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Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Pied Wagtails a-go-go

Late afternoon and a gap in proceedings, the need for fresh air set me off in search of a bank where sand martins were at roost, 'not far away'! Needless to say I missed it from the directions provided by a friend... my fault obviously. So before I knew where I was, Abbeystead beckoned. The open moors and barely a car about , the silence only pierced by calling Curlew... of which there were many throughout the evening. The bright sunshine of the coastal plain disappeared as I climbed the side of the Pennines and indeed light rain greeted me at my first stop, to see what was sat on the road ahead, an adult Pied Wagtail.

I cannot recall my last visit to Abbeystead, if indeed there ever was one, as I have always by-passed this location on the road to Marshaw and Dunsop Bridge, so I didn't know where I was. Down by the river I came across a Spotted Flycatcher having a bath in rocks and pools adjacent the main stream, along with a male chaffinch and then a song thrush on the tractor track. A female blackbird and an Oystercatcher in the field. It was so overcast I only managed 'record' photographs. (In the voice of Michae Caine, "did you know... Dunsop Bridge is one of the locations that claims to be the centre of England". I bet you did).

Above Abbeystead there was a number of Curlew in a field but I couldn't slow down sufficient or stop to count numbers, about 20 I reckon. Over a cattle grid and there was space to pull over and I was able to pick up a singing skylark high above along with three meadow pipits on the open moorland. Eventually they joined me alongside the road, close, but never quite close enough.

On the way home on the Abbeystead–Scorton Road the noise from calling Oystercatchers was at one point deafening! I came across a field with over 30 pied wagtails, primarily juveniles! They were everywhere. 3 or 4 at a time on the fence, in a tree, down by the stream, on a wall or collectively in a field. Interestingly I only really saw 2 adults but there may have been many more.

As I walked the road using the stone wall 'as cover', an adult appeared to keep a close eye on me. Down by the stream there was a Grey Wagtail and 2 Common Sandpipers, only poor record shots in poor light. The fields were full of calling Oystercatchers and a few Lapwing keeping an eye on proceedings. I don't think I have ever seen so many rabbits hereabouts. I think they must know the law, that shooting within a given distance of the Queens Highway is forbidden... drive slowly, they are everywhere. Must be carrion heaven.

The light had been poor and the sun peeped out briefly under the cloud cover just as it was setting, before disappearing again. Needless to say two Oystercatchers sat conveniently close by, only on the wrong side of the road, being 'backlit', so all detail was obscured. Interestingly one was carrying leg irons, but no chance of seeing any detail. Then further along another 'viewpoint' a lapwing was in close proximity... which seemed odd, so I didn't hang about and drew off in the car onto the highway to be confronted with 'junior' crossing the road, about ten days old I reckon. That explains it!

Then dropping back down off the moor the sun provided an interesting sky in the west (well it would wouldn't it!). The solitude and peace and quite apart from the birds calling was appreciated.

'Video' isn't great, probably because I don't know what I'm doing, but I do hope it brings some 'life' to this nonsense.

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Brian Rafferty said...

Geoff. A nice read about my favourite part of Lancashire. It is great to drive along deserted roads with camera at the ready. The numbers of rabbits is staggering !! I think the reason for this is the lack of predators. This is the Duke of Westminster's grouse shooting estate and I know the gamekeepers regularly shoot so called vermin...foxes..etc..etc hence hundreds of rabbits. Enjoy your blogging.

trapper 63 said...

Hi Brian
Good to hear from you. Do pop in from time to time and look forward to meeting up sometime. Need a visit in good light... watching the skies!
The Rabbits do seem to be everywhere all along the roads, where they can't be shot legally!
Early days for the blog, lots to do and learn.
I'll never match your stunning efforts, no point me trying, but hope I 'capture' something worthwhile.
Best W

Pete Woodruff said...

Hi Geoff

Just looking in for the first time on your blog and thanks for pointing me in this direction.

Check your in-box and find my reply to your e-mail for which I thank you.

Good luck with the blog which you'll find takes up lots of your time and requires much determination.