Saturday, 8 August 2009

Halcyon Days.

Searching through my past records - a time consuming affair - I realised - as I always do - that I can't do so without regularly coming across the name John Leedal my very good friend and mentor of yesteryear. I could create an entire blog to record the comings and goings, the ups and downs, the positives and negatives all experienced with this man who - amongst his other lifetime achievements - found a Fungi somewhere in our area which turned out to have been new to science and which - if my memory serves me well - was eventually named after him. However, if my memory isn't serving me well then he was certainly asked if his wish was that this should be the case, so perhaps an err on caution is the best way forward on that.

The first of the three records which jumped out at me during this search of my document's was that of the 16 June over 14 years ago in 1995 when, after a day driving around the North Lancashire countryside delivering car parts JL and I headed off down the M6 to Wigan and Scotsmans Flash to have excellent views of a River Warbler which had been present here since Sunday of the same week. This bird was the 13th record for the county and carries with it the abiding memory of my encounter with a sweet little guy no more than six years old but who was obviously up to date with what was going on near his house and when I arrived back at the car asked me......'have you been to see the River Wibler mister'......nice one and something I'll never forget.

The second record began at Rusland in Cumbria 10 years ago on 28 August 1999 where JL and I spent many hours on many visits observing Honey Buzzard which were breeding at the time in the area at an undisclosed location. We spent many 'empty' hours here but on occasions did see males displaying and on one visit I was fortunate to be able to record a bird calling, not an everyday occurrence so really fortunate here. The day turned even more exciting when a visiting birder gave us the news that a Woodchat Shrike was at Leighton Moss in the Allen Pool area and off we went to have good views of a juvenile which represented a 1st record for LM and followed on from the first for the LDBWS area with one in the spring of 1988. I was reminded of this event with the 'Tower Lodge' bird on Friday 29 May which - almost ten years later - becomes the third record for the area.

And the third record to recall started by coincidence at the very same Rusland location to follow up a phone call JL had recieved tipping him off that Bee Eater's were in the area. This phone call with its details of the location resulted in a memorable encounter with four of these enigmatic birds including observations as close as 50 mtrs on occasions and of one bird offering another one an insect, and birds in the air calling at times......another excellent birding experience and one never to be forgotten......Halcyon Day's.

I've certainly no pic's of River Warbler, Honey Buzzard, Woodchat Shrike, or Bee Beater, so not to leave an empty space I think this one of the Coot - thanks BR - is excellent and is full of humour with the expression of the bird appearing to say......can I really hope to walk on water!


Brian Rafferty said...

Pete. Thanks for wonderful accounts of days with John Leedal. I didn't know him well but met him a few times whilst birding in the Cockerham area. John was a real gentleman and was always generous with information and his knowledge of the area's wildlife. Nice to be reminded of a great naturalist and someone who is very much missed.

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


The one above didn't read quite right so......Two great guys who often spring to my mind were both called John, Leedal and Reddish excellent and wonderful people to know, whether as birders or otherwise.

As always thanks for comments Brian.