Atlasing near Gisburn

As I opened the curtains this-morning, the sun was just about to come up but the forecast overnight frost had clearly not happened. We'd planned to start our Atlas survey work today as it was meant to be calm and sunny but as we made our way north east, the drizzle started!
I parked up at Stirk House, donned waterproofs and set off over the fields towards the river. We hadn't gone far when we came across a large thrush flock - at least 250 Fieldfare and 40 Redwing along with several Song Thrushes and Blackbirds. There were also a couple of large flocks of Chaffinches, though no northern interlopers no matter how hard we searched. We slip-slided our way down Steep Wood to the Ribble that was in full spate - not ideal for riverine birds to say the least; the woods were generally rather quiet but we managed to get a few more on the day's list. We had seen several Hares so far and our mammal list was augmented with a herd of over 30 Sika Deer seen through the trees including a magnificent stag. We continued round our circuitous path but there wasn't a great deal else to be seen, though six Goldcrests in the Leylandii back at the car were nice as there have been so few this autumn. A weasel trapped momentarliy in a cattle grid gave crippling views! We headed round to the other side of the tetrad and picked up a few Meadow Pipits and another large flock of Chaffiches but then ran out of survey time.
Next it was up to Wigglesworth to reccy the area where I'll do another square. We passed a couple of flocks of Fieldfares on the way including one of over 300 birds just north of Paythorne. Finally, the sun came out and as we searched for suitable paths and starting and ending points, we noticed a large congregation of birds on the flood-plain of the Ribble just north of the village. Though just outside my square, I had to check this out, so I set up the scope from a lay-by. There were approximately 800 Wigeon, a couple of hundred Teal, plenty of Mallard, Canada Geese and Lapwings and some bonus birds in the shape of at least 20 Shovelers, a few Pintail and a Redshank. We were not too far away from Hellified Flash so I thought that there must be a few birds there as well. There were, but nowhere near as many as on the flood-plain and having scanned through them a couple of times it was time for lunch at The Buck in Paythorne - yum!


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