Monday, 29 April 2013

My up to date sightings etc. - from Mon April 29th 2013.

Tree Pipits and Meadow Pipits beware! Cuckoo has arrived back at Hutton Roof
Sunday May 5th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)  "First Swift"
1430hrs-1530hrs  (Wind: 16mph SW) Plain Quarry to Trig and return.
Still strongish winds from the SW, and very little in the way of bird song. Scratchy from a couple of Tree Pipits, Lots of vocal from Green Woodpeckers towards the bottom of Dalton (upper). My first Swift of the year crossing over Dalton to the North. Never seen or heard Cuckoo.

Saturday May 4th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)
0615hrs-0745hrs (Wind: 20mph WSW)
Still strongish winds from the WSW, and at times light rain up until about 0730hrs then clearing from the West. Nothing much on offer this morning with no Warblers singing, or no sightings of Hirundines etc. 

1400hrs - 1600hrs (Wind: 13mph SW)
Checking out Slape Lane areas and Pickles Wood looking for suitable Flycatcher, Redstart habitat.  Found some more Herb Paris in Pickles Wood.  Small copse near Pickles Wood is absolutely carpetted with ramsons (not yet flowered), I have been searching for a name for this copse for ages so what better and simpler than "garlic copse". Odd Willow Warblers and Blackcaps calling.

Friday May 3rd 2013 (Burton In Kendal)
0600hrs-0700hrs (Wind: 12-14mph SW)
Lot of dark solid cloud threatening rain. Lighter coloured cloud mainly to the East.
Chiffchaff Lee calling from Thornleigh, Blackcap from Hordley, also Blackcaps behind Church Bank and again at Piper Lane, Clawthorpe. Swallows seen near Green Dragon, Russell Farm and Oakwood Farm, Clawthorpe. Expecting the arrival of Burton's Swifts over the next day or two. 

0900hrs - 1100hrs  (Wind: 15mph SW) Plain Quarry to Trig and return.
Cuckoo again today playing elusive with no personal sighting and definately again no calling.  However it was reported to me this morning that the bird was calling yesterday evening. Also the Northern Greenlands Wheatear have now moved on. Odd Redpolls and Linnets moving about - (presumed local). The two pairs of Mistle Thrushes present in Dalton Upper have started singing on a regular basis.  A few of the Willow Warblers in song, most of them silent, also the Blackcap and Garden Warbler and Chiffchaff are silent. Just realised again this year on this side that I have not seen any STONECHATS. 

Thursday May 2nd 2013 (Burton In Kendal)  "Common Redstart"
0600hrs-0700hrs (Wind: 3mph E)
Very heavy frost on windscreen again and much colder today, but sky looks clear with no or very little cloud, so would expect to follow a lovely sunny day. 
Chiff "Lee" was calling from Thornleigh. A new Blackcap was calling from Dalton Hall. Swallows on lines at: Green Dragon Farm (2), Russell Farm, Dalton (2), and Oakwood Farm, Clawthorpe (2).  Blackbirds (5 males) all within a 20 yard stretch at the beginning of the Clawthorpe Road (Nr. Clawthorpe Hall), this stretch needs to be called "Black Throstles Way".......

0900hrs-1130hrs (Wind 7mph W) Plain Quarry to Trig and return.
All Tree Pipits singing, two in lower Dalton Crags, and three separate in Dalton -upper.  Also the Blackcap which frequents the top of the lower Dalton Crags has returned and in very defused song.  In Dalton upper I thought at first I saw a Sparrowhawk fly across from East at the Gully to the West, but should have realised it was the Cuckoo.  The Cuckoo has been like all the rest of the migrants this year, very quiet - not singing.  Also saw three new arrivals of Northern Greenland Wheatear on the Crag House side, I saw two males and one female, but talking to Bern earlier, he told me he had actually seen four on the wall, so I probably had missed one. 

1430hrs- 1700hrs (Wind 8mph WNW) Burton Fell in search of Redstarts and Warblers.
Had a Comma Butterfly on Slape Lane on my way up to Burton Fell. Found a new colony of Herb Paris. Found a female Redstart towards the bottom of Burton Fell.  Several Willow Warblers in song throughout and noted, but because of the time of day most birds were much subdued in their song. 

Wednesday May 1st 2013 (Burton In Kendal)   "Cuckoo returned"
0600hrs-0700hrs (Wind: 7-9mph SSE)

Frost on windscreen, Cloudy with sunny breaks, not as clear as yesterday. Chill with cool breeze. Only Chiffchaff in song was "Mo" singing again from somewhere around the rear of the Creamery. Swallows sat on telegraph wires at: between Old Royal Pub and the Kings Pub, Church Bank Farm, Clawthorpe House, Oakwood Farm at Clawthorpe. Also Blackcap is back and in song at Woodlands, Clawthorpe.  Reliably informed that the "Cuckoo" has returned to Dalton upper.

0900hrs-1100hrs (Wind: 15mph WSW) Plain to Trig, Lancelot upper and return

Still plenty of cold wind about in between some nice short sunny spells. 
The Cuckoo was elusive to me and although I searched all over upper Dalton and upper Lancelot, I couldn't find it. 
No signs of any Greenlands today, its obvious yesterdays single male has flown on. 
Probably up to three pairs of Tree Pipits in lower Dalton Crags and definately two pairs in Dalton upper. Some of them calling and doing their downward parachute display.
Craig the Chiffchaff was calling today at Plain Quarry after a few days of abstinence, and a nice suprise to hear from Chiffchaff  "Nineteen". He's always a late caller this one!
All Willow Warblers/Blackcap/Tree Pipits recorded en route. 

