Saturday, 10 May 2014

Nature Notes up to 20th May 2014

Notes on Local Large Wheatear Hotspots 2014 (this is actual size please click over to enlarge)
Tuesday 20th May 2014

Today 1200hrs to 1400hrs - Coffin route Grasmere to Rydal.

One of our favourite walks, but today you might has well have called it the "Warbler in Song" route because thats just what it was with: Whitethroats (2), Willow Warblers (several), Chiffchaffs (3), Blackcap (2), Garden Warbler (2) and Redstart (3), all singing out to their best and the majority of them close and clear, and that was just a snapshot whilst striding out towards the side of Wordsworth's Rydal Mount, I'll bet if I could have spent time and checked it out more thoroughly I would have even been able to include a Wood Warbler or two because this is just smack bang central to one of their better breeding localities.  

Yesterday a good friend of mine kindly sent me photo's of a poor House Martin which he found dead just outside his house in Burton In Kendal.  You can see within the photos that the poor bird was infested with blood sucking nasties! in fact they are common parasites within the "hirundine" or Swift communities.

On this poor creature there had been six of these nasties which would quickly dash back to cover within the birds feathers on handling the dead bird.  I tried to check out what they where from my insect reference books, but nothing showing.

I was able to find out further information from the good old internet and their latin classification is "Crataerina pallida" or more commonly called the "hippobosid fly" or "louse Fly" or "Keds".

I at one time used to accompany a bird ringer who had licence to ring Swifts and more often than not when caught and handled you would see the birds with several of a unidentified "irridescence beetle" which would quickly scurry back under the birds feathers on handling. Without doubt these beetles were of African origin and I wonder now if these "louse flies" are also of African origin.

Getting back to the Crataerina, a very interesting report comes from a .pdf file I read from the East Hyde Historic Bird Reports dated 7th June 1934 and it reports about a Swift and quotes "Of interest a bird seen to drop dead out of the sky, which contained over 20 blood sucking flies of the order Crataerina pallida" 

I have already seen other photographs on the net showing exactly the same thing present on House Martins, but would love to know more information in regards to these creatures. It would be nice to have it confirmed that they are of African origin and travel to and fro with the birds during their long migrations, this is what I think must be the case, but any offers of further information on the subject would be most welcome.

For now check out the interesting photos:

Dead House Martin infested with Crataerina pallida or "hippobosid fly" or "louse-fly" or "Keds"
Monday 19th May 2014
0930hrs to 1045hrs - Dalton Crags.

Recorded a new "Redstart" singing on Dalton Lane, opposite the junction with "Nineteen Trees".

Also a couple of Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap within the Crags.

Sunday 18th May 2014

(1300hrs to 1500hrs) Checking out Dalton Crags, and as usual it was really good today with singing Garden Warblers (probably 3 to 4 breeding pairs in the lower Dalton area), as usual the local Blackcaps were much subdued.

The Cuckoo was about and singing and could be heard from as far South as the bottom of Dalton on the Crag House side were he spent most of the time whilst I was there, I did actually get a full view of him when he came back up into Dalton (deforested).  It is certainly worthy of note that the same bird has also been recorded far over on the East Side near the top of Park Wood on the Hutton Roof side. Sadly for the bird, but great for the human, this particular Cuckoo can be easily recognized as the same bird covering this large area because of its "coo" which is represented by more of a "Cuk" and a cough rather than a "coo". 

Several singing Tree Pipits throughout Dalton, but still at least one to two pairs missing from usual occupied territories. 
Female Orange Tip (click over to enlarge)

Two Greenland Wheatear were present in the deforested area and seen on several occasions coming of the wall and "flycatching" mid air before returning to the wall. Also closeby was noted a pair of Linnets which I have seen around the same area now on no less than three separate occasions.  The lovely crimson and black "Cinnabar" moth has been active over the past few days and also today I had a beautiful brimstone down in the bottom of Dalton (usual territory roding!) also Speckled Woods, Green Veined Whites, Orange Tips and the odd Peacock.

