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Saturday, 17 May 2014

An early start in the fells

This Snipe had a mate with it in the long grass.
Chipping away on the fence!
Wheatear are common on the moorland!
This male Stonechat was feeding young in the bilberry
Male Whinchat,....... not long back from Africa.
This Tawny owl was located due to other birds mobbing it!
He flew across the road to this Beech tree,weighing me up!
Nice contrasting colours!
He was harrased by 2 mistle thrushes and a blackbird.
This I think is the female,her left eye seemed damaged.
A determined effort to obtain some better images of Hares, was my plan for the next few days,so with the alarm clock set for 4.00am I planned to head up to the trough of bowland to hopefully achieve my aim.Early morning is my favourite time of dayt o be out with my camera,the roads are deathly quiet and I can amble along, casually checking all the likely spots.A few known areas were visited where I`d seen hares before.They were there, but at quite a distance from the lens, so my initial hopes were dashed,however the air was filled with the sound of `drumming` snipe. I spent a good hour watching these displaying birds and managed a few flight shots in the process.Occasionally one would land on a nearby fencepost and a cautious approach would get me within range.I am always fascinated by the noise the snipe make when displaying, it brings back memories of being a small boy out in the fields!The drumming sound is produced mechanically, by the vibration of their modified outer tail feathers,which are held out at a wide angle to the body,in the slipstream of a power dive.I think there is no better sound when your out  alone on the fells, watching and listening to these birds,all against a clear blue sky,fantastic!! On my quest for the brown hare ,I came across a couple of roe deer feeding,as the morning gets on, the deer just fade away into the woodlands and you will be lucky to see them!As I climbed higher into the fells and upper moors,I came across a usually productive site for Whincat and Stonechat.After a twenty minute search, the melancholic sound of a male Whinchat could be heard proclaiming his territory.He would have only returned back from Africa a few days earlier so maybe no females where present yet! A pair of Stonechat were feeding young and I watched as The male flew into the bilberry with a tasty morsel for his chicks,he returned to a rock carrying a foecal sack,making sure the nest was kept clean.I was disappointed to see only 1 raptor on my day out and that was a Buzzard patrolling the scree on the hillside.Not long ago you would be guaranteed sightings of Hen harrier, searching the ridges for food.How times have changed for the worst and yes Gamekeepers are partly to blame for their sorry demise and that is fact!So sad not to have these birds any more on our uplands! My hope of encountering a few Hares was dissapointing, but there will be other times I`m sure. My day was more than made up though, by the fantastic scenery of Bowland and  its inhabitants,some of who, were quite obliging for the camera ,in all a great day in a very special place.Catch up with you soon and take care!!

The outer tail feathers make the drumming noise,a similar noise to when you blow through a comb!

Displaying Snipe ! There was about 7 snipe present ,3 of them being females.One would suddenly make her prescence known and the male would dive down to meet her and then land in the long grass,  to continue courtship!!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Nightingales.Top of the feathered crooners indeed!

With the rain beating against the window and the blustery conditions rattling the trees, I`m sat at the computer catching up on my latest blogs.You wouldn`t think it was May with all this unsettled weather,but hopefully it will all change very soon. I`d been planning a trip out towards Lincolnshire, in the hope of seeing and more importantly hearing Nightingales,which would be fresh in from Africa.The area I knew about was favoured by these birds and up to 12 singing males had been present by mid May last year.An early start and I was on the road for 4.30 am heading east for the M62 then onto the A1.The 130 mile journey was relatively straight forward and I pulled into the car park full of hope.As I assembled the gear, a Nightingale could be heard singing in the distance. I followed the delightful sound and was soon pointing my lens at one of these robin sized songsters.They are the masters of birdsong....top of the feathered crooners.Experts have studied the song and concluded they have a repertoire of 1160 different syllables,compared to 108 of a blackbird and 341 of a skylark, just listen to this amazing song on the clip below!.I took a few images of the Nightingale and one or two of the other migrants that were around,hope you enjoy them and as a bonus I`ve included a video of a Nightingale in full song. Thanks for dropping by and looking in and catch up with you all soon!!

This one was nest building close by!

Great views were had of this male.

Singing his little heart out.

Pretty non descript really with its dull plummage but what a voice!

Usually a rather skulking bird but this one showed very well.
Garden Warblers were also in the vicinity with their scratchy song echoing around.