Below are aggregated posts from various wildlife blogs created by people within Lancashire (lancashirewildlife.org.uk accept no responsibility for any content not created directly by lancashirewildlife.org.uk).
Winged Sentinels Post Origin "The Hairy Birder Blog" added here on May 22nd, 2013
I have just finished reading Winged Sentinels: Birds and Climate Change by Janice Wormworth and Cagan H Sekercioglu and it was a cracking read. If you are interested to learn about birds and climate change, and anyone interested in birds and conservation should be, and what effect climate change will have on bird populations then you will enjoy this book. It is a worrying read at times, but then the whole issue of climate change is worrying.
The blurb on the back of the book states "from ice-dependent penguins of Antarctica to songbirds that migrate across the Sahara, birds' responses provide early warning signs of the impact of climate change. Winged Sentinels: Birds and climate change uses colourful examples to show how particular groups of birds face heightened threats from climate change, and to explore how we can help birds adapt in a warming world. Generously illustrated with colour photographs, the book is a fascinating insight into what climate change means for birds, and the potential consequences of ignoring these warning signs". I couldn't have put it better myself!
Chapter headings are:
1. Phenology: seasonal timing and mismatch 2. Migratory birds face turbulence 3. Range shifts and reshuffled communities 4. Seabirds herald ocean changes 5. Climate change, abundance and extinction 6. Tropical warming and habitat islands 7. Shifting ground on conservation
I found the first chapter particularly interesting on seasonal timing and mismatch as this is something I am noting with my nest boxes and in fact I have touched upon this on my blog these past few posts. So go on, teat yourself, you won't be disappointed.
Why Menorca? Post Origin "Phil Blog" added here on May 21st, 2013
There’s no birding today, it's grandad duties looking after Isabella. So for blog regulars and “Menorca” Internet searchers here are some photographs from our recent holiday to that beautiful island.
Sue and I go to Menorca because we adore the island scenery, admire the style, grace and friendly nature of the islanders, love exploring the countryside and the quiet little inland towns or perhaps visiting the historic cities of Mahon and Ciutadella. Two weeks of almost guaranteed sunshine plays a part too.
As ever, click on the pictures for a colourful slide show.
A bistro, Es Mercadal
While birding there takes second place to the actual holiday, any bird watching we do is a part of the relaxing time we have and the seeing afresh of common Mediterranean birds. Some years we pick up new species for our island ”list” - this year Corncrake, Spoonbill and Glossy Ibis.
But bird watching is never easy in Menorca. Many of the regular species like Cetti’s Warbler, Nightingale, Firecrest, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Golden Oriole and Quail hide themselves away or stay distant whereby actually setting eyes upon any one of them becomes something of an occasion. Even the legendary and sought after Hoopoe is actually very shy in Menorca, more often heard as a distant 'oop-oop-oop' rather than seen well. Luckily I know of a regular breeding spot where both birds accept the busied click of the shutter button just once a year.
The Hoopoes weren't as far on as last year. This time I saw only the male as every fiftenn minutes or so he brought in food for the female's inspection, she sitting tight on the nest as he passed the food over without entering the concrete cavity.
In ten visits to the island I have yet to meet a Menorcan birder and whilst there may be a small number, I imagine they could be counted on the digits of both hands and more probably one. Bird watching seems not to figure in the Menorcan culture. There are hardly any visiting birders either, the more substantial list and reputation of nearby Majorca ensuring that most foreign birders head there instead of its smaller neighbour. There is no bird news service on Menorca, word of mouth being the only means of relating news between the transient population of mainly European bird watchers who spend a week or fourteen days there before returning to the colder north.
Screen Hide at Es Grau
View - Es Grau, Menorca
Ses Salines - Menorca
In other words, and for those who appreciate such things, bird watching Menorca Style is rather old-fashioned by allowing discovery of birds alone, unencumbered by the annoying bleeps of pagers and mobile phones or car loads of hyped-up folk dashing between one bird-hit and the next. OK, at the end of a week the list in your notebook won’t be long but there will be a wonderful selection of Mediterranean species, a number of common birds and a few “goodies” thrown in, all of them with no pressure involved to the bird or the birder.
It wasn't just birds. We saw good numbers of European Swallowtail Butterfly on a couple of days - flying too fast and frequently to get pictures. We also came acrosss a few large grasshoppers - up to 3 inches long - the migratory Egyptian Grasshoper I think. Insect experts help required please.
