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Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained.

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The weather on Wednesday morning was cloudy, grey, windy, and nothing like what the forecast had been. Hardly to be called suitable for a visit to Bowland, but it turned out decent in the afternoon. In any case I had a man to meet for a survey of Hawthornthwaite Fell, but not until I'd been presented with a brilliant mounted photograph of a female Stonechat complete with a bill full of insects, including a Latticed Heath moth.

There's quality loss from the original in the copy of this excellent photograph, but there's some improvement with a 'clik the pik'. 

Stonechat. Martin Jump.

No Stonechat found on the west side of Hawthornthwaite, but 2 Ring Ouzel gave distant in flight views, before soon disappearing up Catshaw Greave. This sighting came two days earlier than a previous male Ring Ouzel I found here on 20 April 2016.  

Also excellent views of 2 Raven, with 19 Meadow Pipit, 9 Red Grouse, 4 Wren, a BuzzardKestrel, and 4 Sand Martin back here and flying up and down the bottom end of Catshaw Greave.

 Upland Bowland. Pete Woodruff.

From Marshaw along and up the east side of Hawthornthwaite, I eventually found a pair of Stonechat, heard my first 4 Willow Warbler, and saw 11 Red Grouse, 12 Meadow Pipit, heard the distant 'chipper-chipper' of 4 Snipe, 3 Mistle Thrush, and a Reed Bunting.

I ended the day with a brief look in at the Tower Lodge area, to note a Grey Wagtail on the Marshaw Wyre, and a Sparrowhawk disappearing into the trees.

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Migration What Migration….Part 2.

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Conder Pool.

The Avocet seem to be coming and going since their arrival on Conder Pool 28 March, now you see me, now you don't, with no sign on Monday, but a Greenshank was nice, with a drake Goosander and 11 Tufted Duck seen.

Lune Estuary.

Goldeneye Cliff Raby

I was a little surprised to find 7 Goldeneye still here, with the exception of a lone bird flying downstream on 8 April, there was no birds here in 2017 after 4 seen on 21 March, and no Goldeneye were reported on the Lune Estuary in April in any of the 2015 or 2016 Lancashire Annual Reports. Hard to believe that you could count up to 200 Goldeneye on the Lune Estuary at Glasson in 2009, since then there has been a decline, and the last three figure count was 5 years ago when 122 were seen in February 2013. Void of accuracy, this winters peak count didn't exceed more than the mid-twenties. 

Other notes on the Lune Estuary, 26 Black-tailed Godwit, a lone Ringed Plover putting one of it's occasional visits here, and a pair of EiderThanks to Cliff for his image of the Goldeneye. 


On Plover Scar at high tide, up to 220 Dunlin and 32 Ringed Plover. Also seen, at least 140 Linnet in the field behind Lighthouse Cottage, 2 Wheatear, Skylark seen/heard, 3 Stock Dove, a Shoveler pair still on the flood, a Kestrel, and a Sparrowhawk which came out of the hedge bottom with small prey in it's talons, flew a meter above the road, to soon disappear again into the hedge. A Small Tortoiseshell came out with the sun, but can't possibly have been the happiest butterfly in the land on a mainly cloudy, cold, and windy day.


Yellow Wagtail Marc Heath 

Another text on Monday from the ever reliable AC, had me off to Braides to see a stunning male Yellow Wagtail in the field by the flood where I noted 4 ShovelerThanks to Marc for this image....Stunning bird, stunning photograph. 

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A Murky Short List.

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The damp murky weather did nothing to enthuse me on Friday, but undaunted off I went to find 2 Avocet on Conder Pool loafing at the left edge of the island, one preening the other dozing. Otherwise 13 Tufted Duck, 7 Black-headed Gulla few Redshankand noisy Oystercatcher with their resounding shrill calls, a Greenshank was in the creeks.

