Saturday, 29 June 2013

Birds....what birds!

Its interesting that a comment made in the last post Back To The Lodge about my latest visit to the Forest of Bowland related to a subject I had said I would elaborate on about birds not seen as opposed to those seen. The comment made noted I had seen just 19 species of birds in a 5 hour - and as many miles - visit representing an account of little more than 100 birds. The comment has prompted me to write up this post much sooner than I had planned and said....'19 species sounds a bit low Pete, but I suppose it depends on the size of the area covered and the time spent out'. Well, the size of the area and time spent out has already been dealt with, but the comment about the number of species is spot on.

This is not some scientific paper on the state of the birds in the UK, but simply a brief account of my observations at one location over six lengthy periods recently, and what I see as a lack of bird numbers  perhaps more so than species numbers and is an issue which concerns me.

Welcome. Pete Woodruff.

You would be wrong to suppose this is all about raptor persecution because it isn't, but I would suggest this sign is removed from every road which leads to this AONB on the grounds that it is out of date, and an insult to the Hen Harrier which no longer has its place in these wild upland areas of England in which it is virtually extinct.

Upland Bowland. Peter Guy.

This photograph shows a mere fragment of the vast area known as the Forest of Bowland in the North of England which should be the breeding grounds for vast numbers of birds, and home to many others....but no longer is. The Forest of Bowland has extensive areas of blanket bog and heather moorland, purple-moor grass, and pastures on upland fringes. In valleys and cloughs it has Oak and Ash woodlands, and Conifer plantations. 

Marshaw Wyre. Pete Woodruff.

This photograph shows the Marshaw Wyre, another fragment of the Forest of Bowland area I visited for the sixth time this year and was taken during my visit to the Marshaw-Tower Lodge-Trough Bridge area. 

What appear to be rosy pictures painted about more species of birds being added to the Lancashire breeding list than have been lost, hides the fact that large numbers of common native species have suffered severe declines in recent decades, including just three I'll mention, Lapwing, Song Thrush, and Yellow Wagtail, the latter not related to the content of this post.

I think my figures for Tuesday 25 June speak for themselves in that, out of little more than 100 birds in the time and area covered only a half that number were passerines. I saw only one member of the 'tit' family being a Great Tit, one Song Thrush, only 5 Pied Wagtail, 5 Redstart, 3 Siskin, 3 Chaffinch, 3 Willow Warbler, and a Wren. In the six visits this summer over a total of something like 25 hours I found no other Siskin other than the three above, one Goldcrest, one Song Thrush, no Redpoll, Dunnock, Robin, and no 'woodpecker' species.

Incidentally, a nest box scheme is in place on private land in this area to which there is no access other than from viewpoints over a wall/fence. At no time since this scheme was set up a couple of years ago have I seen any activity at or around any of the boxes. The nest boxes I do have access to have had the disappointing result of just one pair of breeding Pied Flycatcher. So, in 2013 from in excess of 24 nest boxes at two locations in our recording area just one pair of birds have bred in them.   

Birds....what birds! 


Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Hi Pete!!!..How nice to enjoy this forest .. So beautiful.. Nice pictures. Greetings from Madrid.

Millhouse Photography said...

I totally agree. It is insulting that the AONB boasts the presence of the Hen Harrier. Perhaps if steps had been taken to protect the species then they could claim to have the HH as an 'attraction'.

Marc Heath said...

That looks a beautiful place indeed.

Warren Baker said...

A sad and sorry state of affairs Pete, and i'm afraid to say not an isolated one :-(

I'm not patting myself on the back here, but if it wasn't for the amount of bird food I put out at my feeders, the population of birds here at pittswood would crash. Habitat destruction is the prime driver in bird declines here, leaving no natural food sources, and few nesting sites.

Noushka said...

What a sad story...
And as Warren says, it happens everywhere and I can't see how things can improve when the authorities give the green light to exterminate gulls, as just one example...
If they can do that, imagine the extent of the disaster in a few years...
One can wonder if our grand children will see wild birds at all... maybe just a couple of ringed ones...
Cheers Pete, enjoy your WE nonetheless!

Pete Marsh said...

Not too bad in the boxes in upper Hindburndale (Bowland). 94 boxes: 19 Pied Fly (18 successful), 3 successful Redstart plus Blue/Great Tit. Surprise has been absence of Nuthatch - obviously didn't like the cold upper valley conditions early on

Unfortunately people with concern for the environment still vote Tory (e,g, examine the credentials of our so called current environment minister) People who live in the countryside like myself and/or work in conservation there have really noticed the difference in attitudes to birds of prey etc since the Tories got back in - it was explained to me in the local (rural) pub simplistically that 'now we are back in control of the countryside'!

Pete Woodruff said...

Ana/Christian/Marc/Warren/Noushka/Pete....Many thanks for looking in and your comments which I note with interest.

You will appreciate I won't try to answer individually here, but if you wish to talk about anything I say on Birds2blog, you all have my e-mail address.