Tuesday April 30th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)

0600hrs - 0700hrs (Wind: 12mph NNW)

Frost on windscreen, becoming lovely sunny morning with very little intermittent cloud. One Chiffchaff calling and that was "Mo" who had moved a little to the rear of the "Creamery".
Nothing heard from any of the other Chiffs, but the odd Willow Warbler heard here and there. Odd Swallows on the telegraph wires near their breeding territories eg: Russell Farm and Oakwood Farm at Clawthorpe.  Plenty of birds singing in general this morning so off out shortly to do a full count of singing warblers (I hope!) up on the Hutton Roof Crags (west side). 

0900hrs-1400hrs (Wind: 12mph WNW)
 With the weather being bright and sunny and the wind having dropped right down in the sheltered areas I thought I would give a good check out to the Warblers in Burton Fell, and Lancelot Clark Storth and Dalton.

Sadly the Chiffchaff situation is a tragic one and definately as expected if not a little worse with less than 50% of birds having returned to their normal breeding sites.  Out of the 50% returned there have also been the the odd individual that had managed to return are now no longer on their respective site.  

There is however plenty of good news with the Willow Warblers and the Blackcap having done extremely well with even more birds on territory than last year.  

12 Willow Warblers in Lower Lancelot, 9 Willow Warblers in Upper Lancelot.  15 Willow Warblers on Burton Fell (South & West side only) - Total 36 without Dalton.
Also: 2 Blackcaps at Slape Lane paired, at least 6 Blackcaps in Lancelot, all three Chiffchaffs calling in Lancelot, 1 in Storth and still just the one on Burton Fell.  1 Garden Warbler suspected in Lancelot (Pickles Wood).  Also 1 Northern Greenland Wheatear (male) in Dalton upper along with 3 singing and displaying Tree Pipits. 
Also: 1 Small Tortoishell Butterfly, 2 Peacocks, 1 male Orange Tip. 

What a difference it makes having some sun.  The insects have been out in force and just whats needed.  Even in the tractor tracks partly filled with water here and there were "pond skaters" and lots of other sorts of water beetles. Gnats have been hatching etc.  Lets just hope now that it keeps up for a day or two.

Monday April 29th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)

0600hrs-0700hrs Wind: 18mph W
Had a new Chiffchaff calling and this time from the "Tanpits" area.  I am not getting too excited yet! Not sure yet whether its a new arrival or is it just that "Archie" has moved over a little from Orchard Close. Still no song from lots of other Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers and the odd scratchings of calls from Blackcaps. One Swallow on telegraph wires in Clawthorpe (Oakwood Farm).

Will shortly be off out again to check the "Northern Greenland Wheatear" and I wonder if the Cuckoo is about yet, he returned on the 27th April last year.

0845hrs-1015hrs Wind: 25mph W (Plain Quarry to Trig and return)

One Tree Pipit just about heard coming from the "Clearing" in Lower Dalton, just before you ascend the Crags, another one singing quite well with much of its "diminishing crescendo call" whilst parachuting display at the first set of trees in Dalton (upper) and then heard just the contact call from another somewhere near the line of Trees.  

Just one Northern Greenland Wheatear in today which was a female which was seen flitting backwards and forwards from "The Gully" to "Wheatear Plain" and later back again.

No Chiffchaffs calling yet again (Tuesday last was the last time heard), and a few rather subdued Willow Warblers (maybe up to 4) by now usually there would be up to a score in song whilst on way up to Trig. 

1400hrs-1500hrs Wind: 25mph W but sheltered here (Dockacres) 

Had a quick walk around Dockacres, and noticed there was one Chiffchaff singing OK, several Willow Warblers (all in song) and a possible Sedge Warbler.  Looking along the dyke area I noticed there was lots of "midge insects" and just at this point it is also rather sheltered from the strong westerley winds.  Obviously makes all the difference!

For earlier information check blogs below the Chiffchaff notes.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Where are the rest of the Chiffchaffs?

Some general notes on the "Chiffchaff" and some replies.

Below are some notes which I have decided to put on a couple of online sites (including Bird Forum) to try and get a idea of what might be going on with the "Chiffchaff" non-arrivals here within Burton In Kendal, and try and ascertain if others are having a similar experience in their particular areas around the Country.

My Report and Questions  I have been monitoring the breeding Chiffchaffs in and around the village of Burton In Kendal. I have records for the past three years on a spreadsheet. Where I book down the arrival dates and check them every week to two week throughout their stay etc. We have a least 33 singing birds representing the same number of territories. 

This year the birds that have returned are later than the norm by a average of 18 days (general consensus). This delay represents a trend throughout the North and considered to be caused through the adverse weather conditions they would have met prior or during the onset of their migrations North. 

The worrying fact is that only 17 singing birds have arrived back (more or less 50%) on territory. The territory of these birds is the same area every year within a few metres. Its even more worrying to realize that there have not been any new arrivals of this species since the 15th April. I am noting daily arrivals of Willow Warblers, but certainly no Chiffchaffs. 

I have put this on here (the national site: Bird Forum and now also on Wild About Britain) to see if anyone else monitors the Chiffchaffs within a area which would allow them to draw any conclusions or comparisons with this. Any replies would be most welcome. 

Also of note is that the Chiffchaffs on 90% of territories are very subdued with their singing, where in the main they can only manage short burst of song, part song and some even silent. The only Chiffchaffs that seem to be singing OK are the ones in the more sheltered areas eg: Pickles Wood in Lancelot Clark Storth.

