Monday, 9 March 2015

Great Grey Shrike re-appears on Hutton Roof etc

Click over sketch to enlarge

EASTER MONDAY 6th April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof "

The Last sighting of the Shrikes"

1400hrs to 1700hrs - Hutton Roof was shrouded in low cloud but did make a attempt with lovely warm, and blue skies etc for some two hours, although never left the low areas and then it started creeping back up again at 1600hrs and filled in everywhere yet again, very similar situation to yesterday late afternoon.

On way up through Dalton managed to see a pair of Stonechats, also reported to me that a further two pairs where also seen over on Uberash Roughs on Hutton Roof Common. Also reports of 3 Sand Martin going over the Common at 0900hrs this morning. Yesterday's Wheatears could not be seen. 

I searched Uberash Roughs and the Common for Shrike 1 but just could not find him, he was being elusive.  But did manage to locate Shrike No. 2 at approx 1500hrs until about 1630hrs.  He was at various points from 100 yards to 300 yards SSE of the Trig Point.

Beauties on the brink!

So silent to hear a primrose shine with song,
Whilst burgundy flutters by to tell the World,
She’s living on the edge of her paradise lost,
But scatters her love in hope for tomorrow.

A special rose of yellow adorns the roughs,
Where Argus is not but a giant and only a fly,
Yet flaps his wings to the radiant warm sun,
His dream to search where the angels lie.

High on a ride would be my lasting will,
To dodge the spirits that have flit before,
My colour is of earth or wood or tree,
I play my sweet viola, so not to frit away.

Let it ring across the scorched peaks
Where the air is thin and wanders bleak,
Up high you reach on upstretched wing,
In the land of which the Curlew sing. 

Its Knott for me to taste the Scotch,
Nor Argue bold for we are sold to thee,
Why only here, you’ve chose your home,
Pray keep it strong, the side to roam. 

6th April 2015

EASTER SUNDAY 5th April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1545hrs - 1730hrs

(The above two photos I took in March 2011 when I was lucky to see the Shrike kill and later impale a Bank Vole torso on a nearby Hawthorn Tree, only 30 yards from the Trig Point on Hutton Roof. So this is a example of the Shrike's larder and the reason he has the name "Butcher Bird" - please click over photos to enlarge)

Been shrounded in low cloud all day and even now it was still coming and going, but did at least allow occasional slots of visibility. On the way up through Dalton Crags upper had two beautiful Wheatears sat on the wall, both males with gorgeous colouring, they gave the impression they were O. Oenanthe and not of the Greenland race.  Also noted and sat on the wall by the side of them were our two resident over wintering Stonechats.  Also about 20 Meadow Pipits were blogging within that area.

On reaching the Trig Point, the overwintering Shrike 1 was noted at about 150 yards NW of the Trig Point and was observed holding positions there for over one hour.  Shrike 2 was seen also (not by me), but by other birders at around the same time at 100 yards South East/South of the Trig Point.

Easter Saturday 4th April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1030hrs - 1215hrs

I had one of the Shrikes to the South of the Trig, but told that both had been seen earlier to the South of the Trig and on the ridge and behaving agressive to one another. Up to 10 Meadow Pipits moving through over one hour. Also Chiffchaff heard calling from down at Plain Quarry. Also had reports from Sarah that she thought she had a early Tree Pipit in Dalton deforested.

GOOD FRIDAY 3rd April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1030hrs - 1215hrs

Both Shrikes are showing well.  One at 250 yards NW of Trig in small hawthorn to W of the two Cairns which are at the end of "Uberash Breast".  This is a spot I have noticed Shrike No.1 goes to regular and if I can't see him from the Trig I walk along Uberash Roughs and can usually pick him up with the binoculars from here.  Shrike No. 2 was also seen in her regular territory eg: 150 yards to the SE of the Trig on the large patch of Blackthorn which is in the background view of the Hutton Roof Sawmills.
Not a single Meadow Pipit called or noticed going through. Green Woodpeckers yaffling (at least two). Early Purple Orchid basal rosettes now being seen at usual spots on Common. 
Also two Roe Deer running through Dalton Crags, had been disturbed by runners. Also whilst on the Common itself had "vulpes vulpes" running straight towards me then noticed me at around 20 yards and veered off into a small channel. Excellent views. 


