Tuesday, 28 January 2020

PRIMULA Vulgaris and P. Veris (PRIMROSE AND COWSLIP) ON Hutton Roof.

Some recent Blogs with quick links:- 

Primula vulgaris and Primula veris (Primrose and Cowslip)
Crossbills (chicks in late December etc)

Primula vulgaris (Primrose)

Primrose - Primula vulgaris 
Photo: taken on 27th March 2019 - Dalton Crags

Just noticing today (28th January 2020) that the Primrose leaves are just starting to come through and it wont be long before we have the beautiful flowers all around our limestone habitats (late March).  We do have little colonies throughout Dalton Crags, Lancelot, Burton and also over on the Stints, and on the Hutton Roof common.

Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Photo: taken today 28th January 2020 - Dalton Crags
Already showing new sprouting leaves coming through.

But last year I was having a walk over on the Hutton Roof village side and stumbled upon a area which had so many it became almost impossible to walk without standing on them, it was the most amazing sight and a lovely game of "hopscotch". Fortunately I did manage to take a few photos so I can give you some idea of what it was like (Photos can be seen below). 

I noticed that quite a large section were in an area which before long would be well overgrown with plenty of bracken ferns shading out the last remnants of the primula, and I did wonder if perhaps the bracken in turn was helping the primula, giving it plenty of warmth at the lower levels (I guess a sort of micro climate which would give the root system plenty of warmth especially during the Winter months).  I had known about the Primrose and later the Cowslips having already visited the area in most years together from my notes from previous years, although I don't ever recall the plants being so prolific as they were in 2019! I must (and I will God permitting) try and get across there again this year, just to see if it was just a ordinary annual yield (which somehow I doubt!) or was it a special every so often yield!

There was a special reason for me being there last March and that was to try and evaluate the status of the primula, because the year before I was asked to try and help with the surveying of the plant both on Dalton Crags and Lancelot Clark Storth (Cumbria Wildlife Trust) and Hutton Roof in general. The reason was for me to pass on any information of my sightings to a lady working at the University of Cumbria. She and others were working on finding suitable areas that could possibly sustain reintroductions of the fabulous small butterfly the Duke of Burgundy. If something did ever come of that information then that would be great so I took the photos and submitted them to the butterfly people in question for their considerations and deliberations. I have as yet not heard anything further, it would be nice to find out!!

Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof did have good populations of the Duke of Burgundy butterflies during the prior to and including the 1950s, although they did hang on until about the 1980's before their sudden demise, but are now thought to be extinct within the area. Well the area I show the photos might just be the ideal place.....

 Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Photo: taken on 13th May 2019 - Hutton Roof
You can see from this photo you would struggle to walk in between the plants they are so compact at this particular area. 

 Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Photo: taken on 13th May 2019 - Hutton Roof
You can see from this photo you would struggle to walk in between the plants they are so compact at this particular area. 

 Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Photo: taken on 13th May 2019 - Hutton Roof
You can see from this photo you would struggle to walk in between the plants they are so compact at this particular area. 

 Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Photo: taken on 13th May 2019 - Hutton Roof
You can see from this photo you would struggle to walk in between the plants they are so compact at this particular area. 

 Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Photo: taken on 13th May 2019 - Hutton Roof
You can see from this photo you would struggle to walk in between the plants they are so compact at this particular area. 
 Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Photo: taken on 13th May 2019 - Hutton Roof
You can see from this photo you would struggle to walk in between the plants they are so compact at this particular area. 

 Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Photo: taken on 13th May 2019 - Hutton Roof
You can see from this photo you would struggle to walk in between the plants they are so compact at this particular area. 

Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Photo: taken on 13th May 2019 - Hutton Roof

Primula veris (Cowslip)

Cowslip (Primula veris)
taken on 29th April 2018 on Hutton Roof

Over the years I have seen lots of primula variants, but probably none like this one. I found this on the main woodland track within Lancelot Clark Storth (Cumbria Wildlife Trust) and I could not at first believe my eyes.  Seeing a double version of the lower leaf structure being created at the top (flowering section) of the plant.  Leaves in the position where you would expect petals!!!  I checked it out the following year (2019) but I could not even find a plant.

 Cowslip (Primula veris) 
Photo: taken on 18th May 2018 in Lancelot Clark Storth (CWT)

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Starling - A shebby of delight...

Some recent Blogs with quick links:- 

Crossbills (chicks in late December etc)

A beautiful irridescent plumaged bird - The Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
(Photo: Thanks to Ron Blackburn)

and why not listen to this magical mimickry of the Starling by clicking on the left arrow
below and see if you can hear: The Blackbird, song and alarm, Sedge Warbler, Mallard Ducks,
Jay, Car Alarm, Pigs squealing, and lots more things as well..........

Although we still get Starling breeding through our area, the numbers are nothing like what they used to be with nowadays only small pockets seen throughout the summer months. Yet come winter we get lots of continental birds which may well have come from Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, the Baltics even as far away as Russia. They cross over the North Sea and start to join us from the beginning of October, their arrival peaking somewhere around the third week of October.  They come in and feed in the local fields and further away towards Kirby Lonsdale and even further.  These birds return from their feeding grounds just before the edge of dark to roost over at Leighton Moss in the reedbeds or sometimes they will chose to go to Silverdale Moss.  The numbers in these murmurations have been known to exceed 100,000 birds and it is expected that you would at least get 50,000 birds on any given night (November to February).  

"About three thirty the sky got dirty
 with parties and scores of Shebbies (Starlings),
 straight through they went,
Without being bent, 
to a dropping down sun in their West".

My copy for the December 2018 issue of BURTON NEWS  compiled around November 20th 2018 

It’s not all about migration, but there again maybe it is indirectly!  But I can honestly say whilst having the pleasure during the early mornings of watching the many different species of birds fly high over our village, it’s also been incredible in its own right to watch the thousands of Starlings come through heading East in a morning, after leaving their communal roost which at the moment is over at Silverdale Moss.
Up until this last few days (today 20th November 2018) I have had some average counts of between 2 to 5 thousand birds come almost on a daily basis, but there have been some really special mornings when I have had approx 18000 over (Friday 26th October) and another count of approx 18000 at 0712hrs on Thursday 1st November, and again approx. 15000 over on Saturday 10th November, and the final up to date big one was approx 17000 on the 14th November, I guess there will be many more mornings to come when we will get good counts if we are prepared to get up early to witness the fantastic Starling activity.
On these high number mornings in particular, the sky is just full of Starlings coming through in big balls or sometimes they take on a different approach and are in a “linear” thick horizontal wave which is several metres deep and extends as far as over Holme Park Fell/Farleton to the north side and continuous all the way to Dalton Hall on the south side. The structure of the passage changes all in accordance to the wind on the day and if the wind is of a moderate south west (eg blowing in the face of the birds) it will usually make them travel through low down, although if it is not a windy day the birds can be so high up that you might even have a job to see them, although the activity is still going on and you would need to look high up into the skies with binoculars to see them.
I just wish I could “bottle it” and share it, because it is so fantastic to witness these spectacles although they only last for several minutes at best.
Some mornings they give me such an inner lift that I get an inspiration to want to write a little verse or two whilst having just witnessed and in some cases felt (the draught) from them going past me within inches.

“Hello darlings – Starlings!
I felt a draught to my ears and heard a clear
“Wush” as you all passed by in a flicker of a wing,
In only a split second of our time,
Also was held to a super-still stance,
Could have reached out and touched you
My iridescent early morning friends.

When they start to join us from September onwards more and more are coming into our area on a daily basis throughout September, October and even as late as November, but generally peak around the third week in October, they will come in their squadrons and shaped like lots of little bullets shooting past you!  And their squadrons can be anything from half a dozen up to over 100 and they always come from the East direction having travelled over the North Sea from places far away like the Baltics and Netherlands.  Most of the birds we get around here will complete their journey by the time they reach their communal roost sites at Leighton Moss or Silverdale Moss, occasionally small roost sites may become established in more localised areas of Burton In Kendal using trees close to Tanpits. Here they will spend their winters and go out every morning in search of food in the surrounding countryside.

One of the recent mornings whilst vismigging or counting Chaffinch moving through I had a cracking Starling morning although the Chaffinch numbers were well down, so I wrote a a little “ditty”….

“Nowt about today,
 once the reet dollop of shebbies,
 had passed to the East,
18000 of the 100000 o’er my head,
 and nah a got a thumping headache”

(Shebbies is a sort of slang word used to describe Starlings and used throughout Lancashire)

Anyone wishing to view the Starlings leaving can get good views from the top of Vicarage Lane, but if you are viewing from there do not chose an ENE wind or you may well be disappointed by the numbers you will get!