And at the end of another stress free day there’s always a quiet bar to while away the time, watch the sunset and spend quality time, planning another day of discovery and hoping that tomorrow’s Roller may be a lot closer. If not, there's always next year and an excuse for a return visit.
The Plot Thickens! Post Origin "The Hairy Birder Blog" added here on May 21st, 2013
On Sunday Gail and I were once again on the nest box trail and our first port of call were our Tree Sparrow boxes on the moss. Due to weather restraints last weekend we hadn't managed to check them so this was the first visit and it had me scratching my head!
All fifteen boxes were occupied by Tree Sparrows but the puzzling aspect were the boxes with complete nests and no eggs or young and a couple of boxes with flattened nests as if the young had fledged! If this is the case then there is a huge amount of variability between boxes in terms of what stage of the breeding cycle they are at.
Seven boxes had young that were too small to ring and two boxes had full clutches of eggs being incubated. This means that next weekend there should be a few Tree Sparrow pulli to ring. The remaining six boxes were the puzzling ones, so it will be interesting to see what they're like next week.
Trre Sparrow box
After the Moss we headed off to Bowland to our boxes in the Hodder Valley. We checked all 39 boxes and 17 hadn't advanced at all from the previous week e.g. still empty or still a quarter nest etc, so these will be dropped off next weekend's round. We had eight pairs of Pied Flycatchers incubating full clutches and I managed to lift two females off the nest; both were controls so it will be interesting to see where they have come from. A further two boxes had complete Pied Flycatcher nests in them that were empty last week, so potentially we could have ten pairs this year which would be a record. This is probably as a result of under-occupation by Tits.
Pied Flycatcher - female
We had four boxes occupied by Great Tits, four by Blue Tits and a single box with six, too small to ring, Nuthatches in. So next weekend we will have the Nuthatches to ring and possibly up to eight female Pied Flycatchers to lift off the nest. Let's hope for some decent weather.
B is for Blackpool! Post Origin "Pete Woodruff Blog" added here on May 21st, 2013
One of John Leedals excellent quotes was thrown at me one day at a lonely upland location which we had to ourselves and I made a comment about the tranquillity of places like this when he proclaimed in the name of solitude....'Thank Goodness For Blackpool'.
But yesterdays B was for Barbondale - something of a birding hotspot - where I made my second visit this year primarily to keep a check on the Pied Flycatcher. But the resultwas a little disappointing as I connected with just three birds - two pairs on 30 April - with a female evading me today and only two pairs nesting here which accounts for the disappointment as I had hoped for an increase on the visit three weeks ago. Brilliant Redstart image Brian, Thank You.
A Cuckoo here was excellent and my first this year. Brilliant Cuckoo image Marc, Thank You.
Green Woodpecker. Andrei Stroe.
A Green Woodpecker gave excellent views with at least 8 Redstart, 9 Meadow Pipit, 2 TreePipit, 2 Grey Wagtail, 2 Song Thrush, 2 Reed Bunting, and 2 Kestrel. I saw/heard only about 8 Willow Warbler, and just two butterflies both being Peacock. Not the most rewarding of visits here, and just as important to record birds not seen - though expected to be - as it is those seen. I was amazed that given I spent 6 hours here yesterday covering a large surrounding area, I saw not one Wheatear which is often seen in double figures here, no Whinchat, Stonechat, Spotted Flycatcher, or even a Dipper or Common Sandpiper on Barbon Beck.
My first taste of spring birding in the states Post Origin "Dave Bickerton Blog" added here on May 20th, 2013
Back in the USA. And Chicago again to attend my daughter's graduation ceremony but that's given me a chance to experience some May birding in places where I've only known relative silence in terms of bird song. Montrose point was splendid this morning with all the songs of the grackles, redwings, american robins and orioles amongst others.
And all the birds are all in the summer finery too! Splendid Chestnut-sided, Yellow, Magnolia, Palm and Mourning Warblers as well as Wood Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Warbling Vireo, White-crowned Sparrows and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. It all made a very pleasant hour or two before the crowds descended!
Jackson Park tomorrow I think before the thunderstorms hit and then it's off to the west coast.
Greenland At Pilling Post Origin "Phil Blog" added here on May 19th, 2013
It was back to the other local patch today with a walk out Pilling Way trying to spot changes in the area during my two weeks enforced absence in Menorca.
I started early at Lambs Lane/Fluke Hall where calls and song led to Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting and Cuckoo, singles of each except for at least 4 Whitethroat and 2 or 3 Willow Warblers.
