Monday, 31 August 2009
Poor for waders though with just 23 Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plovers, 2 Greenshank, 2 Snipe and 6 Curlew on the flooded areas. Lapwing numbers are on the up though with 448 but unfortunately only fly-by Golden Plover (43) this morning and Little Egrets (none with rings) just about as obvious as an Eduardo dive with 7 prancing about on the mud.
Birding is made easier for me as time goes by. A message on my phone lets me know if there's anything interesting within 20 miles of my house (yep, us high-flying twitchers know no boundaries!) and BirdTrack tells me how many birds I've seen. As I look across the Ribble floodplain to the moors of Bowland (above), it has no need to tell me what a fantastic place Lancs is to get out birding though.
Sunday, 30 August 2009
No photos from today (too windy, too dull, nothing to photograph ......) so I've had to delve into the archives. The Spotshank above was at Conder Green a couple of years ago. What I'd give for a good selection of waders locally at the moment.
I've been thinking how few Little Owls I've seen of late and how many sites I've seen them once at, and never since. Admittedly there are a few "cert sites" around west Lancs where individuals can be virtually guaranteed, but I see them rarely elsewhere even if I know of their presence in an area (like Warton or Freckleton on the Ribble). Must be terribly difficult to assess their status with any certainty.
Saturday, 29 August 2009
Not really keen on "buzzwords" (see title) but it's a bank holiday once again and time to avoid the traffic hustle and bustle and make the best of the home patch. Fortunately that's not too difficult living in Lancs. Plenty of places to go and plenty of things to look at / for. Walking around the South Ribble Marshes this morning I must admit to being distracted by the howling westerly with thoughts of "Should be seawatching". Just greedy I guess. Six Little Egrets and a Marsh Harrier soon had me focused though. A flock of 60+ Dunlin had me reaching for the 'scope but I couldn't find anything to get the pulse racing. There's a lot of walking to be done out here but it's very welcome as I'm missing my spring survey days of trudging over the moors of Bowland. A nice flock of Lapwings (216 in total) accompanied by 108 Golden Plovers kept me busy for a while as I huddled down on a grassy bank out of the wind. I'm sure the Ribble is due a "Lesser Goldy" of some flavour and can't resist giving these a good "grilling" at every opportunity. Apart from half-a-dozen Ringed Plovers there was little else of note this morning. But it sure was good to get out again after a week of office work and house hunting ......
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
We covered at lot of ground this weekend with the Caerlaverock area being very productive thanks to the latest inundation due to a combination of recent heavy rainfall and high tides. A quick visit on Saturday produced Garganey and Marsh Harrier but with more time yesterday we were able to sit in the Saltcots hide and watch the birds pushed off the merse by the tide. An Osprey spent a lot of its time on the mud until the tide covered it, devouring a recently caught fish. First time I've seen flying Osprey mobbed by Shelducks too! A couple of Peregrines were causing havoc over some flood water and 79 Grey Plover on the shore is a good count for D&G.
Talking of high wader counts - the Newbie high tide wader roost was packed full of Ringed Plovers on Saturday. In fact I can't remember seeing anywhere near the 535 we counted there before in D&G. The local dog walkers weren't quite as considerate this weekend, flushing the birds on numerous occasions, but there were 229 Dunlin, 3 Sanderling, 14 Turnstone, 3 Knot plus plenty of Oystercatchers (the dogs got to them before I could count them) too.
As usual when we stay in D&G we try to find a day to drive "out west" to Loch Ryan. Despite the foul weather we did OK (you see quite a bit from the car). I have very fond memories of Ryan as the first D&G site I visited way back in 1979 on an epic weekend away from my home in Watford to tick King Eider. Here's the proof:
There - tangible evidence that I saw a rather strange duck-shaped thingy as a spotty teenager. As I turn the pages of the notebook (carefully, as they are falling out now) there's evidence (I use that word loosely) that we saw lots of other goodies that weekend though. Barn Owl, Long-tailed Ducks, 300+ Scaup, Black-throated Diver, Black Guillemots and stacks of Eider were just "padders" on King Eider Day in 1979. The Golden Eagle we saw near Murray's Monument is long gone now unfortunately. Loch Ken produced Greenland White-fronted Geese and I can still remember the Dippers under the bridge in Dalbeatie as if it were yesterday.