If you want to enjoy a great spectacle watching them on their daily return, obviously the best place will be at their roost sites (Silverdale Moss from approx.1600 hours onwards) were you may well be lucky and treated to the “murmurations”.  If you just want to watch hundreds of Starlings come back in at night I like to watch them from the area just past the Storth Engineering Works and under the railway bridge and there you can usually see them whilst they cross over the mosses (at the moment it’s about 1545 hours onwards)

Diary notes from October 31st 2018 - INTERESTING STARLING FACTS 

This beautiful red sky is what the Starlings will have witnessed at approx 0706hrs on the morning of Wed 31st October 2018 (Halloween). I am stood at my watchpoint at Taylors Field (named Greenslet) which is Off Vicarage Lane, Burton In Kendal). The photo depicts the areas to my North East and East.  The large wooded area you can see in the photo is “Pickles Wood” and Lancelot Clark Storth (CWT) which lie to the west flank of the Hutton Roof complex.
This photo captures the situation on just how the sky looked towards the horizon (east) at the time of the incident, although if you were looking to a more south east direction from my watchpoint, then the sky would have been more colour intense as shown in the “actual” photo below which was taken at the time of the incident.

Approx 2,000 Starling came through in one wave (after leaving their roost which is about 5 miles to my West at Silverdale Moss) and would expect them to reach me about 3-4 minutes after they have left their roost site. Normally they would fly over me and continue East to their feeding grounds around Kirkby Lonsdale and all areas in the localities.
Just as they passed me and at a height of approx 50ft, they unexpectedly all tumbled down quickly to the nearest tree (eg: The Ash tree shown in the first photo toward the bottom of the lane, with most of the overspill of birds going into the trees of Pickles Wood (to the right hand of the Ash tree) which lies to the base of Hutton Roof to take cover. There they all started chattering with an enormous collective sound just like you would normally hear if you went along to their evening roost site. (Click on left hand arrow on sonogram below to experience that very sound of collective Starlings)

 It’s quite obvious the birds were agitated.
When the red skies on their horizon had almost subsided perhaps 20 minutes later the birds then started to leave the temporary holding area in small parties of 50 or more at a time, the evacuation lasted for some 20 minutes.  I can only think that perhaps the sight of that red sky had "spooked" them! or maybe they were showing that they wanted to get into the "Halloween" mood (spooky)......

A beautiful photo showing Starling irridescence
Thanks to Ronald Blackburn for sharing with us

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Beech Mast "A Mast Year"

Showing a typical beech tree laden with mast (2020)

I probably would not have given it a second thought about there being large amounts of beech mast this year until I started investigating just why were there so many Chaffinch and Woodpigeons over-wintering in
Dalton Crags. We normally have up to about 200 birds (Chaffinch) in any given year, but never had 2000 plus before (to my knowledge).

Its because of the large fall of Beech Mast this year.  I have learned that you do get these "Mast Years" (as they are duly called) every 5 to 10 years and obviously this Winter 2019/2020 falls into this category. 

There are many people who have/or eat the nuts from the Fagus sylvatica (Beech Tree), although most people enjoy them and it does not seem to give them any problem, but also beware they do have a toxin called saponin glycoside which could produce gastric problems. 

In years passed Beech Nut oil was extracted and used for lamps and also for cooking.

On maybe a lighter note does anyone remember buying the Beech Nut speg!

(speg - a Lancashire slang for Chewing Gum)

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

CHAFFINCH - Exceptionally large numbers overwintering in Dalton Crags with this year holding high Beech Mast yield

Some recent Blogs with quick links:- 

Crossbills (chicks in late December etc)

(Thanks to Tony for sharing)


Hutton Roof and especially Dalton Crags are nationally superb for Chaffinch numbers passing through on migration and not only that we have the added bonus of many continental and regional birds stopping off to overwinter in Dalton Crags itself.
Today (13th January 2020) I witnessed something special: Most winters I see a nice Chaffinch collective usually around the back of Plain Quarry in Dalton Crags, with numbers averaging around the 200 birds, usually you will also see Brambling amongst them.  But it was a lot different today with a colossal 2000 birds which could well have been on the way up to 3000 individuals.

I arrived at Plain Quarry at about 0910hrs and immediately noticed flying above me large parties of Chaffinch ranging from 30 to 100 birds and most of the parties averaged about 50-75 birds per party, the parties just kept on coming over heading from West to East and this went on for at least 20 minutes or so. I am sure the birds were just moving from one part of the Crags from points they will have been roosting to a few hundred yards further east of the Crags were I guess they chose for feeding.
I decided to walk in the direction they went and soon I found them with birds just everywhere flitting at all levels of the trees, I listened carefully but could not detect any Brambling amongst them, they all seem to be represented by the regular chup contact calls. I can’t say I have ever seen so many Chaffinch concentrated into a radius of only a few hundred yards. What had brought so many birds to this locality, was there good feed?

Yes the beech mast has had a phenomenal year and we have a considerable amount of beech trees in the Dalton Crag area, I am sure this will have led to this year’s Chaffinch explosion!

Like I said earlier this whole area is a great spot for passing Chaffinch on their autumn/winter migrations when in most years I will record between 11000 and 13000 birds passing directly through the area between the months of September to November, and that is only what I am managing to record over the 3 or 4 hours a day whilst I am present, but besides this they are going through all day long.  These counts are within a strict corridor of which I can observe, but they are also coming through further down in Burton In Kendal village almost following the motorway and again heading South, hundreds or should I say thousands will take on this particular passage as well as the one I check out.

I guess if I was to take a reasonable guess to how many birds goes through this are every year I would not be far out with an estimate of some 50000 to 75000 birds each Autumn.
Not that it’s necessary to compare and the data is far from incomplete on a national basis but in all the UK the only area that gets more Chaffinch than us is Hunstanton in Norfolk! (that’s per Trektellen records)
So is it any wonder we are getting all these fantastic birds. By the way I am seeing a regular Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard in attendance.

Just for the record on vismig: (Chaffinch passing over and observed from Vicarage Lane, Burton In Kendal)

2016 - 12507 Chaffinch
2017 - 11175    
2018 - 12347
2019 - 13146  

2020 - Ex roost counts from Plain Quarry Picnic Area....

13th Jan 2020  Approx 2000
15th Jan 2020  Approx 1091 (part count)
16th Jan 2020  Approx 1368 (part count)
17th Jan 2020  Approx 2100
29th Jan 2020  Approx 2675
30th Jan 2020  Approx 2694
1st Feb 2020   Approx 1191 (West South West) 25-40mph
3rd Feb 2020  Approx 1760 (Westerly) 10-15mph
4th Feb 2020  Approx 1583 (West South West) 15-25mph
5th Feb 2020  Approx 2054 (South East) 2mph
6th Feb 2020  Approx 2710 (South West) 3mph
7th Feb 2020  Approx 1901 (South East) 5mph
8th Feb 2020  Approx 2698 (South West) 16-30mph
9th Feb 2020  Approx 466 (Storm Ciara) - (South West) 36-70mph
10th Feb 2020 Approx 1819 (Westerly) 25-43mph
11th Feb 2020 Approx 1481 (Westerly) 24-40mph
12th Feb 2020 Approx 2076 (Westerly) 18-33mph
13th Feb 2020 Approx 1252 (South East) 12-21mph
14th Feb 2020 Approx 318 (SS East) 7-12mph
15th Feb 2020 Approx 657 (southerlies) 10-33mph
16th Feb 2020 Approx 770 (South West) 25-45mph
18th Feb 2020 Approx 564 (Westerly 23-36)
19th Feb 2020 Approx 870 (Westerly) 13-25mph
26th Feb 2020 Approx 925 (Westerly) 9-16mph

A bonus has included: a party of 30 Siskin, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, 50 Redwing, 20 Fieldfare, 300 Woodpigeon and lots of tits, robins and wrens…..

15th January 2020 - Tried something different checking out another area of Dalton and it failed, so quickly got back to the car park but by then I had probably missed a lot of birds, but still had 1091 going W to E over the car park over a period of about 15 minutes. 

16th January 2020 - Again got there early at 0830 but it obviously was not early enough because on my arrival large 50 parties were going over and instead of the normal 0915hr start they for some reason had started very early (all good knowledge for tomorrow!!) but still OK with plenty of birds (1368).
Had my first Brambling calling and mixed in with the Chaffinch. Also Linnets x2, 50 Redwing, Song Thrush been singing over a week now. Also heard (but not seen) my first Pink Footed Geese skein presumed heading North. (They have been leaving Lincs and Norfolk for several days now - which is usual from about middle of January) Already today high volume counts from Spurn heading N. Also a 200 Linnet group overwintering in fields around Dalton hamlet (seen annual since growing of fodder beat/fat hen etc..)

