Thursday, 27 November 2014

Great Grey Shrike etc on Hutton Roof

Shrikes recorded look outs, in Dalton and Hutton Roof
(Please click over image to enlarge)
(Tuesday 25th November 2014) "5 years since last November visit"

0900hrs to 1200hrs  -  On approach to Trig Point and walking up the main track leading through the Dalton upper (deforested area) and sure enough Mr. Shrike was sat on the uppermost branch of the largest of the trees which are set quite near (30 yards) to the gate entry where you leave from Dalton and onto the Common.  He left there and flew over the Common and somewhere presumed to far side.

 Whilst using the Trig Point has a main look out post I soon relocated him sat on a low 15ft tree which sort of projects itself through the middle of a thick crop of blackthorn which lies to the South East of the Trig and lies to the base of the escarpment. Before long he was lost again and it was decided to take the small path which runs East from the Trig Point. After 100 yards approx I relocated him yet again sat on top of a small hawthorn tree which is set half way up the side of the escarpment.  Again lots of good views of him before he set off again tree hopping and then out of site.  After a short time he was relocated in the trees at the top of Dalton deforested quite close to the old Shrike tree.  From here he moved further down Dalton crossing over from one side to the other and close to the Blackthorn on the Crag House side.  From there he flew over the wall on the Crag House side and lost from site.  Also had two Green Woodpeckers, Male and Female Stonechat sat on the wall (Crag House side of Dalton deforested), a few Fieldfare, a couple of Cronking Ravens and also told of a Brambling calling from within the large mixed finch party currently sent near to the Plain Quarry Car Park.

It was great to see so many keen observers this morning which included many from the Lancaster Bird Club and it was lovely to meet up with everyone again. David, Simon, Keith (Arnside), Peter, Tom, John and Keith (Lancaster)

Historic Shrikes on Hutton Roof: (From my own personal records and monitored daily during their presence)

Previously to my own records which start from 2009 the Shrike was recorded during November during the years 2007 and 2008.

I had the great pleasure to witness the Shrike from the 4th November 2009 when he stayed with us up to the 30th November 2009 (26 days) this was the last time it was seen on Hutton Roof during the month of November until now (5 years ago)!

Other past historic Shrike dates I recorded on Hutton Roof:

March 10th 2010 and left 27th March 2010 (total of 17 days)

also March 7th 2011 and left 10th April 2010 (total of 34 days)

I am beginning to think that the birds we see on Hutton Roof are possibly birds calling off during both their Autumn and Spring annual migrations from possibly the Scandinavian countries and heading to Spain or the Mediterranean.

Another Shrike recorded yesterday from Hawkshead.  Also birds still down at Lytham and also over in Grindleton as well.


(Wednesday 26th November 2014)
(1400hrs to 1515hrs) Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags.

Great Grey Shrike present at 1430hrs 150 yards East/South East of Trig Point on top of straggling tree which comes out from the centre of large blackthorn area which lies to bottom of escarpment (Looking from the Trig, line up with the Timber Yard at Hutton Roof).  This is becoming a popular area for the Shrike having now been seen within this same area on three separate occasions. Seen flitting about for over 45 minutes and the last sighting I had and still there on leaving was at 50 yards initially and then further back to 120 yards on a large tree North/North North West of the Trig Point and still on the Hutton Roof Common.
(Thursday 27th November 2014)
(0900hrs to 1015hrs) Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags.

Great Grey Shrike present at 0915hrs on top of right hand side large tree which you pass under just before you are about to leave Dalton and go onto the Common.  Watched from a distance, he then moved about 70 yards to the right hand side (south direction) but still up against the Common boundary wall.  Lost sight. Went up to Trig Point for vantage look out but never saw him again, presumed somewhere on the Common.  (Trig Point vantage Look out is SD555(99) 774(52)

Also present: Both male and female Stonechats on the Blackthorn patch near the gully in Dalton deforested close to the boundary wall to Crag House side.  Also Redwing (20+) and several Fieldfare seen in the area. Also two Meadow Pipit have been around for a couple of days in Dalton deforested. Also a nice surprise to have a Woodcock fly past me and went down somewhere into the bracken on the Crag House side of the wall. Its usually about now when I get my main arrivals of Woodcock.


