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Blog Post: Hope and Burt are still in Bowland!

As promised, here is the second of what I hope will be many updates from Bowland's sat tagged harriers. Hope and Burt, sister and brother, fitted with sat tags on the 28th July have been flying for about 4.5 weeks now. They are a full month you

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It’s A Puzzle

The weather folk say next week will be better. In the meantime Friday was yet another windy morning with intermittent showers, far from perfect conditions which posed the question of where to go for best. 

I decided to give Pilling a shot in the hope that the poor weather had dropped in a few Wheatears to catch. In the event I saw only one at Fluke Hall in a spot that didn’t lend itself to leaving a trap. There were none at a favoured catching spot near Pilling Water where the tally is 17 ringed for the year. 

There was a Buzzard in the trees at Pilling Water where the crows gave the game away as they chased the Buzzard off in the direction of Fluke Hall. Despite the rain of late the wildfowlers’ pools are almost completely waterless after the dry summer so all I could find was a Grey Heron and the nearest thing to wildfowl a stranded duck decoy left over from last winter. 

On heading back to Fluke Hall I saw 3 Buzzards above the wood, a patrolling Kestrel and a lonely Chiffchaff moving west along the sea wall by virtue of the well-spaced bushes. 


There was a Great-spotted Woodpecker calling from high in the trees but by now I’d decided to head to Knott End and the incoming tide. 

Ravens are something of a local scarcity but with a status of increased sightings and odd breeding records in recent years, this in flat Lancashire farmland as opposed to mountainous areas where the Raven traditionally breeds. 

Despite this recent influx the species remains extremely shy and is unlikely to be seen at close quarters, the usual sightings hereabouts consisting of birds high overhead as they give out their distinctive, deep, resonant cronking calls. 

So it was rather surprising and something of a mystery to find 2 Ravens again in the car park at Knott End, hanging out on the perimeter wall, perhaps for bread and fish & chip hand-outs from the punters in their cars, just as the gulls do. 

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Both Ravens appeared to be juvenile birds but from their demeanour, worn plumage and general dishevelled appearance I suspect they may have been in recent captivity, perhaps as pets which outgrew their novelty value? 


From Wiki - “In recent years, biologists have recognized that birds engage in play. Juvenile Ravens are among the most playful of bird species. They have been observed to slide down snowbanks, apparently purely for fun. They even engage in games with other species, such as playing catch-me-if-you-can with wolves, otters and dogs. Ravens are known for spectacular aerobatic displays, such as flying in loops or interlocking talons with each other in flight. They are also one of only a few wild animals who make their own toys. They have been observed breaking off twigs to play with socially” 

A walk up Windy River produced a Wheatear struggling against the wind to stay upright, 6 “Alba” wagtails, 3 Redshank and 150+ Oystercatcher and most of the waders by now at the roost with still two hours to go. 


On or about the tideline, 1 windblown juvenile Common Scoter, 40+ Dunlin, 5 Grey Plover, 5 Turnstone, 3 Sanderling, 1 Grey Heron and 45+ Sandwich Tern. 

It became very windy and very wet so I called it a day until tomorrow.

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Nature Reserve Blogs

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Blog Post: Super sluice

We are proud to be celebrating 50 golden years of giving nature a home in 2014. Each week I am focusing on a special element of the reserve in order to mark this landmark year. This week, it's all about sluices.... If you have been to visit us this week, you may have noticed a new structure at the bridge on the causeway. This bit of grand design is a replacement sluice . So what exactly is it? Well a sluice is essentially a water gate. It is a key tool in reedbed management, as it allows us to control water levels more effectively. It is essential to allow reed growth , fish access and suitable places for insects like dragonflies and moths to lay their eggs. This all provides vital food for the birds and other wildlife here. It works by holding the water at a higher level above it. When we want to lower the water level, we simply take out some of the wooden boards and in time the water drops down to that height.  The sluice before it went in (Ian Rylands Ltd) We have two sluices on the reserve. This second one allows us to hold water higher on the north end of the site (Public and Lower pool end), during times when we drop the level on the south side (Tim Jackson and Grisedale hide end), in order to carry out reserve management. Holding areas of deeper water is essential, as it maintains homes for larger fish, giving species like egrets , otters and bitterns plenty of food. It is even more important at the moment as we are holding the water level low for a prolonged period of time on the south side of the site. For details of this, click here .  Sluice installed (Ian Rylands Ltd) The main fish species that will benefit from this new sluice are rudd , perch , tench , eels and pike . This fantastic photo by volunteer Mike Malpass shows a goosander wrestling with a pike almost the same size as itself!  A bit of a mouthful (Mike Malpass) Thanks to Ian Rylands Ltd, the contractors who installed the new sluice and provided the photos of it. If you require any more information on reserve management please contact one of our wardens: Alasdair ( Alasdair.grubb@rspb.org.uk ) and Richard ( richard.miller@rspb.org.uk )  

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Juvenile Marsh Harrier

Blogging Tip...

Embed Bird Song in your Posts

You can find recordings of bird song at www.xeno-canto.org and code to embed the recording in your blog posts.

For example below the begging calls of young Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

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Bees Beyond the Borough

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Haslingden Grane

Three large Reservoirs rich in birdlife, also woodland and moorland walks, visitor centre Grid ref. (SD753230)

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Foxhill Barn B & B

Four Star B & B located just outside Gisburn in East Lancashire, near to the Forest of Bowland border. Ancient hedgerows and moorland close by.

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