17th January 2020 - (Plain Quarry, Dalton)

(2k Chaffs and a wonderin mind)

If you had paid a million pounds for that,

then you had not paid enough!
But today you could have had it all for free,
Natures gifts have no catch - (what a batch!)

Today I managed to count 2,100 Chaffinch from Plain Quarry car park which all flew across my path and continued to a area a few hundred yards east of my watchpoint. They kept to a single narrow corridor of some 20 yards wide and were probably about 100ft high. As usual they were in parties ranging from 10 birds up to 100 birds. The bulk of the activity seemed to start at 0915hrs and was over with by 0925hrs, although stragglers kept coming....

Gosh! it does not stop there! At about 0935hrs all the birds starting coming back on themselves but this time from the East to the West, I can only presume they were spooked by a possible dog walker... but they came through over a ten minute period in regular waves of 50 birds at a time with only a second or two before yet another party was following on. 

A few weeks ago I was watching a fantastic clip showing Chaffinch on migration through Falstebo and it showed continuous wave upon wave of large numbers going past... well my imagination for several minutes went to this and it really was something special on offer today, it seemed such a shame I was the only one here to witness this fantastic sight and wow! what a "lifting" feeling it gave you.

This year has been especially great with the fantastic 30-50k Redwing Roost down at Kemple End (Longridge Fell), or the special Starling murmurations over at Leighton Moss, but I must say this today and most recent mornings are something really really special..... (Beech Mast may you last before your passed)

17th January 2020  1530 onwards - Plain Quarry, all woodlands areas against Dalton Road side - checking for roost site, but definately none showing. Did see several Chaffinch which made out from there and headed NW as though to Dalton Storth area or maybe were they are currently cutting down the French beech trees, I will try and survey this area tomorrow evening to find out were the roost is. 

18th January 2020 - 0845hrs - Plain Quarry.  A beautiful bright morning with lots of frost on the car. Got there late just catching the last hundred or two, so obviously they had took advantage of the clear morning and gone earlier.  Still lots of stuff seen, but did some surveying of the beech mast in the nearby areas.  Ton's of it, lots of open seeds on the floor throughout the Crags.  Told some local Woodpigeons have been found dead (not through shooting) but with crops solid with beech mast which could have been responsidble for their deaths with toxins.

Also had 6 Pink Footed Geese very high and heading to South, also Fieldfare (6), Green Woodpecker (2), Redwing (50), Goldcrest (2), Bullfinch (2) Nuthatch (several), Song Thrush singing his little heart out! Siskin (15), Woodpigeon (200+) etc etc.

Will again late afternoon check out for Chaffinch roosting, its just a process of elimination, so we move over to area no.2 to see if I can get on them, report back later..... also preparing blog for Burton News submission

18th January 2020 - 1500hrs to 1630hrs - Dalton Storth  Checking skylines from Dalton Hamlet towards Dalton Storth Woods and also to the Burial Ground. Chaffinch seen negligible just a small mid party which went towards cutting at Nineteen Trees.  Did have a party of 30 Pink Footed Goose moving West/SW at 1540hrs, also 70 Linnet noted, 50 Redwing

19th January 2020 - 0805hrs to 0900hrs - Plain Quarry  Just a few hundred birds moving across, its now become obvious over the past two mornings that the high pressure has messed everything up and split the birds all over the place and subsequently until the high pressure leaves us its pointless doing any recording.  I will try and get back on it has soon as the highs retreat.

20th January 2020 - both am and pm - checking out at Plain Quarry, poor with numbers much reduced, did notice some birds coming from a Quarry Wood direction.  at 1500hrs went and checked all open area with views to Quarry Wood, Laurel Wood and Dalton Hall Park, but no evidence of any birds going to roost. 

21st January 2020 - 0800hrs to 0845hrs - Plain Quarry - A few hundred birds with one party of at least 300 but birds were seen coming from mainly from the East side which is unusual, so were on earth can they be roosting (its none of the woodland to the East within Dalton Crags! so can only presume maybe its further over. Also the numbers of birds since the high pressure arrived have drastically reduced in numbers, so whether some have moved on or not we will have to wait and see. 

22nd January 2020 - 0745hrs to 0815hrs - Plain Quarry - Went this morning hoping to do some filming of the Chaffinch with my friend Brian Gomm, unfortunately overnight the mist had closed in proper and the visibility was really poor prohibiting any filming. Try again another day...

I have just been reading about Chaffinch on the net, and it is reckoned they have various local accents like humans......

Other names are: Pink Twink, Chink, Chaffey and Pinkery.......

He utters his song 5 or 6 times a minute or up to 3000 times a day. 

Up to tens of thousands share the same roost site in Cyprus.....

Chaffinch roost in Hollies, evergreens including Rhodedendrums (Birds of Cheshire and the Wirrall)

23rd January 2020 - Fogged out

24th,25th,26th,27th,28th January 2020 -   Birds still coming through but in much reduced numbers.

29th January 2020 - 0800hrs to 0830hrs  Set off from Plain Quarry East, heading over the stile and on to the more open area and it proved successful so you got a clear view of the birds as they come through with continuity, and I counted no less than 2,675 birds again all coming from the East (direction of Hutton Roof Timber yard) and heading West or local to feed up on the collossal amounts of Beech cast. I tried so hard to get some video, but my camera and my skills just dont do it!  I really wish I could get some descent footage and tomorrow is the deadline! because the BBC Winterwatch programme wanted to include it at the end of the Redwing piece...

Behind the timber yard there is a full conifer plantation (1-2 miles away) and wondering if the birds are roosting there.  Later in the week I will try and track them back from their first light arrival and move closer along the path on a daily basis to try and establish just where the roost is.

30th January 2020 - 0800hrs to 0845hrs - birds leaving their roost and arriving on their feeding grounds at Dalton Crags.  The Chaffinch were coming through with single birds showing from 0755hrs then steady streams of 20s,30s,40s in the main but some of the parties got to 100 plus, the best party recorded was about 150 birds, all again going in the same line E to W and within a field of view corridor of some 100 yards. My total tally for today was 2694 birds with stragglers still coming through on my leaving. For anyone interested in how the wave numbers went here goes:

Starting to appear from 0755hrs 20,20,30,15,7,10,3,3,2,7,2,2,5,20,3,3,10,3,14,40,10,3,6,3,5,7,2,20,1,13,7,20,30,4,10,30,3,20,14,30,6,2,45,15, (now from 0814hrs) 4,4,8,1,20,2,23,2,20,1,10,8,15,21,10,1,20,20,5,30,6,11 (now from 0820hrs) 30,30,5,150,60,60,40,3,30,60,1,1,12,40,12,50,100,15,15,20,10,3,30,3,2,5,10,1,2,20,20,40,15,10,20,15,1,6,8,5,30,10,2,10,15,10,40,3,30,12,5,5,8,50,5,5,10,30,10,4,3,40,6,5,30,5,60,15,30 (now from 0840hrs) 7,5,3,3,20,55,40,70,40,6,60,20 (up until finish at 0845hrs)  wave after wave with only up to 3-5 seconds between each passing group

1st February 2020 - 0800hrs to 0930hrs - birds leaving their roost and arriving on their feeding grounds at Dalton Crags (on passage).  Well like most days today was very interesting, and straightaway you wondered how on earth would the birds go on heading straight into a WSW 25mph with gust regular to 40mph, but you know they did handle it just like they always do the poor things! It was clearly noticeable that todays strong winds in 75% of the birds made them go to a slightly lower position and using the bankside of which I have put photos below to show you. I was jostleing about a bit at first to get a good position on the birds and probably missed around 500 birds or so, but still there were good numbers coming through, yet probably less than normal, also I noticed that most of the larger parties were later this morning and also instead of the main movement finishing around the 0845hrs, it went on later to around the 0930hrs and then fizzled out! 

Today I had also moved far further back towards the Crag Farm side and it soon become absolutely clear that the birds were in fact coming in at the far corner of the woodland, with some following the sides of the woodland. It appears they are coming from a fair distance. First impressions look like they are coming from West Hall Park at Whittington which I would guess would be about 2 miles away from Dalton Crags, this being the case the early birds must be setting off in semi darkness.

On finishing, I drove from the Car Park east and took the small road right which leads to Docker (eventually) to see if I could get any open views from a couple of viewpoints I tried and sure enough I had a couple of birds coming through on a direct line, but the birds were struggling and flying side on to accomodate those strong winds.  Also I had a single birds again flying side on but going back in the opposite direction.  All interesting stuff and will again tomorrow try and add further to the directional etc.

