Red Grouse thanks to Brian Rafferty
Well the photograph is appropriate if only that I did some upland birding at Clougha/Birk Bank today the records - in no particular order - of which follow. The link to Brian's website is under the pic....Thanks for this Brian.
Red Grouse 6
Pied Wagtail 2
Willow Warbler 13
Meadow Pipit 12
Green Hairstreak 15
I did at least an extra hour 'overtime' here today - six hours total - to no avail in respect of the Stonechat which took me three hours to find a pair at the far end of Birk Bank. These two were sat loafing about clearly indicative of no breeding happening here this year as yet even by this single pair. If anyone had told me last year I would record eight Wheatear against two Stonechat at the end of April in 2010 in this or any other area I'd have told them they were nuts. I'm making no more lengthy comments on the Stonechat until the end of the year. I've passed my opinion based on my records for the species at several locations over the last 12 years and today's observations here - or lack of them - speak volumes.
There were some pretty disappointing figures came out of the visit here today not least that in six hours I heard/saw just thirteen Willow Warbler - double that figure were seen in 2009 - but it did include some display by a pair which represents a first for me. The most significant outcome of this observation was the diagnostic lack of downward tail-dipping which the Chiffchaff does constantly in particular when feeding, the Willow Warbler doesn't do this persistently with just the one dip on alighting, and when feeding holds the tail still. Otherwise these two drive me nuts with their subtle and variable plumage differences.
Twelve Meadow Pipits equaling two per hour isn't at all impressive and three Wrens is quite a worrying number at one every two hours although in 2009 I only saw six, in itself a low figure I thought. Birds 'missing' to date here are Cuckoo which I was hoping to at least hear, and Tree Pipit which I also hoped to see today though last year if I recall correctly just one observer recorded one bird on one date.
The final word on the Stonechat for this post. I have just one more location to visit - hopefully in the next few days - where I haven't been since the end of June last year but where my best record for the species was 27 birds including 10 juveniles on 26 June 2006. Last year the best count at this location was just 6 birds - a pair and 4 juveniles - on 12 June, more records which speak for themselves....Watch this space!
And finally, I have it on the best of authority of 15 Dotterel on Ward Stone last Friday.
I couldn't resist editing to add this superb photograph of the Tawny Owl with thanks to Warren Baker....Thanks Warren.