Friday, 10 April 2015

A Confusion of Willow Warblers

(Click over to enlarge)

Flying in the dark through a moonlit sky,
Falling from high like little angels,
Floating down on a wavering leaf,
The confusion has now begun.
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Daytime closed you was not seen,
Whilst morning wakes your plenty,
So tred so soft our leaf explorer,
A “bouquet” of special prize to us,
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Your music is a descending tale,
Which finish the year hou whit,
A choir of pairs sings thy will,
A “Fall” would be a lot of thee,
Our dear little Willow Warbler

Sylvia’s hand of lucid intricacy
You thread that weave so delicately,
To house and raise a splendid cast,
It’s a start to a “Wrench” fulfilled
Our dear little Willow Warbler 

Poem I wrote on April 10th 2015 - Other collective nouns for the Willow Warbler besides Confusion are: Bouquet, Fall and Wrench

Saturday April 18th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1100hrs to 1230hrs (BLACKCAP and TREE PIPIT ARRIVALS)

At Plain Quarry just one of the Chiffchaffs were singing, but it was great to hear two Blackcaps singing which had obviously come in during the last 48 hours. Also had 3 Greenland Wheatear 1 male and 2 female in Dalton deforested.  Also a single Tree Pipit which did a display close to the gate leading onto the Common.

Farleton Side - Newbiggin Crags  1300 to 1500hrs

Had a pair of Wheatear on hillside behind Whinn Yeates, lots of Willow Warblers singing. Two Swallows back on territory at Whinn Yeates. Yellowhammers still not back on territory.

Friday April 17th 2015 - Yealand Storrs, Leighton Moss, The Trough, Trowbarrow Quarry, Haweswater and Gait Barrows returning via Yealand Allottments to Yealand Storrs 0930hrs to 1330hrs.

Doing a test run of this 6 miles approx walk and on the way noticing quite a lot of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers who have now come in with good numbers, I probably had over a score in total of each species.  Also had 6 Blackcaps at various points of the walk (my first of the year).  I could hear Bearded Tits whilst travelling along the RSPB Leighton Moss causeway, several could be heard "pinging away" although they remained out of sight amongst the reedbeds.  Greylag Geese were very noisy and constantly flying over. Also activity from Shelduck.  Butterfly species included Peacock and Brimstone. Flora species included masses of Primula at Gait Barrows along with lots of Wood Anemone. First Bluebells on Yealand Allotments. Ground Ivy and lots of Dog Violets. Also at one point I saw my first Red Campion of the year. Also some old Hard Shield Fern whilst travelling up the Trough to Trowbarrow. Whilst stopping for lunch at "Haweswater" the Little Grebe could be heard.  Also I was "imitating the call of some nearby Chiffchaff who actually came very close to investigate who had entered their territory!

Thursday April 16th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0845hrs to 1015hrs

Both Chiffs calling at Plain Quarry and all the Willow Warblers have returned and singing in Plain Quarry and Dalton areas along with the ones on Hutton Roof as well.

Never before have I counted so many "Greenland Wheatear". I had a clear 16 showing on Wheatear Plain in Dalton and there could well have been more. 

Just a single Swallow passing through, and only 3 Meadow Pipits crossing over. Green Woodpeckers heard yaffling away. 

My friend Robert Ashworth had a Ring Ouzel in Dalton deforested today and here are a couple of photos of the bird.  

Both of the above photos kindly sent to me by Robert Ashworth
(Click over photos to enlarge)

Monday April 13th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1000hrs to 1130hrs

Both Chiffchaffs Craig and Craggy were singing away at Plain Quarry. Up to seven Buzzards seen in the sky over Dalton with odd pairs interlocking and plummeting.  Dont know whether all these are all locals or some maybe passing through!

Up to 10 Willow Warblers in full song and some looking like they could well be holding territory from Trig Point to the North West at the area just before Uberash Roughs.  It obviously looks like this "confusion of Willow Warblers" must have something to do with family and associated family groups which have probably come through together, because again down in the bottom Dalton lower where you tend to get most of the Willow Warblers, there is still none present.  Yet all these on Hutton Roof are collectively in a small area at approx 850ft altitude which they have now been holding for at least three days. 

Had a single Martin in silhouette strangely making its way to the South.

Two Wheatear present on wall going up through Dalton deforested quite near to the Gully.

Lots of Yafflers as usual, but only 8 Meadow Pipits crossed over during the time I was present. 

Saturday April 11th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof. 0900hrs to 1015hrs "Osprey over Dalton"

The weather was far cooler this morning and there had also been a increase with the stronger Westerley winds.  The highlight this morning without doubt was a OSPREY going high over Dalton.  It was far off but easily recognizable through binoculars with the winding path it was taking but more important the give away for me was the tucked in "W" wing flight on plummet (similar to the Lapwing) which it was having to do regular because of the strong gusty winds and in addition to this the brilliant white showing from the underpart back end areas.  

The Chiffchaffs Craig and Craggy in Plain Quarry were in full song, yet the Willow Warblers have not yet arrived down here on the lower grounds, yet the strange thing is that yesterday I had them a plenty at 800ft on the Common. Yes I guess it is "confusing".

Not a single Meadow Pipit crossed the path of Dalton and Hutton Roof which I was aware of.

I have only recently come across some great photography by Andy Holden with lots of subjects I like.  He has kindly sent me this small sampler here, but if you would like to see most of Andy's stuff on Flickr then click here or if you wish to check out his Wildlife album then click here. All photos strictly copyrighted to Andy

(Click over photo to enlarge)

Friday April 10th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof. 0845hrs to 1015hrs "Confusion of Willow Warblers"

The highlight of the morning was seeing a "Confusion of Willow Warblers" over on Uberash Roughs at a area where you dont normally get many of this species.  I had at least six singing birds, but also one or two I saw which where not singing, perhaps there could well have been more I had not detected.

