Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Reflections from Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and maybe the next day

Friday February 27th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Lancelot Clark Storth - Hutton Roof

Managed to get up on the Crags today and it soon became apparent that SKY the lark had returned to her regular nesting territory and over the next hour a further pair plus another single skylark made their way through on their way to the North, but I would probably not have noticed them but for SKY's constant "seeing them off" or should I say "escorting them through her territory" whilst shouting at them in her constant bird song! I was so sorry though because I had forgot to bring my "tanner".
The Stonechats are still around having already overwintered in the Crags. A couple of Mistle Thrushes were seen. Lots of Chaffinch and other finches including Siskin. No Shrike to be found.
Sadly its also that time of year again BEWARE OF CROSSING TOADS AND FROGS already this morning noticed two well squashed large frogs just has you come on to our Close. I must count at least 30 fatalities every year at this time, always at the same spot crossing over the road to the local pond. I must collect and assist scores of frogs every year. This crossing to the breeding pool usually last for about three weeks.
This afternoon went up into Lancelot Clark Storth to see Wal (Cumbria Wildlife Trust warden on HR). He was taking charge of a working party who had travelled all the way over from Bradford to volunteer for coppicing the Hazel on Hutton Roof Crags. They are a great crowd and come over regular for three day working parties whilst at night stopping over in Ingleton. They have large bonfires to burn the coppiced Hazel and put "spuds" into the lower embers of the fire and if I arrive somewhere around lunchtime I get chance to relish one of these lovely spuds!!
Noticed on way up one or two large bird kills eg: Woodpigeons and Pheasants. They will have been taken with a local Peregrine or the local Buzzards.
Now noticing Lords and Ladies and Celandine starting to come through...

Monday February 16th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof  1300 to 1500hrs

Yipee! First returning upland birds..... 3 SKYLARKS
Not on territory, just passing through to the North West and making their "Thrupping" contact call.
The pair of Stonechats continue to overwinter near the Gully in the top of the Crags (deforested). Also had three Buzzards and Three Ravens. I have had the rare Willow Tit again today, they have been resident near to the Plain Quarry area, regularly seen and sometimes heard.
Odd Nuthatches calling, but as yet for me no Song Thrushes as yet, but would expect anyday now. 

Saturday February 14th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof

No Skylarks, On way up had Stonechats (regular pair), 3 Buzzard (one pair), 1 Raven, Nuthatch giving alarm near to Plain Quarry. 


"I held my tanner, and squeezed it tight,
In the hope of seeing a skylark sight,
For today was Valentine, for early birds,
Squeeze that tanner to the first larks song,
Will bring thi luck for the year long........"

Towd that tale from Oxy Dave,
A Yorkshireman known to save,
Another man who looks for Larks,
Nice one to thee Dave, top marks!

This is my sketch of a typical February wildlife calendar in these Cumbrian parts
Tuesday 10th February 2015

Last couple of days have been quiet up on Hutton Roof. Today (Tuesday) I did have a skein of Pinks go through Dalton at 0845hrs heading NW but sadly could not see them because of the low mist. Lots of finches, tits, robins and dunnocks just behind the Plain Quarry Car Park.

Friday 6th February 2015

On way up Alec told me that the four local Great Spotted Woodpeckers where very noisy and drumming in the local copses by Dalton Hamlet.

Currently lots of tree felling going on in lower Dalton. 

MistleThrush back on breeding territory just has you enter Dalton (upper/deforested).

Paired Stonechats at top side of gully in Dalton Crags deforested. 


 This was Dalton Crags this morning (Wednesday 4th February 2015)

Wednesday 4th February 2015

Beautiful on the Crags today.  Our pair of Stonechats on view and doing OK.  A Green Woodpecker whilst on my way up.  
Nothing much on Hutton Roof Common.  Checked out the Holly Ferns and the deer have nibbled the top off Holly Fern No.2 (as usual at this time of year - exposed).


