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Snippets of Wealth 2

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Tuesday 3rd April 2018 - Dalton Crags 0900hrs

And yes it is still rainng (on and off), but today I noticed it was a lot warmer especially with not having that chilling wind biting through! 

I had little in the way of actual migration - just one Meadow Pipit over one and a half hours and the only way I noticed that was that my faithful watch out saw it first and went on the chase to escort it out of his own established territory!

Watching made me think about it, it's what I suppose could be called "lazy birding" just position yourself very close (100 yards or so) from a already territorial established pair of Mipits and they will do all the work for you. Example any approaching Meadow Pipits will be early spotted by the already established pair and the male will climb up quickly and readily escort the bird or birds through its territory for some 50 yards or more! you notice the commotion and hey presto, your count is made!

Seriously it was so quiet but did have the Thrushes high on song! both Song and Mistles and also a yaffling woodpecker and that was about it!

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A warm up with SPECIAL EARLY PURPLE ORCHIDS from years past….

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Sorry about the quality of photo but here we have some of my Early Purple Orchid photos which were taken on Hutton Roof and from within a area of  approx 50 linear yards x 20 yards wide and would you believe approx 50 yards only from the main Epipactis hybrid and variant arena.

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Snippets of Wealth

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I have had several reports during the past few days of birds either held up or on the move because of adverse weathers.

February 28th 2018

Gil and Graham on the corner of Vicarage Close have been visited yet again by the Blackcap (around the 20th) which could possibly have overwintered.  They have also had a gang of Fieldfare enjoying stripping the berries on the Holly Tree (28th Feb)

March 1st 2018

Reg and May on Morewood Drive had a visit of both a single Fieldfare and a Yellowhammer at the same time.  They have been getting up to six Yellowhammers on a regular basis.

Also a record has been given of a party of "Tewits" (Lapwings) have been seen on the freshly manured fields just behind the Dalton Business Centre.

Another report today of at least 100 Fieldfare present in Curwen Wood Park

March 2nd 2018

(0840hrs)  I had a party of 8 Lapwings in the very small field next to the bridge and opposite the old Station Pub (now rebuilt) which lies below the Canal.

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More of Ron Blackburn’s Superb Local photos (Please note all photos copyright)

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 Black Tailed Godwit (Copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Brown Hare (Copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Female Teal in flight (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks Ron for sharing with us

Male Teal in Flight (Copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

 Male Wigeon in flight (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

Male Wigeon in flight (copyright Ron Blackburn)
Thanks to Ron for kindly sharing with us

There will be lots more of Ron's photos over the coming days, so please come back soon.

Source I Love Arnside & Silverdale

Source I Love Arnside & Silverdale

Hutton Roof Catch Ups (bits and pieces)

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Friday 16th February 2018 - Dalton Crags to Hutton Roof Common Trig Point

Nice and Sunny and bitterly cold, but such a joy to get out and check things out.  My initial thoughts were to wonder if the Great Grey Shrike had made an appearance, its quite obvious odd ones are now being seen throughout the Country at various Shrike haunts, yet ours (when and if he/she arrives) is pretty good at choosing about the 4th of March as a regular return date. 

First thing that caught my eye was down in lower Dalton Crags when I was watching a Green Woodpecker for some twenty minutes whilst it was examining a nearby tree, he seemed to go around the back of the tree in the opposite direction to me, so at sometime in the next few days I will need to check out the tree to see if there are any holes etc.

Oh! just the ticket! to hear "Sky" singing away higher up in Dalton Crags (deforested), it is always the very first Skylark back and was singing away marking her territory, also another one was noticed near by.  Although the song was good it was patchy and intermittent, I think perhaps it needs to warm up a bit before you will get the full monty!

Just on cue I also had two Meadow Pipits crossed my path and continuously calling with their "psst psst" calls, I watched them come in and watched them all the way out to the North West, so to me it seemed clear they were on their migration.

It was rather sad not to see lots of Thrushes like you would normally see at this time of year in lower Dalton, it just seemed devoid of Thrushes other than a occasional Blackbird.

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Tanya and Edmund Hoare present "Celebrating Our Swifts" at Burton Memorial Hall on Thursday 22nd February at 1930hrs.

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Please come along and enjoy a lovely presentation kindly given by Tanya and Edmund Hoare called "Celebrating Our Swifts".  Tanya and Edmund hail from Sedbergh and are experts on "Swifts".

