White Coppice - 31st May 2010

For the second week runnig we decided to make a trip up to the White Coppice and the surrounding area in search of a few local lifers. Last week we managed to finally see a Cuckoo after hearing them on several occasions but failing to locate them.
This week we went back with the hope of seeing a Spotted Flycatcher which has been reported in the area for the second week running but again we missed out. In the words of Arnie Swartzenager 'I'll be back!'
We parked up near to the Wartermans Cottage and searched around the surrounding  wooded area finding the nest boxes full of Blue and Great Tits and Grey Wagtail feeding on the Goit.
Taking the path from the Watermans Cottage and heading for White Coppice cricket ground we heard the Green Woodpecker we had seen last week and saw Chaffinch, Willow Warbler, Black headed Gull, Jay, Carrion Crow, Lapwing, Whitethroat, Redpoll and Reed Bunting.
We stopped for some lunch at the cricket club cafe and  I tucked into a fine beef and onion barm with Reece going for a bacon barm, (a barm is a bun, tea cake, cob, muffin for those not of Lancastrian persuasion). Anyway as our food was called and I was filling Reeces barm full of HP sauce a Cuckoo decided to fly across the cricket ground calling and disapeared over the trees as upon my return, I'll be sending Reece on our next visit!!
Whilst tucking in we met a fellow birder from Lostock Hall, just down the road from Bamber Bridge who told us he had seen both a Garden Warbler (on our list of 10 Warblers to photograph) and a Redstart on his walk up.
The Garden Warbler was calling within 50 yards of the cricket ground on our walk back, but with the light being fairly poor we struggled for a decent photo. The Redstart we picked up on a distant wall about half way back, we'd picked it up by its call then located it and getting a few distant shots before it disapeared.
On top of this weeks sightings last week we added Oystercatcher, Meadow Pipit, Raven, Kestrel, Treecreeper, Greater Spotted Woodpecker and the usual subjets.

Sad News Indeed - 25th May 2010

For those who call in to read our blog from time to time will know we have a local quarry where we have reported having seen Peregrine. Although their mention has become scarce of late we have continued to watch the area along with several other birders as the pair sat on their eggs for at least 4 weeks. On Friday the 14th May the eggs hatched which was great news for both the pair and the birders who had watched over the area. Last night (24th May) I received an email from Bill Gregory stating that that Richard Todd had called in as usual in the morning only to find the chicks gone presumed stolen. I cannot describe the disgust I feel for those responsible for such actions and cannot comprehend why someone would want to take these beautiful birds from our local skies. I can only hope that the peregrine will breed again in the area, if not this year then next when I’m sure a full time watch will be organised so such a thing will not be allowed to happen again.

Those responsible for the disappearance will probably not be caught and if so not punished enough for this crime (cliff face and push spring to mind). If anyone does have any information about the disappearance I would advise them to contact PC Duncan Thomas Lancashire Constabulary's full time wildlife officer on 0845 125354

Photograph courtesy of Chris Rae

Stags Lodge & Brockholes Nature Reserve -16th May 2010

I spent four hours this afternoon trying to photograph Warblers at Brockholes Nature Reserve this afternoon without much luck. I was hoping for both Reed and Garden Warblers but with no sign of the latter and the former being very elusive I had to make do with Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler. There were c5 Whitethroat and c30 Sedge as I walked around the reedbeds of the west end of No 1 pit and the Main pit. I've started to photograph in RAW to try and improve the quality of my photographs and the Sedge Warbler I shot using manual focus as the autofocus was struggling through the reeds. 
There was no sign of the Wood Sandpiper that was reported yesterday though having watched 2 guys not to far from the east end of No 1 pit last night where the bird had been seen earlier I'm not supprised its no longer in the area.
I visited Stags Lodge twice today with all 4 species of Warbler on show or calling on both visits. I only had the camera with me this afternoon so the Willow Warbler was all I managed after missing out on a male Balckcap earlier on my walk. A Greater Spotted Woodpecker was calling this morning from one of the large Beach trees and a Song Thrush has been calling most of the week from the trees near to the river.

Stags Lodge & Brockholes Nature Reserve LWT - 9th May 2010

Stags Lodge proved to be quite fruitful in the morning sunshine as far as warblers were concerned with 4 Chiffchaff, 2 Willow Warbler, 4 Blackcap and 2 Whitethroat on show across the park. Both the Blackcap and the Whitethroat gave us the run around when we were trying to get some photos but we did manage one or two of the former.

