<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society Newsletter
Newsletter of the Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society
Recent sightings mid December 2000 to mid March 2001
Spring 2001
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A late flurry in December, notably the arrival of three Smew on Pine Lake coinciding with the snow (from 28/12),   A Ruddy Duck at Pine Lake (28/12 only) was a very unexpected record.   Waxwings at the very end of the month, including a twitchable bird at Carr Bank and an example of that latterly very tricky species, Bewick's Swan, at Lane Ends.  Confirmed wintering birds present until at least late February 2001 included:  Greenshank on the Cocker Estuary, at least two Spotted Redshank at nearby Bank End,  Water Pipit at the Lilians Hide,  Purple Sandpipers at Heysham (one) and the Stone Jetty (two) and Little Egret very elusively along the Hest Bank-Keer Estuary stretch.    This is the first wintering Greenshank for at least six years.  Red-throated Divers and more surprisingly Guillemots were available in ones and twos on a regular basis off Heysham.   The most unusual record, reflecting the mild weather, was the presence of at least one Swallow in the Carnforth High School area until at least mid-month. 

New Year's Day was kind to the listers,  with 100 species within the recording area a fairly easy achievement, given a little planning and a lot of help from the likes of Des Kellett's wheat field and a dog walker turfing the Little Egret out of a very deep channel at Hest Bank.  A (not particularly high) late afternoon tide definitely offers the best chance of a decent list unless you are a great Rock Pipit fan.   Unfortunately, New Year's Day birding is all about ticking off species, not 'wasting time' carefully checking through flocks of what appear to be the same.   Therefore the Green-winged Teal at Bank End was not found until a different, more systematic, approach was made (3/1), remaining to (11/1). 

January was an excellent month highlighted by several chances to view Waxwings at various sites throughout the area and more specifically by the above-mentioned Green-winged Teal, (three days after being christened as a species!),  a Great Northern Diver off Heysham (10/1) and JB Point (12/1) plus an unfortunately injured Red-necked Grebe off Stone Jetty to Teal Bay (at least 25-26/1).   "Difficult" geese were available in the form of a single European White-fronted Goose near Lane Ends (4/1) and a Light-bellied Brent Goose offshore there for a few days around the same time.   Greenland White-fronted Goose is usually quite a difficult species in this area but the first winter which appeared on Aldcliffe/Heaton Marsh (7/1), attached to the Greylag flock,  had different ideas.  It was still present to at least (13/3).   Two Barnacle Geese appeared on Carnforth Marsh (at least 5/1) and two dark-bellied Brent Geese were at Heysham village bay (19/1-20/1), off the Battery car park (21/1-22/1), then up at Hest Bank before returning to Heysham (23/1-24/1).    A large herd of over 50 Whooper Swans roosted off Lane Ends but as far as I am aware no local birders connected with Bewick's Swan, despite much searching and presence in likely areas.   Up to four different Ruff frequented the Lane Ends-Bank end area.  This species is normally difficult to find in winter.   Up to 75 Twite were regularly seen in the Bank End area, especially in the morning.   A 1st winter Glaucous x Herring hybrid visited Lancaster Tip (16/1 & 31/1) and up to three Yellow-legged and up to 7 argentatus Herring Gulls were present there.   The weather was not suitable for seabird displacement but one day of strong onshore winds (24/1) produced 579 Kittiwakes flying into the Bay off Heysham in 45mins. 0830-0915hrs.  Mostly in sizeable flocks of up to 150.   Perhaps these birds also comprised a majority of the 200-300 recorded "blogging" between 1110-1400hrs off Jenny Brown's Point.  Red-throated Divers remained in reasonable numbers off Heysham with up to 7 individuals during prolonged seawatching but the December Guillemots dwindled to just one bird which was seen fairly regularly on the highest tides.   A lot of time was spent following up a Nutcracker report from Forton (14/1) and Burrow Heights (15/1).    A Lesser-spotted Woodpecker was seen on the east side of Arnside Knott (27/1).  As has happened before, a flock of Scaup appeared from "nowhere" and resided "as usual" (implying at least some of the same birds from previous very erratic visits) off Morecambe golf club.   Daily counts inexplicably ranged from 14-17.    Finally, Green Sandpipers were occasionally seen at Aldcliffe ponds (throughout) and Holmere area (from 29/1).