Some Interesting replies so far : 
Here are some of the replies I've had directly in response to my blogsite and some also from national bird forums. (subscribers names removed to protect anonymity.

1) In late March and early April there were large numbers reported here in Devon, unusually feeding on the ground and apparently fairly desperate for food in the wintery conditions. It's possible a lot of them didn't make it through that period. 
(Devon -- 27th April 2013.)

2) I've just been checking back on my Chiffchaff counts over the past couple of years at Carsington Water where I regularly attend. On April 16th 2012, I counted 49 Chiffchaffs during a walk around the water. On almost the same date this year (15th) I had 14. A significant difference. Although the walk this year wasn't as far I would not have added many more. A similar walk yesterday produced 21 so numbers are increasing but still way down. 
(Derwent Valley -- 27th April 2013). 

3) Its the same in Norfolk chiffchaff late in arriving and though there seemed good numbers about last week a lot fewer about now so perhaps many of last weeks birds were on passage. 
(Norfolk -- 27th April 2013). 

4) Very few up here. 
(Highlands -- 27th April 2013). 

5) I agree with the sentiments expressed about Chiffchaffs. 
My conclusion is that Chiffs have tried to come in at their normal time and been hammered as a result. For other species the spring passage will be later but more intense than usual. 
I imagine that one or two broods this summer will restore Chiff numbers - boon and bust must be the norm. 
(Farnborough -- 27th April 2013).

6) Serious lack of chiffchaffs here in my corner of the New forest too compared to previous years.
(New Forest – 28th April)

7) I heard reports of Chiffs being found dead around the south coast when we had that sudden cold snap, not sure how reliable this is or how many birds were found but could have been some significant mortality of early arrivals I guess.
(Nethybridge – 28th April 2013)

8) I've noticed less Chiffchaffs than in the previous few years also.
(London – 28th April 2013)

9) I live in beautiful Northern Ireland and I have to tell you we have not had many Chiffchaff over here either in comparison to last year.
(Margaret in Northern Ireland - 29th April 2013)

10) Numbers down in my area too, as are willow warblers. Blackcaps seem to be OK, but no sign of any sedge warblers, whitethroats or grasshopper warblers which are normally in by now. The severely cold dry start to spring and now the cold blustery wet northerly winds, offer no favours to the migrants. Even swallow and martin numbers are down. There simply aren't enough insects around at the moment to sustain them. All looks a bit bleak at the moment. 
(Monaghan - Ireland - 19th April 2013)

So after receiving these reports its looking more and more clear now that there could well have been a major problem for the species during the onset or part way through their migration with some disastrous consequences.  For me its definately a good idea to keep definitive comparison records, it does save all that guesswork of probability!!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Northern Greenland Wheatear and Other news.

My recorded notes in regards to Northern Greenland Wheatear. (please click over illustration to enlarge)
Yesterday Tuesday 23rd April 2013 saw the arrival of six "Northern Greenland Wheatear" to their usual place on "Wheatear Plain" on the upper Dalton Crags.  There were 5 males and 1 female.  4 of the males had the usual sooty blue plumage whilst one of the males had a slightly lighter plumage.
I checked the area thoroughly again today (Wed 24th April 2013), but no sign of them anywhere so presumed they have moved on.
They are bang on with their arrival date and I would expect more to call in over the next week or so.

Scroll down for latest sightings etc

Wednesday April 24th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)

0600hrs - 0700hrs (Wind: 10mph S)
Noticed today that all Swallows which were back on territory over the past few days seem now to be absent.  I get the feeling that because conditions are so windy and cold, that they have perhaps temporarily moved to better local feeding areas and hopefully will be back very soon.  Just the odd Willow Warbler part calling, certainly no Chiffchaffs calling as yet....

0830hrs -0930hrs (Wind: 20mph SW and increasing) (Plain Quarry to Trig Point)
Very strong winds yet again, with occasional light drizzle and visibility down to about 30 yards at best on top, checked out Dalton Crags (upper) thoroughly but no signs anywhere of the "Greenlands" which I can only presume will have moved on, so now I am eagerly awaiting the next batch coming in.
Blackcap calling from back of Plain Quarry, a couple of Willow Warblers but generally the Warblers are well subdued. No hirundines seen today.
Checked out the "Early Purple Orchids" which are still only showing a small basal rosette and probably looking at this would say that they are at least 3/4 weeks behind their norm, (normally by now just about starting to flower).

Thursday April 25th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)

0600hrs-0700hrs (Wind: 6mph E) 
Heard no Chiffchaffs in song this morning and just a couple of "song struggling" Willow Warblers.  I will be off up Dalton Crags shortly to see if anymore "Northern Greenland Wheatear" have arrived.  One Swallow seen hawking above Green Dragon Farm.

1445hrs-1630hrs (Wind: 15mph NW) (Plain Quarry to Trig and return)
Been raining all day from 0700hrs and just finished at 1430hrs and brightening up was the rain stopped.

Just the odd single Willow Warbler in song.  Four Tree Pipits in Dalton (upper) squabbling and chasing one another, just one gave a part song, but plenty of "contact" calls between them.  There was more tree pipit "song" coming from Sky the lark, than the actual tree pipits.

Nice to see the six "Greenland Wheatears" are still here (and they are the same ones which came in on Tuesday).  No idea where they where yesterday.  But definately the same birds, instantly recognized five males and one female, and the give away was the single male in very light colour much like our Eurasian birds plumage, but the top of his head and forehead was of a very light bright silver blue which stood out a mile, in fact this was quite noticeable on Tuesday last also.  They were there on my way up starting from the "Line of Trees"  and worked their way up past "The Gully" and as I walked up they kept going forward to the point where I last saw them at the "Shrike Tree" area.  I looked all around for them on my way back, around the Trig areas on the Common, the Crag House side but just could not find them again.

