<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society Newsletter
Newsletter of the Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society
LDBWS/RSPB Summary of joint outings 2002/3
May 2003
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I am sure that many readers are aware of the beauty of the area that we live in, and the diversity of habitat that is within a thirty-mile radius of the City of Lancaster.

This area contains such a diversity of habitat as the following: -

Morecambe Bay

From Rossall Point to Walney Island - with its Waders & Wildfowl
The Lune Valley

with its many wooded valleys & streams & the R Lune meandering thro' the middle - with its Riparian Species & Summer migrants.
Lake District

with its breeding Golden Eagles & now Ospreys.
Bowland Fells

still one of the best areas to see - Hen Harriers. Merlin & other moorland species.
Leighton Moss

with its Bittern. Bearded Tit. Marsh Harrier. Avocets.
Thurnham & Pilling

In the south, with its chance to see, in the winter months, flocks of  various species of Geese & Wild Swans.

The purpose of the outings are to enable persons to enjoy their hobby with people of like minds no matter what their level of experience, to visit areas of local interest, and areas slightly further afield.  Below is a summary of the outings that took place in the year 2002/3 & the areas visited. -

2002 Outings

April 6/7th. RSPB Bird Fair
This was the first attempt at holding such an event & various organisations held stands & stalls over the w/end, we where lucky with the weather fine & sunny.  The consensus of opinion was that the w/end was a qualified success for a first attempt. (Bonus for some people was the sight of Osprey flying over the car park).

April 27th. Visit to Langden Beck Bowland.
A popular area to visit but to see it at it's best it needs good weather, on this visit the weather was cool & showery with a N/West wind - but even so the following species were seen: - Common Sandpipers/Wheatears/Meadow pipits/Dipper/Grey Wagtail/Red Grouse Ring Ouzel (seen by a few observers). And the highlight for me was to see Common Redpolls (6 feeding in the tops of Silver Birch Trees). A good area to visit locally & given the weather you will be surprised at what turns up: e.g. Golden Eagle/Red Kite/Goshawk have all been seen in the past, also regular sightings of Hen Harrier/Merlin/Peregrine/Buzzards. Spring/Early Summer best time to visit.

May 16th.  A mid week visit to Haweswater Lake District.
Weather very hot & sunny (no kidding). Almost to hot to climb to the viewpoint to watch the Golden Eagles, but the effort was worth it, we were thrilled by the brilliant display put on by the Eagles skydiving & plummeting all around the sky.

Other species seen where as follows: - Buzzards/Ravens (being mobbed by Crows allowing observers the chance to see the differences between the two)/Peregrine.

Haweswater Lake.  Great Crested Grebes/Common Sandpipers/Wheatears (edge of lake) & an unusual sighting of a solitary Whimbrel standing on a rock at the edge of the lake.

Woodland/River Area.  Redstarts/Wood Warbler/Nuthatches/Great SpWpecker Treecreeper and a splendid variety of Wild Flowers.

May 25th. Grasmere White Moss.
Visit cancelled due to heavy rain (this is an unlucky venue) for us to visit we did manage to see a very wet & bedraggled Tawny Owl sat in the fork of a tree looking as wet as we felt.

June 15th. Barbondale. 
Another of my favourite areas to visit especially early to mid spring where observers have a fairly good chance to see the following species: - Redstarts/Pied Flycatchers/Spotted Flycatchers/Cuckoo/Buzzard/Raven. Green Woodpecker also if lucky Wood Warbler/Ring Ouzel, before the trees leaf. The weather for our visit was typical spring like Showery & Cool but still enjoyable.

June 29th Coach Outing to the Farne Islands.
Leaving Lancaster at 8am in order to arrive at Seahouses for 12.30pm leaving just enough time for a bite to eat & a drink before catching the 13.00pm boat out to the Islands and a sail around the outer Islands to view the seal colony & to watch the seabirds on the water The weather was showery with a fresh wind which made the sea a little on the choppy side, but I think most people enjoyed the sail. On landing on Inner Farne's it was incredible how close one was able to observe the breeding birds: - e.g. Artic/Common Terns & 1pr of Roseate Terns giving incredible views of this rarer species of tern. Other species seen were as follows: - Puffins (you could almost touch) Shags/Guillemots/Kittiwakes. Razorbills/Herring Gulls/Rock Pipits, & flying offshore Gannets/Fulmars. It is a really magical experience to be so close to birds in their natural habitat & anyone who has never visited the Farne's I would highly recommend they do so.

