Monday 24th SeptemberGoshawks
Crook O' Lune & local area forays.
Posted by Steve Graham
17/5 - A brief Spot Fly was my first of the year but just passing through.
19/5 - Local RSPB Group Littledale walk preceded with a visit to Birk Bank and Postern Gate Barn.
Postern Gate Barn - 3 Stock Doves present and Oystercatchers have nested on the corrugated roof again this year with 2 chicks running about on the roof!
Birk Bank - Again quiet but intermittent Cuckoo calling, Willow Warbler 10+ singing, Linnets, Redpoll over, Stock Dove 2 singing in wood by the footbridge, Curlews mobbing a Raven. No signs of any Stonechat but hopefully in the midst of breeding. A Garden Warbler was singing by the car park. Highlight was a calling Whimbrel flying NE. Mistle Thrush 4/5 around collecting food.
Littledale circular highlights - A beautiful day and a lovely walk. Cuckoo 2, Redstart - 3 singing, Pied Flycatcher singing near the Scout camp. Wheatear male and a pair of Ravens.
20/5 - 7 Swifts screaming over the house was a good count here but House Martin & Swallows still scarce.
One fledged Blackbird another by the Catholic church in Caton.
21/5 - The Mallard with 24y still had 21 today and still on 25/5, amazing!
22/5 - One Starling fledged and there has been 3 successful pairs at least around the Crook this year. Also 1 fledged Blackbird and 2 fledged Song Thrush chicks around.
25/5 - Another more promising singing male Spot Fly has finally arrived today. 2 more broods of Mallard about with 8 & 10 y respectively.
Other than that a really strange spring and still feel there are more bids to arrive but getting a bit late now.
20/5 - Fledged Blackbird and 7 screaming Swifts over the house.
21/5 - Song Thrush - 2 juvs out and the Mallard still has 21 young.
25/5 - Another singing male Spot Fly but yet another passage bird.
27/5 - A late passage, for here, Garden Warbler was singing this morning.
29/5 - 2 Raven north and a Willow Warbler singing in the memorial woodland, Scarce just around the Crook away from the main passage periods. Singing here again on 31/5.
30/5 - 7 Canada Geese West were my first here for awhile.
31/5 - Singing Spot Fly again which has now stayed two days and looking for a mate.
1/6 - Pheasant confirmed breeding here for the first time with a chick seen on the front lawn. The recent departure of 2 cats may well be assisting this breeding attempt.
See insect section for some interesting sightings this week...
Silver Y Moths already in good numbers around the place.
Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/2018 04:10PM by Steve Graham.
05/06 - Male Spot Fly still around, now nearly a week, but still no female arrived so far.
Can confirm 2 broods of Pheasant chicks here for the first time. Common Sandpiper breeding at the Crook. GSW, Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Long-tailed Tit all fledged this week. Looking a pretty good breeding season for most things so far but could do with a bit of the wet stuff now!
Called in at Foulshaw en-route to friends on 13/6.
Gropper singing by the car park, female Osprey on nest, lots of Willow Warblers singing also Stonechat and Repoll seen. A family party of Water Rail have been seen from boardwalk in past few days. See Insect section for more wildlife.
Crook 17/6 - A Little Egret was feeding in the river. Not common here but getting commoner year on year. Dipper seen on 16/6 second record here in past week. Common Sandpiper around and believed to be breeding.
Pleased to report a pair of Spot Fly breeding on private land although another traditional site nearby has drawn a blank. Numbers well down this year I suspect.
Highlight was a freshly emerged Southern Hawker dragonfly which appears to have emerged from my pond overnight and climbed into the adjacent Moth trap, a first dragonfly in a trap for me! See photo in Insect section.
Bits & Pieces in what is usually the quietest month of the year birding wise.
Female Goosander been around the Crook last week with 2 youngsters first I have seen here since we moved here nearly 6 years ago although they used to be a more regular site. Kingfishers are more active at the moment with 3 sightings yesterday and are breeding nearby apparently. A Common Sandpiper was flushed yesterday and probably a passage bird. The pair here this year seem to have left now and breeding not confirmed but probable.
Good news, the pair of Spot Flycatchers young successfully all fledged whilst we had been away.
12 species of butterfly seen around the Crook this week with early 2nd generation Peacock & Holly Blue on the wing. Purple Hairstreak NFY and Small Copper seem to be having a better year, up to 8 reported on the memorial woodland meadows. Sadly, the WLH record seems to have been a one off so far but I am still regularly checking suitable Wych Elms and nectar patches!
Despite the good weather Dragonflies have been thin on the ground here with just Brown Hawker NFY.
Not too much to report on the birding front here at the moment although signs of autumn passage have now started. Grey Wagtails have started to move with singles S on 23 & 25/7. Also had single juv Willow Warbler through on 23 & 26/7.
The locally bred Kestrels have now fledged and one of the young males has been visiting the estate on several evenings this week.
Without doubt this July has been the very best butterfly month since we moved here nearly 6 years ago. !6 species recorded and that doesn't include the WLH recorded in my neighbour's garden. The first documented record for the Lune Valley. The highlights have been the first ever female Common Blue along with up to 3 Holly Blues nectaring on Hemp Agrimony along with the first Small Skipper for 2 years and 2 sightings this month of Small Copper and Brimstone.
By complete contract Dragonflies have been few and far between here although Migrant Hawker was NFY on 22/7.
