Wednesday, 28 February 2018

More of Ron Blackburn's Superb Local photos (Please note all photos copyright)

 Brown Hare by Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

  Fox Cub by Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

  Fox by Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

  Meadow Brown Butterfly by Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

  Red Squirrel by Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Red Squirrel by Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Roe Deer Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Roe Deer Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Roe Deer - Ron Blackburn (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Black Tailed Godwit (Copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Brown Hare (Copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Female Teal in flight (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks Ron for sharing with us

Male Teal in Flight (Copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Male Wigeon in flight (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

Male Wigeon in flight (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

There will be lots more of Ron's photos over the coming days, so please come back soon.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Hutton Roof Catch Ups (bits and pieces)

Thursday 22nd February 2018 - Dalton Crags, Lancelot Clark Storth (1000hrs)

Just leaving home and going past the old vicarage when a male Bullfinch crossed my path and gave me the best start!  But the serious walk started from Nineteen Trees and it wasn't long before I heard Marsh Tits calling quietly (you might just say quietly for Marsh Tits!) not explosive.. but they were quiet today but they were there alright!  It's always great to hear them because we don't have that many of them about, just little pockets here and there and I'll bet there could be less than five pairs on the whole of the Hutton Roof (West side) (my estimate only). It's cold today and much colder than the past couple of days and as such my mind has stopped drifting and thinking of this particular territory will soon hold Blackcaps, Garden Warblers Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers but for now we will have to settle with our old reliable favourites the Robins and Dunnocks.  Moving up through the Crags and entering the top part (deforested), there was no Skylarks singing their little hearts out today, but I did have Sky and her mate cross over in front of me from East to West whilst doing their "thrupping" call (that's what I call it!) and of course it's their flight or contact call. 

I was thinking where is our resident pair of wintering "Stonechat" I have not seen them for a while, Wow! no sooner had the thoughts left my mind and to my right I saw the male bird come and land just at the side of me and seemed happy just swaying away on a nearby upright windblown twig! I looked all around for the female bird but just could not locate, but I am sure she would have been somewhere around. 

Also today I had Mistle Thrush holding territory (same place for the past four years as I know!), had the regular Kestrel doing his hovering at all the usual places, and I guess the highlight just has to be a Crossbill whilst in Lancelot Clark Storth. It was nice to see the Crossbill and surprised to see one on its own, but there again thinking about it why not! I am very familar with this species and they do tend to start nesting from February or for that matter most months of the year. If ever that was confirmed it just would be a lovely surprise.  Occasional Redpoll "chumming" away.

Checked over the spent mega rare Pale St. John's Wort (Hypericum Montanum and here is a photo showing the beauties (seeds moved on of course!)

Spent Pale St. John's Wort (Hypericum Montanum)

Also I thought I would also check out the two sites where we have the beautiful rare Southern Polypody and sure enough still plenty of last years evidence. 

Beautiful Southern Polypody from two sites on Lancelot

Wednesday 21st February 2018 - Dalton Crags (1500hrs)

Gosh! I should have known better from experiences learned - but seriously do we ever learn!  I mean fancy heading up the Crags at such a late hour when all the activity goes on in the first four hours from daylight!  Well that is not always the case but I presume it will have been today.  In fact for most of the time I was there it was pure silence, I could not even hear any distant traffic or persistent overhead planes or distant trains it was "sheer peace" but in a way let down a bit because there were no birds singing.  I have noticed this on so many occasions, they seem to go into a "silent state" around the mid afternoon period, before their later day semi explosion of song which are never like a dawn chorus, but just a little of that to show they are still there! Thrushes, Dunnocks and Tits, but always, always they will be outshone by the array of Robin Redbreast song!  Still with little else going on I must say I still was beautifully entertained by four of our local Buzzards calling, chasing one another etc. 

Tuesday 20th February 2018 - Grasmere

Had a hour or two up in the beautiful little "Wordsworth" village with lunch at the side of William's grave, just like we always do when we come to Grasmere.  "Sat under the yew that William himself planted all those years ago". And I let the inspiration flow in a readiness for my next poetic experience!

