Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A day Of Two Halves

I had an hour to spare this morning before heading off in to Bowland to spend the day surveying a farm in the fells. I decided to have a bit of walk round the bit of Rawcliffe Moss that I 'work' regularly and talk about on here.

Driving there it got me thinking as to how long I have been birding and ringing on this bit of the Moss. I got permission from the farmer to ring here in 2003, so I am in my eighth year of birding and ringing on this site. In fact the farmer is one of my clients and between us we put together a conservation scheme through Countryside Stewardship. New hedges have gone in, wild bird seed crops sown, over-wintered stubbles left and 6 metre grass margins established. All these features have provided some fantastic habitat for farmland birds. A couple of years later I designed a 3 hectare woodland planting scheme that is now developing nicely and is a cracking piece of habitat. In fact this new woodland or the 'plantation' as I call it forms part of one of two areas that we ring in.

Anyway I digress. It was a day of two halves because of the habitat that I was birding in/surveying and the weather. As I drove down the track on to the Moss I had a female Red-legged Partridge on the track with four chicks. She was obviously keeping her chicks out of the margins of the crop to keep them dry as we had quite a bit of overnight rain and the vegetation was soaking wet.

Because of time constraints I didn't get as far as the plantation this morning and consequently my warbler 'score' is fairly low. I walked down the feeding station hedge, along the '97' hedge and on to the top moss before heading back along the track past Curlew Wood and on to my car.

Along the ditch next to where I park is a cracking 'rank' grass margin (see above). This will protect the water course from agricultural inputs and provide some fantastic habitat for invertebrates and birds, as well as providing a corridor between habitats.

On my walk I had 4 singing Corn Buntings as well as two birds having some sort of territorial dispute. If I had tried to guess the time of year solely by the number of Tree Sparrows I had, I would have said that it was late autumn/early winter. In total I had 29 in groups of 9, 2 and 18. Of course these were all small flocks of adults and juveniles and it was nice to see.

Corn (King) Bunting

I had good numbers of Brown Hare and in one meadow I had 6! Goldfinches were certainly a feature of the morning and in total I had 65 along with 10 Linnets. The majority of these were on the 'top moss' and I think that in a day or two I will pop back and see if I can catch a few of them for ringing. I'll let you know how I get on.

Brown Hare

Three Skylarks sang as I walked round and along the '97' hedge I had a singing Reed Bunting. As I said earlier my warbler 'score' was low and the only warblers I had were 3 Whitethroats along the '97' hedge.


As I climbed (slight incline!) up onto the top moss I had a look on the recently sown wild bird seed plot. As you can see from the picture below it is just starting to sprout and the bare soil and weeds are attracting quite a few birds. On the plot were 5 Stock Doves, 3 Mistle Thrushes and a good percentage of the Goldfinch/Linnets. As I stood watching these birds a Quail was singing from behind me. That's if you can call a Quail's song a song!

Wild Bird Seed Plot

Looking across the moss towards the east I had 3 Buzzards soaring over some woodland and these would be the only raptors that I would record all morning. As I headed back along the track past Curlew Wood I had Grey Wagtail go over and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew into the 'L' wood.

From here it was on to the farm in Bowland, northeast of Chipping, that I would spend the rest of the day surveying. So the second half of my day was from the lowlands to the uplands. I would also get quite wet during the afternoon, but then that's part of the job!

Looking north from the farm there is a conifer plantation on the side of the hill and as the morning warmed condenstion drifted from the top edge into the sky. This was still going on in the afternoon and if you look carefully you can see this in the picture below.

Besides surveying the vegetation and recording certain species of birds, invertebrates and mammals I have to look at any historical/archaeological features I come across, like the old lime kiln below, and assess its condition and suitability for maintenance or restoration.

Lime Kiln

Back to the birds. As is the norm in this area I had numerous Lesser Redpolls 'buzzing' over and smaller numbers of Siskins. In the wooded areas I recorded Jay, a party of 15 Long-tailed Tits and a calling Redstart.

Lesser Redpoll

As I got away from the 'in-bye' land and out on to the lower flanks of the fell I had a cracking male Peregrine go over. As I watched it a thermalling Buzzard drifted into my binocular view.

Peregrine - juvenile

It then started to rain and as I had finished surveying I put on my waterproofs and headed back to the yard.

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