Friday April 26th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)  "Toothwort"

0600hrs-0700hrs (Wind: 15mph NW)
Noticed Tanpits Song Thrush feeding, so he/she is still about.  Still several Chiffchaff missing and the only call this morning was a very very "weak" call from Lee at (Thornleigh), and nothing from the Willow Warblers.  A Swallow seen going to nesting area at Green Dragon and also a pair returned and sat on the telegraph wires at Russell Farm, Dalton.  Just when are these winds going to abate?

0845hrs-0945hrs (Wind: 20mph NW) (Plain Quarry to Trig and return)
Wind strengthening, sunny intervals, rain later.
No Greenland Wheatear seen this morning.  At least three "very weak" singing Tree Pipits. Several Willow Warblers in full descending crescendo singing.  No Chiffchaffs or Blackcaps calling. One Swallow singing overhead.

Toothwort colony near Challon Hall
(Click over photo to enlarge)

0945hrs - 1400hrs (Wind: 25mph WSW) (Thrang Wood, Eaves Wood and Haweswater Nr. Challon Hall.

Went with friend over to the West side checking out the usual sites for Toothwort. Thrang Wood down to about 4 sprigs, In Eaves Wood found the usual sites with up to 50 sprigs set out in about four areas along a 50 yard stretch. Near Challon Hall we found over 100 sprigs set out in about five areas along a 75 yard stretch.

Saturday April 27th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)

0630hrs-0800hrs (Wind: 6mph N)       "Garden Warblers"
Cold, heavy frost this morning, hard to scrape on windscreen.  Came lovely sunny later. House Martins flying above Dalton Lane Near Green Dragon Farm. Also first Garden Warblers calling from the Thornleigh area. Never heard a Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler.

0900hrs-1030hrs (Wind: 18mph N) "Two new Greenland Wheatears"
Two (one male and one female) new Greenland Wheatears have arrived in Dalton (upper) and located just below the "Line of Trees" on the boundary wall to Crag House side.  No Warblers or Tree Pipits singing, One very late Meadow Pipit crossing over to the North and about eight blogging birds around the Trig Point.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Skylark, Pipit and Warbler News from 22nd April 2013

This sketch is to try and adapt what went on, during one of my observation one day when I witnessed a Skylark was screaming through the air, whilst being chased with a Merlin not far behind. The Skylark just had time to make a vertical lift, which he kept on doing whilst being chased by the Merlin.  Yet the Merlin just could not cut the air like the "Lark" and lost out tremendously on the wider revolutions he was having to make, all allowing the Skylark to gain more height and eventually, the Merlin got tired and gave up. 
This is a sketch I did a while ago, although I have revamped it a little, because it reminded me about how well the Skylark lifts and cuts the air.  But it was last week whilst walking down through Dalton deforested the wind was almost blowing me back at about 50 mph, yet I looked over to Crag House side and guess what! "Sky" the lark was cutting the air vertical in the straightest line you could imagine without even "flinching".  How could that be possible in such strong winds?

And some years ago I also saw the "skylark" ascend with great haste whilst being harassed by a Merlin, and again noticed on that witness, that he cut the air so vertical and with such speed.  The Merlin although fast just was not fast enough and loosing height against the Skylark on each revolution because of its wider circumference flight circle...... and thus the Skylark got away to see another day.

This morning "Sky" the lark was really enjoying himself with a wide repertoire which mainly included the Tree Pipit which arrived back a few days ago.

Check out the recent postings below:

Monday April 22nd 2013 (Burton In Kendal)

0600-0715hrs (Wind: 15mph SW) Although there was a good early morning "Dawn Chorus", this did not include any Warblers, it was predominently the Blackbirds and the Robins. Odd hirundines present over Tanpits and a pair at Russell Farm. Shortly be going up Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof.

0845hrs-1000hrs (Wind: 18mph S and SW) Plain Quarry to Trig and back
There were a couple of Willow Warblers calling and also still only one Chiffchaff part calling just behind Plain Quarry, but seen in the close company of another Chiffchaff which only made the contact "whit" call, but again most stuff quite subdued and not singing or singing in part only.  The winds are here again today with 15-18mph SW and cold with it again today, I think perhaps this low temperature is also playing a big part in the subdued calling bird behaviour being currently witnessed.

1000hrs-1015hrs (Wind: 18mph SW) Railway Bridge near Cinderbarrow (Tarn Lane)
A male Blackcap singing well with fast scratchy bubbly mixed calls, from the same place as recorded last year.  Also calling in the background both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler with both Robin and Dunnock joining in.

Tuesday April 23rd 2013 (Burton In Kendal)  "Greenland Wheatear Arrive"

0600hrs-0700hrs (Wind: 15-20mph WSW) Still strong winds hampering close Warbler listening, but did still manage to hear a new Willow Warbler, calling from either Burton House, or The Creamery or Hordley House, need to try and pin this one down during the next few days. Also some more good news with "Mo" the Chiffchaff calling from Hordley House.  Also a new this year Willow Warbler calling from Curwen Wood, Piper Lane entry. A Swallow seen back on territory at Oakwood Farm.

0900hrs-1100hrs (Wind: 16-18mph WSW) (Plain Quarry to Trig and return)

A long established Willow Warbler has returned and singing close to the steps up to the viewpoint at the back of Plain Quarry.  One of Plain Quarry's Blackcaps has returned and is singing to the Dalton Side (usual place). Craig the Chiffchaff is singing from around the same spot.

