One of the beauties of having a good deal of the north west of England as my office is the varied landscapes that I have to work in. Of course as I'm busy working in this outdoor office I don't have as much time to 'stop and stare' as I would like, but it'll do!
This week my work took me to sand dunes and dune heath in the Ainsdale/Formby area and then on to the upland landscape of Bowland. Both special in their own way. Working on some of the stable dunes earlier in the week I was hoping to pick up something like Stonechat for my 'work' year list but not a single Stonechat did I see. Plenty of Skylarks were singing in the February sunshine and a Buzzard drifted across the dunes but that was it.
Yesterday afternoon I called at Rawcliffe Moss on my way home from work to feed. It was around teatime and the sun had virtually set so I didn't expect much even though there was quite a bit of light left. As I rounded the corner by the barn a flock of 42 Corn Buntings with a few Chaffinches mixed in flew up from the hedge and circled round. As I got out of the car at the track and headed down the hedge I had a further ten Corn Buntings fly over.
Four Grey Partridges fed at the feeding station along with 170 Tree Sparrows (best recent count) and nineteen Chaffinch. Walking back towards the car I pushed nineteen Yellowhammers from the hedge.
I was working in the beautiful upland landscape of Bowland today and below I have included a few landscape shots that hopefully reflect the changing moods of the day. In the morning it was crisp and clear with wall-to-wall sunshine and in the afternoon there were periods of heavy snow showers.
Walking across the particular farm near Slaidburn that I was surveying I had a number of Brown Hares including two that were boxing. They were so pre-occupied with each other that they were oblivious of my close presence. The male was continuing trying to mate with the female and he was grabbing her by the scruff of the neck and moving her around, trying to get her in to the right position. She would put up with it for so long and then give him a 'left jab' and a 'right hook'!
Towards the higher part of the farm I could hear Red Grouse calling from the moorland behind and their calls were joined by two Ravens that drifted past, lifting high on the up-drafts.
I stopped for a coffee behind an old field barn where the land rose behind the barn, so you could stand and look in through an opening in to the 'hay loft'. I peered in and noticed a small nest box attached to a beam and then noticed a Tawny Owl perched on top of it. By the amount of pellets underneath it was a regular perch. Just after I took the shot below it flew through an opening in the wall to another part of the loft and at the same time a second bird followed it. Nice!
I had a Peregrine over the fell tops and then I turned and headed back down hill towards the steading.
As I walked through a 'boggy' area close to some newly planted woodland I flushed a Woodcock. I love seeing Woodcocks, but this was even better as it was a bird that my colleagues had recorded on their 'works' year lists so far this year and I hadn't, so I had scored one back! Close to the steading I walked through an area of wet 'clough' woodland and had stonking views of a Marsh Tit calling excitedly. A nice way to end the day.
In Memory Of My Dearest Father - *PETER CLARKE* Ornithologist, Naturalist, Photographer, Author, Founder and first Warden of Holme Bird Observatory and NOA Dearly loved husband of Margaret...
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