Yet down at Plain Quarry and the lower Dalton areas where you expect to get the first Willow Warbler arrivals I have had not as yet.  However in this area it was nice to be greeted with our resident Chiffchaffs Craig and Craggy.

Stonechats where seen up near the gully on the Dalton deforested midway point.  No Wheatears for me today and would you believe it, I counted the passing Meadow Pipits on one hand.  So this is strange because normally by now I would have expected over 100 plus per hour - lets blame it on changes in atmospheric pressure or something like that!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Northern Greenland Wheatears have arrived on Dalton Crags.

Please Click over sketch to enlarge - Sketch done in April 2013

Thursday April 9th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1000hrs to 1200hrs

Both Chiffchaffs at Plain Quarry singing.  First Willow Warbler in partial song on the Common, also first Swallow at the Trig Point.  Had about 50 Meadow Pipits per hour going through to the North. Also had several Peacock butterflies and also a Brimstone at Plain Quarry Car Park. Odd Wheatear on Crag House side. Also, Redpoll and suspected Tree Pipit. 

Please click over sketch to enlarge

I wrote quick notes and got the gist to this poem whilst walking along Tarn Lane, Burton In Kendal on 9th April 2010 (5 years ago s today), when three Swallows went overhead "twittering away". My first Swallow sighting of the year and certainly "MOST WELCOME"...

Swallow, Swallow, Swallow, chatterboxes over my head,
Your twittering is so welcome, I've waited for this for,
Such a long time....
Spring is here!

Blue sky with white fluffy herringbone, breaches the heights,
Carpeted Celandine strew the path,
That gentle breeze runs between them,
Tells Me,
Spring is here!

Hedgerows levelled of Hawthorn in green,
Bramble arms reach out with anew,
Nettle and Dock stand side by side,
Spring is here!

Bumblebees search endlessly, surveying cave and den,
While Ladybirds, sway too and fro on breezy blades of grass,
Oh its so good to be alive and witness this some more,
Another year has come about,
Spring is here!

Wednesday April 8th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0845hrs to 1115hrs
A beautiful day from the off with Meadow Pipits going over Dalton and Hutton Roof. Chiffchaff Craig has now been joined by Craggy this morning at Plain Quarry and they are both singing merrily away.  Its so good to see they have both arrived back safely. Green Woodpeckers were yaffling in the horsy laughs.

Stonechats were seen in upper Dalton along with a single Wheatear which was on the outcrops over on the Crag House side, so whether this is where the "Greenlands" where hiding, I dont know!, I'll bet they were but did not have time to check it out. 

Again another day goes past with NO SHRIKES who by now are probably set to cross the North Sea on their way back to Scandinavia, although it would still be a nice surprise if they where to show again. 

A late surprise to see a pair of Whooper Swans heading North up the Lune Valley and crossing Hutton Roof sides.

Meadow Pipits steadily trickling across the common with 60 seen in total over the hour (0945 to 1045hrs), although even this number did contain one party of 23 and another of 5 birds.

Also a great pleasure to be making a dull whistling "Tiuu" to some nearby Bullfinches which were happy to return my calls and become inquisitive. Also had Redpoll, Greenfinch passing through. 

Tuesday April 7th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1300hrs to 1600hrs

Craig the Chiffchaff was calling on my arrival at Plain Quarry. Just a few passing Meadow Pipits but quite a lot blogging in the Crags.  Also noted a pair of Stonechats.  Right on cue the first of the Leucorrhoa Wheatear birds have arrived with a party of at least six birds (five males and one female).  I feel confident they were Northern Greenland birds, the plumage stands out a mile in comparison to the O.Oenathe in 95% of the cases being very much darker, the birds far more upright, more colourful to the orange upper chest.  Where do you think the birds where seen?  on Dalton's Wheatear plain of course!!

Well well, I searched and I searched from the Cairns on Uberash Breast all the way through to the Trig Point and down across the South/South East ridges, but could not see any of the Shrikes.  I also spoke to other observers who had been up earlier and none of them saw the Shrikes either... So we will see over the next couple of days what the results are!

Earlier today I was getting a movement of Meadow Pipits down in Burton In Kendal of about 70 per hour all moving N/NW. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Great Grey Shrike re-appears on Hutton Roof etc

Click over sketch to enlarge

EASTER MONDAY 6th April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof "

The Last sighting of the Shrikes"

1400hrs to 1700hrs - Hutton Roof was shrouded in low cloud but did make a attempt with lovely warm, and blue skies etc for some two hours, although never left the low areas and then it started creeping back up again at 1600hrs and filled in everywhere yet again, very similar situation to yesterday late afternoon.

On way up through Dalton managed to see a pair of Stonechats, also reported to me that a further two pairs where also seen over on Uberash Roughs on Hutton Roof Common. Also reports of 3 Sand Martin going over the Common at 0900hrs this morning. Yesterday's Wheatears could not be seen. 

I searched Uberash Roughs and the Common for Shrike 1 but just could not find him, he was being elusive.  But did manage to locate Shrike No. 2 at approx 1500hrs until about 1630hrs.  He was at various points from 100 yards to 300 yards SSE of the Trig Point.

Beauties on the brink!

So silent to hear a primrose shine with song,
Whilst burgundy flutters by to tell the World,
She’s living on the edge of her paradise lost,
But scatters her love in hope for tomorrow.

