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Thursday, 28 April 2011

From seashore to fellside

I had saved all my petrol tokens for the last week or so and with the threat on another on-coming bank holiday decided a trip to 'the Trough might be in order. I also wondered about what might be on the hills after the Dotterel had been about. At one time I had walked a lot of the fells, in the Trough, Lakes and Scotland... however that was some time ago. A testing walk might be in order... I didn't get far!

The Grockles were out in the streams and the sand bank that was a favourite of the Sand Martins was beset by them, so that was out of the question. As expected the Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Pied Wagtails and Curlew were all about. I came across this pipit sat on the fence and although it is probably a Meadow it just didn't 'look right'. Any comments appreciated. Three Buzzards were in the air and crossed from one fell to another in seconds on what would have been a four hour yomp!

On the lower slopes I spent some time with a Wheatear, believing to be the same bird seen more than once on the fellside. As you know dear reader I like to bird watch and it was interesting watching this bird. I've noticed how Wheatears in general like to find 'vantage points' where they can keep a look out. This bird was happy to look for food and seemed to be grabbing beetles should one be foolish enough to make a move – the Wheatear running across the grass to grab it's prize. Apparently bees are not on the menu (see photo). Often the bird would run in my direction chasing food, only to be a few metres away, so my presence didn't appear to unduly affect the bird. I also noticed they like to cock their heads to one side and look skyward, quite why I don't know. If anyone has any interesting pointers or suggestions for greater reading I would be pleased to hear from you.

So the attached are predominently an attempt to provide a brief visual study of this excellent subject. I have to say I was more than a little cream-crackered after a short walk up a slight incline... not good! As you will know I photographed Wheatears the week before over at Rossall and now here they were on the fellside (hence the title of this post)... I'm still not 100% convinced that is a Meadow Pipit... any comments?

On the way home I came across three Greylag Goslings in the road while the parents were going ballistic on the other side of a double fence 'rabbit proofed' with no way back so I lent a helping hand.

Meadow Pipit – looks 'odd' to me...

Wheatear in context

Typical landscape 
Any vantage point

Hunting

Seen something

which becomes lunch

Bees apparently not on the menu 
look up left

check

look up right

rear view

on a rock 
keeping an eye out


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Berttie Bassett's All Sorts

A selection of images from the last week or so, the wind has got up and most of the blossom has been blown away, a few butterflies from my patch and on three separate days I had a female mallard with 7, 11 and 14 young respctively, only a day or so old. I have a blackbird nesting in the back garden and one under my bedroom window, they have tried in the past unsuccessfullty with the number of 'domestic' cats and magpies hereabouts. I think the cats will be the greatest threat this year. (Last year the nestbox was left with 14 Blue Tit fledglings dead after the parents failed to continue feeding and I can only assume the parents were no longer alive). New birds have tried this year.... early days.
Cherry blossom – now all too soon blown away

Speckled Wood

Male Orange Tip

Male Orange Tip

Ma Mallard

Aaahhh

Comma

The Family bar dad! 
Another aaahhh

Speckled Wood

Bee on Lion's teeth flower

Female Blackbird sitting tight, in the back garden

Rodaside Bluebells – Ours or Spanish, I don't know

Male Reed Bunitng – Carr House Green Common

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Out at Rossall

The story will follow... (bedtime, said Zebadeee!)

Wheatear

Dunlin and Ringed Plover and is that a Knot in the background?

Disturbed

Dunlin summer plummage

Wheatears on the beach

On the way back

Ringed Plover

Herring Gull

Anything to get away from those Grey Wagtails!

No story to tell really, I had a rush of blood and popped over to Rossall as it was a 10m tide around 12 lunchtime. It is unlikely I will be about over Easter weekend so this seemed a good day to get out before everyone else. I parked at the north car park and wondered why when I arrived. Glorious sunshine and the adjoining grass verges were full of tents, picnic tables, easy chairs, footballs and all. Whoops, was this a mistake? – Too late I'm here now. Rooting through the boot I wasn't sure if I should wellie up and put my wet weather gear on – glorious sunshine and 70 degrees!  Has this boy gone mad? (well we know the answer to that is yes). If I was going to roll around on the beach and at the waters edge it would be a shrewd move (I have  cunning plan!). Nah don't bother.

