Monday 10 June 2024

Fylde Nature Notes

An odd title for a blog post I can hear you say, but it is to remind me, to remind you, that I have set up a Facebook group called Fylde Nature Notes. Influenced by a Facebook group called 'West Lancashire Nature Notes', started by Graham C in 2019, I thought I would start something similar for the Fylde area of Lancashire. With Graham's blessing, I basically replicated the West Lancs group, and adapted it for the Fylde area. 
The main purpose of the group is to enable members to celebrate, enjoy, promote, and share information about the wildlife, nature and landscapes of the Fylde, and adjacent areas. This includes wonderful nature reserves like Marton Mere, and nationally and internationally designated areas and habitats such as Winmarleigh Moss, the Lune, Ribble and Wyre estuaries, and Liverpool and Morecambe Bay. Equally as importantly, it includes our gardens, open spaces, farmland and countryside. This group will aim to let others know about issues and problems facing our already beleaguered wildlife and countryside, including planning issues, illegal land management activity, illegal persecution of wildlife, or simply where to ask for help.
Members are encouraged to share their local wildlife, nature and natural landscape photographs, videos, updates, sightings, and news. It all helps to promote a greater awareness of biodiversity and our environment. I hope people will discuss land management, wildlife gardening and how to attract species, or improve the diversity of their patch. We'll give it a go, and see what happens. So, if you fancy having a look, or even joining, head over to Facebook and search Fylde Nature Notes.
Now to catch up on the last couple of weeks...again!
Since my last post, Gail and I have checked our boxes in Bowland and near Garstang twice, and the outcome has been bleak. Our Pied Flycatchers in the Hodder Valley have not done very well at all. If you remember, we had four boxes occupied (2023 = 5, 2022 = 4, 2021 = 7, 2020 = 10), and the mean over the last 5 years is 6 occupied boxes, so we have been struggling this year. The outcome of our 4 occupied boxes is as follows:
Box 1 - Predated (female and eggs)
Box 2 - 6 young dead in box
Box 3 - 6 dead young, and one poorly looking chick, just about surviving
Box 4 - 6 healthy chicks
Pied Flycatcher
The outcome has been similar for Blue Tits, with any successful boxes only managing to get between two and four chicks to the fledging stage. It would seem that timing has been key, with breeding attempts started earlier having been more successful, than later attempts. The weather has been poor (very wet) throughout the later stages of the breeding cycle, hatching onwards, resulting in adults struggling to find food. Let's hope they all bounce back next year. 
At our good friend's farm near Nateby, the Kestrels have now hatched, or should I say five out of the six eggs have. However, when we checked them again yesterday, there were only three chicks left. These three were all healthy, so they were duly ringed. We suspect that the adult Kestrels have been struggling to find food with all this wet weather, and that is why there was only three chicks left. Usually, this box is littered with the corpses of small mammals and birds, but not this year, further evidence that the adults have been struggling. Fingers crossed for the remaining three little ones! 


Towards the end of May, Gail and I were south of the Ribble near Burscough carrying out a second breeding bird survey (BBS) for the site. The forecast hadn't been too great, but the rain held off just long enough for us to complete the survey. Nothing amazing, with the highlights being a singing Yellowhammer, at least 16 Blackbirds, three Stock Doves, a Buzzard, three Chiffchaffs, two Song Thrushes and a Whitethroat
The following day, we were looking after our Grandson, Alex, and we had gone into the garden to feed the Frog tadpoles in our little garden pond, and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted an Eyed Hawk-moth 'perched' on the bottom of a fence panel. It was a cracking beastie, and I picked it up and showed it Alex.
Eyed Hawk-moth
The following day, Gail was pottering around the garden and shouted me to come outside, as she had found two mating Eyed Hawk-moths at the bottom of our garden. Not rare by any means, but what cracking beasties they are! 
Eyed Hawk-moths
At the end of the month, we had a walk along the River Wyre at Jubilee Quay, and it was quiet. We were hoping for a few invertebrates, but there wasn't anywhere sheltered from the cold north-westerly wind. The only insect we did find was a beetle, Oedemera lurida/virescens, which was new for us. 
Oedemera lurida/virescens...probably
I have not had my moth trap out very often for one reason or another, but mainly the cold, blustery, wet weather, and a session overnight on 1st/2nd June produced only a handful of moths:
Heart and Dart - 2
Lychnis - 1
Angle Shades - 1
Green Pug - 1
Carcina quercana - 1
Angle Shades (above & below)

