BIRDING THE LUNE ESTUARY THE FOREST OF BOWLAND AND BEYOND..................................................................................................................SUNRISE PETE WOODRUFF

Sunday, 17 January 2021

The Chats Have It....Again!

Thanks to Martin Jump for the excellent and appropriate header image for this post about the Stonechat. It is the view looking NE from Hawthornthwaite Fell to the eastern edge below Ward's Stone, with Mallowdale Fell taking centre stage.

I was in touch with John Callion regarding the 'Ward's Stone Chat', to ask if he had any wintering records for Cumbria that might dispel my claim that this was the highest altitude bird in our area if not England. If John didn't have the answer to this question, nobody else would....

'Many of the Stonechats that breed in the high fells tend to nest in the steep angular valleys that,  after the autumn and the onset of the low arc of the sun, become sunless and unsuitable for survival during the winter.

There are however some of the wider and shallow valleys that offer 'full sun' during the winter and retain territorial birds; to my knowledge they include the upper Mosedale valley near Skiddaw House, and upper Borrowdale at Dock Tarn. Both of these sites are around 400m asl, so not as high as the one you have in Bowland. There may be others, perhaps higher, but l have no knowledge of them, so l think it's fairly safe for you to suggest your bird is likely to be the highest that we have information for?' John Callion.

Map Courtesy of Simon Hawtin

During the summer, keen fell runner Simon had seen two Stonechat (Green) in the same area as the January Ward's Stone bird (Red), one of which may well have been a female to the male, thereby making an excellent 420m wintering pair. Perhaps if Simon can find a pair in the shadow of Ward's Stone on Tarnbrook Fell during this winter, we can then put an end to conjecture.

Stonechat Male. D.G.M'cGrath

Since 1 January, to date I've noted 35 Stonechats, recorded at 18 locations and mainly found on the FBC website, including an excellent 6 Stonechat at Lytham Moss 3 January. You just don't usually see six Stonechat at any one time in winter, and certainly not lowland/coastal birds. Thanks to Dave for this little beauty he found at Marton Mere. 

Wood Mouse.

View Full Screen

I've previously paid little or no attention to the Wood Mouse - sometimes referred to as Long Tailed Field Mouse - and had no idea it was probably the most common mammal in the UK.

From the B+W File.

Brown Hare in the long grass at Cockersand....Well, being I took the photograph, where else!


Richard Pegler said...

I love that header image, Pete. Martin has captured the atmosphere beautifully.

Your Wood Mouse is really cute - super footage! I suspect that it's a Wood Mouse that I see on our garden cameras most nights now, hoovering up the spilt sunflower hearts - I leave them on the ground now that the Hedgehogs aren't around.

I hope that you are keeping your spirits up in these difficult times.

Stay safe - - - Richard

Marc Heath said...

You certainly know your Stonechats. Love the Hare shot. Sometimes a black and white image works superbly well. Take care.

Pete Woodruff said...

Richard/Marc....Thanks for looking in and comments, always appreciated.

Take Care Stay Safe.