Saturday, June 29, 2013

Similar Summer

“Summer” continued in the same cloudy, cool and breezy vein at Conder Green this morning. So no surprises when after a couple of hours of due diligence my notebook entries almost mirrored those of recent days.

There was an extra Common Sandpiper today, two birds flicking low over the creek as I arrived to a  water level which filled the channel. The high water level kept the Redshanks away so my count didn't exceed 30 birds, likewise the Oystercatchers count of 16 which included two chicks. A flock of 40+ Lapwing came off the filling marsh to roost towards the back of the pool as 12/15 Curlews headed more inland while 2 Grey Heron stayed overlooking the creek.

Wildfowl numbers were low today with the single Goldeneye, 9 Tufted Duck and 12 Shelduck completing the count.


The long and dense hawthorn hedge provided action in the shape of approximately 20 Sand Martin, 12 Swallow, 15 House Martin and 20 Swift hawking for insects again.

The same hedgerow supplied the passerines too - 4 Tree Sparrow, 2 Reed Bunting, 2 Chaffinch, 6 Goldfinch, 4 Greenfinch, 2 Linnet and 2 Pied Wagtails, the wagtails feeding in roadside puddles below the hedge.

Juvenile Goldfinch

After remarking a couple of days ago upon the scarcity of Stock Doves at Conder Green today I noted three of them feeding quietly alongside the road; later I was to see one in our garden where the timid species is an now an uncommon but previously impossible species to expect. Perhaps like their larger relative the Wood Pigeon the inconspicuous and overlooked Stock Dove will become a common garden bird? Here's a handful of a woodpig I caught earlier in the week.


A quick scoot around Jeremy Lane and Hillam Lane revealed 30+ Sand Martin, 12 Tree Sparrow, 1 Kestrel and 8/10 Skylarks. It was a pretty unpleasant morning for Flaming June and far from ideal for birding so I cut my losses and headed home to try again another day, hopefully tomorrow.


Look in Sunday and see if things improved for Another Bird Blog.

Linking this week to Stewart's GalleryWeekly Top ShotAnni's Blog and  Camera Critters.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Conder Green had a good going over again this morning. Although the results weren't startling, the good selection of species and numbers meant there was always something for interest and entertainment in this quiet time for birding.

I'll begin with the waders. A pair of Oystercatchers on the pool have two good sized young, the adults being their usual protective and demonstrative selves by scaring off anyone or anything which came too close to make sure their chicks stayed low to the ground.  Luckily there aren't too many Carrion Crows hereabouts, just the local Magpies.



Redshanks have increased to 65 in the immediate creek and 20+ from the railway bridge = 85+ today. A single Common Sandpiper was back this morning, plus 3 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Curlew and 3 Lapwing. Bridge Over The River Conder also yielded 125+ Mute Swan and 2 Grey Heron. 

Common Sandpiper

The Oystercatchers weren't the only ones on parental duties as two pair of Shelduck have 11 young between them, a six and a five of much the same almost half-size ducklings. A pair of Canada Goose still with two goslings and 2 pair of Mallard with 10+ young. Other wildfowl - Wigeon now depleted to 2 birds, 14 Tufted Duck, 1 Goldeneye. 

The mozzy type insects were swarming again this morning, a bonanza which drew in a constant stream of hirundines and Swifts. The notebook says 30+ Swift, 20 Sand Martin, 20 House Martin and 20 Swallows – counts that can be guesstimates only but might give an inkling as to the visible and audible action of so many small birds hawking the hedgerow. 

Numbers of “small stuff” as in 5 Linnet, 6 Goldfinch, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Whitethroat, 4 Greenfinch, 2 Reed Bunting and 5 Tree Sparrow. A single Stock Dove feeding near the pool edges may well be a new bird for me at this site - must check. 

Tree Sparrow

Stock Dove

Back home and during a walk around the village all seemed quiet except for two singing Chiffchaffs, a couple of Whitethroats and the Buzzards down the lane towards the river. Sue suddenly said “Why don't you use your grubby old birding clothes to enter the village Scarecrow Competition?” I declined by admitting that I'm not too good at those Blue Peter type things but I'm not too sure if that's what Sue had in mind. 