Its Friday, Oh so good!
Accustomed to walk to top of the fell,
With rucksack, my only cross to bear,
Weaved in and out of crags so pure,
Overhead passing music to my ears,
Whilst serenade from the Lark arising,
Carpets of imagined flowers in unseen bud,
Hide for now, to await their day soon,
When Fritillary will flutter to fill this sweet place.
Thank you on high for all this,
Its Friday, Oh so good!


Here below are three fabulous photos taken by friend Robert Ashworth who has kindly allowed me to include within the blog: 

Thursday 2nd April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0845hrs to 1015hrs
Been in York the last couple of days so its good to get back into things. Both Grey Grey Shrikes present and seen at the same time with one 100 yards NW of the Trig and the other at 100 yards SE of The Trig Point.  About 15 Meadow Pipits per hour came through to the NW.  A Buzzard also came through (not local), larger grey low flying and took rest a couple of times on Hutton Roof.

Monday 30th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0915hrs to 1000hrs 

One Shrike (presumed the second bird) at 100 yards NE of Trig Point on Hutton Roof Common at 0930hrs and still there on leaving 30 minutes later. One pair of Stonechats seen carrying nesting material within Dalton Crags. Green Woodpeckers yaffling (3). Just a few Meadow Pipits crossing over. Sky the lark singing away, plus another lark on the Common.

Sunday 29th March 2015
then Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof  1400hrs to 1530hrs

Had Marsh Tits calling on my way up at the back of Plain Quarry and also had shows of them on my way back.

On the way up through deforested I had Kestrel and Song Thrush.

One of the Shrikes was on view for over 15 minutes at first only 15 yards from the Trig in a South direction.  Then it moved across to a regular site, the 1st large tree from the right hand side on the ridge which crosses from Dalton and into the Common. then it moved to small hawthorns almost against the boundary wall then eventually lost and out of sight.  It gave me the impression it was the 2nd or the slightly darker bird and this would also tally in with the area it was using. It was very windy at some 25 mph with gust to 40 so I did not spend any time looking for the second bird who was probably on Uberash or maybe Lancelot.

Morning and up until 1400hrs
The weathers been bad and I have not yet had chance to check our Her Majesties on the Common, instead I have been sat here enjoying my thoughts of the beautiful song thrush whilst in song at this very time of the year and have written the following poem (with the aid of the thrush) entitled "The Language of the Song Thrush (March time) which I hope you can enjoy:

Now is the time, the perfect time to listen to the Song Thrush,
Some may call him a "Throstle",
There are others (sad to say) who would call him (Throttle),
He sits so high he cannot go any further if he tried,
It's such a special time of the year for him to show to
ANOTHER, and the World at large, and what a show,
He will sing and sing and sing for one hour at once,
I love to write down his song in my little book,
In a language he would never understand!

wee hoo whit,
wee hoo whit,
wit woo,
wit woo,
her kleep kleep,
her kleep kleep,
chit chit chit chit,
See-it, see-it"

I think I could listen for hours at such a wonder,
Whilst all the World around are rushing everywhere,
This little fellow imparts his "wolf whistles",
and love to all who'll take time to listen to him.

Saturday 28th March 2015 - 0845hrs to 1045hrs -  Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof

The weather was disastrous! but still the show must go one (as if).  But today I was not the only "Silly Beggar" checking out the Shrike in these atrocious weather conditions, because Jim from Sedbergh, Brian and Chris from Whitehaven had also braved it as well, obviously not prepared to meet with such conditions when they set off.  Sadly we did not see the birds, the weather went worse as we got further up the fell.  The winds increased with gust to 40 mph and the rain clouds were low and brought visibility down to about 50 yards at best.  We checked out Dalton, the Trig Area and even walked across Uberash Roughs as far as the Cairns.  But no Shrikes today.