Friday 16th May 2014
(Forecast: 1000hrs - Wind 7-12mph, 14c, 73% Cloud cover, 19700m visibility, 1031mb pressure)

(Slape Lane to Clawthorpe Fell) A Chiffchaff singing further along Slape Lane almost in line with Church Bank in the bottom.  Another was heard in a previously unrecorded area near to the Old Lime Kiln near Clawthorpe. Local farmers have been making their first cut of the year with several fields about been cut. 

My main purpose today was to check out Clawthorpe Fell behind Curwen Wood to check out if the Spotted Flycatcher was back, but I watched its usual territory for almost one hour without any signs of the birds.  Will check again in a week or two.  Did have the usual Blackcap and also a Chiffchaff singing away. A bonus was to see and hear a Marsh Tit.

Also a Cinnabar Moth noted and a rather fragile but very drab looking damselfly near to the border with the Holme Park Quarry.  

On Clawthorpe Fell noticed the Angular Solomon's Seal is showing its drooping white pods and will probably be at its best in another week on.  Also flowering Spring Cinquefoil and lots and lots of the rare Birds Foot Sedge (carex ornithopoda).

Still finding dead "bombus" in the tracks.... 

Thursday 15th May 2014
Woodland at Dalton
(Forecast: 1900hrs - Wind 6-8mph, 13c, 33% Cloud cover, 18500m visibility, 1034mb pressure).

Other North West Migratory News:
200 Spotted Flycatchers, 134 Wheatear, 150 Sedge Warblers, 150 Whitethroat, Two Cuckoos, 1470 Swallows North, - Bardsey (information sourced from the Bardsey Observatory Blog). 

Wednesday 14th May 2014
(Forecast: 1000hrs - Wind: 5-7mph, 11c, 44% Cloud cover, 19400m visibility, 1031mb pressure. 

Fairy Foxglove in Plain Quarry, Dalton
Other North West Migratory News:
1 Cuckoo NE of Silverdale Moss - (Heysham) (information sourced from Heysham Observatory Blog). 9 Wheatear at Cockersands and also good numbers of Swallows moving through (Birds2Blog) (information sourced from Pete's site Birds2Blog). 13 Spotted Flycatchers, 1 Tree Pipit and 2 Garden Warblers (Bardsey) - (information sourced from the Bardsey Observatory Blog. One Cuckoo at Grindleton Fell, 1 Cuckoo at Hareden and 2 Cuckoos (male and female) at Lennox Farm (ELOC) (information sourced from the East Lancashire Ornithologist Club). 

Tuesday 13th May 2014
(Forecast: 1000hrs: Wind: NW 2-5mph, 10c,  60% Cloud Cover, 15700m visibility, 1018mb pressure.

Other North West Migratory News:
54 Swallow NE (Heysham) (information sourced from the Heysham Observatory Blog).  21 Wheatear and 1 Redstart at Walney. (information sourced from Walney Observatory Blog. 2 Corn Bunting at St. Michaels On the Wyre (Fylde) (information sourced from the Flyde Bird Club Blog) 4 Dotterel on Pendle, One Wood Warbler at Boothman Wood, Barley, One Cuckoo at Marl Hill Wood and one Cuckoo at Sheddon Clough (ELOC) (information sourced from East Lancashire Ornithologist Club).

Monday 12th May 2014
(Forecast 1000hrs: Wind: 9-12mph, 10c, 50% Cloud cover, 14700m visibility, 1008mb pressure.

Please click over to enlarge
0900-1100hrs - Dalton Crags 
Checked out the higher or deforested parts of Dalton but no Wheatear present today, and neither saw or heard our resident Cuckoo.  Some of the Tree Pipits this year in Dalton seem to be either a little behind in arriving or we are going to have a reduced numbered breeding year. Although the majority have been back now for some three weeks we are still short of a couple of pairs up to this morning they have not yet arrived back. 

Especially in Dalton deforested just at the start, the Cowslips are without doubt having their best year yet by way of taking up more territory than in previous years, and also the specimens on show are taller and more mature in appearance. There's also some fine specimens of "Bugle" showing along with good spreads of "Wild Strawberry" in flower.

