Saturday, 31 March 2012

Most Chiffchaffs now in, but not "Miss A Note".

Heres my diary notes for today (31st March 2012) Censored version!!

Not a bad morning, with a walk up to the Trig Point via Lancelot to the Common and then back via Burton Fell.

On way up at Vicarage Lane, I was temporarily looking around for Redwing, only to find out it was a super Starling doing its immpression, absolutely excellent....

Meadow Pipits: Still only 23 over a couple of hours, but looking more promising. Did have one party at 6 and another at 4. Lots of Redpoll going through (maybe 20) plus lots feeding up within the Dalton, Lancelot areas. Two Chiffchaffs returned to Lancelot (one still missing and least Five birds returned to Burton Fell.
The Chiffchaff on Lancelot which I've christened " Miss A Note" is still the one thats missing, but I have now checked notes from last year and I never made notes about her until about the 22nd April 2011, so maybe she's not late but just delayed. Here is the 2011 note about her and also the reason why I call her "Miss A Note"

"In the Lancelot count I did notice that one of the Chiffchaffs calls was very different to the usual eg: It did the normal Chiff-Chaff, Chiff-Chaff, a few times as the normal and then would every now and again insert the additional notes of "diddoo diddo" in the same syllabic range as the "Chiff Chaff". I cant say that I have ever heard this before and wondering if its a malfunction rather than the norm" .

Also had Rue Leaved Saxifrage, Dog Violets, Wood Anemone, Water Avens and Bluebells. Bluesbells now showing here and there and would expect that a visit to "Bluebell Wood" could be planned in the next two weeks.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Yellow Star Of Bethlehem

Today was a good dawn chorus yet again. But nothing moving mid morning from Plain Quarry to Trig. Still two Chiffchaffs calling. Only 3 Meadow Pipits moving through in over one hour. 3 Yafflers and 3 GSW's. A few Redpoll about.

A couple of weeks ago I was kindly invited to check out "The Yellow Star Of Bethlehem". I would have estimated there could well have been around the 300 individual flowers of the species. Getting quite rare nowadays.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Chiffchaff & Variant calls - used by others as well.

0545hrs - 0700hrs. I was about to say how quiet it was this morning. Far from quiet with every Blackbird in the village singing along with all its allies.

0915hrs - 1030hrs. From Plain Quarry, Dalton to the Trig Point on Hutton Roof. Another Chiffchaff has arrived at Dalton quite near to the Quarry, so this morning it was one singing to one side (west) and one singing on other side (east). The calls this morning where the usual "chiff, chaff, chitty" . Yesterday it was early afternoon, and the bird present was doing its "huwheet" call. When you do hear this call you do have to hang around a little, because its also the same call as what the "Willow Warbler" may also use. But usually I've noticed that the Willow Warbler does not use the call much until its well into its breeding and then it may use the usual descending syllable call but usually by then (late breeding season) very much broken, or it will use its soft "huwhit" call. Also passage birds going back usually use this "huwhit" call also. Also Chaffinch use it, but to save confusion when the Chaffinch use it, they spoil it by adding other calls with it. Also the Redstart has that similar "huwhit" call.

A few Redpoll going over NW, only about 6 Meadow Pipits, 1 Linnet (presumed local - HR).

1830hrs: 2 Chiffchaffs calling from Thrang/ White Moss Areas also Toothwort this year instead of two sprigs as 9 to press.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Dawn Chorus gets better and better.

0545-0700hrs. Its got to be the best job in the World at this time of year delivering daily newspapers. Every Path, Lane, Street, Cul-de-sac, Road, Hamlet wherever! theres a very special "Dawn Chorus" going on with a mixture of birds singing their little hearts out.

Who's always the frontrunner, who sits so sentinel, every day in that same tree, and its the same in all the other locations as well. Off course its the Blackbird. Not usually, but certainly whilst leading his chorus, he lets you walk under that tree without him bothering one little bit.

What other birds are joining in the most beautiful serenade? I recognize Robins and Dunnocks and Great Tits and Blue Tits and sometimes the competitive Song Thrush.

"Never to be took for granted,
I open up my ears,
To the greatest of sounds I'll ever hear,
To start that day so full of cheer,
That Dawn Chorus so sweet, so dear
Oh so, so, near"

Thank you for another great start to the day....

1230-1430hrs. Just returned from Trig Point on Hutton Roof. This high pressure is definately spoiling it for the bird migration, with only 7 Meadow Pipits over one hour. Hopefully the passage will explode as soon as the high pressure moves on.