Join Another Bird Blog soon for more scary birding and the best in news. Don't forget to "click the pics" - don't be scared now.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Curlews And Wheatears Return

In the absence of any substantial news there's just a quick post for Another Bird Blog today. 

The same thing happens every year at the end of June and early July, a noticeable influx of upland Curlews coming back down to the coast and the appearance of juvenile Wheatears. At Pilling I had a count of 195 Curlews plus a sighting of a young Wheatear, the chat probably from the Bowland Hills not far away. I had meal worms ready but the Wheatear did a bunk along the sea wall towards Fluke Hall and Knott End and I didn't see it later. 



Otherwise there's not too much to report except for 5 Corn Buntings along the sea wall, the 2 singing males indicating breeding in the silage fields. The Corn Buntings seem to have partly filled a niche previously occupied by Meadow Pipits, a species which no longer breeds here. 

Two Grey Herons and a single Little Egret again with left overs from Sunday and Monday's strong winds represented by singles of Sandwich Tern and Common Tern. 

Sandwich Tern

Other waders, wildfowl and miscellaneous today - 40 Lapwing, 30 Redshank, 1 Greenshank, 45 Shelduck, 2 Cormorant, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Linnet 8 Swift, 15 Swallows. 

Hopefully there's a fuller post tomorrow for blog followers. Meanwhile take a look at Stewart's Gallery for lots of links to other birdy blogs.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Rain Stopped Play

There was time for a quick look at Pilling and Conder Green early on but when the wind and rains arrived I was back home for a late tea-and-toast breakfast. Too soon maybe as the sky then cleared leaving a bright but very windy and still showery day.

Near Lane Ends were a good number of post-breeding Lapwings, 25+ adults together with a small number of obvious juveniles, spiky-crowned and brightly edged feathers, but birds now well on the way to adulthood. I checked out a pair of Oystercatchers which seemed to be doing the business again after the original nest was rolled by Hi-Fly's farming operations; three eggs again in the sprouting maize crop so the oyks should be fine this time providing the Carrion Crows or mammal predators don't intervene. 

Lapwing juvenile

Oystercatcher nest


I stopped briefly at the plantation where 2 Reed Warblers, a Blackcap and a Reed Bunting were in song and 2 Grey Herons out on the marsh. 

At Conder Green the cool, windy conditions meant good numbers of hirundines and Swifts were dashing about the hedgerow again to give counts of 25+ Swift, 20+ House Martin, 15 Swallow and 6 Sand Martin. Late June can be when waders begin returning to coastal haunts and there seemed to be higher numbers of Redshank today with 30+ noted, although just 2 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Curlew was consistent with recent sightings here. Fifteen Oystercatcher and 6 Lapwing was also normal. 

Wildfowl - 3 Wigeon, a Shelduck with 5 small chicks, 14 Tufted Duck and the unseasonal Goldeneye again. The origins of the latter is a matter of some speculation as Goldeneyes normally feature in this area between October and March, the likelihood being that this immature male did not return north last autumn. Immature males do not attain their full black and white male plumage until their second winter. Whatever, the bird certainly appears wild enough and loafs about the pool with the tufties.


Another returnee this morning was a Little Egret feeding amongst the Redshank and Mallards in the Conder channel. Unfortunately our UK Little Egrets are not as accommodating towards photographers as the species is in other parts of the world, in this case Fuerteventura. 

Little Egret

Passerines this morning - 2 Tree Sparrow, 1 Pied Wagtail, 2 Greenfinch, 4 Goldfinch. 

Another Bird Blog links today to Camera Critters and Anni's Blogspot .

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Early Bird

It's hard to sleep these light mornings but lying awake while the sun shines outside isn't an option. Or maybe I'm just a natural early bird keen to catch the birding action. Whatever it is I soon found myself heading north for a wander around the hot spots of Cockerham for a couple of hours before clouds rolled in and rain returned. 

The Barn Owl is an early bird too, hunting the marsh and the roadside before most normal people are up and about. I was stood in a cloud of morning midges hence the black dots appearing to surround the owl, tiny insects which are actually whizzing around the camera lens pointed unerringly at the owl. A little more road traffic soon sent the owl back home for a daytime sleep.