At Cockersand, at least 1,000 Golden Plover seen from the road, in flight over the abbey and appeared to go down onto the shore, Five White Wagtail were on a flood, 35 Linnet seen, c.30 Meadow Pipit, 2 Dunnock, a Stock Dove, Skylark seen/heard, and a pair of Shoveler still on the flood. A casual count resulted in at least 20 Brown Hare seen today.

I called in at Glasson Dock to find just 5 Eider of note on the Lune Estuary, and to find birds of the day which were my first c.50 Swallow hawking and drinking over the canal basin.

Local Goodie.

No permit for the photograph on Birds2blog, but a Black-headed Wagtail on Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve found yesterday, still there this morning....Here

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Migration….What Migration!

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When I read....'no more than a small flurry' and 'a day to forget in a hurry'....on a website like Portland Bird Obs, it came as no big surprise that it took me three hours birding to see just a lone Sand Martin heading north at Cockersand on Monday. 

Also at Cockersand, a Wheatear was on the embankment by Plover Scar, 4 White Wagtail were with similar Pied Wagtail, a Shoveler pair were also on the flood, not seen here since 22 March, a few barely double figure Meadow Pipit and Skylark seen, and a Reed Bunting.

I made no attempt at assessing the all distant swans today, but if the Mute Swan stand at the same number as my last count, I'd suggest there was no more than 50 Whooper Swan remaining at Cockersand on Monday.  

On the Lune Estuary, 7 Eider, 5 Goldeneye, a Greenshank, and a Goosander. By Christ Church, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Dunnock, and a stunning male Greenfinch seen, Great-crested Grebe was noted on the canal basin. 

Being it was now 9 April, there's no knowing whether or not the Common Sandpiper I saw at Conder Green, was a migrant or my wintering friend, but if where I found the bird was anything to go by, it was the latter. 

Butterflies seen, 10 Small Tortoiseshell and a Green-veined White.

Black Redstart.

I was grateful for two text alerts I received about the female/1st winter Black Redstart at Bank Houses, Cockerham Sands on Tuesday. Interesting that a Black Redstart I found on 9 November 2009 at Cockerham Sands, double interesting in that it was also at Bank Houses on the rooftop, this bird stayed around for six days.

A migration update yesterday 11 April....'plenty of birds get moving' Portland Bird Obs 

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Cockersand Gold Again.

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I was at the end of my visit to Cockersand on Thursday heading back to the Lighthouse Cottage, but I had an underlying feeling the day was going to end well with what I was hoping to find in the field SW of Crook Cottage. The field has been favoured by the GP's for several weeks in the second half of this winter, though recent numbers have fallen and fluctuated, at least 3,000 Golden Plover again today was pretty impressive.

In the field at my back on Slack Lane while I was watching the GP's, I reckon up to 120 Meadow Pipit with a few Skylark and Linnet seen, also in another field close by, 3 White Wagtail were with 7 Pied WagtailThe 252 Whooper Swan here today represents a closer and more accessible group for once, with a little more effort to count on my part.

The Cockersand Twite. 

I was a little surprised to see c.30 Twite come off the shingle and fly over their recently favoured rough field behind Bank House Cottage, not seen since 15 March I had been thinking they had left the area, having arrived here at the early date of 9 October when I found nine on the inner edge of Plover Scar. 

Five Goldeneye were on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, with 7 Wigeon hangers on, and a drake Goosander. There was some arial interaction between 2 Kestrel at Conder Green, and a  Buzzard soaring high, 25 Tufted Duck were noted on Conder Pool. I saw my first Small Tortoiseshell butterflies today, one at Glasson Dock, the other at Cockersand.

As can often be the case - amongst the last to score most years for me - I've yet to see my first hirundinidae of 2018, though a part of the reason is that I've not been birding since last Thursday, and no blogging time since Friday....But all that's about to change in the next few minutes.

Putting a smile into birding.

Short-eared Owl Brian Rafferty

Found on a website....The Short-eared Owls have got so fed up of having long lenses shoved up their a***s all winter that they've taken to sneaking around on foot to avoid the circus.

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Avocets & Chats.