A special rose of yellow adorns the roughs,
Where Argus is not but a giant and only a fly,
Yet flaps his wings to the radiant warm sun,
His dream to search where the angels lie.

High on a ride would be my lasting will,
To dodge the spirits that have flit before,
My colour is of earth or wood or tree,
I play my sweet viola, so not to frit away.

Let it ring across the scorched peaks
Where the air is thin and wanders bleak,
Up high you reach on upstretched wing,
In the land of which the Curlew sing. 

Its Knott for me to taste the Scotch,
Nor Argue bold for we are sold to thee,
Why only here, you’ve chose your home,
Pray keep it strong, the side to roam. 

6th April 2015

EASTER SUNDAY 5th April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1545hrs - 1730hrs

(The above two photos I took in March 2011 when I was lucky to see the Shrike kill and later impale a Bank Vole torso on a nearby Hawthorn Tree, only 30 yards from the Trig Point on Hutton Roof. So this is a example of the Shrike's larder and the reason he has the name "Butcher Bird" - please click over photos to enlarge)

Been shrounded in low cloud all day and even now it was still coming and going, but did at least allow occasional slots of visibility. On the way up through Dalton Crags upper had two beautiful Wheatears sat on the wall, both males with gorgeous colouring, they gave the impression they were O. Oenanthe and not of the Greenland race.  Also noted and sat on the wall by the side of them were our two resident over wintering Stonechats.  Also about 20 Meadow Pipits were blogging within that area.

On reaching the Trig Point, the overwintering Shrike 1 was noted at about 150 yards NW of the Trig Point and was observed holding positions there for over one hour.  Shrike 2 was seen also (not by me), but by other birders at around the same time at 100 yards South East/South of the Trig Point.

Easter Saturday 4th April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1030hrs - 1215hrs

I had one of the Shrikes to the South of the Trig, but told that both had been seen earlier to the South of the Trig and on the ridge and behaving agressive to one another. Up to 10 Meadow Pipits moving through over one hour. Also Chiffchaff heard calling from down at Plain Quarry. Also had reports from Sarah that she thought she had a early Tree Pipit in Dalton deforested.

GOOD FRIDAY 3rd April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1030hrs - 1215hrs

Both Shrikes are showing well.  One at 250 yards NW of Trig in small hawthorn to W of the two Cairns which are at the end of "Uberash Breast".  This is a spot I have noticed Shrike No.1 goes to regular and if I can't see him from the Trig I walk along Uberash Roughs and can usually pick him up with the binoculars from here.  Shrike No. 2 was also seen in her regular territory eg: 150 yards to the SE of the Trig on the large patch of Blackthorn which is in the background view of the Hutton Roof Sawmills.
Not a single Meadow Pipit called or noticed going through. Green Woodpeckers yaffling (at least two). Early Purple Orchid basal rosettes now being seen at usual spots on Common. 
Also two Roe Deer running through Dalton Crags, had been disturbed by runners. Also whilst on the Common itself had "vulpes vulpes" running straight towards me then noticed me at around 20 yards and veered off into a small channel. Excellent views. 


Its Friday, Oh so good!
Accustomed to walk to top of the fell,
With rucksack, my only cross to bear,
Weaved in and out of crags so pure,
Overhead passing music to my ears,
Whilst serenade from the Lark arising,
Carpets of imagined flowers in unseen bud,
Hide for now, to await their day soon,
When Fritillary will flutter to fill this sweet place.
Thank you on high for all this,
Its Friday, Oh so good!


Here below are three fabulous photos taken by friend Robert Ashworth who has kindly allowed me to include within the blog: 

Thursday 2nd April 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0845hrs to 1015hrs
Been in York the last couple of days so its good to get back into things. Both Grey Grey Shrikes present and seen at the same time with one 100 yards NW of the Trig and the other at 100 yards SE of The Trig Point.  About 15 Meadow Pipits per hour came through to the NW.  A Buzzard also came through (not local), larger grey low flying and took rest a couple of times on Hutton Roof.

Monday 30th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0915hrs to 1000hrs 

One Shrike (presumed the second bird) at 100 yards NE of Trig Point on Hutton Roof Common at 0930hrs and still there on leaving 30 minutes later. One pair of Stonechats seen carrying nesting material within Dalton Crags. Green Woodpeckers yaffling (3). Just a few Meadow Pipits crossing over. Sky the lark singing away, plus another lark on the Common.

Sunday 29th March 2015
then Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof  1400hrs to 1530hrs

Had Marsh Tits calling on my way up at the back of Plain Quarry and also had shows of them on my way back.

On the way up through deforested I had Kestrel and Song Thrush.

One of the Shrikes was on view for over 15 minutes at first only 15 yards from the Trig in a South direction.  Then it moved across to a regular site, the 1st large tree from the right hand side on the ridge which crosses from Dalton and into the Common. then it moved to small hawthorns almost against the boundary wall then eventually lost and out of sight.  It gave me the impression it was the 2nd or the slightly darker bird and this would also tally in with the area it was using. It was very windy at some 25 mph with gust to 40 so I did not spend any time looking for the second bird who was probably on Uberash or maybe Lancelot.

Morning and up until 1400hrs
The weathers been bad and I have not yet had chance to check our Her Majesties on the Common, instead I have been sat here enjoying my thoughts of the beautiful song thrush whilst in song at this very time of the year and have written the following poem (with the aid of the thrush) entitled "The Language of the Song Thrush (March time) which I hope you can enjoy:

Now is the time, the perfect time to listen to the Song Thrush,
Some may call him a "Throstle",
There are others (sad to say) who would call him (Throttle),
He sits so high he cannot go any further if he tried,
It's such a special time of the year for him to show to
ANOTHER, and the World at large, and what a show,
He will sing and sing and sing for one hour at once,
I love to write down his song in my little book,
In a language he would never understand!

wee hoo whit,
wee hoo whit,
wit woo,
wit woo,
her kleep kleep,
her kleep kleep,
chit chit chit chit,
See-it, see-it"

I think I could listen for hours at such a wonder,
Whilst all the World around are rushing everywhere,
This little fellow imparts his "wolf whistles",
and love to all who'll take time to listen to him.