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

The swarm of midges attracted Swifts again with 25 or more hawking the insects along the hedgerow and over my head, but only tiny numbers of Swallows and House Martins. I was to see Sand Martins later when I called at Hillam Lane where the colony now numbers 10/12 nest holes and c30 birds including this season's juveniles. 

Sand Martin

Waders and wildfowl on the pools/creek - 3 Grey Heron, 3 Lapwing, 1 Curlew, 12 Oystercatcher, 14 Redshank,1 Goldeneye, 3 Wigeon, 14 Tufted Duck, 6 Shelduck and 1 Teal. 

Alongside the road were 2 pairs of Reed Buntings feeding young, 1 singing Reed Warbler, 1 Pied Wagtail and 7 Tree Sparrow. While there are mainly juvenile Tree Sparrows about, the few adults I saw were busy collecting insects to feed their nestlings. We perhaps think of sparrows as seed eaters but Tree Sparrow youngsters are fed a high diet of insects.

Tree Sparrow

Jeremy Lane to Cockersands produced 4 Whitethroat, 2 Reed Bunting, 10 Skylark, 2 Sedge Warbler and several more Tree Sparrows. 

The tide was well in at Cockersands helping to find a number of waders and wildfowl, including 4 Curlew, 170 Oystercatcher, 1 Grey Plover, 8 Teal and a good count of 53 Eider. The Eider count comprised a flight of 5 heading out of the estuary together with a crèching group of 48 birds, 8 adult females and 40 ducklings. 


Eiders are colonial breeders. They nest on coastal islands in colonies ranging in size of less than 100 to upwards of 10,000-15,000 individuals. Female Eiders frequently return to breed on the same island where they were hatched. This can lead to a high degree of relatedness between individuals nesting on the same island, as well as the development of kin-based female social structures. This relatedness has played a role in the evolution of co-operative breeding behaviours amongst Eiders. Examples of these behaviours include laying eggs in the nests of related individuals and crèching, where female Eiders team up and share the work of rearing ducklings. The picture below shows just part of today's Eider crèche. 

Eider crèche 

That's all for now folks. Look in to Another Bird Blog soon for more early news and views.

"Click the Pics" for a better view.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Green Day

Destination Conder Green again this morning. Just a couple of hours later there was a decent list of birds in my notebook plus new pictures to share with blog followers. And remember to "click the pics" for the birding tour.

There must have been a recent hatch or awakening of insects at the line of hawthorns because lots of hirundines and Swifts fed there, all dashing alongside, through and above the hedge. In all I estimated 25+ Swift, 20+ Sand Martin, 14 House Martin and 10 Swallows taking part in the feeding frenzy for an hour or more before most moved on to the next feast. 

It was less frenetic on the pool and the river where apart from the noisy Oystercatchers, the wildfowl go about their business in a quiet sort of way. Similar numbers to recent days with 16 Tufted Duck, 1 Teal, 3 Wigeon and then 2 Canada Goose with 2 youngsters. There are 3 broods of Mallards numbering about 15 chicks + 3 adult females, the males seeming to be absent on this Father's Day. 

Eurasian Wigeon


Waders as normal with 1 Curlew, 15 Redshank and 10 Oystercatcher but a few passerines in evidence with 2 Pied Wagtail, 3 Whitethroat, 5 Greenfinch, 2 Linnet, 5 Tree Sparrow, 6 Goldfinch and then 1 Lesser Whitethroat singing from the car park area. 

Tree Sparrow

Two Ravens flew over honking loudly and heading in the direction of Cockersands/Pilling. My cue to take a look at Glasson Dock where I didn't find much save for more Tufted Duck in the dock, Swallows nesting in the toilet block, a Blackbird feeding young and a Grey Heron looking for a fishy breakfast down in the muddy waters of the dock. 

Grey Heron

Grey Heron


Mostly From Wiki. The settlement of Glasson village built up slowly in the 19th century with the main buildings being Christ Church in 1830, a shipyard and Customs House constructed in 1834, a Watch House in 1836, and a Dry Dock in 1841. The shipyards were largely concerned with ship repair rather than shipbuilding, eventually closing in 1968, with the dry dock filled in a year later. 

