Thursday, 27 February 2014

Nature Notes for week up to 27th February 2014

Over the last two weeks, on most days Skylarks,
have been counted going over, mainly in pairs,
but sometimes in larger parties.

I have watched the Lark named “Sky” and his mate,
Who resides in Dalton on the Crag House side,
Every time a passing Lark or Larks go past,
They fly up with haste and escort them through their territory!
A similar situation you will see with the Mipits when they arrive.

Another thing which certainly has not gone unnoticed,
Is although most of the Skylarks have passed overhead
To the North directions, on three separate occasions now,
I am seeing singles or parties of Larks heading South.

At the top of Lancelot, a large party of  Squabbling male Blackbirds,
which I have took to be migrants. Also had a party of approximately
30 Fieldfare near to Russell Farm at Dalton, they have been around 
there now for a day or two. Expect them to be going back anytime now.

Frogs have been on the move to find their breeding ponds,
There is a annual crossing close to where I live at Glebe Close,
And I try and help them on the way, moving them out of the road,
When I get chance, but even so there are still lots of casualties.
Up to now I have found at least nine large specimens flattened
When I have passed in a morning, and that’s just so far this year.
Sadly for them instead of passing over the small road to their pond,
They just seem to sit there in the middle of the road.

Took some friends to check out the Holly Ferns (27th Feb), and Holly Fern
No.2 has been nibbled off close to the ground, by what I presume
would have been Roe Deer. Nice to see new base fronds starting to appear.

(28th February update) Not now noticing any Meadow Pipits on territory
at Trig Point or crossing over. I wondered perhaps if they have crossed 
further over into Farleton and forming large groups. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Nature Notes for Saturday February 22nd 2014

Nature Notes for Sat Feb 22nd 2014
(Dalton Crags to Trig, Lancelot circular)

Starting below the Crags, such lovely song,
Poured out from the uppermost of that birch,
The throstle has started singing for another year.
Yafflers one and later two called out nearby,
Buteo in stealth did glide above, and so close.
Recent coppicing, before you reached the head.

Deforested entered to such a welcome,
So clear a song from dear “Sky” the lark,
Usual place just East to “Line of Trees”,
Then another sung nearby and just as sweet.
Same place two Snipe got up startling “Chrew”
Then further up another Snipe zig zagged away.
Sweet Dunnock calling near the top.

Into Lancelot with Blue Tits scolding, and
Anthills all around for badger or yaffler!,
Windswept Yews leaning to their East,
Jays jostling and screaming blue murder,
Thinking! I love the Roe, but hate their ticks,
A Woodcock, got up so noisy as they do,
Chaffinch passed over and Redwing close. 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Nineteen Trees

Woods undressed, foliage bare with intermittent flickering light to stare.
Haunting calls drowned with echo from somewhere close above,
Although you cannot see, beyond the canapƩ, you know who it is,
It is (buteo-full) buzzard mewing whilst gliding on up tipped wing.

A explosive “chick” so loud to scold, your too close the Pecker told,
Other times he tapped and trapped that sound which echoed all around,
Tree, bark stripped and full of holes, soon to be bedding for the Moles.
Crimson splash to dash of colour so bright to make the sight a delight.

Ant eating “yafflers” not to be outdone, “neighing” rafts of horsy laughs,
Underlating, bobbing, and dipping green with red to a distance fled it lead,
Watching you, do a bunk from the front of that trunk, just like a squirrel hides,
its sides, now you see me now you don’t, take a blink and I am gone in one.

(unfinished 20th Feb 2014)

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A Skylark day on Farleton Crags (18th February 2014)

"Limestone natural sculpture on Farleton Fell"
A Skylark day on Farleton Crags

 (18th February 2014)

Good morning Ceterach, Gud-day Turtle,
Yellowhammer chinks o’er Newbiggin Crags,
His territory for sure, he’s letting them know.
A distant Song Thrush commands the tree top,
Below the gorse, and gorse, and gorse of course!
Singing the song, his awakening song.

Skylark one rises and sings his space,
Further on Skylark two and three are seen 
 to fight and chase along the path, then one goes,
up and up whilst singing sweet to the heavens,
And further on and near the Knott, “thrupping”
through”, a exultation of seven larks to the North.