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GOA here we come!

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Black Shouldered Kite (Click over to enlarge)
I took this photo in GOA (inside) back in 2009
(Photo: B. Yorke)

It will be great to get back down to GOA for the 14th time to check out some of the fabulous birds.  There are hundreds of different birds in the state of Goa with over 2,000 different birds in India. For the birder turning every corner holds a surprise.

Every visit to Goa for me just has to include a visit to see one of India's largest and oldest "Banyan Trees" (some actually says its India's oldest!) which lies within the jungle towards the North of Aramble just after leaving the freshwater lake which at the top corner (entry) shows its banks stained with yellow sulphur. Over the years and on my way up to the Banyan tree I have seen all sorts of spectacular birds, some of which I just have not been able to identify, but one in particular I must mention is the "White Browed Fantail Flycatcher" and it is high in the trees, but so interesting to watch whilst it fans out his tail and puffs its wings and then starts turning around in a circular fashion whilst continually flickering the fanned tail.  A proper show off and absolutely commanding the birders attention. I never managed to get my own photo but I have managed to find one to put on here for you to see.

White-Browed Fantail Flycatcher (Click to enlarge)
Photo: credit to Alchetron

Each visit to the Banyan tree had its own story to tell with several experiences and memories. The very first time I remember we eventually found the tree after a short trek then crossing a ravine and it was there lying on a sloping bank.  There were perhaps up to a dozen or so hippie type unconventional souls sat at the base of the tree which has sort of been made up into a circular shrine type of setting maybe some 20ft diameter.  It is customary for one to take there shoes off before entering into the bowels of the Banyan then sit around a long established small crudely made fireplace structure. The first time we visited the hippies were listening to this chap who was somewhere up in the trees shouting out strange voices and stories of "well gone (I'd say!!)" and you could not help but laugh to oneself at the same time wondering if the poor fellow had lost grip with society.  The others seemed happy enough sat in a circle have a occasional drag of Hashis which was being freely passed around.

On another visit (in another year) we paid our visit and we were startled to see young naked girls high up on the Banyan's thick branches, the girls were painted in camouflage and laid across the branches of the tree sort of blending in with the tree itself and could be difficult to see, it was certainly interesting to say the least to see how they spent their day!!  I guess everything in this place is magical.

On yet another occasion we visited a local (historic) bakery whilst on the approach to Aramble and close to the School, It was a place like going back in the dark ages.  We bought some small plain type cakes.  When we arrived up on the Banyan tree we thought we would take refreshment and have a drink of our water and enjoy the cakes.  The cakes were lovely and we offered them to the guys sat around the fireplace. We enjoyed our cakes, but it soon become obvious that our friends enjoyed them even more than us and it looked very much like they thought the cakes contained a lot "more content" than they actually did.

One year after visiting the Banyan I thought I would try and advance further up into the jungle, yet the only reasonable (but hard) access was heading up through a dried out (at this time of year) ravine and even then having to clamber over large 5ft rounded boulders, but there was no other way, you would have needed machetes to have got through the jungle areas.  I had not been going for long maybe a few hundred yards when I heard loud "woh, woh, woh" ........noises from behind me and it became instantly scary because I knew that sound of the very large (almost human sized) monkeys which can be very dangerous, so I quickly made retreat into safer quarters.

When we first used to go up to Aramble (early 90s) you would see the large family groups of these large dark coloured monkeys up on the very tops of the red sanded shrubby hills, high above us and to the sides of the jungle. They must have been looking down on us, but thinking about it the last two or three visits I have not seen them so whether they have retreated I don't know but I will try and check them out next week if I get chance.

This bird below is a "Lesser Sand Plover" I managed to take this photo on the Mandrem Beach on the way up to ARAMBLE. 

Lesser Sand Plover (Click over to enlarge)
Photo: B.Yorke

I also found quite a few of these lovely little birds on the beach between Candolim and Calangute, they do not appear to be rare in the area. What a lovely little bird with big black bulging eyes.  They are similar in size to the Little Stint. They can be seen dashing in and out with the tide with their little legs running a hundred to the dozen. They are feeding amongst other things on little crabs which are about 1/2" in size.

Red Wattled Lapwing (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B. Yorke)

Nearby were we stay and close to Candolim there is a cracking large pool which does not look deep and is a big attraction to lots of waders, egrets, herons and the most beautiful Kingfishers and here I manage to observe a party of the "Red Wattled Lapwings" and also to the edges of that same pool were both a Little Cormorant and Little Egret in the same tree.

