Friday, 6 May 2016

A Hike Up The Pike.

Male Stonechat. David Cookson @ Flickr

An excellent day and an excellent time for me to be off up Clougha Pike for the first time since 8 September last year. 

Female Stonechat Martin Jump

Yesterday I spent 3.5 hours on Clougha and found not a single Stonechat, but the good news is that I found two pair of Stonechat on Birk Bank, these are the first to be found on Birk Bank in 6 years when a pair were seen at the far end on 27 April 2010 at the end of the first of two harsh winters which had a catastrophic effect on British wintering Stonechats.

In the 5.5 hours spent on Clougha, then Birk Bank, I made notes on all the 18 bird species I saw, including 4 Wheatear, 7 Willow Warbler, a singing male Blackcap, a Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush, 6 Wren, a Blue Tit, and a Chaffinch. I noted just 2 Red Grouse as an unusually low count, being at least six less than I would have expected in early may here, at least 20 Meadow Pipit, and saw just two raptors, a Buzzard and Kestrel

I watched my first 5 Swift giving an excellent arial display which appeared to represent nothing more than the sheer enjoyment these birds were having in flying like rockets, twisting and turning, climbing and diving at random and in sync....brilliant. 

For the second time recently - Ring Ouzel 20 April - I find myself downgrading the chat - that's terrible - to claim the Cuckoo as 'Bird of the Day'. This bird called five times during my 5.5 hours here, always sounding it was in the Birk Bank area, but I found the bird eventually at the top end of Cragg Wood atop a tall tree with a passerine - probably a Meadow Pipit - perched by it's side as it called repeatedly.

Cuckoo Marc Heath  

The Cuckoo took off, flew west, and disappeared out of view below the ridge above me, but it called for the fifth time a half hour later above Birk Bank as I walked the lower path.


After surviving the challenges of his 4,500 mile migration from the Congo basin back to England, the Cuckoo Vigilamus is lost. The last location received from his tag showed that he was back on the north Yorkshire Moors where he was originally tagged, but the tag temperature suggests that he succumbed to the near-arctic conditions there last week....This is bad news. 

Thanks to Martin/David/Marc for the brilliant images.  


Bob Bushell said...

That's beautiful Pete, the pictures are amazing, and all the birds, fantastic.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Beautiful series of images .. . Happy sunday Pete..