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When I arrived at Conder Green at around 11.00am yesterday, I was pleased to have found a pair of Avocet on Conder Pool this time....But there was better news to follow.

Avocet Conder Pool 5 April. Ian Pinkerton.

It was excellent that Ian Pinkerton sent me photographs of the Avocet yesterday, and good to see there are now four birds on Conder Pool.

Avocet Conder Pool 5 April. Ian Pinkerton.

It obviously didn't take long for the decision for one pair to get the breeding programme underway.


It was also good that JW sent me some much appreciated Stonechat records he had collected, over the past week he reports pairs at....

Longridge (OOA) 

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Tuesdays Top Ten.

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I don't do braving the elements any more, I used to have to brave all elements thrown at me when I was delivering milk for a living at four in the morning, but I got paid for it then. So my birding was on hold Tuesday, until the rain stopped, the weather picked up and off I went for a couple of hours - four actually - around Aldcliffe, where I enjoyed seeing three migrant species had arrived.

The walk along the embankment wasn't excactly the equal of the East Bank at Cley in Norfolk, but it rewarded me with my first Chiffchaff, a silent bird giving great views as it flit amongst the bare branches. Of 6 Wheatear seen, five were in the flooded field at the bottom of Aldcliffe Hall Lane which included three male, and another male opposite Snipe Bog.

Little Ringed Plover Antonio Puigg 

Around the Wildfowlers Pools, a Little Ringed Plover, with 4 Ringed Plover being more interesting and probably the rarer record of the two for Aldcliffe, also 3 Pintail were seen as a drake and two female, and a Little Grebe, the pools were otherwise near deserted. In the field by the Frog Pond, 62 Black-tailed Godwit which included two stunner's in near full islandica rufous summer plumage, and on Freeman's Pools I noted 7 Gadwall, 6 Goldeneye, and 4 Shoveler. 

It doesn't take much to make birding good birding for me, and this afternoon was good.

Lune Estuary Avocet.

I note an Avocet reported yesterday at the Conder mouth on the Lune Estuary, where it/one was seen on 28 March, having been seen earlier on Conder Pool until evicted to the estuary by a Black-headed Gull. 

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GP’s Still Rule Cockersand.

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Golden Plover. Jan Larsson @ Vingspann

The numbers were up again at Cockersand on Friday, with at least 1,400 Golden Plover seen in three groups, 450 on Plover Scar, 750 on the weed covered shore off the headland, and 200 in the field off Slack Lane, where up to 90 Meadow Pipit were grounded, 3 Stock Dove and 2 Reed Bunting seen.

It was a little after high tide when I got to Conder Green, life on Conder Pool consisted of, 17 Oystercatcher, 12 Tufted Duck, 10 Black-tailed Godwit, 9 Shelduck, 5 Goosander, 4 Snipe, a drake Wigeonand a Kestrel over. Of note on the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Wigeon left overs, a lone Goldeneye, and a drake Goosander.

The main purpose of this birding session was to check out the field off Slack Lane at Cockersand SD432542 which has looked interesting for the best part of this year so far, and which I have checked regularly, looking perfect for a goodie, two past examples being....

American Buff-bellied Pipit
American Buff-bellied Pipit 4 May 2014 (SP) Image Stuart Piner .

Lapland Bunting 24 March 2017 (PW) Image Chris Batty.


Little happening on the migrant front, with Portland Bird Obs reporting a 'glimmer of quality' with an Osprey over the Bill, the first dozen Swallow, 2 House Martin and other minor flurries. 

Hopefully I'm back in business tomorrow.

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Late News….Again.

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Can't keep up with all this birding, and certainly not blogging too. 

Avocet Conder Pool 28 March. Pete Woodruff.

I'd been looking for this bird at the left hand edge of this island on Conder Pool for the past few days, the very spot they nested last year, but I had to wait until Wednesday to find the Avocet had arrived here. The bird was attacked by a Black-headed Gull, and chased off towards the Lune Estuary where I found it 30 minutes later feeding by the Conder mouth. When I returned to Conder Green 4 hours later, the Avocet was back on Conder Pool. There was no sign of it yesterday in two visits 2 hours apart.