OOA; Anyone interested in decent views of Lancashire Willow Tit away from Pennington Flash should visit Mere Sands Wood, Rufford at the moment. The warden informed me they have been doing habitat management work on the wet heathland for them and then a pair just turned up. They are not sure if they have bred or not but they are visiting the bird feeders. Best thing to do is just sit and wait by the warden office. With birdwatchers around it keeps the Sparrowhawk at bay so, ironically, your presence increases the chance of a sighting!
Whilst I was waiting there yesterday, I heard a reeling Gropper several times. The warden informed it was their first record this year but again habitat work has been done to encourage this species.
Enjoy the heat whilst it lasts or is it getting too much for some?!
I don't know about the rest of you but summer now feels on the wane even though there is more heat coming in the forecast. July was exceptional with a record 17 species of butterfly recorded here + 1 WLH.
Bird wise pretty quiet and the best place to be at the moment will be along the coast. 3 Little Egrets here on Sunday morning was my joint best count at the Crook and numbers increasing each year. Apart from a few juv Blackcaps passing through the garden not much evidence of passage birds moving through at the moment.
6/8 Two Kingfishers have been quite active for a few days now after a very quiet spring, both males.
9/8 Produced an adult GBBGull, usually more a winter feature here. Also the Goosanders with 2 large young reappeared.
11/8 Steady trickle of young and some adult Willow Warblers in subsong through the garden along with a few Blackcaps otherwise virtually zero vis mig. 5 skeins of Greylag Goose over early morning totalling around 400 birds.
12/8 Finch flock slowly building up with 40+ birds around. Mainly Goldfinch and Greenfinch along with family parties of Bullfinch and the odd Siskin. 6 Swifts flying purposefully North was my first record here for a little while. Up to 3 Little Egrets in the area with at least a single daily at the moment.
14/8 Three adult Mute Swans still around and a single Curlew NW.
15/8 A surprise was an Imm/female Tufted Duck with the Mallard this afternoon. My first record ever on the Lune! Just remember the old adage the poorer the weather usually better the birding!
Estate nest box summary for the year was: 3 Great Tit & 7 Blue Tit clutches were successful. A few pairs had several dead young of varying ages in their nests. Something I have not experienced here before.
A female Common Blue has been egglaying in the garden on 3 occasions for the first time ever. Amazing how they locate the smallest patch of BFT. Small Copper nectaring on Goldenrod was a nice find also.
A latish male BB Chaser on 4/8 was a nice find and only my second record here. Currently, Southern, Brown and Migrant Hawkers around along with Common Darter. 11 species of Dragons & Damsels recorded here this year by far my best year here so far.
Vis mig still rather slow here so far.
16/8 - Yesterday's first Turfted Duck had disappeared along with all the Mallard due to high water levels. 3 high water levels already this month, I think the drought is well and truly over!
20/8 An adult Spot Fly through the garden could have been one of the local breeders but more likely a passage bird.
22/8 - Produced 2 adult Common Gulls going west my first of the Autumn here.
23/8 - What seemed quite a slow day at Leighton Moss turned out a decent day list of 66 species in the end. Highlights included 3 Garganey at Lillian's, eventually! 21 Snipe flew East over the path to the pools and a juv. Peregrine was beating up the wader flock here. Apart from a large group of Redshank, 1 juv Dunlin and 2 Greenshank noted on the Allan Pools.
25/8 - 2 Raven East tangling with each other and a further bird late morning West at the Crook.
Up to 6 Speckled Woods around along with a male Migrant Hawker visiting my pond and a female nearby.
Early evening at Mill Lane Halton c70 House Martin's were very active and entering a number of nests. No optics with me but estimate at least 12 nests active. A rapidly declining sight these days.
Very little evidence of passage or vis mig here at the moment. Unusually, not a single Spot Fly through here in September so far. Just the odd Chiffchaff and Blackcap moving through. So far it has been a less than average bird year here, despite months of suitable observer weather.
On the other hand insects still doing well with 10 species of butterfly in the garden so far this month including the first Small Copper for a few years in September.
A better spell of migration here this week.
12/9 - 40 Sand Martins feeding, my first here for a little while. An adult Spot Fly passing through along with Siskin, male Blackcap and my first Meadow Pipit of the Autumn. Around 20 House Martins feeding over the house and 2 Grey Wagtails on the river.
13/9 - By far my latest ever Common Sandpiper here, an adult, made a brief appearance and then flew upstream. They have normally leave the Crook by late July/early August. Up to 50 Sand Martins feeding this morning and also a juv Spot Fly through, getting on the late side for here. A fresh juv Bullfinch indicated a possible 3rd brood this year. A Dipper was sharing the same rock in the river and interesting to see the size comparison, the Dipper just looked to shave it!
14/9 - A single Little Grebe re-appeared after recent high water levels.
15/9 - First Pink-feet of the Autumn seen here with 27SW at 08:00. Also 5 Canada Geese W, not common here and far outnumbered by the local Greylags.
Feels like a change in the air over the past few days.
17/9 - A bit more vis mig with 2 Pied Wags and 5 Mistle Thrush S.
19/9 - An juv. Osprey was reported to me flying low upstream over the Crook at 08:50.
20/9 - Dipper, Chiffchaff & Blackcap about and a pair of Sparrowhawks did some brief displaying together in spring like weather.
21/9 - River up during heavy showers. 35 Pink Feet W at 15:40 followed by a further 40 W at dusk.
22/9 - A record 3 (for me) adult Moorhens present here. Swallow 1N and 31 Pink Feet flew W at 08:55. Around 30 House Martins feeding over the river and at 12:50 an impressive 11 Ravens flew NW in a loose group - the largest number I have seen locally.
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