On my way up to the Trig, found four "Greenland Wheatear" had returned and seen in their regular spot.  On my way back down the numbers had increased to six birds.  Difficult but would say five males and one female. Four of the males where the dusky blue back colour, where one was a lovely light slate blue with a very light coloured forehead.

Also a Small Tortoishell Butterfly seen in Plain Quarry car park.

1315hrs - 1600hrs (Wind: 12mph WSW) Slape Lane, Holme Quarry Nature Reserve, Clawthorpe Fell.

Chiffchaff  "Thorpy" from Holme Nature Reserve, Clawthorpe was heard calling, also two Willow Warblers present.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Most of our Chiffchaffs have arrived, any day now our Willow Warblers

One of my older sketches, but its that time of the year again when I can check out the Chiffchaff arrivals. (Please click over illustration to enlarge)
I get so excited when I hear the first Chiffchaff.  Which for me represents the very first sign of Spring, which is offered by song from one of our favourite migrants.  Usually I get my first bird back on or around the 24th March, but this year it was as late as the 12th April.  Having done only a rough survey at this stage I can now confirm as I write that the undermentioned Chiffs are all back on territory, having been witnessed singing from the very same spot (even the same tree in most cases) as last year and the year before that.  All this information is kept on record on a excel spreadsheet, on which I have recorded the dates of arrivals, the areas, the regular visits over the next six weeks and where possible the confirmation of breeding (without causing any disturbance), other interesting facts and their last song (usually part or scratchy) etc etc.

So hello to: Craig (Plain Quarry), Summer (Summer House, Dalton), Lance, Clarky and Miss-A-Note (Lancelot Clark Storth), Lee (Thornleigh) Storm (Storth Wood, Dalton), Hilda and Lisa at Hilderstone, Chiff and Chaff at the Canal (Station Pub end), and this very morning the arrival of Dale (Dalton Hall).

For me its so much easier to be able to record the individual birds with their own personal names for each of the 33+ Chiffchaffs in or around the Burton In Kendal area. I suppose it also adds that personal touch and a sort of  "warmth" feel to it all. Lets face it they are a very special little creature that give us so much pleasure (they will never know!!).

Tuesday April 16th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)

0630hrs  Hello to Dale (Dalton Hall) a new Chiffchaff arrival.  Also heard Lee singing at Thornleigh.  This morning was so difficult to hear anything with the strong 25-30mph South Westerlies.  One thing for sure is that South Westerlies will not hamper the Swallows coming through, in fact they will probably be able to go through at a good height with a pushing "side wind".  I will be out soon to check out more "warbler hot spots" and then later on to see how the old Swallow corridors are fairing!

0900hrs - 1030hrs Dalton Crags to Trig and Return.  The wind was strong at 25mph with gust to 40mph and this made it so noisy you struggled to hear anything proper. Occasionally I would hear the odd Mipit, although I couldn't tell whether they were birds flying through or just grounded birds calling, I think maybe the latter, because the only bird which I did see in the Sky was Sky the Lark who somehow managed to ascend to a great height (100ft or maybe 200ft) in such a straight vertical line without flinching whilst yet these strong winds would be flying into him, yet he held straight with only what I could have presumed much resistance! Rather amazing to watch whilst under these severe conditions.

1200hrs-1500hrs Slape Lane, Burton Fell, Lancelot.
Wind still strong and a struggle hearing.  Did manage to hear new in Chiffchaff "Bunty" at the top of the incline on Burton Fell but still not the other two higher up. All three Chiffs singing in Lancelot.  No Willow Warblers anywhere. A pair of Long Tailed Tits and Goldcrest singing in Lancelot. Also Marsh Tit calling at Slape/Clawthorpe track crossover. I have heard it here before singing with a explosive "tichooety, chooety, chooety, choo"
Plenty of nice flowers here with L. Celandine, Wood Anemone, Dog Violets, Dogs Mercury, Ground Ivy and the beautiful primrose.

"Confusion of Willow Warblers"
Click over sketch to enlarge
1900hrs-2030hrs Hilderstone to Cinderbarrow

"Confusion of Willow Warblers"

Had about 50 or 60 Hirundines grouped and flying West as though probably to Leighton Moss for roost overnight.

2000hrs It was such a privilege to witness that rare siting of a "Confusion of Willow Warblers" with no less than ten birds in the party group obviously feeding up before their next leg of their onward nocturnal journey North. They were on the side of the Lancaster Canal about 3-400 yards NW of Tarn Lane Bridge.  It was some spectacle to watch them constantly flying off the tree branches and sort of hovering mid air to ravish the spills of the many midges present.

2015hrs Even at 2015hrs 3 Meadow Pipits passing over.

Wednesday April 17th 2013  (Burton In Kendal)    
"Blackcaps overnight"

0600hrs A nice singing Song Thrush at the top of Mowbray Drive, and just a small hint of song by Lee the resident "Thornleigh" Chiffchaff.  Still awaiting Mo and Thor from this area
0620hrs Besides Dale, Lad the Chiffchaff is today back and singing at Dalton Hall.

1100hrs - 1300hrs  (Dalton, Lancelot, Burton Fell)
No birds seen crossing over on migration. Winds still at 20mph SSW.

First Willow Warbler returned overnight to Burton Fell and in part song, usual place. Also another four separate Willow Warblers arrived overnight and singing in full within Lancelot Clark Storth.
First two Blackcaps have also arrived overnight and in full scratchy song in Pickles Wood, same spot as last year.