July/August Summer Break.

September 9th A very local visit to Sunderland Point. 
Meeting at the beginning of the causeway prior to walking out to the point to view the high tide. The weather was a day of bright periods. The highlights of the species seen was reasonable views of two Juvenile Curlew Sandpipers along with several hundreds Golden Plovers. Also seen were Greenshanks / Redshanks / Ringed Plovers / Turnstones / Dunlin / Curlew & Whimbrel. Some members of the group then moved on to Teal Bay where views of Wheatears  & Peregrine were observed.

October 13th Coach outing to Holy Island
Leaving Lancaster at 8.00am we travelled up to Northumbria keeping a close eye out of the coach window on the weather the further north we went so it appeared that the weather worsened & our worst fears were realised exactly one hour after leaving the coach on Holy Island the heavens opened with torrential rain. This was unfortunate in more ways than one It became apparent after to talking to some birdwatchers that there had been a fall of migrants earlier that morning. Prior to the rain arriving some members of the party were lucky enough to find & observe the Firecrest, attempts to find the Great Grey Shrike were hampered by the onset of the heavy rain.

Regardless of the very inclement weather we set out to explore the Island the best we could in the conditions & a reasonable list of species was seen by various members these included the following: - in the fields & hedgerows Linnets Fieldfares (high nos)/Snipe/Goldfinches/Robins (extremely high nos. they were everywhere in every bush you could see)/Redwings (several)/Golden Plovers bathing in the fresh water pools at least 500+

Along the shore line and on the sea the following were seen: - Red Throated Divers some still showing traces of their breeding plumage, Red Neck Grebes -2, Eiders Guillemots & Turnstones / Grey Plovers / Black & Bar Tail Godwits / Dunlin. A flock of 200c Lt Bellied Brent Geese was seen as we left the Island.

It was unfortunate that the weather was so bad as I am certain that we would have found further migrants with more diligent searching, but in view of the conditions I think we did very well to see the species we did.

November 6th. A visit to Parkgate on the Dee Estuary.
This was a mid week visit arranged to coincide with the expected high tides which tends to flush Raptors & Wildfowl from the marsh & drive them nearer to the Promenade to give better views. After overcoming heavy traffic on the motorway we arrived at Parkgate about 1hr before the high tide to find also a fresh wind blowing from the right direction to help push the tide up the estuary, as the tide flooded the marsh it allowed good views of Short Eared Owls -3 /Merlin/Kestrels & large numbers of Widgeon/Pintails/Teal.

At the top of the tide the marsh was really flooded and this flushed several Water Rails out of the marsh into the waiting beaks of the 15+ Grey Herons waiting along the edge of the tide line, also flushed from the marsh & giving excellent views were 15 Little Egrets, the highlight of the species flushed from the marsh was a Spotted Crake, which had taken refuge in the tide line vegetation after being harassed by the predatory Gulls which, were picking up small rodents displaced by the tide. As the tide dropped the Crake crept out of cover to give us lucky observers the closet possible views of this elusive rail certainly the closet I have ever been to one. The fields & hedgerows produced the following: - Reed Buntings / Linnets / Skylarks / Redwings/Meadow Pipits. Possibly due to being a mid week meeting this outing was not as well attended as previous outings but for those who were present the sighting of the Spotted Crake was unbelievable.

December 7th Rampside.   
This visit to the northern part of the Bay was arranged in order that one specific bird could be observed, for the past few years the area of Rampside & Roa Island has held a wintering flock of Brent Geese  & is one of the few areas relatively locally where this species can be seen, we where pleased to see a flock of 47 Dk Bellied birds at close quarters along with one Lt Bellied bird, also the following were seen: - Grey Plovers/Dunlin/BarTailGodwits/Turnstones/Ringed Plovers & also roosts of Golden Plovers/Knot of 1000c each on the shingle banks.

