Sunday, 15 June 2008

North Lancashire 31st May 2008

An early start saw us at Warton Crag Quarry before 8 O'clock. arriving at the car park and opening the Land Rover's doors we staight away heard the yik yik yik of the Peregrine Falcon. A quick scan of the cliff face revealed the female resting on a ledge close to the nest. A view through the telescope revealed two fluufy white chicks, technically known as eyas'. Totally unphased by their illustrious neighbours the large Jackdaw colony 'chacked' its way through its daily routine, perhaps enjoying the safety of having such a powerful predator in their midst. A Little Owl called from the right hand side of the cliff face but we were unable to locate it.
The morning was warming up and we had sightings of Common Blue and Green Veined White butterflies and a really bright Speckled Yellow moth. Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs sang from the bushes.
On the verge of the car park was a single specimen of Early Purple Orchid.

The next site visited was Woodwell. In the well itself Greater Spearwort was in flower. A Chiffchaff was heard singing and a Nuthatch called from the woods. The information board at the start of the path declared that some of the Small Leaved Lime trees were actually older than Stonehenge! There was the strong scent of Wild Garlic under the canopy of the woods. A fallen log had an impressive collection of unknown species of bracket fungus (any ideas anyone). A pair of Large Red Damselflies were in tandem by the well.

Back at the Land Rover a very hopeful and daring Robin hopped under the open door waiting for crumbs to be thrown from our breakfast. As (s)he was pecking at her titbits a Green Woodpecker was heard 'yaffling' in the distance.

We then moved from the woods down to the estuary. whilst we were manoevering the Land Rover in to a suitable car parking space (it doesn't fit under the low bridge) a Kingfisher flew right over the bonnet.
The estuary was more like southern Europe than north Lancashire. 3 Spoonbills, 2 Little Egrets and several Avocets graced the pools. 2 huge Ravens were out on the marsh. back along the track to the car park Sedge and Willow Warblers were watched taking food to hungry nestlings.

Our nest stop was the RSPB reserve, Leighton Moss. Here the feeding station was a little quieter than usual but still amnaged to give us fantastic close up views of a pair of Bullfinches and 3 Grey Squirrels, one of which had sussed the squirrel proofing on the bird table and was happily sat with a fine male Chaffinch munching the
sunflower seeds..

The rest of the reserve was also fairly quiet, which is typical for mid day at this time of year. But we couldn't fault the show the 5 Marsh Harriers put on for us, gently wafting their elegant way over the reed beds. Making our way down to the Tim Jackson hide we had a couple of brief sightings of Bearded Tits as they shot overhead to and from nest sites. Looking out from the hide we saw a magnificent set of antlers looking like a giant hat stand, but as the reed is so tall we didn't see the owner. However we did connect with two of his younger brothers lurking under the bushes. A the same time a Kingfisher, perhaps the same one as earlier, gave a masterclass in diving from height. It was difficult to watch the nearby patrolling Emperor Dragonfly for fear of missing the Kingfisher's next dive. we were able to make a younsters day by showing him a lifer - Reed Bunting - how times have changed now that the under 10's are seeing Marsh Harriers before 'common place' birds like the Reed Bunting, good luck to him - may his life list grow ever longer!
The walk back to the Public Hide gave us more and better views of the Bearded Tits.

The Public Hide was very quiet, a few Tufted Ducks and Pochards and the ubiquitous Coots, but little else. A Great Black backed Gull broke the tranquil scene sending the few nesting Black Headed Gulls into a state of raucous panic as it popped in for a snack - on their chicks! We waited patiently hoping that we might fluke a sighting of the Otter but fluked a brief flight view of a Bittern instead.
A Red Deer hind made her way out of the woods and across the fields to the reed bed in the distance.

All in all a great day with over 75 species of birds and good views of Red Deer.

Where to next?

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