These were not around Loch Ryan back then though .......
Mediterranean Gulls are not to difficult to find at the moment but not to be taken for granted as it was a new D&G bird for me just two years ago. This nice adult at Bishop Burn at the weekend was the best bird of the day with 2 Ruff, a Knot, 7 Scaup and a Wheatear just "also-rans".
In between phone calls from the estate agent we managed to visit a few other nearby sites including another one discovered by Manchester birder Pete Berry.
This little wetland at Maitland Terrace on the way to West Freugh has already turned up Green-winged Teal and Wood Sandpiper this year. Just the 9 Black-tailed Godwits and 2 Ringed Plovers of note for us with single Swifts (or the same?) at Luce Bay and West Freugh where there were also 2 Ruff the only other birds of note.
Otherwise the rest of the weekend consisted in the search for precious D&G birds that aren't of much importance elsewhere (the excitement of spending an hour looking for Grey Partridge [I'm sure 've seen one of these in D&G before but can't locate it in my notes] was just too much for us), and also the WeBS counts. Some astonishing figures (mainly because I had the patience to count them) included 2462 Oystercatchers at Brow Well and hardly any elsewhere! Three Little Egrets on the Nith together is a personal best for me with this increasingly common bird but scarce passage waders were just that, with just 3 Greenshank and 2 Common Sandpipers seen at Dornock.
And finally. Never let your wife loose with your notebook while counting Oystercatchers .......
I think the dog has binoculars around its neck, but I'm not sure.
Thursday, 20 August 2009
Some birding at last! After a week of varnishing, painting and arranging multiple house viewings (far more complicated than putting together a bird tour itinerary I might add), it was with some relief the weekend arrived (albeit early for me). Although I had been fairly disciplined by my own very fluid standards the past week, I decided that a quick Friday lunchtime spot of birding on the Ribble wouldn't hurt.
The combination of a 9+ metre tide and a brisk south westerly wind meant that much of the beach at the Lytham Slipway was covered and only a handful of Ringed Plovers and Turnstones found refuge there. Fairhaven beach was the only choice and sure enough a nice gathering of birds were on the seaward side of the dunes. Unusually there wasn't a sole to be seen on the beach but I made myself as obvious as possible, still far enough away from the waders but so everybody could see what I was doing. When the two ladies in the photo above appeared with their dog I expected the wader's rest period to be short-lived however.
But, as you can see from the picture above these considerate ladies spotted the birds on the beach and headed into the dunes with pooch, leaving the waders in peace.
So that's it then. Get your brightest bird-scaring gear on and make sure everyone sees you watching those waders!
Ribble Estuary 21/8/09
Ringed Plover 12
Ringed Plover 144
Sandwich Tern 8
It was a bit of shameful local twitching for me in the afternoon. Just settling down with a sandwich and cuppa in front of the laptop when the news broke of Wilson's Phalarope at Martin Mere. Just enough time to see this before viewing a few properties (coincidentally south of the Ribble) with Mrs B. Plenty of Ruff, a Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit around too. Nice start to the weekend.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
Mrs B. took the above photo at Caerlaverock on 8 October 2008. It was one of those magic Solway days with thousands of newly arrived Barnacle Geese on the WWT grounds. We always have a good long hard look at these, hoping to pick out a straggler. That morning we'd already seen a Cackling Goose at Redkirk Point plus Little Stint and a few other bits and pieces so all was well in the world. I remember the Barnacles at Caerlaverock being quite flighty that afternoon though and Mrs B was busy snapping away as they flew close to the Avenue Tower. An exhilarating experience indeed.
