern.

Common Terns around the Lune Estuary and on Conder Pool have created a mix of interest of late.

Three juvenile Common Tern on the Lune Estuary July 2015. Pete Woodruff.

The three young had dispersed from Conder Pool soon after fledging and have been nowhere to be seen since, despite in previous years the juveniles have been found on the estuary as viewed from the bowling green at Glasson Dock and at Cockersand, two adults have been observed twice recently engaging in what appeared to be pairing behaviour on the Conder Pool pontoon, from where six adult were reported on 9 July. 

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Tuesday Notables.

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In my last post I made a note about behaviour between the 2 adult Common Tern on Conder Pool, with loud vocals and wing drooping by one of the birds. On Tuesday I saw a Common Tern return to the pontoon with a fish which it promptly gave to the other bird which was begging....Very interesting.

Also on Conder Pool, at least 30 Black-tailed Godwit in view with others behind the island no doubt. A female Tufted Duck had seven ducklings in tow, hope they have better luck on their side than the Avocets did. In the creeks, 3 Greenshank, 7 Common Sandpiper, 3 Little Egret, and a good number of feeding Swallow over.


Sanderling With Dunlin. Plover Scar 25 July. Pete Woodruff.

On Plover Scar, it was good to find 5 Sanderling roosting with up to 250 Dunlin, 15 Ringed Plover, and a lone Golden Plover. A Kestrel was hovering over Moss Lane, long time no see Kestrel here.

I had been to Heysham earlier in the day on Tuesday to find 8 Mediterranean Gull on Red Nab, all of which were adult save one 2nd summer/near adult. 

Meal Moth.


Meal Moth. Pete Woodruff.

Another stray in the house, unusual in that the Meal Moth isn't usually found far from it's chosen habitat of stored grain on which the larvae feed. At rest this one is showing it's characteristic tip of the abdomen curved at a right-angle to the body, it has damage/wear to it's wings, particular bad to the right.

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Butterfly Conservation.

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Coastal Path. Fluke Hall to Knott End. Pete Woodruff.

Black and White, taken some years ago, and not effective in showing colour to some excellent butterfly habitat, but illustrates the coastal location well.

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar On Ragwort. Pete Woodruff.


Butterfly Conservation went out the window again on Tuesday, the day after I had found in excess of 200 specimens of butterfly and an abundance of Ragwort, including at least 60 Gatekeeper, large numbers of Cinnabar moth caterpillars, and endless numbers of other insects, all attacked/destroyed at the wrong time in the season on a walk along the coastal path from Fluke Hall to Cockers Dyke on the Fylde coast. I also met Barry who had done the same walk ahead of me and extended the walk towards Knott End to find even more butterflies than I did, he'll be delighted to read this post I'm sure.

Meeting John at Conder Green yesterday, I asked him where he'd been before coming to Conder Green, he said he had walked along the same path as I had done the day before, and told me the bank along the landward side of the path had been mowed down probably all the way to Knott End from Fluke Hall, in which case something like 4 miles at least. 

This isn't the first time this has happened, and it had also been mowed down at Pilling Lane Ends on a previous year I had visited the site, and probably is every year for all I know at all these excellent butterfly locations.

All this is down to some pencil pushing clown in a council office somewhere, signing pieces of paper headed 'Jobs To Do' and either not applying all the qualifications he would have needed to have been engaged to do the job, or maybe not even have to have any qualification at all.

I intend to make enquiries about all this, meanwhile....FUCK! 

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Where Are All The Butterflies?

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Yesterday started cloudy and looked like it might rain as the tide was flowing, but in fact it made a nice sunny day just after noon with no more than a light breeze.


Greenshank/Oystercatcher. Pete Woodruff.

The 2 Common Tern adult were on the pontoon, there was some interesting behaviour on show, almost as if some courtship taking place, with vocals and wing drooping. Waders of note, up to 100 Lapwing present again, 6 Common Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, and an Oystercatcher pair with young, 3 Cormorant were taking small fry like there was no tomorrow, 2 Little Grebe and 7 Tufted Duck

On the Lune Estuary, 2 Mediterranean Gull adult, and 2 Common Tern adult fishing.

Where are all the butterflies?

A trip down the A588 to Fluke Hall for a wander along the coastal path to Cockers Dyke produced evidence that in excess of 200 of 'em were along here, with the bulk attracted to the Ragwort, including at least 120 Large White, 60 Gatekeeper, 6 Small Copper, 6 Small Tortoiseshell, 4 Red Admiral, 3 Meadow Brown, and a Green-veined White.


Gatekeeper/Cinnabar Caterpillar On Ragwort. Pete Woodruff.

....and where are all the birds?    

Well, around 110 of 'em were at Cockers Dyke, with at least 70 Knot and 40 Grey Plover noted here, and at Fluke Hall c.60 Tree Sparrow seen.

Tern on the Lune Estuary.

A tern species was on the Lune Estuary yesterday, noticeably smaller than the Black-headed Gulls it was 'standing around' with on the mud on the far side of the river, too distant and too soon lost to view to try to get to grips with ID. In my view it was too far advanced into 1st-winter plumage to be one of the Conder Pool juvenile, certainly no 'gingery' look about the upperparts, no dark carpal bar seen, but with black hood and white forehead.

Perhaps Arctic Tern, but on size alone, I'm not prepared to rule out Little Tern....The one that got away!