Sunday, 5 April 2020

The ISS.

All this week I've watched the International Space Station pass over from our bedroom window, in awe at what I was seeing in the evening skies. 

Thursday was my last view of the amazing ISS, appearing at 8.47pm from WSW, and in view for 5min before disappearing South. It appeared to be drifting across the sky, but in fact it was traveling at a staggering 17,500mph at an altitude of c.500 miles above earth....It blew my socks off every time I saw it.

This video gave me 3min:20sec to forget about the tragedy that is Covid-19....I hope it can do the same for you. 

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One comment below the film on YouTube reads, 'Too bad it doesn't show the millions of ways we are destroying Earth' excellent choice of words, and too bad it can't provide the miracle needed to help save it.

Large Red Damselfly. Marc Heath.

Marc Heath found a Large Red Damselfly this week in Kent, one of the earliest records of the species. You can see Marc's account and stunning photography Here 

Stonechat Ana Minguez Clik the pik

The perfect excuse for another Stonechat image, and a brilliant one to boot....Thanks Ana.

I was pleased to have the record of 2 Stonechat sent to me by Barry Dyson, they were amongst the earliest passage birds seen at Singleton 2 March, and take the total to 162 Stonechat on the Fylde on passage during the month of March. 

Thanks to Howard for his contribution to B2B with his header image. I don't have a very good record for Short-eared Owl, the last one I saw was 4.5 years ago on 12 November 2015 at Cockersand.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Interesting Behavior.

Martin Jump was in touch with some interesting behavior and two record shots to accompany his observations. For a larger presentation, please clik the piks.

Based on observations, the Raven made no movement  after landing on the marsh, bringing Martin to be convinced this Raven was actively harrying the Lapwings, as opposed to attempting to rob them of eggs or young in the nest, making lunges with its large open bill and calling aggressively as in this image.

The Raven was seen to make aerial attacks at the Lapwings on several occasions, in a way that had Martin concluding that a corvid was being seen attempting to take a wader as prey, and certainly not a Raven raiding a Lapwing nest.

Garden Birds.

A Blue Tit was prospecting at the nest box in our garden yesterday.

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Wednesday, 1 April 2020

A Walk In The Park.

KT and myself decided on a walk in the park to have the days permitted exercise as an escape from isolation during these Covid-19 days. An excellent therapy, rewarded by finding the Little Grebe pair breeding on the old reservoir at Fenham Carr. One of the birds is seen in the video on two occasions, adding a little aquatic vegetation to the nest, whilst the other incubates.

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We noted 14 species on the short visit to the park, a Song Thrush and 2 Mistle Thrush were joint 'Bird of the Day' for me, 9 Chiffchaff, 5 Great TitNuthatchJay, a Wren, and a few Blackbird. Seen at the feeder on Fenham Carr, 4 Dunnock, 4 Long-tailed Tit, 4 Coal Tit, 2 Blue Tit, and 2 Robin.    

Viva La Vida....The song is a retelling of the French Revolution and the death of King Louis XVI.

Towards the end of the French Revolution, King Louis XVI was imprisoned by his own people. He was to be publicly executed via the guillotine, but as he shuffled onto the gallows he attempted to make a final speech to his people, but as he spoke his words were drowned by the masses screaming and booing. Before his speech had ended he was forced down onto the guillotine and the former King Louise XVI of France was executed, his speech lost forever....

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave my word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

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Sunday, 29 March 2020

Stonechats Through The Roof.

With birding off the cards now, the March passage of Stonechat is almost certainly over, but there has been an excellent and unprecedented passage through Lancashire this year. I have noted up to 160 Stonechat in records collected throughout the month from the FBC website alone, which include a truly remarkable 91 Stonechat seen by AC as at 24 March, I reckon with this result he's the happiest birder in the UK. 

Looking back through the LDBWS Annual Reports over the past 10 years, the best counts of spring passage was of 74 Stonechat in 2015, and 54 Stonechat in 2018, both records to the end of March. The other 50% of records show no passage figures at all in these reports.

Stonechat. Paul Foster. Clik the pik

A few people have been in touch with me in the past few days, including Paul Foster who sent me this image of the Siberian Stonechat maurus, seen on his recent visit to Cyprus, Thanks Paul. Also thanks to Martin Jump for the header image of the displaying Great-crested Grebes. 

Garden Update.

