Thursday, 20 November 2014

Return of the Great Grey Shrike in Dalton Crags

So what do we get up to when the birds have temporarily slowed down?

Theres always lots to do!  so now I am getting ready for the turn of the Fungi and the Lichens, together with the remnants of some of this years almost spent Ferns and these hopefully should take us through to the flora and the birds again ready for yet another yearly cycle!  In fact not only that I have lots to do with my writings, my drawings, my Haslingden Old and New history blog along with this blog, and still finding time for the odd local presentation or walk or twitter tweets!!  How on earth did I ever fit all this in when I was working, well I did, but let me say it was on a far more reduced scale to what it is today..

This week I have already found some nice fungi and some of them are new to me
This one is a beautiful colour and notice that it stains the wood in fact the coloured wood is used much in furniture today and I think its called the "Tunbridge Ware" (see photo below) - found yesterday 15th November 2014 - Lancelot Clark Storth
Example of wood staining by the "Green Elf Cup" 
Not sure what this one is, its perhaps about 1/2" in diameter
(Click over to enlarge)

This one is another special one and perhaps only a little bigger than a match stick. I found this in Lancelot Clark Storth.

(Saturday 15th November 2014) 
Please click over sketch to enlarge

Whilst walking along the hedgerows closeby to Vicarage Lane in Burton In Kendal, I was met with a large party of at least 40 birds which were mixed between Tree Sparrows and Yellowhammers.  I did not have my binoculars with me but easily recognized a breakaway party of seven Yellowhammers in a tree just above where I was walking.

(Wednesday 19th November 2014) Yesterday evening was a great pleasure to address the Kendal and South Westmorland Beekeepers Association over at Abbots Hall in Kendal. Thankfully they didn't want me to talk about bees!  No it was a lovely evening showing the members photos and illustrations/sketches along with sound recordings of the birds expected to be seen on vismig over at nearby Hutton Roof, together with the second half showing photos of the rarer flora species on HR together with the story of the re-discovery of the Holly Fern and the current research being carried out into the Epipactis Schmalhauseneii rare hybrid.
(Thursday 20th November 2014) "Return of the GSS"
A long long way away, but click over to enlarge
I just knew that today was going to be something very special.  It started great has I was walking up through Dalton Crags, I had no less than 400 plus Woodpigeon take to the skies and there were many more still undecided and circling around not sure whether to go or carry on eating.....

Then half way up Dalton deforested I was met with the resident male and female Stonechat.  I say resident because they have now been here for a least three weeks.

Approximately 50 Fieldfare took up and left Lancelot/Dalton areas and headed off over on the Common.

Giving a general glimpse towards the top of Dalton Crags (unforested) specifically with the intention of searching out the Great Grey Shrike like I do on most mornings at this time of year, I just caught that "flashing" white out of the corner of my eye.  Binoculars to the ready and sure enough there he was flitting about from the uppermost of the sparsely leaved thin wind swept swaying silver birch tree and down to the ground with haste and vigour, then seconds later he was back up to the very uppermost branch in readiness for a replay.  I watched him for perhaps half hour constantly hunting insects, I never saw a wriggling lizard, nor nothing as large as a vole or small bird, so can only imagine that insects was what was on the menu this morning.  I wonder just how long he will stop with us this year.  Checking back its three years since he last made a appearance when he has usually stayed around for at least a fortnight, sometimes longer than a month.

So that's sorted it! my morning daily work schedule is for the time being re- programmed to take in daily visits to check on our rare Shrike, and to monitor him daily to see how long he will be in attendance, whilst at the same time making notes. The butcher bird of Hutton Roof has again graced us with his presence.  Will he be with us for the day, the week or several weeks!


(Friday 21st November 2014)  "No Shrike today"
Please click over to enlarge
A good two hours from 0900hrs to 1100hrs was spent checking out all the usual Shrike haunts eg: to the top of the Dalton deforested area.  On to the Common taking in both points to the North and SE of the Trig Point in a good radius, then checking my last option down into Lancelot Clark Storth (top areas) from above the BAP Memorial Seat.  It was really windy up there this morning and perhaps he's hanging out in some more sheltered area.  Also the resident Stonechats were also missing.  Other sightings was a Green Woodpecker, several Fieldfare, anywhere up to 100 Woodpigeon.  A nice mixed finch party just behind the Plain Quarry car park which included Chaffinch, Redpoll and Bullfinch.  Interesting to find Yellow Staghorn on decaying pine in Dalton Crags.

Update:  Just to report that the Great Grey Shrike has been seen again at 1100hrs today.


(Saturday 22nd November 2014) "Shrike refound"
Seen the Shrike again today. It was about 0900hrs when I first saw him he was about 150 yards to the North West of the Trig Point, within Lancelot Clark Storth and not far from the boundary wall.  He could be seen continually either setting up high and fluttering to catch insects before returning to his high station.  He was also seen to go almost straight down to catch prey on the ground as well.  After about one hour he started to move along and work his way around to the top section of Dalton deforested and what a great pleasure it was to see him on the "actual Shrike Tree" amongst the many perches he chose.  I had to leave at 1100hrs but he seemed really happy and content whilst in Dalton.

Since heard this afternoon he was again seen for sometime and eventually was making his way back across into Lancelot Clark Storth.  Also on good authority the Stonechats have also reappeared this afternoon in Dalton.


(Sunday 23rd November 2014) "Elusive Shrike"
Along with friends RE and JB we searched and searched for our dear friend Mr. Shrike, throughout Dalton upper, Lancelot, Burton Fell and back around on the Common itself.  Nothing, Nothing Nothing!
that's the bad news!  but very soon afterwards I was told some information that was music to my ears, to be told that two birdwatchers had just mentioned to other birdwatchers that they had seen the bird some twenty minutes earlier and it was showing to the North West of the Trig point and at a distance at around the 1100hrs.  Just typical and what you would expect from the Shrike, we went there initially and left there to look in other nearby areas and whilst away the bird had been putting on a show back there, but when we got back to the same point the bird had vanished yet again...  Also the pair of Stonechats where back at their normal place in Dalton upper, also odd Green Woodpeckers seen, odd thrushes and lots of restless Woodpigeons.  A couple of parties of Long Tailed Tits.  Also a party of 22 Pink Footed Geese heading over Dalton to a South South East direction.


(Monday 24th November 2014) "Shrike confirmed adult bird"
I was up near the Trig Point by around the 0930hrs but no sign of the Shrike, so decided to have a little walk North West to the boundary walls adjoining the Common to Lancelot Clark Storth.  I just happened to glance to the side in a North direction and saw the Shrike cross over the Common and settled in a large tree on the escarpment which overlooks Uberash Roughs, he then left that tree and seemed to disappear in what could have been a South East direction and so after following his tracks along the escarpment and crossing over the pavement the hunch paid off and was seen again this time at the escarpment below the Trig Point which is South/South East, he was in the small medium sized straggled hawthorns.  He was seen regularly diving down from the uppermost branch to the ground, but quickly returning.  It certainly gave the impression it was insects he was going after. Very flitty, only resting for short 5 minute periods at the best.  He then pursued his almost 300 yard approx circled flight to entertain us from within the regular Dalton deforested areas where he was seen for a good 30 minutes or so. He was using mainly the areas near the Cuckoo Tree and came half way down Dalton showing close to the Blackthorn patch near the South side of the "Gully" and also seen to alight on the fencing post on the south side.
I left at 1130hrs after having had some superb views at different points from Julian's telescope, and this provided the confirmation that the bird was a full adult and not a immature.