Also had my first Dog Violets in Dalton Crags.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Thank you Preston.

It was great to come down to Preston yesterday evening to speak at the Preston Society on the subject of "Visible Bird Migration" over Hutton Roof. I got some fantastic feedback afterwards and would like to say just how "warming" the audience was... Thank you Stephen et al.

(0600-0700hrs) Early light frost this morning, and the "dawn chorus" was just as strong as ever with the Blackbird taking the lead. Never heard any "Chiffchaffs" or other new Warblers this morning as yet.

(0830-0930hrs) Just returned from Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof and the Chiffchaff near to Plain Quarry is singing away, but other than that very little. I had one Redwing calling and going East, but the Meadow Pipits were only trickling through at about 20 per hour.

(1400-1500hrs) Also Chiffchaffs singing at Arnbarrow (Sandside) and another one at Truckhaven Services, just behind Shop.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Further Chiffchaff arrival at Dalton (26th March 2012)

0930 to 1100hrs - A new Chiffchaff has come in overnight at Dalton Crags, (Nr. Plain Car Park). Meadow Pipits nothing up until 1000hrs then only 28 birds North over the hour. Odd Redpoll, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and one Skylark. No Swallows.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

First Chiffchaff and Mipits regular.

0645hrs: Thornleigh - Burton In Kendal. Had my first calling Chiffchaff of the year. There was a bird calling from this same spot a day later last year (eg: 25th March 2011), probably the same bird.

Been up on Hutton Roof via Dalton and the Meadow Pipits are going North with up 40 birds per hour. Still showing mainly in singles and pairs with very few larger parties. This should change in the next day or two with larger parties growing.

Also had: one pair of Linnet to North, and a single bird showing activity close to Trig. I think this may be one of the breeding birds from last year. A couple of albas went through, also some regular Redpoll activity with up to 6 birds during the hour all going North. Also one Skylark to the West.

I would think the Mipits are on target to probably reach their peak by about the 26th to 28th March as is usually the case, and by then would expect to get around the 150 birds per hour at least.

These Pipits have their dates worked out well eg: usual peak dates in Spring = 26th to 28th March approx.
peak dates on return in Autumn - 26th to 28th September approx.

There is also some Mistle Thrush activity on Dalton.

Last year I had four Swallows going over the Trig Point on 25th March 2011, and two of them spent over one hour "hawking" out around the Trig Point area. I wonder if the same will happen this year. Certainly the weather and other conditions are absolutely "perfect".

Stonechats are thin or going undetected, just had the one this year and that was only seen on one morning only, and none since.

Sadly no Great Grey Shrike this year, or at least up to press.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Whooper Swans on the move North.

Already this morning had 5 Whoopers heading in a North direction over Burton In Kendal at 0635hrs. Also I could here Redpolls, Siskins, Goldfinches overhead, obviously on their way back to breeding territories.

Also forgot to mention yesterday, at early doors I did have a couple of Fieldfare near Dalton Hall.

Went up Hutton Roof and had about 50 Meadow Pipits going through N-NE over one hour (0930hrs-1030hrs. Lots of large Bumblebees and my first Ladybird.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Smart *** and his GPS (True Story)

Today at Hutton Roof, saw Meadow Pipits coming through at about 100 plus per hour and at times struggling with the SE winds, and could be seen flying side on.

Out of the wind, I saw 3 Peacock Butterflies. Heard Siskin going over and also there were some Goldfinch parties on HR.

And here's a little sketch:
Smart *** and his GPS
I was at the Trig Point yesterday and caught this conversation between Schoolmaster and Students from Heysham. Together with Smart ***. And this is how the conversation went.

Smart*** said to the students
“What are you doing”?

And one of the students replied
“We’re map reading”,
And the master is setting out some co-ordinates for us to work out using the compass.

So Smart*** pulled out of his pocket a hand held GPS, and went on to say to the Students,
“Never mind all that stuff with the compass, why not use a GPS?”

So then the student replied
“But you get a far better reading from doing it the old way with the compass like we’re doing it”

And Smart*** replied!
“Oh yes I forgot”,
“And did you know that you also get better results from working out sums in your head,
Rather than using a calculator..!

