Showing posts from June, 2010

A break from writing

With the sun shining brightly after lunch and the promise of wet and windy weather tomorrow, there was nothing for it but to wander down to the canal just behind my house and look to see what was there.

Normally the water is rather murky but the lack of boats on the canal and the prolonged calm spell and recent rain meant that the surface was relatively clear. A shoal of Roach and Perch were easily viewable as were several fry of one sort or another. There were Common Blue Damselflies all over the surface and a single Brown Hawker patrolled the reedy edge.

A couple of young Moorhen busied themselves at the side of the canal and a lone duckling accompanied a female Mallard.

In the garden, I've left the lawn covered in White clover and the bees of various kinds were having a rare old time.

Meanwhile 'down the dip' the Speckled Woods were looking rather bedraggled.

A pair of Lesser Redpolls have been visiting the feeders and the young Gold/Green/Chaff/Bullfinches are busy scoff…

Unexpected Raptors

This morning I decided to finish off my BBS squares by doing SD73M that covered the area around Martholme. Another lovely day with lots of bird families out and about was made pretty special by a couple of unexpected sightings. I'd made my way up towards Brownsills where the House and Tree Sparrows were on good form and then to a viewpoint over the fields where a couple of quite well grown young Curlews were feeding alongside their attentive parent. Sand Martins were chirping overhead as the returned to the colony down on the river with crop full of insects and a large gathering of gulls was down by the river.

Small Tortoiseshells, Meadow Browns and Speckled Woods were all very much in evidence as I wandered through the quiet lanes. As I reached the top near Clayton Farm, I could hear the Swallows alarm calling - "Must be a Sparrowhawk around" I thought to myself. Then a falcon appeared over the buildings - adult Hobby! I watched it for about a minute as it was mobbed by…

June - Lancs Bird Report time

The one thing about having a bit of a quite time means that I can get on with overdue jobs like writing my sections of the Lancashire Bird Report. I normally try to start in April but some key data was not available and so it kept getting pushed back. Anyhow, the last few days I've managed to get stuck in and now I 'only' got Sparrows, Finches and Buntings to compile. It's a bit of a labour of love but I had to break off yesterday afternoon for a certain football game!

Rishton Reservoir has been very quiet of late with the water level dropping even further - the news that a hose pipe ban is imminent is of no surprise really considering the very dry conditions we've had for simply ages - all those cold northerlies don't bring much precipitation. There were eight grebes on the reservoir today with two of the pairs hauled up on the sandy bank - don't often see that. A single Oystercatcher was the only wader and a juvenile Black-headed Gull was with a few adults…

The mid-June lull is upon us

It has been an odd Spring but approaching Wimbledon fortnight, most of the bird activity is concentrated on bringing up the family. At this time of year there is very little 'happening' in the migratory sense and it is the ideal time to visit a coastal seabird colony - anyone for Anglesey next week?

There's plenty of breeding evidence around, with young birds being fed in the garden and finch parents stocking up on seed to take back to their broods. Up to four Lesser Redpolls have been on the feeders including a couple of juveniles and young Chaffinches have put in an appearance but so far no young Gold or Greenfinches.

We're regularly getting visits from at least three adult Bullfinches - all ringed (but I can't read it from this image).
The young Blue and Great Tits are regular visitors as well as several Collared Doves, one of which has mastered perching on the feeder.

Anyway, a couple of days writing up reports and working on Excel spreadsheets is in store befor…

More Cuckoos

I've done a couple of surveys at either end of Lancashire in this past week and both have turned up Cuckoo, a species that is becoming really rare in the area. Today's jaunt up Leck Fell produced two males and a pair being harassed by Meadow Pipits and some splendid views. Of course, the camera was safely locked up so mega views were predictable.

The supporting cast of Wheatear young being fed by their parents, several Redstarts, Whinchats and Tree Pipits as well as a lovely Common Lizard all made the morning a very pleasant one.

I nipped in to Leighton Moss on the way back to have a look at the Marsh Harriers which were on view intermittently from the Grisedale hide but this Red Deer stag with velvety antlers stole the show.

Now to the football, though I must get on with this year's Lancashire Bird Report!

Youngsters everywhere

Well I've been entertained by a family of Great Tits the last couple of days as they gorged themselves silly on sunflower hearts - chasing each other about, thoroughly enjoying their new-found freedom but struggling with the buffeting wind. The Blue Tits fledged early this morning - I could hear the commotion from the comfort of my bed - but where they've now disappeared to is anyone's guess.

Today, a pair of Lesser Redpolls with at least two juveniles were enjoying the niger seed and the Bull/Green/Gold/Chaffinches are all making regular sorties to the garden to take back to their hungry broods.

A pleasant diversion today was for a summer plumaged Greenshank on the small reservoir at Parsonage along with several Lapwings found by Tim and Janet Davie. A pair of Great Crested Grebes have got three chicks in complete contrast to the Rishton Grebes - all three pairs are still around but the Reservoir level is dropping further and today a fisherman was on the very spot where t…

Time to keep the cats indoors

Not that I have any cats, but this week is about the peak time for fledging tit families and cats account for a high number of them as they find their way in the big bad world.

The Blue Tit parents are busily feeding the young on our house-side nest-box so I decided to have a look at how many were in the box. - eat least eight by the looks of it and all doing well. I suspect they'll be out soon but hopefully not tomorrow as some wet weather is forecast.

Atlasing this morning didn't bring any surprises but it was nice to confirm several species breeding status. A family of Redstarts were noisily harassing a Little Owl near where I parked my car and several Great Spotted Woodpeckers were out and about.

Dordogne part 2

It's a bit disconcerting when you log in to blogger with everything in French. Fortunately the layout is the same so it's not too much of a problem. It's been hot here the last few days and most things have sought the shade apart from a pair of skitish Red-backed Shrikes just down the road that perch up on the wires but dive for cover at the approach of a car. Yesterday evening we had an evening meal at a Logis near Cadouin - food was excellent and the avian song accompaniment was wonderful. I think Black Redstart is the bird of the trip with so many of these charismatic characters everywhere we went but none within photography range.

Melodious Warbler
A trip down to the large dammed lake near Tourilac before we visited the market in Villereal resulted in more Melodious Warblers and Golden Orioles - I think I've seen more of the latter on this holiday than in the whole of my life. Nightingales were belting out their song and we finally managed to come across a pair of H…

Southern Dordogne

We're having a break in the Dordogne region of France staying with our good friends Carmel and Tony Ashe. The weather hasn't been too good for the first few days but today the sun is out and the temperature is rising.

At Les Frenes we've had a relaxing time but managed to see one or two good birds visiting the garden and nearby fields. Black Redstarts are common place in the villages and around farm buildings. At least three Golden Orioles are singing in the vicinity and we've had spectacular views of one hovering over the field before plunging into the grass to catch its prey.

One surprising bird was Hen Harrier over the field - two males and a female yesterday as the farmer had just cut it. Buzzard, Kestrel and Hobby have all put in an appearance.

A little further down the road, Melodious Warblers, Nightingales and Zitting Cisticolas have been singing and today we came across a Red-backed Shrike. The Hoopoe has been taunting us however, calling nearby but never putti…