Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Look Out

I always had reasonable success in the past near Barnacre Reservoir when I looked for Willow Warbler nests, in some years finding 10 or 12 nests in a fairly small area, where the openness of the habitat allowed me to easily watch birds from a distance back to their nests. Over the last ten years or so the habitat has gradullay changed from the original fell side full of heather and bilberry with scattered hawthorn, willow and the odd tiny Rhododendron, into what is now burgeoning woodland where the latter invasive species now threatens to engulf the whole area. Species like Tree Pipit and Yellowhammer that nested there in the early days no longer do so, and although Bullfinches and Willow Warblers still breed, their numbers are much reduced as the open areas of low growth and grassy areas disappear under the purple and bright green of the unchecked Rhododendron growth

This morning I spent about three hours beside the reservoir looking for Willow Warbler nests and ended up finding one, with at least two other pairs feeding young and four or five more singing birds, but because of my restricted vision through the overgrown vegetation, or perhaps my early season rustiness, my nest finding wasn’t too successful. The nest I found had five well grown young, one at the front peering out of the nest, with all of them just on the upper limit of the ideal age to ring nestlings, but they went back in the nest perfectly with a hand over the entrance to for a minute or so to settle them down in the dark.

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

I got my first ever Lesser Redpoll nest when I watched a female bring nest lining material to a Rhododendron before I found the nest about 2 metres up in the heart of the bush. It should make an interesting and informative Nest Record Card with several entries from start to finish if the nest is successful. There is a very healthy population of Lesser Redpoll here, and I saw at least 25 birds there this morning; whether they will stay around in future years when the Rhododendron takes over completely I can not say.

Lesser Redpoll

Rhododendron – Taking Over, Look Out

Barnacre is a useful place for reviewing the difference between the similar Blackcap and Garden Warbler songs because the vegetation is at the stage where Garden Warblers like it but Blackcaps apparently don’t. I counted at least 7 Garden Warblers singing their faster more raucous than Blackcap song, fine until I encounter both at somewhere like Thurnham where both occur and confusion sets in again.

On the way back home I stopped off at Calder Vale to check progress on the 2 Tawny Owls ringed on May 26th and to make sure one or more hadn’t gone on a walkabout again. There was one there, perched on the edge of the hole, looking out on the world but it quickly ducked down when I drew up, hence the rather poor initial and only photograph. Let’s hope that both birds are in there waiting for the time they really can leave home.

Tawny Owl


eileeninmd said...

Cute shots of the juvie Warbler. And the baby owl is a great find and just adorable. Wonderful photos, Phil!

Mary Howell Cromer said...

How wonderful that you are on many of your posts able to handle the little ones at the nest sites. The Willow Warbler is a great looking chap~

Stuart Price said...

Nice to see the Redpolls doing well........

ajithrindia said...

awesome photos. Wish I could take similar ones... :)

depalan, saju said...

warblers are the trickest to identify, there r so many varieties!!

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

That's a very beautiful landscape shot!
Congratulations on finding the Lesser Redpoll's nest. I'm looking forward to hear more about it in the future.

Unknown said...

Lucky you to find all these Gems!
Best of Luck that the Redpolls will stay in the area!

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