Warblers were also on the agenda on our afternoon trip down to Brockholes Nature reserve. We spent almost an hour by the reed bed to the right of the feeders near the entrance gate listening to several calling but not showing themselves and after meeting up with Bill Gregory later in afternoon he reliably informed us they were Reed Warblers. He also informed us of an area Garden Warbler had been seen and we duly set off seeing it as soon as we got to the area. In the same area we also saw 2 Blackcap and 1 Whitethroat. On the east end of No1 Pool we heard again several Warblers calling and aren’t sure if they were Sedge or Reed but we did manage to photograph a Sedge Warbler calling from a small bush amongst the reeds. Also in the are was a pair of Whitethroat and Reece found a Newt (not sure of the species) and c30 tadpoles at the edge of the pool. Expect more warblers in the coming months as after chatting with Mike Foley earlier this month we are going to try and photograph the more common warblers this summer. We have 5 so far, Willow, Sedge, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. It will be back to Brockholes to try and pick up the Garden and Reed again the others we’ll just have to have a think about.


Stags Lodge - 8th May 2010

I spent an hour up at Stags Lodge, Cuerden Valley Park early this morning hoping there would be some warblers on show. Things were a bit quiet which was a supprise but I did manage to find this Whitethroat, one of 2 calling and the first time I've recorded 2 on the park and the Willow Warbler was one of three calling. Other Warblers included 2 Chiffchaff and a male Blackcap something I haven't seen here since last week.
Both Robin and Wren were calling in numbers as well as Blackbird, Song Thrush, Blue & Great Tit. Also 2 young Coot on the pond.

Whinchat, Stags Lodge - 5th May 2010

I first sighted the bird whilst walking the dogs but not having my binoculars with me I couldn't get a good ID and everytime I got close it moved on. So I dropped the dogs at home and picked Reece up and headed back. We found the bird in the same area of trees and Reece managed the above shot before it again moved on. We picked it up on several more occasions but it didn't seem to hang around to much in one place so not wanting to disturb it any further we headed down to Brockholes Nature Reserve to count in a poor 30 Whimbrel.

UPDATE: I emailed David Beattie who compiles the bird survey for CVP and runs walks through the park and it is possibly the first sighting of a Whinchat on CVP.
No sign of the Whinchat on the following 2 nights.

Local Birding - Stags Lodge, Brockholes Wetland, Curlew Lane & Quarry - 1st-3rd May 2010

With spring well under way the amount of Warblers have increased on Stags Lodge (Cuerden Valley Park) of late. The Chiffchaff have been around for a while now and I’ve heard c6 across the park with c4 Willow Warblers. After seeing a male Blackcap in nearby Church Walk Woods early on in spring they seemed to have disappeared until this weekend with 2 Males and 1 Female showing. The surprise was a Whitethroat seen in the same area on 2 separate visits, something I haven’t seen in the area for a couple of years. We also had a Grey Wagtail feeding on the river as we made our way home last night, the first we’ve seen on Stags Lodge though we’ve seen them regularly on the lake at Cuerden Valley.

A trip up to the local quarry for an hour to see if the Raven had returned but again no sign but having chatted with Chris Rae he did say they have been seen in and out the quarry so they are still around. The Female Peregrine was on show but no sign of the male. Our second Whitethroat of the day showed well giving us some good photo opportunities though I fear again mine take second place to Reece’s, I think it must be the teleconvertor I’ve started to use, I feel that it doesn’t quite focus sharply enough.
Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were calling in several spots, Blue and Great Tit, Chaffinch and Woodpigeon were around in numbers. 3 Swift and 2 Swallow flew over as well as 2 Jay, Carrion Crow and 2 Grey Wagtail. On the pool were 3 Coot, Moorhen and Little Grebe.
We’d not been down to Brockholes in a few days but with no count on the previous night and being free to do so we headed down a little earlier than usual to have a walk up to the feeders and see what else was around. Nothing much on the feeders just the usual Chaffinch, Dunnock and Reed Bunting no sign of the Tree Sparrows we saw the other week. We headed past the feeders and to the east side of the site where Wheatear have been sighted in the past and we saw 2 Female and a Male on this visit. Back down to the main pit to count in the Whimbrel and we counted c191 on the main pool, Bill Aspin counted 178 plus 68 on No 1 Pool, for all this years Whimbrels numbers check the Brockholes Wetland forum. Other sightings included Swift, Swallow and Sand Martin, 2 Common Sandpiper and 2 Little Ringed Plover.
After bumping into Nick Green on a recent visit to Stags Lodge I found out that Yellow Wagtail could be seen on Curlew Lane near Martin Mere something we hadn’t seen before. So this morning after getting confirmation and the precise area from Mike Foley who had seen them the day before we headed over to see if we could find them. After a long search we spotted 2 at the far side of a ploughed field so no chance of even a record shot (not even a mobi-scoped one as my mobile is down at the moment!!) The Wheatear were a different matter though with c10 feeding across the field with one showing very close.