Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Three Layers

Over the past two mornings I have been undertaking bird surveys and it's been a bit nippy, and for the first time in a while it has necessitated three layers of clothing! However, within an hour or two I have been down to just a T-shirt. Why do you mention this I hear you ask, well that early morning nip is just another signal that we are indeed in autumn!

Yesterday I was in north Cumbria not a million miles from Carlisle and I always enjoy this survey because of the views across the Solway to bonny Scotland! Weather conditions for the survey were good with no wind and full cloud cover, perfect conditions for ringing incidentally, but that's another story for another day.

The weather conditions were good but the birds weren't performing as it was very quiet. That's the problems with surveys sometimes as they are a snapshot in time, and that's why to produce meaningful results a series of surveys is required. My notebook didn't remain totally empty and two singing Yellowhammers, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, two Buzzards, a Grey Wagtail, five Stock Doves and a Lesser Redpoll filled its pages.

This morning I was in north Lancashire in the Wenning valley. It started off clear, but within an hour it was nearly full cloud cover, similar to yesterday it was virtually calm with just the hint of a breath of a southeasterly. So, another good morning weather-wise, and a few birds to boot! I've probably mentioned before, but there's no harm in re-capping, the purpose of the surveys at this site is to look at the numbers of birds utilising old/restored hedges versus newly planted hedges with a wide range of hedge plants, somewhere in the region  of twenty species.

There are three hedges to survey in two sections; below the road and close to the river and above the road in a more elevated position. I alternate which block I survey first in attempt to remove as many variables as possible.

I started above the road first in a lovely mature hedge and straight away recorded two juvenile Redstarts; lovely! One of them had a ring on, so it's probably come from a box not far away. With the Redstarts moving along the hedge were twelve Willow Warblers, and I spent a very pleasant ten minutes sat on the ground watching them go past! I also had two Lesser Whitethroats further up the hedge and there could well have been more. Lesser Whitethroats certainly seem to have had a good breeding season.

 Willow Warbler

This particular site is great for Brown Hares and in early Spring I always get some good counts, and nine at this time of year was pleasing.

 Brown Hare (above & below)

Below the road I seemed to have a few fly by's; twelve Lapwings, a Little Egret, two Tree Sparrows, a Grey Wagtail, a Lesser Redpoll, three Stock Doves, a calling Raven, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and two Kestrels.

One of the fields between two of the hedges I was surveying here had  a nice post-breeding flock of 68 Lapwings. Shortly after the Lapwings I came across a section of flowering Thistles and I estimated that there were at least 45 Small Whites, a single Green-veined White, three Small Tortoiseshells and at least a couple of Silver Y moths. It was also stuffed full of bees too!


 Early Bumblebee

White-tailed Bumblebee

On the way home I called to see some farmer friends of mine near Inskip to talk about putting a Barn Owl box or two up in their buildings, and when David and I were putting the world to rights in the yard we had a couple of calling Ravens go over!

It's Hawkshead Brewery Summer Beer Festival for me tomorrow afternoon so I am looking forward to that, and I am ever grateful of Gail acting as my chauffeur. Mind you I have to take her to Lakeland in Windermere first though for some retail therapy!

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