Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Immoveable Chats.

Made my first visit to Clougha/Birk Bank today and if I'm really honest I did think the day would draw a blank to match the December one on the Stonechats......but lets have non of that.

I had been on the Clougha track in excess of an hour before even seeing my first Red Grouse but in the end collected a total of 28 birds. An hour later I found my first Stonechat, this and two others were at something like 300m above sea level so no cold weather movement there then. By the time I left the area five hours later I had seen six birds involving some pretty serious searching and I convinced myself that the December search - which produced a rare 'zero' - proved nothing other than the birds up here simply didn't show, rather than drawing the rash conclusion that the cold weather theorists were always right after all.

Upland birding in the winter months is definitely not to be recommended if its excitement you're after - though I was excited enough about the Stonechats - and the sum total of species seen in the five hours here reached the grand total of six excluding the 'corvids' seen......sorry corvid recorders! At least 2 Wren had obviously survived the cold hard freezing temperatures, a Snipe was flushed from almost under my feet, a hovering Kestrel noted, and 35 Fieldfare were over Rigg Lane.

I was reliably informed of 4 Little Egret in fields seen from the Lancaster Canal going towards Galgate recently.

An added interest on the visit here today was to search and find three more - of the five I now know about - Land Art structures which I admired immensely, the time and effort in putting these pieces together must be quite something and the results very rewarding. If you have an interest in such art this persons works can be seen on the 'Flickr' website. The three illustrated above are all at the top of Birk Bank and require just a little effort to reach. If you do visit the website I promise you will be impressed at this mans achievements and creativity and some of his work is even more impressive than the ones on Clougha including working with ice when available......give it a look!
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Mike Watson said...

Agree re stonechats being unobtrusive at times, cf three at similar altitude at White Greet last Saturday. Must look harder in future!

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks for this Mike.

Yes I noted today the first bird found - at 300m by the way - I saw for three seconds and despite my hanging around for quite some time didn't see the bird again. It was at this point I made my mind up - not for the first time - that the Stonechat never was the bird with the reputation it sits up and begs all the - and every - doesn't. I tell the truth Mike, all five Stonechats seen today could very easily have been 'missed'. You are right, you must look harder.

Thanks again for comments Mike.


Richard Shilling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pete Woodruff said...

For starters Richard I'll never be sorry you posted to my blog....many thanks and some 'quick' answers.

The Peregrine Falcon's are more likely to be seen in coastal areas during the winter and can easily detected when thousands of waders take to the wing en mass as one appears on the scene. They can be seen regularly at places like Clougha during the summer months as it is in areas like this where they breed (common knowledge) but not so precisely with nest site's as you will understand Richard as persecution remains rife in the 21st century.

Your owl from the road at Birk Bank was probably Tawny, one roosted there nightly but not see/heard it recently.

Thanks a bundle for your contribution Richard, I intend to tell the world of your excellent Land Art and other creation's of yours.

Kind Regards.


Richard Shilling said...

Thanks for the compliments again Pete. By the way the little cairn next to the big egg one wasn't built by me. I was up there building the balance cairn when I saw a father with his two young daughters build the little one. I did almost have kittens though as the two girls kept leaning on my cairn and I thought it might fall over and they would get squashed!

Anyway birding matters! I see further down in your blog you mention that you saw a Peregrine sat somewhere for 40 minutes so I guess it is common behaviour for them to do that. Do Peregrines get about a bit? I've spent a fair bit of time on Clougha and I am always poking about in the undergrowth on my own so I have plenty of opportunities to see something and seen quite a lot of wildlife up there (fox, hare, deer, stoat/weasal, lots of different birds etc) but never a Peregrine before. Is it unusual to see one there? (I have a bit of a thing about Peregrines as I am a southerner and you don't get them in Kent so I get a bit excited when I see one). I've seen the breeding pair (edited for discretion) elsewhere in Bowland and that was quite a thrill.

I was a little perplexed about the Stonechats and the fact they are supposed to have gone somewhere for winter. Even though you have had a gap in your sightings I have seen one or two on every visit to Clougha over the winter. And also in plenty of other places too - near Nicky Nook and in Cumbria. But then they are easy to spot what with the penchant for sitting on top of things.

One more!. The other night I saw the distinctive silhouette of an owl in the trees on the road from Birk Bank. Now I assumed by its size it was a tawny owl. I see no mention of tawny owls in your blog. Do you think it was a different owl? My knowledge of birds is a bit southerner centric and I am not sure what is common and usual round here.

You'll be sorry you've asked me to post on your blog as you are going to be bombarded by questions from a birding novice!

All the best.


Richard Shilling said...

So just to confuse everyone I have deleted my original post and reposted with some discretionary editting. So any readers - this post should be before Pete's answer!

I'll take the opportunity to slip in a gratuitous plug to my Land Art blog!