So my tally today was 1191 Chaffinch, although like I said I must have missed at least 500 on early doors but still fantastic numbers which for anyone interested in the wave parties and numbers here we are:

(Start 0756hrs) 1,2,4,4,3,4,3,13,10,15,30,3,2,1,20,51,10,20,2,15,1,10, (from 0810) 15,5,20,6,6,16,25,20,16,12,3,6,5,12,20,12,25,40,20,8,10 (from 0824) 30,2,20,5,5, (from 0830) 3,2,10,2,1,6,17,3,2,1,1,3,2,3,20,25,2,7 (from 0838) 3,6,2,30,2,20,1,15 (from 0845) 24,12,13,1,5, (from 0850) 2,1,5,22 (from 0900) 3,1,3,50,10,1,12,1,15,3,3,14,40, (from 0907) 1,3,6,14,30,4,40,2,3,80 (best today),32 (from 0914) 1,4,1,20,2,4,6 (0930hrs finish) still straggs coming through...

Also today hundreds of Starlings ex roost and heading east at 0752hrs, 8 Geese (NW to E) Lots of Redwing coming to NW again as though they could be using same roost 20 birds (7,5,3,1,1,2), Thousand Woodpigeons leaving their roost and finding beech mast. 2x Siskin came along the same routing as the Chaffs.

Here are the photos relating to the Chaffinch: 

2nd February 2020 - Notes per above sketch....

3rd February 2020 - Plain Quarry area 0745hrs to 0835 Chaffinch having left their roost and heading towards their feeding grounds in various points of Dalton Crags (foot source Beech Mast)

Birds back to normal on their regular flightpath eg: East to West. It was a light morning and the birds started a lot earlier eg: 0749hrs. Below is printed the numbers as they come through in regular waves with just seconds between each wave. 
(0749 start) 6,40,7,23,2,50,90,25,22,5,30,5,12,12 (0755) 1,40,4,100,20,20,5,12,2 (0757) 6,2,7,16,17,60,60,20,17 (0800) 80,11,5,10,5,6,1 (0805) 10,14,1,2,13,20,30,80, (0809) 3,12,1,30 (0810) 3,30,40,10,28,10,1 (0813)10,30,5,9,19,3,4 (0816) 1,14,2,2, (0817) 12,10,27,3,12,3,5,2 (0825) 2,10,7,4,2,5, (0827) 70,4,14,10, (0830) 15,2,1,9,40,2,3,5,5,1,6,2, (0835) 1,3,5,2,1,8,30 (finish) but still birds coming through.....  TOTAL recorded 1760......

Probably do another count tomorrow to try and ascertain numbers and then over the coming days will try and progress further with the true directionals, eg: follow the lines back to SE and see if we can get a handle on the roost. Obviously we have now learnt that South East winds are no good to get the above sort of numbers, they are taking on some other directionals in SE. Its looks like Westerlies are the necessary......

4th February 2020 - Plain Quarry area 0740 to 0910hrs Trying to assess the large numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost (somewhere to the SE eg: New Park Plantations) and entering into Dalton Hall Estate woodlands east of Plain Quarry (food source Beech Mast - Wind WSW 11-15mph backing off to 8mph by 0830hrs

I just arrived within minutes of their start at 0745hrs, with continuous movement over the next 30 minutes to about 0820hrs then it dropped considerably, although I remained until 0910 whilst stragglers were still coming through although at this time just pairs and odd small parties.  I did manage to go to the boundary at the far side of the woods just before the open fields start and was able to see quite a lot coming through the skies from a SE direction with alignments set towards the old Hutton Roof Quarries (Nr Timber Yard) on the left which offers plenty of mature gorse on one side and to the opposite New Park Plantation and all areas in between forming the likely corridor. Tomorrow I will attempt to get there for first light and assess the place in more detail.

It does look very much like the numbers are dropping with a 1,000 less this week compared to 2,700 last week.  Still its holding good numbers with 1583 birds coming through today. 

For anyone interested in the movement waves and numbers here goes:
(0745hrs start), 20,10,2,20,7,20,1 (0750) 2,3,6,20,3,5,9,34,20,28,20,50 (0753) 20,8,1,40,30,4,10,35,20 (0756) 20,40,10,20,35,2,5, (0800) 3,5,11,4,2,1,11,43,1,6,80,40,3,40 (0805) 5,10,40,20,3,36,25,15,5 15,50,7,50 (0810) 10,2,2,2,4,30, (0815) 2,26,4,20,26,10,3 (0820) 10,6,10,4,16,6,12,2,3,7, (0825) 20,13,10,10,1 (0830) 2,15,1 (0835) 5,20,20,6,11,2,4 (0840 moved over to SD5547876400) 3,5,1,3,3,1,6 (0845) 3,3,5,2,16,2,1,2,3 (0850) 3,2,2,1,3,2,5,1,1, (0900) 7,1,1,1,6,2,3,12,1,1,1,1 (0910) 1,2,1,1 (0911 Finish) Total tally: 1583 birds

at 0925hrs 2 RAF Typhoons came over and spooked a ball of approx 500 Chaffinch which circled above Plain Quarry before re-settling.

Also had this morning barking roebuck, Starling passage at 0749 with approx 260 birds to E, Woodpigeon at least 500+ heading from their roost into various areas of Dalton Crags. Song Thrush mimicking the rare (and not often heard) song of the Fieldfare. Yet another enjoyable hour or so first thing....

Wednesday 5th February 2020 - Plain Quarry area 0730 to 0940hrs Trying to assess the large numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost (somewhere to the SE eg: New Park Plantations) and entering into Dalton Hall Estate woodlands east of Plain Quarry (food source Beech Mast ) SW 5 mph 5c very light early - seem to go colder from 0845hrs.

Today I ventured to the boundary of the far east side of the woodlands to the East of Plain Quarry were it was really good to get clear views of the directions the Chaffinch were coming from and without doubt just like yesterday they were again coming from a South East with far less coming from a East. Strong bias to the corner of the woodland (nearest road corner). So like I said yesterday I would presume New Park Plantations could well be their roost. Interesting although the birds started coming through early at 0741hrs, they were still coming through in small groups even on my leaving at 0940hrs - so talk about "slow release" well these birds certainly practised that coming from their roost!

Click over map to enlarge

Today I had up to 9 single Brambling calls, but there must have been many more, in fact odd parties with a Brambling call could well indicate that the full party were of this species.  By the way things did not help when you had a cracking Song Thrush imitating plenty of Brambling calls, but I made sure I just counted the birds which were calling directly above my head.

This morning I also encountered Starling going overhead to the East having left their Leighton Moss roost eg: start at 0741hrs 200,150,30,30.  Loads of Woodpigeon with cracking noises of flapping wings in panic has they alighted into the tops of the birch, and then one probably saw me stood their and said to the others "come on were off - there is a chap stood down there stirring up at us"

Also this morning Siskin 3,1 coming through with the Chaffinch, also Greenfinch today and a few Bullfinch (probably local). Several very high Redwing coming through on same corridor SE to NW

Here are todays numbers for anyone wishing to note the quantities of the regular waves with only a few seconds between singles or parties:

(0741hrs first bird start)1,1,10,6,5,40,2,12,10,5 (0747) 2,10,7,2,6,8,12,8,4,4,6,12,4,12,10 (0752) 5,16,1,3,30,20,1,18,50,12,20,2,3,4,11 (0800) 2,20,2,12,16,62,2,6,5,8,2,12,1,4,2,20 (0805) 5,5,4,10,5,10,20,19,36,30,25 (0812) 7,10,12,9,11,15,2 (0815) 10,12,13,20,15,2,16,10,12 (0820) 7,8,10,13,3,20,10,2,4, (0825) 5,20,11,10,7,10,14 (0830) 7,8,2,3,5,14,5,6,2,7, (0835) 10,10,11,2,30,6,30,5 (0840) 5,1,2,11,20,1,23,2,2,(0845) 2,40,50,2,80,6,50,4,10,17,3,16,30,30,3,1,20,7 (0852) 21,10,2,10,1,16,12,3,6, (0855) 1,2,8,2,1,3,2,4 (0900) 3,8,2,7,4,6,1,12,6,(0905) 3,5,2,8,7,82,7 (0908) 5,2,6,5,2,10 (0910) 5,20,2,4,5,1,28 (0915)6,2,1,2,4,2,2,2,4, (0923) 5,1,2,3,2,1,2 (0934) 6,3,2,4,3,3,4,1 (finish at 0940 still stragglers coming through on leaving)  TOTAL NUMBER OF BIRDS 2054 

Almost forgot: Going back to yesterday (Tues 4th Feb 2020) I was walking back from Lancelot Clark Storth (CWT) when crossing Mrs. Boddys fields (Curwen Wood Estate) that Chaffinch and especially Linnet parties were heading to roost, I watched over 15 minutes from 1503hrs to 1520hrs. They were within a strict 50 yard wide corridor heading to the SSE, not sure about the Chaffinch, but in the case of the Linnets thought perhaps in the Conifers in Storth Wood which lie to the back of Dalton Hamlet.  Here are the numbers and sequence has they passed overhead:  Chaffinch: 50,15,30,30,7 - Greenfinch: 1, Linnet: 15,25,30,70,30.