February was an anticlimax with constant checking of the Lancaster Tip gulls failing to produced the hoped-for Iceland or Glaucous, no seawatching weather to add a bit of variety and no new waterfowl with one major exception.  A Slavonian Grebe was discovered at Jenny Brown's Point (9/2) before transferring to the Allen Pool (11/1-16/1).   A wintering Common Sandpiper was seen near Melling (20/2) and up to two Jack Snipe were "discovered" just 10-15 feet from the road on Heaton Marsh (from 24/2 into March).     Bramblings were non-existent this winter apart from a single over Woodwell on New Year's Day and up to 3 near Tower Lodge in the Trough of Bowland in early February.

Along with ever-increasing numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls on Lancaster Tip and the transfer of some Pink-footed geese to the Lune saltmarshes, the end of a minor cold spell (7/3) heralded one of the most sudden changes to spring I can remember.  A routine of de-icing car windows in the morning suddenly transformed into "first Sand Martin conditions",  with Pine Lake, as usual; duly obliging (evening of 8/3).   Up to 20-30 were present by the time of writing (15th).  Other early migrants included a Wheatear at Ocean Edge (10th) and migrant Chiffchaff at Heysham (9th).    After an apparently 'blank' winter, up to three Black-tailed Godwits appeared on the Allen/Eric Morecambe complex.   Gull movements produced flocks of 5 & 140 Kittiwake off Heysham (9th), a flock of 22 there (12th),  a 1st winter Mediterranean  at Heaton Marsh (5th) and an adult Mediterranean on the Borwick Lane Black-headed Gull colony (at least 11th).   A 1st winter sinensis Cormorant was located at Dockacres.    The best bird of the period, however, was a Hooded Crow which had a break from its presumably northbound journey for a short time at Lancaster Tip (8th)


There are a few which were passed to Jon Carter which have not been included here (Jon is away at present).  Please do let us know if any have been missed, especially date extensions (before as well as after) and especially any away from the Heysham area.  Sightings received:

Whitbarrow/The Row (circa SD453892)
At least one flying low over Whitbarrow, calling on 27/12.  Five at The Row (Lyth valley) on 31/1-1/1

"Arnside" (unknown)
One on 2/1

Carr Bank (SD474788)  
Single at least 31/12-2/1 (extremely 'valuable' and obliging 'New Years Day stake out')

Eric Morecambe Pool area (SD477730)
Two, then three on 4/1, five on 5/1

Leighton Moss car park (SD477751)
9-10 on 9/1 (briefly)

Heysham (Connaught Road) (SD408603)
One on 3/1

Heysham (Kingsway/Heysham Road area) (various between SD417387 & SD628628)
Very mobile birds with no definite evidence that more than 38 were involved in the sightings:  5-6 on Haydock Road 9/1,  38 Kingsway 10/1, 30+ Kingsway 11/1, 33 Kingsway 12/1,  26 Kingsway area (not all together) 13/1,  up to 35 in Lister Grove area presumably included the 21+1 seen at two sites on Kingsway on 14/1, reports at different times of  21 on Heysham Road & 13 later 6 on Kingsway on 15/1,  12 during the morning only on Kingsway on 16/1.   Then a gap in reports until 24 reported Kingsway on 25/1 and one at 0935hrs on 26/1.   Can anyone help with the situation after 16/1?

ASDA car park (SD458626)
11 very briefly, then south at 1455hrs on 27/1.

Bare (SD448647)
16 on Stuart Avenue, north of Broadway, on 6/1. 

Happy Mount Park (SD457652)
Heard behind (east end) Happy Mount Park 10/1

Westgate (east Morecambe)  (circa SD447634)
19 by Westgate crematorium 1145-1230hrs on 14/1, one at Altham Road junction on 17/1

nr Upper Thurnham (SD450544) 
One with thrushes on 8/1

Glasson Dock (circa SD443561) 
15 seen briefly on either 16/1 or 17/1

Heaton/Oxcliffe (SD448615)
At least one heard flying ? south over Golden Ball 9/1 

Overton (circa SD438578)
One church/quarry area 10/1, two by the church and five on Main Street 13/1.  At least one on 21/1 on Middleton road 

Pilling Lane Ends (SD414494)
Single on 18/1

Nr Moor Hospital/M6 motorway (circa SD497614)
Mobile group of 5 on 10/1 which eventually flew south

Hala (Lancaster) by University cycletrack (SD487588)
6 on 23/2, the ONLY February sighting reported! (Garstang is outside the recording area)

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