Thursday, 8 July 2010

Walking In Middle Earth

I spent the day today surveying some farm land in the Ribble Valley close to Stonyhurst College where J R Tolkein spent some time and it is alleged that the Ribble Valley was the inspiration for some of the landscapes in Lord Of The Rings. I didn't meet Bilbo, Frodo or indeed Gandalf, unfortunately, but I did see a few birds typical of the upland fringe.

Dark Clouds Over The Shire

Probably the best bird I had today was Redstart, or should I say Redstarts as I had 7 in total. The mature hedges on the margins of the uplands in the Ribble Valley are perfect for Redstarts and my 7 birds ranged from a stonking male, like the bird pictured below by Simon Hawtin (thanks Simon), through to a female and several juvs. Nice.

I had a number of Siskins around some of the conifer plantations as well as a few singing Goldcrests. Grey Wagtails were around the very dry looking rivers and streams and I had 4 Willow Warblers at various wetland locations.

Garden Warblers and Blackcaps sang from suitable habitat and mature woodland held 3 Nuthatches. Walking across a recently cut field I was buzzed by about 10 Swifts as they chased low flying aerial insects that viewed me as lunch! Lesser Redpolls 'buzzed' everywhere and I had 2 soaring Buzzards as I sat eating my lunch enjoying the spectacular views across to Pendle Hill.

Unfortunately I couldn't 'stop and stare' for long as I had a job to do and I had a lot of ground to cover.

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