Bowland 17th May

A fine day was forecast and so I thought I'd spend the morning out in the Bowland Fells looking for some of the special birds there. Of course, first stop had to be Rishton Reservoir where something had finally dropped in - a Dunlin. OK, so not the height of rarity but around here they're not so common! The two male Little Ringed Plovers were still present as the water level had dropped even further.

Anyway, on to Croasdale Fell; I parked up near the gate to the bridleway that makes its way over the fells to Wray and set off in the hope that I might find the Whinchats that seem to favour the bracken area of the valley. Lapwings and Curlews called from the nearby fields and soon I could hear the 'go-back go-back' calls of the Red Grouse. Almost immediately after, I had a displaying Merlin above the road - a good start!

A little further along and a Short-eared Owl was quartering the rushy fields below me making occasional plunges into the grass. From my vantage point I could see the quarry and a car making progress towards it. A couple of photographers were putting up a hide to photograph the resident Peregrines that had now took flight and were circling above their heads. Once they'd finished, they settled down again and one of the birds circled the valley. However, I was searching for Whinchats and there were none. All I could hear were distant Reed Buntings and Willow Warblers (as well as the ubiquitous Meadow Pipits of course). I was a little disappointed - the last few years they've been regular here along with Stonechats but as I've noted previously, the latter have been all but wiped out in Bowland last winter.

So it was back to Slaidburn (having paused to ogle a roadside Redstart) to get a butty and then up the Cross of Greet road to another favourite haunt at White Greet. As soon as I opened the door, a Wheatear appeared nearby and I could hear the song of a Whinchat. It didn't take too long to pick it up sitting on the fence at the bottom of the wall. In fact there were at least three males singing in the area as well as a couple of male Wheatears, two Ravens and a Buzzard. This was a place I could always come to to see Whichat but as the Stonechats moved in over the past ten years, they had disappeared from this precise location. I ate my lunch as the sun came out and the birds continued to sing.

Finally, I dropped into Stocks and dipped again on the Cuckoo! Five Dunlin fed at the inlet but everything else was to be expected - Red-breasted Mergansers and Goosander in the Hodder whilst a Green Woodpecker yaffled in a distant copse. Garden and Willow Warblers serenaded my walk back to the car to finsih a very pleasant morning's birding.

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