Green Pug

Later in the morning, I noticed a large Bumblebee mass hanging from a Meadow Buttercup, and it was a male and female Buff-tailed Bumblebee mating. Something that I have never observed before.
Buff-tailed Bumblebees
Last Friday, I was at my client's farm near Slaidburn in Bowland, to complete the third and final breeding wader survey of the year. It was a mixed morning weather-wise, with a hefty shower mid-morning, and there was a cool westerly wind. But the sun did make an appearance now and again, and when it did it was warm.

It's very quiet now in terms of breeding waders, with just Curlews left guarding their broods. Our RSPB friends have been radio tagging the chicks, and a couple of adults, on the farm this year, and I'll report back at a later date as to the outcomes of the tagged broods when we finally know them. Four broods were tagged, with 3,4, 3 and 2 chicks being tagged out of each brood. Unfortunately, the two chicks tagged were the complete brood for this pair (3 eggs laid and only 2 hatched), and sadly both chicks have found their way into a Buzzard nest! Not completely unexpected. However, the remaining chicks are still surviving, so fingers crossed for the next couple of weeks. 
We have numerous feeders up at the farm, and we feed throughout the summer to give adult birds a much needed protein boost. Every feeder I went past during the morning, was hooching with Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Linnets and Siskins, so pleasing to see. 

A few warblers were singing as I walked round, and I had six Willow Warblers, a Garden Warbler and three Sedge Warblers. Talking of a singing, a male Cuckoo was very vocal, although I couldn't see him, and he was moving around the farm a lot, particularly in the area of the farm that backs on to the fell. I did see a female however, so that was great. 
Along the hedgerow next to a restored hay meadow, I had a Broad-bodied Chaser, and it was probably the most sheltered, and warm bit of the farm that morning. An adult Orange-tip butterfly was also making use of the sheltered conditions. 
Broad-bodied Chaser

One of our recently restored hay meadows looking nice and flowery
Down by the central wetland, Common Sandpiper and Oystercatcher were alarm calling, so they obviously had chicks, and I noted that the pair of Mute Swans that nested here had five recently hatched cygnets. 
Mute Swans
Over weekend, Gail spotted an unusual looking spider on our garage door. I took a few shots, and then spent some time looking at Britain's Spiders - A field guide by Lawrence Bee, Geoff Oxford and Helen Smith, and I thought it was one of the Long-jawed Orbweb spiders, Tetragnatha montana. However, spider guru, and all round great Naturalist, Anno, tells me that to get it to species level I would need good lighting and a microscope. So Tetragnatha sp. it is! 
Tetragnatha sp.
I've got a few breeding bird surveys to complete this coming week, so fingers cross the weather the holds out.
Over on the right, you will see that I have updated the ringing totals for Fylde Ringing Group up until the end of May. Two new species for the year were ringed during May, and these were Pied Flycatcher and Jackdaw
Below you will find the top 2 ringed for the month, and the top 5 'movers and shakers' for the year.
Top 2 Ringed in May
1. Blue Tit - 21
2. Tree Sparrow - 13
Top 5 Movers and Shakers for the Year
1. Siskin - 112 (same position)
2. Blue Tit - 56 (same position)
3. Tree Sparrow - 34 (up from 5th)
    Goldfinch - 34 (same position)
4. Chaffinch - 29 (same position)
5. Great Tit - 21 (up from 6th)

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