I have just heard from a friend (Robert) that he saw the Shrike on February 6th 2015, which is a brilliant record because it now means we can account for the over wintering bird for each month from November until now.

Also he noted yesterday that the two birds did briefly come together in bushes which lie along the boundary wall south of the path which leads to the Trig Point.  When they came together briefly they showed aggressive posturing and chattering was noted.  I suppose this could be pure aggression or would it be a sign of wanting to get to know one another better! lets hope its the latter.

I to have noticed that both birds seem to show a main individual territory eg: the over wintering bird tends to spend more time to the North West and West of the Trig which seems to have always been its main territory, whilst the new bird tends to spend most time to the East and SE and S of the Trig point. Although they are becoming more frequently seen in the same panoramic view at the same time from the Trig Point lookout and occasionally in the same tree or doing fly past one another. 

Robert also reported a Chiffchaff singing from Plain Quarry at 0945hrs yesterday (Friday).  

Friday 27th March 2015 - 0915 - 1030hrs - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof.

Both Shrikes present at the same time.  The original Shrike was about 100 NW of the Trig Point and the more recent bird was 150 yards SSE of the Trig Point.  It does look like the birds are keeping their separate territories with the more recent bird remaining to the East/South whereby the established bird has always frequented the more W/NW of the Trig Point, although they do come together in the same tree occasionally and I have seen one bird dive bomb the other and then brush off and fly away.  Also this time I have heard the "Shrike chunnering or is it chummering - well whichever that is what's it was doing"  on at least two separate occasions.  Pair of Stonechats seen towards the top of Dalton deforested.  Had 3 Meadow Pipits go directly through and had another 15 blogging within Dalton deforested.  Three or Four Green Woodpecker yaffles. 

I have just remembered:  Going back to Tuesday March 17th 2015 (St Patricks Day), I did have a early "Brimstone" Butterfly on the Railway Embankment at Arnside. 

Wednesday 25th March 2015 - 1000hrs -  1200hrs Park Wood area of Hutton Roof

Checking out Daphne Mezereone with Ian and friends. 6 of the plants were fine, two in particular showed heavy bloom eg: 200 flowers and 300 flowers.  Sadly two of the long established had died off. 

Tuesday 24th March 2015 - 0830hrs to 1000hrs. Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof. 

Had both Shrikes in view for over fives minutes with one at 15 yards to 30 yards to 100 yards to the NW of the Trig Point whilst the other bird was about 75 yards to the East of the Trig and that one made off after a few minutes and out of view down the line of the Blackthorn on the Hutton Roof Timber line. 

The reason the first bird came within 15 yards was purely by chance while it surprised me and I it, yet it still remained still, like I also remained motionless, whilst it let me have those close up views for over 3 minutes or so, just a shame as I never had my camera - sods law!. 

Now then after watching both birds it is without doubt clear that the second bird which joined us last Wednesday is of a darker phase than the bird that has over wintered which makes it fairly easy to tell the birds apart even with binoculars. So whether this new bird is a female or juvenile I would not know! but it certainly looks promising for now! 

Also had Stonechats on the Common, also had about 14 Meadow Pipits flyover N and 1 Skylark NW, and also a large 30 Mipit blogging party down in Dalton. Lots of Green Woodpecker yaffling going on.

Monday 23rd March 2015 - Eaves Wood, Silverdale  1000hrs to 1230hrs

Been out with my mate Brian from Kendal and we joined a group of friends checking out the Daphne Mezereone at both Eaves Wood and again later at Sandside.  The long established plants at both sites were doing OK.  Sadly the re-established plants all had died and could not be found at the relevant sites. It was really interesting to see the "white" flowered plants of Sandside. 