A quartet of Mipits sang and chased and,
Eventually perched wise on the Tor to my left,
They were taken up with keen focus on Buteo,
Skylark eleven was singing sweet high up to a dot,
Above Holmepark Fell, I marked the spot he did plot,
Whilst two Mistle’s moved on and soon gone.

(Note: A very enjoyable morning, first of all checking out the Ceterach (Rusty Back Fern) behind Whin Yeates, then carrying along the path past the Turtle Stone were a couple of Yellowhammers were "chinking". Then hearing and seeing two separate Song Thrushes singing from the uttermost of their respective trees, one of them from somewhere down in Newbiggin. Then a single Skylark singing from high, then a pair fighting one another, then another one singing from high, then some Meadow Pipits, then another seven Skylarks moving through, then a Buzzard, another Skylark on Holme Park Fell and finally a pair of Mistle Thrush). 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Newts and all and first Skylark (17th Feb 2014)

A newt out early doors yesterday - size 4 1/2".  That sunshine makes all the difference!
This morning (Monday 17th February 2014) was really good, simply because I had my first singing “Skylark”, which turned out to be “Sky” which resides up in Dalton Crags (deforested).  You had to listen hard to hear him because of the accompanying  cold wind background noise.  I do wonder now if today is actually his first day back on territory or whether he did get back for Valentines Day.  He certainly sounded well happy and made someone else well happy to.

A pair of Mistle Thrushes have also been hanging about in Dalton Crags, and are obviously paired up and holding the same territories as last year and the year before.

Not many Meadow Pipits seen, but I can hear them with their faint contact calls here and there up in Dalton (deforested) but with a stronghold at the moment on The Common.

Caper Spurge found in old Sand and gravel pit
Last week I saw a party of four grouped male Blackbirds on the Common and from the size of them and their respective behaviour can only think that they are continental birds foraging whilst probably heading off back to the Scandinavia’s.

Yesterday (Sunday 16th February 2014) whilst checking out a lovely “dyke” in a disused sand and gravel pit near Borwick saw a large “newt” not sure which category it falls into but did manage a poor quality photo shown here.  It was about 4 ½” long. I was surprised to see it! and what a difference it makes when some sunshine is offered up.

I also found this small tree/shrub – photo shown here.  Can’t recall having seen this one before, probably some sort of introduced specimen, but seemed to be thriving. Its been confirmed to me since by my friend Brian that it is Caper Spurge.

A nice party of Goldfinches flying around and wondering if it was the spent teasels which held there attraction. 

Friday, 7 February 2014

(Starlings)- Where have all the Starlings gone

Its been mentioned by plenty o’er last few weeks,
Why am I not getting any birds at the feeders in my garden?

Well all I can think is that it’s because the birds are finding, plenty of food just where they are!  here, there and everywhere (in the Countryside), because its been ridiculously mild this Autumn, this Winter! In fact unprecedented in my life time.

If we are to get severe weather or frost, you can bet they will come back into the gardens then. 

Others have said the Starling roost over at Leighton Moss is poor this year,
Have some of the birds decided to roost elsewhere?

Well maybe some have, there’s usually a sub roost in Burton In Kendal, and probably other sub roost as well.

But from my experience, the Starlings never even came into the Country last Autumn in the large amounts you would get in normal years. During the periods of usual high migration entry, day in, and day out I checked on all days, but gave special attention to the “usual peak dates” eg: October 26th ish…. And it just never happened, they probably was about less than half of the normal numbers.

It was a similar situation with the Fieldfare, it was a really poor showing this time around.  Because it’s been so mild there has been lots of obtainable food over in the Scandanavia’s.  Even the Waxwing have stayed over there and been enjoying the added bonus of insects at that!

The Redwing fared much better with reasonable numbers recorded.
"I want them frosts, and I want them now!!"

Seriously I do hope we get them very very soon eg: February, I am sure we will get them, so please lets have them NOW!  It could be disastrous if what happens is similar to last year and we don’t get them til March (throughout March), and cruelly the worst scenario the end of March. And last years figures are maybe in now, and they may show that the very early small migrants eg: Chiffchaffs and even the early migrating Goldcrest, just could not handle the severe frost, some blown off course with those strong winds, but many perished on account of no available food on their arrival, no insects!

