Friday, 27 August 2010

More Lancs birding

I went back over to my set of fields in Lancashire yesterday to see if the 3 juvenile Marsh Harriers were still around but after a while it was evident that they were not. The site was surprisingly quiet with only a few flights recorded, the best being a Peregrine that briefly crossed my airspace at height. As the evening progressed a brief view of a Barn Owl was had, followed later by a really good look at a Tawny Owl perched up by a farm building.

The highlight came late in the evening as an adult male Marsh Harrier flew into my site to roost in a wheat field. It was disturbed several times by the farm workers who were busy combining and baling up their straw which meant I got a few more flight views of it than I expected.

An other interesting sight was the thousands and thousands of Swallows that were gathering over the farmland before flying off in a swarm to the southwest.

I'm looking forward to this site during the winter to see what else turns up, Hen Harrier hopefully!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Sociable Plovers

Killing time before my late evening survey in Lancashire today I've just come across this incredible website: The Amazing Journey: Where you can follow the migration of the Sociable Lapwing. You can experience an extraordinary migration in real-time of 9 Critically Endangered birds from their breeding grounds in Kazakhstan to their wintering areas in tropical Africa.

This is a Birdlife International Preventing Extinctions Project sponsored by the RSPB and Swarovski Optik.
The 9 birds are called Abaj, Alia, Dinara, Erzhan, Jibek, Lena, Raushan, Svetlana and Tatyana.
I can't wait to see where they will end up!

(Images Copyright The Amazing Journey)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Early Vis Mig - North Yorks

This morning I conducted a dawn vantage point survey up in the hills of North Yorkshire with a beautiful sunrise in the east and a setting full moon in the west with a nice clear sky. It was no suprise therefore that the thermals were required due to the low temperature.

The usual waders were in evidence, Golden Plover, Curlew and Lapwing, however a flock of 5, then 11 Snipe flying through was less expected as they strongly flew southwest. There was little raptor activity today, just the resident Kestrels, however as the morning hit about 0800hrs passerine migration was noted, with getting on for 150 Meadow Pipit and 250 Swallow noted flying southwest in 2 hours. In amongst these was at least 5 Wheatear (1 briefly landed right next to me) and several Linnet.

Whislt walking off the hill a small patch of plantation that generally has nothing but Willow Warbler and Lesser Redpolls seemed more 'noisy' than usual with several Goldcrest and single Spotted Flycatcher, Wood Warbler, Tree Pipit and a very showy Grasshopper Warbler all found. An interesting if not somewhat unexpected morning.

At one point I was buzzed by an RAF Merlin Helicopter as it flew about 30m overhead before landing next to me.

Apparently the pilot saw me and wanted to get my number...

You're welcome....

Friday, 13 August 2010

Lancs birding

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in North Yorkshire on a hill dodging torrential downpours and lightening which was all good fun. The poor weather may have resulted in the expected birds being absent however a party of 4 Wheatear was a nice touch, presumably dropped down by a shower. There was little else of note other than Swift, Swallow, House and Sand Martin that were all on a mission south.

Today I spent the morning in a field in the Lancashire lowlands, not really having any expectations of what I might see the morning proved very interesting. I got out of my car and the first thing I saw was a Marsh Harrier, as I got my scope and bins out to start my survey I noted several Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk in the air also. I got on the Marsh Harrier - a juvenile but straightaway was aware of another large bird behind it, a second juvenile Marsh Harrier! I watched these for about 10-15 minutes when something caught the corner of my eye, another one! Three juvenile Marsh Harriers in pristine condition quartering about ranging some distance and height but showing incredibly well. I continued to watch them on and off for 4 hours. I like harriers! They are good fun to watch! One of the birds flew fairly close to me and rather kindly flushed 3 Greenshank that were well out of sight in a ditch somewhere then it continued to put up several of the more expected Curlew and Lapwing.

Other than the Marsh Harrier entertainment came in the form a Peregrine that was seen a couple of times, the second time it nailed a Mallard before dropping in to destroy it! Otherwise it was mainly the expected Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel that were all jostling with each other and the harriers.

Smaller stuff was not as noticeable as previous visits with a few Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting and Willow Warbler noted. Several Swift and good numbers of Swallow and House Martin were also noted.

Monday, 2 August 2010

More Quail and a Flock of TDs

Friday saw me conducting a dawn Barn Owl survey somewhere in Northish Lincs. No Barn Owls were recorded however I did see another quail, this time a bird flying into a wheat field. However the highlight of a beautiful morning was the flock of 5 Turtle Dove that flew over and round me twice before landing on a spilt grain pile. A male bird amongst the flock was seen and heard displaying to a female and at least one of the birds was a juvenile. There could quite possibly have been more than five birds as several other birds were also seen during the morning but not all at the same time as the flock of five had been seen. Other farmland birds of note included Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Lapwing etc.

I had a busy weekend conducting Best Man duties for a good friend of mine so little was had during the weekend, though we did start a 'Wedding List' from the churchyard as we were waiting for the bride to arrive!

I did get time to have a quick walk around the local patch which bird wise is fairly quite, the odd Lesser and Common Whitethroat and Blackcap being evident. Much more noticeable was the number and diversity of butterflies with Speckled Wood, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Peacock, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Holly Blue and Small Copper all recorded in a 15 minute spell!

Hopefully a few warm night might produce some interesting moths at the light... we'll see...