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Pendle Hil

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HARD WEATHER MOVEMENTS

Pendle regular Martin Naylor searching for Snow Buntings on the Downham slope

Pendle regular Martin Naylor searching for Snow Buntings on the Downham slope

The last couple of Sunday morning walks on the riverbank have been quite productive, last Sunday saw a record 59 species, including Little Egret. It is still present today ranging between Hothersall Hall and Lower Alston Farm and today was another respectable 50 species. Single Common Snipes have featured on both weekends too, both flying over, presumably displaced by the hard weather. Other birds on the move at the moment were Herring Gull (163 on 3 December - usually around 10-30) and Northern Lapwing (168 on 10 December). The Little Grebes continue on the river at Red Bank and up to three oystercatchers appear to be wintering on the same stretch. Another weather related record was a flock of 18 Meadow Pipits by the sewage works . In contrast, numbers of birds presumably pushed out by the snow have fallen like Goldfinch (41 week 46 to only 6 on 10 December) and Chaffinch (45 week 47 to only 14 on 10 December). I am planning to keep up the counts as long as I can this winter following the same route more or less and for the same length of time and it will be interesting to see the results.

After over 30,000 steps on Pendle Hill and only two Snow Buntings flying over I'd had enough. Well at least it was good exercise! A Meadow Pipit flying low over the summit on Monday morning was also part of the hard weather movements. They are rarer than Snow Bunting up there at this time of year.

Little Egret at Ribchester. Not much you can do at 8000 ISO!

Little Egret at Ribchester. Not much you can do at 8000 ISO!

Frozen Snow Bunting food in the dotterel area on Pendle Hill

Frozen Snow Bunting food in the dotterel area on Pendle Hill

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IT'S PENDLE TIME AGAIN!

Sunrise over 't'capital' as my mate Rocket calls it, otherwise Burnley.

NOVEMBER MUST MEAN THAT IT'S PENDLE TIME AGAIN! In a stiff northerly wind I was hoping for the first Snow Buntings of the autumn but got something much better instead, well in Pendle terms anyway - a woodcock! Flushed from the rushy area by the lily pond on the summit near theDownham slope stile. Magic! It slipped over the edge and I couldn't relocate it but while I was zig-zagging across the rough grassland here a couple of skeins of Pink-footed Geese flew over (121 + 266 making 387 in total) and both heading northeast. An unusual movement for this time of year. Maybe birds held back in the easterlies reorientating? A raven flew over the Big End and there were a few Red Grouse on the summit today but nowt else. I was relieved that it was quite easy going up the landslide trail today despite this being my first hike up Pendle since July. I can't say I'd been looking forward to it. It was also good to see Martin Naylor and Steve Grimshaw up there, looking for Snow Buntings as well. Hopefully some will get found soon.

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WAITING FOR STORM IMOGEN

Trumpeter Swan, Ribchester (it's still here in case anyone is interested, unringed but wing-clipped it has been here for over 10 years now).

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND WAS A FLOCK OF FIVE SHELDUCK flying west over Alston Reservoirs at Longridge, while watching gulls arrive to roost on No.4 reservoir on Sunday afternoon. There were no scarce gulls amongst around 500 gulls of five species, one Great Black-backed was the most interesting. Oystercatchers have built up to 22, many must be getting ready to head upriver again and three Goldeneye was the only other notable sighting. I hiked up Pendle twice again, both times up and down in the dark during gaps in the rain, that's 11 times so far this year. I'm looking forward to being able to go up during daylight again soon. I heard Golden Plover on the summit both times as well as a Tawny Owl calling from Ing Ends in the valley below and a Barn Owl was sitting on a stone wall by the roadside on Saturday morning. Most peope now think I'm completely nuts but I quite enjoy hiking at night, the lights of the Colne Valley shining far below and the dark void of Pendle Hill make a nice contrast. I think it goes back to when I did the White Rose Walk on the North York Moors when was a kid in the 1970s. Storm Imogen is due to hit tomorrow, more strong winds and rain from the North Atlantic. Well at least it managed not to spoil my weekend walking.

ELOC year list 88. Common Shelduck

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MOORLAND MADNESS

Darkness at Pendle trig point.

CONTINUING MY MOORLAND-MADNESS-MINI-LEAGUE-OF-ONE (thanks for the title Bill!) I hiked up and down Pendle in the dark on both days this weekend. Surprsingly I even got an ELOC year tick in the process, a Tawny Owl in the pines in the small plantation at Pendleside Farm. The first time I have seen one here! Sunday's walk was number nine this year and the worst yet by far in driving snow and sleet. Just perfect training for what is coming next month. A few stops on Saturday morning added a couple more species to my ELOC little year. See how it has taken me all month to overtake the Breaks's January 1st total! At Chipping Moss (there was no sign of the bittern again) three Eurasian Curlews on the moss itself were the first returning birds I've seen this year and a pair of dippers was on the brook by the road just downstream from the small stone bridge. Five Stock Doves and a lovely Barn Owl hunting on the moss were also notable here. A Redwing, several Greenfinches and a siskin also flew over and a Meadow Pipit, a Common Snipe and a pair of Canada Geese were on the moss. I couldn't find anything else of interest around Longridge and Alston and I gave up when it started to hail. It seems we're back to a succession of depressions again. Ugh.

ELOC year list: 85. Eurasian Curlew 86. White-throated Dipper 87. Tawny Owl

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