Glasson Dock

The quay was connected to the UK railway network in 1883, operating until the closure of passenger services on 5th July 1930. Goods traffic continued until 7 September 1964. The trackbed of the disused branch-line is now a linear park and cycleway (popular with birders). A limited amount of commercial traffic still uses the dock, with outbound shipments including coal for the Isle of Man and the Western Islands of Scotland, and incoming cargoes including animal foodstuffs and fertilizer, which are stored in sheds located on the dock side. 

River Lune - Glasson looking to Conder Green

The River Conder meets the River Lune at Conder Green, the latter a tiny settlement of a few dozen homes (and The Stork pub) formerly served by the London and North Western Railway's Glasson Dock railway line which had three stations in the parish: one at Conder Green, the terminus at Glasson Dock and a private stop at the local gentry's home of Ashton Hall further north towards Lancaster. 

Conder Green

Join Another Bird Blog soon for more news, views, pics and vital information.

This post is linking to Stewart's gallery in Australia  .

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Birds Before The Rain

Although the BBC's prognosis was for a wretched morning it wasn't nearly so bad as they suggested, the increasing wind speed slowly clearing the grey skies to make a half decent if somehat rain-speckled morning. 

It was 9 am before I reached Conder Green where noisy panicking waders greeted me. A Barn Owl was hunting the marsh where Redshanks and Oystercatchers have young tucked away, the adults' noisy warnings serving as a cue for others to join in. From the lay-by I could see the owl patrolling about ten or twelve feet above the tidal ditches, every so often dropping lower and out of sight. Now if I had been on the other side of the marsh and in the front room of the house alongside the road I think better pictures might have ensued. Anyway Barn Owl is certainly a good bird to get on someone's “house list”. But by now traffic was building up and the owl quickly forsook the marsh and flew off to a daytime roost. 

Barn Owl at Conder Green

The muggy morning and a healthy crop of insects had brought hirundines and Swifts down to eye level with 12 Swift, 14 House Martin, 6 Swallow and 4 Sand Martin noted. An hour or so later the Swifts had increased to 20+ with most of the Swallows and all of the Sand Martins gone. 

Passerines seen and/or heard comprised 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Whitethroat, 2 Reed Bunting, 4 Tree Sparrow, 1 Sedge Warbler and 6 Goldfinch. There are young but not yet independent Goldfinches about now, the fledglings staying all the time with the parents and making lots of noise as they beg for food. The young Goldfinches are in our own garden too and as soon as the wind drops I'll be able to catch a few for marking. 


A few more waders today in the shape of 6 Curlew and 5 Black-tailed Godwits in addition to the expected 15 Redshank,10 Oystercatcher and 6 Lapwing. Wildfowl remain at 2 Canada Goose with young, 12 Shelduck, 14 Tufted Duck, 1 Teal, 1 Pochard 1 Great Crested Grebe and 1 pair of Mallard with 4 young. Now is a good time of year to see the "tufts" on a drake Tufted Duck.


Tufted Duck

A quick scoot around Jeremy Lane found 15 Lapwing, 6 Oystercatcher, 2 Pied Wagtail, 2 Greenfinch, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Linnet and 12 Skylark. Some of the Skylark are youngsters and others singing adults moving on to second broods I guess. 


By now the rain was returning so I headed home, on the way passing Lane Ends Pilling where a singing Blackcap and a single Jay were close to the road. 

Stay tuned to Another Bird Blog for news, views and more new pics.  Meanwhile "click the pics" for a grandstand view.

Linking today to Anni who like me would rather be birdin.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Trying Hard

I wasn't too hopeful about birding this morning as early and mid-June can be hard going. It's when  when migration stops, breeding adults stay glued to nests and generally keep a low profile until their nestlings emerge. In the end the morning proved quite productive by way of a few new pics and another Lapwing chick to add to the tally of recent weeks. 

Conder Green was first stop and where a good selection wildfowl awaited in the shapes of 2 Pochard, 2 Wigeon, 2 Teal, 16 Tufted Duck and a single Great-crested Grebe. Waders were the expected ones of Oystercatchers and Redshanks, with no sign of Little Ringed Plovers, an omission which doesn't mean they are not around but simply out of sight and keeping quiet, the latter if true an unusual occurrence for LRPs. 