The Avocet has returned to Conder Pool for it's third year, 10 days earlier than it did in 2017, when AC found it there on 6 April, he texted me with the news, but the bird had left before I got there and I had to wait 4 days to see it  there on 10 April. In 2016 the Avocet was a late arrival, and didn't show here until 20 May, but a pair eventually hatched four young, but only one survived to fledging, the only one to have done so in both years.

A Cautionary Tale. 

Having walked past Bank Houses at Cockersand, I stood at the metal gate SD431534  looking across the field and heard a bird to my right briefly burst into song, 30 seconds later the bird again burst into song to my left. By now the bird I had clearly heard twice, was by song, a Common Whitethroat.

But wait a minute, for a bird heard only, you really do have to look more deeply into the claim. For starters, there are no Whitethroats mentioned as arrivals into the UK at the Portland Bird Obs and having given all the details to two other reliable birders, the most valuable suggestion being it was more likely I had heard a Dunnock being more variable in song than usual.

No point in going any further down this road of claiming to have heard a Whitethroat on 28 March at Cockersand, but, with a recording like this one below to listen to, I'm never going to convince myself I didn't.

The Golden Oldie.

I dug up my header image of the Pacific Diver that I saw at Farnham GP's N.York's Feb 2007. 

Found on 12 January 2007, it was the first confirmed record for Europe which was initially thought to be a Black-throated Diver, and at first posed something of a problem, in that Farnham Gravel Pits are privately owned, and at the time, members of a Yorkshire Naturalist Society bird-watched there as guests of the land owner. The news of this potentially first for the Western Palearctic was reluctantly suppressed before eventually being released. 


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Hard Times!

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I met three birders on Monday, one of them said he'd come out today with some target birds and had found none of 'em....Join the club.

Conder Green/Glasson Dock. 

Conder Pool was almost deserted, but 22 Tufted Duck, and 14 Oystercatcher seen. The Lesser Black-backed Gull pair had taken up on Tern Island, I've no idea what these two are up to, they take up residence here every spring, loafing around but never show any sign of action....until the Avocet hatch!

Raven. Cliff Raby @ Fylde Coast Wildlife 

I was attracted to 2 Raven calling very high over the Lune Estuary which I would otherwise have missed, larger in size than the Buzzard, and wedge tail was obvious once I got on to them. There was a little song along the coastal path, including that of a Wren, the volume of which belies this diminutive bird, also much calling and display by the Redshank in the creeks, a Reed Bunting and Kestrel noted. On the canal basin, a drake Goosander and 22 Tufted Duck seen.


Any birds to be seen at Cockersand on Plover Scar or along the headland, would have been a bonus for the pleasant walk here on a brilliant sunny and milder spring day.

White Wagtail. Noushka @ 1000-Pattes 

The inland section of the circuit produced 2 White Wagtail accompanied by 6 Pied Wagtail, at least 4 Skylark seen/heard, I saw just 3 Meadow Pipit on an apparently good visible migration day for the species, and watched 10 Snipe feeding in a flood strip in a field off Slack Lane, they were accompanied by a lone Dunlin

Cockersand Plovers and Swans....An Update.

After the first quarter of this winter, the Golden Plovers have consistently spent most of their time in fields at Cockersand, with in excess of 3,000 on occasions. Although numbers are now falling and fluctuating, 750 Golden Plover were again in the Abbey Farm field on Monday, a figure quoted independently by two other birders.

The Whooper Swans have spent their entire winter at Cockersand, averaging c.500 birds, though on Monday 26 February they reached a peak count of double that figure, with 1,000 in the area Jeremy Lane, and Moss Lane - Bank End. This Monday the count was of 290 Whooper Swan as agreed by JW who I met earlier in the afternoon. The Black Swan was with 33 Mute Swan in the field at the east side of Cockerham Sands CP.

Thanks to Cliff and Noushka for their images in this post, they are much appreciated.