Abbeystead Lane - Dotterel - 30th April 2010

Yes you have probably read other blogs reporting the Dotterel at Abbeystead Lane, well now it’s my turn. I was on my way back from Northumberland when I decided to call in. I text Mike for directions as he has visited the area several times as written in his birding photos 2010 blog and after a brief chat I was heading for the area. Finding the field along Abbeystead Lane was the easy part, there where 2 birders already there and a field full of Golden Plover but no sign of the Dotterel. I climbed out of the car and swept the area but apart from the odd passing Curlew, Meadow Pipit and Lapwing oh and the Golden Plover but no Dotterel to be seen, did I also mention it was raining?
It was then that Margaret Breaks drove past and suggested that we watched from the car rather than standing by the fence where we in full view, at which point it stopped raining! She had checked in on the area several times in recent days and found viewing from the car gave a better view of the birds as they seemed to come in closer, makes sense when you think about it. Within five minutes she spotted 2 Dotterel in the next field and passed the information on. I then spent the next hour or so watching them as they fed across the field to the left of the Golden Plover.
Thanks again to Margaret for pointing the Dotterel out and advising us to return to our cars.

Brockholes Wetland, Ashy-headed Wagtail - 22nd April 2010

The best I could do in the fading light through Bill Gregory's Scope with my mobile. We were up at Brockholes Wetland helping with the anual Whimbrel migration count when Bill Gregory arrived and told us it had been there all afternoon and it wasn't a Yellow Wagtail as first thought. Thanks go out to Zac Hinchcliffe for re-identifying this colourful little wagtail, a lifer for both Reece and I. The Whimbrel count was down on the last few evenings with only 96 when we left at 21.00. Other bids of interest on the main pool were 3 Common Sandpiper, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Shoveler and a Goosander.
                                                              ABOVE ASHY-HEADED WAGTAIL TAKEN BY BILL GREGORY

Brockholes Wetland & Local Quarry - 9th/10th April 2010

An hour up at the quarry on Friday to see if the Raven had returned proved fruitless as far as they were concerned. A single Peregrine was there throughout the hour we were there along with the usual numbers of Jackdaw. We only viewed the pool from the top of the quarry so 7 Mallard ad a Moorhen were all we could see. Around the scrub and overhead we counted 1 Lesser-black backed Gull, 2 Stock Dove, 2 Collard Dove, 2 Woodpigeon, 1 Robin, 5 Chaffinch, 4 Goldfinch, 2 Bullfinch, 1 Greenfinch, 1 Pied Wagtail, 3 Blue, Great and 1 Coal Tit and 2 Chiffchaff.

On Saturday we headed down to Brockholes meeting up with Mike Foley, Bill Gregory and Robin on the No 1 pit viewing point. Bill Aspin had reported 3 Med Gulls but a long search through the Black-headed brought none but we did manage 2 White Wagtail. Other sightings included Oystercatcher, Lapwing, 1 Redshank, 4 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Skylark, Shellduck, Tufted Duck, 2 Teal, Cormorant, Mute Swan, 2 Carrion Crow and Canada Geese.
On the way back we called back into the quarry again with no sign of the Raven again but both Peregrine were there. On the pool were 2 Little Grebe, 6 Mallard (1 Female), 1 Moorhen and 2 Coot. 2 Jay flew across the quarry and of course there were the usual number of Jackdaw. A Willow Warbler called from nearby woods but we couldn’t find it but we did see 3 Chiffchaff, Blue and Great Tit.

Lancashire Birding - 5th April 2010

Better late than never I know, but it took me a while to get round to examining the photos from the day out and as I’m not happy with any of them it’s a text only post I’m afraid. Reece on the other hand did a little better so don’t forget to check out Spudds Nature Blog.

The day started up at Leighton Moss to photograph the returning Marsh Harrier and with 2 male and 1 female viewed from the lay by just before the path to the public hide on 2 brief visits it wasn’t a bad day. Other birds in the area included 2 Pheasant, 2 Shellduck, 1 Mute Swan, 2 Magpie, 2 Greater Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Swallow and 1 Buzzard mainly seen flying overhead.
In between visits we headed up to Warton Crag where amongst the large number of Jackdaw we managed 1 Raven, 2 Peregrine, 1 Kestrel and a calling Chiffchaff.
Next stop was Conder Green and although we missed out on the Hooded Crow we did see 2 Curlew, 2 Lapwing, 10 Oystercatcher, 9 Redshank, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Mallard, Teal and Mute Swan.
From there we called in at Pilling Lane End to see if we could see any passing Wheatear as we did at a similar time last year but no such luck on today’s visit. 2 Sparrowhawk were a bonus along with the c300 Pinkfooted Geese, Shellduck, c30 Knot, Redshank, 2 Rock Dove and a Little Egret.
On the way home we called in at Bradshaw Lane feeding station, only our second visit here and somewhere we should call at a little more often. Sightings on the seed and surrounding fields included 9 Yellowhammer, 2 Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting, Skylark, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, 4 Chaffinch, 2 Shellduck, 2 Red-legged Partridge, Woodpigeon, Grey Herron, Swallow, c25 Lesser-black Backed Gull, 3 Carrion Crow, Kestrel and 11 Curlew. Not a bad day out, just wish it had been a little lighter then I might have had a chance of some reasonable photos.