Thursday April 18th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)

0600hrs Had been terrible in the night with gales up to 60mph. Tree blown down on Dalton Lane, there must have been some early bird maintainance out this morning, to have already moved the tree into the side of the road with evidence of it having been sawn through.

0630hrs One of the rare extreme mornings with Winds still blowing at 30-40 mph WSW, combined with heavy rain. Although you struggled to hear anything, you could just about make out the odd "croaky" Blackbird in the background, or the distant Robin, and to my suprise I actually did hear some low level melodic song coming from the Goldcrest at Browside on Vicarage Lane.

0830hrs  Stopped raining coming through sunny now! but wind still not abating. Will check out Warbler arrivals later, for now catch up with paperwork etc etc etc.....

1400hrs-1515hrs (Plain Quarry to Trig and return)  "Return of Tree Pipit"
Still blowing at about 30mph but with severe 50 mph gust.. The only bird I actually saw whilst going through Dalton deforested turned out to be a much welcomed, yet grounded Tree Pipit which was very close to me (within 20 yards) and enabled me to get good views.  Also it was noted that the Shrike Tree has now lots its glory with the top five feet having been snapped off during these heavy winds.

Friday April 19th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)  "Fall of Willow Warblers"

0600-0700hrs.  Wind dropped to about 15mph WNW. No Warblers singing yet whilst on my way around the village. Blackbirds far more prominent now with their treetop or high position singing, almost tame as you walk beneath them, they just carry on singing without a care.  They seem to have taken over the head chorister position since the Song Thrushes went quiet above a week ago.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker at Russell Farm was drumming on the tin capping at the very top of a telegraph pole. He did not just do it once he did it several times, so what that was in aid of I dont know! perhaps sharpening or blunting his bill!

1400hrs - 1700hrs (Plain Quarry, Dalton, LCS and Burton Fell) "Another Tree Pipit"

Obviously been a massive fall of Willow Warblers during yesterday evening with large numbers seen.  New arrivals included 6 in Dalton Crags, 5 in Lancelot Clark Storth, 10 in Burton Fell and 2 on the Common, making a total of 23 just recorded on the straightforward footpath route.  Also a new Chiffchaff has come into Lancelot.  But to press we are still two Chiffchaffs missing from Burton Fell, and 3 missing from Dalton Crags.  I dont think I can ever recall were Willow Warblers have actually arrived before Chiffchaffs, but this looks the case here.

Another Tree Pipit has arrived in Dalton deforested and was singing and displaying. Also three Swallows arrived back on territory at Russell Farm, Dalton.

Saturday April 20th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)

0630hrs  (Wind 7mph ESE). A pair of Swallows are back on territory at Green Dragon Farm.  Also looks like "Mo" the Chiffchaff may have arrived at the bottom of Mowbray Drive. The Russell Farm Swallows hawking from around the farm.

0830-1030hrs (Wind 12mph S) Several new Willow Warblers recorded from Crag House side.  Also the Tree Pipit on Crag House Side has arrived back and calling. A Tree Pipit from midway down the lower Crags also calling.  3 Great Black Backs came in from the East to West.  Sky the Lark in Dalton deforested was singing at his best with lots and lots of (Tree Pipit) mimickry!  3 Jays crossed over East to West and came down in Dalton (probably local). Informed that the House Martins are back on territory at Dalton Hall

Sunday April 21st 2013 (Burton In Kendal)

0900-1030hrs (Wind: 15mph S) (from Nineteen Trees - Trig - Lancelot - Burton Fell - Lancelot)
All Warblers very much subdued with the only calling birds being the ones sheltered within Pickles Wood at the bottom of Lancelot, here also two of the Chiffchaffs were calling, everywhere else seem to draw a blank.

Also it was a similar situation with the Tree Pipit new arrivals - not one could be heard on any of the territories today.
I think it must be something to do with the relentless persistent strong winds which were again present today. Its been a fairly consistent similar situation for the past week or so in relation to the Warblers which have certainly been low key and very "held back" with their song. Usually in past years on their arrival I have noticed that they are full of the joys of Spring and bubbly with continual enthusiastic singing, but this year there's been hardly any of that, in fact they have been far more subdued in general and that's the way it seems to be continuing, well at least up to today.

In fact I am beginning to wonder what's going on in relation to our Chiffchaffs. Still has I write there is only 14 calling birds returned to their respective territories out of 33 monitored (in 2011 and 2012), and now some of them are four weeks overdue compared to previous years.  There has not been any noticeable arrivals in the past few days in relation to our Chiffchaffs. It does seem unusual for most of the Willow Warblers to be back on territories before the Chiffchaffs!  Hopefully this next week may bring them through........

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Some of Our Chiffchaffs are Back

Friday April 12th 2013 - Please click over sketch to enlarge
Friday April 12th 2013 - Arrival of the Chiffchaffs 

Spent most of the morning checking out our Chiffchaffs on Dalton Crags and on Lancelot Clark Storth. There were definately none at the regular sites yesterday, so there must have been a substantial fall during last night because it was great news today with:

Craig having returned to the Plain Quarry area (Dalton), Summer has returned to the Summer House (Dalton), also a full compliment in the Pickles Wood/Lancelot areas with all three having returned and singing, Lance, Clarky and Miss-A-Note. Miss-A-Note the most easily identified is again within her usual area.

Also had a Eurasian Wheatear, first seen at the top of the deforested quite near the wall, and again saw a little later sat on the top of the Trig Point.

Marsh Tits are again doing really well from within the Pickles Wood area of Lancelot.

