Monday, 27 April 2009

Around and about all over

A blast around the county from south to north over a three day weekend - and an apology ...the Setaceous Hebrew Character moth in the last post was mis-identified - it's a common or garden ordinary Hebrew Character...sorry folks.
Anyway on with the story. On Friday I took the Disco to Leyland to have the snorkel fitted to prevent any more watery mishaps caused by driving in to rivers, ponds, ditches, streams, lakes, bath-tubs etc. Looks handsome don't it? Much tastier than the Porsche next door - he might be able to go fast but we can go anywhere!

As it happened I had a couple or three hours to kill and wandered off in the general direction of Farington Moss - an area I have only driven through at breakneck speed on the bypass before, so what would we find on foot. The area is flat black soiled rich farmland and was a formerly a shallow peaty lake. The walk took me right back to my farming roots. Skylarks and Lapwings, the sounds of my youth were singing all around, it was like being in birdsong heaven...ahh the memories of days spent in the fields.

In the absence of bushes for a song perch a Corn Bunting rattled away on the barbed wire around the base of the pylon. Its been quite a while sinceI last came cross this species.

There are far better pictures of Wheatears around on the various blogs at the moment but this was my best effort. Lots of excuses, flighty birds, no cover, a brisk breeze all conspired to keep maximum distance between me and the birds. Best count was thirteen in one fairly small field.

Leaving the moss and venturing in to a moor bushy area I came across a recently emerged Speckled Wood sunning itself in an open glade. Its only a few short years since this species was a real rarity in this neck of the woods - now they are everywhere, one of the most numerous butterflies you will see on a walk anywhere were there are trees.

An hour or so further on and the temperature had picked up a bit I came across my first Red Tailed Bumble Bee of the year. Had to get in quite close for the pic but fortunately she was fairly warm and didn't wave her middle leg in the air as a threat as they do when they are too cold to escape, which is exactly what she did. Bzzzzzzzzz

Eventually I discovered Farington Lodge, a remnant of the former mill industries in this part of Lancashire; again I have never been here before and very pleasant it was too. Cowslips, Primroses and Yellow Archangel were all in flower.
A Robin - to keep Fatbirder happy and Fatbotanist at bay!
Moorhens are one of my favourite birds despite the fact I did my degree thesis on their flocking behaviour and spent too many hours in freezing fields only to discover they like food and don't like being food!
This Jay led me a merry dance. Every time I raised the camera it hopped a few yards further away...just like the Wheatears. But it was concentrating on searching through the grass and everytime its head went down I scuttled forward stopping abruptly as its head re-emerged from the tussocks. Eventually I got just about close enough. Phewww
The River Lostock runs through the area and at a little footbridge I could see these fish waiting for tasty morsels to arrive on the current. On the way out there were a couple of lads fishing but I didn't stop to ask what they were after. I think they are small Chub judging by the size of the scales and width of the mouth. Dace would be the alternative but they are usually fairly small.

No Cuckoos yet but Cuckoo Flower is blooming everywhere - except on Frank's field where the mowers have just been and cut it down. It is one of the food plants for Orange Tip butterflies, which were everywhere - don't think I've ever seen so many in a short afternoon before. Too warm and therefore fast to get anywhere near with the camera unfortunately as I think they are one of the best, brightest butterflies we have round these parts.

Later on that evening back at Base Camp the moth trap came out on a nice pleasant evening. Lo and behold...success...the grand total of four what a haul!

Clouded Drab was a first for base camp

Hebrew Character! Not Setaceous Hebrew Character.

And the fairly scarce and local Golden-Rod Pug...another first for base camp.
The following day was a day of DIY but a during walk out past the store to stretch Frank's legs we came across this gi-normous fungus - as big as a dinner plate - growing out of a rotten Sycamore stump. I ought to know the name of this species but fungi baffle my brain.

Next evening saw the Disco on the motorway going north again. chance, Deer plenty. Acroos the moss as the light faded nine Fallow Deer came out of the woodland and started browsing on the fresh hedgerow growth. By the time the light had practically gone altogther two Roe Deer were also in the field - 11 deer in the binocs at once - not bad away from Scotland's Red Deer havens.

Talking of Red Deer; a crashing in the dark had us shining the spotlight into the trees - eyeshine gave its presence away. But was it a Red or a Roe?? A Red would have given us three species for the evening.
Other stuff about included a Marsh Harrier, not so many Little Egrets coming in to roost this evening and a few more than plenty Sand Martins. A Bittern boomed repeatedly all the time we were there; either that or some-one was blowing over the top of a Newcastle Brown bottle deep in the reed bed...not very likely; and a Water Rail squealed from time to time.
All in all a good weekends safari-ing.
Where to next? Sea watching is looking good at the moment.
In the meantime let us know what your outback was like this weekend.

1 comment:

Jack Hewitt said...

your fungi is Dryads Saddle. Polyporus squamosus