Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Three Counties

It was a 4:00 am alarm call for me yesterday to head once again to Cumbria to undertake a bird survey. As usual I got my three hours sleep before the alarm, and worryingly I am starting to be able to cope on just a few hours sleep! Cumbria was just one of three counties that I would visit that day in the course of my work!

I arrived at my survey site to two oktas cloud cover with a light southerly breeze. There was a definite autumnal nip in the air and the birding had an autumnal feel to it as well. There are still plenty of Swallows around and this morning I recorded about a dozen all perched up on the telegraph wires close to the farm yard.

 The view across the trees

Willow Warblers are still present and moving through and this morning I had one or two birds giving their autumnal sub-song. In total I had five birds across the plantation woodland. In addition to the broad-leaved woodland planted at this site, the farmer has also planted a large area of short-rotation coppice Willow, so it will be interesting to see if this pulls some more birds in over the yaers. The short-rotation coppice Willow that I surveyed some ten years ago in Yorkshire for Drax power station certainly was good for birds and invertebrates.

A few Song Thrushes were knocking about this morning and I am guessing that they will have been juvenile birds, and I was pleased with a count of five. A few finches made it into my notebook including four Lesser Redpolls, four Siskins and 78 Linnets. I was stood below a Birch sp. writing in my notebook and bits of seeds keps floating down, a but like snowflakes, and when I looked up some of the Linnets and Siskins were feeding in the tree top!

It was the Grey Wagtails as much as any other species that gave it an autumnal feel this morning and I had five in total. There was no evidence of any vis as such, but they had certainly moved to the site in recent weeks. Three Tree Pipits could well have been migrants too as I have never recorded them 'within' the site before, just flying over.

Other bits and pieces included four Greenfinches, three Chaffinches, a Coal Tit, a Goldfinch, three Reed Buntings, two Buzzards, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and two Roe Deer.

 There was quite a lot of Sneezewort present in the open former grassalnd
areas, but most of it was past it's best

A distant Roe Deer

I then had to head to a site in east Bowland and this would take me through my second county, North Yorkshire, to work in my third county, Lancashire. Funnily enough pre-1974 my site near Slaidburn would have been in West Yorkshire!

This site is an upland farm that I have been providing conservation advise to for seventeen years now and today I was looking at some of the breeding wader fields and sward heights in particular. Everywhere I went I came across flocks of Meadow Pipits. I didn't count them but they certainly numbered in their hundreds.

I had a nice size comparison between two Ravens and three Buzzards as they interacted together, and the size comparison was that there isn't one! Those Ravens certainly are big birds, and sometimes you don't realise how big until you see ones alongside a Buzzard.

At the moment the forecast is looking okay for weekend and fingers crossed we'll get both days in! I'll be sure to let you know how we get on.

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