It still has not gone down well at all here! How we lost 50% exactly of our breeding stock of Chiffchaffs all in one “foul swoop”  in and around Burton In Kendal.  Usually we have 34 nesting pairs, last year this number was down to 17 pairs. I have no results of the outcome of the breeding.


Smart A** is having a day with the Ringer.

Smart A** is out and about yet again.
He’s decided to have a day with the Bird Ringer.
Ringer has caught a bird in his mist nets
Soon a inquisitive crowd has gathered around him,

One of the onlookers is guess who? Yes its Smart A**
He starts to take over and advises the gathered crowd,
“Do you know how to tell the difference between,
A Willow Warbler and a Chiffchaff in the field”
Well its easy when you know how!
Just take note of the leg colour, if it’s a pinkish yellow,
It will be a Willow Warbler and if the legs are blackish,
It will be a Chiffchaff.

So Smart A** says to everyone “ So here we are we have
Got a lovely condition Willow Warbler.”  And then goes on to brag,
“its pretty good when you know your stuff when it comes to birds”.

Within seconds the ringer realeases the “Willow Warbler”,
Which quickly shot off and ascended on a nearby tree not far away.
And  to everyone’s amazement the bird started to sing.
“Chiff-Chaff-Chitty”, Chiff Chaff Chitty.

18th September 2012.


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Dairy notes for (4th February 2014)– with some earlier notes as well.

Just some of the February activity, but to check out the latest please read below.

A lovely sunny day (4th February 2014), with regular passing white but some fluffy clouds, but warm intermittent between the clouds. A day when some of the birds may have thought! Yes this is it  …… chorus time….

Today was the very first day this year for me to hear the Blackbird happily singing away in a fluty bubbling lead to a chorus joined in by many other birds in the close neighbourhood.  It certainly wasn’t the best of dawn chorus’s I’ve heard, but most certainly the best and most welcome I have heard for at least ten months.

The Great Spotted Woodpeckers began drumming on the 20th January, and already I have counted no less than 6 pairs, busy with their “echoed” tapping between one another offering different tones between them according to how far away from one another or maybe the thickness of the tree, or how rotten or how solid, but there where certainly subtle differences in the tones of the responsive drumming.  These counts were purely taken from the margins of Dalton and so I would guess that up to 10 pairs at least are present just within this small area, that’s the norm count anyway for Dalton.                                                                                                                         
On arrival at the Trig today, I was very surprised to see and hear a lonesome Meadow Pipit calling from high above the scattered hawthorn bushes.  It gave the first impression that it was a resident, but impossible to be sure, after all I was seeing them up here in December and with the “very mild” weather we have had so far its possible the bird has over wintered.  It’s usually the end of February or the first week in March that I record returning birds. 

Having a chat with Bill who looks after the cattle on Dalton and elsewhere, we were putting the World to rights between us, and soon after he started calling the cattle from afar and when they heard him shouting them “they were off” without any delay to race down to receive their “tit bits” from him.

Over the past few weeks, I have had good counts of “Woodcock” here and there usually disturbed in the margins of the upper pavements on the Common, they are so noisy at take off and give the show away all too often.
As usual Snipe have also been plentiful in the upper Crags, they too are noisy when disturbed climbing high whilst zig-zagging from one side to the other.

Well I have heard Starlings mimicking other birds, but never until today heard one doing the call of a Pied Wagtail whilst sat comfortably on a television aerial. So clear its call with the correct timing etc.

Well it wont be long now before the early Skylarks are coming through, I usually start to get them at around the third week in February.

The toads and frogs will be on their way any day now crossing the roads to find their respective ponds for mating.

I’ve never known it to be so mild before, in fact if we are to have some severe frost, lets have it now and get it over with.  I hope and pray it won’t be like last year, when the heavy frost set in from early and right through to the end of March.  It was a disastrous episode for the early migrants coming into the Country and just locally we lost 50% of our Chiffchaff breeding stock, bring down the breeding pairs from a regular 34 pairs to 17 pairs.