PENDLE HILL SNOW BUNTINGS

A gorgeous male Snow Bunting on lookout on Pendle Hill

SUCH BEAUTIFUL BIRDS KEEP ME GOING UP PENDLE. The small winter fllock of Snow Buntings can be tricky to pin down on the summit as they range widely over the cold and steep Downham scree slope on the northwest side of the big end, anywhere between the spring and the second stile. Mark Varley, Martin Naylor and I eventually built up to nine birds on a clear and bright morning today, starting with ones and twos and then a foursome that was ultimately joined by another five. There has been a small flock of Snow Buntings on Pendle each winter in recent years but numbers are now a far cry from the peak of 80 in December 2003. Just like the declining dotterel, I wonder for how long they will continue to visit Pendle? We also heard what was almost certainly yesterday's Lapland Bunting overhead but against the sun. We eventually ran out of energy and enthusiasm having seen last autumn's obliging bird so nicely and abandoned our search for it. The views from Pendle were also nice, with a snow-capped Snowdon in north Wales clearly visible, although behind a wall of wind turbines. Other birds on Pendle included three European Golden Plovers, one Meadow Pipit and around 10 Red Grouse, now marking their territories ready for next spring. 

Mark Varley on a very bleak Pendle Hill