Saturday 28th March 2015 - 0845hrs to 1045hrs -  Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof

The weather was disastrous! but still the show must go one (as if).  But today I was not the only "Silly Beggar" checking out the Shrike in these atrocious weather conditions, because Jim from Sedbergh, Brian and Chris from Whitehaven had also braved it as well, obviously not prepared to meet with such conditions when they set off.  Sadly we did not see the birds, the weather went worse as we got further up the fell.  The winds increased with gust to 40 mph and the rain clouds were low and brought visibility down to about 50 yards at best.  We checked out Dalton, the Trig Area and even walked across Uberash Roughs as far as the Cairns.  But no Shrikes today.

I have just heard from a friend (Robert) that he saw the Shrike on February 6th 2015, which is a brilliant record because it now means we can account for the over wintering bird for each month from November until now.

Also he noted yesterday that the two birds did briefly come together in bushes which lie along the boundary wall south of the path which leads to the Trig Point.  When they came together briefly they showed aggressive posturing and chattering was noted.  I suppose this could be pure aggression or would it be a sign of wanting to get to know one another better! lets hope its the latter.

I to have noticed that both birds seem to show a main individual territory eg: the over wintering bird tends to spend more time to the North West and West of the Trig which seems to have always been its main territory, whilst the new bird tends to spend most time to the East and SE and S of the Trig point. Although they are becoming more frequently seen in the same panoramic view at the same time from the Trig Point lookout and occasionally in the same tree or doing fly past one another. 

Robert also reported a Chiffchaff singing from Plain Quarry at 0945hrs yesterday (Friday).  

Friday 27th March 2015 - 0915 - 1030hrs - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof.

Both Shrikes present at the same time.  The original Shrike was about 100 NW of the Trig Point and the more recent bird was 150 yards SSE of the Trig Point.  It does look like the birds are keeping their separate territories with the more recent bird remaining to the East/South whereby the established bird has always frequented the more W/NW of the Trig Point, although they do come together in the same tree occasionally and I have seen one bird dive bomb the other and then brush off and fly away.  Also this time I have heard the "Shrike chunnering or is it chummering - well whichever that is what's it was doing"  on at least two separate occasions.  Pair of Stonechats seen towards the top of Dalton deforested.  Had 3 Meadow Pipits go directly through and had another 15 blogging within Dalton deforested.  Three or Four Green Woodpecker yaffles. 

I have just remembered:  Going back to Tuesday March 17th 2015 (St Patricks Day), I did have a early "Brimstone" Butterfly on the Railway Embankment at Arnside. 

Wednesday 25th March 2015 - 1000hrs -  1200hrs Park Wood area of Hutton Roof

Checking out Daphne Mezereone with Ian and friends. 6 of the plants were fine, two in particular showed heavy bloom eg: 200 flowers and 300 flowers.  Sadly two of the long established had died off. 

Tuesday 24th March 2015 - 0830hrs to 1000hrs. Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof. 

Had both Shrikes in view for over fives minutes with one at 15 yards to 30 yards to 100 yards to the NW of the Trig Point whilst the other bird was about 75 yards to the East of the Trig and that one made off after a few minutes and out of view down the line of the Blackthorn on the Hutton Roof Timber line. 

The reason the first bird came within 15 yards was purely by chance while it surprised me and I it, yet it still remained still, like I also remained motionless, whilst it let me have those close up views for over 3 minutes or so, just a shame as I never had my camera - sods law!. 

Now then after watching both birds it is without doubt clear that the second bird which joined us last Wednesday is of a darker phase than the bird that has over wintered which makes it fairly easy to tell the birds apart even with binoculars. So whether this new bird is a female or juvenile I would not know! but it certainly looks promising for now! 

Also had Stonechats on the Common, also had about 14 Meadow Pipits flyover N and 1 Skylark NW, and also a large 30 Mipit blogging party down in Dalton. Lots of Green Woodpecker yaffling going on.

Monday 23rd March 2015 - Eaves Wood, Silverdale  1000hrs to 1230hrs

Been out with my mate Brian from Kendal and we joined a group of friends checking out the Daphne Mezereone at both Eaves Wood and again later at Sandside.  The long established plants at both sites were doing OK.  Sadly the re-established plants all had died and could not be found at the relevant sites. It was really interesting to see the "white" flowered plants of Sandside. 

1700hrs to 1830hrs - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 

Went up with Rob checking out the Shrike.  At first no signs so I suggested we check out "Uberash Roughs" and sure enough we found one of them sat low and not far away from the two large Cairns.  Although a fair distance away we were treated to actually hear him singing in his chattering mode. Could not locate the second one. Also had a single party of 7 Meadow Pipits on their way through North to their upland breeding grounds. 

Sunday 22nd March 2015 - Dalton and Hutton Roof and Lancelot Clark Storth 0900hrs to 1100hrs
Excellent views of one of the Shrikes.  I think I had the other one which just brushed past the other one and made its way down into Lancelot somewhere. A couple of Wheatear on way up through Dalton along with the regular pairs of Stonechats. Only had six Meadow Pipits going through over the hour or so. Good views of a Green Woodpecker and lots of evidence of yaffling. More reports coming through of both birds seen between 1100 and 1300hrs. 