(A true story what happened the other day at the Trig Point. (22nd March 2012)

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Still no GGS at HR but Mipits going through

Still no Great Grey Shrike at Dalton or Hutton Roof, but did have on passage over the past couple of days:-

Skylark: One pair head N.
Meadow Pipits: about 20 to 30 heading North. (best a party of 4 most singles or pairs). So still estimated at only 10 birds per hour.
A odd pair of Chaffinch heading N.

Friday, 16 March 2012

No GGS, but did have Goldcrest on HR

Still no Shrike after checking out the last couple of days.
A single Goldcrest was seen in Dalton (upper). I am sure this bird was a migrant. I have never seen them before so far up.
Still really quiet with Mipits, did have about ten over two hours. Also one Skylark. Had some great close ups of Green Woodpecker, with at least 5 yaffling birds in the area.

That most beautiful of grasses "Purple Moor Grass" is showing in several places.

Thats about it for now.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

No GGS but Meadow Pipits started coming through.

Checking out Hutton Roof again today, but still no GGS.

Mipits have now started coming through. Even between 2pm and 3pm had a single, then a party of 7, then a party of 4 all going North. So its obvious they are starting to come through now. I noted also that other recorders up and down the Country had started getting them today also.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Just a quick diary catch up....Still no GGS

Still no Great Grey Shrike on Hutton Roof. I have been checking HR out everyday for at least two weeks, yet still no arrival up to today. Mainly I have checked out all Dalton upper, and the Common going East to the scree areas and to the South down the Crags heading towards the rear of Crag House. The only areas escaping daily observation are Lancelot and Burton Fell, which the GGS has been known to occasionally appear. Although I am also checking these areas every other day. It has been noted that a GGS has arrived back near Longridge Fell and been present now there for at least 2 days.

Meadow Pipits still very slow, with just 4 birds passing through over two hours, although there were at least 9 blogging Mipits on Dalton (upper). And of note was a probable 3 pairs setting out territory on the Common quite close to the Trig, and another pair which where already holding territory behind Crag House and showing parachuting displays to ward off other approaching Mipits. Had at least 3 Skylark still going directly through on passage and at least two pairs back on territory and singing.
Also, one Stonechat on the Common, 2 Long Tailed Tits and Green Woodpecker on the Common and a couple of singles overflying Redpoll to the West.

Of note was again Curlew going through calling early on this morning eg: 0615 and again at 06.30hrs whilst flying over Burton in a South South Westerley direction. This compares well with last year when I started to notice calling Curlews coming over with a party of about 20 noisy birds which again were heading in the same direction and on checking the date for comparison it was the March 8th 2011. I wonder if some sort of movement is taking place, but if this is the case why would they be going in a SSW.

Also of much interest for me was to see a party of 10 Linnet crossing over Burton Fell at about 1100hrs in a South direction on 29th February 2012, and then again to see two further parties of Linnet one of 8 and another of 12 which passed over the Common from the Kelker direction with about 20 minutes between at around the noon period on the 2nd March 2012. Still no satisfactory suggestions for why these birds where moving South at this time.

Odd places on HR showing the flower of Rue Leaved Saxifrage, also noted was good 4" diameter leaf rosettes of the "Early Purple Orchid" in various places.

Some stories to post about recent experiences on Hutton Roof over the next couple of days.

Check out my latest Shrike poem called "No Shrikey, No Likey" click here

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

No Shrikey, No Likey!

(7th March 2012 – In Search of the Great Grey Shrike- Hutton Roof
last years date of arrival was 7th March 2011)

No Shrikey, No Likey!

Give him a chance,
Its very early days yet,
And I bet he’s on the way,
So any day now!

He’ll sit proud on top of that tree
The same tree as last year,
It sticks up high into the sky,
And forks quite near the top,

This is the spot from where he looks down,
Before he swoops to catch his prey,
A vole or lizard or beetle be,
Whichever comes first below that tree.

He has his larder somewhere near,
A spikey Haw or Blackthorn tree,
Where he impales his valued food,
And that’s the “Butcher Bird” for you.

Monday, 5 March 2012

No Birds! and very eerie.....on Hutton Roof today

Hutton Roof was devoid of Birds and very, very eerie!!

Today I can honestly say I have never known it so quiet!
The areas of Upper Dalton and the Trig Point seemed totally devoid of birds.
Absolute silence, peaceful, in fact far too peaceful and very eerie.

There had been a overnight frost, which had cleared early hours, and when
Daylight appeared it was clear skies with just the odd white fluffy cloud.
I would have thought the skies would have been bustling with bird movement,
But no, just nothing, and that’s what went on and on for the next few hours.
Words are difficult here, but certainly, weird, strange, unusual would fit the bill.