Without doubt its one of those "Garden Warbler" years and we are doing really well at Dalton. Just in a close 300 yard radius to the Plain Quarry Car Park there appears to be at least 5 singing males. This would probably outnumber their cousins by almost double. It could quite be the case has I have noticed in previous years whereby the Blackcap goes into a more "subdued" mode at the arrival of the Garden Warblers, you don't seem to hear them just as prolific as though they have taken the back seat.  But there again thinking about it most of the Blackcap have had at least three weeks or longer start over the Garden Warbler's in establishing their territories. 

Chiffchaffs are also doing well this year, which is fantastic news to say how poor last year started off with only a 50% return of birds.  All lower Dalton regular sites are fully occupied and all birds have been singing away this morning. One of the birds back is another "Speedy" in song, and not coming up for air! 

I had a single Meadow Pipit going through North this morning. Just shows you there are still the stragglers about!

Other North West Migratory News:
19 Wheatear and small numbers of Swallows over Walney. (information sourced from the Walney Observatory Blog). Spotted Flycatcher singing at Crook O'Lune - (information sourced from the Lancaster and District Ornithological Society). 100 Swifts hawking over Lillians Hide - Silverdale (Birds2Blog) (information sourced from Pete's site Birds2Blog). One Cuckoo at Fleetwood Marsh, 5 Greenland Wheatear at Fleetwood Marsh Nature Park, 7 Wheatear at Abbey Fields - Cockersand - (FYLDE) (information sourced from Fylde Bird Club). 8 Spotted Flycatchers, 9 Garden Warblers, 31 Sedge Warblers, 8 Whitethroats, 4 Blackcaps, 11 Chiffchaffs, 39 Willow Warblers, 187 Swallows and 11 House Martins and 4 Sand Martins (Bardsey) (information sourced from Bardsey Observatory). 7 Wheatear, 2 Whinchat, 1 Yellow Wagtail at Leasowe Lighthouse (information sourced from Dee Estuary Birds) 1 Cuckoo on Gannow Fell and a second heard on Longridge Fell, 4 Dotterel on Pendle Hill (ELOC) 
(information sourced from the East Lancs Ornithology Club).

Sunday 11th May 2014
(Forecast: Wind: W 13-21mph, 9c, 93% Cloud cover, 13800m visibility, 996mb pressure)

Other North West Migratory News:
12 Wheatear and a trickle of Swallows and 1 Willow Warbler at Walney - (Information sourced from Walney Blog). 4 Dotterel on Pendle nr Trig Point (ELOC) - (information sourced from East Lancashire Ornithologist Club.

Saturday 10th May 2014
(Forecast: Heavy Rain)

Yesterday evening at around the 1945hrs to 2000hrs I noticed just one Swift high above the village of Burton In Kendal.

What was interesting, whilst watching I had a superfast movement of both Swallows and Martins come directly over the main street in Burton.  Similar to what happened a few nights ago.

I think I have got the answer to these moving birds.  For the past five days if not longer, a large quantity of mixed hirundines (Swallows and House Martins) (up to 50) have been seen feeding up over the main A6070 just at the opening to Cote Green Farm and stretching it to the almost opening into Deerslet on the other side of the road.  This activity at the moment seems to be early doors until dusk.  The birds are at only 30ft high whilst feeding here as though dodging in and out just above the fast moving traffic beneath them. What ever the food source is here it must be really good. Thinking about it now I have seen this particular spot marked out before and its obviously one of their favourite places. 

0900hrs  At least four Swifts flying over the village high above the Burton Memorial Hall. 

Other North West Migratory News:-

One Wood Warbler at Crook O'Lune - North at the Western End of the former west railway/cycle path bridge. (information sourced from the Lancaster and District Blog). 8 Wheatear at Leasowe Lighthouse (information sourced from the Lighthouse and Wirral Blog). One Spotted Flycatcher at New Laithe Farm Newton - (ELOC) (information sourced from the East Lancs Ornithological Club). 500 Swifts, 80 Swallows and 10 Sand Martins and 40 House Martins at Ewood Bridge Sewage Works - Rossendale- at 1045hrs and gone by 1330hrs - (information sourced from Rossendale Ornithologist Club.