So browsing through the photos over lunch today I was surprised to pick out a browner small goose in the flock. Enlarge it a bit and it can be seen quite easily.
Crop it a bit more and it becomes quite obvious that there was one of the "small" Canadas in with the Caerlaverock Barnacle Geese that afternoon.
I don't like this "retro-birding" much but there you have it. I have trouble 'ID'-ing these things on the deck so I'm not going to attempt one in flight from a photo. If you want to go through the geese on the deck there's some shots on the SOLWAY: Little Stints, Cackling Canada & Barnacles post. Best of luck!
And finally. Wader roosts ......
Personally I don't know what all the fuss about. My recent visits to the wader roosts on the Solway and Ribble have been hassle free. Not a single dog / dog owner has ventured near the roosting Dunlin or dared to go anywhere near them as they start to feed on the exposed mud as the tide ebbed. Can't think why ........
Might be my new "Moggy-no-flush" gadget imported from Brazil. I'm going back there soon, so I can take orders.
Must get out and see some birds soon.
Sunday, 16 August 2009
So .... Early doors today I was hoping for a home win to open my campaign on the Ribble but came away with a no-score draw. Here's the teleprinter:
Warton Marsh 16 August 2009.
Little Egets 3
Ringed Plover 3
Black-tailed Godwit 63
Forecast definitely poor after that lot so after standing in the mud for an hour and with dark clouds overhead I decided to avoid an early bath and head back via Newton Marsh. A pair of Blackwits, 4 Teal and 3 Shovelers just about qualified for a place in the notebook here but early pressure wasn't converted into anything tangible (that's a good one).
Early season form poor with little promise then. An away fixture next weekend I think .......
Friday, 14 August 2009
No tine to get out and about at the moment so a spot of moth-ing is about all I can manage. Caught this one last night which I reckon is a Lempke's Gold Spot.
In this photo the distal silvery-white spot is more round than on the Gold Spot. But crucially the rectangular white area near the tip of the wing is blunt ended.
Here's a close-up of the wing with the wing of a Gold Spot trapped at Mersehead in D&G last Friday for comparison below.
Not much else in the trap overnight to get the pulse racing.
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
The Inner Solway offers many sites to observe waders and wildfowl on the Dumfries & Galloway coast. Timing is the key here and generally a couple of hours either side of high tide is the optimum period to visit.
Birding starts just after crossing the border near Gretna. The Solway shore at Old Graitney is worth a check although birds do tend to be distant here and there is a fair bit of disturbance from local dog walkers.
The shore at Old Graitney is best accessed by the minor road road at NY316659. From this point views can be obtained across to Rockliffe Marsh on the Cumbrian side of the Solway and also the saltmarsh west towards Redkirk Point. Waders can be found on the marsh once flooded by the spring tides with Barnacle Geese and Whooper Swans present later in the autumn and winter.
Redkirk Point NY302650 is reached via a heavily rutted unmade road (sign posted "Redkirk"). The saltmarsh to the east can be viewed from the point as well as the mud flats of the estuary towards Browhouses. Cackling Goose has occurred with the Barnacles here (the raised vantage point here offers better views for scanning the marsh), with Yellow Wagtail recorded in the pasture. Little Gulls can sometimes be found at passage periods in the low tide channels. Golden Plovers gather on the mud flats here at low tide but are often best seen from Browhouses.
Browhouses NY281647 is one of the best sites on the D&G Solway for passage waders. The area is easily worked by parking sensibly away from the small residential area near the shore (check posts for Kingfisher here) and viewing from the parking area and footpaths heading east and west from that point. A walk westwards along the shore to Torduff Point can be most rewarding just before high tide (about an hour or so) but I have seen interesting species such as Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Greenshank and Spotted Redshank at low tide. In September 2008 we saw the Pacific Golden Plover previously found at nearby Dornock here with a flock of Golden Plovers. An Otter scurrying around on the mud flats during one of our Timed Tetrad Visits in January 2009 was a pleasant surprise!