"Reflection"  (click over photo to enlarge)

"I listened for the roar of immortal Lions,
I heard viola play to the daffodil sprites,
Echo to echo, echoed from near to far
Whilst pebbles skimmed and shimmered waters free.

Muted Swans whistled with whispering silence,
As white as the snow that sweeps the raise,
Hourglass frieze with trickling sand,
Whilst Mere reflects her passion flow".

(21st January 2015)


Yesterday Tuesday January 20th 2015This photo I took yesterday from the bottom end of Grasmere at the point just before it goes back into the River Rothay. And it shows both Helm Crag and Dunmail Raise reflected in the "Mere".  I just could not resist writing my poetry to accompany this photo. (photo taken on my phone)

Wednesday January 21st 2015
It was again a pleasure to be out and about today and I went up through Dalton to the Trig Point and continued to check out Uberash Roughs.  The only birds I could report were all down in lower Dalton to the East of the Plain Quarry Car Park.

Reports have been coming through that Brambling have been spotted in this area, and I would not be suprised if this was the case, but today I never saw any or heard any.  But what I did see was a party of at least 12 Bullfinch and probably there would have been far more than this, all mobile and in with a large party of Chaffinches.  Lots of Tits and Robins and Dunnocks.

Was listening for about ten minutes to the regular "hou-whit" call similar to what you do get from the post breeding Chiffchaff, or the Willow Warbler, or the Redstart or the Chaffinch, but no not today.  The call was as pure as can be and it was being sung by the Great Tit!! with a return of the same call from another Great Tit across the way.  For me very very interesting....

Thursday January 22nd 2015
Another fabulous morning and again went up to the Trig Point from Plain Quarry.  No bird activity whatsoever on the top while I was there over one hour.  But still plenty of overwintering birds around the areas adjacent to the Plain Quarry Car Park.  Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Robins, Tits etc

Saturday January 24th 2015
Guess what!  the two overwintering Stonechats have re-appeared in Dalton Crags, having been absent in the local area since the New Year. They were quite near to the "line of trees".

Sunday January 25th 2015

Stonechats seen again but moved up and over slightly to the "gully" area of Dalton Crags.  Other than the Chats I did hear one or two bullfinch and several Chaffinch over the lower Dalton areas. Also noted one or two Great Tits making the "hou-whit" calls...... brilliant!

Notes reported to the Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society Website (25/1/15)

The Stonechats have re-appeared in Dalton Crags after being missing since New Years Eve.

Lots of Bullfinch are overwintering in Dalton Crags in fragmented parties in or around 200 yards of the Plain Quarry Car Park (especially to the East side).  The largest party I have counted so far is twelve but suspect at least 30 birds at least in the area.  Lots of Chaffinch as well.

Thrushes thin on the ground this year compared to past years with odds and sods just passing through.  Best parties in the last two weeks have been around the 5-10 Redwing parties.

Accidentally flushing odd Snipe and Woodcock from the limestone areas on Hutton Roof.

Shrike last recorded January 5th.  I suspect he is about somewhere locally!  the reason I say this is purely projecture.  However I can say we have never had birds in recent years which have been seen after Nov 30th until this bird! also with the other two local Shrikes eg: Fylde and Grindleton still being about I am sure ours will be about somewhere in the local vicinity.  Another point of interest is that when we are lucky enough to see Shrikes in the Spring on their way back they are usually seen from the beginning of March, so this again makes it a very probable prospect!

Also had a couple of Great Tits doing the soft "hou-whit" calls, almost exactly the same you would get from the post breeding Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler or Redstart or even our beloved Chaffinch.  But from the Great Tit..... absolutely brilliant!

Friday January 30th 2015

At least 80 Redwing and 20 Starling feeding in Curwen Wood Park this morning (0830hrs).

at 1600hrs watching the Woodpigeon coming through Dalton to roost, a few hundred or so.  So co-ordinated the regular parties over 30 minutes hardly moved outside of their 50 yards corridor, that same corridor all the passerines use in the Autumn NW to SE.