1700hrs to 1830hrs - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 

Went up with Rob checking out the Shrike.  At first no signs so I suggested we check out "Uberash Roughs" and sure enough we found one of them sat low and not far away from the two large Cairns.  Although a fair distance away we were treated to actually hear him singing in his chattering mode. Could not locate the second one. Also had a single party of 7 Meadow Pipits on their way through North to their upland breeding grounds. 

Sunday 22nd March 2015 - Dalton and Hutton Roof and Lancelot Clark Storth 0900hrs to 1100hrs
Excellent views of one of the Shrikes.  I think I had the other one which just brushed past the other one and made its way down into Lancelot somewhere. A couple of Wheatear on way up through Dalton along with the regular pairs of Stonechats. Only had six Meadow Pipits going through over the hour or so. Good views of a Green Woodpecker and lots of evidence of yaffling. More reports coming through of both birds seen between 1100 and 1300hrs. 

Saturday 21st March 2015 - Sizergh Castle 0700 to 1000hrs
Went along to Sizergh at the invitation of Rob because we are doing a small project, but sadly no Hawfinches came down, however I could hear them early doors.  No problem will check out again soon.

Of special interest whilst there was that I saw a gentlemen birder from Ulverston, who I know I can rely on and he now confirms that without doubt he has had two separate Great Grey Shrikes on Hutton Roof on Wednesday last (18th March 2015).  One was seen 100 yards NW of the Trig and the other was seen at the same time as the other but from the Blackthorn on the Hutton Roof Sawmills line which lies about 100 yards SE of the Trig.  So this makes things really interesting. 

1300hrs to 1430hrs - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof.  I had single Shrike at 1400hrs in Dalton Crags 100 yards South/South West of Trig Point.  Speaking with lady who came from Teesdale and she was priviledged to see both Shrikes in same tree and managed to get a photo of them.  Also she had a Swallow hawking the Common. 

As the day went along I have received another two reports of people seeing two separate Shrikes.

Friday 20th March 2015 (Vernal Equinox) - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900hrs - 1030hrs.

A funny sort of start with a eclipse of the sun.  But we did not have any sun, well what I should say is that we did just have little bits bobbing through at about the 0900hrs mark, but by 0930hrs the sun had completely disappeared and the skies clouded over.  But at around the 0930hrs and lasting for some 0945hrs a sort of "strange" darker appearance throughout, obviously on account of the eclipse.  But the birds kept on singing throughout it all, in fact it made no difference whatsoever to the vibrant Song Thrush!!

I think we have a new Stonechat!, I thought so yesterday, but not sure so I did not report it but it has again turned up at the bottom of Dalton deforested whilst the resident pair are at the moment just inside the boundaries of the Common.

The Great Grey Shrike was there in his usual territorial pose at the uppermost of one of the larger trees to a point approx 150 yards North West of the Trig Point.

Only had six Mipits going through in two parties of three going over the Crags during the time I was there.

Got to get up early doors tomorrow been invited to check out the Hawfinches at Sizergh by friend Rob.. so will hopefully try and get back to check out Hutton Roof later in the morning. 

Thursday 19th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900-1100hrs

Probably the best day yet weatherwise with lovely sunshine and little to no wind at times. 
The Great Grey Shrike was well up for it today showing off for most of the time to the usual area NW of the Trig Point at times as close as 100 yards going back to 200 yards. Someone up there again today said they had also seem him yesterday between about 11am and 1pm. He had several spectators today with fans having travelled from Workington and Kendal who would not be dissapointed. Saw on two separate occasions the female Stonechat carrying large grubs in her bill!!  The first proper day of the Meadow Pipit passage with at least 20 over the hour. 