Proceeding west from Browhouses the shore at Dornock Cottage can be worth checking. There is limited parking space on the coast at NY218649 but once again the track can be muddy here. We located Dumfries & Galloway's first Pacific Golden Plover here in September 2008 on our first visit and we rarely drive past nowadays "just in case". High tide (when many waders find refuge in the fields) or just as the tide ebbs is a good time to be here.
Arguably the best site on the Inner Solway in D&G is Seafield Bay near Annan. Seafield's record for attracting rare and scarce birds is second to none in this area and boasts Whiskered Tern, American Golden Plover and Green-winged Teal to my knowledge with reports of Roseate and White-winged Black Tern as well. The bay is easily viewed from the small car park at Whinnyrig south of Annan. The overland passage of skuas can be witnessed from here or from the old viaduct just to the west after south westerly winds in late April and May. Pomarine Skuas sometimes pass in large numbers (often in flocks of double figures) accompanied by Arctic Skuas with Bonxies less frequent and Long-tailed Skuas rare in mid - late May.
The Annan estuary can also be viewed from the viaduct (watch for Scaup at high tide in winter) with Barnkirk Point to the west. Barnkirk Point NY190642 near Newbie is best known for its high tide wader roost, although there is some disturbance here from local dog walkers. Some observers favour the car park here for watching the spring skua passage as the open bay can be seen from Newbie Mains. The birds do tend to be more distant here than at Seafield as the crossing to the Cumbrian side is greater however.
Apparently this is the crucial mark to look for. The silvery white mark near the tip tapers to a point away from the outer edge (in Lempke's Gold Spot the tip ends fairly bluntly).
I've now mastered being a beginner for 3 whole years. I was however quite encouraged to see the experts still reaching for the field guides and seeking second opinions over some of the catch on Friday night. Here's a good example. I caught this moth (above) in my trap at home last week. "Looks straightforward enough", I thought. "Should be able to 'do' that one". Looked through the guide - zilch. It cropped up on a slide on Friday and Jesse explained that it's called Mother of Pearl - a common micro-moth that's often confused with macro-moths (that the guide mainly covers). Oh the joys of starting over.
Back to the drawing board then.
And finally. One product I won't be buying from the RSPB this year........
Monday, 10 August 2009
This morning did not look promising to say the least. A Southerness seawatch 06.30 - 07.30 produced little apart from a Whimbrel and a Bar-tailed Godwit (I don't normally give up that early but it was dreadful), so it was back to base and pack up for the trip home.
Despite the drizzle I decided to take a quiet lane back to the main road and was surprised at the amount of flock activity along the hedgerows. One gathering, mainly Goldfinches and a few Yellowhammers flew up from the road and contained a large bulky bunting. I knew immediately what it was and it's been a very long time since I've seen Corn Bunting in D&G so I was doubly delighted when it perched up in the hedgerow for a few seconds before departing with the flock. An unexpected good start to the day. Now, if I can just find Little Owl .......
A couple of quick stops at Loch Arthur, Milton Loch and Auchenreoch Loch produced very little so I headed back via the Nith Estuary. Stopping at Glencaple I managed to catch up with an individual that had thus far avoided me.
This leucistic Redshank has been on the Nith for at least a couple of years now, as far as I know always being seen from the jetty at Glencaple. A couple of Greenshank and Common Sandpiper were the only other birds of note for me on the Nith today.
Arriving at Browhouses prior to high tide I was pretty sure I'd be hard pushed to better Friday's effort here. I was right! Nevertheless Spotted Redshank, 6 Greenshanks, 7 Blackwits, 3 summer plumaged Knot and menacing Peregrines made a fitting end to a cracking long weekend on the Solway.