Saturday 21st March 2015 - Sizergh Castle 0700 to 1000hrs
Went along to Sizergh at the invitation of Rob because we are doing a small project, but sadly no Hawfinches came down, however I could hear them early doors.  No problem will check out again soon.

Of special interest whilst there was that I saw a gentlemen birder from Ulverston, who I know I can rely on and he now confirms that without doubt he has had two separate Great Grey Shrikes on Hutton Roof on Wednesday last (18th March 2015).  One was seen 100 yards NW of the Trig and the other was seen at the same time as the other but from the Blackthorn on the Hutton Roof Sawmills line which lies about 100 yards SE of the Trig.  So this makes things really interesting. 

1300hrs to 1430hrs - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof.  I had single Shrike at 1400hrs in Dalton Crags 100 yards South/South West of Trig Point.  Speaking with lady who came from Teesdale and she was priviledged to see both Shrikes in same tree and managed to get a photo of them.  Also she had a Swallow hawking the Common. 

As the day went along I have received another two reports of people seeing two separate Shrikes.

Friday 20th March 2015 (Vernal Equinox) - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900hrs - 1030hrs.

A funny sort of start with a eclipse of the sun.  But we did not have any sun, well what I should say is that we did just have little bits bobbing through at about the 0900hrs mark, but by 0930hrs the sun had completely disappeared and the skies clouded over.  But at around the 0930hrs and lasting for some 0945hrs a sort of "strange" darker appearance throughout, obviously on account of the eclipse.  But the birds kept on singing throughout it all, in fact it made no difference whatsoever to the vibrant Song Thrush!!

I think we have a new Stonechat!, I thought so yesterday, but not sure so I did not report it but it has again turned up at the bottom of Dalton deforested whilst the resident pair are at the moment just inside the boundaries of the Common.

The Great Grey Shrike was there in his usual territorial pose at the uppermost of one of the larger trees to a point approx 150 yards North West of the Trig Point.

Only had six Mipits going through in two parties of three going over the Crags during the time I was there.

Got to get up early doors tomorrow been invited to check out the Hawfinches at Sizergh by friend Rob.. so will hopefully try and get back to check out Hutton Roof later in the morning. 

Thursday 19th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900-1100hrs

Probably the best day yet weatherwise with lovely sunshine and little to no wind at times. 
The Great Grey Shrike was well up for it today showing off for most of the time to the usual area NW of the Trig Point at times as close as 100 yards going back to 200 yards. Someone up there again today said they had also seem him yesterday between about 11am and 1pm. He had several spectators today with fans having travelled from Workington and Kendal who would not be dissapointed. Saw on two separate occasions the female Stonechat carrying large grubs in her bill!!  The first proper day of the Meadow Pipit passage with at least 20 over the hour. 

Wednesday 18th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0800-0945hrs

Last Nights Aurora Borealis taken at Cumbria's Derwentwater (photo: internet)

Missed it again! missed what?  the Aurora borealis which was clearly seen over Cumbria and at its very best at 0400hrs this morning.  Look at this startling photo taken from the Derwentwater in Keswick. Anyway back to the question in hand. And what a beautiful morning with lots of wanted sunshine gracing my walk. Birding was so quiet this morning up on Dalton and Hutton Roof, once you took out the Song Thrushes, the tits, robins and dunnocks. 

No Shrikey, No Likey!! and not even a single Mipit went through, just the odd Pied Wagtail. Two pairs of Mistle Thrush looked like they might have been getting ready for conflict! Almost forgot to mention, yesterday I had my first primula in Dalton Crags. 

Tuesday 17th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0800-0945hrs

A lot better day with less wind and the sun starting to break through in part. A warmer day. The Song Thrush was enjoying himself singing away with all his different variations and showing you just how talented he can be, at times so good you thought he was miming other birds, but which birds I really don't know!!  Shrike in view immediately on entering Dalton Crags deforested.  He was showing well at the top of the "Cuckoo Tree" and later went further back on a hawthorn towards to boundary wall.  I guess that would have put him about 100 yards South of the Trig Point.  And guess what?  I had about five Meadow Pipits on Dalton deforested, a couple of pairs which gave the appearance they were already on territory, but time will tell.  Just one single bird actually going through to the North. Found these feathers quite near to the Trig Point this morning, which I brought back for identification, but struggling a bit just at the moment. 

Ah got it!! I have now worked it out what the feathers are!  They will be the Breast or Neck feathers of a Common male Pheasant and at this time of year two males will have been sparring up to one another and this will have been the result! (bruised pride) the giveaway clue for me laid in the fact of the edges showing "iridescent".

The large one of these feathers measures approx 1 1/2" x 1/2"
Please note the iridescent on the bottom edge of the top left feather
Also had a early "Brimstone" Butterfly today whilst over at Arnside on the Railway embankment. 

Monday 16th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900-1100hrs

Still light cold easterlies blowing across.  Much overcast in grey.  Not a lot going on with the occasional Green Woodpecker yaffling and Sky the lark giving his beautiful seranade has you crossed into Dalton Crags (upper deforested).  No signs of Shrike today neither Stonechats as well and even more worrying, no a single Meadow Pipit or lark going through! Several Ravens passing through whilst "cronking". I have been told that two Chiffchaffs were heard calling down at the Keer in Carnforth yesterday (15th).  A report just come in from Steve telling me he had the Shrike at 200 yards NNW of Trig at 1100hrs.  Must have started to show on my leaving. Nice one Steve!!