Passerines were sparse here with a singing Sedge Warbler, 2 Reed Buntings and a Song Thrush also in song with flyover Linnet and Goldfinch in ones and twos. There seemed to be good numbers of House Martins zipping around River Winds, with a fly-through of a Sand Martin perhaps from the tiny colony at Cockerham. More worrying is the lack of Swallows I count at the moment; following a couple of poor breeding seasons, their normal losses in wintering quarters and then on migration I fear their population is on the low side for now. Such are the risks of their strategy of summering in the Northern Hemisphere.

It was Pilling next for the compulsory walk to Fluke and back, accompanied by the cries of Lapwings, Redshanks and Oystercatchers. Yes, the Oystercatchers definitely have young now, but hidden away in a sileage field, the adults providing a running commentary and all the time trying to lead me in the opposite direction to their chicks. 



There was yet another single Lapwing chick with a pair of adults, and from the size of it I thought it could be one and the same bird from Friday. But no, when I went to where the chick crouched it turned out to be a new one with the flight feathers half-grown. 


Lapwing chick
Five Grey Herons today as breeding birds and new young leave their inland haunts for the coast. Two Little Egrets was more difficult to explain unless they too have completed their breeding season. A single Greenshank again today out towards the tideline. 

Carrion Crows have hatched and fledged young on Hi-Fly's set-aside area - now there is a surprise. The young crow won't remain so approachable for long and will surely learn to flee the sound of gunfire.

 Carrion Crow

Otherwise things were quiet although a dashing Peregrine gave a brief but brilliant flying display while attempting but failing to catch a feral pigeon. A good try - hard luck Peg, but thanks for ending my morning in such spectacular fashion.

Linking today to  Stewart's Photo Gallery.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I Can See Clearly Now

I just had to go birding today when a parcel arrived by courier post and I welcomed the return of a pair of old friends I hadn't seen for more than two weeks. The good people at Zeiss returned my binoculars after I sent them for repair. The poor old bins led a neglected existence for many years - out in all weathers, sand and salt blown, thrown into the car or a shoulder bag and without complaint trailed through the hotspots of Europe and coldspots of the Fylde. Finally although the optics were perfect the body needed some expert attention and a spot of TLC so I packed them off to Zeiss hoping the trusty bins were not beyond rescue and that Zeiss wouldn't castigate me for treating their products so abysmally. In the meantime I was forced to use a spare pair of newer but cheaper and therefore inferior binoculars, wishing all the time I could have my old 10x42s back, and now I have. 

Thank you Zeiss for doing a brilliant job. In this day and age it is refreshing to receive such wonderful old-fashioned customer service. 

Zeiss Bins

And so armed with a new pair of eyes I set off for Pilling shore. Driving with the window down this sunny week I've noted a few Lesser Whitethroats around, their scratchy warm up and rattling song standing out from the usual hedgerow melodies of Dunnock, Whitethroat and Chaffinch. This morning there were two male lessers singing at Fluke Hall, one at the Wheel Lane junction and a second one at the hall itself. Click on the xeno-canto button to hear the Lesser Whitethroat sing.

Lesser Whitethroat - courtesy of Alpo Roikola 

Also here at Fluke, a singing Blackcap, a Common Whitethroat, 2 Greenfinch and 2 Great-spotted Woodpeckers. Greenfinches are now so scarce that I make a note whenever I see or hear them.  


Still 2 Reed Warblers singing at Lane Ends together with the less vocal and intermittent Sedge Warbler. Lane Ends to Pilling Water produced 1 Stock Dove, 1 Corn Bunting, 2 Grey Heron, 2 Linnet, 4 Goldfinch, 45 Shelduck, 40 Lapwing and out towards the tide line, a Greenshank and a male Eider duck. It's hard to say whether the Greenshank could be a late spring migrant or a June returnee.

There was also another “croucher”, a good sized Lapwing chick. But there was but no sign of any Oystercatcher young and the tide too low to bring Redshank young scampering from the ditches and towards the shore.

"Spot The Lapwing"



Please visit Another Bird Blog soon for more bird news and often visionary stuff. In the meantime take a look at Anni's blog or   Camera Critters for more birds.

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