Thanks to the Mersehead RSPB staff for their new "Recent Sightings" page (I've created a link to this on the right of this site). Interestingly there was an unconfirmed report of Corn Bunting there on 13th August. Mersehead is about a mile along the coast from Southerness. Corn Bunting sightings in Dumfries & Galloway are extremely important as there just may be the slim hope that this declining species retains a toehold in the county. Incidentally local birder and atlas worker extraordinaire, Edmund Fellowes tells me that the most recent records of Corn Bunting in the Southerness area were about 400 yards from the spot where my bird was observed on 10th at East Preston Farm (in my TTV square for this winter).
Sunday 9th August was put aside to help out with the DGERC's BioBlitz program. The organised events of the past two nights were kindly arranged by the DGERC and free to all comers with volunteer experts in their field willingly giving their time to share their wealth of experience. A quick recce of the area early in the morning produced 30 or so species, most notably a couple of Crossbills with Spotted Flycatcher, Magpie, Jay and Bullfinch being worthy local records too. Thankfully the Crossbills were also seen on the guided walk in the afternoon with the addition of Yellowhammer.
In between the two walks I spent some time birding along the Colvend coast. Tree Pipit was the undoubted highlight of the day at Mersehead but a lunchtime visit to Carsethorn on a rising tide was entertaining with quite a few waders to look through. Single Sanderling, 37 Dunlin, a Turnstone, Greenshank, 65 Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, 34 Curlew, a couple of Whimbrel, 40 Lapwing, 290 Oystercatchers and 122 Redshanks made an impressive gathering on the mud flats.
Loch Ryan was in the plan for Saturday so I hit the A75 early, calling in at Luce Bay en route. The path down to the beach looks ideal for migrants but today just Whitethroat, a family group of Stonechats and a Wheatear graced this patch. Tide state wasn’t ideal but no sign of the 5 Little Egrets seen a few days previously (Chris Baines, D&G Birding Yahoo Group) but there were plenty of waders on the beach includeing 114 Ringed Plover, 183 Dunlin, 47 Redshank, 15 Curlew and 2 Greenshank in the burn.
By the time I made it to Loch Ryan (click for a guide) the weather had really closed in. What a contrast to yesterday’s shirt-sleeve conditions as the rain set in at Lefnoll Point. In truth Ryan was a little disappointing for variety of species today but there were at least plenty of birds.
Loch Ryan with Stranraer in the background, 8 August 2009.
Lefnoll Point, Loch Ryan 8 August 2009.
Black Guillemot 3
Red-breasted Merganser 5
Ringed Plover 1
Sandwich Tern 5
Common Tern 2
Ryan Bay / Innermessan
Red-breasted Merganser 30
Ringed Plover 15
Bar-tailed Godwit 1
Snack Bar lay-by
Ringed Plover 35
Golden Plover 1
Sandwich Tern high-tide roost at the Wig, 8 August 2009.
With little to report from the normally productive Bishop Burn, Broadstone Road or Soleburn Bridge I headed for Wig Bay. There's always something at the Wig and today's totals were pretty impressive with 193 Eider, 5 Mergs, 2 Golden Plover, 12 Common Terns, an Arctic Tern and 242 Sandwich Terns.
Last stop at the loch was the picturesque Lady Bay. I had hoped for Little Tern today but all I could find were more Sarnies and Commons out in the distant mid-channel waters (although they did look tiny!). The only additions at Lady Bay were Fulmar, Raven and Shag.
On the way back "home" I called in at Soulseat Loch but this was a fruitless visit (just like most of my D&G loch visits this year) but couldn't resist another try at Luce Bay. The tide had covered the burn here but still no sign of any egrets although 119 Golden Plover were roosting on the pebbles and an Osprey spooked all the gulls as it headed north.
Back at base just enough time to watch a bit of footy on the telly and a bite to eat before meeting Rhiannon Hatfield of the D&G Bat group and the DGERC team for the first of the "BioBlitz" walks. We started at Colvend Village Hall and strolled into Dalbeatie Forest armed with bat detectors, with Rhiannon explaining survey methods and how to identify bats using the equipment. Scotland has 9 species of bats and D&G is blessed with all nine present within the borders. We managed to locate Pipistrelles, Noctules and Daubenton's (the latter over the small loch). Tawny Owl was added to the "BioBlitz" list as we walked back to the cars after another long day in the field.