Skylarks should be seen on the move, in singles, pairs or little parties,
Meadow Pipits, are regular as well, and heard with their “pseet” calls, but not today.

Not just the overhead movers, but where’s the resident singing Skylarks as well?
Nothing – but why ? they have been back on territory now for a day or two,
Yesterday they could be heard singing their little hearts out.

Up here when all else fails you do expect to hear the Ravens and the Buzzards!
With the Ravens “honking” as they cross and do their aerial summersaults, and
The Buzzards also are teaming up and you never fail to hear their “pee-ew” calls.
But today got none of that either.

I know they don’t like it bright, that’s for sure, the wind was quite calm, with just the odd occasional wind flurry, it was nice and dry and quite warm.
Everything seemed to fit the bill for a good day. But it just did not happen.

When you just don’t understand it and probably never will.
Why not blame the “atmospherics of it all”.

Nature Catch Up Stuff

(above: Rue Leaved Saxifrage found on Hutton Roof, this one was actually behind Crag House on Dalton Crags)
I must have lots of diary entries now things have started to get going again.

Some of my notes include:

Fri Dec 30th 2011 – First Snowdrops – Dalton.

Jan 10th 2012 – 11 Fieldfare in Fields near Dalton.
Tues 10th Jan 2012 – Hedgehog dead in road Nr. Morewood School, Burton. (I have never ever recorded Hedgehogs before about April previously. Also had to move one out of the road on Fri 7th January 2012 at St. James Road, Burton. (So I suppose it presented the question of whether these were actually over wintering or had they just arose from hibernation far too early!!
26th Jan 2012 – Flushed 2 Common Snipe near Dalton Crags. Also flushed 3 C. Snipe on Burton Fell 1st March 2012.

Fri 27th Jan 2012 – Good to see the “White Crow” is still surviving (somewhere on way to Kendal).

3rd February 2012 – At least 30 Redwings at Curwen Wood Nr. Burton.
3rd February 2012 – Tawny Owl flew towards me and just veered off perhaps some 20 ft away, and at the same time a Woodcock was disturbed – In Lancelot Storth – Hutton Roof.
Also did notice a Tawny Owl dead in side of road about 100 yards to the Burton side of Curwen Wood. (about mid February).

First Goldcrest of the year was seen in our garden at Burton on Thr February 9th 2012,

First returning Skylarks and Meadow Pipits for me to record was on 16th February 2012 when I had 2 Skylarks and the odd Mipit coming back over the Trig Point. I have been up on Hutton Roof on most days since and had good numbers of Skylarks going through and also quite a few Mipits, but don’t think the Mipits will start proper until about the 10th March 2012.

From Friday the 24th February 2012 and still going on (4th March 2012). The Frogs have been moving back to their breeding ponds and marshes, and I have recorded them from several areas in and around Burton In Kendal.
About the 25th February 2012 saw the first “primula” for me with a primrose specimen on Hutton Roof, Park Wood side, also seen them in the following days, yet more at Park Wood, and some in full bloom within Holme Park Nature Reserve, Clawthorpe.

Also on the 27th February 2012 recorded the first “Lesser Celandine” at Park Wood, Hutton Roof.
I had 3 Yellowhammers back on territory and singing on Hutton Roof side on 29th February 2012.
2nd March 2012 Had first flowering “Rue Leaved Saxifrage (saxifraga tridactylite) from near to Dalton Crags.
Been out to several areas in Lancashire and Cumbria in search of “Daphne Mezereon” with reasonable success.

Spent quite a lot of time over the last month or two doing footpath maps of the area to include the gps co-ordinances. Coming along but will need lots more time spending on this project.

3rd March 2012. Saw my first sighting of returning Stonechat on Dalton Crags.

Goldcrest now in full song at Clawthorpe on 3rd March and also one this morning (5th March at Vicarage Lane in Burton. During the last couple of days there have also been lots of reports at Heysham and Walney of large falls of returning continental Goldcrest. So I suppose these dates tie in….

5th March 2012 – Don’t really expect the Great Grey Shrike before the 7th March (that was the return date in 2011) and it was the 10th March (return date in 2010). But you never know! So as I bring pen to close, that’s where I am off……..

(And here are a couple of photos: the top one is what I have called the "Frog Stone" again near to Crag House, Dalton. And below is a photo of the "Daphne Mezereone"