Saturday 17th February 2018 - Lancelot Clark Storth - Hutton Roof

Even better weather today, sunny and not just as cold. Straightaway from leaving the house I could hear so many birds singing and they were obviously enjoying the better conditions. The Greenfinch could be heard "S - h - eee - e r" and coming from a regular spot in the grounds of the Old Vicarage. Lots of Dunnocks singing as if they were in every garden and every bush! (so many), the odd soft call coming from local Goldcrest.

 Arriving towards the top of Vicarage Lane I was pleasantly surprised to count a minimum of 200 Chaffinch crossing overhead in batches of 30 or 40 at a time with scarecely a few seconds between each batch, and obviously coming out of the die back left over maize in the field there and subsequently landing in other nearby trees. There were probably other finches mixed in the large party (eg: Brambling and Greenfinch) but I could only hear the calls of Chaffinch. I did see a party of about 30 Goldfinch come from a similar area which carried on further back.

I have had reports most recently from friends to say that odd Little Egrets have starting visiting the fields at the top of Vicarage Lane, and sure enough there was one just in front of me, crossing over the fields, low down and perhaps only a metre above the ground. Sometimes you will see Alba's (collective name for Pied Wagtails and White Wagtails) amongst the muck piles having come out foraging for the day. Most of them will return in the evening to roost at the nearby Burton Motorway Services where you may get scores of birds meeting up and getting the warmth from the buildings at night.

On the edges of Lancelot near to Pickles Wood I could hear lots of Great Tits and the occasional Blue Tits, Nuthatch. The Great Tits were so interesting with their selected call which obviously had been chosen from their 200 variant call repertoire and today they did the very loud echo-ing "Tuchoo, Tuchoo" and at first I though "Hi Hi" Marsh Tits! but no it was clearly the beautiful little Great Tits doing their superb impressions. Mournful "Peeu" calls from the Bullfinch came from several locations, a very successful species which is doing really well around here. Also today I had a party of about seven Long Tailed Tits (or sometimes called Titmice) which were flitting past and calling with their "Si Si Si" calls. Our Woodpeckers are also happy at the moment and busy discovering new holes and checking them out.

Our Song Thrushes are also singing their little hearts out from the high canopy. I guess I could listen to them for hours with their much varied calls. I like to write down their calls in a "English fashion" but they are so fast the deed is virtually impossible and lots of the calls are obviously missed. I guess for me the Throstle singing away is the very start of Spring and the beginning of yet another birding (or for that matter Nature as a whole) year. What a privilege it is to be around to be able to listen and cherish this grand array of natural music (to my ears!) This below is what I mean about writing "his tune" I did this in 2015 and have done it every year since... Thank you, you little beauty!

The Language of the Song Thrush (March time)

 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 his love to all who’ll take time to listen

(Poem 29th March 2015) 

Friday 16th February 2018 - Dalton Crags to Hutton Roof Common Trig Point

Nice and Sunny and bitterly cold, but such a joy to get out and check things out.  My initial thoughts were to wonder if the Great Grey Shrike had made an appearance, its quite obvious odd ones are now being seen throughout the Country at various Shrike haunts, yet ours (when and if he/she arrives) is pretty good at choosing about the 4th of March as a regular return date.

First thing that caught my eye was down in lower Dalton Crags when I was watching a Green Woodpecker for some twenty minutes whilst it was examining a nearby tree, he seemed to go around the back of the tree in the opposite direction to me, so at sometime in the next few days I will need to check out the tree to see if there are any holes etc.

Oh! just the ticket! to hear "Sky" singing away higher up in Dalton Crags (deforested), it is always the very first Skylark back and was singing away marking her territory, also another one was noticed near by.  Although the song was good it was patchy and intermittent, I think perhaps it needs to warm up a bit before you will get the full monty!

Just on cue I also had two Meadow Pipits crossed my path and continuously calling with their "psst psst" calls, I watched them come in and watched them all the way out to the North West, so to me it seemed clear they were on their migration.

It was rather sad not to see lots of Thrushes like you would normally see at this time of year in lower Dalton, it just seemed devoid of Thrushes other than a occasional Blackbird.