Not seen the Yellowhammers or Tree Sparrows since about Christmas, so whether they are still around or not I really dont know.  Must try and check the area more regular.

Saturday January 31st 2015

Over 200 plus small birds from behind the Plain Quarry area and seen heading to the East side of the Quarry and doing the circular.  The birds were mainly Chaffinch.  I did suspect to hear possible Brambling amongst them.  Also closeby small parties of Bullfinch.

Had a Peregrine fly almost directly above me whilst climbing the Crags at Dalton, got some great close up views.

On the upper Crags and Common never had anything today, nor where the Stonechats about.

Sunday February 1st 2015

Checked out the area on the Farleton Side, almost opposite the entrance to Rowley Copse, it looks a cracking area.  I just had a Green Woodpecker, Bullfinch several piping, Blackbirds and four Magpies, otherwise comparatively quiet.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Great Grey Shrike re-appeared on Hutton Roof - MORE SHRIKY, MORE LIKEY!!

I was suprised to see the re-appearance of the Grey Grey Shrike on Hutton Roof this morning. Watching for over 20 minutes whilst the bird was using the very tops of the more mature trees in a direction which was North West to the Trig Point at distances from 100 to 200 yards.  It disappeared after this time and I think (though not absolute) gone down into Lancelot Clark Storth.

It is a complete mystery to where can it have been since it was last seen on the 7th December 2014 and today's sighting is in exactly the same place as where it was last seen.  So if it is the same bird (which I dont doubt for one minute), it does look like it could well have been present on Hutton Roof or thereabouts since the very first sighting of the bird on 25th November 2014.

A very elusive character indeed, I had searched high and low during its early period of absence in all the most likely of places on both Hutton Roof and Farleton, and also on the other side of Dalton at Major's Nursery but could not find it anywhere, and after six days of its initial absence (6th December 2014), more or less had come to accept that the bird had probably left us for warmer climate down in the Balearics.

So today's sighting is so welcome!  Another factor of interest is that it may tie in with the other nearby Shrikes recorded both at Grindleton (Clitheroe) and Lytham (Fylde). Both these birds have also been present for some considerable time, in fact from the beginning of last November, so maybe this is giving indication that they could well overwinter the full season this time.  Time will tell.

Obviously now I will get myself even more disciplined and try and get up daily to monitor the ongoing situation with our Hutton Roof shrike.

The pair of Stonechats we have had with us over the past two months where not seen again today. The last sighting I had of them was on New Years Eve.

Still lots of small passerines at the bottom of Dalton Crags and onward to the Plain Quarry Car Park.

A sketch will be offered to this blog shortly.
Thanks for checking out the blog and all the very best for the New Year.

Tuesday January 6th 2015
"In search of Shrike"  0930hrs to 1200hrs  
Checked out Hutton Roof Trig Point area and also Uberash Roughs,  but no signs of Shrike for me. Will try and check out again tomorrow.

Wednesday January 7th 2015
"In search of Shrike" 1000hrs to 1230hrs
Checked out Hutton Roof around the Trig Point area and also came back down through Lancelot Clark Storth, but no signs of Shrike.

Tuesday January 12th 2015
"In search of Shrike" 0930hrs to 1130hrs
Checked out Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof Common near to the Trig Point.  but no signs of Shrike. Just had three honking Ravens.

Wednesday January 14th 2015
Had a very enjoyable afternoon and met lots of interesting people whilst having the pleasure of presenting "Mipits, Migrations and lots of Illustrations" at the Kendal U3A (Natural History) at the Castle Street Centre.

Monday January 19th 2015 0900hrs to 1100hrs
A absolute pleasure to be out this morning.  The only birds I had to record were a party of 8 Bullfinch  which had 3 males and 5 females, just behind Plain Quarry, Dalton.  Also had a Woodcock which alighted as I got to the top of the lower Dalton Crags section.