Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The Pipit And The Chats.

A few notes based on my observations in the Forest of Bowland last Friday 6 June and earlier on the Hareden/Langden circuit on 21 May.

The Meadow Pipit.

Meadow Pipit Martin Lofgren

In Clifford Oakes book The Birds of Lancashire first published in 1953, a comment he makes regarding the Meadow Pipit and the Cuckoo is....'The species is a favourite dupe of the Cuckoo, and is so pestered by it in some areas, that in seasons when the Cuckoo is plentiful, there appears to be as many of them as there are Meadow Pipits' amazing claim about Cuckoo numbers made a little over 60 years ago. 

Last Friday in the Cross of Greet area I counted 62 Meadow Pipit. Whilst trying to account for duplicate counting and quite a few I overlooked adding to my list, plus quite a few more which undoubtedly missed my attention, I probably should have recorded 120 which represented at least one Meadow Pipit in my sights for the entire walk over two hours from the top of the drop down to Greet Bridge.

The Meadow Pipit is the most common pipit in western Europe, and as my observations showed last week it is a familiar sight in the uplands during the breeding season. There has been little overall change in the number of occupied 10-km squares since the 1968-72 Breeding Atlas, but since the 1970's there has been a steady population decline in the UK, a decline consistent with a decrease across Europe since 1980, being linked to a deterioration of conditions on the Iberian wintering grounds where many birds from GB winter, but last Fridays experience didn't indicate any decline to me on this occasion at least.

The Whinchat. 

Whinchat David Cookson

In Oakes book again, this time he makes another amazing comment regarding the Whinchat in which he claims it to be....'much more common than the Stonechat'. But today's account of the Whinchat makes for pretty depressing reading as was a personal account following my own experience last week in Bowland.

Whinchat numbers in Britain more than halved between 1995 and 2008, and inorthern England the Whinchat is increasingly confined to the upland margins, and densities are much lower here than anywhere else in Britain. A survey focusing on Whinchat populations found a 95% decline in abundance, and losses of the Whinchat have already been recorded in central and south east England, with further losses in the lowland and upland fringes, little wonder I found none in a seven hour serious search for them in the Cross of Greet/Bloe Greet area last week, and none in the same length of time in Hareden/Langden on 21 May. 

An interesting record of 31 years ago in the 1983 LDBWS Annual Report - which doesn't seem to make things sound much better for the Whinchat even then - and reads....The Whinchat is seen to be loosing ground with only 8 pairs found this year in Bowland. 

Stonechat. Howard Stockdale.

These two visits to Bowland produced an excellent 18 Stonechat which included evidence of five breeding successes, and represents a comeback to the uplands of Bowland for the species in the areas I observe.

Thanks to Martin and David for the excellent Meadow Pipit and Whinchat images, and to Howard for the brilliant Stonechat youngster, all much appreciated. 

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