Thursday 6th February 2020 - Plain Quarry area 0730 to 0842hrs 
Trying to assess the large numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost (somewhere to the SE eg: New Park Plantations) and entering into Dalton Hall Estate woodlands east of Plain Quarry (food source Beech Mast ) SW 3 mph 6c very dark early on - very overcast. Had to leave at 0842 although still lots of birds coming through.

This morning was excellent with no doubt the highest count so far with 2710 Chaffinch, and obviously lots missed with leaving early.  Now then this makes me think there must be well over 3000 birds feeding up here at the moment.

Here are the quantities of the continual wave parties with only a few seconds between parties eg:

(0741hrs start) 5,30,2,10, (0745) 20,12,11,3,10,9,20,20,2,7,9 (0750) 4,10,2,7,8,16,3,25,12,1,12,15,26,9,20,70,16,40,30,4,3,77,18,12,30,2,8,5,30,12,15,25,23,60,5,40,15,30 (0800) 60,25,10,6,32,15,10,2,40,6,15,15,10,2, (0805) 40,34,20,70,13,20,48,2,8,17,6,10,2,2,13 (0810) 23,3,3,4,2,27,4,4,6,8,17,16,4, (0815) 8,13,4,5,13,3,12,8,6,2,3,1,9,10,10,2, (0820) 10,2,1,20,13,4,7,2,2,10,3,1,10,15,5,18,3, (0825) 2,2,12,5,20,4,10,3,100,30,120,70,12,30,4,12,2 (0830) 1,53,55,62,80,5,2,80, (0835) 6,1,18,2,2,5,2,2,16,43,20,2,15 (0840) 3,5,3,2,1,4,2,10 (0842hrs finish)
Total number of birds = 2710

Noticed today at around the 0825 to 0835 large parties came through from a slightly higher direction (eg E to NE), this also to a degree happened yesterday as well (10 minutes later yesterday 0845 and 0850) so whether we have another totally different roosting party merging with our already established parties I am not sure, but certainly leads you to think of it as a possibility. I will do another check tomorrow if possible to see if this new information still concurs.

Also this morning had several Brambling calls, also the great calling Song Thrush (Brambling and all!) Greenfinch, Nuthatch, 5 Redwing (E-W) also heard a couple of Fieldfare, Had Starlings at 0742 hrs with about 200 to East. Yet another cracking morning (thanks Chaffs (chaps)

Now then going back to yesterday afternoon (Wed 5th Feb) I decided to go and check out the afternoon activity down near Mrs. Boddys fields (Curwen Wood Estate). I think I have got to the bottom of it. Although the Linnets were probably seen going towards roost, I reckon there is at least 200 Linnets and they are going out using the fields locally and splitting into two main groups and several small parties, but by 1500hrs the start to go to a secondary roost tree and continually flying up to the tree and back down to ground and back up to tree, I am pretty sure they are roosting somewhere around the back of Dalton hamlet in Storth Wood (Dalton Hall Estate). 
I also had over 200 Redwing which also included several noisy Fieldfare, these are without doubt birds which have been wintering on the Curwen Wood Estate and come out occasionally to sample the fields around Vicarage Lane etc

Friday 7th February 2020 - Plain Quarry area 0730 to 0830hrs 

Trying to assess the large numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost (somewhere to the SE eg: New Park Plantations) and entering into Dalton Hall Estate woodlands east of Plain Quarry (food source Beech Mast ) SE 5-8 mph 3c overcast at first becoming brighter but icy cold. Things had completely died down by 0830hrs.

Just like before, they do not like coming on this route in Easterlies as proved yet again today. I noticed from my arrival at approx 0730hrs that several of the birds had started going through in a opposite direction eg from the W to the E/SE and this remained the position throughout the watch.  A total of 1901 birds were recorded with only 869 heading through to the W (the regular conventional route), yet today we had 1132 birds heading to the E/SE, a reverse route situation. Obviously this was as a result of winds coming through from the East and they do not like tail winds from behind them, although after saying that we did have 869 that still came through as normal.

It does present other queries why the birds are coming in a opposite passage, eg are they taking a different way through from their roost? Why should they be returning towards their roost so early on?  I guess we will have to go into all this another day.

But for now, and anyone who maybe interested in the wave passage this is how it went: (only east given prefix = e, all others with no prefix consider West)

(first birds at 0732) 8e,1e (0736) 2,1,10, (0739) 15,1,20,2,6 (0741) 10,15,31,40,16,15 (0745) 5e,17,20,2e,8e,2,8e,2e,2e,2,10 (0750) 2e,50e,40,4e,20,10,3e,12e,20,2e,5,5,16e,70,15,1,2,14e,9e,60e,10e,2e,23e,40,10e,10e,10,8e (0800) 2,8e,40,30e,45,60,5,2e5,6e,4,2,3e,175e, 10,30e,30e,1,2e,15,20e,2,25e,40e,6,12e,4e,1,17e,13e,2,6e (0810) 20e,20e,3e,20e,10e,6e,3e,2e,4e,5e,30e,4e (0815) 4e,1,6e,3e,6e,20, (0820) 6,40,2,50,13,2,30e,20e,3,30e, (0825) 10e,1, 7e,20e,16e,5,3,3e,8,3e (0830) 15,40e,20,7e,5,4,14,3 (0835 finish)  
Total number of Chaffinch today was 1901 (1132 E/SE and 869W)

Also had a couple of Brambling calling, 50 plus Redwing (with roost calls as well), Song Thrush singing, Starling 0734hrs with approx 121 (30,15,80,20,2,2,6,6)

Interesting report from Jean Roberts: from yesterday 6th Feb 1515hours - Got permission to walk through New Park plantation arrived at 1515hrs and stayed until sunset.  Many Chaffinch calling from and feeding at the top of the larches.  Could not find main roost spot as access difficult within plantation, also heard Brambling. Most Chaffinch to the SW corner of plantation. Small numbers of Chaffinch arrived from West and South West. 
Also roost of 100 Goldfinch in rhodedendrums in SE corner.  Redpoll and Greenfinch also present. In short the plantation is heaving with birds.

Saturday 8th February 2020 - Plain Quarry area 0730 to 0830hrs 

Trying to assess the large numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost (somewhere to the SE eg: New Park Plantations/West Hall Park) and entering into Dalton Hall Estate woodlands east of Plain Quarry (food source Beech Mast ) SW 16-30mph 4c overcast at first becoming brighter but icy cold. Things had completely died down by 0830hrs.

Birds maintained the regular corridor on Westerlies. The total number of birds recorded was 2698 which was really good to say I must have missed lots which were coming through below me on the South side of me just above the road. Odd glances showed quite a lot taking on this routing.

For anyone interested in the counts and sizes of waves here goes:

On site at 0725hrs
(first bird recorded at 0730hrs) 1,3, (0733) 10,2,1,7,8,7,11,15,10,15,1,8,23,15 (0740) 32,10,4,9,7,2,7,8,34,6,10,23,5,22,30,30,33 (0745) 1,70,38,33,16,70,6,15,20,22,40,8,40 (0750) 10,20,20,25,12,10,3,50,30,10,32,17, (0755) 25,15,5,10,15,30,40,50,2,33,4,30,15, (0800) 1,6,11,27,12,5,1,30,40,6,20,2,50,36,35 (0805) 12,24,7,15,8,7,5,12,13,10,35,30,10, (0810) 25,7,18,8,12,2,11,2,7 (0815) 2,8,20,20 (0815) 20,1,40,8,10,1 (0820) 7,3,23,3,8,2,3,12 (0825) 8,2,12,35,80,16,10,20 (0830) 5,20,20,20,10,20,5,2,7,15,4,6,5,20,5,50,5,5,30,5,23,8 (0835) 8,15,6,2,2,7,3 (0840) 4,30,20,1 (0845) 10,2,10,2,2,8,5,15,30 (finish 0850)

I am now convinced there are odd Siskin, Brambling, and Greenfinch amongst the parties.  Also this morning heard Greenfinch, Bullfinch. Had 3x Redwing, 130 plus Woodpigeon. Starlings came through at 0730hrs with 420 birds, 20,30,20,20,50,10 (some very low). 

