BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY, THE UPLANDS OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND

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CLOUGHA PIKE UNTIL RECENT YEARS THE BOWLAND STRONGHOLD FOR THE STONECHAT. PETE WOODRUFF.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Seven miles....seven hours.

And a couple more of those excellent 'mug shots' from PS the first of which is.....

Lesser Redpoll. Phil Slade

With regard to the weather it wasn't as good a day as I had hoped for for a visit to the hills, it was cloudy at times and in exposed places a stiff cold breeze, but I wanted to check out the early in the season Stonechat status in some of the Forest of Bowland uplands. It took me over five hours to find just one - apparently - lonely female. Given the majority of eggs for first clutches of Stonechat are at least starting to be laid in the second week of April I found no evidence to encourage anything other than at best a poor season, even Harrisend - where I found two pairs on 24 March - drew a blank. Seven miles and seven hours legwork to find a potential disaster in the making...not happy! 

On Harrisend it was good to soon hear the bubbling call of the Curlew one of the most evocative sounds of the upland summer, I also heard and had good views of one of my first 3 Willow Warblers, 3 Ravens gave an excellent ariel display, these birds appear to get a great deal of satisfaction out of their sky dancing antics which seems to represent nothing more than having fun, a Buzzard, Kestrel, 3 Red Grouse, and although I had no intention of counting them I noted at least 40 Meadow Pipits

On Hawthornthwaite from the Scorton Road access I noted 6 Sand Martins in the area, these birds are seen here every summer on every visit and some nest holes were found last year but no evidence of usage, 3 White Wagtails seen, c.20 Meadow Pipits, a Buzzard, and what I eventually identified as a female Merlin gave excellent views of some aerobatics including a couple of stoops and at one point climbing high to appear to be not much larger than a Swift....an amazing creature. Some activity noted around the small c.10 nests colony at Cam Brow. 

From the Hawthornthwaite track at Marshaw, another White Wagtail a 'classic' one this time, 3 Red Grouse, a Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 12 Meadow Pipits, and....alleluia....a female Stonechat distant and very easily could have been missed.

In a couple of weeks things will be looking up, and the area between Marshaw and beyond Trough Bridge is excellent for some of our summer visitors not least of all the Spotted Flycatcher - I counted eleven in the area one day in 2009 - and Redstart....plus the unexpected!

And finally the second of the 'mug shots' with many thanks to PS....

Wheatear. Phil Slade  

2 comments:

Warren Baker said...

Still hope yet for the Stonechats Pete, they can start a bit later this year - along with the Flycatchers :-)

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks for this....always prepared to accept you could well be right and that I'm 'jumping the gun' but certainly wasn't encouraged by yesterdays observations Warren.