Two Small Tortoiseshell and a Peacock. KT and I were treated to excellent views of not one but two Wood Mouse together, they were feeding on spilt bird seed for 15 minutes, watched from the patio window as we ate our tea....Great Stuff. 

Elton John is gifted with a singer/song writer talent ranked as one of the best in the world. He performed Yellow Brick Road with Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden, New York in 2000, in front of a capacity of almost 20,000. 

It follows Mr Blue Sky in it's attempt to get us all out of the black hole which is Covid-19....It did me, and this 4.45 mins did too....Music to uplift the spirits.

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Friday, 27 March 2020

Covid-19....This Is Serious.

Just done a countrywide internet trawl to find up to 20 birders still reporting on a website, at up to the same number of locations not including garden birds. Words fail me, but - unusual for me - to keep it polite....Shameful.

Thank goodness the weather came good just at the right time, wall to wall sunshine in clear blue skies. Free yourself for a few minutes, from the black hole that is Covid-19....We're all in it together.

Mr Blue Sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long, so long
Where did we go wrong

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Garden birds/butterflies.

Two Buzzard soaring over our house yesterday, lucky KT.
Two Peacock and a Small Tortoiseshell.

Take Care, Keep Safe.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

In Control!

Whilst the moors are fresh in my mind following a visit to Bowland last Friday. I learn of the fire brigade being called out yesterday to a moorland fire at Deer Hill Reservoir in West Yorkshire.

Photo West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service. Clik the pik

Thought to have been caused by an out of control 'controlled burn', the fire service is now calling for a ban on this practice of grouse moor heather burning. Fifteen crews with twenty appliances attended which had a mile long fire-front.

Of course there's a connection between these burns, the grit roads featured in my last post, and wildlife crime, including the attempts to eradicate the Hen Harrier. I encounter traps for other small fry on my often visits to the moors, which gets in the way of the industry, whose motto is....if it's wildlife get rid of it.

Apart from the fact heather burning is nothing more than vandalism on the moors and serves no other useful purpose, this burn is against the law, the legal dates for heather burns are 1 October - 15 April. 

On 21 March 2007, I did a survey in the Clougha and Birk Bank area and found 23 Stonechat which were seen as 11 pair and a lone male. Four weeks later I went to do my April survey, to find a heather burn had taken place, borderline or more likely outside the permitted date in mid-April. The result was to find just 4 Stonechat, with the rest of the 9 pair driven from the area and certainly nests/eggs and possibly young destroyed.

The Great Bustard.

I wanted you to see this 'person' who I featured in a recent post, but made the mistake of pointing everyone in the direction of my side-bar where it soon got buried beneath new posts on Tweets by RBA with which there is absolutely no connection to my comments below.

Here's the nice man in India who shot the Great Bustard, then stood with it hanging from it's wing, whilst he grinned his head off for a pik....BASTARD, he's an even bigger bastard if you Clik the pik.

I found a Peacock in our garden today, my first identifiable butterfly of 2020. 

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Hopes Realised In Bowland.

Friday was a good sunny day, though a cold wind in exposed places on the fells took the edge off an otherwise perfect late March day. I gave six hours between Harrisend and Hawthornthwaite west and east.

Harrisend Fell Looking East To Clougha. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

On Harrisend, my hopes for today were realised when I found 5 Stonechat, seen as two pairs and included a male seen by Grisedale Bridge, also notable was at least 40 Meadow Pipit seen/heard/and some entertaining with their parachuting fall, 3 Wren were heard only, with 2 Reed Bunting and 2 Red Grouse also seen.

Stonechat. Dinesh Patel. Clik the pik 

On the west side of Hawthornthwaite, more hopes realised, albeit just one pair of Stonechat, 3 Red Grouse, 2 Meadow Pipit, and a Wren. No Stonechat found on the east side, but 9 Meadow Pipit, 3 Curlew, 3 Red Grouse, 2 Mistle Thrush, and a Wren.

Thanks to Dinesh for the excellent male Stonechat, a little gem, as is the image for which I have sought no permission to copy. But if Dinesh wants it removed I'm sure he will let me know.

Hawthornthwaite Fell East Side. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

You have to be the Queen of England, or perhaps in this case the Duke of Worstminster, to get planning permission to build these abominable grit roads to the very top of these fells in Bowland. This vast AONB is littered with these roads, all built for the convenience of gamekeepers and shooters  - well what else - to get them to their respective butts.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

They're In!