Sunday 9th February 2020

Purposely - assessing how Chaffinch would move from their roost to enter the Dalton Hall Estate woodlands in "Ciara Storm" conditions.  The conditions this morning was continuous rain which was moderate for most of the times but heavy on others, and the winds were never less than 30mph at best with the majority of times at 40 mph with regular intermediate strengths up to 60mph with several gust up to 70mph whilst I was there.

I arrived on site at first light 0730hrs and proceeded to my regular watch area to the East side of Plain Quarry car park. The first birds came through at 0755 hrs which was about 25 minutes later than normal (or yesterday) and I stayed until 0844hrs. During this time there was a far reduced passage and I was surprised at just how many did actually come through under the severe conditions eg 36 to 70mph with moderate to heavy rain.  To get here the birds will have had to cross open fields with no cover into head on winds from the SW for a distance of at least 2 miles after leaving their probable roost.

I noticed birds were coming through on all wind strenths up to 50mph although I never witness any whilst the 60-70mph gust were at their best.

At the watchpoint some of the birds were at their regular moderate height, although quite a lot were going through at only 10ft high and taking advantage of the immediate surrounding cover. Some went directly to the side of me within yards. 

Their was a much reduced passage today, although I fear I will have missed lots which will have gone by the bottom route (towards the road side) or alternatively some will have gone on a corridor further to the N/NW to keep out of the winds, and these I just would not have seen. Also I probably missed lots because they would have been going through very low and blending in with the undergrowth and backgrounds.

The ones that did brave it and which I did manage to record were in waves as follows:

(first birds at 0755hrs) 3,4,6,3,2,2, (0800) 1,12,8,11,4,8,42 (0810) 6,6,5,4,30,15,15, (0815) 11,16,5,9,2 (0820) 103, 29,41,71,2 (0830) 5,3,8,26,2 (0845 finish). Birds were still straggling through on leaving. Total birds recorded: 466

Also recorded 2x Redwing, 200 Woodpigeon, Starling at 0749 500 plus to E. 
Two Roe deer came as close to 20ft then saw me and quickly made a side dashing retreat....

Monday 10th November 2020 - Assessing numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost and heading into Dalton Hall Woodlands from the SE direction. Wind: W 25-43mph 3c, 0.1mm rain 0729 arrive.

Another one of the coldest days to stand around exaggerated by the wind chill from 20-30 mph winds. But always well worth it to see such a spectacle, I really can't believe that I seem to be the only one at the moment taking advantage of witnessing this incredible phenomena.  You are missing out on something really really special.

The birds are travelling a distance of approx 2 miles to reach their preferred feeding grounds (beech mast) in Dalton Crags, and tackling these head on 20 to 40 mph strong winds over this distance must be burning up large quantities of extra body fat (energy). There will be sufficient food (beech mast) to hopefully compensate this....

Today the birds were coming through at a almost normal passage although again struggling with such strong headwinds, but as usual they wormed their way in and out of the trees to reach their special feeding quarter! It kept dry although it did threaten rain with the darkest of clouds interspersed with lovely bright blue skies, yet at approx 0815hrs we did have a short flurry of light hail. Today I counted 1819 birds and they were still coming through (to a far lesser degree at 0840hrs the time of my leaving.

For those interested here are my counts showing the numbers and the timings of the wave parties:

(first birds was recorded at 0738hrs) 2,7,10,3,2,2,3,8,24,5,17,20,2 (0745hrs) 20,27,50,32,35,12,20,4,100,20,6,80,2,50,10 (0750) 25,20,35,20,90,55,25,5,7,7,20,20,10,20 (0755) 30,85,62,4,12, (0800) 80,10,35,33,4,60,40, (0805) 18,7,2,16,20,42,10,6,45,15,15 (0810) 6,15,35,5, (0815) 5,1,3,18 (0820) 8,10,2,3,1,10 (0825) 10,3,10,12 (0830) 1,15,1,10,5,1 (0835) 4,20,2,1,1,10, (0840) 4. Total number of birds today was 1819

Also recorded: Starlings x roost to East 770 birds from 0735hrs (100,40,50,150,200,200,20) also 3x Redwing (1E, 2W), also 0810hrs a Cormorant to the South, Woodpigeon started to leave roost at 0835 (50 birds)

Tuesday 11th November 2020 - Assessing numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost and heading into Dalton Hall Woodlands from the SE direction. Wind: W 24-40mph 3c, intermittent hail 0730hrs arrive and 0900hrs finish.

Today similar to yesterday it was very strong winds, but such a icy chill, with evidence of medium sized hail on my arrival and also squally light hail showers at both 0815hrs and again at 0825hrs though only lasted a few minutes on both occasions. Even odd small bird parties were seen to travel through whilst the hail was in progress, although bird numbers in general certainly seem to deplete. Although the winds were strong eg never less than 20 mph and 30 mph the regular speed, some birds (up to about 20/30 in single number parties) seem to appear from a great height and which then plummetted to a more tree top shelter level as they went through. I stayed until 0900hrs although birds were still going through but seemed to be on a much reduced level and considered to be stragglers.

Of interest like most days when it gets to around the 0830hrs, it is noticeable that large amounts of birds start to come through in the opposite direction eg heading back to the SE direction. This morning accounted for at least 479 birds doing this which were in groups as follows: 30,20,70,20,2,2,70,20,90,150,50,20,5,30. Where I watch from you cannot confirm whether the birds are actually leaving the woodlands and continuing SE or whether they are moving across to another feeding area (which I would think thats what they are doing although I will try and confirm this over the coming days).

Today I had a very much reduced numbers again, but put some of this down to perhaps missing a lot which could be heading to the far top side of the woodlands trying to gain shelter has they passed through. Also since storm Ciara things have not got back to normal, perhaps we stand a chance later in the week when these strong winds subside..

For anyone interested in numbers, times and sizes of the regular waves here are the records:

(Start at 0836hrs) 31,5,10,10,1 (0740hrs) 40,30,30,12,20,6,30,7,11,12,50 (0745hrs) 40,3,11,6,15,26,28,3 (0750hrs) 15,20,42,15,13,41,14,2, (0755hrs) 2,25,2,6,3,50,20,12,10,16 (0800hrs) 20,6,3,6,20,3 (0805hrs) 4,1,8,15,20 (0810hrs) 20,10,40,3,7,4 (0815hrs) 5,2,6, hail, 2,2, (0820hrs) 1,15, (0825hrs) 3,30,30,1,30, (0820hrs) 30,3,50,11,2,20,32,20 (0825hrs) 2, hail, 24,3 (0840hrs) 16,3,14,7,55, (0845hrs) 2,3,1,3,5,2,20, (0850hrs) 30,80,4 (0900hrs) 20 (finish at 0905hrs) Total number of birds today was 1481

plus birds heading SE from 0830hrs to 0905hrs:

3,20,70,20,2,2,70,20,90,150,50,20,5,30 (Total 479 birds) presume included already in the above numbers.

Also today: Starlings x roost at 0746hrs overhead, 100,25.  Redwing 1E,8S,2W. Sparrowhawk 1 N through woodland at 1 metre high, also Bullfinch, Woodpigeon only 6,4 today.

Wednesday 12th February 2020 - Assessing numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost and heading into Dalton Hall Woodlands from the SE direction. Wind: W 18-33mph 2c, 0724hrs arrive and 0845hrs finish.

Yet another extremely bitter cold morning, the wind had thankfully died down to at least 18mph and thankfully the numbers of birds are starting to creep up again. I had a count of 2076 birds to W plus 201 to E (to East birds denoted with (e) behind the number are not included in the totals).

The numbers and party waves were as follows:
(first bird at 0729hrs) 1,1,1,7 (0734hrs) 2e, 9,1,5,15,15,7,45,3,18,6,1,41, (0740hrs) 1,70,14,2,6e,40,10,30,43,30,8,22,22,30 (0745hrs) 4,20,40,3,30e,12,1,50,3,26,1,45,4,4 (0750hrs) 30,32,30e,5,4,1,10,50,4,32,1,10 (0755hrs) 22,30,12,3,10,25,35,20,4,18,20,10,17 (0800hrs) 27,3,25,13,17,12,40 40,5,60,9,6,3e,40,10,12,4 (0810hrs) 50,4,11,46,7,12,5e,5,13,5e,25 (0815hrs) 13,11,18,5,6 (0820hrs) 40,5,4,1e (0825hrs) 15,20e,20e,8,4,6e,8,10e,4,40,23,16 (0830hrs) 2,12,8,1,20e,2,16e,20,20e (0835hrs) 1,20,70,50,21,7,2,5e, (0840hrs) 4,5,3,2,3,8,2,6,2,3 (Finished at 0845hrs with 2076 birds)

Also today had: Starlings started at 0726 with 75 birds (30,30,20,5) and very high to the SSE. Woodpigeons left roost at 0750 with 30 and again at 0830 with 80 birds. No Thrushes recorded. 