Red Wattled Lapwings (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B.Yorke)

Little Cormorant and Little Egret (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B. Yorke)

Intermediate Egrets and Little Cormorant (Click over to enlarge)

This pool of which there are so many in Goa are fabulous areas where you can just sit and watch and you will discover all sorts of birds coming and going especially in the fringe trees.  You are spoilt for choice down here with four varieties of Cormorant and six varieties of white egrets. In the photo above you see both Little Cormorant and Little Egret happy enough in one another's company.

Not far from that same pool I would pass lots and lots of Rosy Coloured Starlings sat on the telegraph wires just prior to roost (see photo below)

Rosy Coloured Starlings prior to roost (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B. Yorke)

I see lots of Rosy Coloured Starling, they seem to be so common down here.  I was watching their behaviour close-up down near Candolim beach, and saw just how agressive to one another they are with lots of shrieking and attacks!  Another bird you see regular prior to roost and taking over the local wires are the Jungle Myna's which you can see one here with a rather wet Rosy Coloured Starling below it. 

Jungle Myna with a wet Rosy Coloured Starling (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B. Yorke)

Just after taking this photo I was walking along a village raised footpath which was a sort of raised banking with paddy fields below and also lots of rough barren fields some 10ft below on both sides which had hundreds of little birds on the wires and also a few bee-eaters on post etc all around, and I noticed in the distance I could see the odd farmed buffalo grazing which must have been some 200 yards away.  You met very few villagers on this footpath but this particular day this old guy comes along and starts giving me a broken english "begging speel" which was hardly decipherable, but I told him I was skint and sorry could not help him today.  After moving a little further on and the beggar/(later realized farmer) came up with this loud whistle and guess what that buffalo which like I said earlier which was maybe 200 yards was running like the clappers and had closed distance to me to around the 50 yard and looked to me to be heading straight for me, so I decided to leg it very very quickly. Obviously that beggar/farmer had whistled instruction for that buffalo to come to him I could hear the farmer in the close background laughing his head off as he saw me running for my life.  So that was yet another Indian experience. I have thousands of stories which I must try and compile some notes. 

 Not the same buffalo - the one that chased me was far less retiring!
(Photo: B. Yorke)

Paddybird or Indian Pond Heron (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B. Yorke)

These pools are quite common down near Candolim and this one is a shallow "Lotus" flower pond built purposeful for recreation with seats on the edges. The pond contained some beautiful red coloured lotus flowers, also in the margins of the pond you would see the Pond Herons and at times the colourful White Throated Kingfishers. 

Ruddy Breasted Crake (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: B Yorke)

Just the one time did I actually visit the Hotel Bera Mera which is a recommended birders paradise and I can see why with all the open ground to the back of the hotel, which I could see storks in the distance, but just at the bottom of their garden was this pool here which had on the day of my visit the Ruddy Breasted Crake.  I am told now that the pond area has been allowed to become totally overgrown and that the pool has disappeared.  Can't believe it! I would have thought it had to have been a great tourist attraction.

Once time we booked on the crocodile trip which went up the canals which link the rivers Mandovi and Zuari and sure enough we saw several crocs, some with the mouths wide open whilst little birds went in their mouths cleaning off their teeth.  I saw lots of nice birds in the mango swamps as well, but one bird that has stuck in my mind was that beautiful coloured Black Capped Kingfisher, which had a striking blue colour. I have seen the bird twice now once in the Mangroves and also near the pond in Candolim, but on both occasions only a flitting glance. But here I have managed to show a photo thanks to Tony Hovell. 

Black-Capped Kingfisher (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: thanks to Tony Hovell)

In India there are twelve different Kingfishers, of which eight can be seen in Goa but the more common ones to tourist Goa are likely to be the Pied Kingfisher, White-Throated Kingfisher, Stork Billed Kingfisher, the Black-Capped and the Common Kingfisher.  Here below is a beautiful set of all the Goa Kingfishers photos kindly supplied by Bikram Grewal and Savio Fonseca.

