Friday, 30 April 2010

Abbeystead and Dotterel revisited

April 29, 2010:
Being conveniently close to the route home and as there had been no reports for two days, another check was made to see if the single male Dotterel and Golden Plovers were still in their field alongside Abbeystead Lane. A slight surprise therefore to find two female Dotterel in just the same place and again mixed in amongst the plovers but this time there was no sign of last week's male.

The birds were still very distant which made photography difficult

There are several square kilometres of contiguous and seemingly identical upland pasture in this immediate area but the Dotterel and plovers have always remained within a very small part of it, no more than 100 metres in diameter. Even when flushed by a low-flying aircraft, all the birds returned to the same spot. They've been there now for at least a week so presumably there is very rich feeding. Lapwings and Meadow Pipits were again present and a Marsh Harrier briefly appeared nearby.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Pied Flycatchers in the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire

April 27, 2010:
Pied Flycatchers returned to the area about two weeks ago and are now actively searching for nesting sites and in some cases even building. With the leaves still only in bud the birds were quite easy to see and for a short period photography is possible before the tree canopy closes.

At this particular site they repeatedly entered their potential nesting hole high in the trunk of a decaying tree, quite unconcerned by my presence a short distance away. Despite this, after only a few minutes, I withdrew.

Below shows the female carrying a piece of nesting material into the hole.

The birds would perch for a short while on branches nearby but rarely remained still otherwise. There wasn't much time in which to find them through the lens and then to focus on them.

Occasionally a bird could be heard calling.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Abbeystead Dotterel again

April 25, 2010:
The Dotterel was still there today amongst an enlarged flock of Golden Plovers but this time it was even more distant (80+ metres).

Manual focus, a tripod and a 1.4x extender didn't really result in larger images. At one time all the birds took to the air for no apparent reason but were still just as far away when they re-settled.

Golden Plovers circling the field.

A bonus later in the day was a good view of Pied Flycatchers in a wooded area. It may be possible to get some photos of them soon.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Dotterel at Abbeystead, Lancashire

April 24, 2010:
The Dotterel, first reported near Abbeystead on Thursday, was still there today (Saturday).

It was in an upland sheep pasture and about 50 metres from the side of a country road amongst a flock of approximately 45 Golden Plovers. Even with a scope and at such a relatively short distance, it was often difficult to locate as it was mixed in with the plovers and kept low down in the grass, sometimes sleeping. All this made photgraphy difficult. On the occasional movement of the plovers, the passage of a Buzzard overhead, or the approach of a sheep, it would raise itself slightly, walk about briefly and for a short while be more visible. Lapwings and Meadow Pipits were also close by.

Whoever first spotted it from the roadside must have been very sharp-eyed!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Whimbrels at the Brockholes Wetlands roost, Lancashire

mid-late April 2010:
As Whimbrels migrate from their African wintering grounds to northern Europe, Brockholes Wetlands is an important stopping-off and roosting site. This year, the first bird was reported on April 12th and numbers are now building up quickly (see the panel on the upper left for a periodic count).

In fading light they arrive in ones and twos soon to be followed by larger flocks after which numbers fall off rapidly. On arrival in the shallows, there's commotion for a while as they drink, wash and preen before eventually settling down to sleep. Day-time is spent feeding in nearby fields before, having rested for a few days, they continue their migration northwards. Numbers usually peak by the end of the month and by early May all are gone.

All these photos were taken this week but the poor light in which the birds arrive doesn't help photography.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

A Redpoll influx in Bowland, Lancashire

April 17, 2010:
An influx of Redpolls possibly with some Mealies amongst them was reported from the Langden Intake area near Dunsop Bridge yesterday. From one of the previous sightings it could be inferred that at least a quarter of those present were Mealies and that some of the others were atypical Lessers.

This morning in bright sunshine several people were watching them. The birds were usually high up in the tall conifers close to the Trough road but were distinctly elusive and seen only intermittently and then briefly. They were feeding on the abundant cones and acrobatically suspended themselves below them. Very rarely one would fly down and drink in the stream.

Observed from below, it was never easy to get more than a brief view as they worked tirelessly through, and were obscured by, the branches, whilst to photograph them with a real chance of success was almost impossible.

There were certainly one or two distinctly pale-plumaged birds preset which might be attributable to Mealies. Goldfinches, Chaffinches, and Blue Tits also moved amongst them and both a Grey Wagtail and a Dipper was seen by the stream.

The Langden valley mouth. The Redpolls' conifers can be clearly seen.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Marsh Harriers active at Leighton Moss

April 13, 2010:
There was much activity over the reed beds today with up to three birds seen in the air at one time. Often they appeared to scan the area for likely nesting sites, settling on the ground briefly before taking off again and repeating the process. Despite that, there was no sign of nesting material being carried in.

There were several occasions of aerial display, twisting and turning acrobatically. On one occasion a bird perched far out in the middle of the fen on an alder shrub . They are providing considerable interest with cars pulling into the laybys at the roadside to watch.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Alert Peregrine and busy Raven, Lancashire

April 4, 2010:

Apparently not wearing an apron when preparing lunch

Raven feeding three hungry chicks.
(All photos taken at extreme range)

Saturday, 3 April 2010

White Stork at Sawley, Lancashire

April 3, 2010:
After passing over Padiham at mid-day yesterday (Good Friday) and being seen shortly afterwards at Ribchester, by late afternoon the bird had moved 15 km or so up the Ribble valley to a field next to Sawley Abbey. There it stayed overnight and for a short while this morning. On arrival shortly after 10.30am it had just taken to the air, soaring slowly and effortlessly in circles over the abbey and gradually gaining height all the time. Then, after about five minutes, it flew off purposefully up-river in a north-easterly direction and was lost to sight. Metal-ringed, it was possibly once in captivity. It is thought it could be the same bird as that seen near Burnley two years ago. If so, why return again to northern England, and at what might be considered its migration season?

Friday, 2 April 2010

Marsh Harriers at Leighton Moss

April 1, 2010:
Last week, the first Marsh Harrier was reported to be back here and yesterday there were at least five. Two birds were very active towards the eastern end of the large reed bed and on one occasion a bird dropped down to pick up and carry away what appeared to be a small duck. They divided their time between displaying and gliding over the marsh or being hidden from view amongst the dense vegetation.

Just for a few seconds a bird perched briefly on a large shrub far out in the centre of the marsh.