Saturday April 13th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)
 The Tanpit's Song Thrush has now not been seen or heard singing in a morning for the past couple of days.  It has sung from the same tree every morning at the same time and has now stopped.  This is expected, as the ones in Dalton all finished singing from their individual hotspots about two weeks ago, although they will continue to sing at various times of the day but now more on a Ad hoc fashion, rather than a reliability early morning singing.  Does this mean that breeding is well on its way and there is not the same need for his early dynamic presence!

0630hrs  "Lee" the Thornleigh Chiffchaff has returned during the night and could be heard singing this morning from his most favourite of trees at the Stable Cottage.  Lee has been the first bird back in Spring during 2011 and 2012, but this year poll position was taken up with yesterdays arrivals of Craig and Summer at Dalton, along with Lance, Clarky and Miss-A-Note in Lancelot.

0645hrs  Heard my first Willow Warbler singing, but only in a sample offering of song from the Dalton Hall area.

0900hrs - 1200hrs
Nice to see a pair of Goldcrest at Plain Quarry. Chiffchaff Craig singing away near Plain Quarry. Checked out the area East of Plain, but still no Tree Pipits.  One Redpoll crossing to East.

On going up through deforested I did expect a Tree Pipit because Sky the lark was including "Tree Pipit" descending calls in his most admirable repertoire. I remember back to last year and when you heard him including the Tree Pipit part song, usually the species was about, but not today.

A Song Thrush near to the Curwen Seat on Slape and Pickles Wood, was really going through his splendid repertoire at times coming very near to the "Trimphone" call, and I wondered if this was the same bird I used to hear doing this call, not far away but further along in Pickles Wood.

Several Marsh Tits again quite noticeable around the Pickles Wood areas.  Chiffchaffs Lance and Clarky singing away, but no sound from Miss-A-Note.  Also a pair of Long Tail Tits in Pickles Wood.

1100hrs. Whilst crossing over at Taylors Fields, I noticed lots of Meadow Pipits blogging in the field, there must have been around 30 or 40.  And I spent over half hour counting Meadow Pipits which were pouring over sometimes in parties of 5s and 6s all coming from a SW direction. I had 86 birds in half an hour, also some Linnets and Chaffinch.  I have previously seen stuff using this routing and sort of turning near to Russell Farm and Cottage and then heading towards Curwen Wood or Farleton.  This passage is definately worth checking out further.  Wind today light South West.

Sunday April 14th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)

Two Swallows hawking about over Russell Cottage, Dalton at 1900hrs. Not seen the following morning, so they could have moved on. Was monitoring to see if they were part of the Russell Farm breeding stock.

Not our area, but is a very interesting record: 

Thrush departure witnessed on the East Coast (by Keith Clarkson to Vismig). A very big thrush departure this evening from 2000hrs onwards with 2,250+ Redwing and 275 Blackbird, and 50+ Fieldfare East over Hunmanby Gap coasting East towards Flamborough Head.  Wave after wave of Redwing, typically with small groups of Blackbird tagging on the rear, What a spectacle - all went quiet by 2045hrs.

Monday April 15th 2013 (Burton In Kendal)

0615hrs A song thrush was in full song in the gardens to the rear of Orchard House, probably with territory in Hardley gardens. Chiffchaff Lee was singing away from the garden next to his usual at Stable Cottage.

0630hrs Although dry, (threatening rain), the wind is very strong (SW 18-20mph) and preventing good hearing, but can confirm that Chiffchaff Storm is back and now singing from behind the cottages in Dalton hamlet, his usual place.

0645hrs  A really beautiful "full varied range" songs were coming from a Song Thrush in the garden of Whitestones in Clawthorpe.

1645hrs  Archie the Chiffchaff has arrived back at Orchard Close, also Chiffchaffs Hilda and Lisa plus another one out Hilderstone.  Also the Canal Chiffchaffs (2) across from the Station Pub. Goldcrest singing close to Tarn Lane (on Hilderstone side near kennels).  First large bumblebee seen. Several Swallows going through at 50-60ft over the Moss Fields at Hilderstone (usual place) all heading North with a South Westerley side on wind.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Keswick and Derwentwater etc

A Small sketch on our day out to Keswick - Wednesday last (click over to enlarge)

Went up to Keswick on Wednesday last , travelling through on the 555.  Our main objective was to go and check out the Frog nursery at Ings Wood, which we did and checked how the Frogs had gone on.

Had another great meal at the Kingfisher, second time we've been here and its right on the money in every respect.  It will now be our number one when we visit Keswick!  Nice when you find a place what you can rely on.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Meadow Pipits on the Move North over Dalton Crags

Illustration showing the main corridors of  Meadow Pipit migration passage over Dalton Crags (deforested) Click over to enlarge
Check out recent blogs below:
Saturday April 6th 2013 (1000hrs-1230hrs)
Earlier at 0630hrs had the regular "Tanpits" Song Thrush giving the strong Curlew call, its been doing it all week every morning. Also a Curlew going over to SE at 0630hrs.
(1000hrs)A much better day, warming up and sunny with just very light Northerly gust hardly anything and the Mipits had picked up today and going through regularly every two or three minutes, counted well over 120 whilst going to Trig and back. All flying to North. with singles, pairs and parties up to about 8. 

Sunday April 7th 2013 (1315hrs - 1415hrs)
Great to see a friends pond full of frogs with lots of healthy spawn maturing well.

Even as late in the day as 1315hrs to 1415hours I had a continuous run of Mipits going through Dalton (deforested) to Trig heading North. In fact recorded 152 over the hour (2. 3/4 birds per minute) the best parties were: 11,10,9,8,5 and some fours. The weather was fabulous, warm little wind.  Must have been a fabulous count of birds both yesterday and today (but today better). 