Sunday 15th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1030hrs to 1230hrs
That cold North Easterly wind was even stronger than yesterday, but every now and again it would weaken down and allow more still periods.  Well Shrikey wasnt for having it today, I searched everywhere on the top of Dalton and also all across Uberash Roughs on the Hutton Roof Common, but he never showed for me.  I think he must have been on one of the lower lying slopes somewhere keeping out of that wind!  I had the Stonechats, but still not even one Meadow Pipit or Skylark! I suppose when they come they will come through in good numbers. Where is that little chap hiding, Maybe down in Lancelot, or on Burton Fell (midway) or across from Rowley Copse, or even further around on the Hutton Roof side of the Rakes, he could be on any of these I suppose.

Saturday 14th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 1000hrs to 1200hrs

What a fabulous morning, weather OK mainly grey overcast but still that underlying cold easterly wind now and again raising its head, but nothing like on the scale of yesterday.

Got straight on to Mr. Shrike who again was about 150 yards to the NW of the Trig Point, I did manage to close in on him and watched him from about 50 yards and soon he was off again.  Picked him up shortly afterwards down in Dalton Crags (upper/deforested) he was close to the old "Shrike Tree" and about 75 yards from the boundary wall with the Hutton Roof Common.  Again I got within 50 yards of him getting some fantastic views of him perched at only 2 metres high on top of a beech shoot of about 1/2" wide, but because I was to the East side of him and the sun was shining from the best direction to show off his plumage at its very best.
The paired Stonechats were seen again on the stone wall to the South side of the Crags (deforested).

A Wheatear has been seen this morning over at Heysham, and also of interest this very morning a "Herd of Whiteness" containing at least 42 birds has been seen heading North West over Bradford area.  Also a couple of small parties of that same species have been seen during the week heading North over the Morecambe Bay area.  I have usually got my records for these beautful birds somewhere around the 18th March week.

Thursday 12th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0900hrs to 1030hrs

Not a lot to report. Could not find the Shrike, he was probably hidden away somewhere on lower ground, maybe down in Lancelot or even over on the Farleton side or over near the Rakes all would be suitable areas for the Shrike to hide out.  I would not blame him either with the gale force winds blowing up there. Although you would never have believed it to how it was down at Plain Quarry. There were times at the Trig Point when it nearly blew you off your feet.  It must have gust to 50 mph at times. 

Wednesday 11th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0830hrs to 1030hrs

Beautiful REDPOLL calling from the lower Crags, found both overwintering STONECHATS to the top of Dalton Crags, also had the first GREY WAGTAIL of the year crossing over Hutton Roof.  No SHRIKE today, but several people had come up to look for it. 

Tuesday 10th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0830hrs to 1000hrs

At the bottom of the crags I heard a Marsh Tit calling.  I have had them calling from all around this area over the last few weeks. Song Thrushes are giving it plenty at the moment from various points on Dalton. Green Woodpeckers are busy yaffling as well. 
My sketch of the Shrike's
upper features - present today

Great Grey Shrike was seen at 150 yards North West of the Trig in same alignment as the regular path. I will try and get up there daily now I know he's around again. I think this could well be the over wintering bird, he certainly is using the exact same territories as our overwintering bird.

Odd Lesser Black Back Gulls are coming through and heading West, probably on their way back to Walney Island for breeding.

I am told that the first Sand Martin was seen at Leighton Moss yesterday. 

Monday 9th March 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof 0830 to 1000hrs

Really good to get back in the swing of things after being absent for at least a couple of weeks.

Been told the Great Grey Shrike made appearances on the 5th and the 7th of March at his usual territory close by to the Trig Point. Up until then he had not been seen since January 5th, so just where have you been Mr. Shrike?

Today I did not see him, nor did I see the over wintering Stonechats, but sure they will still be around.

At last managed to hear Song Thrushes calling from their high post with a fabulous array of mixed songs.  Just nothing like it! why not try writing the songs down in a notebook and try putting the song into a sort of  "english language", I do it regular and its totally incredible to have on record the differentials and variants he does.  I can't think of any other bird that has these ranges.  After saying that the little Great Tit does'nt do so bad with over 200 variations of his song.

Sky the lark was singing pleasantly on her territory with just the occasional vertical lift!
but today she did not have any threatening passing by Larks to annoy her, so quieter than usual.  There again it was cold and there was a strong biting wind with it as well.  Certainly if today's records are anything to go by it was not a "vismig" day. Although the Meadow Pipits should start getting going anyday now.

One of a pair of Kestrels was constantly being harassed by a Carrion Crow which did not seem to want to give up!  It must have been dive bombing it for over half a hour. Can't understand what they get from this, because at the end of the day the bird of prey always wins through!  just a total waste of energy if you ask me!

Been told Goldcrest were heard a fortnight ago, which again is spot on to the day.

Had a "cronking" Raven, also had a couple of "yaffling" Green Woodpeckers in Dalton.