In Menorca Wheatears were still going through in the first week of May, rock-hopping along the shore on a number of mornings, so today I was keen to get to Lane Ends, hoping to find a few of the “Greenland” type.
Wheatears weren’t the most obvious bird at Lane Ends, it was Swallows, dozens of them stretched out along the fence behind the sea wall, several House Martins mixed in and all likely looking migrants. One or two folk have said that although Swallows arrived during the past two weeks there should still be plenty to come, and this morning I reckoned that is exactly what was happening, even though it was a murky old morning, the rain and drizzle of yesterday barely gone. Into the notebook went "80+ “Swall” and 15 “Houma”, soon after adding "12+ Swift".
The plantation had singing Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting, and on the water a pair of Greylag with 5 well grown young. The sea wall to Fluke found 8 Skylark, 6 Goldfinch, 5 Wheatear and a single Corn Bunting, the bunting in precisely the same stretch of fence line a pair used last year. The grass isn’t as far on this year so the buntings may have to wait if they choose to breed again.
Of the 5 Wheatears, all were females and I could catch one only, a second year and definitely a “Greenland” type, a bulky individual with a wing length of 111mm and a weight of 38gms.
Some of the Lapwings at the Hi-Fly fields have young hidden away but it’s a difficult place to find the young for ringing, the vegetation being a little high, not helped by the nesting Redshanks and Oystercatchers helping the Lapwings to spot the intruder. A wary male Shoveler on the pool was highly suggestive of a female hidden away close by. More Skylarks up here with one pair feeding young out of the nest, another female Wheatear and more Swallows trickling through and heading north as the cloud lifted.
A quietish walk then, but good to get back to the other patch before heading home for the afternoon and a catching up with the family.
Yes….It’s Another Re-run. Post Origin "Pete Woodruff Blog" added here on May 19th, 2013
This one on Friday was a re-run of the previous Fridays birding with BT in Bowland.
Not enough time is spent in these areas with BT - a fact rather than a complaint you understand - but my intention is to give this area a good going over come some decent weather, hopefully the Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Crossbill, Redpoll, and Siskin can be found here....areas like this should be alive with these and other bird species....but aren't.
Otherwise the area was thin on birds, though 2 Willow Warbler, a Song Thrush, Chaffinch, and Robin were all in good voice, with 2 Mistle Thrush and a Goldcrest seen, all up the track from Tower Lodge.
Bowland Conifer Plantation. Pete Woodruff.
I have no idea what the problem is with the plantation which runs north behind Tower Lodge, but as this close up....
Bowland Conifer Plantation. Pete Woodruff.
....and this long shot shows, the conifers are dying/dead. In previous years I've made it essential that I took a close look at this plantation along its front and rear edge to find Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart along the wall and fenceposts in the image above.
A drive through the Trough of Bowland road to Langden Brook and walk to the pumping station and back produced a Dipper, Common Sandpiper, Song Thrush, and a Peregrine Falcon over. House Martin were noted to have returned here to Sykes Farm.
Four Buzzard were soaring high over our house in south Lancaster this morning. Thanks to BR/DC/GG for brilliant photographs as always, to add some much needed colour to Birds2blog.
The Re-run. Post Origin "Pete Woodruff Blog" added here on May 17th, 2013
Yesterday saw me doing a re-run of Tuesdays birding, though this time I managed to be on the job 1.5 hours earlier than Tuesday but had to terminate the day an hour earlier than I did then so little gained time wise.
I had a quick word with the man at River Winds in Conder Greenand made it my business to thank him for allowing his house to accommodate the House Martin - which have arrived there again this year - whilst some others are quick to put up nets and boarding underneath their eaves to stop them nesting there. I could have shown him an example not a million miles away from his house which I strongly suspect put a long pole through the underside of a House Martin nest last year, whatever, there is a huge hole through the bottom of the said nest, very sad....and illegal I would suggest.
Otherwise little to report from Conder Green yesterday save good views of a silent foraging Lesser Whitethroat. At Glasson Dock, numbers are on the increase and at least 20 Eider on the River Lune here with 15 seen 1 May, 2 Little Egret also of note, otherwise....all away breeding!
Dunlin. Howard Stockdale.
At Cockersands, things didn't quite go to plan as I wanted to check Plover Scar at high tide but had to leave earlier. Ten Eider here were seen as three off Plover Scar, and seven in the Cocker channel where estimates of 400 Dunlin and 100 Ringed Plover were pushed close in by the incoming tide. Two Sedge Warbler, 8 Linnet, 2 Skylark were noted, with 3 Brown Hare.