Long weekend break on the Solway for me then? Mrs B gave me special permission to head off to Southerness alone providing I kept my vest on so I headed up the M6 arriving at Old Graitney near Gretna mid morning. I’ve never really seen much here but I can’t see why it shouldn’t turn up something eventually although it’s fair to say today’s (7th) birds weren’t exceptional until I heard the welcome “seep” of a Yellow Wagtail. My second sighting in a couple of weeks in this area (you can see Redkirk Point for here) so surely there must be a pair knocking around the Inner Solway nearby? The “best of the rest” included 163 Greylag Geese, 271 Curlew, 90 Lapwings, a Common Sandpiper and a Little Egret in with the Greylags! This poor confused individual clearly has an identity problem as a couple of weeks ago it thought it was a gull.
We first picked up a copy of "Birdwatching in Dumfries & Galloway" (published by the D&G council) in a local tourist information centre in the late 90’s. For a huge county with extensive birding potential there was precious little info about where to find birds (the Yahoo group was poorly subscribed at the time) and what “was about”. After a couple of years I’d covered most of the “winter sites” in this under watched (and still under recorded) county. Liberated with visits during the migration periods of late I couldn’t help but notice the phrase “The best site for uncommon migrant waders in spring and autumn” under Browhouses in the Inner Solway chapter. So it was a bit of a no-brainer to take a look every so often but you can arrive at the shore
confronted with this –
Looks pretty unpromising I admit. Everything distant, way out of range even with only little more than an hour until high tide.
Then minutes later, this –
Suddenly though most of the waders are fighting for their lives, dodging waves and balancing precariously on emergent bits of metal etc. Then they’re gone. This site soon installed Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint on my D&G list (just as the D&G council's booklet said it would) and clearly shows immense potential. IF (and that's a very big if) I do happen to chance upon something one day I do hope it hangs around though.
Imagine: “Oh, er …. Yeah. It was just here with all the Dunlin but the tide’s pushed it off” Yeah, right.
Little Egret at Browhouses looking for a goose or gull to be friends with.
Anyway timing is everything and for once I got it right on Friday. Totals included 129 Golden Plover, 400+ Lapwing, 200+ Curlew, 250+ Oystercatcher, 40 Redshank, 6 Black-tailed Godwits, a Whimbrel, a Grey Plover, 5 Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank. I like “carrier species” (common stuff in flocks that sometimes invite something a little more scarce, or better still rare to join them) and Long-tailed Tits and Dunlin fit that bill. As there weren’t too many Long-tailed Tits wading around in the mud I decided to check the Dunlin. A tatty looking moulting adult Curlew Sandpiper was a most welcome sight (first I’ve seen in D&G this year) and presumably the Little Egret from the Redkirk / Graitney area had decided that Browhouses was the place to be too. Back at the car park I spent some time looking at a pair of Spotted Flycatcers with two juvs (one of which is pictured at the start of this post). Just outside my old TTV square but nice to get proof of breeding locally.
Making my way towards the Nith the excellent Seafield Bay was nearly covered with the tide with just a small patch of mud available for 50 Dunlin and a single Redshank. Why do I get the feeling that if there’s a rare wader around this is where it’s going to be found?
Lunch was at Newbie at the high tide wader roost. Good numbers of waders were gathering here – 464 Dunlin, 6 Sanderling, 30 Ringed Plover, a Whimbrel and 2 Turnstone were at the roost and once again and enjoyed peace and quiet thanks to the consideration of the locals (one of whom took time out to watch the Dunlins through my 'scope).
A very busy morning indeed and just about enough time to call in the birds to Birdline Scotland and RBA before moving on. However the promising start seemed to take a bit of a dent as quality was replaced with quantity calling in at Brow Well, Caerlaverock and Glencaple on the Nith Estuary. A quick stop at Carsethorn produced the obligatory Whimbrel and a few Sandwich Terns but taking a short cut through South Carse on the way to Southerness paid dividends with an immature Marsh Harrier quartering a rushy field there. This, a very dark individual with a golden crown, banked over the belt of trees before disappearing out of sight.