As the tide dropped the group moved to Bardsea  & we observed the highest flock of Pintails that I have seen for some considerable time at least 2/300 birds offshore along with Goldeneyes & Red Breasted Mergansers/Great Crested Grebes. On the journey to the venue Buzzards/Kestrels/Redwings were seen along the way. The weather for this outing was cold & a very raw feeling to the day making us glad to get back into our cars.

2003 Outings

January 11th 2003. Pennington Flash. 
On arrival at the country park it was to find that most of the mere was frozen over with just a small area of open water in one corner where all the waterbirds had gathered these comprised the following: - Goldeneyes/Teal Gadwall/Tufted Duck/Mallards/Shovellers/Great Crested Grebes (40c)/L Grebes. 2/3 members saw ruddy Ducks-2 a very elusive Red Head Smew. On the causeway there were several Grey Herons/Cormorants all stood like soldiers on parade & flocks of Lapwings/singles of Dunlin.

After walking around the park (where extensive landscaping was in progress) & only seeing a small flock of LTTits & single Goldcrest, we made our way to the hide overlooking the feeding station. The species seen at the station was as follows: - The specialty of the area Willow Tits 4/5 birds giving close views  /Bullfinches.m/f / TTits/ Dunnocks / Greenfinches / Chaffinches / Blue / Great Tits / Reed Buntings / Robins Goldcrests / Water Rail/Moorhens / Blackbirds / Song Thrush / Siskins. A Kingfisher was seen by some of the party, along with a green Parrot. 

It really surprises me that that a small feeding station in the middle of a big urban conurbation can produce such a variety of woodland birds on a regular basis.

February 16th Wild Goose Chase.  
In order to save congestion on narrow country roads it was decided to hire a mini bus to tour around the Thurnham/Pilling area searching for Geese & Swans. The weather was cold & bright allowing good visibility. Several flocks of Geese were seen Pinkfeet (approx 10.000c in total) in with them the following species: - Ross's Goose/Barnacles/Eurasion Whitefronts several of the Pinkfeet had neck collars on (attempts were made to read the collars). The only Swans seen were resident Mute Swans (no yellow bills). A visit to Cockersands Abbey produced views of: - Grey Plover/ Turnstone/ Dunlin/BT Godwits.

In the afternoon it was decided to look at the feeding stations that have become a regular feature of the area, these are situated at Bradshaw Lane, & New Lane, Eagland Hill  & we were not disappointed, flocks of Tree sparrows -60c Corn Buntings - 200c/Skylarks -250c in the stubble fields/ Yellowhammers -40c also seen: - Little Owl (sunning itself on a fence post)  /RL Partridge -2 / Greenfinch Dunnock s/ Reed Buntings. Anyone who has never visited these feeding stations should make every effort to do so this coming winter it is well worth the effort.

March 19th mid week visit to Martin Mere.
On arrival at the centre it was agreed that we should visit the N W water hide in order to view the geese & to see if we could manage to locate the reported Bean goose .On looking out of the hide it was only to find approx: 500 Pinkfeet in a field that was just on the mist line, & that the flock was sat down with there heads tucked under their wings (no chance of finding the Bean goose). As a consolation a Peregrine flying over stooped & stuck a Lapwing on the ground behind the head (it must have killed it instantaneously) it then proceeded to pluck it with other Lapwing harassing it all the time.

Other species of interest were Whooper Swans approx: - 500.  Ruff giving close views that allowed observers to see the difference between the sexes (ruff/reeve), which was quite marked. A Merlin (m) was located sat on a fence post overlooking the marsh.

Also seen were: - Tree Sparrows. Reed Buntings.Greenfinches.Goldcrest. Dunnocks. Stock Doves (2). Ringed Plovers. Dunlin. Redshanks.

This last visit completed the programme for the year. May I express my thanks to all who participated and hope they enjoyed the outings.

Special thanks are due to the people who shared transport, & especially to E.Harrison who organised the coach trips.

The programme for 2003/4 is available on the LDBWS web site & in the RSPB programme & I hope to see some new faces, why not come along the novice is as welcome as the expert.

Johns Wilson + Bateman.

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