Well well! its that time of year again and already the Chiffchaffs are well on their way back from Africa with a ETA of approx 10 days time, although I have had them in Burton as early as the 15th March before now. Also the Swallows ETA is around the 25th March so its well worth looking up into those skies and listening in the wooded areas for that "chiff, chaff, chiff chaff, chitty"

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Reflections from Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and maybe the next day

Friday February 27th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Lancelot Clark Storth - Hutton Roof

Managed to get up on the Crags today and it soon became apparent that SKY the lark had returned to her regular nesting territory and over the next hour a further pair plus another single skylark made their way through on their way to the North, but I would probably not have noticed them but for SKY's constant "seeing them off" or should I say "escorting them through her territory" whilst shouting at them in her constant bird song! I was so sorry though because I had forgot to bring my "tanner".
The Stonechats are still around having already overwintered in the Crags. A couple of Mistle Thrushes were seen. Lots of Chaffinch and other finches including Siskin. No Shrike to be found.
Sadly its also that time of year again BEWARE OF CROSSING TOADS AND FROGS already this morning noticed two well squashed large frogs just has you come on to our Close. I must count at least 30 fatalities every year at this time, always at the same spot crossing over the road to the local pond. I must collect and assist scores of frogs every year. This crossing to the breeding pool usually last for about three weeks.
This afternoon went up into Lancelot Clark Storth to see Wal (Cumbria Wildlife Trust warden on HR). He was taking charge of a working party who had travelled all the way over from Bradford to volunteer for coppicing the Hazel on Hutton Roof Crags. They are a great crowd and come over regular for three day working parties whilst at night stopping over in Ingleton. They have large bonfires to burn the coppiced Hazel and put "spuds" into the lower embers of the fire and if I arrive somewhere around lunchtime I get chance to relish one of these lovely spuds!!
Noticed on way up one or two large bird kills eg: Woodpigeons and Pheasants. They will have been taken with a local Peregrine or the local Buzzards.
Now noticing Lords and Ladies and Celandine starting to come through...

Monday February 16th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof  1300 to 1500hrs

Yipee! First returning upland birds..... 3 SKYLARKS
Not on territory, just passing through to the North West and making their "Thrupping" contact call.
The pair of Stonechats continue to overwinter near the Gully in the top of the Crags (deforested). Also had three Buzzards and Three Ravens. I have had the rare Willow Tit again today, they have been resident near to the Plain Quarry area, regularly seen and sometimes heard.
Odd Nuthatches calling, but as yet for me no Song Thrushes as yet, but would expect anyday now. 

Saturday February 14th 2015 - Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof

No Skylarks, On way up had Stonechats (regular pair), 3 Buzzard (one pair), 1 Raven, Nuthatch giving alarm near to Plain Quarry. 


"I held my tanner, and squeezed it tight,
In the hope of seeing a skylark sight,
For today was Valentine, for early birds,
Squeeze that tanner to the first larks song,
Will bring thi luck for the year long........"

Towd that tale from Oxy Dave,
A Yorkshireman known to save,
Another man who looks for Larks,
Nice one to thee Dave, top marks!

This is my sketch of a typical February wildlife calendar in these Cumbrian parts
Tuesday 10th February 2015

Last couple of days have been quiet up on Hutton Roof. Today (Tuesday) I did have a skein of Pinks go through Dalton at 0845hrs heading NW but sadly could not see them because of the low mist. Lots of finches, tits, robins and dunnocks just behind the Plain Quarry Car Park.

Friday 6th February 2015

On way up Alec told me that the four local Great Spotted Woodpeckers where very noisy and drumming in the local copses by Dalton Hamlet.

Currently lots of tree felling going on in lower Dalton. 

MistleThrush back on breeding territory just has you enter Dalton (upper/deforested).

Paired Stonechats at top side of gully in Dalton Crags deforested. 


 This was Dalton Crags this morning (Wednesday 4th February 2015)

Wednesday 4th February 2015

Beautiful on the Crags today.  Our pair of Stonechats on view and doing OK.  A Green Woodpecker whilst on my way up.  
Nothing much on Hutton Roof Common.  Checked out the Holly Ferns and the deer have nibbled the top off Holly Fern No.2 (as usual at this time of year - exposed).


"Reflection"  (click over photo to enlarge)

"I listened for the roar of immortal Lions,
I heard viola play to the daffodil sprites,
Echo to echo, echoed from near to far
Whilst pebbles skimmed and shimmered waters free.

Muted Swans whistled with whispering silence,
As white as the snow that sweeps the raise,
Hourglass frieze with trickling sand,
Whilst Mere reflects her passion flow".

(21st January 2015)


Yesterday Tuesday January 20th 2015This photo I took yesterday from the bottom end of Grasmere at the point just before it goes back into the River Rothay. And it shows both Helm Crag and Dunmail Raise reflected in the "Mere".  I just could not resist writing my poetry to accompany this photo. (photo taken on my phone)

Wednesday January 21st 2015
It was again a pleasure to be out and about today and I went up through Dalton to the Trig Point and continued to check out Uberash Roughs.  The only birds I could report were all down in lower Dalton to the East of the Plain Quarry Car Park.

Reports have been coming through that Brambling have been spotted in this area, and I would not be suprised if this was the case, but today I never saw any or heard any.  But what I did see was a party of at least 12 Bullfinch and probably there would have been far more than this, all mobile and in with a large party of Chaffinches.  Lots of Tits and Robins and Dunnocks.

Was listening for about ten minutes to the regular "hou-whit" call similar to what you do get from the post breeding Chiffchaff, or the Willow Warbler, or the Redstart or the Chaffinch, but no not today.  The call was as pure as can be and it was being sung by the Great Tit!! with a return of the same call from another Great Tit across the way.  For me very very interesting....

Thursday January 22nd 2015
Another fabulous morning and again went up to the Trig Point from Plain Quarry.  No bird activity whatsoever on the top while I was there over one hour.  But still plenty of overwintering birds around the areas adjacent to the Plain Quarry Car Park.  Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Robins, Tits etc

Saturday January 24th 2015
Guess what!  the two overwintering Stonechats have re-appeared in Dalton Crags, having been absent in the local area since the New Year. They were quite near to the "line of trees".

Sunday January 25th 2015

Stonechats seen again but moved up and over slightly to the "gully" area of Dalton Crags.  Other than the Chats I did hear one or two bullfinch and several Chaffinch over the lower Dalton areas. Also noted one or two Great Tits making the "hou-whit" calls...... brilliant!