Monday April 8th 2013 (0900hrs - 1100hrs)
Movement whilst going up Dalton Crags very poor in fact perhaps a quarter of what it was like yesterday. The reason being a return to strong North Easterlies (15-18mph). But I thought I would go down into Lancelot and Burton etc to check out all the Warbler hot spots and what I did notice was that lots of Mipits were moving further down to the West side and at lower altitude eg: Lancelot, Burton Fell, Storth Wood and Lower Dalton. Here there was a good count, all going North, usual pairs and threes and several parties up to ten in number.  Told by Paul down at Rossall they had over 3000 on Sunday morning all head out NW in a Heysham direction. Today flushed a Woodcock in Storth. Also no Warblers returned yet to Dalton, Lancelot or Burton Fell. 

Tuesday April 9th 2013 (approx 1730hrs)
Witnessed two Swallows (my first of the year) heading through the Grane Valley down in Haslingden (East Lancs)

Wednesday April 10th 2013 (0800hrs-0915hrs)
Mipit movement well down in numbers, maybe had about 20 over the hour.
(1700hrs approx) Five Swallows hawking over the River Kent by the Levens Bridge. 

Thursday April 11th 2013 (0900hrs-1130hrs) 
Mipit movement through Hutton Roof right down, the wind was OK, its now far milder without those piercing Easterlies. I probably only had about 10-15 over the full two hours. Checked out all the Warbler sites on the West   side of Hutton Roof and nothing in as yet. 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Mipits move at last and warblers waiting

It’s becoming quite obvious for me in some cases that our Warblers (Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers) have been held up “somewhere”, and that it’s most probably due to the fact of the recent “long period” of biting cold easterly winds and the presumption of very little in the way of insect feed to sustain them.  Our regular early arrivals are now approximately one week late as I put pen to paper.

Normally the first Chiffchaffs for me would arrive on the 24th or 25th of March.
Strange as it may be, but records have shown that over the past two years the first birds to arrive back have been the same birds or should I say the same places each year for both in the case of the Chiffchaff and the Willow Warbler species, eg in the case of the Chiffchaff, my first birds back in both 2011 (on the 24th March) and 2012 (on the 25th March) were the birds at “Thornleigh” in Burton In Kendal.  And In the case of the Willow Warbler, my first birds back in 2011 were two singing birds towards the bottom of Burton Fell on April 4th, and the first Willow Warblers back in 2012 were on Good Friday April 6th again at the very same place on Burton Fell.

Two years on the trot to be the early bird (s)!  But not just in one species, but two! I would have thought statistically the odds on this would be most unlikely but thankfully the records bear the facts. I am not a betting man, but I am sure even William Hill’s would find it difficult to accept bets that the first birds to arrive back here in 2013 would again be at Thornleigh or subsequently Burton Fell! We shall see!!

Also this year the (Mipits) Meadow Pipits are also late in crossing over or settling down into their upland territories. Usually I am getting my first birds crossing over Hutton Roof by the end of the first week in March and continuing to build in numbers through to mid April.

This year although odd birds did attempt to come through about the middle of March, this all stopped when the snow returned and the frost struck with vengeance and the weather conditions deteriated with constant biting cold easterlies, which have kept coming each day.

So virtually the skies have been empty of mipits, that is up until four days ago (March 29th).  Since then the winds have remained cold easterlies, but have slightly reduced in strengths, plus the sun has been getting through a little bringing the temperatures up to say a 5 or 6 degrees centigrade at best, but the ground still remains pretty hard.

So Mipits are now coming through but!!  I wonder if they are coming back North,  in the main by the coastal corridor routes clutching to the lower ground with very few coming back directly over the higher contours.  The reason I say this is that Seumus down in Fleetwood had over 1000 birds through “his patch” yesterday morning, whilst I on the other hand only had maybe a score or so in over a couple of hours recording at Hutton Roof.   And may I add that most of the birds I did have were coming through on the lower sections of Dalton Crags. 

Monday April 1st 2013  0900hrs -  1030hrs 
Now off out up Hutton Roof to check the position today, will report back later. 

I had a late skein of "Pink Feet" going over the West side of Hutton Roof.  The only thing beside this were three Meadow Pipits fighting side on Easterley winds and heading back South. Checked out all HR West Side for Warblers including: Lancelot and Burton Fell, but certainly none making there presence known.

Tuesday and Wednesday April 2nd and 3rd 2013 (0900hrs - 1030hrs) both days
(Tuesday) Small numbers of Mipits going through North but have increased on recent days to perhaps 50 per hour. Also 4 Pied Wagtails heading out East.
(Wednesday) Still strong bitterly cold North Easterlies coming over the Roof, but Mipit numbers have took a dive yet again with only about 10 birds seen over a hour.  Also a couple of Siskin heading North and Wagtails. Also the first day I have noticed birds back on territory with the odd Mipit flying up and parachuting down everytime a bird went closeby to the Trig Point.

Thursday April 4th 2013. (0900-1100hrs)
Mipit passage over Dalton was down to maybe down to 5 birds per hour, even gone back on yesterday, but again much colder today with the biting North Easterlies. Also reliably informed that about 50 Mipits where being held up further down near Dalton Hall, obviously blogging and waiting for their moment to recommence their migration North. Again odd Siskin moving over Dalton. 

Friday April 5th 2013 (0900-1030hrs)
Mipits going through but only about 10 per hour. Again freezing cold heavy North Easterlies.