Stags Lodge & Quarry - 4th April 2010

A late walk up to Stags Lodge this morning, well you can excuse me I had to watch the Burnley vs City match on the repeat of match of the day before heading anywhere. 3 Chiffchaffs still calling, 2 from around the bridge over the river and the other near the pond. Plenty of Great ad Blue Tits calling, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, Jackdaw, Robin, Coot and Mallard. Heading back home I passed under the A6 underpass that leads next to the river and to what I call Church Walk Woods when I heard what at first I thought was a quite vocal Robin but upon searching through the undergrowth I found a male Blackcap. I went back tonight with the camera but no sign of it, I saw several in the area last year so fingers crossed I’ll see it again in the next few weeks.
The quarry was fairly busy this afternoon, with Chris, Robin and Neil (good to have met up with you at last) watching over the female Peregrine. Thoughts were expressed over the dead Raven and Chris who visits the quarry regularly had similar concerns to myself as he hadn’t seen the Raven for over a week. There are suggestions that the bird may have been shot or poisoned but as the small island where it is quickly decaying is out of reach I guess we’ll never know. We did see 2 Raven before I left but they didn’t come into the quarry so my thoughts are they are not the same pair. With the female Peregrine being present on the cliff face throughout my visit we decided to view the area from the top of the quarry so making the logging of the water fowl difficult. A Little Grebe did swim out to the middle and Mallard and a Coot were also noted. Coal, Blue and Great Tit as well as the usual Jackdaw, Woodpigeon and several calling Chiffchaff were logged around the scrub and overhead. A Buzzard flew around the quarry being mobbed by Jackdaw, the unusual marking of a white rump was noted as it dropped low to the ground trying to escape. Bill arrived late on and soon after the male Peregrine.


New Arrivals - 3rd April 2010

Out up at Stags Lodge again this morning brought the sound of a second Chiffchaff answering the call of the first we have been seeing over the last few days. The local Oystercatcher are also back on the fields across from the house, I have heard them once or twice over the past few days but this morning was the first time I have seen them this year as they flew over. On the way into Preston 4 Swallow, our first of the year, flew over the Ribble at the bottom of London Road and c25 Sand Martin were hawking above the Ribble nesting sight at Walton le Dale.

Lunchtime @ the Quarry - 2nd April 2010

An hour up at the quarry this lunchtime with the hope of catching sight of the Raven ended with some disappointment but maybe a glimmer of hope. We didn’t see the Raven in the quarry though on the walk down to the base of the quarry I heard one in the distance and when we were leaving Reece thought he saw 2 Raven about quarter of a mile away from the quarry and I was driving I can’t confirm 100% tat they were.

A new sighting for us at the quarry was a calling Chiffchaff in the scrub by the small pond on the road down to the base another was calling near by. Other sightings included Blue, Long-tailed and Great Tit, Blackbird, Robin, Woodpigeon, Sock Dove, Jackdaw, Moorhen, Mallard, Coot, Little Grebe 1, Herring Gull and both Peregrine. The light was low as you can tell by the photographs but they are the best shots of a Peregrine I have taken to date and proof that the teleconvertor is working okay with the autofocus system.

Chiffchaff @ Stags Lodge & Dead Corvid ID update - 1st April 2010

Walking the dogs again this evening up at Stags Lodge, Cuerden Valley Park we finally got a photo of the first summer migrant back to the area. Check Spudds Nature blog for more photos.

Confirmation of the identification of the dead Corvid we photographed at the quarry came through from 2 sources over the last few days. Thank to Bill Aspin (via Mike Foley) and Bill Gregory for confirming that it is a Raven. I’m hoping it wasn’t one of the pair we regularly see though they weren’t there on our last visit. We are hoping to get up there tomorrow morning with the hope of seeing them.