Thursday, 5 April 2018

It's the Breeding Season (?)!

It's the breeding season, allegedly, and for me that means the start of early, well early-ish, alarm calls and today was the first one. I wasn't going too far, just into north Lancs to continue with some on-going bird surveys and my alarm was set for 5:00 am. Tomorrow I'm in north Cumbria doing a breeding bird survey and my alarm will be set for a proper early time, 4:00 am! I'm not complaining because I actually enjoy getting up at that time; the roads are quiet and there's few people about!

Pre-dawn I had my first decent bird as I was driving to my survey site when a Barn Owl flew over the road. This particular stretch of road has fairly high hedges so this kept the Barn Owl high enough not to be hit. I had another driving bird sighting and this was a male Goosander that flew over the M6 somewhere near Lancaster.

 There was a dusting of snow on higher ground this morning. Above is 
Bowland to the south of where I was and the Lakeland Fells below to the 

It was quite cold at my survey site and the temperature hovered just below or at zero and there was a frost. I set off to the glorious sound of a singing Song Thrush from one of the hedgerows that I was surveying. This hedgerow lead me to some of the 'top fields' and a number of Lapwings were displaying, in fact I had a total of 21 Lapwings during my wanderings and all were breeding birds.

Brown Hares seemed to be everywhere this morning and in total I counted twenty! I didn't witness any boxing, but I did see a nice group of five animals that would have been undoubtedly a female with four males in attendance.

 One of this morning's Brown Hares.

Down by some of the lower land towards the river the Gulls started to alarm call and I hoped for an Osprey, and realised it was too early in the morning for a migrating Osprey to be on the wing! I had to make do with a female Sparrowhawk, but she wasn't second best at all as I love Sparrowhawks!

I had two migrants during my survey. The first was a Chiffchaff making it's way along the sunny side of a hedge and frantically searching for food. The second was a long distant trans-Saharan migrant in the form of a male Swallow singing away from some telegraph wires. A Swallow singing away when the temperature was barely above freezing! Thankfully it warmed up later in the day and there was a number of insects on the wing, so the Swallow would have been able to feed okay.

Well I'd better sign off and go and set my alarm for tomorrow morning!

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