The Kingfishers of Goa (Click over and enlarge)
(Photo kindly shared by Bikram Grewal and Savio Fonseca)

I have also had the pleasure of seeing the following birds whilst staying in Goa, but there are many, many more still to see, but for now here are the ones I have listed:

Black Capped Kingfisher, White Breasted Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Common Hornbill, Golden Oriele, Night Heron, Blue Rock Thrush, Common Peafowl, Tailorbird, Yellow Cheeked Tit, Little Ring Plover, White Browed Fantail Flycatcher, Brahminy Kite, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Osprey, Rose ringed Parakeet, Coucal, Koel, Small Green Bee Easter, Hoopoe, Large Green Barbet, Wire tailed Swallow, Black Drongo, Rosy Coloured Starling, Jungle Myna, Red Whiskered Bulbil, Magpie Robin, Pied Bushchat, Large Pied Wagtail, House Sparrow, Jungle Crow, Common Pyriah Kite, Red Wattled Lapwing, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Common Sandpiper, Indian Myna, Goldmantled Chloropsis, Rufous backed Shrike, Cattle Egret, Brown Headed Storkbilled Kingfisher, Little Egret, White Bellied Sea Eagle, Paddy Bird Eagle, Intermediate Egret, Laughing Thrush, Lesser Sand Plover, Ashy Prinia, Purple Rumped Sunbird, Scaley Breasted Munia, White Rumped Minia.

I have spent quite a lot of time whilst in Goa search for my "wish list" bird, checking out a area on the way to Fort Aguada, which the bird has been seen on several occasions, but for me no success at the moment.  Here is the INDIAN PITTA

Indian Pitta (Click over to enlarge)
(Photo: Kindly shared by Alchetron)

It is not just birds, I love to check out anything nature and have managed to see one or two lovely butterflies.  The following which until recently I have calling them "Monarchs" but pleased to have been corrected on this and find they are called the "Striped Tiger" (Monarch family) they are pretty good to photograph and allow you to get close.

I have seen some butterflies down in the swamps which are probably as big as my hand, and beautiful colours, just wish I could have got photos.

Is it right the mongoose gets the Cobras?  yes they do but not all make it, occasionally the mongoose can be too slow.  We stopped at the Silver Sands at Candolim and we had mongoose running over the roof every night.

There is some really beautiful snakes also in Goa but usually they keep themselves to themselves, but I have managed to see odd ones wriggling away, but there was one sad occasion which I want to report.

We heard such a commotion in a very built up area on the main Fort Aguada road at Candolim and from a distance it looked like a large crowd had gathered surrounding what at first we thought was a fight but it turned out that these Indian guys were actually smacking a large venoumous snake and they kept hitting in with old palm leaves/stalks and kept beating it until the snake was dead and they had removed its head and they hung the snake on a local bush and I photographed what was left of the poor creature.  It turned out it was a very venomous snake called a Russells Viper.  I was so surprised it was found on the busy local walkway and can only presume it had come up through the overgrown disused wild gardens nearby. I knew there were Cobras around because of the tales I had heard with the mongoose, but did not know there were Russells.

  Russells Viper - Aguada Road - Candolim
(Photo: B Yorke)

This shows the small birds collecting on the electric wires, sometimes there could be up to two hundred at a time. 

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Bird Migrations over Dalton Crags and Hutton Roof – PRESENTATION AT BURTON MEMORIAL HALL

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I have been invited to do a presentation at the local village hall on Thursday 25th January which I am looking forward to, and hope to include photos of the majority of birds that frequent or migrate over Hutton Roof.  I will do special notes for the rare GREAT GREY SHRIKE and its prey, together with other birds like our GREEN WOODPECKERS, MARSH TITS, YELLOWHAMMERS and occasional sightings of CROSSBILLS AND HAWFINCHES.  I will also include several of my funny sketches together with local maps that I have produced showing the directions of migration.  We will I hope also do bird calls with some pre- recorded and some "by natural means" (manually !!) on the night - that of course depends on if the voice holds out and there is a "jug of water" on the table for lubrication.... If you do decide to come along I am sure you will enjoy it, also you would be supporting funds for the Village Hall.

The Burton Memorial Hall Committee hope to be running "Nature Talks at the Hall" on a regular basis and they also have another interesting talk booked in their diary for Thursday 22nd February when Swift experts Tanya and Edmund Hoare from Sedbergh will be presenting "CELEBRATING OUR LOCAL SWIFTS", and this I can assure you will be a superb presentation - so please make a note in your diary.

I have also been asked if I will do my "Orchids of Hutton Roof" presentation which we are hoping to do sometime around the Spring to Early Summer period.


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