Dragonfly Pond & Stags Lodge - Cuerden Valley Park - 14th June 2014

With Emperor Dragonflies being reported I decided to head up to the dragonfly pond to see if they were flying locally. I counted 3 including a female oviposting,  20 four spotted chaser as well as blue tailed and azure damselfly. A single Buzzard showed overhead briefly and a Chiffchaff called near by. I only managed one butterfly in the form of a Large Skipper but picked up 1 Meadow at Wigan Lane car park and 2 Speckled Wood on Stags Lodge. A little disappointing for butterflies locally with numbers being very low (a walk around Stags Lodge tonight - 17th brought a single Meadow Brown)
A walk back through Stags Lodge brought a Greater Spotted Woodpecker near to a previous found nest site. It seemed to be excavating a fresh nest, not sure if they have a second brood but I'll be sure to keep an eye out. Another Chiffchaff (no Willow Warbler at Stags this year) and 4 Whitethroat were the only wablers and 4 young Coot on the pond, not bad since they started with seven (I did see a Grey Heron on the pond quite a bit when they first appeared). A small number of Banded Demoiselle, Male and Female were on the River Lostock as well as a young Wren by the bridge no sign of the Dipper though

 Above & below four spotted chaser

 Above Blue tailed Damselfly

Above male Emperor Dragonfly below female

 Above young Coot below Common Spotted Orchid

 Above & below Greater Spotted Woodpecker

 Above & below Large Skipper

 Above Meadow Brown below Speckled Wood

Above young Wren

Great Skua (Bonxie) - Preston Docks - 15th June 2014

About half 9 I read a Facebook post suggesting there was a Great Skua lingering about Preston Docks so with the decision made not to wash the car (my usual Sunday morning chore) I headed out. On first arrival in the car park near to Morrison's there was no sign of the bird and I was going to give up on what would be a tick but with a further trawl through Facebook I decided to head out for a further look and the word soon went out it was at the bottom end of the docks. 
The bird though looked in reasonable health was clearly not in a good way as it struggled unsuccessfully to get in to the air. As it neared to the side of the dock I noticed it was ringed and it eventually settled on some steps enabling better views of the ring - Left leg Red NZ, right leg possibly 50C with a definite ending 460 with Norway also stamped. If I get any further news I will update this post. The bird was picked up by the RSPCA at lunch time after a phone call from local birder Colin Bushell

 Above the front end of the metal ring possibly 50C, below the obvious KZ ring and the rear 460 and Norway on the metal ring

 For those interested the car was washed and polished this evening by my own fair hands

Buzzards - Cuerden Valley Park - May 2014

It wasn't long ago these large raptors were scarce across Lancashire but are now seen regularly especially around the Stags Lodge area of Cuerden Valley Park. I have seen singles in recent years but recently I have seen up to 4 both over my home and at Stags Lodge. The local area is a perfect habitat with woodland and meadow fields which contains rabbits and other small mammals which is their favoured food.

 Above a Buzzard being mobbed by a Carrion Crow Below a pair over Stags Lodge, Cuerden Valley Park

New patch tick at Stags Lodge, Cuerden Valley Park - May 2014

I was wandering back home through Stags Lodge after a few hours out with the camera last month when I stood on the bridge over the River Lostock and thought 'what a great site for a Dipper' but not having seen one on this stretch (I have seen a breeding pair further up the Lostock in CVP grounds) I put the thought to bed and continued my trek home following the Lostock down stream. Having a quick stop to see if there were any Banded Demoiselle about I came across a preening Dipper! I stopped and watched it for about 10 minutes taking a few poor photos (still getting to grips with the new camera) in the light and shade. The Dipper moved down stream and I've subsequently seen it in 4 locations along the stretch of the Lostock between Church Walk Woods (Bamber Bridge) and Stags Lodge. I believe there is only a single bird and I've seen it on at least 4 visits in the past month so I think it is settled in the area for now.

 Above & below taken on the River Lostock, Stags Lodge

 Below feeding in the River Lostock taken on the stretch in Church Walk Woods

Dragonfly Fest - Cuerden Valley Park - 31st May 2014

Its that time of year when a trip up to the Dragonfly pond at Cuerden Valley Park starts to produce results with my favourite and probably the most photogenic Dragonfly starts to fly.
I have been up a few times of late when we've had a little sun but today was the most productive with at least 6 4 spotted chasers on the wing, and with a little care I was able to get within 300mm of one at rest near to the pond.

 Above a record shot of a pair of mating 4 spotted chaser

Though no other dragonflies were on the wing on my visit there were plenty of damselflies including Large Red, Common Blue and Azure.

 Above 2 male and a female Azure Damselfly below a Large Red Damselfly

Stags Lodge Is also a good place to see Damselflies with Azure, Common Blue and Blue tailed around the Pond (Mainly at the side near the reeds, approach from the top meadow) and Banded Demoiselle along the River Lostock

 Above female Azure Damselfly (Blue Form) below male Blue-tailed Damselfly

 Above male Blue-tailed Damselfly Below immature Azure Damselfly

 Above male Banded Demoiselle below female

The blue form of the female Azure Damselfly only occurs in 10% of the population as was a nice find. I have only ever had one other species at the Dragonfly Pond, that being the Emperor and with some being reported on the wing I'm hoping it will feature in future blog posts