I have news of 6 Sand Martin and 2 Swallow at Claughton-on-Brock fishing lake at 8.30am this morning, also the first report of a Wheatear on the Fylde coast.

A bit repetitive but couldn't resist, I got a better short video of the Golden Plovers yesterday in better light than my previous attempt.

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Although at least 900 Golden Plover at Cockersand was a lower number than of late - at least 2,000 on occasions - I was treated to a brilliant spectacle with the birds yesterday, including a Merlin hunting around the waders causing them to be unsettled all the time I was there with them, the 'whoosh' as they flew 15m over my head several times was amazing. 

Difficult to count, but at least 50 Meadow Pipit with 20 Skylark and 12 Pied Wagtail were in and around the same flood as the plovers east of Abbey Farm. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, c.1,500 Black-tailed Godwit fluctuating in number but remain faithful here, with 4 Goosander noted.

Great Bustard. 

Make sure you take a look at the guy with the Great Bustard in my side-bar.

Though Izhan Sheikh does ask....'WTF is wrong with our people'....he says he's trying to avoid swear words. I've no intention of trying to avoid them, and the most diplomatic description I can muster, is that he and his like are barbaric bastards.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

100 Plus And Counting.

The spring passage of in excess of 100 Stonechats appears to be going through the roof. I've noted records of 50 Stonechat on the FBC website in 2 weeks to date, almost certainly all passage birds with no duplication. AC was in touch to tell me his personal tally had reached 50 at close of play on Friday, with more seen since, including 5 this very morning at Fluke Hall. By comparison, my 9 Stonechat record for March is abysmal.

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Whilst failing to find any Stonechat at Cockersand on Friday, 1,500 Golden Plover were in the field east of Abbey Farm. Four Snipe came off the marsh in as many minutes, and I wondered how many more would have been seen if I'd have hung around as the high 10m+ tide pushed them off. I also saw a lone Tree Sparrow around Bank Houses, the first for almost a year here when I saw six on 2 April 2019, also a Dunnock, and a Skylark in it's never ending flight song.

I watched up to 4,000 Pink-footed Geese from Cockerham Sands CP, every one of 'em calling 'yak-ak-ak' over and eventually settling on Cockerham Marsh. On the Lune Estuary at Glasson Dock, just prior to being pushed off by the tide, up to 2,000 Black-tailed Godwit, and just 25 Bar-tailed Godwit, with 8 Goldeneye and 7 Goosander of note.

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With a gale behind the latest 10.35m tide the sea has changed the landscape dangerously at Cockersand once again. Cockersand Abbey can be seen in the distance in right of centre. 

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Mission Impossible....Well Almost.

The extended run of foul wet and windy weather we are having, takes away most if not all of the pleasures of birding, it's pretty well impossible to stand around, particularly on the coast in a westerly gale, and I've been driven back home by this looking like a wet mackerel a couple of times, but.... 

Mediterranean Gull Conder Green. Pete Woodruff. Clik the pik

It was good to find an adult Mediterranean Gull with the Black-headed Gulls just as the tide was about to flood the B5290 at Conder Green yesterday. The last of the wintering Little Grebe was on Conder Pool again, with c.250 Redshank and 2 Goosander also noted. On the canal basin, 4 Goldeneye.

I had no intention of hanging around at Cockersand, just wanted to check a couple of Stonechat hotspots which drew a blank, but a Rock Pipit was driven off the marsh, with at least 2,000 Golden Plover tightly packed by Abbey Farm, and the herd of distant swans now looking more like 500 Whooper Swan.

A run down the A588 was well rewarded by two excellent female Stonechat on the fence posts at Pilling Lane Ends, soon followed by another female Stonechat at Fluke Hall, and a Snipe lifting into the air out of a damp rough field here. 

Thanks to Martin for his Black-tailed Godwits header in flight at Cockersand, taken recently during a lull in the storms.

Rings And Things.

Following on from the interest in finding nine colour ringed gulls with Pete Crooks on the Lune Estuary on 6 March, I made a search for any info I could find about the origins of rings without knowing the codes. The best I came up with was, the bulk of the projects are European, with one on Guernsey, Isle of Man, and Ireland, but one was local and corresponded with the Black ring we saw on the left tarsus, in which case, if it could have been read, the ring would have had a White single letter indicating R=Ribble, T=Tarnbrook, W=Walney....Frustrating.