Wednesday, May 20, 2020

On The Road Again

Recent mornings saw overcast skies, cold winds and very little sunshine. Such mornings are not ideal for a visit to the Pennine hills with a camera itching to click. I pencilled in Wednesday for an early start and then watched as the forecasts did their best to thwart the plan. 

There was a thirty minute drive before the first stone walls above Garstang where waders, wagtails and pipits wait for townies to slow, or stop and stare. They quickly drive on, not knowing the names of common British birds while clueless as to the dramas that unfold behind them. 

In April and throughout May begins a potent mix of territorial song and single-minded ownership of a stretch of wall, fence, hedgerow and a patch of ground.  By late May and into June begins the frantic warnings to vulnerable young and the loud scolding of intruders - man, beast or bird. 


It would be interesting to see how birds react to a car and wound down window following eight weeks when Joe Public was locked out from their heritage. While the shutdown continued gamekeepers were given a free pass for the “essential work” of supplying Red Grouse for the shooting season of 12th August.

During this time the RSPB were flooded with reports of birds of prey being killed in the uplands - a pure coincidence perhaps?  The Guardian.

Red Grouse

For those who wish to continue reading, I will post the same link at the bottom of this page together with a link to Raptor Rescue with the question - "Why has grouse shooting not been banned for this year?"  

But now back to the job in hand and a favourite stretch of road where the farmer had been busy catching moles. 


I saw upland waders in their regular spots - Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Snipe and Oystercatcher but probably less Oystercatchers and Lapwings than in recent years. 2020 has been an exceptionally dry spring, one that has not been beneficial to birds that probe wet areas for food. On the other hand there seemed good numbers of Snipe this morning, and decent counts of both Curlew and Redshank, three species that favour soft ground.  And, I was surprised to see one or two roadside puddles perhaps as a result of a drop or two of heavier rain on Tuesday. 




There was a Redshank that survived a winter or two despite the handicap of sheep wool entwined around each ankle. 


Meadow Pipit 

Pied Wagtail 

I saw plenty of Meadow Pipits, not too many Pied Wagtails, but 20 or more Grey Wagtails along the various watercourses up here. Both Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails have yet to show many youngsters, but the early breeding Grey wags have had a good year. This was a dry spring and zero disturbance from the annual day trippers who like to splash sticks and stones into the many streams. 

Grey Wagtail habitat, picnic spot

Grey Wagtail 

The streams held a couple of pairs of Common Sandpiper, a single Grey Heron and a small colony of 30 or more Sand Martins in the low riverbank banks of Cam Brow. Unfortunately this is another spot favoured by the sticks and stones brigade of picnicking tourists, now with no work but beginning to return to Bowland on sunny days. 

It’s difficult not to hear Cuckoos but virtually impossible to see them up here in Bowland. I guess I heard six male Cuckoos this morning, one or two fairly close, but saw not a one. Maybe this is a sign that the fortunes of the Common Cuckoo are on the up? 

At Marshaw the House Martin colony at Tower Lodge was frantic with birds rushing in and out of the eaves and eager to make up for lost time of their late arrival. Hard to say how many with the eaves in near darkness but six or eight nests looked likely. 

Other birds seen but not photographed today included 6 Blackcap, 2 Redstart, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Pied Flycatcher, 2 Lesser Redpoll,  8/10 Willow Warbler, 4 Mistle Thrush and piles of Blackbirds.  Those links below.

More soon. Stay Tuned.

Linking today to Anni's Blog and Eileen's Blogspot. Pay them a visit for more weekend birds.


Stevenson Q said...

Amazing shots as always from my friend Phil! That way of hanging those moles are very interesting. Not sure what moles are but they do look like big house rats here. My favorite lapwing but this time has a little bit different shade to it, love it! And that picnic area Phil, I wish we have lots of places like that here. There are still a few fields and meadows remaining but they are too wild you might share your food with a boa constrictor or a monitor lizard at your side.

