Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Back Up the Hill!

The weather on Monday was perfect for another trip into Bowland, and an update on Hawthornthwaite Fell produced a whacking 10 Stonechat. Well it had to be 'whacking' as I don't find that many Stonechat anywhere these days, though with two broods from two pairs that I had seen a month ago on 18 June you obviously can, today's sighting was seen as a male, two female, and seven juvenile.

The next best sighting on Hawthornthwaite was a Peregrine Falcon which I appropriately reported. The bird was mobbed several times by one of two Kestrel in the air at the time, a Buzzard had been seen earlier, and a lone Raven was over. Also of note, 11 Meadow Pipit, 4 Wren, and 2 Grey Wagtail were on Hawthornthwaite Greave where at least 20 Sand Martin were flying up and down.

I found only 17 species in a four hour trawl between Marshaw and Trough Bridge. House Martin were active at nests at the farmhouse at Well Brook Farm, and there are also two active House Martin nests at Tower Lodge, 2 Spotted Flycatcher were seen in the area, and 12 Chaffinch were of note, 11 Grey Wagtail were along the length of the Marshaw Wyre, 6 Robin seen one of which was a juvenile, 5 Meadow Pipit, 4 Coal Tit were all young, 2 Goldfinch, a Willow Warbler, Wren, Blackbird, and a Great-spotted Woodpecker

The Peregrine Falcon.

Peregrine Falcon Brian Rafferty 

Up to 6 years ago the Peregrine Falcon was a common sight throughout the Forest of Bowland, and there were successful nesting pairs in most seasons. In 2010 numbers of pairs in Bowland began to decline drastically, the cause - as with the Hen Harrier - a campaign of relentless persecution. In 2016, 99% of territories were abandoned resulting from the unprecedented collapse of an entire regional Peregrine Falcon population. 

Hence my surprise and delight that I observed Monday's bird over Hawthornthwaite Fell, to be told first hand that it could well have been related to a successful breeding pair in Bowland this year, from which four young have fledged. Excellent news, only dampened by bearing in mind at least 16 territories of the 18 from the 99% decline, still remain unoccupied. 

The Short-eared Owl.

Short-eared Owl Martin Jump 

Having been a good vole year, it has been an equally good year for Short-eared Owl in Bowland according to a reliable informant. To be honest, I find this difficult to understand as the species comes under the same persecution regime as any other raptor on this estate and any other Red Grouse moorland. 

Thanks to Brian and Martin, who both know how much I appreciate being able to publish their excellent images on Birds2blog.

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