(Friday 28th November 2014)
(0900hrs to 1030hrs) Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags.

Great Grey Shrike first seen at 1000hrs at the top end of Lancelot 40 yards West of the Solar Panels, he shortly moved over into Dalton deforested where we saw him flitting about after insects etc, he was seen perching from several places before he decided to go East and settled down on a low hawthorn which was at about 50 yards South of the Trig Point and at the base of the first escarpment. Came away at 1030hrs.

It was nice to meet up with Geoff E and really pleased we saw the Shrike.  He managed to take several good photographs of the bird.

Stonechats where missing today.


(Saturday 29th November 2014)
(0900hrs to 1030hrs) Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags.

Great Grey Shrike found after some 30 minutes and first located to the Crag House wall side of Dalton deforested in a small hawthorn to the top right hand corner (near the start of the escarpment), then he went into the nearby large Cuckoo tree where he seemed to rest up for some twenty minutes or so.  Never saw him after this.

Both male and female Stonechat where seen on the blackthorn towards the bottom of the "gully".

Several Redwing and Fieldfare in the lower Dalton Crags and 200 Woodpigeon approx.


(Sunday 30th November 2014)
(0900hrs to 1200hrs) Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags.

After checking out all the usual Great Grey Shrike haunts in Dalton/The Common and top of Lancelot I just could not find it anywhere.  Gave up at 1200hrs. There is always tomorrow!

On way up had the pair of Stonechats quite close to the boundary wall with the Common at times being most confusing when checking out from a distance with them using the uppermost perches of the tall trees!!

Two Ravens seen regularly in the deforested.  Also Redwings in lower Dalton.


(Monday 1st December 2014)
(0900hrs to 1030hrs) Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags.

Checked out most of the regular haunts of the Great Grey Shrike, but not showing anywhere and I concluded it was without doubt NO SHRIKEY, NO LIKEY.  I suppose he could well be further down in Lancelot or for that matter, the middle section of Burton Fell which has well spaced out hawthorns and looks quite good area for a Shrike, no less of a area which would equally deserve searching would be to the West side of The Rakes which lies to the East side of Hutton Roof.  I will certainly try and get around to these areas over the coming days.  I suppose he could well have moved on by now because looking back five years ago the bird then left on the 30th November 2009.  No doubt over the next few days will confirm one way or another whether the 29th November 2014 remains his last day of the 9 he graced us with his most welcome presence.

Well well!  Mr and Mrs Stonechat may well have fallen out with one another because they prefer to stay almost 1/2 a mile apart today!  I thought it strange when noticing Mrs just after my entering the Dalton deforested section and I could not see Mr anywhere about,  because has a rule they are only yards away from one another and seem constant companions.  Before long whilst checking things out on the Common to the East side of Ploverlands who should be seen? none other than Mr Stonechat perched as bold as brass on the uppermost branch of a solitary mid sized hawthorn tree whilst looking over the woodlands below to his East.

The local Mistle Thrush was singing away on the sides of Dalton deforested.  It seems really early to me as though the months have shifted a bit.

Green Woodpecker present and yaffling occasionally. Saw at least a couple from both the deforested and further down at the top of the lower Dalton Crags.

Also plenty of Redwings and Fieldfare present in the beech trees down in Dalton.  Also at least 3 parties of Long Tailed Tits present and seen on the Common


(Tuesday 2nd December 2014)
(0800hrs to 0900hrs) Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags.

Good job I hadn't given up on the Great Grey Shrike, although the thought had ran through my head that perhaps it had moved on to a warmer climate!  Well the cheekie chappie re-appeared this morning only about 75 yards North West of the Trig Point in the largest of trees which is more or less situated directly above the North West footpath (footpath which goes from Trig to the Two Cairns). He sat there for a few minutes before going down on prey somewhere further back to the North West and not seen since.  He can be so elusive, but it was so nice after two days absent to get a "peep" this morning!