Notes reported to the Lancaster and District Birdwatching Society Website (25/1/15)

The Stonechats have re-appeared in Dalton Crags after being missing since New Years Eve.

Lots of Bullfinch are overwintering in Dalton Crags in fragmented parties in or around 200 yards of the Plain Quarry Car Park (especially to the East side).  The largest party I have counted so far is twelve but suspect at least 30 birds at least in the area.  Lots of Chaffinch as well.

Thrushes thin on the ground this year compared to past years with odds and sods just passing through.  Best parties in the last two weeks have been around the 5-10 Redwing parties.

Accidentally flushing odd Snipe and Woodcock from the limestone areas on Hutton Roof.

Shrike last recorded January 5th.  I suspect he is about somewhere locally!  the reason I say this is purely projecture.  However I can say we have never had birds in recent years which have been seen after Nov 30th until this bird! also with the other two local Shrikes eg: Fylde and Grindleton still being about I am sure ours will be about somewhere in the local vicinity.  Another point of interest is that when we are lucky enough to see Shrikes in the Spring on their way back they are usually seen from the beginning of March, so this again makes it a very probable prospect!

Also had a couple of Great Tits doing the soft "hou-whit" calls, almost exactly the same you would get from the post breeding Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler or Redstart or even our beloved Chaffinch.  But from the Great Tit..... absolutely brilliant!

Friday January 30th 2015

At least 80 Redwing and 20 Starling feeding in Curwen Wood Park this morning (0830hrs).

at 1600hrs watching the Woodpigeon coming through Dalton to roost, a few hundred or so.  So co-ordinated the regular parties over 30 minutes hardly moved outside of their 50 yards corridor, that same corridor all the passerines use in the Autumn NW to SE.

Not seen the Yellowhammers or Tree Sparrows since about Christmas, so whether they are still around or not I really dont know.  Must try and check the area more regular.

Saturday January 31st 2015

Over 200 plus small birds from behind the Plain Quarry area and seen heading to the East side of the Quarry and doing the circular.  The birds were mainly Chaffinch.  I did suspect to hear possible Brambling amongst them.  Also closeby small parties of Bullfinch.

Had a Peregrine fly almost directly above me whilst climbing the Crags at Dalton, got some great close up views.

On the upper Crags and Common never had anything today, nor where the Stonechats about.

Sunday February 1st 2015

Checked out the area on the Farleton Side, almost opposite the entrance to Rowley Copse, it looks a cracking area.  I just had a Green Woodpecker, Bullfinch several piping, Blackbirds and four Magpies, otherwise comparatively quiet.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Great Grey Shrike re-appeared on Hutton Roof - MORE SHRIKY, MORE LIKEY!!

I was suprised to see the re-appearance of the Grey Grey Shrike on Hutton Roof this morning. Watching for over 20 minutes whilst the bird was using the very tops of the more mature trees in a direction which was North West to the Trig Point at distances from 100 to 200 yards.  It disappeared after this time and I think (though not absolute) gone down into Lancelot Clark Storth.

It is a complete mystery to where can it have been since it was last seen on the 7th December 2014 and today's sighting is in exactly the same place as where it was last seen.  So if it is the same bird (which I dont doubt for one minute), it does look like it could well have been present on Hutton Roof or thereabouts since the very first sighting of the bird on 25th November 2014.

A very elusive character indeed, I had searched high and low during its early period of absence in all the most likely of places on both Hutton Roof and Farleton, and also on the other side of Dalton at Major's Nursery but could not find it anywhere, and after six days of its initial absence (6th December 2014), more or less had come to accept that the bird had probably left us for warmer climate down in the Balearics.

So today's sighting is so welcome!  Another factor of interest is that it may tie in with the other nearby Shrikes recorded both at Grindleton (Clitheroe) and Lytham (Fylde). Both these birds have also been present for some considerable time, in fact from the beginning of last November, so maybe this is giving indication that they could well overwinter the full season this time.  Time will tell.

Obviously now I will get myself even more disciplined and try and get up daily to monitor the ongoing situation with our Hutton Roof shrike.

The pair of Stonechats we have had with us over the past two months where not seen again today. The last sighting I had of them was on New Years Eve.

Still lots of small passerines at the bottom of Dalton Crags and onward to the Plain Quarry Car Park.

A sketch will be offered to this blog shortly.
Thanks for checking out the blog and all the very best for the New Year.

Tuesday January 6th 2015
"In search of Shrike"  0930hrs to 1200hrs  
Checked out Hutton Roof Trig Point area and also Uberash Roughs,  but no signs of Shrike for me. Will try and check out again tomorrow.

Wednesday January 7th 2015
"In search of Shrike" 1000hrs to 1230hrs
Checked out Hutton Roof around the Trig Point area and also came back down through Lancelot Clark Storth, but no signs of Shrike.

Tuesday January 12th 2015
"In search of Shrike" 0930hrs to 1130hrs
Checked out Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof Common near to the Trig Point.  but no signs of Shrike. Just had three honking Ravens.

Wednesday January 14th 2015
Had a very enjoyable afternoon and met lots of interesting people whilst having the pleasure of presenting "Mipits, Migrations and lots of Illustrations" at the Kendal U3A (Natural History) at the Castle Street Centre.

Monday January 19th 2015 0900hrs to 1100hrs
A absolute pleasure to be out this morning.  The only birds I had to record were a party of 8 Bullfinch  which had 3 males and 5 females, just behind Plain Quarry, Dalton.  Also had a Woodcock which alighted as I got to the top of the lower Dalton Crags section.