Some more records I thought we should all take note of, albeit from over the border....
Return To Normal? Post Origin "Phil Blog" added here on May 17th, 2013
In trying to dispel the post-holiday blues this morning I took a trip to Out Rawcliffe, and not sure what I might find I first took a walk around the ringing site. The outcome was pretty unremarkable with just the normal numbers of pairs of 4 Willow Warbler, 3 Whitethroat, and single Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting and Corn Bunting, all now settled on forthcoming territories.
At least one pair of Whitethroats were engaged in the early stages of nest building, carrying long strands of grass to a clump of nettles.
Just yesterday there was notification from the BTO of a Whitethroat Y461617 ringed here at Rawcliffe Moss on 23 May 2012 and subsequently recaptured by French ringers on both 15 September and 19 September 2012 at La Maziere, Lot-et-Garonne, France, a distance of some 1082 km. It obviously spent a few days fattening up before the next leg of its huge journey.
Common Whitethroat - Out Rawcliffe to Lot-et-Garonne
Whitethroats are known to travel through France on their autumn migration, continuing south to eventually reach beyond the Sahara Desert and into West Africa where they spend the winter months. They migrate north again in Spring, reaching Britain in late April/early May where all being well, they raise a family.
I trapped the singing male Sedge Warbler and found it to be one first caught here in 2009 and recaptured in 2010 and 2011 but not in 2012. Failure to catch him in 2012 was due to lack of ringing visits in the appalling summer. I haven’t worked out the mileage involved in this bird making the journey between Out Rawcliffe and Africa so many times, suffice to say that the total is in the tens of thousands.
It seemed that no other warblers were around until the first and silent Blackcap of the year turned up in the net too. I didn't hear it singing later so maybe it was passing through.
While I was away in Menorca the feeders weren’t topped up with the result that few finches were evident today with only a single Chaffinch caught. The female had a brood patch and from the number of warning calls coming later from the plantation I deduced at least one Chaffinch nest wasn’t too far away from the ringing station.
Other birds noted this morning: 4 Goldfinch, 2 Yellowhammer, 1 Kestrel, 1 Little Owl, 10 Tree Sparrow, 8 Swallow, 4 House Martin and 16+ Whitethroats scattered across the farm and nearby. It appears that Whitethroats have arrived in some numbers even if other summer visitors haven’t.
There's more from Another Bird Blog soon - keep looking in. In the meantime there's lots of birds on Anni's Blog.
Up The Wenning Post Origin "The Hairy Birder Blog" added here on May 16th, 2013
Today I had the pleasure of working on a farm that borders the River Wenning in the area of the beautiful Lune valley. The weather was perhaps what you would say a little mixed; sunshine and showers.
The River Wenning
As I walked down towards the river I noticed a few Swifts feeding above the yard buildings and then when I got down to the river there was a good 20 hawking insects above the woodland. Presumably the damp low cloud conditions had brought some aerial insects down to low levels. Further downstream I had another eleven Swifts brinigng my total for the farm to 35.
The large barn in this particular yard is full of holes and crevices in the walls and under the eaves and consequently full of House Sparrows. I don't know how many pairs nest in this barn, but there is a fair few. Walking around the fields and heading towards the river I noticed at least three pairs of Lapwings and two pairs of Oystercatchers on territory, with the Lapwings favouring the bare re-seeded fields. However, when walking back across a field with good grass cover, longer than I expected a Lapwing would choose, I came across the nest with four eggs below. All were warm and obviously being successfully brooded by the female. When the pair of Lapwings selected this nest site the sward height would of course been a lot less.
Lapwing nest and eggs
Along the river were Sand Martins, Dippers and Reed Bunting. In a re-seeded field next to the river I noticed four small waders running around and displaying to one another next to a small flood. I lifted my bins and could see they were four Little Ringed Plovers. What took me by surpsise was the fact that they were in a re-seeded field, although it was fairly bare with just the first signs of grass growth. The water levels on the river were quite high and this may have pushed them off their more favoured shingle beds.
Heading back to the yard a flock of 18 Linnets lifted from the newly re-seeded field, presumably feeding on seeds that had yet to germinate. On my way back I called for a coffee in the cafe/post office at Dunsop Bridge (the exact geographic centre of Great Britain) and noticed at least 10-15 Swifts feeding above the buildings adjacent to the River Hodder.