New Tick

January 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Whilst at Leighton Moss during the week I took the opportunity to watch a Glossy Ibis that was feeding in the corner of a field. I have never seen one before and whilst it was interesting to see I would have preferred a Bittern any day. At high tide Black Tailed Godwits left the shore to feed in a flooded field by the reserve. They were feeding at a rapid rate and as soon as the tide turned they flew back to the shore line. As for Bitterns, there were none visible once again!

Along the canal during the week were a pair of Goosanders, a Grey Wagtail and up to eight Pied Wagtails . A Fox was also present. On Hopwood was a Dipper, feeding along Trub Brook, the first I have seen there for more than a year.

The garden has been very active this week with three days when twenty one species of birds were feeding. Included in those were eight Long Tailed Tits, two Reed Buntings, four Bullfinches, Wren and the first Goldcrest for more than a year.

Marsh Tit On The Red List

January 22, 2012 at 8:05 pm

The crisp weather of last weekend extended to Monday so I decided to go to Leighton Moss to seek the Bitterns that had been showing very well over the weekend. Unfortunately minus five degrees centigrade overnight completely froze the reserve water and there wasn’t a Bittern in sight. I did , however, watch the Marsh Tits on the bird feeders and remembered how I used to encounter these birds in the Ribble and Hodder valleys. It is sad that I have not seen one in those localities for more than two years and so quick is the decline of this bird that it has now been added to the Red List making it one of Britain’s most threatened species. At present there are no apparent reasons why they are decreasing so quickly, so all the people who go to Leighton Moss to look for Bitterns should spare some time to admire the Marsh Tit before it is too late.

It always amazes me as to how everyone’s individual gardens attract different species and numbers of birds. A friend from Huddersfield phoned during the week and invited me to come and have look at his garden. What was so special about his garden? He just happened to have more than fifty Redpolls feeding on three large niger seed feeders hung outside his conservatory. There was no light to film but just to witness this spectacle was amazing. Why were they attracted to his garden? Well it was on the edge of a mature undisturbed wood, an enormous amount of niger seed was put out for them and there were no cats or Grey Squirrels. All other reasons are known only to the Redpolls themselves!

Winter At Last

January 15, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Two superb frosty and sunny days with very little wind. Just the conditions I had been waiting for to venture onto the top of the Pennines in search of Red Grouse and Mountain Hares. Saturday was the best of the two with good numbers of hares resting in their forms in the pleasant sunshine. As usual they do not allow too close an approach but with careful stalking they may be approached to about thirty foot. One allowed a much closer view but unfortunately it was in such deep cover that only its eye could be seen in heavy white frost.

As I was about to leave the moor a white movement caught my eye and this was no Mountain Hare. It was an Ermine ( White Stoat) and only the third I have ever seen. I was certainly not expecting such a creature at an altitude of one thousand two hundred feet. Unfortunately, though I saw it on three occasions it was searching a rushy gully for food and failed to perform for the camera. I checked the same area the following day but there was no sign of it. Whilst I was on the high tops three skeins of five hundred,two hundred and one hundred Pink Footed Geese flew over in a North West direction.

At dusk, on Hopwood, both Woodcock and Jack Snipe were present in areas that remained clear of ice.

Wait Is Over

January 8, 2012 at 6:40 pm

What a start to the New Year. After forty years of trying I finally obtained film of the elusive Hawfinch. On the one good day of the week I journeyed to the Northern Dales as I had done on many occasions before to try to locate Hawfinches. This time, shortly after dawn, up to five Hawfinches fed on the ground on the seeds of Hornbeams. It was a magical sight I thought I would never see and film and although they only fed for a matter of minutes it was a moment I shall remember for ever. That enormous bill and the way they can take off vertically will brighten up what has so far been an abysmal Winter.

In the garden a very large female Sparrowhawk caught a Starling and flew off with it still squawking. Three Wood Pigeons fed together on one day and a Fox walked along the rear of the garden in the middle of the afternoon on another day. Sadly a cat was seen to vacate the garden with a bird on another occasion. Grey Squirrels have now peaked at three which is, of course, three too many.