Marsh Harrier, South Carse 7 August 2009.
Over the last three years or so I’ve attempted to learn a bit about moths. Bad weather, lack of time and general slackness has impaired any advancement in this field so when I heard of a Moth Recording evening at the Sulwath Centre at Meresehead it was the perfectt excuse to venture up to the Solway. D&G moth recorder and expert Jessie MacKay, introduced us to Micros, Macros, the evolution and ecology of moths before pointing us in the right direction in identifying and recording these fascinating insects. Then it was a brief stint on the different types of traps before venturing outside with a bit of hands-on trapping and ID.
A very long and rewarding day ended with the short drive back to the caravan around midnight. I'll post some of the moth pics later.
Thursday, 6 August 2009
No, number of Sandwich Terns on the Ribble Estuary roost this lunchtime!
Last look of the week at the Ribble today was interesting despite the hordes of grockles out and about in the Lancashire sunshine. There's been a notable influx of Sandwich Terns in west Lancs over the last few days (thanks to the Fylde Bird Club's website sightings page), also noted in Ayrshire today too. Having drawn a complete blank on Sarnies on the estuary the past week it seemed sensible to check the beach at St Annes (north of Lytham) as there is usually a roost there from late July into August. I couldn't drive past Newton Marsh without a quick stop though and glad I did as there was a distant juv' LRP at the back of the entrance pool. Not much else there apart from a Teal and a juv' Dabchick so I made haste for the coast
Newton Marsh 6August 2009
Little Ringed Plover 1 juv
Little Grebe 1 juv
A quick stop at Fairhaven (where it was heaving with people) at high tide produced little but I could see a few Sandwich Terns in with the BHG's and could hear a lot more somewhere. In the distant shimmering heat-hazed mouth of the estuary I could see lots of white "blobs" though.
Fairhaven 6 August 2009
Bar-tailed Godwit 3
Sandwich Tern 3
From the dunes overlooking the beach at St Annes it was immediately obvious that most of these "blobs" were actually terns so I started to "sift & count". Most were Sandwich Terns (including many juv's) but there were quite a few "Commics" out there too.
St Annes Beach 6 August 2009
Sandwich Tern 500 (!)
"Commic" Tern 47
Grey Plover 7
Bar-tailed Godwit 61
I've had three-figure Sarnie counts here before but 500 was unexpected. I hate figures ending in zeros for counts of birds, but I did count exactly 500. Wader numbers weren't too bad either: 350+ Oycs (OK, a guesstimate, not a count), 7 Grey Plover (many in summer plumage) and 61 Barwits including many red ones. The "Commic" Terns were mostly Commons as far as I could see but pretty distant and with the haze it was hard to be certain. A dog put the lot up a couple of times and I couldn't see any tiny ones with them. One day I'll get Little Tern here, maybe?
I paid a quick visit to the Lytham slipway to see if there were any roosting waders but scored a big zero on that one. Just too many people around today I guess. So it was back to the inner estuary at Warton with the tide dropping.
Warton Marsh 6 August 2009
Golden Plover 13
Black-tailed Godwit 5
Black-headed Gull 246
LBB Gull 6
Common Gull 1
GBB Gull 1
Herring Gull 2
So nothing out of the ordinary there but Lapwing numbers building. No chance of scrutinising the Dunlin flock as the Sparrowhawk kept spooking them. Wouldn't mind some more Goldies to look through though.
Back at home the Buddleia was attracting quite a few butterflies - Peacocks, "whites", Red Admirals and mostly Painted Ladies. No Small Tortoishells this year (although I did see one at Warton). Found this on the internet today about the decline of Small Tortoishell - worth a look:
BBC film about Small Tortoishell and Sturnia bella