Thursday 13th February 2020 - Assessing numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost and heading into Dalton Hall Woodlands from the SE direction. Wind: SE 12-21mph 4c, 0721hrs arrive and 0830hrs finish.

Like I have noticed before it does not happen the same on Easterlies eg: reduced numbers of birds, although in fairness I probably did miss some birds which seemed over biased to come through much high to my North/North West which will have gone through to the back of the far trees and out of sight. I was certainly not disappointed with over 1252 birds heading through on their usual West routing, although yet again I had 490 birds rather confusing the issue by going back to the East, these I am now sure were heading to the edges or near edges of our woodland and taking in the beech still left in the canopies, but at times making it confusing by flying back over yet in the West direction later.  

Here are todays numbers: (note "e" denotes birds going through to East and not counted in the main total.

(first birds through at 0732hrs) 15,1,1,1e,60, (0735hrs) 20,2e,2,55,2e (0740hrs) 1,4e,3e,20,5,4e,1,30,6e,9e,1,120,50, (0745hrs) 30,5e,1,3e,20,10e,25,2e (0750hrs) 40,15,40,18,11,5,2,7e,16e,15e (0755hrs) 1,6e,9e,40,7,32,7e,4,4e (0800hrs) 20,2e,4e,4e,2,40,3,20,8e (0805hrs) 150,80e,15,50e,15,8e,8 (0810hrs) 8,2e,3,27,40,22, (0810hrs) 2,20e,31e,3e,15e,3,28e,90 (0815hrs) 15,70,6,7,20e, (0820hrs) 20e,40e,20e,20e,3,10, (finished at 0830)
Total count for the day was 1252 birds heading to the West

Also counted 490 birds heading to the East for feeding, with some possibly returning to the W (in the region of 50-100 birds approx)

Also had: Starlings x roost to feed at 0731hrs: 388 to SE (very low flight today going into headwinds) 150,8,100,60,40,15,15). Redwing: 60 to SE (local roost to feed 40,20), lots of Brambling calls in with Chaffinch and also odd Greenfinch calls with Chaffinch. Song Thrush singing away, Nuthatches calling (several), Woodpigeon from roost to feed at 0752 start with 15, and later 50 plus.

A lovely sunrise this morning appearing from the South,
I normally stand just in front of these trees for my counts.

Friday 14th February 2020 - Assessing numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost and heading into Dalton Hall Woodlands from the SE direction. Wind: SSE 7-12mph 2c, 100% Cloud at start but soon opened up with patches of blue, 1011mb pressure. 0723hrs arrive and 0830hrs finish.

Well, well this morning was very different and yet again perhaps another indication to show how the birds just do not like that Easterley tail wind, although after saying that yesterday we had 1252 came through on a SE, yet today its changed to a very much lighter wind (7-12mph) which you may have thought the passage would be very good, although with a slight directional wind change to SSE and this resulted in the lowest count so far eg: 318 in total (with 261 heading East but there is no reason to count these in totals.

These are the very things that make this project all worthwhile! why has this been the case, what is responsible for the drastic reductions. We know these birds just do not like Easterly tail winds but so far thats about all we do know! I thought perhaps they had took a different corridor with the slight adjustment to SSE being responsible, but no! that does not really add up because I think I would have had a showing of a reasonable proportionate numbers heading back later to the East has we get on most days, but these numbers really just tallied against the earlier incomings.  So that makes me think the majority of the birds today could well have taken on a different feeding area altogether. 

I do not intend to be counting whilst the forthcoming storm Dennis is about, because I think I have already got my research info from the last storm Ciara.
I will probably just do one more W count on a good little wind or rain day to try and establish if the birds will be back in numbers, and also I intend for my research to advance more into getting a confirmation on the birds roost and other information on the routing corridors etc.. lets hope this wind moves on quickly, before we know where we are the birds will be heading back home !!

For anyone interested here are todays numbers: (birds with a (e) behind the number shows birds heading back to a East direction and probably will have already been counted in the West arrival birds)

(First bird arrivals at 0730hrs) 4,4,5e,1e,1e,4,6,4e, (0735hrs) 3,1e,12 (0740hrs) 6,1,1,2,3 (0745hrs) 20,1e,1,13,2e,10e,5, (0750hrs) 3,1e,3,8,22e,2,1, (0755hrs) 2,10e,30,5,12,3 (0800hrs) 3,11,3,7,40e,5e (0805hrs) 2,1,8,3, (0810hrs) 1,9,1,2e,2,1e,17e,36,2e, (0815hrs) 2,2,1e,5,1 (0820hrs) 2,5e,4,2e,4,3,7e (0825hrs) 30e,3e,48e,6,7 (0830hrs) 30,22,6,4e (finished at 0832hrs)  Total birds today going W was 318 birds and total recorded going back E was 261.

Other birds seen this morning included: Starlings x roost at 0723hrs = 201 (100,50,40,6,10,50,30,6,10) Also a cracking Song Thrush singing, several (true) Brambling calls, Raven 1 to E, Woodpigeons from roost at 0743 probably around the 200 mark, Gt Spotted Woodpecker heard drumming from over the Docker side and another one in the Dalton Hall Woodlands, 3x Redwing and 3 Fieldfare

This photo shows looking SE from the new watchpoint (SD5547576394) on the boundary of the Dalton Crags woodlands. looking SE to the New Park conifer plantations and Docker Moor to its right.  I do expect some of the birds will be roosting over there, BUT NOT ALL!!

Saturday 15th February 2020 - Assessing numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost and heading into Dalton Hall Woodlands from the East to SE directions. Wind: South 10-15 mph 4c, 993mb pressure. 0724hrs arrive and 0830hrs finish.

Today I decided to go to the East side of the Dalton Hall woodlands because it gave a reasonable forecast and I did not wish to miss the opportunity before the expected Storm Dennis.  

The weather came from a very irregular direction eg Southerly, and still the birds were a low count but at least double on what we had yesterday.

 I decided at around 0830hrs I would do a recci on all the woodland edges which would give a clear view to all directions North, East and South and soon I found a good watchpoint (SD5547576394) which I will do a full check in the forthcoming days, I hope. Whilst there I did pick up stragglers which were still coming through on leaving at 0945hrs. 

It gave me a good insight into todays activity which surprised me to note that most of the birds in the short time I was watching from the new area were coming in a direct line from the East. Which on first reckoning meant they could well be coming from the large gorse area near to the turn off for Hutton Roof Village or on the opposite side of the road to the Hutton Roof sawmills, this definitely needs investaging further over the coming days.  After saying that there were still some 25% which came through in a direct line from the New Park plantation. I have taken a photo which shows looking SE from the new viewpoint with New Park plantation and Docker Moor.

Another interesting point was at approx 0900hrs I did have a party of 13 Chaffinch leave our Dalton woodlands and went in a return direction back to the East. Needing much more study on all this.

(First birds arrived at 0733hrs), 6,4,1, (0735hrs) 3,1,18 (0740hrs) 1,1,3,12,7,6 (0745hrs) 4,8,4,1,7,9,3 (0750hrs) 17,10,12,3,4,3,6,23,4,2,20 (0755hrs) 7,5,3,10,25,20,8, (0800hrs) 10,1,5,13,4,7,4,2,1 (0805hrs) 3,15,2,10,3,5,3,2 (0810hrs) 2,5,1,4,10,1,4 (0815hrs) 5,14,1,13, (0820hrs) 6,2,4,2,2,1,6, (0825hrs) 6,4,17,3,25,6,30, (0830hrs chose new watchpoint) 30,5,1,1,4, (0835hrs) 7,2,3,3,2,3, (0845hrs) 6,1,1,2,4 (0850hrs) 1,4,1,1 (Bramb) (0900hrs) 13e, (0905hrs) 2,1, (0910hrs) 1,1,5,1 (0920hrs) 1,1,3,2 (0925hrs) 1,6 (Sisk) 1,1, (0930hrs) 1,1,2,1, (0940hrs) 2,1,1 (0945hrs Finish)

Total numbers still low at 657 birds to the West. I hope this low bird count is a temporary thing and down to the weather (example Easterlies or Southerlies) which I do expect and hope the count will get back to its regular 2-3000 as soon as the wind changes back to Westerley and hope that it is not the first signs of Spring dispersal!!  hopefully over the next few days will tell!

Some Chaffinch coming in with side on flight, some coming through at very high and then plummeting down on reaching woodland. 