Fieldfares and Redwings were present in Dalton Crags (deforested) perhaps a couple of dozen in total. Six Fieldfare were on the move coming over the Trig point in a NW to SE line.  As usual Green Woodpeckers in attendance.  No Stonechats recorded today.


(Wednesday 3rd December 2014) "Yellowhammers a plenty"
(0900hrs to 1200hrs) Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags and then walk down through Lancelot Clark Storth and Burton Fell)

I could not find the Shrike anywhere today after searching all is usual haunts.  He seems to be playing at Mr. Elusive once again.***(update see below)***  Did manage to check out the Stonechats who are back in harmony spending most of their time in the same tree!!  Last seen at top of Dalton Crags and also on the Common near to the gate leading to Dalton deforested.

Again teens of Redwings and Fieldfare mainly in the bottom of Dalton deforested.  A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and 1 Yaffler seen in Dalton. A party of Long Tailed Tits on the Common.  Lots of moving Woodpigeon some coming into Hutton Roof whilst others leaving mainly to the North or from the North.

Whilst coming through the fields and heading home to Burton, counted a minium of 15 Yellowhammers and could well have been up to 30 plus within a large party of 50 mixed flock. There were definately some Chaffinch, but could not see any Tree Sparrows today.  Need to keep my eye on these!!

***update****1650hrs:  Just had some great news from Allan W who saw the Shrike this morning at approximately 1115hrs it was midway down in Dalton deforested and seen to make its way somewhere over into Lancelot.


(Thursday 4th December 2014) "Shrike been with us two weeks today"
(0900hrs to 1015hrs) Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags.

Saw Mr. Shrike immediately on reaching Trig Point.  He was sat at the top of a large tree in a true NN West direction and about 100 yards back from the Trig Point, the tree would be almost in alignment to the footpath which leads eventually to the two Cairns. This tree and area is now becoming a hotspot having noticed him in this area several times.  He was seen there for about ten minutes before seeing him fly off West in a Lancelot direction, as though somewhere up against the borders with Dalton deforested.  But could not find after this.

At least 50 Redwing in Dalton Crags (lower) along with a party of 20 Greenfinches.  Also large party of both Chaffinch and included some Bullfinch down near the Plain Quarry Carpark.


(Friday 5th December 2014) "No Shrike recorded today"
(0900hrs to 1030hrs)  Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags.

What a beautiful day today, cold but with the sun shining down it was great.  Checked out Dalton Crags (deforested area-upper), checked all around the Trig Point and Ploverlands to the back side.  Also checked out over the rough grass heathland of Uberash Roughs with the two Cairns in the distance.  But just could not get on Mr. Shrikey!  I am wondering just where he disappears to on these days when I can't find him. I am rather suspicious that he doesn't go far away and that he his probably tucked in somewhere down in Lancelot or on the borders of Uberash Roughs on the Common.

When I have drawn a blank he is regularly seen by other fortunate individuals in his regular haunts and just shortly after I have gone which rather indicates he his never far away!!

People are always asking me if I think that this is the same bird we got back in 2011!  But to be honest there is just no way of telling that!

I would perhaps go as far as saying I doubt it very much indeed.  That's not an assumption from the appearance of the current bird, but from the territorial habits of the current in bird in relation to all previous birds I have spent time watching.  The current bird is tending to use areas which other Shrikes hardly used before and seen in those areas with regularity eg: lots of time on Uberash Roughs, lots of time in the top of Lancelot.  Shrikes over the past 5 years have not used these areas with any regularity but just occasionally.  The past birds have tended to stay fairly sedentary within the Dalton deforested or the Trig Areas and Ploverlands and the two escarpment areas South below the Trig, hardly venturing to the North West or West sides.

Today I also was watching the Stonechat who were at one of their regular spots near the Blackthorn which is at the tip of the Gulley on the Crag House side of Dalton deforested.  Also whilst crossing from Dalton lower Crags into the deforested area I had no less that 60 Redwing and about 15 Fieldfare.  Lots of Woodpigeon could be seen in the tops of the trees in Storth Wood and Dalton generally.  Had a couple of "Yafflers" in Dalton deforested.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.