Wednesday 18th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0800-0945hrs

Last Nights Aurora Borealis taken at Cumbria's Derwentwater (photo: internet)

Missed it again! missed what?  the Aurora borealis which was clearly seen over Cumbria and at its very best at 0400hrs this morning.  Look at this startling photo taken from the Derwentwater in Keswick. Anyway back to the question in hand. And what a beautiful morning with lots of wanted sunshine gracing my walk. Birding was so quiet this morning up on Dalton and Hutton Roof, once you took out the Song Thrushes, the tits, robins and dunnocks. 

No Shrikey, No Likey!! and not even a single Mipit went through, just the odd Pied Wagtail. Two pairs of Mistle Thrush looked like they might have been getting ready for conflict! Almost forgot to mention, yesterday I had my first primula in Dalton Crags. 

Tuesday 17th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0800-0945hrs

A lot better day with less wind and the sun starting to break through in part. A warmer day. The Song Thrush was enjoying himself singing away with all his different variations and showing you just how talented he can be, at times so good you thought he was miming other birds, but which birds I really don't know!!  Shrike in view immediately on entering Dalton Crags deforested.  He was showing well at the top of the "Cuckoo Tree" and later went further back on a hawthorn towards to boundary wall.  I guess that would have put him about 100 yards South of the Trig Point.  And guess what?  I had about five Meadow Pipits on Dalton deforested, a couple of pairs which gave the appearance they were already on territory, but time will tell.  Just one single bird actually going through to the North. Found these feathers quite near to the Trig Point this morning, which I brought back for identification, but struggling a bit just at the moment. 

Ah got it!! I have now worked it out what the feathers are!  They will be the Breast or Neck feathers of a Common male Pheasant and at this time of year two males will have been sparring up to one another and this will have been the result! (bruised pride) the giveaway clue for me laid in the fact of the edges showing "iridescent".

The large one of these feathers measures approx 1 1/2" x 1/2"
Please note the iridescent on the bottom edge of the top left feather
Also had a early "Brimstone" Butterfly today whilst over at Arnside on the Railway embankment. 

Monday 16th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900-1100hrs

Still light cold easterlies blowing across.  Much overcast in grey.  Not a lot going on with the occasional Green Woodpecker yaffling and Sky the lark giving his beautiful seranade has you crossed into Dalton Crags (upper deforested).  No signs of Shrike today neither Stonechats as well and even more worrying, no a single Meadow Pipit or lark going through! Several Ravens passing through whilst "cronking". I have been told that two Chiffchaffs were heard calling down at the Keer in Carnforth yesterday (15th).  A report just come in from Steve telling me he had the Shrike at 200 yards NNW of Trig at 1100hrs.  Must have started to show on my leaving. Nice one Steve!!

Sunday 15th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1030hrs to 1230hrs
That cold North Easterly wind was even stronger than yesterday, but every now and again it would weaken down and allow more still periods.  Well Shrikey wasnt for having it today, I searched everywhere on the top of Dalton and also all across Uberash Roughs on the Hutton Roof Common, but he never showed for me.  I think he must have been on one of the lower lying slopes somewhere keeping out of that wind!  I had the Stonechats, but still not even one Meadow Pipit or Skylark! I suppose when they come they will come through in good numbers. Where is that little chap hiding, Maybe down in Lancelot, or on Burton Fell (midway) or across from Rowley Copse, or even further around on the Hutton Roof side of the Rakes, he could be on any of these I suppose.

Saturday 14th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1000hrs to 1200hrs

What a fabulous morning, weather OK mainly grey overcast but still that underlying cold easterly wind now and again raising its head, but nothing like on the scale of yesterday.

Got straight on to Mr. Shrike who again was about 150 yards to the NW of the Trig Point, I did manage to close in on him and watched him from about 50 yards and soon he was off again.  Picked him up shortly afterwards down in Dalton Crags (upper/deforested) he was close to the old "Shrike Tree" and about 75 yards from the boundary wall with the Hutton Roof Common.  Again I got within 50 yards of him getting some fantastic views of him perched at only 2 metres high on top of a beech shoot of about 1/2" wide, but because I was to the East side of him and the sun was shining from the best direction to show off his plumage at its very best.
The paired Stonechats were seen again on the stone wall to the South side of the Crags (deforested).