I set off south towards the Lifeguard Tower – hmmnnn every piece of beach had grockles playing or someone fishing. It was blue sky, wall to wall sunshine and a calm sea, apart from the tidal rip – and not a thing in sight. Zip, zilch, zero, nowt. I walked on. Past the point where it turns back a little, zip, zilch, zero, nowt. Grockles, dog walkers, bicycles (wish I'd brought mine now). Not looking good. Two Dunlin fly north over the sea... maybe I'll have to go up to Fleetwood. Well the sea is hopeless so I have a look at the wall between the esplanade and the Golf course (bearing in mind only been here once before). Straight away I spot a small bird sat on the wall some fifty yards off and it looks like a Wheatear to me. I approach a little closer, Yep, first Wheatear of 2011 for me... and over the wall on the Golf course is some sort of large concrete pillar and sat on top is another Wheatear, two – brilliant... and a dog walker who immediately scares them off! Great! I carry on walking close to the dividing wall and peering over to the Golf course in the hope of passing migrants. Nowt. Nowt on the beaches either. Strewth. I struggle on south. A Meadow Pipit makes an appearance on the wall.

I've decide the sea shore is not going to produce and my best bet is the path between the Golf Course and the Promenade wall, only thing is I have to walk to the end of the Golf course to access it. Eventually I am on this 'in-between' land and yes more dog walkers... ho hum. Then within 25 yards there is another Wheatear. He stays with me for some time and I rattle off a number of photos, better had while I can. I lose the Wheatear when the dog walkers approach. Carrying on I eventually manage to win the confidence of another Wheatear that allows me within 20 feet and I rattle off more photos before yet more dog walkers, who have other options, decide to come barging through where I have just spent half an hour gaining the confidence of this Wheatear – then it is off again. Much gnashing of teeth. Onward. I am fast approaching the Lifeguard Tower again and climb the Stile over the promenade wall to see if there is anything on the sea/shore. Nowt... when I clock a Wheatear heading onto the foreshore, so down to the seaward side. Yep a Wheatear on the foreshore and not only that up against the groyne are some Dunlin, Ringed Plover and the odd Sanderling. Excellent.

Ray Mears impressions on the beach aren't easy (what cammo do you wear?) but I see the Wheatear, rattle off some shots and approach the Dunlin and co with caution and rattle off some more shots. Working my way down to the waters edge and crouching low... do I care what I look like... just as well! Then of course they are up and away... why? How come? I have approached with caution, got close enough and now they have 'gone-up'.  And to my right a hound comes hurtling in. You have the WHOLE beach, the promende, the Golf course walk, there is loads of space, why come and keep me company? The air is blue!

Effectively this repeats itself. I spend all my time working my way into a decent position, trying to get the sun behind me, focus et al and Gnasher or the Hound of the Baskervilles comes charging in! It's not Ok and least of all when I am skulking behind the groyne engrossed in what I am doing when the Hound from Hell sneaks up on you and starts sniffing your groin... sniffing is one thing, it's when the teeth come out you panic! And I like dogs!

Well, the Dunlin are changing to their Summer plummage I creep about the beach, wishing I put my wellies on and wet weather trousers while Wheatear, at least 12 fly in and out of view along the seashore. Some of the photos appear here.

I drove back through Fleetwood (why?) to find the Fleetwood Nature Reserve and having taken the wrong turning (that may prove to be the right one – new housing estate, easy access from the north) and while parked, a Herring Gull decides to come and sit ten feet away from the car, so I attach his mug shot in case he's wanted for anything! I call in at the Nature Reserve, disappointed. Only thing of interest is a great Crested Grebe catching flies off the surface. Listening for warblers all I can hear is the high pitched drone of the model aircraft adjacent to the site, now who thought that one up? Model Aircraft next to a Nature Reserve? (I also like model aircraft! My father having built many a model. I have a Sea Harrier waiting to be completed). Worn out, time for bed!

POSTSCRIPT
Shows how much I know... here's me at Fleetwood nature Reserve seeing nowt, recceing for future visit and moaning about the Model Aircraft etcetera and within 48 hours a White Stork and a Short Toed Lark are seen on the site! Now where is that p├ętard?

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

More Rossall

A few more images from Rossall, I'm still working through hem and adding more (Thursday 21 April).

Meadow Pipit

Wheatear, front(ish) 
Wheatear (frontish and side)

Wheatear side

Wheatear, back, side

Group photo, Dunlin in summer plummage, Ringed Plover
(no wonder raptors have trouble picking one out)

Dunlin, Ringed Plover

Mine, art photo, because I like it

In flight
Wheatear, front view (shame the sun was against me)

Dunlin, one on the right just coming into summer plummage, ringed plover inbetween.

Ringed Plover

Dunlin, not quite in breeding plummage, shame.

Group photo....