'SECONDS ARE ALWAYS NICE' said a guy I passed in Dunsop Valley who I saw a few evenings ago. Fourths aren't bad either. I've been up in Whitendale watching this amazing bird four days running now, including taking Alexander on one of the hikes up the valley. The harrier is becoming a local celebrity in the same way that the eagle owls did a few years ago and is attracting a steady stream of admirers. It has taken me a while to work out the best plan to get the shot I had in my mind's eye and this is almost it. A little less shadow on the underparts would have been ideal but I shouldn't complain when it has taken me around 17 hours over four days to get this far. Some of this was simply in poor light conditions and this evening the light was perfect low angle, 'golden hour' light. However, from time to time I still put the camera down and simply watched the bird's wonderful sky-dancing displays instead. Surprisingly a sound as well as sight experience when it's purring trill high overhead is sometimes the first sign that it has commenced its aerobatic display over the valley. It was great to see some old friends today too! Also in the valley today were Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Hen Harrier (briefly - Bowland's one and only this year), Merlin, Common Sandpiper, Short-eared Owl, Ring Ouzel (singing), Common Cuckoo, Common Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Dipper and Grey Wagtail. Another day to remember in Bowland!
Viewing entries tagged
WHAT A WELCOME HOME THAT WAS! I got into WIFI range again yesterday in Houston Airport in Texas and was stunned to read news of a Pallid Harrier on my home patch in Bowland. After a relatively quiet month in the UK while I have been away in the US I was pleased not to have missed much until I read this. However, after a nervous flight home, happily I was watching it this evening with my Bowland birding friend Mark Varley. It is a bird we have often talked about as a possibility for the local fells, particularly with the increase in records in the UK/Western Europe in recent years but it still came as a shock. Even better that it is a male holding territory! It is a sign of the times that there was only one other person watching it this evening with me and Mark and we enjoyed some very nice views, although a little out of DSLR range as it quartered the hillside below the stone man in Whitendale. It even did a couple of sky dancing loops, upside down at the top of the loop while giving a high pitched chattering call. It also harassed a buzzard, which ventured within its air space, the cumbersome buzzard was quickly seen off by this tiny but aggressive ball of feathers. Interesting that it has chosen the same hillside that the Eagle Owls first used as a nest site and this was also a traditional nest site for Hen Harriers for many years previously. It must be an attractive situation. Dunsop Valley and Whitendale were alive this evening with Ring Ouzel, Common Cuckoo, Common Stonechat and Willow Warblers on the hillsides and White-throated Dipper and Common Sandpiper along the stream. A curlew sang its wonderful bubbling song in the background as the harrier graced the valley. Wonderful stuff! Massive thanks to the RSPB for deciding that the news of such a rare bird should to be broadcast as it may yet breed (even as a mixed pair with a Hen Harrier is a possibility). They would have been justified to keep it quiet and special thanks to the finder James Bray. He's already on the shortlist for my hero of the year award! Here's hoping that many folks will be able to enjoy the harrier over the coming days just like the eagle owls [the hike to the 'watchpoint' takes around one hour at a reasonable pace but is mostly on the flat].
THANK GOODNESS THE RAIN SEEMS TO HAVE STOPPED at last and both hikes up Pendle Hill this weekend were dry. That's 13 times so far this year. I could even see some daylight on Sunday after which I went for a spin around some of my old Bowland patch adding skylark at Champion Moor and stonechat at White Greet to the ELOC year list in the process. A male Brambling, found by Nigel(!), was on the feeders at work on Wednesday and Thursday and a small flock of 6 Lesser Redpolls was near the board house at Stocks today. No owls this week and I am still to see both Short-eared and Little in the ELOC recording area this year - a sign of how badly they are both doing these days unfortunately. There are also still quite a few other soft birds missing too, like kingfisher, Green Woodpecker and Red-legged Partridge for instance. I'm still not really trying though!
ELOC year list 89. Eurasian Skylark 90. Common Stonechat
A SPIN AROUND BOWLAND IN THE RAIN TODAY with Alexander did not produce much of interest, except for plenty of Red Grouse on the Fells. Looking rather fed up, soggy and bedraggled we managed around 20 in the usual places. A flock of 70 Northern Lapwings on Lord's Close Road was quite high up and I finally managed to find some Fieldfares there too, only four though so way below the numbers we normally see in the fields at this time of year. Otherwise I only saw a handful of new species for the year but I'm still not really trying. There was hardly anyone around today, unsurprising in such filthy weather. There weren't many birds either, most would be keeping their heads down until the rain passed.
ELOC year list: 60. Lesser Black-backed Gull 61. Collared Dove 62. Fieldfare 63. Northern Lapwing 64. Eurasian Bullfinch 65. Common Woodpigeon 66. Mute Swan