Saturday, 30 April 2011

Telephone hotline for the Dotterels

Sat 30th April 2011
             We got at  telephone call this morning while we were still in bed. It was from Terry a new friend of mine who is an excellent naturalist and first class ornithologist. He informed us that some more Dotterels were in the area and we needn't climb almost a mountain to see them, so within 20 mins. we were away  into the Bowland area of Lancashire to where they were  last sighted. My apologies for us not wearing the correct dress code  for this privileged sighting .There were 9 dotterels happily feeding within 30 yards from us and by sitting quietly I managed a few photos just for my own record. Some of the photos show how it should be done if you have the right equipment. The only other time that I've seen this fairly rare bird was on top of the Cairngorm Plateau on the last day of May 3 years ago in a blizzard. The dotterels we've seen today are moving up country and will probably breed in the Cairngorms later in early summer.
        My appologies for the photos, trying to take photos at 12:1 zoom even with anti-shake in a near gale force wind it is almost impossible.

                       This is how the photography should be done

My attempts with my Panasonic compact camera

            Two of the females ( the females have the brighter plumage)

And finally (this is how it should be done I hope he won't mind) a photo of a Dotterel taken by Mike Watson from his Blog....Mike Watson's Diary
                Birding in East Lancs and Beyond
This was taken on our local Pendle Hill a few days ago

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Two sunny days

Thursday 28th April 2011
    The weather has been too good to stop at home so we've been out in our local countryside soaking up the Spring. Yesterday we spent sometime on the top of Pendle Hill looking for the Dotterels that drop in and feed on route to the Cairngorms in Scotland but saw nothing but there has been some filmed a few days previous.
      Today we've walked the moors in Bronte country around Haworth, we heard our first Cuckoo of the year and saw dozens of Green Hairstreak Butterflies on the heather and billberry, the billberry is going to give a bumper crop this year.

          Yesterday on Pendle Hill looking N.E. to the Yorkshire Dales

                  Downham one of Lancashires prettiest villages

                            Pennine countryside around Howorth

                     Flying the flag for tomorrows royal wedding

On route for Top Withens the farmhouse and tree on the skyline, this was the farmhouse associated with Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

                  Top Withens amongst the moorland billberry

           The young  billberries, it's going to be a bumper crop this year

                                             Top Withens

                                      Green Hairstreak

              Still a good show of Daffs because of the higher altitude

       Bluebells and Pink Purslane down one of the many wooded cloughs

               One of the many old bridges which straddle the steams

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

White and Blue on a Grey day

Tuesday 26th April 2011
                              It's been grey and cold today barely 10c, such a contrast after all the sunny warm weather we've had over the past 2 weeks. I.had a quick walk down Twiston Beck I haven't walked down the beck since the salmon and sea trout were spawning last Nov. Today the beck was running very low but I soon spotted several newly hatched salmon or sea trout fry darting about in the shallows along the edge of the beck.I saw several swallows and there seemed to be willow warblers calling from the thicket all along the beck The wild ramsons and bluebells showed up well in the dullish light, I think the look their best on overcast days.

                                     Ramsons (wild garlic)

    The bluebell wood down Twiston Beck a misty blue on an overcast dayt


Saturday, 23 April 2011

Red and White .....St George's Day... and for me .... Blue

Saturday 23rd April 2011

After another walk over Pen-y-Ghent yesterday with my daughter and family who are staying with us over Easter. Today I thought of a theme for St. Georges Day the colours of Red White and Blue. The main reason  for adding the colour Blue was to capture the beauty of an English Bluebell Wood in all it's glory and today I timed it perfectly they were at their best down in the Ribble Valley, downwind the Hyacinth perfume drifting on the light breeze was unmistakable. I found the other two colours Red and White from the Red Campion and Stitchwort.


Thursday, 21 April 2011

Three weeks early

Thursday 21st April 2011
                                     I've just been on my annual  visit to a local unremarkable Pennine valley to my secret Early Purple Orchid site. This is a small area of neutral or lime rich soil  from glacial deposit surrounded by a more acid type of vegetation such as Bilberry and Heather. The orchids are in flower almost three weeks earlier than last year. I counted 25 flower spikes, about the same as last year this is about the average, the colony is holding it's own but has not increased for several years.

                                The site on scrubby hillside

                      This orchid still had last years old flower spike

The young shoots of the Northern Giant Horsetail  some of the plants have already shed their spores

And finally I found my first Meadow Mushroom of year. I don't think Ive every found them as early as April before.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Toad Spawn in the river

Tuesday !9th April 2011
                                    About 25 years I observed Toads spawning in the River Wharfe near Grassington in Wharfedale. I mentioned this to a Dr Steve Ormerod who is now a Professor at (Cardiff university) he was the son of a friend of mine. He published a paper on toad spawning in rivers because I don't think it had been observed at that time.
      Today on a picnic with two of my grandchildren we found loads of toad spawn in the same stretch of the river. Thinking about it, the toads have very little choice as to where they can spawn because there are no ponds in this well drained limestone country so I suppose if the rivers don't flood and wash the spawn away the toads must have been successful over the years and kept the local population going.
    I've also noticed over the years that our native Crayfish has disappeared and has been replaced with the American Signal Crayfish the river is teeming with them.

Many strings of toad spawn in the quieter stretches of the river

The American Signal Crayfish

 And finally my sons dog..... George with his trophies....all the stones he's brought out from the bed of the river