Also today had: Starlings over ex roost at 0727hrs with 390 to SE birds (200,100,50,40), Two serenading Song Thrush throughout the count (brilliant), one of them "tu-whit tu whoo" (repetitive), 300 Woodpigeon at 0735hrs continually unsettled and moving about a lot. 2x Buzzard high and soaring. Two Woodpeckers, 1 heard drumming, and 1 seen flying local (possibly same bird), also Greenfinch, Brambling and Siskin (in some of the parties)

Sunday 16th February 2020 - Assessing numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost and heading into Dalton Hall Woodlands from the East to SE directions. Wind: SW 25-45mph 6c, 981mb pressure. 0720hrs arrive and 0900hrs finish.

Got very windy for most of the watch eg: 25 -35mph and the birds were showing difficulty and some coming through in compensating posture (side on). I noticed that a lot of the birds came through at a low height and on near approach quickly dropped down to use the valley depression lower down. (see photo below) Its funny but I noticed the Chaffinch seemed today to cut the wind better than some moving Redwing which I did find extroadinary..

Here are todays numbers:
(First birds came through at 0722hrs), 3,2,2,2,1,5,3 (0725hrs) 30,1,10,7,3,10,15 (0730hrs) 1,4,1,20,50,2,9,2 (0735hrs) 8,3,3,8,15,4,16,2,12,5,6,20,12,10,2, (0740hrs) 1,5,16,5,3,2,5 (0745hrs) 8,7,2,20,4,3,11,20,15,8 (0750hrs) 20,2,1,6,2,12,2,3,10, (0755hrs) 1,3,1,3,10, (0800hrs) 1,3,7,2,5, (0810hrs) 4,1,2,1,1,1,3,2, (0815hrs) 1,1,1,1,1,3,2,1,3,7, (0825hrs) 1,1,5,6,2,2,1, (0830hrs) 6,4,2,2,26,2,1,4 (0840hrs) 1,9,1,1,5,2,8,6 (0845hrs) 26,3,20,12,1,3,(0850hrs) 5,3, (0855hrs) 1,15,1,1,1,1, (0900hrs) 3,4  (0912hrs finish)  My total birds recorded today was 770 

Numbers still well down and now thinking the birds have dispersed with lots of the regular stock having taken on a different feeding area, but its better to confirm once we have had some light westerlies...

On leaving Dalton Crags at 0910hrs, I headed off to the Gorse Area which is close to the junction were you turn down towards Hutton Roof Village. A couple of hundreds yards after turning here there is a footpath sign on the RH (mapped Battle House)  and room to park a couple of cars.  I followed the footpath and did a 30 minute walk around and I must say the Gorse is very extensive in fact covering a few acres, some very tall and mature, but certainly the ideal roosting place, although after saying that there are no larger trees around so the gorse is more exposed.  I could not find any evidence of bird lime on the gorse bushes, but to be honest it would have took hours to check this thoroughly, its so extensive.  Also to say even on my leaving at Dalton, odd straggling birds were still coming through. Whilst at the gorse area I never had one bird which did feel a little strange. 

Photo from Sunday last passage


Tuesday 18th February 2020 - Assessing numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost and heading into Dalton Hall Woodlands from the East to SE directions to the West. Wind: WSW 23-36mph 4c, 1010mb pressure. 0714hrs arrive and 0825 finish. Very cold....

These nasty strong winds are without doubt playing havoc with the Chaffinch numbers and certainly gives the impression that most of the birds have now dispersed to other quarters, with again today only showing 564 birds. I came away early so will have missed a few.

Here are the numbers this morning:

(First birds came through at 0725hrs) 4,3,2,2,5,2,30, (0730hrs) 7,2,15,8,5,11,15,2 (0735hrs) 10,5,6,20,10,6,30 (0740hrs) 7,8,2,5,15,10,18 (0745hrs) 10,10,3,16,12,3,3, (0750hrs) 1,30e,25,8,3,10,3,6 (0755hrs) 15,5,2,3 (0800hrs) 3,12,2,4,11,3,5, (0805hrs) 2,5,6,6,2,1,7 (0810hrs) 2,10,2,8,1 (0815hrs) 6,3,3,2,10 (0820hrs) 9,4,8,4 (0825hrs) 1 (and finish at 0826hrs)  Total birds recorded was 564

Other birds: Starling 30 to E at 0812hrs obviously follow on birds. 50 Woodpigeon at 0730hrs, 15 Redwing W (12,2,1) Song Thrush or should we call him (Tickyboo) was in fine fettle although the heavy winds tried to drown him out!

Wednesday 19th February 2020 - Assessing numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost and heading into Dalton Hall Woodlands from the East to SE directions. Wind: West 13-25mph 3c, 1015mb pressure. 0719hrs arrive and 0830 finish. Very cold....also very light early on with first birds at 0719hrs

Watching from East side and 50 yards from far boundary, the birds again were pretty direct and today 95% came in on a straight line which made its way back to the New Park Plantation, whilst the other 5% looked like they were on a direct line from the Gorse area near Johnsons House, Hutton Roof turn off.

The entered the Dalton woodland from its far south east corner and continued to make their way through (or just above) the woodland in the direction of West which is the regular day to day corridor. Slightly better numbers today probably because of the fall in wind and allowing you to actually see more birds.

I am now convinced with the large drop in birds (almost 2000) that there has been a large dispersal of our birds. Whether this means the birds have actually left us to return to their Summer abode or the more likely they have split up and the majority are finding alternative places to feed.  I can suggest one of these right on our doorstep with a direct routing through the Keer valley and into Newclose or even further on into the main Dalton Hall Park itself which again has loads of good mast feed. If I can spare the time I will try and look over there in the next week or two.

Counts today read as follows:
(First birds through at 0719hrs), 2,3,1,7,4,5,6,5,6 (0725hrs) 1,4,6,2,7,12,20,1,2,15,5, (0730hrs) 8,7,7,2,10,14,11,20,21, (0735hrs) 10,16,3,3,14,3,18,20,36 (0740hrs) 14,15,20,7,1,1,2,12 (0745hrs) 7,2,6,5,7,2,17,15,10,5,10,5 (0750hrs) 7,12,6,16,3,11,10, (0755hrs) 4,17,10,3,4,10 (0800hrs) 21,12,7,6 (0805hrs) 12,2,3 (0810hrs) 4,2,2,2,8,5,8, (0815hrs) 12,5,6,2,13,5,4, (0820hrs) 20,3,6,4,10,5,3,20,30,15 (finish counting from 0830hrs with birds still trickling through on leaving)
Total number of birds today was: 870

Also today: 5 Pink Footed Goose SE to NW (0805hrs), also another skein ten minutes later, heard but could not find. Siskin and Brambling amongst the Chaffinch parties, our resident Song Thrush (Tickyboo) was serenading throughout. Odd Redwing about. Little in way of Woodpigeon.

Thr 20th to 25th Feb - No counts because of yet more atrocious weather patterns. 

Wednesday 26th February 2020 - Assessing numbers of Chaffinch having left their roost and heading into Dalton Hall Woodlands from the East to SE directions. Wind: West 9-16mph 2c, 1000mb pressure. Snow on ground on reaching end of Nineteen Trees, Very bright from 0645hrs -  0708hrs arrive and 0800 finish. Very cold....with first birds at 0708hrs

The birds came through very early and came through in good numbers early with a total of 925 birds. With there being little wind and no rain it was the best day for a week or two.

The numbers recorded were as follows:
(First birds through at 0708hrs) 8,10,3,40,15,20, (0710hrs) 4,50,10,34,45,15,12,4,12,25,10 (0715hrs) 11,15,27,33,54,10,13 (0720hrs) 18,12,2,5,2, (0725hrs and dropping from 0723hrs) 15,8,2,10,10,8,5,20 (0730hrs) 10,2,20,7,3,1,12,22,2,10,20,12,6,10,4,10,2,10 (0740hrs) 1,2,10,2,3,5 (0745hrs) 20,11,2,144,2,11,5,10,10 (0750hrs) 2,1,22,2,8 (0755hrs) 10,1,3,2 (0800hrs and finish) Total birds 925

Also Song Thrush Ticketty Boo was singing away, Siskin heard (maybe a single or two) Starling 45 (20,20,5 to E on leaving roost 0723hrs) A couple of score of Woodpigeon, odd Redwing.

Wednesday 5th March 2020 Whilst walking through Dalton Crags from Nineteen Trees.

Counted 626 Chaffinch overhead and this would only be in part. 

Monday 16th March 2020 Whilst walking through Dalton Crags
From leaving Plain Quarry Car Park and all the way through lower Dalton Crags, there were still hundreds of Chaffinch seen and calling.  All feeding on beech mast which was both on the floor and high up in the trees