(Saturday 6th December 2014)
(0800hrs to 0915hrs) Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags

A very keen frost this morning.  Checked out Dalton deforested and also on the Common near to the Trig Point.  Never saw the Shrike this morning, so that's two days for me that he's been missing.

Stonechats seen about 3/4 way up in Dalton deforested. Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers seen. Also Fieldfare and Redwing.


(Sunday 7th December 2014)
(0900hrs to 1100hrs) Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags

Again for me personally another day (the third) without seeing the Shrike, but the good news is that it has been seen this morning at 0900hrs by John of Barrow who was watching it to the North West side of the Hutton Roof Common.  If you proceed along the North West footpath from the Trig Point, before long the level drops and heads into a more opened up area.  The Shrike was seen in the lower trees within this area.

I did flush a Snipe from within the same areas.  Also a large flock (50+) of predominately Chaffinch in the Woodland area right up against the Plain Quarry Car Park.

(Monday 8th December 2014)
0900hrs to 1030hrs  Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags

Another day (the fourth for me) without Shrike after searching the full perimeters of Uberash Roughs, Dalton etc.

I will give it another try tomorrow and choose another location.

STARLINGS: Its nice to see that Starlings are roosting again this year in the large conifer tree in Burton Old Hall, Tanpits lane, Burton In Kendal.  Not sure how many yet but definitely two or three hundred.

(Tuesday 9th December 2014)
0800hrs to 0930hrs Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags

Yet another blank for me in regards to the Shrike (5 days missing now) also I have not seen the Stonechats since Saturday last.

Lots of mixed Thrushes mainly down in Dalton Crags lower and lots of Woodpigeon 100+

Large 50+ Chaffinch and Bullfinch party still present around the Plain Quarry Car Park Woodland area.

(Wednesday 10th December 2014)
0900hrs to 1015hrs Hutton Roof Common via Dalton Crags

Winds blowing at 50 to 60 mph today so very little showing.  The only avian life about was a solitary Raven and also a Green Woodpecker.  Lots of Chaffinches and several Bullfinches in the large finch party close to the Plain Quarry car park.


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.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

CBDC Recorders Conference

Last Saturday 8th November 2014 there were still some traces of Fieldfare movement through the area. Whilst on my way to Oxenholme Station I had a party of 30 head South just near where the new Cattle Auctions is, also another 80 to the right side of Crooklands heading SW, then when I got to the station I had several parties whilst waiting for the train (one hour at least... late!) a party of 40, 50, and a wacking 350, another 50, then another 50 South whilst going over Shap, and another party of 30 going past Penrith Station.  So I guess it must have been a good movement day if there was anyone about recording them!

Click over to enlarge
I was attending the Annual Recorders Conference held at the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle.  A full programme with some cracking speakers, Richard Burkmar "What would Darwin tweet?", Elizabeth Croose on Polecats and Pine Martens, Moustafa Eweda on Habitat Connectivity Projects at the CBDC, Rich Flight - Recording Cumbria's Bats, Allan Pentecost on The Lichens of Cumbria, Jim Thomas on the Witherslack insects, Martin Tordoff on the Rare Mountain Ringlet in Lakeland, Stephen Hewitt - A Pressing Concern - the herbaria at Tullie House etc etc etc .

What a great day! a brilliant effort especially by Teresa Frost and Gary Hedges of the CBDC along with Stephen Hewitt and Moustafa for putting on the 4th Annual Conference which was a most successful event. 

Added bonus to eventually see my sketch included in one of the screen banners! (see left - click over to enlarge).  Its obviously going to be a most worthwhile effort to copy my nature records from Hutton Roof to the CBDC, at the same time as I copy them for the Cumbria Wildlife Trust.  The more records they get from around Cumbria and the better.  It certainly pays off and helps them tremendously with the distribution of facts and figures which they hold on many varied species. Not only is this stuff of great interest to people just purely enjoying nature and wanting to know just what is where, but also it has a great impact with planning etc.  So its got to be thumbs up to the CBDC.....