Sending you greetings of a Happy Thursday ahead my friend!

Rhodesia said...

Love your header photo, How can such a beautiful bird be called simply Grey Partridge?? Lovely set of photos, well done. Very sad news about the raptors though, why, why, why, some people are just trigger happy and should not have guns. Still only hearing the owls very frustrating.
Cheers, stay safe, Diane

Wally Jones said...

We just returned from a morning outing where newly hatched and fledged birds seemed to be everywhere! An uplifting day.

Your report indicates much the same is happening in your neck of the hills. Lovely photographs! Okay, maybe the dead moles are "interesting", but the birds are truly "lovely".

It does seem questionable as to why this year's hunt should remain scheduled. I suspect the adage "money talks" is applicable.

We're very happy to see you are out and about and providing us with fabulous reportage and images to enjoy. Thank you!

Mae Travels said...

IT's always a pleasure to see the birds in your photos, as they seem at the same time familiar and exotic. Our environment and climate aren't so totally different, so the same niches exist and are filled with just slightly different bird life.

be well... mae at

Anu said...

Hello. Wonderful photos. It is interesting, that in England, the Pied wagtails look slightly different from those in Finland. Have a nice weekend. Stay safe.

Elkes Lebensglück said...

Nice photos of the birds, just wonderful this place to watch.
Have a beautiful weekend. Stay safe, Elke

italiafinlandia said...

The Red Grouse is particularly beautiful.
Have a nice weekend!

Adam Jones said...

Glad you got out and saw a good few species Phil. I've had some success recently with the staying in the car birding. Don't get me started on the grouse moor issues. The whole thing is a national scandal and disgrace. I've seen farmers do that with moles before, and never have understood the whole public showing thing. As if it's going to put off other moles. Do you know the reason for it?

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil,

What a great report on your outing. The birds and photos are awesome. I see a few of my favorites like the Oystercatcher, Lapwing and Redshank.
The Snipe and Wagtails are awesome too. Wonderful photos.
Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day, have a happy weekend!

Sherrie said...

Awesome shots of the birds...I like the Lapwing...he/she looks so regal with the tuft of feathers on his head...have a great day!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What a nice variety of birds you've's a great time of year for bird watching. We are seeing more caterpillars so we are on the lookout for Cuckoo birds here too. They usually come at this time! Happy weekend!

RedPat said...

I love to see your birds which are so different from ours! I think wildlife has been enjoying the lack of human beings!

RedPat said...

Hi Phil
The turtles settle down in the mud at the bottom of the pond and hibernate during the winter. It is a well protected pond so there is no danger to them at all as they sleep.

sandyland said...

moles was shocking to me

Anni said...

It's nice to know someone actually HEARS a cuckoo calling...I see them but have yet to hear them. Love all your sightings/photos. And am thrilled for you being able to get out, birding. Oh, and as for the hacking towers (nest boxes)...I can only surmise that the roof (supported with slats) is to give more protection of the heavy tropical rainstorms/high winds for momma & chicks.

Thanks for joining us at I'd Rather B Birdin this week

Jean said...

Interesting fence with the moles. Wonder how he catches them? Our old cat used to do us a favor and catch the couple that annoyed us but the new little gray cat thinks it's more fun to simply watch them and do nothing. Enjoy reading your posts and seeing all the different birds that I don't see over here. The grey wagtail is very pretty and that lapwing seems like it would be so interesting to just simply observe.

Ornery Owl said...

Wonderful birds! I kind of feel sorry for the moles, though.

21 Wits said...

Wow, your Lapwing new to me, but oh so pretty! Wonderful capture of all the birds. Your farmers photo of the moles hanging, is something I can relate with, not to hanging them up but to the frustrations of them all over our property! They are are busy critters.

Lowcarb team member said...

The Red Grouse certainly caught my eye … and can't say I'd ever seen moles hung like that!

All the best Jan

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