A Wheatear has been seen this morning over at Heysham, and also of interest this very morning a "Herd of Whiteness" containing at least 42 birds has been seen heading North West over Bradford area.  Also a couple of small parties of that same species have been seen during the week heading North over the Morecambe Bay area.  I have usually got my records for these beautful birds somewhere around the 18th March week.

Thursday 12th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900hrs to 1030hrs

Not a lot to report. Could not find the Shrike, he was probably hidden away somewhere on lower ground, maybe down in Lancelot or even over on the Farleton side or over near the Rakes all would be suitable areas for the Shrike to hide out.  I would not blame him either with the gale force winds blowing up there. Although you would never have believed it to how it was down at Plain Quarry. There were times at the Trig Point when it nearly blew you off your feet.  It must have gust to 50 mph at times. 

Wednesday 11th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0830hrs to 1030hrs

Beautiful REDPOLL calling from the lower Crags, found both overwintering STONECHATS to the top of Dalton Crags, also had the first GREY WAGTAIL of the year crossing over Hutton Roof.  No SHRIKE today, but several people had come up to look for it. 

Tuesday 10th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0830hrs to 1000hrs

At the bottom of the crags I heard a Marsh Tit calling.  I have had them calling from all around this area over the last few weeks. Song Thrushes are giving it plenty at the moment from various points on Dalton. Green Woodpeckers are busy yaffling as well. 
My sketch of the Shrike's
upper features - present today

Great Grey Shrike was seen at 150 yards North West of the Trig in same alignment as the regular path. I will try and get up there daily now I know he's around again. I think this could well be the over wintering bird, he certainly is using the exact same territories as our overwintering bird.

Odd Lesser Black Back Gulls are coming through and heading West, probably on their way back to Walney Island for breeding.

I am told that the first Sand Martin was seen at Leighton Moss yesterday. 

Monday 9th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0830 to 1000hrs

Really good to get back in the swing of things after being absent for at least a couple of weeks.

Been told the Great Grey Shrike made appearances on the 5th and the 7th of March at his usual territory close by to the Trig Point. Up until then he had not been seen since January 5th, so just where have you been Mr. Shrike?

Today I did not see him, nor did I see the over wintering Stonechats, but sure they will still be around.

At last managed to hear Song Thrushes calling from their high post with a fabulous array of mixed songs.  Just nothing like it! why not try writing the songs down in a notebook and try putting the song into a sort of  "english language", I do it regular and its totally incredible to have on record the differentials and variants he does.  I can't think of any other bird that has these ranges.  After saying that the little Great Tit does'nt do so bad with over 200 variations of his song.

Sky the lark was singing pleasantly on her territory with just the occasional vertical lift!
but today she did not have any threatening passing by Larks to annoy her, so quieter than usual.  There again it was cold and there was a strong biting wind with it as well.  Certainly if today's records are anything to go by it was not a "vismig" day. Although the Meadow Pipits should start getting going anyday now.

One of a pair of Kestrels was constantly being harassed by a Carrion Crow which did not seem to want to give up!  It must have been dive bombing it for over half a hour. Can't understand what they get from this, because at the end of the day the bird of prey always wins through!  just a total waste of energy if you ask me!

Been told Goldcrest were heard a fortnight ago, which again is spot on to the day.

Had a "cronking" Raven, also had a couple of "yaffling" Green Woodpeckers in Dalton.

Well well! its that time of year again and already the Chiffchaffs are well on their way back from Africa with a ETA of approx 10 days time, although I have had them in Burton as early as the 15th March before now. Also the Swallows ETA is around the 25th March so its well worth looking up into those skies and listening in the wooded areas for that "chiff, chaff, chiff chaff, chitty"