Thursday 25 August.
Clougha in Heather. Pete Woodruff.
With favourable weather yesterday and a pair of new boots to christen - well I certainly did that big time when I stood in a hidden bog covered in moss up to my ankles - I decided to give Clougha/Birk Bank a going over. The heather was just as nice today as in this pic which I took up there five years ago in August 2006.
I was encouraged to get on with the task in hand when I found a female Stonechat to the left of the track within five minutes of leaving the motor, but it was all false encouragement and - not surprisingly - I found not another one in a five hour search. But the area at and around the car park was buzzing with activity and I soon connected with a Redstart, Blackcap, a 'few' Willow Warblers, a Song Thrush, Coal Tit, and Dunnock.
Five hours later I had noted a Whinchat, 3 Wheatear, 14 Red Grouse, 4 Kestrel, c.80 Meadow Pipit were either over or grounded during the visit, and I noted 2 Wren at c.400m. A Peacock and 2 Red Admiral were the only butterflies seen - nothing new there then this year - and a Brown Hare.
Ruff. Conder Pool 17 August 2009. Pete Woodruff.
When I arrived back at the car on Rigg Lane at 1 o'clock I felt the magnetism of Conder Green pulling at me. Soon after finding 2 Common Sandpiper, a Greenshank, and having noted 13 Teal, following an alert about a farmer spreading in a field on Hillam Lane I arrived to eventually count an amazing 14 Ruff in a field at Norbreck Farm with several hundred predominantly Black-headed Gulls. There is a record of sixteen in this field HERE understandably as they were hidden in the long grass for long periods and I obviously 'missed' two by not being the accomplished birder I like to think I am. Void of a 'history' search this could well be an all time record for the species in this area. Also in the same field 3 Mediterranean Gulls were, a juvenile, 1st winter, and 2nd winter. Having been grilling the field for twenty minutes this 'huge' flock of gulls took to the wing en mass at the appearance of a Peregrine Falcon which failed to take out one of the Ruff by inches. A Wheatear was on Cockerham Marsh.
Whilst on Clougha/Birk Bank again today I couldn't help but think....If I was to offer advice to someone thinking of some upland birding for the first time, I'd have to warn them of the need to have the ability to accommodate the lengthy periods of 'nothing' which inevitably I suffered again today as is always the case with upland birding in the 21st century. But I'll be doing it all over again sometime soon if only to find a little gem like the Whinchat as I did today....and of course never knowing whats around the corner.